There was another round of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup on Sunday as the competition reached the second qualifying round with the FA Women’s National League Division One sides entering at this stage. Again there were a few ties that caught my eye but in the end I decided to go to Canvey Island to watch Hashtag United play Enfield Town.
Before I start writing about that though, I didn’t do a blog for the last round so just a quick update! I went to watch Dorking Wanderers play Ashford Town Middlesex in the first qualifying round at the Meadowbank Stadium (a ground where an elite men’s team plays so not allowed fans but I felt totally COVID safe there watching the non-elite women’s side). It rained a lot and Ashford won 7-1.
For those that don’t know, I live in Enfield so Enfield Town are one of my local sides and who I support from a distance whilst groundhopping around the country! Watching the women’s side of the old Enfield side was how I got into watching women’s football over 20 years ago. With the National League being the highest level of women’s football in England that allows supporters to attend at the moment, I have decided to go and watch Enfield Town Ladies a bit more this season especially when they are playing away. Already this season I have seen them beat Leyton Orient 3-1 and Stevenage 3-0. Going back over the last 18 months or so, I had seen them play 7 times and win 6 of them and losing the other 1.
Hashtag United were formally AFC Basildon until they became the women’s side of Hashtag United over the summer. I had already seen Hashtag once this season when they won 4-3 away to Billericay a few weeks ago. They kept the same home ground though which is Canvey Island’s Park Lane.
The nearest station to the ground is Benfleet which is on the line between London Fenchurch Street and Southend/Shoeburyness. From there it is about an hours walk across Canvey Island to the ground though there are a few buses that go from outside the station to near the ground and this takes about 20 minutes. There is a big uncovered terrace at one end, some covered standing areas along one side with the dug outs in the middle, the other end is uncovered with a few steps of terracing whilst the main seated stand covers about two thirds of the other side with the clubhouse/dressing rooms/tea bar/toilets covering the remainder of this side nearest to the entrance. With the Thames Estuary and sea wall being behind the smaller end, there is a sign near the entrance saying that the ground is actually below sea level.
Both sides play in the National League Division One South East so both entered the cup at this stage. Both sides have had decent starts in the league with Hashtag having 9 points after 4 matches and being in 3rd place whilst Enfield have 8 points from 5 matches and are in 4th place. It was a pleasant afternoon with it being mainly cloudy, though the sun did try to appear at times, and not too cold or windy. It cost £5 to get in for this match and there was an online programme.
Hashtag had the first opportunity of the match when a shot was saved by the Enfield’s keepers legs. Hashtag hit the woodwork with a free kick with the follow up being cleared off the line. Enfield did have some chances with a free kick going straight through and no one being able to get a touch and then a shot that just went wide. Hashtag finished the half well with their number 17 having a shot saved and then having a low shot saved by the keeper. Their number 16 also put a shot wide. So it was 0-0 at the break and Hashtag started the second half as they finished the first by creating some chances with their number 16 having a shot tipped wide when through. Their 15 had a curling effort go wide and Enfield’s best chance of the half so far was an effort from an angle that went over. Enfield took the lead after 75 minutes when Courtney Cook run through and finished. Hashtag went looking for an equaliser and had a dipping effort that went over and a number of other half chances. In injury time, Enfield scored a second when they broke and Beau Parker finished a cross from close range. Enfield held on for the rest of injury time to win 2-0 and after the draw today, will play Luton Town away in the next round. Also my good record of seeing Enfield win continues!
Draw for the third qualifying round – https://www.thefa.com/competitions/womens/the-womens-fa-cup/fixtures. This round takes place on Sunday 1st November which is also the same day as last season’s final. There are a few ties that look interesting but I will have a look a bit closer to the time before deciding which match to go to (hopefully) in that round.