Reigate Women FC Lionesses are first ever Surrey FA Flexible League champions

The Surrey FA Flexible League finished this weekend, with all nine teams in the league coming together for a big finish at the Surrey FA headquarters at Meadowbank, Dorking. All the teams were grateful that the hot weather had peaked the previous day, however seven of the nine sides in the league still had to play back to back games on one of the hottest days of the year so far. 

In the penultimate game of the season, Reigate Women FC Tigresses started their day against Lyne FC Ladies, knowing that they needed to win both games to have a chance of finishing in the top three of the league. The first half was a very close affair with both teams doing well. Sadly, the Reigate Women FC Tigresses could not convert their numerous chances which included a ferocious header from Holly Stroud rattling the bar. In the second half, the Tigresses changed things up and brought on Nichola Collins, Jamie-Lee Bowman, Claire Gray and striker Sarah Gott, as immediately all four subs made an impact. There was an increased energy throughout the team and following a lovely forward run from Sarah Gott and a deft cross from Stroud, Tigresses’ midfielder Zoe Perkin smashed an unstoppable effort into the back of the net! As Lyne FC Ladies pushed forward to find a leveller, the Tigresses were lucky to hold on to their lead as Michelle O’Connor produced a commanding and assured performance in defence (showing exactly why her teammates had voted her the Tigresses ‘Players’ Player’ for the season). As the minutes died down Lyne continued to push for a goal leaving lots of space in behind and Jamie-Lee Bowman, making her debut, received the ball on the halfway line and was quickly supported by Sarah Gott and Jaime Randle, who pulled the defenders away for the debutant to fire the winning second goal in to the net. A great game and close affair where both teams showed courage and at times great skill.  

Reigate Women FC Panthers’ first game of the day was against Palace Pumas Caterham, on the adjacent pitch to the Tigresses, meaning their RWFC Lionesses teammates could sit in the stand and support both teams at once.The game was finely poised at 2-1 at half-time, with the Panthers leading through Pamela Seddon-Hall and Lucy Manning. In the second half Seddon-Hall scored her second, before leading Panthers goal scorer Becca Nesbitt scored her seventh goal in eight games, followed by a first league goal for Izzy Maclean and Seddon-Hall rounded off the scoring by completing her hat-trick, taking the Panthers to a 6-1 win and propelling them into third place in the league, ahead of their ‘winner takes all’ club derby in their second fixture of the day.

Palace Pumas Caterham then took on the Reigate Women FC Tigresses for their final game of the season. The Tigresses made a promising start, with Holly Stroud putting them into an early lead before Zoe Perkin scored her second of the day, making her the leading Tigresses scorer for the season. With a 2-0 lead at half-time, Tigresses’ player/manager Samantha Marshall made way for Aisling Byrne in goal, with Michelle O’Connor also coming off for Jamie-Lee Bowman. The changes proved a turning point in the game, as the Pumas struck back early in the second half, taking the score first to 2-1 then drawing level. Perkin struck again, to give the Tigresses the lead once more, but alas it was not meant to be with the tenacity of the Palace Pumas Caterham shining through to see them draw 3-3.

The final game of the day for both the Reigate Panthers and the Lionesses was an important one, with a club derby to finish the league for both sides, who were going head-to-head to take the crown and win the Surrey FA Flexible League for 2018/19. With three substitutes a piece, it was looking a very even game, despite the heat taking a toll on both sides. A long goal-kick from Misha West in the Lionesses goal set up Beth Mulrenan, who slotted it coolly past Panthers goalkeeper Lucy Manning. There was an accidental handball in the Panthers’ penalty area and a great chance for the Lionesses to double their lead through a direct free kick in the box, which was cleared off the line. The same situation happened at the other end of the pitch not long after, with a push in the penalty box leading to another direct free-kick, which was blocked by the two-man wall. After a short drinks break, the game continued, with the Panthers coming back on the counter, and Pamela Seddon-Hall scoring her fourth goal of the day. In the second half, the Lionesses broke through the tough Panthers defence and it was a lovely finish from Hannah Sparshott, much to the delight of her fellow teammates. The last ten minutes were nail-biting, with the Panthers having plenty of chances; Becca Nesbitt hit the post and there was some lovely attacking play between them, but it was another counter attack that the Lionesses managed to seal the deal with a 3-1 win, with Mulrenan running down the right wing to score her second of the day and secure the Lionesses the title. 

The full weekend’s results were:
ESPS Phoenix 2-1 Woking DiamondsKingswood Ladies 4-1 Sheen MountiesLyne FC Ladies 0-2 Reigate Women FC TigressesPalace Pumas Caterham 1-6 Reigate Women FC Panthers Reigate Women FC Panthers 1-3 Reigate Women FC LionessesReigate Women FC Tigresses 3-3 Palace Pumas CaterhamSheen Mounties 4-0 Lyne FC Ladies Woking Diamonds 0-2 Kingswood Ladies
Final League positions:1) Reigate Women FC Lionesses2) Sheen Mounties3) Reigate Women FC Panthers4) Reigate Women FC Tigresses5) Kingswood Ladies6) Palace Pumas Caterham7) ESPS Phoenix8) Lyne FC Ladies9) Woking Diamonds

League table online:

Reigate Women FC Panthers in Blue/yellow kit
All nine teams posed together between first and second games (RWFC Panthers in blue/yellow, RWFC Tigresses in maroon on the right, RWFC Lionesses in the white shirts)
Champions! Reigate Women FC Lionesses – player/manager Becky Keogh (in blue/yellow shorts) holds aloft the trophy with her teammates

For further information/quotes, please contact:‬Mark Adams, RWFC Chairman & Head Coach, ‭07947 630803