Champions

Thursday 4 April 2002

Barking Ladies 1 Fulham Ladies 4

LADIES SECURE CHAMPIONSHIP & PROMOTION TO PREMIER LEAGUE

Match Report by Gary Mulcahey

On a bright warm evening which was in stark contrast to the last time the ladies visited Barking, Fulham Ladies needed three points to secure promotion to the top flight after just 9 seasons of league football.

With the warm weather, came a rock hard bumpy pitch and this proved a leveler in abilities. This game fell between the FA.Cup semi-final and the League Cup Final, so Gaute Haugenes used only four 1st team players and gave the Reserve team squad a chance to fill in for the other professionals.

Fulham started brightly and were 1-0 up after just four minutes, good interchange of passes by Jerray-Silver and Davis found Collins who headed home.

Debbie Watson made her debut at this level and although only 15 was a threat down the left flank and indeed on 14 minutes cut in and struck a right foot shot into the top corner of the Barking net.

Rahman, Mork and Jerray-Silver in midfield worked tirelessly and all three went close to scoring, Rahman hitting the cross bar on 27 minutes. Barking although fighting to stay up did have chances but Sinclair-Chambers and Bennett were in fine form at the back, with Smith also called into action on more than one occasion.

Barking pulled a goal back on 37 minutes when Sarah Flint, Barking's top goal scorer, slotting home after a goal mouth scramble.

There were no substitutions at half time, but the second half saw a much improved performance . Fulham's midfield dominated and Deena Rahman in particular was creating chances for forwards Collins and Davis. A slick move down the left was finished off by Jerray-Silver on 58 minutes for the Whites third.

Watson made way for ex Milwall player Terri Warren who immediately went close with a 30 yard chip.

Some good passing from Sinclair-Chambers and Rahman, reached Jerray-Silver, who toe poked a low shot for a deserved fourth on 76 minutes. Substitutes Carter and McCauley were introduced and although no more goals were scored Fulham deserved some more luck in front of goal. Barking worked tirelessly until the final whistle and should stay in this league next season on this showing.

Stand in manager Mulcahey was pleased with the performance and commented,

"It was a nice gesture by Gaute Haugenes to allow me to manage the side tonight, since the team was largely made up of my reserve players. It was an especially good feeling to know that our win tonight secured promotion to the Premier League, which was always a dream of mine when we first set up the Ladies team.

In just 9 seasons we have gone from a division four club in the Greater London League to the top flight. It's a fantastic achievement and everyone at Fulham Football Club who has had an impact in women's football over the years should feel proud of that feat. Hopefully now the first team can win the clubs first major trophy in Women's football on Sunday".

The League Cup Final will be at Wycombe Wanderers, with a midday kick off against Birmingham. Your support would be very much appreciated.