Sunday, 23 February 2014

Match Report Nettleham LFC v Rise Park LFC East Midlands Regional Premier

   Todays match saw me taking in another new league this season the East Midlands Regional Premier Division and return to Lincolnshire to see a women's football match since Lincoln Ladies played their last ever gamebefore their rebranding and move to Nottingham. The team who have taken their place as the premier women's team in Lincolnshire is Nettleham Ladies FC situated just north of Lincoln there home ground Mulsanne Park. For once the weather had been reasonably good although the wind had been steadily growing and bitingly cold too. It was also a chance for me to catch up with some fellow former ladyimps fans and friends who have become Nettleham supporters.
    Nettleham are having a pretty successful league campaign to date sitting 2nd in the East Midlands Regional Premier having played 11, won 9 and lost 2. Rise Park LFC their opponents from neighbouring Nottinghamshire were the bottom placed team in the league having yet to seal a win had played 11, drawn 4 and lost 7. Has to be noted however closer examination of Rise Park's results shows they are only getting beaten by the odd goal and are not getting rolled over in matches so Nettleham certainly couldn't take anything for granted as kitted out in sky blue their opponents in dark blue shirts and socks with black shorts got the match under way.
     Nettleham had the strong wind at their back as they attacked Rise Park's goal I was told this was a much changed starting XI for the home side with players away or unavailable and two loanee's were making debuts others playing out of their usual position. Stacey Ainsthorpe was one player I recognised from her Lincoln days and it was she up front who was causing Rise Park some problems shaking off her marker to receive the ball then turn and drive at goal. With the wind in their favour corner kicks would cause problems if well delivered one whipped in from the left early on was knocked down in the box only for the keeper to parry it away finding a Nettleham player the shot was blazed over the bar.
    Soon after another corner from the right found Ainsthorpe at the back post but she could only nod the ball wide of goal. In fact Ainsthorpe was looking to get a shot in on goal at the earliest opportunity ran off her marker into the box then dragged the shot wide. Play was well and truly in Rise Park's half of the pitch the away side could not find an outlet. That said for all their dominance Rise Park's keeper had had very little to save the home side's attempts often early were long range and off target. The visitors had a rear foray into Nettlehams penalty box but captain Katie Davison playing a centre back was quick to intecept the ball and clear the danger.
    The half was coming to a close Rise Park had done well to frustrate Nettleham it looked like the half would end goalless however Nettleham won a corner from the left the previous deliveries had been dangerous this one was perfect into the six yard box came off the back of Ainsthorpe's head and into the net.

Half time 1-0

    Nettleham kicked off the 2nd half without Ainsthorpe with loan signing Ashton Crouch moving into the advanced role the game was instantly more open Rise Park had been working hard to frustrate Nettleham and keep them out with a goal conceded it seemed to open them up had players willing to make runs use the wind now in their favour like Nettleham had. Nettleham in turn were having plenty of joy down the flanks particulary the right play was spread further on the pitch Nettleham no longer able to defend the half way line made for a more even contest.
    Rise Park got players up and around the box Nettleham allowed them to have space for a shot but the effort rolled just the wrong side of the post. Nettlehams Zuzana Pramukova out on the left wing had a run on goal the shot was lifted over the bar. Some determined blocking of Nettleham shots kept them in the game It was another set piece that was to bring Nettlehams 2nd goal this time from loan signing Ashton Crouch pictured below the ball driven from the edge of the box through the crowded penalty box and into the net the 2nd picture is that rare occasion where I actually capture the moment a goal is scored...

    At last Nettleham had their 2nd goal Rise Park to their credit kept going as they had all 2nd half there efforts bringing about a mistake from Nettleham's defence that led to a free kick being given out on the left about 35 yards from goal and with the wind you knew if delivered well the set piece could cause problems. The delivery was spot on the header met perfectly a bullet into the net from Rise Park's Amy Lester to make the score 2-1 and ensure a not so comfortable finish. Nettleham got the ball out to Pramukova her run and shot brought a sharp low save from Rise Park's keeper at the other end the away side had a player tugged back the resulting free kick bringing a corner that cleared the final kick of the match and Nettleham win 2-1 to claim the 3pts.
     This result leaves Nettleham on 49 goals so far this season and I understand a box of chocolates is the prize for the player who gets the 50th... so the next game might be a little competitive I shall be looking out to see who wins.


Sunday, 16 February 2014

Match Report 16/02/14 Bungay Town LFC v Gorleston Rangers LFC

  It was certainly nice to wake up and for a change look out the window and think 'great it looks like the game might be on' such has been the problems weather wise at the start of the year. Plan had always been to take in a game in the Norfolk leagues this weekend and see two teams I haven't watched play before Bungay Town LFC and Gorleston Rangers LFC.
   Both teams sit comfortably in the middle of the table in Norfolk Division One on the same number of points... 16 going into this weekends league encounter. Bungay's Maltings Meadow pitch looked to be in fairly good nick after all the weather the sun was out it was for once perfect weather for football. Bungay in their purple kit lined up as their opponents Gorleston kitted out in green and white hooped shirts and socks and green shorts kicked off the match with the sun at their backs.
    It was the home side with the 1st chance a ball played high through the middle into their attacker who couldn't get any power behind the first time shot which Gorleston's keeper easily gathered. Play was end to end early doors as both teams looked to get the ball forwards as quickly as possible. Gorleston were having more joy down the wings, Bungay in turn were looking to get the ball down the middle to their attacking players. Gorleston found the side netting on two occasions as they broke clear of Bungay's defensive line, looked to have the advantage as a 3rd break came with only the keeper to beat the shot was blazed over.
    The 1st goal came then with Gorleston's strike force causing Bungay real problems the visitors no7 Courtney Chartlon making another run on the right surged past her markers and shot from the edge of the box sending the ball wide of the keeper and into the net to take the lead. 1 goal soon became 2 Bungay were giving the ball away far too easily allowing Gorleston to build pressure their strikers staying high up the pitch ready to receive the ball this time it was no12 Merrick Will who was in on goal with the keeper to beat she commited her to going to ground dribbled past her and rolled the ball into the empty net.. 2-0.
   Bungay had a half chance soon after got the ball into their striker once again but Gorleston's keeper was out quickly to claim the ball at her feet was up quickly and the ball was sent forwards Merrick Will was on hand beating the offside trap, evade the keeper and make it 3-0. Bungay were shell shocked, composure was lost for a spell and it proved costly Merrick Will completed her hat-trick bringing the ball down and this time turning and shooting early giving the keeper no chance 4-0.
   Bungay needed to try something else use their flanks and when they did they found some joy their attacker laying it down for their winger to run in on goal the shot however going over the bar. A well
delivered Bungay corner found the head of a team mate but the shot was straight at Gorlestons keeper who some how parried it behind for another corner. The late pressure counted for naught however with Gorleston keeping two attackers back any ball played through would present a problem it was Merrick Will again with the ball left her defenders standing and beat the keeper for her 4th goal to make the score at half time 5-0.
   Bungay's coach was hardly happy with his teams performance and I was surprised myself I had expected a much tighter game, it was a poor 1st half from the home side and Gorleston certainly capitalised. As I've said before and am quoting others football's a game of two halves so would this 2nd half be any different.
   Bungay were at it from the off win the ball and win it early, high up the pitch needed an early goal if they hoped to get anything. With players up in numbers the ball was won and played into striker Imogen Williams who shot inside the box to pull one goal back 5-1. The home side were on top for the 1st time in the match another chance this time the shot stinging the hands of the keeper to go behind for a corner.
    Gorleston beat the offside trap Courtney Charlton was through but further out this time Bungay's keeper rushed out and cleared the danger doing her confidence the power of good. Gorleston were sitting deeper but with a 4 goal cushion didn't need to keep the players forwards this actually suited Bungay who were allowed more time on the ball and now working it out wide got the ball into the box the keeper dropping low to stop a shot a defender beating the advancing Bungay forward to clear the loose ball. Another late effort was fizzed across goal but no one could get on the end of it.
     The 2nd half most definetly belonged to Bungay, but the match was Gorleston's the damage inflicted in a dominant 1st half as they win 5-1 and claim the points to move 3 pts clear of their opponents and perhaps have one eye on the teams at the top of the table.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Match Report Women's FA Cup 3rd Round Aston Villa LFC v Doncaster Rovers Belles

   This weekend was host to the Women's FA Cup 3rd round, 16 ties with the newly formed WSL 2 teams entering the competition. The weather as it had for the whole of January would cause disruption and postponements were envitable as another wave of rain swept across the UK. Indeed some 2nd round ties had yet to be completed such has been the problem. Had had my eye on one particular tie since the draw was made but when that fell foul to the weather I certainly had several more facinating ties to choose from.
    Leaving Norfolk, Aston Villa LFC v Doncaster Rovers Belles was the game I headed for one of three all WSL 2 ties in the 3rd round. Would be an interesting game an early look at two of the teams in this new league. A run in the cup for either side would give them a great advantage in terms of momentum going into the up coming league campaign. Doncaster Rovers Belles of course I know well from watching them in their 3 year stint in the newly created WSL before their 'relegation' to the new 2nd teir. They have despite the huge movement of players within the WSL managed to keep their squad together and of late added to it. My knowledge of Aston Villa LFC is limited this would be my 1st time seeing them play they are the current League Cup holders and I was impressed by their midfield player Sherry McCue at last years U19 championships in Wales.
    Aston Villa LFC's home ground is in Sutton Coldfield at Coles Lane. Not too bad a run from Norfolk. Coles Lane is a nice stadium has a 3g pitch, can park at the ground, has a bar and refreshments, (music to my ears) a ground that can serve me up a cheeseburger after a long drive is always going to win me over plus a cup of tea.... mind you I should have paid to get in first... drove straight past the ticket office... know better next time... I duly hastened over to the ticket office and confessed my sins... PAID UP.. and was all set for the game.

    There was a little rain about, but the ground had covered areas to stand and with the pitch being 3g this wouldn't cause too many problems. Know the Doncaster squad knew it was a strong starting line up albeit without the suspended Leandra Little. This saw Sue Smith as captain as Doncaster lining up in yellow tops and socks with blue shorts as Aston Villa in their claret and blue shirts and socks with white shorts kicked off. The opening exhanges were fairly even as both teams found their way into the match Aston Villa were commiting a fair amount of fouls in the middle of the park, but the middle 1/3 was heavily congested with both teams defending a very high line, looking to spring the off side trap but by trying to play the ball through rather than over the top most of the time a defender intercepted the intended pass.
     Doncaster were looking to get the ball out to Sue Smith on the right with both Naomi Chadwick and Jess Sigsworth looked to support. It was Chadwick with the 1st real chance as she recieved the ball on the left hand corner of the box fired a looping shot goal wards beating the Aston Villa keeper Leach but landing the wrong side of the post wide. Doncaster were on top during this period another cross saw Beth England head the ball down but straight into Leach's arms. Aston Villa were getting pulled across the pitch to deal with Sue Smith left space on the left but Doncaster failed to exploit it on a number of occasions.
   Aston Villa persisted on trying to get the ball through Doncaster's back line, McCue was all over the pitch working hard made a run that found her the furthest forwards the pass found her head but she could only direct it tamely into the hands of Doncaster keeper Nicola Hobbs who had had very little to do until late in the half with chances on the low side the 1st half ended in stalemate 0-0.
   The 2nd half started with Doncaster on the offensive once again Sue Smith the player causing Aston Villa the problems seen it before, cheered when she was at Lincoln as she did it to the opposing team and dispaired when she did the same to Lincoln. Got the ball drove into the box and was brought down.. penalty. Up stepped Victoria Williams to take 1-0 as the ball brushed past the diving Leach's fingertips. Aston Villa felt aggrieved it was a physical encounter had a player booked for a foul on Cunningham. Sue Smith had another run at Aston Villa's penalty box took the shot deflected off a defender into the path of Beth England who controlled quickly and fired it home to make it 2-0.
     Aston Villa made a change brought on Sarah Mayling to the right side of attack to try and regain the initiative, soon after coming on  Mayling had a run on her marker struck the ball from the edge of the box but keeper Hobbs was well positioned to gather. Soon after the battling McCue went down under a challenge in the middle of the park and had to be carried off, an ambulance arrived shortly afterwards nothing we like to see and I hope that it was just a precaution and nothing too serious.
   Sue Smith found Millie Bright in an advanced position fed the ball out to her on the right played a one, two Bright's cross almost finding England only for Leach to claim the ball.
    Sigsworth was brought down in the box a 50/50 decision the ref waved it away the ball was lose in the box however and as Sue Smith tried to claim it she was tripped and this time the penalty was given. Up stepped William's but this attempt was launched against the bar clattered down with Sue Smith heading the ball back goalwards Leach grabbed it to prevent it going over her.
   Aston Villa were getting some joy down both flanks late on Mayling had a similar attempt to her 1st collected by Hobbs once again then she had to dive to her right quickly to keep out a stinging long range drive from the left, the resulting corner was a little chaotic as pinballing between players Doncaster got it clear and claim a 2-0 victory a morale boosting win and advance to the 4th round of the FA Cup. Always good to start the season with a win. I liked my 1st trip to Coles Lane and look forwards to seeing more of both Aston Villa and Doncaster Rovers Belles in action once WSL 2 begins.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Match Report QPR LFC v MK Dons LFC South East Combination League

  I've attended plenty of matches in the South East Combination League this season and have seen some very competitive and entertaining matches. I've always had an eye on this league in the past as it is where the East Anglia teams operate such as Norwich City Ladies and Cambridge WFC and certainly in the past few seasons one team has usually dominated the league and won promotion easily a notable example being Lewes Ladies a couple of seasons back. This season however the league has several teams battling for top spot.
    No less than 4 teams going into the weekend were well placed for a title challenge.

C&K Basildon have been the early pace setters newly promoted and on the back of successive promotions the winning habit is something that you can carry with you to a new league. I have seen them play a couple of times, play the ball well, short passes but progressive in build up with plenty of attack minded players and in both the games I've seen the ability to conjure up a goal when it has been needed.

    2nd place going into the weekend and the team I personally had as favourites to win the title at the start of the season were QPR Ladies. Again have seen them play a couple of times and they like C&K Basildon have a host of attack minded players who look to advance with the ball quickly particulary down the flanks. Have in my opinion the best player in the league Sophie Fogarty (pictured right) very agile and quick with the ball picks a good pass and drives at defenders.
    Also have the leagues top scorer in Stacey Sowden (pictured below) with over 20 goals in all competitions, a powerful and physical presence happy to go up against defenders and get herself in good scoring positions.

The 3rd placed team in the South East Combination league has snuck up the table almost unoticed on the back of 5 successive wins before Christmas and because of that MK Dons Ladies have to be in the title mix simply because I feel the 4th placed team are in with a shout still having seen them play and by the sheer number of games they have in hand on the other teams Norwich City Ladies. A tall and powerful group of players they are perhaps more direct in their game play than both C&K Basildon and QPR but I don't mean that in a negative sense as they look to attack and counter attack quickly getting the ball up the pitch but getting the players up in support too, pose a big problem at set pieces too. Have been the victim of a huge number of postponements and as good as games in hand sound most managers would rather have the points on the board will be interesting to see if their squad can cope with a quick succession of games... when they finally get them.


   Onto this weekends match then out of the 4 teams still in with a real chance of the title MK Dons LFC were the ones I hadn't seen play was interested to see how they would fair against a team like QPR LFC who were on a long unbeaten run and with C&K Basildon's FA Cup tie postponed for a 4th successive weekend could either capitalise. Of course the game had to be on first January was a nightmare to find a game that was on the South East Combination teams have all suffered some almost having an 'off' season break let alone fortnights interuption lot of frustrated footballers out there. As it was waking up the weather was set fair the sky blue for a change mind you QPR's Honeycroft ground was a 132 miles away so I set off optimistically (certainly didn't want another drenching like I had last weekend).
     Blues skies and good time a cup of tea and I was all set for the match even had the new camera out to practise with. The Honeycroft pitch looked in good shape a little sand here and there otherwise everything was perfect for the match. The noteable absense for QPR was Sophie Fogarty as the home side in their blue and white hooped shirts and white shorts and socks lined up in a 4-3-3 formation their opponents in an all red kit more of a 4-5-1 with lone stiker Eden Washington (pictured below) up top.

The opening exchanges were fairly even with MK Dons looking to press QPR high up the pitch especially in midfield where they out numbered their opponents both teams had crosses in that period but no one could get on the end of one. QPR looked to be struggling to get the formation balance MK Dons were on top with Eden Washington looking to get the ball and turn as players tried to get in support on the flanks.
   It was then really against the run of play that QPR took the lead the three attacking players sticking to the task held their line and the ball found it's way to the feet of Leah Jones making her debut out on the left she ran clear of her marker, the keeper came rushing out to meet her on the edge of the box but she was sharper and slotted it past her into the empty net to make it  1-0. The goal certainly helped to settle down the home side skipper Elly Maggs could find some time on the ball at last they managed to slow the game down find space and look to build up attacks try to find a way through a solid and confident MK Dons back line. Maggs herself had a half chance with a slide/volley that she managed somehow to send goal wards only for the keeper to gather.

Stacey Sowden was having a quiet game as she herself adapted to the new formation but got a chance before the break that she dragged wide of goal. Leah Jones had another copycat break that had led to her scoring then but this time the onrushing keeper did enough to force her wide and the shot when it came was tame and easily gathered. At 1-0 QPR had the advantage going into the 2nd half.
   A slender lead but QPR had had 45 minutes to get used to the new formation a few tweaks and a half time substitute and they looked better organised. MK Dons couldn't find their lone stiker quite so easily the first 20 or so minutes of the 2nd half was a fairly uneventful affair shots were few and far between and these off target. Eden Washington was taken off as MK Dons looked to change thing's no soon after one of their defenders had to be carried off and replaced. The ball just wouldn't stick for the visitors. MK Dons Leah Cudone looked to get herself into the box with a driving run her shot however was pulled wide of goal.
   At the other end QPR broke into the box past two defenders but the ball was blasted straight and the keeper who recovered to gather the rebounded attempt. Into the last 15 minutes and the MK Dons players looked weary could not get the ball to stick up front. Into the closing minutes there was still the single goal one chance it could go either way the chance was Stacey Sowden's however. Had the ball played to her turned to get a yard on her defender going into the box who could only dive to push it away from goal Sowden pursued it and shot from an acute angle back agross goal beating the charging keeper and with it sealing the 3pts and go top of the South East Combination on goal difference from C&K Basildon.

   A valuable 3pts in the title race perhaps too much for MK Dons to do now but I can see why they are where they are have some good techical players who work hard for each other. Will Norwich's games in hands work in their favour it's a tough league no game is a give me,or will it be a two team battle till the end of the season? I will for certain enjoy finding out.