Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Match Report - Notts County Ladies v Aston Villa Ladies Continental Cup Group 3

     The league campaign in the WSL 1 & 2 has barely begun, but now it makes way for the opening matches of this years Continental Cup. A new format with the 10 WSL 2 teams entering the competition for the 1st time. 18 clubs divided up into 3 groups of six teams each team playing each other once the 3 group winners and the best runner-up progressing to the semi-finals. Personally I would have liked to have seen a quarter final with 8 teams progressing being group winners, group runners-up and 2 best 3rd placed teams. It is a fledgling competition and will no doubt evolve over coming seasons.

    The groups are as follows:-

              Group One                             Group Two                        Group Three
             Arsenal Ladies                        Sunderland Ladies               Bristol Academy
             Chelsea Ladies                        Liverpool Ladies                 Notts County Ladies
             Millwall Lionesses                  Manchester City Women    Birmingham City Ladies
             Watford Ladies                       Everton Ladies                     Aston Villa Ladies
             London Bees                           Doncaster Rovers Belles     Oxford United Women
             Reading FC Women               Durham Women                  Yeovil Town Ladies

    Tonight saw 3 matches taking place to open the competition in Group Two, Sunderland Ladies v Durham Women & Liverpool Ladies v Everton Ladies. It was the match taking place in Group Three I went to watch Notts County Ladies v Aston Villa Ladies, a 7:30 kick off at Meadow Lane.

    Notts County had picked up 4 points from their opening 2 league matches and are sitting at the top of the WSL 1 table along with Chelsea & Liverpool. In contrast Aston Villa Ladiess have picked up just 1 point from their opening 3 WSL 2 matches.

   Notts County Ladies starting XI - Carly Telford, Sophie Walton, Sophie Bradley (C), Rachel Corsie, Laura-Jane O'Neill, Desiree Scott, Kaite Hoyle, Emily Roberts, Dunia Susi, Caitlin Friend & Jess Clarke.

    Aston Villa Ladies starting XI - Caitlin Leach, Maddy Cusack, Erin Vaughan, Jade Richards, Lauren Walker, Sherry McCue, Sarah Mayling, Katy Moran, Olivia Fergusson, Chloe Jones (C) & Bethan Merrick

     It was Notts County Ladies to get the match underway in their purple shirts and socks with yellow trim and yellow shorts against Aston Villa Ladies lined up in their white and claret quarter shirts, claret shorts and claret and purple striped socks. The last thing the WSL 2 underdogs would want to do is concede an early goal. That though is exactly what they did. Jess Clarke playing up top peeling off to the right hand side of the penalty area put in a cross and there was Dunia Susi to nod it into the back of the net at the near post unchallenged 1-0.

    The home side are applying most of the early pressure a through ball from Jess Clarke into the path of Caitin Friend is quickly taken by Aston Villa goalkeeper Caitlin Leach. The goalkeeper was at hand moments later to intercept a near post cross delivered from Clarke out on the right.

     Aston Villa's Sherry McCue wins posssession of the ball in Notts's half plays it out wide to Maddy Cusack who plays the ball in early however Notts keeper Carly Telford is well placed to collect.

   The game has begun at a high tempo Jess Clarke and Dunia Susi looking to play off the shoulders of the Aston Villa defence. One ball is played over the top to Clarke as she looks to break on the edge of the box, the attacker can't bring it down cleanly enough to get a shot away and the Aston Villa defence manage to play it back to Leach.

     Laura-Jane O'Neill has space to run into from left back plays the ball through to Caitlin Friend who crosses from the left a good height Aston Villa intercept and head clear. At the other end Olivia Fergusson running with the ball coming from the left has time to tie up a shot, however she slips and the ball rolls through to Telford.

    Always a danger on the break this time it is Emily Roberts for Notts County who is in an advanced position receiving the ball runs into the box on the right is pushed wide looks like she is running out of room, going to fall, but somehow she manages to screw the ball back into the danger area for Jess Clarke to have a simple tap in on the edge of the six yard box to make it 2-0

   Emily Roberts has two successive efforts on goal the 1st as she is almost played through again this time Leach out quick to smother the shot, the 2nd a long range effort that Leach parries behind for a corner. From that corner Rachel Corsie who had come forwards wins the ball well inside the box plays it out to the waiting Katie Hoyle on the right she plays the ball back in across goal and their is Caitlin Friend to make it 3-0.

     Aston Villa attacks are few and far between such is the constant bombardment from Notts County. A long range effort from Erin Vaughan goes close but wide of goal after a rare spell of possession. Sarah Mayling is booked for a rash sliding challenge on Laura-Jane O'Neill.

     Caitlin Leach produces a fine save trapping the ball with her leg after Jess Clarke races through on goal once again and has a one on one opportunity. Dunia Susi then finds herself with a one on one opportunity as she makes a run down the left channel Leach rushes out to the edge of the penalty box to try and make a save Susi though plays the ball past her, runs in on goal from the by line and rifles her shot home at the near post beating the defences trying to race back 4-0.

   Late in the 1st half Aston Villa win their 1st corner played in from the left Jade Richards heads the ball on to the far post where her team mate receives and heads over.

                          Half-time Notts County Ladies 4-0 Aston Villa Ladies

     Aston Villa get the 2nd half underway having been overwhelmed by their opponents in the 1st half the next 45 minutes are a damage limitation exercise can they keep the scoreline down, maybe nick a goal or two of their own. They start the 2nd half better looking to press Notts when they have the ball Sherry McCue looking to keep tabs on Dunia Susi whenever she's close.

    For all that it is Notts County with the 1st real attack as Leach has to palm away a well delivered Clarke cross from the right. Dunia Susi has a run with the ball has time to tee up her shot looks to put it close to Leach who drops well to stop the ball going past her.

   Aston Villa make the 1st change bringing on Carly Davies for Bethan Merrick. Amy Turner comes on for Notts County replacing Sophie Walton. Clark and Susi combine once more Clarke getting to the by line and crossing Susi though heads the ball wide of goal.

   Notts County think they have scored as Clarke finds herself through on goal charging into the box she shoots looking to go across Leach who manages to get enough on it to push it wide into the path of Susi however who buries it from close range the celebrations are cut short by the linesman's flag.

   Sophie Haywood comes on for Katie Hoyle, the New Zealander having had a great game dictating the play in the middle of the park and setting up numerous attacking moves.

     Olivia Fergusson is trying to make something happen for Aston Villa makes a couple of good runs with the ball trying to find away through Notts County's defensive lines when she does get a shot in Carly Telford is well positioned to take the ball.

    Always a danger on the break with their pace this time Clarke is through on goal coming in from the left into the box she shots beating Leach to make it 5-0.

   Olivia Fergusson gets a shot away from the edge of the box Telford though makes a comfortable save. Clarke is replaced by Courtney Sweetman-Kirk late on.

   Aston Villa have a great opportuntiy to score, Telford saves from point blank range on the edge of her six yard box the ball comes to Olivia Fergusson, her shot is sent behind the goal. A little ragged from Notts at the death but as the final whistle blows they seal an opening group match 5-0 victory as their fine form at the start of the season continues. Aston Villa will have to pick themselves up just came up against too strong an opponent.

     In Group Two it ended goaless between Liverpool Ladies & Everton Ladies and Sunderland Ladies top the group after beating Durham Women 3-0

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Match Report - Norfolk Leagues Season End

    The winter season's leagues are coming to an end up and down the country and with it bring a whole host of important matches, at both ends of the table and I was spoilt for choice this weekend. Women's FA Cup quarter final weekend too, I opted instead to take in a match closer to home one of huge importance in Norfolk Division One. The kick off time agreed by both teams for 10:30am meant I could sneak in another match close by too.. all this on a working weekend meant a 5:30 start at work...

                    Aylsham Town Ladies v Thorpe United Ladies 

    Game 1 of the day saw me travelling to Alysham's Recreation Ground where Aylsham Town Ladies play their home matches. Had been the venue for my 1st game of the year and where the (SWF Blog 50) challenge got started. The Recreation Ground is home to a number of sporting activities and the pitch used in that 1st match has given way to the cricket outfield. The new pitch being set at the bottom of the site, the grass lush and with a generous covering of dandelions making it a pretty picture on a warm sunny morning perfect for football.

    The match was of huge significance to both teams. The last of the season for both teams both stood a chance of clinching the Norfolk Division One title. Wymondham Town Ladies held that coverted top spot having gotten 31pts from 14 games played, they had however played out there season's league matches and could only wait todays results....

Norfolk Division One
    P W D L GD PTS
1 Wymondham Town Ladies 14 10 1 3 23 31
2 Thorpe United Ladies 13 10 0 3 39 30
3 Alysham Town Ladies 13 9 1 3 22 28

   Thorpe United Ladies whom I saw clinch a final spot in the Norfolk Women's League Cup Final this coming Sunday 4th May against Wymondham Town Ladies were in pole position sitting in 2nd spot with this one game remaining on 30pts with a superior goal difference just required a draw to claim the title. Aylsham Town Ladies having had a good 2nd half to the season and with UEA WFC pulling out of the league found themselves in 3rd spot on 28pts after 13 played with just a single digit in the goal difference separating them from Wymondham Town Ladies a victory by 2 clear goals gave them an outside chance of pinching the title.

    Even with the early start at work I was cutting it fine to make kick off and had barely gotten to the side of the pitch as Aylsham in their orange & blue shirts, blue shorts and orange socks got the game under way. Thorpe in their pink shirts and socks with black shorts won possession broke and scored through captain Rebekah Lake with barely 10 seconds on the clock. The perfect start for the visitors the home side were shell shocked 0-1.

    Thorpe with the early advantage settled the quicker, have been one of the donimant teams in women's football in Norfolk in recent years used to contesting matches at the top of the table. Lake is through again this time bursting into the box scuffs her effort allowing Aylsham's keeper to scoop the ball up.

    Aylsham have a free kick out on the right the effort is dragged heavily and screws towards the near post allowing Thorpe's keeper to pluck it down and set up a break, this results in a free kick being awarded to Thorpe just ouside the Aylsham penalty box, Becky Russell to take the tall midfielder hits a low shot towards the far post no one makes a move to block, too easy the score line is doubled 0-2.

    Aylsham are restricted to pops at goal from long range one goes close but curls away from the post to go behind. A long throw from thier captain comes into the box she shot is blocked deflected for a corner. The break is always on for Thorpe Lake holding her position well with good support from Charlotte Groves who plays the ball out to her on the right, Lake shoots from the edge of the box the ball flashing dangerously across goal.

     Minutes later Lake through the centre is in on goal slots it to the keepers right low to make increase the their lead to 3 nil. At the other end Aylsham have a couple of efforts on Thorpe's goal their keeper parrying the ball away for the 1st strike the rebound sent wide.

   Thorpe are rampart their 3 goal lead becomes 4, Lake completeing her hat-trick in the 1st half as Groves plays her through once again she breaks into the box Aylsham's keeper attempts to close her down falling at her feet, Lake with good feet smuggles the ball wide to her right inside the six yard box and shoots the ball beating the covering defenders on the line, 0-4.

    From a Thorpe corner defender Laura Wiseman is pushed over in the box seen by the referee the penalty is awarded, up steps Becky Russell, to smash the ball home to make it 5 to Thorpe.

                      Half-time Aylsham Town Ladies 0-5 Thorpe United Ladies

    With a 5 goal lead Thorpe have a commanding grip on the Norfolk Division One title, Aylsham's manager has a job on just to lift his team, the message to not let your heads drop and win the 2nd half.

     They start the stronger Thorpe have made changes. All over the pitch Aylsham are winning the ball back and then looking to get extra bodies forwards. Win a free kick on the right just outside the box delivered in Thorpe's keeper has to be alert to punch it behind for a corner. Another free kick further out is sent wide of the far post.
    When in possession the midfield is prepared to break in support of the strike force. A free kick on the half way line is floated in Aylsham have four inside the box the ball comes in is headed down and the shot comes from Aylsham's Gina Atherton who scores sliding the ball past the falling keeper into the net to get the home team on the score sheet 1-5.

    Thorpe are giving away silly free kicks each giving Aylsham with an opportunity to create a goal. A well delivered kick from the right is a good hide inviting a touch Thorpe's keeper comes out to claim strongly. An Aylsham corner is cleared at the near post, another corner from the other side is punches clear by the keeper.

    Thorpe though still have a 4 goal cushion can be patient are soaking up the pressure the break is one a good run down the left see's a cross put into the penatly box Gemma Sanders gets on the end of it but her effort goes over the bar. Sanders has another effort on goal further out this time that brings a good save.

     Late on Russell has an opening to attempt a lob at Aylsham's goal, get's it wrong as the ball goes high and wide. In the closing moments Russell again with a long range pop that Aylsham's keeper drops down well to save the final whistle blows and Thorpe win 5-1 to clinch the Norfolk Division One title. Final standings...

Norfolk Division One
    P W D L GD PTS
1 Thorpe United Ladies 14 11 1 3 44 33
2 Wymondam Town Ladies 14 10 1 3 23 31
3 Alysham Town Ladies 14 9 1 4 18 28

    Well done to Thorpe United LFC on becoming Norfolk Division One Champions

                           Sprowston Ladies v Red Rose Ladies

With the 10:30 kick off to the 1st division title decider, it meant I had an opportunity to see another match in Norfolk if their were any on in the regular Sunday 2pm slot. As it turned out there was the Norfolk Division Two clash between Sprowston Ladies and Red Rose Ladies just 12 miles up the road, one of the 2 million or so women's football matches that had been called off due to the miserable wet weather at the start of the year.

    Played at the Open Academy in Sprowston, Norwich the pitch was a little hard to find but I fell back to my trusted methods for finding a grassroots game sooner or later you're going to spot a group of women footballers kitted out and then follow, turned out the pitch was over the road. The weather still bright and sunny this was the last game of the league for Sprowston and Red Rose and after 17 played a piece were level in 6th and 7th place on 26pts a victory for either side would lift them above Bohemians in 5th.

    Red Rose were up against it from the start turning up with just 10 players they lined up in there red and black vertical striped shirts, black shorts and socks as Sprowston in there orange shirts, and black shorts and socks kicked the match off on what was a fairly firm playing surface.

     The numerical advantage was most telling on the flanks the home side able to use the extra player out wide, the hard surface and a lively ball meant it often ran away from the attacker before she could get onto the ball to cross. When they did get on the end of it the attempted cross was too strong for anyone to run onto or Red Rose's keeper was out quickly to clear.

     Despite being a player down Red Rose were working extremely hard and keeping a good shape especially at the back were getting the ball forwards had a good spell of possession out on the left which resulted in a cross being delivered in to the box actually cannon's off the post and out straight into the path of Red Rose's Emma Talmadge who slots it back past the keeper at the near post to make it 0-1 to the visitors.

     A Sprowston free kick delivered from the right is brought down inside the box the shot is cut across the ball screwing it behind for a goal kick. Soon after a Sprowston corner is headed on at the near post Red Rose's keeper jumps to claim the ball well in the centre of her goal.

   There are shouts for hand ball inside the Red Rose penalty box but only a corner is awarded. The ball drops into the box from the resulting kick and is cleared off the line by the Red Rose defence.

   The pressure is building Sprowston have run clear of the defence a number of times beating the offside flag, each time Red Rose's captain has recovered well with pace to make a tackle. This time she is beaten however Sprowston's Natasha Robson chases down an over the top ball and slips it past the diving keeper to level the scores 1-1.

                         Half-time - Sprowston Ladies 1-1 Red Rose Ladies

    Red Rose kick off the 2nd half, start the brighter win a corner that coming in from the right the keeper misses, there is a goal mouth scramble Sprowston smuggle the ball away. Sprowston enjoy good possession down their right flank get a shot away the ball goes behind the goal.

   Red Rose have a shot 20 yards out that swerves narrowly wide of the post. Try their luck from further out minutes later the low drive getting pushes behind by the keeper at her near post for a corner. Red Rose are enjoying good possession higher up the pitch with a player short they are doing well to match Sprowston for effort. Have an effort sail narrowly wide has the Sprowston keeper worried as she dives to her right.

    Sprowston are through on goal with only the keeper to beat the shot is blazed over the bar the attacker having more time that she realised. Sprowston then have another effort at Red Rose's goal cleared off the line at the near post. Approaching the last 10 minutes Sprowston are pushing Red Rose back Natasha Robson is through on goal charging in from the right tried her luck at the near post finds the side netting.

    Pushing players forwards in the final minutes a ball is played into the box from the left flank closing in on it is Sprowston's Jo Davey getting a foot to it she scores sending the ball past the keeper into the roof of the net 2-1.

     Turns out to be the winning goal as Sprowston celebrate getting the 3pts and clinching 5th place in Division Two. Tough on Red Rose who had worked hard with just 10 players even more so when I learnt after the match their goalkeeper was playing despite having a broken wrist.

     A long, but great day of watching grassroots women's football in Norfolk I'm already looking forwards to the new season.



Saturday, 26 April 2014

Match Report - Doncaster Rovers Belles v Reading FC Women

    The Keepmoat Stadium was the venue for the 2nd Saturday in a row as the new FAWSL 2 season continues with Doncaster Rovers Belles top of the league with 2 wins out of 2. Their opponents this evening Reading FC Women whom several (including myself) have tipped as potential title challenges. Still only the 3rd match of the season this could hardly be classed as a title decider and seasons aren't settled after just 2 games..... well maybe they had been for some, was a year ago when Doncaster Rovers Belles learnt they would be 'relegated' regardless of results.

    Past is the past however and we've all come along way the season couldn't have started better for Doncaster Rovers Belles 2 wins, top of the league, and 2 new volenteers to help with hosting the media on match days, Liz and Jane whom I met through our mutual support of Lincoln Ladies and I'm sure they will be very welcome helping out at Doncaster Rovers Belles.

     Reading FC Women had started the season with a victory at home to Yeovil Town Ladies then suffered a 3-2 away to Sunderland. Manager Jane Ludlow has used her Arsenal connections to bring in a number of her former clubs reserve team players along with the experienced Ciara Grant. Former Belles keeper Nicky Davies and welsh striker Helen Ward. Ward has since announced her pregancy and will miss Reading's campaign.

   Doncaster Rovers Belles starting XI - Nicola Hobbs, Lyndsey Cunningham, Leandra Little, Rhiannon Roberts, Lauren Cresswell, Kasia Lipka, Beth England, Millie Bright, Ashleigh Mills, Sue Smith & Jess Sigsworth

   Reading FC Women starting XI - Nicky Davies, Ciara Grant, ? Chambers, Eartha Pond, Becky Jane, Fran Kirby, Lauran Bruton, Kirsty McGee, Molly Bartrip, Melissa Fletcher & Rebecca Dandridge

     It was Doncaster to kick off in their yellow shirts and socks and blue shorts against Reading lined up in red shirts and black shorts and socks, on a cool but bright evening the sun just about covering the far side of the pitch. It was Doncaster with the early pressing Ashleigh Mills out wide right driving towards the by line Reading's Eartha Pond tracking back well to see the danger out.

    The early exchanges are tight as Reading look to keep a solid shape prevent Doncaster getting in behind. Defensive in their set up Reading are inviting pressure it's Doncaster's full backs that can find room to get forwards Lyndsey Cunningham with a good break plays a good through ball into Millie Bright coming from midfield pressures Reading into conceding a corner. The corner is delivered to the far post Nicky Davies can't claim as it falls to the waiting Bright, she can't get the shot away and the ball is cleared.
     At the other end Dandridge plays the ball into Fran Kirby who bursts into the box has a pop from the right of the six yards box Nicola Hobbs is alert and makes the save. Kirby is looking to drive with the ball whenever she can central this time she shoots the ball is blocked. Doncaster break quickly Sigsworth is through on goal but Nicky Davies has read the danger and is quickly out of her box to clear the ball.

    Sue Smith is tugged back to earn Doncaster a free kick 20 yards out to the left. Lauren Cresswell to take flies into the box Leandra Little meets it with her head the effort goes over the bar. Kasia Lipka is doing well to win the ball back in midfield for Doncaster plays it through to Sigsworth who plays it wide to Mills who crosses finding the head of the on coming Bright the header plucked down by Davies. The pressure is building from the home side.

     Sue Smith with a good run has her shot saved, then Sigsworth blasts wide after another break. 30 yards out Millie Bright has space to have a strike at goal produces a thunderbolt it is past Davies before she can react 1-0 Doncaster.

                     Half-time Doncaster Rovers Belles 1-0 Reading FC Women

    Reading have struggled to retain possession of the ball especially in the final 3rd meaning Doncaster have been able to come at them time after time. Jayne Ludlow makes 2 changes at the start of the 2nd half bringing on Georgie Giddings and Lois Roche for Molly Bartrip and Rebecca Dandridge. Doncaster make a change to bringing on Victoria Williams for Lauren Cresswell at left back.

    Fran Kirby has been pushed up top. Before they visitors can settle Doncaster are on the attack Jess Sigsworth with the ball is allowed to travel unchallenged into the box from the right she porduces a vicious cross, that finds Sue Smith at the far post her effort goes over.

    Victoria Williams makes a powerful run down the left puts a cross in almost finds Bright arriving near post the ball is cleared by Reading comes out to Beth England whose 1st time shot goes in off the post to make it 2-0.

   A 3rd goal soon follows Smith runs onto a long ball trying to clear the Reading defence deflect it into the path of Sigsworth powering into the box she shoots Davies parries the ball away but only into the path of Smith who had continued her run over lapping Sigsworth to put the ball into the net at the near post 3-0.

    Reading when they can get the ball up to Kirby or Lois Roche work hard to creat a chance in and around the box, Kirby is a small pacey player with good feet, receives the ball from a throw in turns inside the box shifts the ball and shoots playing the ball across Hobbs and into the net 3-1.

   3-1 almost immediately became 4-1, I was still writing my notes from the previous goal as Doncaster took the restart. Had the ball down the left and Sigsworth unleashes a shot beating Davies 4-1.

    Just 15 minutes of the 1st half had passed. Reading having gotten a goal back were reeling. Lauren Bruton plays a good through ball into Kirby everytime Reading's no11 has the ball she looks a danger, Doncaster manager Gordon Staniforth makes a change replacing Ashleigh Mills with Naomi Chadwick.

   Jess Sigsworth with her 2nd of the game wins possession in midfield drives forwards and shoots from the edge of the box the ball arrowing into the top corner to make it 5-1.

    Kirby puts in a decent cross that Hobbs has to tip over the bar. From the corner Hobbs punches the ball away it falls loose in the box their is a bit of panic as it comes out to Ciara Grant who tries to play it back in, before Doncaster eventually scramble it away. Hope Knight comes on to replace Jess Sigsworth.

   Kirby manages to isolate herself against Cunningham uses her trickery to take the ball past the full back and shoots from outside the box, beating Hobbs at her near post to make it 5-2.

    Both Beth England and Millie Bright have long range efforts saved by Davies, at the other end Kirby tries to beat three defenders almost succeeds but Hobbs is out quickly to kick the ball away. Hobbs is then involved in an incident on the goal line as she and a Reading player go down, get's a bit heated as the referee stops play and consults with her team, they decide no further action is needed.

    Kirby is almost through in the dying minutes but is stopped by the linesman's flag as the final whistle blows and Doncaster win 5-2, go clear at the top of the WSL 2 after winning 3 out of 3 to leave their supporters very happy.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Match Report - Thorpe United LFC v Stalham Town LFC Norfolk Women's League Cup semi-final

   After Wednesday's Bungay Town Ladies Challenge Cup tournament, last night saw me taking in another game between 2 Norfolk women's teams this time in the semi-final of the Norfolk Women's League Cup. The match between Thorpe United LFC & Stalham Town Ladies. The match to be played at Thorpe St Andrews School on a 3G pitch. Thorpe United LFC are challenging for the title in Norfolk Division One, their opponent Stalham Town LFC are currently sitting in 3rd place in Norfolk Division Two.

    A division apart Stalham Town LFC playing all in red were the underdogs as they kicked off against Thorpe United LFC in pink shirts, black shorts and socks. In the opening minute it was Stalham who took the early lead. Midfielder Kerri Eke with a perfectly weighted through ball played into the path of forward Emma Ward travelling into the box Thorpe could not get a challenge in as the ball was slotted in at the near post 1-0 Stalham.

     With the early goal Stalham had the boost and were working very hard to close Thorpe down and prevent them buidling an attack on what was a very large 3G pitch. It took Thorpe several minutes to get going, winning a corner it was played in by Becky Russell finds team mate Rebekah Lake her header though going straight to the Stalham keeper.

     Rebekah Lake was staying close to the shoulder of the last Stalham defender and looking to run onto any ball played out quickly to her with a good turn of pace the 3G surface causing the ball to travel the striker was onto a ball on the right shot from inside the box the ball finding the keeper waiting at the near post.

     Up the other end Kerri Eke has a shot towards goal curling in the air it is a little too far out doesn't carry enough power and the keeper collects. Thorpe though are coming back into the match are creating half chances with good pressure in and around the box . Mid way through the half they equalise through no 9 Charlotte Groves with an effort 25 yards out to the left of the goal 1-1.

    Stalham have a corner the ball flying in from the left is an inviting height goes through everybody and smashes into the far post comes out and Thorpe manage to clear have a break Rebekah Lake is clear as she runs towards goal has more time than she thinks as she unleashes a hasty shot that swerves up and over the bar.

                               Half-time Thorpe United LFC 1-1 Stalham Town LFC

     Thorpe get the 2nd half underway the floodlights are in full effect now the temperature dropping sharply. Good combination play between Charlotte Groves and Rebekah Lake brings out another save at the near post, whilst at the other end for Stalham Emma Ward is clear running onto a loose ball as she tries to bring it inside to have an effort Thorpe's Laura Wiseman is quick to cover the ground and make the tackle. Moments later Ward has another run at goal this time is brought down outside the box the free kick is put over the bar.

     Good pressure from Stalham in and around the Thorpe penalty box leads to a series of corners from one Thorpe break with purpose Rebekah Lake powering down the right looks to put a cross in as team mates charge to support. The ball is cleared at the near post comes out to midfielder Becky Russell 25 yards out she fires in a low shot. It goes into the back of the net deflected by Charlotte Groves who appeared to be in an offside position the goal stood however and Thorpe had the lead 2-1.

     Lake with another opportunity to shot at the near post can't find a way to get the ball past the keeper. Thorpe then extend their lead awarded a free kick 20 yards out to the right of goal Becky Russell lofts in a great ball going over the keeper and into the back of the net 3-1.

    Thorpe are dominant in possession now Stalham struggling to get any support up to Emma Ward who when she has the ball can't hold it up. Ward does manage to earn a late corner the ball is loose in the box for a moment before Thorpe win it back and break Russell finding Lake the near post shot doesn't come off again. From a corner Thorpe's Chelsea Clarke has a header at goal the looping ball straight at the keeper.

       The final whistle blows and Thorpe United LFC clinch a place in the Norfolk Women's League Cup Final where they will face rivals Wymondham Town LFC after they beat Aylsham Town LFC 5-0 in their semi-final.

     Update - Final between Wymondham Town LFC & Thorpe United LFC to take place on Sunday 4th May 2:00pm ko at Plantation Park

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Bungay Town Ladies Challenge Cup

    After the weekends FAWSL action this week presented an opportunity to take in some local women's football action in Norfolk. First up on Wednesday evening I travelled over to Maltings Meadow the home venue for Bungay Town Ladies, to watch not 1... or 2... but 3 games of football. The event an invitational tournament between 6 women's football teams hosted by Bungay Town Ladies.

                                      The Bungay Town Ladies Challenge Cup

    The 6 teams split into 2 groups of 3 were to face off against one another over 3 games in the evening each 50 mins long with 25 minute halves, the team with the highest points tally going on to the final. Tonight was the 2nd group of games. The 1st having been played last week saw Wymondham Town Ladies reach the final after victories over opponents, Bacton and Waveney Wanderers.

    Tonights group opponents were hosts Bungay Town Ladies (Norfolk Division One). Long Stratton Ladies (newly promoted to Norfolk Division One) and Bohemians (Norfolk Division Two). A good spread of teams have seen both Bungay and Bohemians play this season, the weather had put pay to my attempts to see Long Stratton, so I was pleased to be able to see them play at last.

 1st Match - Long Stratton Ladies v Bohemians

    It was Long Stratton and Bohemians who were to face off in the 1st group match. It was a fairly even opening period Long Stratton won a series of corners, however Bohemians defended their penalty box well and looked to get the ball up top for attacker Laura Furi to run onto. At half-time neither side had had a clear chance to score 0-0.

    2nd half Long Stratton came out the stronger with both Ellie Sostman and Emily Watts having efforts on goal saved by Bohemian's keeper. With the pressure building Long Stratton scored the ball coming to Jordan Arnoup 20 odd yards out striking it perfectly the ball arrows into the back of the net 1-0. Bohemians closest chance to finding a reply came very late on as the ball cannons off the cross bar, Long Stratton hold out though to win the opening game.

2nd Match - Bungay Town Ladies v Bohemians

    Bohemians need a victory if they wish to make the final the pressure is on them from Bungay from the start the shots though are taken early and from long range going high or wide as they look to make an early break through it doesn't come as Bohemians having had little opportunity to go forwards themselves hold out till half-time 0-0.

   The 2nd half Bungay score early a  near post header from a corner 1-0. It soon becomes 2-0 as Bungay break well their no 9 through on goal to score. Bohemians are pushed back can't get the ball to stick up top Bungay's 3rd goal comes as their attacker runs into the box and slots it past the keeper at the near post. A cross/shot from the right corner of the penalty area goes in to make it 4-0. The score finishes at 5-0 the last goal an og from a corner. The goal scorers for Bungay were, Leah Sheppard, Jess Bennett with a brace & Stacey Newrick

3rd Match - Bungay Town Ladies v Long Stratton Ladies

     With a victory a piece going into the final group match, Bungay had a superior goal difference over Long Stratton meaning a draw would be enough to secure a final spot. Long Stratton needed a victory to take the final spot from their opponents started the game brightly a shot from the edge of the box is blocked comes out to Emily Watts who controls the ball well turns and shoots the shot again blocked. Bungay take the early lead as Hannah Waters takes advantage of a keeping error to loop the ball back into an empty net.

   Controversy! The game unfortunately saw an unsavory incident something I do not like to see nor most of you too I'm sure, a player raising a hand towards an opponent a Bungay player striking Long Stratton's Jordan Arnoup in the face. My 1st reaction was "silly girl you're off for that friendly tournament or not." The referee however didn't produce any card which caused upset amongst the Long Stratton supporters. Unsettled their players as they failed to find a fluidity in their play the half-time score 0-0.

     Bungay started the 2nd half the stronger pressing Long Stratton however having managed to break with the ball and win a corner Long Stratton equalised. The ball from the corner fell into the six yard box a bit of pinball ensued the ball is screwed out to no 3 Nadia Child on the edge of the box meets it well and puts it back in through a crowd of players to nestle into the back of the net 1-1 game on. Bungay counter breaking in numbers produce a good save from Long Stratton's keeper with her legs. Late pressure from Long Stratton, but Bungay defend stoutly and secure their place in the final against Wymondham Town Ladies.

     It is a nice tournament format from Bungay Town Ladies, 3 competitive matches in one evening showcasing women's football in Norfolk. When I have details of the final I will let you know.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Match Report - Manchester City WFC v Bristol Academy FAWSL 1

    Part 2 of my women's football weekend, after watching watching Doncaster Rovers Belles beat Oxford United WFC at the Keepmoat Stadium last evening (see previous match report) I opted to stay in Doncaster overnight rather than travel back home to Norfolk. The 2nd game today giving me an early opportunity to take a look at Manchester City WFC the new entrants to WSL 1, their opponents today Bristol Academy. Both teams had started their league campaign with an away and home defeat respectfully and were looking to get those much wanted 1st points on the board.

     Manchester City WFC play their home matches at the Manchester Regional Arena situated on the grounds next to the spectacular looking Etihad Stadium. Like the Keepmoat you go to the ticket office to buy your match ticket and can take advantage of the various facilities around the stadium. The layout was a little confusing but plenty of stewards on hand to ask where to go, and been there once you'll know what to do next time. A sign close to or on the Regional Arena announcing it as the home ground of Manchester City WFC would be a nice touch too. A free programme too, again very good as have all of the programmes I've collected in my 4 WSL 1 & 2 games this week.

     The Manchester Regional Arena is an athletics stadium, now dual purpose with football. I personally am not a fan of having a running track between the supporters and the pitch, wasn't helped by advertising boards obscuring the near touch line either. An open plan stadium it could well be a cold windy place to be, so it's perfect the WSL is a summer sport because on a nice hot sunny day it will be great. The pitch was lush and green looked in very good condition the weather a little chilly and breezy.

    Manchester City WFC starting XI - Andie Worrall, Steph Houghton, Emma Lipman, Steph Marsh, Chelsea Nightingale, Krystle Johnston, Jill Scott, Betsy Hassett, Jess Holbrook, Isobel Christiansen, & Toni Duggan.

   Bristol Academy starting XI - Mary Earps, Grace McCatty, Jemma Rose, Jasmine Matthews, Corinne Yorston, Angharad James, Sophie Ingle, Natasha Harding, Nicki Watts, Laura Del Rio, & Natalia Sanchon

    It was Manchester City to kick the match off in thier sky blue shirts with white trim, white shorts and socks with sky blue trim against Bristol kitted out in red shirts, shorts and socks with white trim. It was a cgaey opeing few minutes the ball travelling up and down the pitch as both teams tried to settle into the match. The 1st attempt on goal a shot from Bristol's Angharad James blocked by Manchester City's defence from a corner won by Natalia Sanchon.

    Working the right channel Manchester City's Krystle Johnston is causing problems early on breaking clear of her marker Bristol keeper Mary Earps rushes out to clear the danger her kick only finds Toni Duggan, before she can get the ball under control from the shot from 30 yards out Earps has managed to back track to gather the ball.

   The away side take an early lead from a well delivered corner from the right that Manchester City keeper Andie Worrall can't take cleanly it falls down into the 6 yard box there is confusion and the ball goes over the line an own goal 1-0 to Bristol.

    Not the start Manchester City wanted on their home debut. Jill Scott looking to play her game in an advanced role for Manchester City was doing her best to influence play and link up with striker Toni Duggan. Scott with a great break is in on goal central she shoots every one thinks it has gone in... Earps though has gotten the merest of touches to send it wide of the post (narrowly) corner.

    The difference between the two sides was the fluidity of their play Bristol's was far better with Laura Del Rio and Natasha Harding operating wide and Nicki Watts in support of Natalia Sanchon in attack the build up was stronger. Manchester in comparison were losing their shape in order to try and make things happen.

    With this better build up of attack Bristol were putting Manchester City under increased pressure. They doubled their lead, a good cross from the right is played into Del Rio inside the box turning she lays it off to the advancing Agharad James who unleashes a shot from inside the box giving Worrall no chance 2-0 to Bristol.

    Good work from Duggan brings about a free kick on the right as Corinne Yorston fouls Krystle Johnston. Delivered into the box Duggan heads the ball down into the path of Betsy Hassett but the attempt on goal is blocked.

                         Half-time Manchester City WFC 0-2 Bristol Academy

    Manchester City are out early need a stronger 2nd half performance in front of what was once again an excellent crowd of over 1200. The attendances upon the whole have been very promising in these opening matches and I really do hope they continue into the season. Bristol get the 2nd half under way.

    The visitors start the half better, Natasha Harding with a good run into the box lays the ball off for Nicki Watts, the ball is missed and Manchester City reclaim the ball to break, Jill Scott is now staying in an advanced position to link up with Duggan the tall midfielder gets a good cross in from the right Duggan at the near post sandwiched between two defenders is squeezed out.

   Manchester City are working alot harder to disrupt Bristols flow and from that look to build are giving away a number of fouls in doing so. Krystle Johnston has been a threat down the right all game making good determined runs this time gets an opportunity to have a strike on goal the ball though sails over the bar.

    Jess Holbrook and Krystle Johnston are replaced by Lynda Shepherd and Natasha Flint for Manchester City. Isobel Christiansen quiet in the 1st half has been more effective in the 2nd half pushed up the pitch she almost plays in Duggan. A little while later has a long range effort along the ground it lacks the power and Earps scoops it up.

    At the other end the ball is played in dangerously to Natasha Harding at the near post she can't make enough contact the ball screws out into Nicki Watts who can't get the ball out of her feet in time to shoot before Manchester City clear the danger.

    Bristol's Laura Del Rio has Bristols best chance of the half finding herself in a central position 20 yards out sends in a curling shot it strikes the post, bouncing out into the path of the advancing Sanchon the Spanish striker shoots but Andie Worrell makes a brilliant save.

    Anne-Marie Heatherson comes on late for Angharad James. The closing minutes see long range off target efforts from both sides Isobel Christiansen for Manchester City, Natasha Harding for Bristol. The final whistle blows and it is the visitors who secure a comfortable 2-0 victory and get the 3pts.

   Work to do for Manchester City not the start they would have wanted it is however a very new team in a new league and will take time to gel, but gel it will no doubt has been a lot of pressure pre season from media building up the club the PR has been brilliant it's game time that the team needs now.



Saturday, 19 April 2014

Match Report - Doncaster Rovers Belles v Oxford United WFC FAWSL 2

    The FAWSL season is in full swing now and the games are coming thick and fast and with 18 teams spread over 2 divisions the fixture lists are producing new dates and opportunities to go and see top flight women's football. This evening was the 1st of a number of games Doncaster Rovers Belles will be hosting on a Saturday evening over the coming season and in doing so gives me an opportunity to take in 2 games over the weekend. Heading further north tomorrow I decided on an overnight stay in Doncaster the time better spent asleep rather than driving back to Norfolk.

      The venue Doncaster's Keepmoat Stadium the visitors were Oxford United WFC whom I had seen in the opening match of WSL 2 where they had been beaten 3-0 by London Bees. Doncaster Rovers Belles WSL 2 campaign had started with a midweek 2-0 win away to Aston Villa LFC. Could the home side continue their winning start with maximum points or would the visitors get their 1st points on the board?

     Doncaster Rovers Belles starting XI - Nicola Hobbs, Lyndsey Cunningham, Leandra Little, Rhiannon Roberts, Lauren Cresswell, Beth England, Kasia Lipka, Millie Bright, Sue Smith, Reanne Thomas, & Jess Sigsworth

     Oxford United WFC starting XI - Demi Lambourne, Steph Mobbs, Amy Chivers, Jemma Connor-Iommi, Rosie Lane, Sahara Osbourne-Ricketts, Kayleigh Hines, Katie Stanley, Helen King, Laura Low, & Lauren Allison

     The visitors in their away kit of purple shirts with white strip, white shorts and white socks were welcoming back into their starting line-up captain Sahara Osbourne-Ricketts who had to serve a suspension last Monday. It was the home side Doncaster in their yellow shirts and socks with blue trim and blue shorts that kicked the evenings match off the weather cool a little overcast but otherwise perfect for a football match.

    It was Doncaster with the early attacks Reanne Thomas out wide right with a good run plays ball into the onrushing Millie Bright her attempt at goal is blocked by Oxford keeper Demi Lambourne the lose ball coming back to Thomas who blazes it over.

      Oxford's Lauren Allison is fouled 25 yards out to the right the ball flighted in but lands on the top of the crossbar. Doncaster look to play the ball out quickly from the back with purpose Jess Sigsworth recieves it wide left drives into the middle central to goal she unleashes a shot but it is screwing away from goal and wide for a goal kick.

    Doncaster were piling the pressure on Oxford pinning their defence back but with Sigsworth, Thomas and Sue Smith all looking to recieve the ball wide it was up to the midfield to make central runs Millie Bright was looking to get into the box as often as possible. Got her head onto a Sigsworth free kick played in from the left heading in down into the ground the ball cannons up and wide.

     With Sahara Osbourne-Ricketts in midfeild Oxford were looking to disrupt Doncasters build up but the Belles attack was proving very difficult to mark. Sigsworth delivers a vicious cross from the left across the six yard box Oxford's Jemma Connor-Iommi makes a vital interception to prevent Reanne Thomas scoring.

     Out wide right for Oxford Katie Stanley with her pace presented the biggest danger, Doncaster left back Lauren Cresswell with good support from Kasia Lipka were doing a good job preventing her making many dangerous runs when she did get a cross in Doncaster keeper Nicola Hobbs was on hand to claim.

     It was looking like Oxford's best opportunity might come from a set piece captain Sahara Osbourne -Ricketts with a good deilvery. One free kick from the right launched into the box forces Hobbs to punch away it falls to an Oxford player the shot however is blazed over.

      Despite all their good build up play and the pressure they had been putting on their opponents it was Oxford who took the lead. The home side make a mess of  trying to clear their lines as a dangerous ball is whipped into the box a scramble ensues on the goal line Sahara Osbourne-Ricketts profiting as she stabs the ball home from close range. 1-0 Oxford

    Scored late in the half the lead was not to last long however as with the minutes almost up the Oxford defense plays the ball back to Demi Lambourne who catches it the referee blowing for a free kick 2 yards inside the penalty box. Sue Smith standing over the ball rolls it to the right into the path of the running Lauren Cresswell who strikes the ball perfectly with power driving it up over the Oxford defender on the post before she can react and into the net 1-1.

                            Half-time Doncaster Rovers Belles 1-1 Oxford United WFC

    Oxford kick off the 2nd half looking to be more direct and build up play with purpose. Doncaster in comparison were looking to be more clinical in the final third when they had the ball and it was the home side who had the 1st real attack Sue Smith out wide right whipping in a cross that goes over the onrushing Reanne Thomas near post and strikes her team mate Beth England at the far post to roll wide.

      Outside the Doncaster penalty box Oxford's Kayleigh Hines sights up a curling effort, defender Rhiannon Roberts stoops low to head the threat clear. Soon after Oxford are forced into a change replacing Demi Lambourne the keeper injured in an incident in the 1st half replaced by Hannah Cox. Millie Bright comes off for Doncaster to be replaced by Ashleigh Mills.

       Sahara Osbourne-Ricketts then pulls down Sue Smith to earn the home side a free kick in a good position 20 odd yards out of goal it's Lauren Cresswell to deliver the strike is magnificent placed into the right corner of the net beating Cox to make it 2-1.

       Kasia Lipka has time to line up a shot her effort goes over, minutes later Sigsworth who has been a threat all game is in on goal Cox is out quickly to smother the ball at her feet. The pressure though is all coming from Doncaster, Oxford can not retain the ball. Doncaster score again this time Reanne Thomas plays the ball through to Sigsworth who runs into the box is drawn right takes two defenders with her and gets it a cross that Thomas continuing her run drives into the roof of the net 3-1

    3-1 become 4-1 moments later a free kick is floated out wide right to Ashleigh Mills in acres of space on the right drives into the box almost to the by line she shoots from the acutest of angles and scores the ball cannoning off the far post and into the net.

     With a 3 goal cushion Doncaster are in complete control of the game bring on Emma Johnson for Kasia Lipka. Oxford bring on Ella Franklin-Fraiture for Osbourne-Ricketts and Lindsay Pinker for Laura Low it makes little difference, rather than sit back Doncaster ruthless continue to press forwards looking to add to the scoreline Sigsworth putting in another dangerous cross that Thomas puts onto the bar.

      The final whistle blows and Doncaster Rovers Belles win 4-1 with 2 wins out of 2 and go top of WSL 2 equalling last season's points tally already.


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Match Report Notts County Ladies v Arsenal Ladies FAWSL 1

    The new season of the FAWSL is finally here and promises to be one of the most exciting and perhaps unpredictable yet with so much transfer activity and change within clubs. New teams and new venues, a new second tier as well, plenty of quality football to look forwards to over the coming summer. Where to start? Well okay we had a game on Monday the curtain raiser setting off the new FAWSL 2 between Oxford United WFC & London Bees if you don't know what happened there you'll find a report further down the page. Tonight the FAWSL 1 campaign got underway and I went along to see Notts County Ladies make their bow at home in the league to the long time powerhouse of the women's game Arsenal Ladies.

    New season equals new beginnings and all that. Notts County Ladies as we all know is the rebranding of former FAWSL side Lincoln Ladies. This team is far removed from that now you can count the number of players left from the old squad that started the 2013 campaign on one hand. The club has been one of the most active in the transfer market bringing in 10 new faces and some quality and experience too, certainly a competive squad to compete in the league. Going full time and moving counties to attract a bigger crowd and to be affiliated with the men's club one of the oldest in the country and play their home matches at the Meadow Lane stadium it is a new era in women's football.

    Likewise their opponents Arsenal Ladies had seen a lot of comings and goings over the winter something the club nor it's fans were used too, at least the going part. The club having lost the title to Liverpool Ladies last season are it's fair to say in a period of transistion. Manager Shelley Kerr has brought in a number of experienced internationals such as Casey Stoney, Siobhan Chamberlain, Anouk Hoogendijk and the japanese stars Shinubo Ohno and Yukari Kinga. Meeting in the 1st game of the season it would be an interesting match up a close call very tough to predict.

     My 1st trip to Meadow Lane it is an impressive stadium very well laid out with top notch facilities albeit an unimpressive cheeseburger. Plenty of people around it was clear a good sized crowd was building and good to see for a game in the top tier of women's football, taking our seats in the stand running along the pitch behind the dugouts the weather a perfect for a game of football, the pitch a little worn and bare, but then it has seen alot of action already this year and looked to be in good nick as Arsenal in their traditional red and white kit got the game under way Notts County Ladies lining up in their purple and yellow strip.

     The home side had England striker Ellen White out injured and lined up with speedy forward Jess Clarke up top with Dunia Susi & Courtney Sweetman-Kirk in support, a midfield three of Katie Holtham, Katie Hoyle and Desiree Scott, with a back four, right to left of Sophie Walton, Sophie Bradley, Rachel Corsie & Amy Turner with Carly Telford in goal.

    For Arsenal in was a similiar formation to start with Danielle Carter up top supported by Rachel Yankey and Shinubo Ohno, Kelly Smith, Christine Murray & Yukara Kinga operating in midfield with a back four of Alex Scott, Leah Williamson, Casey Stoney & Emma Mitchell, with Emma Byrne preferred in goal.

    It was Arsenal's Danielle Carter with the 1st shot towards goal, the strike off target. The home side were soon on the attack with Dunia Susi showing a good turn of pace looking to support Jess Clarke almost plays her in but play is pulled back by the linesmans flag. Susi reaches the by line soon after puts a good cross in Byrne is well placed to collect. A break then from an Arsenal corner see's Jess Clarke in on goal being closed down she gets a shot away but drags it wide of the goal.

    Notts County were forced to make an early change as New Zealander Katie Hoyle has to come off replaced by her fellow countrywoman Anna Green she goes to left back as Amy Turner switches to right back and Sophie Walton moves into the midfield. Anna Green makes a good run down her flank and whips in a good cross towards the edge of the penalty box jumping for it Katie Holtham is leaning back and cannot get enough power in her goal bound effort to trouble Byrne.

    Good pressure from the home side the pace of the game is frantic the ball spending very little time in midfield. Notts County in particular trying to play the ball to Susi or Clarke as soon as possesion is won, very direct but very effective when your attack has so much pace means Arsenal have no time to build an attack of their own from the back if they know the ball is coming back at them. Jess Clarke has a sighter on goal time to turn and unleash a shot from outside the box as Alex Scott attempts to close her down the effort curling goes wide.

     Soon after Clarke with a couple of sharp moves of the ball beats her marker and has another go from long range this one going behind too. At the other end Kelly Smith has the ball inside the Notts County box slides it across to the running Alex Scott she attempts a back heel that very nearly plays in Shinubo Ohno.

    The home side take the lead then Jess Clarke is fed the ball backs up then turns driving into the box even as Casey Stoney is trying to stop her she gets a shot away and the ball finds the back of the net 1-0. Notts County are on top winning the ball particulary from Arsenal's midfield. Kelly Smith working higher up the pitch to look for an opening pounces on a lose ball from Sophie Walton outside the box the effort sails over the bar.

                    Half-time Notts County Ladies 1-0 Arsenal Ladies

    Notts County get the 2nd half underway as the floodlights take full effect and the crowd continue their good form the attendence 1,583 which is a fantastic achievement, making for great atomosphere and what you want to see at this the top level of the women's game.

     Arsenal Ladies started the half better however. Arsenal defender Leah Williamson with a good header from a corner that brings a top draw save out of Carly Telford. Notts County still look dangerous on the break Clarke's pace causing Arsenal's defence real problems winning a corner the ball is lifted in dangerously Bryne needing to snatch it out of the air as it threatens to creep under the cross bar.

     Arsenal make a change then bringing on Freda Ayisi for Christine Murray which see's Shinubo Ohno take a more central midfield role as Ayisi looks to support Carter and in turn put some pressure on the Notts back line stop them feeding the ball forwards. A good spell of keep ball around the home sides penalty box brings about an equalising goal the ball floated in is headed out of the six yard box falls however to Arsenal's Alex Scott who meets the dropping ball sweetly to send it home. 1-1.

    Alex Scott makes a good run is finding some space with Ayisi occupying the Notts County defenders makes a good cross Danielle Carter has a shot which is blocked as Kelly Smith smashes the rebound over the bar. Ayisi herself has a driving run at goal the shot unleased rising over. Arsenal have a golden opportunity to take the lead then as one of their players is tugged back by Sophie Bradley inside the D. Kelly Smith lines up the effort it smashes hard into the crossbar bounces down and Notts County smuggle the ball clear.

   Emma Mitchell has to come off with an injury her replacement Anouk Hoogendijk moving into centre back alongside Casey Stoney was Leah Williamson comes to left back. Courtney Sweetman -Kirk comes off to be replaced by Australian Cailtlyn Friend.

    Susi is now the furthest player forwards and looking to run at her marker when she receives the ball is through on goal Alex Scott in pursuit as Byrne rushes out makes a last ditch tackle wins the ball as Susi is taken down the home crowd screaming for a penalty the referee waves play on. Notts County have to bring off Anna Green in the closing stages her replacement Laura Jane O'Neil.

    Susi with the ball runs across the penalty box turns and gets a shot away her effort curling has too much to do as Byrne plucks it out of the air. Notts County are looking to have settled for the point with only Susi up top she is a threat with the ball but lacking support has to fashion her own chances puts an inviting cross along the six yard line no one gambling the ball rolls out for a throw. The last chance is once more Susi's managing to beat everyone challenging her she unleashes a shot as she falls lacking power Byrne gathers.

                  Full-time Notts County Ladies 1-1 Arsenal Ladies

   A good opening game Notts County will probably be the happier but both teams will be relieved to have a point on the board. A good workout a nice opening game to watch looking forwards to plenty more this season.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

SWF Blog 50 Match Challenge update - Games 11 - 20

   The 1st 10 games of the SWF Blog 50 Match Challenge had been a real challenge in terms of the weather the sheer volume of matches called off because of the seemingly never ending rain had played havoc with the footballing calender. I did find a match on a Sunday on most occassions and the 1st 10 have been chalked off, in comparison games 11 -20 have raced by been clocked up in double quick time but in the process been no less enjoyable.
    Again the variety of the winter leagues set up gave me a chance to explore various different leagues and competitions from County to Combination League, two rounds of the Women's FA Cup and a County Cup Final plus a Champions League Quarter Final! I've worn out two note pads now making notes for match reports my handwriting has not improved one iota! I can understand it some how and it's jogs the memory and gives me a great platform to write a balanced report and sometimes that can be a challenge, more importantly though I enjoy writing them and hope you enjoy reading them too.

    So where have I been these past 10 matches.... Games #11-20

                           Game #11 - Stalham Town LFC 3-1 Bohemians LFC
                                               (Norfolk Division Two) 9th March

                           Game #12 - Gillingham LFC 1-0 Preston North End WFC
                                               (FA Women's Cup 4th Round) 16th March

                           Game #13 - Notts County Ladies 0-0 Doncaster Rovers Belles
                                                          (Friendly) 20th March

                           Game #14 - Cambridge WFC 0-2 Denham United LFC
                                               (South East Combination League) 23rd March

                           Game #15 - Birmingham City LFC 1-0 Arsenal Ladies
                                               (Champions League Quarter Final 1st leg) 24th March

                           Game #16 - Norwich City LFC 4-0 Ispwich Town LFC
                                               (South East Combination League) 26th March

                           Game #17 - Norwich City LFC 5-1 Thorpe United LFC
                                               (Norfolk Women's Cup Final) 30th March
                           Game #18 - Ipswich Town LFC 1-0 Cambridge WFC
                                               (South East Combination League) 2nd April

                           Game #19 - Acle United LFC 2-1 AFC Sudbury LFC
                                               (Eastern Regional Division One North) 6th April

                           Game #20 - Birmingham City LFC 3-1 Doncaster Rovers Belles
                                               (FA Women's Cup 5th round) 13th April

     Have already notched up game 21 and Game 30 isn't too far away next update in 10 matches time.

Monday, 14 April 2014

WSL 2 Opening Match - Oxford United WFC v London Bees WFC

     History was made today Monday 14th April 2014 as the brand new WSL 2 began the curtain raiser to this weeks WSL campaign this time with a new 2nd teir of 10 clubs. Oxford United WFC were the hosts the visitors London Bees WFC for this opening game, and I went along to witness this little bit of history being made.

    Oxford United WFC play their home games at Abington United FC an easy ground to find I could have gone into the ground and driven around the pitch to park, instead found a spot on a side street a few hundred yards away, and in doing so passed a nice looking pub that I shall remember the next time I'm in the area. The teams that had won the bidding process to be granted a WSL 2 licence have had alot of time to prepare for the new season. Oxford United WFC's ground is very nice one seated stand on one side a covered stand between dugouts on the other with plenty of room to stand around the pitch. A bar and function room, and refreshments too. The club had also prepared a very good glossy 32 page programme for £2 which is up there with some of the best the WSL has produced to date.


    Both teams raring to go but have had contrasting build up's Oxford United WFC's more settled, sticking with their squad bringing in just a few new faces, whereas London Bees have been a hive of activity (pardon the pun) are in all respects a new club and were short of playing staff when they launched earlier in the year have been recruiting heavily have got the numbers in and only recently appointed their 1st team manager Tom Donati.

    The floodlights switched on it was still quite warm a little cloudy with no breeze as the home side Oxford in their kit of Yellow shirts, navy shorts and socks got the match underway against London Bees in their away kit Blue shirts and socks with white shorts. It was the visitors with the early pressure pinning Oxford back in their own half as the match began at a very high tempo.

    Looking to stage a counter attack Oxford's centre midfield looked to spray the ball out wide right to no 7 Katie Stanley. With a good burst of pace on the right she unleashes an effort that London Bees goalkeeper Sophie Harris palms down before collecting at the near post.

     Working their way down the pitch winning throw in's London Bees had a good taker in Samantha Chappell getting the ball into the box it is headed out by Oxford for a corner on the right. The delivery is good finds the head of Paige Wakefield six yards out but her effort goes over the bar. keeping the pressure on Oxford another dangerous corner falls to the foot of Billie Brooks the shot is blocked and goes behin for another corner this time Oxford clear their lines.

     Oxford were struggling to mount an attack such was the visitors early pressing, however a ball played through the centre finds attacker Lauren Allison she is through on goal Sophie Harris comes rushing out does well to block the shot inside the box the ball is deflected loose it comes to Oxford's Kayleigh Hines her shot is close but into the side netting.

    History was written then by London Bees, Lucy Loomes breaking free of her marker she is in on goal takes a shot from inside the box Oxford goalkeeper Demi Lambourne drops quickly to stop the ball but it screws up off her and into the back of the net to make it 1-0 to the London Bees. Remember the name (it might be that one piece of knowledge you'll need to win the pub quiz one day) Lucy Loomes the 1st ever goal scorer in WSL 2.

     Oxford had an attack soon after the cross fizzed across the goal comes too fast to Holly Pickett, can't get enough on the ball to deflect it in as it goes wide. From an Oxford attack London Bees were on the break Lucy Loomes was in on goal again this time she was foiled by a brilliant tackle from defender Amy Chivers. Kayleigh Hines tries her luck from 40 yards the effort sails over the crossbar and late on Holly Pickett finds the side netting from another dangerous cross.

                        Half-time Oxford United WFC 0-1 London Bees

The 2nd half kicks off now fully dark with a bright full moon rising behind the stadium. The 1st half had been high tempo from both sides more so London Bees it would be interesting to see if they could keep it up for 90 minutes. It was a slower start the 1st effort on goal a Katie Stanley cross from the right that landed on the roof of the net.

    At the other end London Bees, Sydney Hinchcliffe wins the ball off Oxford's defence turns but slipping as she shoots the effort lacks power and rolls comfortably to Demi Lambourne. Katie Stanley is Oxford's main outlet of attack on the right London Bees are working hard to track back Vanna Lee in particular one effort did get through the cross finding Rosie Lane the shot flying wide.

    Oxford were for once pushing London Bees back for a spell the ball is flung long both keepers mopping the ball up. The high tempo start has taken it out of the players on both sides Oxford bring on Laura Low for Holly Pinkett, as Lucy Loomes comes off for London Bees her replacement Megan Goss. London Bees score a 2nd goal after possession is given away by Oxford captain Jemma Connor-Iommi pounced on by new London Bees signing Amber Gaylor who takes two steps and shoots from 25 yards the ball beating Demi Lambourne 2-0.

    Players on both sides are going down with cramp. Laura Low for Oxford sends a shot wide of the post before Demi Lambourne is forced to race off her line to smother a through ball to Amber Gaylor. London Bees win a free kick 40 yards or so out to the left of the centre circle Paige Wakefield is all set to take when she is called off to be replaced by Chontele Lawrence. Up steps Billie Brooks to take instead lofts the ball goalwards the looping effort dips quickly as Demi Lambourne attempts to stop it the shot sails under the bar and in to make the scoreline 3-0.

   Frustrating scoreline for Oxford their attempts are long range as the clock ticks down, Kayleigh Hines putting on shot wide of the post. The last effort falls to Amber Gaylor showing good feet she works space well for a shot only for her effort to go high over the bar. The final whistle blows and London Bees win the 1st 3pts in the WSL 2 to become it's 1st leaders too.

    At last the WSL season has started and if this encounter is anything to go by we are in for some cracking games of football.