A new chapter in the short history of Cambridge WFC, a club that most of you who follow this blog will realise I have a soft spot for. Is a fantastic club with a great group of players, friendly were the guinea pigs when I first starting writing match reports. July 30th 2015 is the day the club has its special launch match to celebrate its merger with Cambridge United as they become known now as Cambridge United WFC.
Will now wear the amber and black colours with a new club logo and benefit from a relationship that many women's football teams throughout the country have with their respective men's sides. A natural progression for the club as it moves forwards having gone as far as they could as Cambridge WFC this new merger bringing more than the exposure that can be gained by associating with the men's side they will benefit from better resources being available as well as added media coverage.
For many of the current squad too, this is a dream come true some fans of Cambridge United they could hardly wait to wear the clubs colours and with it get the chance to play on the Abbey Stadium pitch.
|Cambridge United WFC wearing their new colours|
Manager Steve Edwards, starting his second season in charge has recruited a few new faces to the squad over the close season three of whom were available tonight, attacking player, Becky Taylor coming in from Great Shelford Ladies. Defender Lucy Du Plooy rejoins the club having had a spell at Ipswich Town Ladies along with 16 year old Isabella Simmons who joins from the Cambridge Girls Centre of Excellence.
Invited to join in the celebrations and help launch Cambridge United WFC, are Queens Park Rangers Ladies. QPR Ladies are a club that are a club that already enjoy a great partnership with their respective men's side. Are also one of the most proactive clubs on social media and the web to help not only promote themselves but often the clubs in the league with them.
Familiar opponents for the Cambridge girls having been in the same league in the 2013/14 season the FA Women's Premier League South East Division One. QPR Ladies went on to win the title and secure promotion to the Southern Division above had a solid campaign securing their place in the league last season along the way knocking Cambridge WFC out of the FAWPL League Cup. Tonight would be a good test for both sides as they prepare for the new season this the 2nd pre season friendly for them both.
The venue tonight the Abbey Stadium. Is my 1st visit to the stadium itself, Cambridge WFC's regular home venue is Ely City FC where they will continue to play their home matches as United this season. Is an impressive ground undergoing a little bit of renovation behind the large Main Stand running along the side of the ground with a smaller seated stad behind one goal the other 2 stands opposite offering covered terracing. The pitch looked to be in fantastic condition.
Due to QPR Ladies getting stuck in heavy traffic kick off was delayed by 15 minutes, there was a decent sized crowd building as the two sides stepped out onto the pitch
Cambridge United WFC starting XI - Verity Crook, Robyn Phillips, Lucy Du Plooy, Nicola Geoghan, Kayleigh Anne Burt, Laura Baker, Faith Hewitt, Laura Bright (C), Emma Jenkins, Laura Mills & Becky Taylor.
subs - Liz Pamplin, Emily Reed, Nuala Wayne, Isabella Simmons, Becca Fay, Gemma Clark Sophie Thompson.
Queens Park Rangers Ladies starting XI - Joanne Ayre, Juliet Denny, Micaela Lopez, Vanessa Nicholson, Louise Hayes, Carrie-Anne Layton, Kasha Petit, Elly Maggs, Sophie Fogarty (C), Lauren May & Jo Wilson.
subs - Natalie Richardson, Rachel Mullard, Dominika Netschova & Zemeka Clarke.
Two of the new signings, Lucy Du Plooy and Becky Taylor were in the starting XI for Cambridge in their new colours Amber and Black vertical striped shirts, black shorts and amber socks, with QPR lined up opposite wearing their blue and white hooped shirts, white shorts and socks. Cambridge get the match under way.
QPR are a good football side who like to move the ball quickly with several players in their squad who are confident to take players on, a good test for Cambridge who have Becky Taylor in the centre of attack with Laura Mills to her left, Emma Jenkins to the right, support behind from Faith Hewitt. Winning the ball on halfway Taylor lays the ball forwards out to the left racing to the touchline she fires a cross into the box is put behind for a corner by QPR central defender Vanessa Nicholson.
Claiming the ball from the resulting corner QPR goalkeeper Joanne Ayres is down after a collision having taken a knock to the face tonight's referee Abi Marriot awarding a free kick, after receiving treatment is able to continue. Cambridge are pressing the ball well in the opening minutes, Taylor fouled wide on the left inside the QPR half plays the ball down the line for Mills to chase, putting the cross into the box the target captain Laura Bright making a run to the far post, again it is Nicholson back to put her foot out to concede the corner.
In from the right the ball put into the area is cleared out to the edge of the area is picked up by Taylor who takes on the shot takes a deflection on the way through sending it wide of goal, a goal kick is given. QPR get their attacking players on the ball up top no 9 Jo Wilson picks up the ball on the right is strong on the ball as she drives into the Cambridge box, rides a challenge before winning the corner. From the right the delivery is good into the middle Cambridge goalkeeper Verity Crook takes the ball cleanly into her gloves.
QPR are starting to look a threat on the ball in attack Wilson and fellow striker Lauren May are being allowed to travel with the ball in the final forwards. Wilson has a strike from 35 yards out left of goal sweeping in towards goal it strikes the outside of the post goes behind. Caught in possession at the back by Taylor who does well winning the ball from QPR opts to shoot early 20 yards out sends the effort wide.
Wilson and May combine for QPR as the pair drive at the Cambridge defence force the corner. Sent in from the right the ball is cleared but falls to QPR's Carrie-Anne Layton some 35 yards from goal, nevertheless takes on the shot on target but straight into the gloves of Crook well placed in her goal.
QPR win a free kick, looked a harsh call against Bright, but a good shooting chance 22 yards from goal to the right of the D. It's captain Sophie Fogarty over the ball for QPR hits a powerful shot past the Cambridge wall, Crook is left stranded as the ball cannons off the right post bouncing across the six yard box, retrieved on the left the ball is fired back in sent wide of the post.
|Sophie Fogarty for QPR Ladies with the strike that cannons off the post.|
GOAL! QPR have been the dominant side for the past few minutes and capitalise to open the scoring halfway through the half, play has been dragged over to the left of the pitch, Kasha Petit is the widest player on the right gets in beyond the Cambridge defence as the pass is sent in from the opposite side picking her out taking the ball on the stride as she entered the area smashes the shot early past Crook to take the lead 0-1.
GOAL! Isn't long before QPR double their advantage having soaked up a spell of Cambridge possession in front of their area they set up a rapid counter the ball played long into Wilson available on the left is allowed to come inside unchallenged 30 yards from goal hits a powerful strike in towards goal beating Crook to make it 0-2.
Fogarty is joining the attack on the left linking up well with Wilson exposing the full back sends the ball into the area Du Plooy is around on the cover to clear the ball. First change of the night comes from the visitors as Rachel Mullard comes on for Louise Hayes at the back. Again Cambridge allow Wilson too much time and space on the ball 30 yards out she takes on the shot the ball this time going over the bar.
Taylor gets a free kick after she is fouled in the middle, Nicola Geoghan to deliver the ball into the area QPR get it down and away, Cambridge midfielder Laura Baker is sharp to reach the ball first hits a high ball back in towards goal looping high Ayres has to keep an eye on it but it's safe as it drops over her bar.
Half-time Cambridge United WFC 0-2 QPR Ladies
Has been a competitive first 45 minutes despite it being a friendly both sides enjoying playing on the large Abbey Stadium pitch. QPR with the 2 goal lead have been allowed a little too much time on the ball in the final 3rd and have exploited this to have the lead.
A friendly you'd expect to see plenty of changes and at half time Cambridge have 5 replacements on the pitch, Becca Fay at left back, along with a new attack, Nuala Wayne left, Gemma Clark right with Isolbella Simmons behind Sophie Thompson in the centre. The floodlights taking full effect QPR get the 2nd 45 under way.
The visitors start the brightest, win a free kick on the right, Ellie Maggs plays Fogarty in down the left she whips the ball into the box, is headed away by Nicola Geoghan at the back for Cambridge before May can latch onto it.
Cambridge's turn to deliver a fee kick into the area on the left 40 yards out the ball is swept into the box, Bright is the player looking to attack it inside the six yard box contact isn't strong but she manages to knock it down has Simmons with her, falling she attempts the overhead kick sends the ball over the bar. A counter attack by QPR Forgarty races down the right wing with the ball has Wilson keeping pace with her squares the ball to her across the D, Wilson shoots a good save from Crook to turn the ball behind for a corner.
16 year old Simmons looks lively for Cambridge wanting the ball looking to turn and attack with good support from Thompson. Cambridge are coping with the runs of Wilson and May better 2nd half, with Kayleigh Anne Burt in particular looking to track back with Wilson whenever she has the ball. QPR have Forgarty still working the wide spaces a good dribbler with the ball pace to burn fires a ball into the area is cleared all the way back to Juliet Denny for QPR she strikes a powerful shot from distance, Crook throws up her gloves to take the sting out of the shot and bring the ball under control.
QPR with 2 changes with their new signing Natalie Richardson coming on for Micaela Lopez, Dominika Netschova comes on for Lauren May. Cambridge are looking sharper 2nd half Bright attempts to put a defence splitting pass through into the area with Simmons the runner, Ayres is alert and out to sweep the ball up into her gloves before she can reach it.
Up the other end Wilson attempts the same with Forgarty making the run for her is beyond the Cambridge defence, however Geoghan recovers quickly to make a vital sliding tackle to win the ball before Forgarty can shoot. Zemeka Clarke comes on for QPR in place of Kasha Petit.
Maggs puts the ball into the side netting after substitute Clarke slides the pass through to Wilson inside the area again it's Geoghan with the tackle inside the 6 yard box pushing the ball away from Wilson, Maggs is to the right gets to the ball a tight angle puts her shot wide.
Thompson coming back to receive the ball for Cambridge lays the pass out wide right to Bright who looks to play the diagonal ball towards the far post, with Wayne making the run, can't quite get their to turn the ball home.
Du Plooy is back on for Cambridge at right back for Robyn Phillips. Cambridge corner the ball is put into the middle over Burt as she leaps for it, drops to Simmons beyond her snapshot is pulled wide of goal. Emily Reed comes onto the pitch for Cambridge replacing Laura Baker. Wilson gets the better of Burt for once getting a yard on her as she bears down on goal shoots but puts it straight at Crook who saves.
Gemma Clark has possession of the ball on the right, Simmons comes to offer support receiving the ball turns and whips a great cross into the area, a great save from Ayres who gloves the ball away from the head of Thompson as she comes racing in.
Petit is back on the pitch for QPR replacing Wilson in attack gets hold of the ball on the right her touch putting her beyond the Cambridge defence as she looks to enter the box Crook has come out to meet her, closing her down stops the shot with her legs the ball is loose, Petit is after it Becca Fay has recovered the ground to get hold of the ball before Petit can turn it into an empty net.
Late into the game Cambridge have a corner from the right is put into the six yard box isn't cleared a bit of pinball before it drops to the boot of Emily Reed who smashes her effort over from 10 yards. The final whistle blows the decent sized Abbey Stadium crowd watching a competitive match of football if not seeing the result they wanted with QPR holding onto their 1st half lead winning 2-0.
Both sides created chances to score 2nd half, Cambridge matching the side from the league above them for large periods of the game. A pre season friendly however the result is not nearly as important and getting the game time under your belt a good workout.
As it's a special occasion for Cambridge United WFC I thought I'd do something a little different and get a couple of interviews after the match, joined the media out on the pitch to firstly hear what manager Steve Edwards (pictured left) had to say then ask a couple of questions.
SE, "We wanted to play a side like QPR test ourselves against higher placed opposition, they've done us absolutely proud by how they've done out there, I guess the only thing we didn't do was put a finishing touch on one of the many chances we had in the whole game, but in my mind we've dominated a good 70 minutes of that game, that's a team that's put 5 goals past Enfield last week a team who are in our league as well. The effort level, the determination, the badge that they're now wearing makes me immensely proud and bodes well for the new season.
"We were aware of QPR's threats before the game, we knew they'd be quite direct in terms of trying to get behind us, so we spoke about having a plan to stop that. We spoke at half time about where on a couple of times we had dropped off too deep, far away from the strikers and when you do that they're going to punish you, like they showed out there."
"Two more pre season friendlies after tonight before the league kicks off against Norwich City on the 16th I'm confident if we maintain this level then we'll start with 3 points."
"We really appreciate those that have come here to see us tonight and hope that the performance will warrant them coming to see us again."
Q. How excited have the players been to wear the new colours?
SE, "Oh, they've been so excited. Some of them were saying they couldn't sleep last night, it felt like Christmas when they went to bed last night, putting the colours on for the 1st time and playing on a stage like this stuff that dreams are made of really. Hopefully it's not the last opportunity to do that, hopefully it's going to open doors for us, and we're massively excited about the relationship we've got with this club now, I do really think it's going to help us along the way."
Q. Do you think there could be more games here at the Abbey Stadium this season, one or two?
SE, "Watch this space I'd say, there's nothing set in stone at the moment, but you know if we could do on a decent FA Cup run or something get a favourable draw than you never know, we might find ourselves back here, but it won't be the last time that we're here, and long may that continue.
Q. In terms of pre season, with the players you've brought in happy with who you've got so far? Are you looking to bring more in?
SE, "I wouldn't mind one or two more, we are trying to be active in terms of that, but the players that have come in have been very very good couple on show tonight Lucy Du Plooy at the back, Becky Taylor up front, and then young Bella Simmons who came on 2nd half, I think they're all going to be stars this year, we had a couple missing that we can bring in as well. Pre season preparations have been going really well, as I say that's just another piece of the pre season really and we'll be ready when it comes to playing Norwich City on the 16th of August.
After speaking to Steve I also had the opportunity to speak to one of the players, defender Kayleigh Anne Burt who has been handed the role of vice captain for the new season.
Q. How did you enjoy the experience of playing at the Abbey Stadium tonight?
KAB, "I thought it was amazing, everyone who is involved with Cambridge United aspires to play there. The pitch is lovely, it's the best surface I've ever played on, it was a great occasion and brilliant performance, great for the future of the club I can't wait."
Q. Named the new vice-captain how much of an honour is this?
KAB, "Great honour, very very pleased, very honoured. I think LB (Laura Bright) rightly she's the captain, she's brilliant, she's a natural leader and I'm very honoured to be along side her, support her."
Q. Is your new role going to change the way you are on the pitch?
KAB, "I'm quite vocal anyway, or like to think I am. Occasionally I will get to lead the team out as LB will be unavailable and I'm really looking forwards to that."
Q. Pre season preparations how are they coming along?
KAB, "Very well actually, we've done a lot of mostly fitness based stuff and then also with the result tonight and the effort levels shown from everyone it was a really good result, I think that we did out play them (QPR) for a lot of the game, and to compete at that level against a team that are a league above us, in our 2nd pre season fixture the way we did, I thought was very impressive and really looking forwards to seeing what we can produce for the rest of the season."
Q. What do you think the club can achieve this season?
KAB, "I think we can push for the top of the league, I mean with the result just now a 2-0 loss but outplayed them for a good part of the match when they are a league above us and in their previous pre season fixture beat a team in our league last week, put 5 goals past them, so I think we stand a good chance of making the top 2 and who knows maybe a chance at promotion, we'll see."
Thanks to both Kayleigh and Steve for taking the time out to answer a few questions. A great occasion for the club and it's players tonight playing at the Abbey Stadium the crowd got behind them and saw a competitive game of football. Not long now till the new season starts with Cambridge United WFC beginning their league campaign away to Norwich City Ladies on Sun 16th August.