The football action returns to the FAWPL South East Division One this week with a Wednesday night trip to Ely City FC to watch Cambridge United WFC at home as they host early league leaders Milton Keynes Dons Ladies.
Two wins out two for Milton Keynes Dons Ladies, a great start to their season. Are amongst the favourites to challenge for the title and promotion to the FAWPL Southern Division this season. Ran eventual winners C&K Basildon Ladies all the way last season finishing in 2nd spot and will be hoping they can go one better this time around. Manager Tony O'Niell has added a few new faces to the squad this season two of which Sam Gillings and Vicky Holland were starting tonight.
A contrasting start to the league season for Cambridge United WFC newly merged with League Two side Cambridge United FC. Wanted to hit the ground running in their new colours was a below par performance as they were beaten 3-1 away to a rejuvenated Norwich City Ladies on the opening day. Followed that up with a 2-1 defeat at home to Ipswich Town Ladies the following Sunday. Got back to winning ways this Sunday in the Determining Round of the FAWPL Cup beating Cheltenham Town Ladies 3-0. Tonight's match is the 3rd of 6 successive home games and they will be hoping to get some points on the board are 1 of 5 sides on the league on 0 points going into tonight's match.
Dark clouds all around as I travelled to Ely City FC for the 1st time this season, by the time I arrived at was pouring down and looked set in for some time thankfully the ground has a seated and more importantly covered seating overlooking the pitch and that is where I retreated to watch the game.
Cambridge United WFC starting XI - Liz Pamplin, Hannah Goodchild, Lucy Du Plooy, Nicola Geoghan, Kayleigh Anne Burt, Laura Baker, Laura Bright (C), Nuala Wayne, Emma Jenkins, Laura Mills & Becky Taylor.
subs - Robyn Phillips, Faith Hewitt, Becca Fay, Emily Reed & Sophie Thompson.
Milton Keynes Dons Ladies starting XI - Caroline Collie, Louise Naylor, Sam Gillings, Claire Hollingsworth, Leanna Doyle, Andie Dickens, Heather McDonnell, Hannah Barrett (C), Vicky Holland, Charley Wright & Leah Cudone.
subs - Lauren Goodier, Zoe Lander, Elizabeth Stanton, Rosie Anderson & Chelsea Coles.
It's Cambridge in their new colours, amber and black vertical striped shirts with black shorts and amber socks to kick off the match with Milton Keynes lined up opposite all in red. Is a tentative start with both sides playing the pass long, Cambridge's attempt running through to Caroline Collie in the Milton Keynes goal, same result at the other end a Milton Keynes captain Hannah Barrett looks to put the ball in over the Cambridge defence with Andie Dickens making the run to get beyond coming in off the left, Liz Pamplin in goal for Cambridge tonight able to get to the ball 1st make the early claim.
With the rain falling steadily it's worth a go early on take advantage of the conditions however the pitch is holding up well players are able to keep their feet and soon enough both sides are settling into a shorter passing game. Milton Keynes have possession of the ball down the left of the pitch good build up play, Dickens cuts back inside before sending the cross along the face of the Cambridge area comes to Charley Wright 30 yards out right of the box she goes for goal the shot off target as the ball skips across the box and out of play.
In attack for Cambridge the ball at her feet Laura Mills looks to drive forwards on the right, can't get the better of Milton Keynes central defender Leanna Doyle who puts the ball out for a throw. Good control from Laura Baker releasing the pass to send Mills down the right again pushing on she sends the early cross into the box, arriving from deep Cambridge captain Laura Bright can't make connection with the ball runs through to Nuala Wayne behind her 20 yards out she has her shot blocked the ball spinning behind for a corner kick. The corner is headed behind by Milton Keynes for a 2nd corner this one is taken short from the left by Cambridge, Mills eventually working it inside for a shot 25 yards out pulls the effort wide.
GOAL! 11 minutes into the match both sides pushing forwards, looking to counter rapidly as their defences win the ball back, a Milton Keynes move is stopped by Cambridge the ball fired out from the back into the midfield where Becky Taylor is well placed to receive it a good flick on sets Emma Jenkins free on the right, showing good pace she bursts forwards takes the ball into the box wrapping her foot around the ball smashes her shot past Collie and into the back of the net 1-0.
Milton Keynes look to respond the build up through the centre with Barrett doing well holding the ball up her back to goal bringing her team further up the pitch lays it back to Wright who tries again from distance outside the box the strike is easily held by Pamplin. Leah Cudone puts in the challenge to win the ball in the final 3rd for Milton Keynes looks to send Barrett through on goal, she can't get there before Pamplin. The Cambridge keeper is busy Milton Keynes having the ball in and around the box are looking to get their strikes away from the right corner another effort comes in from Wright the shot low and bouncing has Pamplin scrambling across her goal makes the save pushing the ball wide for a corner kick. Dickens receives the corner kick from the left on the edge of the area fires her shot over the cross bar.
The rain has started to ease Milton Keynes attack down the right Heather McDonnell looking to get in behind the Cambridge back line the home side are forced to concede the corner. An in swinging ball is met by the head of Barrett a looping header she puts it onto the roof of the net. A concerted spell of pressure from the visitors.
Cambridge have ridden it out, up top Jenkins is lively as she intercepts a pass out from the back looks to attack skipping over a lunging challenge she is in beyond the Milton Keynes defence again driving towards the area crosses early putting the ball along the face of the area with Mills looking to get up with her meeting the ball looks to turn it goal wards, gets too much swerve on the ball causing it to swing away goes narrowly wide.
Cambridge central defender Nicola Geoghan intercepts a Milton Keynes ball, then sends a great pass through the middle into Bright who looks to push forwards make for the opposition box, is squeezed off the ball, it falls to Mills behind her 20 yards out goes for goal fires the strike over the bar.
GOAL! Most of Milton Keynes efforts on goal have come from outside the area, with Cudone and Barrett both pulling shots wide past the posts before Cambridge attempt to stop another effort coming in and commit the foul. A good position on the left 22 yards outside the area it's Barrett over the ball, is a great strike as she sweeps the ball over the Cambridge wall and into the back of the net Pamplin's dive in vain 1-1 35 minutes played.
Milton Keynes gift Cambridge a chance to attack their goal as centre back Claire Hollingsworth looks to marshal the ball back to her keeper who starts to come then hesitates, Taylor is after the ball steals it and looks to race into the area, Hollingsworth recovers quickly pushes Taylor wide of goal preventing her getting a shot at the exposed goal, Taylor keep possession works herself into a yard of space to get her shot away left of the goal inside the six yard box Milton Keynes have the numbers back by then to clear.
Jenkins has another great opportunity to restore Cambridge's lead as the 1st half draws to a close, is very close to being offside as Bright picks up the ball and sweeps it out into space on the right for her to chase down the flag stays down Jenkins runs into the box is in the same position as when she scored her goal this time however as she looks to put it in Collie gets her leg in the way of the ball, a great save.
Half time Cambridge United WFC 1-1 Milton Keynes Dons Ladies
An entertaining game so far with 2 well taken goals scored with plenty of chances created to from both sides. Even better the weather has eased up which is good news for all involved a god sized crowded making the trip to watch the game. Will they see more goals as Milton Keynes get the 2nd half under-way.
Have made a change at half time with their captain Barrett off the pitch, with Lauren Goodier on in her place. Win an early free kick on the half way line the ball floated forwards into the area is headed away, the ball falling to Cudone 25 yards out looks to shot smashes it high and wide. Playing a little deeper in midfield in the 2nd half Vicky Holland does well to retain possession of the ball inside the Cambridge half before looking to sweep it into the area, Pamplin comes to intercept before it can reach the players attacking the far post.
Jenkins taking the ball into the right channel holds it up well as support eventually comes from Mills rolling the ball back to her, looks to sweep the ball into Taylor on the edge of the box, Milton Keynes intercept, Wayne comes in to win it back puts the ball into Taylor's feet, she looks to send the ball over the Milton Keynes defence has both Mills and Jenkins through inside the box ready to attack it, Collie comes between them both to make the save sliding in with her legs. Milton Keynes break forwards have Dickens on the ball down the left puts it into the area Goodier lays it back to Wright outside the area takes on the shot is over the bar.
Jenkins is clipped by Milton Keynes full back Sam Gillings giving the home side a free kick on the right outside the area. It's Bright looking to send the ball into the box for her team mates to attack, Geoghan gets her head to the ball 10 yards out the ball is blocked comes all the way back to Jenkins outside the area smashes the ball back in too many bodies to get through is diverted behind for a corner kick. Last action for Jenkins as she is Cambridge's 1st change as manager Steve Edwards sends on Faith Hewitt.
Cambridge are enjoying more of the ball 2nd half are having spells of possession inside the Milton Keynes half, on the ball Bright is given the space to bring it forwards taking a stride opts to have a strike on goal a low effort plenty of pace, Collie is down sharply to save the ball on her goal line. Milton Keynes aren't able to hold the ball up top as well in the 2nd half as they did the 1st with Barrett off the pitch, make a 2nd change bringing on Elizabeth Stanton for Holland.
Baker is tripped by Doyle as she looks to get further forwards get beyond the Milton Keynes defence, earns the defender a yellow card. From the resulting free kick the ball is put wide of goal by Wayne.
A good turn of pace from Cudone on the left of attack for Milton Keynes sees her get beyond the Cambridge defence, looks to get into the box attack the goal, stabs the ball in Pamplin is across to cover her near post gets down to make the save. Is an end to end game with both defences giving very little away. Cambridge make their 2nd change bringing on Sophie Thompson to replace Taylor in attack.
Lucy Du Plooy hasn't gotten forwards from left back much during the match, now she races up over the half way line the ball is played into her path covers alot of ground before sweeping the ball across the Milton Keynes six yard line Thompson can't bring it down to turn and get her shot away, runs through instead to Hewitt beyond her a tight angle she looks to shoot the attempt is blocked, before being cleared.
Milton Keynes launch a counter attack the ball played out long from the back is a good one picking out Dickens on the left she fires in an early cross into the area a yard inside running through to Wayne she looks to shield it from the on rushing Goodier, the attack manages to steal in get her toe on the ball before hitting her shot, Pamplin does well getting across to make the save.
Another free kick given away on the right by Milton Keynes, 25 yards out Du Plooy to curl this one into the area, is cleared back to the edge of the area, Hewitt is 1st to it has her initial effort blocked before having a 2nd bite putting this one over the bar.
Dickens has covered alot of ground down the left for Milton Keynes all night, still has pace in her legs as she drives to the by line squares the ball back into the box, Cudone has gotten there to the near post to attack with her head can't place it either side of Pamplin who catches the ball. Final change for Cambridge with Wayne coming off, Becca Fay comes on goes into the left back slot with Du Plooy pushing on.
Milton Keynes have looked to test Pamplin with shots from distance all match and none more so than the next strike sent in by Stanton as she is the 1st to get hold of the free ball halfway inside the Cambridge half looks to open her body before getting the shot away is coming in at a great height looking to sail in over Pamplin under the bar, the keeper gets an arm up tips the ball onto the bar and over for a corner kick.
Into the closing minutes the game is stretched both sides attacking both fancying they can score what would surely be the winning goal. Another fantastic cross-field pass from Milton Keynes sets up Dickens for a strike on goal, one touch to knock it forwards before hitting it, again can only pick out the keeper.
The final whistle blows the points are shared, in what was a very entertaining match and a great advert for football in the league. Cambridge get their 1st league point of the campaign. Milton Keynes drop their 1st points but remain unbeaten slip to 3rd in the league with both Crystal Palace running out 5-0 winners over Gillingham FC Ladies ad Luton Town Ladies winning 3-0 against Bedford Ladies maintaining 100% records at the start of the season still a long way to go.
Two other matches in the league tonight Denham United Ladies winning 2-1 against Enfield Town Ladies and Lowestoft Town Ladies 3-2 against Norwich both picking up their 1st points of the season.
Next up for Cambridge a home match on Sunday 6th Sept against Luton Town Ladies. Milton Keynes are away to Crystal Palace Ladies.
My thanks to both clubs managers for helping me out with the teams tonight.