Sunday, 25 October 2015

Match Report - Netherton United Ladies v Cambridge City Ladies

    Trip west along the A47 this Sunday afternoon to watch a match in the 2nd Round of the Cambridgeshire Women's League Cup, Netherton United Ladies v Cambridge City Ladies.

   Get about a bit watching women's football all over the country, Peterborough is often somewhere I travel through in order to get somewhere else to watch a match, but itself and the surrounding area has a thriving and developing women's football scene, of which Netherton United Ladies are very much a growing force in the city. Now in their 2nd season playing in the Cambridgeshire Women's Premiership. Had a strong debut season in the league eventually finishing in 3rd place. 

   Their opponents today Cambridge City Ladies are new entrants to the Cambridgeshire Women's Premiership this season. Won the U18's league last season with a 100% win record as an U17 side and could have competed in the U18's league again this season but chose to take the step up into women's football. Both themselves and Netherton United Ladies have had an unbeaten start to the season but to date have played just 5 league matches between them. Today they meet in the League Cup 2nd Round.

   Saw Netherton United Ladies play once last season on the road at Huntingdon Town Ladies an action filled match that finished 5-3 to Huntingdon. Netherton were keen for me to get over to their place and see them in action, that I would like their home The Grange. Has taken me a while but today I've finally gotten there. Is indeed a very nice venue. Might take a bit of finding if you don't take advantage of the very good directions the club provides on its twitter feed and website. At the end of a housing development on Charlotte Way. The Grange is a smart newly built sports facility funded by a lottery grant 2 years old. Has a large fenced 3G pitch that has been built with the spectator in mind, no standing behind the fence here with a small covered standing area inside. Outside the pitch new changing rooms and a tea room with food on offer beside the clubhouse and bar neatly laid out on a park with public access home to both the men's and ladies sides.

   Last full weekend in October the clocks have gone back, good to see the weather was still on the football supporters side (it'll never last) a bright and sunny afternoon.

   Netherton United Ladies starting XI - Katie Cooper, Rachel Anderson, Amy Lomas, Stacie Boon, Natasha Anderson (C), Megan Parrett, Shannon Hilton, Georgina Parrett, Alice MacNicol, Yasmin Green & Bex Stroud
   subs - Natalie Gaches & Jasmine Sheppard.

   Cambridge City Ladies starting XI - Emily Bevens, Lauren Ambrose, Anna Wilson, Izzy Broadbent, Lauren Tomlison, Olivia Fraser, Philippa Witherspoon, Grace Stanley (C), Emma Littlewood, Carla Penny & Bronte Rapley.
   subs - Ellie Geoghan, Saskia Capetti, Miriam Amrani, Jade Drain & Maddy Molloy.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

  Contrasting line ups today, Netherton have a large squad to call upon this season 24 players, however today were ravaged by injury and others being unavailable only able to name 2 on the bench. Cambridge City in contrast had a full squad of players available for selection at the ground.

  It's Cambridge City to kick off the 1st half wearing white shirts with black across the shoulders, black shorts and white socks. Netherton are lined up wearing red shirts with a black strip across the front with black sleeves, red shorts and black socks. A fast paced start both sides wanting to win the ball the 1st attack is from Netherton down the left with striker Bex Stroud running into the channel the ball from the centre of midfield is played out to her holding up the ball has Alice MacNicol making the run on the overlap, a clever back heels from Stroud plays her in behind MacNicol crosses the ball into the six yard box, Yasmin Green is looking to get onto the end of the cross turn it home, Cambridge City centreback Izzy Broadbent sliding in with her does enough to take the ball away from her toe before goalkeeper Emily Bevens gets hold of the ball. 

  Got alot of young legs out there early on it's obvious the ball is going to be turned around quickly from one end to the other. Philippa Witherspoon leading the line for Cambridge City has an early sighter for goal 30 yards out as she makes a central run, the shot lacking the power to trouble Katie Cooper in the Netherton goal. Witherspoon has a goal chalked off for offside a couple of minutes later following good work from Bronte Rapley down the left of the pitch puts the cross into the area Rapley getting ahead of everyone as she turns it in.

   Witherspoon is in the heart of the action in the opening minutes closing down the Netherton defence, forces Natasha Anderson the Netherton captain to turn back towards her own goal play the pass back to her keeper, Witherspoon goes after it closing Cooper down she smashes her kick against the attack the ball spinning across the six yard box, is retrieved and cleared before a Cambridge City player can capitalise.

Philippa Witherspoon on the ball for Cambridge City Ladies

  Through balls are always tricky on an artificial surface the ball doesn't seem to get the carry on the floor it would on grass and both sides defences are cutting out the balls from midfield. A great pass from halfway from Megan Parrett for Netherton looking for Stroud making her move to the left of the D watching the ball as it drops over her shoulder she hits it 1st time inside the box, sends the ball over the bar.

   For Stroud that is as good as her afternoon gets as moments later looking to get across a Cambridge City player she goes down and is clearly in a lot of pain. Play is stopped as she receives lengthy treatment has damaged her knee, is something she has done before and it's clear by the amount of concern shown it is a serious injury, she is carried over to the sidelines the knee strapped, will eventually leave to seek medical attention. Jasmine Sheppard is brought on by Netherton to support Green in attack.

Cambridge City Ladies, Lauren Ambrose
   Another pass from the middle by Netherton's Megan Parrett almost slips Green in through the centre, needs a great last ditch lunging tackle from Cambridge City defender Lauren Tomlinson to deny her a shooting chance inside the box. Up the right flank for Netherton Sheppard makes space to send a cross into the Cambridge City area goes long towards the near post MacNicol is looking to get onto the end of it, Lauren Ambrose round on the cover for Cambridge City makes the blocking tackle to come away carrying the ball out from the back.

   Cambridge City are starting to get more players involved their build up play increasing as the platers from the back are finding the midfielders moving into spaces to become available and shift the ball quickly. Broadbent brings the ball out of defence hits a fantastic ball along the ground to cut open the Netherton defence play her captain Grace Stanley in on goal. Netherton captain Natasha Anderson gets back sliding in as Stanley goes to pull her foot back to shoot deflects the ball knocking it forwards but safely into the arms of her goalkeeper Cooper as she goes to ground to smother the ball.

   GOAL! Cambridge City take the lead in the next attack, didn't see all of the build up but got three different views of it to confirm the details I knew, Cambridge City had plenty of bodies forwards again overloading the left side 6 or 7 short passes are exchanged before Stanley plays the ball into Carla Penny inside the box on the left she shoots sending the ball between the keepers legs to score 0-1. 

   A goal down Netherton look to attack from the re-start getting the ball into Green 25 yards out see attempts a strike on the half volley can only plant the ball into goalkeeper Bevens chest. Cambridge City win a free kick inside the Netherton half it's Rapley to play it in looks like she's going for goal, I'm behind the shot it looks to be drifting wide, Cooper can't take any chances however with white shirts coming in from her right throws a fist up to knock the ball well clear of danger. 

  Both Megan Parrett and MacNicol are trying to play the pass over the top looking to get Green in beyond the Cambridge City defence however the ball isn't carrying allowing the visitors to win it back and counter attack. Megan Parrett decides to try something different this time winning the ball inside her own half gets up a head of steam and travels with it getting the best of two challenges as she barges her way to the edge of the area again the tackle drops in her favour the ball deflected into the area now wide right of the goal with the keeper coming to close her down she has Green up with her plays her in only for the offside flag to go up.

Georgina Parrett attempts to hold the ball up for Netherton United Ladies

   1st changes for Cambridge City as they give Rapley and Witherspoon a rest bringing on Miriam Amrani and Jade Drain. Amrani out on the left side of the pitch works the ball well before playing it into Stanley on the edge of the box, she turns with the ball looking to hit it goal wards, Rachel Anderson throws herself across to block the shot. 

    Half-time Netherton United Ladies 0-1 Cambridge City Ladies 

  1 goal in it a the break, Cambridge City have been full of energy moving the ball quickly have had the better build up play without overly testing Cooper in the Netherton goal. The final ball has been an issue for Netherton too though as they have hardly forced a save from Cambridge City keeper Bevens. 1-0 though this cup tie is still very much in the balance as Netherton kick it off.

    Cambridge City have rung the changes at the break, Maddy Molloy had joined the action in the closing moments of the 1st half now Saskia Capetti was also in the field in attack with Stanley off. Witherspoon back on the field too. Sheppard and Green try to link up on the left side of the pitch exchange passes looking to get Green in on goal, Broadbent reads it correctly makes a great tackle to take the ball back. 

Netherton's United Ladies, Natalie Gaches 

   Working the ball up the left themselves Cambridge City have a throw level with the penalty spot Capetti takes it looking for Witherspoon on the left inside the box has Penny close by as she tries to take the shot on falls, Penny attempts to latch onto the loose ball smashes her shot at pointblank range into defender Amy Lomas blocking on the six yard line at the near post.

  An attack started from the back for Cambridge city once more as Tomlinson gets hold of the ball and travels out of defence over half way and heading towards the left hand corner of the area, Penny comes inside to make the room for her to run into is given the ball as Tomlinson bombs on, gets the return pass before squaring the ball across the six yard box goes long no one there to turn it in is retrieved on the far side of the area this time the cross back in picks out Witherspoon in space 10 yards out right side of the goal hits the shot, Cooper does well getting everything behind the fiercely struck ball to take the sting off it a drop to make the save.

Cambridge City defender Lauren Tomlinson breaking with the ball from the back
  Cambridge City with plenty of players available are making good use of the roll on roll off substitutes they are dotted all over my notes keeping track of them isn't easy. Olivia Fraser is back on replacing Jade Drain. A determined run from Witherspoon towards the edge of the area sees her hit the shot in full stride the ball is blocked the deflection falling favourably for Penny 12 yards out she goes for goal smashes the ball against the crossbar. Stanley is back on for Cambridge City, Capetti off. 

   Soon as she'd back on the pitch Stanley has the ball at her feet and is driving towards the edge of the Netherton area, Cooper comes to close her down stays big gets something on the ball to deny the shot the ball is free rolling across the D, Penny is racing onto it sends her shot sailing over the bar. Cooper is called into action to save again is well positioned in her goal as Rapley is encouraged to have a crack from 25 yards out right side, a dipping effort Cooper keeps her eye on it falls short she brings it into her body.

Grace Stanley

   GOAL! Cambridge City though have been knocking on the door looking the most likely to score again and this time they do. it's Witherspoon making another drive inside the Netherton half who slides the ball into Stanley ahead of her a yard outside the box hits the shot on the turn a low effort that finds it's way into the bottom corner of the net 0-2.

   Georgina Parrett tries to get something happening for Netherton as she makes a surge down the left wing keeping the ball running towards the byline puts the cross into the area finds Green, the ball gets trapped under her feet she can't dig it out before Anna Wilson comes in to clear it, comes to a Netherton body the shot comes in no idea who hit it Bevens though is alert and down sharply to save. 

  Cambridge City ring the changes again Penny and Ambrose off Emma Littlewood and Capetti back on. More bad news for Netherton as they see another player going down injured this time Megan Parrett as she looks to try and stop Witherspoon as she makes a run from the right across the face of the area. Parrett goes down is in agony again play is stopped for a good few minutes as she receives treatment, unfortunately for the 2nd time in the match Netherton have to carry a player off the pitch her angle wrapped with ice Shannon Hilton returns to the field having come off for Natalie Gaches earlier in the match.

  MacNicol shows a good turn of pace on left carrying the ball down the left side of the pitch, hits the shot on the run the ball flashing across the six yard box and out wide the far side of the goal. Rapley comes off with Drain returning to the field. Capetti has the ball at her feet 20 yards out right of the D tries to drive her way through the Netherton defence, the ball is knocked away, Drain is right behind her there to hit the shot in towards goal an up and over ball falls kindly to Cooper to gather. Drain has another chance to hit a shot at goal this time as the ball is presented to her from the right 20 yards out goes for goal same result can only present it to Cooper in goal. Might have been a hat-trick on another day as Drain gets onto the ball goes for a little run towards the box and with the Netherton defence stepping off her takes a pop a low attempt along the ground this time Cooper positioning is spot on once more to comfortably save. 

   2 goals though are enough as the final whistle blows and Cambridge City advance to the quarter final stage of the Cambridgeshire Women's League Cup. With this fixture being one of 2 final 2nd round ties to be completed today the draw for the quarter finals had already been made and Cambridge City will be away to Bar Hill Ladies who also played today winning 6-0 against Swinehead Institute Ladies the tie scheduled for Sun 29th November with a 1:45pm KO. Were the better side on the day created more chances scoring twice making full use of their squad to get the result with some impressive build up play. Best of luck in the competition.

  One of those days for Netherton, you get them in all walks of life, football is no exception weren't at their best today their the build up play didn't click and were further beset by injuries to cap it off. I wish both Netherton players Bex Stroud and Megan Parrett a speedy recovery from the injuries they sustained today. 

   My thanks to both clubs management teams for the help with the team details today enjoyed my 1st trip to The Grange. 

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Match Report - Suffolk FA Women v Hertfordshire FA Women

  An extra slice of midweek women's football action on the Supporting Women's Football Blog comes to you from Mildenhall in Suffolk, an East Anglian Counties Championship match between Suffolk FA Women and Hertfordshire FA Women. 

  Caught me on the hop a bit because I'd mistakenly thought the East Anglian Counties Championship wasn't happening this season, very happy to learn I was wrong. Last season's winners of the Fred Welham Women's Cup, Cambridgeshire aren't running a representative side this season which is a shame and with Norfolk not having a county representative side either their are 4 counties contesting this seasons competition, Suffolk, Essex, Hertfordshire & Kent. 

  Now before you say it I know Kent isn't in East Anglia, however I think county football has a large part to play in growing the women's game, is certainly from the players I've spoken too a source of achievement and pride to represent a higher body than your club be it at county or country level, and is also an opportunity to present the women's game to a different audience.

   Kent are the early leaders in the table having won their opening match 4-2 against Essex Ladies earlier in the month. Tonight Suffolk and Hertfordshire get their campaign under-way. Suffolk do so with a new manager in charge, Emma Manning. Counties can vary greatly in the strength of their women's football. In Suffolk's case their is a relatively small but solid looking core of clubs they can pull players from the bulk of tonight's squad from FAWPL South East Division One sides Ipswich Town Ladies and Lowestoft Town Ladies with further representation down the league pyramid from Bury Town Ladies, Brandon Town Ladies and East Bergholt United.

  Hertfordshire traditionally have a larger pool to pull players from, a look on the FA Full Time website reveals a large list of eligible players have been a force in this competition in recent years. Tonight's squad is represented largely by players from Stevenage Ladies who have made a very good start to the Eastern Region Premier Division this season with Royston Town Ladies and Hitchin Town Ladies having call ups too.

  Once a long time ago I used to live on the outskirts of Mildenhall after leaving college some 20 years ago now, the venue tonight Mildenhall Town FC in the town centre, there certainly wasn't a massive Sainsburys next to the ground the last time I was here. Which does explain why I couldn't find the carpark I was looking for.. I did in the end. Found the ground okay, the Suffolk FA are doing great work trying to build up women's football in the county and it seems their representative side is a core part of it. Mildenhall Town FC itself is a fantastic venue with a smart looking clubhouse beside the pitch which under the floodlights looked in brilliant condition a good covering of grass especially when you learn it has up to 6 games a week being played upon it. There is a slight slope on the pitch from one goal to the other. A pleasant autumn evening dry and clear. 

   Suffolk FA Women starting XI - Laura Bird (Ipswich Town Ladies), Marcie Prettyman (Lowestoft Town Ladies), Emma Boreham (Bury Town Ladies), Sian Fagg (Ipswich Town Ladies), Aimee Harrison (Ipswich Town Ladies), Amanda Crump (C) (Ipswich Town Ladies), Paige Shorten (Norwich City Ladies), Amy Howlett (Charlton Athletic WFC), Zoe Cossey (Lowestoft Town Ladies), Natasha Thomas (Lowestoft Town Ladies) & Tori Campbell (East Bergholt United)
   subs- Charlotte Osborne (Bury Town Ladies), Kirsty Turner (Ipswich Wanderers Ladies) & Frankie Torrence (Brandon Town Ladies).

   Hertfordshire FA Women starting XI - Chrissy Roberts (Stevenage Ladies), Abi Cartwright (Stevenage Ladies), Heather Eaton (unattached), Dominique Godbeer (C) (Stevenage Ladies), Rebecca Day (Hitchin Town Ladies), Amy Josland (Stevenage Ladies), Donna McGuigan (Stevenage Ladies), Gemma Coggins (unattached), Sammy Tinsley (Royston Town Ladies), Sarah Payne (Stevenage Ladies) & Nicola Perschly (Stevenage Ladies). 
   subs - Louise Gash (Hitchin Town Ladies), Holly Jardine (Stevenage Ladies), Chloe Rouse (Stevenage Ladies) & Steph Palfrey (Stevenage Ladies).

(roll on roll off substitutes)

   The two captain's Amanda Crump wearing Suffolk's all red kit shakes hands with Hertfordshire's captain Dominique Godbeer wearing their all blue kit as they meet the match officials to conduct the toss. It's Hertfordshire to kick off the game. 

  GOAL! Suffolk go 1-0 up inside the opening minute winning a throw on the right inside the Hertfordshire half the ball comes to the feet of Amy Howlett now plying her trade for Charlton Athletic WFC in the FAWPL, she drives inside from the right into the box before sending the cross in towards the far post where Zoe Cossey on the opposite flank is racing in to meet the ball buries the ball under the keeper into the back of the net. 1-0.

 GOAL! An amazing start to the game no sooner have Hertfordshire restarted the game in the centre they are up the other end and have a goal of their own. Have bodies up and around the Suffolk box possession on the right before it is put into the feet of Donna McGuigan 20 yards out right of the D, next thing you know the ball is looping up into the air dropping towards the goal, the keeper can't get anything on it as it dips under the bar and in to make it 1-1.

  GOAL! 2 goals in as many minutes! Made that 3 in 3 as Suffolk restart the match and go straight up the other end and restore their early lead. The cross is flashed in from the right bouncing low inside the six yard box, red shirts are closing in Hertfordshire keeper Chrissy Roberts is down trying to keep the ball out, Howlett is the player on the spot to connect and get the ball past her into the back of the net at close range. 2-1

  What a start! 3 goals scored in 3 minutes. Things settle down with the play in the middle for a couple of minutes. Hertfordshire's Sammy Tinsley in attack makes a good run into space on the left looks to take on Suffolk's Marcie Prettyman at right back, takes a couple of goes before she manages to knock it past her get the cross into the box, puts the ball straight into the gloves of Suffolk goalkeeper Laura Bird.

  Suffolk have good width and pace attacking down the slope from Cossey out left and Howlett on the right. Cossey has the ball at her feet fro the left hits the shot from 20 yards out, Roberts throws herself across and getting a glove to the ball tips the shot over the bar to concede a corner. Played in from the right the delivery is good into the middle, Natasha Thomas gets her head to the ball puts it over the bar. Twice the ball finds its way out to the right onto the feet of Howlett she looks to attack puts the ball into the box both times Hertfordshire head it clear.

  Suffolk captain Crump wins the ball back inside the Hertfordshire half looks to push left of the goal has Thomas up with her in support rolls the ball into her path in a more central position is a long way out as she hits the shot gets plenty behind ball but neither the height or direction to trouble Roberts in goal as she is well placed to deal with it. Roberts is certainly the busier of the two goalkeepers, Hertfordshire are trying to bring the ball up the field McGuigan and Nicola Perschly in particular in the centre trying to thread the ball through for their strikers, more often than not Suffolk centre backs Sian Fagg and Aimee Harrison playing together for Ipswich Town Ladies are reading the pass winning the ball back.

   Thomas brings the ball over the halfway line through the middle drives forwards has Paige Shorten making a run with her on her left lays the ball over to her she shoots sending a low effort racing towards the bottom corner of the goal, Roberts dives to her left and makes the save. Tinsley and Prettyman continue to enjoy a contest up the left side of the pitch the defender not making it easy for Tinsley to get beyond and put a cross into the box, does manage to win a corner. The delivery is good into the near post area, Bird calls for it is almost caught out as Hertfordshire's Sarah Payne comes steaming in to head the ball out of her fingertips places the ball the wrong side of the post.

   Early change for Hertfordshire midway through the 1st half with Heather Eaton coming off for Louise Gash as they look to deal with the threat posed by the pacey Howlett on the right. Is caught cold barely in place when Howlett gets the ball from a great cross-field pass bombs on then puts in the cross through the area with Thomas racing in at the far post not quite able to connect with the ball as it runs wide out of play. 

  GOAL! Suffolk have been looking a threat every time they go forwards and extend their lead on 27 minutes following another fantastic cross-field pass from left to right out to Howlett deep on the right closing in on the by line she turns back inside beating her marker and entering the area has plenty of support inside the box, Roberts comes towards her to try and close her down, Howlett plays the ball past her across the six yard box where Shorten arrives to smash the ball into the top of the net making it 3-1.

   GOAL! Not long after scoring the 3rd goal, Suffolk further extend their lead and it's Shorten, who works for the Suffolk FA on the score-sheet once more this time with a great strike from outside the box on the left hits the shot on the drive plenty of power behind it sending it past the diving keeper 4-1.

   Suffolk are down to 10 players briefly with Tori Campbell needing to come off for treatment doesn't stop Suffolk attacking Cossey and Thomas link up with exchanging passes before Thomas takes on the shot 20 yards out, Roberts saves palming it down and smothering the ball. Frankie Torrence comes onto the field for Suffolk going into midfield, Thomas now leading the line. Howlett runs in to steal the ball from the Hertfordshire defence as they try to bring it out carries the ball into the area is pushed wide to the right of goal making the angle for a shot tight blasts the ball into the side netting. 

  Torrence with a great pass sends Howlett through on the right once again, she plays the cross into the centre of the area Thomas is there her back to goal isn't allowed to turn, Howlett has continued to move after putting in the cross comes towards Thomas the ball is given back to her edge of box she scuffs the shot giving Roberts a chance to get across and cover her near post to make the save.

   Hertfordshire are getting forwards a little more as the 1st half draws to a close, just aren't getting in beyond the Suffolk defence their possession in front of their area, McGuigan is in a similar position to where she scored her goal, flicks the ball up and hit's it on the volley hasn't the height on it to beat Bird in goal this time as a yard off her line can see the ball into her gloves. Chloe Rouse comes on for Abi Cartwright at the back for Hertfordshire.

   Torrence very nearly finds herself through on goal as she makes the run to get beyond the Hertfordshire defence the pass finds her as she enters the area, Hertfordshire captain Godbeer comes across to make a great tackle to deny the goal scoring opportunity. A late free kick for Herfordshire 30 yards out from goal in a central position, Perschly is the player over the ball looks to go for goal lifting it over the wall, Bird comes across but can see it bounce wide of the post as the referee blows the half time whistle.

Half-time Suffolk FA Women 4-1 Hertfordshire FA Women

  Was an exciting start to the game 3 quick-fire goals. Since then Suffolk have been the side on top attacking down the slope with Howlett a constant menace for the home team wide on the right with her team mates all making good runs to support keep Hertfordshire on the back foot. The visitors knowing they need an early goal 2nd half as they look to get back into the match. Suffolk kick off the 2nd half.

   Hertfordshire are looking to be more proactive in the middle of the park early on in the 2nd half with McGuigen, Perschly and Gemma Coggin's looking to close the ball down quicker stop the cross-field passes out to the flanks that were setting Howlett up for an attack. Cossey has the ball on the left for Suffolk coming back inside has support form Shorten outside the box rolls it into her she knocks it on with Crump beside her hits a high shot in towards goal, Roberts takes it down as she drifts across her goal the shot off target. 

  McGuigen drives on through the middle for Hertfordshire is pulled down to win the free kick. In a similar position to her 1st half effort Perschly goes for goal again over the wall but like Crump's shot previously the keeper collect as it looks to drift out of play. Howlett with the ball at her feet on the right is looking to drive inside take on players as she reaches the edge of the area sends the cross over to the far post area, Godbeer makes a timely interception sliding in to get the ball away with Torrence closing in to turn it home.

   Hertfordshire have more possession 2nd half more time on the ball, this is partly due to Suffolk dropping deeper having more players behind the ball inside their own half aren't able to get it to Howlett as quickly as they were 1st half. Howlett does win her side a free kick wide on the right half way inside the half the centre backs go forwards into the Hertfordshire box the ball is played into the area a good height Sian Fagg is at the back of the crowd in the centre leaps to get her head to the ball knocking it on towards goal, Shorten looks to steal in knock the ball past Roberts in goal, she reacts 1st gets the ball safely into her gloves.

  Torrence is doing well in the middle for Suffolk with so good forward passing to send Howlett away, jinks back inside with Thomas coming across to demand the ball taking it out into the right channel hits the shot from distance Roberts is down at her near post to save the ball spills loose across the face of goal but no red shirt has gambled this time as Hertfordshire hook the ball up the pitch.

   Perschly has the ball in the centre, Payne makes a move out to the right hand side looking to get behind Suffolk's Emma Boreham, receiving the ball looks to push on get into the box, Boreham recovers quickly covering the ground to get back and slide in to win the tackle. Hertfordshire's McGuigen and Perschly combine working the ball up the pitch from left to right with Perschly looking to run the ball across the face of the Suffolk box find an opening for a shot instead Payne comes in takes the ball and has a gap to shoot through hits it early a low effort Bird mishandles at her near post turns is grateful to see it roll inches wide of the post out for a corner. Suffolk make more changes with Howlett and Shorten coming off for Kirsty Turner with Campbell also returning to the action. 

GOAL! Suffolk extend their lead, good link up play between Thomas and Crump as they work the ball up through the middle Thomas has it on the edge of the D, with Crump looking to get into the box beat the Hertfordshire defence is given the ball sends her shot past the keeper before getting clattered is down as Suffolk come to congratulate her for the goal 5-1.

   Crump is off the field leaving Suffolk down to 10 again as she recieves treatment. Hertfordshire has a free kick put into the far post area from 40 yards out, Harrison leaps highest to head it clear as Crump is waved back on. Rebecca Day is playing a little further forwards for Hertfordshire now is the furthest forwards as she looks to run at the Suffolk back line it takes a lucky deflection off a defender as she tries to knock it through is looking to get onto the loose ball, Bird comes out of her area to clear the ball 1st.

   Crump can't continue she comes off with 10 minutes left to play Shorten returning to the pitch. Perschly looks again to go for goal from a free kick this one further out in front of the centre circle the accuracy is good but once again it isn't troubling the goalkeeper. Steph Palfrey comes on for Hertfordshire in place of Day. Thomas catches her cold as she is played into the space to her right pushes up the flank takes on the shot alot of power behind it Roberts gets down at her near post to knock it across the face of her goal the power taken out of the shot it is probably going to roll wide of the post Cartwright back on the pitch for Hertfordshire takes no chances racing back to kick it long.

  The final whistle blows and Suffolk have the win 5-1 to lift them to the top of the table on goal difference over Kent Ladies who they are scheduled to play next at home at the end of November. An exciting start to the game with a fast paced 1st half which Suffolk dominated to take a 4-1 lead. The 2nd half couldn't match the 1st for drama Suffolk inviting Hertfordshire on a bit but not really causing them too many problems at the back on the night.

   A decent crowd in attendance too and it's great to hear positive comments from those gathered to watch too, enjoying the football on display. My thanks to Suffolk FA's Darryn Marsh for his help with the team details tonight.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Match Report - Bury Town Ladies v Gillingham FC Ladies

   Midweek football from the Ram Meadow Stadium in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk to watch a match in the 1st round of this season's Ryman Women's Cup, Bury Town Ladies v Gillingham FC Ladies.

   Was this time last year when I came to see Bury Town Ladies play for the 1st time at the Ram Meadow Stadium, overlooked by the sugar beet factory as they took on Tottenham Hotspur Ladies in the 1st round of last season's Ryman Women's Cup. Lost the game 7-0 but that said it was a great experience for the team to play a side in the FA Women's Premier Division, 3 leagues above them.

   The gap is 2 leagues this time around but no less a stiff test for Bury Town Ladies as they were drawn against Gillingham FC Ladies in the 1st round of the competition. Bury Town Ladies competing in the ERWFL Division One East have seen a few comings and goings since that game have brought in Zoe Klimcke formerly of Haverhill Rovers and Laura Brame who was at Brandon Town Ladies along with Mia Bambury and Mikaela Tolbert. Had captain Emma Boreham unavailable for selection tonight due to a call up to the Suffolk County side and Lisa Pratt was out with injury.

   Gillingham FC Ladies were relegated from the FAWPL Southern Division last season and now competing in the FAWPL South East Division One are looking to bounce straight back up and to that end have started the season well. Has been a while since I was down at Chatham Town FC to see them play nearly 2 seasons and they have seen a mini transitional period with a few players following former manager James Marr to Brighton & Hove Albion WFC. Jack Wheeler is now in charge of the 1st team at Gillingham FC Ladies and brought a strong looking squad up to Suffolk for tonight's match.

  Eventually that is as with half an hour to go there was no sign of Gillingham FC Ladies at the ground, a midweek trip up from Kent into Suffolk isn't the easiest of journeys and news that they had broken down on the way up filtered through, were on their way however kick off put back to 8:05 as they made it into the changing rooms at 7:30. Not a lot of time to warm up and prepare, but they were ready to go, a clear evening, dry after a wet day in the region.

 Bury Town Ladies starting XI - Charlotte Osborne, Helen Cryer, Stephanie Hanratty, Zoe Klimcke, Mia Bambury, Norma Locker, Gemma Carter, Elle Whitehurst, Mikaela Talbot, Laura Brame & Catherine Upton.
 subs - Kerry Knott Emma Baldry Shelby Beveridge, Laura Bloomfield & Shelley Cocksedge.

 Gillingham FC Ladies starting XI - Imogen Alabaster, Lauren Williams (C), Georgia Reece, Emma Tune, Rachel Ahern, Jade Keogh, Madison North, Ashleigh Loosemore, Lydia Wills, Shannon Redhouse & Paige Baker-Carroll.
 subs - Hollie Musmeci & Fiona Constable.

   It's Gillingham wearing an all red strip to kick off the match under the lights with Bury lined up opposite all in blue in a 3-5-2 formation. A positive start from Bury have the ball in the Gillingham half as captain Norma Locker looks to make a run with the ball attempts to play the through ball for Cat Upton in attack, Gillingham centre back Ashleigh Loosemore making the interception. Gillingham captain Lauren Williams is down after a challenge in need of treatment giving. Bury try to take advantage of having the extra player on the pitch for the moment good pressing from Laura Brame sees Gillingham give the ball away comes to Locker who pushes forwards towards the area before laying it off to her right 20 yards out Mia Bambury receives the ball takes on the shot a speculative effort is at a comfortable height for Gillingham goalkeeper Imogen Alabaster to save.

   Bury's Michaela Tolbert attempts to take the ball forwards from the centre into the area, Loosemore puts in a great sliding tackle to win the ball, then bringing it out of defence plays the ball long up the right with Shannon Redhouse the player sprinting to get after it, Charlotte Osborne makes the decision to race out of her area and come clear the ball for a throw. Gillingham with everyone back on the pitch are starting to build momentum in attack, Paige Baker-Carroll making only her 2nd start for Gillingham has the ball out on the left driving forwards shoots early the low effort flashing across the face of goal and out of play.

  GOAL! Gillingham open the scoring as they catch the Bury defence with Redhouse ready to race into the space available on the right of pitch the ball is put through to her, has Lydia Wills central with Baker-Carroll to her left bursting forwards to get into the Bury box, Redhouse's cross is swept across the face of the area, is behind Wills, comes through to Baker-Carroll who shoots sending the ball across the keeper as Osborne throws herself to her right can't reach it as the ball sails into the back of the net 0-1. 12 minutes played.

  Baker-Carroll is on the ball looking to take on the Bury defence and burst into the area to create a shooting chance, Zoe Klimcke recovers gets back to put in the tackle to deny the chance concedes a corner kick. Another last ditch tackle is needed from Helen Cryer for Bury as Wills is given the ball and tries to push her way through the middle into the Bury box as the visitors start to get some meaningful possession on the ball. Redhouse catches the Bury back line out again on the right with both Wills and Baker-Carroll on the move again, Cryer has to come across deal with Redhouse this leaves Baker-Carroll unmarked the ball come into her the shot hit 1st time is high over the bar.

    Osborne makes a fantastic save on her line pure instinct following a Gillingham corner taken on the left played short the cross is put in from deep towards the near post, Baker-Carroll is a yard out meets it Osborne in between her and the goal gets something on the ball to turn it away. The ball isn't cleared far before being played back into the area, Cryer slides in to win the tackle as Wills looks to make room for a shot. A tactical switch from Bury sees Upton put back to deal with the danger presented by Redhouse on the right with Tolbert pushing forwards to help Brame in attack.

   Bury are keeping a good shape trying to bring the ball forwards as a unit, the Gillingham attack is ready to spring into action whenever their defence wins the ball out looking to break quickly in number. Redhouse is central this time as the ball is rolled through to her plays the pass out to the left long for Baker-Carroll she goes after it though has Emma Tune coming towards her offering support is given the ball outside the area looks to come inside before drilling a shot wide past the far post form 20 yards out.

  Following a tackle, Bury's Tolbert has to come off having taken a knock, Kerry Knott comes onto the pitch for the home side. The free-kick won by Tolbert is on the left 20 yards out from goal, Gemma Carter is over the ball get's it up and over the wall coming across her goal Alabaster can see it bounce safely past the post. Gillingham concede a 2nd free kick this one halfway inside their half, the ball is played long up into the box, Locker has make a good run getting around and behind the Gillingham defence inside the area, it's Loosemore who rises to get her head on the ball 1st to clear.

   Osborne is called into action again to make another great save as Tune is played in through the middle the cross put into her by Redhouse on the right, Tune is able to strike it on the run a rising effort with plenty behind it Osborne dives to her right palms the ball over the bar. Makes another fine save following the corner initially cleared the shot comes back in from Tune again Osborne keeps it out. 

  GOAL! Bury had done well to keep the scoreline down to 1 goal as the match approaches the 40th minute mark, Gillingham have looked a threat though with every counter attack and it when Bury look to go forwards they are vulnerable. Again it's Loosemore who wins the ball back inside her own box looks to bring it out play the pass into Redhouse inside her own half she turns with the ball and is clear racing towards the opposition box coming inside as she reaches the box no one can catch her as she prods her shot low past the keeper and doubles Gillingham's lead 0-2.

  GOAL! Gillingham add a 3rd goal moments later is almost a carbon copy of the 1st goal as they win the ball back from Bury, this time though it's Jade Keogh on the right who plays the cross along the face of the box is behind Wills again coming through to Baker-Carroll she smashes the shot back across the keeper and in 0-3.

  GOAL! A 3-0 lead is soon 4 for Gillingham, players are up for Bury inside their opponents box following a free kick won wide on the left the ball is played long to the far post Gillingham head it clear, Baker-Carroll gets hold of the ball on the left drives forwards is looking to get into the Bury box the challenge comes in but Baker-Carroll gets her shot away going low for bottom corner Osborne gets down to her left the ball squeezes past her is over the line giving Baker-Carroll a 1st half hat-trick..

   GOAL! Baker-Carroll isn't done scoring yet as the 1st half is deep into injury time, Bury rattled form conceding 3 quick fire goals are undone as Redhouse springs the offside trap and drives into space on the right closing in on the box goes to shoot the ball hit across the box looks to be travelled out wide past the far post however, Baker-Carroll has covered a huge amount of ground to get into the area and gets a boot to it smash it over the diving Osborne into the back of the net.

                         Half-time Bury Town Ladies 0-5 Gillingham FC Ladies.

   Bury would have been thrilled had they gone into the break being just a single goal down and although needing some fine saves from Osborne in goal looked to be doing just that until the 40th minute mark then a purple patch from Gillingham saw them grab 4 more goals to give them a commanding 5-0 lead at half-time. Arriving late to the ground had taken a little time to find their rhythm.

   A 2nd change for Bury at half-time and concerns for Gemma Carter who remained in the dressing room as they bring on Emma Baldry. It's Bury to kick off the 2nd period, Baldry is up top in attack with Brame moving out to the right. Isn't long before the visitors are on the attack the ball with Keogh coming from a central position, takes the ball out into the left channel before turning back inside entering the area looks to shoot, Bambury slides in front of her manages to get something on the ball to take the sting out of the shot, allowing Osborne to gather beyond. 

  Baker-Carroll looks to make the run inside get onto the end of a ball put long through the middle is through on goal hits the shot, produces another fantastic save from Osborne in the Bury goal. 

  GOAL! Bury are caught out to concede a 6th goal early into the 2nd half. Madison North has gotten forwards for Gillingham on the left goes after a ball put into the corner isn't closed down allowed to turn plays the cross into the box coming into Baker-Carroll who turns off her marker and send the shot under the keeper to bag her 5th 0-6.

   Bury are struggling to get the ball out of their half with everyone back to defend Gillingham are using the full width of the pitch to stretch the play with both full backs North left and Georgia Reece on the right able to get forwards down the flanks, Reece putting in a cross close to the near post that Osborne needs to claim with Wills looking to run onto it. 15 minutes in and Gillingham make a change with Reece the playing given a rest and Fiona Constable coming on. Wills is the player who finds herself furthest forwards for Gillingham in their next attack running onto a pass played over the top central inside the box six yards out looks to knock it past the keeper, Osborne stays up makes the save to deny the goal.

  GOAL! The 7th goal for Gillingham isn't long in coming, possession is on the right before the play switches to the middle Wills and Baker-Carroll combine playing a one two with Baker-Carroll stealing in to hit the shot into the back of the net to make it a double hat-trick. 0-7.

   Second change for Gillingham with Hollie Musmeci coming on for Rachel Ahern at the back. Thing's are a little ragged for Bury out on the pitch aren't keeping their concentration their are concerns for injured player Carter still in the dressing room and whether this is a distraction I don't know. Gillingham are allowed to keep running at their defence, Wills this time central jinks left then right entering the box gets a shot away as players converge on her, lacks the power to trouble Osborne in goal. Hanratty has to come off for Bury the defender having hurt her knee, Shelby Beveridge comes onto the pitch which sees a re organisation of personnel.

  GOAL!  Gillingham have an 8th goal, possession is on the right once more with numbers forwards pressing Bury back Redhouse plays the ball into the area with Baker-Carroll coming across to meet it inside the box and turn it home to make it 0-8.

   More injury woe for Bury as goalkeeper Osborne after a challenge inside the box needing treatment can't continue comes off with Klimcke looking like she will take over in goal. Is called into action soon after thankfully a comfortable take as Redhouse sweeps the cross up into the middle with Wills looking to hit it on the volley from 20 yard out, on target but drops kindly for Klimcke. Redhouse with another drive down the right pulls the trigger sends her shot wide across the goal face.

 GOAL! Late into the game and Gillingham score another goal, Baker-Carroll no where near it this time. A great solo effort from Tune instead as she chases the ball into the left corner before taking on a wary Bury defence turning back inside and from an acute angle taking on the shot lifting the ball up and over the keeper to find the far corner of the net beyond 0-9.

  GOAL! Closing moments and Bury concede a 10th goal, Wills finally getting her name on the scoresheet as Bury try to bring the ball out from the back the ball is won back by Williams the pass cutting open the Bury defence with Wills the player racing clear to shoot and send the ball wide of the keeper 0-10.

   That's how it ends and Gillingham Ladies progress to the next round of the Ryman Women's Cup after a strong attacking performance to continue their rich vain of form. Could have scored more goals as they had the Bury goal under siege for most of the 2nd half. 

  Bury will be dejected conceding 10 goals, manager Jake Francis wasn't too dejected after the match this was always going to be a tough ask taking on higher league place opposition an opportunity for his players to test themselves with no pressure enjoy the experience were themselves 11-0 winners at the weekend over lower league opponents so now how it feels form both sides a few injuries tonight but in the end nothing to cause too much concern.

  Will no doubt see both sides in action again this season so for now thanks to both for the help with the teams tonight and Bury for the bacon sandwich. 


Sunday, 18 October 2015

Match Report - Doncaster Rovers Belles v Millwall Lionesses

  Today's the final day of the season in FAWSL 2 and the race for the title has gone down to the wire with either Reading FC Women or Doncaster Rovers Belles lifting the trophy as newly crowned champions. Trip to the Keepmoat Stadium this Sunday afternoon to watch Doncaster Rovers Belles as they play their final match of the season against Millwall Lionesses.

   Doncaster Rovers Belles had one goal this season #OperationPromotion the aim to get themselves back into FAWSL 1 after 'relegation' in 2013. Having narrowly missed out last season have achieved it this time around and will be back playing in the top tier of women's football in England in 2016. Have been in a battle at the top with Reading FC Women all season, but with 2 promotion spots up for grabs this season as the league looks to expand both clubs have achieved promotion.

   Reading FC Women and Doncaster Rovers Bells are neck and neck going into the final day on 42 points each, some 14 points clear of the rest. Identical records after 17 matches played 13 wins, 3 draws and a single loss. In the race to nail the title Reading FC Women have the edge leading the way on goal difference 7 better than Doncaster Rovers Belles have scored 5 more goals too so there would need to be a massive swing to turn that around. Doncaster Rovers Belles can only focus on their game today secure the points against Millwall, whilst Reading FC Women travel to Aston Villa Ladies.

   Millwall Lionesses will be looking to finish on a high haven't had the season they were hoping for 8th in the table with just 2 wins in the league this season, are on a poor run in the league 5 defeats in a row going into today's match, also missing a few 1st team regulars in Naomi Cole, Lily Agg and Ashley Hincks.

   Good atmosphere building at the Keepmoat Stadium prior to the match, weather's not playing ball overcast and chilly as the cheerleaders assemble to welcome the two teams onto the pitch. 

  Doncaster Rovers Belles starting XI - Nicola Hobbs, Lyndsey Cunningham, Sophie Barker, Rhiannon Roberts, Leandra Little (C), Kasia Lipka, Emily Simpkins, Sue Smith, Emily Roberts, Bethany England & Courtney Sweetman-Kirk.
  subs - Sam Tierney, Lauren Cresswell, Nicole Dale, Ashleigh Mills, Hope Knight, Molly Johnson & Sophie Stamp.

  Millwall Lionesses starting XI - Sarah Quantrill, Leanne Cowan, Frankie Strugnell Danielle Charlton, Dionne Lennon (C), Grace Fisk, Lily Maple, Fliss Gibbons, Bethany Hertford, Megan Goss & Rinsola Babajide.
  subs - Anna Williams, Ciara Sherwood, Francesca Ali, Jordan Butler.

   It's Doncaster to kick off the game wearing yellow shirts and socks with blue shorts with Millwall lined up opposite wearing navy shirts with white sleeves, white shorts and navy and white hooped socks. Millwall press Doncaster for the ball early on forcing Sophie Barker playing at left back today to play the ball all the way back to goalkeeper Nicola Hobbs, soon after Megan Goss is stopped by the offside flag as the visitors look to attack down the right.

   Doncaster get some meaningful possession in and around the Millwall box the ball is switched out to the right, Sue Smith plays the ball into the box with Bethany England looking to attack the near post gets onto the end of the ball the angle is tight sends her shot over the crossbar. Smith attacking down the right wing once again cuts back inside and looks to play the cross in from the corner of the area the ball is headed behind for a corner kick. The ball is played into the congested far post area, no one can get a meaningful touch before Millwall scramble the ball away.

   Millwall look to counter attack down the left, Rhiannon Roberts comes across from centre back to win the ball back on the half way line, sends the pass forwards plays in Courtney Sweetman-Kirk breaking behind the Millwall defence, the flag is raised stopping her in her tracks. Sweetman-Kirk is involved in the build up in the next attack in front of the Millwall area takes on a couple of players before passing to Smith to her right, corner of the area Smith is given the space and opportunity to shoot, cuts back inside pulls the trigger the shot going wide across the goal.

  Rinsola Babajide is running the line for Millwall up top today with Goss looking to support her when the visitors get on the ball, has had little opportunity to run with the ball goes after a ball played into space on the left drives to the byline gets the cross into the box, Hobbs is 1st to it intercepting, dropping on the ball inside her six yard box. Barker has little to keep her occupied at left back with Millwall keeping players back is able to get forwards makes a move up the flank which is seen by her captain Leandra Little receives the ball on the run looks to play the pass forwards to put Emily Roberts through, Millwall captain Dionne Lennon gets to the ball 1st. Doncaster keep coming Roberts again on the ball on the left sees her cross put behind for a corner kick. Put in from the left just a little too high for England as she leaps for it in the middle, keeping hold of the ball it comes to Kasia Lipka outside the box her pass drops onto the chest of England just inside the box she looks to turn and find space for the shot, Millwall's Bethany Hertford gets tight on her prevents the shot puts in the tackle to concede a throw.

Rinsola Babajide leading the attack for Millwall Lionesses today

   Doncaster are pressing forwards knowing they need goals if they want to challenge Reading for top spot, haven't really troubled Quantrill in the opening 20 minutes, looking to bring the ball out from the back are caught out as Babajide steals the ball and looks to make a move towards the area, Lipka is quick to react close enough to get back on Babajide prevent her lining up a shot, the ball comes loose outside the area is latched onto by Goss, Rhiannon Roberts is in position to get he head in the way of the ball make the clearance. 

Doncaster Rovers Belles, Kasia Lipka

  Up the other end Lipka is encouraged to travel with the ball has support from Smith to her right the two exchange passes before Lipka takes on the shot 20 yards out plays the ball straight into Quantrill's midriff. Good combination play between Sweetman-Kirk and Smith with Sweetman-Kirk playing the cross into the box from the left is just over the head of England in the centre dropping behind her, Emily Simpkins is racing in looking to meet the ball hit it hard smashes it straight against a defender.

   Defending deep at times Millwall aren't leaving much space behind for Doncaster to exploit down the wings, Emily Roberts and Smith as they often do switch sides with Smith now attacking down the left channel. Barker plays a great ball into Sweetman-Kirk 25 yards out from goal has space to make the shot goes for placement sends the ball narrowly over the bar. For all their attacking Doncaster hearts are in their mouths as they almost score at the wrong end with Millwall attacking down the right the cross is fired in along the six yard line Roberts goes to clear slices the ball Hobbs dives to her right the ball past her thankfully though the right side of her post corner given.

   Sweetman-Kirk does spring the offside trap this time is through after the ball, Quantrill reads it early is off her line quickly out to gather before the striker can pounce on the ball. Lyndsey Cunningham getting forwards from right back for Doncaster goes beyond everyone out on the flank cuts back inside sends the ball into towards Simpkins looking to attack the near post hits the shot smashes the ball off the post.

  GOAL! 41 minutes into the half and Doncaster find the back of the net. Barker brings the ball into the Millwall half then plays a great diagonal cross into the box looking to pick out England at the far post, she gets her head to the ball flicks it on past Quantrill and into the back of the net 1-0. 

Bethany England  getting hold of the ball for Doncaster Rovers Belles

  Late pressure by Doncaster with Smith taking on the shot from distance comes in low in front of Quantrill she makes the save pushes it out to her right along the by line not going out of play Sweetman-Kirk retrieves it digs the cross back in with England inside the six yard box gets her head to the ball looking to turn her attempt across the keeper also takes it wide of the far post.

                           Half-time Doncaster Rovers Belles 1-0 Millwall Lionesses
  Doncaster eventually getting the goal all their attacking play deserved 1st half, finally breaching a stubborn and hard working Millwall defence. Had the edge in the race for the title for a couple of minutes before Reading FC Women scored at Aston Villa Ladies to leave things as they were going into the 2nd half. Doncaster make a change at the break bringing on Hope Knight for Emily Roberts on the left side of attack as Millwall get the 2nd half under-way. 

   Millwall come very close to levelling the scores early in the 2nd half winning a free kick wide on the right inside the Doncaster half Charlton is over the ball sends it in towards the far post area drops inside the six yards box, Babajide is there, can't turn it home, comes through to Goss behind her connects with the ball pushes it the wrong side of the post. Rhiannon Roberts makes two blocks in quick succession getting in the path of a blast from Lily Maple from 25 yards out, falls to Fliss Gibbons on the edge of the area, Roberts is there again making the block at point blank range.

Frankie Strugnell winning the ball for Millwall Lionesses

   Quantrill makes a fantastic save off Sweetman-Kirk as she stoops to get her head onto a perfectly weighted cross from Smith put into the six yard box, Quantrill is falling to her right Sweetman-Kirk's header looks destined for the back of net however the keeper throws a leg up to make the save deny the change the ball comes out to Knight coming in from the left her shot is wild flashes over the bar. 62 minutes on the clock and Doncaster make a 2nd change with Ashleigh Mills coming on for Simpkins which sees England drop deeper into the middle. Doncaster are laying the Millwall box under siege now as they look to find another goal, Quantrill keeping her eye on a ball from Smith delivered into the centre of the six yard box, isn't distracted by Little as she comes in looking to met the ball with her head takes it cleanly in her gloves.

  GOAL! Smith bags herself a goal is through on goal as a kindly deflection at the back falls her way left of goal inside the area, Quantrill has to close her down, Smith takes the ball around her and rolls the ball into the empty net beyond 2-0. 20 minutes to play need more goals as Reading too extend their lead.

Sue Smith
  Millwall make their 1st change with Ciara Sherwood coming on for Hertford. Knight attacks down the left for Doncaster plays her cross into the box too close to the keeper. Millwall make another change bringing on Francesca Ali for Maple who had landed awkwardly hurting her ankle minutes before. 

  GOAL! Doncaster have a 3rd goal and it's Smith who scores her 2nd on 75 minutes as route one as you can get but highly effective as the goal kick is headed on superbly by Sweetman-Kirk with Smith making the run beyond keeping onside the racing clear of the Millwall defence with the keeper coming again Smith lofts the ball over her and sees it roll into the bottom corner of the net 3-0. 

  The attack is all with Doncaster, the ball is played in from the left is long heading out past the far post inside the six yard box Mills manages to hook the ball back across goal, Quantrill makes another brilliant save at close range as England gets her head on the ball it drops down Sweetman-Kirk is there shoots the ball is kept out goes away for a corner.

  Mills slips over as she goes for a challenge takes out a Millwall player the referee awards the free kick 30 yards out left of goal Sherwood is over the ball sees an opportunity to play it into space to her right, unfortunately for her the referee can't get herself out of the way makes a great interception for Doncaster. Final change for Millwall with Goss coming off and Anna Williams coming on.

   England plays the ball forwards with Sweetman-Kirk in front of her is on the ball has Lennon on her shoulder as the pair race into the box, the Millwall captain doing enough to force Sweetman-Kirk to shoot wide. 

  GOAL! Sweetman-Kirk plays the ball into the right channel for Smith to go after she sweeps the cross into the middle is too high for England in the centre, but drops to Knight also racing in at the far post she meets the ball sending it past the keeper to make it 4-0 with 10 minutes left to play.

   Reading go 3-0 up at Aston Villa, closing stages at the Keepmoat Stadium Nicole Dale comes on for Lyndsey Cunningham, with Radio 5 Live commentating at the match words spreads around the press box that Aston Villa have scored in injury time, not once but twice. Doncaster are pressing forwards, numbers committed Millwall clear it Babajide is clear of the defence closing in on the Doncaster area, Hobbs comes to meet her doesn't commit stays big saves as Babajide tries to hit the shot past her. The counter attack in on down the left Knight on the ball looks to shoot early places the ball over the bar.

   All over the final whistle blows and Doncaster win their final match of the season 4-0. Finish as runners-up as reading FC Women hold on for a 3-2 win to make them champions. A bitter-sweet victory in the end the main objective achieved promotion. Celebrations, presentations and thanks after the match with a good sized crowd of 723 watching today.

   Millwall finish 8th did well to keep Doncaster at bay for so long 1st half, stayed on the pitch to watch the celebrations a good squad of young players the FAWSL 2 with be a different prospect next season.

Doncaster Rovers Belles celebrating promotion back to FAWSL 1
  Two years out of the top flight, would have been easy to embrace the negativity that threatened to overshadow the relegation but the club stood together, now the future is bright for Doncaster Rovers Belles the club has seen an overhaul behind the scenes investment and this has born fruit in the form of the club seeing a new training complex being built and 10 players getting the opportunity to become full-time, Project Phoenix. The future looks bright and I'm already looking forwards to seeing Doncaster Rovers Belles back in the top flight next season.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Match Report - Wymondham Town Ladies v Cambridge United WFC

   The FA Women's Cup reaches the 3rd Round Qualifying stage this Sunday and the draw has produced plenty of cracking looking ties with the sides from the 4 FAWPL Division One leagues entering the competition to face those who have battled through the previous qualifying rounds, tough to pick one out to go watch, in the end chose to watch the side I had watched in the previous round just 3 weeks ago Wymondham Town Ladies as they faced FAWPL South East Division One side Cambridge United WFC.

  Is a repeat of the same fixture in the FA Women's Cup 3rd Round Qualifying from last season a game that I also covered for the blog. Back then Wymondham Town Ladies took Cambridge all the way to extra-time before the side playing 3 leagues above them eventually went on to score more 3 goals and win the match. Was a great cup encounter and also a very wet one too! Final score back then 1-4 (aet) 

   A year though is a long time in football and both sides have changed a little since then. Wymondham Town Ladies have a new manager, Alex Guy taking on the role towards the end of last season they went on to win the Norfolk Women's League Cup. Have started this season very well are unbeaten in Norfolk Women's Division One with 3 wins out of 3, 16 goals scored and zero conceded. Have come through the 1st and 2nd Round Qualifying of the FA Women's Cup. At home to Northamptonshire league side Roade Ladies in 1st Round Qualifying won the match 6-2 setting up an away tie away to another Northamptonshire side Moulton Ladies, were the better side from start to finish on the day winning the match 0-3 their reward a home tie and chance to test themselves against higher league opposition.

   Cambridge have seen some changes too, have become United for a start merging with the men's club to become Cambridge United WFC. That said a change of colours hasn't brought them a great start to the season are in the position no one wants to be in bottom of the league yet to pick up a win in the FAWPL South East Division One to date. Have been unlucky with injuries and win other players unavailable at times has been a frustrating period. Have though saved their best form for the cup competitions and an FA Cup run might be just what their season needs.

   All set up to be an intriguing cup tie and the sun was out, little chance of needing my brolly, the sun was out a chilly breeze in the air heading up the to Kings Head Meadow home of Wymondham Town Ladies and a chance to look round properly rather than shelter from the rain. With plenty of free parking close to the ground I could have had a carvery in the clubhouse prior to the match. The clubhouse itself over looks the pitch from one corner, relatively small in size was in pretty good condition as the referee led the two sides out onto the pitch.

   Wymondham Town Ladies starting XI - Gemma Hamilton-Rout, Claire Rennie, Leah Newcombe, Mary Cann, Polly Tarrant, Kelly Ayers, Laura Hammerton, Rachel Cossey (C), Amber Cantwell, Kayleigh Holloway & Sally Hammerton.
   subs - Emily Anderson, Gabby Stone, Laura Wiseman, Gemma Sanders & Louise Rout.

   Cambridge United WFC starting XI - Verity Crook, Emma Jenkins, Becca Fay, Kayleigh-Anne Burt, Robyn Phillips, Laura Bright (C), Emily Reed, Laura Baker, Lucy Du Plooy, Laura Mills & Becky Taylor.
   subs - Faith Hewitt, Nuala Wayne & Hayley Turner.

  Wymondham kick off the match wearing red shirts with black shorts and socks with Cambridge lined up opposite in their away strip of light blue shirts, navy shorts and socks. The visitors have Laura Baker pushed up to support Becky Taylor in attack with the width left and right supplied by Lucy Du Plooy and Laura Mills. Look to Mills on the right early on as the ball is fed into Baker's feet she sprays it out to the right for Mills, Wymondham left back Leah Newcombe cuts out the early threat with Kayleigh Holloway looking to get back help out whenever Wymondham lose the ball, likewise on the right Kelly Ayers playing wide right is tracking back to support her fullback Mary Cann whilst Amber Cantwell is the player looking to support Sally Hammerton in attack when they have the ball.

  The early attack is with Cambridge, captain Laura Bright getting hold of the ball in the centre lays it out to the right early for Mills she whips the diagonal ball into the box, Du Plooy is racing up into the six yard box at the far post can't get the touch needed to take it past Wymondham's goalkeeper Louise Hamilton-Rout who gathers the ball up into her gloves. The visitors continue to keep hold of the ball inside Wymondham's half, Mills looks to take on Newcombe in front of her is forced inside 20 yards out lets fly the attempt off target.

Cambridge United WFC captain Laura Bright

  Sally Hammerton comes out to the right looking for the ball getting it looks to slide Cantwell in making the run in front of her, runs into trouble as Cambridge full back Becca Fay stands firm in front of her blocks her attempted through ball, the ball isn't clear Fay is falling as she gets it away 2nd time is down looking in some discomfort looks to have turned her ankle play is stopped, after a pause in play Fay is able to continue.

   Wymondham have defended well in the opening minutes have a counter attack on as play is broken up in front of their box is played out to Ayers on the right she looks to fire it into Sally Hammerton on the edge of the Cambridge box her attempt is cleared by Robyn Phillips the defenders ball spinning across the front of the area is picked up by Laura Hammerton charging up from the centre of midfield, she has Holloway out to her left giving her the ball she drives into the box cuts inside beating the defender in front of her and pulls the trigger plays it straight into Cambridge goalkeeper Verity Crook who has the angle covered.

Amber Cantwell on the attack for Wymondham Town Ladies

   Cantwell latches onto a mis-placed kick out from the back from Crook, 30 yards out she drifts out to the left of the area before taking on the shot powers the ball wide of the goal. Game is a little end to end both sides looking to get it up to their attackers, Cambridge work the ball through the centre one touch, two and Baker finding herself furthest forwards is through on goal right side of the area takes the shot, Hamilton-Rout drops gets something on the ball to turn it wide across the box, no one is gambling from Cambridge which allows Wymondham to regroup. 

   Newcombe brings the ball out from the back for Wymondham is allowed to travel into the Cambridge half before sliding it forwards with Sally Hammerton looking to make the run across the Cambridge back line get onto it shoots early can only find the gloves of Crook. Cambridge win a series of corner kicks each time the delivery lacks the threat to trouble Wymondham in defence. Bright sweeps in a great ball from wide right for Du Plooy to attack far post again, Ayers is tracking back makes it difficult for Du Plooy to bring down and control prevents her a chance to shoot.

   Emma Jenkins brings the ball up the right for Cambridge plays it along the line with Becky Taylor coming across to receive, cutting back inside rolls it across to Emily Reed 25 yards out she goes for goal, places the shot straight into the keepers gloves. Mills manages to get beyond Newcombe as she races towards the area from the right looks to shoot low put it across the keeper, Hamilton-Rout dives pushes the ball wide for a corner kick. Claire Rennie defends very well up against Bright just inside the box as the ball is played into her from Taylor, she looks to turn and hit it, Rennie doesn't give any space.

Emma Jenkin's looking to win the ball for Cambridge

   The Cambridge bench appeal for handball inside the area as a cross from Mills on the right is cut out the referee isn't interested. Cambridge have had more of the ball in attack with Wymondham working hard numbers back to prevent gaps opening they haven't been so effective going forwards. Baker often in front of their box tries to drive her way through with the ball Polly Tarrant puts the blocking tackle in to prevent the scoring opportunity. Cantwell and Sally Hammerton have had little chance to create something up top late on Cantwell sends Hammerton through into space on the right, Crook comes out to the edge of her area to smother the ball at the strikers feet.

                   Half-time Wymondham Town Ladies 0-0 Cambridge United WFC

  A tense opening 45 minutes as you'd expect a lower league side working hard to defend against a higher league placed opponent. That said Wymondham have done very well in that regards to keep their shape prevent Cambridge from getting in behind too often Holloway and Ayers coming back to support their full backs has been a good battle between Newcombe and Mills with Hamilton-Rout making two important saves. Cambridge have had more of the ball case of being patient as the visitors kick off the 2nd half.

Cambridge's Laura Mills looking to get past Wymondham's Leah Newcombe
   Cambridge are on the attack early on the Mills/Newcombe battle resumes, Mills getting in behind this time sends her attempted cross in behind the goal. Looks to come inside on the next attack and is promptly chopped down by Laura Hammerton giving the visitors a free kick just outside the box right of the D, Mills to take smashes the ball straight into Rennie in the Wymondham wall. Bright looks to put Mills in down the right, this time Newcombe gets her tackle in putting the ball out for Wymondham make the 1st change of the match with Laura Wiseman coming of the bench to replace Ayers. 

Cambridge's Kayleigh Anne Burt with Wymondham's Laura Hammerton

   Good work from Jenkins making the run into the right corner to chase down a long pass, holding it up in the corner lacks support the best she can do is win a corner as she tries to roll her marker break into the area. The corner on the right is taken short by Mills into Du Plooy level with the corner of the area sends the cross in at an inviting height towards the far post Baker rises just not enough to connect with the ball.

   Cambridge make a change bringing on Faith Hewitt for Du Plooy. Wymondham are looking to commit a few yards further forwards as the half progresses and the score line remains 0-0, Laura Hammerton now getting on the ball and running it into space in front of the Cambridge defence. Cambridge have another chance to play the ball up towards the far post from a free kick won wide on the right the Baker is up again too high for her once again. 

   GOAL! Wymondham take the lead. Comes from a error from Cambridge the ball is in the centre rolled back to Crook who calls for it on the edge of her box, instead it's Sally Hammerton who breaks clear and racing after the ball is 1st to it knocking it away from Crook's gloves moving it to her left and hits the shot sending the ball into the empty net beyond to give the home side the advantage with little over a quarter of an hour to play.

   Cambridge were already preparing a sub before the goal now they bring on Nuala Wayne for Reed. Cambridge play the ball long into space on the right Mills races after it comes back inside Hewitt has made up the ground to get into the box, the cross picks her out in the centre she gets her head to the ball turns it up into the air, drops gratefully into Hamilton-Rout's gloves. Taylor is the next Cambridge player to test Hamilton-Rout as the goes after the ball put into the right channel getting to it looks to play it into the box early the cross becomes a shot as falling back as she hits it the ball angles in is heading for the far corner Hamilton-Rout raises a glove to punch it away.

  With Cambridge pushing bodies up as they attempt to get back into the tie Newcombe almost sends Wiseman through down the centre, Crook is out quickly to the edge of her area to take hold of the ball. Wiseman hooks a shot well wide from 25 yards out minutes later as Cambridge struggle to get the ball out of their box following a free kick. Now playing 3 at the back Jenkins pushed up into the middle to support the attack.

  Taylor races after the ball down the right getting hold of it has time to place the cross with both Baker and Wayne up inside the six yard box, Wayne near post, Baker in the middle Hamilton-Rout between the pair, the ball is played into Baker she knocks it down for Wayne looks to have a simple header to turn it home from close range, Hamilton-Rout does brilliantly throwing herself across the make the save turn over for a corner kick. 

   Sally Hammerton comes off late on for Wymondham Louise Rout coming on. Cambridge push on Wayne coming in from left wins a corner as her cross is deflected behind by Tarrant. The ball delivered long to the far post is headed over by Holloway for a 2nd corner. This delivery is dropped by Hamilton-Rout as she comes through the crowded six yard box to claim, Cambridge can't get a shot away before Wymondham scramble it away. Taylor with a last push down the right puts it into Mills to her left across to Baker in front of the area, Cantwell is the Wymondham player tracking back to put the tackle in nevertheless the ball rolls loose Hewitt is onto it, hits the shot from distance, wide.

    Final whistle blows and Wymondham win the tie 1-0 to secure a famous victory knock an FAWPL Division One side out, to send them into the next round of the FA Women's Cup and further in the competition than they have ever been before. A proper cup tie with Wymondham spending a lot of time defending but that said, did very well for much of the game giving little away with everyone doing their job took their chance when it was presented to them and got the win in front of a decent sized crowd at Kings Head Meadow.

   Cambridge will be hugely disappointed had the ball and the chances just couldn't make any of them count, Wymondham's Hamilton-Rout with a fine save to deny them the equaliser towards the end. 

   My thanks to both clubs for their help with the teams today (although for once I think I knew everyone out there). Best of luck to Wymondham Town Ladies in the next round.

  *UPDATE* The draw for the 4th Round Qualifying was made earlier today and Wymondham Town Ladies have been handed a home tie will face another side from the FAWPL South East Division One, Bedford Ladies. The tie scheduled to be played Sun 8th November.