One of two competitions run by the FA Women's Premier League with all the sides from the Northern and Southern Division's as well as the 4 Division One leagues below entering a Determining Round with the winning sides going on to contest the Cup the others going into the competition for the League Plate.
Some intriguing ties drawn out for both competitions with strong sides in both too. First time I've taken in a tie in the FAWPL League Plate since it began last season and a first look to at Denham United Ladies on home turf, having seen them away from home on a previous couple of occasions. Heading down south Denham United Ladies compete in the FAWPL South East Division One play their home matches at The Middlesex Stadium, although this ground is shared by several clubs and sometimes they will play up the road at Harefield United FC but I was fairly confident I needed to be at The Middlesex Stadium today.
In to a pleasant part of the country pulling off the motorway arriving at the ground you are presented with a smart looking clubhouse that overlooks one corner of the pitch. A good sized pitch it surrounds could do with a little TLC, but a nice layout a seated stand behind one goal and astro turf training pitches beyond where I found the 2 sides warming up.
Like their opponents today Milton Keynes Dons Ladies compete in the FAWPL South East Division One. Milton Keynes Dons Ladies have started well lay in 3rd place in the table whilst Denham United Ladies are 5 places back in 8th. Today was a cup match, knock out football and league form isn't always an indicator as to how things will go. Lovely day at the start of October if this can carry on till March I'd be more than happy, t-shirt weather bright and sunny as the two sides walked out onto the pitch.
Denham United Ladies starting XI - Elizabeth Rose, Kim Pendred, Holleigh Marsh, Jeta Bytyqi, Joanne Torr (C), Harriet Gilbert, Natalie Murray, Alissa Down, Katie Phillipson Lauren Cox & Helen Capewell
subs - Emma Spencer, Eva Ramsey & Zoe Cox.
Milton Keynes Dons Ladies starting XI - Caroline Collie, Sam Gillings Leanne Doyle, Zoe Lander, Louise Naylor, Heather McDonnell (C), Lauren Goodier, Charley Wright, Vicky Holland, Charley Clarke & Leah Cudone.
subs - Rosie Anderson, Charlotte Murphy & Sophie Watson.
Denham kick off the 1st half wearing an all navy strip with a red and white band across the chest of their shirts red and white hoops on their socks with Milton Keynes lined up opposite in an all red kit with white trim around the collar and sleeves. Winning the ball early the visitors make progress down the right side of the pitch win a throw before Lauren Goodier delivers the cross into the area the ball is headed away by Denham captain Joanne Torr. the home side break the ball fed into Lauren Cox up front she rolls the ball forwards into the path of strike partner Helen Capewell right of goal hits the shot early sends the ball wide of the post.
The ball spends alot of time in the middle in the opening minutes with both sides looking to thread the ball through the others defence. Denham are the 1st to succeed get Cox in beyond the Milton Keynes defence is in space 20 yards out right of the box has space to shoot opts instead to square the ball across the face of the area with team mate Alissa Down racing up to support her can't get anything to connect with the ball as it flies across her path.
Milton Keynes goalkeeper Caroline Collie is quick to come off her line to the left corner of her box to make the blocking save at the feet of Capewell as she is played in from the left getting beyond the visitors defence. Isn't many moments later when Collie saves again blocking with her legs as Cox looks to shoot inside the area as the ball is played through into her fro Natalie Murray in the centre of the park. Denham win a corner following good work from Katie Phillipson on the right, the set piece is delivered long towards the crowds gathered at the far post Capewell gets something on it the ball is knocked down skims off the post before Milton Keynes launch it clear.
GOAL! 10 minutes in and it's the visitors who take the lead, break quickly from a Denham
Milton Keynes attack up the left of the pitch Wright on the ball reaching the 18 yard line sends the ball into McDonnell inside the area up to join the attack back to goal she controls well flicking the ball up and hitting the shot on the turn 8 yards out puts it straight into Rose who is well placed to save. Denham loose the ball from their own goal kick Milton Keynes are straight back at them Wright breaking into the area with the ball left reaches the six yard line pulls the trigger sending the shot across goal beats the diving Rose but also the far post as the ball runs out of play. More good footwork from McDonnell in the middle she beat a couple of players before playing the pass into Cudone peeling off the the left hits her shot early 20 yards out the ball sails over the crossbar.
Murray has moved out to the left for Denham is strong on the ball takes it down the wing. Winning a throw high up the pitch the ball is put into Capewell left of the area she slots it through for Cox her shot is blocked the ball cleared out into the middle finds the feet of Bytyqi she hits the shot from distance, Collie is back on her line and in position to make the save. Cudone brings down a high ball, holds it up well allowing Wright to make the run on the left wing given the ball drives into the box reaching the six yard area looks to square the ball across the face of goal, Rose is down diving forwards to claim the ball vital she did with Goodier up with play ready to tap the ball home beyond her.
Both Denham strikers Capewell and Cox have threatened to get in behind the Milton Keynes defence on occasion have a great chance to pull the scores level as this time it's Capewell who is sent through to the left of the area, Collie comes racing out to meet her sliding in to make the save with her legs as Capewell goes to shoot the ball spins to the right, comes to Cox unmarked with an open goal the shot is wild blazes wide of the mark. Capewell has another great scoring opportunity moments later the ball won in the middle is played back high into the area, Capewell is under it this time to the right of the goal 10 yards out inside the box controls shifting the ball a half a yard before hitting it on the turn the shot flashes narrowly over the bar.
GOAL! Denham fail to take their chances, Milton Keynes take theirs to double the lead. Look dangerous on the counter attack Cudone peeling out into either flank to get the ball goes on a surging run on the right closing in on goal hits the shot low and hard looking to bury it near post Rose gets down to make the save pushing the ball wide Milton Keynes have players bursting forwards to help Cudone and it's Wright on the left inside the six yard box who reaches the ball first turns it back over the line to make it 0-2 even as Denham plead for offside, the officials aren't interested.
At the other end Denham are guilty of squandering their chances as Down does well to hold off a challenge in the centre before sweeping the ball diagonally up to Cox inside the box the striker finds herself in acres of space 10 yards out smashes her shot wide across the goal face. Murray wins Denham a corner played in from the left flies over the bodies gathered at the near post is dropping to Murray, doesn't get her head to the ball as Collie comes in behind her to punch the ball away comes back to the Denham corner taker who puts the ball back into the box Torr up from the back gets her head to the ball but like Cudone's effort early on only succeeds in looping it up and into the keepers gloves.
Half-time Denham United Ladies 0-2 Milton Keynes Dons Ladies
a fast paced and exciting 1st half in which Milton Keynes Dons Ladies have scored twice taking their chances well. Could so easily have been 3-2 to Denham going into the break had the home side converted any of their chances both sides are getting in behind the others defence. 4th match in a row on the blog where one side or the other is leading 2-0 at the break and each time the final outcome has been different, which way will it go today? Milton Keynes get the 2nd half underway.
Denham with an early chance to counter attack the ball is slid through the middle Capewell is very nearly through on goal, but for Milton Keynes Zoe Lander coming across to make the intercepting tackle inside the area the ball is cleared, Denham's Harriet Gilbert is the first to it sees Capewell in space inside the box left of the goal gets the pass into her feet taking it forwards shoots plants the ball into the side netting.
Goodier drifts into a central position for Milton Keynes as the play builds up down the left the ball comes to her feet she looks to take on the shot a curling effort in front of the box, doesn't get the height needed to beat Rose in the Denham goal. Both no 10's Cudone for Milton Keynes and Cox for Denham have chances to break behind the defence both are flagged offside. Cudone makes a run left of the area as the ball is played cross field looking for her to latch onto behind the Denham defence 25 yards out Rose starts to come is stranded as Cudone hit's the shot on the run the ball flies past her turning sees it roll wide of her goal beyond.
Gilbert powers her way up the left as she wins the ball back inside her own half, Capewell comes over from the middle to offer support Gilbert sending the ball up the line for the striker to chase, Lander comes across trips Capewell as she lunges in attempting to win the ball the free kick is awarded. Down is the player over the ball looks to send it in high into the six yard box an inviting height to be attack players are racing in looking to get onto the ball, Collie let's nothing distract her makes a confident claim plucking the ball down safely into her gloves. Collie with another good take under pressure from Murray following a Denham corner put in from the right a good delivery from Down into the middle of the six yard box Collie leaps with Murray gets hold of the ball.
First change for Milton Keynes as the bring off Vicky Holland for Sophie Watson. The visitors attack Sam Gillings bringing the ball on from the back down the right, the ball put up towards the area is knocked down by McDonnell left of the goal drops to Wright who shoots from distance low and hard Rose is down sharply at her near post to stop and gather the ball. Capewell is constantly looking to get in behind the Milton Keynes defence looks like she might be through looking to attack right of the goal, Louise Naylor recovers the ground quickly getting across to put the tackle in edge of the box.
Denham make a change as they win a corner Emma Spencer coming on for Gilbert. Not long after Eva Ramsey also enters the field coming on for Phillipson who has taken a knock. Milton Keynes concede a free kick in a dangerous position on the left corner of their area 20 yards out it's Down to take looks to send the ball in to the far post for Denham to attack, players racing in Capewell get's her head on the ball turns the attempt wide of goal.
GOAL! Denham have been threatening to pull a goal back as the 2nd half has grown. Is simple route one football the goal starting from the goal kick at the back in touch and control in the middle before sending the ball long for Capewell the chase is in behind the visitors defence 25 yards out striding towards goal pulls her foot back and shoots from the edge of the box sending the ball past the keeper and into the back of the net 1-2.
|Denham's Helen Capewell|
Game on as the match moves into the last 10 minutes the Denham goal spurs Milton Keynes into life McDonnell strong on the ball in the middle plays it out to Goodier on the right she looks to curl a cross into the area with Cudone making up the ground to get into the area plays the ball too close to Rose who is able to gather cleanly. Zoe Cox comes on for Denham their final change as captain Torr leaves the pitch. Capewell and Lauren Cox exchange headers in front of the Milton Keynes area as they look to find an opening, Naylor comes between the pair to win the ball back.
GOAL! 5 minutes of normal time left to play and Denham get themselves back on level terms. Cudone is aggrieved as the free kick goes against her just over the half way line left side feels she was fouled herself just before. Down has put some good deliveries into the area especially 2nd half sends this one on Lauren Cox makes her move stealing in before the keeper can claim rising up and nodding the ball past her and into the net 2-2.
|Lauren Cox headers home Denham's equaliser|
Denham's Bytyqi pushes forwards in the closing minutes looking to burst into the box once again Lander is the player coming across to make the tackle. The ball spins out to the left Capewell goes area it falling back tries to send it across the face of goal Down is up with the attack looking to slide in on the ball turn it home Naylor gets the vital block in the ball turned away for a corner which the visitors defend comfortably.
Milton Keynes go up the other end of the pitch and almost nick the winner themselves with the last kick of normal time, Cudone making the break into space right of the box sends the crossfield ball into McDonnell hits the shot with venom from inside the box low is heading for the bottom corner Rose with a great dive to make the save turn the ball behind for a corner.
Full-time and the match ends 2-2 with Denham fighting back from 2 nil down in the 1st half to force extra-time. It's the home side to get the extra half an hour under way. Will either side find the net again or will it be the dreaded penalty shoot-out that settles the tie. Not much doing in the 1st 5 minutes of extra time. Capewell puts in a strong challenge to win the ball on the edge of the Milton Keynes box makes room for the shot 20 yards out opts for power drills the ball wide of goal. Up the other end Cudone plays the ball into the feet of Goodier also 20 yards out her shot is screwed well off target little happening both sides still full of running are rushing their passes. The stale mate remains as the 1st period of extra-time comes to an end.
Milton Keynes to kick off the 2nd period of extra-time. The visitors try their luck from distance once, twice Denham block before Charley Clarke get's one through 25 yards out this one goes straight into Rose's midriff. Denham win another free kick for almost the same spot they got their equaliser from this time though Capewell is free in space in front of Down as she looks to play the ball in front of her to attack just a little too long the ball runs out of play as Milton Keynes makes their final change with Charlotte Murphy coming on for Clarke.
Milton Keynes press hard late on win a corner on the right the ball is send low into the feet of Lander on the penalty spot but she is crowded off the ball as 4 Denham defenders converge on her. Pushing bodies forwards Cudone has the ball at her feet wide left sends a diagonal cross bouncing across the six yard box Goodier is looking to get onto it wide of the far post the angle tight her touch can't turn the ball back over the line, wide. Naylor is forwards late on has a crack from 30 yards out sends the shot over. Last chance for Denham as down plays the ball up into Capewell she beats Doyle turning into the area before blasting her shot wide of the mark. The dead lock remains the final whistle blows and we will have penalties a dramatic end to a dramatic match.
Everyone and their dog knows I hate penalties but a knock-out match has to be settled somehow. Five penalties for each side and if it's still level after that we go to sudden death. Milton Keynes to take the 1st penalty captain McDonnell to step up, the ball is struck centrally Rose is down quickly to make the save! Miss.
Down to take Denham's 1st penalty, scores puts it wide to the keepers right into the back of the net. Goal.
Doyle with a cool finish to put the ball neatly to the keepers left. Goal.
Spencer up next for Denham blasts her penalty wide of the mark. Miss.
No messing from Milton Keynes Naylor for pen no 3 low and hard down the middle. Goal.
Denham fall behind in the shoot-out as Collie saves to effort from Zoe Cox. Miss.
Cudone up next for Milton Keynes plays the penalty straight at Rose who makes the save. Miss.
Ramsey with Denham's forth looks to play it down the middle Collie keeps on her feet makes the save. Miss.
The 5th penalty will send Milton Keynes through is Watson to take hits it hard Rose guesses right saves pushing the ball up onto her crossbar. Miss.
Holleigh Marsh has to score Denham's 5th penalty or Rose's save will count for nothing cool as a cucumber slots the ball to the keepers left Goal.
Regular penalties end 2-2 the shoot-out goes to sudden death.
Wright steps up for Milton Keynes opens up her body slots the ball right of the keeper into the bottom corner. Goal.
Bytyqi to take the next Denham penalty sends the ball high into the top corner. Goal.
Goodier up next for Milton Keynes goes for height too falls to her knees as the ball flies over the bar. Miss.
Sudden death up steps Capewell who wasn't keen to take a penalty now has the chance to win it for Denham sends her kick high into the top right hand corner to score, Goal and send Denham into the 2nd round of the FAWPL Plate.
|Helen Capewell scoring the penalty that sends Denham through.|
A cracking game of football always tough when a side has to go out on penalties both sides know they had the chances to win it in regular time Denham doing well to fight back from 2 down to level to give themselves a chance. A perfect cup tie enjoyed it.
My thanks to both clubs for their help with the teams today always appreciated had to cut and run at the end as I had another match to get too would have enjoyed a pint in the clubhouse otherwise. Best of luck to Denham in the next round.