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.

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