Sunday, 20 December 2015

Match Report - C&K Basildon Ladies v Portsmouth FC Ladies

  One more match to take to watch in 2015 and one that promises to be as entertaining as any of the matches that have featured on the  Supporting Women's Football Blog over the past 12 months, not often I go to watch a match in the FAWPL Southern Division, this fixture being the 1st of this season, as newly promoted C&K Basildon Ladies take on defending champions Portsmouth FC Ladies.

  C&K Basildon Ladies won the FAWPL South East Division One title last season to earn a place in the FAWPL Southern Division, the top tier of the winter women's football pyramid. The Essex side have risen rapidly through the women's football pyramid from Essex County Division Two runners-up in the 2007/08 season, through the Eastern Regional Leagues into the FAWPL, where they have had a solid start to life in the Southern Division. Helped by a great start winning their opening 2 league matches whilst beating Coventry United Ladies in the FAWPL Cup Preliminary Round. Was followed by a poor spell in September where they failed to collect any points. Since then thing's have picked up have gotten points on the board are in 7th spot in the table on 16 points going into today's match.

  The points have coincided with the squad being bolstered by a few new faces coming in as the club capitalised on the dispute at local rivals West Ham United Ladies to bring in and offer football to players that were supposedly surplus to requirement, such as their former captain Stacey Little and vice-captain Kerry Stimson along with Lily Mellors and Kayleigh Xidhas. Katherine Huggins is another new face coming in from London Bees. Had brought in experienced goalkeeper, Cherie Rowlands at the start of the season, however she under went knee surgery this week and will be unavailable for 2 to 3 months.
  Portsmouth FC Ladies are the FAWPL Southern Division champions, winning a very competitive title campaign last season. Are currently 4th in the table and are amongst the favourites again, with Brighton & Hove Albion WFC leading the way, both Charlton Athletic Women and Cardiff City Ladies in 2nd and 3rd respectfully will fancy their chances too, along with Coventry United Ladies in 5th who rejoin the Southern Division after a year away competing in the Northern Division. Another competitive season is unfolding at the top. Not only is the title up for grabs but the league winners will face their Northern Division counterparts in a one off play-off game the prize a place in the FAWSL. Portsmouth FC Ladies were so close to achieving that back in May this year only to lose out to a last minute goal scored by Lisa Giampalma to give the prize to Sheffield FC Ladies.

  Portsmouth FC Ladies have had a solid start to their 2015/16 campaign winning 9 of their 14 matches played so far. Haven't had the momentum fixture wise to get them up amongst the top three, a win today could see them claim 3rd spot going into the Christmas break, set them up for the New Year. Also have a former West Ham United player in their squad although Emma Sherwood wasn't available for today's match.

  C&K Basildon Ladies are playing their home matches at Canvey Island FC this season right beside the Thames Estuary and sits a few feet below sea level. An interesting non league ground full of character, the sat nav doesn't like it but it's well sign posted and easy enough to find. A large sized pitch with an array of covered seating and standing areas beside the pitch a large terrace behind one goal, clubhouse and refreshments. 

  The weather's still remarkably good for the time of year was bright and sunny leaving Norfolk, clouds got darker driving into Essex was over cast and a few spots of rain in the air a brisk swirling wind blowing across the pitch as the two sides walked out to start the game.

C&K Basildon Ladies starting XI - Molly Povey, Kerry Stimson, Claire Lacey (C), Hannah Porter, Karen Stephanou, Zoe Rushen, Stacey Little, Katherine Huggins, Lily Mellors, Amy Nash & Karissa Rodney.
subs - Rebecca Smith, Meagan Doyle, Sophie Blowers & Nicola Carty

Portsmouth FC Ladies starting XI - Courtney Trodd, Tiffany Taylor, Leeta Rutherford, Paige Atkinson, Shannon Sievwright, Molly Clarke, Sarah Kempson, Gemma Hillier (C), Lucy Quinn, Katie George & Ini Umotong.
subs - Natasha Stephens, Leah Samain, Charlotte Benson, Eilidh Currie & Katie James.

   It's Portsmouth in their away colours, pink shirts with black sleeves, black shorts and pink socks to kick off the match with Basildon lined up opposite in their all blue strip. The visitors lay the ball out to the right for wide player Lucy Quinn, she looks to play the ball forwards through the centre trying to pick out striker Katie George, attempts to header the ball forwards into the box for Ini Umatong to chase gets too much on it carries through to Molly Povey deputising in the Basildon goal.

   Courtney Trodd between the sticks for Portsmouth gets an early feel of the ball too as Basildon look to do the same from their 1st attack, playing it through the centre the ball from the middle too strong their attacking players to get onto. The midfield looks like it is going to be hotly contested as the battles shape up early on. Portsmouth get the ball into the feet on Umatong the Nigerian international striker drives forwards making a run across the face of the box plays the ball out to Quinn coming in from the right her 1st time shot is blocked Karen Stephanou taking the sting out of the shot rolls through to Povey.

   Stacey Little playing in the middle of the park for Basildon closes down well winning the ball from the Portsmouth defence 20 yards out takes on the shot, the ball is deflected through to Trodd who scooping it up sets up a quick counter attack as the ball is played through to George who catches the Basildon defence playing a high line racing in behind, hits the shot 25 yards out drills the ball low and wide across goal.

   GOAL! Basildon have been working hard to pressure Portsmouth on the ball at the start of the match make it difficult for their defence to play the ball out, Kerry Stimson comes racing forwards like a train from right back getting hold of the ball inside the Portsmouth half powers her way past two players before running towards the by line, sends her cross in along the six yard line, is just behind Karissa Rodney making a central run, but runs through perfectly for Amy Nash arriving at the far post to meet the ball and turn it home under the diving keeper 1-0. 10 minutes played.

Amy Nash with Basildon's opening goal

  The rain has started to fall again the wind picking up a little Portsmouth build a counter attack up the left, Shannon Sievwright playing the pass into the feet of Umatong her back to goal 35 yards out she turns inside looks to drive towards the box is brought down in a dangerous position right in front of the D. Quinn is the player over the free kick, gets her shot through the wall, Povey sees it and gets down quickly to make the save. 

  Portsmouth's Sarah Kempson switches play from left to right with a great cross-field pass to pick out Quinn out wide on the wing, pushing up the pitch sends her cross in along the face of the box looking for Umatong her 1st touch is too heavy takes the ball away from her, has Molly Clarke making a run from midfield to get up in support edge of the box right of the D hits the shot is blocked at point blank range.

   Continuing to press the Portsmouth back line Basildon are causing some frustration amongst the visitors with Little, along with Zoe Rushen and Katherine Huggins looking to win the ball high up the pitch this time it's Huggins who gets a shot away as she goes up to challenge for the ball 20 yards out the shot getting through running wide of goal. 
  Gemma Hillier the Portsmouth captain is fouled brought down inside the Basildon half the set-piece wide left is played long into the box, Basildon's Hannah Porter rises highest to get her head on the ball, another foul is given away in the same position as Basildon look to break, again Porter deals with the high ball sent into the area. 

Shannon Sievwright & Ini Umatong looking to link up on the left for Portsmouth

  Portsmouth get another free kick in a better position on the right side in front of the box, Quinn takes on the shot smashes the ball into the Basildon wall the rebound coming back to her gets a 2nd attempt to shot sends her effort wide across the face of goal. Sievwright bringing the ball up from the back on the left fires it into the feet of Umatong back to goal 30 yards out turns inside and looks to drive with the ball before trying to pick out Quinn making a move into the area from the right, instead Porter gets back to make the interception heads the ball out to the left, Portsmouth regain possession the cross is fired in towards the near post, Quinn racing in almost gets something on the ball as keeper and defender can't clear but the ball is out of play.

Portsmouth's Lucy Quinn goes for goal

   Quinn does well on the right covering plenty of yards with the ball at her feet before squaring the cross in towards the near post for Umatong to attack with her head, knocks it down into the ground but straight at Povey well placed to make a comfortable save. Portsmouth are getting some momentum as the half draws to a close Quinn in the right attacking again lays the ball inside for Clarke who lets it roll on through to Kempson in the centre is a good way out but given time to tee up the shot takes it on sends the ball over the crossbar.

  GOAL! Portsmouth press Basildon for the ball as they try to bring it out from the back, Clarke winning the tackle in the centre plays the ball over the home sides defenders with Umatong breaking free into the space beyond running centrally, Povey comes rushing out towards her, Umatong flicks the ball up and over the keeper leaving her stranded as she runs in behind to turn the bouncing ball into the back of the net 1-1. 

   40 minutes played Portsmouth are back on level terms, are almost caught out straight away as Basildon launch the ball over the top sending Rodney through into space on the right pushing into the box looks to send her cross along the six yard box with Nash sprinting to get in at the far post again this time though the Portsmouth defence gets back and Leeta Rutherford gets control of the ball. 

 GOAL! Having only just pulled the scores level the visitors take the lead 2 minutes later. The ball is played out quickly from the back put out to the right Portsmouth's George takes it up the wing before sweeping the cross in towards the near post with Umatong coming to meet the ball throws herself at it sending a bullet of a header past the keeper and in 2-1.

  GOAL! The Portsmouth bench warns their players not to get caught out from the restart however they concede in the simplest of manners the ball is won back by Basildon in the centre and chipped over the Portsmouth defence, Rodney races through the centre to get after it, Trodd comes racing out to meet her, Rodney lobs the ball over her and it drops over the line into the goal 2-2.

Half-time C&K Basildon Ladies 2-2 Portsmouth Ladies

  A thrilling end to the 1st half with 3 goals scored in as many minutes Portsmouth coming from behind to take a 2-1 lead only to concede straight away to leave it al square at half-time. A entertaining an competitive contest, Basildon's hard work in closing Portsmouth down at the back paying off and frustration the visitors, not helped with a few referring decisions going against them. Portsmouth getting joy down the flanks especially the right through Quinn, Umatong strong on the ball scoring both their goals. All set up for an exciting 2nd half with the wind having died down.

   Basildon get the 2nd 45 underway. Put the ball forwards from the kick off, Portsmouth head it back out into the middle, drops to Rushen, decides to take an early pop at goal sends her strike wide of the mark. Basildon are then awarded a free kick on half way wide on the right a good deliver in towards the edge of the area captain Claire Lacey up from the back heads the ball on looking for defensive partner Porter behind her, a pink shirt gets there 1st the ball dropping loose a shot comes in lacking any power Trodd is able to scoop it up into her gloves in the Portsmouth goal.

   Both sides are conceding free kicks this time Porter with the foul on George wide right. Kempson to deliver the ball into the area is headed away to the right by Little back to defend, Kempson retrieves the ball sends the cross/shot in towards the near post Povey is across to make the save. A high tempo start to the 2nd half pressing forwards down the right Quinn cuts back inside looks to stab the ball past Porter as she enters the area, Porter snubs it out rolls back to Quinn hits it hard this time, Porter blocks the ball spinning out wide left comes to Clarke who smashes her shot wide.

   Povey gets hurt going down to save a long ball put into the box for Umatong to chase down lunges for the ball as Povey goes down to stop it no intent brave keeping the ball going out for a corner on the left Povey hopping gets up to defend her goal then saves well putting the ball behind for another come as it is sent in towards the near post. Basildon half clear the 2nd set-piece comes to the feet of Hillier 25 yards out central has a crack at goal drills her effort wide.

   GOAL! Basildon are awarded a penalty kick. Rodney having gotten hold of the ball out on the right, has got much support up with her, Nash is covering the grass racing across the area her run towards the near post, Rodney looks to pick her out, Nash gets in between a defender and Trodd going down to try and get hold of the ball, Nash goes over the keeper and the referee points to the spot. It's Rushen with the spot kick no messing sends it low and hard to the keepers right into the bottom corner to restore their lead 3-2.

Zoe Rushen steps up to take the penalty to make it 3-2 to Basildon

  Portsmouth look to hit back straight away the ball played up into George she looks for a deft lay off to send it on into the path of Umatong as she looks to break into the box, Porter gets her toe to the ball pushing it out to the left, Hillier gets onto the ball 1st taking on the early shot blasts the ball behind the goal. Pressing hard the visitors come again the ball fizzed into Umatong, does well to bring it up hit on the turn blocked by the defenders inside the box runs back into Sievwright 25 yards out shoots a low effort Povey gets down low to make the save. A poor goal kick presents another opportunity for Portsmouth the ball played straight into Kempson, gives it to Umatong outside the box goes for goal over the bar, but not by much.

  Portsmouth continue to attack Umatong with a drive through the middle looks to play the ball into George just inside the box, is a strong challenge on her from Lacey the ball ball spinning out to the right of the area falls to Taylor, gets plenty behind the shot, Povey saves well getting her angles right. Hillier given the ball attacks down the right gets past her marker before sending the cross in for Umatong to attack near post, Povey knocks it down, and a Umatong tries to control it a handball is spotted the free kick going against her. 

  GOAL! The pressure pays off pushing hard to get back into the match Portsmouth bring it level again the ball put forwards into Quinn on the right outside the area looks to go for goal a high curling effort that goes over Povey and dips under the bar, a quality strike to make it 3-3 with a little under 20 minutes to play.

  Very nearly have the lead again a minute later but for a brilliant save from Povey. Kempson the ball at her feet in the middle powers her way forwards into the Basildon half before unleashing a shot 30 yards out, got the perfect view of this one and rising it's on target destined to fly under the bar, Povey stretching throws a glove up and getting her fingertips to the ball turns it over instead for a corner kick.

  Double change for Basildon as the match enters the last 15, Huggins and Mellors coming off to be replaced by Meagan Doyle and Rebecca Smith. The corer taken shorts is well defended.

   GOAL! The substitutes make an immediate impact as Basildon's midfield stops Portsmouth getting through the ball won by Rushen is put out to Doyle on the right side plays an early ball up into the middle with Rodney bursting clear of the Portsmouth defence again, getting the ball approaching the edge of the area Trodd has to come out try and close her down diving, Rodney gets her shot away sending it under her and it rolls oh so slowly over the line beyond 4-3 with a little over 10 minutes left to play.

Basildon's Stacey Little tackling Portsmouth's
Shannon Sievwright

    Winning a throw inside the Basildon half on the right Kempson demands the ball from the takers, gets it turns and shoots 25 yards out, a powerful blast, wide of the target. Portsmouth win another free kick as Porter goes in strong on Umatong right side outside the area. Kempson is over the ball looks to go for goal. Povey standing on her line is worried keeps her eye in it the ball drops late but onto the roof of the net. 

  The game has gotten a little stretched, end to end passes are being rushed however and this is presenting both defences with the opportunity to win the ball and bring it out. Hillier has come inside to play through the centre late on the ball put into her inside the D, shows her skill with a clever back heel to send the ball on into the area no one there to capitalise.

  Late change for Portsmouth with Hillier the player coming off, Natasha Stephens the player coming on as the light is starting to fade the floodlights on. Late into the match one last chance for Quinn as she takes on the shot from a long way out, Povey sees it into her gloves. 

  The final whistle blows and Basildon win the match 4-3 and consolidate 7th spot. Have a target of 20 points according to their program notes for the season and are now just 1 point away from achieving that. Worked hard today their closing down especially the midfield preventing the Portsmouth defence bringing it out, frustrated the visitors edging a 7 goal thriller, great game to watch for a neutral such as myself.

   Portsmouth lose ground on leaders Brighton & Hove Albion WFC after today's defeat a frustrating afternoon, getting back into the match then conceding straight away pushed hard in the 2nd half to get back into it again and could very easily have been 4-3 winners themselves.

   My thanks to C&K Basildon's Peter King for helping me out with the team details today enjoyed my trip down to Canvey Island. My 90th women's football match of 2015 the last for the year have enjoyed every single one of them, looking forwards to even more entertainment in 2016, until then wishing you all a Very Happy Christmas.





Sunday, 13 December 2015

Match Report - North Walsham Angels Ladies v Sprowston Ladies

   The women's football action on the Supporting Women's Football Blog this Sunday comes from Norfolk Women's Division Two with 2nd placed North Walsham Angels Ladies hosting 3rd placed Sprowston Ladies.

   North Walsham Angels Ladies along with Kirkley & Pakefield Ladies are the favourites to win one of the two promotion spots from the league as an influx of new sides at the start of the season in Norfolk saw the league set up go from two leagues to three this time around with 8 sides contesting Division Two. Kirkley & Pakefield Ladies are leading the way with a perfect 100% win record to start the season 6 from 6 played. North Walsham Angels Ladies lay 2nd having played 6 league games themselves, were matching Kirkley & Pakefield win for win up until their last league game dropping points in a 3-3 with bottom side Morley Ladies having started with just 10 on the field to go 3-1 up, injury put them down to 9 Morley taking advantage to win a points. Haven't seen as much football as they would have liked with their league cup 2nd Round match getting postponed twice has taken priority over upcoming league matches. Today North Walsham Angels Ladies have the chance to end 2015 unbeaten and with rivals Kirkley & Pakefield seeing their game called off an opportunity to retake top spot in the table. 

   Looking up the table are also today's opponents Sprowston Ladies. Back in Division Two after getting relegated from Division One last season. Winning just one of their opening 4 league matches their season got off to a slow start, but whereas Kirkley & Pakefield and North Walsham Angels Ladies have seen postponements of late limiting their football, Sprowston Ladies have been able to get their games in have snuck up behind the leading pair following a run that has seen them win 4 league matches in a row to close the gap to North Walsham Angels Ladies to just a point, 3 behind Kirkley & Pakefield another 3 points today and they would be finishing 2015 in 2nd spot in Division Two. Have fielded 2 sides for the past 2 seasons with their Reserves competing in Division Three.

  Fixtures were falling by the wayside following a heavy band of rain that fell across the region on Saturday, several pitch inspections needing to take place. North Walsham Angels Ladies have been playing their home matches at the Millfield Recreation Ground, with that pitch looking too wet to host the match, the club switched to an alternative venue using the pitch at North Walsham High School. Had faired better with the wet weather, freshly cut the pitch having a slight slope from one goal mouth to the other had drained well, the weather and a recent mow made the pitch markings almost invisible to see, a test for those running the line today. Was still very damp outside a light drizzle falling very overcast over head a day when the brolly would be required.

   North Walsham Angels Ladies starting XI - Cyan Fullbrook, Emily Farmer, Sian Wager (C), Robyn Steele, Megan Champion, Sophie Hall, Amy Hemp, Imogen Carver, Rachel Bussey, Lauren Yarham & Luci Middleton.
   subs - Emma Allsopp

   Sprowston Ladies starting XI - Lois Irving, Liz Johnson, Beth Cornwall, Erika Lakey, Belinda Downing, Rebecca Kirby, Darcey Fynn, Annika Skoog, Laura Jenkins, Shanice Sutton & MIllie Cursons.
   subs -

(Roll on, roll off substitutes)

  Both sides were short of players today with a few missing through injury for North Walsham they had just Emma Allsopp as their only named substitute. Sprowston arrived in the ground without any substitutes and now specialist goalkeeper. First team manager Lois Irving would be wearing the keepers gloves today. 

   It's North Walsham to kick off the 1st half kitted out in white long sleeved shirts with black across the shoulders, black shorts and black and white hooped socks with Sprowston having the slope to their advantage 1st half lined up opposite wearing orange shirts with a black vertical strip down the right, black shorts and black and orange hooped socks. The drizzle steadily growing both sides look to play the long pass out to their wide left players early on, North Walsham's Lauren Yarham looks to take the ball down the line before cutting inside, Sprowston's Beth Cornwall steps out of defence to put the tackle in to end her run.

   Sprowston have 2 players operating in attack Shanice Sutton and Millie Cursons, bringing the ball up through the middle Darcey Fynn rolls the ball into Sutton pulling left as she advances sends the ball into Cursons making a run into the area from the right wins a corner for her side, put in from the right the ball is headed on across the six yard box at the near post catches everyone on their heels, no one attacks it. The ball is retrieved by North Walsham on the left set up a rapid counter attack the ball finding striker Luci Middleton, 20 yards out right of the area looks to strike the shot early, sends the ball wide of goal.

   Sprowston captain, Belinda Downing in the centre of defence does well to keep her eye on the ball as both Yarham and Imogen Carver find themselves the furthest forwards, central approaching the box Carver looks to pick out Yarham to her right, back pedalling Downing manages to intercept the pass preventing Yarham getting through on goal, the ball pushed out wide to the right is gathered by North Walsham's Rachel Bussey sends in an early cross towards the near post, Lois Irving has the angle covered claims the ball.

   Both Sutton and Cursons are willing to peel left and right into the channels run at the North Walsham back line, in the centre Annika Skoog sends the pass out to the left picked up by Sutton she makes a run, gets into a good crossing position whips the ball in towards the near post, North Walsham goalkeeper, Cyan Fullbrook gets down to make the save doesn't collect the ball pushing it out into space inside the six yard box, gets up and claims at the 2nd attempt as Cursons sniffs a chance.

   North Walsham built a attack down the right, captain Sian Wager rolling the ball up the line for Bussey in front of her, whips her cross into the box at a good height to attack, again near post 8 yards out Middleton rises to meet it, goes wide, but for a moment quite a few had thought it had gone in. Bussey on the right again doesn't get the cross into the box this time instead wins a corner kick. Middleton headers the ball on as it is sent into the near post again heading into the crowd beyond it's Skoog back helping defend who heads it clear. 

  Is an end to end game Sprowston are very organised at the back a tall side defending deep offering little room to exploit round the back are dealing with North Walsham's attempts to cross the ball early. Amy Hemp playing in the centre of middle field brings the ball forwards looking to take on the Sprowston centre backs, Downing comes to meet her wins the tackle. Hemp then wins a corner her shot from 25 yards out hitting Downing and spinning behind for the set piece.

   North Walsham are rushing their passes getting frustrated by the organised Sprowston defence are giving it back to the visitors too easily allowing them to counter, play is flowing, North Walsham trying all sorts to find a way through. Carver plays a great pass through the centre into Middleton who gets in behind Downing right of goal, the centre back recovered quickly gets onto her shoulder snubs out the shot deflecting the ball behind for a corner. Put in from the right the corner comes into Hemp 8 yards out towards the near post turns hooking the ball towards goal, between them Irving and the defender covering the far post clear the ball off the line.

   Fullbrook is called into action to make a double save with play spread Sprowston breaking down the left with Sutton on the ball is looking to sweep her cross in towards the far post for Cursons, is in danger of going in Fullbrook needing to throw herself up to palm the ball away, North Walsham fail to get the ball clear the miscue falling to Fynn outside the D central takes on the shot doesn't get it wide enough of Fullbrook who gets down to make the save.
Sprowston's Beth Cornwall looking to put the ball into the box

   The home side launch a counter attack up the left following a Sprowston free kick inside their half, Yarham winning a throw high on the left the ball is played through to Middleton just inside the box, hits the shot on the turn, on target it takes a deflection off a defender turning it wide for a corner. Put into the near post once again is only cleared to Robyn Steele up from the back on the edge of the area, she looks to drive into the area, commits a foul before getting her shot away. 

 Sprowston are causing the North Walsham defence a few problems when they bring players forwards, however working so hard to defend more players are getting drawn back as a pose to looking to get forwards build an attack as a result North Walsham are starting to enjoy a little more possession as the 1st half enters the final 10 minutes

  Hemp isn't afraid to strike the ball from distance, getting it from Carver shows good footwork to beat two players before playing it into Hemp 25 yards out central to goal hits the ball arrow straight, anything else and Irving might have been in trouble instead she is right behind the shot, still rising as it reaches her throws her gloves up tipping the shot over her crossbar. Another near post delivery Middleton has gotten in front of everyone can only turn her shot into the side netting.

  GOAL! 2 minutes of regular play left in the half and it's the visitors who break the deadlock, have bodies back to defend as North Walsham bring the ball up through the middle Sophie Hall threading her pass forwards into Carver she sprays play out to the right picking out Bussey. sends in the early cross too long to the far post is picked up by Rebecca Kirby bringing the ball forwards runs unchallenged to the half way line, then plays a perfect pass through the North Walsham defence into Sutton on the blind side of her marker, left of the goal bursting into the box, looks to hit the shot as Fullbrook rushes out to slide in put her off, the ball hits the keeper, deflected behind her, Sutton goes after it and sweeps the ball over the line into the back of the net 0-1.

  Late attacking from North Walsham, as Sprowston get plenty back to defend Yarham winning a corner on the left put into the near post, squeezes through everyone this time coming into Yarham behind six yards out with the turn and hit she's her shot blocked, Sprowston don't clear and North Walsham come again through the centre Middleton tries to force her way into the box her deflected shot behind for another corner, Hemp coming towards the ball at the near post she's her shot cleared off the line, the rebound falling to Carver who shoots and sees her effort cleared off the line too at the far post.

 Half-time North Walsham Angels Ladies 0-1 Sprowston Ladies

  Half-time and Sprowston Ladies have the advantage have defended well been organised an hard to bring down protected Irving in goal well, dropping deep at times conceding ground, have frustrated North Walsham who have had plenty of the ball wanting to attack quickly were caught out for the counter attack that led to the goal. A good contest so far but with no substitutes could Sprowston keep their defence solid for another 45 having made a few goal line clearances late on.

   Sprowston to kick off the 2nd half with North Walsham having the slope in their favour now. The home side are on the attack early on winning the ball back and taking it down the right the cross is turned behind for a corner kick. A new taker and tactic for the 2nd half instead of putting the ball in to the near post instead it it swept out to the back of the area, falls to the feet of Steele inside the D, she hits her shot with plenty behind the ball, Cornwall puts her body on the line to make the block the ball spinning out to the left is picked up by Emily Farmer, sending the ball back into the area comes through to Carver wide of the far post six yards out looks to shoot across goal, Irving coming towards her near post gets enough of her glove on the ball to send it wide out the far side for a corner on the left.

  GOAL! Not even 5 minutes into the 2nd half and North Walsham pull the scores level, from the corner kick on the left, players cueing up on the edge of the area to attack the ball as it comes over is met by Middleton who turns the ball towards goal, the player defending the near post can't get her head on the ball to turn it wide as the ball goes over her to nestle into the back of the net 1-1.

   Sprowston look to get up the other end straight away Sutton and Cursons isolating Megan Champion at the back as the they attack through the middle Sutton tires to pick out Sutton, Champion doing what Downing did 1st half stepping up to intercept the pass, send it forwards wide right for Bussey who wins a throw deep in the half. 

  GOAL! Kirby playing wide on the right for Sprowston is effective going forwards and North Walsham make the mistake of sitting off her as she brings it over half way right side of the area takes 3 more touches 20 yards or more out goes for the shoot, hits it perfectly, a screamer sending it flashing across Fullbrook before she can react into the far corner of the net 1-2.

  Irving saves with her feet clearing the ball off the line following a 20 yard effort from Middleton peeling right off her marker as Hemp plays her in the cleared ball comes back to Hemp outside the D however she is falling back as she tries the shot taking away any power allowing Irving to gather. Sprowston are defending deep with the midfield pulled back too, Sutton and Cursons aren't seeing much of the ball. When Sutton gets a chance to run after it on the right the best she can do is win a throw.

  GOAL! From the throw North Walsham go down the other end of the pitch and equalize the 2nd time in the match. As direct as you like the throw is put into the feet of Hemp she turns and brings it forwards plays it through the middle, cutting open the Sprowston defence with Middleton latching onto it, strong running taking her into the box, Irving comes, Middleton shoots gets the ball past her and scores 2-2.

   Wager and Bussey combine on the right the full back able to get forwards more sends Bussey in down the line she squares her cross into the box got height for a header it's Erika Lakey who jumps to head the ball behind for a corner kick. The set piece fired in from the right is flicked behind by Middleton as she comes towards the ball near side of the box.

Sian Wager on the ball for North Walsham

  Bringing the ball out from left back Farmer opens up her body to launch the ball into the box a good deliver Irving does well to keep her eye on it and claim with Middleton bearing down on her. Light is fading fast very gloomy overhead with a little less than 20 minutes to play. Fullbrook has a very good kick on her can clear the opposition defence give her strikers a chance to attack the ball, Middleton has Carver up with her plays the ball on for the midfielder, who shifts the ball well between her feet to open up the shot, Irving seeing it late saves with her feet deflecting the ball wide at her near post for another corner. 

   Sprowston are forced to finish with 10 on the field as Fynn can't continue, no substitutes to bring on Sutton drops back into midfield. Sprowston are defending a corner on the right, Bussey to put the ball into the box, Downing rises to head away the ball rolling back out to Bussey, has Steele available on the edge of the box lays the ball into her feet, doesn't get the connection with the ball she wanted the shot rolling harmlessly through to Irving.

Sprowston's Millie Cursons looking to get beyond the North Walsham defence

   North Walsham very nearly give Sprowston the lead, an advantage is played off a handball on halfway Sutton has the ball at her feet looks to send Cursons away through the centre. Farmer gets to the ball 1st 20 yards out looks to clear it facing her goal sends the ball a yard wide of the post for a corner on the left. The ball is fizzed into the near post squirms through the crowd catching Fullbrook by surprise as she goes down to save turns it into the centre of the six yard box, Cornwall is there, can't dig the ball out of her feet to get the shot away quick enough as Fullbrook scrambles across the ground to smother the ball.

  GOAL! Out of nothing North Walsham take the lead for the 1st time in the match a shot out of nothing possession on the right the ball is laid back to Hemp in the centre of the half a long way out goes for goal lifting the ball high into the air, is a very grey sky picking out a white ball is going to be tough. The flight of the ball is perfect even back on her line Irving can't stop the shot as it drops under the bar and into the back of the net 3-2.

   It's all North Walsham late on Hall plays an inch perfect pass through to Middleton moving out to the right, driving into the box wide of goal flashes a cross chest height along the six yard box with both Yarham and Carver racing to get onto the end of it neither can get the needed touch to turn it home. Lakey makes the block to stop a Middleton shot from inside the area taking enough power out of the ball as it runs through for Irving to pick up. 

  GOAL! The pressure tells as pressing hard bodies up and around the Sprowston area North Walsham find another goal, play spread from the left across the the right the ball is played back for Hem in the middle again 25 yards out this time puts her foot through the ball sending her shot wide of the goalkeeper to find the back of the net like Middleton for the 2nd time in the match 4-2

  Sutton manages to steal the ball from the North Walsham midfield late on has Skoog up in an advanced position takes on the shot from outside the D however Fullbrook can see it roll wide of her goal. 

   Closing seconds and Middleton is through into the box right side of goal looks to shoot across the keeper, leaving her stranded, her hat-trick isn't to be as the ball comes back off the post and is cleared.

  Almost dark now and the final whistle blows North Walsham coming back from a goal down at the break to win the match 4-2 and move back to top of the league table going into Christmas. Had to be patient for the win Sprowston proving to be a hard side to break down and clear to see where there recent run of good form has come from, ended today but lots of positives lack of subs at the end making it difficult for tiring legs to deal with North Walsham as they found the extra bit of quality to retain the ball and win the match.

  The Norfolk League breaks now for the best part of a month a good rest, plenty of time to get that Christmas shopping done. My thanks to both clubs for their help with the teams today. 

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Match Report - Old Actonians Ladies v Swindon Town Ladies

    Sunday 6th December, 1st Round Proper of the FA Women's Cup. 12 ties up and down the country, all the sides involved having gotten through at least 2 qualifying rounds to reach this stage of the competition. A trip down south today, another windy Sunday too to watch the tie between Old Actonians Ladies and Swindon Town Ladies.

  Had been following the heroic efforts of Norfolk Division One side Wymondham Town Ladies in the previous 3 rounds of the competition so far, went out in the 4th Qualifying Round beaten by Bedford Ladies from FAWPL South East Division One. The FA Women's Cup gives me an opportunity to take a game from further a field (not that I need much excuse) and there were several ties that popped out on the fixtures for this Sunday, have been wanting to see Old Actonians Ladies this season and Swindon Town Ladies have been recommended as a good watch so the pair drawn together in the FA Women's Cup 1st Round Proper was ideal. 

   Both are FAWPL Division One sides, Old Actonians Ladies are a nearly promoted side the the South East Division One this season, whilst Swindon Town Ladies are a long established side in the South West Division One and it predecessor the South West Combination League. FAWPL Division One sides enter the FA Women's Cup in 3rd Round Qualifying.

  Swindon Town Ladies were on the road in 3rd Round Qualifying, scored 12 without reply against South East Counties Premier Division side Long Lane Ladies. Faced a tougher test in 4th Round Qualifying drawn away to fellow FAWPL South West Division One side Larkhall Athletic Ladies, top of the league a title rival, won the tie 3-2 to set up another away trip to face Old Actonians Ladies. A side they will face twice having been drawn away to them also in the FAWPL League Cup 2nd Round. That tie fell foul of the weather last Sunday and with the FA Women's Cup having priority will have to wait until next Sunday.

  With storm Desmond hitting the country this weekend affecting the north in particular, but very windy all round, Old Actonians Ladies usual home venue, North Greenford United FC a risk with the weather the tie was switched to another venue, on an all weather surface at Brunel University's Sports Pavillion Complex. A multi-sports facility, the 3G pitch has been well used, a good size with room to stand and watch inside. By Sunday afternoon the wind had died down overcast and gloomy above there was some light rain in the air as the two sides were led out by the referee.  

   Old Actonians Ladies beat London & South East Regional Premier Division side Crawley Wasps Ladies 1-0 away from home in 3rd Round Qualifying, were paired against another FAWPL South West Division One side in 4th Round Qualifying, a home tie against Southampton Saints LFC won the match 4-1 to win a place in the 1st Round Proper.  

Old Actonians Ladies starting XI - Naomi Swift, Catherine Murphy (C), Jodie Regan, Lafe' Uche, Sharon Odofin, Nathalie Randall, Hannah Olofsson, Natasha Cree, Jessica Byrne, Sinthujah Sooriyakumar & Carla Williams.
subs -  Leah Taylor, Simone Wan & Melissa Conway.

Swindon Town Ladies starting XI - Robyn Levett (C), Serena Smith, Alison Witts, Chemise Austin, Sam Quinn, Chyna Collings, Alex Hurst, Beth Westlake, Abbie Picton, Alice Smith & Ellie Maynard.
subs - Sarah Uzzell & Megan Attenborough.

   It's the home side to kick off the tie, Old Actonians wearing blue and white vertical striped fronted shirts, blue shorts and socks with Swindon lined up opposite all in red. Old Actonians look to attack down the left channel, Serena Smith defends well the Swindon Town right back not letting the ball get played behind her, clearing it out to the middle, Old Actonians, Nathalie Randall intercepts, prods the ball forwards in Jessica Byrne, 22 yards out takes on the strike sends the ball wide of the right post.

   Swindon get some momentum on the right side of the pitch with Alex Hurst looking to get her head down and drive with the ball, attempts to send the past beyond the Old Actonians defence with striker Ellie Maynard looking to break, the ball is a little heavy giving Naomi Swift in the Old Actonians goal time to get out to the edge of her box and gather. Hurst with the ball out on the right again, this time holding it up with Maynard coming towards her to support, is given it, turns inside looks to make the face of the area finding an opening for a shot, is none as Old Actonians captain Catherine Murphy steps out of defence with make the tackle, win the ball back.

   The visitors are getting plenty of players forwards early on the ball is hotly contested in midfield and fast tempo to the game, the ball is rolled into Maynard with her back to goal just outside the box, right of the D she controls and looks to hit the shot on the turn. Swift throws herself to her right, getting down to gather the ball into her make the save.

  Old Actonians attack down the right the ball played across into Carla Williams, she looks to play it early with Swindon playing a high line at the back plays the diagonal through ball, with Byrne the player making the run to get in behind the Swindon defence, Chyna Collings recovers the ground quickly for Swindon, tracks Byrne into the area forcing her away from goal, manages to see the ball back to goalkeeper and Swindon captain, Robyn Levett.

   A lapse in concentration from Old Actonians on the right sees, Hurst breaks into space is allowed to push unchallenged to the byline squares a dangerous cross along the six yard line, Lafe' Uche playing left back for Old Actonians makes a vital tackle at the far post to clear the ball stop Swindon's Alice Smith running into the box connecting with the ball turn it goalwards. 

  Swindon retain hold of the ball inside the Old Actonians half, switching play from right to left, Beth Westlake on the ball in the centre pushes forwards has Abbie Picton making a good run across the Old Actonians defence in front of her plays the ball into her inside the box, looks to open up her body send her shot wide of Swift in goal, not enough as Swift gets down to her right holds onto the ball.

Old Actonians Ladies, Hannah Olofsson challenging Swindon's Alex Hurst for the ball

   Plenty of niggly fouls being committed, 'push in the back ref' being a regular complaint. Both sides with free kicks in wide positions look to send the ball into the six yard box on both occasions the goalkeeper is allowed to claim the ball unchallenged. Old Actonians break with purpose Byrne a powerful runner with the ball covers alot of yards looks to play the ball forwards with Williams breaking into space behind the Swindon defence, gets into the box left of the goal, Chemise Austin gets back great defending to prevent Williams getting a shot away the ball spinning behind for a corner. 

   Sinthujah Sooryakumar has moved into an advanced attacking role for Old Actonians in the last few minutes now she springs the offside trap on the right having drifted into space as Old Actonians bring the ball out through the middle players converge on Byrne, she gets the pass through releasing Sooryakumar has a lot of ground to cover, a pacy player surges towards the area, it's Austin who gets back running across to close Sooryakumar down as she closes in on the goal slides in the take the ball away for a corner on the right.

Jessica Byrne making a surging run on the ball for Old Actonians

   Swindon commit plenty of players forwards when they attack, Collings is making an advanced run as Hurst has possession wide on the right her attempted cross is deflected through into Collings feet bursts into the box, gets clattered as she gets the shot away, a soft attempt hasn't the pace to beat Swift in goal. Is a game that ebbs and flows from one end to the other, Old Actonians soon have the ball down the other end is laid out to Sooryakumar on the right in space takes it on into the area right of goal the angle for the shot is tight aims for the near post, Levett is across to cover the angle makes the save. From Swindon's goal-kick the ball is won by Old Actonians headed forwards by Randall, falling to Sooryakumar in a central position outside the box, shoots, Levett getting down to her right saves.

Swindon Town Ladies, Alex Hurst
   Austin is called into action at the back for Swindon again as Old Actonians find the pass to send Sooryakumar through into space on the right again, bursting into the box Austin slides in to block the shot. The visitors launch a counter attack bringing the ball up the right, Smith passing it to Hurst she drives forwards up the wing, plays the cross into Collings inside the box, can't get a shot away as the Old Actonians defence close her down the ball isn't cleared comes back to the feet of Hurst, see fizzes a pass back into Collings does well to control it kill the pace, back to goal 10 yards out, a good turn and hit, however Swift has read it and the goalkeeper diving smothers the ball.

   Maynard collects one on the face as she tries to get onto the end of another Hurst cross put in from the right, the ball is hooked clear by Murphy, hitting Maynard the rebound carrying back towards goal into the gloves of Swift. Another shove in the back brings Swindon a free kick late in the 1st half on the right, Smith to play the ball into the area, Hurst rising at the near post six yards out tries to direct her header across the goal sends it wide at the far post.

  Late chances for Old Actonians, with Sooryakumar coming inside to win the ball from the Swindon defence getting it, looks to release Williams to the left of her closing in on the area the ball in front of her looks to slide in get a shot away before being challenged, the ball rolls wide of goal, a corner is indicated, is taken short on the right before the cross is put into Murphy outside the box in a central position meets the ball on the volley plays the shot straight into Levett's gloves.

Half-time Old Actonians Ladies 0-0 Swindon Town Ladies

  Goalless at half-time both sides attacking with purpose, Swindon have edged the chances forcing more saves from Swift in the Old Actonians goal, none of them have carried enough pace to beat her. A good contest between two sides that look fairly evenly matched, will another 45 minutes see a winning goal or will extra-time be needed. Swindon to kick off the second half.

   Swindon attack down the right, win themselves a corner kick, the ball is delivered towards the far post area, met by Collings who heads the ball back across the six yard box, drops to Alice Smith back to goal attempts the flick the ball back over her head, lifts the ball up onto the crossbar and over. Hannah Olofsson sends the ball into Westlake 20 yards out central her back to goal, as she looks to turn and shoot is closed down by Murphy who blocks the shot at pointblank range the rebound spinning into the feet of Hurst 25 yards out right side of the area, hits the shot early plays it straight into Swift, well placed between her posts.

   Natasha Cree finds some space to attack on the left of Old Actonians, carrying the ball forwards is brought down by Smith as she slides in to take the ball, picks up the 1st yellow card of the match. Before the free kick is take Old Actonians make a change with Uche coming off to be replaced by Leah Taylor at the back. Sharon Odofin to play the free kick wide left into the area, Murphy heads the ball on at the near post across the six yard box, Alison Witts winning the header to get it clear for the visitors they counter attack, with the ball being sprayed out to Alice Smith on the right, plays the diagonal ball across the area no one can make up the ground as Swift sees the ball out of play wide of the far post.

  Byrne and Cree link up well in the final 3rd for Old Actonians play building through the centre, with Cree looking to set up Sooryakumar as she makes the run into the box, is caught offside. The tempo has picked up at the start of the 2nd half both sides keen to attack, if anything are both rushing the final ball not giving their attackers time to get into position. Randall sends her pass out wide left for Cree to go after, Austin comes across again to tackle the block deflected behind for a corner. Swindon defend their far post well again and are soon travelling up the left with the ball Proctor picking it up inside the opponents half and driving forwards, reaching the area, shoots a low effort, Swift dives to her right gets behind the ball is free for a moment before Old Actonians launch it away.

   The home side make their 2nd change bringing off Sooryakumar, with Melissa Conway coming on. From a throw on the left inside the Swindon half the ball travels through to Jodie Regan on the right side puts an early diagonal ball into the box, Williams springs forwards getting into the box looks to get on the end of the ball deflect it in, Levett gets across her goal face and makes the blocking save at close range to deny her. 

   Swindon make their 1st change bringing on Megan Attenborough, with Serena Smith coming off. Old Actonians look to be in on goal as Byrne does well holding onto the ball riding two challenges before sending it through to Conway to her right, she plays an early ball through for Williams central she is clear of everybody, Levett hesitates momentarily, before committing herself to racing out to slide in blocks the shot as it is deflected behind for a corner kick. 

  Williams linking up with Conway in attack is keeping the Swindon defence busy, putting in the blocking tackles the break is on with Sam Quinn releasing Hurst on the right to have a run at the Old Actonians back line goes for the early shot, takes a knick to deflect the ball wide for a corner. Old Actonians defend the corner well.

   Got work from Alice Smith on the right to keep possession of the ball managing to get into the Old Actonians box, just over running it as she looks to shoot, giving Taylor a chance to clear. Final change for Old Actonians with Simone Wan entering the field for  Olofsson. Great chance for the home side with play building up down the right the ball is put into the area, the defensive clearance spins wide coming left into the feet of Cree outside the box left of the D, shifts the ball between her feet to set up the shot hitting it low and hard, Levett throws herself to her right, doesn't make it, doesn't need the shot 6 inches wide of her post.

  Swindon win a free kick in a dangerous position 20 yards out to the left of the D, Hurst over the ball goes for power and pace smashes the ball into the Old Actonians wall is deflected behind for a corner kick on the left. Is played into Attenborough at an awkward height near post can't bring it down for the shot  falling to the edge of the area Swindon players are getting in each others way as they cue up to hit it, Witts eventually abandoning her defensive duties decides to step forwards get hold of the ball and hit it, 25 yards out sends the shot over.

   Swindon bring on Sarah Hazell for Abbie Picton late on, with 5 minutes left it looks like neither side will find the break through and the tie will be heading for extra time. A risky back pass from Austin to Levett, gives Williams a chance to attack closing down the keeper she launches it away just in time.

  GOAL! 3 minutes of regular time left to play the ball send forwards is mis-controlled in the middle of the field by Old Actonians giving Hurst an chance to play the ball into Maynard in front of her left side outside the box, she takes on the shot, this one has the power behind it, beats the diving Swift this time to find the back of the net and give Swindon the advantage late into the game 0-1.

  Closing minutes game going into injury time Swindon's goal now is to keep hold of the ball prevent Old Actonians from getting the one vital chance they need to find a leveller. They can't and it's all over Swindon Town Ladies win the tie by a single goal to advance to the 2nd Round of the FA Women's Cup.

  A good contest, competitive, two even sides, few chances created despite plenty of good build-up play. Little to separate the sides as they meet again next Sunday once again in the FAWPL League Cup 2nd Round. Swindon Town Ladies are in the hat for the draw for the 2nd Round of the FA Women's Cup with find out their opponents on Monday around lunchtime will no doubt be hoping for a home tie, will update the blog once I know the details.

  My thanks to both clubs for their help with the teams today, always appreciated.

*UPDATE* Monday lunchtime and the draw for the 2nd Round Proper has been made, Swindon Town Ladies get a home tie, against FAWPL Southern Division side Tottenham Hotspur Ladies, a great test for them, another side like themselves who can move the ball around quickly. The tie is schedued to be played in the New Year, Sun 10th January with a 1pm KO.