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.



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