Sunday, 28 February 2016

Match Report - Tottenham Hotspur Ladies v Aston Villa Ladies

  The football action on the Supporting Women's Football Blog this Sunday comes from the 4th Round Proper of the FA Women's Cup a clash between FAWPL & FAWSL 2, Tottenham Hotspur Ladies v Aston Villa Ladies.

   Still early in pre-season for the clubs in the FAWSL 2  with the new season a little over three weeks away, entering the FA Women's Cup in the previous round the game was the 1st competitive action since the players returned from the winter break. A draw against an FAWPL side slap bang in the middle of their season fully fit and playing regularly presents a huge test.

   Tottenham Hotspur Ladies currently 6th in the FAWPL Southern Division entered the FA Women's Cup at the 2nd Round Proper stage, were drawn away to FAWPL South West Division One side Swindon Town Ladies after an initial postponement Tottenham Hotspur Ladies won the tie comfortably 4-1 to set up another away day this one against FAWPL South East Division One side Gillingham FC Ladies. A much closer game a single goal was enough to see Tottenham Hotspur Ladies through to the 4th Round Proper, Bianca Baptiste scoring in the 1st half. Now at home for the 1st time this season in the competition face tough opposition drawn against Aston Villa Ladies from FAWSL 2.

   Aston Villa Ladies were at home in the 3rd Round Proper of the FA Women's Cup, faced a potentially difficult tie with FAWPL Southern Division side Portsmouth FC Ladies (just a place above Tottenham Hotspur Ladies) the visitors. The FAWSL 2 sides 1st competitive match of the year it was a tight match a single goal settling the game coming late on scored by Katie Wilkinson to see them into the 4th Round Proper. A bit further along in pre-season fitter and sharper today's match will be a good test for them, have lost a few players to other sides over the winter whilst bringing a few new faces in one of those Destiney Toussaint with Oxford United Women last season was in today's starting line up.

   Cheshunt FC is Tottenham Hotspur Ladies home ground, has been undergoing some renovation work and is quickly becoming an up to date footballing facility improvements each time I visit, most notably this time around a much smoother carpark. Refreshments available I headed straight for them, enjoying a cheeseburger and chips whist watching the Aston Villa players warm up. Despite it being a bright sunny start to the day there was a bitterly cold wind whipping through the stadium that lowered the chill factor. The pitch looking a little tired had sand around both goals and in the middle to help soak up moisture from an overly wet winter.

   Tottenham Hotspur Ladies starting XI - Toni-Ann Wayne, Lucia Leon, Leah Rawle, Alex Keown, Jenna Schillaci (C), Sophie McLean, Josie Green, Rhianna Soobadoo, Wendy Martin, Avilla Bergin & Bianca Baptiste.
   subs - Molly Kmita, Rosie Kmita, Shannon Moloney & Amy Cooper.

   Aston Villa Ladies starting XI - Jess Myers, Hayley Crackle, Hannah George, Jade Richards, Elisha N'Dow, Maddy Cusack, Katy Moran, Mollie Rouse, Bethan Merrick, Destiney Toussaint & Katie Wilkinson.
   subs - Chloe Beattie, Amy West & Leanne Bryant.

   Amongst the starters for Tottenham Hotspur Ladies today was Josie Green having joined the club form Watford Ladies earlier in the month. It was Tottenham to kick off the match wearing their white and navy kit with Aston Villa Ladies lined up opposite in their claret and blue strip. 

   GOAL! What a start for Tottenham too as they open the scoring with their very 1st attack of the match virtually straight from kick off, a through ball for Bianca Baptiste catches the Aston Villa defence cold she is in behind heading for the box, goalkeeper Jess Myers comes racing out towards her, Baptiste lobs the ball over her from just outside the box and wheels away in celebration as the ball lands in the back of the net 1-0. 

Bianca Baptiste opened the scoring for Tottenham
Hotspur Ladies in the opening minute
    Aston Villa look to work the ball down the left side from the restart the ball is put over the top with Destiney Toussaint looking to make a central run, is stopped by Tottenham captain Jenna Schillaci before the ball eventually ends up in the gloves of goalkeeper Toni-Anne Wayne. Breaking up Tottenham's next attack up the left, right back, Hayley Crackle plays the ball out into Katie Wilkinson in the middle of her own half, a great pass out to the right sends Bethan Merrick away down the right, opts for the early diagonal ball with Toussaint making the run for her through the middle, the weight of the pass is just a little to heavy giving Wayne a chance to come and gather on the edge of her area. The strong wind is causing a few issues any high ball standing up that are played into it, Aston Villa in the 1st half.

   Josie Green is barged over by Aston Villa's Maddy Cusack as she looks to bring the ball out from the middle moving left looking to head for the area the free kick is awarded 25 yards out, Baptiste is over the ball, facing 3 players in the wall, she looks to curl her shot around it does get much height hits the player on the end of the wall wrong footing Myers as it heads towards the far post, scrambling across can't get there with Tottenham players closing in, no one can turn it home as it rolls wide of goal for a corner kick.

Tottenham's Rhianna Soobadoo challenging Aston Villa Ladies Maddy Cusack for the ball

   An intriguing contest shaping up, Tottenham are always a dangerous side on the counter attack, Aston Villa are looking a threat too when they win the ball back in defence and look to play their way out Merrick right and Toussaint left looking to be available for the ball. A few strong tackles coming in from both sides too. Wendy Martin and Avilla Bergin combine up on the right in attack for Tottenham, Martin playing the ball on for Bergin wide on the wing, puts the pass into Martin bursting into the box, Aston Villa central defender Jade Richards stays on her does well to prevent any shot coming in.

   Mollie Rouse is covering alot of grass in the middle of the park for Aston Villa, not shy in the tackle department is winning the ball, disrupting Tottenham's flow, gets the ball into Wilkinson who then releases Merrick on the right whips in a great cross, too close to Wayne who has her near post covered, Tottenham break the ball fed through the middle two passes finds Bergin central, Martin to her right the Irish international plays the ball out to her strikes the ball early from the wing her cross/shot gathered by Myers near post.

Aston Villa Ladies captain Katy Moran with Tottenham's Wendy Martin

   Katy Moran is Aston Villa Ladies new captain this season, winning a challenge in the middle brings the ball on before sending Merrick away down the right evades Schillaci's sliding tackle and is free to run down the line cross the ball, is a great delivery picking out Wilkinson central six yards out, puts everything into the header, a fantastic save from Wayne as she throws herself to the left gets a glove on the ball to turn it onto the post and Tottenham get the ball out of the area.

  GOAL! Half an hour played and the scores are level, the goal coming as Tottenham win a free kick on half way. The ball is played long by Alex Keown into the edge of the Aston Villa area, the ball is won by Rouse who plays a good ball out to Merrick coming in from the right, sends it long for Toussaint up the other end the ball beating the Tottenham defenders falls behind for Toussaint in on goal shoots outside the box as Wayne comes to close her down, despite getting a touch on the ball it's not enough to stop Toussaint scoring her 1st competitive goal for Aston Villa 1-1.

   Wilkinson fancies a crack from distance getting hold of the ball coming over to the left 25 yards out turns and sends a shot in on the Tottenham goal can only pick out Wayne who is well placed in the centre of her goal. Merrick is taken out as she turns inside with the ball from the right, 20 yards out both she and Wilkinson are over the free kick, Merrick runs over it playing the dummy and making a move right to break into the box, Wilkinson rolls her in the 1st time shot was on but Merrick hesitates for just a fraction getting closed down slices her shot wide at the near post.

Katie Wilkinson driving forwards with the ball for Aston Villa Ladies

  Aston Villa have been lifted by the goal have upped their tempo, Tottenham are getting frustrated with the referee as their players are getting fouled particularly in the midfield. Rhianna Soobadoo gets on the ball rolls it into Martin ahead of her, Baptiste is providing an option out on the right, Martin sees it plays her in, Hannah George gets on her shoulder pushes her wider as she looks to surge into the box, manages to get a cross in flashing across the face of the goal Crackle clears the ball but only as far as edge of the area, Bergin coming in from the left goes after it hits it hard as Crackle races to close her down, the defender blocks the shot but is left winded.

  Into injury time in the 1st half Richards is adjudged to handle the ball wide right, the initial free kick is cleared for a throw on the right, taken quickly the cross is swept into the box, Soobadoo tries to get on the end of it but Myers does enough up against her to get it out of the box, Tottenham send the ball back in again this time Richards rises to head clear.

 Half-time Tottenham Hotspur Ladies 1-1 Aston Villa Ladies

  A close contest so far both sides looking a threat going forwards not too much separating the two sides. Is an entertaining but physical game however both sides are up for the battle, not much between FAWPL and FAWSL 2 at the moment.

   Aston Villa get the 2nd half underway, Merrick and Toussaint have switched sides in attack at the start of the half. Tottenham start brightly Soobadoo playing the ball out to Bergin on the right, has Lucia Leon up the pitch in support with her moving into a central position in front of the D, Leon is given the ball as Bergin cuts inside, riding a challenge has Martin to her left looking to get into the box tries to roll the ball into her feet, Elisha N'Dow gets her toe on the ball to keep it from her on the edge of her area then clears.

Aston Villa Ladies, Bethan Merrick

   Aston Villa play the ball through the centre before rolling it into Rouse's feet 25 yards out, turns and takes on the shot sweeping a low attempt across the box, Wayne isn't worried sees it roll wide far post. Halfway inside the Tottenham half Rouse gets a free kick after a strong challenge which could have easily been awarded the other way. Merrick is the player over the ball decides to go for goal, gets it on target, Wayne sees it all the way. Play is stretched the ball moving quickly from one end of the park to the other the final ball missing.

  Green carries the ball forwards for Tottenham, slides it forwards for Bergin who has gotten on the shoulder of Richards as the two run towards her goal, the defender gets ahead of Bergin plays the ball back to her keeper, Bergin keeps going charges Myers kick down it strikes her both lose sight of it as the ball sails up into the air. Myers recovers faster to spot it grabs hold of the bouncing ball inside her box.

   A throw for Tottenham deep inside the Aston Villa half on the right, is dropped onto Martin's feet has Soobadoo with her rolling her in down the channel she sends her cross in high towards the far post Bergin tries to meet it, can't find the height needed to knock it down towards goal. Tottenham are forced into making a change Aston Villa have the ball on the right the attempted cross smashes Green in the face she goes down, Martin indicates to the bench she has to come off took the ball full on the nose. Shannon Moloney is the player sent on. Not long after a clash of heads see's Toussaint also needing treatment off the pitch for a bloody nose.
Avilla Bergin on the attack for Tottenham Hotspur Ladies

   GOAL! Tottenham get themselves back into the lead the break for injuries seemingly catching a few cold, not Baptiste though as Tottenham have the ball out on the right, Baptiste makes a move to get in behind the Aston Villa defence the run is see and the pass inch perfect, lifts the ball over the advancing Myers to score her 2nd of the match and put Tottenham 2-1 up.

   Toussaint returns to the pitch after receiving treatment. The goal gives Tottenham a lift as they push Aston Villa back into their own half for the next five minutes. The fouls keep mounting up, inconsistency is the thing that winds players and management up the most. Aston Villa make their 1st chance with Crackle coming off at right back and Leanne Bryant filling the position. 

Midfield wasn't for the faint hearted this afternoon

  A free kick goes Tottenham's way on the left just over the halfway line, Baptiste to take sends the ball in towards the edge of the area Martin rises the highest to head the ball down lands at Leon's feet, Sophie McLean is free to her right inside the area plays her in McLean looks to put her boot through the shot smashes into the defender blocking in front of her.

  As the match wears on Tottenham are starting to get a little sloppy with their passing not finding a team mate Aston Villa harrying them at the back. The ball is given away, Moran plays the ball to Merrick finding more and more space on the left, has plenty of grass to run into, Leon recovers superbly to get back on her as Merrick heads to the edge of the area, Wayne comes and gets the ball away from Merrick but it is far from cleared Wayne is out of her goal the ball is fed back to the left side the shot come in, is going in far post except for Schillaci getting back to clear the ball.

   Aston Villa make their 2nd change of the game with Hannah George coming off and Amy West coming on with 15 minutes left as they look to find another goal. Soon after Tottenham bring off Soobadoo with Amy Cooper sent into the action. A fantastic flighted pass from West put long from the right releases Toussaint who running for the area right side watches it fall over her shoulder probably doesn't see Wayne coming as she turns the goalkeeper meets the falling ball with her fists punches clear edge of the box collides with Toussaint who ends up on the ground, needs a moment to recover but is okay to continue. 

Maddy Cusack tries to find a way past Tottenham's Amy Cooper

   From a corner on the right, the ball is played towards Aston Villa's, west free inside the D, looks to hit the shot on the volley, gets there but flashes the shot wide. Tottenham give the ball away in the middle again the ball won back cuts open the defence with Toussaint breaking into the area, Leon covers the ground to get across and block the shot sending it behind for a corner kick.

  GOAL! 7 minutes of normal time left, Aston Villa have the corner taken from the right side plenty of players crowding the box, is a great delivery and in swinging ball it reaches the far post is met by Rouse throwing her head at the ball bundles it over the line to bring the scores level for the 2nd time in the match 2-2.

  The visitors push hard in the closing minutes have Tottenham rattled, Toussaint now on the left since West came on has the ball at her feet cuts inside goes for the curler towards the top corner outside the area takes a knick off a defender to turn it wide. This time the in swinger from the right is more central claimed by Wayne, the game moves into injury time Tottenham fight back good build up play involving Bergin, Moloney and Leon sees Baptiste flash a cross along the six yard box, Richards heads it clear. 

   Making a mess of clearing it at the back late on Tottenham gift Aston Villa a corner they take it early before the home side get a chance to set themselves the cross played into Toussaint inside the box shots low aiming for the near post, Wayne is equal to it dives low to her right to push the ball wide for another corner, claims this one as it's swept into the six yard box, Tottenham break the ball brought up the left with Leah Rawle covering alot of ground, puts the cross in with Bergin trying to get there, Myers gets in between her and the ball. For all the fouls the referee has for the large part kept his cards in his pocket however when Keown dives in rashly on Toussaint he has to have a word, the yellow is brandished. Merrick to take the free kick from the left launched for everyone to attack near post no one can touch it the ball going out of play. That's it the final whistle blows and the match heads into 30 minutes of extra-time.

Extra Time
  Tottenham get the 1st half of extra time underway by now the sun is starting to set and low at one end of the ground could cause a few problems for the goalkeeper seeing the ball. N'Dow having carried the ball out from the back goes further forwards is available for the ball on the overlap on the right side, Bergin tracks back with her slides in across her run to block the ball away for the corner get a knee in the back of her head to, but is okay. The corner kick from the right is sent in high Toussaint with a running start throws herself at it only succeeds in flattening Keown on the goal line as she lands.

   Merrick with an extra yard of pace finds space to cross on the right the ball is cleared by Keown, but picked up by West 25 yards out flashes a shot in towards goal Wayne is behind it once again. Breaking up the left side of the pitch Rawle manages to pick out Bergin has Martin moving towards her wanting the ball, gets it left side bursting into the box, Myers gets her near post covered, Martin shoots gets so much behind the shot lifts it over the keeper smashes against the frame of the goal before Aston Villa scramble it away for a throw.

   Merrick coming inside from the right is ahead of everybody takes on the shot cutting across the ball from 25 yards out ends up presenting the ball straight to Wayne. Rawle is unable to continue having been struggling for a few minutes, Rosie Kmita comes on for her.

Half-time extra time Tottenham Hotspur Ladies 2-2 Aston Villa Ladies

  Aston Villa Kick off the 2nd half of extra time 15 minutes left for one side or the other to find what might be the winning goal. 

  GOAL! Have come from behind twice to force the game into extra time, now right at the start of the 2nd period of the extra 30 minutes Aston Villa get themselves ahead. Have the ball on the left from a throw the ball is given to Wilkinson, is a hard player to shake off the ball when she gets her head down and runs with it making a move to get into the box is looking for a shooting opportunity when she is pushed over, a silly one to give away the referee points immediately to the penalty spot. It's Wilkinson to take sends the ball low and hard into the corner of the net diving the right way Wayne can't get to it 2-3.

Katie Wilkinson turns away to celebrate putting Aston Villa Ladies ahead from the penalty spot

   Tottenham have a few tired bodies out there however Baptiste spurs them on has the energy to run taking the ball down the right wins a throw the ball is put into Moloney just inside the box, help it on looking for Martin coming in behind, N'Dow tracks her run defends well against her. Ahead now lass than 10 minutes left Aston Villa look to take the ball into the corner. 

   Baptiste is put through down the left, Leon is up the pitch in a central position wants the pass squared into her 20 yards out, given the ball takes on the strike, is blocked by West closing her down. Martin forces a late corner inside the box for Tottenham everyone goes forwards including the goalkeeper, Wayne is the target on the centre of the box Aston Villa have plenty back too defend their box Rouse is followed trying to carry the ball out. The whistle blows ending extra-time and Aston Villa Ladies advance to the 5th Round Proper of the FA Women's Cup with a 3-2 winning margin.

  A battling a hard working 2 hours of football from both sides the FAWSL 2 side coming back twice to win the game in extra time, showed good team work to get the result everyone doing their part. Tottenham having been ahead twice will be gutted to lose the match the way they did a poor penalty to concede, had their chances to win it too, the game could have gone either way right till the end. 

  My thanks to Tottenham Hotspur Ladies for their help today. Best of luck to Aston Villa Ladies for the 5th Round draw of the FA Women's Cup when the FAWSL 1 sides enter the competition, the draw around lunchtime Monday.

*UPDATE* The draw for the 5th Round of the FA Cup has been made and Aston Villa Ladies will be at home to fellow FAWSL 2 side Everton Ladies on Sunday 20th March.


Sunday, 21 February 2016

Match Report - ICA Sports Ladies v Riverside Rovers Ladies

  Trip west along the A47 today to Peterborough to watch the Cambridgeshire Women's Invitation Cup quarter final match between ICA Sports Ladies and Riverside Rovers Ladies.

  The Invitation Cup is Cambridgeshire's Women's County Cup competition. 

   ICA Sports Ladies are a new side competing in the Cambridgeshire Women's Premiership this season. Have made a very good start to their footballing life being one of four sides tussling it out for the title at the top of the table in what is turning out to be a competitive league. Were drawn away to Cambridgeshire Championship North side Wisbech St Marys Ladies in the 1st round of the Invitation Cup won the match 4-2. Another away outing in the 2nd round against fellow Premiership side Huntingdon Town Ladies won the match 3-1 to reach the quarter finals of the competition. Face a side a league above them on home soil in this Sunday's game.

   Riverside Rovers Ladies aren't much older than ICA Sports Ladies having entered a women's side into the Cambridgeshire Women's Premiership the season before. A very different season as Riverside Rovers Ladies went through the season undefeated to win the title. Stepping up from county league football into the regional league set up this season based where they are in the Peterborough area they have joined the East Midlands Women's Football League - Division One South, have recovered from a poor start to build a 4 game unbeaten run putting them into the middle of the table. Have also established a reserve side this season which is competing in the Cambridgeshire Women's Championship South. Having a bye in the 1st round of the Invitation Cup, Riverside Rovers Ladies were on the road in the 2nd round away to Isleham United Ladies from the Cambridgeshire Women's Championship South won 10-0 to progress to the quarter finals.

   The venue for today's game South Bretton Playing Fields, home to ICA Sports Football Club, a large open recreational area behind a housing which over looks the pitch. Two full-sized pitches, the pitch for today's game sloping from one goal to the other, good grass coverage but looked bobbly through wear and tear. A dry afternoon not overly cold few clouds about there was a strong wind whipping across the pitch that would cause a few issues during the game. 

  ICA Sports Ladies starting XI - Sophie Antonucci, Becky Shields (C), Adele Teti, Lindsay Short, Cara Clarke, Lorna Hart, Megan Purnell, Sarah Rouse, Rhian Leonard, Louise Burgess & Tash Applegate.
  subs - Roni Teti & Carmen Herridge.

  Riverside Rovers Ladies starting XI - Sophie Powell, Stacey Schreiber, Charley Ireland, Lianna Bell, Jordan Sampson, Hannah Stubbs, Valerie Smith, Holly Morgan, Brandi Davies, Clare Knibbs (C) & Annie Posnett.
  subs -  Diana Olahora, Jade Ramm, Amber Pitts & Michelle Bark.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

  It's ICA Sports to get the quarter final tie kicked off, wearing blue shirts, blue shorts and blue and white hooped socks, with Riverside line up opposite with the wind behind them wearing purple shirts, black shorts and socks. ICA Sports work the ball out to the right early on the cross sent into the box is too close to Riverside goalkeeper Sophie Powell, who get's her gloves on the ball early on. ICA Sports come again with Sarah Rouse winning the ball back from the goal kick a quick pass cutting open the Riverside defence sends striker Tash Applegate in behind the last defender takes on the shot early right of the D outside the box lifts the ball over the bar.

  GOAL! Having had a free kick inside the ICA Sports half 25 yards out after Annie Posnett was fouled trying to take the ball on into the box the ball is back with the ICA Sports defence as it comes to nothing the ball put back out into the middle of the park is intercepted by Riverside's Valerie Smith she fires her pass up to Clare Knibbs in attack wearing the captains armband, Knibbs is a dual signing available to play for both clubs has scored 6 for ICA Sports so far this season, has 4 to her name for Riverside, makes it 5 as she is allowed to turn 20 yards out stroke her low shot across Sophie Antonucci in the ICA Sports into the corner of the net 0-1.

Riverside Rovers Ladies captain Clare Knibbs with the opening goal

   ICA Sports look to respond have to start from deep as the ball is standing up in the wind, Lorna Hart in the middle of the park for the home side drives forwards on the ball, looks to link up with Applegate feeding the ball into her feet 20 yards out back to goal, Hart runs on, Applegate looks to play the ball through into the box for her, Stacey Schreiber gets across her run to win the ball back for Riverside. 

  Good foot work from Jordan Sampson on the ball at the back for Riverside see's her bring it forwards up to halfway sends a direct ball up for Knibbs who does well flicking in on for Posnett out to the right driving up the line, Knibbs is racing into the box, Posnett gets the cross in near post area, Antonucci comes and gets between the Knibbs and the ball. Break for ICA Sports the ball put into Tash Applegate coming up to halfway a great turn and pass as she has Megan Purnell bursting into space on the right flank, driving forwards comes inside looks to take the shot on the ball rising is caught by the strong wind that takes it away wide across goal.

ICA Sports Ladies, Lorna Hart

  ICA Sports captain Becky Shields, wins the ball as they break from another Riverside move, Hart on the ball looks to drop it over the top for Applegate as she runs beyond the Riverside defence, the attempted clearance is missed giving Applegate half a chance as she gets her foot on the ball left of goal is spinning can't direct it on target. Applegate with another attempt on goal outside the box this time as Rouse set's her up plants the ball straight at Powell.

  Riverside's Hannah Stubbs wins the ball in the middle plays it out to Holly Morgan on the left side taking the ball up the pitch decides to test the goalkeeper, worth the attempt with the swirling wind. lofts the ball up towards goal, won't come down in time and sails over the bar. Riverside make a chance sending on Jade Ramm for Posnett in attack. 

  GOAL! Play is building on the right for Riverside as they bring the ball up the pitch Hannah Stubbs playing it out to Ramm out wide, her cross meant for Knibbs in the middle of the box is intercepted and cleared by the ICA Sports defence, the clearance though is swept out to the left where Morgan is free to latch onto it finds herself in a similar position to her earlier chance, shoots lifts the ball over the keeper and scores 0-2.

  ICA Sports make a chance Carmen Herridge coming on for Louise Burgess. Riverside have upped their tempo looking to close ICA Sports down more inside their own half force errors. Brandi Davies with a strong but fair challenge on the right takes the ball up the line feeds her pass into Knibbs who attempts to send Davies in beyond her, the pass just a touch too heavy Davies can't reach it. Not long after it's Davies who comes off with Riverside sending Posnett back into the action. 

   Rhian Leonard for ICA Sports sends Applegate away down the right, takes the ball to the corner of the area her marker stands off her, she rolls the ball back across the face of the area with Hart sprinting onto the ball, shoots drags her shot low across the face of the goal and out of play. Diana Olohara comes on for Riverside going into the defence, with Ramm coming off. Leonard carries the ball down the left for ICA Sports swings the cross into the box with Applegate coming across to attack the near post, Olohara get's there first hooks the ball away, but only as far as the area, Hart is there, Olohara follows up and closes her down prevents any shot coming in.

Riverside Rovers Ladies, Valerie Smith winning the header
   Smith takes the ball on through the middle, releases Posnett in front of her, has Morgan making a run up the left, sweeps the crossfield pass out to her then turns off her marker looking to get into the area Morgan looks to pick her out, great attacking move, Posnett lunges trying to connect with the ball her touch can't turn the ball home but away from goal. Morgan has to come off soon after feeling her hamstring, Davies comes back on. ICA Sports take Leonard off bring on Roni Teti.

   GOAL! Closing in on half-time the referee blows for a foul as the ball strikes Riverside's Schreiber's hand 20 yards from goal. Ignoring calls from their bench to take their time ICA Sports take it quickly with Rouse going to take seeing, both Applegate and Hart making runs into the area plays it through to Hart on the left side of goal, stabs the ball towards goal, hits Powell's legs but it isn't enough to stop it going over the line 1-2.

  Enough time from the restart for Riverside the mount one more attack get the ball out to Knibbs wide on the right  coming inside goes for the early shot looking to go across but is also wide of the goal as the whistle blows.

     Half-time ICA Sports Ladies 1-2 Riverside Rovers Ladies

  Riverside looked in good shape for a 2-0 lead at half-time a blow to concede so late in the half, the goal in turn has lifted ICA Sports and this quarter final tie is still very much in the balance. 

   Riverside get the 2nd half back under way Ramm is back on the pitch at the start of the half with Schreiber rested. The visitors attack down the right at the start of the 2nd half Knibbs taking the ball deep into the corner, Ramm comes to offer support the ball rolled into her she tries to back heel it on for Knibbs to attack as she runs into the area, ICA Sports Cara Clarke throws a boot forwards to take the ball away from her inside the box. Riverside keep the pressure up around the box, Stubbs sending a high ball back into the box, is claimed confidently by Antonucci with Posnett closing in.

Sarah Rouse dealing with the ball in the middle for ICA Sports Ladies
  Knibbs is covering alot of grass is all over the pitch, across to the left is allowed to carry the ball all the way into the box closing in on the near post looks to fire the ball into Posnett in the middle of the six yard box, great defensive work from ICA Sports left back Lindsay Short, keeps the ball away from Posnett the ball isn't cleared Lianna Bell has gotten up to the edge of the box looks to pull the trigger, Rouse gets back to slide in block the ball slices away into the centre, Ramm latches onto it shoots is off target.

  GOAL! Riverside have had ICA Sports under pressure early in the 2nd half however the home side go up the other end and get themselves back on level terms. Herridge has the ball on the left takes it along way into the Riverside half before looking to send her pass into Applegate in a central position 20 yards from goal, isn't closed down, allowed the time and space to shoot sends a curling shot sailing in to the top corner of the net 2-2.

Tash Applegate with the goal to get ICA Sports Ladies back on level terms

  From 2-0 down ICA Sports have pulled it back to 2-2 and are looking to attack again Hart has the ball in the middle 25 yards out drives her shot in towards goal Powell parries the all away to her right, Purnell is racing into the area is first to the loose ball smashes her shot against the base of the post, ICA Sports keep the ball, brought up the right is worked across the pitch, coming out to Herridge on the left players looking to break into the box her cross dissects the six yard box Hart lunges for the ball a the far post can't connect. Schreiber is back on for Riverside.

  Adele Teti has a shot on the Riverside goal from a long way out the ball coming in low bounces just before Powell who dives low to her left to push the ball wide, Herridge racing up the pitch sniffs a chance looks to smash the ball home, Schreiber gets back across her shot blocking it away for a corner kick which is safely dealt with.

  Stubbs and Smith link up high up the pitch for Riverside, from a throw on the left side, the ball is played into Stubbs, turning inside her excellent pass picks out Smith pulling off the defence to get into the box, hits her shot first time lifting it up it smashes against the cross bar and goes over. Is an end to end battle 2nd half Knibbs always a threat on the break, has Shields keeping her company now. Herridge comes off, Leonard is back on for ICA Sports. 

   Purnell hits the post again as ICA Sports build on the left win a throw, is put into Rouse on the edge of the area can't find room to turn into the box lays it back to Purnell 20 yards out hits her shot hard across the goal beating the keeper, but comes back off the far post across the six yard box, is put behind for a corner. 

  Charley Ireland stops Applegate in her tracks as she looks to take the ball up the left side the right back instead brings the ball forwards over halfway Stubbs comes across wants the ball played down the line, gets it carries it into the corner, crosses Knibbs is coming towards the ball but Antonucci has the near post area covered pulled the ball into her midriff. Riverside have started to get more possession of the ball having it around the ICA Sports area are taking on the early shot, 2 efforts are sent out of play. Knibbs is put through by Smith into the box right of goal, Shields stays on her shoulder to shoulder the defender wins the tackle.

   Posnett wins her side a corner on the right is up there with Knibbs who takes it short passing it into her feet then looking to go Posnett gives her the ball, Knibbs works it to the edge of the area, shifts it providing the half a yard to shoot, sends the ball in towards goal, Antonucci gets down low to smother the shot, 12 minutes left on the clock Riverside have ICA Sports on the ropes a free kick on the left Knibbs to loft the ball into the box drops over Ramm on the penalty spot, dropping for Smith behind bouncing Smith looks to lift the ball over the keeper, not enough height Antonucci plucks it down. Burgess comes back on for ICA Sports.

  Smith is finding some space in the middle now bringing the ball on fizzes the pass into Posnett her back to goal holds it up well with Knibbs making the run calling for it to be put in behind her, Posnett gets it through, Shields is with Knibbs again and the shot is deflected away for a throw. Knibbs higher up the pitch spins on the ball beating her marker this time and releases Posnett left side to attack the area Roni Teti is with her, her keeper is coming but risky waiting for the clearance Posnett on her back Teti gets it away for the throw. Knibbs gets the ball from the throw edge of the area left slips just as she shoots the ball rolling in tamely to Antonucci
   The final whistle blows ending the 90 minutes and the quarter final heads into an extra 30 minutes of extra time. Great game to watch so far is a tie which could go either way although Riverside were turning the screw late on having lost their 2-0 lead. Slight concern for the visitors is their goalkeeper Powell looks to be struggling with an injury late on have seen a few had to come off with knocks already. 

Extra Time

  ICA Sports get the 1st 15 minute period of extra time under way. Attack down the left with Burgess combining with Applegate win a throw deep in Riverside territory then a corner, the ball into the box is good across the face of goal, Bell gets it clear at the far post. 

  With ICA Sports attacking early in extra time Riverside launch a counter attack the ball fed into Posnett just over halfway she turns and runs up the pitch, Clarke is tries to stay on her Posnett has a half yard advantage keeps it her run and Clarke's presence take her out to the right side of the box, nevertheless she gets the shot away sends the ball over the bar. 

  Riverside with a throw inside the ICA Sports half on the left, the ball drops into Knibbs' feet rolls off her marker to shot towards the near post Antonucci gets down late but manages to push the ball across her six yard box Short plays it behind for the corner, Bell to take from the right has Smith coming towards the ball near post tries to help it on drops in the six yard box, Antonucci is the first to pounce upon it. Antonucci has to come racing out to the edge of her box to clear the danger on the right then as Posnett is put through on her goal by Davies on the wing.

  GOAL! Riverside get themselves back in front late in the 1st period of extra time. Again the build up is on the right, the ball is won back by the visitors in the middle, fed out to Davies on the wing, Posnett is already on the move with space available, the ball is put forwards for her to chase, Antonucci starts to come, not going to get there Posnett shoots the angle acute wide of the area gets it on target across the goal aiming for the par stick and in 2-3.

Annie Posnett with the goal for Riverside Rovers Ladies in extra time

  Riverside continue to push late into the 1st period of extra time, Ramm carrying the ball from a central position out to the right whips a high ball into the area, Smith has arrived in the middle, too high for her, defenders get attracted to her leaving Posnett unmarked, gets to the ball, places her shot straight into the goalkeepers gloves.

Half-time extra time ICA Sports Ladies 2-3 Riverside Rovers Ladies.

 Riverside have the lead with 15 minutes of extra time to play kick off the 2nd period. Start brightly Smith going forwards plays the ball into Posnett she looks to spin off her marker get into the box, Clarke is on her and throws the foot out to prod the ball away from her as Teti launches clear. 

   ICA Sports are looking a little flustered rushing their passes since conceding the goal. Breaking up a Riverside attack on the right the home side have a chance to build from the throw, put into Burgess she uses her strength to bring it over halfway plays it forwards into Rouse who coming central has Hart making a fantastic run through the Riverside defence, playing her in she runs for the area, has company on her shoulder, opts to pulls the trigger early outside the box bobbles it's way through to the keeper.

Riverside Rovers Ladies, Jade Ramm
   Ramm has acres of space to run into down the right, reaching the box cuts back inside, has Knibbs making a diagonal run in front of her giving her the ball Knibbs knocks it into the area, just a touch too heavy giving Clarke the chance to lunge put it behind for the corner. In from the right from Bell gets good distance aiming far post in swinger, Antonucci is allowed to claim unchallenged.

   GOAL! There is barely a minute left on the clock, ICA Sports with one late push, up the right Rouse out to Burgess the cross is put back across the front of the area where Applegate wants it, gets it right of the D is allowed too much time and space, hits it hard into the centre of the goal low Powell doves to her right pushes the ball away only Herridge has gotten all the way up on the left has the simplest of tap ins scored to make it 3-3 at the death. And that is it the game will be settled by the dreaded penalty shoot-out.


  Anyone who reads the Supporting Women's Football Blog knows I hate penalties but that's that a thrilling cup tie in the quarter finals of the Cambridgeshire Women's Invitation Cup will be settled by a shootout, five penalties each and then sudden death if required.

  Both sides change their goalkeeper for the shootout, Powell is struggling with her injury, Schreiber dons the shirt and gloves for Riverside with Hart putting on the goalies kit for ICA Sports. Here we go....

   Riverside go 1st, Smith with the kick sends the ball high to the left of the keeper and scores 1-0

  Up 1st for ICA Sports is Purnell, she sends the keeper the wrong way putting the ball in low to the left 1-1

  2nd penalty taker for Riverside, is their captain Knibbs, sends the ball up to the right, but Hart guesses right and saves it 1-1

  Rouse steps up to take ICA Sports 2nd penalty, hits it high through the middle, Schreiber had started to drift to her left, puts a glove up somehow turning the ball over.. save 1-1

  3rd up for Riverside is Posnett, Hart saves for the second time guessing right as she dives to her right pushes the ball away 1-1

  Applegate with ICA Sports 3rd penalty, disaster missed the target 1-1

  Penalty taker number 4 for Riverside is Bell, Hart guesses right diving to her left, but Bell's kick it too accurate finding the corner just inside the post 2-1

   Adele Teti with ICA Sports 4th spot kick, keeper doesn't move as she buries it high to her left 2-2

  5th penalty for Riverside, taken by Olohara, comes in low too close to Hart who get's down on her knees to save it 2-2

  One penalty left the 5th for ICA Sports, Burgess to take, put it away and they are through to the quarter finals. Runs from the edge of the box hitting it hard lifting it high to the keepers left to score and win the shootout 3-2 as her team mates run from halfway to celebrate.

Louise Burgess hitting the winning penalty to send ICA Sports Ladies into the semi-finals

   ICA Sports Ladies win the penalty shootout 3-2 after it ended all square 3-3 after extra time to book their place in the Cambridgeshire Women's Invitation Cup semi-finals. Was a thrilling game great for the neutral (I suspect I was the only one there). A proper cup tie played in the right spirit both sides doing well considering the wind playing some good football enjoyed it.

  My thanks to both clubs for all of their help with the teams today. Look forwards to seeing both again at some point in the future and best of luck to ICA Sports Ladies in the semi-finals. 


Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Match Report - Essex FA Women v Suffolk FA Women

  The midweek women's football action on the Supporting Women's Football Blog comes from the East Anglian Women's Counties Championship, the venue Stanway Rovers FC to watch Essex FA Women take on Suffolk FA Women.

  This seasons East Anglian Counties Championship is being contested by 4 counties, Hertfordshire, Kent, and tonight's opponents Essex and Suffolk. Essex have started this seasons competition with a win and a defeat. Both on their travels began away to Kent new entrants to the competition, lost the game 4-2. Got the 3 points in their 2nd outing back in November 2015 winning 4-1 against Hertfordshire. Now a home fixture manager Kim Coster in her 9th season as Essex County Women's manager has a large pool of clubs to draw players from across Essex, this coming weekend sees 4 of the largest clubs meeting each other in the semi-finals of the County Cup and that was in her thoughts when selecting tonight's squad.

  Suffolk have a new manager in charge of the women's county squad this season, Emma Manning. Got off to a great start in their East Anglian County Championship campaign at home against Hertfordshire capitalising on a frantic start to go on to win the game 5-1. Their fixture back in November scheduled to play Kent was called off now they resume their campaign away from home knowing a win would put them top of the table. A smaller pool to draw players from the nucleus of clubs within Suffolk is still strong. Tonight's squad is largely comprised of players from Ipswich Town Ladies.

  Tonight's venue Stanway Rovers FC, home of The Hawthorns just off the A12. A clubhouse situated across the carpark from the ground itself. In a residential area fenced on all sides, a large sized pitch undulating climbing in one corner dipping in the centre. A small seated stand on one side of the pitch with hot drinks and food available. All the weather forecasts had suggested it would be raining by kick-off a light drizzle in the air however with a chilly breeze blowing across the pitch the rain for the large part would keep away. Kick-off delayed slightly due to problems for the home side in getting to the ground.

East Anglian Counties Championship
Pos Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1 Kent 2 2 0 0 8 5 3 6
2 Suffolk 1 1 0 0 5 1 4 3
3 Essex  2 1 0 1 4 5 -1 3
4 Hertfordshire 3 0 0 3 5 13 -8 0

   Essex FA Women starting XI - Nikita Runnacles (Colchester Town Ladies), Nicola Carty (C&K Basildon Ladies), Charlotte Hopwood, Nicole Farmer, Hayley Piggott (C) (all Billericay Town Ladies), Kelsey Smith (West Ham United Ladies), Alex Shepherd, Chelsea Forde, Charlotte Bryant (all Colchester Town Ladies), Nicola Dunsdon (Billericay Town Ladies), & Courtney Clarke (Writtle Ladies).
   subs - Beth Griffiths, Georgina Tricker (Writtle Ladies) Chelsea Hinz (West Ham United Ladies), Aysha Bentick & Aleah Headley (both Barking Abbey).

   Suffolk FA Women starting XI - Helena Brodie (AFC Sudbury Ladies), Jac Ball, Marcie Prettyman, Sian Fagg, Aimee Harrison, Amanda Crump (C), Hollie Clement, Zoe Cossey (all Ipswich Town Ladies), Paige Shorten (Norwich City Ladies) & Amy Howlett (Charlton Athletic Women).
   subs - Charlotte Osborne, Nadine Basson (both Bury Town Ladies), Roxanne Small (Ipswich Town Ladies) & Hannah Waters (Lowestoft Town Ladies).

(roll on, roll off substitutes)

  A 7:45pm start a minutes silence was held before the match for Ken Robinson who was the Essex FA's Women's & Girls Representative who passed away shortly before Christmas.

   The teams out under the floodlights it was Essex to get the match underway kitted out in blue shirts with a white strip down the front on the left with a white band around the right sleeve, blue shorts and blue and white socks with Suffolk lined up opposite all in red. Essex look to play te ball down the right early on Nicola Carty putting the ball into Alex Shepherd, 25 yards out she looks to try a speculative shot doesn't connect with the ball properly screws the attempt away from goal.

   Suffolk look to use their wide players right and left early on, Amy Howlett on the right is tackled by Essex's Kelsey Smith before she can deliver her cross into the area. Bringing the ball up the left Marcie Prettyman puts the ball forwards for Zoe Cossey she links up with Natasha Thomas leading the line for Suffolk tonight left side of the area holding the ball up rolls it back into Prettyman who looks to fire a diagonal ball into the box with Howlett her target, Nicole Farmer tracks the run and gets her head firmly on the ball to clear.

   Suffolk have started brightly pushing players up into the Essex half captain Amanda Crump blocks a clearance the ball is sent forwards behind the Essex defence with Thomas alert peeling away and onto the ball is through on goal to the right side closing in looks to shoot near post a rising ball with plenty of pace, Essex goalkeeper Nikita Runnacles gets across throws her gloves up to turn the ball behind for the corner kick. 

   Essex move the ball rapidly from back to front captain Hayley Piggott putting the ball up into the air Courtney Clarke 25 yards out rises to head the ball on with Nikki Dunsdon making the break from the midfield to get in behind the defence. Looks to be through on goal however Suffolk full back Jac Ball gets back to challenge for the ball take it away from Dunsdon giving goalkeeper Helena Brodie the opportunity to gather.

  GOAL! 10 minutes on the clock and the visitors open the scoring. Is a quick fire counter attacking move as Essex bring the ball into the final third Crump wins the ball back, her central midfield partner Paige Shorten bursts forwards calling for the pass, Crump with the pinpoint pass sends her away, beyond Shorten, Thomas is on the move to looking to run into space on the right Shorten puts her through on goal, Thomas shoots from outside the box sending her shot low across the keeper and in at the far post 0-1.

  Carty and Charlotte Hopwood combine on the right side for Essex getting the ball down towards the area Carty plays it across the face of the box comes all the way through to Chelsea Forde wide on the left, tries to come inside looking for space to shoot, nothing on rolls it back for Dunsdon to have a strike on goal 25 yards out, Brodie has plenty of time to get across and collect the ball.The same players are all involved in the next attack for Essex, Carty bringing the ball into the Suffolk half puts it into Dunsdon who runs on as she lays it out to Forde on the left, Forde looks to put the ball over the top for Dunsdon or Clarke to latch onto inside the box, coming round on the cover Prettyman puts in a great tackle to win the ball back.

   Travelling with the ball on the right Cossey covers alot of grass for Suffolk before crossing looking to send it in close to the far post with Howlett on the opposite flank trying to get on the end of it, a great delivery, Howlett can't quite get their to divert the ball into the back of the net. Thomas is proving to be a handful for the Essex defence to deal with a powerful and quick runner on and off the ball is looking for the ball to be put into the right channel once again gets a yard on Farmer as she drives into the area, controls and turns taking the ball inside for a shot on goal goes across the keeper once again sees her effort come back off the post and rolls across the face of goal, Essex get it away from danger.

   Suffolk defender Sian Fagg brings the ball out from the back a good 30 yard pass finds Cossey out on the left halfway inside the Essex half she squares the ball into Shorten in the middle who places it out into Howlett available on the left, whips in an early cross with Cossey coming in at the far post meets it Carty blocks her attempt at close range. A corner for the visitors taken from the right comes in towards the near post is knocked out falling to Thomas around the penalty spot, Essex close her down giving no opportunity to shoot, instead Thomas gets the ball out to Cossey left of the six yard box her shot bulges the side netting.

  From a throw deep in the Essex half, Thomas is given the ball 20 yards out works it well to get herself in beyond the home defence, breaking into the area, Runnacles comes to close her down going down as Thomas pulls the trigger she saves it, with Piggott on hand to get hold of the loose ball. 

  GOAL! Closing in on the last five minutes of the 1st half Suffolk have been pressing for another goal and double their lead. Cossey and Howlett have switched wings, Cossey now right combines with Thomas the ball put into the box they have players high up the pitch, Essex get the initial cross clear, is intercepted by Aimee Harrison who puts the ball into Shorten's feet 20 yards out turns and hits a shot in at goal, Runnacles saves parrying the ball away to her left, Thomas is after it plays the pass out to Howlett wide left, the cross is sent in towards the left post area Hollie Clement making her Suffolk debut tonight is the player making the midfield run meets the ball with her head sending it looping up and into the back of the net 0-2.

   Essex with a great chance to pull a goal back straight away get it down the right a pace Hopwood down the line for Clarke to chase getting hold of the ball takes on the defender in front of her finds the half a yard for the cross whips the ball into the box, Shepherd has stolen in unmarked near post just evades her. Essex are pushing hard late in the half.

  GOAL! Suffolk break, Clement with grass in front of her is encouraged to take the ball on before playing Cossey through down the right carrying it down the wing puts an early cross into the box, a great delivery puts it on a plate for Thomas far post inside the six yard box a bullet headed goalwards Runnacles gets a glove on the ball but can't stop it going over the line 0-3.

Half-time Essex FA Women 0-3 Suffolk FA Women

  A 3rd goal right before half-time making it a comfortable scoreline for Suffolk who have caused Essex a few problems in the 1st half, with Shorten always looking to break from the middle Thomas in the middle a difficult player to mark. Have been the better side. Essex have has joy particularly down the right with Hopwood and Carty often overlapping doing well just haven't found that final clinical ball enough.

   Essex make 4 changes at half-time a new centre back pairing Aysha Bentick and Chelsea Hinz, Aleah Headley coming into the midfield joined by Georgina Tricker from Writtle Ladies. Bryant, Forde, Piggott and Farmer the players rested. Changes for Suffolk too changing their goalkeeper, Charlotte Osborne on for the 2nd half with Roxanne Small coming on for Cossey. It's Suffolk to get the 2nd half underway defending a 3 goal lead.

  A quieter opening to the 2nd half, Essex are looking to press Suffolk on the ball higher up the pitch have more blue shirts in their half breaking up play Headley closing down Crump which in turn is keeping Shorten from breaking forwards. Headley plays the ball out left for Tricker crosses early, too close to Osborne who gets an early feel of the ball. Essex are pushed higher up the pitch is space to run into if Suffolk want it can't get hold of the ball. Clarke carrying the ball into space on the right fires in a cross towards the far post with Tricker making a good run Osborne gets in between her and the ball to claim.

   Suffolk get some joy down the left Prettyman bringing the ball on releases Howlett, rather than take the ball on comes inside lays it into Crump on half way, Shorten looks to go get in behind the Essex defence, the through ball is intercepted by Bentick in the centre of defence. Headley breaking up another Suffolk move in the middle threads the pass through for Clarke drives for the box the Suffolk centre backs, Fagg and Harrison shut the door in front of her.

   Thomas is being closely watched by Bentick 2nd half comes back to make the challenge on the Suffolk striker as she looks to power her way through the centre 20 yards from goal. Hopwood carries the ball down into the right corner, gets help from Dunsdon as they manage to win a corner kick. A good delivery put into the centre of the box, Shorten with the firm header gets the ball away. Hopwood one the ball again flicks it on for Clarke 20 yards out, one touch to take the ball into the box, Harrison throws a boot at it just takes it away from Clarke, giving Prettyman time to clear.

  Headley gets the ball into Hopwood on the right who then plays it down the line for Clarke to chase into the corner. Holding the ball up right side, Hopwood comes to her to offer support gets it working half a yard for the cross whips in a great ball Shepherd is charging into the six yard box, Osborne isn't distracted covering her near post brings the ball into her body.

  Essex are doing well have kept Suffolk quiet 2nd half with 20 minutes left to play look the more likely to score during this period. The break is always on however for the visitors a quick throw out from Osborne for Prettyman, Small is available for the pass wide left on halfway the ball played into her feet she cuts back inside evades the challenge from the full back and is away down the line, travels along way with the ball, Bentick recovers well shows good pace to get back and put in the tackle to deny the cross. 

  Headley sets up another Essex attack putting the ball into Dunsdon ahead of her she tries the one-two with Clarke back to goal inside the D, Dunsdon not quite able to take to ball into her stride take her through on goal. Changes by both sides with Clement coming off for Suffolk, Hannah Waters coming onto to join the attack. Essex change their goal keeper a debut for Writtle Ladies, Beth Griffiths.

   Very nearly a short lived debut too as play resumes everyone pushed up into the Essex half a lazy ball out from the back is punted forwards by the Suffolk back line, Small sensing a chance breaks away to the left of the Essex centre backs, Griffiths comes racing out of her area sliding in Small looks to lift the ball over her the keepers gloves are up the ball strikes them the referee blows for the free kick, a long conversation ends with her being shown a yellow card, although her defenders had been caught flat footed they would have been round on the cover but she knows she's lucky to still be on the pitch. Crump over the free kick shoots low gets the ball through on goal Griffiths diving to her left pushes the ball wide Howlett racing in on the follow up tries to turn it back in puts it behind for the goal kick.

  GOAL! Late in the game both sides have gotten a little sloppy with their passes, that is until Shorten picks up the ball inside the Essex half is a fantastic pass forwards to cut open the Essex defence and release Waters for a run on goal, left side into the box beats the full back coming across to challenge, turns inside shifting the ball sweeping her shot past the keeper to make it 0-4.

   Not long after the final whistle blows and Suffolk celebrate their 2nd win in the East Anglian Counties Championship to take them to the top of the table winning 4-0. Could sit back 2nd half with a 3-0 lead after a dominant 1st half display. Essex were much better 2nd half without really testing the goalkeeper. Set's up a title decider to see who will win The Fred Welham Cup with Kent travelling up to play Suffolk in the final match.

  My thanks to Essex FA's Mark Wallis for his help with the team details tonight along with Suffolk FA's Darryn Marsh and the help and hospitality offered by everyone at Stanway Rovers FC.