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
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.
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.
*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.