Cambridge United WFC are in 4th place in the FAWPL South East Division One table having climbed up the league thanks to an unbeaten run of 8 matches. That run came to an end last time out as they lost 1-0 at Enfield Town Ladies. With 6 league matches left to play are looking to start a new unbeaten run and having already achieved a larger points haul than the previous season will want to gain as many as possible.
Old Actonians Ladies in contrast during the same period as Cambridge United WFC were putting together that unbeaten run haven't played a league game since the 1st November 2015! That was the reverse fixture against Cambridge where they lost 4-1. A run in both the FA Women's Cup and FAWPL League Cup causing league games to be put back along with the terrible weather that has seen plenty of matches postponed sees them playing catch up in the league having played just 8 league games to date.
Old Actonians Ladies are newly promoted to the FAWPL South East Division One this season having won the London & South East Regional Women's Football League last season. Have had a solid start to life in the higher division with a record that suggested they would be well clear of the relegation places at the bottom of the table with 3 wins, 2 draws and 3 defeats. Lack of league games has seen them fall down the table into 10th going into today's match will be looking to start picking up points.
Has been a while since I've seen Cambridge United WFC in action at Ely City FC their usual home venue. A bright but chilly day, especially if you weren't standing in the sun. The pitch looked a little worn and bobbly but like most has seen alot of play and alot of rain this winter so far.
Cambridge United WFC starting XI - Verity Crook, Emma Jenkins, Lucy Du Plooy, Laura Bright (C), Kayleigh-Anne Burt, Tahnee Perfect, Hannah Goodchild, Faith Hewitt, Laura Baker, Carrie Bennett & Becky Taylor.
subs - Robyn Phillips, Sarah Mosley & Hayley Turner.
Old Actonians Ladies starting XI - Naomi Swift, Catherine Murphy (C), Lafe' Uche, Jodie Regan, Leah Taylor, Sharon Odofin, Sinead Friel, Natasha Cree, Jessica Byrne, Hannah Olofsson & Carla Williams.
subs - Melissa Conway, Simone Wan & Sinthujah Sooriyakumar.
A few injuries for Cambridge to contend with especially in attack, gave an opportunity for some of the clubs reserve side, which is involved in a 4 way tussle for the title in the Cambridgeshire Women's Premiership to get an opportunity with the 1st team today as they lined up kitted out in amber and black vertical striped shirts, black shorts and amber shorts opposite Old Actonians Ladies taking the kick off 1st half wearing blue and white vertical striped shirts, blue shorts and socks.
Both sides test the flanks early on, Old Actonians sending it left for Sinead Friel to chase down, Cambridge central defender Kayleigh-Anne Burt comes across to put the tackle in to win the ball back plays it into the middle where Hannah Goodchild turns on the ball and sends her pass into space in the left of their attack for Carrie Bennett, she looks to bring the ball inside is stopped by Old Actonians, Jodie Regan.
|Old Actonians Ladies, Jodie Regan beats Cambridge United WFC's Tahnee Perfect to the ball|
Old Actonians, Jessica Byrne rises to head a ball sent through the middle down looking to place it into the path of team mate Carla Williams 20 yards out from goal, the Cambridge centre backs converge to shut the door in front of her as she shapes to shoot, the ball is rapidly plays up to Laura Baker 25 yards out left side of the area, she carries the ball across the front of the area looking for an opportunity to shoot, cuts the ball back well sending it in low on target, no pace on the shot gives Old Actonians goalkeeper Naomi Swift plenty of time to set herself get down to gather the ball.
Attempting to hold the ball up on the right side Baker is fouled, a shove in the back to give Cambridge a free kick out wide. It's Baker to deliver sends the ball into towards the near post area six yards out Cambridge captain, Laura Bright rises to meet the ball with her head, the ball loops up and down into the gloves of Swift covering that post.
|Old Actonians goalkeeper Naomi Swift can see Laura Baker's free kick over her bar.|
Breaking up the next Cambridge attack, the ball is played out from the back into Lafe' Uche in the middle, her pass up to Carla Williams who looks to send Friel away on the left side, Burt has read it and closes Friel down before she can knock the ball on get a run at goal. Byrne bringing the ball forwards into Cambridge territory rides a challenge before looking up to see Williams making a run for her asking for the ball as she cuts across the face of the box, Byrne looks to put the ball into her, but once again it's Burt getting across to lunge and take the ball away from her.
It's not only the Cambridge defence that is reading the game well early in the game, Old Actonians central defenders are making importance interceptions too, captain Catherine Murphy getting in front of Cambridge striker Becky Taylor to win the ball as Emma Jenkins goes to play it out from the back.
|Old Actonians Ladies captain Catherine Murphy defends against Cambridge's Becky Taylor|
Old Actonians are giving away several free kicks which is breaking up play concede one in a dangerous position 20 yards out in a central position, Baker the play getting pushed in the back. Baker to take it looks to go for goal sends her effort high over the cross bar. From the resulting goal kick, Cambridge's Taylor intercepts the low kick out 25 yards out drives for the edge of the area get's a shot away before getting closed down, sends her attempt wide across the face of goal.
Another free kick goes Cambridge's way on the right side, is put in to the crowd gathered in the D, the ball is knocked down, Cambridge can't find anyway through for the shot, blocked the ball is sent long, Williams is after it as everyone breaks out of the Old Actonians area, in a race with Lucy Du Plooy the Cambridge left back gets the ball back to her goalkeeper, Verity Crook who kicks it long a great ball up the field has Taylor interested as she goes after it, Old Actonians, Leah Taylor gets her boot on the ball 1st.
|Cambridge United WFC's Lucy Du Plooy|
25 minutes played and Old Actonians are forced into a change with Natasha Cree having taken an earlier knock needing to come off, on in her place is Sinthujah Sooriyakumar who takes up an attacking role on the left. Old Actonians keep conceding free kicks in the middle, inside the circle Bright is over the ball, Jenkins to her right is encouraged to go run into the space out on the right Bright puts the ball out to her Jenkins drives forwards wide looks to put the ball in towards goal, plenty of power bulges the side netting.
Old Actonians are getting a little frustrated with the refereeing decisions going against them and the number of free kicks they are giving away, one goes in their favour wide on the left inside the Cambridge half Byrne over the ball plays it long into the box Cambridge win it but the header drops to the edge of the area where the ball is latched onto by Williams moves it to her right before looking to shoot, leaning back lifts the ball up but not enough to get over Crook who claims.
|Old Actonians Ladies, Carla Williams|
Cambridge are trying to work the ball up the right, another free kick is awarded the home side send players forwards into the Old Actonians box, they get the initial delivery away but as they try to break with it Tahnee Perfect tackles to win the ball back plays it out to Jenkins on her right she squares her cross along the front of the area Bright is there flicks it on for Baker behind her her 1st time hit is blocked at point blank range the ball spins through to Swift to pick up in inside her six yard box.
Into the closing minutes of the 1st half Cambridge attack, Goodchild bringing it over halfway before passing to Bennett out on the left, carries the ball ten yards before cutting back inside has Baker available for the pass 20 yards out, puts it on a plate for her, Baker hits her shot low with plenty of pace may be rolling a foot wide of the far post but swift isn't to know that as she gets across and down to save the ball.
Friel and Sooriyakumar link up down the left flank for Old Actonians, taking the ball into the corner, Sooriyakumar takes on her marker get's herself into the box wins a corner as her cross is cut out put behind. A good delivery in from the left to the near post players attacking the ball it gets turned towards goal, dropping down Crook goes with it to pull the ball safely into her chest.
Half-time Cambridge United WFC 0-0 Old Actonians Ladies
Has been a tight 1st half, both sides contesting the ball, very few opportunities to get in behind, the bobbly pitch causing a few issues with the ball, committed challenges both sides wanting to impose themselves on the ball. A lot of free kicks being given away breaking up the rhythm. Cambridge have looked the most likely to open the scoring however at 0-0 the result could go either way as the home side kick off the 2nd half.
Couple of stops for head injuries at the start of the 2nd half, both to Old Actonians players, firstly Uche as she and Perfect clash heads, then Sooriyakumar gets a ball in the face as Burt looks to kick the ball clear from the back for Cambridge, both are okay to continue after treatment.
Cambridge shout for handball inside the box off Murphy as Baker winning the ball back on the right wing and carrying it down the line sends a cross in towards the near post, Swift calls for it Murphy in front of her the ball looks to strike her arm carries through with Bennett having covered alot of ground almost connects to turn the ball home, the referee ignores the Cambridge protests. Cambridge have started the 2nd half strongly pushing players higher up the pitch at the start of the 2nd half.
|Cambridge captain Laura Bright|
GOAL! Faith Hewitt has been making some good runs for Cambridge coming inside from the right is on the ball rides a challenge as she looks to make a diagonal run into the middle to get into the box, is tripped by Olofsson with no advantage the referee brings play back for the free kick 25 yards out, Baker is over the ball, with everyone gathered along the face of the area the ball is whipped through towards the far post, no one looks to attack it Swift comes to gather, Bright steals in behind everyone and stooping her head turns the ball past her and into the back of the net 1-0.
Both sides are giving away free kicks now, Bright fouling Sharon Odofin as she makes a strong run on the ball up the left wing before coming inside to try and force her way into the area. 20 yards out left of the D, Byrne is over the dead ball, goes for the shot hit low and hard squeezes through the Cambridge wall, the home side have players beyond and after a brief scramble for the ball inside the six yard box they get it away.
|Sharon Odofin in a race for the ball with Cambridge's Becky Taylor|
Conceding a goal early in the 2nd half has only added to Old Actonians frustration, have upped their tempo trying to get the ball forwards more rapidly lose it the ball coming to Bennett on the left she crosses early with just Taylor in the box arriving on the penalty spot gets her head on the ball however can only place the ball into Swift's gloves.
Old Actonians make a double change bringing off, Uche and Murphy, send on Melissa Conway and Simone Wan. Cambridge make a change too, bringing on Robyn Phillips for Goodchild the switch seeing Bright move forwards into the middle. Friel covers alot of grass up the right holding Cambridge off the ball before sending a cross in to the box coming in low near post Crook is the 1st to it getting down to hold onto the ball with Williams closing in.
Wan wins the ball in the centre of the park for Old Actonians as Cambridge bring it out sends the ball into Williams who has a yard on the home sides defence as she breaks for the box, Crook makes the decision to come, Williams pulls the trigger 18 yards out, Crook gets down gets a glove on the ball taking it wide of goal to concede the corner kick. From the corner Cambridge win the ball look to break Burt carrying it out before tying to send it long for Baker to go after on the right, Taylor tracks her run and slides in to take the ball. Another change for Cambridge as they bring on Hayley Turner who has been scoring for their Reserves to lead the line with Taylor shifting to the left as Bennett comes off.
|Faith Hewitt on the ball for Cambridge United WFC|
Odofin shoves Hewitt off the ball as she tries to hold it up wide on the right, Cambridge take the free kick quickly Hewitt spinning off her marker wanting the ball put down the line for her whips in the cross the ball high swinging in towards the far post, Taylor can't connect as she leaps to head it the ball goes out of play. Too soon after fouling Hewitt, Odofin does it again same position and gets shown a yellow card. Baker over the free kick whips the in swinging ball in towards the crowd coming off the 18 yard line, clears the 1st Cambridge player dropping down for Bright racing in behind meets the ball well sending it on target, Swift is equal to it pulling off a fantastic save dropping down and throwing a leg out to take the ball wide goes for a throw.
|Laura Baker looking to get past Old Actonians Ladies, Simone Wan|
Hewitt taking the ball to the corner of the Old Actonians area sends a ball in from the right towards the far post with Taylor racing in, Friel is tracking her and gets their 1st to turn the ball behind for the corner. Williams has the ball at her feet 20 yards out for Old Actonians is looking for a opening to shoot in front of her as she overs left to right, Perfect puts in the tackle to win the ball set up a counter attack through the centre her pass forwards into Baker she releases Turner, the ball won't carry Taylor gets back to reclaim the ball. Final change for Cambridge with Sarah Mosley coming on for Becky Taylor with a little over 5 minutes left on the clock.
Old Actonians turn to shout for a penalty as Sooriyakumar gets in on a ball put through the middle of the Cambridge centre backs, Jenkins gets back the two going shoulder to shoulder into the box the ball finding it's way back to the keeper again the appeals are waved away. The ball is soon up the other end wide on the left a throw to Cambridge, Old Actonians Friel is as frustrated as any of her team mates that boils over as she says something she shouldn't have is called to the referee and shown a straight red card.
The referee is busy late on tempers flaring on both sides, as chests are puffed out outside the Cambridge box on the left as Byrne goes down as she attempts to travel with the ball into the area nothing doing, players everywhere want to get involved but the referee calms it down and everyone is sent away to get on with the game.
Into injury time Cambridge have possession through the middle the ball rolled into Mosley 30 yards out controls well, bringing the ball up for a shot hits it well pace, power and height, just a little too much of the latter, as it flies over Swift and smashes against the crossbar drops in front of her Turner has followed up like all strikers should and is there to hit the ball smashes her shot into Swift, then slices the rebound dropping to her quickly wide.
The final whistle blows and Cambridge United WFC win the game 1-0 to take the 3 points which sees them climb up to 3rd spot on goal difference over Luton Town Ladies. Over the 90 minutes were the better side creating more opportunities, got the goal early in the 2nd half but at 1-0 it was never over Old Actonians Ladies making them work all the way for the win.
A battling display from both sides, gritty at times, a losing return to league action for Old Actonians stay 10th not clear of danger at the bottom yet but have plenty of games in hand will hope to get a run of matches going now and convert a few into points on the board. Next up on the 28th Feb have another away match in Suffolk against Ipswich Town Ladies. Cambridge United WFC are in action next Sunday, 21st Feb defending their County Cup trophy in the quarter finals away to Newmarket Town Ladies.
My thanks to both clubs with their help with the teams today.