Sunday 13 March 2016

Cup Final Report - Stevenage Ladies v Watford Ladies Development u19s

   Trip to the County Ground in Letchworth this afternoon to watch my 1st Final of the 2015/16 season, the Hertfordshire Women's County Cup Final, Stevenage Ladies v Watford Ladies Development U19's.

  Stevenage Ladies are the current holders of the Hertfordshire Women's County Cup beating Hemel Hempstead Town Ladies 3-0 to lift the trophy. Are on course for a league and cup double, riding high in the Eastern Region Women's Football League (ERWFL) Premier Division, in 2nd place have lost just one game in the league all season are 3 points behind leaders Billericay Town Ladies with 4 matches in hand .

 Road to the Final -  received a bye in the 1st Round of the competiton. Were drawn away to Hoddesdon Owls Ladies from the ERWFL Division One West in the 2nd Round winning the match 3-0. Another away trip in the quarter finals against Beds & Herts Women's Division One side Garston Ladies followed a 4-0 win seeing them through the semi-finals were they faced a lengthy wait to see who their opponents would be due to a delayed fixture in an earlier round. Eventually they welcomed ERWFL Division One West side Royston Town Ladies to the Codicote Social Club the game finishing all square 2-2 after 90 minutes headed into extra-time Stevenage Ladies finding the back of the net twice more to win the match 4-2 to reach the final.

  Watford Ladies Development u19's are also aiming for a league and cup double, compete in the Greater London Women's Football League Premier Division sit top of the table undefeated after 12 matches played, 10 wins and 2 draws.

  Road to the Final - Watford Ladies Development U19's have already beaten Stevenage Ladies in the competition knocking their reserve's out in the 1st Round at home edging a 7 goal thriller 4-3. Were awarded a home win in the 2nd Round against Bedmond Ladies. Into the quarter finals won comfortably at home against Beds & Herts Women's Division One side Bishops Stortford Ladies, 8-0. Away in the semi-finals to last season's beaten finalists Hemel Hempstead Town Ladies also competing in the Greater London Women's Football League Premier Division won the game 5-2 to reach the Cup Final.

  The County Ground in Letchworth the venue for today's final. A nice ground boasting a good sized seated stand along one side of the pitch behind the dugouts, a bar, and catering trailer for hot food and refreshments. A good sized pitch couldn't have had better weather for a cup final, cool but sunny and most importantly dry, a few more days like that wouldn't go amiss.

  Stevenage Ladies starting XI - Chrissy Roberts, Domenique Godbeer, Alex North (C), Amy Notschild, Tanya Blacksley, Josie North, Justine Emmins, Amy Josland, Donna McGuigan, Hollie Jardine & Nicole Perschky.
  subs - Laura Shearwood, Hannah Marshall, Sophie Bailey, Jessica Nash & Hayley Wood-Thompson.

  Watford Ladies Development U19's - Madison Gorton, Lori Wilson (C), Tyra Poole, Ellen Clarabut, Katie Harris, Emma Kern, Chloe Farrell, Aimee Durn, Sian Fisken, Emma Bebbington & Megan Warner.
  subs - Jody Marshall, Hayley Gibsone, Elle Richards, Alisha Brayer & Holly Newell. 

(roll on roll off substitutes)

  A change of ends to start after the toss with Watford switching to put the Sun behind one of the goals at their backs 1st half. Stevenage to kick off the 1st half wearing blue shirts with black sleeves, blue shorts and socks with Watford lied up opposite wearing yellow shirts with black across the shoulders, black shorts and socks.

  Stevenage put the ball out into the right channel straight from kick off, with Hollie Jardine looking to get after it take it beyond the Watford defence, full back Katie Harris comes in to tackle puts the ball out for a throw. Working the ball across their back line from the throw Watford break up their right side the ball played into Emma Bebbington crosses early the ball dissecting the Stevenage area heading towards the far post Megan Warner is after it, Stevenage captain Alex North gets across in front of her clears the ball, only as far as the left corner of the area, Watford's Emma Kern is arriving sends a looping ball high into the area, Amy Notschild gets it firmly away for Stevenage this time.

    Jardine is proving to be an early threat for Stevenage down the right side, their outlet when the win the ball at the back, has had a couple of opportunities to put a cross in early steered both behind the goal, latches on to the ball from a poor goal kick  30 yards out, carrying the ball inside lays it off into the feet of Nicole Perschky 20 yards out back to goal and continues her run into the box, Perschky puts the ball into her Jardine goes to put the ball across Watford goalkeeper Madison Gorton, slices the ball behind at the near post.

Watford Ladies look to defend an early Stevenage corner.

   Winning a corner kick on the right Stevenage launch the ball into the box Watford head clear look to break out of their area, Stevenage win the ball back spread the play out to Donna McGuigan peeling away on the left of the last Watford defender, outside the box goes for goal a low strike that rolls wide across the box at the far post. Stevenage continue to have the possession in the opening 10 minutes win a free kick wide on the right half way inside the Watford half, Josie North over the ball lifts it high towards the edge of the box right of the D Jardine wins the initial header, Watford win the 2nd ball but clear it only as far as Amy Josland 25 yards out central hits a looping ball over the defence towards goal, back on her line Gorton needs to keep her eye on the ball well placed brings it down into her body.

   Watford get up the other end of the pitch and win a corner on the right side the ball is lifted into the area headed away rolling out Watford centre back Tyra Poole races to retrieve it, does well as she turns to send the ball back into the Stevenage box the ball right side is headed down picking out Warner stealing in on the left into the area 10 yards out keeper to beat, shoots looking to find the opposite corner, Chrissy Roberts lunges to her right gloves the ball down and collects.

   An intriguing contest shaping up both sides moving the ball quickly are fluid when the go forwards the defenders knowing what runs their attacking players are going to make. Through the centre Perschky is put in through to run in behind the Watford defence, Gorton comes racing out of her area shows composure as she saves with her knees getting to the ball just before Perschky. 

Stevenage Ladies, Hollie Jardine

  The referee plays an advantage as Poole fouls Jardine the ball finding it's way to McGuigan on the edge of the Watford area, her shot is charged down by Ellen Clarabut at close range then McGuigan goes down in the box as she and Clarabut look to get after the loose ball, penalty shout the referee isn't interested. 

   Watford's Aimee Durn is perhaps the smallest player on the pitch, but one of the quickest and has great control with the ball at her feet, steals the ball in the middle of the park and powers her way forwards jinking her way right then left to evade two half challenges her run into the box has taken her left of goal, looks to shoot the ball is put wide. Watford comes again up the right Bebbington into Warner 20 yards out looks to shoot send the ball in towards the near post, Roberts dives but knows she can let it go, wide.

Watford Ladies, Aimee Durn

  Both sides are creating chances going forwards, Justine Emmins comes forwards right side as the ball is put into Perschky in the centre holding it up sends it out to Emmins who carries the ball into the area looks to square the ball along the six yard box, Poole cuts it out near post putting the ball behind for a corner. From the corner on the right the ball is send long across the face of goal towards the near post with Godbeer rising to meet it headers the ball down onto the shoulders of the Watford defenders in front of her the ball drops to the floor, Godbeer stabs a boots towards it sends the ball wide across the goal.

   Watford's Chloe Farrell in the centre of midfield has the ball rolled into her spins off her marker and drives forwards central has Bebbington racing into space on her right rolls the ball into her run, Bebbington looks to take on the early shot fires the strike over the crossbar. 

Half-time Stevenage Ladies 0-0 Watford Ladies Development u19's

  The 1st half ends goalless but has been very fascinating two evenly matched teams, with almost identical league records easy to see why. Both moving the ball well the game has been fast paced. Stevenage have edged the chances and Watford have been giving free kicks away, but as yet despite having the taller players Stevenage haven't capitalised, Watford keep giving free kicks away and they might. 

   Watford get the 2nd half underway, kicking into the sun now as it drops lower behind the trees behind that end of the ground. Stevenage have made a change at half tie Alex North the player off with Hayley Wood-Thompson on goes into the defence. The ball is put up into the Stevenage half for Warner plays it into the centre with Bebbington making a run off the flank looking to meet the ball as it arrives at the edge of the box Roberts comes out and gets to the ball in the nick of time to kick clear. Stevenage don't take long to get it up the other end  as Jardine blazes a shot over the bar as she connects with a McGuigan knock down into the box on the right side. 

   Josland shows strength in midfield to get hold of the ball in the middle plays it forwards into Perschky right side of the D, 20 yards out has McGuigan in space on the left rolls the ball out to her, the no 10 plays the cross back along the face of the area into Josie North jumping she tries to head the ball down back across for McGuigan running into the box left but knocks it down too close to Gorton allowing the keeper the opportunity to claim the ball, good attacking move. On the attack again Josland up in front of the D does well to control as a long pass is fired up towards her waist height hooks it down and on for Perschky to her right entering the box, has Josie North ahead to her right lays the ball into her run, North goes for goal blasts the shot over the bar.

Stevenage Ladies, Nicole Perschky on the ball

  Josland is putting herself about in the 2nd half getting further forwards to join the attack wins her team a corner on the left, the ball is delivered into the centre of the six yard box drops down a shot comes in no idea who, but the ball is cleared off the line at the far post by Watford. Josie North floats a high ball in from deep on the left side towards the edge of the area, Perschky is after getting on the end of it, however Gorton is under it isn't distracted by the Stevenage attacker has to see the ball into her body or risk handling it outside the box claims well.

   GOAL! Stevenage have been pressing hard in the opening quarter of the 2nd half, however it's Watford who open the scoring, the goal coming from another attacking run by Durn, driving forwards with the ball into the middle running right to left across the D, Stevenage closing her down block her eventual shot, the ball comes back to Chloe Farrell racing forwards in support, her initial effort is blocked the ball comes out to the right Farrell has time to line up the shot hits a rising effort goal wards the ball flies over Roberts smashes against the cross bar and drops over the line, 0-1!

Chloe Farrell tackling Stevenage's Amy Josland opens the
scoring for Watford Ladies

   Watford make a change after the goal bringing on Elle Richards for Kern. Stevenage attack from a throw out on the left inside the Watford half the ball is played into Perschky running in left side towards the box looks to hit a shot goalwards with the outside of her boot, Durn blocks it as she tracks back the ball is knocked on into the area Stevenage send the cross along the six yard box, Jardine running in far post can't connect with it. 

  Watford break as Stevenage press forwards looking for an immediate response the ball played long for Bebbington running into acres of space on the right side cuts back inside with the ball travels all the way across the front of the Stevenage box as the door is closed in front of her out to the left corner rolls the ball back into  Richards 20 yards out turns on the ball and shots a low strike lacks pace rolls through to Roberts.

  Wood-Thompson comes in strong to make a defensive challenge then sends the ball high and long into the Watford area, Perschky heads it down to McGuigan to her left, she looks to take on Watford captain Lori Wilson get round her to cross inside the area the right back keeps on her tackles and puts the ball out for a corner kick. The game is more stretched as it enters the 70th minute, Watford break Farrell with the pass onto Sian Fisken she plays it long into the Stevenage area with both Bebbington and Warner making runs in at goal, in between them Tanya Blacksley rises to win the ball.

   Stevenage make another change with Josie North coming off, Jessica Nash entering the field of play. Watford win a free kick wide on the left half way in the Stevenage half, Fisken over the ball looks to play it in across the area towards the far post bounces in front of the six yard box, Watford players running in not sure if any of them get a touch however Roberts diving to her right full stretch needs to make the save gets her glove on the bouncing ball turns it wide for a corner. From the resulting corner Blacksley is up again in the middle of the six yard box to head away, Watford have it back out on the right is swept in far post Farrell making the run off the defence can't turn the ball on target wide.

   GOAL! Watford double their lead with less than 15 minutes left to play, the ball in sent up into the middle won back and the resulting through ball is perfect sends Bebbington away through the middle a yard on the Stevenage defence they can't catch her, Roberts has to come doesn't get close as Bebbington shoots from outside the area sending the ball past her and into the back of the net 0-2. 

Emma Bebbington scorer of Watford Ladies 2nd goal

   Stevenage respond with a change Wood-Thompson comes off as they send on  Hannah Marshall. Watford are almost in through the centre again the ball put long for Warner to chase this time has Godbeer on her shoulder the central defender makes a last ditch tackle going lunging to take the ball from her run outside the box, Warner is still on her feet with Godbeer on the ground goes after the ball rolling out to hte right of goal inside the area but by the time she sweeps the cross back in across the six yard box, Emmins has gotten back to intercept the ball. 

  Watford take off Farrell and introduce Alisha Brayer to the action she moves up top with Bebbington moving into the middle of the park. Stevenage push on looking for the goal to get them back into the match McGuigan puts it into Perschky turns with Josland running in behind closing on the edge of the area the ball put into her path she goes to lift the ball over the keeper with the outside of her boot, rattles the crossbar before going over and out for a goal kick. 

  Both sides ringing the changes late on Stevenage bring on Laura Shearwood for Notschild, whilst Hayley Gibsone comes on for Wilson and Holly Newell for Warner. 3 minutes left on the clock.  A late corner for Stevenage as Jardine's shot from outside the box is deflected wide out of play. The ball launched into the middle of the area is knocked down by Josland, tries to control turns her shoot wide. Battle between Poole and McGuigan down the left side of the area brings another corner. From the left is long reaches the far post with Godbeer up from the back rising highest can't keep her header down.

  The final whistle blows and Watford Ladies Development u19's celebrate as they win the match 2-0 and win the Hertfordshire Women's County Cup. A fantastic game to watch with both sides evenly matched for long periods looking like they might win it. Watford took their chances well in the 2nd half and defended well to hold the lead. 

Watford Ladies captain Lori Wilson all smiles as she collects the Hertfordshire Women's County Cup

   My thanks to Hertfordshire FA's, Callum Riley for his help with the teams today. A good final to watch. Congratulations to Watford Ladies Development U19's on their County Cup win. 

Watford Ladies Development U19's 2015/16 Hertfordshire Women's County Cup Winners

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