Sunday, 29 May 2016

Championship Play Off - Brighton & Hove Albion WFC v Sporting Club Albion Ladies

 One more game to to squeeze in before I take my own end/mid-season break and it's the biggest in the 2015/16 winter leagues calender the FAWPL Championship Play Off match between the Champions of the Northern and Southern Divisions playing each other fort the opportunity to join the FAWSL with Brighton & Hove Albion WFC playing Sporting Club Albion Ladies.

 The two Champions have have contrasting paths in their title successes, Brighton & Hove Albion WFC, have been the leader in the FAWPL Southern Division for the majority of the season, getting their games in when their rivals didn't. Were in a strong position going into their final league match of the season knowing a win away to Tottenham Hotspur Ladies would see them become the Champions. Was there to see them win the game and celebrate the title. That was back on Sunday 10th April and the club has been through a turbulent period since. Has seen 1st team manger James Marrs relieved of his post after an allegation was lodged with the Sussex FA and with his departure a number of 1st team regulars have left too, defender Deanna Cooper, top scorer Charlotte Gurr and captain Jay Blackie who all played a huge part in helping Brighton win the FAWPL Southern Division title. George Parris has taken on the role of interim 1st team manager in the long six week lay off in competitive matches as the club prepares for the biggest match in it's history.

  Sporting Club Albion on contrast have come from no where to win the FAWPL Northern Division a 10th placed finish this season has seen an almost Leicester City rise to the top of the table. Had games in hand on everyone else in the league due to an extended run in the FA Women's Cup ending up as the last FAWPL club in the competition in the quarter finals eventually beaten by Manchester City Women. That meant a fixture pile up and a lot of games to be played in a short space of time, rose to the challenge and when Preston North End WFC played out their league games knew if they won their they could over haul them and win the title. Unlike Brighton they finished their league campaign on the 15th of May and have a match sharpness Brighton for all their training may have lost.

  The two sides have met already once this season drawn together in the 5th Round of the FA Women's Cup, Sporting Club Albion Ladies making the trip to the south coast to play Brighton raced into a 3-0 lead inside the opening 17 minutes, Brighton fought their way back into the game to level it up at 3-3 before Sporting Club Albion went on to score the winning goal in the 83rd minute back in March.

  The venue for today's FAWPL Championship Play Off match, Adams Park, home of Wycombe Wanderers FC and this season Reading FC Women. Situated at the end of an industrial estate you wouldn't know it as the ground is in a dip surrounded by trees, a picturesque setting. It isn't the easiest to get to the M25 proving to be a pain in the... once again arrived 30 minutes before kick off okay I know but I like being there an hour before kick off. Not to worry I was there is a nice League Two ground, a decent crowd in attendance in good voice too, surrounded by Brighton fans and they had a bit of banter lined up for their Sporting Club Albion counterparts up the opposite end of the stand. The weather was great the pitch too everything in place for a great game of women's football. 

  Brighton & Hove Albion WFC starting XI - Faye Baker, Charley Boswell, Sophie Perry, Vicky Ashton-Jones (C), Catherine Cooper, Hollie Olding, Charlotte Young, Kirsty Barton, Lucy Somes, Kate Natkiel & Amy Taylor.
  subs - Lisa Fulgence, Phoebe Leitch, Danielle Rowe, Ellie Dorey & Nina Wilson.

  Sporting Club Albion Ladies starting XI - Rebecca Thomas, Samantha Conroy, Kelly Darby (C), Stephanie Smith, Kelly Highman, Summer Holmes, Trina Greaves, Paige Crossman, Hazzana Parnell, Leigh Dugmore & Abigail Cottam
   subs - Charlotte Edmunds, Amy Dicken, Billie Haynes, Kate Wright & Karen Clough. 

  It's Sporting Club Albion to get the Championship Play Off match underway 1st half lined up wearing red shirts, white shorts and socks with Brighton lined up opposite wearing blue and white vertical striped shirts, blue shorts, and blue socks with white tops. The ball is played long in towards the Brighton area straight from kick off, goalkeeper Faye Baker comes to collect getting an early touch on the ball. 

  Sporting Club Albion start the brighter making progress with the ball down the left side, Hazzana Parnell playing in down the line for Summer Holmes the throw is won deep in the corner, Kelly Highman comes forwards to take everyone set up for a long throw, doesn't come off as planned Charley Boswell getting it clear for Brighton on the edge of the box. Coming again down the left Leigh Dugmore has the ball at her feet this time passes the ball into striker Abigail Cottam, Brighton captain Vicky Ashton-Jones comes across to tackle puts the ball behind for a corner kick on the left. Played in long to the far post area Brighton get it out of the area.

   A scrappy start to the match Brighton haven't settled yet Sporting Club Albion are coming forwards with confidence. Parnell central squeezes the ball on into the Brighton area with Dugmore looking to get onto the end of it but Brighton's Boswell gets back on her defends well winning the ball. Played up to Sophie Perry out to the left brings the ball on before releasing Amy Taylor moving out to the right wing taking the ball on down the line unleashes a shot sending the ball in straight and fast towards the near post, Sporting Club Albion goalkeeper, Rebecca Thomas gets down sharply and smothers the shot. 

  Brighton build up another attack the ball rolled into Perry in a central position 25 or so yards out, lines up the shot the ball sails over the crossbar. In the space of 3 minutes Brighton test try their luck from distance as the ball is sent out to Lucy Somes on the right by Kate Natkiel, Somes turns back inside with the ball 20 yards out looks to catch Thomas unaware off her line, takes on the shot a looping effort whipping into the air drops late but not enough as it lands on the roof of the net. A busy start to the match 10 minutes on the clock.
Catherine Cooper keeps her eye on the ball for Brighton 
  Sporting Club Albion have a free kick out wide on the right is played long into the area, Dugmore is after it managing to hook the ball back into the centre of the area from the byline, finds Cottam as she gets her head on the ball powers the header over the bar. Goalkeepers aren't just their to make up the numbers have to be skillful on the ball too, and Baker shows a neat piece of skill out side her area coming out to intercept the ball as Sporting Club Albion play it long putting Dugmore through, Baker keeping her cool to head the ball away from the advancing attacker.

   GOAL! Sporting Club Albion open the scoring in the Championship Play Off, have a corner on the right the initial ball in sent long is cleared by Brighton is regained by Sporting Club Albion finds it's way to Parnell out wide right as Brighton look to clear their area, the ball swept back in is at a perfect height to attack as Dugmore leaps up on the six yard line to nail her header into the back of the net 0-1 a bit of banter with the vocal Brighton fans at that end of the ground as she runs away in celebration.

Leigh Dugmore celebrates after opening the scoring in the FAWPL Championship Play Off

  Cottam wins the ball over on the left side of the pitch cuts back inside 25 yards out plays the pass into Holmes who looks to line up a shot, screws the effort away from goal. Brighton's Kirsty Barton plays the ball into Natkiel her pass spreads the play out to the right with Somes bursting forwards, stands the cross up towards the far post, Taylor out there stoops to head the ball a glancing touch can only turn the ball behind for a goal kick.

 Few lunging challenges coming in so far the referee is happy to let the game flow, Brighton counter attack up the left side the ball is played long for Taylor to chase looking to turn into the box is stopped by Sporting Club Albion captain Kelly Darby a great tackle to deny her a scoring opportunity. Up the other end Sporting Club Albion have a corner on the right a good delivery this time sent into the middle of the crowded six yard box is turned wide at the far post a goal kick the decision. Cottam getting into the Brighton area from the right, manages to get a shot away as she is tackled the ball running across goal is grabbed by the diving Baker.

  Cottam is looking a threat for Sporting Club Albion on the back attacking down the right, cuts back inside to beat her marker sends the shot in with plenty of power behind it aiming for the near post Baker is across the ball strikes the base of the post then is saved by Baker before being cleared for a throw. Again Sporting Club Albion are on the attack Cottam going after the ball played down into the left channel lays it back towards the top of the area with Highman racing forwards from the back to support her gets to the ball nipping past a Brighton player then with the outside of her boot lays it inside for Holmes 20 yards out takes on the shot, is blocked by Ashton-Jones inside the box. 

  End to end at the moment, Sporting Club Albion defending frantically on the edge of their area get it away, Somes is fouled on half way the ball played in long by Charlotte Young, Taylor chesting it down can't turn and hit the shot Sporting Club Albion break the ball coming to Cottam moving out to the left, turning inside coming into the area, Ashton-Jones ets back across on her to win the ball back. 

  GOAL! 5 minutes left to play in the 1st half and Brighton get themselves back on level terms. Not alot Thomas can do about this one in the Sporting Club Albion goal is just a terrific strike from distance from the boot of Natkiel a goal out of nothing but hugely important. the ball played into her centrally around 25 yards out makes good connection with the shot hitting the ball up and in towards the top corner the keeper doesn't move, goal 1-1. 

Kate Natkiel with a terrific strike levels things up for Brighton

  The goal has lifted Brighton late in the 1st half and they push forwards looking for another, Hollie Olding fancies her chances from distance too and going for goal lifts her effort up over the bar from outside the area. Free kick wide on the right side for Brighton after Somes is tripped up Perry is over the ball whips it in towards the centre of goal Darby gets her head on the ball turning it out wide left. Highman defends well inside her box as Taylor plays the ball out to Somes late on the winger looking to drive with the ball into the area.
Half-time Brighton & Hove Albion WFC 1-1 Sporting Club Albion Ladies

  That was a fast paced 1st 45 minutes, took Brighton a little while to get going and Sporting Club Albion took full advantage taking the lead have been the better side in the 1st half creating numerous chances. Brighton have had chances to and a brilliant strike from Natkiel sees them go in all square at the break all to play for 2nd half.

  Brighton to get the 2nd half underway. It's Sporting Club Albion who mount the 1st attack as Paige Crossman bringing the ball forwards wide on the right plays an early ball into the area is met by Trina Greaves on the volley turns the effort wide across the goal. Breaking up an Brighton attack Crossman comes on again on the right with the ball the ball is played into Dugmore making a run to get into the box from the right, Boswell gets back with the attacker won't let her turn into the box Dugmore plays it back up the pitch into Crossman who sends the cross long to the far post Cottam is there, Ashton-Jones heads the ball behind for a corner. 
Abigail Cottam looking to control the ball for Sporting Club Albion

   Crossman involved again as she brings the ball on once again for Sporting Club Albion the cross is sent in to the near post Cottam in amongst 3 Brighton defenders the ball goes over for a corner kick. Taken from the right plenty of pace on the delivery sent in near post Dugmore has come towards the ball unmarked drills her shot wide of goal.

  A dangerous free kick is awarded to Brighton as Somes is up ended in front of the d as she looks to dribble the ball into the area. 20 yards out Perry is over the set-piece goes for goal getting the ball up over the wall, won't drop goes over the crossbar too. Continues to be an open game a good watch. Crossman gets forwards again on the right for Sporting Club Albion takes on the shot from the corner of the area, doesn't make a clean connection with the ball is collected by Baker.

  Another free kick goes Brighton's way further out this time, Barton over the ball sends it from 40 yards out into the area Olding gets her head on the ball but can only turn it down to the front of the area is cleared but not far before being lifted back in Taylor closely marked by Samantha Conroy edge of the box manages to turn inside get a shot away sends the ball wide. Young on the six yard line at the far post leaps highest inside the box as Brighton win a corner on the right can't keep the header down goes over the crossbar.

  Perry brings the ball forwards into the Sporting Club Albion half has Olding up with her in support, plays the ball inside to her, is a good way out when she winds up the strike goes for goal, Thomas pushes the ball away to her right Stephanie Smith concedes the corner kick which is cleared by Darby.

 GOAL! Closing in on the 70th minute mark Brighton get themselves into the lead, the open nature of the match means either side are likely to time the perfect ball through the centre to get an attacker in, Brighton manage just that the ball is slipped through the middle with Natkiel the player furthest forwards clear to run into the area unopposed is one on one with the advancing keeper, keeps her composure takes the shot early is past Thomas, don't see it cross the line as the crowd in front of me leap up in celebration 2-1.

2 goals for Kate Natkiel 
  GOAL! Brighton have worked hard since taking the lead to pressure the ball in search of a 2nd and barely 5 minutes after taking the lead double their advantage. Are attacking with Taylor on the ball is tackled as she gets the ball into the Sporting Club Albion area, Smith headers the ball out Taylor goes after the ball left side of the D and is fouled again this time the free kick is awarded, Perry is over it again, is a quality strike powered in towards goal, Thomas barely moves the ball finding the top corner 3-1.

Sophie Perry with a superbly delivered free kick makes it 3-1 to Brighton

  A double change for Sporting Club Albion after conceding the 3rd goal, Parnell and Cottam come off as Karen Clough and Billie Haynes come on. Have the ball out on the right side the cross is lifted in long to the far post, the header is turned in towards goal, Baker holds onto the shot. 

  GOAL! A sucker punch for Sporting Club Albion as they find themselves going 4-1 down as Brighton take control of the game scoring a 3rd goal inside 8 minutes, Perry is played in down the line on the left goes to take on a defender riding the challenge stays on her feet as she gets in behind cutting into the area lifts the ball up into the six yard box, Taylor is there to attack it gets her head on the ball turning it wide of Thomas into the top corner 4-1. 

Amy Taylor with the 4th goal for Brighton

  10 minutes left to play Brighton make a change Somes coming off with Ellie Dorey. Sporting Club Albion pick themselves up try to get the ball forwards, Dugmore tries to head the ball in towards goal from the edge of the box as the cross is fired into her from the left side. Rolls through to Baker in the Brighton goal. Sporting Club Albion look tired late on conceding 3 goals in quick succession having matches Brighton toe to toe for almost 70 minutes. Perry bursts down the left the cross is played in towards Taylor her looping header drops into the arms of Thomas. Brighton make another change bringing of Taylor for Lisa Fulgence in attack with 5 minutes of normal time left to play.

  GOAL! Sporting Club Albion to their credit have kept going and on 88 minutes get themselves a goal back. Pressing bodies forwards the cross is lifted into the box from the right glanced in on the middle falls to Clough at the far stick, sends the ball back in across goal and scores 4-2. 

  That late goal has lifted Sporting Club Albion and they push on feeling they can get another an make things really interesting. The ball played into Dugmore on the right holds it up as Smith comes towards the ball playing it back to her she goes for the 1st time ball into the area looking to lift it up high and drop under Baker's crossbar lands on the roof of the net. Rather than the comfortable finish to the game Brighton might have expected they have to defend frantically late on a determined however to prevent a 3rd goal going in blocking Sporting Club Albion shots on the edge of their area. Danielle Rowe coming on in injury time for Olding.

  Brighton don't concede again and as the final whistle blows celebrate winning the Championship Play Off beating Sporting Club Albion 4-2. A 3 gaol burst in the 2nd half enough to put them in control of the game knock the stuffing out of their opponents, although they had to absorb some late pressure held on for the win. Both sides playing their part on a great game to end the FAWPL season, could have gone either way and Sporting Club Albion had the better of the 1st half. A tough end to their season but they can hold their heads high, are FAWPL Northern Division Champions and have had an excellent season.

  Brighton & Hove Albion WFC, achieve their goal for the season to achieve promotion to the FAWSL winning the play off final. Now they can apply for an FAWSL license and so long as they meet the criteria, such as finances, marketing and ground they will be playing in the FAWSL 2 in the 2017 season. Were cheered on by a vocal crowd, who will be eagerly awaiting their FAWSL bow.

Sophie Perry celebrating after the final whistle

Long serving Brighton goalkeeper Faye Baker let's everyone know who the Champions are

Brighton & Hove Albion WFC are this seasons FAWPL Championship Play Off Winners

  One thing left and that's to add my congratulations to Brighton & Hove Albion WFC on their FAWPL Championship Play Off win.





Saturday, 28 May 2016

Cup Final Report - Northampton Town Ladies v Peterborough United Ladies

  The 2015/16 women's football season is almost over the league games are all complete, just a couple of games left to watch, the 1st in Northamptonshire a trip to Raunds Town FC to watch the League Cup Final between Northampton Town Ladies & Peterborough United Ladies.

  A league and cup double is on for Northampton Town Ladies as they pipped Peterborough United Ladies to the Northamptonshire Women's Division One title by the narrowest of margins after the two sides finished level on points (27) and matched each others goal difference (26) it came down to goals scored and with 37 scored over 36, Northampton Town Ladies were crowned Champions. A small league with just 5 sides competing the two sides faced each other 3 times over the season Northampton Town Ladies winning 2 both at home and Peterborough United Ladies winning their home fixture.

 Road to the Final

    Northampton Town Ladies started the competition with an away game in the 1st Round playing 2nd Division side, Rothwell Corinthians Ladies Reserves won through to the quarter finals with a comfortable 5-0 win and progressed to the semi-finals without kicking a ball as they were awarded a home win against Kettering Town Ladies. Faced 2nd Division leaders Corby Town Ladies in the semi-final at Corby, Northampton Town Ladies won the game 4-0 to reach the League Cup Final.

  Formed this season, Peterborough United Ladies were awarded a home win in the 1st Round of the competition against 2nd Division side Thorplands Ladies. Won big in the quarter final on the road playing 2nd Division, Earls Barton Ladies scoring 7 goals without reply to reach the semi-finals and a home tie against fellow 1st Division side Thrapston Town Ladies last seasons beaten finalists. edged the game with a 2-1 to reach the League Cup Final. Come into the final off the back of a special night for the team last Saturday getting to play at the ABAX Stadium home of Peterborough United FC in a friendly match against West Ham United Ladies

  The venue for today's game Raunds Town FC, hosting the Northamptonshire Women's & Girls Football League (NWaGFL) Finals day, 5 finals in total starting at 9:30am U12s, U14s U16s plus 2 Ladies Finals the League Plate and Cup. The ground itself is easy to find on the outskirts of Raunds, plenty of parking a clubhouse and bar, refreshments available, a small seated stand on one side of the pitch which considering where we are in the football calender was in excellent condition, one of the best playing surfaces I've see in a good while. Been craving an ice-cream for a few days now too, so to see an ice-cream van in the carpark I was happy. The weather was fantastic, bright and sunny, not too hot, ideal for a game of football.

  Northampton Town Ladies starting XI - Joanna Daniels, Megan Rayment, Isla Fleury, Claire Stancliffe, Eden Brown (C), Georgia Tear, Steph Knight, Amy Marshall, Zoe Boote, Cloe Woodward & Cesca Partridge.
  subs - Aimee Smith

  Peterborough United Ladies starting XI - Amy Martin, Sephania Chaudhuri, Fiona Plumb, Kathryn Lusk, Laura Tonkin, D'lacy Phillips (C), Emily Smith, Amy Challis, Tash Applegate, Eleanor Boothman & Bryony Fox.
  subs - Courtney Edwards, Jenna Lusk, Georgie Elsom, Emma Stevenson & Jessica Harvey.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

 It's Peterborough to get the Cup Final underway 1st half wearing blue shirts and shorts with white socks with Northampton lined up opposite wearing claret shirts and socks with white shorts. Northampton get the ball off Peterborough straight away, Georgia Tear getting stuck in, the ball being played down the right wing for Amy Marshall to go after, keeping it in looks to turn inside Laura Tonkin closes her down the ball comes off her for a throw to Peterborough. 

   Peterborough bring the ball up the left side attacking the ball played into Eleanor Boothman in attack with Bryony Fox, a throw deep in the half brings the 1st corner of the match, is delivered long to the far post Northampton get a head on it and the break is on the ball sent long, ends up all the way back into the gloves of Peterborough goalkeeper, Amy Martin. 

  In goal for Northampton, Joanna Daniels is called into action racing off her line to slide in and stop the ball as Fox is played in behind the defence by Amy Challis bringing the ball down the right side of the attack for Peterborough. Clear to see these are to closely matched sides early on a competitive opening exchange no one afforded any time on the ball in the middle of the park the ball is popped back by Peterborough to defender, Fiona Plumb the centre back sends a great ball long out to the left with Tash Applegate looking to move forwards, Northampton captain, Eden Brown comes across to challenge for the ball leaves Applegate on the ground as the ball is blocked runs harmlessly into the box. Applegate receives treatment on the pitch and is okay to continue.

  Brown along with centre back partner Claire Stancliffe are dealing well with the Peterborough attack in the opening 20 minutes as they try to play the diagonal ball into the centre for the strikers to run onto whenever they get the ball in the wide positions, Fox more than willing to try and force her way through the middle to get into the area. 

Northampton Town Ladies captain, Eden Brown

  Northampton's Marshall coming inside plays the ball long out to the right side, Cloe Woodward goes after it, looks to be a lost cause but she manages to keep it in knocking it down the line, goes after it, Tonkin has come across with her and turns the ball behind for a corner kick as Woodward looks to cross the ball into the box. The ball is send high into the Peterborough area, in the centre, Brown jumps high trying to get something on it doesn't as it drops far side to Cesca Partridge 12 yards out lashes the ball in towards goal the shot is cleared by the defender covering the near post. 

  Northampton keep the ball in the Peterborough half, are awarded a free kick 20 yards out to the left of goal Woodward is over the set piece lines up the shot gets it on target coming in Tonkin is in it's path and sends in clear of her area. Boothman steals in on the ball just over the halfway line pulling out to the left takes it forwards before attempting to release Fox into the box (I was going to type it at some point wasn't I?) too much weight on the ball allows Daniels to come and gather before Fox can reach it. A fast paced game no sooner is the ball up one end then it's up the other, Northampton have a throw halfway inside the Peterborough half on the right side finds its way inside to Woodward drifting into the area right corner, looks to head the ball on with Partridge ahead of her near post, Partridge looks to head it on, Martin moving across has the post covered and claims the ball low however the flag is already raised as Partridge was offside.

Cloe Woodward heads the ball in for Cesca Partridge 
 Emily Smith getting hold of the ball for Peterborough in the middle carries it out towards the right with Challis down the right making the run for her, given the ball she looks to come inside knock the ball on it is cut out put behind for a corner kick. A good delivery played in at a good height, Fox rises to meet it in the middle of the goal heading the ball down on target, Martin is well placed to get her gloves on the dropping ball make the save.

Bryony Fox gets her head on the ball from the corner for Peterborough United Ladies
   Challis has the ball wide right for Peterborough tries to thread the pass forwards for Fox to get after, trying to get into the area, the foul goes against as she bundles Brown to the ground. A change for Peterborough, captain D'lacy Phillips comes off the armband handed to Plumb as assistant player manager Jenna Lusk comes on. A free kick for Peterborough wide on the left just over the halfway line as Brown fouls Applegate, the ball is delivered long into the Northampton area, Boothman jumps a back header sends the ball towards the goal, Daniels gathers, the offside flag is up against the attacker.

  Northampton make a substitution Aimee Smith coming on for Isla Fleury. Boothman peels out to the left as Smith picks up the ball in the middle sends the pass out to her, Fox comes across looking to spin in behind the Northampton defence as the ball is played forwards into the area, Daniels seeing the threat comes off her line and sliding in claims the ball. Marshall and Boote have switched sides for Northampton now on the left Marshall on the ball comes central plays the ball out to Boote on the right driving on with it down the line stands the cross up into the box, jumping Tonkin gets a glancing header on the ball sending it on across the six yard box falls to Partridge at the far post, gets the shot away, Martin has gotten across her goal and holds onto the ball.

Northampton Town Ladies, Georgia Tear
 Applegate wins Peterborough a corner on the left, the ball is whipped in central under the bar, Daniels with a strong punch clears the ball sending it out to the left another corner is won this one played up the line with Smith getting hold of the ball taking it inside is 25 yards out fires in the shot, Daniels is behind the ball and has the ball in her gloves.

  Smith fouls Tear in the centre circle inside the Peterborough half, Brown plays the ball up into the area, Jenna Lusk gets her head on the ball clearing it, Northampton soon have it back Steph Knight playing the ball out to Boote wide right, sends her cross in dissecting the six yard box, Partridge is racing in to meet it, Martin gets it into her gloves first. Late Northampton pressure in and around the Peterborough penalty box brings them a corner kick on the left a fantastic ball played in finds Woodward on the penalty spot, drills a shot back across to the near post area, the defender covering the post blocks getting it clear

  Applegate having come over to the right has the ball with support from Challis the pass is send forwards for Fox to attack the Northampton area, Brown gets back on her makes the tackle the ball out for a throw is taken quickly put into Fox right side of the area, Daniels comes racing out to the edge of the area to close her down, Fox gets the shot away past the keeper, but off target.

Half-time Northampton Town Ladies 0-0 Peterborough United Ladies

  Easy to see why these to sides finished so closely in the league, a competitive match, played at a fast tempo on a good surface, both creating chances without overly testing the goalkeepers. 0-0 at half-time it looks like it'll be an odd goal to 2 that settle it, just a question of which side will score. Peterborough have more options available on the bench that could tell as the 2 sides start to tire 2nd half. If not then the game goes straight to penalties no extra-time being played today.

  Northampton get the 2nd half underway. Fleury is back on for Knight. Peterborough have made a double change at half time, Fox and Challis off Georgie Elsom and Emma Stevenson on both in midfield, Applegate is now further forwards in attack. They start brightly winning a throw deep on the left the ball is sent into the area, Stancliffe clears. Northampton come forwards with the ball Marshall has it on the right plays the pass inside to Partridge 25 yards out lines up the strike hits the ball low and hard, rolls wide across the goal face. 
Georgie Elsom on for the 2nd half for Peterborough United Ladies brings the ball under control

  Another free kick for Northampton inside the centre circle a chance for Brown to play the ball long into the area, a great delivery, Partridge is the player looking to connect as it bounces, close just evades her as it runs out for a goal kick. A free kick for Peterborough closer to the target, 25 yards out to the right side of the box as Stancliffe fouls Stevenson. Applegate is over it takes it quickly whipping the ball in towards the near post, Daniels moves quickly getting across to palm the ball down into the ground and claims. 

  A surging run from Peterborough's Smith through the middle, looks to thread the ball through the centre backs for Applegate, she has strayed offside however and the move breaks down. Moments later the same thing happens only this time the flag doesn't go up Applegate is clear after the ball, Daniels comes running out to kick clear inside the D, mis-kicks the ball it is sliced to her left, she reacts quickest throws herself on the loose ball looked mighty close to being handled outside the area as her roll takes her inside, the officials don't give anything play continues. Knight returns to the field for Northampton with Woodward off.
Northampton Town Ladies, Isla Fleury looking to go past Peterborough United Ladies, Emma Stevenson

   Stevenson links up with Applegate on the right side as Peterborough attack, the ball rolled down the line for Applegate gets it and plays it inside to Stevenson who takes the ball into the box, her touch is a little heavy the ball getting away from her, Applegate is chasing in to the area, gets onto the ball, scuffs the shot, which sees it run safely into the keepers gloves.

  The game continues to be played at a furious pace the ball travelling from one end of the pitch to the other then back again, Northampton's Rayment brings the ball forwards plays it forwards for Marshall they win a corner kick the ball is sent in near side flashes all the way through to Partridge once more standing free far side outside the area this time, unleashes a shot too many bodies to get through the shot is blocked, deflected up into the air and cleared. Both sides make a change, Partridge coming off for Northampton, Woodward comes back on. Boothman off for Peterborough, Jessica Harvey comes on to join Applegate in attack.

Northampton Town Ladies, Megan Rayment

  Northampton gets powerful shot in from 30 yards out, didn't see who hit it the ball comes flying in towards Martin above her head she doesn't have much time to react, is straight at her throws her gloves up, gets contact with the ball has done enough to kill it as it drops behind her, for a second it looks like it might creep over the line but turning Martin snatches the ball into her gloves. 

  Harvey looks to get herself in behind the Northampton defence, her forward ball is deflected behind for a corner on the left. Is a great ball flung in across the six yard box drops to Applegate 3 yards out unmarked at the far post, meets the ball on the volley looking to turn it home, sends the attempt over the crossbar. 
Meeting the corner kick at the far post Tash Applegate volleys over

  Peterborough are starting to build momentum seeing a little more of the ball, Smith plays the ball through the centre with Harvey giving chase, Brown getting back on her to win the tackle before she gets into the box. Coming again on the right Peterborough win another corner kick this one is played into the middle of the six yard box dropping for Harvey she gets a glancing header on the ball turning it on target, Daniels flings out an arm knocking the ball down into the ground and taking it on the bounce.

  GOAL! The deadlock is broken with a little over 10 minutes left on the clock. Harvey busy since joining the action closes down Stancliffe at the back challenges and comes away with the ball breaking in behind into the box is one on one with the keeper, keeps her composure right of target to send the ball across Daniels and into the back of the net 0-1.

Jessica Harvey scores the opening goal of the
Northamptonshire Ladies League Cup Final

  Northampton go on the attack from the restart get a corner kick on the right the ball whipped in central close to goal is claimed comfortably by Martin. Chaudhuri bringing the ball on plays it on for Smith coming across to the right who plays it on down the right for Harvey coming inside as she comes level with the top of the area squares the ball into Applegate inside the D, back to goal she controls the ball well flicking it up and looking to hit on the turn sends her shot over the crossbar.

  Northampton send Partridge back on with Rayment coming off as they go to 3 at the back needing a goal with 5 minutes of normal time left. The action continues either end late on in the game, Applegate on the left stays up as she is clipped going beyond squeezes a cross into the box, Daniels comes and claims near post the ball launched up field. Knight attempts to play Woodward into the area, Kathryn Lusk cuts intercepts. The game moves into injury time, Northampton have another corner on the right played into Woodward coming to the ball she tries to hook the ball on ends up lifting it over the goal. Again the ball is at Woodwards feet as Northampton push bodies forwards 25 yards out shoots pulls the ball wide of goal. Little time left Tonkin plays the ball into Smith 30 yards out takes on the shot a viscous strike on the half volley flies in towards goal, Daniels with a fantastic save throws herself at the ball tipping it over her crossbar

GOAL! From the resulting corner kick Peterborough put the result beyond doubt as they score again the ball from the right is fired in to the face of the area with Applegate free beyond the D, connects with the ball hitting it back in on the volley smashing it across the box it finds its way into the far corner of the net 0-2 Applegate wheels away in celebration performing a double somersault as her team mates rush over to celebrate virtually no time left the final whistle blows and Peterborough United Ladies win the Northamptonshire Ladies League Cup Final.

Tash Applegate scores in the closing seconds to make it 2-0 to Peterborough United Ladies

   Have seen several finals this season and this one is right up there with the best, a good competitive contest between two evenly matches sides who know each other well, might well have gone either way right up until the final 10 minutes and Northampton kept trying until the end. 

Peterborough United Ladies 2015/16 Northamptonshire Ladies League Plate Winners

  Congratulations to Peterborough United Ladies on winning the Northamptonshire Ladies League Cup.

   There were 4 other finals that took place earlier in the day starting at 9;30am the U12s final was won by AFC Rushden & Diamonds who beat Earls Barton 4-0. That was followed by a 2-1 victory for Welland Valley over Parklands Tigers in the u14s final.

  In the U16s final Gregory Celtic ran out 6-1 winners against Welland Valley, then in the Ladies Plate Final, Woodford United beat Rothwell Corinthians Ladies Reserves 4-0 to lift the trophy. Congratulations to all the winners.

  They may have lost out on the cup and making it a double celebration but Northampton Town Ladies are league Champions and were presented with their trophies after the final.

Northampton Town Ladies, Northamptonshire Women's Division One Champions

  Another enjoyable final, my thanks to both sides for giving me their assistance with the team line-ups today always appreciated.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Match Report - Chelsea Ladies v Sunderland AFC Ladies

 Another midweek trip down south to Staines Town FC to watch some more FAWSL action, the last before the sides stop for there mid-season break with Chelsea Ladies hosting Sunderland AFC Ladies. 

  A set back for Chelsea Ladies last time out taking on Manchester City Women, both sides with a 100% win record going into the game, Chelsea Ladies game plan not coming off as they suffered their 1st league defeat of the season losing 2-0 to see Manchester City Women open up a 6 point lead at the top. Now they welcome Sunderland AFC Ladies to Staines Town FC this Wednesday night hoping to make sure they don't have a repeat of last season when they suffered a loss to Manchester City Women in the league then lost again at Sunderland AFC Ladies. 

  Sunderland AFC Ladies will be hoping history repeats itself albeit on the road this time around a long midweek trip down south as they continue to search for their 1st league win of the season, having played 5 so far losing 2 and drawing 3. Their 2nd season competing in FAWSL 1 they hit the ground running last time around 3 points tonight however would see them go into the mid-season break in amongst the sides in the middle of the table.

  Chelsea Ladies starting XI - Hedvig Lindahl, Hannah Blundell, Claire Rafferty, Gilly Flaherty, Niamh Fahey, Katie Chapman (C), Karen Carney, Ji So-Yun, Gemma Davison, Fran Kirby & Eniola Aluko.
  subs - Becky Spencer, Millie Bright, Laura Rafferty, Ana Borges, Beth England, Drew Spence & Jade Bailey

  Sunderland AFC Ladies starting XI - Rachael Laws, Victoria Williams, Danielle Brown, Stephanie Bannon (C), Hayley Sharp, Lucy Staniforth, Brooke Chaplin, Kelly McDougall, Stephanie Roche, Kiera Ramshaw & Beth Mead.
  subs - Hilde Gunn Olsen, Rachel Furness, Abbey Holmes, Megan Beer, Charlotte Potts, Krystle Johnston & Abbey Joice.

   It's the visitors to kick off the 1st half, Sunderland wearing red and white vertical striped shirts, black shorts and socks, with Chelsea lined up opposite wearing blue shirts and socks with white socks going for a more attack minded line up tonight with Karen Carney and Gemma Davison starting over Drew Spence and Millie Bright.The ball is played out to Stephanie Roche on the left side attacking for Sunderland takes the ball inside tries to pick out Beth Mead making a forwards run, the pass is to close to Chelsea centre back Gilly Flaherty she gets the ball back to her goalkeeper, Hedvig Lindahl.

 Chelsea attack the ball brought down the right wing by Gemma Davison has Fran Kirby ahead of her with Korean International Ji So-Yun also coming across between the three the ball is with Kirby who looks to power a cross into towards the penalty spot the ball is instead cut out and deflected behind for a corner. Carney plays the corner in from the right side in towards the penalty spot area, Flaherty up from the back rises and gets a good header on the ball directing it towards goal, the effort going over the crossbar. 

Gilly Flaherty with an early chance for Chelsea Ladies heading over.

 Plenty of attacking options on the pitch for Chelsea and they are using everyone creating space out wide as they push players forwards, Carney has drifted out to the left side receives the ball from Claire Rafferty behind her, takes it inside  before looking to hit a cross into the crowd lining up in front of the box, Victoria Williams steps out from the back line to get hold of the ball and clear it.

  GOAL! Play is congested in the middle, both sides sharp to close down before is pops free in favour of Sunderland, Mead after it breaking clear into the right channel 20 yards out cuts in from the right corner of the Chelsea box then sends a great ball across the area to pick out Roche making the run on the left side by the D entering the box, hits the shot early a low drive put across the diving Lindahl and into the back of the net 0-1 to the visitors.

Irish International, Stephanie Roche, pictured with Chelsea
Ladies, Hannah Blundell opens the scoring for Sunderland

  GOAL! Sunderland's goal is short lived as Chelsea go on the attack right from the restart the ball played out to Eniola Aluko on the left she is fouled the free kick given away an inviting position 25 yards out for Carney to deliver into the area. Puts a great ball in with Chelsea captain, Katie Chapman coming to the near side unmarked 8 yards or so out to leap and getting firm connection with the ball power it into the goal, 1-1.

Chelsea Ladies captain, Katie Chapman pictures on the ball
scores with her head to make it 1-1.
 Keira Ramshaw is on the right for Sunderland the ball is played out to her by Kelly McDougall in the centre, tries to get onto the end of it as the ball runs long into the Chelsea area, Rafferty comes back with her can see the ball out for a goal kick. Chelsea push forwards in number every time they win the ball have possession in front of the Sunderland area, comes out to Rafferty forwards on the left her pass into the area falls to Carney central, does get good contact with the ball scuffing the shot it rolls safely through to goalkeeper Rachael Laws.

   Davison on the left now is played in down the wing taking the ball on into the corner turns inside to get into the box, Sunderland full back Danielle Brown gets back on her and tackling puts the ball behind for a corner kick. From the left side the corner comes in once again Chapman is the target deeper this time can't get over the ball heads it back outside the area, falling to Kirby 20 yards out goes for the shot firing into a crowded box ahead of her takes a deflection taking it wide for another corner, from the right side this time Roche back defending headers the ball clear.

Chelsea Ladies, Claire Rafferty

  Both full backs are getting forwards for Chelsea Ladies, Rafferty on the left and Hannah Blundell on the right, the latter bringing the ball on has support form So-Yun the ball is lifted into the area, Williams is on hand to get it clear for Sunderland. From a Sunderland attack, Chelsea launch a counter attack, Chapman diving in as she tracks back to take the ball from Mead deep in the right, Carney prevents it going out for the throw then bringing the ball on has Aluko ahead of her players the striker in as she times her run perfectly to get in behind the Sunderland defence, Laws comes racing out to the right side of her area to confront her, Aluko tries to smuggle the ball past the keeper as she goes to ground, Laws does well managing to stop the ball with her legs then smother it. Aluko has another opportunity soon after taking on the shot from outside the area 20 yards out puts the ball straight at Laws who holds onto it.

   GOAL! 20 minutes into the 1st half and Chelsea take the lead Aluko is involved again as she moves out to the left side finding space as she takes the ball forwards into the area closing on the byline cuts back inside to put the ball up towards the far post, where Kirby has arrived leaps up to head the ball into the top corner and score 2-1.

  Brown like Williams playing full back for Sunderland is having a busy game with Chelsea switching attacking position constantly it's a good challenge for the right back, gets the better of Davison this time sending her clearance long, Mead sniffs and opportunity breaking clear of the Chelsea defence, so too does Lindahl realise the threat as she comes racing out of her area to get to the ball 1st sliding in to block with her legs. 

  Rafferty has gone down off the ball and after the treatment  on the pitch has to come off Portuguese International, Ana Borges comes on to take up the left back role. Kirby controls a long range pass on the edge of the Sunderland area played up to her by Flaherty from the back, holding it up has So-Yun coming towards her plays her in the Korean drills her shot low and fast wide of goal. 

  Chelsea's interplay is very good tonight, using the full width of the pitch they are making Sunderland work hard to try and close it down often pulling players across the pitch more than once both Borges and Davison are standing wide left no involved in the action, but ready to spring into action when the ball is won back. Brooke Chaplin isn't able to get forwards and support Mead as she often does so effectively for Sunderland. 

  Chelsea win a corner on the right side the ball played in towards Chapman again, is knocked out of the area, falling to Aluko outside the box, smashes a shot back in, Williams gets something on it to knock it clear rolls straight to Davison standing to the left corner of the area, looks to line a shot up a curler into the top corner, drops wide of the target. Davison brings the ball inside as she attacks down the left for Chelsea, fires the ball on the diagonal towards the right side of the Sunderland area with Aluko making the run, hits it on the stride blasting the shot wide of goal.

  Sunderland captain, Stephanie Bannon, blocks a shot as Carney looks to power her way through the middle with the ball. Chelsea seem to be attacking at will with Sunderland not able to get hold of the ball and retain any meaningful possession. Davison on the ball left again makes a determined run inside going across the face of the Sunderland area, Kirby is there, is presented with the ball as Davison travels past her rolling it on for her, Davison smashes it goalwards, Hayley Sharp blocks the ball spinning out to Aluko on the right tries to stand a cross up into the area, Williams headers it away. 

   Little for Mead to feed on 1st half Chelsea have done well to keep all of Sunderland's attack minded players quiet, but Mead is a willing runner and is always looking for an opportunity to attack, Lucy Staniforth bringing the ball on plays it into space on the right side, Mead is after it, up against Flaherty the two closing in on the line Mead manages to squeeze a cross in towards the near post, Lindahl has come across and gathers the ball into her body.

  A vital interception from Williams at the back for Sunderland as Chelsea break, Carney sees Aluko looking to sneak in around the back of the defence on the right tries to pick her out with a 20 yard crossfield pass, would have been through for a chance to strike at goal if Williams hadn't got there 1st. So-Yun has come over to the right getting the ball turns inside 25 yards out rolls the ball into Carney who looks to line up a shot, going for the top corner, Laws has it covered in the Sunderland goal, claims the ball. 

  So-Yun with a clumsy challenge to bundle Mead over in a central position as the striker looks to take the ball on 25 yards out, Roche is over the ball gets the ball around the Chelsea wall however Lindahl has plenty of time to see it and drifting across her goal saves it. One final corner coming late in the 1st half for Chelsea as So-Yun sees a 25 yarder deflected behind. The target from the corner is Flaherty rising great connection with her head sends the shot a foot over the crossbar.

  Half-time Chelsea Ladies 2-1 Sunderland AFC Ladies

  Despite conceding the early goal it has been one way traffic for the most part in the 1st half, as Chelsea Ladies got themselves back on level terms straight away and went on to take the lead, their attackers have caused Sunderland alot of problems all, creative players their movement and switching positions frequently has caused problems and whilst Sunderland have put alot into the 1st half defensively that has seen them with little opportunity to get their own attackers on the ball, still at 2-1 the game is still very much on as the two sides come out for the 2nd half. 

   Chelsea get the 2nd half underway. Straight away they are on the attack the ball with Davison looks to play the ball into the box with Kirby making the run, Laws is out sharply to close down the attacker and gather the ball. Borges surges forwards with the ball at her feet from left back looks to thread the ball through for Kirby, but she has strayed just offside. A furious start by Chelsea, Sunderland are pushed back have everyone back needing to defend cannot get the ball away. Davison on the right attacking with the ball again sends the cross in to the far post area, Aluko gets up heads the ball towards goal, Bannon back on her goal line gets in the way of it and launches it clear.

Sunderland AFC Ladies right back, Danielle Brown marking Chelsea Ladies, Eniola Aluko

 Aluko sees a shot fired in from outside the area, pushed away by the diving Laws. Ramshaw looks to go after the ball on the right for Sunderland getting it look to push on then pick out Mead, Niamh Fahey is across to tackle win the ball back. Fahey is up the other end in the box for a corner kick, from the right the defender moves towards the ball has 3 Sunderland defenders around her, appeals for handball but nothing is given as the ball finds its way back into the keepers gloves. 

Sunderland AFC Ladies, Kiera Ramshaw

   Would have been a spectacular goal for Chelsea's Kirby if it had come off as she tries the over head kick from two yards inside the box as Davison attacking down the right squares the ball into her, gets the ball in towards goal, isn't far over the crossbar. Substitution for Sunderland as they bring on Krystle Johnston for Ramshaw. Free kick wide right for Chelsea, Davison short for Carney down the line in behind plays the ball into the area, Sharp wins it for Sunderland, but they don't keep hold of it for long, the ball is swept in from the right Aluko inside the box can't quite get the ball under control, sends the effort off target. 

   Chelsea are having al of the attack 2nd half, but for all the possession you can't help think they are over complicating things a little trying to work the perfect goal when all that's needed is something simple, extend the lead for the longer the game goes with it still being 2-1 Sunderland will feel they might get an opportunity to get back into it the visitors putting so much into defending just can't get hold of the ball.

   Kirby on the ball wide right, turns inside driving forwards plays the ball across to So-Yun over on the left in front of the box, drills a shot in across the goal mouth, runs wide at the opposite post. The ball is played long from the back as Chelsea win it back from Sunderland with Davison powering her way into space taking the ball down the line cuts the cross back into the area, Kirby coming near side dummies letting the ball run on for Aluko behind her like So-Yun moments before goes for power sending it low across the goal but again it runs wide of the target. 

  Another change for Sunderland in midfield with Rachel Furness coming on for McDougall with 20 minutes left to play. Chelsea continue to attack have the Sunderland goal under siege. So-Yun central plays the pass to Aluko on her left, she brings the ball inside before unleashing a shot, on target comes at Laws fast, the keeper diving throws herself at the ball making a fantastic save to turn the ball over for the corner kick. 

  A 2nd change for Chelsea, So-Yun coming off is replaced by Drew Spence. Aluko has had a host of chances tonight thing's just not going to go in it seems, as she is played through to attack inside the box by Kirby left side Laws coming to close her down looks to send the shot in low into the bottom corner, the keeper having gone to ground early makes another great save to see the ball tuned out behind again.

  Furness having come on into the middle tries to impose herself on the game give Sunderland something going forwards, rides a lunging challenge by Chapman in the centre circle the ball has gotten away from her and going after in lunges and catches Borges, the free kick giving everyone so respite as Borges receives treatment up is up an able to continue. Carney bringing the ball forwards into the left channel has Kirby and Aluko up with her between the 3 the ball as sprayed out to Davison on the right side comes inside to get into a shooting position, fires the ball in loops up off a defender and out for the corner kick. 

Approaching the final quarter hour and all the time they can keep it to 2-1 Sunderland will feel they can find a way back into the match. Have a break on when Staniforth get's control of the ball in the middle Furness has burst forwards with Mead to the edge of the area, the ball is played through to her she slides it across the D into Mead who ends up on the ground as the challenge comes in the ball is loose for an instant Furness latches onto it the ball deflected at close range goes over the crossbar the corner awarded. 

   With the game drawing to a close and one side leading 2-1 you would expect them to start dropping deeper defend what they have, not Chelsea however they continue to push on it's working as Sunderland cannot get out of their half, Davison dribbling with the ball on the right sends a shot in low looking for the bottom corner, Laws gets down the post covered gets her gloves around the ball. Davison's last action in the match as she is substituted for Beth England.

  A clumsy challenge on the left out wide sees Aluko bundled to the ground, the free kick as delivered from the wide position in towards the near post, Chapman coming to meet it stoops to head the ball turning it on target but once again Laws coming across with her is well placed to make the save. Spence gets an opportunity to shoot on goal as England wide right lays the ball into her 25 yards out, drives the ball in Sharp gets herself in the way makes the block inside the box.

  It's not for want of trying 2nd half but Chelsea just cannot get the ball into the back of the net Sunderland are defending for their lives blocks and last ditch tackles as the ball is flung into the area once more. When the ball gets through the defence Laws is on hand to save, Coming inside with the ball on the right wing Kirby running into the area, pulls the trigger a rising ball Laws throws herself at it turning it behind for the corner. Attacking down the left Carney plays the ball through for Kirby now that side into the area, Laws comes Kirby manages to tap the ball beyond her but can't retrieve it before it rolls out of play. Final action of the game sees England have a strike at goal from the right sends the ball wide across the six yard box.

  Chelsea Ladies win the game 2-1 doesn't reflect the amount of opportunities they created in front of goal, just wouldn't go in 2nd half. More importantly they are back to winning ways and close the gap on leaders Manchester City Women to 4 points after they were held to a goalless draw by Liverpool Ladies. A game in hand for Chelsea Ladies too the battle for the title looks to be between the pair as they go into the break with 3rd placed Birmingham City Ladies the only other side with double figures in the points column. The action resumes at the end of June.