Sunday, 26 June 2016

Match Report - Watford Ladies v Everton Ladies

  After almost a month off the Supporting Women's Football Blog is back with a new match report and a writer rested up (much needed) and ready to go again. The FAWSL resume too this weekend after it's own mid-season break. Starting with a match form FAWSL 2 with unbeaten Everton Ladies currently 3rd in the table after 6 matches played travelling down south to play bottom side Watford Ladies, still searching for their 1st league win of the season.

  A tough campaign for Watford Ladies last season and this season has seen just as tough a start on the pitch with just the 1 point gained in 6 matches at the start of a season that has seen a lot of changes behind the scenes a new general manger, Ellie Kemp along with a new 1st team manger Katie Rowson, the club has seen a lot of player movement in and out too. Back to the football after the mid-season break a win today would do wonders for the players confidence.

  A tough ask however as they welcome Everton Ladies to Berkhamsted FC, currently 3rd in the FAWSL 2 table undefeated before the mid-season break with 4 wins and 2 draws from 6 games played. Andy Spence has returned to the role of 1st team manager after stepping down from the role during the 2015 season and the Merseyside club are amongst the favourites to clinch one of the two promotion spots this time around. If results go there way today they could go top of the table.

  The venue for today's match Berkhamsted FC, don't get down here as much as I should, a picturesque part of the country well worth a look around before taking in the game. You can park in the Waitrose supermarket carpark on the other side of the canal from the ground, which by crossing over the canal is a short walk away. The weather has as it's been all through the 1st half of 2016 been unpredictable, was a bright sunny day, with the odd dark cloud lurking, was armed with all the eventualities as usual, umbrella and sun cream both in the bottom of my bag. The pitch looked in good condition albeit the grass looked a little on the long side.

  Watford Ladies starting XI - Lucy Gillett, Nicole Pepper, Anneka Nuttall (C), Ruby Baxter, Molly Burgess, Jordan Littleboy, Ellie Mason, Giulia Ferrandi, Anne-Laure Davy, Charlotte Kerr & Katie Stanley.
  subs - Victoria Wooton, Sahara Osborne-Rickets & Sophie Cheadle

  Everton Ladies starting XI - Kirsty Levell, Vicky Jones, Gabrielle George, Georgia Brougham, Ellie Stewart, Michelle Hinnigan (C), Megan Finnigan, Millie Turner, Kelly Jones, Danielle Turner & Claudia Walker.
  subs -  Jennifer Myler, Jenna Dear, Faye Bryson, Emily Hollinshead, Krystle Johnston & Lauren Davies.

  Saw Watford Ladies in action shortly before the mid-season break playing at Vicarage Road, against London Bees the result went against them that night but they did have two new signings in their side Italian Giulia Ferrandi and Anne-Laure Davy. Both were starting today as well as Ruby Baxter who was making her debut at centre back. Everton Ladies had a new signing starting on the bench for them to, with Krystle Johnston ending a short stint at Sunderland AFC Ladies, joining the club.

   It's the visitors Everton to kick off the 1st half, start on the offensive Vicky Jones linking up with her twin sister Kelly on the right side of the pitch as the full back drives up the wing  plays the inside to her twin outside the box right of goal let's fly with a shot driven in low is blocked by Molly Burgess in the Watford defence, cleared out into the midfield retrieved by Everton played back into Kelly Jones shoots again same position aiming near post, Watford goalkeeper Lucy Gillett gets down low and blacks to make the save the ball deflected up and over the goal for a corner. The corner from the right comes in towards the near post Gillett coming for the ball throws herself forwards gathering the ball into her body.

  Everton are pressing Watford for the ball inside their own half early on and winning possession look to attack quickly, Megan Finnigan winning the ball in the centre passes it into Kelly Jones ahead of her, Claudia Walker is on her shoulder looking to burst in behind, Jones almost picks her out Watford manage to intercept the pass. Danielle Turner on the left side attacking for Everton plays two crosses into the Watford area in quick succession, the 1st is claimed by Gillett the 2nd cut out by Burgess put out for a throw.

   Everton captain Michelle Hinnigan brings the ball on through the middle goes for the shot on goal 20 yards out, smashing it in low is blocked by a defender, runs on for Gillett to get across to collect beyond. The visitors are showing good movement off the ball went it is won back pushing forwards and moving into space to be able to receive the ball, spread play try to stretch their opponents.

Watford Ladies, Katie Stanley

  Watford have Katie Stanley leading the line in attack today, is prepared to go after long balls hasn't had much to feed on in the opening exchanges. Giulia Ferrandi gets hold of the ball just over half way plays it long a diagonal ball right to the left side with Charlotte Gurr getting onto the end of it 20 yards out left of the D shoots the ball is deflected off Vicky Jones as she flings herself across to block in front of Kerr, the ball looping up hangs in the air, Stanley is there in amongst the Everton defenders 8 yards out tries to head the ball past goalkeeper Kirsty Levell but stretching for it can't make strong enough contact, Levell catches the ball.

Watford Ladies Giulia Ferrandi with Everton Ladies Kelly Jones

   Counter attack from Everton as they bring the ball out over the halfway line is played out to Danielle Turner bombing forwards on the left whips the cross in early along the face of the Watford box, Hinnigan coming towards the ball hits it 1st time sweeping it towards goal races along the ground out for a goal kick a foot wide of the post.

  GOAL! 16 minutes on the clock and Everton have the lead, comes from a speculative strike from distance from the boot of Claudia Walker the ball played into her some 25 yards or more out, turns and pulls the trigger, the ball coming in low goes through Gillett as she dives to her right and nestles in the back of the net. 0-1.

Claudia Walker with Watford Ladies Ruby Baxter opens the scoring for Everton  Ladies

  Stanley continues to go after the ball played long up top from the right this time the high ball is dropped into the area wide of goal Stanley does well to win her side a corner, the ball put into the six yard box from the right is headed clear to the edge of the area, drops favourably for Jordan Littleboy, whose eyes must light up as she has the opportunity to smash in a shot, just doesn't get a good connection with the ball, is knocked back into the advancing defenders.

  GOAL! Penalty! Littleboy's attempted shot is knocked out of the area, Watford press play it back into the Everton area a hand ball is seen and the referee points to the spot. Ellie Mason is the Watford player to step up and take it. Goes for power the rising ball beating the diving Levell and smashing down off the crossbar drops into the back of the net to see the home side equalise a couple on minutes after conceding 1-1.

Watford Ladies equalise from the penalty spot,
  Another good pass from halfway by Ferrandi almost sees Stanley pushing through the centre get in behind the Everton defence to run clear on goal, Levell however is high in her box and in a very good starting position to get out of her area and kick clear with Stanley a yard away inside the D. Mason stealing in on the ball runs with it before striking from distance is well held by Levell.

Ellie Mason scorer of Watford Ladies penalty kick

  The equalising goal has lifted Watford they are pressing Everton for the ball, one or two rash challenges are coming in as a result and the Everton players are unhappy the referee isn't pulling them up for it. Vicky Jones get's forwards on the right for Everton comes inside 25 yards from goal unleashes a shot, is blocked by Burgess runs behind for a corner kick. The ball is played in high Ellie Stewart up from the back jump highest, can't get a clean header the ball played on is cleared by Watford. Hinnigan pushing forwards to join the attack as Everton break down the left side jumps near post can't get her head to the ball to turn it home.

   Again Everton come down the left side Gabrielle George from left back into Danielle Turner taking the ball down the line crosses playing the ball into Walker coming to the ball inside the box looks to let the ball roll across her body shielding it as she sends it on into the middle Hinnigan is there again, under challenge from Baxter squeezes a shot in towards goal lacks any pace, Gillett gets down to it and saves.

Everton Ladies captain,  Michelle Hinnigan

   A little niggle has crept into the game both sides unhappy with decisions are complaining, Everton seem to be letting it get to them a little lack the composure on the ball they had in the opening 20 minutes. Not that they aren't putting in the tackles themselves and Watford are unhappy with the odd refereeing decision too, Stanley's complaints going too far and play is stopped as she is told to calm down. The referee has to show the yellow card not long after as Watford captain Anneka Nuttall playing at left back lunges in to bring down Kelly Jones as she looks to attack down the wing.

  A competitive contest end to end as the game moves into the closing minutes of the 1st half, Everton are pushing numbers forwards putting the Watford back line under pressure Walker going out to the left side of the area closes down a clearance getting hold of the ball shoots from the angle blasts the ball into the side netting. 

  A free kick is awarded to Everton wide on the left 30 yards out, Hinnigan and Stewart over the ball, the former plays it short to the latter who sends the ball long towards the far post, Millie Turner is there moving back to head the ball down towards goal hits Baxter goes behind, however the linesman's flag is raised for offside. Up the other end Everton make a mess of dealing with a long ball flung high into the area by Watford from the left Levell calls for it as Vicky Jones looks to head clear the two collide leaving Jones floored the ball is loose in the six yard box Everton manage to smuggle it clear before Watford capitalise.

  The break in play whilst Jones receives treatment gives manager Andy Spence a chance to calm his players down, get back to playing to football that they were playing at the start of the game. Not many seconds left to play in the 1st half Walker picks up the ball on half way and head down goes on the drive carrying it on before unleashing a shot 25 yards out, a great effort sails narrowly over the crossbar.

Half-time Watford Ladies 1-1 Everton Ladies

  An entertaining 1st half of football, Everton Ladies started very strongly showing good movement on and off the ball, creating chances and taking the lead on 16 minutes against the side bottom of the league. You wonder then how would Watford respond, got an early opportunity to level thing's up with the penalty well struck by Mason and from then on have competed well disrupting Everton's game.

   Watford to kick off the 2nd half. Go long straight from the kick off the ball sent into the Everton box safely into Levell's gloves. Attacking Everton bring the ball out from the back George is ahead of Danielle Turner on the left at the start of the second half the ball is played on to Walker moving out to that side wide attempts the square the cross along the face of the area, Mason tracking back gets to the ball 1st to intercept and set up a counter attack.

  Everton send the ball long from a free kick inside their own half for Walker to go after, Baxter is with her as Gillett comes racing out of her area sliding in she misses the ball as it is deflected to to her left, Walker attempting to go after it is impeded by the Watford goalkeeper stops her getting the ball, the referee blows up for the free kick, a decision to make the keeper is called back and is lucky to receive a yellow, Baxter would was around her covering. Right side of the box 25 yards out Stewart strikes the free kick hard and low into the area runs across the box and out for a goal kick.

  From a good attacking position Everton are forced to play the ball back by Watford pressing them 60 yards all the way back to Levell whose clearance isn't great goes straight to Anne-Laure Davy a good way out goes for goal trying to lob Levell who is off her line back pedalling the shot is off target over the bar. Davy has another opportunity to strike at goal soon after as Watford hustle Everton for the ball takes control of it 30 yards out before pulling the shot wide of target.

  10 minutes into the 2nd half and the visitors make a change with new signing Krystle Johnston coming on to make her debut for Everton replacing Millie Turner. Joining Walker in attack the two look to play a one two with the ball played into Walker on halfway, she turns rolling it out to Johnston on her right, Walker running on wants the ball played into her path, Johnston does just that, 20 yards out central Walker takes on the shot the ball drilled in low rolls wide of goal.

  Kelly Jones very nearly restores Everton's lead in the match but for some composed goalkeeping from Gillett. The attack starting as the ball is rolled into Johnston on the right plays the ball down the line for Walker running in behind the Watford defence crosses the ball into the box early with Jones racing through the middle Gillett comes to her they are a yard apart as Jones looks to play the ball past the keeper who gets her glove to the ball and stops the shot.

Everton Ladies, Kelly Jones

  Is an open game now with both sides winning challenges and looking to take the ball on, the niggle that started in the middle of the 1st half is still present, free kicks being given away. Kerr goes on a driving run with the ball at her feet looking to close into the area her strike is blocked by Stewart the loose ball reclaimed by Ferrandi outside the area left of the goal shoots wide.

  Up the other end Johnston carries the ball forwards blasts her shot from 20 yards out into Baxter putting her body in the way of the shot. A similar chance for Hinnigan to he one she had in the 1st half as George wins Everton a throw deep on the left, the ball is helped on by Walker towards Hinnigan waiting just inside the box central strikes the shot 1st time aiming for the bottom corner runs the wrong side of the post. 

Gabrielle George on the ball for Everton Ladies.

  Walker goes after a long ball played down the right channel into the box, Gillett comes out of her goal attempting to get there 1st is left stranded as Walker cuts back inside, has no support inside the box Watford have defenders back covering the goal, Walker plays the ball back out towards Kelly Jones rushing forwards goes for goal puts the shot wide. Bringing the ball down inside the Watford half Hinnigan controls well before threading a pass between the Watford defence into the box with Walker giving chase getting in behind wide left lays the ball out wide with Danielle Turner well positioned to deliver the cross into the box sends it long to the far post Nuttall gets up to head the ball away.

  GOAL! A sucker punch for Everton as they push forwards looking to find the lead are hit on the counter attack and it's Watford who celebrate as they get there noses in front. The ball is sent up field out towards the left side with Kerr the player furthest forwards, Levell comes charging out  towards the ball throwing herself at it attempting to get their 1st, instead Kerr does sending a stunning shot over the keeper and into the back of the net 2-1.

Charlotte Kerr with Everton's Megan Finnigan scores to give Watford the lead.

   15 minutes left on the clock can Watford hold on as Everton respond by making a substitution Jenna Dear coming on for Finnigan. Win a free kick a good 35 yards out from goal the ball is sent up into the box Stewart gets her head on the ball turning it on target, Gillett grabs hold of it makes the save. Everton continue to push players forwards risking more Watford counter attacks, the ball is lost Littleboy passing to Stanley 20 yards from goal goes for the 1st time shot looking to lift the ball over Levell instead places it straight into her gloves.

Watford Ladies goalkeeper, Lucy Gillett

  Stanley and Stewart both receive a yellow card each as the game moves into the final 5 minutes, as they square up inside the Everton box after the ball has been cleared by Stewart as Stanley sliding in looks to get onto the end of a long ball. An Everton free kick from the right of the pitch is swept in high into the crowded six yard box, Gillett does well to jump and claim the ball. Kelly Jones travels with the ball at her feet right side of the pitch before laying it forwards for Johnston making a move down the line swings a good ball into the box, stoops to try and get her head on the ball, doesn't make any contact the chance gone.

  Everton pile forwards players are lining up to strike at goal as Watford struggle to get the ball away bodies are being put on the line all over the place to stop the ball reaching the box, Everton trying to win it back. 

Who'd be a referee hey? Try and sort this out.

  Into injury time one last opportunity for Everton to get themselves back on level terms the ball is put out by Nuttall for a corner as Johnston turns a cross into the area. The corner comes in turned goalwards Gillett throws herself at the ball tips it over the crossbar for another corner. The delivery this time drops into the six yard box on the floor their is a scramble as Watford can't clear the ball, Brougham get her foot to it her effort spins wide for the goal kick. 

  The final whistle blows and Watford Ladies win the game 2-1 to get their 1st league win of the season. Doing well from coming back form a goal down to go on and win. A spirited performance, although Everton did have the bulk of the attack, the result will as I said in the build-up at the top of the page do wonders for their confidence. Frustrating day on the field for Everton created plenty of chances just couldn't get the ball into the back of the net as their unbeaten start to the season comes to an end stay in 3rd place but still a lot of games to be played.

  Felt good to be back, even if the note taking was a little rusty.