Sunday 21 August 2016

New Season - Crystal Palace Ladies v Coventry United Ladies

 The new season is here! The FA Women's Premier League campaign get's underway this Sunday and the Supporting Women's Football Blog is starting with a trip south to watch newly promoted Crystal Palace Ladies as they welcome Coventry United Ladies to Bromley FC.

   Crystal Palace Ladies are the 'Invincibles' having won promotion from the FAWPL South East Division One last season with an unbeaten record, winning 20 of there 22 matches in the league. Enjoy a strong relationship with the men's club and are looking to make progress. Have done well to keep hold of players that brought them success last season and manager Dean Davenport has added players too, some with WSL experience, Megan Goss and Ciara Sherwood joining from Millwall Lionesses. Ellie Bailes joins from Charlton Athletic Women. Ex-Fulham goalkeeper, Lauren Allen has also signed for the club. Will be looking to make an immediate impact upon the league.

  Their 1st opponents in the FAWPL Southern Division, are Coventry United Ladies have won the league as recently as 2014 no play-off game for the FAWSL that year, switched to the Northern Division the following season finishing runners-up behind Sheffield FC Ladies. Back in the Southern Division last campaign were amongst the chasing pack that could do nothing to stop Brighton & Hove Albion WFC's charge to the title. Finishing 4th they did have success last season winning the FAWPL League Plate. Will be amongst the favorites to challenge for the title again this season.

  Bromley Arena is the venue for today's FAWPL season opener, home of Bromley FC, the non-league ground is a mixture of old and new look stands with the main one seated and covered down one side of the pitch housing the clubhouse and bar plus food facilities. The older stands surrounding the other 3 sides of the ground are a mixture off classic terracing and some seating behind one goal a good sized stadium surrounding a large pitch which looked as it should perfect at the start of the season, good grass cover and flat. Great weather to start the season too very warm and sunny, some dark clouds about that might hint at a spot of rain or two but a strong breeze was helping to blow them through.

  Crystal Palace Ladies starting XI - Chanell Yardley, Pamela McRoberts, Katy Morris, Freya Holdaway (C), Leesa Haydock, Ciara Sherwood, Ellie Bailes, Megan Goss, Alma Donohoe, Rochelle Shakes & Gemma Bryan.
  subs - Lauren Allen, Leanne Bell, Abigail Igbavboa, Francesca Ali & Tia Foreman.

  Coventry United Ladies starting XI - Susan Wood, Gina Burton, Nikki Miles, Natasha Lynch (C) Alexandra Buck, Laura Cooper, Jade Brook, Stephanie Smith, Amber Hughes, Marie Gauntlett & Alison Hall
  subs - Helen Dermody, Sami Ryder, Olivia Dougherty, Ellie White, Kathryn Pagan & Christina Torkildsen.

    It's the visitors, Coventry to get the game underway, wearing an all green away kit with Crystal Palace lined up opposite wearing red and blue shirts, with blue shorts and socks with a red vertical stripe down the sides. The home side close down the ball right from the start winning it push towards the Coventry area, defender Alex Buck steps up to tackle and play the ball out for a throw on the right. From the right the ball is lifted up towards the area this time Coventry captain Natasha Lynch headers clear, Nikki Miles looks to break from the back up the left but running out of room can't turn her cross back into the six yard box.

  Getting forwards from the back too, Crystal Palace's Pamela McRoberts on the right brings the ball on before playing a high ball across the top of the area, looking for striker Gemma Bryan comes at her quickly trying to adjust leaning back to get power on her header turns it towards goal the looping ball drops into the gloves of goalkeeper, Susan Wood. Is a pacy start to the game from both sides working hard to quickly close their opponents down on the ball. 

Rochelle Shakes holding the ball up in attack for Crystal Place Ladies
  Stephanie Smith brings the ball forwards for Coventry drifting towards the right plays the pass up the line into the area for Alison Hall to go after. Crystal Palace captain, Freya Holdaway gets across in front of her does well to shepherd the ball out of play for a goal-kick. Megan Goss receiving the ball turns well and plays the pass forwards into Bryan with room to run into on the left only a good tackle from Buck putting the ball out for a throw steps her breaking into the area. Bryan has the ball at her feet again on the left soon after charging towards the byline cuts back inside the area superbly to deceive her marker and takes on the shot from an acute angle sending the ball wide across the face of goal.

   10 minutes played and the early pressure is with Crystal Palace, have Coventry pushed back defending the top of their area, closing down the ball the midfielders looking to win it create an opportunity, Ciara Sherwood almost does just that as she latches onto the ball just outside the box left of the D hitting it sweetly on the volley, Wood shifts across to try and get to it does need to as it flashes just past the post striking the advertising boards behind the goal. 

Crystal Palace Ladies, Ciara Sherwood

  Coventry's Miles is getting some joy on the left side providing and outlet when the visitors and get the ball released from the back, taking it on up to the top of the area squares the ball into the middle, Leesa Haydock heads the ball clear, Coventry's Smith looks to lift it over the defence into the area for Hall, goalkeeper Chanell Yardley gets to it 1st. Miles comes again this time Hall looks to break out early providing a passing option, Holdaway reading it just about gets her foot on the ball to intercept. For a 3rd time Miles is available for the ball in quick succession as Jade Brook passes from the centre of midfield to send her away up the left wing into the box cuts the cross back towards goal too close to the near post Yardley has the angle covered and goes down to gather the ball.

  GOAL! Crystal Palace take the lead as the game closes in on the 20 minute mark. It comes from a Coventry throw deep in their half on the right side, Rochelle Shakes is quick to put pressure on the receiver winning the ball and fires the ball along the ground into the area with Bryan free just inside the box, good control hits the shot on the turn sending it flying across the diving keeper and into the back of the net 1-0.

Gemma Bryan scorer of the opening goal for Crystal Palace Ladies

  Bryan is causing the Coventry defence all sorts of problems attacking down the left looks to get onto the end of a long ball from the back, Gina Burton gets to it first to put the ball out for a corner kick. Coming to nothing, Crystal Palace appeal for a penalty as Bryan ends up on the deck as she charges into the box, nothing given by the referee. Up the other end Holdaway and Haydock are clearing up thing's with the Coventry attack having little opportunity to get in behind them. 

  A chance for Coventry to get players forwards as Ellie Bailes brings brook down as she closes down on the area on the left the free kick just outside the box, Laura Cooper over it. sends a great delivery on towards the far post players running in to attack it Hall amongst those gets a touch the ball strikes the post before Crystal Palace scramble it clear. Better from Coventry after conceding the goal go forwards with more pace and purpose, Hall forces Crystal Palace into conceding a corner kick on the left. A great ball sent invitingly into the six yard box is headed down into the ground by Lynch unmarked in the centre bouncing through bodies is blocked on the line saved by Yardley pushed out, Lynch gets another chance to go for goal puts the ball over the crossbar.

Coventry United Ladies captain, Natasha Lynch sees her header cleared on the line
  Marie Gauntlett and Amber Hughes link up as they attack down the left flank exchanging passes as they try the work the ball into position for a cross win Coventry another corner kick. The set-piece is almost spilt by Yardley as she comes to claim it near post but reaching out behind her as she falls somehow keeps hold of it as Gauntlett closes in. Alma Donohoe on the left plays a great ball into the area for Goss who has got herself into a central position, good control to bring it down on her 1st touch, Miles gets back to defend nudging Goss off the ball and getting it away from the area. 

  GOAL! A contrasting game since Crystal Place took the lead on top during the opening 25 minutes have been forced back in the last 10 minutes as Coventry look to fight their way back onto level terms, do so on the 37th minute Comes from a well worked move good build up the ball played across the midfield before being passed on to the advancing Burton on the right sends the ball into the area along the six yard box, Smith jumps up to meet the ball with her head knocking it down back across the keeper and in 1-1.

 Crystal Palace go on the offensive straight from the restart the ball into the Coventry half with urgency, played on the diagonal from the left with Shakes making a run into the area goes to strike it on the volley, connects but under challenge smashes the shot into the side netting. Coventry go forwards themselves Miles getting the better of McRoberts as she goes on the move on the left takes the ball on Hughes comes towards her to offer the close passing option gets it on the corner of the box goes for goal the strike over the bar at the near post. 

Coventry United Ladies, Marie Gauntlett with Pamela McRoberts
  Late into the 1st half Bryan reacts sharply to a lazy Coventry back pass to the goalkeeper getting in behind looking to take a touch as she closes in on the box, Lynch gets back to put in a well timed tackle to take the ball away from her. Into injury time Crystal Palace with one last attack Donohoe on the left sweeps a cross into the box with Shakes the target running in on goal looks to hit it on the volley turn it wide across the keeper, is also wide of the goal.

Half-time Crystal Palace Ladies 1-1 Coventry United Ladies

  An entertaining and lively start to the FAWPL season at Bromley FC, newly promoted Crystal Palace starting the far better of the two sides capitalising by getting the goal. Coventry had to ride out a storm at the start improving late in the half after going a goal down pushing the host back and creating a few chances of their own bringing the scores level. The game very much evenly poised for the 2nd half. 

   A half-time substitution for Crystal Place as they kick off the 2nd half with Leanne Bell on the field replacing Goss. An early foray up the field for McRoberts making a move to get into the box as Bryan comes out wide right holds the ball up attempts to lay the ball into the full-back inside the box, Hughes has tracked back with her and tackling gets her foot on the ball. Substitute, Bell on the right side herself is allowed to travel a long way with the ball reaching the top corner of the area takes on the strike, plenty of pace on the ball, Wood covering her post is right behind it.

Leesa Haydock takes control of the ball at the back for Crystal Palace Ladies

   A good start to the 2nd half from Crystal Palace, Bryan runs at the Coventry defence winning the ball high up the pitch goes forwards has support with her from Shakes as she enters the box looks to set her up, her 1st time strike is blocked, the rebound falls to Sherwood deeper who also sees her effort blocked the ball eventually running out behind for a corner kick on the left. A good delivery played along the six yard box, Holdaway heads the ball into the back of the net, but not before the referee spots an infringement blows up for the foul.

   Penalty! Crystal Palace's bright start to the 2nd half is almost undone as they concede a penalty. Attacking down the right wing the ball is played forwards for Hall to chase down is just inside the area wide right as goalkeeper Yardley comes racing out to kick clear and despite getting to the ball 1st her follow through brings down Hall the referee points to the spot. Gauntlett steps up to take looking to lift the ball up to the keepers left, Yardley guesses the right way and throwing herself across gets two big hands on the ball to make the save.

Chanelle Yardley saves Marie Gauntlett's penalty kick
 Pressurising the Coventry back-line, Bryan gets hold of the ball and stealing in behind has a run at goal pulls the trigger from inside the D the strike off target. Coventry win a corner on the right Hughes makes a run from the top of the area to receive the ball from the taker playing it back to her, receives the return pass inside the box right corner turns and shoots the shot flying over the crossbar.

  1st change for Coventry as Hall is replaced by Helen Dermody. The visitors win a free kick inside the Crystal Place half a chance for Cooper to play the ball long up into the box sends it out towards the far post, Yardley comes to clear it, misses clattering into her own defender as Miles connects with her head drills the effort wide. 2nd change for Coventry with Christina Torkildsen coming on to replace Burton with a little over 20 minutes left to play. Good spell from the visitors, Smith bringing the ball on holds up well outside the Crystal Place box left side as Miles makes a run down the line, Smith with the pass plays her into the area, Yardley rushing out to meet her saves well at her feet.

  GOAL! Crystal Palace retake the lead as Bryan scores her 2nd of the match, latching onto a Shakes flick on as the ball is played long from the back, Bryan is in behind played through on goal, shoots from outside the box right of the D power and pace on the ball to drill is past Wood, strikes the base of the far post back spin seeing it roll over the goal-line 2-1.

An opening day brace for Crystal Palace Ladies, Gemma Bryan

  Crystal Palace make a 2nd change straight after the goal bringing on Abigail Igbavboa for Bailes. Coventry look to respond attacking down the right Hughes drives forwards whips the ball into the box, Dermody coming towards it looks to hit it 1st time but under challenge can't get enough on the ball. End to end, Bell has the ball wide right for Crystal Place pushing forwards turns inside is tackled well by Buck. A heavy challenge on Shakes by Lynch as she powers her way forwards sees a free-kick given away right on the edge of the area a balls width outside right of the D it's Igbavboa over the ball, goes for goal the strike over the top.

   GOAL! Once again Coventry come back from a goal down to equalise, a goal out of nothing and like Bryan from Crystal Palace it's a 2nd goal of the match for Smith. Has possession of the ball some 30 yards out left side in front of the area a snap shot goes for goal sends the ball flying into the top corner, little chance of Yardley diving at it can do stop it as it brushes her fingertips and goes in 2-2.

Stephanie Smith controlling the ball with 2 goals for Coventry United Ladies
  Sets up an intriguing final 10 minutes of play. Torkildsen bursts forwards down the right for Coventry puts a good crossfield pass out to Smith on the left in front of the box, looks to play in Dermody ahead of her, she is unfortunate to slip as she goes to strike the ball on the edge of the area the attempt rolling tamely through to Yardley. 3rd change for Crystal Palace, Fran Ali coming on to replace Haydock.

  Attacking down the left side for Coventry as the game moves into the final minutes of normal time, Gauntlett rolls the ball into Dermody inside the box, she plays it across with Hughes behind her, sees her attempt at goal closed down the ball is won back as Crystal Place look to counter attack, Brook takes on the shot from distance looks to be heading top corner once again this time though Yardley has time to get across and pluck it down.
Coventry's Jade Brook and Crystal Palace's Ellie Bailes battle for the ball

  Into injury time Holdaway picks up a yellow card after fouling Hughes, a chance for Cooper to put the ball into the box, Smith is there to attack it far post sends her header wide of goal. Coventry very nearly win it at the death as rare moment of carelessness at the back sees Brook steal in to take the ball charging in behind left of goal shoots hitting the ball along the ground, Yardley dives to her right makes a great save turning the ball behind for the corner kick. Claims the set-piece as it comes in the referee blows the final whistle.

Full time Crystal Palace Ladies 2-2 Coventry United Ladies

 The points shared on the opening day fixture an entertaining match to watch from a neutrals perspective. A positive start to life at a higher level for Crystal Palace dominated the game for a good portion of both halves, scoring when they were on top too. Coventry were a little slow to get going 1st half but fought their way back into the game equalising twice after going behind. 

  A good day out at Bromley, my thanks to both sides for their help with the team line-ups today and best of luck for the rest of the season.

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