Sunday, 6 November 2016

FAWSL 2016 - The Final Day

   An FAWSL double on the final day of the 2016 season with the final round of games taking place for both leagues this Sunday, FAWSL 2 1st the final matches of the season kicking off at 2 with FAWSL 1 kicking off at 6. Sure plenty of FAWSL fans will be trying to take in 2 games, I'm no different having worked out the logistics have opted for a trip to Abingdon United FC to watch Oxford United Women v Bristol City Women with a 30 mile drive east down the M40 to watch Reading FC Women v Doncaster Rovers Belles.

  FAWSL 2 - Oxford United Women v Bristol City Women

  Across the 2 FAWSL leagues pretty much everything is settled, 2 sides going up from FAWSL 2 to the top tier this season again, is a South West double too with both Yeovil Town Ladies and Bristol City Women winning last weekend to confirm the 2 promotion spots. All that remains is to decide which one of the two will go up as Champions. Felt that 40 points would be enough to secure promotion from the league this time around and with both on 36 points it will be less than that. Yeovil Town have a 6 goal advantage on goal difference so hold the advantage as they entertain, Sheffield FC Ladies at Huish Park. Drop points and Bristol City Women can capitalise so long as they get the right result away to Oxford United Women. A winning scoreline of 6 or more than Yeovil could also hand Bristol the title if both sides were to win.

  Saw them in action for only the 1st time this season away to Everton Ladies just over a week ago, 2nd v 3rd at the time with a 2 point gap between the 2 sides a win would seal Bristol City Women's promotion bouncing back after relegation last term. Got themselves into a 3-1 lead 2nd half before a late Everton Ladies fightback threatened to put the celebrations on hold, Caitlin Leach saving a 98th minute penalty to see Bristol City Women win 3-2 and secure promotion. 

  Finishing in 6th place in the FAWSL 2 table last season, Oxford United Women looked to have a platform to build upon for this season push further up the table. Needed to add a proven goalscorer to their squad did so bringing in Ini Umatong from Portsmouth FC Ladies and she has scored goals is the FAWSL top scorer with 13 goals to her name. The results haven't come with the goals and 4 defeats worse off than they were last season Oxford are 2nd bottom. 

  Abingdon United FC's stadium on Northcourt Road the venue for today's match a good crowd in attendance for the final home game of the season. Oxford's sister clubs playing at the ground before the match. A chilly day at the start of November with dark clouds dominating the sky.

 Oxford United Women starting XI - Demi Lambourne, Jess Frampton, Riva Casley, Rosie Lane, Madi Lee, Lauren Haynes, Katherine Nutman (C), Katja Hakala, Holly Pickett, Georgia Timms & Ini Umotong.
 subs - Hannah Cox, Ella Franklin-Fraiture, Sophie Barker, Charlie Deeley & Zoe Chung.

 Bristol City Women starting XI - Caitlin Leach, Megan Alexander, Flo Allen, Hayley Ladd (C), Frankie Brown, Chloe Arthur, Jodie Brett, Eloise Wilson, Clare Emslie, Georgia Evans & Millie Farrow.
 subs - Hannah Reid, Olivia Fergusson, Paige Sawyer, Emily Syme, Katie Jones, Poppy Wilson, Lily Woodham.

  Oxford get the 1st half underway wearing yellow shirts with navy shorts and socks, Bristol lined up opposite wearing a red kit. The visitors get after the ball straight from the start, hustling Oxford out of possession on the right Eloise Wilson sends the ball on for Millie Farrow to chase into the channel, getting the ball on the byline plays an early cross into the box, Oxford goalkeeper, Demi Lambourne, parrying the ball away with her gloves near post to concede an early corner. Played into captain Hayley Ladd top of the area, helps it through to the far side the shot far side along the ground is off target.

  Bristol's Jodie Brett, latches onto the ball from a goal-kick drives forwards through the centre, over runs the ball as she trips, manages to get back onto the ball lay it out to the left, Chloe Arthur receiving the ball shoots from 20 yards out her effort flying over the crossbar. All Bristol early on pushing players forwards with purpose, Wilson with an inswinging cross on the right looking to pick out Farrow, Oxford's Rosie Lane clears. Lane is on hand to put the tackle in on Farrow inside the D as the ball is played into her by Claire Emslie as she bursts down the left wing cutting inside with the ball at her feet.

Bristol City Women's
Frankie Brown
  Up top for Oxford, Ini Umatong is seeing little of the ball Oxford looking to pick her out Lauren Hayes in the centre of midfield gets the ball into her, a long way out back to goal she tries to spin in behind but is closely marked by Frankie Brown in the centre of the Bristol defence. Emslie with the ball at her feet on the left drives on down the wing moving into the box tries to lay the ball back into Arthur, Oxford's Riva Casley makes a timely tackle to win the ball. 

  A corner to Bristol on the left taken quickly the ball up to the top of the area is whipped into the six yard box, Wilson jumps but can't meet the ball sails into Georgia Evans at the far post puts it into the side netting. Oxford captain Katherine Nutman is back to help her defence as Bristol full back Flo Allen getting forwards sends a cross into the box from the right. On the opposite flank Emslie surges down the left wing shoots aiming near post, Lambourne holds onto the ball near post.

  GOAL! Emslie likes to have the ball at her feet drive at players and her solo run and strike ends with a goal for Bristol on 12 minutes. Picks the ball up 40 yards out carrying it on coming inside shoots as she reaches the top of the area a low drive that flies past the diving Lambourne into the bottom corner of the net. 0-1.

Driving forwards with the ball, Claire Emslie opens the scoring for Bristol
  Bristol keep coming forwards, Allen linking up with Wilson on the right get the corner. Goes long is cleared by Umatong far post heading the ball back out to the right, Oxford look to clear their box, Brett plays the ball back in from the right her cross/shot kissing the crossbar drops into the six yard box for Millie Farrow, sends a looping header towards goal drops kindly into Lambourne's gloves. Oxford with a rare attack the ball out to Katja Hakala on the right wing gets in behind Megan Alexander crosses into the box, too close to Bristol goalkeeper Caitlin Leach who claims the ball at her near post.

  Up the other end Lambourne is tested by a 25 yard strike from Emslie, holds onto the ball. Bristol continue their onslaught, players pushing forwards Wilson and Emslie right and left getting the ball into the Oxford box. Oxford have a free-kick inside the Bristol half as Umatong is followed, Haynes plays the set-piece into the Bristol area far post looking for Umatong, the Bristol defence get it away from danger. 

 GOAL! Closing in on the half hour mark Bristol double their lead have a corner on the left following another determined run on the ball from Emslie. Will go down as an own goal the corner on the left taken quickly into the top of the area, helped on towards the far post area the ball strikes a back peddling defender inside the six yard box, Lambourne throws herself on the ball trying to keep it out but her momentum sees the ball cross the line the goal awarded 0-2.

  GOAL! Bristol go further into the lead straight from the restart winning the ball the pass is into Brett she runs through the middle with the ball surging into the box going right whips the cross in across the six yard box, Emslie coming in far post makes contact with the ball squeezing her header between defender and goalkeeper into the back of the net 0-3.

  Emslie on the ball again driving on down the left side cutting inside rolls the ball into Brett racing through the middle unleashes a shot from 20 yards, Lambourne dives to her right making the save pushing the ball away for a corner. The header from the corner far post is off target. Hakala coming on up the right for Oxford, has Umatong coming across to support her right side in the box, given the ball tries to lay it back for the advancing Haynes, Ladd steps into win the ball. Emslie on the move down the left has Farrow inside the box near side gives her the ball on the run tries to lob the ball over Lambourne the keeper snatches the ball down out of the air.

  Umatong is a hard player to shake off the ball,Holly Pickett plays the ball into her from the left she turns inside running across the front of the Bristol box, reverses the ball sending it in on goal running along the ground, Leach isn't troubled as she puts her foot on the ball. Arthur plays the ball on down the right for Wilson, Jess Frampton tackles winning the ball back tries to bring is out is fouled by Arthur. Close to being a penalty conceded by Frampton moments later as she trips Farrow inside the D just outside the box as she tries to wriggle her way into the area. Brett over the set-piece goes for goal over the bar, a hearts in the mouth moment for the supporters cars who are parked behind the goal.

   GOAL! Into stoppage at the end of the 1st half and having forced Leach into making her 1st save of the match in the Bristol goal the visitors counter attack the ball sent out to Emslie on the left a powerful run forwards plays the ball into the box, Farrow racing in near post headers the ball into the back of the net 0-4. Referee Sian Massey-Ellis signals the end of the 1st half.

Half-time Oxford United Women 0-4 Bristol City Women

  A dominant 1st half display sees Bristol with a comfortable and deserved 4-0 lead, if they are to out score Yeovil to the title they are well on their way there, their rivals with a 1-0 lead at half-time. A few spots of rain in the air as the two sides come out for the 2nd half Bristol getting things underway. Are on the attack early on Brett nips in to take the ball pushes on crossing the ball along the D tries to pick out Farrow, Haynes steps across her to win the ball. Brett moving out to the left side with the ball cuts it back inside for Emslie, 25 yards out looks to curl a shot into the top corner, the ball flies over the bar.

  Emslie on the move left side fires in a low drive towards the near post is deflected of Casley as she attempts to block, Lambourne making a smart save the ball behind for the corner kick. The set-piece is cleared far post put back across goal, Evans playing it back into the mix for Bristol, Umatong back defending heads clear. Allen goes on the overlap past Wilson on the right delivers a cross into the box, Lambourne claiming it near post. 

Oxford's Ini Umatong with Frankie Brown

  The rain is starting to fall steadily now, Oxford have started the 2nd half better, closing Bristol down quicker on the ball. Getting up the other end have a throw deep on the right played into the box the cross is over Georgia Timms near post falls to Umatong far side swings a leg at the ball rebounds off a defender, Nutman arriving inside the box right latches onto the ball but doesn't get any power behind the shot which is caught safely by Leach. Haynes is off the field for Oxford has picked a knock earlier in the match is substituted, Sophie Barker coming on.

  Bristol press on but aren't finding it quite so easy to break through the Oxford defence 2nd half, still ready to have a go from distance, Arthur has a try from 25 yards out a low effort bobbling along the ground, Lambourne gets down to save it. Wilson with Allen on the right flashes a cross along the six yard box. Oxford make their 2nd change with Ella Franklin-Fraiture coming on to replace Timms. Bristol make a change too Lily Woodham coming on for Wilson with a little over 20 minutes left.

Oxford captain, Kat Nutman
The rain heavy now making conditions slippery out on the field. Bristol make a double substitution, Olivia Fergusson and Emily Syme coming on for Alexander and Evans. The visitors putting pressure on the ball around the Oxford box get the pass into Arthur left side leaning back as she goes to strike the ball outside the box her effort lands straight into Lambourne's gloves. Woodham pressing with the ball on the left plays the cross long towards the far post arriving at her quickly Emslie chests the ball into the side netting.

  Umatong up top puts pressure on the Bristol defence almost capitalises as she goes after a back pass, charges Leach's kick down inside the box, back on her feet quickly Umatong is after the loose ball 8 yards out smashes her shot into Brown back to put the block in the rebound running out to Nutman top of the area her shot is blocked by Ladd. Ladd bringing the ball out from the back plays it long up the left for Woodham tries to play it inside for Emslie, Barker gets back on her with a strong sliding challenge before she can pull the trigger.

  GOAL! Into the final 10 minutes of the match, and Bristol get their 5th goal of the game. Good work from Farrow picking up the ball on the right side dribbles her way into the area running at goal plays the ball over the keeper and into the top corner to score 0-5.

  Frampton breaks forwards for Oxford getting up the pitch lifts the ball into the box trying to pick out Umatong, Leach coming off her line jumps in to claim the ball before it can reach her. Persistent rain falling now Bristol work the ball up the right the cross is sent in square along the top of the area, Syme unmarked outside the box left of the D coolly turns the ball towards goal, Lambourne dives to her right the ball striking the base of the post bounces into her before she throws herself on top of it. 

  The game moves into injury time, Frampton picking the ball up from a throw on the left deep in the Bristol half drives on into the box, flashes a shot wide across the face of goal. Franklin-Fraiture picks up the ball from a clearance sends it out to the right with Umatong giving chase picking it up on the byline turns inside and crosses, Leach holding onto the ball is sent up field out to Emslie still full of running on the left side comes back inside plays her shot wide across the six yard box. Game over winning 5-0 Bristol did their part, so to did Yeovil the title going their way after a 3-0 home win over Sheffield.  

Full-time Oxford United Women 0-5 Bristol City Women

  A dominant display to end the season for Bristol went for it right from the off, tried to score the goals to close the gap between themselves and Yeovil, ultimately proved to much. Return to the top flight after just a season's absence, the celebrations can begin. Congratulations to both Bristol and Yeovil on winning promotion.

FAWSL - Reading FC Women v Doncaster Rovers Belles

   The rain has just about stopped, time to hot foot it over to Adams Park to watch my 2nd match of the day, the blowers in the car set to hot to dry me out. A 45 minute drive becoming more like 1 hour 15 minutes thanks to roadworks on the M40, joy. Got there in the end however. With Manchester City Women winning the FAWSL 1 title going the season unbeaten finishing the season a week early with 9 teams in the league pretty much everything is sorted, a bit of mid-table jostling it's to the bottom off the FAWSL 1 table i am drawn to to watch the 2 sides promoted to the top tier last season with Reading FC Women still looking for their 1st hoe win of the season playing Doncaster Rover Belles still in search of their 1st point of any description on the league.

  Reading secured their top flight status a few weeks back getting their only win of the season to date away to Doncaster Rovers Belles in a relegation 6 pointer. 6 draws coming at the top end of the season meaning they have 9 points on the board, a home win in front of their fans the perfect end to their 1st ever campaign in the top flight.

  A tough season for Doncaster Rovers Belles had looked so promising at the start of the season returning to FAWSL 1 after a 2 season absence. Looked to have made some good signings the squad going professional, however injuries and departures affecting pretty much all their strike force have seen them struggle. 15 played 15 lost one more game left to see if they can at least end on a positive note take something forwards into the close season avoid going down on zero.

  More cover at Adams Park than Abingdon, under cover in the press area it was dry now, still cloudy and cold the pitch looked good if slick from the rain fall.

  Reading FC Women starting XI - Mary Earps, Rebecca Jane, Harriet Scott, Kayleigh Hines, Kirsty McGee (C), Emma Follis, Remi Allen, Lauren Bruton, Rachel Rowe, Amber Stobbs & Melissa Fletcher.
  subs - Grace Moloney, Lois Roche, Charlie Estcourt & Helen Ward.

  Doncaster Rovers Belles starting XI - Anna Moorhouse, Mayumi Pacheco, Sophie Barker, Leandra Little (C) Rhiannon Roberts, Kasia Lipka, Emily Simpkins, Carla Humphrey, Katrin Omarsdottir, Sam Tierney & Christie Murray.
  subs -Nicola Hobbs, Rebecca Rayner, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, Rachel Newborough & Marta Bakowska-Mathews.

  Reading to kick off the 1st half wearing blue and white hooped shirts, blue shorts and blue and white hooped socks with Doncaster kitted out in yellow shirts and socks with blue shorts. The visitors press the ball early force reading to play it backwards, coming forwards attacking on the left Katrin Omarsdottir is brought down an early chance for players to come forwards with Rhiannon Roberts to take the set-piece, sends it up towards the far post, Reading goalkeeper Mary Earps comes through bodies to try and punch it away, misses it, drops safely beyond Reading launching it clear ends up with Anna Moorhouse in goal up the other end.

   Both sides probing early the ball doesn't find it's way into either area out on the flanks, play is swept across field out to Emma Follis on the left side of attack plays it into the box looking for Melissa Fletcher, Leandra Little, Doncaster's captain gets a foot in to win the ball back. Follis is put clear on the left once more driving on coming into the box shoots putting the ball behind the goal. Doncaster's full backs aren't afraid to go forwards, on the right Sophie Barker makes a forward run receiving the ball takes it into her stride lifting the ball into the box, Christie Murray inside the area is leaning back as the ball falls to her right side plays her shot straight at Earps who holds onto the ball.

   Carla Humphrey finds space on the right delivering a cross into the Reading box in cleared by Kayleigh Hines coming near post to intercept. Reading counter attack the ball into Lauren Bruton in the centre of midfield drives forwards tries to lay the ball into Amber Stobbs moving inside from the right into the box, Roberts gets to the ball 1st to win in for Doncaster. Play is switched by Sam Tierney out to Omarsdottir wide on the left a clever back heel almost puts Mayumi Pacheco away on the overlap is stopped by Rebecca Jane sliding in to tackle.

   Moorhouse holds onto the all as Follis breaking down the left with the ball shoots putting the ball in low towards the near post. Reading starting to get a little more of the ball as the game moves towards the 20 minute mark. Stobbs with a couple of useful runs into space on the right gets the ball into the box both times the ball is headed out by Little. Good footwork on the ball from Omarsdottir in possession deep on the left side outside the Reading area brings a corner kick, swept in across the six yard box Earps leaps and just about gets her fist to the ball deflecting it out to the right with players rushing in towards her.

Reading FC Women's Lauren
Bruton with Kasia Lipka of
Doncaster Rovers Belles
  Reading push players forwards Harriet Scott bringing the ball up the left plays it forwards, the cross is swept long into the Doncaster area, Jane arriving at the far post inside the six yard box meets it on the volley, Moorhouse with a reactive save pushes the ball over, however Jane was offside when she struck the ball. Rachel Rowe is doing well in the middle for Reading breaking up play and getting forwards, tries to find Stobbs on the right, Pacheco tackling wins the ball back. Stobbs does get in behind the next time cutting the cross into the area with Bruton on hand to meet it her shot comes in low too many bodies in front of goal the ball is cleared.

  Fletcher lays the ball out to Follis left as she brings in forwards through the middle, Follis crosses early, Roberts heads it away from danger back out left Follis nips in to retake possession flashes a low cross into the six yard box Fletcher is in their the ball is blocked rolling back out to the left side and blazed over. Little taking control of a long ball played up into the area sends it long looking for Omarsdottir left, falling central a miscued header from Reading captain, Kirsty McGee puts the ball into Murray in field lines up a shot 25 yards out isn't too far over the crossbar.

Emily Simpkins
  The Reading crowd goes up in celebration thinking they have taken the lead in the 34th minute but it is ruled out by and offside flag. Reading surge forwards as the ball is taken down the right, the cross is whipped in fiercely over two players leaping in front of goal drops to Follis far stick who send it home, only to see her celebrations cut short. A free-kick for Doncaster on the left another chance for Roberts to play the ball into the box, Little gets her head to it far post drills her header across the face of goal. Moorhouse is hurt after she collides with Fletcher just inside her box as the striker is played in behind by Bruton coming on through the middle making the painful stop Moorhouse is okay to continue after treatment.

  Into the closing minutes of the 1st half another free-kick for Doncaster the ball sent long looking for Little, she leans on her player committing the foul as she heads the ball back across goal. An excellent strike from Emily Simpkins all of 30 yards out produces an excellent save from Earps in the Reading goal the ball heading for the top corner the keeper diving to her right pushes it wide for the corner. Coming in from the left McGee heads it out of the area, Doncaster play it back in Earps gets her gloves around the ball as the referee blows for half-time.

Half-time Reading FC Women 0-0 Doncaster Rovers Belles

  A goalless 1st half both goalkeepers called into action Reading having a goal ruled out for offside, neither has broken the dead lock yet both looking for goals wanting to end with a win. Doncaster get the 2nd half underway, Roberts sending the ball long for Omarsdottir left the ball going out of play. Simpkins is booked for a strong challenge on Remi Allen on half way. Rowe sends the ball long up into the area, Moorhouse claims well as Fletcher jumps into her at the far post. 

  Scott getting forwards for Reading shoots from the edge of the box on the left places her strike over the crossbar after the ball rebounds back into her path as Fletcher tries to wriggle her way through the Doncaster defence. Jane getting forwards down the right wing plays the cross in towards the near post Fletcher running onto it places her header wide of the target. Another chance for Fletcher as she is played through by Bruton in the middle into the box Doncaster defenders converge she squeezes a shot through, lacking any pace doesn't trouble Moorhouse beyond. 

  Humphrey plays the ball crossfield from the right for Pacheco coming on down the left plays it inside to Murray back to goal 25 yards out lays it back for Omarsdottir, shoots her effort running along the ground wide of goal. 15 minutes of the 2nd half played a lull in play. Follis seeing the ball drop over her shoulder on the left tries to  take it inside into the box, Barker stretches a leg wins the ball for Doncaster. Humphrey with support from Kasia Lipka the ball is played up into the box for Omarsdottir central, McGee jumps in front of her to win the header. 

  A corner for Doncaster on the left an inswinging ball Earps comes and gets a strong fist on the ball. Doncaster retain possession the ball is with Lipka right tries to put the ball over Earps the keeper with a good save to tip the ball away near post. Earps then claims well at her far post as the ball is sent back in. Humphrey plays an early cross into the Reading box, Omarsdottir the target gets her head on the ball six yards out knocks it down blocked by a defender.Reading make a chance on 68 minutes Follis coming off to be replaced by Helen Ward.

  GOAL! Doncaster score! Reading have been warned a few times already by Roberts deliveries into the box from any free-kick given away, concede one wide on the right inside the Reading half, the ball is swept long by the central defender out to the far post area, running onto it is Omarsdottir, connects as it hits the ground sending the ball back in towards goal and over the line 0-1.

Katrin Omarsdottir with the winning goal
  Lipka plays the ball on through the middle for Murray moving right plays the diagonal ball into the area Omarsdottir in the middle gets her head to the ball plays it straight a Earps, the goalkeeper reacting sharply to save tipping the ball over her goal for the corner kick. 15 minutes left on the clock, Reading try to up the tempo, Doncaster have something to hold onto and close the ball down quickly play is a little scrappy now. Reading make another change bringing on Charlie Estcourt for Stobbs.

Courtney Sweetman-Kirk
Lipka is hurt as she fouls Bruton inside her half. Off field to receive treatment Rowe over the ball places it into the centre of the are, under pressure Moorhouse gets to the ball pops out of her gloves but is awarded the free-kick after being fouled. Reading press forwards the ball is played into the Doncaster box 1st Little then Roberts slide in to stop a Reading boot finding the ball in the area. Jane turning inside with the ball 30 yards out has a shot from distance Moorhouse dropping forwards falls onto the ball to claim.

  A free-kick for Reading 35 yards out Rowe to play up into the box, McGee with the flick on Little beyond her heads it away from the box. Doncaster make a change bringing on Marta Bakowska-Mathews for Simpkins. A penalty shout for Reading as Roberts sticks out a leg on the edge of the area and Rowe coming on goes over it, hearts in mouths from the Doncaster fans however it's Rowe who is booked for a dive. A welcome sight for Doncaster fans with 2 minutes of normal time left as Courtney Sweetman-Kirk comes on to the field having fractured her leg early in the season, they've missed her goals. Replaces Murray up top. 

  Backs to the wall from Doncaster they are defending for their lives keeping Reading at bay as the game moves into stoppage time the ball is put up into the box Allen inside back to goal holds it up knocks it out to the top of the area, is laid back to her, however she slips at the vital moment doesn't get a shot away Doncaster launch it long Omarsdottir tries to hold it up in the corner. Reading get it long one last time Roberts coming across marshals it out of play for a goal-kick. The final whistle sounds and it's the bells that are ringing in celebration as at last Doncaster win and get those much sort after 3 points on the final day

Full-time Reading FC Women 0-1 Doncaster Rovers Belles

  A huge win for Doncaster and something to give to the fans who have stood by the team through a difficult season. The game in truth could have gone either way neither settling for a 0-0 on the final day had chances to win in one goal enough in the end

  After 6 seasons of summer football the FAWSL 2016 comes to an end with the league switching back to the winter next season after a Spring Series to bridge the gap will be sad to see it go. Having only been a casual women's football follower before the inception of the FAWSL in 2011, I decided to get behind a team, Lincoln Ladies when it all began loved it but sadly the club was to be rebranded. We all move on the blog was born the rest is history think the early years of the FAWSL were heading in the right direction, grew to include the 2nd league in 2014. After that the fixture scheduling became a nightmare and returns to the winter. Reservations yes, know it can work well if delivered right is strong enough and will benefit the England team and those qualifying for Europe. So here's to the summer (just pretend it's not November) been fun, see you in the spring.

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