Sunday, 6 August 2017

New Home for the SWF Blog

  As we prepare for a new season of women's football, now is the perfect time to introduce a change of my own. Have been thinking about it for some time how to streamline my coverage of women's football. My coverage of the game began with the Supporting Women's Football Blog soon after the news regarding the rebranding of WSL side Lincoln Ladies. For 3 and a half season's I have used it to help promote the women's game up and down the country mostly writing match reports from the games I attend and even now it continues to grow. Soon after I came up with the idea for Women's Football East a website designed to help in the promotion of women's football in the East of England where I am based.

  At first I wanted it to stand on it's own not cover the WSL at all as there wasn't the WSL presence in the region. Only Watford Ladies based in Hertfordshire and Arsenal Women who play in Hertfordshire. As I started to cover more and more games in the region began writing the weekly Round-Up's whilst also using the match reports featured on the Supporting Women's Football Blog. The Women's Football East side of thing's has grown even more rapidly however have been thinking for a while about combining both if the match reports are going to end up here anyway why not publish them here in the first place. 

  Now is the best time I've had a break away from the game. With Tottenham Hotspur Ladies and Brighton & Hove Albion WFC both joining the WSL in the last two season's I feel Women's Football East is ready to take over from the Supporting Women's Football Blog. Is a wrench to give up the SWF Blog especially as I know it is still growing after all I've not posted anything for 2 months yet views remain high have a new following from the Netherlands and France as interest in the game is peaking in that part of Europe due to the Women's Euros.
  Everything will almost stay the same the match reports and blog posts will continue as before just appear here instead of there. Women's Football East is growing fast too and I need to spend more time on it suffered a little last season so stream lining thing's will ultimately improve coverage for the whole of the region with the odd match further away dotted in between. Also find that Google's blogspot platform and the wordpress based one I use for Women's Football East are not always compatible which means the match reports don't transfer as smoothly as I'd like familiar with both now going straight to wordpress will improve the quality of the match reports on here.

 The image above highlights where the Supporting Women's Football Blog has gone but in time it will all be part of Women's Football East. Won't close the SWF Blog down however as there are plenty of memories on there from the past 3 and half years 290 match reports alone and you'll still be able to access those. Match report 291 will be the 1st to be written up exclusively for Women's Football East, finally began my season in Norfolk today with a trip to The Walks to watch King's Lynn Town Ladies take on Milton Keynes Dons Ladies and will bring you the action some time over the next 24 hours it was good to be back. 

 It's a small change but I'll miss the SWF Blog but I know bringing it together with Women's Football East will ultimately better my coverage of the game well all love. Plenty more to come.

  So for everything I write from now on head on over to 

 Thank you to everyone who has enjoyed reading the SWF Blog since it began in 2013.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Match Report - Birmingham City Ladies v Chelsea Ladies

  Last game of the season this Saturday afternoon, the winter leagues all concluded the 1st weekend in June sees the FAWSL 1 Spring Series come to an end and it couldn't be any tighter at the top as once again the league will be decided on the last day with 4 sides in the running. A second trip to Solihull Moors FC's Autotech Stadium in 3 days with Chelsea Ladies leading the table going into their final game away to Birmingham City Ladies

  Chelsea Ladies leading on 16 points with a strong goal difference over 2nd placed Manchester City Women both defeated just the once during the one off Spring Series campaign. A busy schedule 8 league games in 6 weeks just 2 points separate the top 4. Chelsea going top of the table with a comprehensive 7-0 win at home to previous leaders Liverpool Ladies last weekend maintained top spot with a midweek win away to Bristol City Women. Another away victory today will guarantee Emma Hayes' side the Spring Series trophy and lay down a marker for next season when the FAWSL returns to the winter scheduling to come back in line with the rest of the women's football pyramid. 

  Anything less than a win and it gives their rivals a chance, Manchester City are away to Liverpool Ladies now in 4th spot 2 points off the top having led for much of the Spring Series. Liverpool need other results to go their way but they know it is possible having been 3rd on the final day a couple of seasons back. Arsenal Ladies are the only undefeated side in the table in 3rd place a point behind the leading pair. Ideally they need to win away to Bristol City Women and hope Chelsea lose and Manchester City Women either draw or are beaten.

  Looking to stop Chelsea Ladies claiming the title, Birmingham City Ladies have had a frustrating Spring Series just the 2 losses have become the draw specialists in the league with 4 from their 7 games played so far. Just the one win have plenty of goal scorers in their squad it's just that they haven't found the net to often just the 6 scored. Creating plenty of chances were unfortunate not to get the 3 points at home to Yeovil Town Ladies as the league new comers battled for a goalless draw to get their 1st point of the campaign.

  Saturday afternoon for the final round of fixtures, a 3:30pm kick off and then my football is done for the season. The television cameras at the Autotech Stadium the game being shown on BT Sports. A decent sized crowd building too, Chelsea bringing plenty of travelling support with them. Another decent day weather wise too warm and bright with a little cloud cover.

 Birmingham City Ladies starting XI - Ann-Katrin Berger, Meghan Sargeant, Aoife Mannion, Kerys Harrop (C), Paige Williams, Sarah Mayling, Jess Carter, Marissa Ewers, Abbey-Leigh Stringer, Ellie Brazil & Rachel Williams.
 subs - Sophie Baggaley, Emily Westwood, Charlie Wellings, Adrine Hegerberg, Freda Ayisi, Chloe Peplow & Connie Scofield.

 Chelsea Ladies starting XI - Carly Telford, Millie Bright, Deanna Cooper, Gilly Flaherty, Katie Chapman (C), Maren Mjelde, Gemma Davison, Ji So-Yun, Crystal Dunn, Karen Carney & Fran Kirby.
 subs - Fran Kitching, Hannah Blundell, Beth England, Erin Cuthbert, Ramona Bachmann & Drew Spence.

  Both sides having been in action on Wednesday night make full use of their squads Birmingham making 4 changes from the starting line-up with manager Marc Skinner bringing Kerys Harrop, Jess Carter, Sarah Mayling and Rachel Williams into the starting 11 with Freda Ayisi, Adrine Hegerberg and Emily Westwood on the bench. Emma Hayes making 5 changes switching wing backs Hannah Blundell and Beth England for Crystal Dunn and Gemma Davison. Erin Cuthbert, Ramona Bachmann and Drew Spence also starting up top for Chelsea on Wednesday on the bench today with Karen Carney and Ji So-Yun joining Fran Kirby in the attack. 

  It's Birmingham to get the 1st half underway wearing their all blue home kit with Chelsea wearing their white away strip. Birmingham play the ball long out to the right Sarah Mayling looking to knock the all on into the area for Ellie Brazil, Chelsea goalkeeper, Carly Telford getting an early claim on the ball. 

  Bringing the ball forwards the pass finding Ji So-Yun for Chelsea the South Korean international plays the ball into Karen Carney making a run out to the right side is challenged by Birmingham captain, Kerys Harrop the ball put out for a throw in from which the 1st corner of the game is won. Fran Kirby comes out of the six yard box to receive the corner rolled into her by Carney plays it back to Davison top of the area to sweep a cross into the area, Birmingham's Jess Carter heads the ball clear.

  Positive build up play from Chelsea working the ball forwards Birmingham defending the final ball as the visitors attempt to play Kirby in behind on the right. Birmingham put the ball up through the middle, Rachel Williams looking to attack it, Millie Bright back across her run skies the ball high into the air, both give chase as it falls towards the left outside the area the Chelsea defender fouling the Birmingham attacker to give away the free-kick. Paige Williams on the set-piece plays it into the area, Chelsea clear, Birmingham regroup, gain possession and come forwards an intriguing start to the game an even contest so far.

Rachel Williams hurdling, Cooper's sliding challenge
  Aoife Mannion is busy in the heart of the Birmingham defence comes across to deal with Kirby as she looks to find a way in round the back down the left channel. Little goalmouth action in the opening 15 minutes. Carney getting hold of the ball on halfway pics out American International Crystal Dunn on the move down the left taking the ball on to the byline cuts the cross back into the area, falls for Carter back tracking to help her defence her stooping header running straight to So-Yun outside the area left connects with the 1st time hit her volley well over the crossbar.

Birmingham's Aoife Mannion beats Chelsea's Fran Kirby to the ball

  Kirby is fouled in the back by Meghan Sargeant on the left side outside the area as she attempts to hold the ball up the referee spotting it awarding Chelsea the free-kick. Carney over the ball hits it hard and inswinging ball flying in central towards goal Birmingham goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger coming through the crowd before her punches the ball away.

 GOAL! Penalty! In the 21st minute Chelsea are awarded a penalty. Deanna Cooper bringing the ball out from the back playing it long for Kirby making the run into the box, is taken down by Berger as the goalkeeper comes across to challenge the referee pointing to the spot shows Berger a yellow card. Carney up to take the spot kick no messing hits it hard, Berger guessing the right way dives can't get anywhere near the ball 0-1.

Karen Carney gives Chelsea Ladies the lead from the penalty spot

   Harrop does well defending for Birmingham on the right as Davison gets forwards to support Carney. Drifting across to the left as Birmingham attack, Brazil looks to try and knock the ball in behind the Chelsea defence, reading it Gilly Flaherty makes the defensive tackle for Chelsea winning the ball. Sarah Mayling is keeping tight to the wing on the right trying to get forwards to support the attack room to receive the ball if her team mates can find her. Rachel Williams picks her out the cross comes in high is Williams coming in, Telford keeps her eye on the ball claims it high.

  Chelsea are starting to see more of the ball patient and progressive in their build up play over loading one flank or the other, Birmingham's back three have dealt with thing's well so far, Harrop left, Sargeant right well backed up by Mannion in between. Great attacking build up from Chelsea the ball going right to left quickly Carney playing the ball across the face of the area into So-Yun 30 yards out on for captain Katie Chapman she picks out Dunn getting away down the left taking the ball on towards the line whips and inviting cross into the six yard box, Davison running onto it far post sends her bullet header over.

Karen Carney on the attack for Chelsea Ladies

   Maren Mjelde is allowed to come forwards with the ball through the middle the Norwegian International spots Berger off her line looks to send the shot in a distance over her, Berger back peddling does well to stop the ball high on her goal line bring it down safely. Chelsea ending the 2nd half strongly, Carney influencing the play brings the ball out to the left before turning inside producing a great reverse pass to release Dunn on the left, slices her cross behind. 

Chelsea Ladies, Maren Mjelde

   Bright has defended well at the back for Chelsea left side getting forwards when she can to support the attack down that side sends  a great ball on for Dunn an excellent 1st touch to bring the ball down into Carney who plays Dunn on down the wing, the cross bisecting the six yard box is too long for Davison coming in far post, retrieves the ball turning back in towards goal lifting the ball into the middle Mannion gets her head on the ball to clear for Birmingham.

Birmingham City Ladies, Ann-Katrin Berger

  Into the closing stages of the 1st half Chelsea dominating play towards the end of the 45, Carney with a fantastic ball up into the area central, both So-Yun and Kirby looking to steal in behind a deft header from So-Yun to drop the ball into Kirby's path she attempts to knock the ball past the advancing Berger, the goalkeeper denies her making a superb stop going to ground killing the ball with her right hand, Mannion quickest to react getting the ball out of the area.    

Half-time Birmingham City Ladies 0-1 Chelsea Ladies 

 An intriguing contest, Chelsea Ladies have the 1-0 lead enough as it stands to see them clinch the FAWSL 1 Spring Series title. An even start to the game little goal mouth action early on both playing 3 at the back winning the ball has been congested in midfield Chelsea beginning to find more room with the like of Carney moving across the pitch. Birmingham have defended well without creating too many opportunities up the other end the penalty the difference between the sides at the break.

  Chelsea to get the 2nd half underway in front of a revised crowd of 1171, no changes for either side during the interval. Carter winning the ball at the back for Birmingham as the visitors look to play Davison through into the area from the right. The ball played long into the left channel, Brazil gives chase, she is quickly closed down by Cooper who shields the ball well before rolling it into Telford to kick clear up the pitch. 

Jess Carter wins the ball for Birmingham City Ladies
  Great hold-up play inside the box by Rachel Williams as the ball is rolled into her feet from the right off Mayling, left of goal six yard outs spins off he marker and hits the cross/shot on the turn effort going over from the angle. Mjelde carries the ball forwards moving left supported by Davison as the ball is pushed on then cut inside for Kirby charging at the area left side her shot is charged down. Chelsea keep possession of the ball stroke it around the top of the Birmingham area before So-Yun wins the visitors a corner kick.

  Carney puts plenty of zip on the ball goes long headed back in across goal by Mjelde out of play wide of the far post another corner signalled. A strong start to the 2nd half for Chelsea in the opening 10 minutes as they look to double their lead. 

 GOAL! From that early 2nd half pressure Chelsea go on to double their lead the ball on the right with Davison powering forwards fires a vicious cross in along the goal face Berger getting down low to stop the ball spills it running on for Kirby at the far post for a simple tap in to make it 0-2.

Fran Kirby doubles Chelsea Ladies lead
  Birmingham push on from the restart Mannion prepared to bring the ball out from the back spots Rachel Williams looking to break through the middle of the Chelsea defence puts the ball on over the top, into the area, Telford back peddling gives herself the room to collect the ball cleanly on the bounce, rather than risk spilling it with Williams barrelling down upon her. A break in play a Brazil gets the full force of the ball driven into her stomach from close range by Bright as she goes to clear the ball. Both sides make a change Carter coming off for Birmingham just past the hour mark, Charlie Wellings coming on. Chelsea bring off Davison she is replaced by Swiss International, Ramona Bachmann. Brazil is okay to return to the action.

  Wellings has an early opportunity to drive with the ball at the Chelsea defence coming in from the right is stopped in her tracks by Bright. A mazy run with the ball on the left from Dunn for Chelsea bringing the ball inside across the top of the area, is leaning back as she goes to strike the ball causing her shot to swerve away from goal. A neat one two through the middle between Carney and Kirby the latter into the box, Harrop steps in to make the timely interception. A 2nd change fro Birmingham with 20 minutes left on the clock increasing their attacking options bringing on Freda Ayisi for Ewers.

Freda Ayisi coming away with the ball for Birmingham City Ladies

   Very nearly a 3rd goal for Chelsea, Flaherty joining the attack getting forwards laying the all into Kirby near post no room to turn lays it back to So-Yun who back heels the ball into Mjelde just outside the box strikes the bar flies narrowly over the bar. Chelsea notch up the passes building up another attack play inside the Birmingham half left rolled into So-Yun in a central position strikes the ball goalwards, taking a deflection on the way through the pace off the ball Berger gathers.

 Brazil has worked hard up front for Birmingham chasing lost causes getting the ball back in play going after it down the left wing lays the ball back to Paige Williams outside the box top corner, fires the diagonal ball long towards the far post brought down by Rachel Williams keeps hold of the ball turns and tries to lift it up towards the opposite post, Telford in between gets up to claim hold of the ball. Rachel Williams has another opportunity moments later striking the ball wide from 30 yards after Cooper's sliding tackle to deny Brazil runs into her path.

Chelsea Ladies, Deanna Cooper

  Chelsea make another change bring Kirby off sending on Drew Spence. Paige Williams carries the ball forwards for Birmingham turning in field puts a great ball on for Brazil making the run towards the top of the area the striker almost connects but is closely marked by Cooper the defender putting in the challenge before getting the ball away from danger. Birmingham win a corner as Brazil pressures Cooper in the left corner. The ball is fired in near post Flaherty gets her head down to the ball as Harrop comes in with a high boot, noses and studs work in some combinations but not that one the referee awarding the free-kick. Flaherty is okay. 

Birmingham City Ladies, Paige Williams

   A powerful run with the ball through the middle by Bachmann for Chelsea getting into the box but up against Mannion it's the defender who wins the tussle for control of the ball. 5 minutes of added on time to be played Chelsea are almost there, make their 3rd and final change So-Yun off, Erin Cuthbert the substitute almost finding herself through on goal following great work from Dunn on the left with the support in Carney on her inside right putting the ball on for Cuthbert in the area left of goal almost succeeds in knocking it past Berger as she comes to close her down the keeper grabbing the ball and pulling it into her body. 

Full time Birmingham City Ladies 0-2 Chelsea Ladies

  That's it the final whistle blows and Chelsea Ladies are the FAWSL 1 Spring Series Champions finishing ahead of Manchester City Women on goal difference. Arsenal Ladies go the whole Spring Series unbeaten clinch 3rd spot. Liverpool Ladies ending the Spring Series with 2 straight defeats end up 4th.

  A good display from Chelsea to end the season. Playing some good attacking football progressive in their build up patient too. Plenty of attacking options with Katie Chapman protecting a solid back three. Laying down the marker for next season. Conceding from 2 errors Birmingham will feel disappointed once again another solid performance again with another strong defensive trio at the back not creating as much going forwards, overall would have expected to pick up more points during the Spring Series campaign but that squad is more likely to be challenging the top half of the FAWSL table next season rather than looking down.

SWF Blog - Player of the Match

 The final SWF Blog - Player of the Season goes to Chelsea Ladies Karen Carney an impressive performance using the ball well, moving to find space and bring others into play. Hopefully she can take that on into this summers Euro's for England.

Karen Carney
  Congratulation's to Chelsea Ladies on winning the FAWSL 1 Spring Series.

 Last match report for a little while 140 games in 18 months not a bad run time to enjoy a break however but will be rearing to go come the new season.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Match Report - Birmingham City Ladies v Yeovil Town Ladies

 A midweek trip to Solihull Moor FC's Autotech Stadium to watch the FAWSL 1 Spring Series fixture between Birmingham City Ladies & league new comers Yeovil Town Ladies.

 The penultimate game of the Spring series for Birmingham City Ladies down in 6th place from their 6 games played to date in the one off competition before the league reverts to a winter format later in the year. Marc Skinner taking over as manager reaching the FA Women's Cup Final. Haven't picked up as many points in their Spring Series campaign as they would have liked with just the one win along with 3 draws putting them on 6 points. Successive home games against Yeovil tonight then Chelsea Ladies on Sunday will be looking for Maximum points.

The Spring Series a good opportunity to access a squad and try new thing's Birmingham City Ladies have a large squad, which is useful with a few unavailable, new signings, Ellen White and Emma Follis amongst them along with captain Kerys Harrop and PFA Young Player of the Year, Jess Carter.

  I said in my season previews that the Spring Series would most likely benefit the newly promoted sides the most. Yeovil Town Ladies winning promotion to the top tier of women's football as FAWSL 2 Champions last season for the 1st time. A chance to see what the higher level is all about without the pressure of league position a snap shot half season. Yeovil Town know now after 7 games they have a bit of work to do if they are to pick up points regularly next season. 7 straight losses bottom of the table without a point.

  A mixture of results, some heavy defeats against the sides expecting to be challenging at the top, narrow losses to those that they would be more likely to take points from. Not training as regularly as some squads in FAWSL 1 another factor. With an uneven number in FAWSL 1 due to the folding of Notts County tonight is Yeovil Town's last match of the Spring Series and it would be a huge boost to the club to take at least a point home with them.

  Has been a while since I was last at the Autotech Stadium a few improvements and additions another smaller seated area in one corner along with covered terracing behind one goal. Always get a good cheeseburger there too. Have been craving an soft scoop ice cream for a few days now to, long way to go to get one but I'm glad to see the ice cream van is still a regular feature at the ground. Another warm sunny day a few clouds around but unlikely to rain the pitch i great condition considering the time of season.

Birmingham City Ladies starting XI - Ann-Katrin Berger, Meghan Sargeant, Emily Westwood (C), Aoife Mannion, Paige Williams, Abbey-Leigh Stringer, Marisa Ewers, Adrine Hegerberg, Carol-Jade Haines, Freda Ayisi & Ellie Brazil.
subs - Sophie Baggaley, Sian Johnson, Sarah Mayling, Chloe Peplow, Charlie Wellings, Connie Scofield & Rachel Williams.

Yeovil Town Ladies starting XI - Megan Walsh, Helen Bleazard, Natalie Haigh, Hannah Short, Nicola Cousins, Ellie Curson (C), Angharad James, Annie Heatherson, Nia Jones, Nadia Lawrence & Lucy Quinn.
subs - Bethany Howard, Leah Burridge, Steph Williams, Jessie Jones, Sarah Wiltshire, Kelly Snook & Ella Pursey.

  It's Birmingham to get the 1st half underway wearing their all blue kit with white piping across the shoulders, shorts and socks. Yeovil wearing a yellow coloured kit with green horizontal piping on the shirts and shorts with yellow and green hooped socks. Not much happening in the early stages the ball played out wide to Abbey-Leigh Stringer on the right quickly closed down by Yeovil captain, Ellie Curson as she attempts to get forwards.

  Paige Williams receives the ball in space on the left wing looking up plays the diagonal ball early into the box looking to pick out Ellie Brazil around the penalty spot the striker bringing he ball down on her chest is closely marked by Yeovil's Hannah Short the centre back reacting quickly to clear the ball. Birmingham goalkeeper, Ann-Katrin Berger gathers the ball as Yeovil launch a rapid counter attack the ball, isn't long getting down the other end Brazil after it down the left channel holding it up rolls the ball up towards Williams sends a looping cross into the area, Yeovil goalkeeper, Megan Walsh claims it high in the arm no losing her grip in the ball as Freda Ayisi clatters into her.

Birmingham City Ladies, Paige Williams

  Off the bar! Coral-Jade Haines comes very close to opening to scoring for Birmingham in the 6th minute as she wins the ball from a goal kick takes aim from 30 yards out the ball fired in smashes against the crossbar and over for a goalkick. Yeovil have little of the attack early on Birmingham intercepting any attempt at sliding the ball through for Lucy Quinn to chase.

  Haines strikes the bar again less than 5 minutes after her earlier strike, closer in this time as Birmingham press down the right side Meghan Sargeant getting forwards with the ball cutting it across the face of the area Ayisi inside the D holds it up before laying it back for Haines to hit 25 yards out smashes against the bar dropping down safely for Yeovil to clear.

  A break in play as Stringer clashes heads with Nicola Cousins, the Yeovil player coming off worse needing treatment, getting up gingerly is allowed to return to the pitch, very nearly puts Yeovil into the lead as the woodwork is struck for the 3rd time in the opening 17 minutes. The ball is played into Nadia Lawrence halfway on the right holding the ball up has support from full back Natalie Haigh the ball is fired up into the middle Quinn the target outside the box can't take it in her stride, Cousins coming beyond her left of goal latches onto the ball hitting it across the keeper strikes the base of the far post.

  Birmingham attack on the left Brazil with support from Marisa Ewers coming on from the midfield the latter attempting to get into the box take a run at goal her cross cut out comes back to Ayisi inside the D attempts to curl the ball into the top corner places it wide of the far post. Another injury concern for Yeovil as Annie Heatherson is down injured. Okay to continue Yeovil win a corner on the right the ball cleared near post Birmingham look to break with purpose Ayisi bringing the ball on sends it forwards, Birmingham captain Emily Westwood is the furthest forwards, Walsh comes racing out of her area winning the race for the ball kicking it long.

Birmingham City Ladies captain, Emily Westwood

  Good work by Stringer getting hold of the ball on the right wing coming forwards lifts it up into the area for Brazil peeling right, the ball won't drop favourably for the attacker closed down by Helen Bleazard, comes back to Stringer, puts a high ball in towards the far post Walsh takes it high in the air with Ayisi closing in. Ewers is fouled by Curson a free-kick wide left Williams to put the ball into the box, Short wins the header. Birmingham retain possession inside the Yeovil half working it around the area the move ending with a shot from Stringer driven in low but wide from 25 yards. 

Abbey-Leigh Stringer bringing the ball on for Birmingham

 A great opportunity for Stringer as she gets into the box coming in from the right supported by Brazil coming central out to the right giving the midfielder the return ball she is clear on goal, opts instead to try and square it into Haines central she is tackled by Jones the chance gone. A free-kick inside the Birmingham half wide right a chance for players to go forwards Bleazard over the ball 40 yards out a great delivery into the area runners coming on attack the ball, Short gets her head on the ball knocking it down towards goal, Berger is well placed right behind it makes a comfortable save. 

  Heatherson defends well tracking back into the area against Brazil right side as Stringer looks to slide her in on goal. The clearance gathered by Stringer tries to pick out Ayisi inside the box, no room to turn back to Stringer goes longer with the cross, Walsh under it calls and claims. Ayisi is brought down by Lawrence 30 yards from goal, Haines to take it a central position goes for goal puts her shot straight at Walsh.

 Into injury time in the 1st half Yeovil have defended well but have had little opportunity to attack the Birmingham goal Quinn tussles with Westwood for the ball in the centre circle coming away with it as Westwood goes down holding her face, the attacker drives forwards heading for the area jinking left the right to make room for the shot sends her strike up over the crossbar.
Yeovil Town Ladies, Lucy Quinn

Half-time Birmingham City Ladies 0-0 Yeovil Town Ladies

 A change an the break for Yeovil with Cousins coming off, Jessie Jones coming on to join the midfield. Yeovil kick off the 2nd half, lose possession early on Hegerberg on for Ayisi a driving run towards the box her shot charged down by Jones. Brave goalkeeping from Walsh saving at point blank range from Haines inside the six yard box as the ball is played long from the left knocked in towards goal the foul given against the goalkeeper. 

Freda Ayisi looking to bring the ball down for Birmingham

  A good claim from Berger inside her area off a Bleazard free-kick on halfway. Haines works herself free with the ball in the middle rolling it on for Hegerberg strikes from outside the box her low drive gathered cleanly by Walsh inside her six yard box. A lot of effort being put in from both sides to close the ball down, possession changing hands without any progress being made. Stringer wriggling free on the right sends it up towards Brazil, is tackled by Short. Williams with the ball on the left outside the area 25 yards out looks to go for goal her strike wide beyond the far post.

  Lawrence looks to thread the ball through the middle for Quinn ahead of her, she is brought down 30 yards from goal. Bleazard closer in this time goes for the shot placing her attempt wide of the top corner. James battling for the ball comes away with it central on halfway moving right fires it down the line for Quinn, Mannion goes with the attacker getting across her marshals the ball back to her keeper to clear.  

Yeovil Town Ladies, Nadia Lawrence

  On the hour mark Birmingham make their 1st change, Rachel Williams coming on replacing Ayisi up front. Yeovil make another change too, Sarah Wiltshire on to join their attack with Curson coming off. Paige Williams looks to combine with Rachel Williams on the left the ball rolled forwards for the striker into the area her cross cut out. Momentum building Birmingham play the ball left to right for Stringer going on has Sargeant coming on in support playing the ball back to her the defender opens up her body to slide the pass into the area with Rachel Williams moving to the right, she is tackled by Jones the ball put out for a corner. An inswinging delivery the ball is headed clear of the six yard box falling straight at Hegerberg on the edge of the area left of the D strikes the ball back in on the volley putting it wide of the post.

  Birmingham have the power and pace of Rachel Williams now running directly at the Yeovil defence wins a corner the ball put into the area, twice Yeovil block attempted shots, the ball eventually coming to Paige Williams left outside the area her cross/shot back in towards the far stick goes over. Birmingham make another change Westwood coming off in the 67th minute replaced by Sarah Mayling who takes up a wide right position Stringer moving inside Ewers joining the defence.

  Mayling with room on the right plays a good ball long into the area for Brazil back to goal bringing it down well volleys over. Jones heads another Mayling back into the area away gathered by James the midfield carries it on attempts to put Quinn away through the middle a timely interception by Mannion for Birmingham. Mayling is having an instance impact on the game getting forwards wide right sends another great ball in towards the far post Rachel Williams dropping off her marker in the six yard box gets up to knock the ball down towards goal, Walsh throwing herself the the right makes the save look easy.

Yeovil Town Ladies goalkeeper, Megan Walsh
  Birmingham have Yeovil on the back foot pressing forwards the visitors holding firm putting in the blocks, get forwards the ball into the left channel Quinn goes after it is fouled by Berger as the goalkeeper comes out of her area, is shown a yellow card. Bleazard's free-kick is put long a little to high for Wiltshire to bring down the striker keeps hold of the ball has Rachel Williams in close attendance, a good tussle between the two Wiltshire looks to knock the ball in behind cut the cross in from the byline Williams prevents the cross leaning on Wiltshire who appeals for the penalty but the referee waves play on. 

  Yeovil make their 3rd and final change with 15 minutes left on the clock, Leah Burridge coming on to replace Haigh at the back. A few niggly fouls being given away Birmingham a little frustrated that they cannot get the ball into the back of the Yeovil net. The home side make their final substitution Haines the player taken off, Charlie Wellings coming on.Birmingham launch a counter attack from a Yeovil set-piece the ball into Stringer played up field for Brazil she is challenged by James the ball going out for a throw in. 

  Wiltshire goes to lob the keeper as the ball is rolled across to her in space 35 yards out getting her foot up and over the ball launches it into the air, Berger has time to judge it's flight and as it drops short inside her six yard box gathers the ball. Mannion brings the ball forwards from the back Birmingham attacking with intent want to get that opening goal that could well prove to be the match winner playing the ball into Mayling she slides it into the area with Wellings ahead of her squaring the ball across the six yard box Brazil can't connect as it races across her. 

  Walsh has been commanding in her area even as her defence drop deeper giving her little room to operate, calling and claiming the ball high in the air unfazed by Birmingham's attackers coming at her. Into injury time Birmingham pile players forwards the cross fired in from the right by Brazil drops for Rachel Williams far post sends her header over the bar. A collision in the box sees Short knocked to the ground is taken of after treatment on the pitch Yeovil to try and see the closing minutes out with 10 players. Is all Birmingham at the end Yeovil have everyone back in defence the final whistle blows and the points are shared.

Full time Birmingham City Ladies 0-0 Yeovil Town Ladies

   A valuable point earned in their final match of the Spring Series a welcome one too for Yeovil giving them far more to take into the new season than going the entire campaign without anything in the final column of the league table. A battling performance plenty of grit and determination the longer the game wore on to keep their goal intact. Little going forwards Birmingham rarely troubled up the other end. A frustrating performance from Birmingham will feel they did everything but find that one crucial strike had the majority of the attack creating chances. Striking the bar twice, needing that one clinical finish it wasn't to be, plenty of options going forwards they will score more often than not.

SWF Blog - Player of the Match

 A difficult one this to chose tonight's SWF Blog - Player of the Match a few contenders from both sides, thought Coral-Jade Haines did well for Birmingham in the middle of the park, Abbey-Leigh  Stringer was excellent too attacking right side. For Yeovil, their defence put in a real shift backed up well by Megan Walsh, am choosing centre back Hannah Short who made a number of blocks and well timed tackles throughout the game.

 One more game to go, back at Birmingham on Saturday for their final Spring Series game v Chelsea Ladies... then I can have a rest.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

FAWPL Championship Play Off - Tottenham Hotspur Ladies v Blackburn Rovers Ladies

  The Clash of the Champions this Sunday at The Valley for the 3rd FAWPL Championship Play Off match between Tottenham Hotspur Ladies & Blackburn Rovers Ladies. 

  The Champions from the FAWPL Southern & Northern Divisions meeting to decide the overall winner and with it promotion to the FAWSL. A huge game in the women's football calendar the biggest game in the history of both clubs. Sheffield FC Ladies & Brighton & Hove Albion WFC have won the previous two FAWPL Championship Play Off matches to celebrate promotion to the FAWSL, who will join them?

  Based in the East of England I have seen Tottenham Hotspur Ladies a few times over the past few years are one of the most exciting attacking women's football sides to watch in the country, although they haven't acheived the success in the league that their potential showed. Was just a matter of a few tweaks here and there for manager Karen Hills to find the winning formula on a regular basis and this season that potential has born fruit. 

 A competitive league Tottenham Hotspur Ladies have led for pretty much the whole of the season keeping ahead of rivals, Coventry United Ladies, Cardiff City Ladies and Charlton Athletic Women with a long unbeaten record clinching the FAWPL Southern Division title on a memorable night at White Hart Lane itself. Successfully defending the FAWPL Cup as well as winning the Boux Avenue Cup Final a fantastic treble, setting up what maybe a historic quadruple. Attackers Bianca Baptiste and Wendy Martin have netted 25 goals each so far this season.

  Blackburn Rovers Ladies wrapped up the FAWPL Northern Division back at the end of March finishing 11 points clear of the rest of the field going the entire league campaign unbeaten winning 17 of their 20 games. Manager Gemma Donnelly building on from last season's 3rd place finish. Have won a double this season themselves defeating Flyde Ladies 1-0 in the final of the Lancashire Women's County Cup Final. 

  Have only lost twice this season and both of those games in cup competitions to the narrowest of margins going down 4-3 after extra-time in the FAWPL Cup. Their other loss against Tottenham at home in the FA Women's Cup back in February losing 2-1 Bianca Baptiste with both goals the 2nd in the last minute. Have plenty of goals in their attack too with Saffron Jordan on 22 for the season, Ella Toone with 21 goals.

  The venue for today's game The Valley, home of Charlton Athletic FC. A stadium very much set in the heart of the community, quite well hidden surrounded by residential properties. A little bit of research and there are plenty of places to park nearby once you know where to look. An all seater stadium capacity 27,111 fantastic to see another high profile venue hosting a women's football fixture. A large pitch still in great condition despite the it being the end of the domestic season a little wear, but no more than I saw at Carrow Road on Monday night. Promised to be a very warm day hot and sunny left the coat in the car... was going to regret that later on. The size of the pitch and the heat could well play there part for both sides playing their final game of a long season. Up in the 2nd tier for this one an eagle eye view of the action, no chance of getting a ball in the face for my efforts today...

 Tottenham Hotspur Ladies starting XI - Toni-Anne Wayne, Lucia Leon, Leah Rawle, Jenna Schillaci (C), Renee Hector, Josie Green, Sophie Mclean, Maya Vio, Ronnell Humes, Wendy Martin & Bianca Baptiste.
 subs - Shannon Moloney, Riana Soobadoo, Eartha Pond, Kelley Blanchflower & Katie O'Leary.

 Blackburn Rovers Ladies starting XI - Danielle Hill, Danielle Whitham, Kelsey Pearson, Kayleigh McDonald, Ellie Stewart, Lynda Shepherd (C), Jess Holbrook, Ella Toone, Natasha Fenton, Faye McCoy & Saffron Jordan
 subs - Alex Taylor, Hannah Fryer, Ria Montgomary, Emma Rankin & Ellie Cook.

  The pre-match formalities done time for everyone inside the stadium to pause and reflect like so many other events across the country, a minutes silence to remember the 22 victims of Monday's terrible bomb attack in Manchester along with those injured some still fighting for their lives in hospital.

  It's Blackburn to get the FAWPL Championship Play Off match underway kicking off 1st half, wearing their away colours red shirts with maroon horizontal stripes, black shorts and red socks with Tottenham lined up in their traditional white coloured shirts with navy shorts and socks. A break in play early on after Tottenham captain Jenna Schillaci stays down after a challenge from Blackburn's Natasha Fenton concern as she stays down gingerly back on her feet, Sophie McLean dropping into the back four whilst she is assessed off the pitch the crowd cheering when their captain is able to return.

  Blackburn look to get the ball into Fenton wide right winning the throw in the ball worked in field is sent high into the area the cross long to the far post looking to pick out Ella Toone is claimed high by goalkeeper Toni-Anne Wayne inside her six yard box. Tottenham come forwards the ball played into Martin over halfway she sends it on picking out Bianca Baptiste coming off the left flank getting in behind, Blackburn goalkeeper Danielle Hill out quickly to the top of her area to meet the striker sliding in stops the ball is hurt as she and Baptiste come together, the trainer on Hill is up on her feet after another lengthy spell of treatment.

  Hill is soon in the action again after the restart as Renee Hector comes forwards from the back with the ball for Tottenham rolls it on for Ronnell Humes attacking down the right side taking the ball to the byline clips it back in towards goal, Hill claiming it high above her head with runners closing in. A free-kick for Tottenham wide right inside the Blackburn half as Baptiste is  caught by Fenton players lining up along the top of the area as Baptiste plays the ball into the area a good punch from Hill as the delivery comes in centrally top of the six yard box falls to Lucia Leon just inside the box looks to place her header back in towards goal, Hill is able to claim.

  Warm out there in the opening 15 minutes players from both sides taking the opportunity to take on fluids. Both sides moving the ball about the pitch using it's full width. Leon comes forwards with the ball from a goalkick has Humes aiming to get in behind ahead of her slides the ball into her run, Hill comes to block with her feet, Tottenham regain possession back with Leon wide right her cross long into the area is again claimed well by Hill with Baptiste coming in around the back. 

  Tottenham building some momentum getting hold of the ball Mclean on the ball plays the ball on for Humes to chase in behind on the right Hill out of her area wins the race slices her clearance, from the resulting throw in Hector is fouled taken quickly the ball rolled inside is squared into Baptiste her back to goal inside the D, knocks the ball away her intention to turn and strike the ball from 25 yards out her shot taking a deflection off Blackburn's Ellie Stewart goes away for the corner kick.

  Taken by Schillaci on the right a good delivery into the six yard box, Hill comes through bodies near post to get a fist on the ball punch it away dropping to Humes just inside the area she attempts the 1st time lob the ball looping up and down lands on the roof of the Blackburn net. Leah Rawle with the opportunity to carry the ball forwards from left back for Tottenham links up with Martin in fired 25 yards from goal she helps it on into the area with Baptiste coming in off the wing a good challenge from Blackburn's Kayleigh McDonald to deny her a shot on goal, wouldn't have counted anyway as the assistants flag is raised for offside.

Jess Holbrook bringing the ball forwards for Blackburn Rovers Ladies

  Midway through the 1st half an intriguing contest both sides attacking with purpose, the ball brought on by Jess Holbrook for Blackburn the ball out wide right a throw won. Fenton sending a high ball into the area to claimed by Wayne. Pressure from Holbrook and captain Lynda Shepherd the ball played down the right as Blackburn come on again the ball played into Jordan's feet outside the area right looks to get inside as she helps it on for Toone who rolling her mark plays the ball into Jordan 8 yards out gets her foot on the ball stabbing it past Wayne but also wide across the goal, Blackburn's best chance of the game so far.

Tottenham's Maya Vio winning the header against Blackburn captain, Lynda Shepherd

  A good spell from Blackburn, Shepherd pressing the ball in the middle charges it down firing the pass on for Toone ahead of her left outside the box 20 yards out goes for goal, pulls her shot away from goal wide of the ear post. 30 minutes on the clock, Kelsey Pearson coming on with the ball down the left for Blackburn plays the one two with Toone the full back going on her cross charged down by Hector.

 GOAL! 10 minutes of the 1st half left and Tottenham open the scoring the ball is played up to McLean inside the centre circle plays it into Martin to her right bringing it forwards, Baptiste makes a great run across the top of the area left to right, is onside as Martin threads the pass into her run, taking it on into the area wide of goal fires it back across the keeper, not much pace on the ball no one there to stop it however strikes the base of the far post the rebound taking it into the back of the net 1-0.

Bianca Baptiste scores the opening goal for Tottenham Hotspur Ladies

  Another good opportunity for Tottenham after the restart Schillaci's tun to bring the ball out from the back left side rolls it on for Baptiste out wide, squares the ball into the area, Martin finding an extra yard of pace looking to get onto the end of it knocks it on getting a shot away as she is challenged the ball going away wide across the face of goal the corner given. Leon defends well against Toone at the back for Tottenham brings the ball forwards a long way up the pitch riding a tackle plays the ball into Humes wide right top of the area she fires it into Martin central attempts to help it on for Baptiste coming inside from the left, McDonald making a vital interception for Blackburn. 

Half-time Tottenham Hotspur Ladies 1-0 Blackburn Rovers Ladies

  A narrow lead for Tottenham at the break, have created  several chances going forwards looked the better side early on without finding the break through, Blackburn coming into the game almost opened the scoring themselves before Baptiste got in behind to score. Still all to play for 2nd half.

  No changes for either side as Tottenham kick off the 2nd half. Start well getting forwards with the ball Mclean slices her shot over the bar from just inside the box. Mclean bringing the ball forwards then picks out Martin drifting out to the right her cross into the box cut out by Stewart. Green is fouled by McCoy as she comes forwards the free-kick awarded 30 yards from goal, play is paused a problem for Wayne as she comes over to the bench looks like a problem with the goalkeepers contact lenses is fixed play resuming.

Tottenham Hotspur Ladies, Sophie Mclean

  Baptiste rolling the free-kick on for Schillaci to play into the area a great ball there to be attacked far post runners coming in it's Blackburn's Stewart who wins the header the threat cleared. Mclean with another good run plays the ball into Humes inside the area right corner her initial shot charged down rebounds back to her spinning strikes the ball on the half-volley her effort collected by Hill at her near post. 

  Up the other end Fenton sees a good diagonal ball into her down onto her chest outside the area right plays it central for Jordan in space outside the D does get over the ball her shot off target. Another free-kick for Tottenham in a similar position to their earlier opportunity Schillaci to play the ball into the area this time it's Blackburn's McDonald who gets the ball clear. A little frustration creeping in for Blackburn a few decisions going against them 2nd half, coming forwards Fenton on the right no cross on plays it back inside goes long to the left with Toone arriving in the box, knocking it forwards Hector gets a across recovering well to play the ball off Toone for the goal kick, the Blackburn attacker kicks the ball away in annoyance is yellow carded by referee Sarah Garrett.

  Blackburn come the closest yet to finding a leveller denied by the woodwork getting plenty forwards Holbrook out to Fenton wide right lifts the ball into the box across the six yard area Toone in around the back far post headers the ball down back across goal, Jordan throws herself at the ball connecting with her boot the ball flies up to smash against the crossbar, still in play Tottenham scramble it clear. Just past the hour mark the temperature has cooled clouds starting to build.

Blackburn Rovers Ladies, Saffron Jordan

  An hour played Tottenham attack the ball rolled into Humes on the right has Baptiste with her on that side sends the ball on down the line for her to chase down, Baptiste firing an inviting cross into the area, a slip by the defender in the middle the ball just behind Martin beyond looks to go after it left side take it back in towards goal is closed down and tackle by Whitham. 

 GOAL! Tottenham double their lead in the 66th minute Baptiste with  her 2nd of the match. Green bringing the ball on down the left sends Humes through on the left taking the ball in into the area cuts it back to Baptiste top of the area, power and pace moving to her right is well marshalled by the Blackburn defence yet she still manages to get a shot away cutting the all back across the keeper, Hill tries to readjust diving to her right but can't get there 2-0.

 Tottenham make the 1st change of the game on 68 minutes bringing of Humes, Katie O'Leary who has been sidelined with injury for much of the season coming on. Into the last 20 minutes, Blackburn push forwards needing a response, Wayne collecting comfortably as Fenton tries her luck from distance. A great delivery from a corner kick for Tottenham from Schillaci, an inviting ball across the top of the six yard box Martin just missing her connection with the header. 

  A double change for Blackburn with 15 minutes left, Fenton and Toone the players coming off, Ria Montgomary and Emma Rankin on. Charging down a Tottenham ball in the middle, Holbrook hits it 1st time lacks the pace to trouble Wayne. Leon breaks forwards with the ball for Tottenham coming inside rolls the ball into Martin getting in behind centrally Whitman across to tackle slides in to win the ball inside the area.

Blackburn's Faye McCoy holding off Tottenham's Josie Green

  Into the last 10 minutes, Tottenham keeping possession at the back. Blackburn whenever they get the ball ball play t up into their attackers a throw on the left Stewart takes into McCoy playing it back to Stewart her cross into the area chested down by Jordan but won by Schillaci before the striker and fashion a shot. Blackburn keep possession players in and around the box as Whitham attacks down the right no way past Rawle wins a corner played high into the six yard box Wayne gets a glove on the ball knocking it out to the top of the area McCoy attempts to head the ball back in towards goal Wayne takes the ball down on her goal line.

  Both sides make another substitution the last throw of the dice for Blackburn Alex Taylor coming on for McCoy. Riana Soobadoo coming on for Rawle for Tottenham with under 5 minutes of normal time left. Blackburn throw everyone forwards Tottenham hold firm. 4 minutes of tie added on Shannon Moloney another who has missed much of the season through injury comes on for Tottenham replacing Vio. Leon surges forwards letting fly from 22 yards her shot swerving through the air is likely going wide Hill brings it down cleanly launches it up the pitch. 

  Blackburn send the ball up into the area Jordan with a deft header attempts to knock it down into the path of the onrushing Taylor, Wayne comes well sliding gets hold of the ball.

 GOAL! Tottenham seal the win in stoppage time as Wayne kicks the ball long bouncing over halfway, Blackburn with a high line Martin is after the ball striking it from 25 yards out lobbing the keeper the ball landing in the back of the net to make it 3-0. Martin's is mobbed by her team mates in celebration. 

Tottenham Hotspur Ladies, Wendy Martin

 In the excitement Moloney has hurt herself ad is carried off Tottenham down to 10 to see out the game. Another injury concern late on as Blackburn play the ball on into the area a comfortable take by Wayne on the bounce top of the area she is clattered into by Taylor. Both need the trainer on Taylor is booked. Wayne is struggling but eventually gets to her feet albeit limping. Moloney having received treatment isn't 100% ready to return but sent back on. Tottenham's goal isn't troubled as the final whistle blows and the celebrations begin.

Full time Tottenham Hotspur Ladies 3-0 Blackburn Rovers Ladies

Celebration's at the final whistle as Tottenham win the FAWPL Championship Play Off
 Tottenham Hotspur Ladies win the FAWPL Championship Play Off, doing the quadruple to cap off a memorable season. Two well taken goals from Baptiste with Martin's lob sealing the result. The FAWPL Southern Division Champions achieving promotion to the FAWSL. Looked the better side in the opening exchanges, although it was Blackburn who came closest to getting the opening goal before Baptiste saw Tottenham into the lead before half-time. Rattling the bar Blackburn worked hard to try and get back on level terms before conceding again. A tough one to take a bittersweet end to the season are Champions themselves little comfort at the final whistle but have had a superb season.

SWF Blog - Player of the Match

 A few contenders for the SWF Blog - Player of the Match today. Thought Lucia Leon did very well for Tottenham defensively and coming forwards with the ball, Sophie Mclean too was all action getting stuck in in the middle of the park and getting forwards. However her two goals set Tottenham on their way the 2nd particularly well taken, pace power and good movement up top the Player of the Match goes to Bianca Baptiste.

Champagne time!

Tottenham Hotspur Ladies, FAWPL Play Off Champions

  Congratulations to Tottenham Hotspur Ladies on winning today's FAWPL Championship Play Off match and achieving promotion to FAWSL 2.

  Is subject to meeting the FA's criteria of course but I suspect that will be a formality and look forwards to watching them compete in the FAWSL next season.

  An excellent crowd of 826 in attendance. My thanks to Charlton Athletic FC's Tom Rubashow for his assistance today and to the clubs stewards who couldn't have been more helpful a credit to the club.