Sunday 26th February
Cambridgeshire Women’s Division Two
A top of the table clash from Cambridgeshire Women’s Division Two this Sunday on Women’s Football East with leaders Park Ladies hosting 2nd placed Peterborough Sports Ladies, both with an unbeaten record going into the game.
The title looks to be between the two with today’s fixture potential having a large say on which way it might go. Park Ladies leading Peterborough Sports Ladies by 5 points their opponents though have 3 matches in hand. Met on the opening day of the season with the points shared in a 1-1 in the reverse fixture.
A strong league campaign from Park Ladies have been out in front from the start an 8 games winning streak following their opening day draw. A couple of draws away to march and home to Huntingdon slowing them up at the start of the month. Were in cup action last weekend winning 3-0 at home to Division Three side Cambourne Town Ladies to reach their first ever cup final the Cambridgeshire Women’s Junior Invitation Cup where they will face Cambridge United WFC Development on the Sun 16th April at Histon FC.
Have been scoring plenty of goals in league and cup to with top scorers Francesca Plitsch and Georgia Stimson both on 20 goals from 14 appearances. Amy Hunt netting 14 goals from 14 games with Sophie Fenner also on double figures. The last time I saw Park Ladies in action they were also going strong in the league, the Championship back then as they hosted Pinchbeck United Ladies on the 15th March 2020, on the eve of the first lockdown, games suspended across the country with the Covid-19 pandemic reaching UK shores. Was a strange atmosphere with alot of apprehension around, a wet and gloomy day. Muddy playing conditions too, was nevertheless treated to a spectacle on the pitch with the sides drawing 4-4.
Peterborough Sports Ladies a new name to the league this season. Peterborough itself a hot bed for female footballing talent with a number of sides Peterborough Sports the latest name. Have had female sides in the past, keen to bring woman’s football back to the club. This new side looking a strong addition headed up by former Peterborough Northern Star boss Dean Steward. A young side with many of the squad also featuring for their U18s side. A sprinkling of experience to call upon too a club on the rise. Following their opening day draw with Park, fell behind with their league fixtures due to extended runs in cup competitions. League form excellent since with a 100% record to climb up to 2nd threaten Park at the top. The Steward family producing some talented footballers in Peterborough with Cassie and Katie Steward playing for both Northern Star and Peterborough United. Katie Steward playing 6 games for Peterborough Sports this season netting 15 goals with younger sister Codie also proving prolific in front of goal netting 11 goals so far for the first team and 24 goals for the U18’s including a brace yesterday against Milton.
Parkfield Sports Club the venue for today’s league clash, situated in the village of Wimblington, near March heart of the Cambridgeshire fens. The site featuring a modern clubhouse, the Pub in the Park with a large carpark overlooking the pitches, two full size grass pitches, hosting cricket in the summer, with a new playground area being enjoyed by grown-ups and children alike. Hot and cold drinks being served a cup of tea needed, although the weather remains uncharacteristically good for the time of year there was quite a bitter breeze blowing across the pitches the sun offering some heat whenever it broke through the clouds another pleasant day for a match.
Park Ladies starting XI – Sian Holcroft, Maddie Jackson, Imogen James, Erin Fox, Charlotte Marshall, Eilish Brown, Fran Plitsch, Teagan Pulman, Erin Powell (C), Georgia Stimson & Amy Hunt. Subs – Sophie Fenner & Abby Deighton.
Peterborough Sports Ladies starting XI – Keeley Steward, Michaela Dortch, Larissa Frederick, Lillia Barhoumi, Evie Hatfield (C), Georgia Kulesza, Ruby Gorkel, Codie Steward, Leah Cudone, Alexa Hunter & Katie Steward. Subs – Libby Willis, Sophie Harold, Frankie Taylor, Phoebe Eyett & Grace Sipson.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
Peterborough Sports Ladies calling on their experienced players for today’s top of the table clash with Larissa Frederick Alexa Hunter and Leah Cudone coming into the starting line-up with new signing Michaela Dortch one time Cambridge United WFC player also starting. Naming 5 on the bench. Park with just the two players to call upon from the bench if needed. Moved over to the opposite side of the pitch to have the low sun at my back might cause a few issues for the players during the game sighting the dropping ball. Peterborough in their away colours for the match and all green kit with white trim on the shirts. Park lined up opposite wearing navy shirts and shorts with red socks.
The ball put back to Ruby Gorkel in midfield, Park are quick to close the ball down, the ball bouncing about before being put out of play for a Peterborough thro on the right. Turned inside into Gorkel, threads a pass forwards to Katie Steward breaking on in attack taking the ball on into the right channel shooting from outside the box, the strike held by Park goalkeeper, Sian Holcroft.
Park move in to win the ball in the middle get it moving forwards quickly out to the right for Amy Hunt down the line passes it back into Eilish Brown top right corner of the area her shot charged down by Peterborough’s Larissa Frederick. The visitors counter attacking the ball fed onto Codie Steward right side knocks it infield before playing it across to Katie Steward central is tackled by Park’s Fran Plitsch, cleared back out to Codie Steward on the right her cross lifted back into the box cleared by Park’s Erin Fox.
A bright opening to the game from both sides looking to get on down the flanks, Park winning a throw high on their right, dropping into Hunt the attacker turning edge of the box her ball in deflected behind by Peterborough’s Lillia Barhoumi for a corner kick. Fired in near side blocked by Peterborough captain, Evie Hatfield the ball is scrambled behind for another corner. Played into Charlotte Marshall top of the area, attempts to send it back to the corner taker to cross, Peterborough stepping up well as a unit catching her offside.
Hunt getting on well attacking right for Park players getting up in support cut back up to Brown on the right corner of the box again hits her shot well, Peterborough goalkeeper, Keeley Steward (no relation to the other Steward’s) with a top draw save throwing herself across her near post to turn the ball behind for a corner kick.
Played in near side Peterborough defend and get straight on the counter the ball played forwards into Katie Steward left side getting it into her feet races forwards heading for the box striking the ball on the angle driven in Holcroft right behind it claiming cleanly. Codie Steward out on the opposite flank getting the ball under control and spinning off her marker to swing a ball in towards goal her cross/shot has Holcroft concerned but the keeper sees it bounce off the top of her crossbar.
Imogen James getting on up the left for Park from full back whipping a cross into the box, the headed clearance dropping into the path of Brown as the Park midfielder runs into the box left corner, is tackled by Barhoumi before she can get her shot away. Park getting players forwards from midfield well to press the Peterborough back line the visitors though a threat on the resulting counter attacks Gorkel out to Codie Steward running on down the right putting a ball across the box looking to pick out Katie Steward running in from the left, Holcroft alert to the danger out quickly to throw herself down to take the ball off Steward’s feet.
The two sides fairly evenly matched, both possessing players who could unlock the opposing defence find a way in on goal. Leah Cudone up with Katie Steward on Peterborough’s left the cross driven across the top of the area cleared by Fox for Park. Keeley Steward charging out of her area to clear as Plitsch feeds Hunt a defence splitting pass through the centre. A few rough challenges coming in Marshall and Katie Steward clashing. Plitsch getting back well to close Alexa Hunter down as she attempts to get into a shooting position 20 yards out.
Keeley Steward out well to claim low on Hunt as Georgia Stimson sends the ball on from a wide position on the left. Another coming together this time between Marshall and Codie Steward the referee quick get them apart having a word with both before issuing a yellow card to both. Plitsch getting stuck in in the middle of the park winning the ball for Park finding Teagan Pulman to her left on for Stimson, Micaela Dortch getting her foot in to take the ball away from her as she shifts to go inside.
Park with another corner on the right, the ball into the box near side cleared by Frederick who pulls up soon after feeling a knock. A pause in play to be assessed is okay to play on. The Steward sisters linking up in the left channel laying the ball between them Codie’s ball to Katie heading into the box cut out by Park’s, James. Pulman getting on well into the left channel for Park sending the ball across the top of the area to Hunt far side attempts to lay it back to the onrushing Plitsch central, Gorkel with a great tackle putting her foot in to clear for Peterborough.
Cudone sharp nips in to steal the ball off the defence left taking it inside before striking over from 20 yards out for Peterborough. Park winning a free-kick wide right, Stimson putting the cross into the box met by Hunt near side twisting to head the ball turned goalwards, well held by Keeley Steward. A change for Park their captain Erin Powell coming off, Sophie Fenner joining the action on the left side of the pitch with little over 15 minutes to play in the first half. Georgia Kulesza battling for the ball in midfield for Peterborough on for Hunter out to Codie Steward left, Maddie Jackson in to challenge for Park before the ball in under control.
James with a nasty slip as she plays the ball on winding herself is in need of treatment but okay to play on. Plitsch on for Brown through the middle to Stimson on her left forwards for Hunt breaking into the box, Keeley Steward closing her down saving well at her feet. Fenner with the ball on the left has Plitsch up in support for Park fired on up the line for Hunt to chase, too much to do as Dortch defends seeing out for the goal kick. Keeley Steward’s kick out from the back knocked on through the middle, very nearly has Katie Steward in the clear to have a run at the goalkeeper, but for a vital last ditch lunging tackle from James.
Cudone bringing the ball on from the left firing a cross in towards to top of the area Fox getting her head on it going to clear hits one of her own players causing it to rebound to Peterborough’s, Hunter top of the D, digging it out from under her feet shifts it wide to Codie Steward on the right sends her angled strike wide across the face of goal.
GOAL! With less than 2 minutes remaining of regular time remaining in the first half the dead lock is broken. Kati Steward on the ball coming on some 30 yards out Park don’t close her down seizes her opportunity putting her foot through the ball to strike it goalwards a looping shot dipping over the keepers head under the bar 0-1.
Peterborough getting their noses in front late in the first half, Codie Steward winning a throw high on the right, receiving it turns to hook a high ball into the area, Holcroft taking it on the bounce.
Half-time Park Ladies 0-1 Peterborough Sports Ladies
A wonder strike from Katie Steward late on in the first half the difference been the sides in what has been a close and evenly fought contest so far. Park pressing the ball well in midfield getting players up and around the Peterborough area, Keeley Steward making a couple of fine saves to deny the hosts. Peterborough looking dangerous on the counter getting players onto the ball wide, with a few long range attempts one paying off. Still all to play for 2nd half. Park staying out on the field during the half-time interval.
Appears to be no more changes for either side at the start of the 2nd half with Park getting thing’s underway. Much like the start of the first half the ball is closed down quickly going out for a throw. Katie Steward onto the ball for Peterborough on for Codie Steward attacking right, tackled by James. Peterborough get Cudone onto the ball forwards for Katie Steward attacking right of the D, brought down with a heavy challenge on the edge of the area winning the free-kick in a dangerous position. Kulesza over it lines up the strike, close narrowly over the crossbar a good effort.
Peterborough making a strong start to the 2nd half Cudone gathering the ball left sending the diagonal ball into the box looking for Katie Steward racing in far side, Fenner back to defend clearing for a corner kick. put in long across the six yard box from the right cleared by Park, Peterborough winning the ball back Fox lunging in to tackle Katie Steward before Marshall blocks a shot from distance.
Plitsch continues to put herself about in midfield for Park winning the ball, Keeley Steward out to the top of her area to clear a through ball. Plitsch up with Brown working the ball forwards, Kulesza back in amongst them to break thing’s up for Peterborough a good ball forwards for Cudone, James defending for Park. Remains a good contest both sides giving it their all. Park making a change bringing Powell back on replacing Hunt. Frederick getting hold of the ball at the back for Peterborough moving forwards before playing it long for Codie Steward on the left checks inside shooting low on the angle not troubling Holcroft.
Stimson turning on the ball playing it on for Plitsch charging on through the middle, Hatfield out to close her down win the ball back for Peterborough. Katie Steward again in the wars brought down while attacking on the right, the free-kick a little deeper this time, Kulesza nevertheless going for it the strike over. Is a little physical at time, Marshall getting clattered by Hunter, has been giving as good as she gets though nothing doing in this instance. Fenner striding on with the ball out on the left for Park turning inside moving into the box, Hatfield with a well timed tackle preventing her getting a shot away.
Kulesza with Gorkel in the middle for Peterborough through to Cudone in attack central threatens to get away from the Park defence, Marshall with a great recovery running to dive in get her foot on the ball take it away from a throw in the corner on the left. Cudone doing well for Peterborough getting more of the ball controlling it and shifting forwards fed on for Codie Steward left of the D attempts to find her sister to the right inside the box the pass cut out the flag up in either case. Katie Steward shooting wide across goal moments later as Cudone picks her out with the pass.
Another change for Park, Teagan Pulman coming off replaced by Hunt with an hour gone. Fenner needed back in defence as Cudone looks to feed Katie Steward in on the right. James coming in to tackle Katie Steward as she breaks on with the ball right channel. Keeley Steward called into action again for Peterborough as Plitsch battling to get onto the ball with Hatfield, wrestles free to break on into the box one on one closing Steward down, the keeper stays big as Plitsch smashes her shot, the keeper getting her body behind it to bring it down into her body.
Hatfield appearing to fall heavily as she tried to stop Plitsch is still down a break for treatment is up on her feet though and able to play on. Stimson winning Park a corner on the left, the delivery into the near post cleared behind for a 2nd corner. The ball played into the top of the area for Stimson, Hatfield into her quickly to prevent the shot. No let up play a little frantic at times players closing down passes rushed. James has taken a few knocks for Park and is in need of some attention off the field for the moment.
Katie Steward Peterborough’s main threat ready for the forwards pass, Cudone looking the most likely to provide it, Steward pulling off the defence right of goal Marshall getting back at her to throw herself across her to block send the ball out for a corner. Park clearing their lines. The hosts getting on right side a throw won top of the area played into Hunt quickly closed down, lays it back for Plitsch to strike from 20 yards out her first time effort swinging wide of the right post.
Cudone up on the left twisting inside off a throw in attempting the shot sliced wide across the six yard box, Codie Steward pulling off the Park defence can’t get anything on it. Plitsch winning the ball central back for Brown to clip a diagonal ball out to Fenner wide left her cross into the ball headed clear by Barhoumi. Abby Deighton coming onto the pitch for Park with 12 minutes left on the clock replacing James.
Powell taking the ball don the line for Park wide right inside for Stimson, Frederick winning the ball back for Peterborough. Codie Steward and Dortch off for Peterborough with Grace Sipson and Frankie Taylor coming on. Cudone breaking on through the middle for Peterborough her advance halted by the raised flag. Park pressing players on Brown bringing the ball on through the middle laying it out to Powell on the right her cross flashed into the box races out to the far side missing everyone, Fenner gathering left side sending it back into the mix, Peterborough scramble it out of the area players from both sides after the loose ball 25 yards out, Marshall onto it first sliding onto the ball taken down by the Peterborough player attempting to clear the ball, her shot angled wide, play brought back for the free-kick however Marshall adjudged to have been fouled much to Peterborough’s displeasure. Marshall suffering from cramp a pause before the set-piece is taken.
GOAL! Plitsch over the free-kick, goes for goal is struck beautifully angling in to loop and dip under the keeper, much like Steward’s strike in the first half puts Park back on level terms 1-1.
Park coming back to level in the closing minutes of the match. A blow for Peterborough, Park with renewed energy. Fenner with a powerful run into the box from the left stopped by Peterborough’s Barhoumi. A throw high on the left to the hosts as they look to keep the pressure on. Kulesza back to win the ball finding Sipson up top passing to Cudone to the right forwards tackled by Park’s Fox, Jackson clearing the ball. Steward on the right just inside the box striking over for Peterborough.
Park clearing the ball hooked on for Stimson peeling away right her ball into the top of the box cut out by Gorkel as the game moves into injury time. 2 minutes indicated. Holcroft dismayed back in her six yard box as a sliced back pass comes into her at an awkward high, unable to handle it heads the ball away to the right, Park back to clear. The hosts rapidly getting the ball up the other end winning a free-kick Peterborough unhappy with the decision. Park finishing strong sensing they might get something the clock ticking down the 2 minutes up.
GOAL! Park pushing up a throw high on the left played into brown right corner outside the area, hooks a hopeful ball high into the box, Steward letting it bounce doesn’t come for it spins away to the far post Plitsch lunging in to get her head on the ball power it into the back of the net to score the winner at the death 2-1!
Little time left after the restart for Peterborough to respond hit with a sucker punch at the death the game turned completely on it’s head Park winning ending Peterborough’s unbeaten record.
Full time Park Ladies 2-1 Peterborough Sports Ladies
So for the 2nd time this season I’ve seen a last gasp winner. Park coming back from a goal down in the first half to not only equalise late on but clinch the winning goal. Suspect they might have been happy with the point scoring so late on but really in terms of the title race was a must win game, go 8 points clear now and that still might not be enough to win the title, Peterborough with 3 games in hand can still finish a point above them but now they know what has to be done every game now till the end of the season is a cup final and in the world of football you can never predict what will happen. One thing’s for certain will be exciting to find out. An entertaining game from two evenly matched sides little in it, a wonder strike from Katie Steward giving Peterborough a first half lead. Started the 2nd half well coming close to getting a 2nd. Park worked hard throughout battling for the ball getting forwards paying off with a late equaliser and from there the winner.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. Sometimes (not often) it’s easy and today is one of those days a few performances of note to mention first. For Peterborough, Katie Steward was strong in attack, running with the ball and getting into some great positions an excellent strike to give them the lead. Keeley Steward with some wonderful saves in goal. Leah Cudone too was good on the ball moving it well and linked up well with both Steward sisters in attack. Thought she had retired so very pleased I got to see her in action again and her experience will be invaluable to Peterborough’s youngsters. For Park the whole side worked hard to win the ball a physical game both sides will be feeling the knocks tomorrow. Charlotte Marshall in particular getting into win her challenges put in blocks and break up attacks at the back. Imogen James too with a number of vital tackles. Today’s winner though had the award in the bag even before she scored the equaliser let alone the winning goal. Fran Plitsch with an excellent performance in midfield. Winning the ball getting it and herself forwards with intent covering alot of ground.
An enjoyable return to Parkfield Sports Club, good to see both sides, catch up with Park and several familiar faces with Peterborough Sports My thanks to both for their help with the team details and the hospitality. Getting into the business end of the season lots to look forwards too.
by Darren Gilham