Sunday 15th March
Cambridgeshire Women’s Championship
A top of the table clash from Cambridgeshire this Sunday on Women’s Football East, in the Women’s Championship 3rd versus 2nd both sides showing fantastic form, Park Ladies hosting Pinchbeck United Ladies.
Uncertain times a turbulent weekend in football with the ever growing threat from the COVID-19 virus reaching the UK, all top flight football men’s and women’s suspended on Friday till early April as cases or symptoms were reported present amongst squads. That uncertainty and worry filtering down the pyramid and although not advised by the government at this time various leagues have made the call to also suspend fixtures, rightly or not at this time, everyone’s health and well being at the forefront of everyone’s mind and this is a crisis that is still in it’s infancy and has a long way to go.
Some leagues were still on and theses affected as teams called of games, no one on either side off the argument for calling games off not taking thing’s seriously and I myself debated whether to attend a game or not, was meant to be attending this Sunday’s Hertfordshire Women’s Challenge Cup Final that game one of many postponed… possibly indefinitely.
One game off though presents another opportunity and deciding to go watch a game didn’t take long to choose another fixture, an opportunity to see two new sides for the first time, have wanted to see both for a while, especially Park who have asked me to attend before but I hadn’t been able to. The Cambridgeshire Women’s Championship expanded this season with an influx of new sides to complement a 13 strong Premiership, 14 sides playing in the Championship below, Park and Pinchbeck two of the more established sides.
Cambridge Rangers Women leading the way with a long winning streak lasting 12 games, before being brought to an end by Park Ladies. That at the beginning of a wining streak that reached 10 matches in the league last weekend that run sending Park up to 3rd in the Championship table. A return to form after a couple of difficult seasons. Had burst onto the scene with a strong debut season, one season winning the Championship South title as it was then back in the 2015/16. Losing players the squad regrouping has taken time to get back to winning ways regularly the new look single Championship carrying alot of unknowns at the start of the season Park making an indifferent start gaining momentum surging up the table. Vice captain Francesca Plitsch top scorer so far this season with 18 goals.
Pinchbeck United Ladies also in fantastic form this season in the Cambridgeshire Women’s Championship with a 100% winning record from 13 played, games called off early in the season seeing them always behind in their fixtures, matching Cambridge Rangers results, Park doing them a massive favour ending the leaders winning record. Are closing the gap fast keeping thier winning record going up to 2nd in the table the gap closed to 4 points with 4 games in hand. Joining the Championship North a couple of seasons ago struggled in their debut season, signs of improvement appearing towards the end of last season have added new faces an with it goals to the side this season, Freya Peters top scorer so far with 17 goals, Libby Friel coming up fast on the rails too with 16 goals from just 8 appearances.
Heading into the Fens this afternoon Park Ladies based in Wimblington, near March, play at Parkfields Sports Centre. A large carpark leading to a new clubhouse building housing a bar serving hot and cold drinks with large glass windows offering a good view of the two grass pitches beyond, a nice set-up. The weather though not playing ball rain due to arrive around lunchtime was meant to blow over but stuck around for the whole match making for muddy playing conditions and trying to do a report whilst juggling a notepad, camera and umbrella.
Park Ladies starting XI – Liv Goode, Tinneisha Mott, Darcy Howe, Nikki Hassock, Lou Davies, Eilish Brown, Danni Green (C), Francesca Plitsch, Sophie Fenner, Georgia Payne & Georgia Stimson. Subs – Liv Pedler, Gemma Hutton & Sian Holdcroft.
Pinchbeck United Ladies starting XI – Lita Abelite, Helen Barker, Alexandra Ferreira Gomes, Rebecca Navarette, Brittany Weaver, Laura Sidajeva, Chloe Gray (C), Victoria Bradford, Holly Coupland, Freya Peters & Libby Friel. Subs – Cayley Ainsworth, Rebecca Rigby, Ana Rodrigues Costa, Annie Vayro & China Smith.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
Rain falling steadily the pitch wet going to be a muddy one. Park to get the match underway kicking off 1st half wearing navy and red vertical striped shirts with white trim, navy shorts and socks. Pinchbeck in their away colours gold shirts with navy shorts and sock. The ball pressed straight away by Pinchbeck closing do Park in the final third won on the left a diagonal ball put in towards the top of the area Park goalkeeper Liv Goode out well to sliding in and save the ball before it can be attacked.
The tempo fast from the off Park bring the ball on from the back played out to the left long for Sophie Fenner, getting on down the flank is tackled by Pinchbeck’s Alexandra Ferreira Gomes the ball out for a corner kick. The delivery in towards the near post headed clear get straight on the counter the ball gathered into her feet by Holly Coupland drives on before sending a low ball racing into the cut out by Park’s Nikki Hassock conceding a corner. Played in near side attacked but send wide for a goalkick. Pinchbeck coming on well at the start of the game won in the middle Laura Sidajeva passes the ball out to Coupland pushing on down the right flank and early diagonal ball with Freya Peters breaking in behind through the middle, Goode out to close her down quickly get her gloves around the ball.
Fenner attacking down the left winning a throw high for Park, the hosts bring bodies forwards keeping possession Francesca Plitsch swinging a good delivery into the area, headed clear by Pinchbeck’s Rebecca Navarette. Park come straight back at them Fenner left rolled forwards into Georgia Stimson central she unleashes a strike from 25 yards out the shot wide at the near post. The resulting goalkick played straight to Stimson 25 yards out gets a shot away before she can be closed down 20 yards out left of the D the ball hitting the side netting.
Park winning a corner on the left the ball played in by Plitsch near side, Georgia Payne getting a touch knocking the ball to the floor, can’t get a shot away before she is closed down the ball launched clear. Hassock getting a foot on the ball as she lunges in to take it away from Libby Friel looking to get on the end of Coupland’s ball fed into the box from the right, a corner awarded. Park defending the attack ending with a goal kick. Pinchbeck’s turn to latch onto a stray kick, as their captain Chloe Gray latches onto the ball 30 yards out, looks to put it straight back in but knocked high over the bar.
GOAL! 11 minutes played and the visitors take the lead Pinchbeck winning the ball in the middle attacking quickly players racing forwards the ball with Coupland on the right getting down the wing lifting a cross in towards the near side, Friel getting clear meeting it her 1st touch chipping it over and wide of the keeper into the back of the net 0-1.
GOAL! Park get straight up the other end an equalise, the ball played into Stimson right side is allowed to come on shifts the ball attacking the area evading a challenge and the top of the area with goalkeeper Lita Abelite coming to close her down gets her shot away across goal on target but has it got the pace? Players racing in, Payne with Ferreira Gomes on her shoulder neither can get a telling touch the ball rolling in to cross the line inside the far post 1-1. Stimson scoring her 14th goal of the season.
Despite the rain falling the game played at a furious pace players closing the ball down in the middle, alot of mud collected already the top slick and sticky will take it’s toll on the legs no doubt. Park get hold the ball right side Plitsch sending it on down the line the cross sent in early to the near post Payne escaping her marker get’s a shot away, Abelite down quickly legs split to make a good save send the ball behind for a corner.
The ball finding Payne at the near post getting it down can find no way through the ball cleared for a throw out wide Park keeping hold of it in the final 3rd passed in field into Eilish Brown turns into the shot near side the shot straight at Abelite safely held. Park with a good response after falling behind coming straight back to level have Pinchbeck on the back foot. Brittany Weaver winning a tackle at the ball for Pinchbeck plays if forwards up to Peters and Friel in attack the pair look to combine through the middle Hassocks getting her foot in to intercept the ball. Peters after the ball played into her run on the left side, Goode coming out well to the top of her area sliding in to get her gloves around the ball. Gray has a go from 30 yards out her effort wide across the goal.
GOAL! Pinchbeck win a corner ball on the left side, a good delivery put in towards the near post close to goal Coupland free meeting it on the volley to turn the ball in past the keeper to score putting the visitors back into the lead 1-2.
Pinchbeck making a change straight after the goal bringing China Smith on for Sidajeva. A race for the substitute straight away as Plitsch threads a ball in behind for Payne to attack, Smith going with her, Abelite rushing out of her box just about getting there first to clear. Park come straight back the ball fed to Stimson right side top of the area getting a shot away the ball wide across the six yard box. Park with a good response again after falling behind Payne a threat in attack strong on the ball gets it into her feet 20 out running at the box lines up a shot the attempt narrowly over.
Pinchbeck playing the ball long have Coupland attacking right a throw won, a high ball into the box headed clear by Park the break on Plitsch linking up with Fenner on the left Abelite coming to clear for Pinchbeck. Helen Barker getting forwards from the back for Pinchbeck on the left rolls it on to Peters, a good shift of the ball taking her in behind to attack the box, Hassock across well lunging in to tackle put the ball out for a corner kick. In again low at the near post Park get it away in the resulting scramble a break on the ball put up into the attackers quickly Pinchbeck’s Smith with the defending putting the ball out for a throw. Players up the ball into Payne sending a shot from the top right hand corner of the box wide across goal.
Gray attempts one over the top for Pinchbeck with both Peters and Friel breaking in behind, Goode though out well towards the top of her area to claim. A double change fro Pinchbeck with Sidajeva coming back on along with Annie Vayro. Brown receiving the ball in the middle off Plitsch rolls it forwards into Payne’s feet she switches it out to the right quickly for Stimson who squares a cross in back along the top of the area the ball cut out by Weaver and cleared up field. Coupland away on the right wing taking the ball on cuts it back towards the top of the area, finds Peters inside the D her first time strike narrowly wide at the far post.
Park make a change, their 2nd actually missed the first as Green who had come off for Sian Holcroft now comes back on Mott. Payne getting hold of the ball outside the box on the right, tackled by Barker slowing her down Payne gets it back to swing in a cross Navarette heading clear for Pinchbeck. Park getting forwards well winning the ball in the middle Brown involved up to Payne 25 out turns looking to plough her way through, Weaver in to challenge. Involved in the action myself as is the risk you take the ball knocked out of play head down in the notepad the calls come but too late, creeping under the umbrella the notepad taking the brunt of the blow gathering some fen land mud as a souvenir in the process. But I’ve had it square in the face from close range before so carry on, the action certainly is.
Can see why both sides are doing well this season, the pitch conditions not helping either play their natural game Pinchbeck going long at times, Hassock and Holcroft dealing with it for the most part, Friel always looking to get in behind however. Green threading the ball through for Payne, Weaver on her the final defender as they bear down on the box has to get her tackle right and lunging in takes the ball away from her behind for a corner. Won on the right the ball played on as Plitsch drifts over to the right sends a good delivery into the box, Fenner flying in far side trying to get her leg to the ball can’t quite connect.
Rebecca Rigby comes on for Pinchbeck in place of Weaver at the back. Abelite makes the save for Pinchbeck as park play in a free-kick from halfway into the top of the area headed down dropping left side Payne getting hold of it to fire in a low shot, the goalkeeper down at her near post to save. Gemma Hutton entering the action for Park with Howe coming off. Pinchbeck get Coupland on the ball right side fires in a shot on the angle, Goode diving to her left saving well pushing the ball down comes straight to Peters, Goode up quickly as the attacker brings in down, fires her shot over the bar. A good battle going on on Park’s left between Fenner and Pinchbeck’s Ferreira Gomes the ball into the winner following good work from Green, Payne and Stimson in the middle Gomes close in on Fenner getting in a good tackle to break up the attack.
Green furthest forwards for Park and she runs on through the middle the ball put over the defence into her path Abelite coming to close the angle, Green looking to chip her from 20 yards out, Abelite tall though gets an outstretched arm to the ball gloving it away from her goal beyond. Ana Rodrigues Costa on late in the first half for Pinchbeck replacing Sidajeva.
GOAL! Park have been strong since falling 2-1 behind Payne a threat in attack taking players on the ball out right side slipped through to her moving into the box clear pace taking her on wide of the near post shoots the ball racing in low is past Abelite before she can get down to it inside the post to level the scores right at the end of the 1st half 2-2.
Half-time Park Ladies 2-2 Pinchbeck United Ladies
A highly entertaining match so far despite the rain, the pitch muddy cutting up making playing conditions difficult a good start and tempo to the game through out from both sides, Pinchbeck opening the scoring conceding straight away, Park with a good response, Pinchbeck getting themselves back into the lead. Park coming on well again on top for much of the half after the goal, Pinchbeck playing the ball long limiting their opportunities in attack, a threat on the counter nonetheless, Park coming back to level it up for a 2nd time late on, all square the only thing guaranteed in the 2nd half is more rain.
Roll on roll off substitutes used frequently by both sides the pitch sapping legs highly muddy now, glad I’m not the one washing those kits. Pinchbeck to get the 2nd half underway. Attack down the right, Liv Hedley closing down Coupland slowing her down Hassock coming across to clear. Park send the pass out wide to Plitsch out on the right looks to take players on as she seeks to get into the box, play brought back for a free-kick on her with no advantage. The delivery in towards the near post safely gathered into her midriff by Abelite.
GOAL! Park take the lead early in the 2nd half the move starting at the back as Goode gathers it inside the box with Pinchbeck on the attack, kicking out of her hands the ball long finding Payne clear right side takes it down well knocking in on driving forwards shooting on the angle across the keeper, Abelite gets her finger tips to it but not enough to divert it past the far post 3-2.
Coupland working hard on the right for Pinchbeck back to win the ball turning play around on for Peters right ahead of her, Park defending as she tries to come in field. Park pressing the ball well keeping a good shape at the back, Plitsch covering alot of ground as well as gathering alot of mud in the middle. Brown in to win the ball left side and Pinchbeck look to gain ground. On for Payne the ball put into the box, Abelite punching it clear, Park keep alive in the final 3rd Green getting hold of the ball winning a throw high up the pitch.
GOAL! Park doubling their advantage early in the 2nd half the hosts coming on through the middle the ball fed into Payne 30 yards out central has Stimson making a run left of her into a central position top of the area the pass perfect getting her in behind Abelite racing out to close her down Stimson shooting a clinical finish past the keeper to find the goal beyond 4-2.
Pinchbeck bring on Cayley Ainsworth for Navarette at the back. Coupland pressing on the right side playing in Peters, looks to burst into the box, Holcroft getting onto her shoulder making the tackle inside the box for Park. Payne and Stimson with some good link up play in attack for Park finding gaps in the Pinchbeck defence, Payne left side slipping Stimson in Abelite racing out of her box, just about getting there to clear.
GOAL! Pinchbeck get hold of the ball in the middle Peters to Coupland a superb ball forwards into Friel 25 yards out a good touch seeing her skip in behind the defence to take the ball on into the area one on one with the keeper takes the shot early putting it wide of her to score 4-3.
Pinchbeck with a good response to having fallen 2 goals behind pulling one back getting more of the play in the middle, Coupland doing well on the right. Ainsworth tackling Payne as the Park attacker aims to break into the box central a throw won high on the right. Playing conditions really difficult now the steady rain making the pitch tough to play on both sides for their part though keeping energy levels high the action not slowing down at all. Friel leading the line for Pinchbeck giving Hassock and Holcroft plenty to think about. Holcroft this time going with Friel as she gives chase to a forwards pass getting it back to Goode to kick up field.
Barker winning the ball back on the left for Pinchbeck sending a good ball up to Friel in attack left side cheating it down to turn into the box, Holcroft recovering quickly to slide in put the ball. Ainsworth cutting the ball out twice in quick succession in the box as Plitsch tries to fed the ball into Payne from the right.
GOAL! Friel completing her hat-trick to bring Pinchbeck back on level terms finds room out on the left as the ball is won in the middle send in low into her path escaping the Park defence closing in on the box Goode coming to close her down, Friel takes on the early shot sending the ball racing past the keeper to find the bottom corner 4-4.
An action packed encounter the momentum back in Pinchbeck’s favour fighting back to level the scores Friel now has 19 goals from 9 played. Mott back on for Park getting up on the right a cross in near side held by Abelite. Goode saving low at her left hand post as Friel out wide fires in a shot from the angle. Smith coming back on for Barker. Brown to Fenner on the left in behind, Abelite out of her box to get her foot on the ball, the clearance straight to Stimson holding it up as players race forwards sends in from the right Abelite back across her goal holding at the near post. Coupland has ran herself into the ground picking up a knock comes off for Pinchbeck, Bradford coming back on.
Hassock just about gets her toe on the ball an outstretched leg to take the ball away from Friel inside the box as she lines up a shot, goes after it collecting on the byline to fire a ball across the face of goal, Hedley defending at the far post for Park. Green back on for Park as Payne has to come off to have a bleeding knee seen too. Ferreira Gomes fouling Fenner this time out on the left as she looks to get past her. Holcroft with the set play 30 yards out angles a shot in towards goal falls safely into Abelite’s gloves.
Into the final 10 minutes both sides tiring gaps opening up both intent on finding a winning goal whilst weary of making a mistake at the back. Peters gets in behind the Park defence right side of the D closing in on the box Goode coming to close the angle Peters shoots looking to put it through the keepers legs, skips up however allowing Goode to close her thighs make the save. The loose ball coming to Friel central Park defenders racing back her attempt on goal block the rebound looping back up to Gray 25 yards out left side blasts her shot wide.
Payne back on the field replacing Hutton. Plitsch spreading play to the right with Green finding space to get on down the line whips in a cross Abelite claiming at her near post with Fenner making a fantastic run in behind. 5 minutes left players struggling to keep up the pace now as both press on Pinchbeck get on down the right a throw high up the pitch turned on in towards the top of the area Holcroft and Hassock defending against Friel. The game stretched now end to end, Hassock tackling Friel as the ball fired into her from halfway. The result could yet go either way.
Park with a late corner on the right Green getting forwards the ball put in high, headed clear, Park keeping possession back to Green on the right fires in the cross, Abelite collecting it for Pinchbeck. It ends all square the points shared.
Full time Park Ladies 4-4 Pinchbeck United Ladies
A highly entertaining match to watch fantastic for the neutral played at a good tempo both sides giving it their all in difficult playing conditions. Park the first side to take points off Pinchbeck this season. The visitors with the opening goal, Park coming back straight away a good response Pinchbeck though getting back into the lead. Park coming back late in the first half going on to get themselves into a 4-2 lead early in the 2nd period Pinchbeck’s turn to fight back quickly getting it back to 4-3 conditions sapping energy gaps appearing at the back Friel exploiting them well to get her hat-trick level it up at 4-4. Both sides searching for a late winner Goode with a couple of good saves to deny Pinchbeck.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. A few to give mention too from both sides hard to pick one, Holly Coupland with great work and energy on the right for Pinchbeck, Libby Friel in attack finding the space as the Park defence tired to score a well taken hat-trick. For Park, Georgia Payne in attack caused the Pinchbeck defence problems all game scoring twice. Francesca Plitsch superb in the middle covering alot of ground getting across the park to win the ball. The award though goes to Park’s Nikki Hassock had a great game at the back making several crucial and well times tackles throughout.
An enjoyable first trip to Parkfields despite the weather, good to see both sides for the first time, my thanks to both for helping me with the team details always appreciated.
Uncertain and worrying times ahead as the country fights the COVID-19 outbreak. Will continue to follow the advice given and not panic. Concerned of course, take care of yourselves and look out for each other.