Tuesday 19th March
Cambridgeshire Women’s Invitation Cup Final
Cambridge City Ladies v Cambridge United WFC
Back on the road less than 48 hours after watching my first Cup Final of the season, a trip to Cambridge this evening to The Abbey Stadium, home of League Two side Cambridge United for this years Cambridgeshire Women’s Invitation Cup Final, once again to be contested by Cambridge City Ladies & Cambridge United WFC.
The Cambridgeshire Women’s Invitation Cup Final sponsored by S-Tech Insurance being held at The Abbey Stadium for the very first time. Cambridge City Ladies the current holders winning it for the 1st time last season beating Cambridge United WFC in the final to end a long spell of domination of the County Cup by United.
Close rivals and getting closer as Cambridge City Ladies are in a strong position at the top of the ERWFL Premier Division unbeaten with just 2 points dropped in 17 matches to date promotion to the FAWNL for the title winners joining Cambridge United WFC in the 4th tier of the woman’s football pyramid. Into the semi-finals of the ERWFL League Cup too are keen to retain the Invitation Cup for a 2nd successive season. Have goal scorers throughout their squad with Erin Davies leading the way with 22 goals, a further 5 players into double figures.
Cambridge United WFC playing in FAWNL South East Division One just as keen to regain the Invitation Cup themselves. Come into final with confidence gained form a good run of form bring 7 points from the last 3 league matches including a point against league leaders Crawley Wasps Ladies who had up till last weekend held a 100% winning record since joining the league.
The sides have met… twice this season after the now infamous pitch gate affair. drawn together in the FA Women’s Cup, City beating United in extra-time the game ordered to be replayed at United’s ground after City’s pitch was found to be too small. Tension afterwards United winning the replayed game. Rivals before it only served to rack up the tension but to be fair both clubs since have moved on, several players from both sides knowing each other very well, a number of the City squad having played for United when the club split some years ago. A game under the lights at an opportunity for the leading women’s clubs in Cambridgeshire to showcase the game. A quick turn around for both playing a game on Sunday, City winning 3-1 way to Brentwood. United winning 5-1 at home to Actonians Ladies.
Road to the Final
14 sides entering this season’s Invitation Cup competition, there were byes for Cambridge City Ladies & St Ives Town Ladies in the 1st Round. Cambridge United were draw away to Cambridgeshire Women’s Premiership side, Fulbourn Institute Bluebirds progressed with a dominant display winning 11-1.
Onto the quarter finals, Cambridge City were away taking on ERWFL Division One side Histon Ladies. A 3-0 win for the visitors putting them through to the last 4 of the competition. Cambridge United on the road too making the trip to Newmarket Town Ladies newly promoted to ERWFL Division One themselves United avoiding a banana skin winning 3-0 too to reach the semi-finals.
The pair avoiding each other in the semi-finals, Cambridge City full of goalscorers too strong for Championship South side Wisbech Town Ladies as they won away from home 13-0 to reach the final once again. Cambridge United at home in the semi-finals were taking on an up and coming force in the women’s game in Cambridgeshire, St Ives Town Ladies, unbeaten themselves in the league since joining ERWFL Division challenging for the title, Cambridge United winning the game by a single goal to advance to another final.
Tonight’s venue, The Abbey Stadium, home of Cambridge United FC and one of a number of women’s finals to take place at leading stadiums across the East with Portman Road hosting this years Suffolk Women’s County Cup Final and the Norfolk Women’s County Cup Final to e played at Carrow Road for the first time. Great for the game in Cambridgeshire to feature at The Abbey Stadium. A clear, still night starting to cool, the crowd building before kick-off, the pitch looking good offering plenty of width.
Cambridge City Ladies starting XI – Tee Mhunduru, Ceri Flye, Lauren Tomlinson, Becca Fay (C), Robyn Phillips, Hannah Bodily, Anna Goggin, Amy Reed, Erin Davies, Laura Mills & Shannon Shaw. Subs – Carla Penny, Sarah Mosley, Bella Simmons, Freya Standing & Megan Tonks.
Cambridge United WFC starting XI – Savannah Smith, Emma Jenkins, Carrie Bennett, Kayleigh Anne Burt, Jemma Moore, Vicky Neal, Amy Howlett, Jade Bell, Becky Shephard, Mollie Coupar & Kelley Blanchflower (C). Subs – Liz Pamplin, Charlotte Crisp, Kelly Bingham, Fran Gough & Abi Davies.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
United to get the final underway kicking off the first half wearing amber coloured shirts with black shorts and socks. City opposite wearing white shirts with black shorts and black and white hooped socks. Play out to the left United getting numbers forwards the ball rolled back in central Amy Howlett, space opening up for Emma Jenkins to get forwards from right back 20 yards out aiming to drive in on the area is closed down by City captain Becca Fay the ball won. A positive start to the game from United pressing the ball high up the pitch, Mollie Coupar left and Jade Bell right keeping wide as the ball is fed into the wings.
City win the ball central the diagonal pass finding Amy Reed advancing down the right wing, send it on with Erin Davies making the run to get into the area, Jemma Moore coming across to challenge her the ball out for a throw in. Coupar fouled out left a free-kick to United players come forwards from the back the delivery long into the area Coupar can’t quite get her head on it central nor defender Kayleigh Anne Burt as she stretches a leg out at the far post the ball running out of play.
A good sized crowd in attendance a buzz in the stand the game has whetted the appetite early on both sides looking to make ground, the pitch in great shape. Becky Shephard races into a gap opening up on the right, Lauren Tomlinson getting back on her the ball out for a throw. The City left back with a long throw in her armoury, so to United defender Jemma Moore as she comes forwards to take it combination play with Vicky Neal top of the area a high ball in drops wide of goal.
Anna Goggin in the middle for City wins possession rolls it on to Shannon Shaw in attack spins to get in behind as she lays it wide right to Reed the winger tackled by Bennett before she can deliver the final pass. Reed with the ball in the right for City bursting on does well past a tackle an early diagonal cross into the area low, Shaw coming towards it, Burt does very well to shield the ball as goalkeeper Savannah Smith comes out to dive forwards onto the ball. A lively contest now clear cut openings in the early stages. City push the attack, United dealing with the threat break the ball pushed on up to captain Kelley Blanchflower in attack, a powerful run with the ball turning in field gets a shot away from 20 yards out the ball spinning off the surface City goalkeeper Tee Mhunduru down falling left to claim the ball.
Jenkins plays a free-kick on the right halfway up the line, Bell after it does will combining with Blanchflower inside the area the pair win a corner kick, the end product landing in the side netting. A little bit of niggle creeping into the game is a derby after all and players form both sides are up to it. Bell and Tomlinson defused by the referee. City clearing the resulting United free-kick counter attack Reed bursting away on the right rolls it on for Laura Mills moving into an advanced position, a little too much weight on the ball, Moore able to get across Mills see it out of play.
Howlett on the ball central spreads play to Coupar left plays a early diagonal ball long into the area Bell after it attacks the goalkeeper near post, Mhunduru doing well to intercept and claim at the 2nd attempt as the pair come together. United’s defence well organised no room for City to turn in behind as the ball is played into the attackers, Mills seeing little of it on the left. Moore stepping out to clear her forwards ball almost playing Blanchflower in behind but not expecting it, City are able to recover. City with a throw on the left Tomlinson with the long throw, Davies with it as United fail to clear central turns inside spots Reed at the far post the ball played on, Smith seeing the threat out to intercept get her gloves firmly around the ball.
Play brought back for a free-kick for a foul on Coupar with no advantage the high ball into the box won by City centreback Robyn Phillips. United keeping the pressure on play out to the left a high cross into the near post Mhunduru jumping to lay claim. Coupar going for the ball central in front of the keeper fouls her as she attempts to put in a cross from the right. Play paused as Mhunduru needs treatment a word from the referee for Coupar. City’s goalkeeper up gingerly is okay to continue.
Coupar constantly looking to attack with the ball at her feet pushes on down the left wing, Ceri Flye putting in a strong tackle to stop her in her tracks. Switching wings with Bell United with 15 minutes of the first half left, the ball won central the pass forwards, Coupar is obstructed 30 yards out to the right of the area United have a free-kick.
GOAL! From the set-piece the deadlock is broken, Shephard over it players forwards a gap central Howlett drifts in as Shephard squared the ball to her Howell turning it goalwards with her first touch the ball on low through bodies Mhunduru not getting down quick enough her touch not enough as the ball finds its way home just inside the post, United lead 0-1.
United with better openings as the game progresses Shephard away on the right her cross long towards the far post the ball attacked at the far post Coupar heading over. City make the first change of the match with Bella Simmons on in attack for Shaw. Neal committing a foul, City with the free-kick high on the right the ball played on towards the top of the area Simmons back to goal trying to cushion it down and turn in behind closely marked Burt clears for United.
Phillips with quick reactions top to the area to push the ball of Blanchflower’s foot as she attempts to spin in behind from a pass to her right side. Blanchflower down inside the box receiving treatment can’t continue United making their first change Kelly Bingham the player coming on. City attack left side win a throw in an advanced position the ball on into the area with Hannah Bodily forwards six yards out sees the ball well into her body spins and shoots the ball blocked at close quarters by Burt.
Mills with a menacing run through the middle is brought down as she attempts to play in Simmons the free kick 20 yards out as the first half draws to a close, Mills over it whips it in towards goal on target but lacks the height of pace to trouble Smith back on her line.
Half-time Cambridge City Ladies 0-1 Cambridge United WFC
The two sides head down the tunnel with United holding a narrow advantage leading 1-0. Goal scoring chances have been at a premium for both sides United the better of the two sides creating more especially down the flanks with Bell and Coupar lively. A well worked free-kick the difference between the sides, City not troubling Smith in the United goal the defence well drilled in front of her. A good contest so far.
City making two changes at half-time Sarah Mosley and Freya Standing on for Bodily and Reed as they get the 2nd half underway.
GOAL! A fantastic start to the 2nd half for United as they get forwards in behind City and are awarded a penalty kick. Coupar the player brought down inside the area as she breaks on the left sprinting into the box with the ball a short ball put into towards the near post she his taken out as the crowd goes up in appeal, the referee pointing to the spot Shephard to take fresh from scoring a clinically taken penalty at the weekend, is no less composed as she coolly sends the keeper the wrong way placing the ball into the bottom left corner of the net 0-2.
A great start to the 2nd half for United, the last thing City wanted. Neal sliding in brings down Standing as she attempts to break a yellow card shown to the United player. Howlett going into the book moments later, City with the free-kick right side, United mark closely Bennett winning the ball back. Phillips defending for City heading the ball away inside her area as United have a free-kick out on the right wing. City upping the tempo the game livening up a few rash challenges coming in as a result.
The ball put on from a set-piece on the halfway line United’s Neal back to goal controls into her body turning right Bingham with the run receiving the pass blasts over from 25 yards out. Coupar leading the lie with Blanchflower off does well fouled by Fay central another yellow card brandished central the ball put into Coupar top of the area has Shephard in close support pushing the ball into her feet can’t get out of the way as Shephard smashes her shot against her the rebound spinning out right the shot taken first time whistles over the crossbar.
City pushing on trying to find an opening United resolute in defence Coupar the outlet up top after the ball as it is cleared into the right channel, shooting from outside the area the ball bounces wide across the face of goal. Flye getting a good tackle in on Bell as she bursts away wide left. City’s Sarah Mosley on the ball central with a fantastic ball forwards for Mills to attack on the right getting hold of it crosses from the byline a superb ball into the six yard box Standing there gathers, tries to turn Burt brilliant against her defends well to prevent a shot and regaining possession clears.
A double change for City Davies and Flye the players coming off on come Carla Penny and Reed back into the action. Simmons pushing on a good run with the ball making ground central her threaded pass for Standing in behind on the left intercepted. Phillips with a vital intercept at the back for City as United threaten to hit them on the counter the ball up to Coupar 30 yards out. City press in their search for a goal that would get them back into the game. Taking a few risks have too, Bell away as United counter play spread to Bingham right her cross in too close to the keeper. United making a change Howlett off on comes, Charlotte Crisp in the middle.
Simmons wide right the ball put inside Mills combining with Standing top of the area a one two Mills in right side a cross driven across the face of goal. Simmons moving about the pitch searching for an opening cuts in from the left a 25 yards strike following no trouble for Smith. Standing out of nothing has the ball at her feet as United fail to clear hooks a shot goalwards from distance 25 yards out her effort caught by Smith. United get away down the left a good delivery into the area from the cross Tomlinson doing well heading the threat away for City at the far post.
Roll on roll off substitutes City make a change as Tomlinson comes off at the back City bringing on another attacker with Megan Tonks on. Impressive in front of goal for City’s Development side so far this season with 28 goals to her name. City have to push on now risk gaps opening up at the back. Bell finding room wide left driving on her cross into the box Shephard the target the ball taken off her foo by the City defence a corner conceded. On the right the ball in towards the near post area Neal up to meet it twisting as she looks to put it on towards goal the header wide.
Simmons is replaced by Shaw with the clock running down. Fay stops Coupar as the United attacker presses. United remain strong at the back, Burt marshalling the defence well. Coupar having run herself int the ground coming off for United, Abi Davies replacing her. A coming together between Moore and Standing outside the box right of the D the shot blasted wide from 20 yards. Moore down treatment needed a sore one is helped off Fran Gough coming on to join the defence as the game heads towards stoppage time.
GOAL! No comfortable finish to the game as City get a goal back in the 90th minute a clearance send back up towards Tonks 20 yards out central isn’t closed down time to pick her spot the ball fired in low, Smith sees it late diving to her right can’t reach it as the ball squeezes inside the post 1-2.
3 minutes of stoppage time added all of a sudden a nervy finish to the game. Bennett cutting out a past put on down the right for City. Mills booked late on for a foul on Bell as she tries to break. United keep the ball away from City in the closing moments holding onto their lead and celebrating as the regain the Invitation Cup.
Full time Cambridge City Ladies 1-2 Cambridge United WFC
The goal back coming just too late for City, not enough time to press for the equaliser. The early penalty 2nd half seeing United double their lead and worked hard in defence to keep solid and prevent City getting a goal as they pushed players on, ready to counter when the chance arouse. Comfortable at 2-0. Could sit back an absorb City’s attacks. A good contest between the 2 leading woman’s football sides in Cambridge, a great showcase for the game in the county, watched by a decent number, who enjoyed the contest.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Time to pick this evenings Women’s Football East – Player of the Match award. Some notable performances mainly, Jade Bell often sets the tempo for a game and was lively on the wing for United. Kayleigh Anne Burt excellent at the back. The award goes to United’s Mollie Coupar a passionate and committed young player still learning her game a threat driving on with the ball, always looking for an opening and willing runner leading the line making herself available ready whenever United were on the attack.
Congratulations to Cambridge United WFC on winning this season’s Cambridgeshire Women’s Invitation Cup Final.
A busy old week and it’s only Tuesday!…. well Wednesday now 1:55am as I’m typing this. Good job I love what I do, but best get some sleep. An entertaining final, great to see a decent sized crowd over 500 in attendance. Thanks to Cambridgeshire FA for the hospitality & to Gary Reed for the additional pictures. Two finals down plenty more to come.