Sunday 6th November
Beginning November with a trip to St Neots Town FC to watch Cambridgeshire rivals, Cambridge United WFC and Cambridge City Ladies as they meet in the 1st Round of this season’s FAWNL League Plate competition.
With both sides making an early exit from this season’s FA Women’s Cup the FAWNL Plate competition represents another great opportunity for a cup run. A Determining Round played between all the sides in the 6 FAWNL Divisions with the winners going on to contest the League Cup the rest entering the League Plate Competition. Cambridge United WFC and Cambridge City Ladies drawn together in the 1st Round. Both playing in FAWNL South East Division One brings another Cambridgeshire derby match to contest.
Cambridge United WFC win the upper hand so far in the derbies this season with a 2-0 away to City back in August bringing them their 1st 3 point haul of the season with new signing Sarah Wiltshire netting both goals. Currently 6th in the South East Division One table. The new season beginning with the women’s side forming closer ties with Cambridge United FC a women’s board created along with a stronger youth pathway to develop players for the 1st team. The squad with a few new faces this season, with Francesca Partridge (sponsored by Women’s Football East) coming in along side Sarah Wiltshire has 3 goals so far this season with Wiltshire on 5. Midfielder Sammy Edgar also joining from Royston Town Women with a few stepping up from the Development squad. Defender Abbie Jackson the most recent signing joining from Ipswich Town Women.
Cambridge City Ladies already have a strong youth set-up, very much the foundations on which the club was built the women’s side rising rapidly through the women’s football pyramid to eventually join United in the 4th tier. That status under threat towards the end of last season but a strong performance and win at St Neots against United going a long way to securing their status in the FAWNL for a 4th successive season. The management team seeing an overhaul over the summer with Rob Coles coming in as manager with 1st team coach Darren Fairbrass. A few players moving on have once again been able to bring players up through the pathway also running a Reserves and Development side. Have struggled to get points on the board this season, with just the one league win that coming way back on the opening day at home to QPR. A late goal seeing them exit the FA Women’s Cup last Sunday. Grace Stanley always prolific in front of goal leading the goal scoring charts with 6 to her name.
That cup game seeing this tie delayed by a week, originally scheduled to be played at The Abbey Stadium the tie reverting back to Cambridge United WFC’s regular home at St Neots Town FC. The Premier Plus Stadium situated in an ever growing housing development leading into St Neots. Really wasn’t sure if the game was going to be on at all heavy rain sweeping up from the South hitting the East overnight seeing a good portion of games called off and leaving Norfolk in heavy rain that brought traffic to a standstill on the A14 was not optimistic, however reaching Cambridge itself the rain clear and blue sky could be seen in the direction I was heading. St Neots not seeing as much rainfall the grass pitch looking immaculate. Rain likely before kick-off. Viewing around with covered terracing behind each goal and a covered mainstand. The bar open serving hot a cold drink. Serving a hot chocolate with whipped cream and marsh mellows that was proving very popular.
Cambridge United WFC starting XI – Lauren Webb, Abi Davies, Carrie Bennett, Lauren Rouse, Abbie Jackson, Gisela Otten (C), Sammy Edgar, Alysha Stojko-Down, Ella Marden, Francesca Partridge & Sarah Wiltshire. Subs – Abbi Griffin, Kayleigh-Anne Burt, Grace Waygood, Albany Hodgson & Libby Fraser.
Cambridge City Ladies starting XI – Sarah Hudson, Ellen Marson, Jess Fitzpatrick, Amy Reed, Bronwyn Mulheron, Ellie Cullum, Fran Steele, Paige Gardiner, Becca Stephenson, Bella Simmons & Grace Stanley. Subs – Karly Tolentino, Lauren Tomlinson & Shannon Shaw.
With the rain beginning to fall I took the decision to abandon my usual viewing area by the dugouts and retreat into the stands, which is sometimes a gamble in itself at St Neots as the rain can blow in anyway. Thankfully not this time, the teams coming out on to the pitch. United wearing amber coloured shirts with black short and socks with City wearing white shirts and black shorts with black and white hooped socks. It’s the visitors to get the cup tie underway City kicking off the 1st half the ball played out to right back Ellen Marson lifted back into the middle won by United centre back Lauren Rouse the ball lifted out to Francesca Partridge on the left of attack, Marson in to win the ball.
GOAL! United with the ball at the back Rouse on for Abi Davies coming on right side plays the ball central, the pass forwards then clipped on through the middle dropping between City’s centre backs 20 yards out, Sarah Wiltshire nipping in beating the offside trap to latch onto the ball and takes on the early shot catching to ball perfect to send on arrowing over the keeper into the back of the net 1-0.
The perfect start for the hosts opening the scoring inside the opening couple of minutes. The ball being closed down in the middle United’s midfielders, Alysha Stojko-Down, Sammy Edgar and captain Gisela Otten all pressing. Stojko-Down advancing with Ella Marden on the right exchanging passes Stojko-Down playing it back to Otten who sends it on for Marden bursting on down the flank turning inside 25 yards out her diagonal ball fire towards the City box cut out by centre back Bronwyn Mulheron.
Fran Steele on the ball for City central forwards into attacker Grace Stanley she lifts the ball out to the right into the path of Becca Stephenson racing on, sees her side win a corner kick. Played long goes over everyone inside the six yard box no one at the far post as United clear. United lively looking to get the ball into Wiltshire ready to pull off the City defence get in behind one pass seeing her almost through, City captain and goalkeeper Sarah Hudson rapidly off her line to slide in get her gloves in the ball a fraction ahead of the United attacker.
Marson with the ball on the right for City sends the pass long up the line for Stephenson to chase the winger latching onto it getting down the line before smashing a shot in towards goal. United goalkeeper, Lauren Webb with a smart save getting down to block the ball with her body, isn’t cleared though deflected past her running towards goal, Abbie Jackson racing back to clear the ball off the line. United get away on the right Ella Marden taking the ball on checks inside before trying her luck from distance her effort looping over.
City hold their line well to catch Wilshire offside as the ball is won back in the middle. Steele looks to find Stephenson on the right with a diagonal pass, intercepted by United full back Carrie Bennett. The rain beginning to fall heavily now with 15 minutes on the clock. Stephenson looking a threat on the right for City as they come forwards winning a free-kick 30 yards out. The ball struck in low cleared by United’s defence. Some committed tackles in the middle, Ellie Cullum feeling the full force of one for City.
Wiltshire bringing the ball on through the middle for United sends it out to Partridge on the left continuing her run forwards into the box. Partridge holding it up as Stojko-Down advances the pass inside the midfielder playing it into Wiltshire heavily marked looked to lay it back to Stojko-Down, Cullum challenging to win the ball back for the visitors. Steele with the ball in the middle out to Stephenson on the right attacking fires a cross along the top of the United area looking for Stanley, Rouse sticking out a leg to cut the ball out clear for United.
United coming on well with the ball Otten from the back on for Wiltshire who releases Marden on the right to take the ball on before delivering a long diagonal cross into the box aiming for Partridge getting in at the far post rising can’t quite get her head to the ball as it runs out of play.
GOAL! Edgar winning the ball for United coming on left side playing it on for Wilshire pulling wide tracking inside top of the area curls in a cross to the far post looking for Partridge, Amy Reed getting to it first for City her clearance to the top of the area dropping straight to Wiltshire her run taking her into the area she hits it 1st time sending a looping shot over the keeper into the top corner to double United’s lead 2-0.
Midway through the 2nd half United with a 2 goal lead coming on well, Partridge on the left winning a corner. The delivery in near side turned behind for a 2nd corner. The 2nd corner a dangerous in swinger evading everyone at the near post is headed clear off the line not sure the defender knew too much about it but a great reaction nonetheless. Bella Simmons wriggling clear with the ball on the left into the corner sending a cross into the six yard box comfortably claimed by Webb.
Mulheron sliding in to win the ball against Edgar as she looks to link up with Wiltshire in attack. City on the counter attack the ball played low through to Stanley pulling away right of the D looking to turn and shoot, Webb alert rushing out to close the angle making the blocking save batting the away to her right before being cleared for a corner kick.
An intriguing tie United with the better chances seeing more of the ball, City though with glimpses that they can pull a goal back. Marden attacking on the right with the ball for United, putting it back inside for Otten as she gets up in support opens up her body to lay the pass forwards aiming for Wiltshire inside the box, cut out well be Mulheron turned out to the left Edgar running onto the ball 25 yards out sends her strike over.
The rain beginning to ease up, as City bring the ball on Gardiner on for Stanley, Jackson intercepting for United. Gardiner coming left on for Simmons is held up by Davies with Marden getting bac to help City forced to play the ball all the way back to their defence. Stephenson the most likely outlet for City with some strong running on the right flank played in her cross into the box over Simmons who has come into a central position. Stephenson in again moment later as City hit United with a rapid counter attack on the angle sends her shot into the side netting.
Simmons turning on the ball left side finds Stanley coming into the left channel, Jackson going with her the defence pushing the striker wide Stanley nevertheless getting a shot away dragged behind. United over commit in attack as the game suddenly opens up Steele getting the ball out to Simmons on the left drives inside towards the box, Rouse standing her up charging down the ball. Stephenson bringing City a corner out on the right. An in swinger into the near post Webb up amongst the crowd to get her fists to the ball beat it down and away.
Wiltshire carrying the ball on shifting it to Partridge 25 yards out on the left, Reed into her can’t get the ball around the defender. Otten with a good challenge lays the ball on for Wiltshire who releases a strike from distance, on target held comfortably by Hudson. City breaking with pace the ball long for Stephenson right her cross into the ox running out to Simmons closing in left Webb running across wanting to see it run out of play taking no chances drops down to get her gloves firmly around the ball. The clock running down the skies decidedly gloomy several people are retreating to the bar to get their hands on a hot chocolate with whipped cream and marsh mellows.
The 1st half moving into stoppage time Wiltshire is brought down by Gardiner some 30 plus yards out centrally. Wiltshire herself over the set-piece the shot taken on. Hudson behind it all the way. United ending the half strong with Partridge bringing the ball on left side, has Wiltshire ahead of her sends the pass on Wiltshire in the corner turning into the box to fire a cross into Marden at the far post inside the six yard box locked in a tussle with the defence as they scramble to hit the ball caught between feet skips up for Otten I think getting u in support to smash a shot goalwards, Hudson throwing herself down t make the blocking save at close range the deflected ball coming back to Stojko-Down ten yards out to strike rising her shot cannons down off the cross bar!
A late free-kick for United 25 yards out to the right of the D, Wiltshire curling a shot wide. City with a free kick of their own in the dying seconds top of the centre circle. Steele nevertheless taking on the shot hit well but over.
Half-time Cambridge United WFC 2-0 Cambridge City Ladies
United going into the break leading the tie 2-0. Sarah Wiltshire with an early opportunity put through on goal shooting early to send the ball past the keeper. Wiltshire then doubling the lead midway through the 1st half curling a great shot into the top corner. United with by far the better chances almost getting at 3rd at the end of the half Stojko-Down hitting the bar. The hosts strong in the middle pressing the ball well getting forwards. City with their chances however, getting into good positions Webb making a couple of crucial stops to ensure the hosts goal remains intact. 2-0 the lead more often than not the next goal proves crucial City far from out of it will want to have more of the ball in the final 3rd 2nd half while limited United’s chances at the other end.
With the rain having passed and the forecast predicting none for a bit retreated from the stands to move back to my usual vantage point over on the far side of the pitch, especially with the Sun making an appearance now low in the sky straight into the stand, at my back now may well pose a few issues for United now defending that end of the pitch. City making a change at the start of the 2nd half Karly Tolentino coming on in attack replacing Ellie Cullum. United to get the 2nd half underway the ball out to the left City pressing quick to regain possession fired into Tolentino pulling away right of the D, Jackson nipping in to clear for United.
City pressing players up in attack at the start of the 2nd half look to have 4 up as they move in to close the ball down, crossed in from the right into Simmons can’t dig the ball out of her feet before being closed down. United clear the ball forwards to Marden breaking away on the right taking the ball on lays the cross back into the top of the area for Wiltshire, Mulheron moving in to close her down, Wiltshire drags her shot wide of the left post.
City looking to take the game to United early on find an early goal at the start of the 2nd half the ball fed through into Tolentino right of the D clear to shoot, Webb rushes out to the top of her area getting down sharply throwing out an arm to her right to glove Tolentino’s shot away to the left. Marden picking up a yellow card as she pulls Fitzpatrick’s shirt as the full back looks to get up the pitch with the ball. City putting United under a bit of pressure at the start of the 2nd half looking to get into them higher up the pitch.
Wiltshire with great movement throughout the 1st half coming deep for the ball is brought down on halfway. Stojko-Down coming on with the ball though the middle into Wiltshire coming inside with Partridge to curl a shot in from distance, Hudson throwing herself across her goal making a superb save to glove the ball away for a corner kick. The set-piece played in near side headed clear. Reed close in on Wiltshire preventing the attacker pulling off her with the ball. Stanley with a lay off for Gardiner to strike 20 yards out her effort blocked.
City looking to build on their strong start to the 2nd half making a double change bringing off Gardiner and Simmons sending on Shannon Shaw and Lauren Tomlinson. Becca Stephenson moving into a central position. Tomlinson on the left is clipped as she looks to get the ball moving no advantage play brought back for the free-kick. Tomlinson over it wide strikes a ball into the area goes through everyone catching Webb out as the keeper throws herself across her goal had the far post covered the ball bouncing wide.
Marden is onside on the right taking the ball down the wing turns inside towards the box running into Fitzpatrick the ball running on into the area, Wiltshire eased aside by Mulheron sent tumbling as the defender clears United appealing nothing doing. United make their first change of the game seeing a switch of personnel with Partridge coming off for Abbi Griffin who drops in at right back with Davies pushed on, Marden going out to the left. The ball played over the top for Wiltshire can’t bring the ball down into her stride as she enters the box.
GOAL! United on the attack left side winning a corner, players coming up the delivery lifted in towards the near post Hudson up well amongst bodies to beat the ball away back out out t the left where it his picked up by corner taker Wiltshire, plays rush out of the box looking to close her down the shot flashed in low to the near post Hudson down sharply to save gloving the ball up across goal and straight into Otten who has remained up unopposed, the ball deflected off the United captain into the back of the net 3-0.
20 minutes gone in the 2nd half United extending their lead City get on the attack win a free-kick out on the right wide players up into the box, the delivery put in near side, Stanley up with Mulheron the header turned goalwards coming at Webb quickly the United goalkeeper with another fine save flashing out an arm to deflect the ball away to the left a shot smashed back in coming back off the bar.
The game opening up City committing players on exposing gaps on their flanks can’t be helped as they look for a goal, United looking to take advantage. Tomlinson battling for possession on the left Steele across in support, on for Stephenson, Rouse defending. Steele getting hold of the ball for City lifting a pass on for Shaw pulling into the right channel, just too much on the ball. Jackson winning the ball at the back for United bringing it on over halfway before being brought down.
Davies advanced for United with the ball travelling into the area lacking support as Tomlinson gets back on her a good tussle between the pair Tomlinson seeing the ball away for a throw. City attack right the cross inside Tolentino with the header on across to the left Stephenson onto the ball Griffin and Rouse defending for United. Steele hauls down Wiltshire 25 yards out in a central position the free-kick given United making a change before it is taken Davies coming off for Libby Fraser. Wiltshire on the set-piece goes for goal the ball bouncing harmlessly through to Hudson.
A free-kick to City in the middle Steele short to Reed gets the return ball uses it well clipping a good diagonal ball into Stanley 25 yards out left of the D turns into the shot getting her foot over the ball to sent it in towards goal, Webb moving rapidly across her goal with another excellent save to get down to tip the ball wide for a corner. The game moving into the final 5 minutes of regular play. Rouse fouling Stephenson high up the pitch on the left, play brought back with no advantage for Tomlinson as she goes after the loose ball. Taken left of the centre circle lifted in towards the near post attacked by Mulheron, Her header on target, Webb throwing herself up making another great save to tip the ball over the crossbar. The resulting corner curled into the side netting.
The clock ticking down United make a triple switch bringing of Edgar, Otten and Rouse sending on Kayleigh-Anne Burt, Grace Waygood and Albany Hodgson all three defenders United aiming to keep the clean sheet intact. Steele lifting the ball on through the middle looking for Tolentino, Jackson cutting the pass out for United.
GOAL! Into stoppage time United with the ball Hodgson on for Fraser to bring on right has Wiltshire out wide playing the ball to her Wiltshire sending it back inside to Fraser 30 plus yards out sees an opening pulls the trigger catches the ball well hit hard into towards goal looping up and over Hudson as she throws herself out to try and save it the ball finding the top corner for Fraser to open her season’s account with a superb strike at the death 4-0.
Full time Cambridge United WFC 4-0 Cambridge City Ladies
Full time and it’s United celebrating scoring 4 goals and a clean sheet against their Cambridge rivals as they advance in the FAWNL League Plate. Making a superb start to the game with Wiltshire scoring a well taken early opener adding another superb strike midway through the 1st half. Further chances created closing the ball down well in midfield. City’s chances limited in the 1st half nevertheless forced Webb into making a couple of saves. A change for City at he start of the 2nd half as they looked to make a fast start pull a goal back applying some pressure making further changes were frustrated as United went on to add a 3rd midway through the 2nd half. The game opening up United lively throughout, City continued to be frustrated had chances were thwarted by Webb in the United goal with a number of quality saves before Libby Fraser put the icing on the cake with a superb strike for the hosts 4th goal late in stoppage time.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this Sunday’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match, tough in some regards but easy in others. Performances of note to mention firstly for Cambridge City. Becca Stephenson carried a real threat on the right in the first half a constant outlet with some strong running. Fran Steele working hard in midfield throughout battling for the ball with a great range of passing. Lauren Tomlinson adding some passion to the game coming on 2nd half. United with a solid all round team performance the centre backs reading the game well. The midfield strong Sammy Edgar, and Alysha Stojko-Down particularly captain Gisela Otten. Sarah Wiltshire up top leading the attack with great movement making herself available getting into great positions with two well taken goals. Today’s award though goes to Cambridge United goalkeeper Lauren Webb was a strong performance in front of goal, thwarting City on a number of occasions pulling off some excellent saves to ensure the clean sheet.
Another intriguing Cambridgeshire derby, a healthy rivalry between the sides played largely in good spirits glad it beat the weather Good to catch up with a few familiar faces today my thanks to both sides for the team details, always appreciated.
by Darren Gilham