Wednesday 12th September
FAWNL South East Division One
Midweek action under the floodlights this Wednesday with a trip to The Abbey Stadium to watch Cambridge United WFC take on Stevenage Ladies in FAWNL South East Division One.
Cambridge United WFC missing out on the opportunity to play at The Abbey Stadium late last season get an early chance this time round to showcase their talents under the floodlights at the League Two ground. Women’s sides getting more opportunities to play at their respective men’s clubs than ever before.
4 games into the season and Cambridge United WFC have 4 points from 3 league games played, started the season well with a draw and a win away from home a good result in the Determining Round of the FAWNL Cup followed before they suffered their 1st loss of the season at the weekend going down to a stoppage time winner. The two promoted sides, Billericay Town Ladies and Crawley Wasps Ladies getting off to a flyer winning all of their games, Cambridge are amongst a cluster of sides below on 4 points looking to catch them.
Stevenage Ladies come in to tonight’s game at The Abbey Stadium on the back of 3 straight defeats in all competitions having won their opening match of the season. Like Cambridge are bedding in a few new signings with Mark Dicker taking up the reins as 1st team manager. As great an opportunity this is for Cambridge, their opponents should relish the chance too.
As you’d expect from a League club ground at the start of the season the pitch is immaculate, no excuses about bobbles tonight. Is a wide pitch so their will be plenty of space to exploit. The mainstand open, hot food and drink available with the Dion Dublin Bar also open. A pleasant evening dry and calm perfect weather for football.
Cambridge United starting XI – Savannah Smith, Abi Davies, Carrie Bennett, Kayleigh-Anne Burt, Fran Gough, Amy Howlett, Kelly Bingham, Amber Cantwell, Becky Shephard, Vicky Neal & Kelley Blanchflower (C). Subs – Liz Pamplin, Gabrielle Whitehurst, Faith Hewitt, Mollie Coupar & Kirsten Burt.
Stevenage Ladies starting XI – Hannah Vandersluis, Erin Pope, Paige Logie (C), Dominique Godbeer, Charlotte Ryan, Kristi Burling, Ellie Searle, Shona Chitate, Ashleigh Deacon, Amy Makewell & Nicole Emmings. Subs – Amy Josland, Jodie Whitford-Stark & Poppy Bennett.
It’s the hosts Cambridge to get the match underway kicking off 1st half, wearing amber coloured shirts with black shorts and socks, Stevenage lining up opposite wearing white shirt with red vertical striping along with red shirts and socks. A couple of strong challenges put in early on from Stevenage as Cambridge look to work the ball forwards, its as the visitors get hold of the ball that Cambridge win it back in the middle of the park Amy Howlett bringing it on central aims to release Becky Shephard making an attacking run on the left cutting inside towards the edge of the area Stevenage goalkeeper Hannah Vandersluis alert out to the edge of her area gathers the through ball before the Cambridge winger can latch onto it.
Play is turned around quickly by Stevenage defending on the left side the ball cleared up to Ashleigh Deacon in a central position she spots striker Nicole Emmings making a run into space on the right sending the ball on for her Emmings takes it on into the box shooting from the angle sends the ball racing low past the the diving keeper Savannah Smith but also wide of the far post. Deacon cutting inside from the right 25 yards out lines up a strike the ball charged down by Fran Gough in the Cambridge defence.
A good tempo to the match both sides relishing the opportunity Kelly Bingham winning the ball in midfield for the hosts lays it back to left back Carrie Bennett, she goes long with Shephard eager to race in behind for the left the bouncing ball too close to the keeper however Vandersluis positioned high catches the ball. No one spending any time on the ball often leads to defence turned into counter attack, Cambridge captain Kelley Blanchflower has a chance a central run into the box the ball driven into her path taking it left of goal looks to put the shot back across the keeper with the outside of her boot, Vandersluis drifting towards her near post can claim the ball.
Up the other end Smith comes out to block Emmings as she is played in behind by Deacon taking up a good central position as Stevenage attack. A set-piece for Stevenage wide on the left the ball delivered high towards those gathering at the top of the Cambridge area, it’s Kayleigh-Anne Burt defending for the hosts that headers the ball clear. Cambridge are looking to peel off the full-backs get in behind Vicky Neal up with Blanchflower the latter almost succeeds central only Vandersluis’ quick reactions coming to the edge of her box to slide in to stop the ball prevents a shot, colliding with Blanchflower the contact accidental.
A good spell from Cambridge, attacking Shephard left sends a pacy ball into the area that evades everyone, the ball retrieved on the right side players are drawn towards it as the driven ball on the diagonal is sent in towards goal running wide Shephard tries to throw herself at the ball with Vandersulis diving for it gets the ball past the keeper lands in the side netting wide. Smith back on her goal line is well placed to catch the ball as Shona Chitate digs a snap shot out of her feet from 20 yards out. Room for Deacon on the right bringing the ball on for Stevenage players breaking into the box her cross sent in low near post is defended by Cambridge out for a corner with Amy Makewell attacking it.
Cambridge break forwards Howlett central carrying it into the Stevenage half has Shepherd ahead of her cutting in behind from the left, Charlotte Ryan defending centrally for Stevenage gets in front of the Cambridge winger inside the area shielding the ball well allowing Vandersluis to gather safely. Neal’s turn to get in behind on the left holding up the ball sends the cross in long across the face of goal Blanchflower coming in far post the target, Stevenage captain Paige Logie does well to intercept and putting behind for a corner so close to her goal.
Neal once again moving to the right to receive the ball wide has Abi Davies breaking forwards inside her lays the ball into the speeding full backs path Davies shot from range charged down the ball rebounding away for a corner on the right. A good deliver in central under the bar Vandersluis doing well to glove the ball up and on towards the far post, Cambridge’s Gough leaping heads the ball back in towards goal blocked Stevenage defend the ball eventually behind for the goalkick.
Is a good contest both sides looking to attack quickly sees the attackers from both sides looking to exploit pockets of space. Dominique Godbeer sliding in to challenge Howlett outside the box left of goal as she looks to burst inside receive the return ball from Shephard on the left. Neal charges down Vandersluis as she attempts to kick the ball long from the top of the area, no control over where the rebound goes it’s deflected behind wide of goal. Bennett with a vital interception as Stevenage play the diagonal ball long from the left with Deacon away on the right.
Breaking Stevenage’s Kristi Burling on for Chitate the pass forwards into Emmings, tries the back heel to try and put strike partner Makewell in behind the Cambridge defence, Gough isn’t fooled turns and cuts the ball out. Shephard and Neal combine in attack Shephard coming forwards passing the ball inside to Neal 25 yards out continues her run past her Neal shifting the ball on into her path edge of the area central Shephard looks to place her shot past the advancing keeper places the ball wide of the goal beyond.
Howlett brought down as she tries to get forwards left side combine with Neal. A good position 25 yards out left of the D, Cantwell on the ball sends a rising ball in towards goal, off target however as Vandersulis coming across to the near post can watch in drop harmlessly wide. Emmings coming near post sees the ball into her low from Ellie Searle on the left, attempting to control and turn goalwards Gough gets the tackle in.
A throw in for Cambridge left as they come forwards the ball finding it’s way into Blanchflower controlling inside the box turns her marker making room for a shot plays the ball straight at the keeper. Burling and Searle working together left side a cross squared inside to Makewell 20 yards out her shot charged down by Burt. Stevenage pressing late on in the first half win a corner right side a good delivery in close to goal Smith gloving the ball away dropping far post little time to react volleys the ball up over the crossbar.
Attacks in the closing moments of the 1st 45 a free-kick played in from wide left for Stevenage Chitate stooping to header the ball right on the edge of the area sees her effort take a deflection wide. Howlett leaning back to strike the ball coming into her from 20 yards out as Cambridge attack across the face of the Stevenage area sees her effort swerve wide of target. A late break Blanchflower picking up the ball looks for options Shephard with a central run Blanchflower tries to play her in Logie doing well for Stevenage sliding in to intercept the ball.
Half-time Cambridge United WFC 0-0 Stevenage Ladies
A good contest ends in stalemate at the break neither side finding a clinical edge both attacking with purpose with no one taking time on the ball a high tempo has seen passes rushed and quality through the middle at a premium defences doing well. The attackers all wanting to drift into space haven’t been able to combine where it matters inside the box. Will that change in the 2nd half?
Stevenage to get thing’s underway in the 2nd period. Cambridge get hold of the ball and coming forwards win themselves a corner on the left. A long delivery Stevenage can’t get the ball away as Howlett plays it back in towards Blanchflower comes in, Ryan defending for the visitors to prevent a shot on goal. A shirt pull spotted by the referee earns Abi Davies a card for Cambridge joining the Makewell in the book who was cautioned first half. The set-piece wide right driven in low towards the near post Emmings there can’t get a clean connection the chance gone.
Searle picks up the ball driving forwards attempts the diagonal pass out for Deacon on the right, Burt making the interception for Cambridge. Neal is a presence for Cambridge up front working hard to pull the Stevenage defence towards her, her persistence on the left bringing a corner kick. Cantwell to play the ball into the area, Burt coming towards the ball plays it back to the corner taker Cantwell dropping her shoulder cutting past a challenge sends a low cross in towards the near post Gough is there can’t quite get the ball out from under her feet before Stevenage’s Ryan closes her down.
The ball given to her as she breaks clear on the left Stevenage’s Searle looks to strike the ball in towards goal from the top of the area, Smith with the save diving to her right to push the ball away. The tempo reduced 2nd half both sides still attacking and counter attacking the ball is rarely still. Gough fouls Makewell in a dangerous position central 20 yards out. It’s the Stevenage striker to take it striking the ball in low towards goal finds it’s way through unimpeded straight at Smith however back on her line the keeper coming forwards to gather the ball.
Both sides make a change within minutes of each other Deacon coming off for Stevenage is replaced by Amy Josland. Faith Hewitt on for Cambridge replaced Shephard. Blanchflower looks to get in behind on the left Pope and Ryan closing her down.
Penalty! Cambridge are awarded a spot kick as Neal s checked inside the box as she goes to strike the ball played into her from Hewitt on the left. A chance for taker Howlett to put the hosts into the lead, looking to place the ball high to the right misses the score remains 0-0.
Stevenage are fired up now feel aggrieved with the penalty award, Howlett gets back on the ball a strong run into the area right of goal fires a squared ball across the Stevenage six yard box, Ryan clearing for Stevenage. Closing in on the final 15 minutes Cambridge probing put a few long range balls into the Stevenage area, Godbeer and Ryan both winning it for the visitors. A second substitution for Stevenage, Pope coming off with Poppy Bennett. Attacking right side the diagonal ball finding Searle coming in field from the left strikes the ball from the top of the area her effort narrowly over the bar, a corner awarded nicking off a Cambridge body on it’s way through. Gough winning the ball for Cambridge from the set-piece.
Blanchflower breaking away into the clear on the right as the diagonal pass put long picks her out taking the ball on into the box strikes across the ball on the angle Vandersluis throwing her gloves out to make the save deflects it central, Neal in on the follow up, so to is Ryan the defender doing superbly to get the ball clear in front of goal.
A goal now would surely be the winner both sides thinking it is there for the taking Howlett with Cantwell in the middle played on for Blanchflower to the right brings the ball inside across the top of the area determined to get a shot away fired in towards the Stevenage goal Bennett blocks for the visitors. Jodie Whitford-Stark comes on as Stevenage make their final substitution Burling coming off. The substitute with a chance to strike the ball early on laid back to her from inside the box off a throw on the right the ball won’t sit for her as Whitford-Stark sends it over.
A free-kick awarded on half way for Cambridge, Cantwell with a good delivery into the area for a moment it looks like Burt might have stolen in behind to attack the far post, Vandersluis managing to get the ball away. Cambridge come close to breaking the stalemate once more Neal with the chance stooping into a header as she positions herself near post the cross played in from the right, Vandersluis diving for it the ball evading her skips out of play off the base of the post.
Cambridge press late on Stevenage hit them on the break the ball fired long up field Emmings getting the better of the defence to strike the ball from just inside the box sees her attempt whistle over the crossbar. Ryan defending up the other end as Howlett looks to break forwards onto the ball played in from the right the Stevenage centre back putting in the tackle as Howlett lines up a shot.
Full time Cambridge United WFC 0-0 Stevenage Ladies
The final whistle blows and it’s a point a piece as the sides play out a goalless draw. Another point on the board for Cambridge, Stevenage ending their run of losses. Neither side with be happy with the result as both should feel they could have won the game. Cambridge coming the closet. More clinical finishing was needed however defences on top with little time was devoted to the ball in the middle of the park.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto tonight’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match a difficult one, defenders on top ultimately especially through the middle. All did a good job, one edging it for me and that is Stevenage Ladies, Charlotte Ryan who made some well timed and important challenges throughout the match.
Nice to see a game under the lights, a great venue and hopefully Cambridge United WFC will get another opportunity to play there soon. My thanks to everyone for their help this evening.