Match Report – Norwich City Ladies v Cambridge United WFC

Wednesday 3rd October

FAWNL South East Division One

A midweek trip East along the A47 this evening to watch some league action from FAWNL South East Division One, Norwich City Ladies hosting Cambridge United WFC.

  A late reversal of the fixture with Norwich City Ladies scheduled to travel to play Cambridge United WFC. The pitch at Mildenhall Town FC unavailable the league asking Norwich if they could host they agreed. A good distance between Norwich and Cambridge for a game under the lights. Both sides looking to get their league campaigns going both with just the single win to date. All very tight in FAWNL South East Division One early in the season the two promoted sides, Crawley Wasps Ladies and Billericay Town Ladies getting off to a flying start below there are just 4 points separating the sides placed 4th to 12th. Actonians Ladies in 3rd spot proving that if you can get a run going you can quickly climb the table.

   Norwich City Ladies started the season with a 5-1 defeat to Enfield Town Ladies, before collecting a point in a 2-2 draw with Denham United Ladies. Changes behind the scenes 1st team coach Grant Palmer adding to the coaching team the club fielding a new Development side this season. Heavy defeats in the cup and league followed, their only league win of the season a memorable one away to East Anglian rivals Ipswich Town Ladies. Although they have progressed in the FA Women’s Cup with a big win, League points haven’t come losing 2-1 at home to Stevenage Ladies last Sunday. After a couple of lethargic seasons fighting at the wrong end of the table Norwich are rebuilding aiming for better results. 

  A promising start to the season for Cambridge United WFC, bringing in several new faces to the squad to away trips down to the capital yielding 4 points. A goalless draw in their previous midweek fixture at The Abbey Stadium against Stevenage Ladies earning them a 5th league point of the season. Does tell the whole story however as they have enjoyed success in both the league cup and FA Women’s Cup the latter just this past Sunday a 6-0 win at home to Harlow Town Ladies. Travel to Norfolk tonight missing a few players unable to get to the rearranged game on time due to work commitments.

  The league interesting this season has the feel that any team on their day can beat the other.  The venue for this evenings fixture, Norwich United FC’s, Plantation Park. It’s a big pitch very wide, under the lights looks even bigger. A bar overlooking one end of the pitch a small seated stand down one side. A mild evening at the start of October, cloud cover but no rain forecast.

Norwich City Ladies starting XI – Hope Armstrong, Alice Parker, Laura Thacker, Sasha Diston (C), Kate Parsons, Ellie Smith, Millie Daviss, Reeanna Cook, Aimee Durrant, Natasha Snelling & Chelsea Garrett. Subs – Tigi Robson, Jodie Drake, Kyla Love, Emily Moerkerk & Rosie George.

Cambridge United WFC starting XI – Liz Pamplin, Amy Howlett, Emma Jenkins, Fran Gough, Kayleigh-Anne Burt, Gabrielle Whitehurst, Vicky Neal, Faith Hewitt, Becky Shephard, Kelley Blanchflower (C) & Steph Gale. Subs – Holly Northfield & Charlotte Crisp.

Norwich to have the kick-off in the 1st half wearing yellow shirts, green shorts and yellow and green socks. Cambridge wearing their white away shirts with black shorts and socks. Cambridge press Norwich for the ball straight away get i forwards into Steph Gale in attack, play halted as she commits a foul trying to turn in behind her marker. Both sides snapping at the ball a little disjointed at the start neither side making progress into the final 3rd. Norwich spreading play out to the left wing players drawn across a cross flung in towards the near post Emma Jenkins getting her head on the ball to clear for Cambridge.

Norwich starting to build momentum come forwards Chelsea Garrett receiving the ball just over halfway Aimee Durrant on the right wing looking to get in behind bursts forwards, Cambridge centre back Kayleigh-Anne Burt reading Garrett’s intention backing up giving herself a better angle to intercept the intended pass. A free-kick awarded to Norwich inside the Cambridge half, midfielder Miller Daviss over the ball her delivery lifted into the area attacked the header taking it behind for the 1st corner of the match. A good delivery into the box a high ball dropping into the six yard box, goalkeeper Liz Pamplin getting her gloves on the ball knocking it down the defence able to launch clear.

   Energetic from Norwich at the start of the game pressing forwards have their opponents on the back foot. Jenkins lunging in to tackle Natasha Snelling as the attacker gives chase to a ball played up into the right channel, the left back conceding a corner. Cambridge look to release Becky Shephard on the left wing trues to link up with Gale leading the line, captain Sasha Diston defending for Norwich. Daviss with a great forwards pass has Garrett interested central 20 yards out manages to get in behind her marker through into the area but is halted by the offside flag. 

    Norwich win a corner over on the left another good delivery angling in under the crossbar, Pamplin with another vital save getting her gloves to the ball, knocked down into the congested box, a shot is blocked at close range from Laura Thacker. Appeals for handball from Norwich but the officials not interested. Snelling takes on a shot from distance 30 yards out lets loose a shot, the ball on target is catch low by Pamplin.

 GOAL! Norwich capitalise on their good start to the match taking the lead in the 17th minute the goal coming from another corner on the left the high delivery falling towards the penalty spot is attacked by Norwich’s Kate Parsons getting up well timing her headed connects well the ball looping up and dropping over the keeper into the back of the net 1-0.

   Cambridge get on the attack straight from the restart play broken up in the middle the ball played up to Shephard coming in field a chase for the ball goalkeeper Hope Armstrong coming to close the attacker down the ball struck against her trickles in behind Shephard keeping up the chase the Norwich defence recovering and getting to the goal bound ball to hook clear before she can apply another touch. 

  A free-kick wide left for Norwich as they build on the wing, Durrant and Snelling over the ball 30 yards out is driven in low towards goal Pamplin adjusting her body getting behind it pushes the ball out towards the top of the area, picking it up Garrett right of the D, looks to shoot send the ball in towards the far post across the keeper her strike off cue racing wide is met by a Norwich player the ball turned goalwards lacking power safely in Pamplin’s hands. 

  Parsons defending as Cambridge enjoy a little it of possession on the right wing Amy Howlett playing full back getting forwards to support captain Kelley Blanchflower. Norwich moving the ball well some intricate short triangles in midfield getting players forwards. Fran Gough getting in front of Garrett to defend for Cambridge as Ellie Smith brings the ball forwards. Cambridge struggling to get anything going in attack the passes just not sticking. Vicky Neal winning the ball from Daviss up to Gale closed down quickly. The visitors getting a little frustrated. A free-kick wide right the ball in towards the top of the area held up but not allowed to turn Norwich marking well. Howlett doing well defending against Snelling on the wing as she and Garrett looking to play a one two get Snelling in behind.

    GOAL! Norwich double their lead with the game passing the half hour. Attacking on the left players breaking forwards from midfield overloading the box the cross fired in across the top of the area into Ellie Smith controls the ball before striking a low shot past the keeper into the goal at the near post 2-0. Smith’s first goal for Norwich.

   Cambridge come close to finding a reply a free-kick wide on the left cleared back out to Shephard pressing down the wig sends an inviting cross racing through the Norwich six yard box, no-one gambling central picked up on the far side brought in close to goal the shot goalwards defended in front of goal. Alice Parker coming on to support Durrant the pair combining Garrett looks to spin in behind, Burt close to her making the tackle prevents her making progress into the box.

  Norwich finishing the 1st half strongly Durrant with the ball at her feet 20 yards out driving with it across the Cambridge box on for Snelling far side her shot sliced behind by Burt for the corner. The set-piece defended. Diston misjudging the bounce of the ball as it is played out from the back nevertheless sets up a great attack as it strikes her face, looping on for Durrant on quickly to Garrett, in behind Pamplin coming to close her down, Garrett knocking it past her looking to follow it on into the goal beyond, Gough getting back does enough to get on her shoulder she the striker’s touch take the ball wide for the goalkick.

   Pamplin saving at her near post coming out to claim the ball low and Garrett slides in for it getting in behind the defence. Faith Hewitt getting forwards as Gabrielle Whitehurst robs Reeanna Cook in midfield tries to get Blanchflower away on the left Thacker, with Parsons supporting preventing the final ball being delivered. Gough stepping out of the back line for Cambridge intercepting the ball up for Shephard central play spread to Blanchflower on the right, Thacker closing her down wins the challenge.

  Cambridge win a throw-in wide right in a deep position play getting drawn across to that side a cross is worked into the area running across the top of the six yard box Shephard free far post, Parker dealing with the threat clearing the ball for a corner. The delivery long to the far post headed wide for the goalkick. A crunching 50/50 in the middle of the park no prisoners taken between Parsons and Neal. The ball just won’t stick for Cambridge, Whitehurst bringing Durrant down as she attacks right side 20 yards out. Taking the set-piece Durrant sends it long to the far post met by a runner turned towards the near post Pamplin well positioned to make the save. 

Half-time Norwich City Ladies 2-0 Cambridge United WFC

   A good 1st half from Norwich, by far the better side attacking well in numbers at times taking an early lead, adding to the lead looking comfortable for their 2-0 lead. A frustrating 1st 45 from Cambridge players out of position haven’t been able to make the ball stick up front get bodies forwards themselves find a way in behind Norwich who have been solid at the back. 2-0 always an interesting lead Norwich look comfortable for it and a much better 2nd period from the visitors will be needed if they wish to get back into the game.

  Positional changes for Cambridge at the start of the 2nd half a switch of flanks for Blanchflower and Shephard no operating on the right wing as they take the kick-off. Paying the ball forwards a hand ball is spotted as Norwich look to win the ball, unfairly, Cambridge have the free-kick 30 or so yards out left of the box Jenkins floating the delivery in towards the far post area Armstrong coming for it makes the catch. Cambridge showing more energy at the start of the 2nd half determined to press Norwich on the all higher up the pitch. Gale fouled on halfway trying to hold the ball up.

   Good work from Gale back to goal holds the ball up Hewitt coming on looks to play her in, Smith getting back to close her down regain possession for Norwich. Neal getting hold of the ball in the middle long for Gale peeling away into space on the left taking the ball up the pitch sends the cross back in across the front of the area Whitehurst brought down in a dangerous position. 22 yards out Jenkins on it is encouraged to have a go gets the ball past the wall but not Armstrong the keeper well positioned beyond.

   Are a few physical challenges both benches showing frustration at some decisions being made, one questioned by the Cambridge management as Howlett is sent sprawling on the right the free-kick played in towards the near post is over Diston, Gale beyond caught a little unaware expecting the defender to get there can’t get off the ground quick enough to meet it. Cook drives forwards with the ball played on for Garrett a dink over the top, Gough doing well getting her head on the ball defending for Cambridge.

  A good start to the 2nd half for Cambridge give away a free-kick wide on the right as Durrant attacks. The delivery defended back with Durrant played inside to Garrett top of the area right side strikes the ball well low in across the keeper, Pamplin down low to her right diving to push the ball away. Norwich make the 1st change of the match, Snelling the player taken off, on comes Rosie George. 

Hewitt coming on with the ball for Cambridge sets up an attack playing the ball out wide right to Shephard, taking the ball to the byline, attacked at the near post, both Neal and Blanchflower closing in Armstrong dong well in between the to claim the ball ends up on the deck, the decision going against Neal, clearly frustrated at being shown a yellow card.

Garrett coming for the ball has Smith running beyond her plays the ball on making a run to the left getting the return pass striking from outside the box the ball racing wide across the Cambridge goal. Armstrong rushing out of her box clears as Gale tries to get to a ball put on by Hewitt for Cambridge. Hewitt finding Gale on the left deep play switched to the right Shephard supported well by Howlett the cross in defended well by Parsons cleared central Cambridge have it back the pass out to Blanchflower on the left her 20 yards strike too high goes out for the goalkick.

The referee getting alot of stick from both sides frustrated at a lack of consistency, challenges coming the decisions being questioned. Cambridge much improved 2nd half, Norwich sitting more have the 2 goal cushion, the visitors needing to find a reply. Hewitt is brought down in a clumsy challenge left side. The ball flighted up into the area a defender missing it drops for Neal stooping low into the header can only drop the ball wide of the far post. Parker getting across in intercept inside the six yard box as Shephard plays the ball in from the right.

Burt is cautioned making a rash tackle on Garrett outside the area a free-kick in a dangerous position for Norwich, Parsons over it has a go for goal on target lacking the pace to trouble Pamplin. Parker is brought off by Norwich, Tigi Robson introduced to the action. The benches continuing to be be unhappy with the officials. Burt getting across to deal with Durrant as Garrett looks to find her on the right.

  Jenkins winning the ball brings it forwards on the left on for Blanchflower, her diagonal ball long to the right picking out Shephard shoots Parsons blocking once then again as Shephard collects the rebound. George gets played in behind by Garrett left of the D shoots, Pamplin holding onto the ball. Norwich make their final change Jodie Drake on for Cook. A double change for Cambridge, Blanchflower having picked up a knock along with Gale coming off. On come Holly Northfield and Charlotte Crisp. Neal and Shephard up into the area the ball played in the knock down back to Whitehurst her shot charged down by Parsons.

  Cambridge having a frustrating night, aggrieved at decisions being made adding to their woes the final ball not coming off, Norwich working hard to defend their lead. Parsons and Diston solid at the back, Garrett always available finding pockets of space ready for any counter attack. Daviss picking up possession on early for Garrett, one on one with the keeper coming to meet her edge of the area the ball past her Gough getting back to put the striker off as they race for goal.  

  Into the final minutes Cambridge cannot find that telling goal put pressure on Norwich risk getting caught on the counter have to commit player forwards. Whitehurst finding Shephard left side her cross driven in cleared by Parsons back to Shephard the 2nd cross deeper Drake heading clear at the far post for Norwich. 

 GOAL! The home side break getting the ball up the park quickly on the left the cross put across the face of the area finding Durrant unmarked shifts and shoots wrong footing Pamplin the ball going past her at the near post 3-0 the 3 points assured with so little time left on the clock. 

  Neal has a strike at goal from distance the attempt over the crossbar. Armstrong dropping a high cross delivered from the right but can pounce on the ball before it is attacked. Hewitt driving on with the ball central on for Whitehurst spreads play right for Howlett her cross in claimed at the near post confidently by Armstrong with Neal closing her down. Crisp getting the ball up into Neal she turns in an attempt to get into the box Parsons getting in the tackle. 

Full time Norwich City Ladies 3-0 Cambridge United WFC

  Norwich get the win their 2nd of the season both coming under the lights, climb all the way up to 7th position as a result. By far the better side 1st half capitalising with 2 goals. Happy to defend more 2nd half were solid coping with the pressure Cambridge applied getting the 3rd goal at the death. A bad night at the office for Cambridge one to chalk off on the back foot from the start the 1st half not good at all improved 2nd half and had they found a reply may well have gone on to get something from the game. Both are at home in 3rd Round Qualifying of the FA Women’s Cup on Sunday, Norwich take on Enfield, Cambridge up against Stevenage Ladies.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Ultimately I’d narrowed this evenings Women’s Football East – Player of the Match down to two contenders by the time the game had finished but not having to choose right away it’s always good to take a look back at the notes still a hard choice Chelsea Garrett doing very well leading the line for Norwich up front creating chances and drawing players out of position, bringing others into good shooting positions. At the back however Kate Parsons was a rock very experienced has been out for Norwich for quite awhile with injury now back she is looking sharp played well putting in the blocks keeping Cambridge’s chances inside the area to a minimum. The Player of the Match goes to the central defender.

   Always enjoy a game under the lights not necessarily getting up early to write the report afterwards though. My thanks to both teams for helping me out with the teams always appreciated. 

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