Sunday 3rd February
FA Women’s Cup
Longest journey of the season to date this Sunday a road trip south the watch the FA Women’s Cup 4th Round match between AFC Wimbledon Ladies & Bristol City WFC.
35 places and 3 leagues between the sides the biggest gap of all 16 ties in this Sunday’s FA Women’s Cup reaching the 4th Round stage where the big guns from the FAWSL & Championship enter the competition. AFC Wimbledon Ladies one of three FAWNL Division One sides to reach the 4th Round along side South East counter parts and league leaders Crawley Wasps Ladies and Keynsham Town Ladies 2nd in the South West league.
AFC Wimbledon Ladies currently 6th in what is a hotly contested top half battle in South East Division One are relishing & excited for the what they know will be a tough test at home against a side from the top tier of women’s football. Have made history already reaching the 4th Round Proper of the FA Women’s Cup beating higher league side Hull City Ladies from the FAWNL Northern Premier Division 3-0 away from home. Showing good form in the cup competitions are also through to the last 8 of the FAWNL Cup. This there sixth game in their historic cup run
As Bristol Academy, Bristol City WFC were one of the founding members of the FAWSL and have seen the league undergo many changes in it’s relatively short history. The latest being the top tier of the women’s game going fully professional. Tanya Oxtoby’s side comfortably established in 5th position in the 11 side league. Has been a while since I’ve seen any FAWSL football, the clubs closer to home keeping me busy but have always had a soft spot for Bristol enjoyed many trips down to their Stoke Gifford Stadium home in the past. The standard has increased year on year and an intrigued to see how much it has risen.
AFC Wimbledon Ladies played their home matches at Carshalton Athletic FC. A 3G playing surface soon I guessed it would fair better with the previous few days inclement weather. A good size the stadium tucked away in a residential area. A large terraced stand along one side of the pitch another seated stand opposite a bar and large clubhouse, hot and cold refreshments a tidy layout with a decent sized crowd building. The weather quite good actually bright and sunny after a cold start blue skies.
AFC Wimbledon Ladies starting XI – Edie Kelly, Rosie Russell, Sian Kylie, Kelly Highman, Hannah Billingham, Becky Mclaren-Johnson, Jess Trimnell (C), Rebecca Sargent, Caroline Bisson, Georgia Heasman & Jenny Nagle. Subs – Megan Kowalski, Lindsey Clarke, Sarah Wentworth, Katie Stanley, Hannah Baptiste & Jordanne Hoesli-Atkins.
Bristol City WFC starting XI – Eartha Cummings, Gemma Evans, Heather Payne, Danique Kerkdijk, Julie Biesmans (C), Poppy Pattinson, Carla Humphrey, Poppy Wilson, Abi Harrison, Katie Robinson & Juliette Kemppi. Subs – Sophie Baggaley, Loren Dykes, Frankie Brown, Lucy Graham, Rosella Ayane & Jess Woodley.
It’s the visitors Bristol to get the game underway 1st half wearing red shirts and socks with white shorts, Wimbledon it their all blue kit, a bit of eager encroachment seeing the kick-off retaken.
GOAL! The quickest goal of the weekend I suspect and certainly the quickest recorded in a match report on Women’s Football East. Bristol playing the ball out to the right back position the diagonal ball is long probing to the left Abi Harrison, Bristol’s latest signing making her first start picking the ball up into her run as she ghosts in behind into the area shapes to shot sending a low driven shot across the keeper and into the goal beyond, her 1st goal for Bristol, 12 seconds played 0-1.
Certainly not the start you want as the underdogs, a blow so early in the game no time to implement a game plan the visitors able to settle early a goal to the good. Wimbledon look to play the ball long for Caroline Bisson on the right hand side straight from the restart, Poppy Pattinson can see it safely out for Bristol. The visitors quick to counter the ball with Pattinson left side on for Poppy Wilson making a run forwards into the left channel, Kelly Highman getting across her run to see it out of play safely for Wimbledon.
Bristol on the front foot right from the off make ground on the right the cross flashes into the area, Highman gets a boot on it knocks it out to the top of the area comes straight to Wilson she connects with it sweetly the ball clattering off the post right back into Wilson path no time to control can only put the follow up over the bar. Bristol finding room on the flanks pushing Wimbledon back Carla Humphrey with the ball it her moves right before sending a cross into the box, Sian Wylie clears inside her six yard box for Wimbledon the ball picked up by Wilson 20 yards out her shot back in straight at Wimbledon goalkeeper Edie Kelly.
Most of the play inside the Wimbledon half, Bristol invited to come on Wilson combining with Humphrey in the middle the pass out to Katie Robinson breaking down the right, her attempt to cut inside stopped by Wimbledon full back Rosie Russell. A melee in the box ends up with goalkeeper Kelly down needing treatment, Humphrey’s cross from the right initially cleared by Highman, falls to Wilson can’t quite getting over the bouncing ball to smash a clean shot in Wimbledon get it away.
Bristol overload the right as they attack the ball squared inside across the top of the area helped on comes to Wilson her low shot driven in low held by Kelly. A rearguard action from Wimbledon early on standing off Bristol inviting pressure the FAWSL team able to let their full backs get forwards, captain Julie Biesmans and Danique Kerkdijk at the back able to pick their passes often the only themselves along with goalkeeper Eartha Cummings in their half. Another ball into the area from the right side, Kelly goes to ground as Juliette Kemppi closes her down the pair come together the keeper manages to hold onto the ball, as Highman gets around to cover behind. Kelly needs treatment but is okay to continue.
Bristol will be used to a high tempo game the ball squeezed decision making often forced a different story at the moment players looking up deciding what option to take willing runners left and right, Humphrey coming for the ball moving into gaps Wilson able to push on through the middle, Jenny Nagle leading the line for Wimbledon has little to feed on and is pushed back into her own half much of the time. Billingham jumps well inside the box to get her head on it and clear for Wimbledon as Robinson puts a ball in from the right. Kemppi fouled outside the box right of goal, Biesmans over the free-kick goes for goal her attempt still rising as it goes over.
GOAL! 23 minutes played and Bristol’s dominant start to the game brings them a second goal, Harrison and Pattinson linking up on the left wing Pattinson running in behind with the ball fires a vicious ball across the face of the Wimbledon goal Katie Robinson arriving far post half a yard on her marker to smash the ball into the back of the net and make it 0-2.
Gemma Evans with the ball at the back decides to go on a forwards run cutting inside on halfway laying the pass into Pattinson, her run forwards halted by Wimbledon’s Becky Mclaren-Johnson. A corner for Bristol right side taken short up the line the cross/shot driven in Kelly with an excellent fingertip save to take the ball up over the bar for a 2nd corner. Hannah Billingham heading clear for Wimbledon. Humphrey has the ball at her feet right of goal all of 30 yards out strikes it well her shot whistling wide across goal.
Bristol’s good start has silenced the crowd but there is a passion clear amongst those gathered and when they see their side getting stuck in they’re ready to will them on, Nagle putting the tackle in on half way to win the ball Rebecca Sargent looking to burst through with it stopped by Evans. Mclaren-Johnson winning the ball back as she is pushed onto her defence.
GOAL! Bristol get a 3rd goal their central midfielders combining Humphrey sending a great diagonal ball on for Wilson making a run towards the top of the box, beats two defenders effortlessly to get herself clear into the box, left of goal sends her shot racing across the keeper to nestle inside the side netting 0-3.
Wimbledon haven’t had much of the ball let alone in their opponents half Georgia Heasman trying to get forwards on the right but as quick as the Bristol full backs are to join the attack their wide players are back to help in defence. Bristol come left Harrison with the cross into the area for Kemppi looks to get turned for a shot Billingham in to close her down. Wimbledon captain Jess Trimnell plays the ball on for Nagle, Bisson in close support the crowd willing them on run into traffic the game open for a moment Bristol play it forwards Highman in to win the tackle. The biggest cheer of the day goes up when the referee takes a tumble.
Late into the 1st half a rare attack for Wimbledon Nagle out to Heasman on the left Russell on the overlap gets forwards down the line but Bristol prevent the cross as the referee blows for half-time.
Half-time AFC Wimbledon Ladies 0-3 Bristol City WFC
As easy a first half as Bristol have ever played, have had the majority of the ball and that in the opponents half. Taking such an early lead settled any nerves they might have had have been able to get forwards at will since, rarely threatened in attack, created numerous chances and taking a 3 goal lead into half-time. Wimbledon haven’t had a single shot at goal even created a chance, have defended deep stood off thier opponents, very unusual as they are usually a high pressing in your face side who are at their best on the offensive. The early goal no doubt not in he game plan but will need to do something be more positive in the 2nd half if they wish to get anything out of the tie. A big ask at 3-0 down.
A change at half-time for Bristol, Robinson picking up an injury replaced by Rosella Ayane. Wimbledon with a positive intent straight from the start kicking-off the ball forwards with Heasman, on to Nagle looks to hold it up is tackled. Mclaren-Johnson nipping in to win the ball back, Trimnell too. Give away a free-kick right the ball played in high his claimed well by Kelly. Wylie clearing a Bristol corner. Wimbledon get the ball forwards win a throw right side put into Trimnell who takes the shot on from distance plenty of power behind it Cummings can see it wide of her goal.
Wilson with the ball out to Harrison running on left side her ball into the box picked up by Kemppi right of goal, Highman sliding in to take it away from the attacker before she can get a shot away. A more open game 2nd half Bristol still have more of the ball but Wimbledon quicker to close it down get players in support of Nagle. Mclaren-Johnson very proactive in the middle Sargent looking to get forwards. Bristol come right Heather Payne getting forwards in support of Kemppi the pass back to the full back the cross in towards Humphrey getting into a central position stoops into the header her looped ball on target but caught by Kelly.
Wimbledon make a change Nagle coming off up top to be replaced by Katie Stanley with an hour played. If Wimbledon do manage to get away on either flank the run is short lived Bristol have pace in abundance and put it to good use to recover the ball. Kemppi this time back to tackle and put the ball out for a throw. Stanley is tackled in the final 3rd Bristol counter quickly the ball left the cross in long gathered by Harrison right side looks to tie up Humphrey central connects well her shot arrowing in just swerving away from the top corner.
Bristol make their 2nd change, Pattinson coming off on comes Scottish international Frankie Brown. Harrison puts the ball on for Wilson central she pushes on, Mclaren-Johnson in to tackle and win the ball well outside the box. Heasman comes off for Wimbledon on in her place Megan Kowalski. Bristol remain strong are still holding a high line getting down the flanks crosses left the right dealt with by the Wimbledon centre-backs. Bristol not afraid to go direct either when the opportunity presents itself breaking up a Wimbledon move outside their box the ball played up into Harrison on half-way controls well turning plays a great pass on for Humphrey breaking on in behind only a good starting position from Kelly denies her a chance as the keeper claims on the top of her area.
Bristol come on the cross low into the area Kemppi right of goal tries to bring it down and turn into the shot Highman sliding in makes the block, the rebound comes to Ayane her shot from outside the box blocked by Wylie as Bristol push bodies forwards. Stanley does well inside the Bristol half to win the ball support from Kowalski in front of the centre circle, her pass long finds Bisson running in clear on the right, Cummings has had little to do but is alert going to ground on the edge of the area to get something on the ball play however is halted by a raised flag.
Less than 10 minutes left a change for both sides, Hannah Baptiste coming on for Wimbledon replacing Trimnell. Jess Woodley on for Bristol replacing Harrison. Kelly with another fine finger tip save turning the ball up over her crossbar as a Bristol shot is driven in from distance. The corner right side a good delivery no one attacking it far post. Wimbledon mount an attack Bisson a threat on the right if she can get forwards a great ball fired into the six yard box Russell furthest forwards tries to get there, Kerkdijk getting in front of her clearing the danger for Bristol.
Woodley sees the ball into the back of the net for Bristol off a corner on the left, won;t count however as the officials flag is raised. Kelly sees a poor kick out land straight at Kemppi’s feet left of the area she takes a touch to get it out of her feet drags her shot wide of goal.
Wimbledon with a throw right side comes on into the top of the Bristol area finds Kowalski she lays it back to Mclaren-Johnson her ball back in cut out spins to Stanley right of the D, her first time shot is dragged wide of the target. Bristol finish the game strong, mounting an attack the ball into Kemppi tackled by Highman then Billingham slides in to charge a shot down from Wilson.
Full time AFC Wimbledon Ladies 0-3 Bristol City WFC
A goalless 2nd period a much improved performance from Wimbledon, the damage down in the first half, Bristol able to sit off in the 2nd half with a 3 goal lead. Played well dominated without really being tested at the back, weren’t pressed when on the ball, case of choosing the right options and that was made easier by good movement and use of space in front of them. Training full time have the edge when it comes to fitness good on the recovery when needed.
Wimbledon’s fine FA Women’s Cup campaign comes to an end, not how they would have wanted a great achievement getting this far in the competition history made, should make you hungry for more. The early goal certainly playing a part, hold out for the first 10/15 minutes the confidence grows you start to ask questions and with their passionate supporters ready to will them on…
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Time for today’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match award. Edie Kelly with some fine saves and Becky Mclaren-Johnson two stand out performers for Wimbledon this afternoon. Bristol were dominant for much of the game playing the game inside their opponents half. It’s a straight shoot-out between their central midfielders, Poppy Wilson making some great forwards runs joining the attack and getting in behind when Wimbledon were looking to keep it tight through the middle took her goal well. Carla Humphrey edging it however, finding some great space moving right with a useful range of passing, getting into some great attacking positions unlucky not to score herself is today’s Player of the Match.
Been awhile since I’ve travelled south of the Thames for a game, enjoyed it though even if the trip out of London wasn’t fun, halfway home decamped at a hotel to get the report written tonight. The Draw for the 5th Round to be make live on TV tomorrow evening, several ties postponed this weekend. Nice to see Wimbledon at home at last, a nice venue, a tasty bacon bap and a much needed cup of tea. My thanks for the clubs help with the teams today.