Match Report – Cambridge United WFC v Norwich City Ladies

Wednesday 13th March

FAWNL South East Division One

 A late call this Wednesday evening for a spot of midweek football action under the lights, a trip down to Mildenhall Town FC to watch Cambridge United WFC take on Norwich City Ladies in FAWNL South East Division One. 

   Arriving 20 minutes before kick-off the warm ups well underway, the team line-ups readily available, soon set for kick-off. The two sides currently sitting 7th and 8th in the South East Division one respectfully, Cambridge United WFC moving a point clear of Norwich City Ladies as they became the first side in the league to take points off leaders Crawley Wasps Ladies this season holding them to a goalless draw at home at the weekend. Blustery conditions after heavy rain overnight, Norwich saw there game away to Stevenage Ladies called off on Sunday due to a water logged pitch.

   A win for either tonight pushing them right onto the tails of the sides battling for a top half finish. Cambridge with a confidence boosting performance to get a point against Crawley looking to continue that form as they prepare of next weeks Invitation Cup Final against rivals Cambridge City Ladies being played at the Abbey Stadium on Tuesday evening. Will also want to put in a better performance against Norwich having been beaten by them 3-0 with a few regulars unavailable in the reverse fixture back at the start of October.

  Norwich have saved some off their best performances for thier games under the lights, 3 of their 5 wins so far this season coming in midweek fixtures, all against their East Anglian rivals, once against Cambridge with the double over Ipswich Town Women. Building well this season after a couple of seasons battling at the wrong end of the table, should be safe from getting dragged into the bottom two this season, like Cambridge well placed with a positive result having the same effect. Missing a few experienced players tonight especially at the back however have given several young players opportunities this season and most have performed well when called upon.

  A calm evening the air still after Storm Gareth had blown through earlier. Cool, glad the blustery conditions had passed it wasn’t fun on Sunday. The pitch set on a slope at Mildenhall Town from one goal to the the other, a good size offering plenty of width. The bar clubhouse open.

Cambridge United WFC starting XI – Savannah Smith, Emma Jenkins, Carrie Bennett, Kayleigh Anne Burt, Jemma Moore, Vicky Neal, Amber Cantwell, Jade Bell, Becky Shephard, Amy Howlett (C) & Mollie Coupar. Subs – Liz Pamplin, Fran Gough, Kelley Blanchflower & Holly Turbill. 

Norwich City Ladies starting XI – Hope Armstrong, Alice Parker, Keunna Dill, Lilly Bueggeln, Tigi Robson, Jodie Drake (C), Eliza McDonald, Aimee Durrant, Natasha Snelling, Reeanna Cook & Chelsea Garrett. Subs – Kathryn Stanley, Kirstie Smith, Rosie George, Louise Kennedy & Elli-Ray Quinn-Nicholls.

 Norwich choose to attack up the slope first half with Cambridge taking the kick off wearing amber coloured shirts with black shorts and socks, Norwich in their away colours green shirts and socks with yellow shorts. The ball moved left as Cambridge attack Jade Bell down the wing winning a throw in the ball played on into the top of the box headed clear by Norwich’s Tigi Robson. Cambridge press Norwich for possession early on closing them down Bell left the cross into the area Mollie Coupar receiving the ball near post back to goal a turn and hit blocked at close range the rebound blasted over at the far post. 

 Aimee Durrant taking the ball on gets in behind on the right wing for Norwich her cross off the mark screwed wide behind the Cambridge goal. Norwich captain Jodie Drake regaining possession right puts in on for Durrant she squares it inside for Eliza McDonald, Coupar coming back to quickly close the midfielder down to win it back for Cambridge the ball played out wide to Bell running on down the left cuts infield, Alice Parker wit Robson closing her down before she can get into the area.

   GOAL! Cambridge take the lead inside the opening 5 minutes, Amber Cantwell on the ball central passing to Bells left, Becky Shephard racing ahead of her down the line fed the ball drives down to the byline cutting inside fires in a pacy cross across the six yard box with Cambridge’s Amy Howlett wearing the captains armband this evening timing her run perfectly to meet the ball and send it low back across the goal into the bottom corner 1-0. 

  A good start to the game from Cambridge pressing Norwich for the ball, closing down and moving forwards with purpose and pace in attack. Keumma Dill with the defending for Norwich at the far post as Cambridge send in another cross from the left. Durrant is clipped as she looks to get in behind on the right a free-kick awarded top of the area Durrant over it lifts a ball up into the area, Drake making the run central can’t reach it, over her Jemma Moore heads clear for Cambridge. 

  A mix-up at the back almost sees Howlett break clear in behind after the ball into the area, Norwich goalkeeper Hope Armstrong alert quickly out to gather the ball before the attacker can get a telling touch. Another free-kick for Norwich left of the D 30 yards out Durrant with it again, goes for goal her strike half a yard over the bar. Good work from Norwich’s Reeanna Cook in midfield the ball put forwards for Chelsea Garrett leading the attack does well to force a throw in in the corner. Garrett receiving the ball from the throw-in on the byline turns well inside the box to send a cross in the ball just behind Natasha Snelling at the far post. 

  The 50/50 battles going Cambridge’s way, Vicky Neal breaking up a Norwich attack as they try to build through the middle. Kayleigh Anne Burt smashing a clearance into Neal it rebounds favourably for Bell to break on the left, Parker tackling to stop the cross. Cook with McDonald on through the middle Durrant making a run on the right, Carrie Bennett intercepting the ball for Cambridge. 

  Breaking up a Cambridge attack Norwich launch a rapid counter attack the ball with Durrant on the right her diagonal ball up towards Garrett central 30 yards out she gets up well to header in down into the path of the advancing Drake, she spots Cook making the run in behind right side the pass put into her inside the area the angle tight she shes it over her shoulder hits it on the volley the strike well over. 

Howlett pressing the ball up front forces an error from the Norwich defence runs through to get hold of the ball inside the area plays it back out to Coupar on her right, holding it up Coupar gets it back to Howlett as she moves out to the right the ball into her run she slips as she pulls the trigger, Armstrong making the blocking save as she comes to narrow the angle. Cambridge get on down their left win a corner kick the delivery high into the angle headed out drops to Bell 20 yards out smashes it back in her shot over the bar. 

  Snelling up on the left receives the ball from Dill, looks to drive on tackled by Emma Jenkins the loose ball gathered by Garrett, Snelling gets inside the ball returned closing in on the area, her shot charged down. McDonald bringing the ball on for Norwich rides Howlett’s challenge, shooting from all of 30 yards out, the attempt not troubling Cambridge goalkeeper Savannah Smith. Cambridge’s pressing game frustrating Norwich as they struggle to get the ball into advanced positions, Neal winning her fair share of tackles the ball inside to Cantwell, forwards for Coupar, Lilly Bueggeln close  preventing the striker turning in behind. 

  Bell away on the left late in the first half a quick counter Norwich stretched cuts the cross into the box from the byline the shot behind, Shephard runs on to Cantwell shoots before Armstrong can get across to her the ball past the keeper is cleared off the line by her defence tracking back. Cambridge finishing the first half well a corner on the right a good delivery in Armstrong up inside her crowded six yard box gets the faintest of touches to the ball to see it run on out the far side for another corner, this again pushed behind by Armstrong coming near post, the keeper laying claim to the 3rd attempt as the whistle blows. 

Half-time Cambridge United WFC 1-0 Norwich City Ladies

  Cambridge with the early goal holding a 1-0 advantage at the break, started well, closing Norwich down for the ball, quick to attack have frustrated their opponents who have struggled to get anything going in attack. Some last gasp defending preventing Norwich from falling further behind. One goal in it Norwich are far from out of it as the teams emerge for the 2nd half.

  No changes for either side at the break Norwich to get the 2nd half underway, The ball out on the right, Durrant pushing on tackled by Bennett. Cook on the ball central looks to thread a pass on for Garrett in attack, Burt defending well up against her. Both sides looking to be positive at the start of the 2nd half, Norwich trying to spread the play. Parker does well winning the challenge inside her box on Howlett as she is played in by Shephard. 

  A throw high on the right for Cambridge Jemma Moore up from the back to take has a long throw the ball into the area put back to her to cross in Norwich heading the threat clear. Dill showing good pace to get back on Shephard as the Cambridge attacker looks to get away with the ball on the right. Cambridge continue to close down prevent Norwich breaking from inside their own half, Coupar the Neal with the tackles. 

   Close again from Coupar as she gets up well at the far post to head a cross from the left back in across the face of goal looks destined to lad in the back of the net, Robson doing brilliantly to hook the ball clear off the goal line. Bell linking up with Shephard in attack the latter seeing her shot from outside the area blocked. Neal receives a yellow card aggrieved as she is adjudged to have fouled Armstrong as she and the keeper come together at the top of the area as they both race to win a 50/50 ball. 

  Snelling getting in behind on the left as Burt can’t get the ball down to clear, the attacker taking it on towards the area puts the cross in, Smith down to claim the ball. Cambridge counter the ball up field quickly Shephard onto a defensive mix-up in behind, closing in on Armstrong the keeper going to ground getting something on the ball stopping it, Shephard looking to retrieve, Armstrong stretching out to get a glove on the ball pull it into her body.

  Cambridge make the first change of the game Bennett having picked up a knock coming off, Kelley Blanchflower coming on the switch seeing Bell drop to left back. Cook cutting inside from the left shoots from 25 yards out her effort straight at Smith. Cambridge starting to see more of the ball, Blanchflower working across the defence to receive the ball. Dill doing well up against Howlett on the penalty spot as a cross is delivered into the box from the left. 

  Norwich’s frustrations continue nothing seems to be coming off in the final 3rd. Coupar driving to the byline from the left into the area gets a cross in, Armstrong has it covered claiming at her near post. Neal stops Norwich getting out as they win the ball from a throw put into the area from the right the midfielder tackling playing the ball on for Coupar her touch taking it inside the box from the left blasts a shot goalwards Armstrong saving well as she comes to block. 

  Parker into the book for foul a free-kick wide left for Cambridge the ball up towards the area headed away for a throw, Moore to take, once again gets it returned to put the cross in Armstrong claiming taking it off the head of the advancing attacker. Closing in on the final 15 minutes Norwich with a 2nd change Durrant coming off, Snelling switching to the right on comes Kathryn Stanley. Cambridge press the attack Blanchflower on for Coupar checks her run the ball taken from her won back by Jenkins getting forwards puts it on for Shephard looking to get away right side coming into the box, Drake sliding in to make the challenge blocks her shot with her leg. 

  Coupar is down hurt play eventually stopped after treatment can’t continue on in her place comes Holly Turbill. Starting to get a little nervy out their as much as Cambridge need a 2nd goal they also want a clean sheet, continue to work hard to close the ball down all over the pitch. Howlett fouled by Dill a free-kick for Cambridge right outside the area the delivery in just out of range of Blanchflower jumping central falls unexpectedly to Neal at the far post can’t get it down under control for a shot before the Norwich defence close her down. 

  A second change for Norwich with Rosie George coming on to replace Snelling. Cook bringing the ball on drake ahead of her plays the diagonal ball out t Stanley left, Jenkins in to challenge with the game into stoppage time. Kirstie Smith coming on for Norwich, Robson fouled trying to get forwards 25 yards out, Cambridge back inside their box to defend, a little scrappy the home side manage to get the ball clear. The ball taken into the corner by Shephard late on, the clock ran down, the final whistle blows Cambridge winning the 3 points.

Full time Cambridge United WFC 1-0 Norwich City Ladies

  A good result for Cambridge, Howlett’s early goal the difference between the sides, Cambridge creating chances to extend the lead Norwich with two goal line clearances to keep them going further ahead. A frustrating evening for Norwich never really got going in attack largely due to Cambridge’s closing down and pressing. All over the pitch kept up the pressure quick to launch attacks the hard work paying off. Nervy towards the end trailing 1-0 Norwich were never out of the game.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

Onto this evenings Women’s Football East – Player of the Match, good work from the whole Cambridge team to close down the ball, force errors and break up attacks before they could get going. Jade Bell setting the tone, Amy Howlett making some good runs the award though goes to Vicky Neal little got past her winning the ball in advanced positions keeping the pressure on for Cambridge in the final third.

A late call, so didn’t get a chance to say hello to everyone having to dash at the end too. Good to see both sides, an enjoyable game under the lights, the team details readily available with my notepad I’m all set. The first final of the season upon us this weekend, and that signals the beginning of a usually frantic end to the season, where has the time gone?

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