Wednesday 22nd February
FAWNL South East Division One
Midweek football action from The Abbey Stadium this Wednesday evening with a game from FAWNL South East Division One the Cambridge derby with Cambridge United WFC hosting Cambridge City Ladies.
One time together the Cambridge Women breaking away from City to become an established club in the 4th tier of the women’s football pyramid merging with Cambridge United FC with the link between the clubs male and female sides becoming closer with a new women’s board at the start of the season. Cambridge City building on their strong youth set-up to rise rapidly through the pyramid themselves to join their local rivals in South East Division One.
A healthy rivalry exists between the two, a local derby always bringing with it an extra bit of spice into any league campaign. City often a thorn in United’s side over the past few season’s United have had the upper hand so far this campaign beating City both in league and cup competitions.
Cambridge United WFC now fully integrated with Cambridge United FC, with a new women’s board and better youth development through the centre of excellence. Playing a number of matches at The Abbey Stadium this season including this evenings derby, have games against London Seaward FC and Actonians Ladies to come. Currently 7th in the FAWNL South East Division One table have lost ground on the top six over recent games and will want to improve their points tally get back amongst it. Several players coming and going over the close season with Sarah Wiltshire the marquee signing with lots of experience playing in the FAWNL the striker netting 15 goals so far this season. New players joining all the time as they look to build a strong competitive squad one of those ex-City player Bella Simmons who was at United before enjoying a successful spell with their local rivals. Hitting the ground running with 2 goals in 4 matches plus player of the match displays.
Cambridge City Ladies themselves appear to be in something of a transitional phase with several changes to the management team and playing personnel over the past months. The club build on a strong youth set-up that still remains the foundation with plenty of young talent coming through. Of late though have lost several senior players including Simmons and top scorer Grace Stanley moving to QPR. Young players pushed up to meet the challenge of playing in the FAWNL, have added Eva Hubbard, ex Ipswich captain, Sarah Payne formerly with Harlow Town Ladies and striker Haile Richards from Biggleswade as they look to get away from the bottom of the table with just one win on the board before this evenings game lay 2nd bottom. Although bottom side Hounslow Women are struggling to fin a side let alone a win you don’t want to e in that position. Far from ideal preparations for the match to with City travelling to Hounslow on Sunday only to find their opponents couldn’t field a team!
This evening seeing a tribute to Cambridge United WFC’s, Kayleigh-Anne Burt. Retiring from football after playing for the club for17 years, coming through the centre of excellence at 16 with 300 appearances going on to become club captain, winning several county cups along the way. The defender a much loved member of the club. From a personal point of view, one of my favourite players have enjoyed watching her play. From my early days of coming to watch Cambridge Women made me feel welcome and always helpful and approachable. A leader on and off the field loyal to the club, a true legend. Wishing Kayleigh all the best for for whatever comes after football. Enjoy your footballing retirement.
Tonight’s derby match one of a number of Cambridge United WFC matches to be played at The Abbey Stadium as they look to get more people watching the woman’s team showcase women’s football within the county and beyond. A League One stadium with a fantastic playing surface. The main stand open with hot food and drinks available. The weather remain unusually mild and pleasant for February, dry and still.
Cambridge United WFC starting XI – Lauren Webb, Mayzee Seymour, Carrie Bennett, Rachel Kosky, Lauren Rouse, Sammy Edgar, Gisela Otten (C), Sydnie Naylor, Ella Mardon, Francesca Partridge & Sarah Wiltshire. Subs – Abbi Griffin, Abi Davies, Abbie Jackson, Libby Fraser, Kaylen Gerkey.
Cambridge City Ladies starting XI – Sarah Hudson (C), Emily Struthers, Amy Reed, Bronwyn Mulheron, Fran Steele, Paige Gardiner, Erin Davies, Rebecca Stephenson, Jess Fitzpatrick, Eva Hubbard & Haile Richards. Subs – Sarah Payne, Ellen Marson, Rose Sparrow, Alexandra Pryke & Sophie Billing.
United losing Bella Simmons and midfielder Alysha Stojko-Down due to injuries picked up in the weekends friendly match in preparation for tonight’s match. Both ides with 5 available on the bench. It’s City to kick-off the first half wearing white shirts with back shorts and black and white hooped socks. United lined up opposite wearing amber coloured shirts with black shorts and socks. The ball played long out to the left side for Eva Hubbard seen safely out of play by United’s Mayzee Seymour.
City work the ball inside from the throw in the diagonal pass put long into the box for attacker Haile Richards right side heads into the corner played up the line for Amy Reed drives towards the right corner of the area a strong challenge from defender Rachel Kosky for United seeing the attack quelled the ball cleared.
City with a free-kick wide left an early opportunity to send players forwards attacked left of the D, deflected towards goal, goalkeeper Lauren Webb right behind it to claim safely. Kosky with a long range pass forwards from the back looking for Francesca Partridge on the left side, intercepted by City’s Emily Struthers at the back. United rush in to close the ball down in the middle of the park played on by Sammy Edgar to Partridge has full back Carrie Bennett racing on to support the ball rolled into her path crosses it in towards the top of the area central headed clear by City’s Fran Steele.
United looking to get the ball moving rapidly take the game to their opponents Kosky forwards for Edgar looking for Partridge making a left channel run. Struthers getting their first to cut out the ball. Partridge with good footwork to get inside her marker on the left, has Sarah Wiltshire coming across as she turns infield finds her with the pass Wiltshire heading for the area held up, United get numbers up to press the ball back to Partridge left her cross claimed by City goalkeeper and captain, Sarah Hudson.
Certainly has a derby feel with United working to close the ball down keep possession in City’s half of the pitch Wiltshire running at the defence, both Steele and Bronwyn Mulheron putting tackles in to deny her an opportunity to shoot. Cleared from the back into Jessie Fitzpatrick central City mount an attack played on for Richards up top turns playing it out right to Reed racing up the pitch, her cross squared back across the top of the area intercepted and cleared by Edgar for United.
United seeing more of the ball in the early exchanges but City are working hard at the back prevent anyone getting in behind. Steele with a vital touch to head the bouncing ball out of the marauding Wiltshire’s path at the top of the box as she attempts to run onto a well placed ball clipped on from the middle. Fitzpatrick taking the ball right for City getting on before sending a cross into the United box, won by centre back, Lauren Rouse.
Bennett finding space to run into on the left giving good support to Partridge looks to play the diagonal ball forwards into Wiltshire as the United striker, Hudson alert to the threat out of her six yard box to get to the flight of the ball first. United pressing on Sydnie Naylor combining with Ella Marden on the right, Hubbard breaking up play for City. United captain Gisela Otten closing the ball down to keep the pressure on City on for Naylor lifted on for Wiltshire, Hudson again out to the top of her area early to grab the ball.
United looking to dictate a high tempo the full backs able to get on keep City pushed back inside their own half. Wiltshire dispossessed, City try to mount a quick counter on for Fitzpatrick through the middle into Richards, Rouse quickly into her to tackle prevent the potential attack. Wiltshire getting her own back moments later stealing the ball off Steele at the back 20 yards out knocking it on into the area, racing after it, Hudson advancing to the ball throwing herself down to slide in bravely at the attackers feet getting her body behind the ball to save.
Wiltshire always lively up top moving about the back line a willing runner and outlet for the forwards pass, Partridge attempts to pick her out with diagonal ball, Steele winning it for City. United with a free-kick inside the City half to the right players up lined up across the top of the rea fired in, Otten seeing it into her feet 20 yards out with the turn and volley deflected through bodies into the six yard box. Wiltshire after it but can’t quite get to the ball as it skips up in front of Hudson and is caught.
United advance left a throw won Bennett into Wiltshire drags the ball inside lining up a strike from 25 yards out rising is straight to Hudson and claimed by the goalkeeper. 20 minutes played United pressing the advantage Wiltshire collecting the ball from a deeper position lifting it on for Naylor racing on through the middle, City get back en masse to deny her a route through towards goal.
GOAL! United maintain the pressure in midfield as City attempt to clear their lines, Wiltshire sharp pulling off to the right inside the box as the ball is won back and lifted forwards seeing it drop over her smashes it past the keeper into the back of the net to score the opening goal 1-0.
16 goals from 16 games for Wilshire now putting United into a deserved lead the hosts coming onto City. Mulheron getting a foot in in the nick of time on Partridge as United break through the middle, the ball running away for a corner kick. The delivery into a busy six yard box headed away to the right, before play is stopped by a raised flag.
Kosky getting her foot in to deny Richards up top for City as she attempts to see the ball roll across her body and turn from a Hubbard pass from the left. Richards and Fitzpatrick combining as the pair come on for City right channel, Bennett defending for United. Erin Davies frustrated in the centre of midfield for City with a good tackle to get the ball forwards into Fitzpatrick, her threaded pass forwards unable to find Richards up top. A few fouls being given away by City as they look to get themselves going.
Mulheron getting back well on Wiltshire to defend for City as the United striker takes the ball off Marden on the right and turns inside making a run for the box. Kosky allowed time on the ball at the back able to pick a pass goes long with Wiltshire pulling off the defence, too much on it however Hudson taking it safely. Steele cuts the ball out at the back as Wiltshire drifting over to the left looks to find Partridge through the middle, the clearance as has been often the case quickly coming back with Edgar, Naylor and Otten in this case winning the ball back for United.
Bennett bombing on left side her pass on catching Partridge offside. Otten central out to Marden on the right has support from Wiltshire the pass inside, shifts to go one way checking back inside Mulheron adjusting to get her foot in to take the ball away from her. Hubbard drifting into a central position with a telling pass forwards for City cutting the United defence open Richards running on, Webb though sharp to respond out quickly to the top of the area to lay claim to the ball.
City battling for possession Davies with the ball long on the diagonal to Richards making a run into the area, Kosky getting across her the defender shielding the ball out for goal kick. United with the ball high on the left Bennett up with Partridge and Wiltshire playing a short triangle the ball coming to Wilshire outside the box left of the D, Davies tracking back from midfield getting the block in to deny the shot.
City with a few encouraging signs towards the latter stages of the first half the ball played into Richards feet 20 odd yards out central does well to roll her marker shift the ball right and turn onto the shot a vicious drive on target low comes onto Webb quickly improvises well with a fantastic save with her shins as she falls back to deflect the ball away to the right. Pressure from Partridge sees the ball lost on the City right picks out Naylor central forwards to Wilshire, Fitzpatrick with the challenge for City.
Half-time Cambridge United WFC 1-0 Cambridge City Ladies
United with the lead at half-time Sarah Wiltshire’s 16th goal of the season the difference between the sides scoring in the 20th minute. A dominant first half from the hosts with City sitting back soaking up alot of pressure. Have battled well to keep their opponents chances limited with Wiltshire getting on clear chance in behind the defence to score. City have been frustrated but showed signs towards the end of the first half that they are far from out of the game and with the lead just a single goal the result is far from certain.
No changes for either side at the break with United to get the 2nd half underway in front of a crowd of 371. The ball played back into midfield, City straight in the close the ball down the action frantic at the start as the ball in hustled all over the pitch. City working the ball across the pitch out to the right claimed by Wedd in the United goal.
Partridge on through the middle with a good touch to send the ball on towards the box, Hudson out well to clear. City get the ball on through the middle Hubbard more central on for Richards a race with Rouse towards the box the United defender getting to the ball to clear. Bennett still getting forwards on the left for United on for Wilshire, Reed coming back at her to win the ball back for City. A much more even start to the 2nd half City getting into United higher up the pitch to disrupt play a little bitty at times with passes being forced and possession lost.
United have a break on Wiltshire moving right on for Naylor, Mulheron stretching to make the challenge getting hold of the ball. Richards frustrated as she gives away a foul kicking the ball away, a word from the referee. City getting into United higher up the pitch is seeing the passes forwards into Wiltshire restricted. Hubbard linking with Davies in the middle on for Richards, Kosky getting in close to challenge for United.
Stephenson out left for City seeing the ball into her feet back to goal spins off her marker well to check inside the pass for Richards intercepted by Edgar for United. Stephenson with another clever turn this time frustrated as the flag goes up against her. Edgar coming forwards with the ball at her feet right channel on for Wiltshire making a run down the line checking back on the by-line up towards the corner of the area getting a looping shot away looking for the top corner drops into Hudson’s waiting gloves.
City much improved with Hubbard in with Davies allowing the visitors number 8 more time to pick a pass give the attacking plyers something to run onto. United under a bit of pressure now themselves at the back. Richards on the run with the ball right side bundled over City with the free-kick 35 yards out, Hubbard over it an ambitious effort going for goal, out straight at Webb the goalkeeper untroubled.
Edgar fouled coming forwards for United inside the City half. Naylor playing the ball low in towards the top of the area Wiltshire putting it across the D, City scramble it clear. City with a set-piece launched into the box, a firm header from Kosky to clear for United. Bennett left up to Partridge attempting to flick it on behind and run onto the ball gives herself too much to do as Hudson rushes out to claim the ball. City making their first change bringing on 16-year-old Sophie Billing for her first team debut, for Struthers going up top sees a shift of personnel, City feeling they’re right back in the game.
Kosky pushing up on Richards the striker doing well to drag the ball wide and spin in behind feeding the pass on for Billing up top clear to attack, Webb out to get to the ball top of her area. Billing combining with Stephenson in attack on the left, Seymour seeing it out for the throw, the cross played into the top of the area hooked clear by Edgar. Steele appears to have picked up a knock for City coming off to be assessed.
GOAL! City with a strong start to the 2nd half get themselves back on level terms with a top quality finish from Hubbard from all of 30 yards out. Gardiner forwards to Stephenson on the left comes inside playing the pass into Hubbard central, sees the opportunity making great contact with the ball sending it up towards goal Webb back on her line can’t get a touch as it dips under the bar to make it 1-1.
Steele has come off replaced by Ellen Marson. City full of confidence now pressing the ball winning a free-kick on the left as Stephenson is bundled over. 30 yards out Hubbard to flight it in towards the top of the area Richards stretching for it can’t get enough of a touch to knock it past the defence United clear. United with a double change on the right bringing off Seymour and Marden for Abi Davies and Abbie Jackson. City too making another change bringing on Sarah Payne for Gardiner.
City winning a corner on the left players up as the ball is flung in across the six yard box, Webb up well amongst the crowd to glove the ball away to drop behind to the right for another corner. Put in near side Fitzpatrick attempting to knock it in towards the near post too many bodies to get through cleared.
City looking energized now up for it as the crowd try to gee up United with a little over 15 minutes left to play. Richards gathering the ball right of Reed turning for goal 30 yards out clattered over winning the set-piece. Over it herself goes for goal the attempt straight at Webb held. United aren’t finding it as easy to get the balls into their attackers 2nd half with City more competitive in the middle Hubbard and Davies pressing the ball finding Stephenson out left Richards with support from Billing moving about to get onto the ball.
Richards game done however as she comes off for Alexandra Pryke late in the game. Davies with a shot from distance off a eft side throw for City on target but straight at Webb. United making a change Kosky off at the back replaced by new signing Kaylen Gerkey. Naylor coming through the middle for United a powerful run riding a challenge driving threaded into the area for Wiltshire moving left on into the six yard box rapidly losing room for a shot gets an angled ball in low but taken by Hudson.
City finishing the game the stronger pressing the ball not giving United any time fighting to keep what they’ve got at the end Jackson cutting out Payne pass on for Billing outside the box.
Full time Cambridge United WFC 1-1 Cambridge City Ladies
All over and the points are shared. A game of two halves literally. United the better side in the first half getting into City pushing on and spreading the ball about the park controlling the middle taking a deserved lead. City battled hard to keep them at bay not wanting to expose any gaps in behind conceding were encouraging signs towards the end of the first half. A few tweaks to positioning a a much improved 2nd half on the front foot competing for the ball in the middle while limiting United passes into their forwards a more even contest did feel another United goal might kill it off but it didn’t come and City found the equaliser through a wonderful finish from Eva Hubbard, giving them renewed energy and confidence might well have gone either way at the end after that. Will meet again this season in the upcoming Cambridgeshire Women’s Invitation Cup final, City the current holders. United back in the competition after a year out where they went on to win the inaugural Hunts FA Women’s Cup, on the basis to this evenings game a mouthing game awaits.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this evenings Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. No easy one this with several contenders putting themselves forwards. Carrie Bennett had an excellent game out on the left for United relishing a derby got herself about the park, putting in a number of tackles. Rachel Kosky too at the back with a several key challenges and interceptions, showing a good range of passing. Sarah Wiltshire’s movement causing City’s defence problems especially first half as she moved across the back line looking to create openings and receive the ball, took her goal well. For City, Fran Steele was strong at the back getting in to win the ball and clear threats. Haile Richards impressed up top working hard running into the channels and linking up play. Although Erin Davies was a frustrated figure in the first half the 2nd half adjustments saw her have more influence in the middle and won her fair share of the ball. Tonight’s award though goes to Cambridge City’s Eva Hubbard was a sublime finish to get City back on level terms. Working hard for the team both tracking back to defend and get forwards moving more central 2nd half to get amongst the midfield.
Another enjoyable evening at The Abbey Stadium, my tanks to both teams for this assistance tonight and my thanks to Sean Doyle for using his pictures in the report. A great advert for football in Cambridge long my the rivalry continue.
by Darren Gilham