Sunday 8th September
ERWFL Premier Division
A return trip to Peterborough this Sunday to watch my first game of the season from the ERWFL Premier League with Peterborough Northern Star Ladies hosting early leaders Colney Heath Ladies.
The standard within the league improving year on year is highly competitive at this level and rarely disappoints in entertainment. Several sides have recruited well over the summer and could will be intriguing to find out who winds up on top. Both of today’s opponents enjoy a good relationship and support from within the wider club.
Peterborough Northern Star Ladies moving across to join the ERWFL (Eastern Region Women’s Football League) last season having previously been with the East Midlands regional set-up. A strong outfit pushing towards the top of the league they were among the front runners early on before injuries and lack of numbers took their toll towards the end of the season. A need to recruit and strengthen the first team, they have brought in several new additions with the likes of Kayla Dortch, Kimberly Fairweather, Gabrielle Smith, Eleanor Spendelow and Leah Cudone coming in. The first team backed up by a Reserves side playing in a 13 strong Cambridgeshire Women’s Premiership this season. A last gaps goal seeing them lose 3-2 at home to Luton Town Ladies on the opening day. Bounced back with a 3-0 win away to newly promoted St Ives Town Ladies last time out.
Colney Heath Ladies have made a fantastic start to the season winning their opening two league games scoring 17 goals in the process to top the ERWFL Premier Division one of 3 sides still with a 100% record. A great performance in the Preliminary Round of the Women’s FA Cup last Sunday saw them win 3-1 away to fellow Premier Division side Bedford Ladies. Now entering their 3rd season playing at this level have consolidated well and will be looking to push on. A terrific start last season however they fell away badly losing their manager. Paul Gleeson coming in thing’s began to pick up towards the end of last season, have recruited over the summer too with the likes of Jordan Goddard, Rachel Spendlow, goalkeeper Amy Butler and Samaira Khan joining.
The Branch Bros Stadium, Peterborough Northern Star Ladies home ground to the northern end of the city easy to get to. Two large grass area with pitches either side of the main pitch overlooked by the bar and clubhouse on entry. A burger van open to serve hot food and drinks. The pitch with a thick covering of grass two small seated stands available either side of the dugouts. A pleasant day a few dark clouds around but no rain forecast keeping the temperature down, the sun bright when it does poke through.
Peterborough Northern Star Ladies starting XI – Sarah Hudson (C), Evie Driscoll-King, Samantha Davies, Kayla Dortch, Bronwyn Mulheron, Chanade Henderson, Gabrielle Smith, Leah Cudone, Katie Steward & Emma Pollard. Subs – Frances Peeling, Alexa Hunter, Kimberly Fairweather, Eleanor Spendelow & Georgia Coulson.
Colney Heath Ladies starting XI – Lucy Hancock, Samantha May, Catalina Costas, Annie Hickey, Kelly Glynn, Christina Freestone, Sheree Oliver (C), Samiara Khan, Adi Milton, Charlene Moreton & Rianne Townsend-Brown. Subs – Mel Godino & Rachel Sherlow.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
Four of the 12 sides in the ERWFL Premier Division play in a black and white strip, Royston, St Ives Town and today’s opponents. Peterborough with home advantage wearing black and white vertical striped shirts, with black shorts and black and white hooped socks lining up as Colney Heath wearing an all blue away kit prepare to kick-off the match. Pressure from the hosts straight away forcing Colney Heath back towards their own box Katie Steward in to pinch the ball central sees it run on in behind Emma Pollard giving chase moving away from goal the angle against her as she gets her foot around the ball her attempt wide of the near post.
Peterborough starting brightly Steward in possession on the right controls well before turning inside to fire a cross in along the six yard box no one attacking it central, goalkeeper Lucy Hancock able to gather at the far post. Christina Freestone on the ball central plays it out wide left for Samaira Khan, 5 goals for the winger since joining the club looks to take the ball on tackled by Peterborough’s Evie Driscoll-King the ball out for a throw. Taken quickly inside the Peterborough half attacker Charlene Moreton coming towards the ball heading it on over the top for Rianne Townsend-Brown she sends it wide to her right with Adi Milton looking to get inside her fullback, strong running into the box, goalkeeper and captain Sarah Hudson out well to close her down makes the blocking save at her feet.
Driscoll-King putting in a good tackle to deny Khan again on the wing sends a great all up the right for Steward to chase, gathering the ball takes it on before wrapping her foot around the ball to launch a cross into the area, Hancock up well to claim it. Both sides looking to turn the play around quickly Milton almost succeeds in playing Townsend-Brown through central with a well flighted diagonal pass, the striker halted however by a raised flag.
Khan stays onside from a free-kick won on the left played forwards the winger squaring a pacey ball along the top of the area finds its way through to Milton far side meets it first time with the outside of her boot the shot in angling away from goal. Peterborough mount a quick attack of their own from front to back the ball through the middle almost has Steward in top of the area but Hancock out well just about does enough to thwart her as her defence recovers to clear the ball.
Chanade Henderson getting hold of the ball in the middle for Peterborough plays a great ball forwards for Steward to attack in behind shoulder to shoulder with full back Catalina Costas the Colney Heath defender doing well to get a toe to the ball before Steward to send it wide of goal, then a controversial decision by the referee in the visitors opinion as goalkeeper Hancock goes out towards the ball is warned not to pick it up but does, Colney Heath complaining it wasn’t a back pass an indirect free-kick awarded against them wide of goal near the edge of the six yard box. A crowded penalty area the intention to smash it across the face of goal the Colney Heath defence charge it down and clear successfully.
An entertaining opening to the match both sides lively, Colney Heath with the slower start coming into it more as captain Sheree Oliver plays the ball forwards to Milton on the right possession retained, a cross lifted into the box, Khan central rising a tall player, can only get a glancing header the ball over at the far post. A delay in play then as a dogs mess is discovered on the pitch, happens at this level now an again. The task of clearing it up usually the home side managers (although I doubt Emma Hayes had this dilemma at Stamford Bridge this afternoon) Dean Steward managing Peterborough armed with a plastic bag clearing up the offending item and play can resume.
The free-kick scheduled to take place nearby as Driscoll-King plays a fantastic ball into the box, Hancock in amongst bodies on the penalty spot with a good punch getting it away. Hancock reacting sharply again moments later as a defensive error puts Leah Cudone in behind on the left of attack into the box the goalkeeper rushing out to gather top of the area. Peterborough upping the tempo attacking with more urgency in the last five minutes get control of the ball inside their opponents half Gabrielle Smith showing fantastic close ball control threading a pass forwards for Cudone playing in in to attack the box central Hancock coming to close her down Cudone looks to place her shot wide of the advancing keeper, not enough however as Hancock throws out and arm to stop the ball.
Hancock quick to set up the counter attack the ball up to Milton a threat on the right plays the ball on for Townsend-Brown in behind, the defence caught static, Hudson comes out towards her top of the area right of the D, Townsend-Brown sending the ball past her as the pair collide, Kayla Dortch back by then on hand can clear the ball if needed by can see it safely behind only just mind. Neither side on top, both looking like they will find the opening goal Peterborough regain possession central Smith finding her pass again to see fullback Samantha May outnumbered left side of the area as Cudone and Pollard burst forwards the shot fired in across goal into the bottom corner, the goal though doesn’t stand the flag raised against the pair.
Costas has picked up an injury for Colney Heath the full back struggling can’t continue bringing the first change of the match with Rachel Spendlow joining at right back. Peterborough have a corner on the right the delivery short as Cudone spots makes a run towards the ball turning to shoot from 20 yards out her strike over the bar. A mix-up at the back inside the six yard box from the Colney Heath defence sees Cudone latch onto the ball attempting to turn right side to get a shot away the blocking tackle sees the ball cleared falling to Peterborough’s Faith Horner she shoots 25 yards out the ball safely handled straight into Hancock’s midriff.
Colney Heath attack right Milton winning her side a corner kick the delivery in central headed clear Cudone bringing it away left play a quality pass on for Steward breaking forwards right channel, Sherlow back with her lunging in to make the tackle top of the area to take the ball away from the attacker.
GOAL! Half an hour played and the deadlock is broken, Peterborough on the attack right side, Driscoll-King having made some good runs forwards previously allowed to go on bringing the ball inside from the top of the area hits it hard sending the ball angling in across the face of goal, finds its way past everyone to nestle into the back of the net 1-0.
A few robust tackles have been a feature of the first half, Freestone upended by Smith in the middle sees the Peterborough player warned. Peterborough enjoying the lions share of the attacking play now, Dortch’s defence clearance turning into a great ball forwards Steward after it looks to lay it off inside for Pollard to shoot, Annie Hickey reading it for Colney Heath the defender in to nick the ball and attempt to set up a counter attack, on to Freestone to Milton away on the right squares a cross in ear side Townsend-Brown going for it so too Dortch the defender sliding in to win the challenge inside the box.
Flowing football from Peterborough Henderson with Horner out to Steward right side a brilliant pass long in behind on the diagonal to pick out Cudone nipping into the box left, her first touch taking the ball out from her feet giving Hancock a chance to dive for it, grabbing it into her body Cudone hurdling over her.
GOAL! Out of nothing Colney Heath are back on level terms late in the first half. Milton who has carried a threat all through the first half doing well to win a corner on the right players forwards as Charlene Moreton goes across to take it, a fantastic inswinging delivery high, Hudson up for it near post misses the ball past her finds the underside of the ball to nestle into the back of the net 1-1.
The full back have swapped sides for Colney Heath, May over at left back now called into action to make a vital tackle inside the box as the ball is played on through the middle to send Steward away in attack the full back on her shoulder pushing her wide of goal lunging to make the tackle before Steward can unleash a shot.
GOAL! The game turned completely on its head then as moments after levelling the scores they break to score and take the lead. The ball left side lifted forwards a miscued defensive clearance seeing the ball fall in behind with Milton quickest on the right side latching onto it taking on the shot early from 25 yards out well struck Hudson with little chance as it flies over her into the back of the net 1-2.
Finding themselves trailing with just a minute of the first half left Peterborough get on the attack good combination play between Driscoll-King and Steward on the right the cross played into the box Pollard right of the D, her effort blocked by Hickey. Peterborough closing the ball down with intensity with the half-time whistle imminent.
GOAL! Winning the ball inside the Colney Heath half their defence pushed up Dortch to Mulheron who plays a great ball forwards for Cudone to gather on the left the striker head down with one intent to get inside and take on the shot lets fly from the top of the area the ball angling in over the keeper into the top corner 2-2. The half-time whistle blows.
Half-time Peterborough Northern Star Ladies 2-2 Colney Heath Ladies
An entertaining first half of football, plenty of action, played at a good pace, chances created, a splash of controversy into the mix. Peterborough started well and created opportunities. Colney Heath coming back into the game Both sides making use of their wide players, Peterborough taking a deserved lead, Colney Heath with a fortunate levelling goal but no doubt about their 2nd a quality strike from Milton, Peterborough responding well to level the scores before the break Cudone with a superb strike to make it 2-2. Beautifully poised for the 2nd half.
The sun starting to poke through more towards the end of the first half now bright and facing the goal Peterborough are defending 2nd half as they get the game restarted. Both sides making a change at half-time Kimberly Fairweather on in place of Smith for Peterborough, Melissa Godino replaced Khan in the wing for Colney Heath. Cudone out on the right attacking sends a driven shot in towards the near post the ball held by Hancock closing the angle.
Oliver bringing the ball forwards for Colney Heath up the right into Milton she cuts infield before firing a cross in towards the top of the area met by Moreton her 1st time effort rising towards goal sails over the crossbar. Mulheron picking up the first yellow card of the game for an ungainly tackle on Milton looking to get on 20 yards out on the right. Freestone over the set-piece floated into the area, claimed well by Hudson. A lively start to the 2nd half both sides closing down the ball.
Townsend-Brown caught just offside as Colney Heath play the ball on through the middle. Peterborough a little sloppy with their passes in the middle, Oliver getting hold of it up for Moreton, Mulheron in to win the ball back. Hancock is having an assured performance in goal for Colney Heath takes a confident catch high above her head as Cudone lifts a cross in from the right.
A 2nd change for Peterborough with Georgia Coulson coming on for Davies. Peterborough get a corner on the right the delivery in towards the near side punched back to the taker by Hancock, crossed back in dropping in the six yard box, players attacking it none can get a clean strike on the ball, Hickey wining it with a no nonsense clearance. Steward out on the right bursts in behind Hancock coming to meet her one on one Steward jinks left the right attempting to deceive the keeper before trying to shoot across her, Hancock saving once more.
Peterborough enjoying more of the attack more Colney Heath happy to sit ready to hit on the counter. Oliver bringing it out on for Townsend-Brown, Milton the outlet ready to go on the right, Coulson intercepting the pass for Peterborough. Hancock continues to thwart the Peterborough attack again Cudone clever is through into the box looking to take the ball around the keeper, Hancock down to pinch the ball. Pollard lines up a strike from 20 yards her attempt drilled wide. Fairweather comes off for Peterborough on comes Alexa Hunter. Milton off for Colney Heath, Khan returning with Godino moving to the right.
Henderson allowed to travel with the ball 20 yards out goes to pull the trigger Hickey running out to close her down making the block. Into the final 20 minutes the game remains there for the taking. Pollard carries the attack on the right for Peterborough, May holding her up, Cudone joining in support the pair win a corner. The ball in cleared by Hickey, her header falling to Steward 25 yards out does connect with the shot lacks the pace to trouble Hancock.
Colney Heath’s defence the busier a determination amongst them not to concede, Glynn clearing as Hunter almost feds Pollard into the box making a run left channel. Pollard’s last actin of the game as she comes off now to be replaced by Eleanor Spendelow. Cudone looking the most likely to score as she makes another purposeful run on the right her shot fired in low Hancock down to save the ball loose however in front of her Peterborough slow to follow-up as Colney Heath scramble it away. Cudone taking the ball on to the byline right side lifting a cross in central evading Hancock this time, Spendlow jumping in the middle can’t keep her header down.
Mulheron sending a fine pass forwards for Steward breaking right of the D takes aim the ball on target can only pick out Hancock back on her line, The game entering the final five minutes, Colney Heath working hard in defence keen to remain unbeaten allow Peterborough to come on. Coulson playing the ball on for Hunter to release Henderson central, Hickey stepping out of the back line to defend for Colney Heath. Another change for Colney Heath, Coulson departing… Frances Peeling on.
Peterborough winning a couple of free-kicks on the right late on Cudone on the first, Hancock claiming. The 2nd taken by Steward with Horner coming for it, Hickey dealing with the threat for the visitors. Moments left Peterborough attacking late on Henderson off a throw left crossing along the top of the area Hunter touching it into the path of the advancing Driscoll-King smashes a ball in towards goal deflected central Spendlow central wrong footed adjusts well to get her head on it turn it back towards goal Hancock across at her left post to save.
Full time Peterborough Northern Star Ladies 2-2 Colney Heath Ladies
The points shared in an entertaining game, all action from start to finish. No more goals added 2nd half but not for want of trying from Peterborough pushed hard in the 2nd half Colney Heath putting in a solid defensive display thwarting them. Little in attack from the visitors in the 2nd 45 did invite pressure but maintain their unbeaten start to the season with a few players out.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this Sunday’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match award not an easy one once again a few contenders certainly. Adi Milton carrying a threat on the right for Colney Heath especially first half scoring a fantastic goal. Lucy Hancock with a confident display in goal reading the game well. For Peterborough, Evie Driscoll-King with good defensive work at full back getting forwards well to linking with Katie Steward. Edging it though Leah Cudone attacking for Peterborough brings a wealth of experience to the side making forceful and clever runs on and off the ball creating chances and always looking to score. Took her goal beautifully.
An enjoyable trip to Peterborough, the ERWFL Premier Division producing yet another entertaining game full of excitement. Competitive from the 1st minute. My thanks to both sides for their help with the teams always appreciated. 5 games into the season already can’t believe it.