Sunday 14th October
FAWNL Cup – 2nd Round
A game from the FAWNL Cup this Sunday on Women’s Football East. The top two in the Southern Premier Division drawn together in the 2nd Round of the competition, Watford FC Ladies v Coventry United Ladies.
The first to 2 successive meetings between the clubs with both scheduled to face each other in the league with Watford travelling to Daventry next weekend. This Sunday though it’s all about the Cup. A Determining Round played at the beginning of the season to decide which competition the sides from the 6 FAWNL leagues the teams will contest the victors going on to compete for the Cup the losing sides entering the Plate.
Watford FC Ladies dropping down a league to join the FAWNL Southern Premier Division this season. One of the founding members of FAWSL 2, the restructure of the top tiers in the women’s game seeing it become the Championship, teams offered the chance to bid for a new licence. Watford FC Ladies chose early on not to bid for a place for various reasons cost being one factor. Are one of 5 sides to have dropped down from the top two tiers. Has been a turbulent few seasons for Watford often at the wrong end of the FAWSL 2 table, and the decision not to apply for a new license saw more turbulence with player and staff departures.
Making that decision early though has seen the club rebuild and restructure setting itself up going forwards to be in a strong position as it enters the FAWNL. A great start to the league campaign, have lost just the once this season to newly promoted Loughborough Foxes Women who came out of the blocks making a fantastic start themselves. Since that defeat back at the end of August, Watford have gone on to win 6 in a row in league and cup to see them 2nd in the table a point behind today’s opponents.
Coventry United Ladies top the Southern Premier Division table are the only undefeated side in the league with the only points being dropped in a opening day 0-0 draw away to Gillingham FC Ladies. Have one of the best defensive records in the league too conceding just 4 goals to date. Are more often then not one of the sides challenging at the top of the table over recent seasons. A couple of big matches coming up away to their nearest rivals in the league and cup. 3rd and 4th placed Plymouth Argyle Ladies and Chichester City Ladies have both started the season well 3 points back will be keen observers whilst 5th placed Cardiff City Ladies even at this early stage have games in hand on all the sides above them.
Byes for both sides in the 1st Round of the FAWNL Cup, Watford FC Ladies winning their Determining Round tie away to South West Division One side Poole Town Ladies 2-1. Coventry United Ladies with a comfortable 7-0 win at home against South East Division One side, Norwich City Ladies.
A wet drive down to this afternoon’s match from Norfolk, the rain heavy at times and with games already called off close to the ground I checked in with Watford before heading out, the pitch good so far so I set off arriving at King’s Langley FC with the rain falling heavily fingers crossed umbrella up. As it was the rain would stop leading up to kick-off, the pitch looking good had held out well a good size, a bar and hot food trailer available cover if needed.
Watford FC Ladies starting XI – Weronika Baranowska, Katherine Huggins, Emily Hill, Sammy Hallsworth, Georgie O’Halloran, Alysha Stojko-Down, Danielle Scanlon, Laura Baker, Linda Afuakwah, Katie )’Leary & Helen Ward (C). Subs – Amy Martin, Anaisa Harvey, Afiya Johnson, Katie Akerman & Andrea Carid.
Coventry United Ladies starting XI – Susan Wood (C), Laura McGlone, Chemise Austin, Natasha Merritt, Nikki Miles, Jade Brook, Marie Gauntlett, Amber Hughes, Rosie McDonnell, Lois Jefferies & Amy Wathan. Subs – Jenna Roberts, Erin Riden, Ellie White & Shannon O’Brien.
Coventry with the kick-off in the 1st half the visitors kitted out in red shirts with green shorts and socks. Watford wearing yellow and black vertical striped shirts with black shorts and socks. Play the ball forwards into the right channel, Katherine Huggins winning the ball for Watford sends it forwards picked up by captain Helen Ward, the experienced Welsh International pulling out to the left drives on with the ball her shot from outside the area blocked by Chenise Austin at right back for Coventry the rebound back to Ward she takes it beyond the full back shoots from the angle, Susan Wood, Coventry’s goalkeeper and captain claiming the ball low at her near post.
Coventry attack with purpose down the left side winning a throw deep in the Watford half the ball dropped into Marie Gauntlett she holds up well before shifting the ball and turning sends a cross long across the Watford six yard box, Hughes running in far post not quite able to get onto the ball to deflect it goalwards as it runs out of play. A good start to the game from the visitors getting players forwards Gauntlett covering alot of ground across the Watford area early on sees the ball into her feet left side turning well fires the ball across the top of the area Jade Brook meeting it 20 yards out right of the D strikes in a low shot that races just wide of the left post.
Central Gauntlett feeds in Rosie McDonnell on the right side shoots from a tight angle a fierce strike rising, Watford goalkeeper, Weronika Baronowska making a great save throwing herself up to tip the ball over the bar. The corner kick from the right a good ball in by Amber Hughes players at the top of the area Watford blocking a couple of goal attempts struggle to clear their box a clearance hitting Brook, the rebound back in towards the top of the area falls to Nikki Miles the Coventry defender volleying the shot wide.
Space for Linda Afuakwah to run into on the right as the ball is won in midfield the Watford attacker taking the ball on towards the area, Laura McGlone coming back to get close in on Afuakwah and slide in to make the tackle the ball going behind for Watford’s first corner of the match. Taken short put back into the taker on the right the cross long to the far post area pulled down and the shot sent over the bar.
Coventry working the ball well pressing Watford back in their own half, Ward sometimes isolated in attack when home side do get the ball forwards. Good movement from Ward nonetheless to make herself available peeling away to the left, Miles comes across the defend for Coventry. Hughes and McDonnell switching wings repeatedly, the latter on the left this attack combines with with Lois Jefferies looking to get inside is dispossessed by Watford’s Emily Hill. A free-kick won on the left for Coventry inside the Watford half down the line for McDonnell crossing into the area, Sammy Hallsworth getting up highest heads the ball out for the corner.
The corner left side an inviting ball across the six yard box Brook meeting it far post with the stooping header from close in the ball knocked into the ground cleared by the Watford defence covering the post. Another set-piece for Coventry on the right this time a good way out Brook playing a good delivery into the area headed down central towards the near post attacked, between defender and goalkeeper Watford make the block/save. Baranowska with an important save minutes later as Coventry’s Brook plays a fantastic 30 yard ball up into the area Jefferies up central heading the ball down Amy Wathan to her right hitting the shot goalwards Baranowska coming towards her sliding into block.
Afuakwah winning Watford a throw on right played into Ward her strike blocked the ball running out to Danielle Scanlon, sees Katie O’Leary looking to run in behind on the left a great ball into her, O’Leary frustrated by the offside flag up against her.
GOAL! 20 minutes played and Coventry get the opening goal, have looked the most likely. Brook with the ball right side getting down the wing holds up well before firing a cross into the area the clearance coming straight for Gauntlett outside the box inside the D, setting herself gets her left foot up over the ball to hit it on the half-volley, the strike hit well racing past Baranowska into the back of the net 0-1.
Watford respond well very nearly getting back on level terms straight from the restart, O’Leary winning the ball playing a great ball forwards with Afuakwah coming into a central position her touch taking he into the area Wood coming to close the angle goes to shoot across the keeper as she dives to her left, makes an excellent save with her leg to stop the shot going past her. Coventry go forwards right side Hughes winning the corner. In central Wathan jumping to meet it the ball heading in towards goal taken high by Baranowska on her line.
A yellow card shown to Natasha Merritt for a crude foul on Afuakwah. O’Leary winning the ball inside her own half plays in on through the Laura Baker a superb touch taking the ball on for Ward to run onto central clear but a fraction offside as the flag goes up. Watford beginning to exert pressure on the ball higher up the pitch Alysha Stojko-Down with the ball out to Afuakwah on the right, McGlone with support from Miles winning the ball back for Coventry.
Watford launch a counter attack the ball brought out from the ball played on with Georgie O’Halloran bursting forwards right side the ball played on spinning as it lands in front of her favouring McGlone as she tracks back with the defender 20 yards out looks to send the ball back to her keeper to clear not realising Ward has anticipated the move latching onto the ball inside the area, closing on on the near post strikes the shot Wood saving blocking the ball as she drops to cover her goal.
Watford push on right side Afuakwah keeping the ball in play has support from Baker receiving the pass she sends the cross high into the Coventry area, O’Leary rising gets her head on the ball central her touch taking the ball wide of the far post. The home side stretching Coventry at the back Afuakwah inside the area gets hold of the ball Ward central she looks to pick her out Wood getting in between the pair dives onto the ball. Hughes with the ball 40 yards out drives forwards riding 3 challenges before being stopped no advantage play brought back for the first foul. Merritt over the ball with a good effort at goal from distance narrowly over the bar.
Jefferies with the ball on the left receiving from a throw-in played long across the top of the Watford area picked up by Hughes far side takes the ball inside before shooting Baranowska dropping to save near post. The rain has started to fall heavily once more. Baker plays the ball on for O’Leary, in behind for a moment Miles is quick to get across and close her down. O’Leary takes the opportunity to strike a shot from 25 yards out left side as the ball falls to her a deflection sending the ball wide across goal for a corner kick on the right. An inswinging ball central claimed well by Wood with Afuakwah in close attendance.
Half-time Watford FC Ladies 0-1 Coventry United Ladies
A narrow lead for Coventry at half-time, have been the better side first half and but for some excellent saves by Baranowska may have been 2 or 3 goals to the good. Not that they have had it all there own way Watford having a couple of great opportunities to score up the other end and Wood has made some vital stops aswell. All to play for 2nd half and Watford have scored 80% of their goals this season in the 2nd half – I can’t take any credit for that stat but it popped up on my twitter feed at just the right moment – and as you know I do love a good stat.
A change for Watford at the break, Huggins coming off, Andrea Carid coming on the move seeing Baker move into the left back position. Watford to kick-off the second half the rain still falling steadily. Baker called into action straight away as McDonnell is played in on the right wing the new left back sliding in to take the ball.
GOAL! The early goal comes 2nd half but not the way the home side wanted as Watford concede a 2nd goal. The ball out to the left Hughes taking it into the box under challenge lifts the ball high into the air dropping in front of goal goal Jefferies arriving the head the ball in from close range to make it 0-2.
O’Leary with the ball right side a good run, strong on the ball shoots, Wood claiming it at her near post. Hallsworth defending well inside her area as Brook drives on for Coventry with the ball central running on puts the ball into Wathan back to ball tries to send the return ball on for Brook, Hallsworth getting hold of the ball. Brook with so impressive runs on the ball for Coventry covering plenty of ground sends it on for McDonnell breaking right, Baker closing her down regain possession for Watford.
Stojko-Down wins the ball for Watford plays in Scanlon, her forward ball trying to find Ward just too long. Watford pressing the ball well, is just not sticking as they look to hold onto possession, Coventry not settling for a 2 goal lead. Gauntlett spinning on the ball has Hughes running on her right plays the pass Hughes picking the ball up 20 yards out looks to cut inside get into the area, Hallsworth closing her down putting in a good challenge to win the ball as Hughes looks to pull the trigger.
Coventry bring the ball on Gauntlett out to the right with Brook making a good run her cross long to the far post Jefferies can’t get a touch, McDonnell picking it up left side plays the ball back into the box Wathan latching onto the shot, Baranowska saving low at her near post. Gauntlett with a shot from 25 yards out, rising Baranowska positioned centrally taking the ball high into her gloves.
GOAL! Watford pull a goal back with 20 minutes of the 2nd half played, O’Leary with the ball has Ward on the right making a god run sends the ball into her path taking it in the striker surges on closing in on the area and hits the shot low and fast past the diving Wood to score 1-2.
Coventry respond by making a change McGlone giving way for Erin Riden. The home side winning a free-kick on the right 10 yards inside the Coventry half the delivery lofted forwards into the box met by the jumping O’Leary near post places her effort wide of goal. Carid on the ball pushes it on for Ward right side, coming inside Miles does well coming to close her down winning a goalkick.
GOAL! Coventry restore their 2 goal cushion and it comes courtesy of a thunderbolt from Brook. I’m standing right behind this goal and it’s a real treat, Brook bringing the ball on forwards into Jefferies plays it back to Brook into space right side 30 or so yards out decides she’s going for it connects well the ball destined for the top corner the ball trapped by the net bracket inside the goal 1-3. A quality strike I will be looking out for the highlights, you’ll want to too.
20 minutes left to play Watford have a corner kick on the right the ball into the area headed wide across goal, another corner signalled. Left side the ball swung in O’Leary attacking it far post put wide.
GOAL! For the 2nd time in the match Watford reduce the deficit to a single goal. Attacking down the left Afuakwah is clipped by Hughes was she recklessly slides in to tackle the advantage played O’Leary after the ball the cross swung into the area, finds its way out to the right side crossed back in dropping far post O’Leary rushing in gets something on the ball drops down rolling along the goal line unsure if it is over via a Coventry defender or the post but if I was O’Leary I’d be claiming it 2-3 game on.
Extra-time and penalties loom if a winner can’t be decided in the 90. The referee consulting his linesman coming back to book Hughes. Watford tails up now sense they can find a 3rd goal make a change Stojko-Down coming off, Anaisa Harvey coming on. 10 minutes left to play. Miles winning the ball at the back for Coventry as the home side press on the right. Hallsworth defending for Watford at her near post as Hughes attacking down the left fires the ball in Hallsworth doing well with Jefferies on her shoulder. Baker shown a yellow for a foul on Brook.
A 3rd and final change for Watford, Afiya Johnson into the action replacing Afuakwah. Into the final 5 minutes. Hughes nipping in to win the ball inside the Watford area left, Baranowska saving the shot. With Watford pressing the attack looking for a 3rd goal Coventry counter the ball played on for Jefferies 20 yards out her touch sending the ball wide of the onrushing keeper, Jefferies goes on shapes to shoot the Watford defence racing back a good block from Hallsworth to deny the striker a 2nd goal.
O’Leary is taken out by Austin as she attacks down the right the free-kick awarded players forwards. O’Leary picking herself up into the area for the set-piece the target as the ball is delivered in near post the no 14 getting her head on the ball sends it wide across the face of goal. Watford attacking with purpose late on Hill with the pass long out t Ward moving left takes the ball wider challenged as she comes back inside, the rebound to Baker lofted into the area, Miles clearing for Coventry. Miles with two further important wins inside her area as Watford push on late into the game into stoppage time the ball played long left picked up by Gauntlett she takes it sensibly into the corner time up Coventry win the game to progress in the League Cup.
Full time Watford FC Ladies 2-3 Coventry United Ladies
An enjoyable encounter between the top two in the Southern Premier Division meeting in the League Cup. A run of 9 unbeaten now for Coventry look strong know themselves though there’s a long way to go. Started the game well took the lead may well have been further ahead, perhaps the 2nd goal after the restart proving the most crucial Watford coming back into it to set up a nervy finish to the game. Meet again in the league with Coventry the home side this time around know alot more about each other now just a point between them will be another interesting encounter. Coventry go on in the League Cup will be a side others will be hoping to avoid.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto today’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match, as usual few contenders although one did stand out during the 90. Sammy Hallsworth with some good defensive work for Watford, Weronika Baranowska with some vital saves too. Marie Gauntlett working tirelessly in midfield scoring the opening goal for Coventry, Nikki Miles strong at the back. Today’s award though goes to Jade Brook a great game in the middle of the park for Coventry on and off the ball moving into space making herself available and setting up others capping it off with a quality strike.
Wet, I supposed I’ll have to get used to a few more like that. An enjoyable game high time I took in some Southern Premier Division action albeit in the League Cup. My thanks to everyone at Watford FC Ladies who offered assistance today it was greatly appreciated.