Sunday 15th September
Cambridgeshire Women’s Premiership
First taste of county league action this season and we begin in Cambridgeshire a game from the Women’s Premiership, March Town United Ladies v ICA Sports Ladies.
The 3rd weekend in a row a side from Peterborough has featured in a match report. ICA Sports Ladies the visitors this time around. An large influx of new sides entering the county leagues in Cambridgeshire this season sees the Premiership swell from 8 to 13 sides with a new single division Championship consisting of 15 sides.
March Town United Ladies one of the sides sitting out the opening weekend, begin their campaign this Sunday, now an established side in the Premiership finishing comfortably in what proved to be a competitive tussle in mid-table. Now part of a 13 strong Premiership alot more football to be played 6 new sides those promoted starting well March will be looking to make an impact.
A runners-up finish in the Premiership for ICA Sports Ladies last season, competing within the Peterborough area a hotbed for women’s football, the club both male and female has a very strong youth section always looking to bring players through. Like March well established in the league will be aiming to be as competitive as last season push for the top end of the table. Started their season with a win, although only just letting a 6-2 lead at home to Fulbourn Institute Bluebirds slips to clinch it 6-5 at the final whistle.
Didn’t get to see either side in action last season, and it has been a while since I’ve visited March Town United Ladies, GER Sportsground. Boasts the 2nd oldest wooden football stand in existence set back from the pitch, the venue having hosted greyhound racing in the past. A new clubhouse leading into the ground on one corner, the bar and kitchen open for hot drinks. An historic ground, a good sized pitch. A hot and humid day, close with some cloud cover, the sun hot when it breaks through.
March Town United Ladies starting XI – Toni Sharpe, Kayleigh Churchyard, Megan Webb, Louise Billingham, Claire Newton, Megan Tombs, Alexis Waters, Adele Munday (C), Emma Searle, Abigail Grist & Eleanor McLeish. Subs- Naomi McGarvie.
ICA Sports Ladies starting XI – Claire Knibbs, Cara Clarke, Jessica Farchica, Becky Shields (C), Sophie Antonucci, Zoe Leddy, Hannah Murphy, Sarah Rouse, Donna Nicholls, Piper Hebditch & Carmen Herridge. Subs – Tessa Morrison.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
Both sides short of numbers naming just 1 substitute each, players unavailable and missing through injury. ICA Sports without their goalkeeper, Claire Knibbs donning the gloves. ICA Sports opting to switch ends at the coin toss with the high sun a factor facing down on one goal. March to get the game underway wearing yellow shirts, black shorts and socks. ICA Sports lined up opposite wearing blue shirts and shorts with blue and white hooped socks. The visitors press from the off forcing a throw left the ball put up the line Donna Nicholls fresh from scoring an opening day hat-trick bursting forwards putting the March defence under pressure gets inside to let loose a shot from 30 yards out her attempt well wide.
March bring the ball out fro the back Megan Tombs left and Abigail Grist right making runs wide looking for the crossfield pass, the ball played left Tombs bringing it down is challenged by Cara Clarke possession regained for ICA Sports. March win the ball back central forwards with Eleanor McLeish coming inside from the left taking aim from outside the area her shoot low gathered by Knibbs. March with another crossfield pass find Grist breaking in behind right side taking the ball to the byline her cross cut out by Sophie Antonucci for the first corner of the game.
GOAL! An early goal as ICA Sports break from March’s corner kick the ball cleared up-field Nicholls racing away clear on the left drives in field towards the area, the March defence racing to get back plays in central to Carman Herridge, wants to return it to Nicholls but is closed down instead has a 2nd option racing up to support Hannah Murphy receiving the lay off 25 yards out connecting well to fire in a shot past goalkeeper Toni Sharpe before she can set herself. 0-1.
ICA Sports leading within the opening 5 minutes are looking sharp early on breaking quickly Sarah Rouse breaking up a March attack, Nicholls frustrated as she goes a fraction to early the flag raised against her as Murphy central looks to put it on over the top for her. March captain Adele Munday getting hold of the ball looks to carry it through the middle her determined run ended by Rouse.
GOAL! The visitors quickly find themselves race into a 2 goal lead. Nicholls a real threat attacking on the left gets away in behind this time pace on the ball travelling into the box left side into the six yard box time to way up her options players racing in central opens up her body to shoot a close range, the ball finding it’s way through the goalkeepers legs as she shapes to block. 0-2.
A great start for ICA Sports 2 goals to the good inside 10 minutes looking lively the ball won high up the pitch play turned around quickly forcing their opponents into rushing their passes. Murphy brought down central 30 yards out players forwards as Nicholls stands over the set piece into the area, headed clear, March unable to break ICA Sports straight back at them, the pass into Nicholls her ball forwards long. March struggling to get any sustained possession early on. A change for ICA Sports Piper Hebditch has taken a slight knock on the right, Tessa Morrison coming on.
Murphy attacking for ICA Sports right channel on for Herridge takes the ball on into the area Louise Billingham going with her for March the centre back winning the challenge, the ball gathered by Morrison wide right her cross long across the box Nicholls on it far side shapes to shoot across the keeper, Sharpe with an excellent save throwing out a glove to push the ball away. A slight delay then as for the 2nd week running somebody as left a present on the pitch the duty of clearing it up once again falling to the manager. An appropriate time for a drinks break is hot out there (enjoy it while it lasts).
ICA Sports on the front foot again from the restart Murphy seeing Nicholls making her move left sides aiming to put the ball over the top, too close to the keeper this time. Munday looks to get things going for March through the middle a strong run forwards Clarke stays with her as they head for the box, Munday getting a shot away 25 yards out runs wide of the goal. ICA Sports caught offside March defender Claire Newton on the free-kick plays a fantastic ball into her opponents half in front of the area Munday bringing it down into the feet of fellow midfielder Emma Searle she lifts a shot over the bar from 25 yards out.
March finding their feet growing into the game but ICA Sports remain a threat ready to break on the counter should they commit too many forwards. The ball cleared by the March defence after a spell of head tennis in the final third, Murphy free 35 yards out meeting it on the volley aiming to lob the keeper her strike dropping short safely caught by Sharpe. March make a change Naomi McGarvie coming on for Billingham, the substitution seeing Alexis Waters drop into the back line.
Munday back helping her defence as Nicholls looks to put the ball over the top for Herridge running central. Waters winning the race to the ball getting a vital touch inside the area to clear for a corner as Murphy looks to get on through the middle. The ball from the corner put in near side met by an ICA Sports head turned goalwards dropping straight at Sharpe on her line cleanly gathered.
Megan Webb brought down getting forwards on the right for March the free-kick 30 yards out Searle over in floated into the area near post, Jessica Farchica tracking the runner to clear behind for a corner. The initial ball cleared back to the corner taker a 2nd cross fired in central into McGarvie back to goal attempts to control and turn to shoot closed down before she can. March enjoying a period of possession within the ICA Sports final 3rd Munday linking up with Searle, another free-kick given on the right deeper this time Newton forwards to take a fine delivery to the back post a March head meeting it falls wide of the post six yards out. Grist winning a corner right ICA Sports defend Herridge on it looking to break central is obstructed by Waters referee Ian Reynolds awarding the free-kick
GOAL! From the resulting free-kick ICA Sports go on to extend their lead Nicholls over it players forwards into the ball a good floated ball in central captain Becky Shields rising highest to meet it her header taking the ball out to the left where Murphy has strayed unmarked to collect and blast a shot in across the keeper 0-3.
ICA Sports remain sharp as the first half draws to a close another free-kick given on half-way the ball up towards the top of the area defended by Webb for March. ICA Sports keeping possession right Morrison playing it into the area the March defence stepping out well to leave Herridge offside. Searle with a powerful run on the ball through the middle for March Farchina on her shoulder 20 yards out does enough as the midfielder shoots does get the touch she wanted the ball tame as it is gathered by Knibbs.
Moments left in the first period Nicholls alert running in central catches Newton in possession outside the area takes the ball on Sharpe running out to meet her, Nicholls touch taking the ball wide of the advancing keeper momentum taking her wide of goal as she enters the six yard box, Newton haring back to get on the goal line Nicholls again weighing up the options as Sharpe back to closes the angle, Nicholls has Herridge steaming in lays the ball into her path 3 yards out central an opening goal begging manages to send the ball running wide across the face out beyond the far post.
Half-time March Town United Ladies 0-3 ICA Sports Ladies
The end to an otherwise dominant first half from ICA Sports, an early lead quickly doubled seeing them on the front foot. Preventing March getting any momentum going closing the ball down well, Hebditch and Nicholls looking to break wide in support of Herridge through the middle, Murphy with some excellent runs to with Rouse and Luddy protecting in midfield. March struggling to get up to the pace of the game, Munday and Searle trying to get things going through the middle, Knibbs though largely untested so far. Alot for March to do if they want to get anything from the game.
Changes for both sides at the start of the 2nd half, Hebditch back on, playing right. Billingham back on to at left back in place of Webb. ICA Sports to get the 2nd half underway. Attacking left Munday across to win the ball back the ball played long to Tombs pushing on down the left she plays another crossfield pass long for Grist attacking right down to the corner finds her way inside Antonucci to play the ball with the outside of her boot across the six yard box, McGarvie meeting it in the middle under challenge fires the ball wide across goal.
A positive start to the 2nd half from March sees a sot fired over from distance. Newton defending at the back chasing back with Nicholls as she looks to get onto the ball. Nicholls remains a threat on the left holding the ball up, Newton and Billingham doubling up on her, she ducks inside to lift a cross into the box the flag up against Hebditch on the right. Munday with a strong challenge getting the ball on for March to Grist right side looking to take the ball on checks back to square across the top of the area with McGarvie making a run so too Rouse in front of her intercepting.
March looking better at the start of the 2nd half, ICA Sports though with a 3 goal lead can sit back a little. Murphy still prepared to get forwards attacking right shooting from 25 yards out the ball wide at the near post. Rouse putting the ball on from a throw inside her half up to Murphy she see Nicholls ready to go right the flag up against her a close call but just too soon.
GOAL! March pull a goal back from an free-kick given against ICA Sports inside their own half, Newton on it plays another good delivery in towards the top of the area the ball knocked down central collected by Searle controls moves across the D to the right shift before unleashing a shot put across the keeper strikes the inside of the far post and nestles inside the back of the net 1-3.
The game more competitive between the pair now March matching ICA Sports earlier intensity. A push in the back spotted against Herridge ICA Sports with a free-kick wide right, Nicholls sends it deep Murphy with a late run, getting onto the end of it her touch pushing it out from her feet puts her shot wide across the face of goal. ICA Sports starting to pick up the pace slow at the start of the first half push players on Luddy getting forwards into a shooting position outside the box 20 yards out fires the ball straight into the keeper.
Billingham kept busy by Nicholls on the wing the ICA Sports attacker not finding it so easy to get away 2nd half, far from out of it however. A drop ball as Murphy plays the ball against the back of the referees head trying to launch it forwards. Drop ball not contested this season Shields sends it forwards for Murphy having run up field left side into the box Tombs defends conceding the corner.
Combination play on the right between Nicholls and Hebditch on the right before a shot comes fizzing in across the six yard box Sharpe down smartly to push the ball away out to the left, ICA Sports keeping possession the ball flung in headed clear drops to Farchica 25 yards out her attempt back in falling wide of the mark. Lively now the sun hidden by clouds cooling things down. The March defence drawn to the ball a miscued clearance playing it on for Herridge allows the striker to set Nichols away in behind Billingham, Newton does well to get across a tackle to clear for a corner. The delivery long cleared at the far post.
GOAL! ICA Sports restore their 3 goal lead a throw inside their own half put forwards well by Rouse up to Herridge in attack opens her body to spread play wide left with the ever lively Nicholls bursting forwards clear to race on into the area closing in on goal send her strike in low Sharpe down can’t get there in time as it evades her to cross the line 1-4.
A drinks break called changes made with Webb back on in place of Churchyard for March and Morrison back on for ICA Sports replacing Hebditch. Grist’s clearance over the clubhouse the ball lost on the road beyond. Grist taking the new ball forwards down the right covering plenty of grass into the corner doing well to win a corner.
GOAL! From the corner March score again comes in near side towards the top of the area defended but sliced on across the top of the D, Searle meeting it left 20 out hits it hard and straight through bodies finds its way in 2-4. 15 minutes left to play.
Nicholls brought down attacking left right on the edge of the area. Taking the free-kick the ball lifted in across goal safe in the hands of Sharpe, March look to counter quickly the ball carried over half way by Munday forwards for McLeish, Shields getting across her as the pair enter the area to safely marshal it back to her keeper. Newton stepping forwards out of the defence well intercepts as Nicholls aims to thread a ball through the middle for Herridge. Herridge herself attacking top of the area receiving the pass from Murphy finds herself crowded off the ball by Waters and Webb.
ICA Sports upping their intensity once again as they push on late on the game winning a corner on the right put into the box headed towards goal cleared off the line by Newton I think. Herridge after a long ball sent forwards on the right wing collects on the byline the game stretched players out of position Nicholls coming in field clear at the top of the area, Billingham recovers in the nick of time to race across to lung in and intercept the ball. Grist coming off for March with Churchyard back on.
GOAL! ICA Sports score a 5th goal late in the game counter with the ball up to Nicholls left beating the offside trap plays the diagonal ball into the box for Herridge providing the run right of the D, she shoots early putting the ball across the keeper and into the bottom corner.
March look for an immediate reply Searle fouled brought down central as she and Munday combine well again in attack. The set-piece 25 yards out McLeish to take, doesn’t get the height on the shot to trouble Knibbs. Into the final 5 minutes. Murphy stealing in behind the March defence on the right shoots over the bar. ICA attack Antonucci getting forwards with Rouse played inside to Luddy in to attack, Waters challenging, Luddy gets a 2nd bite shooting across goal, Sharpe down pushing the ball wide collected right Morrison sends a strike back in cannons off the bar. ICA Sports ending the game on the front foot as the final whistle blows.
Full time March Town United Ladies 2-5 ICA Sports Ladies
Two wins from two for ICA Sports Ladies sees them topping the table albeit very early in the season. Played well on the front foot early 2-0 up inside the opening 10 minutes adding a 3rd goal before half-time. Pressing well, looking to turn play around quickly with willing runners in attack, Rouse and Luddy confident in front of defence. March struggling in the first half in contrast on the back foot going in 3 down at half-time. Responded well 2nd period the game opening up competitive all over the pitch 2 goals pulled back. ICA Sports always lively on the counter biding their time scoring 2 more goals as play became stretched.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match award. A few contenders but in the end in came down to two. Hannah Murphy linking up the midfield and attack well passing wide with options available and making some good runs herself to get into scoring positions scoring 2 goals. Ahead of her though is Donna Nicholls, lively right from the first minute looking to get in behind and drive at goal, scoring 2 goals herself clinical and a danger when taking a free-kick.
An enjoyable first county league game to start the season, glad to have caught up with both sides, have no doubt the Cambridgeshire Women’s Premiership will be highly competitive this season. My thanks to both teams for the team details today always appreciated.