Sunday 12th December
FAWNL South East Division One
A trip up to The Nest CSF this Sunday afternoon to watch a game from FAWNL South East Division One with Norwich City Women taking on newly promoted Queens Park Rangers Women.
The league taking shape as the end of the year approaches with a cluster of sides from 7th down to 10th all on 10 points and involved in the battle to stay in the league with up to 4 sides facing relegation this season. Today’s opponents amongst those.
Norwich City Women recent FA Cup matches seeing them slip a place in the South East Division One table with Essex side Harlow Town Ladies moving past them into 10th with back to back wins. Having lost their opening 3 league games Norwich looked to have turned a corner with a purple patch in September seeing them collect 7 points from 3 games, since then however have lost 4 in a row in the league. The squad featuring a good mixture of experience and youth will be looking to end the year on a high with a positive result to carry them into the New Year.
Has been a long while since I watched Queens park Rangers Women, and this is a different side all together. The club effectively rebuilding following the controversial decision that saw the established Southern Premier Division join with Hounslow to become Hounslow Women, that club retaining their league status. Many of the players from that side not going to Hounslow at he start of the 2019/20. The club rebuilding with their development side playing in the London & South East Regional League. Queens Park Rangers retaining a loyal fan base successful in the COVID hit season’s that followed were promoted back to FAWNL South East Division One at the start of this campaign. The clubs league form hard to predict with the club having played just one league match since 17th November whilst they were playing in 3 cup competitions. Starting positively with back to back wins followed by back to back defeats have drawn lost and won one since to have 10 points from 7 games played. 7th in the table have up to 3 games in had on their rivals below. Melanie Hall top scorer with 10 goals from 14 appearances so far.
The Nest CSF the venue for today’s game, the new home of Norwich City Women. The newly build state of the art sporting facility boasting a modern artificial pitch along side the clubhouse and changing facilities. A large function room supported by cafe area to one side several grass pitches beyond situated to the north of the city. After a chilly, wet week Sunday bringing milder weather, if still overcast and dull. The floodlights on early as the teams walked out onto he pitch.
Norwich City Women starting XI – Bryony Williams, Jess Harper, Anna Larkins, Chardonnay Johnston, Ellie Bishop, Millie Daviss (C), Jodie Drake, Freya Symonds, Kathryn Stanley, Megan Todd & Freya Fuller. Subs – Natasha Snelling, Rosie George, Leilah Gooding, Abi Tate & Summer Ward.
Queens Park Rangers Women starting XI – Mya Francis-Pownall, Georgie Lewin, Laura Jordinson, Vicky Grieve (C), Ellen Wardlaw, Ellie Searle, Erin Pope, Laura Hennessey, Brogan Moore, Melanie Hall & Emilia Parsons. Subs – Joanna Blodgett, Ailish Carolan, Esme Davies & Alice Curr.
It’s the visitors, QPR kicking off the 1st half wearing blue and white hooped shirts with blue shorts and socks. Norwich lined up opposite in their yellow and green colours. The ball played back to the centre backs Norwich press the ball forcing QPR to go back to goalkeeper Mya Francis-Pownall who kicks it long out to the left looking for Ellie Searle on the move attempts to bring it down under control as Jess Harper comes across to get into her to clear the ball for a throw in.
The ball regained in the middle Laura Hennessey into Melanie Hall in attack back to goal spins the ball forwards to the left with Searle bombing on, swings her cross into the area near side cut out and cleared by Jodie Drake tracking back for Norwich. The hosts look to mount a counter attack through Freya Symonds in the middle moving right playing it on for Freya Fuller into the right channel, QPR captain, Vicky Grieve getting across to lunge in with the tackle stop the threat.
Norwich keep the pressure on in QPR’s final 3rd a throw deep on the right, the ball won played up to Fuller top corner of the box a shot struck on the angle, pace races wide across the six yard box. Ellen Wardlaw takes the ball up the left firing a diagonal all inside to striker Emilia Parsons outside the D, Ellie Bishop getting her foot to the ball first for Norwich goes away to the left wide put back inside into Brogan Moore positioned outside the box left of the D to have a shot struck with the outside of her boot racing low towards goal, Norwich goalkeeper Bryony Williams moving across her line is down to claim smoothly.
Fuller on the move with the ball in attack for Norwich right side heading for the box, Grieve getting across to defend blocking once then twice as Fuller attempts to shoot a 2nd time this time the ball deflected back towards Francis-Pownall to collect safely. A bright start from Norwich.
GOAL! That is undone in the 5th minute as QPR push forward in numbers to open the lead. Wardlaw out on the right firing a diagonal ball inside for Parsons, Bishop once again intercepting well taking the ball away to her right, Moore in to close her down regaining possession left of the D 20 plus yards out strikes the ball hard angling a low strike across the keeper to nestle in the bottom corner 0-1.
Momentum switches suddenly in QPR’s favour the visitors moving the ball quickly across the pitch opening Norwich up in the middle, Hall after a cleared ball on the right racing to the by-line before turning in a cross into the six yard box, Chardonnay Johnston clearing for Norwich. QPR pressing the ball in the middle Laura Hennessey strong up to Moore releases Searle on the left, Harper preventing her putting a cross. Norwich’s Symonds plays the ball central onto captain Millie Daviss, looks to set up Fuller in attack sending the ball on into her path, her touch not quite there the ball running away from her inside the box as QPR defenders get back on her en masse to clear.
Wardlaw perplexed as she is adjudged to have given a foul away on the left side some 30 yards out, Larkins with Drake over the ball, Drake moving away central free as Larkins plays the ball into her, running in to strike the moving ball it flies high and wide of the top corner. Larkins with the ball on the left looks for options central attempts to flight a ball into the attackers to the right of the box, a QPR head with a glancing header on the ball taking it out for a corner. The delivery goes long across he six yard box Todd drifting in free can’t quite get there.
QPR get straight up the other end Hall into the box right side her cross headed behind for a corner. This delivery also long to the far post Pope up to head the ball put straight into the keepers gloves. Symonds drifting forwards to the right supporting Fuller, with good control turning 25 yards out to strike the ball on the angle, on target but straight into Francis-Pownall’s gloves with her near post covered.
QPR are looking sharp in attack moving the ball quickly in possession from back to front pulling Norwich’s midfield out of shape in the process allowing players space to exploit on both flanks with Searle and Wardlaw looking to get forwards whenever they can. Hennessey winning the ball putting in a number of good tackles. Wardlaw though is called into action in defence as the back line hesitates looking to caught Kathryn Stanley offside, the flag stays down however, Stanley in behind, Wardlaw covering the distance quickly to intercept Stanley at the top of the area to nullify the threat.
Hall picking the ball up 35 yards out left channel driving forwards, Drake getting back to lunge in with the tackle before the ball is cleared away for a corner kick. Another far post delivery its Wardlaw up this time free to plant her header wide beyond the post. Williams out quickly to the top of the area to claim the ball for Norwich as Parsons looks to roll it on for Searle on the left. Bishop in to put in the block inside the box for Norwich as Searle powers into the area from the left.
GOAL! Midway through the half and QPR go on to double there lead. The visitors winning a corner on the right players lining up outside the area far post to run in to attack the ball, the delivery though goes through everyone. Is retrieved wide on the left players still up the cross fired into the six yard box Erin Pope at the near post seeing it down and turning into the shot put across the keeper, Williams getting down almost has it the ball squirming through under her body to cross the line 0-2.
Norwich look to get players forwards as Larkins brings it on from the left her diagonal ball towards the top of the area headed down and clear by Grieve, Daviss quickest to react onto the loose ball hits it first time 25 yards out her effort swerving wide of the right post. QPR get the ball on quickly central with Hennessey out to Hall into the area right of goal, getting it down to hit in a low shot under Williams as she dives across in front of her the ball coming back off the base of the post into the six yard box left of goal, Bishop does enough to put Parsons off as she goes to hit the ball towards goal, taking all the pace off it as it trickles trough for William, rapidly back on her feet to claim.
QPR looking strong pulling Norwich apart in the middle using there wide players well Searle across to Wardlaw on the right a corner won. Players come forwards lining up at the far post, the delivery finding it’s mark Parsons with the shot racing in low, evading Williams, Harper behind her covering the post clearing the ball off the line. The ball out to the right gathered by Hennessey lifts the ball in towards goal crashes onto the top of the crossbar and out of play.
The visitors enjoying a good spell of play, communicating well, shifting ball quickly and crisply into feet pulling Norwich out of position causing the hosts some consternation. QPR’s centre back’s covering each other well whenever Norwich threaten an attack Symonds looking to lift the ball into Fuller right channel, Grieve across on the cover to defend with Lewin holding the attacker up. Fuller battling on with the ball to the right lifting a cross long into the area for Todd far side, collecting the ball checks back inside, thinks about shooting but he option is quickly closed down before her cross into the middle is cleared by Lewin.
5 minutes left to play in the first half. QPR finishing it strong. Hennessey with the ball pushes forwards into Parsons, Johnston close in defending for Norwich. Hennessey bossing the middle of the park taking it on once again out to Searle on the left drives forwards her cross into Parsons, with Hennessey beyond her, Drake getting between the pair to make a vital interception for Norwich. Wardlaw out on the right up he pitch for QPR top of the area las it inside for the advancing Moore, her clipped shot turned in on the angle going wide.
Norwich’s attackers looking to combine up top as Fuller brings the ball under control out on the left lifting it central for Stanley 25 yards out, flicks it forwards for Todd who is quickly crowded off the ball inside the D by QPR’s defence. Larkins and Wardlow enjoying a good contest on the right as the QPR player looks to get around Larkins to put in a cross into the box Larkins sliding in to block turning the ball behind for a corner. A long delivery to the far post a feature of the first half, QPR well drilled the ball met with a firm header powered wide.
Half-time Norwich City Women 0-2 Queens Park Rangers Women
Despite a bright start from Norwich it was QPR who took the early lead and from that grew into the game with some good passing and movement throughout to pull their opponents out of shape. Doubling their lead midway through the 2nd half have also hit the woodwork and seen the ball cleared off the line. Norwich with a few chances inside the box, nothing clear cut, not giving themselves time on the ball QPR tight at the back giving little away. Frustration building need to change something in the 2nd half if they are to get back into the game.
The two sides out with no changes made at the start of the 2nd half. Norwich to get the half underway. Fuller deeper in a midfield position with Symonds up supporting Stanley and Todd in attack. Drake on the ball playing it out to Stanley on the move left side takes the ball on towards the area before running into traffic and being crowded off the ball. Norwich looking to be positive from the off pressing the ball high looking to get at QPR’s defence. Are caught out as Searle escapes with the ball at her feet on the left powering her way forwards, Johnston moves out to meet her sliding into the tackle strong to take the ball, Harper clearing it forwards.
QPR’s wide players combine well as Wardlaw gets free on the right sending a crossfield pass into Moore central 20 yards out who helps it out to the left for Searle, lays the ball forwards early into the box near post with Parsons making the run, diving in in front of Williams as she comes across to cover the angle doesn’t get a touch nor put the keeper of as Williams crouching down sees it up into her gloves.
Todd is adjudged to have blocked Searle’s run as the QPR wide player drives inside form the left, a card for Todd as she protests, the visitors with a set-piece in a dangerous position left of the D. Hall over it curls a low strike in on target past the wall Williams central in goal behind it right behind the strike. Norwich getting forwards on the right win a throw, Symonds controlling in spinning to put it on for Stanley running into the area Grieve back on her to tackle in low the ball deflected away for a corner. An inswinging delivery to the far post Francis-Pownall getting a firm glove on it to punch it away to the left.
Fuller giving Norwich a little more steel in the middle the ball won, Drake enjoying a little space to exploit moving right clipping a diagonal ball on for Todd coming into the box from the left, her first touch a little heavy seeing the ball run away from her nevertheless goes after it sliding in on the keeper as Francis-Pownall gets down to save bravely, block the ball. Drake able to get forwards more too support the attack is well placed top of the area as a Larkins cross comes in from the left chests it down well looking to set up Todd, no shot on the ball comes back to Daviss who strikes a tame effort wide.
Drake gets all the way to the by-line before flashing a ball across the face of goal, no one running in to attack it. A bright start to the half from Norwich, QPR respond with a double change bringing off Parsons and Hennessey replaced by Alice Curr in attack and Joanna Blodgett. Not long after Norwich make a change of there own bringing of Fuller for Leilah Gooding. Symonds controlling the ball on the right off a throw on for Todd into the box Francis-Pownall across to close her down the ball blocked away for a throw.
Larkins away with the ball left for Norwich puts a cross in for Drake near side, Jordinson in to win the header clearing for QPR. The visitors come through the middle Pope into Hall back to goal 20 yards out holds and sends out to Searle advancing on the left her cross in cut out by Johnston the ball out on the right a cross/shot blocked comes out to Moore 20 yards out smashes a shot back into the box her effort blocked before being cleared.
Symonds on the right running onto a long ball forwards, getting a shot away on the angle the ball swerving in straight into the keepers gloves at the near post. Harper able to come on with the ball left side for Norwich plays it up the line for Symonds, Lewin getting across to put in the challenge for QPR. Much more even in the 2nd half, Norwich pressing the ball quicker the midfield hotly contested. Norwich winning a free-kick up high outside the box on the right. Before it is taken however the hosts make a change with 16 minutes left to play, Stanley coming off for Natasha Snelling.
GOAL! Harper over the ball goes for goal a looping effort that has Francis-Pownall back pedalling struggling to reach it, possibly getting her fingertips to the ball as the ball comes back down off the cross bar into the box left of goal a shot lashed in, Norwich appeal immediately for handball! The referee pointing to the spot, a penalty awarded! Snelling with the ball in her hand hasn’t touched the ball yet, 4 goals so far this season will this be her 5th? Makes no mistake with a well placed penalty struck to the right of the diving keeper to score 1-2.
Game on with 15 minutes left to play Norwich looking better 2nd half pulling a goal back. Continue to press the ball high Symonds and Todd getting help from Snelling. QPR defending strongly though, Searle and Wardlaw remain their outlets on the flanks ready to break as the floodlight begin to take full effect. Lewin out to Searle left on for Curr into the box from the angle, Bishop into her making the blocking tackle. Pope on through the middle passes on for Hall lifts it on for Curr into the left channel but the flag is up against her.
Harper right side on for Todd up top turns off her marker into the area, Grieve getting back on her Todd going down, appeals but nothing given. The clock ticking down, Norwich pressing QPR getting bodies back determined to hold on. The visitors always ready to spring the counter as Norwich commit players forwards Searle the outlet on the left driving on with the ball carrying in infield sends it on into Curr she does superbly with a clever backheel flick that sends it on for Searle to touch on into the area one on one with the keeper, Williams sets herself Searle closing on looking to play it wide of her, too close though as Williams reacts sharply getting down to her left to lay claim to the ball.
Changes for both sides with Rosie George on in attack for Todd. Pope comes off for QPR replaced by Esme Davies who moves up top with Curr, Hall dropping back into the middle. Norwich with bodies forwards as a freekick is put in from the left, Drake getting it down hesitates before releasing her shot seeing the attempt charged down. Pressing the ball outside the box Snelling gets it out to George moving clear inside the area wide right her cross flashed back in towards goal, caught well by Francis-Pownall with Symonds closing in. Wardlaw coming off in the latter stages for QPR to be replaced by Ailish Carolan.
Snelling able to travel with the ball through the middle getting a shot away from 25 yards out on the right drilled wide of the target. Snelling seeing the ball into her feet outside the box sends in out to George to the right, inside the box, Grieve getting back into her to tackle cleanly for QPR. Harper on the right with a ball into the area near side George going after it as the keeper comes to claim the pair colliding go down, George coming off the worst play paused as she recieves treatment but is okay to continue.
Into the final minutes, Davies in space out wide left for QPR brings down a long diagonal pass shifting it between her feet before sending a looping ball into the box, Hall closing in getting her boot up to bring the ball down looking to direct it wide of the keeper from 10 yards out, Williams down sharply to her left laying claim to the ball. An advantage played as Bishop winning the ball at the back is fouled as she attempts to bring the ball forwards running onto Drake 30 yards out connects with her shot well swerving through the air isn’t far wide.
Sadly that is the last action of the game as she comes off injured moments later, appearing to twist her ankle as it rolls over the ball. On in her place Abi Tate. The clock running down QPR defending strongly not committing too many forwards Moore on the right with a early ball on for Davies the flag raised against her. Hall doing he sensible thing as she brings the ball down on the left off Searle the pair running the ball into the corner. Moments later the final whistle blows the points going to the visitors.
Full time Norwich City Women 1-2 Queens Park Rangers Women
QPR with the win the damage done in the 1st half an early strike from Brogan Moore followed up with a goal from Erin Pope midway through the half with further chances created. A strong defensive performance throughout the game proving hard to break down. Prepared to sit in the 2nd half invite Norwich onto them ready to attack on the counter. Norwich despite a bright start quickly on the back foot in the first half pulled out of shape in the middle by QPR needed to make changes 2nd half. A good response with a much improved 2nd half performance, Freya Fuller dropping into midfield as Norwich pressed the ball higher, creating more opportunities, substitute Natasha Snelling with a clinical penalty to set up a tense final quarter hour, just couldn’t find that 2nd goal, ending the year with defeat. QPR pulling away from the sides below remain 7th have one more game left at home to leaders Hashtag United Women next Sunday.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this Sunday’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. As is often the case not an easy decision to make. A few performances of note to mention first. Freya Fuller played well both in attack in the first half and dropping into midfield in the 2nd half, that in turn allowed Jodie Drake more opportunities to get on influence the game linked up with the attackers well. QPR were solid through the team keeping a disciplined formation, Vicky Grieve with a number of vital challenges at the back. Laura Hennessey bossing the midfield in the 1st half. The award today though goes to Ellie Searle was a strong performance out on the left getting forwards always an outlet strong with her running getting in crosses and linking well with the attackers.
Been a hectic few days glad to have ended the weekend with a much needed football game. An entertaining encounter, a good contest my thanks to Norwich for providing me with those all important team details.
by Darren Gilham