Sunday 27th February
FAWNL South East Division One
A trip to the Abbey Stadium today to watch a match from FAWNL South East Division One, home of League One side Cambridge United FC and a fantastic opportunity for their women’s side to showcase the game as they host Norwich City Women.
Cambridge United WFC enjoying strong links and support with it’s parent club, this one of two matches taking place at the Abbey Stadium to aid on the promotion of the women’s game within the club the other against title challenging Billericay Town Women on the 27th March in between is Women’s Football weekend, with the varsity matches between Cambridge and Oxford Universities featuring both the mens and women’s sides taking place at the stadium on Sun 13th March.
Cambridge United WFC currently in 7th spot in the FAWNL South East Division One table, looking good to consolidate a top half finish having been as high as 4th earlier in the season. Consistency hasn’t been a good as the team would have liked with just 4 points gained from their last 6 matches will not want to get pulled into what is shaping up to be a tense battle to avoid the drop below, as with London Seaward FC who I saw play 2 weeks ago 3 points today will change that picture dramatically. Darren Marjoram strengthening the squad with 3 new signings, striker Nicole Emmings returning to the club after 4 season’s with Stevenage, defender Rachel Kosky from Enfield Town Ladies and Amber Cantwell re-joining after a spell with Wroxham Women. Ruth Fox leading the goal scoring charts with 13 goals from 17 appearances.
Norwich City Women like Cambridge United WFC announcing closer ties with the men’s side as Premier League side Norwich City FC take on the day-to-day running of the women’s side more information via the following link https://www.canaries.co.uk/content/club-announce-full-integration-of-norwich-city-women great news for women’s football across the county as Norfolk’s leading football club ups it’s commitment to promotion and growth of the women’s set-up. The club run previously by volunteers and extend my thanks to both Mel Swift and Louise Riseborough who have chaired the club in recent years for the help given to Women’s Football East.
A new era about to begin for Norwich their current league status is in peril as they they find themselves in the bottom 4 as they fight to avoid relegation. 4 sides likely to go down this season is becoming a tense battle to avoid the drop with all the sides involved picking up key points in recent weeks, Norwich with back to back wins away to Enfield and at home to bottom side Kent Football United getting themselves back into the mix now 3 points off that all important 9th position frustratingly losing 2-1 to fellow relegation battlers Stevenage FC Women know with the games left that they can still yet dig themselves out of trouble. Have alot of young players in their squad with more coming through bodes well for the future.
The Abbey Stadium home of Cambridge United FC the venue for today’s game. Various women’s games featuring Cambridge United WFC and other played here before with more to come. The large grass pitch surrounded by terraced stands on three sides with the main seated stand along one side, the clubhouse and function rooms beneath. A warm sunny day, although alot cooler in the shade. Bright blue skies for a change the sun over on goal potentially causing a few problems.
Cambridge United WFC starting XI – Lauren Webb, Anna Re, Carrie Bennett, Gisela Otten, Grace Waygood, Laura Baker (C), Alysha Stojko-Down, Laura Mitchell, Emma Jenkins, Amy Howlett & Ruth Fox. Subs – Nicole Emmings, Abi Davies, Ella Marden, Amber Cantwell & Faith Hewitt.
Norwich City Women starting XI – Bryony Williams, Anna Larkins, Summer Ward, Ellie Bishop, Chardonnay Johnston, Millie Daviss (C), Jodie Drake, Leilah Gooding, Megan Todd, Kathryn Stanley & Freya Symonds. Subs – Rosie George, Ella Gambell, Jess Harper, Betty Booker & Summer Copland.
Nicole Emmings and Amber Cantwell named on the bench for Cambridge, who will kick-off the 1st half wearing amber coloured shirts with black shorts and socks with Norwich lined up opposite in their all orange away kit.
The ball played out to the left Emma Jenkins the target Norwich’s Anna Larkins at right back closing the ball down sending it out for a throw in. Both sides showing signs of nerves at the start a few balls going array, Jenkins fouled on the left the resulting free-kick sent long towards the top of the area headed clear by the Norwich defence. Cambridge captain Laura Baker getting hold of the bouncing ball in midfield taking it out to the right looking to put Laura Mitchell away on the wing a heavy touch giving Norwich’s Summer Ward the opportunity to clear the ball.
Norwich attack on the left, captain Millie Daviss up the channel for Freya Symonds, Gisela Otten moving out of the middle of defence to put in the challenge the ball out of play. Norwich in the corner send a cross into the centre of the area, Megan Todd getting her head on the ball leaning forwards can’t direct it on target. Ruth Fox up top for Cambridge stealing in to take an errand pass powers forwards into the Norwich half moving left, Chardonnay Johnston across to halt her progress. Cambridge not settling on the ball passes not finding their mark frustrating their attacking play.
Mitchell looks to take the ball on down Cambridge’s right tackled the ball out for a throw-in played back to Anna Re wide 30 yards out sends it into Fox right corner outside the area turns on the ball moving inside to narrow the angle unleash a shot, brushed wide by Norwich goalkeeper Bryony Williams diving across her goal a corner given. Lofted in towards the near post players rising, Leilah Gooding the highest for Norwich clearing the ball.
Mitchell seeing the ball into her feet on the right 35 yards out looks to go inside travel with the ball, goes a long way coming left turning into the area Larkins on her shoulder as she goes to pull the trigger her shot blocked deflected behind for a corner. From the left goes long headed out to the right Norwich don’t clear as Cambridge press well, the final touch behind though off a Cambridge foot giving Norwich a welcome goal kick. Re and Mitchell getting some joy for Cambridge on the right, Re sending Mitchell on with the ball closing in on the corner wraps her foot around the cross sending it in near post, Ellie Bishop intercepting in defence for Norwich.
Baker is penalised for a robust tackle on Daviss in the middle earning her an early yellow card. The ball played out long to Todd on the right driving down the line scoops a cross out dropping central inside the box, Otten getting under it to head the ball away to safety. Cambridge settling on the ball Stojko-Down on with the ball forwards for Jenkins on the left plays it across to Mitchell inside the box lays it across for Howlett left side the ball defended the clearance back to Baker central 25 yards out sends it back into the area the ball scrambled away from danger.
Cambridge press the attack Mitchell moving inside from the right 20 yards out squaring it into Jenkins in front of goal six yards out, her attempt deflected off a defender skipping up to Fox on her right gets her foot up over the ball well in an effort to play it goalwards taking a deflection as it lands wide of the post for a corner. Re forwards on the right supporting Mitchell, down into the corner Ward keeping her from turning inside challenging the ball out for the throw. Norwich regain possession in the corner and hit Cambridge on the break a superb long diagonal ball out to Todd on the right has half a yard on Bennett getting in behind shooting on the angle the ball driven in low towards the near post Lauren Webb has the angle covered down low to gather the ball safely.
Grace Waygood moves out to the right to defend as Freya Symonds takes the ball down the line for Norwich. Mitchell going on down the right wing has Fox inside the box lays the ball into her feet right of goal, Fox shoots, Williams untroubled as it runs wide across her goal. Daviss plays the ball forwards to Symonds drifting into the left channel for Norwich, taking the ball on checks back inside as she arrives at the top of the area unleashing a shot that whistles over the crossbar.
Johnston fouls Howlett on the halfway line left side players go forwards as Otten places the ball down goes short to Jenkins free wide left, has Bennett racing past her on the overlap getting down the line whips in a fantastic ball across the face of goal three Cambridge attackers going for it none can get a touch, play brought back however for an offside offence. Jenkins and Howlett attempt to combine passes on the left Larkins in between them the ball cleared back to Bennett she sends in inside for Stojko-Down, moves forwards before letting fly from all of 30 yards out the shot wide.
GOAL! Closing in on the half hour mark the dead lock is broken Cambridge looking strong going forwards the ball cleared up to the left Fox doing well to get in ahead of Johnston and take control of the ball in the corner driving inside into the box before firing a cross into Mitchell central, not under control the ball is scrambled away straight into the path of Stojko-Down closing into the box right side, doesn’t wait for an invite smashes the ball straight and true into the bac of the net 1-0.
Norwich get straight on the attack from the restart the ball forwards for Todd racing away on the right sending a cross along the top of the area picked up by Jodie Drake far side turns well on the corner of the box before lifting a powerful sot over the bar. Kathryn Stanley winning the ball back 35 yards from goal right plays it inside for Drake to take on shooting from the top of the D in low towards goal, Webb behind it all the way.
Stojko-Down taking the ball forwards support from Howlett ahead of her drifting right helps it on down the right wing for Mitchell to chase a little too much on it Ward shielding it out of a goalkick. Todd goes into the book for a challenge on Bennett. Baker over the free-kick on halfway the ball played in high into the box Ward with the defensive header taking the ball over for a corner kick. Played in near side Williams comes throw bodies to get something on the ball take it out of the box comes onto Baker 25 yards out shifts the ball inside before blasting a shot over the bar.
Johnston comes across to slide in take the ball away from Bennett out for a throw in as she looks to make it in behind on the wing. The throw put inside to Jenkins chesting it down outside the area left side connecting with the falling ball to send a dipping shot goalwards drops safely into Williams arms as she moves across her goal. The game moving into stoppage time in the first period, Daviss getting free in the centre for Norwich sending the ball out to the left for Symonds to take on down the line Re in well to tackle put the ball out for a throw in.
Half-time Cambridge United WFC 1-0 Norwich City Women
Cambridge with the narrow advantage at the break taking the lead on the half hour through a strike from Alysha Stojko-Down. Cambridge taking a while to settle early game nerves growing into the game moving the ball well getting it out to their wide players creating a number of other opportunities in front of goal in the first half. Norwich have themselves found joy out on the flanks but chances have been limited with Cambridge defending the box well. Still just a single goal in it plenty still to play for.
No changes for either side at the break with the sun lower in the sky now Norwich attacking into it as they get the 2nd half underway. The visitors looking for Stanley on the left, across comes Baker to tackle and take the ball. Otten from the back for Cambridge with a long diagonal ball up to Jenkins outside the D, is brought down Cambridge with the free-kick in a dangerous position. Jenkins recently returning to the Cambridge side after a 3 month injury layoff over the free kick goals for goal the ball rising high Williams needing to keep an eye on the falling ball drops over her crossbar.
Todd’s pace on the ball down the right continues to pose Cambridge a few issues driving for the by-line is forced wide over running the ball for a goal kick. A mistake out on the left presenting Mitchell with a chance wide pushes on seeing her first shot in on the angle blocked the ball back to her moves right to get a 2nd shot away sending the ball racing wide across the face of goal. Mitchell is involved in much of Cambridge’s attacking play right side of the pitch is picked out by Stojko-Down in the middle, looking to drive at the defence is a good tackle to stop her from Norwich’s Bishop.
Norwich making the first change of the game bringing off midfielder Leilah Gooding for Ella Gambell. Mitchell with a cross field pass picking out Bennett getting forwards on the left wing down the line her cross sent in towards the near post cut out by Johnston. Norwich send the ball long up to Symonds in attack the tall attacker casing problems with the keeper advancing to get the ball nodding it beyond her, Webb’s defence back en masse deal with the danger presented back to Symonds however who scoops a shot in towards goal, Webb back tracking able to catch it cleanly on her six yard line.
Norwich’s young substitute Gambell hauled down by Re as she looks to run past her with the ball. Re going into the book. Symonds on the free-kick some 30 yards left of the D, an attempt on goal pulled well wide of the near post. The foul count is rising in the middle both sides guilty of giving needless fouls away. One of those fouls goes too far however, Gambell has made an immediate impact coming on into the middle with some determined runs on the ball. Getting hold of it in the middle goes on the charge again moving central evading one challenge slightly over runs the ball as Baker comes sliding in to win it back, Gambell lunges out foot up over the ball catching Baker below the knee, leaving her on the ground wreathing in pain. Referee Lee Markwick calming things down before calling Gambell over and issuing a red card.
Norwich down to 10 midway through the 2nd half. Manager Shaun Howes also shown a yellow card following the aftermath of the incident. Baker gets clattered on a regular basis and is made of pretty tough stuff is back up on her feet okay to continue. Cambridge looking to keep possession for a few minutes regain composure, Howlett out to Mitchell on the right Re going past her taking the ball in moving inside met by Bishop who wins the tackle the ball wide for a throw. Taken quickly Mitchell down to the by-line travelling into the box Johnston’s turn to get the tackle in timed well the threat cleared.
Norwich making a 2nd change bringing of Ward for Rosie George a tactical switch with George going forwards. Norwich winning a free-kick left of the centre circle Bishop to put into the box far post area congested Re doing well to get her head on the ball clear it for a corner kick. The corner from the right a well placed delivery near side met by Todd in the air twisting her header down towards goal, Webb low to her left with a smart save on the goal line.
Stanley plays the ball on for Norwich as she comes on with in central on for George the substitute playing it out to Todd on the right, retuned to George top of the area, Otten in to close her down before she can attempt a shot on goal. Norwich needing a goal pushing players on are hit on the break Stojko-Down through the middle carrying the ball on out to Mitchell right bursting on sees her first cross blocked before playing a 2nd ball into the area fouled in the process play is brought back for the foul with no advantage. On the edge of the area left side Stojko-Down to put the ball in towards the far post Howlett dummies Mitchell with the shot blocked on the line and cleared.
Closing in on the final 10 minutes is tense out there, Cambridge have the advantage but Norwich aren’t going to lay down driving on seeking the reply to level up the game. Waygood getting across to defend against George right side see the ball back to her keeper as Daviss plays it forwards.
Cambridge come left with Fox moving into the channel whipping a dangerous cross into the area over Howlett on the penalty spot bounces onto Mitchell takes a touch looking to shift inside the unleash a shot, Drake gets in to tackle and take the ball away from her. Fox is sent to the ground by Bishop, Cambridge with a free-kick wide right deep Otten to play in in central Jenkins diving in to head the ball sending it wide across goal.
Norwich break the ball played on through the middle played out to Symonds on the left her long legged stride taking her on into the box getting a shot away low lacking the power to trouble Webb down at her near post. Re on the right clipping a looping ball forwards for Fox stealing in behind to attack, Williams with a good starting position out to the edge of her box able to reach it first.
On 82 minutes Cambridge make their first change bringing off Stojko-Down for Faith Hewitt. Cambridge with another free-kick wide right, Otten attempting repeat of her earlier delivery, Norwich able to get a defensive header to it first to clear. A 2nd change for Cambridge with Howlett coming off to be replaced by Amber Cantwell. A 3rd change soon following with Ella Marden on up top for Jenkins.
Is tense in the closing minutes the ball charged down repeatedly for a series of throws the clock ticking down. Todd with a long throw on her attempting to send one in towards the top of the area from the left headed out to the right Marden clearing before Stanley can latch onto it. The 90 minutes up Norwich with a late corner on the right played in long missed by Johnston comes on to George her strike charged down by Otten Cambridge break the ball out to the left for Fox drives on with the ball moving inside corner of the area takes on the shot rifled across the face of goal coming back off the far past before being cleared.
Fox up with Marden in the left corner holding up the ball winning a corner. Taken short up to Mitchell an angled shot in striking the side netting.
Full time Cambridge United WFC 1-0 Norwich City Women
The final whistle blows and the Abbey Stadium cheers a Cambridge win consolidating their mid-table position. A solitary 1st half strike from Alysha Stojko-Down the difference in the end. Enough for all three points. Norwich making Cambridge work for their victory putting in a spirited 2nd half performance after going down to 10 players. Chances for both sides in the 2nd period Webb with a superb save to deny Todd an equalising goal. Couldn’t find the 2nd goal to make the afternoon more comfortable but will be pleased with the clean sheet. Cambridge in action again in midweek on Wednesday back at their regular home of St Neots FC as they take on Stevenage FC Women.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match, was undecided on the way home but as they often do the notes left only one contender. A few performances of note to mention first. For Norwich, Megan Todd was a threat on the right of attack the whole game picking up the ball and driving on to the Cambridge defence. For Cambridge Lauren Webb with a strong performance in goal with a number of saves crucial in keeping Cambridge’s lead intact. Amy Howlett getting about the pitch winning the ball and making a number of key passes. Today’s award though goes to Laura Mitchell, whether out on the right or driving inside she was a threat making dangerous runs throughout the game and getting into some good positions in the final 3rd.
An enjoyable afternoon at the Abbey Stadium a good crowd there to watch an entertaining game will have hopefully whetted their appetite to see more women’s football played at the ground. My thanks as always to both sides for giving me assistance with the team details I may well have known everyone but it pays to check. Much appreciated. A special mention too for the Norwich players for rallying around Ella Gambell after she was red carded, a mistake from a young player no malicious intent just a poor tackle, will learn from it.
by Darren Gilham