Match Report – London Bees v Brighton & Hove Albion WFC

What’s this? A game from the FAWSL on Women’s Football East! Well it seems only right to give Brighton & Hove Albion WFC the coverage afterall they earned promotion to the FAWSL last May via the FAWPL Play-off game after winning the Southern Division title and after all Women’s Football East wants to see as many sides in the region reach and play at the top level of the women’s game. The Supporting Women’s Football Blog was at The Hive to cover their debut match in the one off Spring Series as the new season got underway.

Match Report – London Bees v Brighton & Hove Albion WFC

   A new season of FAWSL football begins this Saturday, although it’s a much shorter season compared to the one’s we’ve been used to. With the FAWSL preparing to move back in line with the rest of the women’s football pyramid in England for the 2017/18 season after 5 years of playing during the summer months there will be a one off Spring Series. A trophy for both the FAWSL 1 & 2 competitions with each side playing each other once to decide the overall winner. The FAWSL 2 Spring Series starts with London Bees versus FAWSL newcomers Brighton & Hove Albion WFC at The Hive.

 Wrote a preview for the FAWSL 2 Spring Series in the post prior to today’s match. As I said then I’m excited by what the one off competition has to offer, is silverware to play for but not the pressure a full blown season offers sides can bed in new players, try new thing’s for better or worse. Momentum can’t be under estimated mind a good Spring Series will send a side into the new 2017/18 season with confidence. 

  London Bees enter the Spring Series with a stride in their step having had a much improved season in 2016 under Dave Edmondson. Playing some attractive football eventually ending up 7th their highest FAWSL 2 finish in amongst the mid-table sides the perfect platform to go on and improve. Have made several new signings over the winter bringing in Laura-May Walkley from Reading FC Women. Defender, Anne Meiwald joins from Chelsea Ladies along with Watford Ladies trio, Jordan Littleboy, Amber Tullett and Mollie Burgess aswell as retaining the services of several of their stand-out performers last season.

  Brighton & Hove Albion WFC, winning the FAWPL Southern Division title last season went on to beat Northern Division Champions, Sporting Club Albion Ladies in the FAWPL Play-off match at Wycombe Wanderers in May to win their place in the FAWSL the 2nd side to be promoted to the league following Sheffield FC Ladies last summer. So began the long wait to make their league debut at the higher level in FAWSL 2. As I mentioned in my Spring Series Preview could benefit the most by the Spring Series as it will give their players time to adapt to playing at a higher level, although I do feel the top FAWPL sides are on a par with certainly the sides in the lower half of FAWSL 2. Have a strong fan base and behind the scenes have been working hard off the pitch to ensure they would meet the FAWSL 2 licencing criteria. 

  Brighton & Hove Albion WFC haven’t been quiet on the transfer front either strengthening their squad before the start of the Spring Series bringing in Chelsea Ladies trio, Laura Rafferty, Jenna Legg and Alessia Russo. Sophie Perry returns to the club after a short spell with FAWSL 1 side Reading FC Women. Have also added highly experienced Irish International goalkeeper, Emma Byrne to their squad, with regular 1st team goalkeeper Faye Baker working her way back to fitness following injury. 

  Has been a while since I last visited The Hive, London Bees home ground 18 months or so. Sharing with Barnet FC it is very much a club in the heart of the community, practice pitches open to all age groups outside the main stadium. The stadium itself has undergone development now has a large seated stand behind one goal aswell as the one along the side of the pitch opposite the former bar & clubhouse which is now divided into the Tea Hut where you can purchase hot & cold drinks & snacks along side the new Pecking Order Restaurant. Tickets for a London Bees match are £4 for an adult but for £15 you can purchase a deluxe ticket which gets you a meal at the Pecking Order Restaurant too and when we talk about the ‘matchday experience’ I think it’s a good deal. Car parking is a £1 you purchase a token from the club shop which stocks a good range of London Bees merchandise, and I may well purchase a London Bees mug the next time I’m in town. 

  Onto the playing surface itself is a large pitch plenty of width, holding up fairly well as the season enters moves into mid-February. It might be called the Spring Series but it’s still winter was bitterly cold with a few flakes of snow in the air before kick-off.
  London Bees starting XI – Shayla Burgess, Anne Meiwald, Sophie Fogarty, Ellie Perkins, Amber Tullett, Emma Beckett, Jordan Littleboy, Ashleigh Goddard (C), Lucy Loomes, Paula Howells & Jo Wilson.
 subs- Amelia Houghton-Boyle, Becky Anderson, Laura-May Walkley, Mollie Burgess, Evie Clarke & Hana Lalani

  Brighton & Hove Albion WFC starting XI – Emma Byrne, Jenna Legg, Sophie Perry (C), Vicky Ashton-Jones, Ellie Dorey, Laura Rafferty, Kirsty Barton, Charlotte Young, Alessia Russo, Kate Natkiel & Amy Taylor.

  subs – Bronwen Thomas, Hollie Olding, Lucy Somes, Natalie Taylor & Nina Wilson.

   On to the football, 4 of London Bees new signings were making their 1st start in FAWSL 2, Anne Meiwald, Lucy Loomes, Jordan Littleboy and Amber Tullett with Laura-May Walkley and Mollie Burgess on the bench. With Sophie Harris injured, Shayla Burgess was making her debut in goal for London Bees. Emma Byrne, Laura Rafferty, Jenna Legg and Alessia Russo all start for Brighton & Hove Albion WFC. 

 It’s Brighton to get the 1st half of Spring Series football underway wearing blue and white vertical striped shirts, blue shorts and socks with London Bees lined up opposite wearing orange shirts with a black sash and horizontal piping, black shorts and socks. Brighton make a positive start the ball played back into Kirsty Barton in the centre of midfield, has Alessia Russo on the move on the right, the pass to her is perfect in behind the London Bees defence takes the ball on into the box cutting across the ball as she shoots it swerves away from the near post.

  Both sides testing the other out on the flanks early on Amber Tullett playing the ball out to Sophie Forgarty on the left up the line Jo Wilson picks it up looks to get in behind is tackled by Brighton’s Vicky Ashton-Jones the ball out for a throw. Brighton work the ball from right to left sending Ellie Dorey down the line, Anne Meiwald goes with her sliding in to deny the cross the ball out for the 1st corner of the match. Goes long across the six yard box no one picking the ball up. Jordan Littleboy puts in the challenge in the middle of the park winning the ball plays it out to Paula Howells on the left wing sends the ball forwards for Wilson up front a surging run to take the ball into the area, Ashton-Jones gets across to challenge shoulder to shoulder forces the striker away from goal tackling well getting the goal-kick. 

Jenna Legg on the ball for
Brighton & Hove Albion WFC

 London Bees win a corner on the right side as Ashton-Jones puts Lucy Loomes cross behind. Taken short to captain Ashleigh Goddard the ball is played to Emma Beckett in position at the top of the area, is closed down quickly by the Brighton defence before she can find room to shoot possession is lost. Jenna Legg links up with Russo ahead of her on the right, Kate Natkiel provides the run in behind, Tullett tackling to put the ball out for a throw, the ball finds it’s way into the box, Tullett clears. Good build up play from both sides Brighton looking strong, runs from deep to pressure the London Bees back line.

  Loomes coming inside with the ball lays it forwards for Wilson, right of goal holds off Charlotte Young as she gets into the area, Emma Byrne comes racing out to close her down the striker takes the ball around her as she goes to ground looks to have an empty net to shoot at takes the shot, Legg saves Brighton getting back to throw herself at the ball clearing it off the line.  

Alessia Russo scorer of Brighton
& Hove Albion WFC’s 1st ever
FAWSL goal

 GOAL! 13 minutes played and the 1st ever Spring Series goal is scored. Brighton are on the attack Kirsty Barton in the centre of midfield plays the ball over the top for striker Amy Taylor to chase, Is won by Tullett in the area before she can reach it plays the ball out to Forgarty at left back, is caught on the ball as Russo moves quickly to close her down, taking the ball past her cuts in field driving into the area and sends a ferocious shot angling across the keeper into the top corner 0-1.

 Brighton are looking a real threat on the right Legg and Russo finding each other with their passes, both Taylor and Natkiel making positive runs, Russo taking the ball inside tries to pick out Taylor sending the ball in towards the penalty spot, London Bees goalkeeper Shayla Burgess gets to it 1st claiming the ball. Howells is left on the ground needing treatment after a coming together with Natkiel but is okay to continue. The game restarts the ball at the feet of Laura Rafferty as she brings it on through the middle Taylor breaking into space on the right the midfielder picks her out, Tullett gets across to mark shoulder to shoulder the Brighton attacker is fouled the free-kick awarded players forwards into the box, captain Sophie Perry plays towards the far post Dorey gets her head to the ball sending it high, before anyone can react plays is stopped by the assistant referee’s flag. 

 Natkiel with a threatening run carves open the London Bees defence on the left getting into the box pulls the trigger sending the ball goalwards, Burgess get down sharply diving to her left getting her gloves to the ball an excellent stop the ball the pace taken off the shot the ball rolls across the face of goal, Fogarty reacts quickest getting the ball launched clear before Russo can reach it. The goal has seen Brighton dominate, London Bees a little careless in possession giving the ball away allowing the visitors to come at them. 

Brighton’s Amy Taylor looks to stop London Bees Emma Beckett

  Beckett getting the ball from Goddard picks out Howells making a move to get forwards down the left flank taking the ball down to the line screws her cross behind goal. A rapid counter from Brighton the ball played up to Taylor central controls well picking out Russo looking to get in behind on the right, Forgarty recovers well to slide in and prevent the cross coming in winning the goal-kick off Taylor. Natkiel looks to play the ball in over the London Bees defence with Taylor after it, Burgess comes out sliding in gather the ball keeps hold of it as Taylor having thrown herself forwards in an attempt to get to the ball crashes into her. 

Brighton’s Kate Natkiel with London Bees, Emma Beckett

  A throw on the right side for London Bees 30 yards out from goal the ball is played inside to Littleboy ties up a strike, sending it goalwards is straight and Byrne who gathers cleanly. The game is stretched end to end a high tempo as you’d expect from a FAWSL fixture, both keepers come out to the edge of their areas to clear a threat as the ball is played over the top. Howells closes down Russo winning he ball plays a great diagonal ball up towards Wilson heading into the area, Ashton-Jones closes her down quickly conceding the corner. From the left the ball bounces across the six yard box picked up by Wilson far post the referee spots a handball Brighton have the free-kick.

London Bees, Jordan Littleboy

  Beckett wins the ball in midfield for London Bees sends it forwards for Wilson who switches play out to the right with Loomes on the move shoots from outside the box the ball flying towards the near post area, Byrne makes the save deflecting the ball behind for the corner kick. Coming in high near post Perry get’s her head on the ball nodding it behind for a 2nd corner, this one goes long no one can get onto the end of it as it flies across the six yard box. London Bees have regained some composure and playing some neat triangles are getting forwards better, Fogarty bringing the ball forwards on the left lifts a high ball in towards the area, Byrne calls for it claims well. 

  Into the last 10 minutes of the 1st half Brighton attack the ball played out to Dorey on the left side getting down the pitch squares the ball into the area a touch from a London Bees boot just about deflects the ball away from Taylor looking to get on the end of it, retrieving the ball Taylor attempts to turn back inside get a shot away, is closed down by 3 London Bees defenders the chance is gone. Howells gets a throw on the left as she tries to get forwards linking up with Fogarty the cross is is swept in towards the near post Wilson trying to get their is claimed well by Byrne.

  Russo surges forwards with the ball at her feet on the right her powerful cross into the box misses everyone going out to the opposite flank Natkiel regains possession some 30 yards out coming inside, strikes the ball goalwards is well held by Burgess in goal. 

Half-time London Bees 0-1 Brighton & Hove Albion WFC 

  A fast paced and entertaining 1st Brighton starting life in FAWSL 2 with a confident stride taking the game to London Bees early on clearing the ball off their own goal line then going up the other end to take the lead. Dominated for a spell after that before London Bees found their way back onto level a level footing chances created at both ends.
  A change for Brighton at the start of the 2nd half Bronwen Thomas coming on to replace Dorey on the left. London Bees to kick-off the 2nd half or they would if they had all their side on the pitch the midfield is missing, Littleboy and Goddard arrive the game kicks-off without Beckett as she emerges from the tunnel. Brighton win the ball early on get it out to Thomas on the left driving forwards her shot is saved by Burgess at her near post. Thomas influential in the opening minutes of the 2nd half looking to link up with Natkiel is tackled by Ellie Perkins inside the area the ball cleared. Thomas then wins a corner kick take short played back to the taker the cross is swept into the six yard box well claimed by Burgess.

Kate Natkiel on the attack for Brighton

  Howells over on the right for London Bees as she and Loomes switch sides early on  gets the ball down the line whipping a cross in towards the near post dropping forwards to take it Byrne spills the ball giving away the corner kick. Played in towards the near post is cleared. Howells is limping a bit picked up the injury 1st half is inside the D as London Bees win possession back on the left Goddard onto Fogarty the ball is squared across the face of the Brighton area into Howells, controls well and sends a curling shot narrowly over the crossbar. 

London Bees, Paula Howells with Brighton’s Jenna Legg
  London Bees make their 1st substitution, Littleboy the player coming off to be replaced by Hana Lalani in the middle. Perry plays the ball out from the back towards Natkiel moving left a powerful run taking her up the other end of the pitch wins the corner of Meiwald. The set-piece comes out to Rafferty top of the area, central her shot is charged down, London Bees look to counter, Legg wins the tackle on halfway. Russo with a good run down the right cuts the ball back for Taylor top of the area right of goal shoots sending the ball wide across the area.
 GOAL! 10 minutes played in the 2nd half and London Bees get themselves back on level terms. Meiwald wins the ball back in defence playing it into Lalani in the middle, picks out Howells free on the right side getting forwards ties up the cross as players make runs into the box the cross goes long dropping far side beyond the goal, Goddard has timed her run to perfection getting her head onto the ball to drive it back in across Byrne and into the back of the net beyond 1-1.

London Bees captain,
Ashleigh Goddard
 London Bees having equalised find that extra bit of pace that Brighton had in the 1st half after they took the lead. The tempo remains high, but it is freezing too so everyone might be running around to stay warm too. Loomes coming across to the right as London Bees build an attack plays the ball on for Howells as she looks to get into the area is stopped by a firm tackle form Perry. Brighton threaten to counter Natkiel with acres of space to run into on the left is prevented from doing so by Goddard as the London Bees captain comes running in sliding to tackle and put the ball out for a throw.
  Goddard on the ball as London Bees attack passes forwards into Loomes top of the D looks to divert the ball into the area with Wilson looking to get inside from her left, calls for handball as the ball is stopped from reaching her, the referee waves the plea’s away. Competitive tussles all over the pitch, the referee has a word with Rafferty and Goddard. London Bees are almost through on goal to take the lead as they ball put forwards early threatens to send Loomes clear, Byrne comes racing out of her area doesn’t get their as Loomes knocks the ball past her, Wilson goes after the ball running wide of goal picking it up on the right inside the six yard box goes for goal but by the time she has it the Brighton defence is back to block. 

London Bees, Jo Wilson with Brighton centre backs, Vicky Ashton-Jones & Charlotte Young
 Closing in on the final 15 minutes and London Bees make their final substitution bringing on England Youth International Evie Clarke for Howells who has had a fantastic game. Clarke has an early opportunity to take a shot as she recieves the ball from a throw inside the Brighton half on the right plays the ball to Loomes outside the area right of goal laying it back to Clarke as she moves forwards her strike is charged down by a defender. Brighton come forwards Barton on for Russo with Taylor to her right her cross into the area goes long, Thomas tries to keep it alive inside the box, can’t get a ball around Perkins the defender winning the ball back with a good tackle.
   Brighton make a change bringing on Lucy Somes for Taylor in the 75th minute. A break is on for London Bees Lalani playing the ball out to Loomes on the right sends an early cross into the box, takes a deflection on the way through to the near post, not enough to wrong foot Byrne who is across to lay claim to the ball. One end to the other Russo slips the ball in behind for Somes, Fogarty on her shoulder has support from her goalkeeper as Burgess comes racing out to slide in and gather the ball. Burgess is in the wars as she is clattered by Russo coming out to kick the ball clear as it is played down the wing. Is okay to continue. 
London Bees, Anne Meiwald

  Close from Wilson for London Bees as Loomes wins possession inside the Brighton half on the right passes infield into Lalani outside the box lays it across to Wilson left of the D sends her strike narrowly over the crossbar. Moments later Clarke has a shot from inside the six yard box right of goal that flies into the side netting after she controls a cross fizzed into her from the right wing. Somes controlling the ball 25 yards out back to goal turns an rolls the ball in for Russo to try and burst into the box, both Meiwald and Goddard are quickly n the attacker squeezing her off the ball. 

  The game could go either way neither is settling for the point Beckett plays a long diagonal ball into the area from the right looking to pick out Wilson, Byrne coming for the ball punches it clear of her area. Goddard finding space on the right squares her cross along the penalty spot, just beyond Clarke she manages to lay it back for Loomes who sends her 1st time shot wide of the goal. Loomes on the right manages to squeeze a cross in Clarke winning the corner as her attempt to help the ball on is blocked by Young. The corner is won by Brighton headed out of the area they threaten to break, again it’s Goddard who tackles to win the ball.
  Into injury time late chances for Brighton, a 50/50 challenge in the middle sees the ball squeezed forwards to Russo on the left drives forwards into the box closing in on goal is a clumsy looking challenge goes down as Burgess gets hold of the ball, cries for a penalty, nothing doing London Bees attempt to clear their box get the ball forwards lose it in the middle the ball placed into the run of Natkiel right 20 yards out, Burgess comes rushing out to close her down as she enters the box making an excellent save on the final whistle. 
Full time London Bees 1-1 Brighton & Hove Albion WFC

  A dramatic opening game to the Spring Series watched by 703 supporters, the points shared London Bees might feel they could have taken all 3 late on Brighton the same a draw in the end both get a point on the board. Brighton leading the table with the alphabetical advantage. Played at a high tempo throughout, no sign of rustiness or nerves from Brighton right from the start the early goal no doubt adding the their confidence their new signings fitting in well, Russo scoring their 1st ever FAWSL goal. London Bees new signing also doing well Tullett and Meiwald at the back, the London Bees fans already knowing what Loomes is all about, Littleboy too doing well in midfield. Getting themselves back into the game levelling in the 2nd half.
SWF Blog – Player of the Match

 Several contenders, both Lucy Loomes and Paula Howells with great performances on the flanks for London Bees, more often than not they were put through by Ashleigh Goddard, the London Bees captain with some fantastic tackles to break up Brighton’s attacks and scoring their 2nd half equaliser so the SWF Blog – Player of the Match goes to Ashleigh Goddard.

  Enjoyed my return to The Hive don’t think I’ll be leaving it so long next time.