Match Report – Tottenham Hotspur Ladies v Brighton & Hove Albion WFC

Football action featured 1st on the Supporting Women’s Football Blog Sunday 10th April

Match Report – Tottenham Hotspur Ladies v Brighton & Hove Albion WFC

  As most of you know when I’m not writing match reports on this blog I also look after the @WF_East twitter account and it’s website which tries to cover as much women’s football in the East of England as it can. The top league covered there is the FAWPL Southern Division, but to date I haven’t seen the side that has been leading the way for most of the season, Brighton & Hove Albion WFC. Have one more league game left away to Tottenham Hotspur Ladies and it is a huge game for them one of the biggest they’ve ever played the scenario is simple, win and Brighton & Hove Albion WFC will be Champions.

  Brighton & Hove Albion WFC have gotten matches played when others haven’t earlier in the season having gotten themselves into an early lead, were only off the top briefly in November when they lost 2 back to back league games. Those though were the only 2 league defeats to be suffered and recovering from that mini wobble went on to storm ahead in the table get their games in to leave themselves their destiny in their own hands knowing a win today will see them win the league even though their rivals Charlton Athletic Women (2nd) and Cardiff City Ladies (3rd) both have games in hand the maximum points tally both can achieve is 52 and 53 points respectfully, Brighton have 51 points now, 3 more from today’s game and it’s all over.

  Can’t and won’t take anything for granted a tough away trip for their final league match of the season, playing Tottenham Hotspur Ladies, who I have seen a few times this season, but not in league action. Sitting in mid-table have won half of their league matches with 20 played to date, lost 9 with just the 1 draw have reached 3 Cup Finals, knocking Brighton out of the FAWPL League Cup at the quarter final stage back in March thanks to a goal in the final minutes. Manager Karen Hills has if all players are fit a large squad to chose from however of late that has not been the case with several unavailable again through injury or international duty.

  That defeat of Brighton in the FAWPL League Cup to place at today’s venue, Brimsdown Sports Ground, home of Brimsdown Rovers FC instead of Tottenham’s usual home venue Cheshunt FC. The pitch situated behind a large clubhouse and function room. A large playing surface looked a little cut up, but good grass cover the ground itself could do with a little TLC, a small seated stand on one side opposite the dugouts. A bright sunny day, some cloud cover but no chance of rain. The crowd swelled by a good number of Brighton supporters hoping to see their side make history.  

Tottenham Hotspur Ladies starting XI – Toni-Anne Wayne, Lucia Leon, Shannon Moloney, Eartha Pond, Alex Keown, Maya Vio, Riana-Devi Soobadoo, Josie Green, Rosie Kmita, Wendy Martin (C) & Kelley Blanchflower.
   subs – Bianca Baptiste, Ronnell Humes, Kate O’Leary & Shakira Waithe.

   Brighton & Hove Albion starting XI – Faye Baker, Catherine Cooper, Vicky Ashton-Jones, Deanna Cooper, Jay Blackie (C), Kirsty Barton, Sophie Perry, Charley Boswell, Kate Natkiel, Charlotte Gurr & Amy Taylor.

   subs – Ellie Dorey, Lucy Somes, Lisa Fulgence, Nina Wilson & Lily Agg.

   Lucia Leon was partnering Alex Keown in defence for Tottenham in the absence of regular captain Jenna Schillaci, Wendy Martin wearing the armband for them this afternoon lined up in their white shirts and socks with navy shorts with Brighton having kick off 1st half lined up in their away kit off what Nike call ‘Volt’ shirts and socks, (lime green) and back shorts. The ball is played out to the left side early on with Sophie Perry pushing down that flank up against Shannon Moloney played at right back for Tottenham today she defends well winning the ball, puts it long into the Brighton half, goes all the way back to goalkeeper Faye Baker, who shows good distribution of the ball from the back picking out Perry with a long kick, runs into traffic the ball going out for a throw.

Brighton’s Catherine Cooper keeping close tabs on Tottenham’s Kelley Blanchflower

Obvious early on this match is going to be played at a fast pace and both sides are going to close the ball down quickly, forcing both sides into rushed passes several are going astray. Charley Boswell attacking down the right for Brighton finds herself in space high up the pitch as the ball pops free from the pinball in the centre out to her, drives with it to the touchline cuts a cross in along the six yard box, racing back Tottenham’s Alex Keown cuts it out turning the ball behind for a corner kick. A high ball swept in from the right comes central, Tottenham goalkeeper Toni-Anne Wayne rises unopposed to claim the ball.

   Brighton’s Vicky Ashton-Jones plays a long ball out from the back left side coming central drops for Gurr 20 plus yards out knows Wayne is off her line behind her goes for the lob sending the ball high, but it bounces harmlessly wide of goal. Brighton have started well Boswell and Perry providing good outlets for the ball right and left. Perry fires in an early cross on the diagonal from the left side racing across the six yard box, Natkiel chasing in far post can’t quite get her toe on the end of the cross to turn the ball home. 

Riana-Devi Soobadoo wins the header against Brighton’s Amy Taylor

  Tottenham are contesting the ball well enough in the midfield have found it hard to get it into the attacking trio of Martin, Rosie Kmita and Kelley Blanchflower the latter two try to link up create something as Riana-Devi Soobadoo gets hold of the ball and releases Kmita down the left wing, pushing in has Blanchflower inside her looking for the ball to be played ahead of her run into the box, Kmita sends it in, seeing the attack build Baker has already started to come and calling for it collects as her defence blocks off Blanchflower’s run.

   A free kick wide left for Brighton, Perry to whips the ball in comes in towards the near post, bounces right before Wayne who has the angle covered gathers 2nd time despite a runner coming, Natkiel I think who ends up colliding with the post, but it’s alright. Brighton captain Jay Blackie plays a great ball from inside her own half up towards Amy Taylor the striker in a central position headers the ball down to the right where Boswell is in space, drives forwards, cuts the cross back in along the six yard area, Keown tracking back cuts the ball out putting it behind for a corner kick. The corner is put in long drifts out of play beyond the far post.

  Leon is looking to bring the ball out from the back for Tottenham when she is brought down by Taylor, clear the defender is in trouble as the trainer runs on a lengthy stoppage and sadly  the stretcher has to be brought on as she can no longer continue. Shakira Waithe is the substitute, goes to left back with Eartha Pond starting in that position moving into the centre of defence along side Keown. A free kick to Tottenham goes long, Brighton’s Deanna Cooper with a firm header clears the threat. Play continues to be constricted to the middle neither side finding the cutting ball into the area to send an attacker through. 

Josie Green looking for a passing option for Tottenham

 Martin is being well marked by Brighton as she looks to get hold of the ball up top for Tottenham. Maya Vio, Josie Green and Soobadoo are battling hard in midfield not making it easy for Brighton to pick their way through. Green gets the ball up to Kmita left side again pushing on cuts a cross back in along the face of the area, Blanchflower the target, Ashton-Jones with the interception. Moloney gets a talking to from the referee as she commits a foul in front of the stand, From a deep position on the left it’s Deanna Cooper to take sends a fantastic flighted ball long towards the far post with Boswell totally free to run in and attack it with Wayne drifting across her goal, Boswell looks to nod the header back across her, the goalkeeper flashes up a hand to stop the ball then bring it under control and hold.

GOAL! Into injury time in the 1st half and the stalemate is broken, Brighton hit Tottenham on the break and for once as the ball is swung in from the left the visitors have managed to overload the area have two players spare coming in behind the defence into the area, Wayne has to come off her line try to get to the ball, reaches the closest Brighton attacker 1st, Taylor who gets her foot to the ball 1st prods it past Wayne to roll home just inside the post. An important game for Brighton and it’s clear from the enthused celebration that greets the goal it has released alot of tension 0-1.

  Half-time Tottenham Hotspur Ladies 0-1 Brighton & Hove Albion WFC
   Brighton take the narrowest of leads into the dressing room at half-time in what has been a scrappy 1st half, neither side getting hold of the ball for long. Brighton have had more opportunity to go forwards with the ball, the final pass more often than not failing to come off. Have dealt with the threat Tottenham’s attackers posed to their defence well with Blackie staying back to receive the ball and set up play further up the field. 
  The teams are out for the 2nd 45, a lead to defend as it stands Brighton are on course to win the title. Tottenham to take the kick off. Pushing up towards the Brighton area lose the ball is played out up towards Gurr who has Perry racing down the left flank plays the pass out to her, the cross is fired in towards Taylor in the centre, she ends up fouling Pond trying to get around the defender.
Tottenham’s Shannon Moloney
   Coming out with the ball on the left Kmita sends what looks to be a nothing ball into the Brighton area, Blanchflower is up there but it is going to bounce into the waiting Baker’s gloves, at least it should have, must have woken a mole up or something because it skips up and threatens to embarrass the keeper going over her head she punches it away to her left across the six yard  box her defence getting it clear. 
  Another awkward ball for Baker to deal with as Tottenham’s Blanchflower lofts a high ball into the area from a good distance out, is turned over for a corner kick. Pond to take from the right sends in a vicious ball dissecting the six yard box coming far post, Ashton-Jones does well to head it behind for a corner, with martin a dead cert to score coming in behind her. The 2nd corner from the left side is wasted.
   Perry is a constant threat for Brighton on their left Kirsty Barton puts the ball out to her feet on the wing Perry surges on up the line squares the cross in to the six yard box with Taylor at the near post tries to turn and hit her shot the ball is blocked by the defender up against her, rolls away Taylor goes for it trying to turn it back on target, slices the ball wide of goal. 1st change for Brighton with Lily Agg coming on for Gurr, going into the midfield Natkiel is pushed up along side Taylor for now. Another chance for Taylor to double her goal tally as Agg gets hold of the ball in the centre her pass up top is deflected off a defender into the run of Taylor 20 yards out goes to shot gets it wrong sends the ball over the bar.
Sophie Perry full of running on the left for
Brighton was a threat all afternoon
   Baker is getting some testing ball put her way in the Brighton goal, this one fired in from distance by Green who gets plenty of zip on the ball, bouncing before it reaches the keeper again skips up again and Baker does well to adjust and tip the ball over the bar for the corner kick. Tottenham see the corner cleared off the line as it is fired in low and fast along the six yard box coming all the way through to Keown racing onto it connect well, blocked on the line before eventually being cleared. Pond has another chance to play the ball into the area for Tottenham as they are awarded a free kick wide on the right sends the ball in high looping towards the far post area a great save from Baker to turn the ball over and out for a corner kick. Tottenham make their 2nd change of the match sending on Bianca Baptiste for Martin. 
  GOAL! Super sub! I had just written… ‘and immediately Baptiste starts by putting herself about.’ Straight away the Tottenham striker is after the Brighton defenders hustling them on the ball pushing them into taking the ball right 20 yards out she steals the ball and from the right corner outside the area looks to go for goal, is a quality strike coming in fast sweeps over Baker and drops behind into the goal 1-1, Tottenham get themselves back on level terms with 20 minutes left to play.
   Blackie with a quality pass out to Perry on the left sets up another Brighton attack the ball squared into the area again Taylor coming towards it has Keown on her shoulder, but despite being put under challenge connects with the ball turning her shot goalwards, flies over the crossbar. 
Amy Taylor scoring both Brighton
goals to seal a 2-1 win
  GOAL! Less than 15 minutes left and Brighton regain the lead. Again Perry is heavily involved with the build up, with the ball on the left fires it in to Taylor coming near post her turn and hit is blocked the ball rebounding out to Natkiel who pulls the trigger from outside the box into the crowd is deflected back out to the left, won back by Perry her 2nd cross comes to Taylor just inside the area this time she curls her shot around Wayne and into the back of the net to cue another round of exuberant celebrations 1-2.
  Before the goal Brighton were thinking about a change and make it anyway, with Lisa Fulgence coming on for Catherine Cooper, joins Taylor up top, Natkiel going back into the centre. 7 minutes left on the clock and Brighton are defending for their lives as Tottenham look to push on the ball. The ball is pinging about, Fulgence is flagged offside as Taylor latches onto the ball and drives into the Tottenham half.
  The match moves into stoppage time, Tottenham are applying the pressure, the Brighton fans in front of me don’t know what to do with themselves. Soobadoo gets her foot in wins the ball plays it on to Blanchflower, her pass comes to Green 20 yards out right side of the area hits the shot on the half volley, comes safely through into bakers gloves as she kneels to meet it no awkward bounce this time and that’s it the final whistle blows and Brighton & Hove Albion WFC win the game 2-1 and everyone races onto the pitch for a mass celebration inside the centre circle. 54 points secured and no one can catch them now! Champions!
  It might have sounded a simple scenario win and it’s yours but that is never as easy as that. A scrappy contest, a difficult pitch and a competitive Tottenham side who weren’t going to roll over made for a good contest, Baptiste’s superb equaliser making for a nervy end, Taylor’s brace securing the 3 points Brighton needed, they are FAWPL Southern Division Champions. Not only that but will be contesting the FAWPL Play-off match with whoever’s crowned FAWPL Northern Division Champions for a place in the FAWSL on Sunday May 29th. For now thought it’s time to celebrate winning the title and with a few weeks before that match the players can celebrate and let it sink in.
Brighton & Hove Albion WFC celebrating after the final whistle blows
  Thanks to both clubs for their help with the teams today. My congratulations to the players, management, coaching staff, volunteers and fans of Brighton & Hove Albion WFC on your title win.