Sunday, 18 May 2014

Doncaster Rovers Belles 2 v Watford Ladies 0 - FAWSL2

Sunday 18th May
at the Keepmoat Stadium
FA Women's Super League 2
Doncaster Rovers Belles (2) 2
Millie Bright 18
Rhiannon Roberts 34
Watford Ladies (0) 0
Admission £6. Programme £3. Attendance 196
Right click images to enlarge
Doncaster Rovers Belles:
1 Nicola Hobbs, 2 Lyndsey Cunningham, 4 Leandra Little (C), 5 Jessica Sigsworth, 6 Kasia Lipka, 8 Sue Smith, 10 Millie Bright,
12 Reanne Thomas  (14 Hope Knight 61 mins), 16 Ashleigh Mills (15 Victoria Williams  HT), 20 Rhiannon Roberts, 23 Lauren Cresswell,
Unused Subs - 11 Bethany England, 21 Emma Johnson
Watford Ladies:
1 Lauren Davey (C), 2 Georgia Mays, 3 Ellie Butterwick, 4 Chloe Gunn, 5 Magda Mosengo (16 Cally Rowell HT), 6 Renee Hector,
7 Sarah Wiltshire, 8 Bonnie Horwood, 11 Kate Natkiel (14 Megan Wynne 61 mins), 12 Josie Green (9 Jo Wilson HT), 17 Emma Beckett
Unused Subs - 10 Gemma Bryan, 13 Shayla Burgess
Sunderland Ladies narrow 1-0 win this lunchtime, meant that the Belles had to win today to stay top of the table on goal difference.
Both of the top two teams in the FAWSL2, still have a 100% record so far season after four games apiece, but after this 2-0 win against Watford, Doncaster's goal difference is now +10, while the Black Cats are in second place, breathing down the Belles necks on a +7.
Next Sunday Donny Belles are away against Yeovil Town (at Sherborne Town, 2pm), while Sunderland face a trip to play Watford (at Berkhamsted Town, 1pm).
On a very warm afternoon, in an enclosed stadium, Doncaster did all of the damage they required to do in the first half, before the heat began to take its toll on both sides, in what became a fairly lacklustre game after the break.
A couple who were at the Keepmoat rooting for Watford, proudly hung a Welsh flag up in the West Stand, which some people thought was a little odd given that the away team were from Hertfordshire, but they weren't geographically, they had actually travelled over from North Wales to support the Welsh international players who are on Watford's books.
I could have pretended to be an authority on the women's game in Wales, by saying "Ah, good on you, that'll be Josie Green and Sarah Wiltshire, you're here to give some moral support to then?", but I would've been cheating ... in truth, I knew who the Welsh players were because there was a match report of their recent 4-0 win v Montenegro, in the programme at the Bangor City v Rhyl, Europa League play off game I went to yesterday.
Hmm, that top left hand corner looks vulnerable Millie
Doncaster began with a flurry of corner kicks and attacking play down both wings, but Watford, who were also unbeaten in the league before today, having won one and drawn two, were looking fairly solid at the back during the opening exchanges.
The 'Golden Girls', as today's visitors are called, because Blanche Devereaux from the U.S. based TV sitcom of the same name used to play for them in the 1980's (a possible embellishment on my part), had their first meaningful opportunity after 8 minutes, when the aforementioned Welsh international Sarah Wiltshire's left wing corner was only half cleared as far as Kate Natkiel on the edge of the box, who steadied herself, took aim and air kicked spectacularly, completely missing the ball and allowing the Belles to clear their lines.
Lauren Davey manages to gets a hand to it, But Millie Bright's
 free kick has found that vulnerable top left hand corner
While Watford were adopting a cautious and steady approach, conserving their energy on what was going to be a strength sapping hot afternoon (sensibly punctuated with shade and water breaks), 'Donny' were showing a bit more urgency in their game and striving to find a goal to break the deadlock.
Realising that they were obviously up against a packed Watford rearguard, the home side opted to try their luck from long range a couple of times and it had the desired effect.
The effervescent Ashleigh Mills, was fouled thirty yards from the visitors goal and Lauren Cresswell warmed Lauren Davey's hands with the resulting free kick.
Jess Sigsworth beat Renee Hector for pace out on the left flank, but the Watford defender put paid to her goalbound run with an outstretched leg. Out on the left touchline, level with the penalty spot, Millie Bright weighed up he options. Lauren Davey was conducting her defence over by the right hand post, which left the left hand side of the goal vulnerable. Millie delivered a crisp free kick perfectly and all that Davey could do was scramble across her line and fumble the already goalbound effort as it crossed the line. 1-0 to the Belles.
Rhiannon Roberts heads Donny Belles second goal
from Sue Smith's inswinging right wing corner
Leandra Little was looking composed at the back for the Belles, keeping Wiltshire, an omnipresent threat for Watford in check.
Reanne Thomas found room to get a shot in at the Watford goal, despite the attention of two defenders, but her effort lacked any real power.
Smith and Sigsworth both created opportunities but Watford were packing out their defence and limiting the home sides options.
A flowing move where Sigworth played the ball to Mills, who set up Bright saw the latter crash the ball against the upright and Davey saved well at close quarters when Sigsworth got to the rebound first.
Georgia Mays put a cross into the Belles box which Sue Smith turned behind for a corner. Wiltshire's flag kick was cleared back towards her by Thomas, but Bright was on hand to clear the second cross into the box. Though Watford had been absorbing a lot of pressure and 'Donny' were definitely on top, it was still only 1-0 with a long time left to go.
Millie Bright won the ball on the right hand side of midfield and knocked a forward pass towards Thomas, whose cross was cleared away for a corner.
After stopping for a water break, Smith swung the ball in from the right wing and Rhiannon Roberts timed her run perfectly to meet the ball with a thumping header that Davey could do nothing about.
34 minutes, 2-0 to the Belles.
Watford were stung into action by Doncaster's second goal.
5 minutes before the break, Katie Natkiel cut in from the left, evaded three defenders who were moving in on her and struck the ball over the crossbar.
The visitors were knocking the ball around well in the Belles half as half time approached, without really causing Nicola Hobbs any problems in the final third. Mays, Wiltshire and Natkiel, worked the ball well between then on the right, but their efforts came to nothing.
On the stroke of half time, Sigsworth beat off two challenges as she cut into the Watford box from the right flank, but her cross fell just behind Smith who was well placed to score and the chance had gone.
HT - Belles 2 v Watford 0
In the middle of the park, Kasia Lipka was doing a great job of linking everything together and efficiently went about her business, not wasting a pass all afternoon that I can recollect. It says much for the astuteness of the home supporters, that her 'work(wo)man like' shift hadn't gone unnoticed, because she won the 'Belle of the ball' this afternoon ... even I voted for the winner today.
As I said at the outset, the second half was fairly lacklustre. But, in their defence, the Belles already knew how Sunderland's game had finished and could relax a bit, knowing they had a 3 goal (difference) cushion to fall back on in the league table.
It would've been fairly pointless for the home side to knock themselves out, charging around in the heat, when they had already done what they had set out to do and barring any silly mistakes, were in a position to see the game home at a canter. 
Sigsworth looked odds on to add a third goal for the Belles, but just as she was about to shoot from 12 yards out, Hector nicked the ball off her toe. Quality defending from the Watford second half.
Sue Smith broke towards the Watford goal through the middle and Davey did well to tip her blistering shot from 20 yards out over the bar, while Smith's marker looked on nonplussed that the Belles number 8 had moved inside from out on the wings.
Reanne Thomas charged down a clearance in the visitors area and set Sigsworth up, but Davey, the Watford keeper and captain pulled off another great stop and got down well to smother the ball.
Inside the final ten minutes, Lipka pulled a cross cum shot across the face of Davey's goal that went harmlessly wide of the left hand post.
Which was a shame because the Belles number 6 deserved a goal for her efforts today.
Millie Bright let fly with a long range shot that went high and wide of the target as two very tired teams staggered on towards the finishing line that was now in sight.
Megan Wynne's cross towards Wiltshire and Gemma Bryan, caused panic at the back for Doncaster. Nicola Hobbs claimed the ball well, but she collided with Leandra Little and they both needed attention before they could carry on.
The Belles nearly finished on a high when Lyndsey Cunningham and Rhiannon Roberts worked well together to pull the Watford defence out of position and laid the ball of to Lipka, who in turn cued it up for Victoria Williams who shot narrowly over the bar.
The grand finale wasn't to be, but the Belles had done enough in the first half to win the game and come 3.50pm they were still top of the pile and on a 100% winning streak in the league.
FT - Doncaster Rovers Belles 2 v Watford Ladies 0
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I must be due a few Lakeside Village vouchers for all
the free publicity they've been getting recently