Cambridge Women booked their place in the next round of the FA Women’s Premier League Cup with a confident display against Cheltenham Town Ladies.
The hosts however got off to the worst possible start when with less than a minute on the clock, a long ball over the top of a napping back line, saw Kim Hewlett race onto the ball and slot past keeper Liz Pamplin, despite her getting a hand to the shot.
The home side’s reaction was good though and enjoyed spells of possession in the first half and stayed patient, probing the Cheltenham’s defence to work on openings. Millie Turner and Becky Russell in particular were being used to good effect in wide areas. Nuala Wayne tested the Cheltenham keeper Ashleigh Lebbon on two occasions but Cambridge’s defending needed to be committed to prevent the visitors from extending their lead. Jordan Holland made a superb block inside the area to block a goalbound shot from Rhona Donaldson and the centre back was also alert to head away just as Hewlett was about to attack a Jen Brown-Wealls cross.
The two sides continued to trade chances as Kayleigh Anne Burt hit a snap shot volley after a corner fell to her but it went wide, but the away side were still threatening and Hewlett stung Pamplin’s gloves with a shot and Donaldson volleyed over the bar later in the half. However, Cambridge’s patient possession paid off shortly before half time when Emma Jenkins and Turner combined to find Wayne on the edge of the box. She twisted and turned before firing an unstoppable drive into the corner of the net.
Cambridge’s Laura Bright & Hannah Bodily in the thick of the action. Photos by Darren Gilham (SWF BLOG)
The hosts took that momentum into the second half and produced a high intensity display in a half in which Cheltenham rarely threatened the hard-working Cambridge side. A bright attack early in the half saw Turner burst into the box at pace and the trip by the defender was enough for the referee to point to the spot. Skipper Laura Bright stepped up to confidently send Lebbon the wrong way with the penalty.
Holland was unlucky to divert a header from a Russell corner wide but it wasn’t long before Cambridge had got a 3 rd . Turner again was involved as she cut inside to force a save from Lebbon but her parry fell to Faith Hewitt who struck first time and despite Lebbon getting a hand to it, the ball went a foot over the line before she got back to claw it away, the linesman flagged and the goal stood.
Wayne and Hewitt both sent good efforts narrowly wide of the goal as the home side looked to press home the advantage the lead had given them. Turner almost got the goal she deserved when she tried to divert Wayne’s low cross but it went wide of the far post.
Cheltenham’s Rhona Donaldson moves away from Hannah Bodily. Photos by Darren Gilham (SWF BLOG)
Substitutes Hannah Goodchild and Sophie Thompson added great impetus to Cambridge midway through the half and Thompson certainly caused some worry in the Cheltenham defence, twice getting free in the box to shoot, only for an important piece of last ditch defending to deny her each time.
In the last ten minutes, Cheltenham tried in vain to exert a bit more pressure but Pamplin confidently gathered two balls into the Cambridge area and in truth, the best chance fell again to Wayne who, as part of a swift counter attack, found herself through on goal, but Lebbon was quick off her line to deny her well.
It had been a committed display of defending as a team with a disciplined shape but coupled with attacks of real pace and vigour and manager Steve Edwards was very satisfied with the performance after the game.
CAMBRIDGE:- Liz Pamplin; Emma Jenkins, Jordan Holland, Kayleigh Anne Burt, Becca Fay; Laura Bright ©, Hannah Bodily (Hannah Goodchild 62 mins); Becky Russell, Faith Hewitt (Sophie Thompson 73 mins), Millie Turner; Nuala Wayne
CHELTENHAM: Ashleigh Lebbon, Anna Dennis, Natalie Berry, Emily Skipp, Kirsty Dunleavy (C), Rhona Donaldson, Jade Wiltshire, Katie Walker, Jen Brown-Wealls Kim Hewlett.
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