The Southern Counties Women’s Cup Competition is making a welcome return this season, after the break initiated by the covid pandemic and the Middlesex team hosted Essex at Bedfont Sports FC, on Wednesday last, 8th March. Middlesex were involved in the opening match in January, against the Royal Navy at HMS Temeraire in Portsmouth. Essex were scheduled to play a home game against the Royal Navy before this but unfortunately, the latter’s coach broke down on the way to the venue.
We were very pleased to welcome Essex FA, a stalwart of the competition. They had won their group and qualified for the final, when proceedings came to a halt in March 2020. They were declared as joint holders, with Kent, the winners of the other group, following several unsuccessful attempts to play the final. Our particular thanks are due to the Essex Match Secretary, Mark Wallis, for his considerable efforts towards the staging of this match, despite the reluctance of some clubs to release their players.
Our thanks to Bedfont Sports FC for allowing us the use of their splendid facilities, especially to Director Terry Reader, whose hands-on approach throughout the evening, ensured the success of the event.
We were pleased to welcome the Essex players, team management, County officials and supporters. Besides Mark, the Essex FA were represented by Dave Emerton, Rob Parker and Barry Fitzgerald.
The match, which was played on a cold wet evening, produced some very good football. The result was a 2-0 win for the Middlesex girls, who were actually more convincing winners than the score suggests. They generally dominated possession and should have scored more goals. They were thwarted by several fine saves by the Essex goalkeeper and some resolute defending, but they also failed to take some golden scoring opportunities.
Both goalkeepers were quickly in action. The visitors’ defence repelled a Middlesex corner, taken by Alissa Down, in the first minute and then Middlesex custodian, Sophie Shults gathered Daisy Canny’s long ball, ahead of two Essex forwards.
There followed a spell of Middlesex pressure. Another corner by Alissa travelled across the Essex goalmouth and crossed the goal-line beyond the far post, without attracting a touch.
Caitlen Boodram-Star (7) shoots...
Middlesex debutant, Caitlen Boodram-Star, who was in devastating form on the right, cut in and fired narrowly wide from the edge of the box. She then hit a low ball into the box but Aimee Durn couldn’t convert it. Caitlen then tried a long shot, which keeper Emily Mackler held and then she worked in closer for a shot, which Emily palmed out.
...and Emily Mackler saves
Ashley Cheatley made a run through the middle but Emily’s foot prevented a goal, at the expense of a corner.
Emily Mackler saves from Asley Cheatley (16)
Essex broke out and Sophie blocked Whitney Locke’s close range shot.
Sophie Shults blocks Whitney Locke's close range shot
Whitney worked her way into a good position but Sophie blocked her shot and then caught the resulting corner, taken by Zoe Smith, high up.
Aimee Durn (10) squares...
Middlesex went ahead in the 20th minute, through Ashley, who netted Aimee Durn’s square pass.
...to Ashley (16) who puts Middlesex ahead
Caitlen delivered a wicked curling drive, which was kept out by Emily’s brilliant diving save. Caitlen tried another shot, from the edge of the penalty area, which Emily saved and then her header was cleared off of the goal-line.
...is headed off the goal line
Sophie saved a bouncing shot, from around 25 yards, by Daisy Canny. Then Daisy played a good one-two with Georgia Box to set up Nicole Farmer, whose shot was saved.
Middlesex then had a further series of goal-scoring chances. T’Yana Nee Chambers placed her shot wide, when through on goal. Jenny Nagle’s long shot was deflected wide. Alissa cut in but her low shot was saved. Emily made further saves from Jenny (twice) and Ami. Then Ami shot across goal and wide of the far post.
Alissa Down takes a long range free kick...
The last shot before the interval was a long-range free kick by Alissa, which crashed against the underside of the crossbar and bounced down for the grateful keeper to gather.
...which crashes against the underside of the crossbar
Score at half time: Middlesex 1 Essex 0
Manager, Craig Nicholson made some changes to his set-up for the second half, including switching Caitlen to the left wing.
Emily saves with her feet from T'yana
The chances continued to come. Jenny won the ball and fed Alissa, who fired narrowly wide. Then Emily Mackler saved with her feet from T’Yana. We were still inside the first two minutes of the second half, when Caitlen laid on the ball for Jenny to hit into the roof of the net for Middlesex’s second goal.
Jenny Nagle (9) hits Middlesex's second goal
Emily did very well to save a deflected shot from Caitlen. Sarah Coomson’s shot was turned for a corner kick, which resulted in Caitlen heading just wide.
At the other end, Lindsey Morgan cleared the bar with a shot from around 30 yards and Daisy Canny shot across goal.
A well worked Middlesex move ended with T’Yana shooting narrowly wide from Caitlan’s final pass.
Sophie saved a good long-range effort from Nicole Farmer.
A long through ball by Gabby Bishop and a lay off by Jenny gave T’Yana a good scoring chance but she hit her shot past the post.
Essex went close when Sarah Coomson headed off of the Middlesex goal-line, after Daisy Canny had beaten Sophie to a loose ball.
Caitlan continued to make some good runs but Essex prevented her from inflicting further damage with some good defending.
Essex’s Hannah Warner provided some anxious moments for the home defence. Her dangerous cross was headed away by Sarah Coomson and then she shot just wide from outside the box.
Essex gave goalkeeper, Emily Mackler, a deserved rest with the introduction of Millie D’ath in the 75th minute.
Ami Martins clears the crossbar from close range
Ami Martins had a good opportunity to add to the Middlesex goal tally but she hit a low cross over the crossbar from very close range.
Sophie saved high up from Daisy Canny before Middlesex finished the game on the offensive. Ami burst through the middle but was foiled by keeper Millie D’ath’s legs.
Ami is foiled by the keeper's legs
Finally, T’Yana fed Ashley, whose curling shot was well saved.
Our congratulations are again due to Craig Nicholson and his team on a very impressive performance.
Final Score: Middlesex 2 Essex 0
TEAM LINE UPS:
Middlesex: Sophie Shults (Ashford Town (Middlesex)), Sheryce Slater (Enfield Town), Lavana Neufville (Ashford Town (Middlesex)), Gabby Bishop (QPR), Sarah Coomson (Actonians), Katie Ackerman (QPR), Caitlen Boodram-Star (Haringey Borough), Alissa Down (capt), Ashley Cheatley, Aimee Durn (all Ashford Town (Middlesex)) and Ami Martins (QPR)
Rolling Substitutes: T’Yana Nee Chambers (Actonians), Laura Huse (Ashford Town (Middlesex), Megan Peters-Weise (Haringey Borough) and Jenny Nagle (Denham United).
Manager: Craig Nicholson Coaches: Jacob Ballheimer and George Wells. Physio: Scott Everley.
Essex: Emily Mackler (London Seaward/Southminster United), Zoe Smith (Lawford), Olivia Bilson (Bowers & Pitsea), Nicole Farmer (Stevenage), Lisa Ward (East Bergholt United), Abigail Fry (Hutton), Kelsey Smith (Bowers & Pitsea), Lindsey Morgan (capt), Georgia Box (both Lawford), Whitney Locke (Bowers & Pitsea) and Daisy Canny (Lawford).
Rolling Substitutes: Kelsey Lucus, Hannah Warner (both Billericay Town), Abigail Head (Lawford) and Millie D’ath (Billericay Town) (goalkeeper, who replaced Emily Mackler in the 75th minute).
Manager: Kim Coster Coaches: Lee Skelton, Nick Sheldrick and Howard Mackler.
Referee: Mervyn Hughes Assistant Referees: Timothy Guichard and Gemma Day.
Mervyn and his team controlled the proceedings admirably.
We thank Chris and Jim for braving the cold & the rain to join us at Bedfont Sports for the game. Thay have selected their favourite shots, Chirs has also kindly provided a full album of imagery from the match.
Chris & Jim's Picks
Full Album Courtesy of Chris Benn