Middlesex Ladies played their third game in this seasons’ Southern Counties Cup Competition on Wednesday last, 22nd November at their Rectory Park headquarters, against their Jersey counterparts. The competition is being played on a league basis this season, with the Army, Essex and Kent also taking part.
Jersey FA were making a welcome return to the competition. Their last appearance was in season 2019-20, when they were in the South Group along with Kent, Sussex and the Royal Navy. They were similarly grouped in the previous season, their first in the competition. Middlesex were in the North Group in both seasons, so the two sides had never previously met in the competition. In fact, they had previously only met on one occasion, a friendly on 25th April, 2004, which Middlesex won 7-1 at home.
Wednesday’s game was a goalless draw, only the second in the 95 matches which Middlesex Ladies have played. The previous occasion was a match in this competition at Uxbridge FC on 11th December, 2013, against Kent. Craig Nicholson, who surpassed the previous highest total (38) as Team Manager on Wednesday, managed in that match as well. This is becoming a habit with him. However, Alissa Down, who holds our record for the number of appearances as a player (40 and counting) must share the blame, as she was playing in that game.
Despite the lack of goals, the teams provided an intriguing match on Wednesday, with plenty of incident. Jersey are an impressive and very well organised team. They play an attractive, intelligent, passing game and generally keep the ball on the ground. When not in possession, they press hard, to good effect.
The match could have gone either way. Middlesex had the majority of the chances, especially in the first half but were unable to convert any of them. The nearest that they came to scoring was hitting the crossbar in the second half. As the second half progressed, Middlesex pushed forward in search of a winning goal and left spaces, which Jersey almost exploited on several occasions. A welcome change from our other 2 matches this season was that it wasn’t played in the pouring rain.
The Middlesex starting line-up
The Jersey keeper, Sara Luce, was in action in the first minute, stopping Jenny Nagle’s shot and then smothering the resulting loose ball to thwart Jaz Williamson. Middlesex remained on the attack. Alissa Down set up Jenny Nagle whose shot from outside the box cleared the bar. Sara then saved from Brogan Moore, Jenny Nagle and Jaz Williamson.
Sara Luce saves from Jenny Nagle (9)...
... and then beats Jaz Williamson (11) to the rebound
Then Nicole Melling, in the home goal, dealt with a low cross from Macey Wise.
Sara left her area to beat Jaz Williamson to a through ball. Jaz had a chance from a Jersey clearance but her low shot, from outside the area, was wide.
Sara Luce saves from Jaz Williamson
Jersey’s Jodie Botterill released Macey Wyse, who fired wide.
A back header by Jaz Williamson set up Lavana Neufville, who was dispossessed by Tiffany Sundby.
Middlesex had further chances. Brogan Moore’s shot, following a run up the wing by Jaz, was blocked. Alissa Down’s freekick went over the wall but into the keeper’s hands. Another run by Jaz set up Jenny Nagle, whose shot was saved. Finally, Alissa cleared the crossbar with a lob.
Score at half time: Middlesex 0 Jersey 0
Jersey started the second half on the offensive. Jodie Botterill just cleared the bar with a well struck volley. Then Megan Wood’s drive went close and Nicole Melling saved at Macey Wise’s feet.
Jade Botterill (8) volleys over the bar
Play switched to the other end of the pitch. Sara Luce knocked down Jaz Williamson’s shot. Nicole Lays made a break but was stopped by weight of numbers. Anya Kinnane released Alissa, whose cross didn’t find any takers. Sara Luce saved at close range from Jenny Nagle.
Jenny Nagle (9) shoots...
Gabby Bishop worked her way into the box but a defender’s deflection took the sting out of her final shot.
Jodie Botterill went clear but shot just wide of the Middlesex far post.
Mara Bramwell shot over from Gabby Bishop’s freekick and Dahlia Salah fired wide.
Jersey’s Holly Muirhead hit a freekick, from the centre circle into the Middlesex penalty area, which Jodie Botterill couldn’t connect with. Keeper, Nicole Melling gathered safely.
A good Middlesex passing movement finished with Dahlia Salah hitting the crossbar. Then Jaz Williamson got her head to a cross from the left wing but couldn’t obtain the desired direction.
Dahlia Salah's (out of picture) shot rebounds from the bar
Nicole Melling left her area to kick clear from Hannah Lynam.
Nicole Melling leaves her box to clear from Hannah Lynam
Middlesex continued their offensive in search of the winning goal, with Dahlia Salah, Nicole Lays and Jaz Williamson particularly prominent. However, they were committing players forward and were almost made to pay for this. Anya Kinnane retrieved the situation on two occasions. She did well to win a race with Jodie Botterill for a long ball through the middle and then she made a good interception on Hannah Lynam. Then Jodie fired narrowly wide of the far post with an angled shot.
Nicole Melling turned a fierce drive from Megan Wood around her post.
A breakaway initiated by Poppy Benest, who gained possession following a Middlesex freekick, ended with Hannah Lynam shooting wide.
Then Macey Wyse ran through the middle but was thwarted by the advancing Nicole Melling.
Final Score: Middlesex 0 Jersey 0
Referee Gemma Day controlled the match in a calm and efficient manner. She was not often noticed, which is the mark of a good referee. Her Assistant Referees supported her well.
TEAM LINE UPS:
: Nicole Melling, Zoe Cohen (both QPR Women), Lavana Neufville, Anya Kinnane (capt) (both Ashford Town (Middx)), Mara Bramwell (Actonians), Ailish Carolan (QPR Women), Brogan Moore (Ashford Town (Middx)), Beckie Currivan, Jenny Nagle (both Denham United), Alissa Down (Ashford Town (Middx)), Jasmine Williamson (Actonians Ladies).
Giusy Carnevale (Hayes & Yeading Women), Gabby Bishop, Laura Huse, Nicole Lays (all Ashford Town (Middx)) and Dahlia Salah (QPR Women).
: Craig Nicholson Head Coach: George Wells Coach: Sue Kumaning GK Coach: Jacob Ballheimer Physio: Stuart Everley.
: Sara Luce, Tiffany Sundby, Sofia Rodrigues, Holly Muirhead, Daniella De Silva, Liberty Barnett (capt), Macey Wyse, Megan Wood, Jodie Botterill, Leah Morris and Hannah Lynam.
: Poppy Benest, Ana Malta, Emma Dempsey, Olivia Labesse and Ciara Giles.
: Chad Morris Assistant Coaches: Ciara Giles and Harry Walker.
: Gemma Day
Assistant Referees: Sarah Day and Ahmad Rafique (all Middlesex FA).
Report: Jim Taylor
Photography: Chris Benn