LOUGHBOROUGH FOXES WOMEN 5-1 THE NEW SAINTS LADIES
FA WOMEN’S PREMIER LEAGUE MIDLANDS DIVISION 1
PLAYED AT LOUGHBOROUGH UNIVERSITY STADIUM, LOUGHBOROUGH
SUNDAY 11TH MARCH 2018
MATCH REPORT BY DAVID FIGG
The New Saints Ladies team’s hopes of winning the FA Women’s Premier League Midlands Division 1 title suffered a severe dent as they lost 1-5 away to one of their main title rivals Loughborough Foxes Women in their 1st v 3rd top of the table clash at Loughborough University Stadium on Sunday.
Saints had gone into the game on the back of a 2-2 home draw with Birmingham and West Midlands Ladies 2 weeks previously which had taken their unbeaten league run to 6 games dating back to a 0-4 defeat away to Sheffield United Ladies on 22nd October.
Meanwhile, Loughborough had gone into Sunday’s match on the back of a 12 match winning league run out of a total season long unbeaten league run of 14 games which had seen them open up a 6 point lead at the top of the table ahead of 2nd placed Sheffield United Ladies with Saints a further 3 points behind in 3rd place.
Saints almost got the game off to dramatic start when Charlotte Canlett’s low through ball on the right found Laura Morris who ran on and into the box before having her low right foot drive from 15 yards held at her left hand post by Loughborough keeper Amy Burle with just 21 seconds on the watch.
Just 92 seconds later, Loughborough took the lead when Laura Steele’s corner from the right was flicked on with her head by Vicky Brackenbury to Eva Rogers at the far post, who took a touch before firing her low right foot shot from 5 yards past Saints keeper Stacey Garnham into her right hand corner.
The hosts went close to doubling their lead in the 13th minute when Tiana Hicks’ low through ball down the middle found Rogers who ran forward and sidestepped Saints defender Louisa Anderson before eventually having her right foot shot from 15 yards well tipped over the bar by Garnham for a corner.
Loughborough went close again in the 16th minute when Steele’s corner from the right saw Saints fail to fully clear their lines with the ball eventually running out to Hicks, whose right foot shot from the front edge of the D hit the outside of Garnham’s left hand post before bouncing to safety.
Saints weathered the early storm and they equalised in the 22nd minute when some pressure led to a back pass by Loughborough defender Jodie Bartle being intercepted by Ridge whose effort was blocked by Burle with the ball ricocheting to Ridge, who ran forward a few paces before slotting her right foot shot from 8 yards into the centre of the net. It was the first league goal Loughborough had conceded in 576 minutes of football and only the 4th league goal they had conceded all season.
Loughborough went close in the 32nd minute when Hattie Simes’ through ball found Lindsey Tugby on the left, who beat Anderson before sending her curling left toot shot from the edge of the box only just wide of Garnham’s left hand angle.
The last chance of the half came Loughborough’s way with 50 seconds of normal time remaining when Pip Cassidy and Becky Knight combined well to find Rogers whose cross from the right to the far post found Simes, whose left foot shot from 3 yards was saved by Garnham.
Saints made a half time substitution with Chloe Wilkinson coming on to replace Hannah Yates.
The visitors almost got the second half off to a dramatic start when Canlett’s throw in down the left found Kim Bebbington who ran on before seeing her cross eventually run to Sophie Edwards, whose right foot shot from 16 yards was blocked by Liv Bramley with just 24 seconds on the watch.
Loughborough went 2-1 up in the 56th minute when Steele fired a right foot free kick from 25 yards over the wall and into Garnham’s bottom right hand corner.
Loughborough made their first change in the 62nd minute when Becky McGrother came on to replace Becky Knight.
The hosts went close in the 65th minute when Bartle’s through ball on the right found McGrother who took a touch before having her right foot shot from 12 yards tipped past her right hand post by Garnham for a corner.
Another chance came the hosts’ way in the 68th minute when Bartle’s through ball on the right found the unmarked Pip Cassidy in space who crossed for McGrother, whose right foot shot from 12 yards was saved by Garnham.
Loughborough went close again a minute later when Brackenbury’s through ball found McGrother, who sent her lob from the edge of the box into the side netting at Garnham’s right hand post.
Saints made their second change in the 71st minute when Sarah Jackson came on for Edwards before Loughborough made their second change in the 75th minute when Simran Singh came on for Tugby.
Loughborough went close a few seconds into the 84th minute when Steele’s cross from the left found McGrother whose header hit Garnham’s left hand post.
Just 30 seconds later, it was 3-1 when Cassidy’s low through ball on the right found McGrother who ran on and into the box before firing her right foot angled drive from 10 yards into Garnham’s top right hand corner to mark her debut with a goal.
Both sides made a change in the 87th minute with Sophie Davies coming on to replace Bebbington for Saints and Loughborough bringing on Laura Dexter to replace Cassidy.
With the 4th official having indicated a minimum of 6 minutes added time to be played at the end, Saints went close to pulling a goal back in the 3rd of those minutes when Bartle’s back pass let in Ridge inside the left of the box who rounded Burle but sent her left foot shot from 12 yards into the side netting at the keeper’s right hand post.
Then with 3 and a half minutes of added time gone, Loughborough went close when McGrother cut in from the right and beat her marker before firing her right foot shot from 5 yards against Garnham’s left hand post.
Just 25 seconds later (still in the 4th minute of added time), it was 4-1 when Rogers ran round Wilkinson and Anderson inside the right of the box before having her attempted right foot shot saved to her right by Garnham, with the ball rebounding to Rogers who tucked home her right foot shot from 3 yards into the keeper’s right hand corner.
Then a few seconds before the end of the 7th minute of added time, it was 5-1 when Steele’s corner from the right found McGrother who rose highest to send her header from 6 yards into the roof of the net for her second goal of the afternoon.
There were no more moments of note before the final blast of referee Craig Hammond’s whistle after an eventual total of 9 minutes and 49 seconds of added time brought the game to a close to confirm only Saints’ 3rd league defeat of the season.
It leaves Andy Williams’ side in 3rd place, 3 points behind 2nd placed Sheffield United Ladies with top of the table Loughborough a further 9 points ahead with Saints having a game in hand over both the leading duo.
Loughborough: Amy Burle, Jodie Bartle, Liv Bramley, Lindsey Tugby, Tiana Hicks, Laura Steele, Eva Rogers, Hattie Simes, Vicky Brackenbury, Pip Cassidy, Becky Knight. Subs: Beck McGrother (for Knight 62), Simran Singh (for Tugby 75), Erin Hannah (not used), Laura Dexter (for Cassidy 87).
Saints: Stacey Garnham, Hannah Yates, Louisa Anderson, Katy Huntbach, Laura Morris, Sophie Edwards, Emily Ridge, Charlotte Canlett, Kim Bebbington, Julie Stirrup, Phoebe Davies. Subs: Chloe Wilkinson (for Yates 46), Lia Lewis (not used), Holly Turbill (not used), Sarah Jackson (for Edwards 71), Sopohie Davies (for Bebbington 87).
The New Saints Ladies’ next league fixture is on Sunday 18th March when they face a crucial game at home to Sheffield United Ladies at Park Hall Stadium with a 2.00pm kick off.
With Loughborough having 6 league games left and Saints 7 remaining at the time of writing, it is a game Saints simply must win if they are to have any chance of catching the Leicestershire side as the season enters its final stages.