Yeovil Town Ladies finished their first home match of the league season with a decent 0-0 draw against Newquay Ladies at Raleigh Grove, following a hard fought and often physical contest. The two sides had come into the match first and second in the league, having started their respective seasons with commanding victories the previous weekend, and were both determined to continue their hundred per cent record this week, but cancelled each other out, despite both sides having opportunities to take the points.
"We have just been in the changing rooms talking to the girls, and we agreed that it was disappointing not to have come away with a win today," joint manager Nigel Williams said after the game. "This was one of those games that proved there are some good teams who will give us some challenges in this league. In the first half they challenged us well, but we did not rise to it. Having said that we could have scored three goals."
The match was played in very windy conditions, and this did have a bearing on the game, but such was the determination of both teams to keep the ball on the ground, the quality of the play shone throughout. With this in mind, the proceedings started off fairly even, with both sides seeing plenty of the ball. The visitors were going in hard with the tackle, not allowing Yeovil much time on the ball, and they started to pressure the home defence, with Chloe Richards going close on 12 minutes. This seemed to perk Yeovil up, and a few minutes later Terri Trowbridge sent a lovely ball to Rosie Williams 20 yards out on the right for a powerful shot that the Newquay ‘keeper Louise Galway just about managed to keep from the far corner of the net.
"It was a physical game," fellow manager Sarah Lawler said. "I think that we can learn from this encounter. It was clear that we did not win as many as the physical battles as we should have in order to keep possession or win possession of the ball. We are going to have to be stronger, and that is something that we will address."
The Glovers continued to attack, and on 17 minutes the lively Jodi Cornwall won the ball in midfield to send a wonderful pass to Stacey Pearson on the edge of the box for a shot that went just wide of the upright. Newquay were still seeing plenty of possession, and two minutes later Annie Richards burst into the box, and barged past goalkeeper Rachel Simkin for a shot, but Rachael Edwards was on hand for a instinctive clearance off the line.
Both sides were determined to take the advantage before the break, and on 34 minutes Cornwall swung in a great corner to Williams at the far post for the ball to go inches over the bar. At the other end Emily Hardaker burst into the box for a shot that produced a great one footed save from Simkin. Minutes later Williams send a free kick into the box for Cornwall to go within a whisker of scoring. Yeovil piled in the pressure, and Cornwall won another ball in midfield, sending it to Justine Lorton to power her way down the right flank to cross in for Laura Bray to test the ‘keeper. The resulting corner saw a powerful shot from Williams just kept out by Galway.
"We should have scored in the first half," Williams said. "There were certainly a couple from corners which we had been working on in training where we should have done better. In the second half there was some excellent floor work, where the ball was being passed quite quickly from midfield out to the wings, with the crosses coming in. But again we did not finish them off."
The second period started brightly, and within minutes Cornwall went close after receiving a great ball from Lorton. Yeovil could well have got their goal on 54 minutes when Williams brought the best out of Galway with a sweetly taken 40-yard free kick, and there were further chances for Bray and Lorton.
"I thought that we performed better in the second half," Lawler said. "We saw a little bit more of the ball, especially in the last twenty minutes of the game, and again we created more opportunities where we should have punished them."
Midway through the half Dawna Dennett came on for Kirsty Whitton and Shannon Osman for Cornwall. With Osman on the wing, Bray moved into the centre, with Dennett joining her up front, and Lorton dropping back into midfield.
"Justine is an experienced player, and the reason we moved her back was to put someone in midfield who would hold the ball for us and start playing it to our runners," Williams said. "And she did exactly that. This gave us a little bit more ball control, and more vision too."
Yeovil lay siege on the visitors penalty box as they battled for the points, with Osman making a difference on the flank, Bray seeing plenty of ball in the centre, Lorton controlling the game from midfield, and Dennett adding a good physical presence in and around the box. Half chances rained in, and Lorton nearly wrapped it up with a 25-yard free kick on 88 minutes.
"Had the game gone on for another five minutes, potentially we may have nicked it in the end," Lawler said. "Saying that, we had chances throughout. Perhaps an extra five minutes may have given us that gleam of glory, but it is important for the players to know that they have to do it in the ninety minutes. But we will learn from today. In essence it was a top of the table clash, and we will go on and hopefully beat them down at theirs."
"I congratulated Jade Hatton after the game," Williams said. "I thought that she had a cracking game at left back. She is coming on really well, but is still a young player, with learning to do. I thought that Rachael Edwards and Rosie Williams played really well too. They have great understanding, and know exactly what they are doing, and their headers in defence; especially Rach’s are awesome. They won most of the balls played into our box today. I do not think that that we even had a shot on our goal, that it is how good they were."
Final Score: Yeovil Town Ladies 0 Newquay Ladies 0.
Yeovil Town Ladies: Simkin, Trowbridge, Hatton Williams, Edwards, Wensley, Pearson, Whitton Dennett – 63), Cornwall (Osman – 60), Lorton, Bray.
[Match report by Ali King - Yeovil Town Ladies.]
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