Magpies rob Blues of the title!   2 comments

With the FA Women’s Super League going down to the very last game of the season Notts County Ladies held title winning wannabees, Birmingham City, to a 2-2 draw yesterday. Handing Liverpool the title for the second year running.

Here’s the game in words and pictures:

Lets start with the fans. Last game of the season and the usual suspects were there needing no encouragement to pose of the camera. The tight Solihull ground was tightly packed and created a great atmosphere.

Notts vs Birmingham away_0063The Birmingham fans were flying the flag and hoping for a win to give them the Title. Yeah…. sorry guys! :)

Notts vs Birmingham away_0034The Blues fans came to cheer on their side and lift the trophy…

… a giant silver chess piece made of plastic.

Notts vs Birmingham away_0013See, a good photographer would have got a reflection of the Birmingham Manager in the trophy looking all expectant and nervous like.

The media looked confused; “So wait, this lot, Chelsea AND Liverpool could all win it?”

Notts vs Birmingham away_0016The camera man patiently explains the permutations to ‘Mr Scarf’.

Monsters Inc – Who is this guy? What does he have to do with this game? And will the poor little girl have nightmares?

Notts vs Birmingham away_0060Aww, they have matching T Shirts.

Then this guy turned up! ‘Zappygo’ dog? What the feck is he all about? He must be the Birmingham mascot, right?

Notts vs Birmingham away_0065I asked ZappyGo dog and Monsters Inc if they’d fight to see who was best but they both declined. Poor show.

The team’s came out for the warm-up; it started badly with Rachel Corsie being sidelined almost immediately suffering with ‘bad hair day’. She washed it last night and couldn’t do a thing with it.

Notts vs Birmingham away_0056Wash and Go warm-up.

Aileen Whelan challenged the BT Sports cameraman to a race. Which she narrowly won.

Notts vs Birmingham away_0032The cameraman was wearing comedy glasses which hampered his attempt to beat Aileen in a foot race.

Laura-Jayne O’Neil gets help from Krista van Alten, the County physio, to remove her boot.

Notts vs Birmingham away_0021There must be an easier way!

Manager Passmoor’s pre-game team talk didn’t inspire.

Notts vs Birmingham away_0017Nap time.

Then the teams came (back) out. The announcer had trouble with the tannoy; failing to understand that when he shouted the system cut out to protect the speakers. This caused much amusement, especially as he was asking the crowd to ‘make some……. (noise)’.

Notts vs Birmingham away_0068 Skipper Bradley is hero-worshipped (see bottom left of pic).

Auntie Aileen kidnaps a small child at random.

Notts vs Birmingham away_0082I think she’d getting broody. :)

Anyhoo… on with the game. I’d only just got all my kit sorted out and boiled the kettle behind the goal County were attacking, when just three minutes in Aileen Whelan won a corner for Notts. Katie Hoyle clipped the ball into the box and Aileen Whelan, in a repeat of last week,  thundered the ball past Blues keeper Becky Spencer with her head.

Notts vs Birmingham away_0089Whelan wins the corner and heads in the corner but loses points for not also taking the corner. The girl was everywhere.

Notts vs Birmingham away_00931-0 Notts. Birmingham look on distraught.

Notts vs Birmingham away_0092Whelan wheels away to celebrate the Pies opener. Jess Clarke just makes sure she can’t poach a rebound…..

Notts vs Birmingham away_0120…. before joining in the celebrations herself. In the absence of information pertaining to the origins of this ‘happy dance’ we’ll have to settle for ‘howling at the moon’.

The Blues responded with determination. Battles were fought all over the park.

Notts vs Birmingham away_0106The large crowd filled the small ground creating a wonderful atmosphere.

Then to Birmingham’s dismay Notts County doubled their lead in the 20th minute. Desiree Scott’s cross was met by Laura-Jayne O’Neill whose header back across goal fell to Whelan looking for her second goal, but she failed to connect properly and the ball popped up in front of Fiona O’Sullivan……

Notts vs Birmingham away_0110… who trapped it neatly between her thighs….

Notts vs Birmingham away_0109… then prodded it into the back of the net with aplomb.

2-0 Notts!

Notts vs Birmingham away_0115O’Sullivan is hugged by Clarke. Potter’s clenched fists speak volumes. Birmingham had to win to stand a chance of clinching the title ahead of Chelsea and Liverpool and this was not the start they’d expected.

But with 10 minutes to half time the wheels on County’s charge for 4 wins from 4 came off. Karen carney had been the usual ‘pain in Notts’ side’ and it was her mazey run that indirectly led to the Blues equaliser…

Notts vs Birmingham away_0190Carney pain.

Rachel Corsie stopped Carney’s thrust through the County defense but the ball back to keeper Telford somehow didn’t get there and Blues’ Melissa Lawley stole in and played in team mate Kirsty Linnett, who needed two attempts to beat Amy Turner’s dogged defense on the line, to finally side-foot the ball into an empty net.

Notts vs Birmingham away_0172Birmingham score to pull back to 1-2 down.

With only 3 minutes left to half time the other wheel fell off the Pies barrow (can you have more than 1 wheel on a wheelbarrow?).

A scramble in the box resulted in the referee awarding a penalty. I didn’t see an infringement but strangely all of the Birmingham players, staff and supporters did. Hmmm, suspicious.

  Karen Carney, 10, stepped up to take the spot kick and side-footed the ball with much gusto to Telford’s right…….

Notts vs Birmingham away_0187…. Telford went the right way and pulled off a fantastic save! The ball actually rebounded back out to Carney who, with the goal wide-open managed to have her shot saved a second time by Telford who pulled off an even better save. You’ll note there’s no picture of that save as I was too busy punching the air after the initial save. Bad photographer.

The teams went in for half time with the score-line 2-1 in Notts favour. Elsewhere Chelsea were being beaten by Manchester City and Liverpool were ahead in their game.

The second half resumed and once again almost before we’d taken our seats and let the kettle boil, Birmingham equalised.

Notts vs Birmingham away_0200With just 3 minutes played Birmingham’s Hannah Keryakoplis picked up a fortunate deflection close in and slotted the ball past Carly Telford in the Notts’ goal to make it 2-2.

Notts vs Birmingham away_0198Birmingham equalise. Corsie is remiss in not returning the ball to the opposition quickly enough to assist them in their attempt to win the league, and a scuffle breaks out. The referee got involved too and remarkably failed to give anybody a yellow card – something he’d seemed unable to stop himself from doing all day.

Notts vs Birmingham away_0199Hannah Keryakoplis is gleeful at scoring and that look tells you she thinks a 3rd goal is imminent.

The game quickened after this goal. ‘Quickened’ is a euphemism for ‘became dirtier’ with some hard tackling accompanied by more yellow cards awarded by the ref.

Notts vs Birmingham away_0134O’Sullivan is flattened and needed attention.

Notts vs Birmingham away_0148Jess Clarke in the thick of it as ever.

Notts vs Birmingham away_0152Desiree (allergic to losing) Scott didn’t give an inch.

Notts vs Birmingham away_0208Telford’s goal came under constant pressure as Birmingham pushed for the winner.

Notts vs Birmingham away_0151Katie Hoyle was resolute! I’ve come to realise this season that Katie approaches every game as if it were a battle for territorial supremacy and dominance over her opposite number… and the ball. Grrr!

Notts vs Birmingham away_0156Birmingham leaped, and ran and hustled ….

Notts vs Birmingham away_0242… and threw the kitchen sink at Notts…

Notts vs Birmingham away_0206.. but the last few grains of sand slipped through the title chase hour glass of destiny….. and the ref blew for full time with the score line at 2-2.

Carney knows it’s all over and looks as if she knows who’s to blame.

Notts vs Birmingham away_0244Birmingham had failed in their attempt to beat Notts and lift the trophy.

Notts vs Birmingham away_0253Players were consoled in the full glare of the TV cameras….

Notts vs Birmingham away_0254… and sportsman-like standards were upheld.

It was the finish of the FA WSL season and Notts had risen above much adversity to climb the table and finish on a 4 game unbeaten run claiming 10 points from 12.

Notts vs Birmingham away_0141Many friendships have been forged this season. County have a tremendous squad of players and back room staff. Here’s hoping that they’ll all be returning for the 2014/2015 season at Meadow lane.

From my own point of view I’m been very proud to have been involved this season. The standard of football has been incredibly high, the atmosphere full of energy and excitement with the general conduct of the players and spectators exemplary. The biggest compliment I can pay the team and the league is that if I wasn’t pitch-side photographing the game I’d be buying a ticket to watch it. :)

COYP!

(c) Drew Smith Photography

Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest 2014 – Nottingham   Leave a comment

The National Water Sports Centre hosted the Nottingham leg of the Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest 2014 event today. There was an ‘extreme’ class, an ‘average Joe’ class and also a ‘Super Hero’ class. Oh, and as usual, a ‘whacky people’ class:

Here’s the event in words and pictures:

DL8D0104_0170What the T Shirt says.

The event is fundamentally a 10km obstacle course traversing up hill, down hill, through water and over and under various torturous obstacles.

DL8D0385_0249For example this is the ‘Mangle’ (ask yer mum) constructed from old car tyres. It was great fun as long as you were only watching….

DL8D0389_0252…. see, great fun!

And there were nets to scramble under….

DL8D0294_0230.. with added mud of course.

And if you were lucky benevolent competitors held the net up at the start and finish….

DL8D0125_0183… for example. Always amazes me how some people have that knack of staying clean and looking beautiful during these things.

Part of the course featured a water slide….

DL8D0500_0289… constructed from pool liner with water sprinklers at the top, terminating in one of the many small lakes on the site. So a 30 meter slide into a freezing cold lake. As you can imagine it solicited some interesting facial expressions:

DL8D0780_0408From abject terror…..

DL8D0515_0296….. excitement (crazy person) …..

DL8D0669_0369… mild bewilderment (this was the winner of the ‘Whacky Person’ class – I’m pretty sure this guy is supposed to be a ‘Minion’) …

DL8D0707_0381… general ‘uncertainty principle’ (Top Beard competition was won by this chap)…

DL8D0737_0394… to finally a mix of terror and excitement! Best possible combo.

Having almost completed the 10km slog contestants had to run down a lake-side bank, leap onto and across two floating inflatable pontoons….

DL8D9593_0051… and from that precarious perch out onto a line of rubber rings….

DL8D9403_0013… after a while it became apparent that the rubber rings were optional and swimming was employed. Either that or this bloke is just cheating!

This section ended with survivalists having to haul themselves up out of the lake and onto a wooden jetty…

DL8D9654_0075

… a very old wobbly wooden jetty….

DL8D9672_0081.. which was tres slippery…

DL8D9643_0070… and a cruel exit when everybody was pretty much exhausted.

DL8D9646_0072Thighs were burning….

DL8D9612_0061… feet were aching….

DL8D9710_0087… buttocks had been clenched….

DL8D9655_0076… and resolve had been set for the next section just 5 meters further on and back in the lake.

What fun! Competitors had to fling themselves back in the lake and then climb up a 6 meter floating inflatable climbing wall!

DL8D9730_0090This was a very big ‘ask’! Most didn’t conquer the climb and having fallen off several times opted for swimming around it. …

DL8D9916_0120… it was tough….

DL8D9851_0115 … but a few scaled it with aplomb.

DL8D9805_0107And even had time for a cheeky grin…

DL8D9929_0126.. or two!

BUT THEN…..

…… Controversy. The Super Hero class came into disrepute:

DL8D0620_0342Captain America (pictured here standing heroically) had his shield stolen and was not best pleased.

But the real shocker was the disgraceful encounter between Gotham’s Dark Knight; Batman and the Amazing Spiderman!

Whilst Batman was waiting patiently at the top of the water slide for his go, Spiderman appeared to push in front of the caped crusader …

DL8D0571_0315(Batman waits patiently for his turn.)

….. at which point Batman cut back in front of Spiderman – a scuffle ensued and Batman lost his footing and unintentionally slid half way down the slide, twisting his ankle in the process.

DL8D0585_0326 (HOLY SPRAINED ANKLE Robin – they’ll be no crime fighting in Gotham City tonight, citizens!)

Batman complained and pointed out the web slinging culprit to a steward:

DL8D0582_0324 The steward tries to calm the caped crusader down.

After several minutes Spiderman did the decent thing and declined his go on the slide and came over to apologise:

DL8D0626_0345(Spidey says ‘sorry’ but batman is having none of it and foolishly unmasks himself!)

The crime-fighting super hero’s race was run…

DL8D0646_0361.. and he was carted off to be taken to the St John’s ambulance tent, explaining to the driver that it wasn’t ‘his fault’. He was later seen hobbling around the car park looking for the Bat Mobile.

So, an eventful day came to an eventful end….

DL8D9975_0141… and I think this last image really says it all. :)

For those of a photographic bent; all the images were shot today with a Canon 400mm IS f2.8.

(C) Drew Smith Photography.

The Osberton International Horse Trails   Leave a comment

The Osberton International Horse Trials bookends our eventing calendar by opening the season for us in February and closing it in October.

This weekend is a CCI 1 & 2 star event which tends to attract some big names in Eventing. Attending this weekend are; rising star Emily King (Mary’s daughter), William Fox-Pitt, Oliver Townend, Jock Pagett, Caroline Powell, Pippa Funnell and Piggy French.

Here the Saturday Cross County phase in words and pictures:

The weather forecast for yesterday was for rain, followed by more rain with a possibility of clearing skies in the late afternoon. So we had a few showers for a couple of hours followed by glorious sunshine all afternoon.

Osberton Oct 2014_0108Lots of prep goes into these gatherings and the love for the horse from the rider is always evident.

There was some Dressage going off at the start of the day. For the uninitiated Dressage is what you are forced to watch when you’ve been evil in a former life.

Osberton Oct 2014_0016As my wife said yesterday ‘making an eventing horse do dressage when it knows the Cross Country is next is like making a child do a spelling test before getting out of the car to go to Disney World’.  :)

Caroline Powell and Emily King share a joke before setting off.

DL8D9069_0458Caroline and Emily – the current Queen bee talks with the King in waiting.

Osberton Oct 2014_0031Brollies up for a downpour. But it didn’t last.

Osberton Oct 2014_0043Full on concentration jumping out of the first water hazard.

Osberton Oct 2014_0053The supremely serene Emily King takes the course in her stride – cool as a cucumber on the first of her 3 rides.

There was a lovely combination of fences called the ‘witches Broomsticks’…..

Osberton Oct 2014_0089… I can’t think why they call them that.

Osberton Oct 2014_0082

And here’s Harry Meade back from breaking both of his elbows in a fall last year….

Osberton Oct 2014_0073… each landing was still a bit tentative.

Osberton Oct 2014_0116Mr Fox-Pitt warms up.

There is one particular jump on the course called the Leaf Pit which features a drop off a bank of some 2 meters (that’s about 6 feet in old money) and is quite fearsome. What follows are the various facial expressions (the rider’s not the horse’s) that express various levels of concern whilst jumping it.

Osberton Oct 2014_0127Emily King demonstrates the ‘what’s all the fuss about’ facial expression.

Osberton Oct 2014_0136This is the ‘Don’t look down, don’t look down, don’t look down….’ approach to the fence.

Osberton Oct 2014_0154This the ‘Yikes – I looked down!’ approach.

Osberton Oct 2014_0150This is definitely the ‘Oh SH*T!’ method……

Osberton Oct 2014_0190… not to be confused with the ‘CrapCrapCrap!’ approach demonstrated by Pippa Funell – even the horse has it’s eyes closed.

And finally…..

Osberton Oct 2014_0184.. just shear terror. Probably, at this point, tinged with great relief at feeling solid ground again.

It was a great fun day again and we finished the visit to Osberton with the traditional 5pm oven baked pizza sitting out by one of the two show jumping rings.

Osberton Oct 2014_0109TTime for a rest.

The Flintham Show – a student’s view   Leave a comment

I run a number of photographic courses in my spare time (that’s a lie – I have no spare time anymore) which I enjoy immensely. Each module of the 10 module course is predominately ‘hands on’ and out in the field using the camera for most of the lesson.

Last week I had the opportunity to take one of my students to the Flintham Show (and Plowing Match) for one of the modules. I’d like to take the opportunity of showcasing her fabulous work in pictures and words here:

The Flintham Show is basically a agricultural show that features livestock, big farm machinery and plowing competitions using tractors and horses. So I asked Carol to shoot in Manual mode and gather a number of images that reflected the flavour of the day.

IMG_9243 as Smart Object-1800

An accurately exposed picture, sharp and full of subtle colour, that has human interest and showcases what the day was about. I kinda like the jaunty angle too.

sheep

Judging livestock was a big feature of the day and here Carol was asked to get a picture (for a mythical publication of which I’m the Editor) featuring livestock being judged. Carol met the brief perfectly.

butterfly800

Maybe a picture only a woman could capture :) I think this is beautiful. Carol deliberately chose a shallow depth of field (f1.8 on a 50mm lens I think) to give a wonderful soft blur to the background whilst being spot on with the focus on the butterfly. Her composition is compelling too, with the main subject being up in a (rule of thirds) compositional hot spot.

dog800

Dogs abound at gatherings like these and Carol snapped (pardon the pun) this shot of this little chap. Notice how she got down to the dog’s eye level and was quick enough and confident enough in her camera settings to instantly take this shot at just the moment the dog jumped up it’s owner’s leg.

flowers800

More use of the shallow depth of field with a great diagonal composition. The flower display in focus with the background out of focus but still clear enough to put the flowers in context; i.e. part of the overall show and being viewed by the public.

girl800

This kind of shot is a challenge for Carol, she’s not at ease with ‘street photography'; basically taking pictures of people in public. She rose to the challenge though and said afterwards that she was pleased with her development in that genre. Again, notice the eye level and the deliberate jaunty angle that gives extra energy to the shot. I think I might have asked carol to move to her right a little for a second go at this so that the child’s face was a little fuller in the frame.

horses800

Here’s a beautiful image and one I know Carol was keen to try and get during the day. Two wonderful plow horses in the plowing competition.  This is the shot in colour and awaiting further work in post processing for which Carol used Photoshop CS6 but fundamentally just the Camera Raw conversion software, which is a very powerful tool.

horsesbw800

Having captured the shot she converted it to Black & White which I think works well for this image.

horsesbwtightcrop1000

And to add the final touch she worked at the overall composition to maximise the full visual effect by cropping the image slightly to remove any distractions, like the dark earth bottom right (which took the eye away from the main subject) and the extra bushes to the far left of the image but still leaving enough space for the horses to move into. And to frame the picture nicely she has left the bending tree on the right  behind the horses.

Great job Carol. :)

For information about any of my courses just send an email to: drew@drewsmithphotography.co.uk

Notts County Ladies Victorious against Everton!   Leave a comment

Aileen Whelan scored twice against the Toffees to secure victory for Notts and another season in the FA Women’s Super League Division 1! Their defeated opponents crash out of the top flight and will spend next season in the 2nd Division after what was effectively a relegation battle at Meadow Lane last night.

Here’s the game in words and pictures:

Meadow Lane held it’s collective breath on Sunday evening; a win or a draw assured Notts of continued Division 1 football. A loss to Everton meant the Toffees closed the gap with County to just 4 points and with only 2 games to go, relegation for County would still be a possibility.

The pre-game atmosphere after the defeat of table toppers Arsenal last weekend was an intoxicating mixture of high expectations and nerve jangling tension.

The usual suspects were in early – the fan support has been the best in the league this season.

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0204

Not. Missed. A. Game. All. Season!

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0205A Carly Telford fan assures us that at least a point in on the cards.

The match day officials looked very… official….

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0282… so much so that I actually balked at asking them to stand on one leg with their tongues out. Okay, maybe the guy on the left would have complied.  :)

MARKETING NEWS: Apparently Matt Rowland (Notts County Marketing Guru) is all set to release a series of collectable Notts Player ‘TOP TRUMPS ‘cards called ‘TOP OF THE CROCS’!

Here are the current 3 Top Crocs:

The ‘Ellen White‘ card is much prized but she’s well on her way to recovery:

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0231

The ‘Sophie Bradley‘ card- carries extra ‘Skipper’ points.

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0227

And latest addition is Rachel Unitt (ACL) comes in at number 3.

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0229Can’t help but notice how much more ‘substantial’ Sophie Bradley’s knee support looks compared to Rachel Unitt’s. At the rate our player’s get seriously injured there’s a serious opportunity for a commercial knee brace supplier to step in and sponsor the team next season.

Sophie Bradley comes up with a short list of possible replacement players to join the deleted County roster….

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0225… Passmoor is not impressed, as he watches the players on the list warm up….

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0207

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0210

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0206

Despite this set-back the pre-game warm up continues with enthusiasm….

…. Ellen White is enthusiastically hit in the groin whilst crossing the ball for keeper Carly Telford…

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0280

Dunia Susi clones herself in a desperate attempt to bolster the player numbers….

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0213… but her mini-me is only eligible for the Under 7’s.

The warm-up draws to a close. Target practice ensues for the strikers…

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0292

And at the last Passmoor decides to take a risk; concluding his motivational team talk he sing ‘I dreamed a dream’ (of staying up) from the hit musical ‘Les Miserables’…..

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0283….. although delivered with true passion, some of the girls can’t bear to listen to Rick’s off key melody in the second verse.

The teams leave the pitch for final preparations before kick-off leaving just enough time for Marketing Behemoth-come steward Matt Rowland to organise the ball girls and sign autographs.

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0289

Matt Rowland – shocked and stunned to be caught on camera again. :)

Then it’s GAME ON!

It’s a nervy start – neither team really playing at their best with so much at stake. Opportunities are scarce but Notts start to make headway ….

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0324… Amy Turner is stopped in her tracks by a sliding tackle as she attacks down the wing.

But Everton, in dire straights at the foot of the table, almost open the scoring with 15 minutes gone, when Millie Turner hits the post from 25 yards out! It seems obligatory that the opposing side shall hitheth the county post at least onceth during the game. For it is the law.

Now Notts respond and begin to fire in the crosses….

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0334 … but Rachel Brown-Finnis is up to the task and punches clear.

But Notts launch a flurry of attacks as the first half draws to a close – Fiona O’Sullivan goes close as she heads over the bar from inside the box.

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0304O’Sullivan leaps like a gazelle to head over.

Aileen Whelan is having an absolute stormer of a game…. she seems to be everywhere.

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0313During one spell of play she actually crosses this ball…..

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0307… then sprints into the box and leaps like a salmon to get on the end of her own cross!

Jess Clarke is having a quiet first half but still impacts on the game when she’s on the ball…

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0338… Clarke fizzes.

As the first half clock ticks down both teams look like they are relieved to get to half time without conceding. But with just minutes remaining the hapless Gabby George’s shanked her back pass to the Everton keeper and the ball runs out of play for a corner. A buzz of excitement went through the home fans like a swarm of South American Cicada.

Katie Hoyle swings the corner into the Everton box and both Brown-Finnis and Aileen whelan leap to contend it….

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0351….. somehow the Toffees’ keeper misses the ball and Whelen THUMPS the ball into the back of the net with her head!

1-0 NOTTS!

Notts vs Chelsea Home_0460

There is much jubilation!

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0353_1Whelan wheels away in celebration from the stricken Brown-Finnis …..

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0366….. the team are overjoyed. Hoyle and Walton are so overjoyed that they start to dance an impromptu Waltz together (far left).

The half time whistle blows minutes later and Notts go in with a crucial one goal lead.

Half time once again lacked the entertainment of Sytner’s ‘boot the ball into the boot’ challenge. So a quick mention that County joined up with the ‘kick it out’ campaign today.

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0260The old footy adage: ‘If in doubt…… ‘

The second half resumed with a passion. Some of the tackles got a little feisty too.

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0471Jess Clarke is …. prevented from getting anywhere near the ball by an elbow to the throat ….

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0419… number 5 Fern Whelan can’t wait til the end of the game to swap shirt with O’Sullivan. The linesman (sorry.. ref’s assistant) isn’t quite close enough to see the infringement.

Katie Hoyle tries her luck from the edge of the box…..

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0405……. with great technique; head down knee over the ball….. surely destined for the top corner….

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0406….. but instead it kinda bumbles along the floor….. Katie can already see the funny side but Caitlin Friend (left) still holds out hope for the wounded duck….

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0409… it’s actually still slowly rolling in this shot. Very slowly. :)

Anyway…. back in the game… and Notts nerves have completely vanished and the game starts to flow. Unfortunately for Everton the play was flowing in their direction….

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0415 … Jess Clarke is stopped with a last gasp tackle….

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0384….. Brown-Finnis catches under pressure from Clarke….

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0390… Caitlin Friend, on as a sub for Susi, fires a cross into the box….

With 10 minutes left in the game it looked like we may be in for a nervy last few minutes, but then Notts strung together a series of delightful passes that found Jess Clarke on the edge of the Everton box having committed the opponent’s last defender she slid a sublime ball in for Aileen Whelan.

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0425 Clarke plays Whelan in having committed the last defender (now I’m just repeating myself).

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0428Whelan meets the ball in her stride, ignoring the on-rushing keeper….

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0426… the contact is perfect….

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0427… and Whelan lifts the ball over and wide of Brown-Finnis in the Toffees goal!

2-0 NOTTS!

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0433Clarke celebrates with Whelan…

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0436…. Caitlin Friend (22) is moderately pleased with Whelan’s efforts thus far….

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0438.. Desi Scott offers her congratulations…

.. and then….

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0447_1… a ‘happy dance’ breaks out! And about time too. :)

Everton Keeper Brown-Finnis looks on and with only minutes of the game left, reflects on life in Division 2.

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0448 Notts future looks bright.

A relatively uneventful last few minutes is played out and County greet the full-time whistle with relish.

The party begins….

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0485Hoyle and whelan, architects of the first goal, rejoice…

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0480Top class sportsperson Rachel Brown-Finnis is the first to congratulate the Notts players. Although the three County players look like they’ve just staggered in from a night out in Magaluf.

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0502There are hugs for Whelan.

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0521Passmoor inadvertently joins in.

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0538The fans sum up the campaign.

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0530And County pull off an escape from relegation in the final stretch (okay, that was pushing it a little).

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0542 And there is just time for big High 5’s for little fans….

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0539… and for Sophie Walton to bomb a young fan’s ‘selfie’.

Notts vs Everton WSL Home_0298And Finally….. the coaching staff… whom unselfishly posed for this heroic picture prior to the game,  knowing in their heart of hearts that we would go on to win 2-0.

(C)Drew Smith Photography

This was a marathon effort – more pics than ever in this ‘issue’. If you’d like to follow this Blog you’ll find a ‘Subscribe’ button somewhere on the left hand-side near the top. Thank you for reading. :)

 

 

 

 

Notts County Ladies beat top of the league Chelsea!   1 comment

Notts County Ladies took a huge step toward Women’s Super League survival last night by beating table topping Chelsea 1-0 at Meadow Lane. The Pies clinched all three points courtesy of a Jess Clarke headed goal in the 40th minute of a momentous game that had the fans on the edge of their seats.

Here’s the game in words and pictures:

The warm-up was ominous. I always think we look sharp and accurate in the mini-game warm ups but last night we seemed a little …. careless ….. and flat-footed. Suddenly unbidden thoughts of a drubbing from Chelsea came floating in to mind like a Sophie Walton corner. But that was ridiculous, so what if we were second from bottom and Chelsea were top, we had a much nicer kit and a much better stadium. :)

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0025   The girls do the ‘Hokey-Cokey’ or possibly a ‘leg lunge’ during warm ups.

But disaster wasn’t far away…

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0023 … Sophie Walton’s Passion Pink nail varnish hadn’t quite dried yet. …

… and at least one of the ball-girls had already lost interest!

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0073The ball-girls were supplied by Arnold Town FC and West Bridgford.

Here are the officials. I’ve come to realise over time that they are a malleable lot – happy to comply with my requests to ‘stand closer together’, ‘smile’ and look like they are a ‘team’. I think next game I’ll try getting them to stand on one leg with their tongues out. :P

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0070The officials – nice boys and so biddable.

A sight for sore eyes! Dunia Susi’s return from injury.

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0030She started on the bench.

So, lets start the game….. and it was Chelsea that started the quicker of the two teams, with Carly Telford being forced to tip over the bar early doors (more footy parlance to follow) …

Notts vs Chelsea Home_0449The first real scare for Notts was when Eni Aluko was left in a foot race with County keeper Telford when she got in behind the Notts defense. Carly somehow managed to get there first and clear the danger (the ball girl was more stressed than anybody about this passage of play).

Notts vs Chelsea Home_0416Telford – quicker than a whippet after drinking a can of Red Bull.

But County eased their way in to the game and started looking value for money. Jess Clarke was back to her best posing a constant threat down the right hand side.

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0107Jess in space … lots of space.

Notts were looking good and hitting the channels early. Confidence was oozing through the team when suddenly Danielle Brogan appeared on the edge of the Chelsea 18 yard box. She’d managed to pass the half way line without getting a nose bleed and finding herself with the ball floating towards her she set her self for a spectacular volley…..

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0099

… adopting a shape worthy of Messi himself she swung gracefully at the ball which was now surely destined to fly into the top corner of the visitor’s net…

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0098… but alas it has been raining for the last hour and the greasy surface took away her standing foot before she could make contact……

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0097… I’m sure Daniella will appreciate me posting these pictures. :)

I forgot to mention that Fiona O’Sullivan was in the starting line-up and making her home debut. It was a pleasure watching her play.

Notts vs Chelsea Home_0430O’Sullivan demonstrates her natural grace in motion.

Here’s a break in the narrative to bring you some ‘hair’.

Notts vs Chelsea Home_0428No ball but plenty of golden locks.

Back to the game….

Then injury stricken Notts were ‘strick’ once more! Rachel Unitt was stretchered off in the first half…

Notts vs Chelsea Home_0422Sophie Bradley sits on the bench with a telephone directory and starts to call possible replacement squad players on her mobile.

Unitt’s unfortunate injury saw the introduction of Dunia Susi’s into the fray….

Notts vs Chelsea Home_0424The 4th official checks for illegal ‘levitation’ devices and inexplicably fails to spot Dunia’s.

It was wonderful to see this gracefully skilful player back in action – she’s been badly missed.

Notts vs Chelsea Home_0444Susi wrong footing opponents again.

Then it happened.

Aileen Whelan, County’s heroic work-horse, cut through the Chelsea defense like a hot knife through dairy produce, only to be brought down just outside the box by Aluko….

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea LOGO 0133Whelan brings a foul from Eniola Aluko in the 40th minute …..

Katie Hoyle stands poised and weighs up her options….

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0136Hoyle gazes in to the Chelsea box before delivering an inch perfect free-kick.

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea LOGO 0138Clarke get in front of the entire sleeping Chelsea back-four and heads the ball down….

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea LOGO 0144… Marie Hourihan in the Chelsea goal is already beaten …..

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea LOGO 0142… 1-0 NOTTS!

The crowd go wild. The County players go wild. The Notts bench go wild. I went wild.

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea LOGO 0153Brogan, Corsie and O’Sullivan chase Clarke in celebration after her goal.

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea LOGO 0174Best goal celebration of the season bar none! What a relief.

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea LOGO 0171So, 1-0 up with only another 55 minutes to play. Easy.

Notts vs Chelsea Home_0460

The ref blew for half time and I changed ends. Then I wandered back to the half way line and waited for the ‘BMW Raffle’ draw. But it didn’t happen. No humiliation for the winning ticket holder. No ball clumped 3 yards in to the ground. Rumour has it that Sytner were so terrified by how close the winning ticket holder came to putting the ball in the boot of the car during the last home game, that they’ve insisted that the car be exchanged for something with a much smaller boot and the ball used be a lace-up, dubbin smothered dead-weight from the 1970’s. :)

The second half began and County slipped into a higher gear – something they’ve been unable to do recently.

Notts vs Chelsea Home_0414County pressure had Chelsea on the back foot.

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0224Corsie goes close….

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0227Hourihan punches clear…

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0192… then fumbles badly resulting in a scramble for the ball and Notts almost going 2-0 up.

Notts vs Chelsea Home_0500But Chelsea were not out of it….

Notts vs Chelsea Home_0477… with Aluko proving to be a real handful… well TWO hand fulls actually.

Notts vs Chelsea Home_0512Chelsea started a concerted effort as the clocked ticked down and pummeled the County defenses; Yuki Ogimi fires a shot on target…

Notts vs Chelsea Home_0514… but Carly Telford is not going to be beaten. Not today!

Notts vs Chelsea Home_0533But then Notts pick up the pace again…. determined to hang on to all three points ahead of their 6 pointer with Everton.

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0228Jess Clarke find herself in the Chelsea box … but…. well, I’ve got no idea what’s happening here. :)

The 90 minutes are up….. the announcer (who sounds just like the Quidditch commentator in the Harry Potter movies) informs us that there will be …

… a minimum of….

…. FOUR MINUTES of extra time. FOUR MINUTES!! Groan.

Notts vs Chelsea Home_0530Carly Telford screams the Notts County battle-cry as she races out to collect the ball ahead of Chelsea’s Blundell.

There’s one minute left…… Chelsea get a corner. (Please… not now!) The Chelsea Keeper goes up for it. Whenever you see two goal keeper’s in the same 6 yard box you know that somewhere things are desperate.

Notts vs Chelsea Home_0550The corner flies past everybody and County breath again.

But Chelsea come on the attack again…. County’s Hoyle gets across the box and hoofs the ball in to Row F of the stadium to waste the precious few remaining moments of the game.

Notts vs Chelsea Home_0528Katie Hoyle introduces the ball to Row F of the Stadium.

Chelsea throw the ball forward again. The referee blows his whistle. The crowd erupts. I run on to the pitch with my camera to catch the elation. …. then I notice the referee hasn’t moved. neither have the players? Ah… he’s blowing for off-side then. I better get back off the pitch then. Embarrassed I slunk back to the sideline.

The the free kick is launched forward and this time the referee does blow for full time.

There was a lot of jubilation.

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0305

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0329

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0352And hugging.

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0300

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0345

And smiles.

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0325

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0324

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0331

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0369

And tears.

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0322Passmoor blubbed like a baby. :)

In the aftermath of the victory there was a certain amount of confusion too….

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0340… Matt Rowland (Notts County Marketing Megalith) was scratching his head, being seriously out of practice when it came to writing up a match report about a County win…

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0353… Matt Lawson suddenly felt the need to be on crutches! Maybe he was feeling left out after all of Notts injuries…

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0365… and when asked in the post match interview what it was like to win, Rick said that he didn’t understand the question. :)

As the pandemonium died down the ever-professional Carly Telford went over to thank the ball girls and the awe-struck bunch rushed over to have their pictures taken with the County Keeper….

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0379… which provided a moment of hilarity because all the mums and dads were at the side-line ready to take pictures of their little darlings with Carly…. but they all had their mobile’s up taking ‘selfies’….

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0381… so Carly took charge and told the girls to lower their phones….

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea_0391.. which they did. And Carly being the true Pro, knew exactly where to look. :) Yup – 1-0.

And this is my favourite image from a wonderful and exciting night of football…

Notts Ladies vs Chelsea Amy Turner… Amy Turner sits on the pitch (she’s actually doing a thigh stretch – but we won’t let that spoil it) and has that dreamy ‘far-away’ look on her face. She is either contemplating the meaning of life, the meaning of 3 points for the win, or what’s she’s going to have for supper. :)

Well done girls – it was great to be a small part of it. Thank you.

(C) Drew Smith Photography.

Notts County Ladies semi disappointment!   Leave a comment

Notts County Ladies lost their Continental Cup semi final tie against Arsenal after conceding two goals in extra time!

Here’s the day in words and pictures:

The Arsenal pregame entertainment was Gunner the Dinosaur. Arsene Wenger’s tight financial grip on the club even extends to the women’s team then!

Notts vs Arsenal Cont semi_0054Here’s Gunny threatening County fans with ejection from the ground unless they make a donation to Jack Wilshire’s medical bills for the 2014/2015 season.

Notts vs Arsenal Cont semi_0050

Matt Rowland (County Media Mogul) was present at the game and as was usual found himself quickly surrounded by his adoring fans.

Notts vs Arsenal Cont semi_0066Gunny popped up at the other end of the main stand and regaled the ball girls with jokes and anecdotes about how he turned down the lead role in Jurassic Park.

Notts vs Arsenal Cont semi_0057The ever present usual suspects in the form of the Stalwarts were there to shout the team on. They actually shouted me over to take this picture of them. I’m going to have to start charging them. No idea who the bloke with the goatee on the far left is who bombed the picture.

So, everything was ready and in place. The game was being carried live by BT Sport

Notts vs Arsenal Cont semi_0083BT Sport are so hard up now that they could only afford one mic forcing the poor female commentator to pretend she had a microphone.

Out came the teams….

Notts vs Arsenal Cont semi_0079

… flags were waved, hands were slapped and Captain Rachel Corsie (12) can be seen dealing Gunny the mascot a low blow with her fist.

The first half saw both teams playing attractive football with Notts just shading the play early on.

Notts vs Srsenal Cont semi_0328

Katie Holtham bosses the midfield.

Notts vs Srsenal Cont semi_0297

Clarke ran and ran. This is a rare picture of her when she is marked by only one Arsenal defender.

Notts vs Srsenal Cont semi_0244Early on Notts matched Arsenal stride for stride.

But Carly Telford had a couple of scares…

Notts vs Srsenal Cont semi_0213….  a cross evading everyone rattled of her far post with 18 minutes gone.

The first half came to a close with the game goalless.

Here’s the Stalwarts responding to a request by me to do a ‘Mexican wave’…..

Notts vs Arsenal Cont semi_0082

…. *Sigh…. this is the Pies Mexican wave then… where they all stand up together and wave at the same time. Nice coordinated denim girls. :)

With the game resumed nerves were starting to jangle. With County’s injuries the prospect of beating Arsenal away from home in this tie was always going to be a big ask. On the face of it the best Notts could hope for was to get all the luck going and hit their opponents on the break and pinch a goal and hang on for dear life.

And as the second half progressed this seemed to be the unfolding narrative because Arsenal started the second half much brightest than Notts with Jordan Nobbs and Rachel Yankey both going close for the Gunners.

Notts vs Srsenal Cont semi_0321England striker number 8 Jordan Nobbs puts a shot just wide of the County post.

County were buckling under the constant Arsenal pressure and a Gunner’s winner looked on the cards. And they thought they had it with 10 minutes remaining. Leah Williamson’s shot was saved by Carly Telford but she picked up the loose ball that had bounced past Telford and slammed the ball in to the net from a couple of yards out!

Notts vs Srsenal Cont semi_0309Number 14 Williamson nets from close range with Telford already appealing for hand ball. The referee agreed that Williamson had indeed used her hand and ruled out the goal.

So as hoped County were riding their luck, or more accurately had used up all of their luck for the whole season and now only needed to pinch a goal to fulfill the script and progress to the final.

And with the final seconds of the 90 minutes ebbing away Jess Clarke beat Casey Stoney to a bouncing ball and it looked as if the story was going to have a happy ending as the ball was pulled back to Katie Hoyle on the edge of the box. The midfielder took the ball past Arsenal Captain Alex Scott….  Notts vs Arsenal Cont semi_0131… and managed to get her shot off as a desperate Arsenal defender slid in …..

Notts vs Arsenal Cont semi_0132… but the Arsenal keeper Emma Byrne hadn’t read the script and saved Hoyle’s shot.

And there was the game right there…. any real chance of County progressing beyond this semi final had vanished.

Having played Man City mid week the Lady Pies looked tired having chased Arsenals aristocratic passing game for most of the second half.

E-X-T-R-A  T-I-M-E then! Oh crap – we looked knackered.

Notts vs Arsenal Cont semi_0138Skipper Corsie offers words of encouragement

Notts vs Arsenal Cont semi_0135

Sprays were needed…..

Notts vs Arsenal Cont semi_0136… and massages were given.

The first period of extra time began and Kelly Smith looked a threat as she fired off shots on goal.

Notts vs Arsenal Cont semi_0162

Notts vs Arsenal Cont semi_0158But then Kelly Smith turned provider when….

….. moments later Arsenal took the lead as Caroline Weir received a pass from Kelly Smith in her stride and turned the luckless Rachel Corsie inside out ….

Notts vs Srsenal Cont semi_0337…. before hitting an exquisite dipping shot over Carly Telford.

Notts vs Srsenal Cont semi_0339Substitute Caroline Weir watches as her shot beats Telford and hits the back of County net to give her team a killer 1-0 lead.

The Gooners celebrate….

Notts vs Srsenal Cont semi_0346….. Weir’s wonder strike.

County were on the ropes now and holding on for the faintest hope of an equaliser as the game entered the final period of extra time. And Arsenal delivered the fatal blow to dash any hopes Notts had when Arsenal’s Danielle Carter was brought down in the Notts penalty area.

Notts vs Srsenal Cont semi_0371Carter goes down….

Notts vs Srsenal Cont semi_0373… and appeals for the spot kick.

Kelly Smith steps up for the gunners…. and send Telford the wrong way.

Notts vs Srsenal Cont semi_0377 Game over.

The loss was hard to take for some.

Notts vs Srsenal Cont semi_0394

The Notts players thanked the superb County fans for their great support during the campaign.

Notts vs Arsenal Cont semi_0174

It’s easy to think of this as a failure but Notts finished top of their group in the qualifiers and gave a good account of themselves in this tie. Perhaps a more important battle is now at hand with the remaining games left to play determining whether County will still be playing top flight football next season.

I think we’re good enough and determined enough to see the season out and remain where we belong – at the top. COYP.  :)

(C) Drew Smith Photography

 

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