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!
Here’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.
Matt Rowland (County Media Mogul) was present at the game and as was usual found himself quickly surrounded by his adoring fans.
Gunny 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.
The 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
BT 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….
… 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.
Katie Holtham bosses the midfield.
Clarke ran and ran. This is a rare picture of her when she is marked by only one Arsenal defender.
Early on Notts matched Arsenal stride for stride.
But Carly Telford had a couple of scares…
…. 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’…..
…. *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.
England 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!
Number 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…. … and managed to get her shot off as a desperate Arsenal defender slid in …..
… 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.
Skipper Corsie offers words of encouragement
Sprays were needed…..
… and massages were given.
The first period of extra time began and Kelly Smith looked a threat as she fired off shots on goal.
But 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 ….
…. before hitting an exquisite dipping shot over Carly Telford.
Substitute 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….
….. 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.
Carter goes down….
… and appeals for the spot kick.
Kelly Smith steps up for the gunners…. and send Telford the wrong way.
The loss was hard to take for some.
The Notts players thanked the superb County fans for their great support during the campaign.
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
There’s no place like the Burghley Horse Trials – it’s a wonderful mixture of all the layers of the British social strata, world class sports and … unbelievably expensive shopping!
Here’s the story of Friday and Saturday in words and pictures:
First of all the weather forecast lied, or rather it failed to accurately ‘forecast’ what the weather would be doing 24hrs ahead. So Friday at Burghley, which featured the Dressage and Young Horse competition, was dull and overcast with intermittent cold breezes, not the balmy 20-23 degrees we’d been teased with getting.
Arriving early (8am-ish) we parked up and walked down the hill to the ‘shopping village’. Precautions need to be taken before entering here; like leaving all credit and debit cards at home (or at least away from the wife) and all folding money left in a sock in cupboard back at home. Fail to heed this advice and you either face bankruptcy or a divorce.
And I kid you not when I say that this purpose built Land Rover showroom showcased some of the less expensive items for sale in the ‘village’.
Land Rover – as main sponsors of the Burghley Horse Trials where…..
… pretty much everywhere.
Here’s a picture of a horse for those of you expecting horsey pics in this Blog:
This is Alex Postolowsky coming 2nd in the Young Horse competition (I think these were 5yr olds).
But back to the real Burghley…
.. this is the Dubarry shop which unquestionably has the best stand in the village; great product sold by beautiful people in opulent surroundings complete with a drinks bar at the back.
.. oh and it’s dog friendly.
In fact Burghley wouldn’t be Burghley without the dogs – it’s almost compulsory to bring one (or 5) with you.
Awwww. This is Poppy the Lurcher puppy – totally knackered and being carried by it’s owner.
Here’s another picture of a Horse to keep you going:
Another 5yr old put through it’s paces.
Perversely one of the most popular shops at the event was this Bacon Butty stand; look at those queues! Nowhere else was this popularity repeated. Makes you feel proud to be British!
This was about 8:15am, but the queues persisted for most of the day.
Not only is Burghley festooned with beautiful people …..
…. but it is crowded out with denizens of real character…..
The Cigar shop.
Tim from the Basket Emporium.
And there were horses…
… this fence is Cottesmore Leap. Possibly one of the most frightening fences on the Cross Country course. But not if you don’t look down.
And if you had been tempted by all the multitude of shopping experiences..
… and your funds were running low…
.. and maybe you wanted to buy some Cheese..
… or a life-sized drift wood sculpture
…. or a sketch of your pooch…… or some artisan bread..
.. then you could always top up here!
Yup – mobile cash machines.
One of the ways of saving money is to bring your own food and drink. Eating in the car park is always a very popular option. Done here with aplomb.
Chilled champagne is, of course, de rigueur.
Of course at such a sporting event there are lots of photographers. Here’s one in a dilemma: he doesn’t want to walk all the way around the water obstacle (‘cos we are all basically lazy) but he is worried about making this leap with a few grands worth of photographic kit around his neck! Oh what to do? He eventually stepped across uneventfully. Mores the pity as I had my camera poised. :)
So there you have it – the wonder that is Burghley Horse Trials. I hope this gave you a flavour of the day and I apologise for there being only a few horsey pics.
I shall leave you with a picture of how all that money sloshing around made us feel on occasion:
(C) Drew Smith Photography.
It’s official – I’m useless at photographing these games! The match was so exciting last night that at various points I dropped my camera to watch the game – usually the most exciting bit! How terrible is that! The shame – I’ll be thrown out of the Sports Photographer’s secret Lodge meetings now.
So here’s where we are at the moment; we have one of the best sides in the FA Women’s Super League but have been hit badly by injuries and stupefyingly stupid FA sanctions and consequently this skilful and professionally run outfit is in danger of dropping out of the premier division! Which would be a disaster for the club.
It only needs Everton – currently the bottom placed club – to go on a good run of form and start accruing points and Notts are under serious pressure.
So here’s how last night’s game played out: Under the Meadow Lane floodlights Notts County Ladies put on a determined display of hugely entertaining football to hold out for a draw against high flying Man City. County opened the scoring through their talented top scorer Jessica Clarke but City struck back with an equaliser just three minutes later when Toni Duggan slammed home a loose ball in the county box.
Here’s the game in words and pictures:
Just before kick-off this strange mascot made an appearance ……
… I couldn’t work out if it was the City mascot, the FA WSL mascot or a stray from Yellowstone National Park. I actually shook his/her hand!
I always think it’s great fun to wander around pre-game getting shots – the other photographer’s seem to just stand around talking about who’s got the biggest lens – I don’t get it. Here’s England striker Ellen White, on the road to recovery from an ACL injury, actually kicking a football. Hoorah.
Those cones stood no chance against Ellen’s whippet-esque speed.
Here’s the Refereeing crew; center and Referee is Lisa Rashid – the first woman ref I’ve seen this year – and about time too. The lino’s are Simon and Paul and Stuart, who were telling me that they are part of a Thrash-Metal tribute band.
Ref Lisa gives Paul and Stuart a wedgie each.
Here are the Stalwarts (again). I had to wake them up to get this reaction from them.
‘Come on you Lady Pies.’
As part of the warm-up the girl’s thrash the ball in to the back of the net from just inside the box. I slipped behind the goal to shoot through the net.
Aileen Whelan smashes the ball in to the old onion bag (remember that one anybody??)
Caitlin Friend shows how to keep the ball down – good work Caitlin.
Then the ‘must win’ game started. Well, actually it was more of a ‘For God’s sake please don’t lose’ game.
New girl and former England U17 star Ashleigh Plumptre started this game and competed with Jill Scott (England regular) for the ‘who is the tallest player on the pitch’ award. I think they’re both around 6 feet tall.
Katie Holtham drives into the City half.
Notts put City under pressure and did make one or two reasonable chances…
… Jess Clarke tracked all the way across the edge of the City 18 yard box leaving a comet’s tail of defenders in her starry wake only to fire the shot wide.
Before hitting her shot wide of the post.
Caitlin Friend get an unfriendly helping hand from Houghton.
City and England Keeper Karen Bardsley punches clear.
Steph ‘Hears a Who’ Houghton was all over the park and demonstrated just what a great player and athlete she is.
Technically this is a baaad sport image as the action has no ball in the shot – but I liked how Steph Houghton was leaping the fallen Jess Clarke so in it goes (sorry Ben – I lied).
Carly Telford had one of the best games I’ve seen her play. Here she is waiting patiently for the ball to drop in to her arms.
Notts passing wasn’t as slick or as accurate as City’s but over all I thought they had the better chances in the first half and the standard of football was some of the highest I’ve seen this season. The first half ended goaless – which was good for me as I was at the wrong end of the pitch and dreading County scoring.
Half time then and regulars to Meadow Lane will know that this mean’s ‘Humiliation by Raffle Ticket’ time! This is how it works; the club sells raffle tickets pre-game and then at half time draws a winning ticket. The holder of the winning ticket stands the chance of winning a brand new BMW saloon. Cool. The ‘catch’ is that having the winning ticket only means that you qualify for the ‘chance’ to win the car – not that you have won it. To win it you have to thump a ball from the center circle on the pitch and land it in the boot of the aforementioned BMW.
The BMW is cunningly positioned beyond the corner flag in the corner of the ground. Yes folks – that’s over half a pitch length away. Although to be fair Sytner (the people that put up the prize) do open the boots prior to the attempt being made.
Now then – to date the ‘lucky’ raffle winners have been, lets say, somewhat out of shape physically and have struggled to actually walk to the center circle let alone kick a ball out of it! As for them launching it over 50 yards through the air to the waiting gawp of the BMW’sd boot… no chance. But last night….. things were different.
The winner was young, athletic looking, and showed every sign of being able to not only walk unaided to the middle of the pitch but to actually be able to kick the ball in the general direction of the car as well.
Sytner BMW representatives began sweating and went into a huddle from whence frantic conversation could be heard. Meanwhile the young man stepped up and hoofed the ball in to the air with considerable aplomb …. the crowd held it’s collective breath as the ball sailed majestically toward the corner flag …….
….. but wide of the open booted BMW! (See ball left of shot above). Shortly afterwards a number Sytner employees could be seen tearing up their letters of resignation.
And back to the game……
…… which saw Notts’ Katie Holtham and City’s Steph Houghton apparently trying to get air born.
Steph wins by virtue of speedier arm flapping.
Notts came under the cosh somewhat in the second half with City looking the more likely to score but County broke once or twice to whip in crosses that had the City defense scrambling.
Bardsley loses the ball but the ref blew for a foul on the Blue’s keeper.
And then it was Jessica time! It seems an age since she last scored but chasing lost causes is one of her great attributes and this time it paid off; with an hour gone she closed down Blue’s keeper Bardsley as she went to clear the ball and managed to block the kick downfield. The ball rebounded back toward goal over Bardsley’s head and then a foot race ensued between the two players….
… there was only ever going to be one winner of this race….
… despite the keeper’s desperate lung at the ball and or Jess, the County striker got there first and nudged the ball into the empty City net!
Celebration. Relief. Awesomeness! 1-0 NOTTS! Get in!
You’ll notice a pictoral gap between Jess scoring and this celebration. That’s because I was watching her score the goal and then pumping my fist in the air instead of taking any pictures. There’s no hope for me now. I may as well buy a ticket next time and watch from the stands.
… only about 3 minutes…
.. between County’s goal and….
… City’s goal!
City threw the ball into the County box from a corner after an extended period of possession and a scramble ensued in the 6 yard box! Various opportunities presented themselves for Notts to clear the ball but somehow it evaded everybody’s boot except Toni Duggan’s. And she leveled the score to prevent County from claiming all 3 points and breathing space between them and Everton.
Duggan (far right) pounces on the errant ball to slam it convincingly into the County net before wheeling away to celebrate.
The game was played to conclusion with some tense moments where County battled in defense to keep City from robbing them of the point they’d earned.
Plumptre played her part in the well earned draw.
City go close.
Steph Houghton almost nets from close range but her shot is blocked by Scott at the last moment ….
… and goes down injured for her pains.
Under the guise of showing concern County’s Scott and Brogan assure Houghton that if she tries that again then there will be more of the same.
3 minutes of extra time were declared at the end of the 90 and County were just hanging on in there for the draw.
Jess Clarke runs down the clock with some impressive Line Dancing with some of the City defenders.
Game over and the score remains 1-1.
Personally this was the most exciting game I’ve ‘watched’ this season. Full of skill, inventiveness and quick precise passing. As it was England men were playing a friendly at Wembley on this night too. When I got home I watched the recorded game using ‘fast forward’ but then got bored and went to bed.
Passmoor explains that all the team has to do now is win all their remaining League games and win the Continental Cup and he’ll be quite happy. Wouldn’t we all. :)
(C) Drew Smith Photography
The Club Relay started back in 1991 and this event has become legendary; there is truly nothing else like it on the calendar. In 1991 it started with just 120 competitors and in 2012 over 2000 lucky athletes joined in the organised chaos of the Club Relays.
The whole weekend of fun at the NWSC in Nottingham, organised by One Step Beyond Promotions, is triathlon’s answer to the Glastonbury Music Festival. Over the years it’s had Olympians and World Champions taking part but this weekend was also about the apres triathlon; where else can you find close to 1000 triathletes all camping and partying together?
Here the weekend in words and pictures:
The Club Relays revolves around teams of 4 using a tagging format where everyone swims, everyone bikes and everyone runs in a race that looks like a mixture between competition and chaos. The event starts with a 500m swim.
Then a 15km bike section.
Ms Sharpe has time (and the strength) to smile.
Are those socks he’s wearing?
The bike transition is usually the most tricky!
The whole race is contained within the NWSC complex which is great for competitors, spectators and photographers alike.
The bike transition to other team members takes place at the straw bale barrier where the elastic band has to be transferred to the team mate’s wrist – shown here.
I’m pretty sure this competitors was in the original ‘Alien’ movie!
Other competitors couldn’t wait for their team mate to get to the front!
She’s glad that bit is over….
Cambridge Triathlon Club looking serious.
This is the bike to bike transition where competitors dump their bike hand over the wrist band and then have to reclaim their bike.
And try not to leave without it.
Forgetting is bad.
The run is 5km. Any four triathletes can get together and make up a team and race in one of the range of team categories available.
Then comes the run transition. The ‘Box’ marked on the grass in orange indicates where competitors need to pass on the wrist band.
High5 were present to offer sustenance during the race.
This is the winning team and features Gossage, Vickery, Walker and Sharpe plus kidnapped child.
(C) Drew Smith Photography
A trip to Liverpool saw Notts County Ladies suffer a disappointing 1 – 0 defeat. It was a very close game but with Liverpool always looking the more likely to score as injury hit Notts battled hard to stay in the game. But in the 75th minute Liverpool bagged all three points when substitute Katie Zelem got on the end of a powerfully driven Gemma Davison cross to net for the home side.
Here’s the game in pictures and words:
The usual County suspects were playing out of their new black & white socks again but with so many players out injured Notts had to battle hard and run tirelessly just to stay in the game.
Aileen Whelan ran tirelessly again…..
… along with Desiree Scott and Katie Hoyle.
With both teams playing quick counter attack football it was Jess Clarke for Notts carrying the fight and having some joy down the left hand side channel, with the England striker firing shots off but never hitting the target.
Jess Clarke making her presence felt again.
The last action of the half saw Notts County’s Amy Turner get a booking and Sophie Walton a good talking to (a harbinger of things to come) before the referee blew time on the first half, with the sides tied at 0-0.
The second half resumed with the Notts still in the game but with mounting pressure from the reds.
Battle was joined….
… with no quarter given….
… and everybody toeing the line!
And the 2nd half saw the a debut for Ashleigh Plumptre – England U-17 striker!
In the 60th minute Gemma Davison – a continual thorn in Notts’ side – broke free and had a clear run on the County goal….
…….. and with just the keeper to beat was thwarted by Carly Telford who spread herself to block the strikers goal bound shot with her leg and divert it clear.
But Notts couldn’t hold on…..
Deep into the second half Liverpool’s Katie Zelem broke County hearts when she met Gemma Davison’s powerful cross at the back post to score the only goal of the game and putting Liverpool top of the Women’s Super League.
A few minutes after conceding Gemma Davison once again broke into the County penalty area and in taking the ball wide of Keeper Telford, seemed to be brought down for a penalty!
The referee pointed to the spot and awarded a penalty. Confusion followed. Notts’ Sophie Walton obviously said something to the referee and was cautioned. The referee, after consultation with his linesman, then overturned his own decision and restarted the game with a drop ball in the penalty box. Baffling.
With only seconds left on the clock the referee booked Sophie Walton for a second time, again for something she must have said and the County defender was dismissed from the game.
This leaves County with only the Continental Cup as a means of salvaging a difficult season.
But perhaps more importantly they must also battle hard now to secure an improved league position that better reflects the quality this team has in it’s ranks.
(C) Drew Smith Photography
Yet another top class event being held by the NWSC in Nottingham today. Which took me by surprise. I swung (or is it swang) in there this afternoon to get my press pass for the weekend and the Club Relay Team Triathlon and lo and behold the International Junior Triathlon event was in full swing! So I pulled my camera out of the car and snapped a few pics.
Here’s my afternoon in words and pictures:
Triathlons are made up of swimming, cycling and running. This is the swimming bit (see, I’m an expert) and the competitors are coming under starters orders…..
… which kinda consisted of ‘Ready…’ at which point everybody dove (or is it dived) in, saving the starter the trouble of saying ‘Go!’….
… I don’t think he’d have ever got them back for a false start anyway……
… it’s very difficult to hear anything…..
… once in the water….
… and by the time they’ve clambered out….. they’ve got water in their ears… and pretty much everywhere else too!
Then it’s in to the transition and on to the bikes….
… and a quick change of gender (have you been paying attention?). This is a panning shot, dragging the shutter. Easier to do with a hand held lens as opposed to a 400mm f2.8 on a monopod – I think I may have broken my wrist.
And then the running bit followed.
And it rained on and off all afternoon.
So, all good stuff and a nice warm-up for this weekend.
(C) Drew Smith Photography
GB Rowing held their second Sculling Festival at the National Water Sports Centre this weekend (16th/17th August 2014). The Sculling Festival is a national event and is open to any registered member of a club affiliated to any Great Britain rowing body.
The Festival is aimed at anyone looking to improve their skills in a single scull and with the drive and ambition to continue Great Britain’s position as the top rowing nation in the world. As well as the main event, the weekend offered a Beginners’ event for those genuinely in their first year of the sport, with races generally being run over a shorter distance. Participation over the 2 days of competition also included a barbecue on the evening of Saturday 16 August.
But what was really a joy to behold from a photographer’s point of view was so many happy competitors involved in not just racing but also in a series of Skills & Maneuverability tests! These involved standing up in a rowing boat no deeper than a saucer and turning around 360 degrees! A tremendous amount of fun – for those watching as well as those taking part.
Thanks once again to British Rowing for the friendliness and hospitality they extended to me. More pictures can be found here: http://www.drewsmithphotography.co.uk/Sports/GB-Rowing-Team-Sculling/
Here’s a link to the British Rowing site’s report on the event (with my pics – hurrah!): http://www.britishrowing.org/news/2014/august/18/gb-rowing-team-sculling-festival-showcases-young-talent
Here’s the event in words and pictures:
There was normal rowing too of course – with lost of races taking place on Saturday and Sunday…..
Skill come be tested by doing such things as 360 standing turns! Shown being accomplished here with aplomb! But …. there was also a tremendous amount of opportunity to fall in.
Which some people (this is Tim) grasped with both hands……
And threw themselves into it with great abandon.
Nice one Tim!
This was strenuous just to watch!
But everybody seemed to enjoy the challenge.
Even though they were under constant scrutiny from the judges and officials.
Unfortunately for this competitor stylishly hoinking your boat back and forth on dry land wasn’t one of the official events.
And nobody needed to be told to pull their socks up!
And there was always a helping hand ready to assist.
(C) Copyright Drew Smith Photography