Notts County Ladies vs Reading FAWSL Div 1   Leave a comment

The Lady Pies twice came from behind to draw their second league game of the season and their first at Meadow Lane against a battling Reading side.

Here’s the game in words and pictures:

Possibly the best fans in the league were out in force on Sunday. With no disrespect to Reading but they simply don’t have the pull of a Man City, Arsenal or Chelsea and yet attendance was just under 900! A crowd any other team would be proud of for any game!

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A young fan spots Paul Campbell’s beard.

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Strength coach Campbell adds a finishing tweak to his full set.

Whilst another youngster asks her dad if he’ll donate his ‘Now That’s What I Call Music 7’ tape cassette as a half-time competition prize!

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Dad agrees…..

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1036….. and into Matt Rowland’s bumper box of prizes it goes!

Last season’s Agent Trenchcoat has been upgraded to Agent Cashmere Coat!

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Agent C brings some much-needed style to the Pies terraces.

Meanwhile back at the warm-ups assistant manager Colin Walker forgets to put on his glasses.

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Colin struggles to differentiate between his players and the Reading squad!

Until a steward is despatched to the assisted housing where Colin left his bifocals.

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Colin is a happy bunny again and heads off to talk to his own players this time.

Blog competition time! I’ve no idea who this is. So….

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…. answers on a postcard wins a picture of your choice from this weeks game vs Liverpool!

EDIT: this is Taome Oliver new signing from Arsenal I’ve been told, by Rebecca Walker.:)

It was great to see Fern Whelan back in the squad and fit enough to be on the bench.

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Whelan back after a series of injuries plagued her last season.

Okay…. I can’t put it off any longer …. let’s get to the game:

Newly promoted Reading were the visitors.

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The Lady Pies line-up seems to be having difficulty focussing.

The referee (under FA directive 27b subclause 14a)  trials the new coin toss. The assistant ref (on the left) balances the coin on his nose, Laura Bassett has to catch it before it hits the floor to win the toss and the right to choose ends or kick-off.

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It’s a tense moment as demonstrated by assistant ref number two on the right.

The ref blows his whistle to start proceedings….

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… the Pies mascot is not impressed!

The game commenced with Reading working hard in all areas of the pitch and strangely County seemed to be struggling to get out of second gear!

Then this happened:

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Flashbacks to last season at home when Notts had a run of  conceding early goals.

Reading’s Ward, with nothing much else on, hit a speculative shot at goal which flew past keeper Telford and into the top corner!

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0-1 to Reading. This obviously necessitated some impromptu hair grooming.

County continued to struggle to find any rhythm or each other with an accurate pass with the ball spending much of the time in the air.

To add to their woes they then lost Rachel Williams with an ankle injury.

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1017Ouch!

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Aileen Whelan replaces Williams.

And it was left to the hard-working Jess Clarke to bring the game level from the spot just after the half hour mark.

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Clarke places the ball….

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… and slots it home…

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1030… sending the keeper the wrong way! 1-1.

The half continued with Reading battling and making chances and County unable to shake off their lethargic start to the game.

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But it wasn’t long before Reading were back in front. Apparently an own goal from Laura Bassett which to me looked like a headed goal from a  Reading striker:

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NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1101

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1100Either way 1-2 Reading!

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Half time intervened and mercifully brought to an end a half that lacked any kind of conviction from the County players. Reading worked hard and were a credible outfit but Notts were quite frankly playing well below their usual high standard.

Surely things would take a turn for the better. Cue Matt Rowland’s half-time beano of fun and games!

Matt calls the raffle winning number….

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1036… whilst checking he still has the first prize 80’s music cassette.

Rowland, ever the conservative he, decides to stick with last season’s tried and tested ‘penalty shoot out’ theme.

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…. the lucky raffle winner gets to put one past Mrs Magpie.

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Mrs Magpie needs some goalkeeper coaching from Bob Widdowson!

The Pies fan is jubilant at having won a signed copy of a Burger King menu.

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1041 Matt Rowland has pocketed the ‘NTWICM’ music cassette for himself!

The second half

Jess Clarke lobs the Reading keeper to make it 2-2.

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Surely now County can push on and win this game!

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1087Happy at last!

County still not firing on all cylinders try to force the winner as the Reading keeper parries a shot from distant….

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…. it spills out to Rachel Yankey….

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…. who almost managed to nutmeg the keeper with a follow-up shot.

But alas the game finished with the points shared and County were left wondering where the team that lost in injury time to Man City away and to Arsenal on penalties in the FA Cup had disappeared to.

The signs were ominous when the usual post game huddle was abandoned and replaced with the warm-down.

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Rick conspicuous by his absence was giving a post-match interview.

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1062The body-language says it all. Rick took the team straight off the pitch to the dressing room after the game. 

The next visitors to Meadow Lane are Liverpool this bank holiday Monday.

COYP!

Lets hope it will be Redemption Monday.

Posted April 27, 2016 by Drew in Uncategorized

Penalty shoot-out puts Notts out of the FA Cup   Leave a comment

A trip to Boreham Wood for the quarter-final of the FA Cup ended in heartbreak for Notts as they exited the competition after a dramatic sudden death penalty shoot out!

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Here’s the game in words and pictures:

The trip down the motorway saw the talented Ladypies team leave the overcast skies of the conurbation of Nottingham and emerge into the sunnier climes of the outlying suburbs of London, to play Arsenal in the quarter-final of the FA Cup.

The day started with optimistic good cheer as Paul Campbell revealed his thicker, more luxuriant full set beard and moustache.

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Paul gives credit to Matt (‘the guy that can get stuff’) Rowland for supplying him with the ‘The Lover‘ British beard oil!

Joining the backroom coaching staff for the remainder of the season is Tanya Oxtoby.

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Tanya – the great and powerful Oz.

Rick’s fan club caught up with the great man before the game and asked him if he could show them his ball skills…..

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….. Rick obliged:

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The boy Passmoor shows the fans a clean pair of heels!

Carly Telford was back in goal for this game after Megan Walsh deputized for her against Man City last week, where she acquitted herself wonderfully well.

Wollaton Park wildlife 2016084Pupil and Master.

The match officials….. unsuspecting of what was to unfold that afternoon.

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Linesman far left apparently won a silver rosette in last year’s ‘Beardy Boy 2015’ competition.

Arsenal FC set up shop. The offerings are somewhat sparse.

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3 mugs, 3 dodgy dinosaurs and a football. Makes the Notts County Club shop look like Aladdin’s cave!

Still, marketing mahout Matty Rowland couldn’t resist taking a pic of the set-up ….

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…. maybe this is all part of his master plan for the first home game half-time entertainment!

Bearby Boy rosette winner eye’s Paul Campbell’s full set!

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Paul plays it cool ……

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…. and pretends not to notice the admiring glance.

This is Arsenal’s version of Matt Rowland. A slightly younger, better looking, more media savvy, multi-tasking version.

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The Matty Rowland upgrade – now available at all good footballing outlets.

On with the game then. The girls lined up before kick-off.

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Sophie Bradly-Auckland shakes hands.

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County started the game by far the stronger with Williams, Buet, White and Clarke leading the charge.

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Rachel Williams attracts 3 defenders.

Then minutes later goes close with a header…

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….. and then even closer minutes later….

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….. before Crichton joins in and heads just wide. Realistically Notts could have been 3-0 up.

But against the run of play Kelly Smith broke the deadlock with a class strike, hitting a volley past Notts’ keeper Carly Telford.
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Smith makes it 1-0 to the Arse-er-nal! (notice the crowning of the pitch making photography problematic on occasion).
Arsenal celebrate….
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…. somewhere over the hill.
County and their fervent travelling fans only had to wait two minutes for an equaliser which came courtesy of Sophie Bradley-Auckland when she glanced in a Dani Buet’s free-kick.

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Sophie Bradley-Auckland celebrates her goal as the Arsenal player look on in abject despair.
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Crichton congratulates the County captain!
On 33 minutes County’s Aivi Luik made it 2-1 Notts! Ellen White challenged Arsenal Keeper Veenendaal from a Buet free-kick.
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Veenendaal punches under pressure.

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And the ball drops kindly for County defender Luik to pounce.

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Notts’ number 3 makes it 2.

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Or does she? The referee seems to have disallowed the goal.

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But wait…. no, he’s given it! 2-1 Notts.

From this point on some of the Arsenal players began to ‘lose the plot’. Tackles flew in and tempers flared.

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The Arsenal player clearly goes through the player….

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… but no booking.

But Ellen Whit’s attempted block….

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… gets a yellow from the ref!

Arsenal seemed to be on the verge of imploding. The ref turned down two dubious appeals for penalties…

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Kelly Smith seemed to be actively hunting a yellow card for dissent.

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… time and time again.

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And finally got what she deserved. I think Dani Buet was making a valid comment here.:)

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The referee was under siege at various points.

As Smith seemed intent on showing everybody how to behave like a petulant child ….

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… Laura Jayne O’Neil showed her how to behave with class even though she’d been fouled.

Half-time came and went but the game continued where it had left off with both sides playing good football but always seeming as if they were on the edge of a ‘biff zone’.

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And then horror of horror Notts went down to 10 players!

White already on a yellow chased down a ball with the ruthless determination and work ethic she’d shown all game but then inexplicably kicked the ball away after it had gone out of play ( something Arsenal had down in the first half with no penalty).

Wollaton Park wildlife 2016048This afforded the referee the opportunity to give her a second yellow followed by a red. With some 30 minutes left to play County were going to have to survive with one player less than Arsenal.

Notts then did an amazing job of resisting Arsenal’s attempts to draw level…

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…. until the 81st minute when Arsenal’s Natalia Pablos Sanchon nodded in fellow substitute Katie McCabe’s cross to force extra time.

Wollaton Park wildlife 2016055The cross loops up into the air…

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… dropping conveniently for the Arsenal striker….
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… to nod home.

To add to their troubles County then lost Captain Bradley-Auckland with an injury late in the half.

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County’s inspirational skipper exits the game.

Extra time was played out with Arsenal camped out outside the Notts 18 yard box but they could not force the winning goal.

And Notts may have snatched it with a counter attack.

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Jess Clarke bends the ball wide of the Arsenal far post.

But with the game at 2-2 the ref blew for full-time and penalties and even then the team’s couldn’t be separated; with 5 penalties taken and two saves from Veenendaal and Telford.

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But Arsenal’s McCabe struck the decider to put the Lady Pies out!

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A tough defeat for Notts.

I’ll leave you with a few quotes from Carly Telford which I thought summed the game up pretty well:

She said: “It had everything. There were aggressive tackles going in, diving, there were some tantrums, a sending off, penalties, extra time. If you were watching that, you were thoroughly entertained I’d hope.

On the penalties: “When you’ve worked for 120 minutes and ran your little legs off, I said I wouldn’t have been surprised if all of them had missed.

“We’ve got to dust ourselves down. It was a great performance.

“When you look at the players they’re bringing on, the internationals they’ve got stacked up on the bench, we’ve got to take a lot of heart from that.

“We’ve got to build on it and it might have been different if we’d had 11 on the pitch, but we’ll never know.”

 

 

Posted April 4, 2016 by Drew in Uncategorized

Notts County ease into FA Cup quarter finals!   Leave a comment

The Lady Pies breezed past WSL 2 outfit Durham on Sunday, running out 3-1 victors at Meadow Lane.

Here’s the game in words and pictures:

The new season has seen quite a few changes at Notts; Alex Greenwood has left for home and to play for Liverpool FC, Desi Scott has left for sunnier climes and Flint came and went within the space of a few months.

But on the credit side the club has signed Chelsea Weston from Birmingham, Australian international Aivi Luik from Melbourne City, Welsh International midfielder Angharad James from Bristol City,

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Sweden international Maja Krantz and Megan Walsh the England U23 and ex Everton keeper.

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Then Notts sneakily dropped the bombshell that they’d signed Rachel Yankey on loan from Arsenal!

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But possibly one of the best ‘signings’ of the season was the return from injury of England international Sophie Bradley!

NCL FC vs Durham FA Cup 201603

Anyhoo… with that all out of the way let’s get on with the game…

A fit, happy and healthy Sophie Bradley-Auckland led out the Pies as Captain for her first game proper since her injury many moons ago….

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…. and immediately started barking out the orders.

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‘Don’t stand there, stand here!’

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Club nutritionist Matt Lawson (currently taking his FA Coaching badges) this week demonstrates ‘kicking the ball’ during the warm-ups…..

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…. until assistant manager Colin Walker asked him to fetch him another pork pie.

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Strength coach Paul Campbell reassured new signing Rachel Yankey that pork pies are not the only food item on the pre-match menu.

NCL FC vs Durham FA Cup 201608

USN, the new drinks sponsor…. supplying liquidised pork pie concentrate.

 With the game underway Notts were looking to go one better than last season and win the damned thing and got off to a promising start with Williams header from a corner being blocked by Durham keeper Anderson.

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Rachel Williams heads down Buet’s corner ….

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… and with only 17 Durham players on the line is unable to do profit from the rebound.

Meanwhile Rachel Yankey is pulling the creative strings in midfield and taking delicious left-footed in-swinging corners.

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Yankey: NCL FC new designated lefty.

Then with 15 minutes on the clock Williams and Notts were not to be denied! Sophie Bradly-Auckland (that’s a mouthful) flicked the ball into the path of Williams…

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…. who fired home from inside the box!

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Durham appeal for off-side as Rachel Williams scores.

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Rachel celebrates. Yep, that’s the celebration. Well, it’s early in the season.

Notts continued to create a lot of chances in the first half with Ellen white hustling and bustling everywhere and supplying the crossed from the right.

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White stretches the Durham defence.

Throughout the first half Rachel Yankey was giving a masterclass in midfield. Her deft and inventive touches were a wonder to behold. Something that County have lacked over recent seasons.

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Yankey become a fan’s favourite just after her first touch of the ball.

And it was therefore fitting that in the 29th minute a piquant pass from Yankey allowed Ellen White in on goal to slot home County’s second.

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White, the benefactor of Yankey’s ingenuity.

With the game seemingly under control assistant manager Colin Walker challenged Rick to a game of ‘spot the linesman’.

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Rick, no fool he, took only a few minutes to spot his first Linesman.

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Annoyed but Rick’s attentions the linesman awards a free-kick against Yankey for being too good.

Half-time came and went with the score at 2-0 Notts.

The crowd held their collective bated breath in anticipation of what new entertainments Matt (marketing meerkat) Rowland might unleash upon them during the break. But alas nothing! Popular rumour is that Rowland is keeping his powder dry for something truly spectacular for the first WSL League game at home! Can’t wait.

In the second half Durham put up a spirited fight but failed to threaten. Yankey kept pulling the strings and Notts came close several times.

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Rachel Yankey – the imperious impresario.

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Dani Buet shone.

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Amy Turner was solid at the back.

And then it was Jess Clarke’s turn to turn provider in the 55th minute to put the game to bed.

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She broke free down the right and slipped a ball inside for Rachel Williams….

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… whom somehow brushed the ball with a first touch up and past the Durham Keeper without even looking!

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Williams celebrates leaving the Durham defender wondering how she did that!

With the game pretty much over Ellen White found time to get hit in the head by a clearance which put her on the floor.

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Rachel Yankey’s excellent debut performance was met with rapturous applause when…

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… she was substituted late on ….

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… making way for Aileen Whealan.

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The boss appreciated her contribution.

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And everybody wanted a high-five.

Durham scored a consolation goal in the 76th minute and County saw out the remainder of the game on the front foot.

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So the Pies move into the last 8 of the FA Cup and switch their focus to Wednesday night’s game away against Man City.

COYP.

2016 disclaimer: These words and pictures are mine. If I’ve made a mistake or mislead then this is my fault as this blog does not necessarily reflect the views of NCL FC or their sponsors. In fact Matt Roowland won’t even retweet it unless I spell his name correctly.

(C) Copyright Drew Smith Photography 2016.

 

 

Clinical County Confirm Conti Cup Spot!   Leave a comment

Notts County Ladies eased into the final of the Continental Cup on Sunday, beating a dejected Liverpool side 2-0 on their own ‘turf’.

Here’s the game in words and pictures:

The Select Security Stadium, an artificial surface home venue shared by Everton Ladies, Liverpool Ladies, Widnes Rugby Club, the Merseyside Women’s Institute and Uncle Tom Cobbley and all, was the stage for the semi-final of the Continental Cup.

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_38It’s lonely at the top! Early doors County CEO Luke Negus-Hill sees if the pitch will take a stud!

It was a tricky tie as County’s form had slipped during the second half of the season and Liverpool, reigning League Champions had experienced a ‘mare’ of a season, finishing just one spot above relegation.

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_5The girls come out for the pre-game warm-up. Leanne (Scotland) Crichton leading the charge.

The ‘Staff’ congregate.

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501“Looking good Rick!”, “Feelin’ good Colin!”

Liverpool Ladies Manager Matt Beard is set to leave Liverpool to take over as the boss of Boston Breakers in the USA’s National Women’s Soccer League.

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_1Matt Beard, busy thinking about the USA, sits in the wrong dug-out. Paul Campbell forgets his glasses and has to have a pair drawn on with a ‘Sharpie’.

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_42Jess Clarke and Desi Scott boogie on down!

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_41Paul Campbell tells the photographer to get out of the bloody way! Not sure how he saw me.

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The scoreboard reads 0-0! But not for long! About 5 minutes actually.

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Colin Walkers informs County Captain Laura Bassett that he’s already lost 8lbs on his Pork Pie diet – Laura can’t quite believe it!

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_2Paul Campbell has to feel his way around the pitch as his drawn on ‘Sharpie’ glasses are not performing well.

With the game about to kick off, the question was; could County lift themselves for this game?

The answer was a resounding YES!

In fact I think this was one of the best performances I’ve seen by the Pies all season.

They looked sharp and aggressive; closing down the largely lethargic Liverpool ladies and generally outplaying them in every department on the park. They competently snuffed out any signs of a Reds attack whilst creating chances of their own.

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And the game was only a few minutes old when Ellen White put County a goal up after….

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_58…. a Buet free-kick was nudged on by Laura Bassett and Ellen White nodded past the Liverpool keeper.

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_59Ellen beats her marker to…

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_60… head home!

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_63Get in! Back of the net!

The Lady Pies continued to look bright and business-like all over the park with Sophie Walton and Dani Buet having standout games.

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_13Sophie Walton puts the pressure on!

In the 23rd Minute White added a second goal to put County 2-0 up!

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_65Ellen White celebrates…. honestly!

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_66There you go!

And that’s how the half finished.

The half-time entertainment looked suspiciously like Matt Rowland’s brand of entertainment. Maybe he’s franchised the concept.

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_76Not Mrs Magpie but Liverpool’s Fish/Bird thing in goal!

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_51I actually found fishbirdthing a little scary! Those predatory eyes and beak and lip licking grin!

Anyway…. the second half saw County continue where they’d left off, something they’ve failed to do on more than one occasion this season.

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_67Rachel Williams came close….

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NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_72… more than once!

The team put a shift in and defended well when they lost possession and hit Liverpool quickly on the counter-attack. The score-line flattered Liverpool to be honest and I can only recall Carly Telford making one save.

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_31Telford blocks a Dowie shots at close range!

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_78Ellen in the mix again.

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_30Desi shows total commitment! She was actually penalised for handball for this!:)

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_73Jess Clarke was as lively as ever.

The fans were fantastic at this game, outsinging the Liverpool fans, which is hard to do!

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NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_55Wait a minute… who’s that bottom right in with the Liverpool fans?

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_32Alex Greenwood battles with Natasha Dowie.

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_21Dani Buet had one of her best games.

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NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_80Rachel Williams runs down the clock…

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_81… on more than one occasion.

At the final whistle Notts ran out comfortable 2-0 winners and now take on Arsenal in the Final on Sunday the 1st of November in Rotherham.

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_34Sophie Walton can hardly contain her excitement!

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_35Rick is a little happier!

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_40And we say goodbye to the Stadium of gloom for the last time!…

NCL FC vs Liverpool Conti Cup semi 201501_86… and wish Liverpool well on their own road to recovery from this season’s woes.

Wouldn’t it be nice to pick up some silverware this season! Make sure you are there to cheer the girls on in the final on Sunday the 1st of November at the rather beautiful Aesseal New York Stadium in Rotherham! COYP.

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(C) Drew Smith Photography

Disclaimer: All opinions are my own and just in case I should ever write or post anything inaccurate, stupid or downright misleading I’d like it to be known that those inaccuracies, stupidities and misleading statements and pictures are mine, and mine alone! 

…. everything else is Matt Rowland’s fault.

Notts County Ladies’ last game of the regular season vs Manchester City   Leave a comment

Notts County Ladies played their last game of the regular season against Manchester City at the Academy Stadium on Sunday going down 1-2.

Here’s the game in words and pictures:

Arriving at the £200million City Football Academy Stadium it was hard not to be impressed; its snuggled in next to the Etihad stadium, separated only by a few hundred meters and a walk-way. The walk-way is carpeted in red ermine and waiters are available at regular intervals to offer glasses of Dom Perignon champagne and truffles.

NCL FC vs Man City01Palatial surrounds in the changing rooms, even the broom cupboard had a wide-screen TV.

It was difficult to not notice the difference between the two Clubs; they are as you’d expect when viewed in context of the money to which Manchester City have access. However, I think that providing a personal Butler for each City player was going a little too far.

NCL FC vs Man City01_1Individual seats for players in the changing room in a space that rivals Wembley.

And the women’s game seems poised at the moment on some invisible tipping-point; crowd attendance is up almost 50% on last season. TV coverage is up and public interest in the women’s game is also increasing.

NCL FC vs Man City01_54The subs ‘bench’ features vibrating seats with waitress service.

Newly promoted Doncaster Belles FC have announced this week that Carl and Faye Lygo are investing in a multi-million pound state-of-the-art training facility for the club, as well as providing finance for full-time, professional contracts to a number of its players. Chelsea and Arsenal are at the top of their game again and their parent clubs have deep pockets.

NCL FC vs Man City01_48Colin Walker content in the knowledge that he’s already stolen all the complimentary towels and chocolates from the ‘green room’.

There is a very real possibility that the FA WSL Div 1 will become a league of ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’. And currently Notts have not. County have a talented and capable squad and a back-room staff to match (although the photographer is a bit dodgy) and deserve to do well.

NCL FC vs Man City01_52Mascot number 3 seems to be very popular with the girls!

This season has been a bits of a game of two halves; certainly the team has ‘underachieved’ post FA Cup final, seeing them finish 5th in the league. Still with the semi-final of the Continental Cup only a couple of days away there is a last ‘hurrah’ waiting for them on the side-lines.

NCL FC vs Man City01_69Early doors Parris puts City 1-0 up as Harding and Bronze terrorise County down the right flank.

NCL FC vs Man City01_70She’s a happy camper!

NCL FC vs Man City01_73Jill Scott finds space. Lots of it.

NCL FC vs Man City01_58Rachel Williams equalizes with a trade-mark header just before half-time!

NCL FC vs Man City01_60See, told you she’d scored!

NCL FC vs Man City01_80But City take the lead again on the stroke of half-time through Isobel Christiansen !

NCL FC vs Man City01_79City played their usual brand of possession football but County had their moments too.

NCL FC vs Man City01_74Rachel Williams was as impressive as ever and it can only be a matter of time before an England call-up.

NCL FC vs Man City01_90So the season came to a close with yet another narrow defeat.

The Continental Cup semi-final beckons now against a dejected Liverpool side that could only manage to finish one place above relegated Bristol in the League. Does another Cup Final await the Lady Pies? Lets hope so. COYP!

You can see the League Table here:  FA WSL League Table

(C) Drew Smith Photography

Disclaimer: All opinions are my own and just in case I should ever write or post anything inaccurate, stupid or downright misleading I’d like it to be known that those inaccuracies, stupidities and misleading statements and pictures are mine, and mine alone! 

…. everything else is Matt Rowland’s fault.

County sucker-punched by Birmingham in their last home game!   Leave a comment

Notts County Ladies played their last home game against second from bottom Birmingham City Ladies on Sunday. Unfortunately the chance to thank the 1,300+ home crowd at Meadow Lane for such tremendous season long support with a victory slipped away in the 86th minute.

Here’s the game in words and pictures:

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_48

It was a cloudy yet sunny day. Already Matt Rowland was having trouble communicating the ins and outs of ‘ball person’ duties to his charges:

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_55

Matt explains the delicacies of ball retrieval but has already lost some of his audience.

Meanwhile the home crowd settle in with a sing-song…

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_66

… ‘One for sorry, two for joy…’

Kick-off then and County set about Birmingham with real Zing and Zest.

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_74

Greenwood with room to attack down the left flank was a thorn in City’s side.

The first half omens were good; County were well organised, confident and stamped their authority on the game from the start….

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_11

… they dominated their opponents in all departments, possession, passing, tackling and chances on goal.

The first 45 minutes saw the Pies shoot wide…

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_74

… shoot high…

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_92

… hit the bar

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_81

… and hit the post twice.

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_75

Even to the most hardened Birmingham fan it looked like only a matter of time before County opened the scoring and went on to a convincing win!

In other news the ball-girls were following Matt’s orders to the letter…

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_6… and having fun covering each other in side-line dirt!:)

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_7As ordered they paid close attention to what was happening in the game…

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_21

… and were prepared at any second to retrieve the ball and throw it back to the players to keep the game flowing!:)

The half-time whistle went with the score somehow still at 0-0! But there was no break in the excitement as ‘Win the raffle and kick the ball in the goal with varying rules to win a random prize’ competition began!

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_83Matt Rowland asks the victim lucky winner if he understands the ‘rules’

 NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_85… his response was that he didn’t know there were any rules!

Mrs Magpie was unavailable for goal-keeping duties.

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_84

And when Matt was sure everybody was bemused by what was going on, he stopped the competition…

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_86… and awarded the prizes to the overjoyed winner!

Fortunately the second-half came to the rescue!

But unfortunately Rick Passmoor sent out 11 different players for the second period.

Not sure who they were but they were not the players that so overwhelmed Birmingham in the first half.

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_4

Passes went astray as possession was given away cheaply, chances on goal diminished…

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_29

… and Birmingham were allowed a foothold in a game that County should have wrapped up in the first 45 minutes.

Even the ref felt an injustice on the cards…

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_22… and kindly blocked Potter from getting to the ball.

County’s frustrations were obvious!

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_34

But even the ref and the County defense were seemingly helpless to prevent Birmingham from stealing all 3 points.

A Karen Carney corner looped into the Notts box and was met by Harrop  who guided the ball past Carly Telford…

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_35

… and in to the back of the net to put Birmingham 1-0 up with just a few minutes to play.

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_36

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_38

County threw the ball forward then …

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_3

… but shots on goal were either wide of the mark…

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_94

… or saved by the Birmingham keeper!

And that was it.

Game over!

A disappointing end to the final home game of the season.

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_42

That leaves just one game to play away this Sunday at Manchester City!

NCL FC vs Birmingham home 2015001_62

And of course the Semi-Final of the Continental Cup against Liverpool

So…. all to play for!

COYP!

(C) Drew Smith Photography

Disclaimer: All opinions are my own and just in case I should ever write or post anything inaccurate, stupid or downright misleading I’d like it to be known that those inaccuracies, stupidities and misleading statements and pictures are mine, and mine alone! 

…. everything else is Matt Rowland’s fault.

 

 

Winning ugly – NCL FC 3 – 2 Reading   Leave a comment

Having some of the most beautiful women in the FA WSL in the Notts County team, winning ‘ugly’ can be tricky for Notts at times, but this Sunday they did just that against Reading Ladies to progress to the last 4 in the Continental Cup competition.

Here’s the game in words and pictures:

Warm-up stretches take on a new dimension with the super wide 8mm lens as the Lady Pies prepare to do battle with promotion pushing Reading from the FA WSL 2.

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_30

Jess Clarke and Alex Greenwood get stretched!

Back by popular demand – Matt (Angry Birds) Rowland.

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_5He’s got a little orange note-book tucked under his arm, look. Now what could he be scribbling down in that?

Meanwhile back at the stretches; Aileen Whelan executes a perfect ‘Cockney Knee-up’ stretch …

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_21…. ‘Gertch-ya!’

The pre-kick-off gathering in the center circle is getting bigger and more chaotic. It took several minutes to usher this little lot back off the pitch!:)

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_31It’s a cute motley crew.

A fiendish trap had been set for County by Reading; in a pre-season friendly Reading allowed the Pies to beat them 5-0 thus lulling the unwary into believing this would be an ‘easy’ passage to the semis. But..

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_33… the Pink Ladies battled and hustled and closed down County all over the park. Last-ditch tackles were the order of the day for Reading …

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_32Clarke is stopped in her tracks!…

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_40… again and again.

But Alex – very angry – Greenwood was making regular sorties down the left flank to whip dangerous crosses in…

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_41… only to see those crosses valiantly defended in the box.

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_35Reading at full stretch to stop County.

Notts didn’t have it all their own way but in the 34th minute Aileen Whelan fired home to settle the nerves.

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_45Get in!

Whelan opens the scoring for Notts despite the desperate efforts of the Reading defender.

Fans were able to check the scoreboard just to make sure a GOAL had been scored.

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_50

The gulf in budget exquisitely demonstrated here; in the Prem they get replays of the action in super-slow-mo. At Meadow Lane we get the word ‘GOAL’ displayed in 1980’s Amstrad quality animation.:)

Going into the half-time break 1-0 up would have been satisfactory and something to build on for the second half…

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup01_1… but Reading had other ideas and just 60 seconds later Helen Ward equalised for Reading after the County defense went AWOL.

Notts 1 – 1 Reading

County’s lead was restored minutes later when Ellen White seemed to be hit in the face by a high boot…

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_46… which resulted in a Penalty.

Alex Greenwood stepped up…

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_47… and dispatched the kick to make it 2-1 Notts!

Half time and an entertainment treat for the hundreds of fans; the Matt Rowland Rap!

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_52The County Marketing Megalodon raps to the tune of ‘The Sound of Music’s’ The Hills Are Alive (with the sound of music)’. “It was ‘inspirational and very moving” said one fan afterwards.

Despite Matt’s best attempts there is still a movement for a somewhat more dynamic half-time show and some of the County players have been auditioning…

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_58

… Carly Telford amazes her fellow subs with a display of juggling using the half-time oranges…

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_57

… but… oh dear! And with Colin Walker looking on too.

Further down the stand was..

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_56… half-time Pies!

Second half then…. and the game resumed with County looking to impose themselves on division 2 Reading…

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_62‘Are you looking at me?’

… but that really wasn’t happening. In fact Reading played some very good football and to their credit never ran out of steam. Not bad for a semi-pro side.

And in the 67th minute Reading’s Fletcher hit the equaliser to threaten extra time.

So, time to win ugly, because it certainly wasn’t pretty…

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_59

Reading not helping their cause as they challenge their own keeper for the ball with no County player in sight.

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_63‘Handball ref!’ Who is that County player down there?

With extra time looming (it always seems to ‘loom’ doesn’t it?) in the 88th minute and after a scrappy piece of inter-play on the edge of the Reading box, Alex Greenwood managed to wriggle into enough space to curl a beautiful shot past the despairing Reading keeper.

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_64

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_3Greenwood makes it 3-2 Notts!

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_65 The goal that says ‘Hello semi-final!’:)

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_66Phew!

The final few minutes of the beautiful game played ugly! 4 minutes of injury time draws to a close with Reading’s hopes snuffed out.

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_68Rachel Williams makes full use of the entire pitch and her left arm to hold Reading at bay.

Full time and Notts move into the semi-finals of this competition for the 5th year in a row.

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_70

Rachel Williams commiserate with a deflated (although she was pumped for the game) Reading FC player.

The players then start the rounds of interviews and autograph signings…

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_86Amy Turner

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_80

TV star Alex Greenwood

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_76

Sophie Walton

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_74

Siobhan Chamberlain

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_72

Leanne Crichton

Of course it’s all about the players, but …

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_84

Rick Passmoors’ middle name is SO long that he needs a back-up pen in case the first runs out!

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_87

Colin Walker signs a pair of Matt Rowland’s Y-Fronts – next home game’s half-time competition prize.

A Reading player contemplates what might have been. And that’s football!

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_69

Reading made a great impression and certainly on this showing wouldn’t disgrace themselves in Div 1 should they win promotion this season.

NCL FC vs Reading conti cup001_55

Reading FC brought quite a few fans and made a lot of noise throughout the game, adding to a great atmosphere!

(C) Drew Smith Photography

Disclaimer: All opinions are my own and just in case I should ever write or post anything inaccurate, stupid or downright misleading I’d like it to be known that those inaccuracies, stupidities and misleading statements and pictures are mine, and mine alone! 

…. everything else is Matt Rowland’s fault.

 

 

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