Notts County Ladies vs Bristol Academy Ladies – Continental Cup   Leave a comment

Notts County Ladies undefeated season continued this afternoon after a hard fought 1-1 draw with Bristol Academy Ladies at Meadow Lane.

After whupping Aston Villa 5-0 in the same competition last Wednesday, Notts started this game against Bristol with the same attitude and work ethic, albeit against much tougher opposition. Bristol also play in the top flight of the WSL with Notts although their season has been less accomplished to date. Oh, and I found out why its called the ‘Continental Cup’ – nothing to do with traveling to Italy or Spain for the away legs, nope, its because its sponsored by Continental Tyres. Not quite so glamorous but  I’m glad we finally got to grips with the reason for the name.

But wait – lets back up a little and take a look at the Notts team warming up before this match – then we’ll launch in to the match pics and report.

Notts County Ladies vs Bristol Academy cheeky Sophie Haywood

This warm-up drill is called ‘hands up if you can see a photographer’. Sophie Haywood wins this round scoring 10 points for a cheeky grin to camera.

Notts County Ladies vs Bristol Academy cheeky Katie Hoyle

The second round was won by Katie Hoyle whom collected 15 points for this brazen cheesy grin to camera.

With Katie and Sophie and the rest of the squad stretched and ready to go Notts took to the field looking to wrestle all 3 points from Bristol Academy – yeah, I know it’s a cup game but think Champions League group stages and you’ll be about there.  Notts started the game on the attack and employed the same tactics that saw them take all 3 points last week – the ball was played quickly out of defense with through balls looking for Dunia Susi down the right side and Jess Clarke down the left.

Notts County Ladies vs Bristol Dunia Susi

Dunia Susi on one of her may runs down the right flank. Bristol’s defense worked hard all day to keep her attempts on goal to a minimum.

Notts County Ladies vs Bristol Academy Jess Clarke eyes

Jess Clarke was on her usually effervescent form and fizzed and popped all over the pitch.

However the Bristol defense was not to be breached as easily as the Villa back four. With determined tackling and blocking Bristol weathered the early storm and began to get a foothold in the game. Noticeably their goalkeeper Mary Earps was very comfortable in distributing the ball out to her full backs and getting the ball back again to switch play.

Notts County Ladies vs Bristol Academy Jemma Rose brings the ball out

Bristol were quite happy to continually play the ball across their back four using their keeper causing the County attack and midfield to scurry back and forth to close them down.

Notts began to make capital from this pressure though and with one or two Bristol clearances finding touch Bristol started to struggle to move the ball down field until a contested ball dropped between Jess Clarke and Bristol’s number 19 Jemma Rose; Clarke got the better of her opponent and turning back inside toward the Bristol goal unleashed a thunderbolt that dipped under the bar and just out of reach of Earps desperately flailing fingers to open the scoring.

Notts County Ladies vs Bristol Academy Jess Clarke lashes home Notts only goal

Notts number 7 Jess Clarke rockets a shot just under the bar to beat keeper Mary Earps.

At this point I had my camera poised to capture Jess’s celebration and possibly that of the whole County team as the ran to congratulate her…….

Notts County Ladies vs Bristol Academy Notts celebrate their goal

This is what I got from them! Look familiar? Yup – same as last’s week’s celebration. But wait…….

Notts County Ladies vs Bristol Academy Notts celebrate their goal jess

….. what’s this? Obviously Jess had some ‘happy dance’ celebration rehearsed but her teams mates can be seen here quite obviously restraining her from performing it! Ah well, there’s always next week. But Jess gets 5 points on the ‘Cheesy Grin to Camera’ table for this shy grin to camera. : )

The game continued in much the same vein with Notts applying the pressure and Bristol working the ball across their back four and down field through their midfield. Notts restricted them to only a few half chances during the first half.

Notts County Ladies vs Bristol Academy Rachel Corsie

Nott’s Rachel Corsie brings the ball deep out of the County half to thwart Bristol once more and set up another attack.

Notts County Ladies vs Bristol Academy 1-0

The first half finished with Notts going in with a 1-0 lead and I headed off to the other end of the pitch ready for more County goals and a marked improvement in goal celebrations. : )

The second half was a more evenly contested affair with Bristol easing their way in to the game with more possession. Notts had one or two close scrapes when all of a sudden an innocuous inter change of passes on the edge of the County 18 yard box saw Bristol’s number 10 Nikki Watts slot the ball past  Notts keeper Carly Telford and in to the far right corner of the net. Notts 1 – 1 Bristol. Boo!

County seemed to pick up the pace a little after that and with good work from Dunia Susi down the right and Jess Clarke down the center and far right Notts came close with a couple of scrappy efforts on goal. More pressure came by way of a corner but to no avail.

Notts County Ladies vs Bristol Academy Mary Earps under pressure

In a desperate scramble Notts fail to breakdown the Bristol defense.

Notts County Ladies vs Bristol Academy spot the ball

Spot the ball! Its in there somewhere. Notice Notts number 12 Rachel Corsie trying to lift number 16 Katie Holtham off the ground ‘Rugby Union’ style to gain an advantage. Good thinking Rachel. : )

Two break aways by Bristol put the frighteners on Notts as Telford scrambled a shot away from her near post and then with time running out Bristol came close to snatching a winner; first when Bristol number 16 Angharad James had the goal at her mercy from 12 yards out but fired a weak shot that Telford smothered easily; and then moments later an ambitious overhead kick in the Notts penalty box failed to deliver the killer blow thanks to Amy Turner‘s intervention.

Notts County Ladies vs Bristol Academy overhead kick

Amy Turner get a crucial leg in the way as the Bristol forward fails to connect with the ball.

In the dying seconds of the game Notts launched one last attack on the Bristol goal aimed at Sophie Haywood, but the talented 23 was clattered by the Bristol defense with an unceremonious knee up the back-side!

Notts County Ladies vs Bristol Academy Sophie Haywood jumps

Ouch! Just ouch! Sophie Haywood on the ..erm, receiving end.

With 4 minutes of extra time played the referee blew for full time with the tie ending even and the points shared. Once again the crowd had been treated to a hugely skilful and determined effort from Notts County Ladies in a very entertaining match in which Bristol Academy played their part. Well done girls.

Notts County Ladies vs Bristol Academy game over

Hands shakes all round after a hard fought game.

Notts County Ladies vs Bristol Academy game over hug

Okay now this is either:

A. A post game team talk.

B. An impromptu meeting soliciting opinions on a better goal celebration for future games.

C. Somebody has lost a contact lens and the whole squad is helping to look for it.

Oh and finally:

The ‘Cheesy Grin to Camera’ Table:

Katie Hoyle15 points

Sophie Haywood10 points

Jess Clarke  – 5 points

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