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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