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The sudden demise of Notts County Ladies!   3 comments

Hearing the news last week that Notts County Ladies had folded just two days before the start of the new season left me with a very heavy heart.

I have spent the last 3 seasons photographing the team on and off the pitch. Was graced with unprecedented access; stopping over with them prior to the FA Cup Final at Wembley and going behind the scenes before and after that game as well as shooting the match pitch-side was a special occasion for me.

I was also privileged to travel on the team coach to many of their away games which gave me a wonderful insight into the pre-match, match and post-match processes involved with top-flight women’s football.

The women and the staff all shared such a passion for the game which is wonderfully unsullied and magnificently devoid of the destructive trappings of the current top flight men’s game.

One of the things that really stood out for me was the attitude and conduct of Rick Passmoor, Colin Walker and the other male members of staff. In a sport that can be horribly chauvinistic, never did I hear any word of condescension, sexism or belittling of women football players or the women’s game in general. Every member of the team was treated as a football player and not a female football player.

The access the crowd had to the players and the devotion the players had to the supporters was another telling difference and a highlight for me; the players would stand around and sign autographs and talk to fans, having selfies taken after the game, whether they had won, drawn or lost, for a unprescendented period of time.

I’d like to say a big thank you to Rick Passmoor, Colin Walker, Paul Campbell, Bob Widdoson, Matt Rowland and Krista Van Alten for not only making me welcome but for also making me feel like one of the family. I often used to say that, as a photographer, I was at my worst when photographing NCL FC because I was always so emotionally involved; punching the air instead of taking photos was my worst trait.

I wish all the players and staff a speedy return to top class football in whatever new homes they find.

Thank you NCL FC. I’ll miss you very much.

Drew Smith

Here’s a selection of a few of my favourite pics with which to say goodbye:

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Posted April 24, 2017 by Drew in Uncategorized

Composition – the only ‘rule’ you should obey!   Leave a comment

As photographers we should always be wary of ‘rules’ when associated with our creativity. We already have so many to remember after all. Like the ‘rule of thirds’, ‘negative space’, ‘rule of odds’  and ‘leading lines’ and so forth.

Puffin Farne Isles_20150621_1010

Whilst these aids to composition can really help us with our photography, they can get in the way of our creativity. They can sometimes become a labourious mental checklist that we feel obliged to review with each exposure. Where’s the fun in that?

But here is one ‘rule’ that I’ve always found helpful to my students:

‘Make sure that when somebody looks at your image they know exactly what YOU want them to look at!’

There it is! The only rule I’d recommend that you ‘obey’.

There is another way of expressing this rule; ask yourself the question; ‘is this a picture of a duck on a lake or a picture of a lake with a duck in it’? What’s the difference? I here you cry.

Well, here’s a picture of a lake with a duck in it….

Trees and lake

 

… and here is a picture of a duck on a lake.

Mandarin Duck

In the first picture the imaginary viewer of our image wouldn’t really know where to look first. It’s a lake with  … some trees … and sky…..and… oh yes, there’s a duck… a very small duck.

In the second picture the duck dominates the image…. looking at the duck first is unavoidable. There is really nothing else for the viewer to look at.

What you are looking to create is an image where your subject matter, whether that’s a duck, a dog, a person or a vintage car, is ‘filling’ the frame. When you do this you are devoting most of those lovely megapixels that your camera has to the thing you want people to look at…your subject! 

So when you next look through the viewfinder make sure that your chosen subject dominates your picture and leaves the viewer in no doubt about what they should be looking at! Make it BIG in your picture.

Next time – making it ‘BIG’! How to do just that.

Best wishes

Drew

NCL FC vs Liverpool away 16.07.16   Leave a comment

First of all my apologies for the lack of blogs recently. Photographic work has been intruding on my spare time and was unable to get to the recent away games. But you don’t care about that….

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16053

….. here’s the game away to Liverpool this Saturday in words and pictures:

County travelled to Widnes (not Liverpool technically Matt Rowland the pedant informs me) to play a Liverpool team unbeaten in their last five games. Although County have an impressive record against the reds.

County and Liverpool probably have the two best sets of fans in the league. They are certainly the most vocal!

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16011Nice to see both sets of supporters mingling together.

Now then… never let it be said that Colin Walker is behind the times. Here he is playing his ‘Pokemon Go’ game on his phone.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16001Colin Walker….. has to ‘catch them all’!

Pre-game warm-ups saw Paul Campbell sends up a silent prayer.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16043that he won’t be stuck next to Colin on the coach home and have to hear about the rare Vaporeaon pokemon character again.

Oh yes… County have a new goalkeeper coach in Steve Harris.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16005Nice pose Steve, appreciating the ‘old school’ footy boots – nothing outlandishly bright about those.

Colin Walker asks Tanya to turn out her pockets in case she has the rare Vaporeaon Pokemon character. Col hasn’t quiet got the hang of the game yet.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16009Nice boots Tanya – very sensible.

The wonderful turf at the Select stadium awaited the arrival of both teams as they lead out their ‘escorts’ (what happened ‘mascots’?)

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16010Leanne Crichton with her ‘escort’ beside Meg Walsh who is about to push her’s over for getting in the way.

Notts’s double signing; international midfielders Jade Moore and Jo Potter take to the field.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16016Both players left Birmingham City earlier this month having agreed a deal to buy themselves out of the remainder of their respective contracts.

Laura Bassett shakes hands with Liverpool Captain Gemma Bonner.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16014This often indicates Kick-off is imminent.

And it was, with Notts racing out of the gate and dominating the opening exchanges.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16015White challenges Reds’ keeper Chamberlain for the ball.

And it was Ellen White that almost put the Pies into the lead…. a Turner cross was flicked on by the County striker and pass the Liverpool keeper. The ball was goal-bound but was diverted onto the post by the outstretched foot of ex Notts left back Alex Greenwood.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16012White goes close! But no banana.

It became evident early on in the half that new arrivals Moore and Potter were having a major impact on the game and the style of football being played by Notts.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16019Jade Moore influential in midfield goes close from outside the box.

Jo Potter’s inventive passes and deft touches saw her start to run the show in midfield.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16044Jo Potter – a revelation in the County engine room.

Chances were few and far between with Notts playing the more attractive football and overall edging the first half encounter.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16045Rachel Williams’ battle with Alex Greenwood was entertaining.

Ellen White was, as in every game, covering every inch of the synthetic pitch.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16018White in the mix again.

County tried a new corner kick formation!

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16017Called ‘how many players can simultaneously stand on Chamberlain’s feet’.

Williams and Bonner fight for the dropping ball. Bonner somewhat unfairly.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16023Bonner holds down Rachel Williams.

But Rachel is difficult to stop and still gets off a shot.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16022Notts go close through Williams.

Half-time arrived around the 45 minute mark not surprisingly with the scoreline still at 0-0.

During the half-time break Colin Walker was asked to change his footwear…..

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16004… apparently Liverpool John Lennon airport had called in the request after reports of descending airplanes being distracted by the glare.

The second half resumes approximately 15 minutes later with Notts continuing to edge out Liverpool in most departments.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16041Williams continued to trouble the Reds’ defense.

Whilst the midfield was still being dominated by Moore and Potter.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16052Jade Moore having a great game at the Rubber Crumb Select Stadium.

Meanwhile the County defense looked solid – with Fern Whelan playing one of her best games of the season.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16054Loving the grace and poise there Fern. 🙂

But the drama wasn’t quite over – Jade Moore hits a shot just wide of the far post that had keeper Chamberlain scrambling….

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16021

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16029Siobahn watches Moore’s shot go wide of the target.

Notts had a couple of late scares….. firstly Potter sustained a foot injury and had to come off.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16055Jo down but hopefully not out of the next game vs Man City.

And secondly a rare Liverpool attack saw Meg Walsh come to the rescue saving from point blank range against Charles.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16049

in fact the young keeper standing in for the injured Carly Telford had an impressive performance between the posts.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16050Meg Walsh leaps like a Salmon to snuff out the threat.

As the game drew to a close manager Passmoor made tactical substitutions to close out the game – something that County have had trouble doing in the past.

Aileen Whelan being one of the subs put in her usual dependable performance.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16025

Aileen playing just as well in Black & White.

Amy Turner triumphed at right back as the Notts back-four held fast to close out a 0-0 draw.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16059Amy Turner also looking good in Black & White.

The final whistle might have disappointed Liverpool more than Notts, expecting as they were to bag all 3 points at home, but this was a well-earned point for County and offers a new platform from which to build for the rest of the season.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16028Rick tells the girls exactly that!

With the game over Greenwood, Moore and Potter get reacquainted.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16035

The ballgirls Mascots ‘escorts’ line up in the hope of bagging a few autographs.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16036‘Hmm, now who do I need to complete my collection?’

Siobhan was one of them, obviously.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16039She fakes surprise. 🙂

Alex helps the injured Jo Potter down the tunnel.

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16037Lets hope the recovery is speedy.

And finally…..

….. Colin Walker is asked how many Pokemon he caught today!

NCL FC v Liverpool away 16.07.16006Oh… just the one then?

Next game:

Notts County Ladies FC V Manchester City Women

KO 16:00 Sun 24 July 2016 at Meadow Lane Stad.

Read more at http://www.nclfc.co.uk/index.html#rt0T4i4fyWEiUkS7.99

Posted July 17, 2016 by Drew in Uncategorized

Notts County Ladies vs Birmingham (away)   1 comment

Misfiring County give up 6 points to buoyant Blues!

The Lady Pies faced a repeat of last week’s fixture (gotta love the FA), this time away to Birmingham, and came away with a repeat of last week’s scoreline!

Here’s the game in words and pictures:

It was a sunny day in Solihull for this game against a resurgent Birmingham side.

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016023That’s mascot Grace with Laura – later sent off by the Ref for not wearing shin pads. Grace that is .. not Laura.

But lets not get ahead of ourselves….. first a few pre-game warm up pics to get us in the mood.

Here’s some of the backroom staff in the dugout:

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016008Bob, Tanya, Colin, Paul and the Gaffer contemplate the complexities and stratagems for the day ahead.

The Blues’ ball girls looked resplendent in their matching green strip … hmm, that must be the keeper in grey.

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016017Yup, that’s the keeper, look at those shorts.

Our girls warm up.

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016006Jessica and Aileen compare tattoos.

So, that’s everybody professionally warming up then….. oh, wait….

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016018… Matt (living the dream) Rowland goes through his own idiosyncratic pre-match warm-up.

Sadly Pies defender Sophie Bradley is out injured with a niggling knee injury.

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016005Bradders sidelined.

Grace gets to meet her heroes:

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016021Posing with Rachel Yankey, then Sophie and Laura later on.

Some of the County fans arrived for this match before the County team:

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016004Ice creams all round. I wonder who this young fan’s favourite player is?

Birmingham’s fans were not to be outdone!

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016027Even the lollies were blue!

Then there’s just time before kick-off for Colin Walker to… get some posing practice in having been named the FAWSL ‘Mr July 2016′!

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016003Tanya times how long Colin can hold his stomach in.

Then it’s game on….. and the teams come out to fervent fan support.

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016014Laura leads the Pies and Grace on to the pitch.

County started the livelier of the two teams with some forthright play on a difficult hard and bumpy pitch.

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016042Carly Telford starts another attack.

Rick forsakes the dugout to perch on a bag of balls.

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016040The Gaffer improves his core stability.

County came close in the first half and closer still when Blue’s keeper Baggaley stopped a thunderous volley from Ellen White:

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016035White executes a perfect volley but the balls flies straight at the keeper!

Then minutes later Notts missed a sitter. White wrong footed both defender and keeper with a perfect pass inside to Luik as she ran in to the  box…..

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016032

Luik meets the pass from White….

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016031

…. defender and keeper are already beaten….

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016030

… but Luik somehow steers the ball wide of the left upright!

From that point on Birmingham’s defense managed to block everything County threw at them.

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016064Including this Amy Turner thow-in.

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016028and Angraahad James’ shot.

Birmingham keeper Baggaley gave another accomplished performance.

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016024Baggaley saves the Blues again.

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016059The first half ended in deadlock! 0-0

The second half … the second half was inexplicable! Notts simply fell away. With little or no pressure on the Birmingham goal the Blues took the lead.

Remi Allen pounced on a Carly Telford’s save from Potter’s shot to give the Blues the lead.

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016053Potter shoots!

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016054Birmingham celebrate Allen’s goal.

Second half substitutions couldn’t turn the tide.

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016060Aileen Whelan surrounded by blue.

The game ended with a bizarre incident when Rachel Yankey retrieving a ball for a throw-in seemed to be body-checked on the sideline by Blues ass. manager Marcus Bignot!

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016062Yankey falls to the floor after tangling with Blues’ ass. manager…

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016063… and pushes him in the chest… for which she is booked.

Neither ref nor linesman saw the sideways step Parker took to interfere with the County player.

Although the officials seemed to keep and eye on the less contentious moments in the game….

NCL FC vs BLFC 2016055…. they did continually fail to play advantage of any kind and instead blew early for the foul.

The final whistle went seeing County lose for a second time in 14 days to local rivals Birmingham. Had Notts capitalised on their first half chances who know what might have happened. This result took Birmingham to 3rd place in the league and sent Notts down to 6th with just 4 points.

There’s a long break in fixtures now (gotta love the FA) with the league resuming on the 26th of June. Time for Rick to put the wheels back on Notts season? We shall see.

COYP

Posted May 25, 2016 by Drew in Uncategorized

Redemption Monday! Tipping point for County as they beat Liverpool at the Lane.   Leave a comment

Redemption: noun 1. an act of redeeming or atoning for a fault or mistake, or the state of being redeemed.

Tipping point: noun 1. the point at which a series of small changes or incidents becomes significant enough to cause a larger, more important change.

Notts County Ladies took a commanding 3-0 lead over two-time champions Liverpool on Monday then conceded 2 in as many minutes as they hung on in a tense finale.

Here’s the game in words and pictures:

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1063

BT Sports were in town. The game going out live on channel 409 or somewhere down there.

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1007

As usual the team had wonderful support with just shy of 1,500 spectators braving the weather to cheer the girls on.

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1014

The FAWSL finally get with the program and advertise their product on the ball girls’ shirts. Genius.

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1019

Sadly we can’t see which club these girls were from. 😦

The girls warm-up beneath the 154 year old sign. Which is holding up pretty well.

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1016

Super physio Krista with her YTS support.

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1004

Matt (call me PT Barnum) Rowland gives another one of his inspirational talk to the volunteers.

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1002The girls give him their rapt attention.

On the bench for Liverpool Alex Greenwood returns to the Lane.

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1045Alex disappointed she wasn’t playing.

Here’s the gaffer having checked that the pitch will take a stud.

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1023It’s pi$$ing down Rick, of course it will!  🙂

Rachel Williams, out with an ankle injury, chips the practice balls into the bag. Good job Krista didn’t see her. 🙂

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1015

Mascot Monday! Andy Stokes – new mascot head coach had put the kids through their paces ….

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1042… to make sure they were knackered and would stand still for the photo.

Kick-off then and after a dismal showing against Reading the week before Notts had to come out firing on all cylinders. With so relatively few games in a season County couldn’t afford to falter again.

The whistle blew and the heavens opened.

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1034Ellen White was, as ever, seemingly everywhere on the pitch.

Her strike partner Jess Clarke was putting in her usual high-octane performance.

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1033

Birthday girl Clarke was turning the reds defense inside out.

The rain continued poured down and County continued to apply pressure with Rachel Yankey pulling the strings.

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1025Yankey prepared to pour cold water on Liverpool’s hopes of a victory.

Then on 13 minutes Notts got the breakthrough they deserved after bossing the game from the Kick-off! Good work by influential Rachel Yankey down the left flank …..

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1082

…….Ellen White was quickest to react to the cross and beat her defender and Liverpool keeper Siobhan Chamberlain to the ball to steer the ball over the line!

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1036

1-0 Notts.

White celebrates with provider Yankey.

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1035

County continued to dominate and really looked the part against a Liverpool side that were simply being outclassed.

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1046

Ellen White dominates in the air…..

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1032

… and on the ground!

On 34 minutes a worldie from Jess Clarke made it 2-0 County. Picking up the ball on the right-wing she cut inside…

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1087

…. and hit a cracker with her weaker left foot that flew over the Liverpool keeper’s desperate leap into the air.

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1029

GOAL!

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1095 - CopyHappy Birthday Jess!

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1096 - CopyThe 3 Amigos.

Notts were purring but against the run of play Liverpool were awarded a penalty for a tackle by Amy turner that seemed to clearly connect with the ball. But Caroline Weir skied the ball over the bar.

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1102Dani and Carly celebrate the miss.

Just before half-time a push in the back sent County defender Sophie Bradley-Auckland sliding….

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1028

…. head first into the post!

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1027

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1097

Sophie is escorted off by Krista.

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1098 She came back on to play the last 5 minutes but didn’t reappear for the second half. 😦

Half time then and no photos from me of the Matt (PT Barnum) Rowland show… basically because I was bent double laughing! If you were there you’ll know what I mean. 🙂

The second half then and Ellen White claimed her second and Notts’ third! Yup – 3-0 to the Pies!

White chases a long ball, collects and cuts inside the Liverpool defender and ….

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1051… curls a dream shot….

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1052… past the keeper…

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1053… to make it….

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1054… 3-0 County!

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1061 GET IN! Ellen is …. pleased with that!

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1063And so is Jess!

County were cruising! With 8 minutes remaining it looked like 3 points were assured.

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1118

But …. then the wheels came off!

Another slightly dubious penalty saw Liverpool peg a goal back!

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1117Katie Zelem scores from the spot!

Rick is somewhat perturbed by the turn of events!

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1089

Then County conceded a second. This time Zelem slipping unnoticed through the Notts defense to receive a pass that….

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1115

…. put her in on goal to fire across keeper Carly to make it 3-2!

All that happened in 4 minutes!

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1114

Surely we weren’t going to give up 2 points now!?

I don’t think Rick was asking Krantz to hurry up!

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1101

Thankfully the final whistle came before a reds third goal. Which most certainly wouldn’t have been a fair result.

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1099Panic over! Notts bag all 3 points and go to 4th in the table with a couple of games in-hand!

Rick wonders why he’s in football management!

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1077

Ellen and Jess discuss whose goal was the best!

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1073

Then Jess is off to collect her prezzies.

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1071

And her fair share of adoration!

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1070

As ever the inclusive nature of the WSL is in evidence as players sign for the fans.

NCL FC vs Liverpool FA WSL1068This is Angharad James … who had a very impressive game in midfield.

Tomorrow Notts play Birmingham at the Lane.

Get along to support one of the top teams in the FAWSL and cheer on the Lady Pies to their second 3 pointer!

Posted May 7, 2016 by Drew in Uncategorized

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!

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1042

A young fan spots Paul Campbell’s beard.

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1015

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!

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1045

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!

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1007

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.

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1011

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.

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1003

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….

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1064

…. 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.

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1012

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.

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1004

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.

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1008

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

The ref blows his whistle to start proceedings….

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1006

… 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:

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1068

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!

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1067

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!

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1070

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.

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1028

Clarke places the ball….

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1029

… 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.

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1032

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1027

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1023

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1021

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1020

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1018

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1016

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:

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1102

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1101

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

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1091

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.

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1039

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

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1040

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.

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1052

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….

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1056

…. it spills out to Rachel Yankey….

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1057

…. 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.

NCL FC vs Reading FA WSL1061

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

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