Newbury Ladies Development Team vs Barton Rovers Royals – Match Report, 6th May

Newbury Ladies Development Team vs Barton Rovers Royals
Thames Valley Counties League Division Two South
Sunday 6th May 2018
RESULT: 2 – 1

Last Sunday, the Newbury Ladies Development Team played their last fixture of their Division Two South campaign in the Thames Valley Counties Women’s League for Season 2017/18. Although Newbury were the home side versus Barton Rovers Royals, the match took place at Lambourn Sports Club, due to a cricket fixture clash at their regular home ground in Donnington. A good crowd was in attendance on the day and the pitch was bathed in hot sunshine throughout, making the conditions somewhat testing for both sets of players. With both teams sat in seventh and eight position in the league table, Newbury Development just above Barton Rovers Royals, the visitors knew they could not overtake their opponents whatever the match outcome, as the points gap was too large. But Newbury were looking to consolidate their position and continue the great run they had been on in recent weeks.

Barton kicked off and were slightly more positive in the opening few minutes, making good progress down their right. Newbury’s Lauren Sheldon and Imogen Gibbons combined to defend well and clear. The first attempt at goal was Barton’s, just after ten minutes, when a shot from distance sailed over the Newbury cross bar. This was a warning for Newbury, but it was in the midfield area where Barton looked to be taking control. Newbury were of course missing their influential captain, Kendall Gilmour, who was unavailable for this game. Just inside the 20 minute mark and Newbury fell behind, when another long, lobbed shot cleared the keeper, into the roof of the net, to give Barton a deserved one nil lead.

This prompted a slight reshuffle in playing positions for Newbury, with Amie Barnard moved into a more central role. The change certainly helped Newbury, as Barnard brought more physicality to the midfield battle, alongside the ever industrious, Maria Rodrigues and Lorna Kinder-Parr. Barton did not hold onto their lead for long, as Newbury hit back in the 25th minute, with their first real clear-cut scoring opportunity. The lively, Alex Kovacsova, played in Alice Hill, who scored her 28th goal of the season, as she found a wonderful lobbed finish from 20 yards, which gave the Barton keeper no chance. One, one now the score-line.

The goal gave Newbury’s players a confidence boost and the momentum had now swung firmly in Newbury’s favour, as half time approached. All of the attacking play was in the Barton half and Newbury had a quick succession of 3 corners, but they were unable to add to their goal tally, with Barton defending stoically. Just prior to half time and Rodrigues had a shot from inside the area, which was charged down and blocked. So it was all even, with one goal apiece at the half time break.

At the start of the second period, Gemma Burnett was brought on in attack for Newbury and she was involved straight away, linking up with Phoebe Gubb on the left. Gubb’s pass to Burnett, allowed her the space to cross to the far post, where Barnard was arriving. But her finish unfortunately went the wrong side of the upright. Newbury were now playing at a higher tempo, despite the heat, and they were running the Barton defenders ragged. They seemed unable to cope with the new threat of Burnett and both wingers, Gubb and Kovacsova, were attacking almost at will down either flank. Another scoring opportunity presented itself, after a strong run by Gubb resulted in her crossing into Burnett in the area. But with her space closed down, she played a deft pass back to Gubb, who had continued her run, but she could only shoot narrowly wide.

Any Barton threat at the other end, was very intermittent, although they remained dangerous on the counter attack. They forced the odd corner, but Newbury’s back-line continued to do their jobs well and so the match remained very finely balanced at one all. The 68th minute saw a terrific footballing move by Newbury, which was started by full back, Nicky Isted on the right. She advanced over the half way line and worked superbly with Kovacsova, who was having by far her best performance of the season. Kovacsova showed such good movement to drag her marker out of position and she was found again in space by Isted. This time Kovacsova cut inside and jinked her way past a defender and into the penalty area. Sadly her shot was too close to the goalkeeper, who was able to gather, much to Barton’s relief.

Then Barton had a spell where they came back into the game and there was a five minute period of really desperate defending by Newbury. Goalkeeper, Chloe Hunt, was called upon on more than one occasion to pull off a save and it took many attempts before Newbury were finally able to clear their lines. Barton then had a shot in the 81st minute, which hit the post and rebounded away to safety. But Newbury were able to re-organise and then launch a quick counter attack of their own. Gibbons played forward to Barnard, who’s pass then sent Burnett away, with just the keeper to beat. She cut into the area well, leaving the defender trailing in her wake and her shot across the goalkeeper was heading for the far corner. But the Barton goalkeeper pulled off a remarkable full length diving save to palm the ball away for a corner.

With those chances missed, it looked as if the match would remain drawn at one, one, as the clocked ticked down, but that was not to be the case. Top scorer, Alice Hill, was re-introduced from the subs bench on 88 minutes and it was an inspired substitution for Newbury, as she posed all sorts of problems and helped Newbury to finish the game very strongly. Again, another terrific team move for Newbury in time added-on after the 90, saw Rodrigues, Gubb & Burnett combining. This time Burnett’s pass pierced the Barton defence wide open and Barnard was through for a one-on-one chance. As the keeper came out to try to narrow the angle, Barnard remained composed to flick the ball past her and into the far corner of the net for what was to prove to be the winning Newbury goal. There was no time for Barton to come back and the match ended in a 2-1 victory for Newbury Development, their third win in a row and they finished the season undefeated in 6 out of their last 7 games.

The Joint Players of the Match for Newbury Ladies FC were Alex Kovacsova and Nicky Isted.

Newbury Ladies Football Club is seeking new players of all abilities for next season 2018/19 for both its teams and is particularly seeking to add a goalkeeper. Ideally the goalkeeper should be experienced and able to play at first team level in the Southern Region League Premier Division. Newbury Ladies FC has a goalkeeper coach and can offer specialist goalkeeper training. Anyone interested should contact Caroline Harkness on 07970 756157 or carolineharkness@gmail.com.

Newbury Ladies Development Team Squad vs Barton Rovers Royals:
Chloe Hunt, Nicky Isted, Lauren Sheldon, Amy Lambden (Capt), Sam McConnon,
Maria Rodrigues, Amie Barnard, Lorna Kinder-Parr, Alice Hill, Imogen Gibbons,
Alex Kovacsova, Issy Cording, Phoebe Gubb, Gemma Burnett.

Newbury Ladies Goal Scorers:
Alice Hill
Amie Barnard

Newbury Ladies Joint Players of the Match:
Alex Kovacsova & Nicky Isted