Welwyn Garden City Ladies start year with win over Northampton

PUBLISHED: 16:41 12 January 2009 | UPDATED: 21:59 26 October 2009

South East Combination Women s Football League Northampton Town 1 Welwyn Garden City Ladies 3 WELWYN Garden City Ladies returned from their weather-enforced two month lay-off with a fine win away to Northampton Town. With every other game in the South Ea

South East Combination Women's Football League

Northampton Town 1 Welwyn Garden City Ladies 3

WELWYN Garden City Ladies returned from their weather-enforced two month lay-off with a fine win away to Northampton Town.

With every other game in the South East Women's Combination called off due to the weather, it was a perfect opportunity to play catch-up with the teams above them in the league and they took it with both hands.

On a muddy pitch, which was never going to be conducive to attractive football, the first half-chance of the game fell to Northampton but Welwyn goalkeeper Verity Crook was quick off her line to claim the ball at the feet of the opposing forward.

The Lady Citizens opened the goalscoring in the 11th minute when Naomi Lyon picked up a wayward Northampton pass.

With her back to goal, she turned smartly to leave her marker stranded and then put a pass through to debutant Sophie Thompson on the edge of the penalty area.

Running on to the inch-perfect pass, Thompson showed great strength in fending off a defender and coolly slotted the ball past the home goalkeeper.

In the 19th minute, Lyon jinked and turned to shake off her marker and put a through ball to Sam Gillings on the left.

Gillings' typical storming run into the Northampton penalty area was abruptly ended when she was hacked down for a penalty kick.

Laveena Betts stepped up to take the kick and did everything right except put the ball in the net, hitting the outside of the post with the goalkeeper stranded.

With the ball spending most of its time in the middle third of the pitch, first-half chances for either side were few and far between.

The Welwyn offside trap was well marshalled by skipper Sheree Oliver, ably assistant by Vicky Neal and Debbie Styles.

The remainder of the first half was pretty even with Welwyn being restricted to attempts from Betts and Thompson.

Northampton had two good chances, the first being blocked by a combination of Oliver and Neal.

The other brought a great save from Crook as she tipped a fiercely looping shot over the bar just before the break.

The hosts came out for the second half with all guns blazing and hit the bar in the 51st minute following a scramble in the WGC defence.

Welwyn countered in the best possible way with the move of the match.

Jody Lapish, playing in an unaccustomed defensive role, won the ball she had no right to win on the Welwyn right near to the halfway line.

She played the ball up the line to Lyon who, spotting a run from Betts in midfield, flicked the ball on for her team-mate to pick up.

Shaking off two defenders, Betts buried the ball into the net from the edge of the penalty area to make the score 2-0 after 56 minutes.

Northampton are well known for their resilience and brought a fantastic save

from Crook in the 60th minute as she dived full length low down to her left to turn a fierce shot round the post.

Until now the game had been played in an excellent spirit with very few fouls.

But in the 63rd minute Northampton defender Hannah Cave was sent off for violent conduct, kicking Lyon after an accidental collision which she took exception to.

Thankfully, this incident didn't affect the rest of the game and a minute later Lyon made the score 3-0 when she ran onto a pass from Gillings, rounded the keeper and slotted the ball in from a narrow angle.

Welwyn went close to a fourth when a Lapish corner from the right was headed on by Betts to Lyon.

However, her shot was blocked by the goalkeeper in the 68th minute.

Three minutes later, a cross from Faye Rees, who came on as substitute for Shelley Forster, was miscued by a Northampton defender.

The ball looped over the goalkeeper, struck the bar and was then cleared.

Northampton's never-say-die attitude was rewarded in the 78th minute when Vicky Neal conceded a penalty when she brought down a forward.

The penalty was converted to make the score 3-1.

The final chance of the game fell to Welwyn when Lyon's through ball to Thompson almost led to a carbon-copy of her first-half goal but this time the goalkeeper managed to block her well-hit shot.

Sunday's win consolidated WGC's position in the league table and they remain third on goal difference to Luton, with Enfield at the top by one point.

However, Welwyn have a game in hand on both teams.

Their next game is against Royston Town Ladies in the quarter-final of the Hertfordshire County Cup on Sunday (January 18).

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