Physical integrity not at the centre of the refereeing thoughts in another game.

Another game and another frustrating afternoon marred by confusing refereeing.

It was a very good and even contest between Cambridge City and Cambridge United that ended up with the underdog winning 2-1 aet.  So why do I ended up being frustrated by the refereeing? I accept that I spent way too much time moaning about them, but the same errors happen too often.

I also accept that I should put myself in their shoes. And I did ref a game or two at Sunday League level. Guess what, the safety is absolutely not guaranteed there, especially when the players’ mates are threatening you on the touchline. We all remember all those videos of referees being chased o the pitch by players and fans and it is scary enough to prevent anyone from trying to become a referee.

I am also not saying the referees are cheating or being biased. I leave this to the Premier League clubs who can actually show the FA and the PGMOL that some of them have a clear statistical bias against certain teams, but it is another long story.

So what riled me today? The referee not recognizing a game changing moment and not acting on it.

With both goalkeepers being in excellent form during the game. A Cambridge City forward took out the United in the typical late charging on the goalie that get barely penalized.  While the goalie was lying on the floor in pain, the referee spent a lot of time remonstrating a player who was complaining about his decision.

Why not wave the physio in straight away instead of lecturing the player for a long time?  There was nothing wrong with booking the player for dissent. You cannot have a game, when players spend their time moaning at the referee. But the United goalie was severely incapacitated and actually had to be replaced before extra-time because she was unable to continue.

So the referee only gave a free-kick to the goalie and no card was issued. This is something that I find unacceptable. Protecting the physical integrity of the players should be a refereeing priority.  As we have seen in the recent FA WSL and FAWC incident, it is not the case and it happened again today.

To me it was really clear. It was a yellow card at least for dangerous play, then would have been changed into red for serious foul play, once we would the severity of the injury for the goalkeeper.

Cambridge City got a competitive advantage out of it and scored one goal with the injured goalie and another one with the sub goalie on the pitch and unable to catch the ball. It was an excellent strike, but you feel the main goalie would have been able to save it.

The big question is why the referee allow Cambridge City to get such an advantage unpunished. Answer on a postcard, please. Clearly this was unfair on United and I am baffled that the referee did not recognize and act on a key moment of the game.  You really do wonder what the FA actually tells the referees because the Law 12 seemed to be ignored too often.

On the side note, the game will be replayed as the pitch was not at the right size and the FA decided to replay it.

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2017 games attended

Here are the games I have and plan to attend in 2017.

1 – 08/01  Spurs Ladies 3 Gills Ladies 0 FA Women’s Cup Round

2 – 11/01 Middlesex 3 Kent 4

3 -15/01 Aston Villa 2 Durham Women 0 friendly

4 – 24/01 France U17 2 v England U17 0 international friendly

5 – 26/01 France U17 2 v Germany U17 7 international friendly

6 – 29/01  Reading dev 4 v London Bees dev 1  FA WSL Dev League Southern

7- 01/02 Juvisy 0 Olympique Lyonnais 1 Division 1 Feminine

8 – 05/02 Millwall 1 v London Bees  0 FA Women’s Cup R3

9-11/02 London Bees 1 v Brighton  1 FA WSL 2

10-12/02 Arsenal Development 8 Brighton Development 0 FA WSL Development League

11-19/02 Arsenal Ladies 4 v Kelly Smith All Start XI 2

12-25/02 Montpellier 0  Lyon 3 Division 1 Feminine

13-26/02 Watford 2 London Bees 3 FA WSL 2

14-04/03 London Bees 3 v Oxford 1 FA WSL 2

15-07/03 Scotland U19 0 Germany U19 3 La Manga

16- 07/03 England U19 4 Italy U19 0 La Manga

17- 07/03 France U19 0 USA U19 2 La Manga

18-12/03 Arsenal Res 2  Sunderland Res 0  FA WSL Dev League cup semi-final

19-19/03 Arsenal 10  Tottenham 0 FA Women’s Cup R5

20-25/03 England U17  2 Poland U17 0  UEFA Elite round

21-26/03 Birmingham 1 Arsenal 0 FA Womens’ Cup pR6

22- 27/03 England U17 2v Germany U17 1 UEFA Elite round

23- 01/04 London Bees 2  Sheffield 1

24- 02/04 Millwall 2 Everton 1

25- 06/04 France U19 3  Portugal U19 1 Elite round

26 -07/04 Netherlands 1  France 2 International Friendly

27- 08/04 France U19 4  Slovenia U19 0 Elite Round

28- 09/04 Watford 1 Birmingham 4 Friendly

29- 15/04 London Bees 1 Millwall 2 FA WSL 2

30- 16/04 Arsenal Ladies dev 10 Watford Ladies 0 FA WSL dev League

31- 17/04  Birmingham 1 Chelsea 1 *(4-2 pso)  FA Women’s Cup SF

32- 22/04 Bristol 1 Reading 3  FA WSL 1

33- 30/04 Chelsea 6  Yeovil Town 0 FA WSL 1

34- 03/05 Reading 0 Chelsea 4 FA WSL 1

35- 05/05 Germany 2 France 1 UEFA U17 Euros

36- 08/05 France 1 Spain 1 UEFA U17 Euros

37- 08/05 England 0 Norway 2 UEFA U17 Euros

38 – 10/05 Watford 2 Spurs 0 Friendly bcd

39-13/05 Manchester City 4 Birmingham City 1 FA Women’s Cup final

40- 14/05 Millwall Lionesses Dev 5 Arsenal Ladies Dev 5 FA WSL Development League

41-17/05 Chelsea 2 Arsenal 2 FA WSL 1 Spring Series

42 – 20/05 Arsenal 4 Birmingham 2 FA WSL 1 Spring Series

43- 20/05 London Bees Everton FA WSL 2 Spring Series

44- 21/05 Brighton 3 Sheffield 1 FA WSL 2 Spring Series

Manchester City v Birmingham City

It was an easy 4-1 victory in the end for Manchester City as they dominated for most of the game and took advantage of the chances they got in the first half, then stayed in control in the second half.

On paper it looked like a promising encounter with Birmingham’s defensive strength and City’s attacking football. Unfortunately, a lot of Birmingham players offered underwhelming performances on the day and you cannot win games with an opponent like City under those circumstances.

What was really surprising to me was the manner in which the three first half goals were conceded. Three errors that you do not normally associate with Birmingham City.

1 Poor marking from a free kick at the near post with two players unmarked and it ended up with an own goal.

2 Then a ball lost from building up from the back with a careless giveaway, full credit to City for taking advantage in transition with the Birmingham defense out of position and punishing this error with a killer goal.

3 A misjudged cross by the goalkeeper and a simple finish with a header into the empty net. Again two players were unamrked.  What makes it even stranger is Berger was really superb dealing will all the other crosses and high ball during the whole game, but missed that one.

So with 3-0 at half time, there was no coming back for Birmingham, except if there was a huge effort from their side to create more chances as creativity was the missing element in the final third. They are certainly missing Follis in attack who has yet to kick a ball for them and with two defensive win-backs creativity is limited.

Their 3-4-1-2 system  with White in the number 10 position did not seem to work against City’s 4-3-3, but I don’t think the system was the main  problem. They put Wellings on for Ayisi and kept the 3-4-1-2 and it produced a goal with the young forward bringing a good impetus as soon as she came on.

Manchester City  were as efficient and classical in their play as they usually do. A ball possession game with sharp passing using all the strength and technical skill from their players. They also had a lot of experience with a starting 11 full of international players. They went about their business professionally and did the job very well and were deserved winners.

Birmingham clearly had a younger side and maybe that explain why some players froze and did not perform especially in the first half. What was strange was their build up play, the ball went up to the midfield players then straight back at the defenders or at Berger. Just putting the defense and the goalie under pressure and inviting City to press them.

The four Birmingham midfielders were disappointing in the first half. The two wing back faced tough customers with Bronze and Stokes, backed up by Parris and Lawley with the centre backs helping the wing-back when they were in 2v1 situation. The usual and normal tactical situation in the 3-4-1-2 v 4-3-3 was not managed very well.

The two central midfielders faced the three City midfielders Scott, Christiansen and Walsh who was sitting deeper with White coming from her number 10 position to help them main it a 3v3 game in midfield.  Why the two central midfielders did not perform well on the day is a puzzling. It meant Man City dominated the wings and the central midfield area overall. When they are  in control they are extremely dangerous and had three goals at half-time to show for it.

Now I was expecting a Birmingham half-time tactical change, maybe go to a back four, or having White moving to a higher position on the pitch where she could do more damage in a 3-4-3 system or making substitutions for the players who performed badly in the first half.

No change happened and City went into control mode managing the game and making sure, it was well under control. Wellings introduction meant more direct runs and pace up front and it brought a goal and a small light of hope, that was extinguished with another superb City goal in transition from Jill Scott, who turned round Harrop and finished well.

Overall Manchester City were deserved winners on the day performing to the expectations while Birmingham could have given them a harder game but they did not manage to reach the performance level they reached against Arsenal and Chelsea unfortunately for them.

Watford Ladies v Spurs Ladies

I went to Vicarage Road on Wednesday to watch an interesting friendly between Watford currently in FA WSL 2 and Spurs Ladies who have just won the FA WPL Southern Division and will contest the FA WSL promotion play-off against Blackburn Rovers.

Unfortunately for fans, the game was played behind closed door and I guess this is due to cost involved in policing stewarding etc as the matchday revenue would certainly not cover the use of the ground.

I think it was good for both team’s players to play at such a venue rather than their usual ground.  What I noticed is all the players seem to enjoy the venue and not troubled by playing at such a nice ground. Obviously a couple of Watford players had already played there and Spurs recently won the FA WPL title at White Hart Lane.

Watford ended up 2-0 winners in a game where both sides decided to rotate their team. Simona Petkova scored an excellent volley from a corner in the first half and Cherelle Albert added a second goal from the penalty spot.

It was certainly interesting as Spurs are certainly looking to promotion in the FA WSL and from the number of games I saw this year they would not look out of place, the only exception being the FA Women’s Cup North London Derby where they looked like a rabbit caught in the headlight and did not perform at their usual level.

Watford Ladies are obviously in a rebuilding process with Keith Boanas trying new players and he is likely to make even more signings during the Summer break as players become available.

So it was an entertaining game and a real shame, only friends and family were invited to watch it.

Seattle trip to watch the Reign v Arsenal Ladies friendly

I have not blogged about an Arsenal Ladies away trip for a while, so I thought I would put a few words on the Seattle away trip.

 

In the last few years I have not done many away Arsenal Ladies games. Mostly because the timing is inconvenient or the ground is difficult of access by public transport as I don’t drive. Notts County or recently Doncaster Belles come straight to mind.

So when it was announced that Arsenal Ladies would play a friendly against the Seattle Reign I tought it was a great occasion to do some sightseeing and watch the girls in another country to add to my list.

Obviously, I had to spend a couple of days there to make it worthwhile, so I set up on Wednesday from London and flew back on Friday from Seattle because I wanted to be back on Saturday for the Development cup final played near Birmingham.

So I flew from London on the 25th of May and being a lucky traveller, I spent a lot of time at the airport. First my boarding pass did not go through the automatic gates. I went through the manual ones operated by staff and he sent me back downstairs to the ticketing office to have another one issued as my print at home one was not valid.

Considering I had already spent more than half an hour queueing at pre-check to have my passport pre-controlled before going to security it was a good start of the day. When you consider that I actually did not have any check-in luggage which would have added at least another hour queueing, you understand why it is better to come three hours before flight departure on the way to the USA.

So I went through the normal security, when I had to do the full body scanner, which was fine and then at the gate they had another security layer, where the guy just checked everything in my backpack and my hand luggage. That was about 15 minutes extra checking every item in my possession.

Then I got on the plane, upgraded to premium economy with more leg space and I was close to the toilets which is always a bonus. It means you don’t have to walk all along the plane and queue for a long time. The trip was uneventful, even if long as I managed to watch four movies. It felt longer than the trips I did to Japan to watch the girls over there.

Arriving in Seattle it was the usual long queue for the foreign tourist as US immigrations are very tough on visitors and the questioning can be very long. Luckily enough, they had a queue opened for resident as usual as for those who had already entered the country with their ESTA, something I had done as I came in 2014 for the USA  v France game and the NWSL draft in Baltimore earlier in the year.

So that did not take too long and I was out to find my hotel using one of those courtesy bus that are hidden somewhere in the airport. After a long wait, the courtesy bus arrived and it took us three minutes to get to the hotel. I could have walked actually to it and it would have been quicker.

Interestingly enough the hotel was close to the public transport, the link light rail that goes straight to downtown Seattle so after checking-in and showering I went straight into town as the jet lag effect was not strong enough to send me to bed.

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Off I went to meet a Canadian journo @harjournalist I was meeting that day to give her a Panini Euro 2016 album and a few stickers. While I was waiting for her popped up Danielle Carter, Marta Corredera and Dominique Janssen. Dan recognised me as she has been with the club for many years and had a quick chat. I am not sure if the other players knew who I was and probably thought I was a local fan with an Arsenal shirt. As I don’t do program signing and post game selfies, they cannot recognise the fans like me. They must know the Car Park Crew from Borehamwood though.

So I met Harjeet did some sightseeing and then went back to my hotel as it was about 3am UK time and needed a good sleep.

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The next day was game day. Another day of sightseeing before the main event at 7pm. I went round the town and then back to the hotel in the afternoon to have a nap again as my body clock was messed up as expected. I saw the space needle and many other things. Below is the Memorial Stadium view from the Space Needle and the entrance.

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Then it was game time. The memorial Stadium is quite big with two main stands with the cheapest seats starting at $18, so a bit more expensive that the prices in the England or France. There is some restricted view on those seats as well but the tactical view is superb.

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I met two nice people at the game a Thorns fan Nicole @endibs_rn and another friendly journo @jacobcristobal. It always nice to meet IRL the people that you come across on twitter.

The game itself was interesting in the first half when the Reign put their best team on the pitch and chanegd in the second half when both sides made a lot of substitutions. You can see the full game here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWdWIhRAV_I

For the Arsenal fans, it will be remembered as the first Arsenal game for Jodie Taylor and the ankle injury that put Leah Williamson out for the a few months and maybe until the end of the season.

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At the end of the game, the Arsenal players went to speak to the Cascadia Gooners and there were many Arsenal fans in attendance and they  went to the fan zone behind one of the goal that was extremey busy.

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It was nice to be able to see the Arsenal Ladies in the USA and on Friday I was on my way back to London. I went to the early flights and to my surprise the check-in opens four hours before the flight time because the baggage drop is slow and the TSA queueing is really bad and travellers seem to miss flights because of it.

I went in the queue at H-4, got to the desk at H -3.30 to be told the flight was full and my ticket was not valid. For those who understand the jargon my PNR was not linked to the ticket number and the girl at check-in could not be bothered doing it and had no time doing anyway. They were actually looking for voluntary passengers to get on the next flight, the famous DBC passengers.

So I missed the morning flight and my chance to make it on time to London and go the Development team Cup final which annoyed me greatly. For the record the Dev Team beat Sheffield 2-1 aet to complete a cup treble with the 1st team and the u17 team.

After a few hours being bored at the airport, I went to the check-in desk and the supervisor linked my ticket to the PNR and confirmed I would get on the next plane as there were 20 seats available.

So I got wandering in the airport waiting for my plane and bumped into a few players who were all going to eat and a funny scene with Jordan pushing Leah around who was in a wheelchair. Then I went to collect my seat ticket and the whole team was also waiting to board at the gate.

They did a few pictures with some Reign fans who were really appreciative and we all went on the plane. Most of the players were seating a few rows behind me actually but I did not bother to speak to them.

Firstly, because I had a window seat besides two old German people who were asleep most of the flight and every time I wanted to go out, I had to wake them up and they were not happy bunnies lol

And secondly because when you are on a long trip home for the USA I am sure the players don’t need to be bothered by a fan, while they tried to rest and sleep. Saying that I bet if the Car Park Crew had been on the plane, they would not have been so considerate for the players 😉

In the end, I managed to get Jemma Rose to sing my shirt on the shuttle train at Heathrow Terminal 5. I remember well when Jem was a promising player back in 2009/10 with Birmingham City Ladies. She is a good centre back and need to be back to her best while Josephine Henning is unavailable due to the Olympics in August.

Overall a nice trip to Seattle and it was a competitive game to watch.

 

 

 

 

2016 game count : 44

1. 10 Jan Fulham Foundation 0 Lewes Ladies 10 FA Women’s Cup Round 2 POM  Khassall

2. 24 Jan Crystal Palace 1 West Ham 2 FA Women’s Cup Round 2 POM Edwards

3. 31 Jan Arsenal Ladies 2 v Millwall Lionesses 1 FA WSL Dev League Southern POM : –

4. 06 Feb Arsenal U17 5 Middlesex U17 1 FA Girls Youth Cup QF POM : –

5. 07 FebWatford Ladies 1 Millwall Lionesses 3 aet  FA Women’s Cup Round 3 POM :  Heaslip

6. 14 Feb Yeovil 2 Bradford 0 FA Women’s Cup Round 3 POM : Williams

7. 17 Feb PSG 1 Chelsea 5  friendly POM: –

8. 21 Feb London Bees dev 3 Watford dev 2 POM : –

9. 27 Feb Arsenal U17 3 Chelsea U17 0  U17 LSE POM : James

10. 28 Feb Spurs Ladies 2 Aston Villa Ladies 3 aet FA Women’s Cup R4 POM : Baptiste

11. 05 Mar Arsenal U17 4 Liverpool U17 3 FA Girls Youth Cup SF POM: –

12. 07 Mar France B 0 USA U23 2 Istria Women’s Cup POM : Lavelle

13. 08 Mar West Ham Ladies 1 Spurs Ladies 0 FA WPL  POM : Keown

14. 13 Mar Chelsea 7 Bristol 1 Friendly  POM : –

15. 20 Mar Reading Millwal FA Women’s Cup R5 POM : Robe

16. 23 Mar Arsenal 3 Reading 1 FA WSL POM : Carter

17.24 Mar Oxford 3 Millwall 5 FA WSL 2 POM : Hincks

18. 26 Mar Bristol 0 Sheffield 0 FA WSL 2 POM : –

19. 27 Mar Arsenal Dev 2 Reading Dev 3 FA WSL Dev League POM : –

20. 03 Apr Arsenal 2 Notts County 2 FA Women’s Cup QF POM :

21. 10 Apr  – v  – ( behind closed door) POM : –

22. 14 Apr Spurs 0 Charlton 0 ( 4-3 pso) POM: –

23. 16 Apr Arsenal 5 Man United 1 FA Girls Youth Cup final POM : –

24. 17 Apr Arsenal 7 Sunderland 0 FA Women’s Cup POM : Van de Donk

25.  20 Apr Arsenal dev 11 Oxford Dev 0 FA WSL dev League POM : Filbey

26. 21 Apr Arsenal 0 Chelsea 2 F WSL POM : Kirby

27. 25 Apr France U16 2 England U16 1  friendly POM: Lakrar

28. 27 Apr Reading 1 Arsenal 2 FA WSL POM: Carter

29. 30 Apr Millwall 0 Yeovil 4 FA WSL 2 POM : Wiltshire

30. 01 May Arsenal 0 Birmingham 0 FAWSL POM : –

31. 02 May Reading 1 Sunderland 1 FA WSL POM : Earps

32 08 May Watford 0 London Bees 2 Conti Cup POM : Anderson

33 14 May Arsenal 1 Chelsea 0 FA Women’s Cup final Pom : Carter

34 15 May London Bees 1 Yeovil Dev 1 POM: –

35 16 May Watford 0 London Bees 5 FA WSL 2 POM : Cooper

36 19 May Chelsea 0 Man City 2 FA WSL POM  :-

37 21 May Peterborough 1  West Ham 5 friendly POM : –

38 22 May London Bees 2 Durham  2 FA WSL 2 POM : –

39 26 May Seattle 1 Arsenal 1 International friendly POM : Nobbs

40 29 May Brighton 4  SCA Ladies 2 Women 1 POM : –

41 02 Jun England U19 0 France U19 2 POM : Gavory

42 04 Jun England 7 Serbia 0 Euro qualifier POM: –

43 12 Jun Arsenal Ladies Dev 7 West Ham Ladies 2 friendly POM : Brunton-Wilde / Dean

44 25 Jun Arsenal Ladies 5 Sunderland 1 FA WSL POM : Van De Donk

Old Actonians 1 Cambridge United 4

Last Sunday was the FA WSL Continental Cup final day and as an Arsenal fan, I could have gone there and enjoy that 3-0 trashing of Notts County, but as I was on work duty, I instead went to a local game. Old Actonians v Cambridge United.

The first thing you notice is the ground has quite a big slope. The gradient is not as big as Barnet’s Underhill but it is not bad. I choose to watch that game because, it was local with Greenford very close to Ealing and also I have met Cambridge’s manager Steve many time through the years. I also used to live in Cambridge and go to the Abbey Stadium to watch games there.

So I was interested to see how Cambridge would do. Their warm up was good with some drils where the movements and passing were excellent. It was my first game of the 2015/16 season watching the south east division 1 level. I had previously watched the FA WPL Southern division among the games I have attended in 2015.

It is always interesting to watch various football levels from the international game to the lower divisions because you always see different things and the entertainment is there.

First I have to say that assistant referee on my side was absolutely rubbish, he was walking not on line with the last defender by two or three meters at time. It is not possible to judge an offside if you are not on line, so he got a few decisions wrong.

Anyway, Cambridge opened the score on the 22 minutes from a right wing attack and a cut back that was finished from six yards. They scored an excellent second one on the break with a 2v2 well finished at the half hour mark. Half -time was reached with that 2-0 deserved scoreline for Cambridge.

Barely a minute after the game restarted, Cambridge went through the middle and scored their third goal. At that point, I though the game was dead and buried. After all when you are three nil up, you should be cruising and controlling the game.

Well that did not happen, Old Actonians went on full attacking mode and put waves after waves after waves, putting pressure on Cambridge who could not get hold of the ball and counter attack very often. Their team were stretched with acres of spaces between the defense and midfield. I was expecting at any minute to see a midfielder drop in front of the defense to stabilise things but it never happened. The game became more and more tense but a bit of fouling and kicking and a booking.

Old Actonians scored a peach of a goal to get back to 3-1. The shot went in the top corner as close as possible from the angle between the crossbar and the post. A beautiful shotindeed . They tried to put even more pressure to score the second goal and you could feel that the momentum had totally changed and  an equalizer could have happened late in the game had a second goal come in.

In the end, Cambridge United got a fourth goal on the break late in the game and went home with the 3 points that they fully deserved

Old Actonians’ Cree and Williams impressed me, while Mills, Crook and Jenkins played well for Cambridge. Paige Logie a former Watford Ladies player was also in great form and scored a brace.

Cambridge United have their match report here  : http://www.cambridge-united.co.uk/news/article/match-report-old-actonians-ladies-1-united-wfc-4-2782171.aspx, while Old Actonians have their line-up and goalscorer name here : http://www.clubwebsite.co.uk/oldactonianslfc/83401/Matches/report/5929653