Following the news at the end of February that the Orchard WPWL was to return to Elite Status, the League was back in action on 7th March, with a full weekend of matches on the 14th March. The full revised fixture programme can be seen here.
Briton Ferry Llansawel’s trip to Aberystwyth kicked us off for 2021 and it was the visitors that grabbed the first goal of the year with Lucy Powell slotting away a penalty just before half time. Aberystwyth equalised shortly in the second half, Caroline Cooper, taking advantage of an earlier conversation with the ref regarding having to wait for the whistle, scored a free kick into an empty net while BFL were still organising their wall. The game finished one a piece, with highlights from Sgorio available here.
The following week was one for the travellers, as all but one match saw the visitors leave with all three points firmly in the bag. Abergavenny continued their pre-Christmas form taking on Cardiff City at Leckwith; Amy Thrupp started the scoring on the 23rd minute and Abergavenny doubled their lead from the penalty spot just on half time (Mali Summers 45’). The second half saw Cardiff struggle to make the most of their chances and Summers was offered a second visit to the penalty spot (69’) before Lyndsey Davies added a fourth ten minutes from time. Catch the highlights here.
Elsewhere Swansea also had a 100% record to defend and they were soon in the lead against Aberystwyth with a Chloe Chivers goal on the 10th minute. The second half belonged to Stacey John-Davies, scoring four to end the game 5-0 to the Swans (53’, 77’, 82’, 88’). Cardiff Met aren’t about to give up the chase for top spot and were also straight back to winning ways with a 4-0 win over Briton Ferry Llansawel, Robyn Pinder marking her return to the league with a goal (14’; Erin Murray 31’; Ellie Preece 87’, 90’). At Cascade, Port Talbot got the first goal of the day (Laura-May Walkley 9’), their lead was doubled by an own goal just on half time. Cascade pulled one back through Chrystella Moreton (60’) but Courteney Thomas added a third (87’) to ensure the victory, the game finishing 1-3.
Our second full week back was also one for the goal scorers. Sgorio were on hand to capture all the action at the Sand Siro, between Port Talbot and Cardiff City; the Bluebirds were once again giving away penalties, offering the hosts to take the lead (Lauren Amor 18’), but this week they turned the tables Catherine Walsh (40’) to level it at half time. Jasmine Simpson (61’, 82’) from outside the box (twice) and Phoebie Poole (81’, 87’) added her name to the scoresheet to finish 5-1 to the visitors.
Swansea were on the road to Cascade and didn’t hang about with an early Katy Hosford goal (5’), Kelly Adams got a second (23’) before two more for Hosford (30’, 76’) saw the Swans retain top spot with a 4-0 win. Cyncoed were in action for the first time in 2021, but certainly weren’t rusty as they won 3-1 over Briton Ferry Llansawel, Millie Jones hitting the back of the net also in five minutes, before Megan Saunders added a second (15’). Chelsea Deacon’s (37’) pulled one back, but Cyncoed stayed on top and grabbed a third through Alison Witts (51’) to take the points 3-1. It was the battle of the Abers in the last game, with Abergavenny still enjoying their 100% record and Aberystwyth still chasing their first win, so it was a somewhat unexpected 0-1 win for Aberystwyth with a 62nd minute goal from Niamh Duggan and a big three points to take home.
We were then treated to some midweek action, with Cyncoed hosting Abergavenny; both clubs were evenly matched throughout and the deadlock was only broken in the 76th minute with Abergavenny’s Ffion David getting her first of the season. Cyncoed’s hit back through Monet Legall, also her first in the league just before full time (87’) to share the points. It was also an action-packed evening at the battle of the Cardiff’s, City v Met; Poole opened the scoring for City (49’), for Met to equalise five minutes later (Grace Corne 54’). An own goal (64’) put the balance back into the hosts’ hands, but sub Preece (64’) ensured the lead didn’t last more than 10 minutes to finish 2-2. Down the M4 in Briton Ferry there was another local derby, with Port Talbot making the short trip to Old Road and it was the visitors that bounced back from the weekend’s disappointment to win 1-0 (Jesci Hare 61’).
March’s final match day saw 2v3, 1v4 and 6v7 so a real opportunity to turn the table on its head. The Sgorio cameras were poised at Cardiff Met as they took on Abergavenny. Met were on top in the opening stages, Lucy Finch (19’) the first to take a chance as Shannon Evans added a second (40’), Abergavenny had the chance to grab one back on the turn of half time, but unlike her previous success from the spot Summer’s effort was saved by Met’s new signing Annabel Sweeny – the American had to prove herself twice after being adjudged to have moved off her line. Met scored again shortly after the break (Sophie Hancocks 49’) before sub Emily Richard’s added a fourth (61’). Abergavenny then sparked into action, Davies again on the scoresheet (73’) but it was too little too late with a final consolation from Amy Williams (90+1’), the hosts winning 4-2.
In 1st v 4th Swansea were again in control and maintained their 100% record, leaving Cyncoed with a W,D,L for 2021, but it took them until half time to score, Laura Davies on the 44th minute, however once the floodgates were opened by Tija Richardson (69’, 81’) they didn’t stop. And OG (84’) and one each from Chivers (88’) and Emma Beynon (90’) ensure the home team another three points, ending 6-0. Port Talbot were once again on the road, hoping results elsewhere would help them back up into 4th place; but first they had to get past Aberystwyth who took the lead for the second weekend in a row (Libby Isaac 51’), but Port Talbot quickly retaliated through Amor (55’), Rachael Ball (59’) and Thomas (87’) to win 3-1. Cardiff City weren’t in the mood to give up 4th place however and also returned from their travels with three points, Poole (18’) back on the scoresheet and a penalty from Catherine Walsh (67’) beating Cascade 2-0.
We’re now half way though the Orchard WPWL season and there’s plenty of points still up for grabs and a long way to go before league positions are finalised!
Off the pitch 34 clubs have working hard to achieve either a Tier 1 or 2 licence in the new look Women’s Pyramid for next season; submissions will be reviewed by the First Instance Body on April 9th with those clubs who are successfully granted a licence invited to Phase Two where final decisions of who shall be in which league will be made – good luck to all those involved.
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