REPORT: Wetherby Athletic Ladies 6 v 3 Hepworth United Ladies
Wetherby Too Hot To Handle As Crann Hat-Trick Seals Cup Success!
With the capture of the Ladies Supplementary Cup, it secured a hat-trick of Trophy successes for the senior teams of Wetherby and nicely rounded off a unique campaign for the female Tangerines.
You always know it’s a great game when the neutral can’t tell the difference between the Premier league runners up and the team that finished third in the First Division and in a match that, on paper at least, should have been a lot closer than it turned out to be, Wetherby sizzled in the summer sun and proved too hot to handle for their opponents!
The match had barely begun when the hosts bared their teeth as Jane Kemshall collected the ball and powered down the right wing. Looking to deliver into the area, she lost her footing under a challenge and after a scramble, the ball was eventually cleared.
Minutes later, a misdirected header fell into Louise Ross’s path and she hooked the ball over to Lucy Crann. Despite connecting first time, Crann skewed her shot and it bounced wide.
Wetherby found themselves penned back as the visitors worked down the flanks. Despite seeing a fair amount of the ball, Hepworth couldn’t break through and tackles by Abbie Sayers and Karen Nixon stopped them progressing.
Crann was left head in hands in the eighth minute when a golden chance to open the scoring was missed. A deep free-kick was allowed to travel to the back post where the bounce deceived the keeper, but despite a chase and lunge by the striker, she couldn’t connect and the chance disappeared.
Disappointment turned to celebration in the eleventh minute when a goal kick was played straight back into Kemshall’s path. Wasting no time, she threaded the ball through to Crann, who despatched her shot past the keeper to open the scoring.
Wetherby poured forward again and a good block by the onrushing custodian prevented Crann from scoring with a cheeky chip. Minutes later, it needed a solid tackle to stop the striker from having another effort on goal.
The Tangerines dominance paid off again in the seventeenth minute when Rachel Carmichael put in a dangerous corner that was headed high as a scramble in the box occurred. Jumping with Crann, the defender got to the ball first but could only send her header into her own goal.
Stung into action, Hepworth worked the ball into Wetherby’s area and just as it looked like Jane Potter might be tested, a superb sliding tackle by Jemma Carmody removed the danger.
Not for the first time, Captain Sarah Holmes towered above the opposition to win a header which fell at Carmichael’s feet. Playing the ball towards the left wing, Amie Slinger raced into the area but was stopped as a defender cut across her and knocked the ball out of play.
With the hosts in the ascendancy, Hepworth survived a skirmish which saw Kemshall, Ross and Crann all combine to allow a series of shots from close range by Carmichael, Ross and Crann which, in turn, were blocked and deflected clear.
It took until the 28th minute for Potter to be called into action when she raced off her line to smoother the ball. Seconds later, she showed her agility again, to get down and cut out a low cross.
The 35th minute saw Wetherby go three up when Crann was pulled back as she battled to get to Ross’s flick. Pointing at the spot, the referee brushed away the protests and Carmichael drilled her shot to the keeper’s left and into the goal.
Hepworth reminded Wetherby that they were in a game when they pulled a goal back two minutes later. Cutting through the middle, they fashioned a one-on-one with Potter, which she did well to save low to her right, but the ball spun into the path of a red shirt who slid home.
Crann restored Wetherby’s three goal advantage in the 42nd minute when she powered the ball home from close range following a great run and pull back by Slinger.
Wetherby were forced back as Hepworth came at them after the restart. However, just as before, the orange shirted backline were proving difficult to breach and Emily Grafton and Carmody had little problem in clearing what came their way.
A long goal kick by Potter was headed backwards by Hepworth and trying to get the ball under control, Crann hit a fierce half volley that dropped behind the goal.
Wetherby were soon turning Hepworth again and a teasing cross by Kemshall just evaded Holmes but glanced off a defender for a corner. The resultant set piece required a brave header to knock it over the cross bar from practically under it, as Carmichael’s effort threatened to curl in untouched!
Some superb wing play in the 49th minute by Hepworth saw a diagonal ball into the area played straight back towards the other post and scored past Potter by an unmarked forward.
The visitors were plying on the pressure again and it took a block at the near post to prevent a corner from being converted and minutes later, a combination tackle by Carmody and Nixon prevented another attack from reaching fruition.
The 62nd minute saw the first substitution for Wetherby occur when Charlotte Frankland and Debra Slater replaced Ross and Nixon.
Wetherby were left ruing an offside flag in the in the 64th minute when Slater flicked the ball into Kemshall’s path. Picking up the cross, Crann lifted the ball over the custodian but the referee’s whistle indicated her transgression before the ball bounced over the line.
Sayers produced a well-timed block to deny Hepworth a clean strike on goal as the visitor’s upped the ante again and moments later, Potter had to show great positioning to pluck a goal bound header out of the air.
Slater increased Wetherby’s lead in the 69th minute when she used her experience to drift away from her marker and slam home Kemshall’s cross from just outside the six yard box.
Straight away Hepworth responded to make it 5-3 when a cross from the right found a player in the middle and she chipped the ball over Potter into the net.
The match had been a superb advert for counter attacking football and another quick ball through the middle saw a footrace between Crann and the keeper, which the custodian just won.
Slater again showed her awareness to prod the ball into Kemshall’s path after she had been held up by a good covering tackle. Shooting low, the winger put her effort just wide however.
Sayers came to Wetherby’s rescue with a great block at the near post before producing a lung busting run that saw her beat several opponents before trying to curl her pass into the path of Crann. However the ball was cleared back into Wetherby’s area, where it needed a superb covering tackle by substitute Emma Wren to remove the danger.
With three minutes of injury time played (due to a foul on Potter) Wetherby sealed the game when Crann was released and she strode into the Hepworth area. Holding her nerve she placed her shot low and wide of the keeper and watched as the ball nestled in the net for yet another hat-trick!
A great game of football by two committed sides and one that certainly pleased the majority of spectators as, not only was the game played in the right spirit, but showcased the talents of both teams and women’s football as a whole.
We wish Hepworth all the best for next season, but we will look back on this campaign with a sense of satisfaction and progression after the trials and tribulations suffered at the end of the 2015/2016 programme.
Report by Pete Arnett.
Wetherby Athletic Women Of The Match (chosen by the team) – As rightly pointed out at full time, every single player had contributed to a great game. However, for her goals and all round performance, the team voted Lucy Crann as player of the match.
Gaffer’s Reaction – Will Cowie.
"What a fitting way to end a season which started with a lot of uncertainty. We went in today's final on the back of a fantastic team performance against Tingley in the semi final. And we started on the front foot and didn't take the foot off the gas for the whole game. A fantastic team performance where all 14 players contributed to the win. The management would like to thank all the group for their support and we look forward to working and progressing with you next season."
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