Captain Todd Leads The Way
Acle United Women playing their first home league game since August thumped Bedford 6-3 on Sunday afternoon.
It was the visitors who created the first chance of the game forcing Bell in the Acle goal into a smart save, tipping the ball around the post for a corner and from the set piece the ball was headed over the bar at the back post.
Acle were slow to get any rhythm in their game until their first worthwhile attack which saw Birchall brought down in the area but referee Starkey ignored the home sides loud appeals for a penalty and in their next attack, Todd saw her long range shot well saved by the Bedford keeper.
The home side were pushing forward looking for the opening goal and were caught out by a quick break by the visitors. A long ball was put behind the defence on the left flank and Bell rushing out to save was beaten to it by the attacker who slid the ball past her to give Bedford a 1-0 lead.
However, in the 19th minute, Acle equalised. Birchall was fouled 25 yard out from goal and Scully’s free-kick to the far post was steered home by Todd. Now with their tails up, the hosts push forward at every opportunity, but most crosses were comfortably collected by the keeper. Conversely, Bedford were looking dangerous from corners and free-kicks into the goal-area but were unable to convert any of them.
Both Mungham-Gray and Birchall both went close for the hosts and they started to dominate proceedings as the half progressed. However, it took until the 38th minute for Acle to take the lead. Todd picking up a poor clearance cut inside her marker and fired a shot into the top corner from 18 yards.
Within 3 minutes, the hosts had doubled their lead. Birchall won a throw-in which went back to Larkins whose cross was met by Pasque who outjumped the Bedford defence to head home in the bottom corner. Then in added time at the end of the first half, Todd picking the ball up in midfield, laid the ball out wide to Larkins who cross was headed home by Todd at the near post to complete her hat-trick and give Acle a comfortable 4-1 lead.
The second half started with a promising move by Acle with Larkins and Todd interchanging passes but Larkins cross was straight to the keeper, then another attack saw Brister penalised for a foul on the edge of the penalty area, before Cooper made a good run down the left flank after receiving a pass from Rowland, but the shot was comfortably held by the keeper.
Bedford’s attacks were limited by the Acle defence, well-marshalled by Shields and Parker who were dominant in the air, with the visitors not breaching the home penalty-area in the first 10 minutes of the half.
Acle increased their lead in the 55th minute. From a throw-in, the ball was floated into the goal-area and Todd unmarked steered the ball past the keeper for her 4th goal of the game. Minutes later, Rowland put Cooper away down the left flank whose shot just cleared the bar.
The home side were totally dominant and in a rare Bedford attack, a long shot was high and wide of the target. However, totally against the run of play, the visitors pulled a goal back with a looping shot over Bell from a tight angle.
Both Larkins and Cooper had shots over the bar as the home side continued to push forward, then with 15 minutes remaining, Acle suffered a blow when keeper Bell was helped from the pitch after saving at the feet of a Bedford attacker, sustaining a knee injury in the process. Striker Brister taking her place in goal.
The hosts continue to push forward and restore their four-goal advantage with 4 minutes of normal time remaining. From Larkins free-kick wide of the left Flatt was bundled over in the penalty-area and the same player blasted the penalty into the roof off the net for her first goal in Acle’s colours.
In the last move of the game, Brister was beaten for Bedford’s third goal for a 6-3 victory to Acle, a scoreline which did not reflect Acle’s dominance.
Acle United Women: A Bell, A Larkins, N Cooper, B Scully, G Parker, C Shields, L Bullard, C Flatt, G Birchall, M Todd, O Mungham-Gray. Subs all used: R Brister, K Pasque, A Rowland, K Kindred, R Filby.