Ladies Remain In Top Spot
Acle United Women kicked 2019 off in style with a 10-0 victory over a depleted AFC Dunstable side on Sunday afternoon.
The hosts made changes to their starting line-up with Kindred, Fullbrook set for their first starts in some time as Manager Burton rotated her squad.
A good flowing move involving 9 passes saw the home side mount the first attack of the game ending with Coopers shot saved by the keeper before Bullard headed wide of the goal from a cross by Goodfield.
Despite having a two-player advantage, the hosts were finding it difficult to breakdown a packed Dunstable defence. A Larkins corner was cleared off the line and the rebound from Bullard was high over the crossbar.
The breakthrough finally came in the 12th minute. Cooper coming in from the left flank met Bullard’s cross and shot past a helpless keeper to give Acle a 1-0 lead.
Dunstable were relying on breakaways and set-pieces to mount their attacks. Parker headed clear a free-kick by the visitors, then another free-kick conceded saw Fullbrook at full stretch to palm away the long-range effort entering the top corner of the goal.
With all the pressure coming from the home side it was only a matter of time before Acle increased their lead. Todd won possession on the edge of the away penalty area and fed Flatt whose diagonal ball to Cooper saw the Acle player cut inside and fire home from 18 yards. Larkins then went close with a header before seeing another shot come back off the woodwork.
Bullard made it 3-0 on the half-hour mark as the hosts threatened to run riot but some resolute defending and some good saves prevented Acle from increasing their lead until 2 minutes before half-time. A quick throw-in by Cooper to Flatt saw the Acle midfielder cross and Birchall unmarked headed home at the far post to put Acle 4-0 up at the break.
There was no let-up on the Dunstable defence at the start of the second half. Flatt shot tamely past the post after a Birchall cross was not cleared before the home side scored a fifth. Pasque on as a substitute fired home into the top corner after Parkers effort from a Scully corner had been blocked.
A quick break by Dunstable after Acle had lost possession saw Parker forced to concede a corner, which landed on top of the bar and out for a goal kick. However, from the set-piece Acle mounted a quick attack of the own with Filby hitting a diagonal ball to Flatt who in turn put Birchall clear on the right and the Acle striker beat the keeper at the near post to give the hosts a 6-0 lead.
The visitors almost pulled a goal back on the hour mark after Fullbrook failed to gather the ball cleanly but Goodfield was able to blocked the goal bound shot and the rebound was deflected for a corner which came to nothing.
Birchall completed her hat-trick 8 minutes later after Scully winning possession in midfield, played the ball wide to Birchall who unleashed an unstoppable shot into the far top corner. Unfortunately for the visitors they were reduced to 8 players due to an injury.
Understandably, Acle were now completely dominant and were camped in Dunstable’s half. From a corner Pasque headed wide, before another corner saw the same player head the ball over the keeper before being hooked clear. Play continued until the referee was asked to speak to the visitor’s assistant referee who confirmed the ball had entered the goal. Almost straight from the restart, Acle made it 9-0 when Bullard fired home after collecting Scully’s chip forward.
Deep into added time Birchall scored her 4th and Acle’s 10th goal, but credit must go to the visitors who fought right up to the final whistle and showed great professionalism despite being short in numbers.
Acle United Women: C Fullbrook, L Goodfield, O Mungham-Gray, B Scully, G Parker, A Larkins, L Bullard, C Flatt, K Kindred, M Todd, N Cooper. Subs used: R Brister, G Birchall, R Filby, K Pasque. Unused: A Bell.