Hard Earned Three Points For Ladies Against A Battling Harlow Side
By Web Master
Acle United Women moved to within a point of second placed Royston Town in the league table after a narrow 1-0 win at home to Harlow Town.
With almost a full squad to chose from, the hosts were able to name Birchall on the bench after an absence of 7 weeks through injury, as they returned to play at Bridewell Lane for one last time.
It was a cagey opening by both sides; Harlow forced an early corner which was headed over the bar before Bullard’s effort for Acle was saved by the visiting keeper after being put free by Rowland.
Both sides were intent on pushing forward at every opportunity and the visitors won a free-kick 20 yards from the Acle goal. From the well-struck set-piece, Bell in the home goal produced a fine save tipping the ball over the bar. The visitors’ corner was eventually forced out for a goal-kick.
The hosts were enjoying space down the flanks and a well placed through ball to Hoy saw the Acle wide player cross to Kindred, whose shot was blocked before the rebound was put wide by Bullard. Hoy then turned provider for Mugham-Gray to win a corner. From the set-piece, Pasque’s header was blocked and the rebound from Parker collected by the keeper.
After the early onslaught by both sides play quietened down and became a midfield battle with neither keeper or defences being unduly troubled, until in the 32nd minute a rash and late challenge by the Harlow left winger on Acle’s captain Larkins saw the Harlow player dismissed and Larkins helped off the field and after a lengthy stoppage, take no further part in the game.
The visitors had the best of the latter stages of the half with a shot just wide of the post and another clearing the bar as the sides went into the break goalless after 8 minutes of added on time.
Harlow almost opened the scoring straight after half time. Bell tipped a free-kick over the bar and from the corner, a Harlow header hit the bar and the rebound was blocked on the line by Cooper before being cleared by the hosts.
Bullard saw a run and cross from the right, deflected into the Harlow keepers’ arms, before Rowland took the ball into the Harlow penalty area and was crowded out before being able to get a shot at goal.
As the half progressed, Acle pushed forward with more intent after the introduction of Birchall. A long kick by Bell put Hoy away on the left who won a corner, but Parkers header from the set-piece was blocked before being cleared. Then a long free-kick from Parker found Birchall but her shot cleared the bar.
The visitors were always looking dangerous from corners and after a goalmouth scramble, Cooper was able to hack the ball clear before in the next Harlow attack, the striker tried to chip Bell who was equal to the task catching the ball just under the bar.
The deadlock was finally broken on the 84th minute. Birchall hit the post and a goal mouth scramble ensued, with Harlow clearing a second shot of the line. Rowland sprinted to chase down the clearance to the left of the penalty area, and used brilliant skill to beat the full back and whip in a powerful ball across the six yard box. Hoy getting back onside in the nick of time, managed to get an outstretched toe on the cross and steer it into the bottom right corner, scoring her first goal for the club.
Bullard had the chance to double the lead with three minutes remaining after beating the offside trap but shot into the side netting. However, Acle held on to gain all 3 points against a hard-working side who played almost an hour with 10 players.
Acle United Women: A Bell, A Larkins, O Mungham-Gray, K Pasque, G Parker, C Shields, L Bullard, A Rowland, R Brister, K Kindred, M Hoy. Subs used: B Scully, G Birchall, N Cooper. Unused: S Barham, R Burton.