Late Birchall Goal Secures Second Place
By Web Master
Acle United Women secured the runners-up spot in the ERWFL Premier Division after a 2-1 victory over Colney Heath at Wroxham FC on Sunday.
Playing at their new home ground for next season as Wroxham Women, the hosts almost found themselves a goal down in the 1st minute, but the header from a cross was wide of the target. However, in Acle’s first attack 2 minutes later the hosts took the lead. Birchall blocked a clearance by Colney and Pasque picking up the loose ball fed Birchall who smashed the ball past the away keeper.
Buoyed by this, Acle pushed forward and Birchall was brought down just outside the penalty-area but the free-kick by Rowland was comfortably headed clear by the Colney defence. At the other end, a looping shot was dropped by Bell, with the visitors claiming the ball had crossed the line but the referee waved play on, with Acle clearing for a corner which came to nothing.
Colney were having success with attacks down the right flank and twice crosses were sent in but in both cases, shots were wide of the target as the visitors started to challenge the hosts. However, in the 21st minute another move down the right resulted in the equaliser. This time the ball was played inside and a shot from 15 yards beat Bell.
Birchall’s direct running was causing problems for the away defence and after being brought down 20 yards out in front of goal, took the free-kick herself and forced a good save from the away keeper low down at her right-hand post.
The final 10 minutes of the half saw the visitors have their best spell of the game so far, forcing Acle to defend deep in the own half. A goalmouth scramble saw Larkins forced to clear for a corner, then Bell was fortunate when a rushed clearance eventually went out for a goal-kick. Despite the visitors’ pressure they were unable to convert their chances as the sides went in level at half-time.
It was a fairly even start to the second half. Early on Bell was forced to make a good save low down, whilst Birchall forced a corner which Colney cleared comfortably, before Larkins bringing the ball out of defence fed Birchall who from the goal line sent in a low cross, but Brister was just unable to get on the end of it.
Play was becoming stretched with 30 minutes remaining as both sides looked to gain the upper hand. Birchall forced a good save from the away keeper, then Pasque shot wide from a Bullard cross. At the other end, a quick counter-attack by Colney saw Bell forced into action saving a well hit shot.
Both Birchall and Rowland had shot blocked during a scramble in the Colney penalty-area as the hosts looked to score the winning goal, before Rowland winning possession in midfield beat 3 players only to see her shot saved by the away keeper.
Then it was Colney’s turn to put pressure on the hosts. A corner was only half-cleared by the Acle defence, resulting in a shot just wide, before another corner saw Bell clear the ball from just under the bar.
With a minute of normal time remaining, Acle thought they has scored the winning goal when Birchall racing on to Cooper through ball was narrowly ruled offside. However, a minute later, a similar move this time involving Pasque and Birchall saw the latter score and although the assistant’s flag was raised for offside, referee Guy after consultation ruled the goal was good for Acle to take a 2-1 lead.
The final action of the game saw Acle concede a free-kick just outside the penalty-area, but to their relief, the set-piece was narrowly wide of the far post as Acle secured the points to clinch second place in the table in their last game as Acle United before their move to Wroxham for the 2019-20 season.
Acle United Women: A Bell, O Mungham-Gray, A Larkins, C Shields, K Pasque, N Cooper, M Hoy, A Rowland, L Bullard, R Brister, G Birchall. Subs used: B Scully, S Barham, E Leach, L Goodfield.