Sunday 16th August 2015.
Cardiff City Ladies 0-1 Portsmouth Ladies.
FA Women’s Premier League Southern Division.
Centre for Sporting Excellence, Ystrad Mynach.
Attendance: Circa 150.
[ENGLISH PYRAMID WARNING: The match report and blog entry below is based on a football match that occurred in the English Pyramid, in Wales]
Every now and then someone will message me on Twitter and suggest a game to attend. Usually because they’ve gone out of their way to message me as long as it doesn’t clash with a game I’ve already arranged to attend or a personal commitment I’ll pop along.
This afternoon’s game between Cardiff City Ladies and Portsmouth Ladies was one such game. Friend of the blog and highly rated football coach Chris Hooper sent me a message last week to highlight the match as I believe I’d previously asked them to give me a heads up when their season started back up again.
After taking my first baby steps into the world of women’s football last season I’m certainly keen to take in more games in the women’s game this season so I was certainly excited at the prospect of heading up to Ystrad Mynach again to take in this season’s intriguing opener.
Where do I start with Cardiff City Ladies? I hope you’ve got a pen and paper handy to try and work this all out.
I’ve touched on the club in previous blog entries but I think, after some careful research I’ve finally got everything right in my head.
Cardiff City Ladies are a club making their home in the English football pyramid. Formed in 1975 as Llanedeyrn LFC the club later linked up with Welsh pyramid side Inter Cardiff in 1993 (Inter Cardiff over a few steps and two decades morphed into current Welsh League side Cardiff Metropolitan University).
In 1997 the club severed its ties with Inter Cardiff when the wheels started to fall off the Cardiff club and they started their slow and steady decline and eventual disappearance from the face of the Welsh football pyramid. Following this the club took on the moniker Cardiff County LFC.
A brief dalliance as the ‘official’ women’s team of Cardiff City men’s team followed in 2001 before a break-up in 2003 after officials at Cardiff City demanded that the governance and running of the team be handed over to the club. A members vote lead to the club cutting all ties with their male counterparts, although the club were allowed to continue using the name ‘Cardiff City Ladies’. They held their place in the English pyramid and continued to play competitive football representing the city.
Cardiff City Ladies are in fact a club with quite a heritage of sorts in the English pyramid with honours to their name including a Women’s Premier League Southern Division win in 2005-06 and the club have represented Wales in the UEFA Women’s Cup previously.
Now I’ve got that all cleared up it makes a lot more sense in my head. My confusion, as with many others I’ve spoken to, came from the fact that the Cardiff City male team now have an official female counterpart team again – albeit playing in the Welsh pyramid.
So yes, there is a Cardiff City Ladies team and a Cardiff City Women’s team. What is the difference between Ladies and Women you might ask? Well, the Women are sponsored by Malaysia and the Ladies aren’t.
Today’s opponents in this season opener were Portsmouth Ladies, a club founded in 1987 with a rich heritage in the women’s game who also won the Women’s Premier League Southern title in 2012-13.
The women’s football pyramid in England has had something of a makeover in recent years due to the addition of a second tier of the Women’s Super League. Prior to 2014 teams contended at national level in the Premier League, whilst the second tier of the pyramid was regionalised between North and South.
With the addition/split of the second Super League, the Premier League Southern and Northern divisions now sit at Tier 3 of the English football pyramid.
Other teams contending the Southern Premier Division aside from Cardiff City Ladies and Portsmouth Ladies include among others: Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United, Forest Green Rovers and QPR.
Cardiff City Ladies, who previously played at the International Sports Stadium in Leckwith, made the move to the Centre of Sporting Excellence in Ystrad Mynach over the Summer.
Having already blogged about the ground in a previous entry there isn’t a lot I can say about the ground that I haven’t already covered. It’s a fairly state of the art ground with lovely facilities and makes a perfect home for a team like Cardiff City Ladies.
This afternoon’s admission was a very fair £3 which is quite a bargain for a match of this calibre. The value of the admission showed in the attendance which must have been at least around the 150 mark if not a little higher.
I was also pleased to see a very strong following of Portsmouth fans making their home in the centre of the single stand a few rows below us. It’s always a pleasure to see committed fans making their way across the country for games like this and they must be applauded for their efforts. I’ve made the journey to Portsmouth for several Cardiff City away fixtures in my time and it’s fair to say that you don’t get a lot of change from 4 hours of travelling time for your money.
Portsmouth started the game the stronger of the two sides and were very unlucky not to take the lead in the third minute when Sarah Kempson hit a decent effort from the edge of the box only for City keeper Laura O’Sullivan to pull off a marvelous save.
It took a good ten minutes for Cardiff to start playing their natural game but as soon as they did they were almost rewarded with a goal when striker Hope Suominen rounded Portsmouth goalkeeper Sadie Blakeley on the edge of the box. Unfortunately for Suominen the ball got a little tangled between her feet and eventually defender Jess Frampton was able to knock the ball into safety.
Portsmouth almost opened the scoring two minutes later when a piledriver of an effort hit from just outside of the penalty area by Molly Clark after a rebounded free kick looked to have hit the post.
Cardiff Ladies were presented with two golden opportunities to take a lead into half time when Laura Williams was unfortunately unable to convert her shot when she faced down on Sadie Blakely in a one on one just inside the penalty area with a minute or so to go before half time. Williams was presented a further opportunity a minute earlier but found herself being kept off the score sheet by an excellent save from Blakeley.
During the half time interval we made our way over to the car park when an opportunist of a burger van had parked up to make a bit of money off hungry and thirsty football fans. Unfortunately after waiting for ten minutes and the queue only moving twice in that time we gave up and reclaimed our seats in the stand, hungry and thirsty but with plenty of change in our pockets.
Cardiff came out with renewed intent in the second half and were again unlucky not to take the lead in the 47th minute when a striker rounded the keeper neatly and poked the ball home into an empty net only to see her effort ruled out for an earlier offside infringement.
In the 57th minute Cardiff thought they had taken the lead when a testing corner was sent into the box and hit by the head of Kelly Aldridge who could only look on in despair as her effort beat Blakeley in the Portsmouth goal but cannoned off the cross bar and was booted into touch by a defender.
If Cardiff were going to win this game they would have needed to start converting some of the chances they were finding themselves squandering at the start of the second half. Portsmouth Ladies, like a boxer hanging on the ropes at the end of a particularly grueling round found themselves being battered even more when only a Gordon Banks-esque save from Sadie Blakeley stopped Cardiff from taking the lead on the hour.
From here on in, Portsmouth made their quality count and started to slowly but surely dominate proceedings, starting with a decent effort from Charley Wilson after a superb cross from Lucy Quinn which troubled O’Sullivan and went only inches over the bar.
The break through in this game came in the 72nd minute when recent substitute Shannon Sievwright latched on to a free kick sent high into the Cardiff box that the defence failed to deal with. Sievwright was able to shape her body to meet the loose ball and volley her effort past the helpless Laura O’Sullivan to give Portsmouth a 1-0 lead going into the closing stages.
Portsmouth came within inches of adding a second goal when a deep corner kick was met by Charley Wilson who hit an impressive bicycle kick towards goal that looked to be heading straight for the bottom left corner of the net only for O’Sullivan to pull off a truly brilliant save to keep her Cardiff side in the game.
The final action of note in the game came from Cardiff striker Chloe Lloyd who made a lovely run into the box and hit a powerful effort which from my angle in the stand looked to be destined to hit the back of the net, only for Sadie Blakeley to pull off a dramatic save.
Minutes later the referee brought this entertaining and intriguing tactical battle to a close much to the delight of the twenty or so travelling Portsmouth fans sitting near us who were delighted to pick up three points on the road.
Cardiff City Ladies were unlucky on the day to lose this game but were edged out by an efficient and skillful Portsmouth side with a lot of a talent on show. Both sides will certainly be looking to make an impact in the Southern Premier League this season.
As is always the case with Cardiff City. You play against Portsmouth, you try your best, you have chances to win the game and in the end… you lose 1-0.