Billing United Ladies 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds Ladies 1

Northamptonshire Women’s Football League Division 2

Sunday 2nd September 2012

Billing United Ladies 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds Ladies 1

What a Start ………..


AFC Rushden & Diamonds ladies kicked off their very first campaign with a performance to be proud of in an exciting encounter away to Billing Ladies FC, at Great Billing Pocket Park. The ladies took to the field not knowing what the game would have in store for them, but what a game it was, and to say it was a strong team performance is an understatement.

First Half

The first half of this match was one that defined what it is to be an AFC Rushden & Diamonds player. After a fast start to the game the Diamonds took command of the game within the first ten minutes with Fiona Strathern and Harriet Clarke running the midfield from the middle and the right hand side to which Billing had no answer, The ladies fitted well into their various roles, taking the game to Billing and creating early chances for forward players Cat Sealey and Jenna Looker. Both girls put the opposition keeper to the test and after 28 mins the breakthrough came with Cat Sealey running on to a through ball from the midfield and placing it past the keeper to the bottom left hand side of the goal. This was a memorable moment for the AFC Ladies as they took the lead for the very first time with their very first league goal in their short history.

After going behind the Billing Ladies finally got into the game with some strong plays on both sides of the pitch, but the Diamonds responded straight away with Tash Lowe and Alix Daverson both putting in strong defensive displays to keep Billing out of the game, and making sure nothing was going to get down the flanks. However, after a change of tactics for Billing it was the Centre back pairing of Emma Morris and Kerry Lawrence who were keeping Billing at bay. With the Diamonds fully in command at the back and in midfield the team was able to create opportunities for a few more shots on target before the half time whistle.

Whoever said the ladies game is not as tough as the men’s should hold their heads and eat their words as they spare a thought for Harriet Clarke, the Diamonds winger, who whilst challenging for a ball with a Billing Player took a nasty knock to her nose, after colliding with the back of the Billing players head, but after a short delay and a change of shirt jumped up and carried on with the game without flinching in any challenges.

Second Half

The Diamonds started the second half just like the first with strong attacking plays with early chances coming from Sealey and Looker, and with the midfield still dominating, Billing were finding it hard to break the Diamonds down. Billing keeper Amanda Barford was on top of her game, keeping the Diamonds lead down to a single goal despite a succession of shots on target and incisive through balls during the early stages of the second half. After a steady passage of play from both teams, Billing became stronger in attack, so the Diamonds made a change to try to get the balance of the game back in their favour, with Jenna Looker being replaced by Megan Watkins. Megan had an immediate impact  with a storming run down the right hand side forcing the keeper Barford to be at her best to stop her accurate shot.

After being reduced to shooting from outside the box,  Billing United finally got through the defence, and although debutant keeper Kerry Coshan had been proving hard to get past earlier in the game, Lauran McLaughlin produced a shot that took her by surprise so she could only palm the goal upwards in to the goal and so the scores were level.

After the restart the Diamonds and Billing both went for the victory, with shots at both ends comfortably saved by Coshan and her counterpart Amanda Barford, but there was still time for incidents which could have swung the game either way. On 83 minutes the Diamonds Ladies were denied what looked a stonewall penalty with Kelly Rust being taken down under a challenge from a Billing centre back but the appeals were denied by the referee, and then on 86 minutes Billing United were awarded a penalty after a handball in the area. Just as it looked as though the Diamonds would be on the wrong end of the scoreline, and with the crowd and staff holding their breath, relief came as the penalty was hit high and wide of Coshan’s goal.

On 88 minutes the Diamonds could have had snatched a victory after a great passage of play from player of the match Kelly Rust who had controlled play all game on the left side of the field, gathering every ball and hitting precise through balls, she picked out a pass to put Megan Watkins through on the left, who then turned provider for Cat Sealey, but her effort went just wide of the left post.

Full Time: Billing United Ladies 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds Ladies 1

Diamonds Player of the Match: Kelly Rust

A strong performance throughout the team with every player working hard and giving their all. This has sent out a message to the league that AFC Rushden & Diamonds Ladies are here and will be pushing every team hard during their first season.

Well done AFC Rushden & Diamonds Ladies

The Teams:

Billing United

Amanda Barford, Devon Ferguson, Shannen Geddes, Lucy Graham, Shannon Hancock, Robbie Lee, Lauran McLaughlin, Abigail Moore, Selina Neal, Claire Simpson, Katie York                  

Substitutes: Susannah Caldeira,  Lisa Kennedy, Claudia Kifun, Tanya Walters

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Kerry Cosham, Natasha Lowe, Kerry Lawrence, Emma Morris, Alix Daverson, Kelly Rust, Claire Stancliffe, Fiona Strathern, Harriet Clarke, Cat Sealey, Jenna Looker

Substitutes: Ashleigh Beale, Cheryl Murkitt, Lauren Perkins , Megan Watkins


The Ladies will play their first home game next Sunday when Woodford United Ladies visit them at Bozeat Playing Field (see here for directions) – keep an eye on for more details.

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

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