CTLFC 2-1 AFC Bournemouth Women

15th March 2022

Report by Jamie Cameron

The Robins held on for a crucial 2-1 win over AFC Bournemouth that keeps their fate in their own hands.

Going into the game two points behind The Cherries with a game in hand, Cheltenham knew a point combined with wins in their final four games would be enough for the title.

The win means that Cheltenham leapfrog Bournemouth to the top of the league and require a maximum of 10 points from the upcoming quartet of league games to earn promotion to the third tier for the first time.

Charlotte Criddle (pictured) gave the Robins a half-time lead, with a clinical finish from Tamzin Hayward in the final fifteen minutes proving crucial when Bournemouth got a late consolation which wasn’t enough for them to avoid a first league defeat of the season.

Manager Tom Davies made one change to the side that were knocked out of the National League Plate by Nottingham Forest.

The previously cup-tied Emily Owen replaced Georgie-Marie Barbour-Gresham, while striker Jade Grove returned from injury to take her place on the bench.

Cheltenham almost took the earliest of leads as Owen headed a Criddle corner onto the outside of the post, before Bournemouth had a couple of half chances and may have gone ahead if it wasn’t for the linesman’s flag.

A shot from Katie James whistled past the top corner, but Criddle opened the scoring on 23 minutes with her third of the season, a looping strike from 25 yards that went over the ‘keeper and into the net.

There wasn’t too much action from then until half-time as Cheltenham went in with a one-goal advantage.

Robins goalkeeper Aimee Watson started the second half as she meant to go on, making two saves prior to the 50-minute mark.

On 58 minutes, Watson did very well to claw out a looping header from underneath the crossbar, before Bournemouth sliced open Cheltenham for one of the only times in the game and miscued the eventual shot.

The visitors’ James then hit the side netting, and they had a couple more half chances before the Robins found that pivotal second goal.

Lacy-Jai Liggett, who never stopped running throughout the second half, did incredibly well to keep hold of the ball and drive into the area, eventually going down after determinedly staying on her feet.

However, the ball fell to Hayward, who finished coolly to make it 2-0.

From the 82nd minute onwards, the Robins made five separate substitutions, and in between that, it was all Bournemouth.

Watson made her best save of the game to keep out a fantastic curling effort from Becki Bath, before on 95 minutes, a free-kick went all the way through to get the Cherries on the scoresheet.

Cheltenham just about hung on to inflict Bournemouth’s first defeat of the league season and make it four points from a possible six against them.

After the game, Davies said: “It was exactly what we expected. It was a fantastic game with loads of quality and bodies on the line from both sides.

“Their keeper’s made some good saves and Aimee [Watson]’s been brilliant as well. This time last week, we were gutted and today was about putting that performance right.

“There’s no change in mentality because of today. We’re four games away from the end of the league season and we’ve still got to play four fantastic sides.

“We don’t change anything at any stage of the season. Tomorrow, we’ll make sure everything is in place for Portishead next week and there’s still so many games to be played.”

Cheltenham: Watson, Jones (Barbour-Gresham 82), Butler, Owen, Hallsworth, Criddle, Bevan (Reed 87), Liggett (Rogers 93), Haynes (Walecki 96), Hayward (Grove 90), Wathan.

Robins’ Player of the Match: Lacy-Jai Liggett.

Image supplied by MikeJHalfordPhotos

For the digital match programme for this game, click here.

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