Southampton Women Report

16th September 2019

Soton Women 0

Cheltenham: Martin 10′, Criddle 85′

Annie Martin’s first goal of the season after returning from injury, followed by a phenomenal Charlotte Criddle strike saw Cheltenham return to winning ways after the previous week’s draw with Larkhall.

Cheltenham started as they meant to continue directly from kick-off as they went direct down the right hand side, the final pass having too much on it, allowing the Soton keeper an easy collection.

In the opening phases Cheltenham made life difficult for themselves at the back. Levett’s nerve was tested early from a long pass. The debutant keeper rushing out to take control and then coolly side-stepping the on-rushing striker to play a nice pass to Rendall.

As Cheltenham looked to play from the back, Sammy Hallsworth’s ball forward was charged down. The right back doing well to track the striker, and work her way between player and the ball, recovering well to win the visitors a goalkick.

Soton would keep coming at the visitors, with Levett called into action to collect a dangerous cross. With the Robins trying to play out from the back, Soton would take back control only for the finish to be wayward.

With 11 minutes on the stopwatch, Cheltenham broke through again. The pace of Ella Hitchcox allowing her a one-on-one with the keeper. Beating the keeper to the loose ball, Hitchcox was able to turn and find Martin unmarked in the home side’s box. Martin didn’t need a second offer, finding the target with a wonderful sweeping finish, despite a Southampton defender on the line.

The game would become a little sloppy in the midfield, with both teams gifting the opposition possession. Eventually the visitors would settle back down into their stride and Brown, Bevan and Fensome would start to dictate the Cheltenham play from the centre of the park.

The remainder of the half would be a tense encounter. Both teams exchanging attacks, as the next goal would be crucial.
Cheltenham tried to secure a throw-in but the hosts were able to read it keep the ball in play. A dangerous cross into the box evaded the onrushing Soton striker and Cheltenham breathed a sigh of relief.

With the two sides attacking with menace, Soton looked to settle the nerves and camp down in the Cheltenham danger zone.
After several attempts, the ball was flashed into the box and the visitors were unable to clear their lines. After some penalty box ping-pong, the ball fell to Levett who was able to scoop up and allow the Robins a chance to breathe.

At the end of the half King would have an opening. Going one-on-one against the rushing keeper, she was unable to keep her shot low enough to bag Cheltenham’s second, and the visitors had to settle for a single goal lead at the break.

Half Time: Southampton Women 0 – 1 CTLFC

Southampton restarted in much the same vein Cheltenham had in the first half and went on an immediate attack directly from the second half kick-off.

Cheltenham were forced with their backs to the wall, as the home side looked to accomodate themselves in the visitors half. Cheltenham were able to break but a misplaced pass stopped the attack dead in its tracks. From here Southampton would take it to Cheltenham again.
The pace of the game was frantic, after the back four of Hallsworth, Dolloway, Butler and Rendall did everything in their power to stop crossed and cut out passes as they soaked up the pressure like a sponge.

Cheltenham’s opportunities were limited to break aways, but were able to weather the storm and win themselves a free-kick on the counter. Soton would clear the free-kick with ease but Brown and Bevan were able to tidy up for the Robins to stop a Southampton break.
King would receive the ball on the right and whip a fantastic ball into the box, which was headed away before Abby Bevan fired wide.

The hosts would find themselves in a fantastic position after a Cheltenham mistake. A floated ball forward was missed by Dolloway, allowing the striker clean through. Fortunately for the Robins, the finish fizzed wide of the far post with both Butler and Levett putting the striker off.

After King was replaced by Butterfield, and the teams were given a chance to recover with the water break, Cheltenham would see themselves get back into gear with Brown, Bevan, Martin and Hitchcox all involved.
Butterfield would gift the visitors a real opening for a second, as she beat her marker to the ball with a little header. She was able to run into space and send a beautiful ball into the path of Martin, but the ball just wouldn’t sit up for the onrushing forward, and the chance went begging.

Winger, Hitchcox, was instrumental again as Cheltenham forced a corner. Her pace saw her leave her marker behind and the goalkeeper was forced to make a stop, with help from the Soton centre-half.
The ball in was a dangerous one but the goalkeeper was able to claim confidently in a packed penalty area.

With 82 minutes on the clock, Cheltenham made their second substitution. Annie Martin would depart the game after a good shift, to be replaced by Charlotte Criddle, this time performing as a forward, and it would not take her long to make her mark.

Hitchcox again in the build up, outpacing her marker and getting to the loose ball first, out by the right hand touchline.
From here she set it back to Criddle, who took a small touch before firing a shot from a very tight angle. The Soton keeper able to get a hand to it but not able to stop the sweetly struck shot.

The home side regrouped and resumed hammering on the Cheltenham door, piling on the pressure and demanding perfection from the visiting defence. With the clock hitting 90+ minutes, the home side won a corner, which was headed behind by the Cheltenham defence for another chance.
At the second attempt, Levett would come and claim among the bodies in the box and lash it clear. The long kick forward for Butterfield to chase being the final play of the game.

Cheltenham: R. Levett, S. Hallsworth, C. Dolloway, M. Butler, K. Rendall, A. Bevan, G. Brown, L. Fensome, S. King (Butterfield 60), E. Hitchcox (Ellis 88), A. Martin (Criddle 82)
Subs not used: A. Kempski, H. Fenton.


Manager, Alex Cheal was delighted with the win and the clean sheet, but was adamant that his side cannot focus on this win for too long:

“Really pleased, we said before we will take each game as it arrives and we’ll play what is in front of us and that’s what we’ve done today. While it is a game in isolation, it’s one we’re pleased to have won and it sets us up nicely for next week. To come away from home, you’d be happy with a point, but we’ve come to Southampton and taken all three again so we couldn’t ask for more.

“In terms of the goals… You’ll have to ask Crids [Charlotte Criddle] if it was a cross or a shot. She’ll say shot, but I’m not sure!

Joking aside, I’m delighted for Annie, she’s been out for the whole of pre-season, a bit of a longterm injury. She’s working and edging her way back into fitness, but for her to hit the net and kick on now is really important.
We brought Crids on with ten left as Annie was tiring, and she’s produced a goal out of nothing, from a very wide area and it’s given us a bit of breathing room. Two really good goals, could have been more in the first half but a win is a win.

“The clean sheet is the cherry on the cake too. Factor in Robyn [Levett, goalkeeper] and Kirsten [Rendall, fullback] coming in, with Kirsten replacing Lauren Ellis, who hasn’t done anything wrong, and Sammy still coming into it after her pre-season injury, it’s effectively a new back five. And they have worked their socks off and they deserve their clean sheet at the end of it. While the goals at the other end are a big factor in the win, we can’t underestimate the foundation and the base that our defence have given us to go and pick up the three points. They should be very proud of what they achieved today.

“The result doesn’t really change much, as far as next week is concerned. We’re playing all of these teams for the first time this season, so it’s just another fixture. As coaches, we’re planning three weeks ahead, but it’s just another 90 minutes where we have to work hard. We’ve done our homework again, we’ll make sure we’re set as best as we possibly can be and then the quality of our squad should take over.
As of this moment, we focus on next Sunday, and we’ll get this week’s training sessions under our belts and we’ll make sure we’re as prepared as possible come kick-off.”

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