Larkhall Athletic Match Report

5th October 2020

Larkhall 3

Larkhall: Bryant 29’pen, Robbins 54′, 61′
Cheltenham: Criddle 11′, Grove 26′, 53′,

An outstanding Charlotte Criddle free-kick and a Jade Grove brace set Cheltenham Town Ladies up for a win on the road at Bath before former Robiness, Rhian Robbins, put two on the board to salvage Larkhall a draw.

Cheltenham looked comfortable in attack despite the conditions, with King having an immediate impact on the right wing and trying to link with Grove and Bevan before a Larkhall interception allowed the hosts to try their own luck on the wing. Cheltenham’s defence stood strong, forcing a shot from distance which captain Levett saw wide.

With the visitors asking questions of the home defence early on, Sarah King was brought down just outside the box as she chased a diagonal Criddle pass.
Criddle stepped up and slotted the free-kick in similar fashion to the previous game and gave Cheltenham an early lead.

Larkhall dug deep and looked for an instant reply, pushing the button on the Cheltenham left wing but could only force a corner kick. The whipped ball in was met at the near post but Levett would claim the high ball in among the crowd.

Cheltenham would respond again with Bevan putting King into space on the right, with the young winger firing a low cross into the six yard box for the on-rushing Kayll, but the final touch to steer it goalward eluded the fast forward.

Larkhall would go searching again as the game turned into an end-to-end battle as Halford and Criddle teamed up to stop the home side and allow Cheltenham to break. Kayll found King, who featured heavily in the first half, who looked to find Grove in the box but put just too much on her cross.

From the kick out, the ball found Kayll out wide on the left, who took a touch and fed the ball forward to Grove, who was able to step her marker and evade a tackle as she fired across goal on the turn, finding the bottom corner.

Larkhall would react strongly and go about looking to close the gap instantly from the restart. After forcing the play deep into the Cheltenham half, they were rewarded for their efforts as a Cheltenham hand was adjudged to have made contact with the ball. The penalty was well converted by Bryant, despite Levett diving the right way.

The pace of the second half would pick up with both sides exchanging attacks. Cheltenham would win a corner through the work of Grove and King but were unable to convert the chance. The Larkhall ‘keeper would punch the ball clear allowing for a counter attack which would result in Larkhall winning a corner of their own, which was headed over the bar at the far post.

The wet conditions would hamper the game’s passing as both teams look to get the all important next goal. Larkhall would work hard on the left only for a foul throw to disrupt their momentum, while Cheltenham tried to play on the slippery surface, but Hood and Criddle struggled to find Grove through the home defence.

Half Time: Larkhall Athletic Women 1-2 CTLFC

Cheltenham would restart the game the strong of the two teams with Bevan’s tireless running and thorough passing causing the home side problems.
Grove would latch onto a good through ball and look to create just inside the box, but her looping cross-shot bounced clear on the slick surface, taking it away from Bevan charging into the six yard box.

Grove would get another chance as Cheltenham sent a good ball forward. The striker’s first touch would open up a bit of space for her but her shot didn’t have enough on it to trouble the goalkeeper, calling only a simple save from the shot stopper.

Minutes later Grove would get another chance. After being given time to turn, Grove would go on a solo run, lifting the ball over the goalkeeper as she rushed to close down the space.

Less than a minute later, Larkhall restored the one goal difference with a direct attack. Robbins being able to make good contact with the ball and sending it past Levett as she approached the edge of her area.

The home side would level the score on the 61st minute, Robbins again causing issues for the Cheltenham back line. A ball forward saw the striker take a touch and set herself, before lobbing Levett from outside the box, despite the close attention of defender Sammy Hallsworth.

Immediately after the goal, Cheltenham introduced Ruby Scahill to the tie and the young midfielder made an early impression by going on a direct forward run. A strong tackle dispossessed her and allowed the home side to create but Halford was able to clean up deep in the visitor’s half.

Shortly after Scahill would see more attention from the home side’s defence, this time a sharp looking sliding tackle winning a free-kick. Criddle would put the ball into the danger zone but the Cheltenham bodies in the box were unable to win it in the air.

Cheltenham would push forward with Grove’s strength becoming a handful for the Larkhall defence. King and Scahill would combine on the left in an attempt to reach Grove but the pass was cut out. Grove’s strength would see her outmuscle her marker and look to shoot. The home defence scrambling to close the shot and squirm the ball away for a corner.

Larkhall dealt with the dangerous corner, despite appeals for a handball and would force the play all the way back to Halford and Levett.
Shortly after, Haynes would join the fray and her hard work down the left would eventually provide Lambe with space to cross. The diagonal ball in had enough to find King, but wouldn’t hold up on the surface for the winger to reach it.

Larkhall would stand up to the test and look to nab a late winner, pushing the pace and physicality of the game. With Cheltenham looking to work an attack into the home side’s defensive third, Scahill would again be fouled as her opposite number left her feet in what could have resulted in something serious. Criddle would step up to the free-kick but wasn’t able to hit the target.

Larkhall’s aggression would see them push the envelop going forward, with Levett coming to collect a loose ball. The striker rushed in to try and win the ball as she came out and a coming together between goalkeeper and striker saw the Cheltenham captain receive a shove in the back as she looked to place the free-kick.

Further up the field Cheltenham would win another set piece as Larkhall flew in with the tackles, in an attempt to stop the visitor’s passing game. After clearing Criddle’s free-kick, the home side would counter quickly and win a late corner but were unable to turn it goalwards before the referee blew time on a frantic second half.

Cheltenham: R. Levett, H. Lambe, S. Morris (Hallsworth 46), R. Halford, L. Ellis, C. Criddle, A. Bevan, J. Hood (R. Scahill 64), S. King, L. Kayll (Haynes 76), J. Grove.
Subs not used: M. Ripley, A. Kempski


Manager Tom Davies was disappointed that his side let a 3-1 lead slip, but praised his opposition for not giving up the fight:

“We’ve been in front and it’s disappointing to lose [the second half] 2-1. It’s the same thing we spoke about on Thursday, and the same thing we spoke about in the dressing room today, that we’re part of a process and we’re still building. We haven’t worked on that periodisation yet, in terms of final third, so when we get there we should be more productive. Defensively we just need to be a bit more organised. It’s unfortunate today that we’ve picked up an injury at half time and had to rotate, and Becks has had her third defensive partner in seven days. Those things don’t help, but we have to get on with those things and credit to Larkhall, they’ve created a few chances and they’ve taken them, so full credit to them.

“It’s both a point gained and a point lost, naturally. Every game we play we want to get three points, like I said its a building phase for us and its important that we stick to that and that we debrief in the right way, which we have done. We want to win every game and there’s going to be no let up in that and we want to be relentless, we want to get into that sort of mentality, but we have to accept it when we play against strong sides that have quality players and experience and that’s happened today, we debrief, we learn from it and we go again.”

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