Sunday, 14 September 2014

West Ham United Ladies 0 v 1 Copsewood Coventry Ladies

Sunday 14th September 2014
Women's Premier League Southern Division
Mill Field, Aveley
Admission including Programme: £4.00
Attendance: 70 (estimate)
Match Rating: 3

It was very much a last minute decision to take in this game, only discovering the fixture whilst surfing the internet this morning, tempted by being able to tick off a new ground which, I had heard, has plenty of character, but is expected to be consigned to history by next season, with the club planning to move into a new ground in time for next season.  

The Mill Field is located just to the north of Aveley village, with the Dartford Crossing in view about five miles southwards and one passes Thurrock's Ship Lane ground between the two. The ground simply oozes history and character, harking back to how non league grounds used to be. One enters in one corner of the ground, and along the length is a large, open terrace, behind which, straddling the half way line is a large old fashioned imposing all-seater stand. Set quite high up, painted in club colours and with wooden fold up seats, it offers very good views of the action from its elevated position, although views are fairly distant, as the playing area is some distance from the bottom of the terrace. Behind the far goal from the entrance, there is a modern metallic stand covering a few terrace steps, whilst straddling the half way line on the other side is a rather precarious looking small area of cover. Hard standing is available around the rest of the ground. Whilst the ground does not contain the creature comforts of a modern or recently refurbished stadium, and it is a rather dilapidated, it made a wonderfully refreshing change to visit a ground with real character, and a visit before it gets bulldozed is highly recommended. A very basic 12 page programme was given away free with admission, and included a page that appeared to be intended for a previous match. That apart, it covered all the basics sufficiently.

Under the leadership of former West Ham and Liverpool legend Julian Dicks since the summer, apparently after offering his services for free, West Ham United Ladies have had a solid start to their season, winning two and losing the other of their three games so far, although they went out of the League Cup at the first hurdle. Newly promoted to this level, Copsewood Coventry Ladies have lost both of their opening games, and also exited the league cup in the first round.

On a dry afternoon that was warm when the sun was out but cool when it frequently clouded over, the visitors started the stronger, usually first to the ball and seeming to pose more of an attacking threat. Indeed, they deservedly took the lead on 21 minutes, when Nicola Foskett got on the end of a low ball forward through the defence, just tapping home before the onrushing keeper could get there. The rest of the half was quite even, although the visitors had the better chances to score again, Foskett coming closest of all when she drove in from the right before firing a low shot across the keeper which struck the inside of the post and rolled across the goal line. But they retained a deserved narrow lead at the interval.

Into the second half and West Ham looked a much improved team, keeping the ball much better and were stronger on the ball and in the tackle, whilst Copsewood barely had sight of goal in the second half. But although West Ham Ladies mounted plenty of attacks on Copsewood's goal, no real gilt edged chances were created and Copsewood held on fairly comfortably their first win in the third tier. 

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