After hitting 12 at home against QPR ladies last week, Cardiff City Ladies were full of confidence for the visit of the champions to Ystryd Mynach this weekend. And having already lost to Tottenham twice this season, 2-1 in the league and 4-0 in the cup, Cardiff were out for revenge in a crucial tie in the fight for 2nd place.
From the off you could see why both of these sides were involved in the battle for the league title, with both sides going all out early on. The tackles were fierce, the ball flew from end to end, and both keepers tested in the early exchanges, with a Chloe Lloyd free kick stinging the hands of Lynch in the Tottenham goal, and Baptiste testing Laura O’Sullivan in the Cardiff goal at the other end, before Chloe Lloyd saw a second free kick drift wide of the post. With neither side able to find a clear opportunity on goal, the game became very scrappy with a midfield war being waged; a war in which Cardiff were just about winning.
And Cardiff would get the breakthrough thanks to a bizarre mix-up at the back between Eartha Pond and goalkeeper Lynch. With Hope Suominen committing a foul 25 yards from goal, the Cardiff danger appeared to have dissipated. However, a snap decision from Pond to pass the free kick back to the keeper wasn’t read by her teammate, and the ball rolled passed and into the Tottenham net to give Cardiff the lead after 19 minutes.
Despite Cardiff taking the lead, Tottenham’s heads did not drop, and the game returned to the scrappy battle it was before the goal. As the game progressed, Tottenham started to find their rhythm and began to put the pressure on Cardiff, and O’Sullivan came to the rescue again, diving down to her left after being wrong footed by a deflection, and palming the ball around the post. Tottenham continued to press, but Cardiff’s defence stood strong and limited their chances on goal, with Ellis Hillman in particular putting in a strong performance in left back.
With Tottenham pressing so high, gaps began to free up behind their defence, and a Cardiff break nearly ended with the ball in the net, with Lynch spilling a cross, but Kerry Bartlett unable to keep her shot down in the 34th minute. 4 minutes later, Cardiff hit the champions on the break again, with Laura Williams looping a stunning long ball over the defence for Cori Williams to chase. She picked up the ball, saw off pressure from the defender, and looped the ball over the keepers head and into the top right hand corner to double Cardiff’s advantage before the break. The home side sat back a little for the rest of the half, absorbing Tottenham pressure without much difficulty, with Hope Suominen picking up a yellow card just before the break.
The second half continued in much the same fashion, both sides battling hard, big tackles and high tempers. In the 50th minute, Abbie Britton also found herself in the referees book, before a member of Cardiff’s coaching staff was sent to the stand by the referee for disputing an offside call given from a throw in. By the end of the first 15 minutes of the half, two of the Tottenham side, Pond and Lynch, also found themselves in the referee’s book as he did what he could to keep the game under his control.
In the 62nd minute, Cardiff once again hit Tottenham with a quick break, with Hope Suominen finding herself with space out wide on the left. She had three players charging toward the box to aim for, and her low cross initially looked as though it was going to fall for Cori Williams, however, Williams had the vision to dummy the ball, taking three defenders out of the game, and letting the ball roll through to an unmarked Emily Allen, who volleyed home to give Cardiff a 3 goal advantage with less than half an hour to go.
With the champions in incredibly unfamiliar ground, the game continued to be a very physical affair, and Tottenham’s McLean found herself in the referee’s book also. In the 73rd minute, Cardiff’s excellent day in Ystryd Mynach took a turn for the worse, when Hope Suominen went in for a 50-50 challenge, and was deemed to have fouled her opponent by the referee, who produced his second yellow card for Suominen, ending her day early. With Cardiff 3 goals up and a woman down, the game slowed for the remaining 15 minutes, with neither side creating any chances. However, Cardiff were still dangerous from the break, and Chloe Chivers gave a warning to the champions with 4 minutes remaining, being found out wide, but being unable to curl her shot the right side of the post. And Tottenham did not heed this warning, and 3 minutes later, Chivers was fed through again, wide on the left. The keeper came to claim the ball, only for Chivers to slide it round her, and then place the ball into an empty net to complete Cardiff’s thrashing of the champions. An all-around strong performance throughout, with the defence standing strong, the midfield battling all day, and the attackers clinical. They may have hit 12 last week, but this was arguably Cardiff’s best performance all season.
Woman of the Match- Cori Williams