Cambridge United Women earned a vital three points away at London Seaward's Oakside Stadium to make it four wins from seven to start the league season...
Bella Simmons' acrobatic bicycle kick in the second half separated the sides, as United continued their strong start to the season to leave them just three points off top at the end of play.
Darren Marjoram made one change coming into the game, with Rachel Kosky coming in to replace Tash Collins in the back line.
Their opponents tonight started the season with a mixed bag of results, having 8 points from 6 games (W2, D2, L2), and sitting 3 places below the U’s in the league.
The hosts had the first real opportunity in the game within the first 5 minutes. A long clearance fell into space, and their striker won the footrace and looked to square the ball, however good tracking back from Brooke Cheale-Ferris prevented any real danger.
Cambridge struggled to grow into the game early on, positivity though from Zoe Wood, collecting the ball before running 40 yards and unleashing a speculative effort that didn’t trouble the seaward keeper.
Seaward went very close from range before the ball went down the other end into a scramble in the box. Both Alysha Stojko-Down and Ruth Fox were denied by some desperate defending.
The U’s found some good possession and pressure for the next 10 minutes, although a stubborn London defence prevented any clear chances, before they themselves hit the crossbar from a wayward cross that nearly beat Webb in goal.
The first corner for Cambridge came shortly after the half hour. Initially given short to Wood, she beat the defender and placed a cross into a dangerous area but no orange shirts were underneath it. The clearance fell to Cheale-Ferris, who’s low effort only found the keepers gloves.
There were few chances before the break for either side, in what was a reasonably balance first half. Cambridge had more possession and chances, but struggled to create many clear opportunities.
The U’s started the second half on the front foot. Zoe Wood making another long run towards the box but seeing her shot go wide, and Cheale-Ferris caused problems with her pinpoint deliveries from set pieces but the Seaward keeper wasn’t truly tested.
The breakthrough came Cambridge’s way, and it was worth the wait. Zoe Wood slid a perfect ball through to Stojko-Down who’s initial shot was saved but the ball flew into the air and was met acrobatically by Bella Simmons. Her connection on the bicycle kick was perfect and as she lay on the floor she saw the ball fly past the defender on the line and into the far corner.
With 20 minutes to go, The U’s sought to revitalise the midfield to maintain the clean sheet. Sammy Edger giving way for Gisela Otten.
London Seaward raised their intensity and pressure in search of an equaliser, however the Cambridge midfield and defence were letting little past them, showing how well drilled and organised they were.
Harley-Jean Simpson made her first appearance of the season, coming on the replace goal scorer Bella Simmons with 15 minutes to go. The hosts also made multiple changes in hope of bringing more energy.
The changes made a difference for Seaward, a string of corners and pressure followed but once again, there was nothing that troubled Lauren Webb’s goal. Between corners the U’s players were patient and reserved, not diving in and ensuring nothing got past them.
Simpsons night lasted less than 10 minutes following a challenge that seemed to trouble her injury that she had just returned from. She was replaced by Tash Collins, with Abbie Jackson also coming on in place of Ruth Fox. Cambridge by this point playing safe with the precious lead they had.
Game control became a huge factor in the dying stages. Every time the ball was in Cambridge possession it was driven to the corners, killing every possible second. The whole team in unison, from clearances to headers and tackles, they knew what they had to do and they did it expertly until the referees whistle finally blew after nearly 15 minutes added time.
The win was well deserved in the end, with every player battling until the end. Bella Simmons spectacular goal proving the difference on the night, but the whole squad showing their resolve for the third consecutive game.
Next up for Darren Marjorams side is a local derby away to Cambridge City on Sunday 15th October, 2pm kick-off.