I had been looking forward to seeing Caversham's women's team in action again and, with them playing just down the road from me in Kidlington, it was too good a chance to miss. I had hoped to have some of my U12 girls along with me but a combination of positive tests and other activities meant that it was just my daughter who jumped in the car with and, even that was going to be short-lived as a promised shopping trip with her Mum meant she was leaving me to it before half-time. So much for her learning from watching.
Kidlington Youth Ladies play at the Exeter Close Recreation Ground just outside the town centre. It's part of Kidlington that I don't know well at all. I have been to the Yarnton Road ground on numerous occasions, we (my U12s) have played against Kidlington at a different ground, my daughter has played against Gosford (the local school) and competed in the indoor athletic league at the local leisure centre, but I had never been to this particular ground before. Parking, it has to be said, is not easy. There is limited parking at the ground but very little on the street. having said that, it would be possible to park in town and walk to the ground if necessary. There's not too much to report about the ground. It's a community recreation area. There's a kid's play area, a pavilion, tennis courts, an outdoor gym and a small-sided pitch. The main pitch looked to be pretty flat and in pretty good condition. There's no spectator cover, as you would imagine.
For some reason I had it in my head that this was a Quarter-Final. I was wrong, it was a Third Round tie with a place in the QF at stake.
United have had a lot of cup success this season. Of their 7 cup matches before Sunday, they had won 6 and lost just the one, the defeat to Queen's Park Rangers in the FA Cup. Kidlington currently play in the division below The Goats but, on the evidence of their season so far, this will not be the case next season. The Greens lead the way in Division two, five points clear of Haddenham with a game in hand. They've lost just once in the league, an unexpected 2-1 reversal to Slough Town. This was a result they avenged just last week, beating Slough 4-1 on their own patch, with all four goals coming from their top scorer Courtney Sumner. Without a defeat in any competition since November, it seemed likely that they would pose formidable opposition to Caversham.
Caversham clearly wanted to ensure that they started quickly and brightly so as not to let Kidlington gain any momentum. This they did extremely well, pushing the home side back from kick-off. Caitlin Levy was the first to go close with a good effort from outside the box that went just wide of the post. It was all Caversham but the goal just would not come. Jodie Hayden went close again and the running of Elie Dorey was causing problems for the Kidlington backline, but still they held out with some staunch defence.
However, just the half-hour mark The Goats finally made their pressure pay. Holly Swan slipped her marker in midfield before playing a perfectly weighted through ball for Elie Dorey to run onto. She rounded the keeper before rolling the ball into the net from a tight angle. 0-1
The way the game had gone up to this point, that really should have been the sign for the floodgates to open but that was not the case. Instead, just two minutes after going in front, the Goats gifted Kidlington an equaliser. Nina Merritt unfortunately scuffed a clearance straight to a Kidlington player some 25 yards out. Even more unfortunately, it was the Greens main strike threat, Courtney Sumner. She controlled the errant pass, looked up, and floated a superb equaliser back over the stranded Goats stopper. 1-1. You have to doff your cap to the composure shown by Sumner. No panic, just a pinpoint lob demonstrating just why she is top scorer. The goal gave Kidlington a lift after being under the cosh for the first 30 minutes. You could actually see the belief flood back into them and, a few minutes later, another uncharacteristic mistake, this time from Shannon Hobson, gave them another chance. This time the ball fell to their Number 6 and the Goats were relieved to see her effort clear the bar, but it was a stark warning that this game was far from over.
The remainder of the half passed without too much concern for either goalkeeper. However, it was probably Caversham who were happier to hear the half-time whistle and the opportunity to settle down again.
HT Kidlington Youth Ladies 1 Caversham United Women 1. The Goats were completely in command for the first half hour but then made a couple of mistakes which cost them a goal and gave a boost to their opponents. Kidlington trooped back to the changing room at the break but The Goats, interestingly, stayed out on the pitch even though it was getting a bit chilly by this time (or maybe it was just my old bones feeing it?).
Ten minutes into the second period they came very close. Following a corner there was an almighty scramble in the Kidlington box. At one point the ball came back off the bar and I'm not too sure how it wasn't forced over the line but Kidlington did eventually clear. Some great last ditch defending from the Greens.
Just past the hour mark, however, Caversham did get their noses back in front. There was an air of luck about it but they all count. Holly Swan swung over a cross from the left which drifted over the Kidlington keeper and dropped in at the far post. Was it meant? Who knows. 1-2
Caversham managed not to gifted Kidlington a route back into the game this time. In fact, within another 8 minutes, they stretched their lead when Elie Dorey controlled a ball on the edge of the area, turned sharply and rifled an effort past the keeper. A superb strike. 1-3
The Kidlington keeper did man age to get a little revenge over her nemesis a few minutes later when Dorey was put through for what looked like her hat-trick. The keeper came out quickly and managed to prevent her from scoring, giving a loud and exaggerated laugh as she did so. You can't blame her for celebrating a small victory whilst she could, and it certainly made the spectators laugh.
So, Dorey was not to get her third goal but Caversham hadn't quite finished. Just as we went into time added on Stacey Butler capped her player of the match performance and applied the icing to the Goat's cake by slotting their fourth goal home. 1-4.
FT Kidlington Youth Ladies 1 Caversham United Women 4. In the end the score line suggested a very comfortable win for Caversham and, to be fair, they did have the lionesses' share of possession. However, the real story was that Kidlington really made them work hard for their victory. The Greens have some useful players in their squad and, should they gain promotion as seems likely, they will not be out of place in Division 1. Caversham, meanwhile, live to fight another day in the League Cup and will be looking to extend their winning streak next week when they take on Slough Town in the Semi-Final of the Berks & Bucks FA Trophy. Kidlington are back in league action as they welcome fourth placed Procision Oxford Ladies to The Rec.
Kidlington Youth Ladies: Denton, Durham, Keal, Murphy, Overton-Eccles, Owen, Rodway(c), Slavik-Ali, Cumner, Taylor, Thacker. Subs: Chewings, Clayton, Woodward
Caversham United Women: Merritt, Dearling, Wicks, C.Clarke, Hobson, Levy, Butler, Jenkins, Swan, Dorey, McKeever. Subs: Hayden, Thoreau
Ground Number: 305