Cheltenham Town Ladies hosted the FA Women’s Premier League South West division’s 2nd placed side Southampton Saints at Petersfield Park on Sunday, a week after their first game at the home of Cheltenham men, Whaddon Road.
The visitors started the brightest, testing Robins keeper Bec Panniers early on. Both sides liked to play with a good tempo passing the ball around and trying to play tricky balls through the defences to play their forward lines in. With chances for both sides and some impressive saves by both keepers it looked like we would be heading in to the break at 0-0, but with 2 minutes to go in the first half, Saints crossed a nice ball in from the left which fell at the feet of Libby O’Dell in the box who’s strike at goal was too much for Panniers who couldn’t hold on to it and it trickled past her and in to the net, 1-0. Seconds later, O’Dell nearly got her’s and Saint’s second with a strike from the edge of the box which was heroically saved at full stretch by Panniers.
The second half continued much like there first but as the half went on Southampton started to turn the screw and managed to pen Cheltenham in to their own defensive 3rd for a good 10-15 minutes as the hosts just couldn’t get it clear. Some more excellent saves by Panniers in the Cheltenham goal kept the Robins in the game, noticeably the save with her feet at point blank range when the ball fell to Catherine Browning in the box. In to the final 10 minutes and with some fresh legs on the field, the home side got going again forcing some good saves from the Saints keeper, but ultimately not finding the back of the net.
A narrow defeat for Cheltenham which could have been worse if it wasn’t for a fantastic performance from the Severn Sport player of the match Bec Panniers in the Cheltenham goal. (Lineups below)
Our reporter Matt chatted to CTLFC manager Graham Fletcher for his thoughts on the game and about the club in general so far this season.