Monday, 9 December 2019

Road to Wembley #7

If you have been following this seasons Women's FA Cup, or indeed this very blog, then you will already be aware that the main round date for the Second Round Proper was held last weekend (1st December). If you have also been following real life, then you will know that the weather, especially 'up north' was, shall we say grim, deeming a number of pitches frozen and therefore ties postponed to this weekend.

Perhaps this worked out better on a personal level, because last Sunday morning we were in Glasgow and needed to drive to Chester le Street to reach the closest tie at a ground neither me or partner Ben had visited. This would have meant almost five hours driving in total that day, which thinking about it, wasn't exactly ideal. For this week, we decided against heading to the north east and saving Moor Park for a later date when we could make more of a weekend of it. So this week, we opted for another Midlands clash, this time between West Bromwich Albion Women and Lincoln City Women, whom we previously saw at Sporting Khalsa in the Third Round Qualifying.

WBA play their home games at Oak Park home of not only Walsall Wood FC, but also Walsall Town Swifts. It boasts a rather elegant main stand, complete with wooden benches (and a row of plastic chairs). The other sides are uncovered hard standing, with a clubhouse and a small covered standing section canopy on the opposite side. The ground was painted red and white, the colours of the Walsall side.

Besides the stand, another notable and rather remarkable feature of the ground is the view of the life sized pit head monument at one end, the largest mining sculpture in the world. This was designed and built between 2008-10 by sculptor Luke Perry, as part of a larger sculpture project in the village, which you can read more about here.

The entry for today's game was £5 per adult, which included a 15 page colour programme. This game was also in support of Stonewall's excellent #RainbowLaces campaign, which aims to make sport more inclusive and welcoming for LGBTQ+ people, whether you are a spectator or player.

With West Bromwich in the FAWNL North Premier Division, a league above Lincoln in the FAWNL Division 1 Midlands, it came at no surprise that they had the first chance around 10 minutes in, forcing the visitors keeper to a fantastic save. Lincoln replied some minutes after, with a brilliant strike by Murrell, who scored twice in the last tie we saw Lincoln in, though just going wide of the net.

Both teams battled end to end each having chances, though it was WBA's Hattie James who broke the deadlock at 27 minutes, along with the onset of rain. This is where the covered canopy came into action, though wasn't much use as the rain was blowing towards and into the cover. It soon passed and after a yellow card distributed to one of WBA's players for a tackle on Lincoln's keeper, it was half time.

After our usual half time coffees (£1), the players were back out and ready for the second half. By this point we were really starting to feel the cold, which was mainly the doing of the strong wind blowing south westerly across the ground.

Despite WBA obtaining the majority of the possession for this half, Lincoln denied most of their chances with excellent keeping and defence. They too took their chances when available, though not amounting to a mark on the score sheet. It was looking like a goalless half, until WBA's Keeley Davies found the net in the 90th minute, furthering their lead.

It was a predictable win for WBA being a level above Lincoln, though the game was much more competitive than we imagined. WBA will progress to the next round, where they will travel to Southampton WFC on January 5th.

You can follow WBA Women on Twitter here and Lincoln City Women here.

Full photo set here.

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