Bedworth United Ladies’ stellar league unbeaten run has been brought to an abrupt end by a resurgent Leicester United WFC.
The Greenback Girls had not tasted defeat since the 8-0 loss a home to champions elect Wolves in September. In that time, Bedworth soared up to 2nd place in the FA Womens’ National League Division 1 Midlands table, a position United continue to possess, but the race for the runners up spot has been opened up once more after Sunday’s off colour performance. Manager Paddy Richards was without the services of captain Jodie McGuckin, partner Amanda Whalley and winger Jodi Hunter for the visit of Leicester, but the gaffer drafted in a more than adequate replacement. Former Coventry united playmaker Jade Formaston made her longawaited Greenbacks debut, with the fans finally introduced to the new recruit teased two weeks ago. Tiarna Gilkes stepped into the midfield as her injury comeback continues, while in the absence of striker Abbie Taylor, a dynamic duo of Milly miller and Xena Dhillon led the front line. Leicester’s preparations were not helped by a desperate scramble for a replacement goalkeeper, following an injury to their regular number one. Steff Maddock took position between the posts on her Leicester debut. Chantelle Robinson sought to extend her goal tally of 15 league and cup goals this term, the latest of which came in the narrow 3-2 County Cup defeat at home to FAWNL Southern Premier outfit, Loughborough Foxes.
After a mini unbeaten streak of three league fixtures, Leicester were not to be underestimated. While not in danger of relegation due to the fruitless campaign of Burton, the Foxes were determined to pull away from the lower region of the table even further, and they sent shockwaves around the Oval with a surprise opening goal from full-back, Megan Kenney, just 5 minutes into the match. A powerful strike of the ball from the right corner of the penalty area caught United keeper Chloe Quinn short at her near post. Before Bedworth could gather their bearings and size up the challenge ahead, the visitors struck again. This time a cross from Chantelle Robinson, after a determined burst up the right flank, found the head of an unmarked Courtney Cropper, who calmly nodded across the keeper to double the lead on 11 minutes Leicester settled into a rhythm at the re-start, limiting Bedworth’s attacking prowess and keeping Maddock unchallenged for the best part of the first half. The Greenbacks’ brightest opportunities would come from Sophie Wilson’s set pieces. The centre-mid thought she’d halved the deficit with a stunning strike from more than 30 yards. But her joy turned to despair as the referee awarded a free kick to Leicester, as the initial free kick awarded was in-direct. Wilson wouldn’t be denied however, and 10 minutes before the break, her 20 yard free-kick, direct this time, was sent directly past Maddock. Again, the celebrations would be shortlived, on this occasion Leicester would spoil the party themselves, with a quickfire third. A lofted ball over the defenders from Chyna McIntosh opened the door for a darting Lauren Bartle to send her cross bouncing across the box and into the path of Lauren Heria, who scooped the ball over Quinn and into the net.
HALF TIME – BEDWORTH 1-3 LEICESTER
Leicester raced out of the blocks after the interval. Less than two minutes after the second half got under way, Chantelle Robinson zoned in on the Bedworth goal, leaving every Greenback in wake, before sending the ball over an onrushing Quinn. A bad day at the office for the Beduff number 1. Spirits were low on the pitch and on the sidelines. The home side continued to try in vain to found a route to Leicester’s back yard, but a misplaced pass or a well timed interception would always curtail the Bedworth effort. That was until Jade Formaston took a chance with a hopeful hit from 25 yards. Formo found her target to make the scoreline 4-2 in Leicester’s favour. While a great strike from the United debutant, Maddock could have made like more difficult for her opposition , but was far too casual in her approach. Just when a ray of sunshine appeared, it soon vanished into the cloud as Robinson stretched Leicester’s lead back to 3, with another burst of pace up the right flank before slicing the ball into the far bottom corner. It was a game The Foxes refused to lose, and a game they fully deserved to win.
FULL TIME – Bedworth 2-5 Leicester
Following the final whistle, Bedworth United Ladies manager, Paddy Richards, admitted his side never really got going, and deserved the defeat inflicted upon the Greenbacks. While a disappointing result, there is still plenty to be excited about, with a new player making her mark and the upcoming return of several key first team stars.
The highlights of this fixture are now available to view on our official Bedworth United Ladies YouTube channel via the link below