The ACN Match Review – Worthing (h)


It wouldn’t be Norwich City Women if they weren’t battling back, especially in tumultuous times. Lucy Chen reports back from a high-stakes draw on our road to the title.

The line-up

No major surprises in interim head coach Scott Emmerson’s first starting 11. City have alternated between a three and a four at-the-back this season and a back four was used this time, with the players lining up in the familiar 4-2-3-1. Holly Kennard, who has been a revelation since the restart, was missing and Rachel Lawrence came in at left wing, while Lauren Tomlinson started on the bench.

The atmosphere

It was a quiet afternoon at the Nest. The weather was rather horrid, and the game coincided with Mother’s Day, which most likely depressed turnout. Still, the attendance was good for this division, even if it fell below what we’ve become used to at home this season.

The atmosphere was still good and chants could be heard throughout the 90 (Sarah Quantrill’s one of us, she hates Ipswich~), albeit not quite as loud as usual. The lack of shouting from the home dugout was strange and will definitely take some getting used to, but I digress.

Hurrah moments

At the risk of sounding extremely biased… every time Katie Knights dived into a slide tackle and won the ball back. Like wow, she’s good at that.

I’m also going to say just before half time when Ellie Smith picked up the ball around the halfway line with three Worthing players around her, then left them all in the dust and had to be fouled. That woman leaves me speechless every time she sets foot on a football pitch.

And let’s not forget when Worthing hit the crossbar in the 35th minute. Looked to all the world as if they were going to score from the rebound, but Eloise Morran chested down the shot then popped up in the visitors’ box a few minutes later to get on the end of Megan Todd’s delivery, albeit not quite able to get the ball under control. Do we have the best midfield in the division or what? (That was rhetorical. We do.)

Boo moments

Those effing loudspeakers at the Nest. Seriously. They need to be replaced six months ago.

Also the lack of Tomo bullet throws. BOO! They’re only my favourite thing in football.

Hero(es) of the match

This is a hard one… Ellie Smith gave us the lead when she threw herself onto the end of Alice Parker’s delivery and had to receive medical treatment for her trouble, so she naturally deserves a shout. What an absolute madwoman.

I’d also be remiss not to mention Rachel Lawrence. It was all about attacking down the flanks and getting the ball to the wingers for City, which suited her just fine. In the middle of the action from the get-go, she created numerous chances with her long diagonals and crosses – and almost got on the scoresheet just before the hour mark. Hats off to the Worthing goalie Lauren Dolbear, who was stellar all game.

Speaking of goalies, how can I not talk about Sarah Quantrill? She’s been a rock at the back for us all season, and her signing catapulted us into contention. Far from all-smooth sailings, we’ve had to grind out our fair share of results this season – most memorably the 1-0 win over Hashtag United in the FA Cup – and it simply wouldn’t have been possible without a goalkeeper of her calibre. I’m inclined to say Sunday was another game where we fell onto her shot-stopping late in the day to hold onto the result.

And of course, it wouldn’t be me to round off a match review without some KK16 prop. Not like it’s hard! They say 70% of the Earth is covered with water. The rest is covered by Katie Knights. She was a moving wall in the midfield, shuffling from touchline to touchline to break up play and didn’t let so much as a fly past her. Certainly one of the most dominantperformances I’d ever seen from a midfielder in defensive transitions, and it never ceases to amaze me how she just never stops running.

Our post-match takeaway

The most notable thing about Sunday’s game was, without a doubt, that it was our first of the new era. No one (at least outside the club) was expecting City to let the head coach go in the middle of a promotion push, and many were anxious to see how the new era would begin.

One should not, of course, read too much into a single game. But if Sunday was any indication, there’ ll be a lot of continuity going forward. The 4-2-3-1 was the same as most of Martin Herdman’s games in charge, and there was no radical change in playing style – applying pressure high up the pitch, being strong in duels and getting the ball forward quickly.

The first 30-35 minutes was all City. We pressed them hard and wrong-footed them from the get-go. In the instances where the visitors managed to bypass the press, the midfield battled for the ball and fared well in the duels, while Ceri Flye – our tank of a centre back – won pretty much every ball into the final third. The goal was coming and frankly, the 1-0 scoreline did not reflect the extent of our dominance.

Worthing only got into the game towards the end of the first half when our intensity dropped off, and this was largely the story in the second half. We started strong, then our intensity dropped off as fatigue set in, and Worthing were able to sustain good spells of possession in dangerous areas of the pitch. Just as we could easily have run a bigger lead in the first half, we could well have conceded another in the latter stages of the second half, and both goalkeepers deserve a lot of credit for their performances. 

All things considered, the draw was a fair result; our performance good considering it was our first competitive game in three weeks. Nothing has changed in the grand scheme of things – we need to beat QPR at Carrow Road then win our visit to AFC Wimbledon at the end of the month. That game will make or break our title charge.


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