Canaries back to winning ways in cup

Norwich City Ladies 5, Arlesey 1.

Following two successive league defeats on the road, City got back to winning ways in the FA Women’s Cup third round qualifier.

The Women’s FA Cup is a competition in which the City side reached the third round proper last season before losing to Yeovil Town – and the Canaries are keen for another good cup run this year.

City now face Cambridge University from the Eastern Region Premier Division in the first round proper.

The Cambridge side have already dispatched of two Norfolk sides in the FA Cup this season having previously beaten Hethersett Athletic and Thorpe United – and City will not want them to get their hat trick of wins when they face them on December 12 at Plantation Park.

Arlesey Town had won the right to play Norwich having beaten Fakenham in extra time in the previous round, so they travelled to Norfolk again hoping to progress.

Arlesey kicked off but City gained early possession, racing forward and claiming their first strike on goal from some distance.

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The first real chance of the game fell to the visitors when they were awarded a free-kick just outside the City penalty area, City were grateful to see keeper Holly Clarke move across her goal and deflect the shot up and over the bar.

Arlesey battled hard and were in a determined mood not to let City have their own way, City were also not getting a grip of the game and struggled to create any real opportunities, with both teams reaching half-time even.

City started the second half a different side, having received a stern talking to at half-time. They scored the opener through midfielder Sophie Gillett,

Gilly, as she is known by her team-mates, picked a loose ball at the top of the area and shot towards goal, the ball bounced awkwardly in front of the keeper and an outstretched arm couldn’t keep the ball out.

This seemed to spur City on and whilst Arlesey tried to get back in to the game City continued to pile the pressure on, and soon scored their second with Gilly placing a lovely weighted pass on to Chelsea Garrett who was playing in a wider position then normal to fire the ball towards the goal.

The Arlesey keeper looked like she had kept the shot out but, as she dived, the ball managed to cross the line.

This was a much better performance then the first half and City’s third followed from a corner, Laura Thacker rose to head the ball against the Arlesey crossbar but as it rebounded and crossed the line.

No-one would have blamed Arlesey for giving up, especially as City were looking in a buoyant mood but this was not on their agenda and they scored a good goal, when the City defence were caught napping and an Arlesey player raced on to fire the ball up and over Clarke.

This goal was deserved for the effort they had put in the first half to keep the scores all level.

Two further City goals, firstly from Jodie Drake and then through second-half substitute Paige Shorten, made the final score Norwich 5, Arlesey 1.

Joint manager Emma Fletcher said: “We struggled first half and Arlesey were digging their heels in, we really didn’t create anything and were thankful that Holly produced an important save that allowed us to go in at half-time all square.

“Credit must go to our girls in the second half. They made no excuses at half-time when we chatted and knew they were not performing and it showed in the second half that they wanted to make up for it.”

When asked about their next opponents in the FA Cup, Cambridge University, Fletcher said: “We played them a couple of seasons ago in our promotion season and they are a decent side.

“They have already been to Norfolk twice this season and come away with victories so we will want to win this tie not just for us as a club but for the county too!”

This weekend City face their second cup game in two weeks – this time in the Norfolk County Cup, a competition which they won last season. They visit Wymondham Town Ladies who play in the local Norfolk league.

Fletcher said: “I must admit with all the mileage we clock up as a team it’s quite nice to just travel a few miles down the road for an away game. It doesn’t matter what league you play in – we will treat our preparation no different than we would do for a league game.”