The new year seems to have brought a new form to the only Welsh side competing in the FAWNL. Cardiff City LFC hosted Moneyfields, who made the lengthy journey to the Welsh capital from their home in Portsmouth.
Following a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Tier 3 side Plymouth Argyle the previous week, the home side were both keen and confident on getting back to winning ways. Moneyfields, having just lost to Exeter the week prior, were also determined to get 2023 back on track. The scene was set for a tasty clash.
The game kicked off in winter sunshine at Ocean Park Arena at 2pm, after players had been escorted onto the pitch with mascots Caerphilly Dragons U9s.
Cardiff dominated the opening minutes, but the tone was set for what was to come, as an early through ball from Chloe Lloyd to Cori Williams caught the skipper offside, and a shot from Williams was light work for Emma Dillon, who made only her second start of the season for Moneyfields.
The visitors pressed the Dragons high, and gambled high up the pitch. This was rewarded when pressure on the Cardiff defence forced confusion between the defender and goalkeeper, resulting in a goal for the visitors that was daringly put away by Kim Whitcombe.
Less than 5 minutes later and the travelling fans were treated to a beauty of a shot from the Moneyfields player who looked up and saw her chance against the international keeper. O’Sullivan had come out off her line, anticipating a breaking run from the attacker, and was caught helpless as the shot was released early and sailed over her head into the top of the goal. Gemma Simmonds whirled away in delight as she doubled the challenge for Cardiff’s comeback.
The day had turned from golden winter sunshine to freezing January showers – and the Moneys were loving it.
Everything they touched turned to gold, with some beautiful and easy one and two touch football to prevent Cardiff getting a sniff of the ball. Some great build up play preceded the third goal, which was well taken by Charley Wilson-Wilton after a particularly difficult cross again outwitted the Cardiff backline.
Half time couldn’t come soon enough for Cardiff’s Jamie Philips, whose team ran straight to the changing rooms to maximise the time for a team talk. Supporters in the crowd, unused to being behind at the break, still seemed to have hope that Cardiff could turn the game around. They were to be disappointed.
With both teams resuming the second half, and some changes made by Philips to those wearing red, determination for the comeback was strong – but Moneyfields anticipated this.
With not even 10 minutes gone in the second half, a set piece awarded to the visitors in the form of a corner was converted by Jade Widdows. It was at this point that it felt as though the game was surely wrapped up. Cardiff had only conceded 3 goals in the league up until this point, and were 0-4 down within an hour.
In total, the game was played in desperation by Cardiff, who try as they might could not challenge the Moneys goalkeeper. Passes were wayward, first touches were heavy, and shots were few and far between. In contrast, Moneyfields’ preparation had paid off. The players were visibly focused, touches were kept close and intentional, and rapid passing through the home players rendered them ultimately unstoppable. Even the addition of the goal-hungry Grace Seren failed to produce a goal for the home side. To add insult to injury, Cardiff’s Hannah Mills was carried off the pitch with a twisted knee, adding to Cardiff’s growing injury list.
Moneyfields have made their statement on the league, being the first team to beat Cardiff City LFC in the league this season, and having done so in an emphatic fashion.