Match Preview – FGR Women travel to Bideford AFC Women (2pm – 23/01/22)

FGR return to the road as they travel to Bideford for their 11th match of the SWWFL Premier Division season for the first of 4 away matches in a row. Although the prospect of so many games on the road may present problems, it is also a run of games FGR Women should go in to full of confidence having defeated RWBTL in their first game of 2022 in front of a bumper crowd and also because FGR have defeated all 4 of their next opponents already this season.

Last Time Out For FGR

FGR faced a strong RWBTL side on Sunday 16th in front of a bumper crowd at Chalford. Bass came into the fixture having been unlucky not to take 3pts against the league leaders Sherborne the week before and were full of confidence whilst FGR played their first game in a month.

There was no signs of rustiness for FGR as they started the game positively and had the better of the opening stages of the encounter. Soon FGRs pressure would pay dividends as a corner down FGRs right was delivered by Nynka Rucker with captain Hattie Jones controlling the ball and turning before firing a powerful shot across goal, finding the bottom left corner of the goal.

Bass tried to force their way in to the game and the leagues top scorer Libby Davies broke down the left, before FGR defender Sophie Herbert, who was strong throughout the game alongside Lucy Johnstone in central defence, stood the striker up and forced her away from goal. However the ball broke to Lani Dickinson who hit a long range effort into the bottom corner, just evading the diving Panniers in the FGR goal.

FGR were soon back on top and were now in full pomp with some of their quick passing causing problems for Bass. FGR worked the ball forward and from left to right before Zoe Boyd went on one of her trademark runs from right back, beating several players before calmly lofting the ball over the RWBTL keeper.

After half time the 3 central midfielders of Jones, Fensome and Hately imposed themselves on the game, forcing Bass to play more direct. It was Fensome who went on a run through midfield before firing a shot which ended up leading to a hand ball being given. From the resulting free kick striker Charlie Rowlands hit a long powerful shot which beat the Bass keeper at full stretch. FGR hit the woodwork twice – once through Rucker and again through Hately – as FGR managed the game well until full time.

FGRs 3-1 win for Tom Needham’s first game in charge was well earned as the defence coped well with the normally free scoring Bass and the attackers took their chances.

The Opposition

Bideford are managed by Roger Bonaparte and play their home games at Bideford Sports Ground – a traditional ground with towering floodlights – which they share with the men’s team. The pitch has recently undergone renovations after the club raised £3,500 from supporters. Nicknamed The Robins they, unsurprisingly, play in red shirts, shorts and socks.

Bideford were promoted from the SWWFL Western Division to the Premier Division in 18/19. In 19/20 before the league was cancelled three games before completing their season, Bideford sat in 6th position in their first season at this level.

However, this season has not gone the way the Robins would have hoped, having failed to win any games so far and sitting on -6 points following a points deduction. Bideford have been improving week on week and much respect should be placed on their recent quote “Happy to be playing #winloseordraw”. Perhaps this positive mindset is a contributing factor to their advancements. They will be keen to find their first win at home to FGR and the match will be a test that FGR will need to make sure they don’t underestimate.

Ones To Watch

Ellen Barrow is Bidefords top scorer this season and is one of several players who make up the core of the playing team alongside Hannah Edmondson, Charie Donovan and Caitlin Phillips. Whilst players like Boulton and Lang have both managed a goal from just 3 appearances and could pose a threat if played.

Last Meeting Between The Two Sides

The two sides last met in October as FGR Women were ruthless in front of goal, registering a 12-0 victory over Bideford. On that day Charlie Rowlands scored a hattrick with Towler, Watson, Jones, and Hateley both scoring twice and Ella Hitchcox also registering a goal. The game was in FGR Women’s favour as Bideford had to play the game with 9 players starting the match to avoid a postponement with several players unavailable. A much tighter game should be expected this time around.

Did you know?

That Bideford changed their name from Bideford AFC Ladies to Bideford AFC Women for the start of this campaign, citing it would reflect a modern view on language and equality. This is also a change FGR made in recent years.

Looking Further Ahead

FGR are now on a run of away games before returning to Chalford for a home match on Sunday 20 February when they host AFC St Austell Ladies at 2pm.

The other away fixtures after Bideford commences with the shortest of the trips to Middlezoy at Westonzoyland Airfield on 30 Jan before Torquay (06/02) and Marine Academy Plymouth (13/02).