Wycombe Wanderers Ladies suffered a 2-0 loss to Moneyfields in their opening fixture of the new Premier Division season.
The south coast side won the First Division title last season and picked up where they left off with another impressive victory, netting a goal in each half thanks to Beth Burgess and Sheree Bell-Jack.
The two sides meet again in the reverse fixture at Moneyfields' home ground on Sunday 15th September, k.o. 2pm.
The Chairgirls started their first season in the SRWFL Premier Division against fellow newcomers in last season’s promoted SRWFL First Division champions Moneyfields.
As expected, Moneyfields were a strong outfit both technically and physically having added some experienced former National League players from the now sadly defunct Southampton Saints LFC.
Moneyfields enjoyed the lions share of possession but the Chairgirls worked hard from front to back to aggressively apply pressure on the ball. This resulted in Moneyfields having to play longer passes that became 50:50 battles, many being won by Katie Hudson and Natalie Barette which enabled Wycombe to hit on the break. Tara Woodward, Samantha Jackson and Chante Inniss all had opportunities to open their league accounts but were thwarted by determined defending. At times, the quality of the final pass was lacking which limited clear goalscoring chances.
It took 20 minutes for the deadlock to be broken when a cross was parried by the outstretched hands of Abbie Whitmee only to fall kindly to an oncoming striker to stab the ball home from close range.
The Chairgirls responded positively continuing their aggressive press and looking to hit on the break. The Wycombe back defensive unit continued to soak up Moneyfields attacks with Hudson and Barette showing their experience and leading by example ably supported by Emma Newberry and Emma Dean.
The midfield three of Charlotte Bagshaw, Sarah Harrison and Christina O’Coonor worked effectively trying to create chances for their strikers despite being in a very physical battle all afternoon.
The second half started badly for the Chairgirls as Harrison’s lunging tackle from behind resulted in a theatrical felling of a Moneyfields attacker inside the penalty area. Moneyfields duly converted for 2-0.
Moneyfields superior fitness levels showed as the hour mark was passed. The intensity of the Wycombe press dropped as did the number of counter attacks although both Inniss and Woodward had at best a couple of half chances that were snuffed out by the physical power in the Moneyfields defensive line. However, full credit must go to the Chairgirls who worked to their limits to restrict goal scoring opportunities for their opponents with Whitmee not really being forced into making anything other than a couple of routine saves.
There were more positives than negatives to take from this game as the Chairgirls showed signs of being able to retain possession well and to create some exciting counter attacking play. They also showed their willingness to work until they dropped with tired legs being replaced by all three substitutes in the 82nd minute.
This was a massive step up from the previous week’s FA Cup game which was the first 90 minutes of football for the players since the end of last season following a disrupted pre-season programme. To limit many people’s favourites for the league title to so few clear chances was testament to the promise this group of players has which will hopefully be realised as the season progresses and fitness levels improve.