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Ladies: Cheal after more despite latest Ladies win

30 September 2019

Cheltenham Town Ladies came from behind twice as they beat Maidenhead 3-2 at the DN Fire Stadium to maintain pressure at the top of the FA Women’s National League Division One South.

Goals from Annie Martin, Ella Hitchcox and Louise Fensome ensured the Robins grabbed their fifth win of the season.

Despite securing another three points, manager Alex Cheal insists there is still room for improvement.

“12 months ago we would’ve been happy with that, but the performance wasn’t good, and we were there for the taking to be honest," he said.

“For me now it’s about the complete package. It has to be performance as well as result against teams like these.

“The likes of Southampton are winning by sixes and sevens and we’re not, so we’ve got to adjust something.”

The Ladies’ win now takes their total for the campaign to 16 points.

The visitors took the lead in the seventh minute as their striker nodded the game’s first corner at the near post.

The Robins began to dominate after a sloppy start as they sought an immediate response and were nearly rewarded but midfielder Abby Bevan placed her header too high.

They continued to threaten, directing the majority of their play down the wings with Hitchcox and Sarah King causing Maidenhead the most worry.

Hitchcox sliced an effort wide before playing in Martin who finally found the back of the net in the 21st minute, but the linesman had raised his flag.

Maidenhead rarely looked likely to double their lead when they gave their defence a well-needed break with promising counter-attack, stretching the Robins’ backline but skewering a long-range effort to the left of goalkeeper Bec Panniers’ goal.

Cheltenham eventually got their equaliser as Martin arrived on-time to the back post to tap home Charlotte Criddle’s inviting free-kick and end the half level.

The home side showed no signs of letting off after the break and created the half’s first major chance as Martin fired straight at the keeper before Alice Kempski volleyed the rebound over.

They were then nearly gifted the lead by the visiting goalkeeper as she misjudged the bounce of a ball over the top only to be saved by a last-ditch tackle.

Panniers was then left stranded by a dipping strike from 25-yards as Maidenhead restored their lead in the 56th minute.

Cheltenham were able to respond immediately this time round as Hitchcox got her name on the scoresheet, poking Bevan’s lobbed pass past the on-rushing ‘keeper.

Substitute Fensome then found the top left corner with an emphatic effort from distance to complete the turnaround.

The hosts kept trying to extend their lead as they played down the clock and should’ve grabbed a fourth through Martin, but the striker was caught off-balance as Hitchcox’s parried cross fell to her feet.

Defender Mai Butler then saw her goal-bound header spectacularly tipped over the bar.

Maidenhead began to trouble the Robins backline and nearly found an equaliser against the run of play as their winger broke past the defence and forced Panniers into a diving save.

They continued to apply pressure as the hosts attempted to let the clock run down but were kept at bay by some assured defending by Amy Leask.

The Ladies will now turn their focus to the cup competitions and prepare to face Brislington at the DN Fire Stadium next Sunday.

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