Bedford 2 Acle United Women 2: Acle hit back to claim share of the spoils
Shirley D Whitlow
Acle United Women came back from a two-goal deficit at half-time to draw 2-2 at a sun-drenched Bedford on Sunday afternoon.
The visitors made one change from last week’s starting line-up with Todd replacing Birchall who was unavailable. On the bench Holden was named after being unavailable last week and new signing Goodfield returned to her old club from Norwich City.
Acle pushed forward in the early stages and almost took the lead in the first minute with a shot which forced the home keeper to push the ball past the post. Bullard was causing problems down the right flank but her crosses into the area were not capitalised on and from the other flank Todd cut inside and saw the keeper save with her legs after a fine through ball by Rowland.
However, the early pressure was negated after the Acle defence allowed a high ball to bounce and a mix-up saw a home player to nip in and put the hosts 1-0 in the lead. Another attack by Bedford minutes later was halted for offside when in a dangerous position to the relief of the visitors.
Midway through the half only the woodwork saved the hosts. Bullard played the ball back to Scully who from 20 yards hit the cross-bar and Todd saw her rebound hit the keeper’s legs before being cleared. The home keeper was called into action again in the 24th minute when Rowlands effort was saved after an overlapping run and cross from Larkins.
Due to the heat, the players had a water break just after the half hour mark and almost immediately Bedford increased their lead.
Acle lost possession in midfield and a quick attack down the right flank saw the ball crossed to an unmarked player who put the hosts 2-0 ahead. Bedford were having the better of the play, partly helped by some wayward passing by Acle.
Just before half-time, Rowland was brought down around 25 yards out from goal and her free-kick was tipped over the bar by the home keeper with the hosts going into the break with a 2-0 lead.
Goodfield replaced Mungham-Gray for the start of the second half and after a quiet start it was the hosts who had the first chance to score. Acle gave away possession in midfield and a quick breakaway down the flank saw Bell being forced to save a low shot with her legs.
However, it their first attack of the half, Acle pulled a goal back. Parker moving forward played the ball wide to Bullard who laid the ball inside to Holden on the edge of the penalty-area and Holden’s shot comfortably beat the home keeper.
It got even better for the visitors just a minute later. Rowland, picking up the ball in midfield, ghosted past a Bedford player and unleashed a dipping shot just under the bar from 25 yards to level the score at 2-2.
By midway through the half, Acle were doing most of the pressing but rarely testing the home keeper, whilst Bedford were relying on quick counterattacks and in one such move only a fine covering tackle from Larkins halted a dangerous move on the Acle goal.
With the game nearing its conclusion, Holden was fouled out wide in line with the penalty-area. Rowland’s free-kick was met by Shields at the far post but her downward header bounced straight into the keeper’s arms.
In added time, Bedford had a golden chance to collect all three points, but the Bedford player, rather than pass to an unmarked player in front of goal, tried to go for goal herself and was dispossessed by Acle who cleared, with the referee ending the game a short while afterwards.
Acle United Women: A Bell, A Larkins, O Mungham-Gray, B Scully, G Parker, C Shields, L Bullard, K Pasque, R Brister, A Rowland, M Todd. Subs used: L Holden, L Goodfield. Unused: R Burton.