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Barnet 1 Cardiff City 0
Barnet struck late to secure three points in the only Premier League match to beat the weather when an 86th minute Stacey Sowden goal proved decisive against Cardiff City in a tight contest at Underhill.
The home team had created the majority of chances throughout the match but it seemed destined to end goalless until the Bees prolific striker was sent clear by a fine pass from substitute Renata Inniss and smashed the ball high into the net from ten yards.
The main worry about the pitch was the goalmouth in the shadow of the covered Family Stand end, but a lot of work by ground staff rendered it playable. It is easy to see how Cardiff have scored and conceded so few goals since their return to the National Division this season, as they defended solidly, after one early lapse, but rarely threatened the Bees goal.
They were caught out early on when Emma Davies beat the last defender to a through ball, but the winger's 15-yard shot from the centre of the goal struck the base of a post on six minutes. From then on, Barnet were restricted to long range efforts, a Cheryl Wiliams free kick and an Abbie Prosser effort both flying wide of Rhian Nokes' goal. Barnet keeper Cherie Rowlands was quickly off her line to kick clear a dangerous bouncing ball on 21 minutes but was rarely troubled otherwise.
Nokes then made a fine diving save low to her right from a dipping shot from Prosser on 35 minutes. Sowden was always looking for openings but her best chance was snuffed out by excellent defending from Terri Beddows to keep the scores level at the break.
Sowden twice threatened to break the deadlock as Barnet attacked down the Underhill slope in the second half. firing wide then being crowded out close to goal. The visitors then had their best spell of the match, forcing a couple of corners and creating a good chance for Amie Lea, who broke free centrally but shot straight at Rowlands on 65 minutes.
Sowden was foiled by another good Nokes save on 71 minutes as the Welsh international turned her powerful shot wide from close range..Williams drove a free kick from wide right inches past the far post as Barnet continued to press. The introduction of Inniss gave a fresh impetus to the Bees, the young forward shooting wide after weaving a path through the defence.
Lea shot wide for the Bluebirds on 84 minutes but it was Barnet who clinched the result two minutes later. Inniss made progress on the right and curled a precise pass beyond the last defender to Sowden, who controlled and set herself to drive the ball past the advancing Nokes. Barnet saw out the remaining minutes fairly comfortably to cement a win which takes them up into fourth place.
Owing to international call ups and Welsh Cup commitments, Cardiff still have seven matches left including home and away fixtures against the top two in the League. They will still be playing League matches in mid-April but will expect to have secured their National Division place well before then. Barnet have avoided last season's struggle to stay up and have three Cup campaigns to attack in the coming weeks.
Barnet: Cherie Rowlands, Hannah Short, Sally Wade, Abbie Prosser, Leanne Reidy, Alex Keown, Danielle Murphy, Stacey Sowden, Jess Trimnell, Emma Davies, Cheryl Williams. Subs: Sue Kumaning, Gemma Rudman, Jade Dempster, Renata Inniss.
Cardiff City: Rhian Nokes, Amie Lea, Lauren Townsend, Terri Beddows, Nicola Cousins, Kayleigh Green, Nia Jones, Zoe Atkins, Stephanie Williams, Danielle Broadhurst, Ellie Smith.Subs: Bethan Lloyd, Lauren Price, Eleanor Davies, Annie Pritchard.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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