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Downend on verge of title
 Women's Football News 8 Mar 2012
 
Downend on verge of title - 8 Mar 2012 - Women's Football NewsCleeve West Town 2 Downend Flyers 3
Downend Flyers put themselves within one more victory of sealing the South West League Eastern Division One title after coming from behind to beat Cleeve West Town 3-2 in a thrilling game. 
 
Downend will be confirmed as Champions if they beat Bishop's Lydeard this Sunday but were pushed all the way here in a top of the table match which lived up to its billing.
 
Cleeve needed a win to keep any hopes of winning the title alive and they got off to the best possible start by taking an early lead. A strong wind was making it difficult for both sides to judge the ball in the air and it led to Downend defender Katie Loveridge being penalised for handball in the area, Lizzie Barratt converting the resulting penalty.
 
However Downend were soon back on level terms when Alana Willson's cross was touched on by Kate Michaels and crossed the line despite Cleeve's efforts to clear.
 
The lively running up front of former Bristol City striker Barratt was making things harder for the Downend back four and a foul on her led to them going back in front just before half time. Charlie Grimes' 25-yard free kick sailed just under the bar and into the net past Zoe Hodgson whose vision was not helped by a low lying sun.
 
After the break, Cleeve pressed for a third goal with Alice Cook in good form on the left and came close from another Grimes free kick, Karen Manson hitting the side netting with a header.
 
The game was turned on its head though in a five minute spell just after the hour. In their first meaningful attack of the half, Willson was felled in the area by a challenge from Hayley Bosley and a penalty was awarded. Michaels coolly found the corner of the net from the spot for her second goal.
 
Downend then found themselves in front just minutes later, this time Laura Baker picked the ball up on the halfway line and the pacey striker beat three Cleeve defenders before sliding the ball home for a brilliant individual goal.
 
Cleeve tried hard to get themselves back into the game but Downend stood firm under increasing pressure with Loveridge marshalling the back four well. Downend lost Aimee Taylor through injury, to be replaced by Grace Bunker on the right, but they battled hard to hold on to their lead, epitomised by Mel Pickering in the centre of midfield who won a series of crucial tackles in an impressive display.
 
There were still chances at either end, Manson again finding the side netting with a header and Hodgson saving from Barratt, whilst Willson went close with a strike from outside the area and Bunker was denied by Rachel Wright as she looked set to score.
 
Downend therefore stretched their unbeaten league run to fourteen games and now head the table by ten points with four matches left to play. 
 
Cleeve West Town: Rachael Wright, Laura Garlick, Sally-Anne Langton, Natasha Hale, Nicola Hoare, Charlie Grimes, Hayley Bosley, Lizzie Barratt, Mollie Stevens, Karen Manson, Alice Cook. Subs: Sam Crew, Natasha Crew, Anneka Hawkins.

Downend Flyers: Zoe Hodgson, Katie Loveridge, Danielle Edgar, Danielle Beazer, Georgina Bragg, Terie Brown, Mel Pickering, Aimee Taylor, Alana Willson, Kate Michaels, Laura Baker. Subs: Grace Bunker, Hayley Bullock, Carley Corcoran.


 
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