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Bristol Academy 0 Lincoln Ladies 1 (Cantrell 48)
Lincoln Ladies moved into top spot in the fledgling FA WSL table with a hard fought 1-0 win away to Bristol Academy in windy conditions at Stoke Gifford, given to them by a spectacular strike from Carla Cantrell.
There were few opportunities at either end during the early stages of the match and a gusting wind was not making it easy for either side. The first clear chance came midway through the first half as Nikki Watts slid a through ball into the path of Laura Del Rio Garcia but Nicola Hobbs did well to come off her line and block her shot.
Hobbs was again called into action as she dived to parry a shot from Watts and Rachel Daly reacted well to beat Melissa Lawley to the rebound and clear.
As the half wore on, Lincoln came into the game more as an attacking force with Collette McCallum shooting wide from a Jess Clarke cross and Clarke herself lifted a shot wide after being found by a good pass from Lucy Staniforth. More good work from Clarke saw her cross for McCallum to head wide under pressure from Alex Windell but the two teams largely cancelled each other out during the first half.
Lincoln started the second half quickly with Megan Harris forcing a good diving save from Siobhan Chamberlain but a minute later, the visitors went in front.
Chasing a long ball down the right by Sophie Walton, Cantrell tried her luck from around 30 yards near the touchline and unleashed a shot which dipped over Chamberlain and went in off the underside of the bar. The striker boasts an excellent scoring record against Academy and this added to her collection.
The goal visibly stunned Academy and they were further hampered when Molly Clark, who had only been on the field for ten minutes, was stretchered off with a knee injury following an awkward fall.
The game began to flow from end to end as Academy pressed forward and Lincoln were content to hit on the counter attack. Natasha Harding almost stole in for an equaliser as she latched onto Jessica Fishlock's ball into the area but was denied by Hobbs and Garcia fired the loose ball wide.
Garcia headed just wide from a Loren Dykes cross before Lincoln enforced a period of pressure in search of a second goal. An inswinging corner from Staniforth found the net but was disallowed due to a foul on Chamberlain by Casey Stoney, then from another corner, Chamberlain made a block at the far post from Meaghan Sargeant.
There was a scare for Academy as Cantrell charged down a clearance from Chamberlain but Jemma Rose did well to prevent Clarke from getting in a free shot on goal and forced the winger to shoot wide. Cantrell then went close again but this time was denied by an excellent save by Chamberlain.
Academy weathered the storm and then had a glorious chance themselves to level the scores. Garcia made a fine run which took her all the way into the Lincoln area and clear on goal but Hobbs once again prevented her with a vital touch which took the ball past the post.
As the game went into the dying minutes, Academy threw themselves forward to try and salvage a point but Lincoln stood firm, with Stoney and the impressive Sargeant staying strong in defence and the tenacious Remi Allen snapping into tackles in front of them, meaning that Academy could not find a way through.
Bristol Academy: Siobhan Chamberlain, Alex Windell, Jaz Matthews, Natasha Harding, Jemma Rose, Michelle Green (sub Molly Clark 52mins (sub Angharad James 66mins)), Laura Del Rio Garcia, Melissa Lawley, Nikki Watts, Jessica Fishlock, Loren Dykes (sub Ann Marie Heatherson 90mins). Subs not used: Rachel Simkin, Ellie Curson, Ellie Isaac.
Lincoln Ladies: Nicola Hobbs, Sophie Walton, Rachel Daly, Collette McCallum (sub Precious Hamilton 78mins), Meaghan Sargeant, Casey Stoney, Megan Harris, Lucy Staniforth, Carla Cantrell (sub Sophie Barker 90mins), Remi Allen, Jess Clarke. Subs not used: Emily Roberts, Martha Harris, Holly Crosby.
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