Match Report: Downend Flyers 0-10 Cardiff City LFC

The build-up ahead of Sunday’s clash was admirable, but the #NewSevernsideDerby soon became a thing of the past. Downend Flyers, a female-only club formed in 1992 in Bristol, hosted Cardiff City LFC, also a female-only club originating in 1975.

Both team’s social media admins did a sterling job of hyping up the match in the week leading up – though Downend looked to have the upper hand in this domain, with wit and passion to make #NewSevernsideDerby trend on Twitter.

Upon arrival at the ground on matchday, the rain that was forecast was nowhere to be seen, and instead, both teams were greeted by blazing (and dazzling) autumn sunshine. Players began structured warm-ups, and supporters made their way to the pavilion for pre-match nourishment.

Ahead of the game, head coach Dean Giles, who had been to watch Cardiff’s last home game, commented: ‘It’s a big challenge for the team, hopefully, they’ll show what a good team they can be. Really looking forward to the game to see where we are and how far we’ve come in a short space of time.’

It looked to be a great opportunity for the Flyers, who hailed the fixture as the biggest match in their history.

Both teams lined up ahead of kick-off, and a crowd of around 200 supporters from Bristol and Cardiff lined up around the edge of the pitch to cheer on the players.

Cardiff started the game with an interesting tactic, hitting the ball immediately out of touch in the Flyers’ half. Within the first five minutes, Libby Piggot and Ellie Sargent had seen shots fly over the Downend bar. The Flyers put pressure on with the press, forcing Cardiff’s Laura O’Sullivan to play intelligent passes out of her own box. The Dragons wriggled out of the press, and Ellie Sargent decided to turn on the smoke as she flew down the right-hand side of the pitch, burning her name onto the scoresheet around the 10 minute mark.

Cardiff continued to pepper the goal area with shots, but it was Laura Williams who found the second goal of the game in the 16th minute with a stunning strike from outside the box. Shortly after, captain Cori Williams chested the ball down on the turn in the box, sidestepped the keeper and, almost in slow motion, passed the ball into the back of the net. 3-0, 19 minutes gone.

At 25 minutes, the Cardiff keeper made her first save of the game, and by half time the score was 5-0. Downend’s back-line was disciplined, however, continuing to force many offside calls.

Photos: Monks Photography

The second half continued to bring action concentrated on the Flyers’ own end. Cardiff’s Kate Wood, fresh from a full suite of GCSE’s over the summer and making her first start for the senior team, sailed teasing crosses into the box but Cardiff couldn’t finish them.

The 6th goal of the game came from Chloe Lloyd, who sent a thunderous strike in from the edge of the box into the bottom right-hand corner.

Things got hairy for a moment for Cardiff as Downend broke through on goal, but the shot went wide and Cardiff took back possession. An excellent burst of team play and two-touch football saw Cardiff’s first hat-trick of the FA Cup, with Laura Williams sliding it home from a cross.

Ever-competitive, Cori Williams was determined to get the Dragons’ second hat-trick of this FA Cup run, with 20 minutes still left of the game to play.

Cardiff’s final goal came from the link-up of youngster Kate Wood and Grace Seren, with Wood latching onto a ball out on the right wing and feeding it into Seren who decided to put her own stamp on the game with a shot curled around the keeper with the outside of her foot – as cheeky as you like.

In the middle of the action-packed second half, I caught up with Catherine who plays for Downend Flyers’ Under 13s team. Not disheartened by the scoreline, she said, ‘It’s good we have a home game here so we have the younger girls watching the game and supporting the older generation. The whole club is coming together as one to support.’

Credit to both Cardiff and Downend Flyers – Cardiff did not let complacency get the better of them, and Downend never gave up, continuing to threaten on the break right until the final whistle.