City Women matched their male counterparts by winning at home to round off a perfect weekend in yellow and green.
Head coach Martin Herdman labelled last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Cambridge United at Carrow Road a disappointment in his programme notes. Well, they certainly righted their wrongs from that game in style, sending a statement to the rest of the National League South East Division 1 with an emphatic 6-1 win against Haywards Heath Town in front of the City faithful.
The only reason City fans had to moan was because of the weather, which has been as unpredictable this month as Norwich City usually are at the beginning of the season. And the fact that Norwich couldn’t keep a clean sheet may also have left a bitter taste in some supporter’s mouths, something that Angus Gunn did so expertly on Saturday.
Winger Rachel Lawrence will obviously receive most of the plaudits after her superb hat-trick put the match beyond doubt but in reality, there was only ever one side in the contest.
City have seemingly developed a penchant for spot-kicks as, much like last time out against Cambridge, their first goal came from twelve yards, with Megan Todd once again doing the honours and beginning a busy afternoon for Haywards Heath’s goalkeeper, Libby Kingshott.
However, if their ability to actually score from the spot this term seemed too good to be true, then Rachel Lawrence proved it, as she saw her spot-kick saved before her all-important third just before the hour mark.
Lawrence only took the spot kick after regular taker Todd, seemingly content with her earlier conversion, wanted the winger to secure the match ball earlier than planned.
With the miss, the age-old question must once again be asked; should the designated penalty taker always take the pens, even if other circumstances would benefit someone else?
Following a similar pattern to other Norwich teams this season, the women are sharing the goals between them, highlighting the strong bond and togetherness within the squad.
Lawrence’s hat trick were her first goals for the club since her summer arrival from Peterborough United, and with Ellie Smith and Natasha Snelling also finding the scoresheet, the attack is certainly looking a formidable force this season.
The victory had an extra layer of importance as it marked Norwich’s first three points at home this season. If they are to correct the disappointment of last season and mount a serious promotion charge, then home form is crucial.
After a successful Women’s World Cup for England’s Lionesses, it’s clear that the women’s game is going through a renaissance at the moment, with Norwich doing everything in their power to capitalise on that popularity.
The 307 fans in attendance would have enjoyed a thrilling spectacle filled with quality you would expect to see in the WSL from the home side, however, it may have felt alien to the squad to go back to playing in front of a smaller crowd after experiencing thousands at Carrow Road, much to the behest of outgoing Sporting Director, Stuart Webber.
With recent player signings at Jarrold also including female players alongside the men, this group will strive to put women’s football on the map in Norfolk and will hope to add to the 307 for future fixtures at The Nest and will aim to become household names to also be idolised by the City faithful.
And that’s the beauty of having a women’s team associated with Norwich City.
It allows for an alternative option for City die-hards who bleed green and yellow, meaning if the feeling around Carrow Road ever gets into the same dire straits we saw last season, the women can be the perfect switch-off to the rigorous rollercoaster of Championship football as well as the main team to support if you prefer the ladies.
This being said, many football fans do find it hard to separate the importance of men’s football from women’s, which is something I’ve also been guilty of before. This has never been clearer than the fixture clash between our home game against Millwall in the Championship with the Women’s World Cup final.
The fact that the World Cup even had the potential to clash with men’s games without realising the international interest surrounding the female game still shows that women’s football is wrongly seen as an afterthought, even to event organisers such as FIFA.
In reality, the women’s game still creates the same camaraderie and spirit seen in the men’s game, justifying its importance within public consciousness.
As a fanbase, I don’t think we’ve ever been as lucky as we are to support Norwich, having two senior sides doing the entire county proud and both beginning the campaign with a flourish.
The Canaries can look forward to their next trip up the A11, when they face Actonians on Sunday 23rd September, with a spring in their step as they look for back-to-back wins. Bragging rights will be at stake as the London-based side finished one place and two points above the Canaries last season.
With the quality that Actonians possess, along with the difficult visit of former Premier League champions Leicester City at Carrow Road in midweek for the men’s side, this week will certainly test both sides’ credentials and will provide both teams with arguably their biggest tests of the season so far.