After yet another rollercoaster week for our football club, the women (almost inevitably at this point) once again managed to dig deep and win to extend their unbeaten run at the top of the Women’s National League Division One South East.
September 2023 will live long in the memory for City’s women. A table-topping start, playing at Carrow Road, and crafting a special bond with supporters has seen women’s football in the fine city experience a popularity boom like never before.
Could October continue in the same vein?
Any doubts as to whether this early form was just a flash in the pan, however, were brushed aside this week, setting the club up well for the remainder of the season.
Queens Park Rangers were the victims of Herdman-ball this week, with the game being seen as the Rs marquee match and taking place in front of almost 2,000 spectators at Loftus Road.
Much like their male counterparts, it seems like fans must travel to see Norwich City this season. Unlike the men’s team however, the travelling faithful would consider trips to see the women’s team as money well spent, with Martin Herdman’s side winning six from six on the road this term.
Along with winning football matches, the biggest similarity in Norwich’s games recently has been conceding early goals, and then showing composure to turn the game around – and this fixture was no different.
City had to deal with a barrage of attacks from the hosts early on, with QPR eventually breaking through the back line with a sensible finish from Grace Stanley to put the Rs one up just after the quarter of an hour mark.
Next was a moment nobody was prepared for, and you could argue was a moment of oversight from the QPR manager. Goalkeeper Mya Francis-Pownall received a straight red card after denying City a clear goalscoring opportunity in the 35th minute. Without a keeper on the bench, Rs defender Jo Blodgett found herself between the sticks for the remainder of the game.
It was at this moment that everything changed.
With an opportunity to get themselves back into the game with a player advantage, City clawed themselves level through Megan Todd before halftime, who is quickly becoming City’s most reliable player in front of goal.
It was after the interval when Norwich turned the tempo of their performance up a notch and scored the winner just after the hour mark through last season’s player of the season, Ellie Smith, securing a 2-1 victory.
Fittingly, Smith’s winner was assisted by Natasha Snelling – the recently anointed player of the month for September.
Herdman’s ability to see the game out and oversee our fourth successive victory is certainly impressive, especially after seeing David Wagner’s men fail to do so on Saturday.
No doubt there would have been some supporters who travelled to both the Coventry Building Society Arena and Loftus Road over the last two days, and to those – I salute you.
Seeing City away has been challenging to say the least this season, so the fact that the women are so good on the road has rewarded the loyal fans travelling to see both sides, as well as pleasing the few who only support City’s ladies.
The win sees their unbeaten run increased to nine games in all competitions, with the Canaries sitting top of the National League Division One South East on 17 points and without losing so far.
As for QPR, who came into the fixture with three wins from five games, they sit bang on mid-table in sixth place.
Let’s talk about the venue for this weekend’s fixture. As we saw ourselves a month ago at Carrow Road, hosting women’s fixtures at first-team stadiums is crucial for the development of the women’s game, and it’s refreshing to see so many teams eager to allow their women’s team to have a run-out at their main stadiums.
From a QPR perspective, many fans could have seen this fixture as a distraction from seeing their men’s team in a relegation battle in the Championship, having lost heavily in W12 to Blackburn Rovers over the weekend. The fact that just shy of 2,000 people turned out the following day to support the women, with all the negativity surrounding the club at the minute, is something to be admired and shows the passion for women’s football at this level.
Although we’ve recently seen the women don the Carrow Road turf already this season, you must think that we’ll see them back playing there before long. With the squad performing this well week in and week out, it would be foolish of the club to not capitalise on their success and see them return to NR1 before the end of the campaign, allowing for even more Yellows’ fans to see the women at the home of the Canaries.
Speaking of playing at home, Canaries fans will have to wait until November 5th to see the team back at The Nest. Following a week’s break next weekend, City travel to London Seaward next time out in FA Cup third-round action on October 22nd looking to continue their impressive cup form.