Match Report | Cardiff City Women 3-1 The New Saints
Cardiff City Women continued their unbeaten start to the 2023/24 Adran Premier campaign with a 3-1 win over The New Saints at Cardiff International Sports Campus.
A brace from striker Eliza Collie, along with a sublime goal from Molly Kehoe, secured all three points for the Bluebirds.
Iain Darbyshire made five changes to the side that faced Aberystwyth Town last time out, with Megan Bowen, Lisa Owen, Kelly Adams, Mackenzie Olden and Kehoe all coming into the starting XI.
City started brightly and forced the first chance of the game through Olden, who beat the offside trap and forced a save out of Mackenzie Haydn-Jones. The Bluebirds were rewarded for their fast start, taking the lead in the 19th minute, as Rhianne Oakley played in Collie, who finished clinically to open her account for the season.
Darbyshire’s side immediately searched for a second and went close through Kehoe, who was played in, before being denied by Haydn-Jones. In another chance, centre-back Bowen headed just over the woodwork from a corner.
The Bluebirds doubled their advantage with 40 minutes on the clock, as Kehoe found space on the right with a brilliant piece of skill, before picking out the top corner to send City into the break with a 2-0 lead.
The New Saints pulled a goal back early in the second half, as Chantelle Teare headed home from Caitlin Chapman’s corner in the 54th minute. City reacted well and went close to restoring the two-goal advantage through Oakley, who drove into the box, before firing just wide.
Oakley went close once more, finding space on the right side of the box to shoot, forcing Haydn-Jones into another save. Boss Darbyshire introduced City U19 trio Madison Lloyd, Brooke Arthur and Mali Ackerman in the second period, who made her senior debut for the Bluebirds.
Lloyd almost marked the occasion with a goal, as she raced through, only to be denied by Haydn-Jones. The attacker continued to make an impact, as her dangerous cross into the area just evaded fellow striker Collie. City added a third in added-time, as Oakley found Collie, who finished clinically into the net.
With a professional performance, the Bluebirds secured all three points. City return to league action next Sunday, facing Wrexham at The Rock, 5.10pm KO.
FINAL SCORE: CARDIFF CITY WOMEN 3-1 THE NEW SAINTS
Cardiff City Women: Chamberlain, Owen, Power ©, Bowen, Price, Adams (Arthur 90'), Beynon, Kehoe, Olden (Lloyd 67’), Oakley, Collie (Ackerman 90'). Subs not used: Forkings, Bowen-Quirk.
The New Saints: Haydn-Jones, B Lewis ©, Teare (Hill 90'), Hartley, Shirley, Chapman (Samson 90'), Evans, Redding, L Lewis, Ridge, Williams. Subs not used: Parkes, Lockley.
After the full-time whistle, boss Darbyshire heaped praise on his City squad.
“I thought it was a really good performance,” Iain began. “We had to show a lot of heart, a lot of character. We were a bit depleted this week, but every single player responded this week in training and they’ve been fantastic. They can be so proud of what they’ve just done.
“Credit to TNS, they put us under pressure in the second half. They scored from a set-piece and we were defending that one-goal lead. It’s just amazing to see the players pull together, work with each other and dig out the result.
“We were much better in front of goal. We’ve worked this week on hitting the back of the net and that if you miss a chance, you will get another one. The forward players can be proud of themselves. It was exciting and great to watch.”
Commenting on the three senior debuts, Iain added: “It’s a massive day for them. Maddie scored a hat-trick for the U19s on Friday and she’s come on for her debut. Mali and Brooke have also been playing really well. Credit to Noah [Bushby] and his staff for the way he has prepared them.
“I thought they looked really good. Maddie was fantastic when she came on. It was good to get Mali and Brooke on and they did well, but all three need to look at this as a benchmark now and make sure they’re back here again in the future.”