Bristol Rovers Ladies 3 Fulham Ladies 2
Women's National Premier League, 5th December 2004
With Bristol flying high in the Premiership this season, they can count themselves fortunate to have come away with all three points in this entertaining encounter, with several controversial decisions ending Fulham's brave fight to pull away from the wrong end of the table.
Bristol's American keeper Meaghan Burke was in action as early as the fifth minute having to tip a Fulham effort over the bar. Their response was immediate as the ball was in the Cottagers net within a minute. In a packed penalty area Fulham seemed to have cleared any danger from a corner, only to see the ball fall to the back of the box finding an unmarked Louise Hutton to blast a shot into the roof of the net.
Despite this set back Fulham continued to give title contenders Bristol their share of problems creating several good chances, with Dannii Bird in particular, giving the home side problems down the left.
With Fulham looking the most likely side to score, they got their reward in a five minutes spell that saw them go into the break with a 2 - 1 advantage
The first came from an excellent defence splitting ball from Marie O'Brien on 35 minutes, the resulting cross from the left being headed home by Natasha Dowie through a packed defence.
Marie O'Brien and Tash Dowie teamed up again five minutes later, with Dowie setting the ball back as O'Brien advanced into the area to blast her shot into the roof of the net. The visitors should have increased their advantage with a 44th minute header from Holly Anderson clipping the outside of the post.
The second half saw Bristol edge the advantage, with both sides creating chances with Fulham's Holly Anderson Tash Dowie and Gemma Ritchie all going close. Bristol got a big slice of good fortune on 73 minutes as a clearance struck the heel of a defender only to bounce back in to the path of Bristol's Annemeike Griffeon who slotted home an unlike chance.
With the game looking to end in a draw, Fulham's players and bench were incensed with just two minutes to go when the home side were awarded a controversial penalty. With the referee responding to several halfhearted appeals, after a cross from the right struck a Fulham defender on edge of the area.
Despite Fulham's protests Bristol's Trudy Williams converted the spot kick ensuring Fulham went away with nothing on a day they deserved at leased a share of the points.
There was better news for the Cottagers after the game with the their reserve side recording an excellent 2-0 win over Charlton's Reserves to earn a place in the League Cup Final later in the year.
Both teams are at home next Sunday with the reserves taking on Watford Res with a 2 pm kick off, and the first XI having a friendly.
Team; Leanne Hall, Holly Roberts, Jessica Wright, Marie O'Brien, Gemma Ritchie, Dannii Bird, Katie McItyre, Natasha Dowie, Kelly Baker (Wilding 80), Kylie Davies, Sara Jagere. Subs Marieanne Spacey, Kate Wilding, Kirsty Rohrer(Dowie 86).