On top but with nothing to show
With one team playing for their best ever finish and the other hoping to secure promotion to the top flight both teams started with real intent, a Sophie Fogarty long ball gave Jo Wilson something to run onto in the first minute, although Charlotte Haynes was off of her line sharply to clear before the prolific striker nipped in front of her. But Yeovil hit right back and made light work of cutting through a scattered Bees midfield, the crowd already to cheer as Kayleigh Green’s low effort inched past the far post.
Hannah Short the hero for the visitors early in the game as she got in a vital block to deny Evie Clarke after the Arsenal youngster had stolen in behind, the resulting corner was an easy claim for Haynes. Once more the ball was swiftly recycled for the visitors, Green once more the danger woman for the Glovers, getting the better of Merrick Will as Sophie Harris nervously lurked on the edge of her box. Green with room to shoot and plenty of goal to aim for, her shot once again just wide.
The modest home support left incensed ten minutes into the game as Wilson was bumped to the ground by Haynes in the area as the attacker looked to take the ball ‘round the stopper – again the resulting corner was poor. Haynes assured two minutes later as she easily claimed a Nikki Watts curled free kick, the game delightfully open in the early exchanges. Emma Beckett’s 35 yarder left Haynes scrambling backwards, all eyes at the Hive on the descending ball as it settled on the roof of the away goal.
The hosts, a far cry from the side they were last season, did well to deal with Lucy Quinn and Green up top, staying rigid enough – although a little loose when the Glovers countered – made sure Helen Bleazard and co' were alert at the back. Clarke watching the ball well to pick it up after Bleazard had missed her clearing header, her ball flashed across but Wilson’s toe-poke was bread and butter for Haynes. Yeovil hit right back though and forced the hosts back, orange shirts doing their best to bock and clear in their own box, the Glovers on the charge.
The visitors began to ride their luck half an hour in, as Bleazard made not one but two blocks on the line inside a minute to deny first Clarke then Wilson. The recent strike pair both having joy ghosting behind, Bleazard up for the save of the season, again the follow-up corner was well snuffed out by the Somerset side.
Ann-Marie Heatherson’s improvised effort from range Yeovil’s first shot for some time, Harris scrambling back as the effort dipped, skipping over the net and behind. So of course the Bees came right back at them, Wilson’s whipped cross just right for Clarke to volley towards the bottom corner, Haynes with a fine diving save to turn the effort wide – the corner that followed the worst of the bunch so far.
Glovers hit back
With just two minutes left on the clock a neat break behind almost gifted Yeovil the edge as Kelly Aldridge forced a fine save out of Harris but with green and white shirts advancing Deanna Cooper picked up a rough knock as she did enough to prevent Green from scoring a tap-in. A heathy delay right at the end of the half as both sets of physios did their best to patch up the pair, Green able to continue but Cooper unable to finish the half. The last action before the break, Nicola Cousin’s hopeful strike from distance, Harris comfortably behind it.
Yeovil started the second-half with far more fire, the home defence getting pulled left and right as the Glovers began to land blows, and took a momentous lead ten minutes after the restart. With green and white flocking forward across the width of the pitch, Quinn’s lofty cross left the defence helpless as Green’s firm header curled over Harris’ fingertips and into the net. The Hive rocked with noise from the away fans, one foot in WSL 1. Up, on top, heading for greatness, the visitors showed no signs of slowing down, piling bodies into midfield, out-numbering and out-classing the hosts, Harris under constant threat.
The game began to devolve with twenty minutes left, Yeovil doing their best to dictate play and the Bees too rushed under pressure in attack. A rare Bees corner left the visitors scrambling to clear off of the line as Haynes had left the ball slip, with most of the home side still left in the away box the Glovers countered in numbers.
Substitutes Nadia Lawrence and Jessie Jones two of the three that sprinted the length of the pitch, Harris left exposed with nowhere to turn as Lawrence took aim and let fly with a curler that dipped just inside of the post. A frantic minute that sealed Yeovil’s promotion – but easily could have left them still requiring a point from their final game, the margins fine at the tail-end of the season.
The second-half was all Yeovil, who found their form after the break, dominating the ball and leaving the Bees scrambling after a reshuffle. Over-running midfield to utilise their fearsome attack, a little wasteful with chances in the last fifteen minutes but the job done as they triumphed where they fell short last season to seal promotion and take it to a last day decider with fellow West Country side Bristol for the title.
Probably the best in WSL 2 this year – their season with just a little more bite than Bristol’s they’ve wobbled recently and dropping points to Sheffield and the Bees looked like it could derail their season and a shaky first-half performance would have left Jamie Sherwood with plenty to say at the break. But they came out fighting in the second-half as they have all season, turning on the style to make club history a thoroughly deserved promotion but a team that still has a long way to go before they can compete at WSL 1 level.
The Bees fell down as they so often have in their history, unable to come up with the goods in the second-half but with no shame in the loss, unable to adapt to Yeovil’s pressure. Dave Edmondson’s side already able to boast – just like the Glovers – the best season in their history.