Match Report – Long Stratton Women v Stalham Town Ladies

Sunday 19th September

Norfolk Women’s Division One

 First match from the county leagues this weekend on Women’s Football East, begin with a game from Norfolk Women’s Division One as Long Stratton Women host Stalham Town Ladies.

  The Norfolk county league kicking off a week late due to a change to the league structure on the eve of the previous weekend. With alot of interest shown in pre-season for several new sides starting up it was hoped the league could begin with 3 divisions off 10 sides as the deadline for new sides to join and established clubs to register that number fell to 24 the league originally going with 3 divisions of 8 sides with 6 new sides joining. This though proved unpopular in some quarters and with further sides withdrawing most notably Tavern Ladies or Division One an emergency meeting was called to vote in a new structure of 2 divisions containing 11 sides in each. 

  The original Division One line-up looking very strong indeed with the loss of Tavern Ladies 4 sides from what would have been Division Two are (promoted) to Division One. Stalham Town Ladies, Thetford Town Ladies, Beccles Town Ladies and North Walsham Angels Ladies, joining Bungay Town Ladies, Dussindale & Hellesdon Women, Fakenham Town Women, Long Stratton Women, Mulbarton Belles, Sprowston FC Women and Thorpe St Andrew Women.

  Established in 2010 Long Stratton Women are part of the wider Long Stratton FC featuring 4 adult teams and 13 youth sides. The women’s team for the most part yoyoing between Division One and Two. Back up into Division One two seasons ago there were signs the club was making progress the COVID pandemic having an impact on development as it has with every other club. Manager Adam Race along with assistant Lee Bambridge looking to build a squad capable of pushing on into the top half of the table challenge the top sides in the division. To that end have brought in 7 new signings over the summer. In come Emma Allsopp previously with Wroxham, Mia Wilkinson from Thorpe, defender, Alice Flatt from Bungay. Jordan Duke is dual signed with Halesworth Town Women. Robyn Johnstone also joining with striker Luci Middleton having been away from the game for 3 years having previously played for North Walsham Angels Ladies. An eye for a goal could form a potent attack with captain Sam Walker who has scored plenty of goals since joining Long Stratton. The latest addition to the squad Jess Brown previously with Tavern.

  The COVID pandemic seeing two season’s effectively lost and most certainly robbed Stalham Town Ladies of the opportunity to win the Division Two title as they re entered the league 2 seasons ago. Going strong topping the table in both only to see the season curtailed. Was a surprise however not to see them promoted 1st time around, however in the new look 2 division set-up take their place in Division One. There captain Amber Mayhew strong in front of goal in previous campaigns it’s a settled squad that moves up with 3 new signings, Megan Swain, Charlotte MacMillan and Charlotte Hardingham.

 Manor Road the venue for today’s match, the club very much at the heart of the community the pavilion open serving hot and cold drinks. The recreational area boasting several grass pitches, with a playground and skate park behind both goals on the main pitch. The pitch set up before the match the mobile dugouts, the goals, corner flag and roped of area for spectators on one side all brought out of storage. Quite muggy with the temperature good clouds building overcast, rain is forecast to potentially arrive and alot of it brought the umbrella just in case but hoping it won’t be needed, afterall I picked a ground with no cover and it’s not easy wielding a notepad, camera and umbrella all at the same time.

  Long Stratton Women starting XI – Mia Wilkinson, Emily Ransome-Farmer, Summer Whiting, Megan Vincent, Kate Ransome-Farmer, Milly Cawcutt, Robyn Johnstone, Beth Stratton, Jordan Duke, Sam Walker (C) & Luci Middleton. Subs – Alice Flatt, Emma Allsopp, Harriet Hunwicks-Rush & Jess Brown.

  Stalham Town Ladies starting XI – Danielle Barnes, Lalaine Davey, Charlotte Fisher, Charlotte Crane, Chloe Yarham, Emma MacMillan, Emma Gillespie, Megan Swain, Katie Clarke, Amber Mayhew (C), & Sophie-Jayne O’Connor. Subs – Becky Houghton, Charlotte Hardingham & Charlotte MacMillan.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

Goalkeeper Jody Todd broke her wrist in pre-season for Long Stratton and with her replacement Kathryn Critchell away in international duty, it was Mia Wilkinson donning the gloves to make her Long Stratton debut between the sticks with fellow new signings, Robyn Johnstone, Jordan Duke and Luci Middleton in the starting XI with Alice Flatt, Emma Allsopp and Jess Brown named on the bench. Megan Swain starting for Stalham with Charlotte Hardingham and Charlotte MacMillan on the bench. It’s Long Stratton to kick of the match wearing an all red kit, with Stalham who usually play in red themselves in their all blue away kit. 

  Stalham are quick to close down the ball in the middle seeing it deflected out to Amber Mayhew on the left wing takes the ball on into the left channel getting in between full back and centre back pushes on towards the top of the area let of the D opts to shot with the outside of her right boot placed her shot across the goalkeeper but wide of the far post. 

Captain, Amber Mayhew with an early chance for Stalham

  Emily Ransome-Farmer brings the ball on from right back for Long Stratton space ahead of her for Beth Stratton to run into  back heels the ball into her infield to captain Sam Walker who attempts to play Stratton in behind, Charlotte Fisher getting in between the pair for Stalham sliding in to tackle Stratton playing out for a throw in. Taken deep on the right Robyn Johnstone is fouled 25 yards out referee Paul Gibson awarding the host a free-kick. Out wide players forwards into the area, Kate Ransome-Farmer placing the ball sends the set-piece looping in towards the far post, Stalham goalkeeper, Danielle Barnes can’t get to it as it drops to Luci Middleton beyond the far post, can’t get a strong enough touch to deflect the ball back inside the post out for a goal kick.

   A lively start to the match breaking up a Stalham move at the back the ball is cleared to Stratton central she lifts it on up to Middleton 20 yards out back to goal turns round her marker, Charlotte Crane staying on her forcing the striker out wide to the right inside the box, Middleton nevertheless wrapping her foot round the ball to cross in central for Walker on the penalty spot, can’t get a shot away before she is closed down well by Lalaine Davey the ball deflected outside the area to the right a shot struck in with pace in the angle, Barnes stretching at her near post saving superbly tipping the ball round the post for a corner.

Stalham goalkeeper, Danielle Barnes

  The ball bouncing around both sides wanting to get it forwards a quickly as possible, Summer Whiting on the left defending for Long Stratton the ball coming straight back up the right Katie Clarke’s touch sending her on in behind strikes the ball in on the angle, Mia Wilkinson collecting it on the bounce at her near post. 

  GOAL! A face paced start to the game see’s an early goal scored. Stratton’s pace on the right a threat for Long Stratton is played into space takes the ball on level with the penalty spot before squaring a cross into the centre of the box for Walker, gets her shot away early to the keepers right, Barnes lunging with an outstretched leg to try and keep it out is unfortunate as it deflects up off it into the roof of the net 1-0.

Long Stratton captain Sam Walker scoring the clubs 1st league goal

  Long Stratton have settled the quicker moving the ball on quickly from back to front the ball spread out from the middle by Johnstone to Stratton right side puts it back infield for Walker 25 yards out attempts the through ball for Middleton peeling off the Stalham defence into the area however the flag is up against her. More combination play between Stratton right and Walker moving into the channel the ball into her feet she hooks it over the top looking for the run of Jordan Duke on the far side, Barnes up well to claim the ball high inside her box. 

  Stalham a little nervous at the start of the match not able to find their attackers a throw won on the left Fisher puts it on for Mayhew bringing the ball under control well turning taking it on up the wing checks inside heading for the box is tackled by Kate Ransome-Farmer. Davey on the left defends well for Stalham seeing the ball back to her keeper as Long Stratton try to get Duke in on the left side. Walker and Middleton link up outside the D for Long Stratton a defensive error seeing the ball sliced in behind, Walker after it, Davey does well on the cover defending for the visitors. 

Stalham defender, Lalaine Davey

  The ball comes straight back in Long Stratton right the keeper comes but can’t get there before Walker is stranded as the cross is played into the six yard box for Middleton but the flag is raised up against her. Stalham make a change bringing on Charlotte Hardingham for Clarke. Long Stratton doing well to turn play around the defensive happy to clear long knowing they have runners left and right with Walker through the middle. 

  GOAL! Long Stratton go on to double their lead inside the opening 15 minutes have a throw in deep on the left side the ball worked to Kate Ransome-Farmer wide puts in a cross looping up over the keeper may have taken a deflection the result though the ball bouncing into the goal beyond 2-0.

Long Stratton’s Kate Ransome-Farmer

  A good start to the game from Long Stratton carrying a potent threat going forwards, Stalham on the backfoot haven’t been in the final 3rd enough to test Wilkinson in goal. Both Emily and Kate Ransome Farmer defending well for the hosts the latter with a long ball forwards that sees Middleton beat the offside trap taking the ball on Crane managing to exert some pressure as she chases her back towards the area, Middleton getting a shot away disappointed as she picks out the keeper Barnes behind the shot making the save. 

Long Stratton striker, Luci Middleton

 Middleton again top of the box attempting the scissor kick as Walker central inside the area turns Stratton’s cross from the right into her path, the shot running wide of goal. Stalham attacking up the left win a free-kick top of the area, Mayhew across to take it goes for goal struck well the ball racing across the six yard box out beyond the far post. Stalham finding a bit more possession in the Long Stratton half as Hardingham wins a good challenge lifting the ball into the channel for Emma MacMillan to chase, the weight of the pass favouring the keeper however as Wilkinson advances well to claim it.

 Middleton steals in on the ball top of the box moving inside, Davey across from the left forcing the striker away from goal as Barnes advances to take the ball away from her and sent out for a throw wide right. Emma Gillespie and Megan Swain combining to win the ball centrally for Stalham up to Hardingham who hooks it over the top for Sophie-Jayne O’Connor making a right channel run to hit from 20 yards out her strike put straight at Wilkinson who holds onto it back on her line. 

  GOAL! Almost half an hour played and Stalham are coming into the game more pressing the ball in the middle runs on to O’Connor who clips it on into the area right side both Gillespie and MacMillan making runs into the area falling to MacMillan wide right of goal she chips Wilkinson to put the ball beyond her into the back of the net 2-1. 

Emma MacMillan pulls it back to 2-1 for Stalham

  Stalham lively in attack now coming very close to pulling it level straight away winning the ball put out to Mayhew on the left puts it up the line for Gillespie ahead of her strikes a powerful shot in on the angle rising has a little too much on it as it whips over the crossbar. 

  An entertaining game end to end can’t take your eyes of it, Long Stratton winning a corner on the right. The inswinging ball played into the six yard box Barnes doing well amongst bodies to get a glove up to push the ball behind at the near post for a 2nd corner. The 2nd delivery knocked on at the near post falls into the box, whipped clear by O’Connor. 

Danielle Barnes punches the ball clear

  MacMillan with the ball wide right attacking for Stalham checks inside her marker firing in a cross along the face of goal, Wilkinson down on it with a smart grab inside the six yard box with Mayhew in the clear beyond her. 10 minutes left to play in the 1st half. Players dragged across to the right as MacMillan with help from Gillespie advances up the wing the cross fired into the area headed clear by Emily Ransome-Farmer, drops to O’Connor 20 yards out right of the D smashes a shot back in the ball rising over the crossbar. 

  MacMillan carrying a threat for Stalham on the right doing well to win her side a corner, the delivery in near side defended by Megan Vincent out for a throw right side. MacMillan gathering it into her feet driving into the area is quickly crowded off the ball by the Long Stratton defence a goal kick awarded. swain brings down Stratton as she bursts forwards with the ball on the right. A late opportunity in the half for the hosts to bring players forwards into the area as Kate Ransome-Farmer plays it in. O’Connor with the header to clear. 

Long Stratton defender Emily Ransome-Farmer

 Crane brings down Middleton out left side some 30 yards out from goal a free-kick given. Walker over it goes for goal, isn’t far away either the shot narrowly over the bar. Stratton more central now picking up the ball 30 yards out for Long Stratton turns well taking on the defence jinking left the right into the area creating space for the shot plants the ball straight into the keeper. 

Half-time Long Stratton Women 2-1 Stalham Town Ladies

 A highly entertaining 1st half comes to a close with Long Stratton leading Stalham 2-1. A strong start from the hosts getting on the attack early on getting the ball into their wide players early the defence winning the ball at the back quick to turn play around. Have shown good movement and pace in attack. Stalham were nervous early on took them a while to settle into the game and by then found themselves trailing by 2 goals despite that come back well finishing the half the strongest pulling a goal back and having opportunities to draw level. Long Stratton though carry a strong threat in attack have created a host of chances could well have held a bigger lead. As is so often the case the next goal will be crucial Stalham will want to start the 2nd half as they finished the first.

Beth Stratton on the ball for Long Stratton

  Long Stratton with a change at the start of the 2nd half bringing on Emma Allsopp for Duke, the change seeing Stratton move to the left side with Allsopp on the right. Stalham having made tactical changes of their own towards the end of the first half to get players further forwards, Gillespie now in an advanced role. So far so good as far as the rain is concerned, the odd rumble of thunder in the background the air close hinting at an approaching storm as Stalham get the 2nd half underway. 

 

  O’Connor lifting the ball on for MacMillan right side slips in behind the defence travelling towards the area inside the box, Vincent closing her down before she can get a cross away. The visitors looking to press the ball higher up the pitch at the start of the 2nd half. Pressure from Swain on Whiting forcing the full back to play the ball out for a throw in, the ball worked in field runs to Gillespie central 25 yards out takes on the strike doesn’t get full contact with the ball seeing it lack pace as it runs through to the keeper. 

Stalham’s Emma Gillespie

 Kate Ransome-Farmer with a good diagonal clearance out of defence from left to right for Allsopp to touch down into her path as she runs in behind moving central across the D places her shot wide of the far post. Wilkinson with a sharp save at her near post as Mayhew goes after a ball placed ahead of her in the right channel a heavy first touch allowing Whiting to clear smashes the ball straight into Mayhew who goes after the deflected ball inside the area attempts to lift it over the keeper, Wilkinson doing well to get her arms up deflect the ball down into the ground and claim on the bounce.

Mia Wilkinson keeping goal for Long Stratton.

   GOAL! An action packed start to the 2nd half with Stalham pressing looking for an equaliser it’s Long Stratton who pounce to grab themselves a 3rd goal, the ball popping about in the middle is claimed by Johnstone top of the circle who chips it out to Allsopp making a good run on the right brings it down well into the area and prods home beyond the keeper at the near post for her 1st Long Stratton goal 3-1.

A blow for Stalham early in the 2nd half the visitors are straight on the attack from the restart Mayhew right side in the clear sending a sweeping ball in across the six yard box, dealt with well by Emily Ransome-Farmer at the far post heading clear for Long Stratton. Walker moving out to the left to receive the ball whips in a cross into the box, both Middleton central an Allsopp far side going after it the bounce favouring Barnes who gets in between the pair to claim. End to end action both sides bypassing their midfields at times, Wilkinson composed clears the ball as Gillespie comes sliding in on her. Up the other end Davey defends well against Stratton as she looks to drive into the area with the ball at her feet.

   Stratton off a throw left side turning inside to run towards the area just inside Crane times her tackle well as she puts in a foot to take the ball, Long Stratton’s appeals waved away. Gillespie carrying the threat in attack for Stalham now making some goo runs through the middle, Wilkinson knowing she has to be ready to come and clear if she bursts in between the centre backs. Stalham get a corner on the left side players up a good delivery into the box missed by everyone at the near post drops to O’Connor central gets her head on the ball, sees her effort rise over the cross bar.

   Walker on the ball deep of Long Stratton right side sends it long for Middleton peeling off the defence to run onto top of the box she sees the ball down well striking it on the run low across goal, Barnes down well to make the save diving to her left to put the ball wide for a corner leaving Middleton frustrated once again. Emily Ransome-Farmer defending the resulting corner.

GOAL! Long Stratton go further ahead the ball contested in the middle Johnstone involved on for Stratton plays the pass early releasing Walker the ball ahead of her she takes it on into the area can’t be caught is one on one with the keeper is a case of staying composed, Walker places the ball to the keepers right to make it 4-1.

Sam Walker makes it 4-1 to Long Stratton

  20 minute played in the 2nd half remains a busy contest Long Stratton with a healthy lead now taking their chances make a change at the back Alice Flatt coming on for her debut replacing Whiting. Walker away to the right whipping a cross in to the top of the area bouncing Middleton attempting to get it down under control, Barnes coming to close her down the pair collide the loose ball hooked clear by MacMillan back covering in defence. Barnes is down for a moment but okay to continue. Johnstone off for Long Stratton another debutant coming on Jess Brown. 

Stalham’s Charlotte Hardingham with Long Stratton’s Jess Brown

 Long Stratton press the ball Cawcutt on for Middleton plays the pass out to Allsopp on the right down the line before lifting a cross into the six yard box, Middleton in on the keeper neither getting a touch, Davey mopping up at the back post. A strong run from Gillespie out on the left of attack Emily Ransome-Farmer under pressure playing the ball out for a corner. Stalham with a double change before it’s taken, Yarham and Davey off at the back on come Charlotte MacMillan and Becky Houghton. The corner fired in striking the base of the near post and out of play for a goal kick.

    Into the final 15 minutes Hardingham right side at the back on for Emma MacMillan bursts into space on the wing before firing a cross in on the angle swerving on near post, too close to the keeper, Wilkinson claiming it low before Mayhew can get a touch. Emma MacMillan is finding pace on the right getting in behind however on one has gambled in the middle to meet her cross as she plays it into the area. 

  Stratton playing central now for Long Stratton passes forwards to Middleton who clips the ball out to the left for Brown her cross sliced off a defender looping up towards the back post claimed well high in the air by Barnes. Players tiring from both sides Allsopp on the right inside to Middleton left of the D moves inside before unleashing a shot not happening this afternoon as the shot rolls wide of the right post. 

  Swain is tackled well inside the box by Stratton as she comes back to defend for the hosts after she is played into the box by O’Connor 25 yards out. Stalham’s turn to make the appeal but again nothing’s doing. Stalham bring off Hardingham late on with Clarke returning to the action. Stratton too coming off for Long Stratton replaced by Harriet Hunwicks-Rush. Clarke winning a corner in bizarre circumstances as her long ball forwards looks to be threatening the Long Stratton goal, Wilkinson can’t be sure takes the catch but has drifted past her post and steps over the by-line  before she can release the ball. A Stalham handball is spotted inside the area from the resulting corner Long Stratton win the free-kick. 

  Long Stratton with a rapid counter attack the ball into Walker right on for Allsopp takes it on before firing in a near post cross Middleton there to make contact with the ball sending it wide across the keeper, wide too though beyond the far post. Emily Ransome-Farmer with another well timed tackle to deny Mayhew a crossing opportunity on the left. The visitors quick to win it back Gillespie with a shot on the angle powered wide of the near post. 

  GOAL! Stalham pull a goal back in the dying moments of the game, Charlotte MacMillan with a hopeful ball forwards from the ball central it’s weighted well, Gillespie may have gotten a touch outside the box as it runs in inside for O’Connor to latch onto unmarked and send high wide of the keeper to make it 4-2.

  Not much time left in the game Stalham try to get players forwards the ball loss comes to Allsopp on the right sees Brown on the move left side attempts the diagonal ball into the area bounces too close to the keeper, as Barnes steps out to claim it. Long Stratton with the ball in attack seconds left on the clock Middleton with it right Allsopp inside her right of the D the ball put into her strikes it on the turn, Clarke in to charge the ball down as the final whistle blows.  

Full time Long Stratton Women 4-2 Stalham Town Ladies

  A highly entertaining game to open the season in Norfolk Division One the action non stop for 90 minutes, both teams committed going for a positive result. Long Stratton settling the quicker getting an early goal capitalising to go further ahead as Stalham nervous early on took time to settle down pull themselves back into the match getting it back to 2-1 finished the 1st half the stronger. Wanting to build on that 2nd half it was Long Stratton who got the early goal 2nd half going on to make it 4-1. Stalham kept going looking for a goal both sides with chances to add to the score line it was Stalham with the goal in the closing moments of the game to see it end 4-2.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football east – Player of the Match, it’s not often they’re easy decisions and today is no exception a few performances of note. Firstly for Stalham I thought Lalaine Davey was excellent in defence making a number of crucial tackles and getting round on the cover. Emma Gillespie too worked hard throughout pushed further forwards did her best to create an opening bring her side back into the game. For Long Stratton, Beth Stratton was superb her pace and movement causing Stalham problems where ever she was operating on the pitch. Sam Walker again with great positioning on and off the ball looking to create chances and set up other scoring twice. The award today though goes to Emily Ransome-Farmer a strong performance at the back tackling well and limiting opportunities for Stalham throughout.

 An enjoyable trip to Manor Road, the umbrella wasn’t needed in the finish the rain staying away for the entire match. An entertaining game end to end plenty going on chances created the result could well have unfolded differently Long Stratton making the better start the key. My thanks as always to the clubs for providing me with the team details always appreciated.

by Darren Gilham

Match Report – Cambridge United WFC v Portishead Town Ladies

Sunday 12th September

FAWNL Cup Determining Round

The action this Sunday switches to the cup competitions for the 1st time this season. The FAWNL Cup back after the disruption of the COVID pandemic. Starting with it’s traditional Determining Round the FAWNL clubs from all 6 divisions drawn together to as the name suggests determine with competition they will ultimately contest the winners going on to compete for the League Cup those losing going on to play for the League Plate. Today’s match featuring Cambridge United WFC v Portishead Town Ladies.

 You’d think I have enough teams to cover across the East however it’s always nice to watch a side from another part of the country and the Determining Round is a great opportunity to do so. The cup also serving as a distraction from the league that some clubs might welcome although in the case of today’s opponents they will be hoping they’re good early season form will continue with both sides currently in 4th place in the South East and South West Division One’s respectfully.

 Cambridge United WFC beginning the season with a new 1st team manager Darren Marjoram coming in to work alongside 1st team coach Ben Yeomans. A narrow defeat away to Actonians on the opening day. A last gasp winner saw Cambridge clinch their 1st 3 points of the season beating Enfield Town Ladies 2-1. That result giving the team plenty of confidence followed that result up with a 6-0 away win to newly promoted side Harlow Town Ladies. A 3rd win on the trot lifting Cambridge up to 4th in the South East Division One table with Emma Jenkins netting a hat-trick to lead the scoring charts for both Cambridge and the league with 5 in total. 

Portishead Town Ladies are newly promoted to the FAWNL South West Division One for the first time. Come up with a settled squad with several players having been there for 8 seasons now. Like Cambridge, Portishead lost their opening fixture away to Maidenhead United but felt they deserved to take something from the game. Built on that performance drawing at home to Swindon Town before recording there 1st victory away to Larkhall Athletic, Keiana Jones with the only goal of the game in the 72nd minute. Another draw 3-3 against league leaders Chesham United followed with Shannon Holloway on target with a hat-trick in an 8-2 win over Buckland Athletic to lift Portishead up to 4th in the table. The Determining Round seeing Portishead on the coast of the Severn Estuary in North Somerset facing a long trip to St Neots. The club opting for an overnight stay in preparation for the match.

  A wonderful playing surface at St Neots Town FC, the grass in great condition. Alot of cloud cover today keeping things cool for the game with no rain forecast. At the end of a rapidly growing residential development the ground is perfectly situated to attract new fans.

 Cambridge United WFC starting XI – Kira Markwell, Anna re, Carrie Bennett, Gisela Otten, Grace Waygood, Abbi Griffin, Laura Baker (C), Charlotte Crisp, Abi Davies, Emma Jenkins & Ruth Fox. Subs – Amy Houghton, Faith Hewitt, Libby Fraser & Ella Marden.

 Portishead Town Ladies starting XI – Chloe Fensome, Brooke Middleton, Sarah Hopper, Ruby Lowe, Laura Barrett, Taylor Sandy (C), Lilly Stephens, Natalie Zajaczkowski, Rosie Hill, Shannon Holloway & Emily Lindsey. Subs – Keiana Jones & Lulu Watts.

The tie has to be decided one way or the other today with penalties to be taken if needed. A few carrying knocks for Cambridge a chance to rest some players give others an opportunity. Both sides scoring plenty of goals so far 13 and 14 respectfully. It’s Cambridge to kick-off the first half wearing amber coloured shirts with black shorts and socks. Portishead lined up opposite in an all red kit with black and white trim. The ball played back to the defence before being lofted up the left for Emma Jenkins to take on running forwards plays a diagonal ball low into the box near side, Portishead centre back Laura Barrett blocking, Ruth Fox’s run allowing the ball to run on for goalkeeper, Chloe Fensome to gather.

Abbi Griffin with a good challenge in the middle of the park taking the ball out to the left plays it on for Jenkins to go after, Brooke Middleton bringing her down to see Cambridge awarded a free-kick. Carrie Bennett to play the ball lifting it long into the top of the area the Portishead defence strong heading the ball clear to the right side. Captain Taylor Sandy on the ball left for Portishead fouled on the halfway line. A good delivery from the set-piece dropping invitingly near post, Cambridge goalkeeper Kira Markwell claiming it high not put off by the Portishead attackers leaping in front of her.

Cambridge goalkeeper, Kira Markwell

   Fox is clattered by Barrett as she attempts to spin off her in the middle. the free-kick left of the circle flighted in towards the far post Abi Davies peeling off the back of the defence can’t quite reach it before it’s safely in Fensome’s gloves. The Cambridge midfield looking to spread the play both Griffin and captain Laura Baker with a long diagonal ball up to Davies advancing on the right wing. Bringing one of those passes down well on the touchline Davies puts in the early cross, angling in too close to the keeper, Fensome has it at her near post. 

Abbi Griffin winning the ball for Cambridge

  Baker plays it forwards into Charlotte Crisp for Cambridge central 30 yards out back to goal looks to clip it left to Fox closing in on the area, Ruby Lowe in to tackle her for Portishead the deflected ball spinning to Jenkins wide left comes inside 20 yards out left side of the area takes on the shot pulls it wide of the post. Baker winning a tackle in the middle again with a quick release into Jenkins drifting inside 25 yards out spins into the shot with the same result the ball racing wide of the near post. A good start from Cambridge, Portishead unable to get any sustained possession find their attacking players. 

Cambridge captain Laura Baker, with Portishead’s Lilly Stephens

  Griffin clips a superb pass 30 yards out up to Davies racing up the field in behind on the right fires a low cross in towards the near post cut out well by the backtracking Ruby Lowe the ball going out for a throw. Davies doing well to win Cambridge a corner kick. Bakers delivery goes long retrieved on the far side Portishead clear their box well to see the offside flag raised as the cross comes in. Sarah Hopper carries the ball forwards on the left for Portishead his support from Natalie Zajaczkowski who takes the ball on with a forceful run looking to get into the box, Baker moving across sliding into put the ball out for a throw. 

Charlotte Crisp for Cambridge with Portishead’s Lilly Stephens

  A free-kick won inside the Cambridge half for Portishead played into the feet of Zajaczkowski 25 yards out back to goal, turns well pushing forwards is closed down the tackle seeing the ball spring right to Shannon Holloway top of the box, Jenkins jumping in to charge the ball down as she attempts to fire it in across goal. Portishead beginning to find their way into the game Middleton right side carrying the ball on into the Cambridge half sends it inside for Zajaczkowski who puts Holloway clear on the right of attack, wraps her foot around the ball crossing it in to the area Emily Lindsey central the target, Markwell forwards quickly stooping to claim the ball ahead of her 

   A give and go between Anna Re and Baker on the right halfway Re lifting it forwards for Davies bombing up the wing flashes a low cross in towards the near post Fensome down low to gather at her post. Davies causing problems on the right for Cambridge winning her side another corner. Put in near post the ball attacked is deflected towards goal the flight favouring Fensome as she catches the ball cleanly.

   Sandy left side on the ball moves infield before sending a good diagonal ball out t Holloway wide right taking it down on towards the by-line Bennett on her shoulder manages to get a cross in Markwell across her goal having the angle covered. Is a little scrappy at times both sides nipping in to close down the ball, Cambridge just that little bit sharper in releasing it. Lilly Stephens takes the ball on for Portishead on for Zajaczkowski central turns attempting to thread the ball on for Lindsey, Grace Waygood intercepting at the back for Cambridge. 

Cambridge defender, Grace Waygood.

 Re getting forwards on the right to support Davies taking the ball on in behind to the by-line hooks a high ball in across the face of goal. Fensome jumping well to lay claim to it any fumble and Jenkins was there to capitalise right behind her. Pressure in the final third from Cambridge, Crisp winning the ball high as Baker joins the attack , the Portishead defence closing Fox down as she attempts to lift the ball on into the area. 

  GOAL! The pressure building from Cambridge retain possession 25 yards out right of the D, tackles won the ball put on into the box Fox with the run stealing in behind the ball bouncing before her composures herself to send it wide of Fensome to put Cambridge into the lead 1-0.

Ruth Fox opens the goal scoring for Cambridge

 Portishead look for an immediate response a great pass out to Rosie Hill finding a gap on the right her touch sending the ball on before she strikes a shot in over the bar from the angle. Sandy getting forwards for Portishead coming into the box from the left, Gisela Otten in her path defending for Cambridge the ball rebounding out to Holloway bursting clear right side to pop a cross into the area, Markwell stepping off her goal line to snatch the ball down. 

Portishead captain, Taylor Sandy

 Cambridge attack up the right the ball into Fox central has Jenkins in support 20 out left of the d rolls the ball into her Jenkins in turn laying it back for Griffin 30 yards out an opportunity to shoot plants the ball wide of the near post. Cambridge are lively moving well Portishead are looking to hit them on the counter attack the final ball in just evading Lindsey central as both Otten and Waygood intercept. Fox doing well leading the attack gathering the ball into her feet prepared to run at the defence, Barrett lunging in with a tackle to thwart her. 

Baker in with a strong tackle to win the ball for Cambridge, Griffin clipping a long diagonal ball out to Davies on the right, striking the ball early on the angle her cross/shot wide across the face of goal. Hill showing good footwork and pace on the ball for Portishead on the left, she is keeping Re busy at the back for Cambridge. Re fouling Hill on halfway wide the free-kick the ball put into the area left side finding Hill hooks it on into the six yard box Otten stretching heads it away from danger for Cambridge. 

Portishead’s Rosie Hill

  Griffin plays a fantastic ball out to Davies on the right she squares it inside to Baker outside the box is charged down quickly by the Portishead defence the rebounded ball popping into the area behind the defence Fox latching onto the rising ball sends her shot crashing against the bar. 

  A free-kick won by Cambridge on the left side all 30 yards out the taker encouraged to go for goal sends a strike in on target, central, Fensome with a top draw save getting a glove up to tip the ball up over her crossbar. 

Chloe Fensome with a superb save for Portishead Town

  The resulting corner from the right attacked at the near post, Portishead scramble it away the ball played long to Zajaczkowski on the left side looks to take it on the break on, Re coming across well to lunge in and stop the counter attack in its tracks. Stephens is fouled on halfway for Portishead players up into the box as Barrett places the ball sends it up towards the top of the area Zajaczkowski rising highest twisting her head the ball looping up into the air Markwell worried for a moment can see it bounce wide of her left post. 

  Otten brings the ball out of the back for Cambridge right on for Davies takes on the defence closed down the ricochet favouring Davies as it lands behind the defence she runs onto it flashing a cross in near post Fox breaking forwards throws herself at it but can’t quite reach it. Middleton tackles Jenkins on the left as she attempts to get in behind her the ball lofted on for Holloway puts an early cross into Lindsey, attempting to bring it down inside the D is eased off the ball by Waygood. 

Hill switching sides with Holloway on the right now picked out be the advancing Middleton picks out sandy central with Zajaczkowski ahead of her, Baker comes steaming in to tackle and regain possession for Cambridge. Hill gathering the ball on the right jinks inside running towards the area looking for an opening across the D, Otten stepping out of the back line to put in the challenge. Hill showing intent late in the first half for Portishead succeeds in getting behind firing a cross into the box on the penalty spot both Markwell lunging forwards and Otten attack it the defender cutting it out deflects back out to the right as Cambridge regroup, Hill on it attempting to curl a shot in , Markwell back on her feet quickly behind it to catch the ball.

Half-time Cambridge United WFC 1-0 Portishead Town Ladies

  A strong first half performance from Cambridge winning the ball well and passing it about the pitch have been on the front foot for much of the half, giving little away at the back. Ruth Fox putting them ahead, the lead a slender one however as other chances have been spurned an excellent save from Chloe Fensome ensuring Portishead are in a good position to get themselves back into the tie in the 2nd period. Hasn’t happened in the final third for the visitors the last ball too regularly mopped up by the home defence chances in front of goal limited.

  A change at the break for Portishead with their captain Sandy off, replaced by Lulu Watts. Lowe wearing the armband now. The visitors to kick-off the 2nd half. Waygood called upon to defend for Cambridge early doors as Portishead build through the middle a strong run from Watts onto Zajaczkowski. 

  Cambridge get on the attack Jenkins left putting a diagonal ball into Davies right side, the ball at her feet turns inside a mazy run with the ball jinks left then right before firing in a shot from the top of the box driven it cut out by Lowe at the near post. Portishead winning a free-kick outside the area left side Watts on it looks to go for goal drags it wide of the near post. Portishead looking to get on the front foot in the 2nd half Hopper up the left plays the ball on Otten missing it runs on in behind Markwell moving out to the top of the area quickly to claim the ball even as Lindsey slides in trying to nick it. 

Portishead fullback, Sarah Hopper

  Baker busy in the middle her tackle seeing the ball run onto Fox left of the D 20 out shoots the effort landing wide of Fensome’s left post. Moments later Baker gets a taste of her own medicine as crunching tackle is put in on her. Is down the trainer eventually allowed on another bruise to add to the collection but the midfielder is okay to continue. 

  GOAL!  As play resume Cambridge get the ball on down the left played on for Fox a strong run forcing her way to the by-line cutting into the area, sees the run of Jenkins lays the pass into her path 8 yards out, hits it on the run burying the ball into the bottom corner 2-0. 11 minutes played in the 2nd half. 

  Fox is getting on the ball stretching the Portishead defence bringing others into play out on the left is allowed to go on before striking a shot wide from 25 yards out. Portishead make a 2nd change bringing on Keiana Jones for Holloway on the right side. 

  GOAL! A hammer blow for the visitors moments later as Cambridge work the ball forwards well with pace and good build up to extend their lead into Davies right side over half way put infield for Crisp she in turn releases it quickly into Fox ahead of her 20 yards out has Jenkins wide to the left rolls the ball into her feet the cross flung in dipping in the six yard box where Davies has raced in clear to lunge at the ball and send it past the keeper into the roof of the net to score her 1st goal of the season 3-0.

Abi Davies on target with Cambridge’s 3rd goal

 Cambridge make a double change bringing of Jenkins and Baker with Faith Hewitt and Ella Marden coming on. Re breaks forwards for Cambridge on for Davies, checks back to square it to Re top of the area plays it across the area towards the far post Marden closing in a low ball back into the six yard box easily gathered by Fensome. A corner ball for Cambridge right side Portishead defending the initial delivery comes out to Griffin her strike charged down the counter is on Zajaczkowski in the middle out to Jones left side spreads it to the right looking for Hill, after it but Bennett has a slight head start slides in to take the ball away from the attacker. 

Keiana Jones on the ball for Portishead

  Jones with good footwork the ball at her feet left side makes ground finding her way infield before striking the ball from all of 30 yards out, doesn’t trouble Markwell. Davies onto a diagonal ball takes it inside moving across the top of the area shoots the ball deflected off a defender away for a corner. Fensome up well at the back stick to punch it away under challenge from Otten. Cambridge make another change re coming off for Libby Fraser. Watts driving on through the middle for Portishead lays it off to Zajaczkowski who flicks it up for Lindsey, the ball just won’t fall favourably for the attacker as she is closed down. 

  GOAL! The game moving into the final quarter hour, Cambridge have possession left win a free-kick 25 or so yards out in front of the area. Fox on the set-piece, strikes the ball well pace on it, getting it over the wall with very little lift dropping rapidly has Fensome scrambling across her goal her dive in vain as the ball squeezes in at the near post 4-0.

Ruth Fox scores from the set-piece

 Cambridge make a change soon after bringing off Waygood at the back with Amy Haughton coming on. The hosts full of confidence now. Portishead looking tired frustrated jones with the ball left side squared into Watts some 40 yards out lines up a strike the ball falling wide of Markwell’s left post. 

Lulu Watts driving forwards for Portishead

  Fensome with another superb save as Fox strong on the ball bursts into the box from a central position moving right holds off the defence sneaking a shot through on goal Fensome sharp to react throwing out a leg to deflect the ball away with her foot. Cambridge gathering the loose ball out to Griffin right of the D with a shot in on the angle from 25 yards the Portishead keeper dropping forwards to smother the ball. The game is stretched late on Portishead looking to find a goal taking a few risks at the back, Lowe in to tackle Fox as she sees the ball into her feet outside the area. 

Portishead defender, Ruby Lowe

  Griffin getting hold of the ball in the middle playing it on for Fox left side beating the offside trap races on smashing a shot on the angle, Fensome across her post saving well palming the ball down and behind for a corner kick. Cambridge finishing the game strong Portishead threaten the counter as Zajaczkowski dives in to win the ball sent on for Lindsey up top , left side, Davies back in defence now slides in to take the ball off her feet for a throw. Portishead come on Watts taking the ball on through the middle riding a tackle passes to Jones left side her early cross into the box seeing Lindsey evade her marker to steal in onto it and strike a shot wide across the face of goal. 

  Fox 30 yards out lifting a pass out to Hewitt getting forwards on the left play stretched strikes it into the box on the half volley, Marden running in far post catching the dropping ball on the volley from six yards sends the ball over the bar. Fraser tackles well central escapes with the ball to thread it through for Fox up top, Lowe gets across her run to shield the ball back to her keeper, Into the closing moments of the game a throw on the right for Cambridge seen down to her feet by Fox checks inside shifting the ball onto her left foot plays it into the area, Griffin with the run, Lowe defending drops to Hewitt 30 yards out blazes her strike over the bar. 

Full time Cambridge United WFC 4-0 Portishead Town Ladies

   Cambridge proving to be the better side over 90 minutes, had their chances first half, the lead by a single goal however saw Portishead far from out of the tie. The visitors aiming to get on the front foot 2nd half falling further behind a 3rd goal soon following for Cambridge as the hosts stretched their opponents well. Showing good movement n and off the ball throughout with the defensive unit not leaving any gaps, Portishead could find no way through their chances limited. 

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

 Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match (better not change my mind now) It was a tough one several performances of note. First for Portishead, Rosie Hill carried a threat on the left of attack enjoying a good contest with Re looked the most likely to unlock the defence. Lulu Watts coming on 2nd half was strong in the middle making several driving runs on the ball. Chloe Fensome pulling off some fantastic saves. For Cambridge was an all round strong team performance the defence solid. Abbi Griffin with some wonderful passing play in the middle of the park. Ruth Fox in attack led the line well taking on players and looking to bring others into play, both close to winning the award today but just edging them out is Abi Davies out on the right of attack was a constant threat with her pace and determination to get forwards.

  An entertaining game from the Determining Round of the FAWNL Cup, Cambridge progressing to the Cup proper, Portishead will now enter the Plate competition. Good to see another new side in action. Despite the result today can see the attacking threat they carry. My thanks to both sides for providing the team details today as always it’s much appreciated. Good luck to both in their respective cup competitions.

by Darren Gilham

Match Report – Haverhill Rovers Ladies v Biggleswade United Ladies Red

Sunday 5th September

ERWFL Division One North

 A trip down to South West Suffolk this Sunday afternoon to take in a game from the ERWFL Division One North, with Haverhill Rovers Ladies hosting league newcomers Biggleswade United Ladies (Red).

 The regional set-up representing tiers 5 and 6 of the women’s football pyramid. Set 5 the ERWFL Premier Division, below that is set six in the East of England split into two Division One’s, North and South. The ultimate aim for the FA to see the ERWFL reach it’s full compliment of 3 leagues with 12 sides in each. To that end and with the COVID outbreak seeing some readjustment to the pyramid the ERWFL family has see 8 new sides join Division One, split evenly between North and South. In the South section come Essex sides, Billericay Town Women Development and Barking FC Women with Cheshunt FC Women and Herts Vipers joining from Hertfordshire. Cambridgeshire side Whittlesey Athletic Ladies along with Bury Town Ladies of Suffolk join an 8 strong Division One North with two new comers from Bedfordshire, Wootton Blue Cross Lionesses and Biggleswade United Ladies (Reds).

The growth of the ERWFL is sadly tempered by the withdrawal of two sides who were previously well established within the ERWFL, both struggling for numbers during the close season, Peterborough North Star Ladies from the Premier Division and Histon Ladies who would have lined up in Division One North both folding their first teams. Both will continue within the Cambridgeshire County league as they look to rebuild and hopefully both will be able to re-join the ERWFL in the not too distant future.

Without Histon the ERWFL Division One North is a fresh faced league with Newmarket Town Women being the most experienced at this level joining in the 2018/19 season. Needham Market Women and Cambridge City Ladies Development both joining 2 season’s ago.

Haverhill Rovers Ladies making up the 8 sides contesting the league this season relative newcomers to the ERWFL themselves having joined last season. Their debut season in the ERWFL of course disrupted by the COVID pandemic will be hoping for a clear run this time around. Formed just two season’s before that rapidly moving through the Cambridgeshire league before applying for promotion. The pandemic halting their development as it has so many others. Haverhill have two senior women’s sides with Haverhill Rovers Ladies Community playing in the Cambs Women’s Division Three this season. A good blend of experienced and young players the squad further bolstered with the signings of Ali Wright who can operate comfortably as an outfield player more so as a goalkeeper in recent seasons. Amy Round comes to Haverhill having previously been with Cheshunt. Have played just the one league game to date and got off to a poor start with a 6-0 home loss to Cambridge City Ladies Development that though is their only game to date with last weekends fixture called off.

A rapid rise up the league pyramid too for Biggleswade United Ladies only formed a couple of seasons ago when Biggleswade United showed an keen interest in setting up a women’s side. Beds & Herts Division Three side Shefford Town & Compton Ladies the base for the new beginning. Good player recruitment from the off saw the new Biggleswade United Ladies side get off to a strong start in Division Three before the pandemic curtailed the season. Bumped up to Division One the story continued but alas with the ongoing pandemic another season was finished early. During the close season the FA inviting any clubs that wished it at county level to apply for the regional set-up. Biggleswade’s application successful seeing them climb two leagues again to reach set 6 of the pyramid. 3 matches played so far got off to a great start with a 3-1 win at home to Newmarket Town Women since then has been back to back defeats both by a narrow margin going down 3-2 away to follow promoted side Wootton Blue Cross Lionesses and most recently a 2-1 loss away to league leaders Cambridge City Ladies Development.

 A big jump up and the club has responded in kind giving the women’s set-up full backing, a 2nd Biggleswade United Ladies side the Blues set to make their debut in Beds & Herts Division One this season. The ERWFL side now the Reds. Luke Molloy coming to the club to oversea both teams is joined by Ashley Pead who was very successful in his time with ERWFL Premier Division side AFC Dunstable Women as he helped to turn the clubs fortunes around his spell ending with a Bedfordshire County Cup Final appearance. Luke Molloy too with experience coaching in the ERWFL Premier Division with Colney Heath Ladies last season, Stevenage Juniors before that. Have brought in players with Premier Division experience, one too with FAWNL experience, Amy Butler like Wright for Haverhill a very good keeper in her own right but can operate outfield too.

  The New Croft the venue for today’s game. Previously Haverhill Rovers Ladies have plied their trade on the 3G pitch set behind the main stadium and community building. This season they will be playing on the main grass pitch, a quality looking pitch offering good width. A small covered seated stand on one side with the clubhouse and kitchen behind. Busy today with a Subbuteo tournament also taking place. The sprinklers on giving the grass a good watering before the game. Newsflash a bright and sunny day September starting off on a positive note after a pretty dull August. A warm one drinks breaks will be required.

 

   Haverhill Rovers Ladies starting XI – Ali Wright, Melissa Townson, Julie Brown, Abi Head, Amy Evans, Charlotte Westrope, Stacey Roper (C), Kayleigh Steed, Hollie Turner, Olivia Dunne & Georgia England. Subs – Keira Ball & Amy Round.

  Biggleswade United Ladies starting XI – Joshua Fitch, Helen Spencer, Amy Butler, Ashley Emerton, Tasmine Gentle, Jodie Molloy (C) Megan Molloy, Kayleigh Gray, Tashai Simms, Charlene Moreton & Tayla Murray. Subs – Kendal O’Connor, Sophie Norman & Alex Bush.

(Roll on roll off substitutes)

  Ironically the Reds are in blue this afternoon as Haverhill too play in an all red kit. Biggleswade with blue shirts and socks with black shorts a change of ends seeing the visitors kick off the 1st half. The high sun over the clubhouse a potential factor for goalkeepers and defenders to consider. The grass watered well before kick-off unlikely to be a factor in the heat. The ball played back to the defence Biggleswade look to spread play wide to Tashai Simms on the left. Haverhill’s Melissa Townson at full back moving in quickly to close her down on half way. The centre of the park congested as players from both side move in rapidly to close down each other neither side making much headway in the opening minutes.

Ashley Emerton clearing up at the back for Biggleswade

  Haverhill forcing Biggleswade to play the ball all the way back to their goalkeeper, Joshua Fitch to send upfield for striker Tayla Murray to try and bring under control, Amy Evans in on her to nudge the ball into captain Stacey Roper central, takes it on before Megan Molloy puts in the tackle the ball out with Amy Butler at right back brings it on for Biggleswade before sending a diagonal ball high towards the top of the area, Murray the target goes beyond her Simms beyond left of the D goes for the ball the sliding block put in the ball deflected behind for the first corner of the game. 

  The delivery from the left in towards the top of the box attacked sliced behind another corner conceded over on the right. Fired in head height near post his headed on into the centre, turned goalwards the ball rising up over the bar to land on the roof of the net. Biggleswade starting to gain some momentum finding space on the flanks players drawn over to Simms who is linking up well with Charlene Moreton in attack, space for Kayleigh Gray on the opposite side to exploit. Kayleigh Steed winning the ball for Haverhill central clipping a pass forwards central for Olivia Dunne to attack, Ashley Emerton out from the back line well putting in the challenge to regain possession for Biggleswade. Sends it long for Gray on the right space to run into his a very quick player bursting forwards controlling as she reaches the by-line and flashes a cross high into the six yard box, Ali Wright with a confident high catch. 

  Roper taking the ball into her feet central on for Dunne who returns the pass as Roper advances sees Georgia England making a left channel run sends the pass on for her. Trying to bring the ball inside as she reaches the box, Butler steps in to make the tackle for Biggleswade. 

  GOAL! The visitors starting the game well capitalise with the opening goal inside 8 minutes. Play drawn over to the left off attack as Megan Molloy plays the ball out to Simms in the wing, Murray and Moreton rushing forwards to provide support near side the ball is instead played long diagonally into the box picking out Gray in an advanced position free at the top of the six yard box right of the goal, strikes the ball hard on the angle, little time for Wright to set herself falling as she attempts to make the save can only  look on helpless as the shot deflects of her to strike the back of the net 0-1.

Kayleigh Gray opening the scoring for Biggleswade

 

   Simms and Gray out wide have the Haverhill defence on the back foot, as the ball is won in the middle competitive between Steed and Roper and Megan and Jodie Molloy the ball put up to Murray back to goal outside the D knocks it down to Moreton on her left she spots Gray with another burst of pace stealing into the box, striking the 1st time shot on the angle, Wright in goal is right behind it to make the save. 

Megan Molloy playing the ball for Biggleswade

  Gray’s pace a real asset for Biggleswade in attack an outlet the play spread out to her checks inside to put a cross into the advancing Megan Molloy her shot dragged wide of the far post from 20 yards. Steed brings the ball on for Haverhill lifting it up the right for England to chase, Helen Spencer getting across the attacker shielding the ball for keeper Fitch to clear. Haverhill’s England manages to get in behind on the left going to the corner checks her run cutting back inside moving into the box looks to line up a curling effort but closed down quickly by Emerton ends up pulling her effort wide of the near post.

  Simms carrying the ball on left side puts it inside to Murray outside the box, Hollie Turner sliding in for Haverhill making the tackle, the ball loose deflected inside the box Moreton going after it with Simms, Townson doing really well defending for Haverhill sliding into to tackle wins a goal kick.

  GOAL! The respite is short lived as Biggleswade are quick to regain possession in the middle Molloy out to Simms has Moreton with her on the flank the pair linking up making ground, Simms put in to make a charge from the left into the box, is tripped as she enters the area, the referee blowing up a penalty kick awarded. Moreton placing the ball on the spot, strikes it hard and high into the top right hand corner to double the lead 0-2.

Charlene Moreton with a confidently struck penalty doubles Biggleswade’s lead.

18 minutes played and Biggleswade make their first change bringing on Sophie Norman at right back for Butler. A good start to the game from Biggleswade have their opponents on the back foot moving the ball quickly and getting in first to win the ball. The visitors with a free-kick on halfway left side play moved over to the left Norman with space to run into on for Gray to chase has a lot of ground to cover but does well to hook a cross in from the by-line probably catches her teammates out as no one moves to attack the ball Wright up to claim it unchallenged.

Biggleswade’s Tayla Murray

   Simms dribbling the ball shifts inside pushing it into Murray top of the area left side, attempts to bring it down into her feet wanting to turn into the shot, Julie Brown in to close her down tackling well for Haverhill in defence. This game is being played at a really high tempo both sides consuming alot of energy in the sunshine Roper strong on the ball moving forwards is clipped as she releases England ahead of her, nothing doing and play is brought back for the free-kick for Haverhill. Evans to play the ball into the box right side attacked by Roper up with Spencer not sure who got the touch to send it in towards goal but Fitch reacts smartly getting a glove up to turn the ball wide and behind for a corner. Tasmine Gentle defending from the corner for Biggleswade possession back with Haverhill but the defence steps up will to catch their slower reacting opponents offside.

Haverhill captain, Stacey Roper

   Play pauses for both sides to take on fluids. Biggleswade restarting where they left off on the attack the ball closed down well in the final 3rd out to Gray left side jinks left then right before lifting it square into the top of the area, Murray going for it a 50/50 challenge the defected ball rising towards goal, Wright holding onto it well back on her line. Simms rapid down the left up against Townson, goes inside Townson reading it diving in to tackle win the ball back. Murray central chips it right to Gray her touch taking it into the corner wriggles free of her marker to come inside feed it back into the top of the box Moreton going to strike it first time, Brown sliding in to make the block. The loose ball running to Simms on the left gathering it into her feet shifts then blasts a shot in on the angle, Wright across her goal mouth down at her near post to make the save.

Haverhill goalkeeper, Ali Wright

Biggleswade with a free-kick 25 yards out on the right fired into the area far side Moreton onto it brings it down, Brown in to close her down doesn’t let her get a shot away. For a moment the break is on Steed carrying the ball on through the middle out to England left side, comes back inside looking to tee it up for Steed central, hasn’t read it however as Biggleswade captain Jodie Molloy comes back to take the ball get another attack flowing for the visitors. Roper getting hold of the ball forwards for Dunne to go after, Emerton stepping out of the back line again to intercept. 

Olivia Dunne attacking for Haverhill

  Steed over halfway riding a challenge plays England in on the left in behind for once draws Fitch out to her committing the keeper to a save going to ground knocks it beyond her moving in on goal six yards out the Biggleswade defence getting plenty of bodies back has little to aim at plants her strike into the side netting. Roper with a powerful run as she gathers the ball into her body 25 yards out driving on into the box hits a shot in towards goal pace on the ball, Fitch right behind it gloves the ball down comfortably.

Biggleswade goalkeeper, Joshua Fitch

Biggleswade reintroduce Butler swapping places with Norman again.  Haverhill starting to find some joy in the final 3rd as the first half draws to a close. Roper pushing on getting hold of the ball, Steed winning it central a good passage of play sees Evans  lift it on for Roper up to Dunne back to goal lays it back to her captain who spots England moving to the left a tough ball to play gets it into England but before she can turn is closed down by 3 Biggleswade defenders. Simms coming off for Biggleswade, Kendal O’Connor coming on left side.  Pushing on a throw high on the left Biggleswade’s Moreton 20 yards out sees the ball down turning inside flashes it out to Butler free high on the opposite side struck first time Butler’s effort is sliced wide. 

Amy Butler bringing the ball on for Biggleswade

  Westrope comes on with the ball for Haverhill inside for Turner then Steed lifted on for Dunne, it’s Emerton again stepping out of defence well to make a vital interception. Haverhill finishing the half well Brown sliding in strongly on Murray, the last chance of the half goes to the visitors Megan Molloy left channel sending a diagonal ball low into the box right side for Moreton, lines up a strike looking to put it back across the keeper, is also past the far post.   

Half-time Haverhill Rovers Ladies 0-2 Biggleswade United Ladies Red

  A strong first half performance from Biggleswade sees them leading 2-0 at the break. Started the game well getting on the front foot Simms and Gray using the space out wide well. Getting the better of the 50/50 battles closing down the ball creating chances whilst limiting opportunities at the other end for Haverhill. A lot of energy expanded by both side in the heat however. Haverhill struggling to match their opponents intensity early only falling behind got into the game late in the first half creating a couple of half chances forcing a save from the keeper. Will be looking to make a better start to the 2nd half. 

 

 A change for the hosts with Amy Round coming on for England in attack. Haverhill to kick-off the 2nd period. Evans on the ball played up to Dunne left cuts inside feeding it into Round, Gentle in on her to defend for Biggleswade outside the box. Brown comes through the back of Murray again with another strong tackle, already having a warning the referee issues her with the first yellow card of the game. 

  Haverhill with a positive start to the 2nd half going in to win the ball higher up the pitch Roper further forwards cutting out a poor pass 25 yards out lays it back to Steed to strike 1st time towards goal. Fitch back on her line sees it all the way claims safely. Biggleswade attack right side Gray up for Murray inside the box back to goal right side brings the ball down into her body knocking it down wide of goal, stretching as she falls trying to strike the ball goalwards doesn’t get a good touch her effort charged down by Evans. The visitors with a throw high on the left inside for Moreton turns on the ball running into the D gets her foot wrapped around the ball drags it wide of the far post. 

Haverhill’s Kayleigh Steed

  Fitch alert comes early as Roper is ready to pounce of a ball lifted into her as she drifts into the left channel. The game more even now Haverhill pressing for a reply, Roper higher Steed winning the tackles in middle. Butler finding space right is allowed to come on covers alot of ground before she is eventually stopped by the sliding challenge of Westrope. 

  Dunne carrying the ball on wide left is sent to the ground winning a free-kick. Players come forwards into the area a great ball fired in with pace the overhead kick is attempted the ball met Fitch can’t move watches the ball come back off the crossbar! If someone wants credit for that kick they’ll have to let me know good effort.

Haverhill come close with the overhead kick striking the bar

Pressure building from Haverhill asking the Biggleswade defence a few questions, Emerton and Gentle both tackling well however. Another free-kick for Haverhill 40 yards out left of centre lifted in to the box left side of goal a jumping player missing but almost un-sighting Fitch she is almost caught out with the bounce but plucks the ball down well.  Wright with a confident call and claims as Butler goes for goal off a 30 yards free-kick.

GOAL! Haverhill’s good start to the 2nd half is of no avail as Biggleswade go on to extend their lead on the hour. A throw beyond the halfway line left side taken early setting Moreton away as she finds a pocket of space taking the ball on into the box, Brown up with her looks to keep her wide of goal pulls up sharply, Moreton checking inside moving across the six yard box not closed down  picks her spot chipping the ball past the keeper at the near post 0-3.

   Brown needing treatment has to come of holding her hamstring is replaced by Keira Ball who takes up an advanced role on the right supporting Round and Dunne in attack. Megan Molloy with a great diagonal past up to O’Connor top of the D a good first touch to bring the ball down into her feet, the shot after less so as she puts too much on it striking the shot wide of the top corner. Gray comes off for Biggleswade with Simms coming back on to attack the right flank. 

  GOAL! Biggleswade go further ahead to take full control of the game the ball central played into Murray 35 yards out sends it forwards into O’Connor top of the D, good control once more his Moreton inside the D wanting the pass, threads it through low to see the attacker burst in behind the defence to set herself up with a one on one with the keeper, is an experienced customer can pick her spot once again and opts to send it wide of the keepers left this time to plant the ball in the bottom right corner to score her hat-trick! 0-4.

A hat-trick for Biggleswade’s Charlene Moreton.

  A hammer blow for Haverhill having started the 2nd half well to fall behind by 4 goals have a mountain to climb now with a little over 20 minutes left. Another drinks break called a chance for players to regroup Biggleswade making another change with Alex Bush coming on for Murray up top. Play resumes Megan Molloy releasing O’Connor moving left, Wright comes well  making the tackle with her foot inside the box before carrying it outside and clearing. Evans intercepts well as Biggleswade threaten to cut a path through the middle. 

  Bush with a shot from 25 yards out as she picks up the ball and has a run at the defence, the shot straight at Wright caught in her midriff. Roper and Megan Molloy have had a battle throughout the match two committed players nibbling at each other Molloy ends up bringing Roper down on this occasion Haverhill getting the free-kick. Biggleswade confident 4 nil up pile players forwards in attack Simms carrying the charge on the ball right side lays it back for the advancing Jodie Molloy difficult to bring under control wants to release a shot. Head is in to close her down and block as she does. 

  Haverhill are tiring space is opening up, O’Connor is another pacy player for Biggleswade is put through on the right after the ball, Evans with a vital interception to throw out a leg cut the pass out. Haverhill make a change Dunne coming off England back on to re-join the attack. Westrope too intercepting a past sent on by Emerton looking for Bush up top. 

 GOAL! A frustrating game for Haverhill just as they were looking to get back into found themselves conceding a further 2 goals. Keeping going and finally get a goal. The ball fed out from the back to Ball in space on the right takes on her marker going on pushed wide the by-line does well to work a powerfully struck cross into the near post the ball cut out is deflected straight to Steed top of the area inside right, drags it into a better position before smashing a shot low across the keeper into the bottom corner 1-4.

Kayleigh Steed gets a goal for Haverhill

  10 minutes left to play a much needed boosts for the hosts. Both sides are tiring have put alot into it space opening up everywhere. O’Connor in particular on the left. Townson tracking back well to tackle Bush inside the box for Haverhill as Simms pace on the right threatens to open them up straight from the restart. Turner comes off for Haverhill, Dunne sent back on.

  GOAL! Biggleswade soon restore their 4 goal lead with Haverhill over committing in attack the move breaking down the ball played on into the middle is fired on up field to O’Connor in behind the defence bearing down on the box one on one with the keeper Wright stays big as long as she can coming out to close O’Connor down, the young attacker striking the ball close in Wright moving left gets a touch but not enough slowing the ball but no one can catch O’Connor as she runs in beyond the keeper to clip the bouncing ball into the net from close range. 1-5.

Kendal O’Connor put through on goal to scores Biggleswade’s 5th

    Moreton and Jodie Molloy come off for Biggleswade, Murray and Gray back on. Spencer defending in the corner against Ball brings the ball out from the back inside for 12 bombs on up the line getting the return ball continues her run laying it off to Murray as she continues her run going central Murray playing her in takes on the shot from outside the box right of the D in low, Wright down low to save. 

  Biggleswade finishing the game strong Gray pacy on the right on for Murray 20 out turns to play the ball through for Simms, looks offside and the flag is up as she buries the ball into the back of the net past the keeper in stoppage time. The final whistle goes as Haverhill see Emerton break up another attack intercepting well at the back.

Full time Haverhill Rovers Ladies 1-5 Biggleswade United Ladies Red

   A 2nd win of the season sees Biggleswade climb into 2nd spot  in the Division One North table behind Needham Market Women after they ran out comfortable winners against previous leaders Cambridge City Ladies Development 6-2. A strong start to the game from Biggleswade on the front foot the pace of Gray and Simms out wide causing problems and were the first to the ball more often than not taking an early lead before Moreton doubled the advantage from the penalty spot. Haverhill were sluggish took too long to find any rhythm encouraging signs towards the end of the 2nd half and began the 2nd period better, chances created may well have pulled a goal back if not drawn level. Biggleswade though always a threat in the final 3rd getting a 3rd goal quickly followed by a 4th killing off the game. Haverhill kept going getting a goa to make it 4-1 Biggleswade straight back to restore their 4 goal cushion.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. A few notable performances to mention first. For Haverhill Kayleigh Steed with strong winning numerous challenges and looking to get her side going in the final 3rd as was captain Stacey Roper getting hold of the ball and making some determined runs, whilst at the back Melissa Townson and Amy Evans produced a number of important tackles. For Biggleswade, Ashley Emerton and Tasmine Gentle were solid at the back, Emerton in particular stepping out well to intercept stopping Haverhill attacks before they ever go going. Megan Molloy was superb in the centre of the park. Kayleigh Gray and Kendal O’Connor full of pace caused problems throughout. The award though goes to Biggleswade’s hat-trick hero, Charlene Moreton. Was great in linking up the attack and midfield reading the wide players runs and offering support, showing great composure for all 3 goals.

  Enjoyed my trip to The New Croft, the sunshine definitely helping. Good to see both sides in action. Another new name to tick off the list… it’s a long list. A fast paced entertaining game the ERWFL rarely disappoints. My thanks as always to both clubs for their help with the team details is much appreciated.

by Darren Gilham

Match Report – Wroxham Women v King’s Lynn Town Ladies

Sunday 29th August

ERWFL Premier Division

  Attention switches to the ERWFL this Sunday with my 1st look at a game from the Premier Division this season, a Norfolk derby too as early pace setters Wroxham Women host newly promoted King’s Lynn Town Ladies.

  The 5th tier of the women’s football pyramid the ERWFL (Eastern Region Women’s Football League) has always been highly competitive with a good standard of talent on show. Promotion to the FAWNL the prize for the title winners. A full compliment of 12 sides competing again this season with a host of new sides joining the Division One set-up below as the ERWFL pushes on towards it’s goal of having 36 past two playing season’s declared null & void it has hampered the development of the game, hopefully we are turning a corner now and clubs can have more optimism as they build for the future. The FA doing some adjustments to the pyramid in terms of upward movement during the close season see’s Essex side Harlow Town Ladies promoted to the FAWNL, into the Premier Division in their place are King’s Lynn Town Ladies.

 That sees 3 Norfolk sides represented at this level in the 12 strong division. Plenty of derby’s to look forwards too. Wymondham Town Ladies the other Norfolk side leading the way with 2 wins from 2 to start the season and they will be there or there about come the end of the season.

  Wroxham Women’s ambitions are just as clear as the club is aiming to win the title and clinch promotion to the FAWNL themselves. A backed strongly by the men’s club with whom they share a ground. Wroxham Women formerly Acle United long established in the ERWFL Premier Division coming close to winning the title on occasion. Acle moving to become part of the Wroxham FC family in 2019, have moved quickly to establish the women’s side as an integral part of the club. Playing their home matches at Trafford Park where they have been embraced warmly by the fanbase. Now after two disrupted season’s Wroxham Women will be looking to challenge for the title.

  Have gotten off to a great start winning their opening 2 fixtures, joint leaders behind Norfolk rivals Wymondham who have made a similar start. Player recruitment is never easy in Norfolk but the talent pool is growing and clubs ambitions growing with it some shrewd signings have been made. Wroxham adding three players to their squad close season with Hope Strauss coming in having had good experience playing for Billericay Town Ladies. Alice Parker comes to Wroxham, the young defender having FAWNL experience playing for Norwich City Women previously, as does attacker Holly Walker. Also in midfield/attack the club have signed Amber Cantwell the playmaker having spent the past 4 season’s in the FAWNL with Cambridge United WFC. Grace Birchall captaining the side this season their talisman up front scoring a host of goals for the club already has 4 to her name this season including an opening day hat-trick in the 4-2 home win over Luton Town Ladies.

 Promoted to the ERWFL Premier Division, King’s Lynn Town Ladies have ambitions to go further up the women’s football pyramid themselves. The 5th tier of the game providing a consistent challenging test for players. It can take a while to get to grips with. Joe Simpson now in charge of the women’s side having had a brief spell coaching at Wroxham Women. A new era of sorts for the club as this season they will be playing all their home games at The Walks home of King’s Lynn Town FC playing in the National League now coincidentally also at tier 5 in the men’s football pyramid. The club has come along way in a relatively short space of time. Narrowly missing out to Haringey Borough Women on the opening day losing 3-2.

  The club have made several new signings to bolster the squad as they step up to the 5th tier. Already have a few in the squad with Premier Division experience playing for Peterborough Northern Star Ladies with more making to journey up the A47 to join King’s Lynn, Alexa Hunter and Ella Gavaghan both scoring on her debuts against Haringey, Sam Davis and Amy Magnus also come in from PNS. Goalkeeper Ellie Prentice re-joins after a spell at Wroxham also coming to the club from Wroxham is attacker, Maryanne Hoy. Came back from a goal down away to Essex side Bowers & Pitsea Ladies to earn their first point last weekend, Alexa Hunter on the scoresheet for a 2nd successive match.

  Trafford Park the venue for today’s fixture, a good sized grass pitch offering plenty of width, a clubhouse and bar serving hot food and drinks on one side a terraced stand behind one goal where the Wroxham fans were in good voice supporting the team throughout the match. A small seated stand to the other side. The pitch sloping slightly from one goal mouth to the other. Another below par Sunday for August with cloud cover around for much of the day the sun trying it’s best to make an appearance as the players walked out onto the pitch.

  Wroxham Women starting XI – Cyan Fullbrook, Hope Strauss, Alice Parker, Jess Horn, Harriet Meers, Becky Russell, Amber Long, Kayleigh Holloway, Amber Cantwell, Grace Birchall (C) & Holly Walker. Subs – Laura Beevor, Gracie Squires, Rhianne Brister, Broghan Scully & Lauren Bullard.

 King’s Lynn Town Ladies starting XI – Christina Vivas, Shanice Burch, Samantha Davis, Frances Peeling, Oksana Imanalijeva, Amy Magnus, Zara O’Neill, Jodie Hopkins, Rachel Skinner, Tiffany Forshaw (C) & Jade Kelly. Subs – Amy Bell, Kimberley Fairweather, Amy Cropley & Katie Ward.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

  Hunter missing for King’s Lynn today as the visitors kick off the 1st half wearing their away strip of green shirts and shirts with black trim with black and green socks. Wroxham opposite in their home colours blue and white vertical striped shirts, blue shirts and socks. King’s Lynn sending the ball out to the left with Oksana Imanalijeva breaking forwards bringing the ball under control checks her run before swinging in a cross to the near post, the Wroxham defence slicing it behind giving away an early corner. Lifted in from the left to the near post goalkeeper Cyan Fullbrook amongst bodies going up for it gets deflected behind for another corner. Flung in deep this time King’s Lynn captain Tiffany Forshaw making a far post run strikes her back rebounds out of the area to be picked up by midfielder Zara O’Neill looks to drive on into the box, Jess Horn charging down her shot.

  A bright start from King’s Lynn, Jodie Hopkins tackling 25 yards out to regain possession looks for Imanalijeva on the left, the pass cut out by Hope Strauss for Wroxham. A throw to the visitors high on the right, Forshaw turning it into the box, Jade Kelly central can’t quite reach it but play stays with King’s Lynn as Imanalijeva bringing it under control wide left looping a ball back into the six yard box, Fullbrook back on her line taking a low catch. King’s Lynn on the front foot keeping Wroxham penned back in the final 3rd closing the defence down quickly not letting the hosts break out. 

Jodie Hopkins winning the ball in midfield for King’s Lynn

 Wroxham full back Alice Parker with a chance to relieve the pressure as she brings the ball out from the left firing a long diagonal pass out to the right looking for the advancing Kayleigh Holloway, controlling well the winger jinks infield before sending in a dangerous ball near post, Frances Peeling in ahead of Holly Walker to clear the threat. Jade Kelly moving to the right in attack for King’s Lynn runs onto the ball looking to go on get into the area, Parker gets back on her well to lunge in put the ball out for a throw. 

Alice Parker clearing the ball for Wroxham (not about to deliver a Kung Fu kick to back of Amy Magnus’ head)

  Outnumbered at left back as Hopkins and Rachel Skinner get upfield to support Kelly, Parker does well to scramble the ball upfield, turns into a good ball for Wroxham captain, Grace Birchall to latch onto halfway, takes the ball on is sent tumbling to the ground as she releases the ball with Amber Cantwell furthest forwards play stopped however by a raised flag for offside. A free-kick awarded to King’s Lynn for a push in the back 35 yards out central. Forshaw over it hits the wall with her strike. 

  Birchall coming deep to get onto the ball spins sending a long pass out to Holloway deep on the right quickly closed down in the corner plays it back up the line for Strauss to clip a high ball into the area, goalkeeper Christina Vivas able to claim it unchallenged. King’s Lynn setting a high tempo closing down the ball has unsettled Wroxham who are struggling to find their rhythm. The midfield pushing on to support their attackers.

Zara O’Neill playing the ball forwards for King’s Lynn

  GOAL! 11 minutes played and King’s Lynn capitalise from their good start to the game by taking the lead. Rachel Skinner with the strike from distance all of 35 yards out as the ball deflected in midfield runs into her sees the keeper off her line and connects with the ball perfectly to send it angling into the back of the net 0-1.

A long distance strike from Rachel Skinner putting King’s Lynn ahead

  Wroxham go on the attack from the restart working the ball out to the right winning a free-kick inside the King’s Lynn half. Strauss to delivery, sends it looping up into the top of the area the King’s Lynn defence heading it away. Going on the offensive themselves are awarded a free-kick in virtually the same position as Skinner took her shot from. Players up into the area a Peeling places the ball, clips it into the box invitingly at the far post a knock sending it goalwards, Fullbrook reacting quickly off her goal line to lunge forwards and claim the ball.

King’s Lynn’s Frances Peeling

  Imanalijeva showing good pace on the left enjoying a good contest with Strauss squares a cross into the near post area, headed away by Horn, drops to Hopkins 25 yards out left of the D takes on the volleyed effort her attempt angling wide of the near post. Wroxham are letting their frustration show giving away several niggly fouls which aren’t helping the hosts gain any momentum. 

  Cantwell moving right with the ball at her feet pushed on down the line for Holloway whips a cross in along the six yard box, Walker closing in can’t make contact, King’s Lynn bring it away up the left Skinner driving forwards playing in Forshaw right channel, Parker diving in to put the ball out for a throw. King’s Lynn come close to doubling their lead with another punt from distance deep on the right this time hit hard by Shanice Burch her looping ball his Fullbrook beaten the goalkeeper turning to see the ball drop onto the post and deflect away across the face off her goal rolling all the way out for a throw in. 

King’s Lynn defender Shanice Burch sliding in on Wroxham’s Holly Walker

  King’s Lynn winning the ball in the middle Amy Magnus into Forshaw, turns tries to thread it through a needle for Kelly, Harriet Meers cutting it out for Wroxham. A throw for Wroxham left side inside the King’s Lynn half dropped into Birchall’s feet turns drives on a powerful run with the ball looking to get into the box, Peeling forcing her back out into the D, Birchall strong nevertheless turns sharply getting a shot away angled in low Vivas down low to her left making a comfortable save. A change for Wroxham has seen Long replaced by Broghan Scully in midfield. 

Wroxham goalkeeper, Cyan Fullbrook

  Skinner is finding space to run into with the ball for King’s Lynn on the right central plays a through ball intended to put Kelly in on goal, Meers once again making a vital interception. Birchall is putting herself about the pitch looking to get things going for Wroxham, the hosts winning a throw on the right the ball put onto Birchall’s feet turns towards goal driving on, Forshaw coming back to tackle as Peeling closes her down before Birchall can line up a shot. Birchall moments later from a throw on the left dragging a speculative attempt wide of the near post.

Wroxham defender, Harriet Meers

  GOAL! King’s Lynn go on to double their advantage and the goal comes from another strike from distance. Attacking on the right side, Kelly with Skinner, Meers in to tackle as Fullbrook is drawn towards the ball right of the box, the clearance falling to Forshaw sends a high ball up into the air from 30 yards out, coming down it’s difficult to tell where it’s going to fall has Fullbrook worried but the goalkeeper can’t get into a position to deflect it away as it bounces in front of goal and up into the roof of the net 0-2.

King’s Lynn Town Ladies captain, Tiffany Forshaw doubling the visitors advantage

  The visitors taking a 2 goal lead midway through the first half continue to press the advantage closing the ball down in the middle Skinner on for Hopkins turns looking to play Kelly in behind, the flag however going up against the attacker. Sharper to the ball King’s Lynn are working hard, Wroxham clearly rattled are looking for a spark to get them going in attack, Birchall looking the most likely to make that happen as she comes for the ball turning to take on defenders, both Burch and Peeling with strong tackles to halt her runs. 

  Forshaw with another crack at goal from distance sees her effort bounce wide of the right post. Skinner too with a strike from distance, Fullbrook seeing it all the way takes into her midriff. The challenges getting a bit stronger now a little heated the referee needing to have a word with a couple of players calm things down. Magnus brings the ball on down the left for King’s Lynn on for Kelly in the box puts her shot wide.

  GOAL! The 1st half entering the final 5 minutes and Wroxham pull a goal back. Attacking down the right, Holloway his fouled by Peeling right on the by-line a free-kick awarded. Strauss with the set-piece more or less a corner whips it in with pace inswinging towards the near post Birchall comes charging in jumping to plant a bullet header past the keeper into the back of the goal 1-2.

Grace Birchall heading the ball in for Wroxham

  Wroxham straight on the attack as they win possession back at the restart Scully out to Holloway right pace down the line, Sam Davis sliding into challenge the ball out for a throw. Wroxham work the ball into the box near side Walker closed down will by Skinner who comes out on top to clear the danger for King’s Lynn. The goal has given Wroxham a much needed boost as they look to finish the 1st half on the front foot. On the ball in the final 3rd right off the area flashed out to Birchall left hand corner 18 yards out back to goal closely marked squirms inside the turn and angle a shot over the crossbar. 

Amy Magnus coming forwards with the ball for King’s Lynn

  Birchall gathering the ball in the middle ploughs forwards spotting Cantwell moving free into the right channel attempts to slide her in, Burch doing well sliding in to take the ball away from Cantwell’s feet the half-time whistle blowing up a second later.

Half-time Wroxham Women 1-2 King’s Lynn Town Ladies

  A strong start to the game from King’s Lynn on the front foot right from the off closing the ball down in their opponents half preventing Wroxham’s defence from getting the ball up to their attackers. A high tempo performance the midfield up with the attackers, the bright start rewarded with a goal. Found themselves 2 goals to the good midway through the half with Wroxham rattled frustrated. The foul count rising nothing you wouldn’t expect in a derby match. The hosts looking for a spark to get them going a goal pulled back with 5 minutes left in the first half just what they needed. Birchall heading it home to see them trailing 2-1 at the break. 

  The Bure Valley Wildcats providing the half-time entertainment playing a game out in the middle. No changes for either side at the break with Wroxham getting the 2nd half underway. Move the ball up the left sung into the box, King’s Lynn defend. Wroxham with intent at the start of the 2nd period looking to turn play around the ball played forwards into the right channel, Birchall getting inside Peeling scooping a shot up over the crossbar. 

  Wroxham’s turn to snap into the tackles competitive in the middle of the park, Cantwell , then Russell pushing the ball through the centre for Birchall peeling off the defence to attack inside the box Vivas out quickly to close her down sliding in isn’t put of, claiming the ball well as Birchall dives in on the ball. The hosts winning a corner left side King’s Lynn defending it well at the near post. Sloppy at the back from Wroxham left side see Magnus run in to take the ball flashes a snap shot wide across the six yard box.  

King’s Lynn goalkeeper, Christina Vivas

  Birchall looking determined sees the ball into her feet inside the opponents D, holding off her marker turns unleashing a shot, leaning back though she places it wide of the right post. King’s Lynn make a change bring on Katie Ward for Kelly up top. Wroxham too with a change, switching keepers bringing on Laura Beevor for Fullbrook. Scully battling in the middle of the park to win the ball puts it forwards for Birchall to attack taking it into the box, Peeling stays on her well to tackle put the ball out for a throw. Wroxham with a strong start to the 2nd half press the advantage Walker running with the ball left of goal strikes it hard on the angle blasting it into the side netting. The hosts coming on right side put up to Cantwell on the touchline looks to flick it on skip past Imanalijeva who throws out a leg sending Cantwell sprawling, a free-kick awarded and a card shown to Imanalijeva.

Wroxham’s Amber Cantwell

 GOAL! It’s from the set-piece that Wroxham find the equalising goal. Now I have a  picture of the build up of this that gives me a clearer indication of what happened, Strauss placing the ball down angles a pacy delivery in towards the top of the area, Birchall near side leaps either gets a glancing touch or misses entirely either way has unsighted Forshaw rising beyond her the ball hitting her square in the face knocking her to the ground, drops forwards toward the six yard box right side, Birchall reacting with Magnus both sliding in on the loose ball Birchall’s boot sending the ball flying up to beat the diving Vivas into the top corner! 2-2.

Grace Birchall with the equaliser for Wroxham

  A long pause after the equalising goal as King’s Lynn have two players down, Forshaw and Magnus hurt in the collision with Birchall. Both trainers called onto the pitch to assist. Both needing to take their time. Magnus eventually able to continue. Forshaw needing to come off to access her injury. Amy Cropley coming onto the field. 

  A more positive approach 2nd half has seen Wroxham pull the scores level and looking the sharper now, with Russell and Scully linking up better with the attacking players. Play resumes Wroxham quickly get the ball onto Cantwell central has space, takes the ball on pushing for the area, O’Neill coming on to charge her down 20 yards from goal. Both sides continuing to give away free-kicks one for King’s Lynn wide right angled high into the box, Beevor though can catch comfortably inside her six yard box. Lauren Bullard has come on for Wroxham replacing Walker in attack. 

  Is a good contest King’s Lynn have put a lot into the first hour Wroxham strong in the 2nd period. Skinner in a more advanced role for King’s Lynn picks up the ball central driving on Horn coming in to go shoulder to shoulder with the attacker, tangling they both end up on the floor Skinner stays down with cramp. Wroxham winning the free-kick. Burch defending against Birchall inside the box left side as the attacker bursts towards goal close in Burch tackles the ball loose the angle almost gone a falling Birchall turns to lift a shot over the goal. 

  Space opening up in midfield Russell playing it up the left for Birchall wide wraps her foot around the ball sending it in towards Bullard near the penalty spot just behind her Bullard does well to help it on to Cantwell at the far post, shifting it inside to avoid a tackle shots back across goal lacks pace as Vivas gets down to hold onto it. Forshaw is back on for King’s Lynn. Fewer opportunities for King’s Lynn in the 2nd half the defence the busier of the two now, Davis defending superbly against Holloway as she attempts to cut inside from the right. 

 GOAL! And the turnaround is complete as Wroxham comeback from 2-0 down to take the lead. Holloway with the ball at her feet on the right taking on her marker up the wing checking back to skip inside top of the area to fizz a diagonal ball into the near post Cantwell racing in throwing herself at it sliding in on the ball to turn home from inside the six yard box 3-2 with a little over 10 minutes to play.

Amber Cantwell slides in to gives Wroxham the lead

  King’s Lynn on the backfoot for most of the 2nd period now behind get forwards on the right winning a free-kick right on the touchline as good as a corner. Bring players forwards whipped into the area Wroxham hook it upfield to Birchall to break quickly shoots from outside the area, Vivas down low good hands to make the save. The game opening up space for both sides Forshaw central on the ball flinging a good diagonal ball out to Imanalijeva left side squares a ball in along the top of the area, Scully back to defend hurt as she clears the ball. O’Neill gets back to help Davis out on the left of defence as she has Cantwell and Bullard advancing to support Holloway, the ball cleared.

GOAL! Birchall a threat up top all game scores her 2nd hat-trick in 3 matches to make an excellent goal scoring start to the season. The ball won in the middle fired into her feet back to goal left side 20 out turns inside powerful bursting into the area pace behind the shot driven in low Vivas down to her left smartly pushing it away, her momentum seeing her there for a 2nd bite at the cherry Birchall shows composure to lift it up over the keeper to find the goal beyond 4-2. 

A hat-trick for Grace Brichall

A blow for King’s Lynn with just a couple of minutes of regular time left to play. Taking the ball forwards from the restart O’Neill sends it through to Ward left side getting in behind lifts a cross into the box looking for Skinner central, Meers getting in front of her to win the ball back and clear. Birchall comes very close to adding a 4th goal to her name late on but for a brilliant save from Vivas. Recieving the ball outside the box left of the D turns clipping a rising shot in aiming for the top corner Vivas jumping well throwing up an arm tipping the shot over the bar. 

The corner given on the left fed up the line before being delivered near side attacked by Russell can’t direct it on target. King’s Lynn bringing on Kimberly Fairweather late in the game. Cantwell goes into the box for a clumsy challenge. 

 GOAL! Harsh on King’s Lynn but joy for Wroxham in the closing moments of the match as they further extend their lead. Pushing players forwards looking for a foal of their own Wroxham break lifting the ball up beyond halfway Birchall and Bullard together beating the offside trap, Birchall taking the ball on Bullard inside her on into the area, Vivas outnumbered has to go towards Birchall who unselfishly squares it to Bullard to put into the empty net 5-2.

Lauren Bullard on the scoresheet for Wroxham

 A complete turnaround for Wroxham as they make a late double substitution bringing of Cantwell and Holloway with Walker returning to the action alongside Gracie Squires. Not much time left for either to make an impact as Wroxham see out the game to make it 3 wins from 3 to start the season stay neck and neck at the top of the ERWFL Premier Division with Wymondham who also made it 3 wins from 3 this afternoon. 

Full time Wroxham Women 5-2 King’s Lynn Town Ladies

  A good contest and certainly a match of two halves, a brilliant start from King’s Lynn getting on the front foot early in the 1st half playing at a high tempo to close down the ball prevent Wroxham bringing it out of defence taking a deserved lead. Wroxham rattled further as they feel 2 goals down midway through the half. A much needed goal pulled back at the end of the first half and a chance to set a few things right for the 2nd half. Starting the 2nd half strong Birchall setting the example the ball closed down better chances at the other end limited severely for King’s Lynn. The host getting back on level terms before Cantwell slid in to put them in the lead. Birchall sealing her 2nd hat-trick of the season late in the game a goal from Bullard in stoppage time the icing on the cake as King’s Lynn pressed forwards looking for a reply.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. A good contest this a clear winner but a few performances of note to mention first. For King’s Lynn, Rachel Skinner was impressive especially first half putting in challenges and getting forwards to support the attacking players. In defence Frances Peeling making a number of vital tackles. Christina Vivas despite being on the losing side making some great saves. For Wroxham both full backs did well Hope Strauss on the right Alice Parker on the left. Kayleigh Holloway a willing runner on the right of attack throughout. The award though  has to go to Wroxham’s Grace Birchall things not going for her side in the 1st half rolled up her sleeves and took the game to King’s Lynn. Powerful with the ball at her feet travelling forwards and an instinctive finisher scoring her 2nd hat-trick of the season… which is only 3 game old.

A great first game of the season from the ERWFL for Women’s Football East to showcase. A game of two halves entertaining between two committed sides entertaining. My thanks to both clubs for their help with the teams details good to catch up with both will no doubt see them in action again this season.

by Darren Gilham

Match Report – Cambridge United WFC v Enfield Town Ladies

Sunday 22nd August

FAWNL South East Division One

 A trip to St Neots Town FC this Sunday for another slice of action from FAWNL South East Division One, a meeting between to familiar foes once the A10 derby as Cambridge United WFC host Enfield Town Ladies.

  The pair both founding members of the FAWNL (or FAWPL as it was originally known) share a good rivalry that has seen some closely fought matches over the years, Enfield more often than not taking the points in recent seasons. Both looking to emerge from the COVID pandemic that saw the past two season’s drastically affected with renewed optimism in a league that is only getting stronger year on year.

  Cambridge United WFC now settled at their new home at St Neots Town FC, the clubs facilities allowing the 1st and Development team to train and play together. The site featuring the main stadium with a grass pitch alongside a 3G pitch to play and train on. A change in management for the 1st team this season with the club appointing Darren Marjoram as 1st team manager to work along side Ben Yeomans as 1st team coach. Marjoram was previously at St Ives Town Ladies building the women’s side seeing numerous promotion over 6 years taking them all the way to the ERWFL Premier Division. Liz Pamplin also joining the coaching team retiring from played after making 500 appearances for the club.

  Three players follow Marjoram from St Ives to join Cambridge, highly rated goalkeeper, Kira Markwell, midfielder Abbi Griffin and Ruth Fox, the attacking midfielder returning to the club having improved during her time at St Ives. Also returning to the club, midfielder Laura Baker having had spells with Watford and today’s opponents Enfield, vastly experienced, tough tackling and a great passer of the ball. Defender Anna Re also another new edition to the squad. Baker, Re and Fox all starting in Cambridge’s season opener away to Actonians last Sunday with Griffin on the bench. A tight game goalless at the break a single goal was to settle it in the 2nd half headed home by Rochelle Shakes to see the 3 points go to Actonians.

 Enfield are a club in the heart of the community, the women’s section now boasting 4 senior teams the 1st team showing signs it could push on began challenging for a top 3 spot in the FAWNL South East Division One pre-COVID. The club bringing in a host of new faces over the close season with manger, Billy Highton adding Jade Dempster to the coaching team as first team head coach. Goalkeeper Grace Taylor joining having most recently been with fellow South East Division One side,  Kent Football United. Brionne Fowle and Jessie Carpanini from the youth set-ups at Arsenal and Chelsea respectfully. Kelsey Mugford from Spurs, winger Leah Littlechild from MK Dons. Crystal Palace duo, Che Thomas and Diana Tobe. Forward Alana Munro former captain of Watford Development and Katie O’Leary who has vast experience playing at a higher level with Spurs, London Bees and most recently Watford Ladies.

  10 new faces in all with 7 of those making their Enfield debut on the opening day of the season last Sunday at home to London Seaward (previously known at Leyton Orient WFC) despite creating a host of chances seeing a number of saves made Enfield trailed at the break to an early goal from London Seaward’s new signing Abbey Dell. Alana Munro with her first goal for the club scoring early in the 2nd period to see Enfield draw in their opening fixture.

 St Neots Town FC’s, Premier Plus stadium the venue to todays game the grass pitch looking fantastic, a great playing surface. A seated covered stand one side housing the changing rooms and clubhouse. Covered terracing behind both goals. The weather remains nothing to shout about in August, relatively cool with cloud cover threatening rain throughout, one shower coming prior to kick-off, wetting the pitch. The sun doing it’s best to provide some warmth when it pokes through the clouds.

A great playing surface at St Neots Town FC

Cambridge United WFC starting XI – Lauren Webb, Anna Re, Carrie Bennett, Amy Haughton, Grace Waygood, Abbi Griffin, Laura Baker (C), Laura Mitchell, Emma Jenkins, Ruth Fox & Sam Khan. Subs – Charlotte Crisp, Faith Hewitt, Gisela Otten, Natasha Collins & Amy Howlett.

  Enfield Tow Ladies starting XI – Grace Taylor, Danielle Smith, Jessie Carpanini, Sheryce Slater, Rachel Kosky, Brionne Fowle, Mollie Kmita (C), Leah Littlechild, Klesha Darroux, Katie O’Leary & Alana Munro. Subs- Rebecca McShane, Rebecca Evans, Olivia Syson, Jade Dempster & Hollie Holt.

  Thankfully the showers clear moments before the players walk out onto the pitch, Laura Baker captaining Cambridge today with Mollie Kmita wearing the armband for Enfield. It’s the hosts to kick-off the first half Cambridge wearing amber coloured shirts with black shorts and socks. Enfield opposite wearing white shirts with blue shorts and socks. Baker looks to play the ball long to Emma Jenkins bursting forwards on the left the pass cut out by Enfield full back Jessie Carpanini the ball dropping back into the middle of the park, Brionne Fowle snapping in to close down the ball firing a through ball on for Alana Munro to chase, Cambridge goalkeeper. Lauren Webb needing to come rushing out of her box early on the clear the danger.

  For a moment Enfield are celebrating thinking they have taken an early lead winning the ball centrally played rapidly out to Katie O’Leary peeling away into space on the right fires an early ball into the area met well by Alana Munro central sticking out a leg to divert it wide of the keeper high into the back of the net, the celebrations cut short however by the assistants raised flag.

  A good start to the game from Enfield taking the game to Cambridge looking to use the width of the pitch spreading the play. Grace Waygood at the back intercepting a through ball meant for Munro. Ruth Fox bringing the ball on for Cambridge left side attempts to send a ball in behind for Jenkins to attack, Carpanini reading it well for Enfield in defence. Players on both sides closing down the ball already shaping up to be a good contest Laura Mitchell right for Cambridge takes on her marker looks to send it up the line for Sam Khan to run onto, Rachel Kosky in on the Cambridge striker quickly to regain the ball. 

Enfield defender, Rachel Kosky

 Enfield are quick to get counter attacks going constantly looking to spread the play catch Cambridge on the back foot, out to O’Leary on the right has support from Klesha Darroux the pair linking up well as O’Leary flights a cross in towards the far post, Leah Littlechild coming in from the left free in the area attempting to strike the falling ball on the volley sees her effort sliced wide of the post. Littlechild is posing a real threat attacking down the left wing for Enfield driving forwards with the ball whips a dangerous cross into the six yard box, O’Leary and Darroux in to attack it, Webb keeps her eye on the ball taking it high in her gloves.

Cambridge goalkeeper, Charlotte Webb

   Khan battling her way forwards on the ball wide right does well to win her side a corner. The delivery long going beyond the far post is retrieved and driven in towards goal on the angle, Grace Taylor dropping on it low at her near post to claim. Taylor sends the ball long from her kick looking to set up a counter attack, Carrie Bennett winning a vital header to ensure Enfield don’t get in behind to mount an attack on the hosts goal. Littlechild has pace running with the ball at her feet another dangerous delivery into the area is intercepted by Grace Waygood, fellow centre back Amy Haughton launching it clear. 

Brionne Fowle bring the ball on for Enfield

  Cambridge getting to grips with the tempo Enfield imposed on the game early on Baker winning it central, Abbi Griffin sending a pass out to Jenkins on the left, puts a ball into the area too close to the keeper Taylor gathering at her near post. Littlechild doing well making ground on the left attempts to lay it back to Kmita, Baker sliding in on her to win the tackle. Littlechild keeps coming on the left squaring a ball in towards the top of the area Darroux having made a run left side back to goal attempts to lay it off for the advancing Kmita to strike from 20 yards out, her effort pulled wide across the goal.

  Attacking right making ground win a corner after a succession of throws, players up from the back. The ball whipped into the six yard box goes through everyone centrally dropping to Haughton at the far post, getting her foot under the ball scoops the ball up in towards goal, Taylor flinging an arm up the ball landing in the roof of the net a 2nd corner awarded this time from the left. Goes long again coming out to Haughton once again further out this time strikes the ball on the volley sends her shot wide. A spell of pressure from Cambridge inside the Enfield box.

  Fox bringing the ball on through the middle moving left pushed on into Jenkins returned to Fox as she goes past her looks to put it into Laura Mitchell feet as she makes a central run towards goal, closed down under challenge nevertheless gets a shot away 25 yards out blazed over the bar. Some strong tackles being made, Fowle on Baker this time seeing Cambridge with a freekick inside their opponents half Haughton on it putting it up towards the top of a congested 18 yard line, Kosky rising well to head the ball out of danger.

Jessie Carpanini carrying the ball out of defence for Enfield

   Both sides attacking the game flowing Griffin with the through ball looking for Jenkins getting around the back from the left, a little too much on it allowing Taylor to gather. 

  GOAL!  20 minutes played and the deadlock is broken. The ball with Cambridge won in the middle played out Fox making a run left side has support from Jenkins the ball returned to her as she looks to dribble it on into the area, a determined run into the box closing down on goal composes herself and lifts a shot wide past Taylor and into the back of the net to score her 1st goal at this level 1-0.

Ruth Fox firing Cambridge into the lead

  Enfield look to get on the offensive straight from the restart Kmita into Munro she spreads play to the advancing Littlechild on the left taking the ball on down the line attempts to get inside Anna Re to cross the ball, Re stays on her well keeping the winger wide before diving into tackle managing to win a goalkick off Littlechild. Carpanini getting forwards on the right making good progress on the ball, Jenkins needing to get back to help Bennett, deflects Carpanini’s cross falls straight to O’Leary top right corner of the area strikes her shot over the bar.

Enfield’s Katie O’Leary

  Cambridge are deep at ties as they defend, working well as a unit however the outlet up top isn’t easy to find and all to often Enfield regain possession to mount another assault, clinical ball’s through the middle at a premium though. Clouds starting to build again threatening more rain as Enfield win their first corner of the game to be put in from the right. A congested six yard box is ignored with the short option taken Danielle Smith her cross though is quickly charged down, Enfield keep the pressure on play spread to the left Littlechild surging to the by-line coming inside lifting a ball into the six yard box, Webb claiming it well for Cambridge. 

Danielle Smith coming forwards for Enfield

 Enfield pushing on Darroux with support from O’Leary on the right, Bennett tackling a throw conceded, pressure relieved as Jenkins wins a free-kick. Littlechild on the left has Cambridge racing back to defend their box as the ball is fired into the penalty spot, straight to Griffin who whips it clear. A blow for Enfield as they are forced into a change, Kmita struggling having taken a knock needs to come off on in her place, Rebecca Evans. 

Enfield’s Klesha Darroux

  The ball won centrally by Cambridge hooked up to Khan up top 25 yards out left of the D a good knock down to lay it into the path of Mitchell to the right, is quickly closed down by Kosky getting a low shot away lacks the pace to trouble Taylor as she dives to get her gloves around the ball. Cambridge with another corner on the left a high ball whipped into the six yard box Khan jumps well comes close but can’t get anything on it however a touch far side sees another corner awarded. Another dangerous ball in dropping loose inside the six yard box chaos ensures, Mitchell getting a foot on the ball close in the effort blocked Enfield manage to scramble it away.

Cambridge’s Laura Mitchell

  Carpanini on the ball left attacking for Enfield lifts a pass on for Munro making a right channel run in behind is looking to take the shot on the volley as the ball drops down before her, difficult but a good attempt as the shot is drilled wide. Enfield coming hard late in the 1st half O’Leary right on for Darroux wide her cross cut out by the backtracking Baker, Carpanini going after it in the corner, Bennett sliding in on her to defend for the hosts. 

  Strong appeals from Enfield for a penalty late in the half as they win a free-kick some 35 yards out central. Kosky having a strike on goal her shot hitting the wall, the ball deflected to the left Carpanini racing onto it taking it wide into the box Jenkins out to close her down, Carpanini’s cross blocked by Jenkins going behind, Enfield arms up claiming it struck her hand, the impact hand or not at such close range a penalty unlikely to be given. That the last action of an action packed first half.

Half-time Cambridge United WFC 1-0 Enfield Town Ladies

  Cambridge with the narrow advantage at the break going in 1-0 to the good thanks to Fox’s goal midway through the first half. Enfield starting the brighter working the ball across the pitch well spreading play took Cambridge awhile to get to grips with their opponents, eventually settling into the game it became a good contest, players from both sides working hard to close the other down some strong tackling but each side giving as good as they got. Fox making a great individual run into the box to put Cambridge ahead. Enfield have had opportunities although both keepers haven’t been called into action too often. Enfield finishing the half strong, Cambridge defending well.

  Still all to play for however with just a single goal in it as Enfield get the 2nd period under way.

 GOAL! A perfect start to the 2nd half for the visitors as they pull the scores level straight from the restart. The ball played back to O’Leary in the middle she clips her pass long out to Littlechild breaking forwards on the right, insolating Re, her challenge on the full back seeing her burst in behind clear to strike in a shot on the angle powering the ball high across the keeper to make it 1-1.

Leah Littlechild celebrating after levelling the scores for Enfield early in the 2nd half

  What ever plan Cambridge had discussed at half-time is in the bin. Enfield having equalised are straight on the front foot, tails up win a corner on the left put in towards the near post low, players from both sides attacking it can only describe it as a scramble Cambridge managing to clear the danger. A frantic start to the 2nd half Cambridge have little time to settle Enfield looking to get the ball into their wide attackers, Bennett lunging in to tackle on the left. Haughton stopping Littlechild as she comes on from a central position. 

Amy Houghton tackling Leah Littlechild

  Khan is doing well with the ball at her feet holding it up forcing Enfield into the tackle more often than not bringing  throw deep or a corner. A throw on this occasion dropped into Jenkins feet on the left attempts to skip on into the area before Slater charges her cross down. Re clipping a diagonal ball into Mitchell on the right, Fowle in to head it back upfield. Jenkins is left on the ground dazed as the ball struck at pace hits her hard, a head injury play is paused treatment needed. Is okay to continue but is definitely going to feel that one in the morning. 

  Enfield have look dangerous on the break throughout the match O’Leary with the armband now up to Littlechild away in behind into the box on the left slides in on the shot, Webb down well before her to stop the ball, play stopped though by a raised flag. Khan fouled by Fowle 30 yards out in a central position. Jenkins over the free-kick takes on the strike over the bar doesn’t trouble Taylor. Fox gets clear on the right in behind checks back to put in a cross with her left foot just behind Khan central, still attempts to spins on the ball send it onto Jenkins in beyond her the move not quite coming off. 

Emma Jenkins for Cambridge holding off, Enfield’s Jessie Carpanini

  Slater comes across well at the back to slide in on Khan as she threatened to break in behind to cross on the left a corner conceded. The corner count mounting for Cambridge, this one defended near side a 2nd corner awarded put long this time Haughton retrieving it managing to win a further corner on the left as the ball is charged down. An inswinging back whipped across the face of goal Fox coming in at the back post appeared to slip otherwise she might well have made contact with the ball. 

  Littlechild left side fires a cross in near side looking for O’Leary, Haughton defends well shielding the ball allowing Webb to gather. Enfield make their 2nd change of the match Darroux the player off replaced by Olivia Syson. Khan pulling out wide close to the touchline has momentum against her as she wraps her foot around the ball attempting to put in a cross, turns into a dangerous ball threatening to swerve in under the bar, Taylor though is back on her goal line and reaches up calmly to pull the ball down to safety. 

Laura Baker for Cambridge taking the ball on from Anna Re

  Cambridge make their first change of the game bringing on Amy Howlett for Mitchell. Fowle lines a shot up from all of 30 yards out right of the D swerving through the air Webb has plenty of time to set herself for the save dropping low to her left to smother the shot. 

  Enfield come close to taking the lead in the game Littlechild a constant threat coming on from the left making a run into the box as Smith gets forwards the cross fired into the near post Webb down at Littlechild’s feet as the winger looks to sent it past her from close range, Webb getting her fingertips on the ball is stranded on the ground as the ball is deflected towards goal, I’m standing in the other half and it looks to be heading in when Bennett racing in appears out of no where the left back sliding in to make a dramatic goal line clearance to keep the scores level.

Cambridge’s Carrie Bennett with a superb goal line clearance (picture taken at an earlier game)

  Baker’s bruise count is rising as she takes another painful one on the ankle, giving as good as she gets Cambridge as a collective are working hard to regain possession, Enfield continue to look to move the ball O’Leary and Littlechild carrying the biggest threats the game stretched at time has taken alot out of the players Re is struggling with a knock is replaced at right back by Charlotte Crisp for Cambridge. Baker scooping a pass up over the top for Howlett sprinting clear on the right into the box, Taylor though is out to it first. 

   Another change for Cambridge, Faith Hewitt coming on for Griffin in the middle. No let up in the action two committed sides who feel they can win it. Khan seeing the ball into her feet 25 yards out left of the D looks to turn and strike the ball, Slater in to close her down charging down the ball. Khan’s last action of the game as she is replaced by Gisela Otten the move seeing Howlett join Fox up top. 

Cambridge captain, Laura Baker sliding into win the ball

 

  Baker gathering the ball into her feet in the centre of the park goes on a surging run towards the box looking to charge her way through the Enfield defence, Kosky lunging in to deny her a shot edge of the area the ball deflected right into the path of Howlett she strikes the ball goalwards riding it lands on the roof of the net. 

 Enfield with another change Littlechild the player taken off replaced by Jade Dempster. The clouds have been darkening the rain starts to return as the game moves into the final 10 minutes, the contest is on a knife edge could go either way, both sides feeling they can score. O’Leary right holding up the ball as Smith looks to get on in support, Howlett doing the defending for Cambridge. Block. Block. Block! The Cambridge defence throwing themselves at the ball inside the box as Enfield push on Fowle advanced with two of the strikes from close range. A final change from Cambridge the rain falling heavily now, Natasha Collins on for Haughton at the back. 

The rain falling heavily as Natasha Collins is introduced to the action for Cambridge

  GOAL! The substitute plays a vital role in the next passage of play as Cambridge go on to regain the lead in the closing minutes of the game both side undoubtedly tiring Fox snapping into a challenge right side battling to win possession of the ball, Collins going past her on the overlap Fox digs the ball out of her feet lifting it into Collins path wide wraps her foot around the ball sending in into the six yard box chest height both Howlett and Jenkins bursting forwards through the middle Taylor diving towards the ball under challenge she and Jenkins collide a 50/50 challenge deflects onto Howlett to turn the ball into the goal beyond 2-1!

  Cambridge go wild in celebration the goal given, alot going on inside the box however as both Taylor and Jenkins are down injured, trainers from both sides on. Enfield players surrounding the referee protesting their keeper was fouled. Takes a while to sort out does the goal stand… it does. Jenkins has taken another heavy blow to her jaw uncertain if she can continue and Cambridge have used all their subs. Taylor still down certainly can’t continue and a replacement goalkeeper is needed the gloves brought on for Dempster to wear. Taylor is up on her feet at least good to see. Jenkins will battle on. Play resumes, Dempster not ready however. Hollie Holt coming on in place of Taylor. 

The game restarts with 5 minutes of injury time. Enfield certainly feel aggrieved have been unhappy with a few decisions made throughout the game now find themselves 2-1 down with minutes left. Get on the attack Cambridge setting their stall out to defend Otten tackling Fowle as she comes on through the middle. A free-kick in the closing moments deep on the left Enfield push everyone up the ball to b launched into the box put in far post attacked knocked down towards goal Webb though can fall forwards onto it at her near post to nullify the threat. The final whistle blowing and it’s Cambridge who celebrate winning their 1st 3 points of the season.  

Full time Cambridge United WFC 2-1 Enfield Town Ladies

  Was a really good contest between two committed sides in truth it could have gone either way. Cambridge defending well throughout battling at times taking the lead in the 1st half. Enfield starting well passed the ball well spreading play with necessarily having a cutting edge through the middle. A strong end to the 1st half was an even better start to the 2nd getting straight back on level terms. Chances for both sides some strong tackling, not played with any malice however, Bennett’s goal line clearance proving crucial as it was the hosts who went on to find the winning goal late in the game. Will do wonders for player confidence, Enfield head back to home knowing it could have so easily been 2-1 the other way, have little recovery time however as this is the 1st of 3 games in 8 days are at home to FAWNL newcomers Harlow Town Ladies on Wednesday evening before travelling to Norwich next Sunday. Cambridge are away to Harlow themselves next Sunday. 

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

 Onto this weekends Women’s Football East – Player of the Match award. Boy this is a tough one a strong all round team performance from Cambridge. Let’s start with Enfield, great movement throughout from Katie O’Leary giving those behind her a ready outlet to pass the ball. So too Leah Littlechild on the left a constant threat throughout the match making several dynamic runs on the ball taking her goal well. Rachel Kosky strong at the back winning the ball. All round Cambridge put in a solid team performance wasn’t pretty at times but battle hard as a unit back to front winning the ball, Carrie Bennett’s goal line clearance as good as any goal. Amy Haughton making a number of strong tackles at the back. Emma Jenkins on the left of attack. Ruth Fox is improving all the time took her goal well. Edging them out I think though today’s award goes to Laura Baker was strong in the middle of the park putting herself about and often the catalyst for Cambridge’s attacking play.

  Was a good contest the action never stopped between two committed sides a great advert for the league no doubt. My thanks to both sides for helping me out with the team details as always much appreciated.

by Darren Gilham.

Match Report – Norwich City Women v Billericay Town Women

Sunday 15th August

FAWNL South East Division One

 It’s great to be back and can happily say I’m ready and raring to go looking forwards to what I hope will be a long and hopefully disruption free campaign. Starting the new season in Norfolk with a trip to The Nest in Horsford to watch the FAWNL South East Division One season opener between Norwich City Women and Billericay Town Women.

 With the previous two season’s being voided due to the ongoing COVID pandemic it has been a tough and frustrating time for all in the football community. The actions taken of course to try and limit the spread and ultimately save lives. Thought go out to those we’ve lost and those who have lost a loved one. The vaccine programme bringing hope that we can get back to some kind of normality. The women’s game at grassroots level in need of it this period hampering the development and progress of a number of sides, like myself will be hoping for better times ahead.

 The FA Women’s National League (FAWNL) going from strength to strength nevertheless, some shifting upwards within the pyramid seeing clubs promoted this season, Ipswich Town Women moving up from South East Division One to the Southern Premier Division signing many players up to a professional contract. Two sides joining South East Division One with Harlow Town Ladies and QPR Women joining from their respective regional Premier Divisions, sees 13 sides contesting South East Division One this coming season. The talent pool getting larger as the women’s game grows, clubs making some exciting and experienced signings the league will be stronger than ever.

Norwich City Women are long established as the leading women’s side in Norfolk have played in the 4th tier of the women’s football pyramid since the FAWNL or FAWPL as it was previously known was founded in 2014, members of the South East Combination prior to that. A new home for Norwich last season as they moved to The Nest a newly built sporting facility on the outskirts of the city. Along with that a trophy won after a long lean spell as they regained the Norfolk Women’s County Cup. Will be looking to use that as a springboard to push on up the South East Division One table having been at the wrong end of it for a few seasons. A trio of new signings made ahead of the new season with Mollie O’Callaghan, Freya Symonds and defender Chardonnay Johnston all joining from ERWFL Premier Division side, Wymondham Town Ladies. Goalkeeper Yasmine Walford also coming to Norwich having previously been with Royston Town Women. A few players also stepping up from the academy.

Essex side, Billericay Town Women acheived promotion to the FAWNL in 2018 after clinching the ERWFL Premier Division. Building in stature in recent season’s have become one of the leading sides for women’s football in the county. Essex Women’s County Cup holders have developed strong ties with Billericay Town FC which has seen the club attract a strong, talented squad that hit the ground running in the FAWNL pushing for the title right from the off. The pandemic dented those title ambitions but they remain firmly on track. Scott Chickelday taking over as 1st team manger from Kim Coster. Have kept most of the squad together whilst recruiting some new faces including left side attacking player Shannon Drewe from Millwall and most recently Mia Lockett who has impressed on trial from Tottenham. Billericay’s 1st team backed up by a Reserves and a Development side.

  The venue for today The Nest, the new home of Norwich City Women. The new built sporting facility boasting  a new artificial pitch next to a modern clubhouse and changing rooms featuring a cafe serving hot food and drinks overlooking the pitch with numerous grass pitches beyond. Restrictions lifting a decent number turning out to enjoy the match. The weather a little indifferent, cool under the dark cloud dotted around, warm when the sun manages to peek through. The Nest close to the airport, several plans and helicopters taking off over the ground.

Norwich City Women starting XI – Yasmine Walford, Leah Harper, Ellie Bishop, Chardonnay Johnston, Kate Parsons, Millie Daviss (C), Jodie Drake, Leilah Gooding, Samara Nche, Kathryn Stanley & Freya Symonds. Subs – Amy Durrant, Izzy Collins, Natasha Snelling & Katie Walker.

 Billericay Town Women starting XI – Amy Mullett, Lucy Jones, Kerry Stimson, Ellie Jeffkins, Courtney Lumley (C), Jay Blackie, Georgie Morton, Zoe Rushen, Shannan Drewe, Mia Lockett & Logan O’Shea. Subs – Danica Dougal, Leonie Bezant, Ruby Sealey, Mayzee Seymour & Freya Fuller.

  A change to the rules this season still a squad of 16, but now instead of 3 substitutes all 5 can be deployed. Billericay travelling with a full squad the front three, O’Shea, Lockett and Drewe making their competitive debuts. Norwich beginning the season with injuries to some key players whilst others are unavailable. Walford making her debut in goal whilst their are first competitive starts for Symonds and Johnston. The captains come to the middle Billericay to kick-off the first half wearing red shirts and socks with black shorts, Norwich lined up in their yellow and green kit.

The 2021/22 is underway, Billericay looking to get the ball out wide Norwich in to close down smartly. Jay Blackie in central mid-field for Billericay gets hold of the ball knocking it forwards played through for Lockett to break central, Kate Parsons reading the pass for Norwich the centre back getting across Lockett to prod the ball back to her keeper for Wolford to launch clear. Passes going awry early door as both sides work to hustle the ball, Norwich clipping a ball on up the right wing won well by Billericay’s Kerry Stimson on halfway, plays a great diagonal pass out to Drewe making a run left side who in turn played it early into the middle for Lockett to attack inside the D, full back Ellie Bishop sliding in well to defend for Norwich. 

  GOAL! Just 4 minutes into the game and we have the 1st goal of the season featured on Women’s Football East and it is something of a controversial one. Billericay are gaining momentum out on the flanks attacking right O’Shea in space, the defence in ahead of her to take the ball Norwich lay it back to their keeper inside her six yard box Wolford bringing it onto her left foot looks to shift it to clear on her right, Lockett is rapidly on her in to challenge for the ball the pair tangle, Wolford appearing to bring down Lockett the ball loose Zoe Rushen is on hand to slide onto it take it over the line… at the same time the referee blows her whistle. I think everyone thinks it’s a penalty and most likely a sending off for Walford. However after taking her time and consulting with the assistant on that side a goal is awarded 0-1 Rushen credited with the goal.

Zoe Rushen with her 1st and Billericay’s of the season.

  An early blow for Norwich, but it could have been alot worse had their keeper recieved her marching orders. Both captains called over by the referee as both sides want clarification on what happened before the game resumes. Billericay are beginning to impose themselves on the game short quick passes at the back keeping the ball moving before looking for a runner on the flanks, Drewe and O’Shea looking to go forwards the latter winning a corner on the right taken short into Rushen played back to the corner taker the cross sent in to the top of the area knocked inside for Rushen to latch onto shoot on the angle, the ball put straight into the keeper Walford having her near post covered. 

Norwich’s Kate Parsons winning the header with Billericay’s Mia Lockett

  Kathryn Stanley getting into some space on the left for Norwich comes inside before rolling it back into Bishop behind her the full back placing it central into Jodie Drake 30 yards out attempts to pick out forwards Symonds who is tightly marked inside the D the ball rolling harmlessly through for Billericay goalkeeper, Amy Mullett to deal with. Rushen central for Billericay looks to have put the ball on a plate for Lockett in attack central, outside the box, is a superb recovering tackle from Parsons as she dives in to take the ball away from the strikers feet. 

  O’Shea has pace to burn on the right side of attack for Billericay, the ball won on the middle of the park she is constantly ready to receive it, Bishop being kept busy tracking her the visitors hustling Norwich giving the hosts no time to settle on the ball. Likewise Drewe on the left picked out well by Rushen, touch and go racing on down the wing fires it into Lockett making a near post run, looks to see it across her and turn into the shot, Johnston getting close enough to put her off then clear. 

  GOAL! 18 minutes played Billericay push players forwards quickly Lockett getting in behind making a left channel run laying it back towards the top of the area that sees Georgie Morton get hold of the ball a strike a low straight ball hard to race past the diving keeper inside the near post 0-2. 

Georgie Morton scores to double Billericay’s lead

 GOAL! No sooner have the visitors gotten into a 2 goal lead they make it 3. Norwich are guilty of dallying on the ball at the back, left side Drewe closes down to tackle and win the ball taking it on in behind into the area, shooting on the angle to fire the ball wide of the keeper into the bottom corner of the net 0-3. Drewe with a goal on her Billericay debut.

Shannan Drewe opens her Billericay account to make it 3-0 (photo credit Nicky Hayes)

  Norwich are on the back foot, Billericay full of confidence closing the ball down all over the park, getting out wide quickly, Parsons needing to close down Lockett she skips inside from the right. The hosts unable to get the ball into Symonds up top can’t get anyone close to support her. Moreton and Blackie putting in good tackles to get Billericay back on the offensive. 

 GOAL! Chaos in the box as Billericay surge forwards Drewe with the ball on the left sending a cross flashing in across the six yard box to the far post O’Shea close in attacking it knocks in back down across the face of goal, Norwich don’t clear. sliding in one of Billericay’s attacker sends a shoot racing goalwards strikes the under side of the cross bar dropping down into the six yard box where O’Shea quickest to react to tap the ball over the line for her first of the season 0-4.

  25 minutes played and Billericay have a firm grip on the game, Norwich rocked and struggling to regroup as Rushen 30 yards out left of goal drags a shot wide. Bishop on the ball for Norwich looks to play it long for Stanley on the move, Ellie Jeffkins at the back deals with the threat comfortably for the visitors. A chance for the hosts to get players up into the box as Moreton gives away a free-kick inside their half. Leah Harper from the right clipping it into the box, Rushen back to defend gets a good header on the ball to clear for Billericay.  

 O’Shea races away in behind on the right of attack for Billericay goes inside before flashing a cross/shot along the goal face Norwich clearing at the far post. Rushen central with another pinpoint pass to find Lockett moving left into the box wide of goal looks to check inside create a better shooting angle, Parsons does fantastically well for Norwich getting in on her to make a strong but fair tackle. Walford the busier of the two goalkeeper down at her near post to gather as a shot is rifled in. Moments later comes out to the top of her area well to make a blocking save against Lockett closing in from the left. 

  Bishop recieves the first yellow card of the game as she slides in to bring down Lockett centrally as the striker drives towards the box giving Billericay a free-kick in a dangerous position. 20 yards out to the left side of the D, Lucy Jones over it goes for goal blasted in Walford doesn’t react the ball smashing against the fence behind her goal. No doubt Norwich are rattled at conceding 4 goals on the back foot can’t get anything going in attack, Billericay playing their part not letting anyone settle on the ball, lack of movement hindering the outlet ball being found, Symonds often alone up top marshalled well by the Billericay defence. 

Billericay defender, Ellie Jeffkins

  Stanley played in by Leilah Gooding central puts a good crossfield pass into Samara Nche on the right, has Symonds making a run into the channel ahead of her, Blackie and Morton  combining to slow her down and regain possession, Drewe picked out on the left, Harper sliding in to halt her advance. Parsons with another last ditch crunching tackle on O’Shea as she threatens to burst into the box as Drewe sets her up from the left. Billericay continue to press on the left Drewe wide firing a dipping ball in Parsons can’t get high enough to clear near post the ball though drops wide of the far post.  

Half-time Norwich City Women 0-4 Billericay Town Women

  A dominant first half display from Billericay to get their season of to a fine start taking an early lead if somewhat in controversial means, nevertheless capitalised strong in the final 3rd quick on the ball scoring two more in quick succession before adding a 4th whilst keeping Norwich quiet at the other end the host yet to trouble the keeper have seen little action in the final 3rd. Backs to the wall the hosts have a mountain to climb if they hop to salvage anything from the game half-time a chance to regroup if they are you think the next goal has to be theirs’s and it will have to come early on.

The hosts making a change at the break with Aimee Durrant coming on for Nche on the right side. No changes for Billericay as Norwich get the 2nd period underway win a corner on the right side early on bring players up from the back, the delivery in near post headed on by a defender onto the roof of the net for a 2nd corner, again from the right is dropped in centrally headed clear by the Billericay defence.

 GOAL! The break on the ball pushed up to Lockett bursting on through the middle takes it on into her stride has Drewe breaking on the left rolls the ball on into her feet the left sided attacker moving the ball on into the area before stroking a shot wide of the keeper and in 0-5.

  The perfect start to the 2nd half for Billericay, the worst case scenario for Norwich. Billericay full of confidence getting forwards at will O’Shea with her pace breaks forwards central with Lockett to her right picks her out the ball into the box claimed by Walford at her near post. Norwich rocked, have been on the back foot throughout, Drake sliding in to get the ball back Gooding clips into Durrant right side attempts to drive on, Jones putting in the tackle for Billericay. 

Norwich’s, Aimee Durrant

  Blackie with the forward pass into Rushen outside the box, shifts the ball between her feet 20 yards out before releasing a shot, blocked it skips up for Lockett to chip over the keeper and into the goal beyond but it won’t count as her celebrations a cut short by a raised offside flag. Durrant getting hold of the ball is looking to get up to support Symonds feeds the ball into her path out on the right Symonds has to go it alone no one in the box, pushing on Lumley closes her down to make the tackle regain possession. Harper with a rare opportunity to get forwards from the back for Norwich on the right delivers an early cross into the box, Mullett can claim it high unchallenged inside her six yard box. 

Jay Blackie controlling the midfield for Billericay

 Drewe shifts the ball between her feet left side looking to skip past one player, going down the line rides another tackle before squaring the ball into the area from the by-line Walford down inside her six yard box to lay claim to the ball. 

  Remains high tempo from Billericay, Norwich with no respite as Jones powers forwards on the left making it to the by-line before hooking a cross into the near post O’Shea attacking in close on the goalkeeper, takes a deflection off Walford on its way wide giving the visitors a corner. Taken short before being sent long to the far post where no one can get a touch on it before it runs out of play.

 Billericay make their first change on 55 minutes bringing off Morton on in her place comes Leonie Bezant to make her debut. The visitors remain rapid in their build up play Rushen on to Lockett who turns and shoots right outside the D the effort straight at Wolford in the Norwich goal. Daviss on the overlap with Symonds for Norwich just too much on the final ball allowing Billericay to clear. O’Shea wins the ball high up the pitch right side turns and strikes a shot in on the angle from 25 yards out, well struck but Walford sees it all the way.

  Drewe closing in on the top of the box left side sends a cross in along the 18 yard line, Lockett goes to strike it first time her effort is blocked by the Norwich defence. The visitors are attacking at will Lockett picking it up central has Rushen breaking on towards the area passes the ball, Rushen checks back playing it back to the advancing Bezant, she attempts to thread it through for O’Shea central, cut out by Johnston deflects to Drewe left side her cross sent in towards the far post is attacked by Lockett but she can’t get anything on the ball. Drewe’s last action of the game as she is replaced by Ruby Sealey who goes to the right of attack Lockett coming left.

 GOAL! Billericay continue to get forwards at will O’Shea finding space around the top of the box it is Rushen with the assist in the final 3rd central clipping a diagonal ball into O’Shea on the move in space clipping a shot over the keeper from the top of the area for her 2nd of the match 0-6.

Logan O’Shea on the attack for Billericay

  Billericay making another change this time at the back Jeffkins coming off with Danica Dougal going into a centre back role. Billericay comfortable both ends the defence under no pressure the full back pressing on to help the attack keeping a dispirited Norwich penned back. The hosts just looking for that spark that would at least give them something. Durrant on the right crosses in central Daviss in an advanced position taking it into her feet outside the area moves left then right looking for a way through, Dougal slowing her down before Lumley closes her down to win the ball. 

 A free-kick to Norwich wide right both sides guilty of giving needless fouls away as the game moves into the final 20 minutes. Durrant to play it into the area headed clear Billericay look to break left side, Lockett almost upended as a sliding challenge comes in manages to stay on her feet advantage played goes on Norwich get back as Parsons deals with the ball lifted into the box. 

Mia Lockett managing to keep on her feet after being tackled for Billericay

Into the final 20 minutes and a double change for Billericay as Jones and Rushen are replaced by Freya Fuller and Mayzee Seymour. A long diagonal ball clipped out to the left sees Norwich’s Stanley find her way in behind the Billericay defence into the box Mullett comes to close the angle Stanley looking to lift the ball past her the pair collide, Mullett pole-axed on the ground Stanley is after the deflected ball out to the left the angle tight digs a shot out but the visiting defence is round on the cover to clear on the line. Play stopped so the goalkeeper can receive treatment. Groggy but able to continue Mullett is clapped by the crowd as she gets back to her feet.

Winning the ball at the back Johnston sends it forwards for Durrant bursting into space on the right, Lumley getting across well from centre back to put in the tackle prevent Durrant going on. Both sides tiring challenges late leading to free-kicks late in the game, Lockett brought down 25 yards out on the left O’Shea playing it short to Blackie, closed down well by Drake up to Symonds clear on the right Mullett alert out of her area onto it launching back upfield. Norwich make a 2nd change Katie Walker coming no for Drake with 10 minutes left to play. The substitute combining with Symonds on the right as Norwich attack put in central Durrant never gets it under control as she drags her 25 yard shot wide of the mark.

GOAL! 7th heaven for Billericay as another player claims a goal on her debut and is a superb strike to boot as the visitors break attacking right side the ball squared inside 25 yards out Bezant on the end of it unmarked strikes the ball hard whipping it up and over the keeper to score 0-7.

A goal on debut for Leonie Bezant.

A change at the back for Norwich with Izzy Collins going it at centre back late on Johnston pushed up.

GOAL! Billericay make it a quick fire double to extend their lead further coming right a ball sent up into the area attacked near side by Bezant knocked up into the air Norwich can’t deal with the threat dropping pops out to the right straight into the path of Fuller who drills her volley in from close range 0-8.

Lockett picking up a yellow card in the closing stages as the foul count keeps rising. Norwich frustrated nothing they’ve tried has come off, Billericay adding goals late on keeping their energy levels high. Lumley getting forwards with the ball playing it into Rushen central turns into traffic, Parsons urging her side on. The game long settled however the visitors celebrating a convincing win to open their campaign.

Billericay captain, Courtney Lumley

Full time Norwich City Women 0-8 Billericay Town Women

  A convincing performance from start to finish for Billericay to get their season off to a fantastic start, on top right from the start with a somewhat controversial goal nevertheless got them on the front foot, don’t know how much it unsettled Norwich certainly the hosts struggled to get going Billericay strong in the final third their front 3 pushing on Drewe and O’Shea using the width well kept Norwich penned in. Scoring 3 goals in quick succession taking the game by the scruff of the net looked comfortable even untroubled in defence. An early goal 2nd half killing off any hope Norwich had of getting back into the match. Lively and energetic Billericay have laid down a marker to the rest of the sides in the division. An opening day to forget for Norwich never got going never got to grips with the midfield and never allowed any time on the ball couldn’t find an outlet ball. Can only look to put it behind them get on the training ground and regroup.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto the first Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. No surprise it’s going to be a Billericay player the question is which one. Was a strong team performance the driving force being the attacking trio, Mia Lockett full of pace bursting forwards into space central setting up a number of chances. Likewise on the left Shannan Drewe with a strong performance on debut moving well out on the flank coming inside taking her two goals well. The award though goes to Logan O’Shea attacking on the the right was a handful for the Norwich defence throughout and constantly available as Billericay looked to get on the front foot throughout the match scoring two goals.

  It’s good to be back covering games and look forwards to many more this season. Always say I’ll try writing less but I never do. Women’s football is often action packed from start to finish. Never know what the report will look like just let the words flow. My thanks to both clubs for their help with the all important team details a contrasting day wish both all the best for the season ahead.

by Darren Gilham

 

Match Report – Histon Ladies Development v Newmarket Town Women Development

Tuesday 8th June

Cambridgeshire Women’s Championship South

 This evening’s match is literally a title decider, the winner takes all in the Cambridgeshire Women’s Championship South as 1st and 2nd meet in their final game of the season with just a point between them, Histon Ladies Development with the slender advantage as they take on 2nd placed Newmarket Town Women Development.

 The Cambridgeshire Women’s leagues as you know the only county league within the East to press on with there league campaign after the country emerged from its 3rd lockdown at the end of March due to the ongoing Covid pandemic. Has been a mammoth effort by Cambs FA and the clubs themselves to get the games played. Cardea Ladies wrapping up the Championship North title the weekend before last, earning promotion to the Premiership above. That the prize too for the eventual title winners this evening.

Was touch and go as to whether Histon would be able to field a Development side at the start of the season as a split within the club saw most of the old reserves sides move to become Histon Hornets WFC. The club however felt they had enough to field to sides, the Reserves becoming the Development side. Histon’s first team playing in ERWFL Division One and when there playing season was declared null & void the club opted not to take part in the Challenge Cup set up as a replacement competition by the league, but offered players from that side the option to continue playing with the Development, several going down that route meaning the club has been able to field a mixed side of Development and senior squad players, seeing them push up the Championship South table. Dropped points in their penultimate game meaning Newmarket fast climbing the table themselves with a chance to overhaul them before the pair were due to meet in there final game of the season.

Newmarket Town Women Development keeping faith with their young squad with the senior squad playing with Histon in the ERWFL Division One largely pausing until the new season can commence a handful of seniors coming in to give useful learning experience to the young players around them. Powered up the table due to the goals wracked up by Kaitlin Elsey who has an impressive tally of 30 goals from just 11 appearances. Entering the final straight Newmarket were a point behind Histon with a game in hand that against Histon Hornets WFC on Sunday, victory would have seen them leapfrog Histon to give them the points advantage going into this evenings game, frustratingly suffered from a below par performance that saw Histon Hornet take full advantage of to win 4-0. So a point behind they remain with one game left… now a cup final Newmarket have to win to take the title, Histon prevent that and they will be crowned Champions.

  Histon named as the home side the game instead taking place at Newmarket Town FC due to the unavailability of Histon’s home ground. Newmarket’s ground featuring a state of the art artificial playing surface that see’s alot of action during the week. Youth sessions taking place upon it before the game. The kitchen open serving hot food and drink. The weather warm and sunny a pleasant evening with no rain forecast.

Histon Town Ladies Development starting XI – Alison Wright, Katie Webb, Tara Fitzjohn (C), Brie Baker, Georgia Carter, Sophie Lanham, Lauren Martin, Becky Charter, Esther Mctrusty, Jordanne Sillitoe & Molly Blair. Subs – Daisy Barns, Emma Phillip, Rebekah Finch, Naomi Cooper-Jones & Flora Snelson.

Newmarket Town Women Development starting XI – Dominika Szary, Lydia Mason, Kara Wayman, Beth Woodfield (C), Becca Towler, Grace Muffett, Cerys Compton, Hannah Doyle, Leah Harper, Sarah O’Rourke & Kaitlin Elsey. Subs – Ella Cummins, Evie Jakes, Emily Davey, Annabel Cuthbert & Trixie Allsop.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

  Newmarket to get the game underway, wearing yellow shirts, blue shorts and yellow and blue hooped socks. Histon opposite wearing red shirts with black shorts and socks. The sun setting low behind the main stand across the pitch likely to have an impact players needing to shield their eyes. Histon getting hold of the ball straight from the off central is played into the right channel for attacker and former Newmarket player Jordanne Sillitoe, Cerys Crompton putting out a leg intercepting the ball sent up into the right channel Newmarket switch sides, Kaitlin Elsey after it, Histon captain Tara Fitzjohn at full back across to challenge the ball put out for a throw in.

  Something of a bitty start both sides rushing to move the ball not finding there mark, Lauren Martin plays the ball on from midfield for Histon with Sillitoe looking to make a right channel run trying to be behind the defence, Newmarket captain Beth Woodfield getting cross her run, stooping into the header to play the ball back to goalkeeper, Dominika Szary. Newmarket come right a corner won players up into the box from the back the delivery put in central, Woodfield attacks it, doesn’t get a solid connect, Histon scrambling it away to the right winning a throw in. 

 GOAL! Just 4 minutes on the clock and the deadlock is broken, Histon attack down the right Katie Webb at full back carrying the ball on before sending it through for Becky Charter bursting down the wing to get in behind the defend race into the box and strike the ball hard to send it racing across the six yard box into the bottom corner 1-0.

Becky Charter fires Histon into an early lead

   An early blow for Newmarket, Histon making the perfect start. Hannah Doyle turning on the ball sending it on to the left Elsey racing after it, Webb moving quickly staying ahead of the striker playing it back into the area for goalkeeper, Alison Wright to kick clear. Histon are looking to bring there wide players into the action, Charter lively on the right, Sophie Lanham in the centre puts a diagonal ball out to Esther Mctrusty on the left side, taking it on slips past her marker heading for the area, Becca Towler closing her down defending, Szary beyond her kicking the ball clear for a throw on the left. 

Leah Harper bringing the ball on for Newmarket

 The goal has woken everyone up, players snapping at the ball. Moving the ball rapidly through the middle Histon stretch the Newmarket defence as Sillitoe moves out to the left taking the ball on before firing in a cross along the six yard box to be met by Charter at the far post, knocks it back in looping up, Mctrusty in front of goal can’t capitalise before Newmarket’s defence scramble it clear. Bria Baker get’s caught in possession in defence for Histon, attack Sarah O’Rourke spotting Doyle’s run to her left attempts to send her in on goal, Georgia Carter putting a foot in nicks the ball from her. 

  Lydia Mason makes a good challenge on Mctrusty as the winger tries to take the ball on past the full back, in central to Grace Muffett fed on up to O’Rourke, Elsey makes a run left to right across the D, Fitzjohn in quickly to cut out the passing option to O’Rourke Newmarket are forced to play it back into the middle regroup. One lifted over the top Elsey breaking in beyond the defence after it, Wright coming up to the top of her box untroubled as she sees the ball safely into her gloves.

Histon goalkeeper, Alison Wright, gathering as Newmarket’s Kaitlin Elsey closes in ( photo credit Sean Doyle)

  End to end both sides showing there intent, wanting to score. Histon’s backline each taking the opportunity to get forwards join the attack whenever they have the ball, first Carter, then Baker. Webb full of energy on the right of defence getting up well to support Charter on the wing. A throw for Histon high on the right into Webb top corner of the area hooks it up into the centre falling Mctrusty back to goal sees it across her body looking to turn and shoot, is closely marked, nevertheless wins a corner kick. Sent in deep, Lauren Martin under it beyond the far post puts it over the top. 

 

  O’Rourke is pressing the Histon defence in the final third winning her fair share of challenges left side flicks it on for Elsey to latch onto, takes it on into the box, Carter getting in on her to lunge in tackle the ball sent out for a corner kick. The set-piece fired in near side 10 yards out met by Muffett, swings her leg through the ball, Martin in to block it for Histon, the rebound running back to Kara Wayman 20 out shoots striking the ball through the box out wide beyond the far post. Plenty happening barely 15 minutes played, Webb on the move taking the ball on central allowed to travel, Sillitoe giving her an option left channel, sees the ball into her feet turns, Woodfield closing her down before she can carry the threat into the box. 

  Breaking out from the back Newmarket have O’Rourke on the ball right side sends it long up to Elsey moving into space gets up with her attacking partner the two exchanging passes before Elsey clips the cross in long to the far post spotting the excellent run from Doyle to the far post can’t quite reach as the ball runs wide for a goalkick. Elsey is a pacy player likes to take on a defence, wriggles free central, just a little too much on the ball allows Wright to come out of her six yard box and clear.

It’s up there somewhere

  Lanham getting into an advanced position for Histon beyond the box right side recieves Mctrusty’s cross from the wing, strikes the ball 1st time whistles wide of Szary’s left post. The Histon defence for the most part keeping close tabs on Elsey don’t want her getting in behind, this though is presenting O’Rourke with more freedom operating slightly deeper picking up the ball, Crompton, Doyle and Muffett all trying to give her an option when they can. Carter keeps tight of Elsey inside the D, stops the striker skipping in beyond her. Fitzjohn with a burst forwards from the back a nutmeg seeing her get in beyond the defence to shoot from the top of the box, rising is straight at Szary, who catches cleanly. 

Histon captain, Tara Fitzjohn

  A fantastic double save from Szary as Lanham carries the ball across the top of the area inside the D left to right getting a shot back in across goal, Szary adjusting well down smartly to her right to push the ball out to the left, Mctrusty latching onto it the angle tight lets loose a strike, Szary moving quickly on her knees gloves it behind for the corner. The delivery from the corner long, Webb beyond the back post up to meet it sends it behind. 25 minutes gone referee Romana Brie pauses play for both sides to take on fluids. 

  GOAL! Play resumes Newmarket after the ball O’Rourke nipping in to win it 25 yards out right of the D, feeds it into Elsey central before breaking forwards. Elsey is immediately closed down, does well to slips the ball through to O’Rourke who takes it into the box clear she stays composed has time to pick her spot and drives it straight to run past Wright at the near post 1-1.

Sarah O’Rourke gets Newmarket back on level terms

  O’Rourke back to goal inside the D, sees the ball into her feet Doyle making a run left side, O’Rourke plays the pass into her path, Doyle is upended right on the line, the referee trying to play advantage as Elsey goes after the loose ball, nothing doing play is brought back for the foul a free-kick in a dangerous position, Elsey placing the ball goes for goal the shot sailing over the crossbar.

Histon get on right side, Webb to Charter, her progress stopped by Wayman as she gets across her. Woodfield in to tackle Molly Blair as she evades a challenge right side to get into the box. Martin plays the pass forwards into Sillitoe right of the D, has Charter running in behind her from the wide position, her pass however to close to Szary as the Newmarket keeper comes out quickly to deal with it. Ella Cummins has come on for Newmarket moving to a position on the right.

Newmarket goalkeeper Dominika Szary (photo credit Sean Doyle)

  Histon think they’ve retake the lead as Sillitoe moving right runs in beyond the defence as the ball is lifted over the back, strikes it across the keeper into the bottom come only to turn and see the raised flag. The ball brought up on the left by Newmarket squared into Elsey central turns her marker well evading her to take the ball into the area moving right the angle going against her strikes her shot over. Competitive in the middle Martin and Lanham getting hold of the ball for Histon, Martin allowed time on it is forced to play it back, Doyle nipping in to take it, sends it on up the right for Cummins, in a race with Fitzjohn, Histon’s captain dives into tackle the ball out for a throw. 

Newmarket’s Kaitlin Elsey shaping up to take on the Histon defence… again

  The Histon defence all continue to have a little foray forwards, Fitzjohn this time goes along way before eventually running into traffic, players up with her possession quickly regained put out to Webb forwards on the right 20 yards out fires a shot wide across goal. Elsey escape to attack on the right, Martin does well to get back on her shoulder apply some pressure, Elsey’s shot somewhat scuffed, runs safely through to Wright. The pace of the game and perhaps it’s  seeing several unforced errors, Webb taking the ball on right allowed to travel and cross put deep to the far post Mctrusty closing in can’t reach it. Blair on the right fires a cross into the box, Woodfield dealing with it well as Sillitoe goes for it. 

Katie Webb on the move for Histon Ladies (photo credit Sean Doyle)

Half-time Histon Ladies Development 1-1 Newmarket Town Women Development

  A lively contest most certain has a cup final feel about it. Both sides intent on attack, defending well on the whole. Both having strong spells Histon using the ball better getting in some good positions wide looking to stretch the Newmarket defence. O’Rourke finding some great positions for Newmarket in the final 3rd creating opportunities. A good tempo the evening still warm, can both sides keep it up still all to play for.

Histon getting the 2nd half underway. Doyle getting back well on Martin as she makes space for herself 25 yards out looks to tee up Mctrusty on the left wing. Pressure high up the pitch from Histon sees Blair win her side a corner. Webb in the mix gets her head on the delivery but can’t keep it down, Newmarket clear into Elsey outside the area looks to break, Charter with a good turn of pace coming in to tackle keeps Histon in the final 3rd a strong start to the 2nd half. Doyle gets up to support O’Rourke on the left the pair combine exchanging passes, O’Rourke turning to lay it into the middle for Elsey, Carter tight on her doesn’t let Elsey escape her.

Brie Baker tackling for Histon (photo credit Sean Doyle)

Charter running in behind on the right to the by-line sweeps a cross into the six yard box, deep to the far post Szary is able to claim it unopposed. Newmarket regain possession central Muffett with Doyle put forwards to O’Rourke 25 out left of the D passes across to the right with Elsey on the move, is upended some what clumsily by Baker as she attempts to get in behind, lands heavily, Baker is up immediately knowing she is in trouble as Brie comes running forwards, is fortunate to getaway with a yellow, were covering defenders. Elsey however not so fortunate, is hurt in a lot of pain, has broken her collar bone, (it’s painful I’ve done it.) can’t continue the stretcher brought on not the way she would have wanted her season to end. Annabel Cuthbert coming on in her place to join O’Rourke in the attack.

The free-kick to the right of the area a good position to shoot from, the ball placed, Szary is encouraged forwards from goal to take it, strikes it well racing in on goal neck height, Wright with a brilliant save gloves up up to her right to push the ball wide to safety.

  Histon make a change Mctrusty taken off to be replaced by Flora Snelson. Cuthbert well take on any defence onto the ball right jinks one way then the other on into the area before Fitzjohn moves in on her to challenge send the ball behind for a corner. Put into the near post from the right, Muffett heading it on into the middle, half cleared drops for Doyle ready inside the D sends her shot over. Carter intercepting stepping out from the back as Cuthbert recieves and turns 25 yards out. Newmarket enjoying a good spell Cummins getting a corner on the right knocked in near side Muffett there again puts it back wide for Mason drilled in to top of the box a shot taken is high and wild. 

Baker cuts out a pass from O’Rourke intended for Cuthbert central. The game free flowing Webb racing on with the ball, needs to be stopped by Towler. Newmarket break right Cummins inside to Cuthbert top of the D forced wide, cuts the pass back for Doyle to have a shot, straight at Wright who plucks it down a comfortable save. Cuthbert’s introduction has given Newmarket fresh impotence the game an hour old, Muffett wins the ball plays it forwards for Doyle on halfway she in turn sends it forwards into O’Rourke available left of the D who helps it on for Cuthbert, runs with it forced wide by Carter left from the angle gets a shot away the ball rising over the crossbar.

Hannah Doyle winning the ball for Newmarket (photo credit Sean Doyle)

  Lanham getting about in the middle travels on 25 out on for Sillitoe, Woodfield close in on her tackling, Muffett beyond launching clear. Doyle making some good runs from the middle arrives at the top of the box as Cummins right see fires in a low cross the shot struck first time is high over the target. Into the final 25 minutes signs of nerves from both sides. Sillitoe on the barn turns to lay inside right for Snelson into the box, Towler gets in the challenge.

GOAL! Newmarket get the ball forwards quickly is a fantastic long pass dropped over the top for Cuthbert to peel in behind on taking the ball on into the box fires it in low, skipping up off the artificial surface, Wright is down quickly to her left arms outstretched pushes it away but not far enough as she sees it to her despair trickle in inside the post 1-2, Players rush from all over the pitch to congratulate Cuthbert as they take the lead on the night.

   A double change for Histon with Charter and Sillitoe coming off on come Daisy Barns and Naomi Cooper-Jones. Snelson has made a strong impression since coming on for Histon getting into the area right side does well to win a corner. The ball falling to Lanham top of the box, gets her foot under the shot looking to lift it into the back of the net, too much however sends it over. 

  GOAL! Newmarket’s lead is short lived, Histon having rallied well after falling behind nip in to win it central Lanham on left of the D fed on for Blair to attack in between defender Szary comes out to attempt to close the angle sliding in as Blair pulls the trigger, Szary getting something on the ball deflecting it wide towards the far post is heading out of play, Histon though have a pack racing in on the follow up, Barns in front to tap the ball in from a foot out racing away in celebration, her teammates soon catching up with her 2-2.

  Another drinks break called, Histon back on level terms the title back with them. Newmarket restart moving left Doyle into Jakes pushes on, Webb defending against her for Histon. Wayman misjudges a ball fired in central from Histon to the top of the air swerving goes beyond her Cooper-Jones after it, Wayman though recovers excellent sprinting to catch Cooper Jones tackles the ball deflected back, latched onto by Snelson drills a shot in Szary is well placed to get down and gather it into her gloves. Renewed confidence from Histon are back on the front foot, snapping in to win the ball high up the pitch Newmarket can’t get out.

Newmarket’s Grace Muffett with Histon’s Sophie Lanham

 Into the final 15 minutes a highly entertaining match both sides going for it, the title decider is going all the way. Snelson wining it well 25 out into Barns top of the area, tackled by Crompton out wide left loose, Rebekah Finch on for Histon shoots her angled drive wide. Carter advancing from the back for Histon left clips a great diagonal ball into the area right for Cooper-Jones, catches it well on the half volley loops up and over the bar… but not by much! Histon forcing Newmarket back, Muffett tries to pick out Jakes left, Webb with a good tackle to keep the momentum with Histon.

 Snelson getting on the end pf a Lanham pass winning a corner for Histon on the right Awkward for Szary up gloves it down into traffic, Cooper-Jones sees a shot blocked before Szary drops onto the loose ball. O’Rourke comes back on for Newmarket. Trixie Allsop joining the game too for Newmarket in place of Doyle. Histon have kept Cuthbert out the game but can’t do so for long, picking up a pass on the right the striker powers forwards towards the box, she’s two shots blocked by back peddling defenders before getting a third strike away on the angle low, Wright is down to collect back on her line.

 5 minutes plus stoppages left, a free-kick central for Newmarket, Szary up to deliver the ball knocked out to the right is clipped back in near side into the area, O’Rourke latching onto it smashes a shot into the back of the net, Newmarket incredulous to see the offside flag raised against her word soon spreading on this side of the ground that O’Rourke was on. The goal however doesn’t stand.

  Snelson on for Lanham right linking up 20 yards out Lanham firing in an angled cross long to the far post, Blair jumping can’t keep it down. Time running out Webb up the pitch keeping it in the corner wins a corner. Cleared Newmarket have one last attack winning a corner of there own. Histon think they’ve cleared it a free-kick awarded a Newmarket player fouled right on the corner. Szary forwards to take it right side lines up the target strikes the ball, isn’t far over the crossbar. That the last action of the game the sides drawing 2-2. Histon are the Champions.

Full Time Histon Ladies Development 2-2 Newmarket Town Women Development

   The good sized crowd treated to a thoroughly entertaining game, a great advert for women’s football in the county, both sides knew what was at stake and gave it there all. The title swinging back and forth briefly with Newmarket having come back from conceding in the 4th minute to lead 2-1. Histon responded superbly getting straight back on level terms and upped the tempo to keep the advantage. Newmarket having a goal disallowed that would have seen a different outcome nevertheless has been a fantastic effort from a group of young talented players taking the title battle all the way to the last minute of the season. Runner-up could slip to 3rd if Cambridge Rangers Women win there final game by 13 clear goals against Haverhill Rovers Community on Sunday either way a fine effort. Histon are the Championship South Champions winning promotion to the Premiership above in what has been a difficult season.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

 Onto this evening’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. Have a clear winner but before that a few performances of note to mention. For Newmarket, Sarah O’Rourke was excellent, good positional play getting the ball back high up the pitch and bringing others into play, getting Newmarket back on level terms. Hannah Doyle too with some good runs from midfield. Alison Wright making some important saves in goal for Histon. Sophie Lanham strong in midfield. Was impressed by Flora Snelson and what she added to the Histon attack. The award though goes to Histon’s Katie Webb the full back covering alot of ground, tackling well and finding some great positions throughout the game.

  An enjoyable game both sides fully committed a title decider played in the right spirit, all action, couldn’t take your eyes off it. Wishing Kaitlin Elsey my best wishes for a speedy recovery from her injury. My thanks to both managers for there help with the teams always appreciated.

by Darren Gilham

Cup Final Special – Bedford Ladies v AFC Dunstable Women

Sunday 6th June

Bedfordshire Women’s County Cup Final

 A trip down to Bedfordshire this Sunday for one last County Cup Final and one I haven’t attended before as Bedford Ladies face AFC Dunstable Women.

 Normally the season would be done and dusted by now, and I would be grateful for the chance to rest before it begins all over again, but this time around with the ongoing Covid pandemic having disrupted another playing season, the FA have where wanted extended the season into June. Competition in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk set to continue for another fortnight, today’s final brings an end to the season in Bedfordshire. 

Today’s prize

The County Cup Final in recent years dominated by Bedford Ladies and Luton Town Ladies winning the last 8 between them, Bedford the current holders winning against Luton back to back on 2018 & 2019. No competition last season due to the pandemic, Beds FA along with their counterparts in Norfolk and Suffolk going ahead with their County Cup competitions when the country came out of it’s 3rd lockdown at the end of March. 

Bedford Ladies have won the County Cup on 5 occasions first in 2012, then back to back wins in 2014 and 15 then most recently 2018 and 2019 the Covid pandemic seeing no final played a victory to day would see Bedford win the trophy 3 times in a row. One of the leading female clubs in Bedfordshire along side Luton and Dunstable all playing in the ERWFL Premier Division, competitive rivals all three. Bedford have a strong youth section with two senior sides, the Development side completing in Beds & Herts Division Two.

  Despite being an established side in the ERWFL Premier Division AFC Dunstable Women came close to folding a couple of seasons back due to a shortage of numbers, Ashley Pead coming in to manage the side, something of a rebuilding process with a young squad followed, the ERWFL Premier Division a tough league to blood a young side but they have doe well improving all the time and getting back to the levels where they will once again being pushing Bedford and Luton for honours in the county.

Road to the Final

  Both sides along with Luton Town Ladies receiving a bye to the quarter finals of the County Cup. Bedford began their defence of the trophy at home to Beds & Herts Division Two side Biggleswade United Ladies, newly established with ambitions to become a leading force in women’s football in the county were outmatched on the day by Bedford who dominated to win the game 9-0. AFC Dunstable Women were away in their quarter final taking on Luton Town Ladies Reserves. A battle between the sides Dunstable edging it 2-1 to progress to the semi-finals with Tia Steadman netting both goals.

 Bedford were to take on AFC Dunstable Women Blues in the last 4 of the County Cup, won the initial game 2-0 booking their spot in the final the game voided however, and Bedford made to play it again. Dunstable’s Blue side a growing force in their own right didn’t make it easy however Bedford went on to win the game 3-1 to set up today’s final. A tough test for Dunstable in their semi-final away to Luton Town Ladies, was a determined performance though that saw the sides finish the game to send the tie into a penalty shootout. Goalkeeper, Ciara Taylor a recent addition for Dunstable the hero as she saved Luton’s 6th penalty as the shootout entered sudden death to send Dunstable into the final.

 Into June the venue for today’s final, Cranfield United FC, just off the A421 through the village of Cranfield you come to the ground, parking around 3 sides of the pitch, fenced off the playing surface looking superb the grass lush. A clubhouse, with bar and kitchen hatch serving hot food and drink at one end a small seated stand between the dugouts. A good size offering plenty of width. A few spots of rain about before kick-off, the dark clouds pasting however leaving behind a sunny if somewhat muggy afternoon. Traffic was a nightmare, but I suspect I was the only one who travelled from Norfolk today.

Bedford Ladies

Bedford Ladies starting XI – Alex Shore, Mollie Robinson, Stephanie Fisher, Sophie Mulvihill, Zara Carroll, Jasmine Ajayi, Shianne Swares, Destiny Pap, Gemma Franklin (C), Setor Acolatse & Natasha Fensome. Subs – Ashley Emerton, Mollie Marshall, Carissa Kaczorowski & Rianne Townsend-Brown.

AFC Dunstable Women

AFC Dunstable Women starting XI – Ciara Taylor, Shauna Smith, Mollie Burgess, Nicole Raffermati, Jodi McClelland (C), Chloe Esposito, Louise McCay, Rebecca Devereux, Gemma Darvill, Chelsea Jeffrey & Tia Steadman. Subs – Darcy Collins, Hannah Ring, Louisa Sexton & Ella Claridge.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

  Both sides play in blue as a rule, Bedford with the change strip today wearing white shirts with black shorts and socks to have the kick-off 1st half with Dunstable all in blue opposite. Bedford play the ball right for Destiny Pap moving forwards, Gemma Darvill stepping in to win it for Dunstable has support on the inside from Nicole Raffermati, the pair exchange passes Darvill powering on down the wing gaining ground before she is stopped by Mollie Robinson as the full back comes sliding in to take the ball out for a throw in.

Dunstable’s Gemma Darvill with Bedford’s Setor Acolatse

Dunstable with the early pressing keep the ball down the right working a cross on across the top of the area Bedford send it clear helped on up to the right with captain Gemma Franklin looking to get hold of it carry it forwards before being chopped down, Bedford getting the free-kick. Players go forwards the ball sent long up into the area, headed out by Dunstable, Shauna Smith the rolling ball comes to Shianne Swares 25 yards out, one thing on her mind striking the ball her attempt charged down.

Mollie Burgess for AFC Dunstable Women

Mollie Burgess with the ball at her feet playing on the left of defence for Dunstable lines up a fantastic pas sending it long into the path of Darvill on the moves taking it in her stride, runs on checking back aiming to reach the area before Sophie Mulvihill put in the sliding tackle for Bedford. Swares bringing the ball on through the middle, Louise McCay getting across to halt her progress, the midfield area lively. McCay with another strong challenge moments later to deny Setor Acolatse. Chelsea Jeffery with space on the ball central for Dunstable 35 yards out receiving the ball from Rebecca Devereaux on the left attempts to put it into Darvill’ run out wide right, plays it too close to the keeper allowing Alex Shore to come out of her six yard box and claim.

Bedford’s Shianne Swares

Two committed side Swares lays it wide for Pap on the left, up the wing, Darvill coming back closing in to challenge, allowing Burgess to clear the loose ball. Both side looking to work the width, Darvill and Devereaux for Dunstable, Pap and Franklin for Bedford all with driving runs when the ball is laid into their feet. Devereux plays it inside from the right into Chloe Esposito 25 yards out turns and strikes the ball goalward skipping up off the grass, Shore is right behind it see it up into her arms. Darvill strong on the ball takes it on right on for Jeffery into the right channel carrying on into the Bedford area comes inside, shift right, then left, failing to get a cross away before being closed down by Zara Carroll.

Gemma Franklin driving forwards for Bedford Ladies

Dunstable with a corner on the right, the ball headed away out of the box but no cleared Dunstable keep players up close the ball down sent back in cleared for a 2nd time then Bedford break, out to the right the ball fired up to Natasha Fensome in attack, hasn’t seen much of the ball early door running at the back tracking Dunstable defence let’s fly from all of 30 yard out her shot bouncing wide. Bedford getting Acolatse up with Fensome the pair combining outside the box right side slip the ball inside for Franklin running in behind, Taylor alert quickly out to save sliding it at the attackers feet.

Dunstable midfielder, Louise McCay

McCay spinning in the centre laying the ball out right for Darvill power forwards, Robinson across to close her down, the result a throw to Dunstable. Dunstable come close to opening the scoring are doing well keeping the ball in the final 3rd without so far finding the final ball, do so this time a a cross is flashed in across the six yards box to be met by Tia Steadman to hit it from close range goal bound, but for Shore down low at the post the make the blocking save. The ball out for a corner on the left.

Dunstable with the early pressure has taken Bedford a little longer to find their rhythm. T he corner swung inwards under the bar punched away well by Shore, Bedford break quickly right side Acolatse on up the field for Fensome she has the vision to spot Pap sprinting away up the left her pass pinpoint picking her out brings the ball into the box up against Burgess, shifts left then back inside attempting to find space to shoot, Burgess doing well however putting a leg in to block cut the ball out.

Bedford’s Setor Acolatse

Fensome leading the line for Bedford uses the space well, never still, never staying on one defender, moving right seeing the ball rolled into her exchanges passes with Franklin on the wing going beyond her wide shoots on the angle driven wide at the near post Bedford claiming it took a nick of a Dunstable body win the corner. The delivery looping in near post Fensome heads it down, striking a Dunstable head, instinctive sent over the bar for a 2nd corner. From the right a 2nd time fired into the six yard box runners racing in Franklin rises well meeting it to blast her head wide beyond the far post.

Robinson on for Acolaste on the right times her diagonal ball up towards the area perfectly seeing Fensome burst in behind between the centre backs, Taylor with quick reactions out to close her down sliding in to claim the ball, as Fensome lunges for it. Dunstable attack the ball out on the left Devereux inside for Steadman outside the box, Jeffery with her whip a dangerous ball across the area looking for Darvill far side, two defenders and the keeper closing in Darvill appears to be bundled over, despite appeals nothing is given.

Jasmine Ajayi along side Swares in the middle for Bedford has won her fair share of tackles gets into a shooting position 20 yards out as Fensome top of the area, sees a ball from the right into her feet and lays it back to her, Ajayi striking it 1st time sees her bending effort roll wide of the far post. The game is flowing well moving from one end to the other both sides looking to attack, Carroll with a clearance at the back finds Fensome away clear on the left breaking into the area, closing in on goal, strikes the ball hard before she is closed down, Taylor with a superb save diving to her left to push the rising ball behind with her gloves.

 GOAL! From the resulting corner however Bedford find the opening goal, little Taylor can do about it, the delivery is perfect fired in fast across the face of goal to the Bedford players attacking the far post, Mulvihill meeting it driving a bullet of a header into the back of the net 1-0. 22 minutes played.

   Stephanie Fisher recieves a talking too from referee James Cantwell, as she brings down Dunstable’s. McCay 35 yards from goal. Jeffery on the free-kick sends it long to the far post, Shore comes and punches the ball down to the left, Bedford can’t get it away Dunstable snapping in to get the ball is eventually cleared to the right for a throw. Bedford play the ball out from the back into Fensome on the halfway line is brought down the advantage played as Pap races on looking to get on up the wing her touch allowing Dunstable captain, Jodi McClelland to come and clear the ball over the hedge for a throw. 

  Darvill is a threat down the right for Dunstable getting on with the ball taking it to the by-line presses on into the area looking to cross, Mulvihill in to block it. A corner for Dunstable  on the right in central, Devereux up but can’t get enough on it to take it beyond the goalkeeper. Dunstable committing the foul as Bedford once again struggle to get it clear. Swares does well getting hold on the ball in midfield for Bedford left side has Fensome drifting across as the passing option sends it forwards, McClellan looks to have it only for the defender to slice her clearance, the ball deflected into the box beyond Fensome off like a hare after it, Taylor sharp comes out to claim it holding onto the ball as Fensome runs into her. 

Bedford attacking right side release a shot from distance no idea who took it the ball racing in from 25 yards flashing wide of the near post. The cars exposed behind the goal I’m glad I’m parked well out of the way.

  GOAL! Ajayi fouled inside the Dunstable half a free-kick given to the right of the centre circle. Carroll over it has a good set-piece on her fires the ball in through everyone Taylor may not have expected that reacts well to push the ball away to her right, the ball left of her goal Bedford are alert whilst Dunstable remain static Franklin and Fensome through on the follow-up, Franklin left retrieving the ball spinning to lift it back in across goal evading Taylor, Fensome is there unopposed in the middle to raise her leg and guide the ball home 2-0.

Natasha Fensome puts Bedford into a 2 nil lead

  Fensome causing the Dunstable defence problems with her movement drawing players out of position going into the right and left channels looking for the ball, moving right this time Burgess goes with her needing to slide in to defend on the attacker as she goes to shoot. Franklin is upended on the right for Bedford, Carroll on the set-piece goes for goal, a good range strike, the cars behind the goal saved as a spectator claims the ball as it drops over the bar. 

  Esposito on for Devereux on the left the cross fizzed inside for McCay top of the D the Dunstable midfielder striking it 1st time slicing her shot wide. McClelland with a vital interception eft side to deny Fensome as Acolatse looks to send the ball on. Swares and Ajayi work the ball well central up into Fensome outside the box right her flick to the right seeing Franklin break in behind, Smith lunging in with a timely tackle to stop her shot. A strong finish to the 1st half from Bedford, Ajayi turning central has support from Fensome dropping deeper, Acolatse going beyond her Fensome rolls the ball into her feet Acolatse turning to strike a shot from 25 yards out Taylor moving across sees it wide of the near post. 

  Bedford come on through the middle Acolatse right playing it crossfield for Pap on the left 25 yards out drops it into Fensome outside the box the attacker turning on the ball to clip a shot in towards goal, on the rise Taylor is right behind it a confident claim high. Dunstable get the ball on down the left Devereux inside for McCay central 20 yards out sees her effort charged down, the ball put back to Devereux left tries again, McCay top of the D seeing the ball across her body before striking it frustrated as her attempt races wide.

 Strong tackling all round some decisions frustrating Dunstable. McCay adjudged to have fouled Ajayi outside the centre circle Carroll up to take it again, keeps her shot lower this time but the keeper can see it wide. Fensome and Acolatse break through the middle seeking to get into the Dunstable area, Raffermati doing well in the defence to get in between the pair thwart the attack. 

Half-time Bedford Ladies 2-0 AFC Dunstable Women

  A 2-0 lead for Bedford at the break both goals coming after a good chance for Dunstable at the other end. Bedford taking a while to settle into the match, Dunstable applying pressure early on getting forwards well, both side using the width the midfield battle committed a good contest Bedford scoring at timely intervals to get themselves into a good position going into the 2nd half, work for Dunstable to do if they are to get back into the game, 2-0 though can be a tricky score-line.

  A double change for Dunstable at the start of the 2nd half, Hannah Ring and Darcy Collins on for Smith and Jeffery. No changes for Bedford as Dunstable get the ball moving 2nd half. Fisher defending on the right as the ball is played out to the wing. Bedford straight on the attack the ball worked across the pitch out to Pap on the move left side strikes it on the angle, Taylor down low at her near post making a comfortable save. 

Mollie Robinson, clearing the ball for Bedford

  Fensome left clips a ball over the top into the area for Acolatse, struggles to bring it down to shoot, allows Devereux to get in her her and clear the ball for Dunstable. McCay out on the right wins a throw as Dunstable advance, the set-piece put into the path of Darvill 20 yards out blazes a shot over the bar. Swares retrieves a ball fed out into space on the right for Bedford swinging a cross back in across goal, Franklin closing in far side connects with in but turns it wide. A pause in play Pap down with an injury but is okay to continue for now. 

Dunstable captain. Jodi McClelland

  Carroll defends in close on Steadman top of the area as Devereux advances down the wing sends the ball into her. Moments later Carroll is called into action again as Dunstable work a throw into the area from the left of Devereux. Bedford with a free-kick on halfway, Ajayi knocking it down into the path of Acolatse top of the D opens her foot to turn the ball goalwards in low Taylor down is right behind it. 

  Darvill still carrying a threat on the right for Dunstable breaks on in behind up the line, Steadman with a good near post run, Darvill wraps her foot around the ball, lifting it in, Shore can’t get there Steadman is inches away from heading it beyond her. Pap having sustained another knock has to come off for Bedford, on in her place on the left Carissa Kaczorowski. Ring chips the ball from 25 yards out, on towards the top of the area looking for Darvill, Mulvihill closing her down the ball running on behind for Shore to gather. 

  GOAL! 18 minutes gone in the 2nd half and Bedford find that all important 3rd goal, Ajayi lifting a ball up from the middle high to drop inside the area left of goal, Fensome getting onto Raffermati the Bedford attacker using her body well, experienced as it bounces difficult to deal with keeps her marker at bay before striking a fierce shot low wide across the keeper into the bottom corner 3-0.

Natasha Fensome puts Bedford 3-0 up

  A blow for Dunstable frustration showing the weather warm a drinks break called soon after a break in play, time to regroup. Play resumes Ring with good work on the ball right side passes inside for Burgess to send it on for McCay who in turn looks to put it into Steadman’s feet as she moves across the D from the left to the right, Robinson with a vital tackle stopping the Dunstable attacker getting in behind on goal. 

  Ring wins Dunstable a free-kick wide on the right, players come forwards the delivery in near side defended well by Ajayi, the break is on Bedford moving left get up the pitch quickly cut out by McClelland, the ball still alive left side Bedford fire it in central to Fensome, Esposito in on her with a fine tackle to win the ball. Acolatse comes off for Bedford to be replaced by Rianne Townsend-Brown. 

Dunstable’s Chloe Esposito

  GOAL! Bedford pressing forwards extend their lead the ball played out to Fensome drifting into space on the right takes the ball on driving to the by-line into the box flashes a cross into the six yard box, Franklin is there to smash goalwards a defenders dive to block, Taylor making a good save the ball still alive however Franklin sharp to scoop it up wide beyond the despairing Taylor to the right of goal 4-0.

Bedford’s captain, Gemma Franklin puts her side into a 4 goal lead

  Ring brings the ball on central for Dunstable strong riding a challenge surges on has McClelland with her, Dunstable’s captain brought down a free-ick given 30 yards out. McClelland over it goes for goal her shot blasted wide. Dunstable visibly frustrated fell decisions are going against them. Darvill continues to attack down the right powers forwards squares it top of the box into Steadman’s path the strikers 1st touch a little heavy let’s Shore snatch the ball up into her body. 

  GOAL! Darvill’s determination pays off as she pulls a goal back for Dunstable, getting players up central Bedford don’t get clear the ball won back play turned around 30 yards out the pass is perfect into Darvill right into the area pace taking her on blasts her shot on the angle wide across the keeper 4-1.

  15 minutes left to play plus stoppages, Dunstable find another level of energy as they look to rally, tempers though will need to be left in check. McClelland doing well at the back clearing the ball as Bedford drop it in left for Kaczorowski to chase, wants Taylor to come but can’t risk it clearing the ball to the left. Bedford with the throw allows players to come forwards crossed into Franklin top of the area back to goal she pushes it out for the advancing Carroll to hit from 25 yards out, her attempt running wide across goal.

  The game has suddenly livened up, Dunstable upping it, Bedford have responded well. Jeffery comes back on for Dunstable replacing McCay. Fensome with a shot on the angle from the left see Taylor down low at her near post to claim. 

  GOAL! Bedford score a wonder strike to effectively kill off the game, attacking on the left, Franklin pushing on across the top of the area, Dunstable clear it back to the left Bedford regaining possession the ball squared to Ajayi some 30 yards out left of the D wraps her foot around the ball and sweeps a looping shot beyond Taylor before she can move 5-1. 

Bedford’s Jasmine Ajayi

  Dunstable hit with another blow nevertheless look to get on the offensive, Darvill right side surging on into the box, Carroll comes sliding in to make the tackle. The game becoming stretched as players tire. Ring with Steadman top of the area for Dunstable played back for Jeffery to hit from distance her strike charged down. Dunstable with a throw right keep players up Bedford can’t get it away Darvill with a strike from outside the box charged down by Carroll. A corner won on the left.

 A double substitution for Dunstable before it’s taken Devereux and Esposito off, Louisa Sexton and Ella Claridge coming on. An inswinging delivery into the six yard box a good height attacked by Burgess sails over the crossbar. Bedford make a late change Ashley Emerton on for Kaczorowski. Franklin goes left on for Fensome, McClelland in to tackle the ball out for a throw. Fensome’s last action of the game as she is replaced by Mollie Marshall. 

Burgess’s header goes over for Dunstable

  The game moving into stoppage time Bedford attacking left side on for Townsend-Brown central lays it wide to the right the advancing Emerton her target but the pass doesn’t quite reach her, Dunstable bring it away played up to Jeffery turns over halfway into Ring beyond her moves left, Mulvihill steps out of the backline to tackle her. Collins with a great ball upfield to Darvill on the move right side crosses into the box for Steadman near side knocks it back for Claridge to strike her attempt charged down Bedford straight on the counter the ball long up to Townsend-Brown to hit on the run from distance sends it over the bar. 

Bedford’s Ashley Emerton

 A late corner for Bedford right side long to the far post knocked goalwards Taylor though takes high back on her line. Bedford with the energy in the closing moment push on Ajayi right side seeing her cross charged down for a corner. Dunstable clear, the ball though quickly back with Bedford Franklin central sending it to Ajayi to her left to hit from distance the strike over the top.  

Full time Bedford Ladies 5-1 AFC Dunstable Women

  Bedford Ladies win the Bedfordshire Women’s County Cup for a 3rd successive year. In the end proving too much for Dunstable. Despite starting the slower, Dunstable having opportunities Bedford came back to score twice to lead 2-0 at the break finished the 1st half well. Play stretched in the 2nd period Dunstable continuing to look a threat Bedford got the crucial 3rd goal going on to add a 4th the goal at regular intervals during the game hurting Dunstable, who never gave up however pulling a goal back, a wonder strike from Ajayi effectively sealing the win. 

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Time for the Women’s Football East – Player of the Match is once again a tough one, not often I have a nailed on candidate. A few performances to mention. Some great saves from Ciara Taylor despite the score line for Dunstable. Gemma Darvill’s performance deserved a goal, her pace and power on the right a threat for Bedford throughout the game. For Bedford, Gemma Franklin was a threat out wide too, picking up the ball and driving forwards bringing others into play linked up with Fensome well. In midfield it was a battle ultimately won by Shianne Swares and Jasmine Ajayi for Bedford both putting in several great tackles with Ajayi scoring a brilliant goal. The award though goes to Bedford’s Natasha Fensome scored twice, her movement off the ball causing Dunstable issues all game, is a hard player to mark and is more often than not clinical when given a chance in front of goal.

 Congratulations to Bedford Ladies upon another County Cup victory.

Bedford Ladies County Cup Winner 20/21

  An entertaining game the score-line perhaps not telling the whole tale. Nice to finally get to a Bedfordshire County Cup Final. Has been a long while too since I’ve opted to decamp to a hotel for the night get the report written instead of burning the midnight… usual well past it oil. My thanks to both teams for providing me with the team details and Mark from Beds FA for their help today as always much appreciated.

by Darren Gilham

 

Cup Final Special – Ipswich Town Women v Needham Market Women

Sunday 30th May

Suffolk Women’s County Cup Final

sponsored by HomeStoreUK

 The action this Sunday comes from the Final of the Suffolk Women’s County Cup, with Ipswich Town Women looking to make it 7 successive wins in the competition as they take on Needham Market Women.

Today’s prize

 Suffolk FA like their counterparts in Norfolk and Bedfordshire pressing on with their County Cup competitions following the emergence from the 3rd lockdown during the ongoing Covid pandemic at the end of March. The Suffolk Cup running on it’s own since 2010 the competition has been dominated by Ipswich Town Women winning 8 of the last 9 finals including a run of 6 successive wins.

Ipswich Town Women are the leading force for women’s football in Suffolk and are only getting stronger. The first team topping the FAWNL South East Division One in both the previous Covid affected seasons and with a shake up of the pyramid coming the club is in a strong position to apply for upwards movement. Today’s squad though lends testament to that strength as Ipswich have fielded there WSL Academy side throughout the competition, which sees there youngsters playing against as the name suggest some of the countries top female academies and underlies the clubs ambitions. Setting goal scoring records too scoring a staggering 71 goals without reply in 4 matches to reach todays final.

Another club on the rise within women’s football in Suffolk is Needham Market Women, established in 2018, recorded a 2nd placed finish in the Suffolk Women’s Division aswell as reaching the final’s of the League and County Cup. Joined the ERWFL looking to test themselves at regional level whilst setting up a Reserves side. The Covid pandemic affecting both season’s, lost out to Ipswich in the semi-finals of the County Cup last season before bouncing back this term to make it 2 finals out of 3. Warren Lewis-Claxton taking over the running of the 1st team from Freya Louis who is now the Girls & Women’s Development Manager for Needham Market Academy the club themselves offering a pathway for both mens and women’s football. 

Road to the Final

  The County Cup getting underway before the 2nd lockdown in November and for both sides it rained goals. Ipswich’s academy side seeing the County Cup retained for a sixth straight season with a 6-0 win in the delayed final carried over from last season began their defence with a home tie against Suffolk Women’s Division Two newcomers Kesgrave Kestrels Ladies, dominated from start to finish winning 18-0. Needham Market were just as ruthless at home to another Division Two side, Chantry Grasshoppers recording a 22-0 win. 

  The 2nd Round after the 3rd lockdown seeing contracting matches played out. Ipswich were away to Suffolk Division One side Brantham Athletic Ladies, the goals flowing once again eased through to the quarter finals with a 15-0 win. A tougher opponent for Needham Market at home to AFC Sudbury Women, like them another club offering a women’s football pathway as the ERWFL Division One side looks to re-establish itself as a dominant side within women’s football in the county, the pair contesting a 1-1 draw the tie going to penalties, Needham Market coming through with a 4-3 victory. 

  More of the same for Ipswich in the quarter finals rattling in a further 14 goals without reply away to East Bergholt United. An away win awarded to Needham Market who were drawn against Norfolk Division One side Waveney Ladies. Onto the semi-finals played at neutral grounds. Ipswich taking on Bungay Town Ladies at Framlingham Town, were far too strong for the Norfolk Division One side as they ran riot scoring 24 goals with Zoe Barrett and Lucy O’Brien netting 13 between them. Needham Market travelled to Mildenhall Town FC to take on fellow ERWFL Division One side Haverhill Rovers Ladies, newly established themselves reaching the last 4 of the County Cup are a club in a similar vein to Needham Market. Two goals late in the 1st half from Abbie Wilkinson and Nia Evans seeing Needham Market leading 2-0 at half-time a penalty scored late in stoppage time by Lois Balfour sealing a 3-0 win.

The venue for today’s final at The MEL Group Stadium home of AFC Sudbury’s mens and women’s teams. A state of the art artificial playing surface. A modern newly built clubhouse over looking the pitch with bar and kitchen hatch serving hot food and drink, a seated stand beside  with one more on the opposite side. An evening kick-off a bright and sunny day, a pleasant Bank Holiday weekend. 

 Ipswich Town Women starting XI – Nina Meollo, Summer Hughes, Emma Wallis, Amy-Leigh Abrehart, Liv Bilson, Abbie Jackson, Molly Sutherland (C), Kyra Robertson, Zoe Barrett, Lucy O’Brien & Maddie Biggs. Subs – Leonie Jackson & Sarah Brasero.

Ipswich Town Women

 Needham Market Women starting XI – Danielle Clarke, Ellie Rossiter, Jodie Sharp, Laura Bloomfield, Ele Catchpole, Nia Evans, Nicole Henderson (C), Amber Sparkes, Mia Etheridge, Abbie Wilkinson & Lois Balfour. Subs – Francesca Rainbird, Sasha Diston, Gemma Foster & Freja Scott.

Needham Market Women

(roll on roll off substitutes)

   The teams lining up before the match Ipswich will be kicking off the first half wearing their all blue kit with white trim. Needham Market opposite wearing red shirts with yellow trim, red shorts and socks. The ball rolled back to the defence is put to the right for Emma Wallis to take forwards exchanges passes with Zoe Barrett on the flank before looking to drive on, Needham Market’s, Jodie Sharp coming to close her down tackle and see the ball out for a throw., Needham Market work the ball across the field out to the right, Mia Etheridge taking it on sending an early cross into the top of the area, headed clear by Ipswich’s Abbie Jackson.

Zoe Barratt on the attack for Ipswich

  A few of the Ipswich side have some experience with the 1st team, one of those being attacker Maddie Biggs who is fed in making a run into the left channel, likes to run at defences pace unleashes a shot from 20 yards out the ball wide at the near post. Amy-Leigh Abrehart out on the left for Ipswich sends the ball through for Biggs to attack the left channel once again, Laura Bloomfield sliding on to challenge her win the ball for Needham Market.  Ipswich on the offensive right from the off, Lucy O’Brien latching onto a poor pass at the back from Needham Market right side looks to drive for the box is clipped brought down a free-kick awarded 20 yards out right of the D. Abrehart over it goes for goal, her strike high and wide of the near post. 

Ellie Rossiter bringing the ball on for Needham Market

Ellie Rossiter brings the ball on down the right for Needham Market on for Abbie Wilkinson, attempts to cut inside with Etheridge providing a run moving into the right channel, Molly Sutherland captaining Ipswich soon to head off to the United States getting back on her to regain possession. Ipswich quick to turn play around, Ele Catchpole stepping out from the back to tackle for Needham Market put long up to captain Nicole Henderson she heads it on in behind right side, Summer Hughes there to put out for a throw prevent Wilkinson taking it on.

Needham Market captain, Nicole Henderson

  Wallis plays in on for Barrett in space on the right, carries the ball on looking to take on Sharp, attempts to knock it around the full back get in behind, Sharp doing well stretching to take the ball away from Barrett. O’Brien recieving the ball in a similar position on the right drives for the area, is closed down by three Needham market players at the top of the area, riding a challenge well staying on her feet in behind bearing down on goal lets loose from the angle, goalkeeper Danielle Clarke down smartly to make the blocking save the ball deflected across the six yard box cleared by Bloomfield.

Danielle Clarke down to save for Needham Market

   Wilkinson played into the box right side by Etheridge does well to ensure her side get a corner. Ipswich defend the set-piece at the near post the ball dropping back to the taker is fired back into the area, an Ipswich leg cutting it out before being cleared. Clarke off her line early comes out to close the angle as Biggs gets away with the ball at her feet on the left smashes her shot against the onrushing keeper. Ipswich lively moving well as a unit, the attackers looking to stretch the Needham Market defence, playing 3 up top are on the front foot. 

Jodie Sharp coming forwards for Needham Market

 

  Sharp has been kept busy in defence has a rare chance to get forwards for Needham Market on the left Ipswich standing off her she comes inside striking the ball from 25 yards out left of the D, curling the ball in near post, doesn’t trouble Ipswich goalkeeper, Nina Meollo. Nia Evans on the ball centrally looks to play it over the top for Amber Sparkes through the middle, Ipswich step up well at the back however seeing her stray offside. Henderson with a short pass into Etheridge turns plays it on for Sparkes, Liv Bilson winning the ball back for Ipswich at the back. 

  A free-kick for Needham Market out wide on the left a chance for players to come up towards the area, the delivery into the near side Etheridge jumping well to met it heads it on down towards the far post, Sharp the closest to it but can’t reach it before Meollo has it safely in her gloves. Etheridge central with Henderson, Needham Market go forwards the pass laid forwards for Lois Balfour attempting to get in behind, read well by Jackson winning the ball back for Ipswich. 

Needham Market’s Mia Etheridge

 Barratt full of running on the right in attack for Ipswich getting hold of the ball charges on towards the area, Sharp getting back on her the pair shoulder to shoulder, Sharp doing enough to see the ball safely collected by her keeper. Biggs carrying an equally dangerous threat on the left side of Ipswich’s attacking trio, surges into the box Clarke coming to close the angle Biggs moving central shoots, Clarke down saving well getting something on the ball as she drops squirms out from under her but rises up to cannon off the crossbar and down for the defence to launch clear. Needham Market with a free-kick on the halfway lime left side put up into the congested D, Etheridge again up well to head the ball goalwards but lacking power is gathered by Meollo.

  GOAL! 22 minutes played and Ipswich open the scoring, Wallis clear on the right side getting into an advanced position flashes a cross in along the top of the Needham Market area, controlled by O’Brien central laid to her right for Barratt who sees the ball into her body turning well right of the D to hit a low strike in past the diving keeper at the near post 1-0.

Zoe Barratt opens the scoring for Ipswich

  Ipswich waste no time in getting hold of the ball from the restart, Kyra Robertson out to Wallis right side she powers forwards sending in an early cross across the area met by the advancing Abrehart far side sends her shot wide across the goal. Changes for both sides as Ipswich bring Sarah Brasero on for Biggs. Needham market bring on defender Sasha Diston for Sparkes. Misplaced passes out from the back are putting the Needham Market defence under pressure Ipswich lively looking for the ball Barrett snatches it right side firing it into the area with O’Brien providing the run moving right, Clarke does well out to save bravely at her feet before she can get a shot away.

  Sutherland with some strong tackles in the middle, is stopping Needham Market gaining any momentum through the middle, Evans and Henderson looking to feed it forwards to Balfour, Etheridge and Wilkinson when they can. The Ipswich captain moving into a shooting position 30 yards out sends a shot wide of the near post. Sharp with time on the ball left side advancing goes central looking for options, runs into traffic 25 yards out, Sutherland putting in the tackle to set up another Ipswich attack. Brasero and Wallis bringing the ball on centrally combining well before Henderson get’s back to tackle Brasero. The ball pops loose straight to Wallis her strike from distance blocked by Bloomfield. 

Luara Bloomfield with the header for Needham Market at the back

 Ipswich with a corner on the right put into the top of the area comes back to Barratt on the right loops a ball in towards goals drops down off the crossbar, dropping far post a shot blasted in, saved excellent work from Clarke on her line before being cleared, Needham Market break forwards the ball into Wilkinson in space on the right looks to set up Balfour at the near post, Sutherland back clearing it for a corner kick. A inswinging delivery from Sharp is at a catchable height, safely into Meollo’s midriff. 

 GOAL! 10 minutes left in the 1st half as Ipswich get forwards and double their lead, the ball fired into O’Brien from the left the striker in a central position, gets a shot away before Sharp can tackle her, Clarke down sharply to her left saving well, O’Brien alert however after the loose ball to the right of the keeper retrieves coming back inside turning to send her low strike in at the near post 2-0.

Lucy O’Brien doubles Ipswich’s lead

 

  Needham Market working hard frustrated going forwards, Evans on for Etheridge who is hauled down in the centre. Sharp out wide left taking the ball on attempts to get in behind, Wallis with the challenge sending the ball out for a throw. Evans allowed time on the ball in the middle threads it through to Balfour central, Wallis getting tight on does well in defence to prevent the Needham Market attacker getting away from her. 

 

 

  Abrehart over on the right now for Ipswich finds some space hugging the touchline, takes the ball on up the line, Sharp finding the pace to get out to her lunging in with the tackle to concede the corner. Taken short with Hughes moving towards the ball back to the take the pair working a cross into the box defended by Catchpole. Catchpole defending again as Wallis lets loose from the angle on the right the centre back cutting her strike out falls for Abrehart inside the box wide right fires her shot wide across the face of goal. 

Needham Market’s, Sasha Diston

  Diston winning the ball inside the Ipswich half left side plays it inside for Etheridge 25 yards out central turns to pass forwards to Balfour breaking right, the attacker tackled inside the D, appeals but no foul given. 

Half-time Ipswich Town Women 2-0 Needham Market Women

  Ipswich go into the half-time break leading the Final 2-0. But for some excellent saves from Needham Market goalkeeper Danielle Clarke could have been 4 or 5. Have been lively going forwards the front 3 causing their opponents defence problems and that in turn limiting Needham Market’s own opportunities going forwards. The teams staying out on the pitch during the break in the shade provided by the building behind. Ipswich leading will be a tough ask for Needham Market to find a goal of their own. 

Needham market to get the 2nd half underway changes for Ipswich a change of goalkeepers with Leonie Jackson on for Meollo, Biggs back on too. The ball put to the left, won back by Hughes the full back looking to get forwards for Ipswich Diston comes in to win the challenge before Needham Market win a free-kick. Etheridge playing it long, Bilson defending. Needham Market almost capitalise as Ipswich get out of shape at the back the ball fired on for Wilkinson to chase Ipswich getting out of shape at the back as the keeper comes for the ball, Leonie Jackson recovering well however to get back on Wilkinson to block and clear. 

Needham Market’s Nia Evans

  Robertson moving out into the right channel for Ipswich taking the ball down to the by-line whips a cross back in the ball cut out by Sharp conceding the corner. Swung into the six yard box, Clarke going for is fouled. A blatant push on the advancing Biggs sees Ipswich awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position outside the D to the right of goal. O’Brien to take goes for goal over the wall but falls comfortably for Clarke to take cleanly beyond. 

Ipswich fullback Summer Hughes

Ipswich are defending from the front well their attackers in to close the Needham market defence down making playing out from the back difficult and bringing about unforced errors. Biggs latching onto the ball right sides lifting it across to Barratt on the left into the box, Rossiter getting across her to hook the ball away to safety. Biggs is full of energy on the right surging to the by-line clipping it back to Wallis getting forwards with her to hit 1st time on the angle, Clarke covering her near post down to scoop up the ball. 

 GOAL! Ipswich extend their lead Biggs attacking right tackling Catchpole to steal in behind racing forwards sends the cross in towards Barratt getting away far post to connect with the ball and turn it into the back of the net for her 2nd of the game 3-0.

 Catchpole gets back at Biggs this time as the attacker threatens to race through once more, the flag though already up against her. Biggs a menace on the drive the ball at her feet right, shifts inside into the box shooting low, straight at Clarke however the keeper gathering. Ipswich come left Hughes linking with Barrett and Brasero who escapes her marker to get into the box flashes a cross into the six yard box, Robertson advancing meeting it to hit 1st time sees her effort fly up over the bar.

  Needham Market are on the backfoot can’t get the ball into an advanced position, Sutherland stifling play in the centre the full backs can’t get out. Evans committing a foul in the middle Ipswich take it quickly Sutherland to Robertson moving left goes on tackled by Rossiter out for a throw, drops to Barratt  back for Sutherland as she turns heading for the area, recieves the return pass, strikes a shot in on the angle from the corner of the area in low safely collected by Clarke. 

  GOAL! 64 minutes on the clock and Ipswich cap a dominant period in attack with a 4th goal as O’Brien snaps in to win the ball high on the right takes it on in behind swinging a cross in towards the near post, Barratt and Brasero both closing in on Clarke, the keeper blocking Barratt’s attempt, the ball drops down to the feet of Brasero to top of them both and she stabs it home 4-0.

Ipswich attacker, Sarah Brasero

 A drinks break following a chance for both sides to regroup, Freja Scott enters the game for Needham Market. Abrehart back on for O’Brien for Ipswich. Bloomfield with a long ball up top for Balfour to attack, Bilson is close on her to ensure she does get the ball down and in behind. Biggs unleashes a shot from 25 yards out on the right but is again frustrated as her attempt is held by Clarke. Biggs then beats the offside flag breaking centrally racing in behind, the defence can’t catch her, Clarke comes racing out of her area has to get to the ball slides in takes it away from the attacker behind her, Rossiter back to send it clear from a throw out on the left. 

 GOAL! Surging forwards, Ipswich go on to add a 5th goal, numbers forwards Needham Market on the backfoot the ball right fired in to the path of Biggs, a frustrating afternoon so far in front of goal, she makes no mistake this time with a powerful strike from 20 yards out that leaves Clarke with no chance as it hits the back of the net across her 5-0.

Maddie Biggs with a powerful strike adding Ipswich’s 5th

  Needham Market tiring Ipswich remain full of running with less than 20 minutes left to play, Brasero left sends it on for Abrehart escaping into the box beyond the defence, the flag up however thwarts her attempt on goal. Abrehart is gifted another opportunity moments later as Needham Market give the ball away at the back left side steals inside to shoot on the angle driven in low near post, Clarke down diving full stretch to make another fantastic save sending the ball behind for a corner. The delivery in defended well by Scott at the near post for Needham Market. Balfour comes off for Needham Market with Gemma Foster coming in at left back pushing Sharp further forwards. 

Needham Market defender, Ele Catchpole

Bloomfield in to block )’Brien at close range as Abrehart plays her in left side of the goal. Barratt returning to the game for Ipswich. Catchpole in on Brasero as the Ipswich attack looks to burst clear through the middle off a Robertson pass. Robertson on the ball central again plays it out to Biggs right side, Foster intercepting to clear up to Sharp for Needham Market. The game into the final 10 minutes. Ipswich on top coming on looking for more goals. Hughes getting on a diagonal ball into Barratt shoots from distance, the ball held confidently by Clarke.

Needham Market goalkeeper, Danielle Clarke

  Changes for both sides Robertson off for O’Brien for Ipswich, Francesca Rainbird on for Evans for Needham Market. Hughes races away down the left for Ipswich sending in a cross from the by-line cut out by Bloomfield tracking back for a corner with Barratt on her shoulder. 

  GOAL! Ipswich send players up from the back for the corner, from the left angled in across the face of goal towards the far post, deflected goalwards is blocked on the line Needham Market failing to clear falls central in the six yard box stabbed goalwards by Bilson he shot rising up to smash down off the crossbar and down over the line 6-0.

Liv Bilson netting Ipswich’s 6th goal

  Etheridge central with a ball over the top as Ipswich are caught with a high line, Leonie Jackson quickly out of her area to clear smashes the ball straight against the advancing Wilkinson, rebounding behind them both, it’s the keeper who can recover the quicker and nullify the threat. Hughes lays the ball inside from the left to O’Brien 25 yards out drops her shoulder shifting the ball to her right before letting fly sends her strike over the bar. Hughes and Abrehart combining on the left a give and go Abrehart sending the full back in behind fires a cross into the area, Biggs breaking clear far side after it, Clarke saving at point blank range coming out to close her down.

  Ipswich creating chances a shot angled in from distance on the right cannons off the post. Abrehart central curling a shot around the post from beyond the D. Ipswich finishing the game strong all Needham Market can do is try to thwart the advance, Clarke immense throughout out to save at the feet of O’Brien. The flag stays down as Biggs bursts through in behind in stoppage time, shots on the drive, falls to the ground beating it in frustration as she sees another effort wide. 

Full time Ipswich Town Women 6-0 Needham Market Women

  The final whistle blows and Ipswich finishing the game strong win comfortably 6-0 to make it 7 straight County Cup wins. Were on top from start to finish their attacking trio causing the Needham market defence all sorts of problems with their pace and movement. Chances created taking the lead after 22 minutes, going in 2 up at the break. Could have had more. Needham market having few opportunities up front couldn’t get the bodies forwards to worry the Ipswich backline. Ipswich strong in the 2nd period full of energy as Needham Market tired, more chances, the goals coming at regular intervals.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. Difficult to pick one it has to be said but firstly huge credit goes to Needham Market goalkeeper, Danielle Clarke an ex-Ipswich player she was immense in goal pulling off some incredible saves and although her side eventually lost 6-0 without her saves it could have been double that. For Ipswich really hard to pick one player out was an all round team performance, Molly Sutherland was strong centrally commanding the midfield. The front three lively, Maddie Biggs a constant threat on the left first half right the 2nd, Lucy O’Brien through the middle but narrowly edging it the award today goes to Zoe Barrett, some great link up play and movement scoring 2 goals.

Congratulations to Ipswich Town Women on winning the County Cup for a 7th successive time.

2020/21 County Cup Winners, Ipswich Town Women

  An entertaining afternoon at AFC Sudbury, as always my thanks to the clubs for providing me with the team details and the staff at Suffolk FA too for their assistance. Women’s football in Suffolk is on a rapid upwards curve and whilst Ipswich continue to be out in front Needham Market are amongst the frontrunners looking to close the gap.

by Darren Gilham

Match Report – Mulbarton Belles Ladies v Thetford Town Ladies

Wednesday 26th May

NWGFL GiveToLocalUK Challenge Cup

 A spot of midweek action on Women’s Football East with a trip east along the A47 to watch a game from the NWGFL @GiveToLocalUK Challenge Cup, with Mulbarton Belles Ladies hosting Thetford Town Ladies.

The NWGFL Challenge Cup a temporary competition replacing the regular season that was curtailed due to the ongoing Covid pandemic. The sides from both Divisions One and Two drawn into 4 groups of 4 or 5 sides playing each other once for position before advancement to a knockout competition.

 A second midweek viewing for Mulbarton Belles Ladies, having been in action in the Norfolk Women’s County Cup Final last Wednesday. No sooner was their fairy tale cup adventure over (the final being just the 7th game in the sides history) they began their Challenge Cup campaign this past Sunday with a home tie against Tavern Ladies. Two strong sides a point apiece in the finish as they drew 3-3. Mulbarton 3rd in the Group C table on 4 points having been awarded the win against Freethorpe Ladies lay a point behind Tavern with fellow Division One side Fakenham Town Ladies leading the way on 7 points with 2 wins and a draw so far. Three tough games in quick succession for Mulbarton the squad picking up a few knocks.

The other team in Group C are Division Two side, Thetford Town Ladies. A tough group up against three Division One sides. However they started off well in their opening match winning 7-1 away from home against fellow Division Two side Freethorpe Ladies with both Laura Martins and Becki White scoring a brace apiece. That game almost a month ago fixtures delayed due to Mulbarton’s involvement in the County Cup, were away to group leaders Fakenham Town Women on Sunday, trailing 2-0 at half-time pulled a goal back in the 2nd half before eventually losing 4-2. A quick turnaround for both meeting this evening.

Mulberry Park the venue for this evenings match, has been a good while since I was last here, then to watch the previous Belles side. The main grass pitch beside the clubhouse and changing rooms, pitches beyond. A small seated stand one side the men’s side having just been promoted to the Thurlow Nunn Premier, like the women’s side making the Senior County Cup Final losing to Gorleston. The weather very overcast for the game the floodlights on early although rain wasn’t forecast.

 Mulbarton Belles Ladies starting XI – Cara Anderson, Meg Anderton, Melissa Belsey, Olivia Mungham-Gray, Megan Belsey, Alice Smith, Laura Hedtke, Ellie Hunter, Millie Cursons, Sophie Jermy & Rebekah Lake (C). Subs- Morgan Devine, Aneliese Smith & Bryony Knights.

 Thetford Town Ladies starting XI – Lydia Ward, Lucy Tancock, Ruby Robertson, Sausha Twomey (C), Rachel Lynch, Mel Ovenden, Dayna Howard, Shannon Richardson, Becky White, Laura Martins & Mel Boulton. Subs – Emily Bullet, Coral Ring, Jess Knight.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

  It’s the visiting side to get the first half underway wearing an all marron coloured kit, with hosts Mulbarton lined up opposite wearing blue and black vertical striped shirts, blue shorts and socks. Thetford play the ball back to their defence before looking to go left, Sophie Jermy putting in a good tackle to get Mulbarton on the ball, inside to Alice Smith the midfielder firing a straight ball through the middle, intercepted by Thetford centre back Rachel Lynch. Thetford come away down the left making good ground before a cross is lifted in towards the top of the area, Megan Belsey clearing it for Mulbarton

Sophie Jermy sending the ball on for Mulbarton

 GOAL! Mulbarton go straight on the attack the pass put to Jermy moving left she plays it on for Ellie Hunter getting in behind on the left wing, the ball taken down into the corner as players race up from midfield towards the top of the area, Hunter turns sending the ball central is met by Smith 20 yards out left of the D helped on across the area into the path of Laura Hedtke she in turn releases it forwards, captain Rebekah lake timing her run to perfection stealing in behind the defence before shooting on the angle driving the ball across the six yard box into the bottom corner 1-0.

Mulbarton captain, Rebekah Lake puts her sides 1-0 up

  The perfect start for the hosts less than 3 minutes on the clock. A wide pitch Lake pulling out to the right as the ball is lifted up to her, Lucy Tancock running out towards her sliding in to win the ball, a strong challenge, Lake appealing but no foul given. Thetford finding some joy down the left Mel Ovenden taking it on , her cross falling short of Mel Boulton making a central run. Megan Belsey launching it clear up to Smith she looks to take it on, Dayna Howard getting on her shoulder lunging in to make the tackle.

Dayna Howard tackling Mulbarton’s Ellie Hunter

  Lynch clears at the top of her area as Hunter attempts to play a through ball on for Lake into the right channel. Mulbarton quickly regain possession moving left, Jermy on the move up with Hunter left side, holding the ball up looks to shift inside, Ruby Robertson putting her foot in to take the ball, played up for Shannon Richardson on the right wing, gets her head down looking to drive on, Meg Anderton preventing her from doing so for Mulbarton. 

  The hosts spread play right to left getting up the pitch to win a corner. Fired in across the top of the six yard box at a decent height is met by Smith at the far stick, directed in on target, straight at Thetford goalkeeper, Lydia Ward though who catches it well. A good start to the game from Mulbarton looking to keep on top Smith and Hedtke winning the ball in midfield, Lake, Jermy and Hunter showing for the ball moving well up top looking to stretch the Thetford defence. 

  Howard getting the ball on from outside her box for Richardson right side brings it beyond halfway before sending a diagonal ball on up through the centre, Olivia Mungham-Gray collecting it for Mulbarton. Thetford’s crosses are just falling short at the moment, easily dealt with by the Mulbarton defence. Hunter sends the ball on for Millie Cursons right side she in turn sends it on through for Lake to attack, Lynch getting there first for Thetford to clear. 

  Ward out well towards the top of her area to gather into her gloves as Jermy threatens to send Lake clear once again. Lively in the middle with both sides nipping into their tackles, Hunter on Laura Martins this time as the Thetford player turns looking to find Richardson making the run to her right. Richardson does get hold of the ball for Thetford taking it into space on the right, Anderton holding her up she moves infield sending it on to Boulton in the middle, goes on before Smith closes her down and regains possession. 

  Boulton bringing the ball on central for Thetford is forced to the right passes to Richardson who lays it forwards for Martins, aiming to get into the box is stopped by Anderton. Mulbarton surge forwards the ball sent on diagonally to the right for Lake to attack, Lynch sliding in to challenge the ball sliced behind for a corner kick. Players up is delivered towards the top of the area, Howard getting hold of it to clear for Thetford but Mulbarton quickly have it back, fed into Hunter on the left, the ball played across the top of the area 25 yards out Robertson stepping out to take the ball of Jermy. 

  Mulbarton are awarded a free-kick on halfway towards the left, Anderton to play the ball up towards the top of the area, the initial ball defended pings back and forth before being prodded to Hunter free on the left inside the box flashes a squared cross towards the far stick, Thetford captain Sausha Twomey getting her toe on the ball to take it away from Lake who was ready to strike. Ward saving confidently at her near post as Lake fires in a shot from the angle 20 yards out on the right, the ball palmed down and quickly smothered. 

 Richardson with the ball for Thetford moves infield, Boulton makes a run into the right channel taking players with her space opening up, Richardson looks to send it on diagonally to the left for Becky White, Megan Belsey getting tight on her stops Thetford’s advance. A free-kick out wide on the right by the touchline 20 yards out for Mulbarton, fired into the area players up is just behind Cursons near side 10 yards out, falls to Smith behind her to hit first time a low shot angled in, Ward down smartly to her right to make the save. 

  Play paused due to a pitch invasion a pair of mallards encroaching onto the playing surface, Megan Belsey and Anderton with the task of chasing the ducks away. Lynch with another timely tackle for Thetford winning the ball inside the D to deny Cursons. Smith winning it back in the middle for Mulbarton on for Hedtke out to Cursons on the right has support with Lake the pair combining the cross met first time by Jermy near side, too heavy a contact her shot high over the bar.

Megan Belsey and Meg Anderton see off a pair of feathered pitch invaders

 Lake’s pace causing a few problems as she bombs on right side, Lynch out to meet her slows her down, Lake getting hold of the loose ball putting it central for Cursons, Howard in on her the ball deflected behind for a corner. The ball not still for long Mulbarton on the attack Melissa Belsey on the right sending a diagonal ball into the box, Thetford come away with it Richardson wanting to take it on, Smith closing her down.

  Howard wins the ball central for Thetford spreads play out to the left for White, gets it on down the line before whipping a cross into the middle, taken down by Megan Belsey and cleared. Thetford get into a good position final third, Richardson, Boulton and then Martins with a opportunity to pull the trigger from 25 yards or so out but no one does before Mulbarton regroup with Mungham-Gray winning the ball back. 

Mulbarton’s Olivia Mungham-Gray

 GOAL! A little of 5 minutes left to play in the first half and Mulbarton double their lead with a well worked goal. Laura Hedtke bringing the ball on over half way pushing it out to Lake on the right, before continuing to run all the way into the box. Lake 25 yards out has support from Jermy a give and go between the pair sees Lake race into a great crossing position and getting her foot around the ball lays it on a plate for Hedtke arriving at the near post to strike low past the keeper 2-0.

Laura Hedtke doubling Mulbarton’s lead

A free-kick won deep for Thetford put long up to Boulton central knocks it down to her left looking for Richardson in the right channel, knocks it forwards, Mungham-Gray coming to challenge well for Mulbarton. Hunter advancing with the ball on the left sends it inside for Lake, Lynch doing well stepping out in front of her to intercept. Mulbarton a denied a third goal as they pile numbers forwards through the middle, Lake up on the penalty spot causing mayhem players drawn to her put back to Jermy to smash into the bottom corner however the flag was up long before the strike, Lake having strayed offside beforehand. 

  Jermy with another strike on the angle right side, Ward saving at her near post the ball knocked behind for the corner. Late pressure from Mulbarton as Smith sees a shot blocked from the top of the area, then Lynch defends to put it out for another set-piece. Ward saving before a shot is blazed over.

Half-time Mulbarton Belles Ladies 2-0 Thetford Town Ladies

  A goal at each end of the 1st half seeing Mulbarton go into the half-time break leading 2-0. Got off to the perfect start taking the lead inside the opening 2 minutes. Have created further chances since, Lynch and Twomey with some timely tackles at the back for Thetford. Both sides using the width of the pitch. Thetford not troubling Cara Anderson in the Mulbarton goal have nevertheless gotten into some good positions out wide without finding their mark on the cross, haven’t been able to get in behind. 

 

Changes for Mulbarton at the break with Aneliese Smith on up top along with Bryony Knights and Morgan Devine, Melissa Belsey and Jermy off. Emily Bullett on for Thetford as they make positional changes for the 2nd half, the hosts getting the 2nd period underway. Howard winning the ball for Thetford out to Richardson left side plays in on but White is caught flat footed Megan Belsey clearing.

 A free-kick awarded to Thetford in a 30 or so yards out in a central position, Richardson on the set-piece strikes the ball fantastically Anderson diving to her left can’t get it the ball striking the top of the post and angling down to bounce across the face of the goal. 

Ovenden plays the ball out to Richardson left advances down the line before whipping a cross into the area is met by Bullett her first time shot angling wide past the far post. Anderson comes out to clear at the top of the area Richardson puts it on for White. Thetford better at the start of the 2nd half. Mulbarton win a free-kick wide on the right played in by Hedtke, half cleared by Thetford a shot taken from distance flashes wide. Hunter taking the ball on into the right corner, Tancock defending a corner conceded, the delivery into the box cleared by Howard. 

Thetford’s Dayna Howard

Play more open in the 2nd half Thetford able to get further forwards apply a little pressure, Boulton deep out to Ovenden struck on the angle Anderson saving getting her gloves on the ball. The visitors getting a corner on the right fired in across the six yard box at an inviting height no one gets a touch on it however. The game more open now, Smith back to help the defence for Mulbarton as Richardson plays a ball into the D.

Mulbarton’s, Alice Smith

  A free-kick for Thetford awarded 30 or so yards out in a  Lynch with a strong challenge at the back to deny Lake at the top of the area as Hunter fires the ball into her. Twomey heading a cross clear. At the other end Richardson sweeping a cross into the box from the left is met in the air by Boulton, drops narrowly wide of the post.

GOAL!  A couple of god opportunities for Thetford to pull themselves back into the game, Mulbarton find a response getting up the other end to score a much needed 3rd goal, the ball sent out to Lake running in behind on the left wing play stretched gaps opening up the attack drills a low ball in towards the near post, Aneliese Smith arriving unmarked to place the ball into the empty net 3-0.

Aneliese Smith giving Mulbarton a 3-0 lead

A double change for Mulbarton with Melissa Belsey and Jermy returning to the action in place of Hedtke and Anderton. 20 minutes left to play Mulbarton attempt to feed Lake in central, Twomey defending against her for Thetford. The visitors come through the middle, Howard on to Boulton, Megan Belsey in to make the challenge. Twomey with a vital interception at the back as a cross in put in from deep on the right. The pace of the game slower 2nd half, Mulbarton do look tired have played alot of football in a short space of time, soaking up some Thetford pressure but remain a danger on the counter. 

  Mulbarton with a corner on the right played short up to Belsey scoops it up towards the far post, an effort on goal blocked at close range before being scramble behind for another corner on the left, Thetford defending play it out to Richardson wide, Alice Smith across to prevent the break. Laura Martin returning to the game for Thetford . Jermy lifts the ball on left channel for Aneliese Smith ahead of her scoops the ball up looking to send her shot up over the keeper but doesn’t get enough on it a comfortable catch for Ward.

Thetford goalkeeper, Lydia Ward

The 3rd goal has taken a little of the fight out of Thetford given Mulbarton a lift the hosts keeping the ball slowing the pace of the game the game moving into the final 5 minutes, Cursons coming back on for Mungham-Gray. Hunter making it to the by-line on the right whipping a cross in across goal to the far post Cursons there her effort charged down. Knights letting loose a shot from all of 40 yards out on the left for Mulbarton the ball caught by the keeper. 

Thetford’s captain, Sausha Twomey

Alice Smith adjudged to have handled the ball a free-kick to Thetford wide on the left one last chance to bring players up from the back, White to put it into the mix over Twomey central Richardson beyond her nodding it back towards her Twomey stooping into the header trying to get some power on it, Anderson saving back on her line pushing the ball away comes out to the right for Ovendon to hit on the angle driven in is beat away, Mulbarton break the ball sent on through the middle up to Lake on the run attempts to lob the keeper, but coming to close the angle Ward is able to get her gloves up to the ball and claim.

 

Full time Mulbarton Belles Ladies 3-0 Thetford Town Ladies

  The final action of the match as Mulbarton win 3-0 to move level with Fakenham on 7 points at the top of the group with the pair due to meet on the 6th June. A chance for Mulbarton to have a little rest after an intense spell. Were looking tired towards the end of the match. A fantastic start taking an early lead, you feared for Thetford then but the Division Two side competed well, defending without applying too much pressure in the final 3rd in the first period a well worked goal seeing Mulbarton go two up. Changes at half-time saw Thetford improve a couple of good opportunities to pull a goal back before Mulbarton broke to score a 3rd and effectively kill off the game. Thetford with one more group game to play a break now till they meet Tavern Ladies on the 9th June.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this evenings Women’s Football East – Player of the Match a few performances of note to mention. For Thetford, Dayna Howard making some good challenges in the middle helping out the defence, at the back Sausha Twomey did well with some vital interceptions, whilst alongside her Rachel Lynch was strong several well timed tackles. For Mulbarton, Rebekah Lake stretched play moving out to the flanks drawing players to her. Ellie Hunter with good movement on and off the ball, The award though goes to Alice Smith in the middle won plenty of tackles reading the game well often well positioned to prevent a Thetford attack before it could even begin.

 No ducks were harmed in the making of this match report.

  An entertaining slice of midweek action at Mulberry Park, my thanks to both sides for their help with the team details much appreciated as always.

by Darren Gilham