Sunday 30th April
Norfolk Women’s Division One
A pause in the cup action this weekend gives me the opportunity to take in some league action at what is a critical point in the season for several sides involved in title contests across the East. No less so than in Norfolk Women’s Division One with the top two meeting in the league for the 1st time this season in a match that could go along way to deciding who becomes Champions, with Mulbarton Belles Ladies the defending Champions looking to close the gap on leaders Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers FC Women.
That gap currently sits at 8 points, Mulbarton Belles Ladies crucially having 3 games in hand, but with their next two games home and away to Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers FC Women know that they have to go for maximum points. Dussindale & Hellesdon with those two games left against Mulbarton are 4 points away from securing their maiden league title.
A 1-1 draw at home to 3rd placed Thetford Town Ladies, ending Mulbarton’s 100% league record, 12 wins and a draw from 13 played have been playing catch up with the league leaders all season involved in the Women’s FA Cup earlier in the season and with two highly successful cup campaigns seeing them reach both the finals of the League Plate, where they will play their newly formed Development side and have once again won through to the final of the County Cup for a 3rd successive season, taking on Norwich City Women at Carrow Road on Friday 19th May.
Captain Rebekah Lake one of the best strikers on the county top scorer for Mulbarton weighing in with 17 goals so far this season forming a good partnership in attack Francesca Catchpole who was recruited following the folding of Wymondham Town Ladies, scoring 15 goals from her 9 appearances has recently signed with Wroxham in the ERWFL Premier Division. A busy run in for the club that has become an integral part of the Mulbarton footballing family since moving there 3 season’s ago the core of the 1st team sticking together with manager Martin Francis after the turmoil at their former club.
Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers FC Women too have gone from strength to strength following their merger with Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers FC 3 season’s ago, formerly Sprowston Ladies a young tightly knit squad have developed into one of the leading sides in the county with ambitions to test themselves higher. Have been out in front in Norfolk Women’s Division One since the beginning of the season, losing just one of their 16 league matches played to date. Have also enjoyed successful runs in both the League and County Cups reaching the final of this season’s League Cup while also making it to the last 4 of the County Cup.
Victoria Leyer so often the top scorer for the club in their Sprowston days has continued that form in Dussindale & Hellesdon colours netting 17 goals to date this season. Forming a deadly partnership in attack with Shanice Sutton who has recovered from a very nasty knee injury while at Thorpe United to pile on the goals currently on 31 pushing to finish top scorer in Norfolk currently two behind Long Stratton’s, Luci Middleton. 2 tough games against their main title rivals to end their league campaign.
Mulberry Park the venue for today’s match. The sun shining bright on the last day in April, a pleasant day with a few clouds dotted around but no chance of rain. The pitch looking good the grass lush. The clubhouse and bar open along with the pitch side tea hut serving hot and cold drinks.
Mulbarton Belles Ladies starting XI – Jo Hooper, Olivia Smith, Melissa Belsey, Lucy Lincoln, Megan Belsey, Laura Hedtke, Alice Smith, Ellie Hunter, Sophie Jermy, Molly Ryan & Rebekah Lake (C). Subs – Olivia Mungham-Gray, Alice Ladbrooke & Aneliese Smith.
Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers FC Women starting XI – Tyla Cole, Siesha Humphries, Rachel Bussey, Calista Tink (C), Ruby Wilson, Abbi Nobbs, Georgina Belton, Abby Hutchin, Chelsea Brister, Shanice Sutton & Victoria Leyer. Subs – Amee Kennett, Hannah Coombe, Chloe Shipman, Kari Kowalczyk & Phoebe Green.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
It’s Dussindale & Hellesdon in their away colours an all light blue coloured kit to get the game underway kicking off the first half with Mulbarton lined up opposite wearing blue and black vertical striped shirts with blue shorts and socks. The ball played back into the middle out to Rachel Bussey at right back sent forwards for Georgina Belton to attack, Olivia Smith heading the ball out for a throw for Mulbarton. The hosts get the ball inside from the throw looking for captain Rebekah lake making a central run the ball cut out well by Ruby Wilson at centre back for Dussindale & Hellesdon lifted forwards into Shanice Sutton in attack, attempts to volley it into the box for Victoria Leyer pulling of the shoulder of the defence, the ball won and cleared by Lucy Lincoln for Mulbarton.
Mulbarton pressing the Dussindale & Hellesdon defence, Sophie Jermy left channel charging down captain Calista Tink’s clearance outside the box the ball rebounding of her in behind, Jermy racing after it crossing from the by-line into lake central, quickly closed down can’t turn to shoot instead laying the ball back to midfielder Laura Hedtke outside the area left side, strike’s the ball hard, Tink taking the hit as she puts her body in to block, goalkeeper Tyla Cole diving beyond the ball cleared up into Sutton in attack rushing after the ball, Mulbarton goalkeeper, Jo Hooper running out of her area to clear just about getting their first, Sutton colliding with the keeper, down for a moment but recovering is back up on her feet.
A lively start from both sides, Mulbarton winning the ball in the middle played out to Molly Ryan on the right, Lake up with her exchanging passes the ball rolled in field with Alice Smith in the clear opts to strike it from 35 yards out the ball racing wide of Cole’s left post. Oliva Smith bombing on from left back for Mulbarton taking the ball on well, Sutton in turn tracking back well to slide in to tackle play the ball out for a throw.
Alice Smith getting about the ground in the middle of the park winning the ball for Mulbarton getting it forwards into Lake making a run into the right channel, stopped by Dussindale & Hellesdon’s Siesha Humphries. Leyer fed the ball from Chelsea Brister on the left turns inside taking on the shot from a long way out pulling the ball wide of the near post. Dussindale & Hellesdon a little edgy Mulbarton able to dictate play through the middle with Alice Smith linking up well with Ellie Hunter the ball forwards for Jermy drives on central, Humphries coming to close her down winning the ball.
Abbi Nobbs playing the ball on for Georgina Belton through the middle for Dussindale & Hellesdon lifted up towards the top of the area Lincoln heading clear for Mulbarton the break on as the ball is lifted on for Lake pulling right, no one can get up with her as her looping cross lands harmlessly inside the box. Jermy sent racing in behind the Dussindale & Hellesdon defence, Cole rushing out of her box getting their first her clearance though landing at Lake’s feet, 30 plus yards out, the goalkeeper out of position, Lake isn’t given a clear sight on goal as she his hastily closed down, Tink clearing the ball.
Dussindale & Hellesdon have let themselves become a little unsettled by the opposition rushing the final ball seeing it lost and coming straight back, Olivia Smith up on the left a throw won high. Lincoln with a long one in her arsenal launched into the box Tink with a firm headed clearance. Hunter opens her body up to lay the ball into the path of Olivia Smith as she races on left side driving at the Dussindale & Hellesdon defence evades two challenges to get into the box to the by-line left turns inside and strikes a rising shot in on the angle may very well have been creeping inside the post but for an excellent save from Cole throwing her right arm up to turn the ball behind for the corner kick.
Jermy to send the corner into the box from the left, Alice Smith running in towards the near post heading the ball behind taking a nick off a defender a 2nd corner awarded. Same result Smith allowed a free run to the near post twisting her body to head the ball up over the crossbar.
A few decisions going against them adding to Dussindale & Hellesdon’s frustrations a hand ball seeing a free-kick given away top of the circle. Laura Hedtke to play the ball long into the box, Cole with a strong call laying claim to the ball on the bounce. Olivia Smith getting in to win the ball back on the left sends the diagonal ball up into Lake in attack through the middle, Jermy up with her look to play the one two take the ball in behind a vital interception from Dussindale & Hellesdon’s Wilson.
Humphries on for Brister left, Dussindale & Hellesdon coming forwards, the ball inside to Leyer outside the area left of the D, looking to shift the ball between her feet and pulls the trigger, Megan Belsey with the well timed tackle for Mulbarton. Mulbarton’s attacker coming back for the ball turning a driving at the Dussindale & Hellesdon defence, Jermy through the middle finds Ryan out wide right forwards for Lake, the visitors defence holds it line well catching her offside.
Belton powering forwards on the right for Dussindale & Hellesdon with Bussey getting up in support, Oliva Smith pushing Belton wide Bussey getting hold of the ball to send a cross into the box Sutton right of goal looking to turn it goalwards can only pick out the keeper. Jermy taking the ball on for Mulbarton left winning the corner. Dropped into the middle of the box Abby Hutchin with the header clear for Dussindale & Hellesdon.
Alice Smith holding up the ball well for Mulbarton 35 yards out letting others get ahead of her wriggling free to send the diagonal ball into Hedtke out wide right her cross/shot on the angle over the crossbar. Sutton looking to get on with the ball wide right for Dussindale & Hellesdon winning a corner kick, players up from the back the high ball into the box headed clear back out to the right the cross fired in along the top of the area met by Wilson her shot blocked by Olivia Smith. Half an hour played an intriguing contest Mulbarton looking lively getting in to win the ball, Dussindale & Hellesdon continue to appear rattled at times, frustrated with themselves knowing they need to settle.
Cole out of her box early as Alice Smith getting free in the middle plays the ball on for Lake through the middle. Lincoln up on the left to take the through, aiming for Jermy outside the area left of goal, Tink in to head the ball away falls to Hunter 25 yards out looking to clip a looping shot in towards goal, collected by Cole safely.
Lake seeing the ball into her feet left side off a throw outside the box takes it on across the D, Wilson staying on her well for Dussindale & Hellesdon allowing no sniff of an opening Lake instead pushing it out to Ryan right side her strike 20 odd yards out driven wide of the near post. Leyer getting on the ball out left for Dussindale & Hellesdon pressing forwards under pressure from Ryan as she comes back at her, 20 yards out unleashes a shot struck wide of the near post. Wilson with another fine interception central as Oliva Smith tries to pick out the strikers with a diagonal ball upfield.
Dussindale & Hellesdon winning a free-kick out wide left in a deep position the ball floated into the area met well by Tink rising to head goalwards her effort blocked the loose ball deflecting out to Hutchin right of the D, struck on the volley, Hooper down sharply on her line to save. Alice Smith into Hedtke lifted forwards for Jermy and Lake running on through the middle, Wilson in again to cut out the ball.
The ball over the top by Mulbarton finding Lake bursting into the box right of goal, Cole rushing out to close her down doing enough as Lake forces her shot wide on the near post. Belton strong coming away with the ball right for Dussindale & Hellesdon on for Sutton in attack spins well off her marker to take the ball in behind wide sends a high ball into the box, Hooper needs to keep her eye on it back on her line but takes the catch cleanly.
Into the closing minutes of the 1st half, Nobbs on through the middle for Dussindale & Hellesdon picking out Brister running on down the left, Megan Belsey getting her foot in to tackle for Mulbarton. Jermy taking the ball on onto the area left for Mulbarton to the by-line her cross into the six yard box cut out by Nobbs, pushing up Mulbarton keep possession the cross from deep on the left finding Ryan on the right her shot bouncing wide. One last chance in the half for Dussindale & Hellesdon breaking down the left the ball on for Brister struck on the angle into the side netting.
Half-time Mulbarton Belles Ladies 0-0 Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers FC Women
Goalless at the break, both sides staying out on the field during the half-time interval. Mulbarton creating some good chances as yet to beat the goalkeeper have been sharp to the ball winning the midfield contest and getting the ball on into the attacker who in turn are driving at the visitors defence. Dussindale & Hellesdon struggling to settle have let themselves to get frustrated working hard to win the ball getting it forwards the final pass hasn’t been there a couple of half chances the deadlock yet to be broken will be looking to cause Mulbarton a few more problems 2nd half.
No changes at the break, Mulbarton to get the 2nd half underway the ball played back into defence, Dussindale & Hellesdon looking to close it down is played out for a throw on the right. Dussindale & Hellesdon win the ball back on the left Humphries up or Brister the diagonal ball aimed for Sutton tracking into area right side, cut out by Olivia Smith for Mulbarton.
The visitors looking to get on the front foot at the start of the 2nd half, give away a free-kick out wide left on the half way line. The set-piece launched up into the box won by Wilson for Dussindale & Hellesdon. Alice Smith sending the pass on for Hunter moving right for Mulbarton plays it on for Lake puling away wide her cross into the box cut out by Tink turned behind for the corner kick.
Lake breaking on with the ball at her feet right for Mulbarton his tackled by Hutchin as she comes across to defend, the ball played into the middle Dussindale & Hellesdon spring the counter attack lifted on for Sutton high on the right her looping ball into the area dropping for Leyer running in central holding off marker gets her foot on the ball but not enough pace on it as Hooper snatches it up off the deck.
GOAL! The deadlock broken in the 53rd minute Mulbarton regaining possession playing the ball on down the left for Ryan to take on driving forwards, the keeper coming out to close the angle, Ryan from 20 yards out lifts the ball over her and into the back of the net to score 1-0.
A blow for Dussindale & Hellesdon they look for a quick reply breaking up the right with Sutton winning a corner kick. Players pressed forwards the ball curled in near side Tink with the stooping header 12 yards out driving the ball wide of the near post. Humphries strong on the left to win the ball and take it in behind, Melissa Belsey recovering to challenge concede the corner kick. An inswinging ball in high to the near post headed up and across goal by Tink, Leyer jumping to meet it knocked up in towards goal, Hooper back on her line getting her gloves up above her head claiming the ball.
Dussindale & Hellesdon continue to be frustrated with some decisions made, Humphries bombing on forcing Lake to track back after her getting her cross in from the by-line on the left, claimed low by Hooper at her near post. Alice Smith winning the ball for Mulbarton in the middle, drawing the odd free-kick too. The ball played up to Leyer in attack, holding the ball up well, Lincoln close on her plays it back for Brister, Megan Belsey in to challenge eventually giving away the free-kick.
GOAL! Just past the hour Brister over the set-piece 30 plus yards out to the left of goal, goes for goal getting a good connection on the ball to send a wonderful shot in over the keeper into the net beyond to score the equaliser 1-1.
A good response from Dussindale & Hellesdon to falling a goal behind getting back on level terms quickly. Both sides competing for the ball Mulbarton getting a free-kick on halfway to the left played into the top of the area cleared by Belton for Dussindale & Hellesdon. Hutchin seeing more of the ball 2nd half for Dussindale & Hellesdon coming left sending the ball on for Brister in attacker, Melissa Belsey tackling to win the ball back for Mulbarton.
Dussindale & Hellesdon making the first change of the game bringing off the goal scorer, Brister replaced by Kari Kowalczyk on the left. Humphries slides in to take the ball away from lake inside the box right side as she runs onto Hunter’s diagonal ball. Mulbarton pressing the ball in the middle Hedtke’s high ball forwards into the area taken confidently by Cole. The game opening up a little players finding gaps to run into.
GOAL! Mulbarton take the ball on down the left side rolled on for Ryan whips a pacy cross low into the area from deep for Lake central back to goal sees it across her feet spinning away from her marker to turn into the shot fire it low back across the keeper to restore Mulbarton’s lead 2-1.
Melissa Belsey down after a challenge top of her area needs to come off both sides making a change with a little over 15 minutes left to play. Olivia Mungham-Gray going into the back line for Mulbarton, Chloe Shipman coming on in midfield replacing Nobbs for Dussindale & Hellesdon. Fluids taken on board by both sides too. Dussindale & Hellesdon advance on the left Humphries up to support Kowalczyk winning a throw high, Kowalczyk sending the ball into Leyer top of the area, Lincoln defending for Mulbarton, the visitors press the ball the shot from distance finding it’s way through to Hooper.
Mungham-Gray and Kowalczyk rush in to contest the ball a hefty 50/50 challenge, as Dussindale & Hellesdon prepare another change Bussey coming off, with Amee Kennett sent on.
GOAL! Mulbarton attacking left the ball played from deep long into the box for Lake charging into the area right of goal Cole looking to get out to the ball first smashing her attempted clearance into the Mulbarton captain, the ball loose Lake taking a moment to locate it closed down, lays it back towards the top of the area for Jermy who is brought down the referee pointing to the spot. Penalty! Jermy herself to take runs in with a right foot strike wrong footing the keeper to play it low to her left and score 3-1.
Only adding to Dussindale & Hellesdon’s frustration not happy with the penalty decision in the first place. 3-1 down with 12 minutes left on the clock both sides making a change Phoebe green on for he visitors for Sutton. Lake coming off for Mulbarton replaced by Aneliese Smith. Megan Belsey coming across to challenge Humphries as she breaks on into the box from the left the defender putting her foot in to stab the ball behind for the corner kick.
Dussindale &Hellesdon strong on the left Humphries driving forwards linking with Kowalczyk who gets up the line to win her side a corner. A great delivery into the box, Alice Smith doing a good job marking Tink outside the six yard box allowing Lincoln to clear beyond. Dussindale & Hellesdon pushing up taking a few risks a diagonal ball put into the top of the area from the right, Belsey and Mungham-Gray get in each others way going to clear the ball left of the D, Green close in can’t capitalise before the ball is scrambled clear.
Alice Ladbrooke coming on for Mulbarton late on replaced Hedtke in midfield. The counter launched by the hosts the ball lifted on for Ryan bursting on left side towards the box, Cole rushing out to the edge of her area sliding in to make the blocking save. Green onto the ball central for Dussindale & Hellesdon tries to pick out Leyer pulling off the defence, a vital interception from Lincoln at the back for Mulbarton.
Dussindale & Hellesdon piling on the press late in the game as they look for a goal to set up a nervy finish Shipman coming left on for Kowalczyk pushed into Leyer top left corner of the box, Lincoln marking her closely the pair head to the left corner before Lincoln gets her challenge in the ball cleared only as far as Kowalczyk wide 20 out to lift a cross into the box, Green attacking it near side knocking the ball on across the six yard box, Belton attacking the near post, Olivia Smith getting the ball clear.
The game heading into stoppage time Mulbarton release Aneliese Smith on the right in attack, Humphries back at her sliding in with a committed tackle the ball out of play in the corner. Mulbarton looking to keep it there see out the game, the job done as the final whistle blows and Mulbarton claim a vital 3 points in their quest to close the gap on the leaders, now just 5 points.
Full time Mulbarton Belles Ladies 3-1 Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers FC Women
Mulbarton with the early break through in the 2nd half to open the scoring through Molly Ryan as Dussindale & Hellesdon looked to get after them after the restart. A good response however from the visitors pushing on winning a free-kick, a wonderful strike from Chelsea Brister to equalise. The game opening up however Mulbarton got clear on the left to open up the Dussindale & Hellesdon defence with Lake turning well inside the box to restore the lead. The visitors frustrated further as a penalty call went against them, Sophie Jermy stepping up to score and extend Mulbarton’s lead. Dussindale & Hellesdon pushed on late in the game looking to score but it wasn’t to be as Mulbarton held out for the win. Another tough match against Long Stratton coming up in midweek for Mulbarton before they go to The Nest to play Dussindale & Hellesdon in what is now a must win game for the hosts.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. As more often than not a tough call to make with two committed sides going toe to toe. Several performances of note to mention. Ruby Wilson making several vital interceptions and winning tackles at the back for Dussindale & Hellesdon. So too captain Calista Tink winning her fair share of headers in both boxes. Siesha Humphries at left back with some good challenges and got forwards very well 2nd half. Abby Hutchin too taking the ball on well in the 2nd period. For Mulbarton Alice Smith has a strong game in midfield getting after the ball going along way to unsettle Dussindale & Hellesdon in the 1st half. Linked up well with Ellie Hunter who make some positive runs forwards. Sophie Jermy with several driving runs at the opposition defence. The back four were also strong. Full backs Melissa Belsey and Olivia Smith winning the ball, Lucy Lincoln tackling and clearing the ball. The award goes to Megan Belsey was a good contest between her and Leyer in attack putting in some well timed tackles to deny a goal scoring opportunity.
Still all to play for in Norfolk Women’s Division One and it well be intriguing to see who comes out on top. Whatever the outcome a strong season from both. Good to catch up with both and thanks for the help with the teams details. Also to Scott Grearhardy for the additional pictures used in today’s report.
by Darren Gilham