Category Archives: Cup Final

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

Cup Final Special – Cambridge City Ladies Development v Royston Town Women

Sunday 23rd May

ERWFL Challenge Cup Final

A trip down to Haverhill in Suffolk this Sunday the venue The New Croft for the ERWFL Challenge Cup Final, between Cambridge City Ladies Development and Royston Town Women.

  Couldn’t do my usual prep for this one however as the two finalists wouldn’t be known until the respective semi-finals were played in the morning. Today the ERWFL Challenge Cup Finals Day. With four sides competing, in two, hour long matches. The semi-finals then a final/3rd place match in the afternoon. 

  Along with Cambridge City Ladies Development and Royston Town Women were, Bedford Ladies and Wymondham Town Ladies. All group winners in the Challenge Cup, a temporary competition put in place by the Eastern Region Women’s Football League after the regular playing season was curtailed due to the ongoing Covid pandemic. 19 clubs from the ERWFL entering the Challenge Cup.  

Road to the Final

The 19 sides competing drawn into 4 groups each side playing the other once with 3 points awarded for a win, a point for a draw and for this competition, an extra point for a penalty shootout win after the sides have finished all square during the match. 

Cambridge City Ladies Development have done well since joining the ERWFL going strong at the top of Division One North in both the pervious seasons before their early finish were drawn in Group A with 3 Premier Division sides, started well with an away win against Wroxham Women. Took on Haringey Borough Women at home next the sides fighting out a 4-4 draw Cambridge going on to win the penalty shootout to claim a bonus point. Last up another home game against AFC Dunstable Women was a winner takes all match to see who would top the group Cambridge coming away 2-1 victors to progress to finals day

  4 wins out of 4 saw Bedford Ladies win Group B to progress to the Finals Day, starting with a narrow 3-2 win away to Division One North side King’s Lynn Town Ladies. Won 6-0 and 6-1 respectfully against two more Division One sides, Wodson Park Ladies and East Bergholt United Ladies. It was a good 3-1 win at home against Premier Division title chasers Harlow Town Ladies that ensured Bedford’s progress.

  Royston Town Women were drawn in Group C along side fellow Premier Division side Bowers & Pitsea Ladies along with 3 Division One sides, Stevenage Women Development, Leigh Ramblers and Haverhill Rovers Ladies. Collected a point from their first match after a 4-4 draw with Haverhill Rovers who went on to win the shootout 10-9! Went on to take maximum points at home to Stevenage 2-1 and 4-2 away to Bowers & Pitsea, the final group match at home to Leigh Ramblers the Essex side doing well in the group vying for top spot. Royston thanks to a brace from Sammy Tinsley and goal each for Tally Miles and Charlotte South winning the game 4-1 to finish top.

  Wymondham Town Ladies leading the Premier Division before the league campaign ended were drawn in Group D, something of a group of death as they were paired with high flying St Ives Town Ladies and Luton Town Ladies along with another Premier Division side Colney Heath Ladies and Needham Market Women from Division One North. Started well with a 4-0 win at home to Colney Heath. Drew 3-3 with St Ives missing out on the bonus point. A tough match at home to Luton saw Wymondham come out on top 2-1 a 3-1 away win assuring the Norfolk side made it through to finals day.

The final 4 all strong on their day anyone of them capable of going all the way as they arrived at The New Croft for Finals Day.

 The Finals day seeing the sides meet in two hour long semi-finals the winners going on to the final itself with a 3rd placed match for those missing out. The draw made the morning before the game saw Royston Town Women taking on Bedford Ladies with Cambridge City Ladies Development up against Wymondham Town Ladies. Couldn’t make it in time for the start of the semi-finals due to work commitments. The New Croft at Haverhill featuring a stadium wit a grass pitch with a 3G pitch behind, the semi-finals going off at the same time. On the 3G pitch Royston made a strong start to their match Emma Slater scoring twice to see them leading 2-0 at half-time. Bedford pulling it back to 2-1 in the 2nd half, the Hertfordshire side though were to hold on to book their place in the final.

A first half brace for Emma Slater helping to see Royston through to the ERWFL Challenge Cup Final.

  Cambridge and Wymondham playing their semi-final on the grass pitch, Shannon Shaw opened the scoring to see Cambridge 1-0 to the good at half-time. Wymondham frustrated never really getting going Shaw was to make it a brace on the 2nd half to see Cambridge through to the final 2-0.

A brace too for Cambridge’s, Shannon Shaw seeing the Development side through to the final.

  The venue for today’s ERWFL Challenge Cup Finals Day, The New Croft, home of Haverhill Rovers. Have been here before to watch Haverhill Rovers Ladies play over on the 3G pitch situated behind the main building a new facility. There a practise pitches beyond that and to the opposite the main stadium, a grass pitch with a small seated stand, a modern clubhouse with bar, and kitchen serving hot food and drinks. The weather pleasant in the morning the semi-finals played in the dry, dark clouds looming a heavy downpour between matches would see the pitch slicken up before kick-off with the threat of more showers hanging about.

 Cambridge City Ladies Development starting XI – Kayleigh Blanchard, Emily Trezise, Lauren Tomlinson, Kayla Krett (C), Ceri Flye, Rachel Pearce, Freya Goddard, Bella Simmons, Ellie Cullum, Lauren Sanders & Grace Stanley. Subs – Amy Reed, Emma Littlewood, Elizabeth O’Callaghan, Amie Fullwood & Shannon Shaw. 

  Royston Town Women starting XI – Mia O’Brien, Fran Gough, Hattie Bourne, Leah Dunnage, Amy Cooper (C), Paris Coldicott-Stevens, Georgia Miller, Tally Miles, Charlotte South, Sammy Tinsley & Emma Slater. Subs – Samantha Edgar, Grace Georgiou, Beki Roach, Sydney Graham & Gemma Croucher.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

  An hour long match should the scores be level a the final whistle the game going straight to penalties. The heavy shower easing up prior to kick-off, both side usually playing in black and white, it’s Royston with the change of shirts getting the 1st half underway, purple their away colours with black shorts and white socks. Cambridge opposite wearing white shirts with black shorts and black and white hooped socks. The ball closed down in the middle straight away by Cambridge the pass send crossfield to the right channel for Bella Simmons to attack, travels before being closed down by Royston’s Leah Dunnage the ball out for a throw.

 

Rachel Pearce plays the ball on through the middle for Cambridge for Lauren Sanders attacking the right channel pushes the ball on for Simmons racing intothe area ahead of her, Royston captain, Amy Cooper in tight to the Cambridge attack to take the ball loose on the right Sanders goes after it but can’t fashion a crossing opportunity as Hattie Bourne gets tight to her. Royston make ground on the left winning the first corner of the game, the delivery long goes out of play beyond the far post.   

Royston’s Emma Slater with Cambridge’s Rachel Pearce

  Cambridge clear the ball upfield, Grace Stanley on the left looking to get forwards, Fran Gough slicing her clearance sees the ball drop into space beyond her, Stanley reacts a burst of pace getting her onto the ball, Gough getting back on her forcing her down to the by-line, Stanley gets a cross into the near post, Royston keeper, Mia O’Brien has it covered catching the ball low. A good start from Cambridge getting players forwards with pace running at the Royston defence, using the width well Sanders furthest forwards looks to take the ball into her stride as Simmons lays it on from the right, Cooper getting there to intercept off Sanders was through to attack the box. 

Emily Trezise clearing the ball for Cambridge

  O’Brien with a great save called into action diving to her right as Cambridge power on down the right the ball 20 out inside for Sanders sees Stanley free to the left of the D sends the ball on, Stanley meeting it first time striking it low, O’Brien diving full stretch to her right to push the ball behind for a corner kick. 

Royston goalkeeper, Mia O’Brien

  Simmons out on the right causing Royston problems holding the flank well, her teammates picking her out, Sanders and Stanley making central runs, Sanders this time bursting in behind off her through ball, Dunnage doing well to catch up and slide in to make the challenge. Simmons getting hold of the ball on the right coming inside towards the top of the area, 4 Royston players converge on her inside the D, Georgia Miller slowing her down, no shot on as Tally Miles clears the ball upfield. 

Georgia Miller winning the header for Royston

  Tomlinson clear on the left down the line gets her cross into the box long to the far stick, congested, Simmons and Sanders looking to keep it alive, Royston managing to scramble it away. Royston haven’t settled in the early exchanges, Cambridge on top. Tinsley left side playing the ball diagonally into the area with play draw across the pitch, Miles central looking to attack it on the penalty spot, Lauren Tomlinson doing well up against her for Cambridge. 

Tally Miles on the move for Royston

Tomlinson bringing the ball away at her feet on the left for Cambridge races over halfway before firing it in central for Simmons racing through the middle, O’Brien quickly out of her six yard box up to the top of her area to get her gloves firmly around the ball with Simmons bearing down. Royston look to get thing’s going through the middle, Paris Coldicott-Stevens getting hold on the ball putting it on for Miles she goes on with Charlotte South the pair exchanging passes looking for a pass into Slater, Pearce and Freya Goddard getting in between to win it back for Cambridge. 

Cambridge City’s Lauren Tomlinson

 Cambridge make a change bringing Shannon Shaw on for Cullum. Cambridge win a corner on the left played short into Stanley left side looks to go inside, Miles does well defending close on her for Royston. Can’t make it stick up top Cambridge get right back on the attack, Tomlinson racing forwards taking the ball to the by-line flashing a ball into the near post O’Brien with an instinctive jab with her toes deflecting the ball behind for the corner.

Grace Stanley on the attack for Cambridge

  Stanley racing on with the ball left side for Cambridge attempts to put it on into Shaw ahead of her, Cooper getting across for Royston putting in a timely tackle. From the resulting throw in Royston break Miles taking the ball on up the right flank sends it inside for Slater her touch 20 out seeing her turn into the area ready to attack the goal, Cambridge captain Kayla Krett recovers superbly throwing herself into the tackle taking the ball off Slater’s feet sending it behind for the corner. A dangerous delivery fired in across the face of goal barely half a metre off the floor, inviting but no one from Royston is near it. 

Royston defender, Fran Gough

  Simmons continues to carry a threat on the right winning a corner. Into the mix at the near post the ball half cleared looping up towards the top of the area Simmons is there to strike it as it lands angles across the area towards the opposite corner on target, Gough covering the post clearing the ball off the line. Tomlinson bringing the ball on left side passes it to Sanders 20 out she clips it in to Simmons central, brings it down well on her chest to strike on the turn, the shot however straight at the keeper, held by O’Brien. 

Cambridge’s Bella Simmons

  GOAL! The first half drawing to a close, Cambridge have a corner on the right, players up from the back, the ball fired into the congested near post area headed up into the air by Cooper drops down inside the D, struck by Krett on the half volley her strike blocked by a charging defender, the deflection though seeing it land in behind to Shaw unmarked six yards out to the left, strikes it low under the diving keeper into the back of the net 1-0.

Half-time Cambridge City Ladies Development 1-0 Royston Town Women

  Cambridge with the narrow advantage at the break, having started the brighter have been on the front foot throughout, creating chances, deservedly in the lead, just by a single goal however. Royston in contrast got off to a sluggish start and have been frustrated in the first half, few opportunities in the final third, the defence making several crucial tackles, O’Brien too in goal with a crucial save. Know they will need to improve in the 2nd period if they want to get back into the game. 

 

 

   Changes for both sides at the start of the 2nd half, Emma Littlewood, Amy Reed and Amie Fullwood on for Cambridge. Samantha Edgar and Beki Roach on for Royston. Cambridge to get the 2nd period underway. Straight away Royston find joy on the left Tinsley playing a great ball in diagonally to the top of the area for Slater to attack in behind, Kayleigh Blanchard though with a good starting position in goal for Cambridge out to the top of her box to nullify the threat. Cambridge break down the left an early cross fired into the box, Simmons the target, the number 9 can’t quite reach it. 

Royston’s Sammy Tinsley

  Miles from 30 yards out on the right gets plenty of power behind the ball as she shoots on the angle her strike bouncing off the advertising boards behind the goal. The game open at the start of the 2nd period, end to end, Royston looking to get Tinsley and Miles further up on the wide positions to support Slater. Miles advancing on the right fires a diagonal cross into the area, players running in central, Blanchard gets her fingertips on the bouncing ball as it runs out of play on the opposite side, after appeals Royston are awarded the corner kick.

  GOAL! The perfect start to the 2nd half for Royston as they get themselves back on level terms the ball driven in to the six yard box, met at the near post knocked on into the path of Slater at the far post who powers the ball in under the crossbar to score 1-1.

Emma Slater’s goal makes it 1-1

 South brings down Cambridge’s Flye as the defender carries the ball on over the half way line seeing a free-kick awarded 30 yards out to the right of the box, Goddard over to take it, flights a ball in towards the top of the area, headed up but not clear by the Royston defence a shot is allowed to come in from 25 yards out goes over. An improved 2nd half performance from Royston the game more even, Slater looking more of a threat having players up with her.

Royston attacker, Emma Slater

 Appeals for a penalty by Royston as Slater and Flye tangle at the far post close in as a cross from the right in flashed across the six yard box, a good challenge by Flye however, Royston get the corner. the delivery into the area falls down to Edgar right of the D, strikes it hard and low back across goal, isn’t far wide of the far post. Tomlinson has a long throw on her carries a threat, but everyone in the league knows it, Royston are staying alert knowing the danger it poses. Changes for both sides Gemma Croucher on for South for Royston, Elizabeth O’Callaghan on for Cambridge at the back. 

 

 

  Cooper in to close down Shaw inside the box right side as Simmons lays the ball into her feet from the right, Cambridge keeping the ball in the corner, can’t fashion a cross as Dunnage sends the ball up into midfield. A marauding run central between Edgar and Croucher for Royston, O’Callaghan stepping up well to put in the challenge break up the attack outside her area. Less than 10 minutes left for either side to find a winner. A sloppy passage of play from both sides passes missing there mark, another sliced clearance leading to a Cambridge corner. The ball in near side met well by Dunnage. Coldicott-Stevens comes off for Royston, Miller returning to the action. 

  Slater getting more of the ball in the 2nd half, picking it up 30 or so yards out driving at the defence has made several threatening runs, O’Callaghan and Krett both tackling to regain possession. The attacker has the ball at her feet again central pushes forwards, has Miles coming in from the right ahead of her, doesn’t release the  ball early enough as O’Callaghan comes to close the angle, the goes in on Slater to deny her a shot. Stanley comes back on for Cambridge replacing Sanders. 

 

  Cambridge get the ball moving quickly from back to front, right side fired into the middle for Stanley into the right channel, has Simmons bursting into the box from the right, helps the ball into her path, Simmons shooting first time sees her effort fly over the bar from the angle.

 

  Miles has the ball in the right for Royston lays it infield for Slater to drive at the defence, O’Callaghan stepping up to close her down, slows her down as Goddard comes in to support, Slater shoots outside the box, hits Goddard deflected through safely for the keeper. Both sides starting to think about penalties as Royston send South back on for Gough. Slater on the run is brought down seeing Royston win a free-kick 30 yards out, Miles to send in to the far stick the ball is put behind for a corner. Players up from the back the delivery drops far post, Cooper is there but gets under it, Dunnage beyond also missing out. 

  Pressure from Royston late on getting players on South up with Slater a corner won. Cooper up well to meet it on the penalty spot sees her attempt sail over the bar. That’s it, the game ending in a draw will be decided on penalties.

Full time Cambridge City Ladies Development 1-1 Royston Town Women

  A much improved performance from Royston in the 2nd half got themselves straight back into the game from the restart and the game was a more open sided affair 2nd half, Tinsley and Miles getting further on up the flanks limiting Cambridge’s opportunities to get players forwards. On to penalties, and with dark clouds building towards the end of the game the rain has started to fall again. I might have mentioned before I hate penalties but there we go.

Penalties

  Cambridge up first, with captain Kayla Krett to take the first penalty, sets the ball on the spot, hits it well to O’Brien’s right, the keeper guesses right but despite getting her fingertips to the ball sees it nestle in the back of the net 1-0.

  South up first for Royston cool as you like strokes it low to the keepers left to find the bottom corner 1-1.

  Goddard with Cambridge’s 2nd penalty, sends it home high to the keepers right 2-1.

  Tinsley up 2nd for Royston, opts for power rising to the left, Blanchard goes the right way diving gets something on the ball but can’t keep it out 2-2.

  Tomlinson up next for Cambridge smashes it home to make it 3-2.

  Croucher’s turn for Royston penalty number 3 buried low into the left corner 3-3 the pressure building.

  Shaw up for Cambridge 3 goals already on Finals Day makes no mistake from the spot planting the ball to the keepers right 4-3.

 Slater matching Shaw’s goal scoring feat on Final’s Day up next for Royston opens up her body to send the ball wide of the keeper 4-4.

  The tension building Stanley steps up for Cambridge, places it sweetly into the bottom left corner 5-4.

  Edgar has to score for Royston to send the shootout into sudden death, Blanchard goes the right way but Edgar has gotten enough power on her strike to evade the keeper 5-5.

  I’m more tense now writing about the shootout than I was watching it, Reed comes forwards for Cambridge, hits the ball low to the keepers left angling into the bottom corner, O’Brien though goes the right way throwing herself into the dive full stretch makes the save knocking the ball away it remains 5-5.

  Miles placing the ball on the spot for Royston a chance to win the Challenge Cup, strikes it well power and pace on the rising ball, despair for Blanchard who goes the right way but can’t reach it 5-6! Royston win on penalties. 

Tally Miles scoring the winning penalty for Royston Town Women

  Always a harsh way to lose a game, but oh so great if you win as Miles is swamped by her joyous teammates, Royston coming back from a goal down to level the game and take it to a penalty shootout with a much improved 2nd half performance. 5 perfect penalties for each side sending it to sudden death a superb save from Mia O’Brien before Tally Miles scored the winning penalty. Didn’t think there would be much between the 4 sides today, Royston clinching the silverware.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

   Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. A few contenders once again. Bella Simmons with a fantastic game in attack for Cambridge really put the Royston defence through it especially first half and was unlucky not to be on the score sheet. Amy Cooper with some good tackles in defence for Royston who found themselves on the backfoot in the 1st half. A couple of quality saves from Mia O’Brien in goal. Tally Miles too getting forwards well to support the attack in the 2nd period. Edging it however with some great positional play up top and movement off the ball and the growing threat she posed through the final scoring the all important equaliser today’s award goes to Emma Slater.

Congratulations to Royston Town Women on winning the ERWFL Challenge Cup.

 

 

Credit to Cambridge however took the final all the way and on penalties it literally is a lottery. In the other match the 3rd place game Wymondham Town Ladies emerged comfortable winners, a more relaxed performance seeing them take control of the game leading 3-0 t half-time before going on to win 5-0 against Bedford.

 The ERWFL laying on an excellent Finals Day in what has been another turbulent season, let’s hope for better thing’s into the new campaign. The Regional leagues playing a vital role in the women’s football pyramid, plenty of entertainment a good standard that is only going to improve in the future as the game grows as a whole. Great to see spectators enjoying a game once again too. My thanks to both sides for the team details always appreciated. 

by Darren Gilham

Cup Final Special – Mulbarton Belles Ladies v Norwich City Women

Wednesday 19th May

Norfolk Women’s County Cup Final

sponsored by Harrod Sport

It’s been over 440 days since the last one but it’s great to be covering a Cup Final match once again. The FDC the venue for his evening’s Final for the Norfolk Women’s County Cup seeing newly formed Mulbarton Belles Ladies playing just their 7th competitive fixture taking on Norwich City Women.

  The Covid pandemic of course the reason for so many games and finals being lost, football returning after the 3rd lockdown ended towards the end of match seeing alot of league football being declared null & void. Norfolk FA making the decision to play their county cup competitions, including the women’s cup, receiving a sponsor for the first time Harrod Sport.

 Norwich City Women making it to the final of the Norfolk Women’s County Cup for the 1st time since 2014. Norfolk’s leading female side competing in the FAWNL South East Division One dominated the competition from it’s inaugural year in the 2010/11 season winning the cup 4 season’s in a row. A period away from the competition followed, before the club returned 3 season’s ago going to to make it all the way the the final last time out where they were due to face back to back winners Wymondham Town Ladies at Carrow Road only for the season to be curtailed due to the pandemic. Norwich have had a few season’s of transition finding themselves at the wrong end of the league but now under new management and with a new home at The Nest, a wonderful sporting venue newly built on the outskirts of the city are hoping to begin a new era by lifting some silverware.

 In complete contrast are Mulbarton Belles Ladies are the new kids on the block, didn’t play their first competitive fixture till 1st November 2020 and have due to the lockdown played just 6 in total. A new side reaching the final but for several Mulbarton players not the first County Cup final they’ve experienced. The original Mulbarton Belles team folding a few years back, the club was approached last year by a group of players who had fallen out with their previous club, thing’s getting messy then, the players just wanting to play football and being prevented from doing so, didn’t want to be broken up. An EGM was eventually called and although some clubs were unhappy with the decision Mulbarton Belles Ladies were allowed to join the league entering NWGFL Division One, just two matches were played however before the November lockdown hit with the NWGFL season being declared null & void after that, a temporary competition the Challenge Cup taking up the remainder of the season. The Mulbarton players taking part in a number of challenges during lockdown to raise money for charity. Know they face there toughest challenge yet with there opponents competing three leagues above.

Road to the Final

  The Norfolk Women’s County Cup returning after lockdown, Mulbarton Belles Ladies taking part in the 1st Round at home, fought out a 0-0 draw with Division Two title contenders Stalham Town Ladies eventually progressing on penalties. Mulbarton were at home again in the 2nd Round taking on fellow Division One side, Fakenham Town Women, captain Rebekah Lake on target scoring 5 goals as Mulbarton went on to win the game 10-1 to set up a quarter final tie away to ERWFL Premier Division side Wroxham Women. A tough match with Mulbarton the underdogs however they were to find the back of the net scoring the only goal of the game to book their spot in the semi-finals were they were once again at home taking on another Division One side Sprowston Athletic Ladies who themselves were mounting a strong challenge at the top end of the table before the season was curtailed. Lake putting Mulbarton 1-0, their opponents got it back to 1-1 to send the game to penalties. For the 2nd time in the competition Mulbarton came out on top in the shootout winning 3-1 to make it through to the final after just 6 competitive matches as a side.

Mulbarton celebrating after winning the penalty shootout to reach the County Cup Final (photo credit Hardy Scott Photo’s)

Norwich City Women along with ERWFL Premier Division sides, Wroxham Women and Cup holders Wymondham Town Ladies received a bye through to the quarter finals of the competition. The draw throwing out a tough tie as Norwich were drawn at home to play Wymondham, the pair due to met in the final the previous season, Women’s Football East went along to watch was a strong display from Norwich who pushed Wymondham back from the off getting players forwards whilst limiting the threat their opponents carried up the other end. For all the chances Norwich created Wymondham defended strongly and it wasn’t till late in the game another driving run from Ellie Smith forced an error seeing an own goal scored that in the end proving to be enough to send Norwich into the the semi finals. There they were drawn at home once more taking on the 2018/19 finalists King’s Lynn Town Ladies. Norwich strong in the final third once again, clinical as they wrapped up the game 7-0. Aimee Durrant scoring a hat-trick, with Natasha Snelling also on target for a brace, along with one for Ellie Smith and Megan Todd from the penalty spot to see Norwich reach back to back finals and this time getting to play.

The venue for this evenings final the FDC Bowthorpe ‘The Field of Dreams’ restrictions easing spectators are once again permitted, each club offered an allocation of tickets that were eagerly snapped up. Covid protocols in, the staff at the FDC as eager to welcome fans back as anyone else. A large grass pitch a small seated stand and snack hut on one side. The weather bright a nice evening the heavy showers we’ve suffered of late not forecast. 

Mulbarton Belles Ladies

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

Norwich City Women

Norwich City Women starting XI – Elli-Rai Quinn Nichols, Anna Larkins, Alice Parker, Kate Parsons, Izzy Collins, Millie Daviss (C), Ellie Smith, Aimee Durrant, Kathryn Stanley, Megan Todd & Natasha Snelling. Subs – Jordan Arnoup, Brooke Osbourne, Reeanna Cook, Leilah Gooding & Jess Harper.

(roll on roll of substitutes)

   An huge lose for Mulbarton going into this evenings final having lost Alice Ladbrooke who suffered a broken bone in her leg during the semi-final against Sprowston Athletic Ladies, a midfielder with huge experience. The teams lining up around the centre circle before kick-off to firstly honour a minutes silence in memory of those lost to Covid during these traumatic times and 9 year old Jordan Banks from Blackpool who was tragically  killed by a lightning strike during a coaching session last week. This followed by a minutes applause thanking those in the NHS.

 

 It’s Norwich to get the final underway kicking off 1st half wearing yellow shirts and socks with green shorts. Mulbarton lined up opposite wearing black and blue vertical striped shirts with blue shorts and socks. Norwich send the ball long out to the left for Kathryn Stanley to attack, full back Melissa Belsey can let it run out of play for Mulbarton. Norwich quickly on the offensive playing the ball on looking to get runners through left and right, Aimee Durrant racing clear coming inside from the right, the ball skips off the surface allowing goalkeeper Cara Anderson to claim inside her box.

Anderson needing to be on her toes right from the off as Norwich midfielder, Ellie Smith grabs hold of the ball on halfway and bursts forwards into the right channel before sending it on for Durrant ahead of her, she in turn sweeps a long diagonal ball into the area, Anderson taking it into her gloves on the bounce as Megan Todd comes barrelling in. Melissa Belsey cutting the ball out at the back for Mulbarton clears it out to Ellie Hunter on the left side, turns looking to get up the pitch, as her captain Rebekah Lake providing a run ahead of her, can’t find her as Norwich’s Anna Larkins steps in to win the ball back into Smith put on for Durrant on the right, Olivia Mungham-Gray challenging for Mulbarton.

Ellie Smith bringing the ball on for Norwich

  Smith lively for Norwich, a feature of her game as she collects the ball in midfield and drives forwards with it, into space plays has Stanley coming across the top of the area, Megan Belsey lunging in to deny her the ball. Norwich stay on the right winning the first corner of the game. Fired in across the face of goal referee Cameron Saunders spots a Norwich push and awards Mulbarton the free-kick. Laura Hedtke getting hold of the ball central for Mulbarton links up with Alice Smith bringing the ball on, spreads play to Hunter on the left attempts to play it through for Lake in attack, Norwich’s Kate Parsons is tight on her ensures she doesn’t get the ball. Play is quickly turned around Smith with a strong run moving right a cross cut back along the top of the area, Vicky McNorton intercepting for Mulbarton, the defence busy in the opening five minutes, Norwich quick out of the traps. 

 GOAL! Norwich regaining possession in the middle, captain Millie Daviss with Smith close to her bringing the ball clear moving right lays it on for Durrant already on the move able to take the ball in her stride charges down to the by-line doing well to get inside her marker before flashing a dangerous ball into the six yard box Todd running in throws herself at the ball as it evades the keeper and sends it into the back of the net 0-1.

  An early blow for Mulbarton their defence under pressure from the off conceding a 6th minute goal, Norwich are straight on the attack getting another corner on the right, players up from the back the delivery long headed back in across goal, Mulbarton have players defending the post the one on the right getting a head on the ball the defence scrambling it clear. Can’t get any momentum going forwards the ball quickly back with Norwich out on the right Durrant’s cross lands on the roof of the net.

  If she can get the service Lake is as good a striker as anyone at making a run on goal, closely watched by Parsons, moves to the right as Hedtke sends an early pass up to Sophie Jermy who puts it into the channel, Lake escapes off Parsons shoulder after the ball, gains momentum as it bounces allowing goalkeeper Elli-Rai Quinn Nichols to get her gloves around it before Lake can reach it. Releases it quickly helped on Norwich line up a strike from distance 35 yards out left side, hitting the advertising boards beside Anderson’s goal. 

Natasha Snelling has the ball at her feet for Norwich in a central position 25 out, no one closes her down lines up the shot, slips however as she goes to strike the ball, screwing her effort wide off target. With Stanley, Todd, Snelling and Durrant coming on well in attack, Smith carries a threat for Norwich able to get on with the ball from midfield difficult to track isn’t allowing Mulbarton any time to settle at all. Mungham-Gray especially occupied with Durrant on the right the defender doing well stepping in to deny her on a couple of occasions. Smith surging on towards to top of the area lays it into Durrant, close to her right the winger attempting to return the pass into Smith’s run into the area, Megan Belsey with a solid piece of defending for Mulbarton.

 

   Opportunities for Mulbarton to get forwards rare, Smith getting it out to Hunter on the left she sends a crossfield ball up to Jermy coming central from the right 20 yards out hits it her her effort blocked, rebounds back down to Smith who hits it from a long way out, Izzy Collins cutting the shot out for Norwich. Hunter on the ball left for Mulbarton shifts it getting on up the line Lake coming over to her side offering the passing option, Hunter checks inside looking to get inside Larkins, Collins coming across to support the full back winning the challenge for Norwich. Stanley is caught offside as Mulbarton step out well at the back. 

Mulbarton’s Ellie Hunter

  Todd powers her way through the middle bringing the ball on stopped by McNorton. Parsons delivers a fantastic long pass from the back over the top for Snelling to chase, Anderson from a good starting position able to get to the edge of her area to see the ball safely into her gloves. Smith with space on the ball attempts to put it on into the right channel for Lake to attack, turns Parsons angling to get a yard on her, Parsons though lunges into the tackle taking the ball away from the striker. Collins at the back for Norwich into Smith left fires it into Snelling top of the area left come lays it off for Stanley making the run on the left flank, turns inside heading into the box, Melissa Belsey tackling well for Mulbarton denying an opportunity on goal.

Norwich captain, Millie Daviss

  Smith charges into space with the ball right side has Snelling attacking the near post plays the ball looking for her, Megan Belsey with the striker sliding in to take the ball for Mulbarton, can’t get it away however Norwich getting a throw on the right Durrant inside for Larkins getting upfield she whips a cross in from the top corner of the area flashes wide across the Mulbarton area, Stanley racing in far post can’t quite get there as it evades the goal by the merest of fractions. Norwich on top, Mulbarton can’t get any respite, even when they do win a free-kick Norwich are quick to win it back and turn play around Smith putting an early ball in for Durrant central getting clear of the defence once again however Anderson comes well to take at the top of her area. 

  The woodwork comes to the rescue for Mulbarton as Durrant 25 yards plus out right side attempts the strike fired in well on the angle over Anderson, smashes against the bar and spins out to the left. Megan Belsey called into action does well against Snelling as she drives at the area from a central position off Todd’s pass. Norwich using the width well Stanley left firing a dangerous ball into the area is just behind Snelling at the far post, Durrant out right looks to retrieve checks inside but doesn’t get the better of Mungham-Gray. 

Mulbarton’s Olivia Mungham-Gray holding off Norwich’s Aimee Durrant

   Norwich with a corner on the right side a pinpoint delivery fired into the six yard box met firmly by Parsons who sees her header driven up to smash down off the crossbar. Mulbarton scramble it out of their box but it comes straight back a shot fired wide left of the D. Both the Belsey twins, McNorton and Mungham-Gray are battling to keep Norwich at bay in defence for Mulbarton the FAWNL side coming forwards in waves it’s a question of how much pressure can be soaked up can’t get the ball up to Lake. Larkins up with Durrant on the right the ball fired into the area comes to Stanley wide of the far post lay it off for Smith charging in towards the top of the area her low strike comes straight into Anderson. Mungham-Gray defends on Smith as the midfielder attempts to skip into the area making a right channel run as Snelling brings the ball on through the middle.

 GOAL! A feature of the game as Norwich double there lead the ball plays direct diagonally from the middle out to Durrant getting in behind on the right side Anderson coming out to close her down, Durrant gets there first this time, getting her foot up onto the ball to send it past the advancing keeper and bounce on into the goal beyond 0-2. 

Aimee Durrant putting Norwich 2 up

  Norwich’s Daviss plays the ball on for Stanley left the ball crossed into the area Smith central attacking it on the penalty spot, Megan Belsey with a last gasp tackle sliding in on her does enough, blocking the shot deflecting Smith’s attempt over. Mulbarton are attempting to get out of there area following a corner on the right, Collins getting it back to Larkins right crossing from deep falls to Parsons still up from the back at the far post 10 yards out gets up well putting power into her downwards header, on target Anderson with a fantastic save diving to her right to push the ball away. 

 GOAL! The clock running down in the first half there is no let up from Norwich, Smith with another powerful run from the middle onto the D put it inside to Stanley furthest forwards meets the pass with a clipped shot that sees the ball loop up and fly beyond the keeper to nestle in the back of the goal 0-3. 

 Norwich finish the half strong Smith getting on with the ball 20 out looking to put it into the path of Durrant travelling into the area, Megan Belsey making the challenge for Mulbarton.

Half-time Mulbarton Belles Ladies 0-3 Norwich City Women

  A strong first half performance from Norwich see them in a strong position leading 3-0 at the break. Right from the off were at the Mulbarton defence, there attackers providing strong runs left and right and through the middle. With Daviss sitting in midfield Smith has been able to come on at will the Mulbarton defence busy, little opportunity to get the ball into Lake up top cause a few questions up the other end. Alot of work put in by the Mulbarton defence would have taken alot out of them, hard to see their being any respite 2nd half. 

Laura Hedtke with the ball for Mulbarton

  A change for Mulbarton with Meg Anderton joining the action the floodlights starting to take affect the surface slick no with a coating of dew. Mulbarton getting the 2nd half underway. The ball put long to the right Lake having Jermy up with her lays it back for her to send into the box as lake spins in behind, Quinn-Nichols coming across can claim the ball on the bounce before anything can come of it. Norwich come up the right the ball on for Snelling clear for a moment (is in theory on a hat-trick having gotten credited for both Durrant’s and Stanley’s first half goals) attempts to lob the advancing keeper, however doesn’t get it wide enough allowing Anderson to pluck it down. 

Mulbarton captain, Rebekah Lake (phot credit Hardy Scott Photos)

  A mazy run from Durrant on the right, shifts the ball inside evading Mungham-Gray’s sliding challenge firing a cross into the box Smith arriving meeting it first time blasting her effort wide. Hedtke plays the ball on for Jermy, Lake comes to receive the pass, 30 yards out, attempts to peel around Parsons, but the ball is there for Alice parker to clear. Snelling advancing on the right as the ball is fed up the line, Megan Belsey sliding in to take the ball off her feet away for a throw. 

Norwich’s Natasha Snelling

Hedtke finding a little room in the centre fires it through for Lake to attack central, getting momentarily away from Parsons the centre back recovers well throwing herself into the lunging tackle to block the run of Lake deflect the ball away to the right. Norwich get bodies up on the left Parker sending it on for Stanley, Smith going with her powering towards the top of the area Melissa Belsey sliding into the tackle, grounded as Stanley is able to gather the loose ball send it back into the crowd Snelling is upended a penalty given.

 GOAL! Parsons comes up from the back to take the set-piece placing the ball on the spot, takes it confidently opening her body sending the keeper the wrong way to stroke a low shot home 0-4.

Norwich adding to their lead early in the 2nd half. Durant full of running on the left jinks inside looking to go beyond Mungham-Gray however the full back recovers lunging into the tackle taking it away from Durrant, Megan Belsey clearing from inside the box. Larkins up on the right lofts a cross in towards the near post, Anderson catching well not distracted by the onrushing Todd. Changes for Norwich as they bring off Todd and Durrant, Reeanna Cook and Brooke Osbourne. 

  Mungham-Gray with a timely interception as Smith prods it on for Norwich having drifted over to the right. Norwich with a corner on the right players up Cook putting it in near post goes through a mass of bodies out to the far side kept in by Snelling lays it up to the top of the area for Collins her diagonal ball in claimed well by Anderson. 

 GOAL! Norwich stretching the tiring Mulbarton defence now get away on the right Snelling taking the ball on in behind to the by-line before sending a looping cross in along the face of goal, Stanley arriving unmarked far post with a simple nod in from all of a foot out 0-5.

  On come Norwich as Daviss dispossesses Hedtke in the middle play out to Osbourne on the right, tries to pick out Snellings central run Melissa Belsey just about getting in front of her to defend take it out of the area. Smith seeing a goal ruled out for offside, as Parker plays it up the left for Stanley sees Smith on the move but the midfielder strays beyond the defence before the ball is played. Parker on for Stanley left side again keeps it in taking it on up the line checking back inside to evade the tackle lets fly from the angle 20 yards out her shot straight into Anderson. 

  Lake evades Parsons in behind her as Hedtke feeds her a good through ball central, Collins is quickly round on the cover getting shoulder to shoulder with lake easing her off the ball. Smith up on the right with Osbourne ahead of her, the pair link well before Smith puts it into the path of Snelling attacking right of the D, Megan Belsey back tracking lunging to deflect the ball up and away for a corner kick. Cook firing in a dangerous ball to the far post Snelling getting under the ball powering a header towards goal the Mulbarton woodwork claiming a hat-trick of it’s own as for the 3rd time a Norwich player sees an attempt at goal denied by the crossbar!

 Norwich bring on Jess Harper for Larkins. Annaliese Smith comes on for Mulbarton replacing Melissa Belsey. The pace of the game slowing with the changes Norwich have made, having used the pitch well with a healthy lead are content to let Mulbarton come on a bit hit them on the counter. Smith still full of running charging on for Norwich, Megan Belsey standing up to her inside the area blocking her effort, Smith getting a 2nd bite puts it straight at the keeper. Megan Belsey goes down suffering from cramp a pause in play follows. Daviss off for Norwich with Leilah Gooding being sent on. One Belsey twin replaces the other with Melissa returning to the action for Megan.

  Osbourne springing the offside trap on the right getting down the line checking inside allows Mungham-Gray the opportunity to tackle the corner conceded. Anderson can’t get it near post, the defence scrambling it away beyond as Stanley goes to attack it. 

 GOAL! A well worked 6th goal for Norwich with the game moving into the final quarter hour coming on up the left the ball on for Stanley into the area her momentum risking her taking he ball out of play performs the back heel sending it straight to the on rushing Snelling, defenders drawn to her the number 10 sends it straight back to Stanley who from the angle six yards out strikes it on the rise to loop up across the keeper and in at the far post 0-6. A cup final hat-trick for Stanley.

A cup final hat-trick for Norwich’s Kathryn Stanley

  Mulbarton bring on Julia Robathan to replace Melissa Belsey. The substitute with the ball straight away playing it out wide to Anderton on the left sends a diagonal ball in towards the near post is intercepted by Gooding for Norwich. The game moving into the final 10 minutes Anderson to the top of her area gathering the ball in a both Snelling and Osbourne race in behind after a ball from Smith. Morgan Devine coming on for Mulbarton replacing Hedtke. Stanley hitting a shot on the run from 20 yards out in the right channel seeing it run wide. Her last action of the game as she comes off with Todd back on. 

  Lake keeps trying to get free up top, goes after a ball put on from Robathan down the right gets inside the full back into the box, too much on it however as Quinn-Nichols comes to collect near post. Norwich striking from distance put across the area takes a slight deflection the ball out for a corner kick.

 GOAL! Players up from the back the delivery fired in with pace from the left into the six yard box, the ball dangerous head height is met firmly by Parsons who powers the header home 0-7.

  Mulbarton have given it there all players are struggling now but still battling hard in defence, Todd through the left channel sending it on for Snelling, Smith and McNorton close in on her outside the area the ball deflected back to Todd behind she strikes the shot her goal bound effort pushed away well by Anderson diving at her far post. The game moving into stoppage time Parsons off with Daviss sent back on. Todd with on final strike on goal from all of 30 yards out held by Anderson.

Full time Mulbarton Belles Ladies 0-7 Norwich City Women

  The final whistle blows and 7 years since they last lifted the trophy Norwich win 7-0 to be crowned County Cup winners again. A strong performance right from the first minute stayed on the front foot throughout the front 4 dangerous a constant threat backed up by Smith in the centre. Taking an early lead were comfortable at 3-0 at the break carrying on where they left off in the 2nd half. A valiant effort from Mulbarton who were no match on the day battled hard in defence throughout. Reaching a cup final in your debut season a magical achievement.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

Onto this evening’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. A few performances to mention can’t single out a single defender for Mulbarton they all battled hard putting in some vital challenges throughout had to soak up alot of pressure. Going forwards Norwich were strong relentless. Amy Durrant out on the right. Natasha Snelling through the middle. A close run thing in the end though, between two players, Ellie Smith’s runs from the middle proving impossible to stop, edging it though and agreeing with official award has to be Kathryn Stanley great movement off the ball got into some fantastic positions and took her hat-trick superbly.

Kathryn Stanley collecting the PoM award for this evenings final

Fantastic too to see a good crowd at a football match again 180 in attendance. The whole occasion run well by the staff at the FDC. Norwich City Women the 2020/21 Norfolk County Cup Winners. Congratulations.

Norwich City Women win the 2020/21 County Cup

  Great to be at a final once again has been too long, an enjoyable occasion all round. My thanks to everyone at the FDC for their help this evening much appreciated. Great to catch up with a few football friends too.

by Darren Gilham

Match Report – Cup Final Special

Cambridgeshire Women’s Invitation Cup Final

Wednesday 4th March

Cambridge City Ladies v Histon Ladies

  The first of this season’s Cup Finals this Wednesday night in the East, the Cambridgeshire Women’s S-Tech Insurance Invitation Cup this season being contested between Cambridge City Ladies & Histon Ladies.

  The Invitation Cup Final being hosted for the 2nd season at The Abbey Stadium home of Cambridge United FC the counties leading club. Women’s football growing in Cambridgeshire the two county divisions the Premiership and Championship seeing a rapid growth this season. Women’s and girls football in Cambridgeshire supported by S-Tech Insurance along association now into it’s 13th year sponsoring tonight’s final.

  The holders of the cup however not taking part this season, Cambridge United WFC dominating the competition on recent season’s moving to a new ground this season St Neots Town FC which falls under the Huntingdonshire FA umbrella they themselves launching an inaugural Women’s Cup this season, that final to be contested by Cambridge United WFC and St Ives Town Ladies. Unable to defend the trophy the opportunity to win silverware going to a new face?

  Well not so new in Cambridge City Ladies case as they won the trophy two season’s back beating rivals Cambridge United WFC, the pair dominating the final recently as Cambridge City Ladies rose rapidly through the women’s football pyramid, reaching the FAWNL. Have an equally ambitious Development side new to regional football this season topping the table in ERWFL Division One North and new for this season too a third side Cambridge City Ladies A competing in the Cambridgeshire Women’s Premiership. Reaching the final of the Invitation Cup yet again it is a distraction from their league woes Cambridge City struggling for points 2nd bottom of FAWNL South East Division One with some crucial games coming up, the chance of winning silverware tonight an excellent opportunity with the added incentive of possibly inspiring the team for tough games to come.

  Histon Ladies reaching the Invitation Cup for the first time, although themselves were familiar opponents for Cambridge United… then Cambridge Women before Cambridge City came along. Back then were know as Great Shelford Ladies. That name consigned to history now as the club joined forces with Histon FC and getting good support playing at the club’s Glassworld Stadium are looking to grow become a strong force for women’s football in Cambridgeshire adding a youth section, the 1st team competing in ERWFL Division One North, a Reserves side coming in too to bolster the 1st team playing in the Cambridgeshire Women’s Premiership have made it a cup final double by reaching the Junior Invitation Cup Final, where it could yet be a copy of this evenings final with Cambridge City Ladies A meeting Newmarket Town Women Development in the other semi-final. As well as reaching the Invitation Cup Final, Histon are also into the last four of the ERWFL Plate competition.

Road the the Final

  Both Cambridge City Ladies and Histon Ladies receiving a bye in the 1st Round of this season’s Invitation Cup progressing to the 2nd Round/Quarter Finals. Cambridge City Ladies were drawn away to Premiership side March Town United Ladies a gap of 4 leagues between the pair. Karly Tolentino joining Cambridge City this season netting a hat-trick as the FAWNL won through to the semi-finals 8-0. Histon Ladies were at home taking on Cambridge Women’s Premiership side and amongst the early table toppers Leverington Sports Ladies a potentially tricky tie, goals from Sydney Graham, Poppy Kelly, Siobhan White and Alison Wright saw Histon safely through winning 4-1.

  Onto the semi-finals Cambridge City Ladies were drawn at home to ERWFL Division One North side, Newmarket Town Women. The tie hit by the recent storms eventually switched to Newmarket’s 3G playing surface to complete. Giving up home advantage not affecting Cambridge City, Tolentino on target for another goal along with one each for Charlotte Gillies, Freya Standing and Beatrice Fitzsimons returning from injury seeing them through 4-1 to this Wednesday’s final. Histon Ladies were away to Fulbourn Institute Bluebirds in the semi-finals of the competition. The Cambridgeshire Women’s Premiership side taking the lead from the penalty spot on 17 minutes. Histon coming back to level the scores through Poppy Kelly in the 44th minute went 2-1 up on the stroke of half-time as Kelly fired home her 2nd of the game. Fulbourn coming back to level it at 2-2 on the hour. Histon retaking the lead from a corner in the 69th minute Lauren Martin heading in at the near post. The cup final spot secured in the final minute Kelly clipped inside the box, Alison Wright putting the ball into the back of the net.

  A special occasion for both sides this evening getting to play at The Abbey Stadium the main stand open. hot food and drink available. A good crowd building. The pitch in good shape offering plenty of width the surface slickened up as rain began to fall and hour of so before kick-off falling lightly under the floodlights as the two sides were lead out onto the pitch by referee Stacey Fullicks. 

Cambridge City Ladies

 Cambridge City Ladies starting XI – Dominika Szary, Amy Reed, Lauren Tomlinson, Ceri Flye, Becca Fay (C), Hannah Bodily, Sofia Castiglione, Charlotte Gillies, Freya Standing, Laura Mills & Karly Tolentino. Subs – Becky Langthorpe, Beatrice Fitzsimons & Shannon Shaw.

Histon Ladies

 Histon Ladies starting XI – Eleanor Morgan Abby Laughlin, Georgia Huse, Amie Flack, Tessa Shaw, Sophie Lanham (C), Alison Wright, Lauren Martin, Abi Davies, Kirsty Geal & Poppy Kelly. Subs- Kaya Haq, Rebekah Fisk, Sophie Lanham, Tara Fitzjohn & Siobhan White.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

 Cambridge City to get this season’s Invitation Cup Final underway kicking of 1st half, wearing white shirts with black shorts and black and white hooped socks. Histon opposite lined up wearing red shirts and socks with black shorts. The ball played back to the defence captain Becca Fay sending it out to the right Charlotte Gillies on the flank bursting forwards, Georgie Huse in to defend for Histon the ball out for a throw. Cambridge quickly into their stride the ball out to the wings Gillies right and Freya Standing left looking to get on.

 Cambridge come right a throw won high up the pitch working down the line the cross into the box cleared straight to Laura Mills positioned inside the D, free opts to thread the ball low into the six yard box rather than take a strike herself, Amie Flack cutting it out clearing for Histon. Cambridge win the ball back central out to Gillies right down the line pace a cross whipped in near post Mills with the run, Histon goalkeeper, Eleanor Morgan in ahead of her to gather. 

Barely 3 minutes on the clock Histon on the back foot played the ball to their right, Lauren Tomlinson at left back winning it for Cambridge sending the ball on for Standing who has Karly Tolentino making a great run into the channel ahead of her, taking the ball on into the box Tolentino strikes it well from close range rising evades Morgan smashed into the top of the post beyond. Relentless from Cambridge as they win a corner left side the ball coming in low near post Morgan forwards taking it cleanly in her gloves despite a Cambridge attack lunging in in front of her.

Cambridge City Ladies, Freya Standing with Histon’s Abby Laughlin

  Histon need to get hold of the ball in the middle, Alison Wright does just that the ball played high into the box, Cambridge goalkeeper Dominika Szary catching it high under pressure from her left. Cambridge with the ball in the net on 6 minutes as Mills comes away with it on the right side fires in a low cross for Tolentino breaking on to the near post sides foots in across the keeper, but won’t count the flag up against her for offside.

  Cambridge moving the ball quickly Hannah Bodily to Sofia Castiglione in the middle of the park out to Standing on the left, jinks inside but is tackled by Histon’s Abby Laughlin. Played into the middle captain Sophie Lanham on for Wright looks to thread it between the Cambridge centre backs with Poppy Kelly breaking in behind, however Szary is quickly out of her area to sen the ball up field. A free-kick for Cambridge on the left Tomlinson to delivery sent in towards the top of the area, cleared by Histon looking to break sent out to the left wing Kirsty Geal looking to get hold of it take on the full back, Cambridge’s Amy Reed though with a good tackle to halt the advance. 

 Cambridge getting joy in the wings Gillies getting forwards on the right a corner kick won, players up from the back the ball sent in high near post Morgan getting a touch behind for a 2nd corner, this one short up the line to Bodily floats the ball into the six yard box, Morgan rising well to claim the ball. Lauren Martin onto the ball central for Histon releases Kelly in attack right channel in turn out to Abi Davies high on the wing, Histon getting a throw near the corner flag, Wright up towards the edge of the box to receive the ball down into her feet holding off her marker well turns to put in a cross near post Kelly in close meeting it sends her shot up over the bar.

  Reed bringing the ball on right side for Cambridge, played on into Gillies takes on the first time strike on the angle, Morgan down throwing herself into the dive to push the ball behind for a corner kick. The corner taken short again the ball lifted in towards the far post Davies up well to defend for Histon. Play end to end suddenly Histon coming on the pass finding Davies racing on right side her diagonal ball aimed into Kelly’s path, Szary racing out to the edge of her area to launch up field turns into a fantastic ball with Gillies running in behind surges on with the ball into the box, Huse with a great last ditch challenge sliding in to take the ball away. 

  Tolentino making some fantastic runs up top in attack for Cambridge, not staying on any single Histon defender hard to track gets on the move left to right towards the near side as Gillies gets hold of the ball right wing sends her in on goal gets her shot off early beating Morgan coming to close the angle the shot though narrowly wide across goal. Tomlinson making a strong tackle for Cambridge getting hold of the ball put down the left a throw won high, Tomlinson forwards to take has a long throw in her armoury put onto Tolentino’s chest inside the area brought down well.

  GOAL! 22 minutes played and Cambridge take the lead, Tolentino with a powerful run into the box left of goal half a yard clear, Tessa Shaw sliding in to make the challenge gets some of the ball but more of Tolentino as she attempts to close in on goal, the referee pointing to the spot. Shaw yellow carded. Tolentino picking herself up to take it struck well low and hard into the bottom left corner 1-0.

Karly Tolentino opening the scoring from the penalty spot for Cambridge City Ladies

 Cambridge piling forwards Tolentino lively up top all over the place Morgan exposed as she runs out to the ball right side, can’t pick up edge of the box, Gillies closing in taking the ball past her, Huse getting back to make the challenge clear the threat for Histon. Tolentino moves away to the left Tomlinson on the ball forwards for Standing into Tolentino she goes on towards the area twisting and turning on the ball before getting a high cross away into the six yard box, Huse with a strong header the clear not perturbed by Gillies in close attention. 

 Cambridge very close to being awarded a 2nd penalty the foul mere inches from being inside the box, Tolentino clipped the set-piece left of the D, Castiglione on it a curling shot clearing the wall an excellent save from Morgan back on her goal line tipping it over the bar. Morgan saving well from the resulting corner.

Histon goalkeeper Eleanor Morgan tipping Sofia Castiglione’s free-kick over the bar

 GOAL! Cambridge double their lead with the half hour fast approaching Histon trying to get on up the left the ball lost put down the line into Mills breaking in behind to fizz in a dangerous cross into the six yard box, Histon cut out but don’t clear, Tolentino latching onto the ball shifts it inside to give herself room and blasts it in from close range for her 2nd of the game 2-0.

Karly Tolentino with 2 goals in this evening’s Invitation Cup Final

  Martin does well in midfield for Histon closing in well to take the ball on Davies available to her left squares it in field to Wright 25 yards out central closed down quickly by Castiglione who ends up being awarded the free-kick. Laughlin doing well at the back getting across Standing inside the box left to shield he ball back to Morgan. Playing the ball out from the back Shaw onto Lanham, Histon’s captain aims her pass for Kelly in attack moving left to right, Fay intercepting for Cambridge setting up a quick counter attack. Wright pushing on a bit now from midfield to support the attack for Histon plays it left to Geal is tackled well by Reed. 

 Cambridge quick to turn play around all through the first half get the ball on deep over the top for Tolentino clear left side her cross field ball into the box aimed towards Mills coming in far post, Huse defending for Histon. Davies on the ball right side for Histon travels up the wing cutting infield past Tomlinson towards the box runs onto Ceri Flye the Cambridge centre back winning the ball. Histon able to come on better in the latter stages of the first half Cambridge dealing well at the back won inside the D the ball sent forwards quickly Tolentino available for the pass moving left brings it under control races forwards comes inside travelling across the top of the Histon area, not challenged into the D strikes the shot the ball whipping up over the crossbar.

Histon’s Abi Davies with Cambridge’s Lauren Tomlinson

  Histon chances rare can’t get the ball to stick up top Kelly making some good runs but Geal and Davies are being checked well by Tomlinson and Reed at the back for Cambridge. Wright coming from the middle looking the most likely to make something happen. Risk being hit on the counter Cambridge playing the ball on into Mills central out wide left to Standing gets to the by-line whipping in a cross rising near post Tolentino there attempts to flick it of her boot wide of the keeper but puts it straight into Morgan’s gloves. 

  Late into the 1st half and Szary is called into action to make a save for Cambridge Histon getting hold of the ball in the final 3rd from a goalkick, Wright getting a shot away from around 25 yards left of the D hit low with pace Szary down well to her left to get herself behind the ball. Cambridge bring the ball forwards creating another opportunity late in the half put on down the right into Mills sends it diagonally into the box for Standing forwards left side bearing forwards is closed down by Laughlin and Flack to block the shot. 

Half-time Cambridge City Ladies 2-0 Histon Ladies

  The half-time whistle blows and Cambridge head into the changing room’s under the mainstand leading the Invitation Cup Final 2-0. On top right from the start their pace a movement causing Histon problem’s especially down the wings Standing and Gillies getting forwards at will along with Tolentino through the middle has drifted left and right finding space to exploit. Numerous chances before opening the scoring could be out of sight but for Morgan making a couple of vital saves for Histon, their chances few and far between but at 2 nil are far from out of it need an improved performance 2nd half but the risk is as they search for a reply further gaps open at the back mustn’t concede early you feel.

Sophie Lanham heading the ball clear for Histon Ladies

A triple change for Cambridge at the start of the 2nd half, Becky Langthorpe on to replace Reed at the back, Beatrice Fitzsimons on for Castiglione along with Shannon Shaw going up to replacing Standing with Tolentino moving to the left. Histon to get the 2nd period underway go long straight from the off, the ball off target inside the box Szary out to get hold of the ball. A much quieter start to the 2nd half Histon looking to make progress right side the ball inside dealt with by Fay for Cambridge.

Cambridge City Ladies captain, Becca Fay

Cambridge break away on the left the ball rolled on for Mills to take into her stride carries it inside before firing a crossfield ball into the box picking out Gillies bursting forwards on the right hits her strike early the ball fizzing wide at the near post. 

GOAL! A blow for Histon 5 minutes into the 2nd half as they are caught on the break by Cambridge. Initially winning a free-kick players forwards as Flack delivers the ball in towards the top of the area Cambridge defend and get straight on the offensive Gillies in the clear on the right the ball fired into her takes it on into the Histon box near post closing in on the keeper shoots low pass Morgan in at the near post 3-0.

Charlotte Gillies bearing down on the Histon goal.

Histon respond making a triple change of their own and a formation change too switching to 3 at the back off come Laughlin, Huse and Shaw on to the field enter Kaya Haq, Sophie Hopkin and Siobhan White. Wright into the defence along side Davies and Flack. A good response from Histon to going 3 down get forwards right side a throw won high up the pitch the ball crossed into the box, Kelly wriggling free inside the box gets a shot away puts it straight at Szary the keeper claiming. Kelly with another attempt moments later from 25 yards out as Histon quickly regain position in the middle the shot though finds Szary back on her line. 

Histon’s Tessa Shaw tackling Cambridge’s Beatrice Fitzsimons

 Davies keeping close tabs on Tolentino out wide she manages to squeeze the ball into Mills central, Shaw providing the run through the middle in behind, the pass put forwards too much on it Morgan able to advance off her line and collect. Martin lays it forwards for Hopkin has White to her right feeds the ball into her, Tomlinson in well to regain possession for Cambridge. Winning a corner on the left taken short up the line once more the cross sent in from deep, Morgan rising well at her near post to catch. 

  Histon getting forwards better now though the middle quickly players forwards to support Kelly in attack the striker put through into the box left of goal her shot charged down by Flye the deflection coming straight to Hopkin positioned top of the D lines up a shot fired in a deflection sending it wide of the post. Lanham in to win the ball in the centre circle pushes it into Hopkin 25 yards out goes to shoot Flye closing her down putting in the block. Histon looking sharper now but as they come forward risk being hit on the counter more. 

Ceri Flye tackling to win the ball back for Cambridge City

 Geal coming forwards left side finds some space as White plays the crossfield pass into her goes on down the line, Langthorpe recovering well to get back on her lung in to make the tackle. Haq defending against Gillies right side as she gathers the ball and charges on. 

GOAL! The final 20 minutes fast approaching and Cambridge get on the scoresheet wit a 4th goal Mills onto the ball out right side playing it in across goal, Shaw closing in central can’t quite get it on the volley as she ends up off the pitch past the right post, wanders back on as Tolentino gathers left side does well to beat a couple of players wriggle free to fizz it back across goal Shaw there unmarked to put into the empty net as it evades Morgan covering the angle 4-0.

 Histon come forwards Geal clear left side the pass into her feet plays it inside for Kelly 20 yards out takes aim her shot dropping wide of goal. Histon make another change Rebekah Fisk on for Lanham. Good work between Hopkin, Martin and Geal left side for Histon coming forwards the pass into Kelly, Cambridge defending top of the area. Geal coming off as Histon send on Tara Fitzjohn with 10 minutes to play.

GOAL! Cambridge win the ball in the middle rolled on for Gillies right holds it up her touch bringing her inside, Mills racing into the space vacated on the wing Gillies playing her in she puts in an early cross, Flack in to clear the ball taking an unfortunate deflection off Wright sending Shaw running clear into the area to place the ball wide of the keeper 5-0.

GOAL! A sixth goal coming soon after, Tolentino and Tomlinson combining out on the left Cambridge closing down the ball well, pushed up Flye onto it playing a fantastic through ball low along the ground for Mills central top of the area t break through onto goal and put her shot to the keeper right into the corner of the net 6-0.

  Mills with plenty of pace late on plays the ball to Standing back on on the right for Gillies, Haq closing her down putting the ball out for a corner. Tolentino coming off Gillies back on. The corner headed up at the near post across the six yard box cleared far side straight to Castiglione top of the D strikes it back in finds it’s way through on target skipping up off the surface but Szary right behind it. Another corner for Cambridge left side taken short up the line before the cross is flung into the box, knocked down straight to a Cambridge player the shot fired wide. 

 Into added time Cambridge finishing strong Mills coming onto the ball left side 25 out turns inside her marker to get a shot away the ball racing wide out at the far post. The final whistle blows and Cambridge City Ladies win this season’s Invitation Cup Final.

Full time Cambridge City Ladies 6-0 Histon Ladies

   Cambridge with a god start to the match on the front foot from the off chances created Standing and Gillies getting free on the flanks Tolentino through the middle leading the attack well. Histon not getting much joy in attack themselves finding themselves 2-0 down at the break. Cambridge getting into a 3-0 lead early in the 2nd half Histon made changes to personnel and formation bringing them more joy in the final third, Cambridge though a constant danger on the counter attack defending well. A 4th goal sealing the victory with 20 minutes left 2 late goals making the result comfortable. 

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

 Onto this evenings Women’s Football East – Player of the Match award. A few to mention Cambridge featuring Charlotte Gillies getting on well right side always available. Laura Mills with some fantastic runs too. Lauren Tomlinson superb at the back with a fantastic performance, edging it for myself however is attacker Karly Tolentino played brilliantly especially in the first half her runs well timed a real threat Histon struggled to cope with winning and scoring the penalty and putting Cambridge into a 2 goal lead going a long way to securing the cup.

Cambridge City Ladies 2019/20 Invitation Cup Winners

Congratulations to Cambridge City Ladies on winning this season’s Cambridgeshire Women’s Invitation Cup.

An enjoyable trip to The Abbey Stadium, a good atmosphere, an entertaining final, my thanks to Cambridgeshire FA for the hospitality in particular Chris Abbott and to both teams for getting those all important team details and to Gary Reed for to photo’s does a fantastic job helping to promote the game. One final down plenty more to come. 

 

Match Report – Cup Final Special

Sunday 19th May

Essex Women’s League Cup Final

Leigh Ramblers Ladies v Harlow Town Ladies Development

 One more final before the season draws to a close a trip down to Essex this Sunday to watch Leigh Ramblers Ladies play Harlow Town Ladies Development for the League Cup.

   Finishing one two in the Essex Women’s Premier Division the pair going head to head in their final game of the season. A strong campaign for both, Leigh Ramblers Ladies winning the Premier Division title in just their 2nd season playing women’s football following promotion from Division One as runners-up the previous year. A very young squad too, with just 3 players over 18, thier Reserves side joining Division One this season.

 Starting life in the higher division with a defeat Leigh Ramblers Ladies never looked back after that going on a run of 10 straight league wins before suffering just their 2nd defeat, top of the table for most of the way along with Frontiers Ladies emerged as clear leaders winning their last 5 league games to clinch the Premier Division title. Have applied for promotion to the ERWFL no doubt encouraged by beating higher league Bowers & Pitsea Ladies in the opening round of the FA Women’s Cup. Kate Newton leading their goal scoring charts with 31 goals to her name this season. A hard run to the League Cup Final too taking top half Premier Division sides all the way.

  The last time I was able to attend the Essex Women’s League Cup Final was when Harlow Town Ladies 1st team were a fast emerging force within the women’s game, beating Runwell Sports (Hospital) Ladies as they were then at the end of the 2015/16 Harlow have risen through the pyramid rapidly, a solid top half finish in their debut season in ERWFL Premier Division the first season they have not tasted promotion. Are now well backed up by a fast improving Development side although they are as often referred to as the Reserves, I’ll stick with Development.

  Like Leigh Ramblers Ladies, another very young side, a solid start to the season in the Premier Division the side to beat Leigh Ramblers on the opening day were long unbeaten themselves amongst the top three. Table adjustments along the way saw them lose ground a strong run however towards the tail end of the season sees them coming into this Sunday’s final in strong form winning 6 in a row and scoring 42 goals along the way. Hannah Smith top scorer with 44 goals to her name, Ellie Nicholls wading in with 24 goals herself, most of the squad contributing with goals over the season with 21 of the 30 used on the scoresheet. 

Road to the Final

  A tough draw for both sides in the 1st Round of the League Cup. Leigh Ramblers were drawn at home to play fellow Premier Division side Chelmsford City Ladies a 2nd half goal from Chloe Gilligan enough to see Leigh Ramblers into the 2nd Round. Harlow away to Billericay Town Ladies Reserves who were amongst the title challengers and eventual winners of Division One. A 2-0 lead for Harlow at half-time went on to win 4-2.

   Leigh Ramblers taking on their title rivals Frontiers Ladies at home in the 2nd Round of the competition. Goals from Aimee Skinner, Kate Newton and Amy Jacobs securing a 3-0 victory. Harlow at home to fellow Premier Division side, Silver End United Ladies, Hannah Smith amongst the goals netting a brace in a 4-0 win.

   A trip to play Collier Row Tigers for Leigh Ramblers in the quarter finals. The 2016/17 League Cup finalists capable of beating anyone on their day and it was a high scoring encounter between the sides drawing 3-3 after 90 minutes the game heading into extra-time Collier Row Tigers scoring a 4th goal but so to Leigh Ramblers and another to reach the last 4 with a 5-4 extra-time win. Harlow away to Leigh Ramblers Reserves in their quarter final, Hannah Smith and Ellie Nicholls both scoring 4 each the the game with Jazi Davidson also scoring in a 9-1 win to put Harlow into the semi-finals.

   Leigh Ramblers having home advantage in the semi-finals taking on another top half Premier Division side, Southend United Ladies, a first half brace for Kate Newton seeing them reach their first League Cup Final. Harlow away to Division One side Runwell Sports Ladies in the last 4.Hannah Smith again top scoring in the game netting 4 goals once again as Harlow’s young guns won 8-1 to reach their first ever League Cup Final too, that win at the beginning of their winning run.

The Runwell Sports & Social Club once again hosting the Essex Women’s League Cup final. A new road layout leading up to it easy to find. The large clubhouse serving hot and cold drinks along with food leading onto the playing pitches themselves a large playing field beyond sporting a number of full sized pitches amongst other sporting activities. Goo grass cover on the pitch, like most pitches currently very dry uneven could all do with some moisture the ground hard. The weather muggy, warm, clouds around overcast still the odd spot of rain but nothing more.

 Leigh Ramblers Ladies starting XI – Emily Mackler (C), Megan Thomas, Jordan Castle, Rebecca Dalgarno, Megan Downes, |Cassie Mashford, Sasha Vail, Maddie Archer, Paige White, Amber Denton & Amy Jacobs. Subs – Emily Diwell, Molly Giles, Lucy Dalgarno, Abbi Brown & Aimee Skinner.

Harlow Town Ladies Development starting XI – Josie Burke, Jazi Davidson, Kaydee King, Evie Anderson, Nicole Storey, Savannah Japal, Maisy Wyer (C), Ronni Harrison, Poppy Binding, Ellie Nicholls & Hannah Smith. Subs – Harriet Douglas, Tamsin Turner, Maisie Ryan, Amelia Hall & Ciara Purdue.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

  Leigh Ramblers without their top scorer for the game Kate Newton unavailable, a couple of others carrying knocks. Harlow the opposite getting back to full strength players returning from injury sustained earlier in the season. A minutes silence held before kick-off as a mark of respect for Daniel Webster one of the league referees who passed away suddenly on 2nd April. Harlow to kick-off the 1st half wearing red shirts with white sleeves and vertical pencil stripes, red and white shorts with red socks. Leigh Ramblers lined up opposite wearing blue and black vertical striped shirts, black shorts and socks. The ball pressed early Leigh Ramblers closing Harlow down in midfield.

Rebecca Dalgarno and Savannah Japal going in for the tackle

  Harlow’s Poppy Binding moves out to the right combines with Savannah Japal on the wing getting forwards the pass inside Binding attempting to get into the box, Leigh Ramblers in to defend the clearance long up top, Amy Jacobs after it, Evie Anderson doing the defending for Harlow. Sasha Vail getting hold of the ball for Leigh Ramblers on the right wing drives on space in front of her, Kaydee King coming across from the centre of defence to make the challenge win the ball. Jacobs chasing another long ball put forwards from the back the Leigh Ramblers attack moving right to the byline flashing a cross back across goal just evading the runners from midfield.

Hannah Smith looking for a midfield runner for Harlow out wide

   Harlow come forwards in numbers Binding moving right combining with Japal forced back but possession kept the ball with captain Maisy Wyer central options ahead of her plays the diagonal ball looking to spread play, Maddie Archer intercepts for Leigh Ramblers. A bright start from Harlow getting players forwards with attacking intent. Hannah Smith pushing on left side sliding a ball through for Binding in attack, chasing it left side, Leigh Ramblers Jordan Castle going with her defending the ball out for a  throw. From the throw in Smith looks to turn top of the area and shoot, Rebecca Dalgarno putting in the blocking tackle for Leigh Ramblers. 

Amber Denton bringing the ball on for Leigh Ramblers

  Binding moving all over the place in the final 3rd in the early stages for Harlow drags a shot wide from 20 yards out as she turns her marker 20 yards out on the right. Leigh Ramblers pushed back by Harlow are struggling to get the ball into their attackers, Jacobs leading the line chasing after long ball as the defence clears, plenty of pace from Jacobs, Harlow goalkeeper Josie Burke able to get there first. Nicole Storey bringing the ball on from the back for Harlow pushed onto Ellie Nicholls ahead of her sends it on for Binding up top, Dalgarno cutting the pass out at the back for Leigh Ramblers.

Harlow Town Ladies Nicole Storey

  Binding put through to attack the goal inside the six yard box right, goalkeeper and captain Emily Mackler making the blocking save at close range, the ball deflected wide across goal, Binding after it retrieves and turning puts the ball back central. Leigh Ramblers clear. Coming left the ball seen into her feet by Jacobs turns in behind left side driving on into the box, tackled by King. Paige White on the ball for Leigh Ramblers takes it forwards 20 yards out sending it on for Jacobs left inside the area moving across to the right, Storey staying with her putting in the blocking tackle as Jacobs goes to shoot. Play stopped as Jacobs is down injured a knee bandaged before the game comes off for further treatment before being allowed back on.

Leigh Ramblers, Maddie Archer

   Nicholls fouled by Megan Thomas outside the box as Binding looks to play the ball into her run central. Nicholls over the set-piece goes for it for a moment looked like it was in certainly the Harlow fans surrounding me thought so but no the ball over the bar. Leigh Ramblers the busier in defence, Castle and Dalgarno with several blocks as they are pushed back into their box. Wyer lining up a shot from distance lacking the power to trouble Mackler. Harlow pressuring the ball well lively showing plenty of energy a throw won left Binding inside to Smith top of the area, drags her shot wide of the near post.

Ellie Nicholls sees her shot fly narrowly over

   Half an hour played Leigh Ramblers all back inside their half, Jacobs breaks after a ball hooked clear by Connie Mashford. Takes the ball all the way into the area, King doing well to get back on her Jacobs hesitating before shooting giving the defender the chance she needs to put the tackle in regain possession. Binding charging down Castle at the back top of the area steals into the box after the deflected ball left of goal looks to come inside her intent to smash it low round the keeper, Mackler doing well however lunging forwards to snatch the ball from the strikers feet. 

  GOAL! Leigh Ramblers counter and somewhat against the run of play find themselves taking the lead, the ball headed on through the middle up to Jacobs in attack shoulder to shoulder with King as they look to control the bouncing ball, Jacobs winning the header the ball struck as it falls sent low past the keeper into the back of the net 1-0.

Amy Jacobs with the opening goal for Leigh Ramblers

  Jacobs is substituted straight after putting Leigh Ramblers into the lead, Emily Diwell coming on. Vail taking the ball on down the right wing covering ground but no cross in as Harlow close her down. A 2nd change for Leigh Ramblers with Downes coming off Abbi Brown coming on. 

 GOAL! Harlow are soon back on level terms just 2 minutes after falling a goal behind get up the other end and equalise Binding on the scoresheet racing onto the ball inside the box central shoots wide of the advancing keeper low to her left shes her effort strike the base of the post the rebound back across goal favouring the attack she meets it in the air to volley home 1-1.

  Leigh Ramblers press forwards from the restart White out to Vail on the right up the line her cross fired into the area met by Diwell her headed ball straight at Burke. Binding shown a yellow card for throwing the ball away after a decision goes against her team. Harlow com on numbers forwards the play with Smith on the left into the area coming across the top of the box goes to shot, Castle putting in the blocking tackle a painful one goes down immediately play stopped much to Harlow’s chagrin, but a serious injury for Castle cannot continue helped off the pitch Lucy Dalgarno comes on in her place. 

  GOAL! Penalty! Leigh Ramblers are awarded the spot kick after Diwell is upended inside the area looking to get in behind as she comes towards Lucy Dalgarno’s cross from the right. Molly Giles on for Leigh Ramblers to take the spot kick a composed finish sending the ball to the keepers left wide into the back of the net to put them back into the lead 2-1.

Molly Giles restoring Leigh Ramblers lead from the spot

   Leigh Ramblers press the attack lead in the first half a throw won on the right the ball into the area for Diwell no shooting option brings it back for White who screws her shot from 25 yards out away from goal. Moments left a free-kick on halfway for Harlow Nicholls to play the ball forwards into the box, Binding can’t bring it down to shoot as she drifts into a gap, Leigh Ramblers clear as the whistle blows.

Half-time Leigh Ramblers Ladies 2-1 Harlow Town Ladies Development

 A narrow lead for Leigh Ramblers at half-time and they would be the first to agree somewhat against the run of play. A lively start from Harlow pushing their opponents back, creating opportunities Leigh Ramblers battling in defence however keeping them out Jacobs up the other end a threat whenever they did get the ball forwards into her taking the opening goal well. Harlow coming straight back into it to level the scores through Binding only to concede a late penalty to see Leigh Ramblers back in front. Alot of energy expanded first half Leigh Ramblers losing Castle to injury a blow.

    Leigh Ramblers to get the 2nd half underway, Harrison in to win it straight away for Harlow playing the ball on for Binding, Thomas intercepting at the back for Leigh Ramblers. The 2nd half starting at the same pace as the first half. Denton pushing on with the ball at her feet for Leigh Ramblers right side getting a throw in, the ball put inside defended by Davidson. 

Maisy Wyer with Molly Giles

  A RED CARD! Harlow’s goalkeeper Burke shown a straight red card for handling the ball outside the area! Leigh Rambler’s Denton sending the ball on through the middle Burke coming  to the top of her area looking to claim, drifts over the line, is extremely unfortunate however, have a picture that clearly shows her outside the box but also shows her slipping as she goes to back peddle her studs sticking in the turf. The decision incensing Harlow but the decision is clear ball handled outside the box Harlow down to 10.

  A free-kick for Leigh Ramblers outside the box a substitute goalkeeper needing to be sorted for Harlow, initially Storey dons the shirt but a change see her come off with Harriet Douglas coming on to go between the sticks. Rebecca Dalgarno over the free-kick her shot taking a deflection off the wall behind for a corner, in from the left across the six yard box over the keeper to the far post no one there however Harlow clear. 

Leigh Ramblers Ladies, Megan Downes

  Harlow attack Smith on the left driving forwards cutting inside to cross central Binding fouled by Rebecca Dalgarno a free-kick to Harlow just outside the box. King forwards to take it curls a shot low and wide. Harlow fired up by the loss of their goalkeeper, pro-active spurred on by King continue their attacking play. Binding coming back into the middle to regain possession out to Smith left up the line wins a corner against Denton. 

Harlow Town Ladies, Hannah Smith

  Leigh Ramblers Diwell running onto a central pass pushing forwards, King staying with her sliding in to take the ball. Harlow quick t turn play around Smith on the left cutting inside lifting a shot over the bar. Archer doing well in defence tackling Smith on the left as she receives the ball from Wyer. Anderson across to block as Diwell and Denton combine in attack for Leigh Ramblers on the right. Thomas coming off for Leigh Ramblers, Downes rejoining the action. Diwell off too with Jacobs back on. 

  King determined at the back for Harlow winning the header the ball on for Smith left support from Nicholls central closed down by Rebecca Dalgarno. Binding put through into the box left of goal rides the challenge staying on her feet as Mackler slides in to try and save at her feet the ball beyond her Binding unable to get a shot away. Brown getting forwards on the right for Leigh Ramblers attempts to play the pass inside for Jacobs the flag up against her. 

Jazi Davidson bringing the ball on for Harlow Town Ladies

  A corner for Leigh Ramblers on the right changes for Harlow before it with Maisie Ryan and Amelia Hall coming on. The delivery flashing in across the face of goal dropping wide at the far post. Harlow push forwards in attack Nicholls away left side shooting from outside the box, Mackler with the save down to push the ball wide. Japal getting into the area right for Harlow sees a shot blocked the ball spinning behind for a corner. Appeals for handball from the resulting corner but nothing given.

   GOAL! 20 minutes gone in the 2nd half and Harlow come back to level the score. Harlow awarded a free-kick wide on the right after Japal is fouled. Nicholls on the ball sends it on into the area, King making the near side run getting to the ball first to turn it on across goal, Mackler diving gets her fingertips on the ball but not enough to keep it out at her far post 2-2.

  Harlow looking the stronger side now despite being down to 10, Leigh Ramblers tiring, Harlow buoyed by the equaliser and the injustice they feel from the sending off. Giles getting the ball forwards for Leigh Ramblers into the run off Denton right her cross into the box claimed by Douglas. Mackler with another fantastic save diving to her right to deny Nicholls as she shoots from outside the area right set up by Japal. Nicholls showing good movement in the final third playing in Smith left her shot parried up by the keeper collected on the bounce. The game entering the final minutes of normal play. Changes for Leigh, Mashford and Diwell back on. Harlow pressing forwards Binding moving left hits a shot on the turn from the top of the area her effort always rising. 

  GOAL! Harlow launch an attack in the 88th minute Binding bringing the ball on from halfway allowed to travel taking it all the way to the edge of the area left of goal letting fly with a shot a fantastic finish! The ball in over the keeper dropping under the bar to nestle in the bottom corner. Harlow down to 10 have the lead 2-3.

Poppy Binding putting Harlow into the lead late in the game

   Into stoppage time Harlow with the lead Leigh Ramblers with little time to find a reply, Rebecca Dalgarno now in an advanced position. Risk being hit on the counter Harlow with their tails up not interested in defending what they have Binding up on the right cutting a ball back for Nicholls to line up a shot from 25 yards out her strike over. 

  GOAL! The game surely won for Harlow as they score a further goal at the death Nicholls bringing the ball on central forwards for Smith breaking into the box she shoots early putting the ball past the advancing keeper to make it 2-4.

 Leigh Ramblers have a late corner on the left players forwards into the area the delivery in low met by Rebecca Dalgarno at the far post close range she turns to strike, Davidson blocking on the line for Harlow the rebound popping straight to Brown can’t keep it down from close in.

Jazi Davidson with block to deny Dalgarno

  Nicholls bringing the ball on for Harlow in the closing minutes up towards the top of the area strikes the ball the attempt rising over the bar. The final whistle blows and Harlow complete a sensational win having been a goal and player down with 25 minutes left to play, players rushing onto the pitch to celebrate.

Harlow celebrate at the final whistle

Full time Leigh Ramblers Ladies 2-4 Harlow Town Ladies Development

  An entertaining cup final played at a fast temp Harlow on the front foot from the off, Leigh Ramblers not settling early on. Chances created Harlow didn’t capitalise Leigh Ramblers ahead against the run of play soon pegged back a late penalty first half giving them the advantage at the break. The game turned on it’s head early 2nd half with the sending off of Josie Burke that decision galvanising Harlow however as they pushed on getting back on level terms and despite the player disadvantage looked the more likely to find the winning goal as they pressed the attack late on.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

Time to pick this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. Was a competitive game with lots of energy expanded. Some notable performances, Kaydee King strong at the back for Harlow so too Rebecca Dalgarno for Leigh Ramblers. Ellie Nicholls impressive in attack bringing the ball on showing good movement throughout. The award though goes to Harlow’s Poppy Binding a threat all game getting forwards making intelligent runs to get into scoring positions and back when needed to regain the ball covered alot of goal and scoring two fantastic goals.

Harlow Town Ladies Development 2018/19 Essex Women’s League Cup winners

 Congratulations to Harlow Town Ladies on winning the Essex Women’s League Cup.

 Not to be for Leigh Ramblers Ladies but a fantastic season nonetheless winning the Premier Division title.

 Two sides that I have covered alot in this season’s Round-Ups always good to see the players and sides you write about in action for the first time. My thanks for the help with the teams and good to meet everyone. Almost done one game to go.

Match Report – Cup Final Special

Thursday 16th May

Cambridgeshire Women’s League Cup

Cambridge City Ladies Development v Cambridge University Women

 Off to St Neots this Thursday evening for my penultimate cup final of the season, postponed from last week the Cambridgeshire S-Tech Women’s League Cup Final. Cambridge City Ladies Development v Cambridge University Women.

  Cambridge City Ladies Development playing their final game of the season, the League Cup final are looking to go one better than their first team and complete the treble having already secured the Premiership title and won the Junior Invitation Cup Final. A successful season for the club at all levels, some from the squad breaking into the first team such as Ceri Flye and Freya Standing along with top scorer Megan Tonks who has 32 goals to her name this season. 

  Cambridge University Women fielding a side in the Cambridgeshire Women’s Premiership amongst the top sides in recent seasons. Pushing for runners up spot this season with one match left to play. Their 2nd’s playing in the competition otherwise known as The Eagles, whom they shall be referred to henceforth. Starting their fixtures later they are often playing catch up a threat to the sides above without putting them under undue pressure throughout the season capable of beating anyone in the league on their day.

Road to the Final

  The League Cup beginning with a mini-league format for the first half of the season, the sides from the Premiership and Championship North and South drawn into 4 groups each side playing the other once. Cambridge City Ladies Development topping Group C with 5 wins from 5. The Eagles in a much tighter Group D one of three sides all finishing on 9 points with 3 wins and a loss each, Haverhill Rovers Ladies top on goal difference, The Eagles pipping Fulbourn Institute Bluebirds to 2nd spot the top two from each group going on t contest the knock out stages.

  Cambridge City drawn at home to Championship North leaders Ketton Ladies in fantastic form going into the game a single goal scored by Bella Simmons seeing Cambridge City into the semi-finals. The Eagles away to fellow Premiership side march Town United Ladies, goals from Amanda Wainwright, Freya Ekman and Lu Liu securing a 3-1 victory to send them into the semi-finals. 

  Cambridge City at home to Championship North title challengers Wisbech Town Ladies. Freya Standing amongst the goals scoring a hat-trick as the hosts ran out convincing winners 8-0. The Eagles at home too taking on the holders ICA Sports Ladies a hat-trick from Eli Cropp seeing them win the match 3-1 to reach the final.

  St Neots Town FC’s Premier Plus Stadium the venue for this evenings final has been a while since I last visited the ground, was hard to find then too, set within the new build properties going up on the outskirt of the town. Once you know where it is though you’re set. Will be hosting women’s football regularly from next season as it becomes the home of FAWNL South East Division One side Cambridge United WFC. Boasts an immaculate pitch in great condition. A seated stand on one side with covered terracing behind either goal. A clubhouse and bar serving hot drinks. A warm evening a bit of cloud cover still.

 Cambridge City Ladies Development starting XI- Freya Robson, Rose Jump, Sophie Ingledew, Shona Lester, Carrie Buettner, Matilda Schwefel (C), Eli Cropp, Sara Merican, Lili Donlon-Mansbridge, Amanda Wainwright & Flora Risdill-Smith. Subs – Hannah Sanderson, Charlotte Kenyon, Flora Harpley-Green, Lu Liu & Beatrice Wood.

Cambridge University Women starting XI – Hannah Lock, Becky Langthorpe, Rachel Littlewood, Jade Powell (C), Anna Kanz, Emily Reed, Rachel Pearce, Bella Simmons, Yasmin Crow, Freya Standing & Megan Tonks. Subs – Lucy Hurst, Amy Ozakpinar, Charlotte Gillies & Drew Jenkins. 

(roll on roll off substitutes)

  City to get the League Cup Final underway kicking off first half wearing white shirts with black shorts and black and white hooped socks with The Eagles lined up opposite wearing blue and white vertical striped shirts with black coloured shorts and socks. The ball closed down straight from the off passes rushed in midfield neither side getting time to find their passes, Lili Donlon-Mansbridge for The Eagles the first to make a meaningful run with the ball gathering it 30 yards out and driving on central the City defence rushing out to charge her down as she goes to pull the trigger. 

   Eli Cropp playing a pass out to Donlon-Mansbridge attacking right puts the cross into the box early long to the far post City clear. City counter getting forwards on the right Yasmin Crow winning her side a corner kick. The Eagles defence dealing with the delivery lifted in towards the near post. Progress up the right side for City the cross lifted into the near post missed by goalkeeper Freya Robson as she rises to punch it dropping beyond her the ball threatening to dribble over the line the defence have gotten back the ball scrambled up field. 

Cambridge Universities, Lili Donlon-Mansbridge with Cambridge Cities Freya Standing

  Megan Tonks played in on the right top of the area the ball at her feet turns and shoots, Carrie Buettner blocking at close range for The Eagles the ball with them in the middle captain Matilda Schwefel sending it on for Donlon-Mansbridge through the middle she runs on towards the area, City captain Jade Powell getting back on her in defence to challenge and regain the ball. The Eagles keep up their pressing of the ball disrupting City as they look to send the ball forwards, Donlon-Mansbridge right playing the ball inside to Amanda Wainwright in attack, Anna Kanz tackling for City outside the area.

   Winning possession central the ball rolled into Flora Risdill-Smith in attack she spots Rose Jump getting forwards on the right flank the full back taking the ball on down the line, Rachel Littlewood for City preventing the cross. Jump then back on defensive duty does well as Littlewood coming on looks to support Freya Standing on the wing. City bring the ball on through the middle Rachel Pearce getting forwards passes to Bella Simmons peeling out to the right shoots from the angle 25 yards out pace behind the ball, Robson across to cover her near post palming it down and gathering.

Cambridge University captain Matilda Schwefel

   Schwefel fouled central a free-kick awarded the ball put on towards the top of the area for runners left side escapes everyone running behind for the goalkick. A competitive start to the game The Eagles working hard to close City down high up the pitch. Tonks showing good movement across the front leading the line for City behind her free-kick being given away disrupting play favouring The Eagles, one coming to Donlon-Mansbridge right of the D sends a shot in towards goal, straight at goalkeeper Hannah Lock she collects the high ball. 

Cambridge City goalkeeper, Hannah Lock

 Pearce plays the ball up the left for Standing she drives forwards for City, Jump going with her keeps her from getting inside Standing nevertheless squaring a cross into the six yard box the ball cut out near post the clearance just evading Simmons as she bursts forwards to the edge of the box. Becky Langthorpe getting forwards from full back for City on the right with Crow ahead of her the ball put int the box met by Simmons drifting in near side turns the ball goalwards from 8 yards out, Robson down smartly to save. City starting to gain some momentum going forwards.

Cambridge University goalkeeper, Freya Robson

  GOAL! City coming on left winning a corner the ball fired in close to goal near post dropping behind the first City attack landing at the feet of the 2nd a reactive stab sending the ball over the line from close range, Tonks with the touch to put City into the lead 1-0.

  City have the ball central, Standing released on the left, Buettner running back to get the tackle in. A throw for City high on the left the ball dropped into Tonks she turns lifting it on into the area, Simmons meeting it near side a first time shot looping high to land on the roof of the net. Schwefel making a good run with the ball for The Eagles sending it on for Sara Merican on the left flank, Risdill-Smith with a run into the left channel ahead of her, Powell sticking out a leg intercepting the pass for City at the back.

Sara Merican on the ball for Cambridge University

  Crow attacking right for City, Sophie Ingledew sliding in to dispossess her. City building seeing more of the ball, Tonks laying it on for Simmons racing ahead of her shooting from distance Robson gathering safely. 

 GOAL! Into the final 10 minutes of the 1st half and City double their lead breaking Standing on the ball central halfway plays it early lifted on for Tonks moving clear off her marker running on shooting from outside the box power behind it the low ball skipping off the surface wide of the keeper into the back of the net 2-0.

Megan Tonks taking the ball in behind

   City getting the upper hand a diagonal ball left long to the opposite side Robson up to collect with Tonks closing her down spilt on landing Tonks after it, The Eagles defence quick to close her down Robson grounded between the the ball sent behind for a corner. A good delivery fired into the box central Standing on the penalty spot the Littlewood to her right both seeing a shot blocked. 

  The Eagles make a change with Donlon-Mansbridge coming off on in her place Charlotte Kenyon. City break the ball put on up the right with Simmons racing away the ball cut back towards the top of the six yard box Standing hitting it on the volley seeing the ball smash down off the bar, the attack stopped by a raised flag. Robson with a brave save doing well at the feet of Tonks at the top of her area as Tonks runs through. The ball played through the middle coming to The Eagles Cropp taking it on she shoots from 30 yards out the effort over the crossbar.

Half-time Cambridge City Ladies Development 2-0 Cambridge University Women

  A good contest so far played in good spirits, The Eagle starting well closing City down disrupting play whilst trying to find openings themselves. City gaining momentum as the 1st half wore on getting Simmons forwards to support Tonks chances created before the opening goal came from a corner. Tonks making it 2-0. More often than not a critical scoreline the next goal and important one.

  The Eagles to get the 2nd half underway the floodlights on as the light begins to fade. City having made two changes at the start of the 2nd period, Standing and Crow off, Lucy Hurst and Charlotte Gillies taking up their positions left and right in attack. Risdell-Smith brought down inside the City half bringing the ball forward the delivery on into the area aimed for Lester can’t reach it the ball bouncing through to the keeper, Lock sending the ball up field launching a counter attack Tonks lively looking to get away right fouled. The Eagles defending the resulting free-kick.

Simmons central sends the pass up to Gillies on the right int the corner has Tonks with her the pair looking to combine the flag going up against Tonks. A bright start from City coming on in attack left side a ball squared along the top of the area Simmons central with Reed coming on tees her up The Eagles defence charging her shot down. Buettner doing well in defence for The Eagles defending from a corner put in from the right. Wainwright bringing the ball forwards right for The Eagles support for Kenyon getting on down the wing, Littlewood does well to break up the attack for City. 

Cambridge City Ladies, Emily Reed

  Simmons finding pockets of space in advanced positions sets Gillies away on the right wing, Ingledew doing well in defence for The Eagles. Hurst nicking the ball just outside the area for City is brought down, the free-kick in a dangerous position left of the D, Powell forwards to take it. Hit well Powell sees her strike smash down off the crossbar falling out to the right a shot blasted back in flies over. The Eagles on the back foot seeing little of the attack look to create through the middle Schwefel sending it on Wainwright very nearly sneaking in behind, Powell sticking out leg to make a vital interception at the back. Gillies on the attack right for City sending Simmons away ahead of her, Robson comes racing out of her box to try and close her down Simmons getting her shot away first the ball past the keeper but also wide of the right post.

  GOAL! The City pressure in attack bringing a goal with 57 minutes played Simmons getting on down the right firing a shot in on the angle pace on it Robson gloving the ball away straight to Hurst central under challenge getting as shot away to divert the ball back towards goal low wide of the keeper from outside the six yard box 3-0.

Lucy Hurst up for the headed challenge putting City 3-0 up

City with the upper hand first to the ball 2nd half aren’t letting The Eagles have any time on the ball difficult to find their attacking players. Tonks with a shot from 30 yards out a deflection taking it wide for a corner kick. Schwefel positive looking to bring the ball forwards, Reed backed up by Pearce keeping it tight through the middle winning it back for City.

  GOAL! City go further ahead the ball brought on through the middle fired into Simmons 25 yards out central turns well to send the ball into the path of Tonks inside the ball moving left of goal, Robson out to close down the City striker taking it past her in behind composed not rushing her shot plays it in along the ground the ball squeezing in inside the post before the defender sliding in to stop it can reach it Tonks scoring a cup final hat-trick 4-0.

  GOAL! No sooner have City scored a 4th goal they get up the other end to make it 5. A corner on the right taken short catching The Eagles off guard crossed in from high a fantastic delivery central into the six yard box, Tonks their free rising to nod the ball down over the line to score her 4th of the game 5-0.

  A double change for City now with Langthorpe and Reed the players off on come Drew Jenkins and Amy Ozakpinar with 20 minutes left to play. Tonks flagged offside a Robson comes rushing out of her box just about getting to the ball first. Standing returning to the action as Simmons is brought off. Standing fouled off a throw in high on the left outside the box, Hurst over it sent log to the far post Powell meeting it put straight at Robson at close range the keeper saving. 

The Eagles cannot get going in attack few opportunities to get the ball forwards City bristling with confidence. Lock catching comfortably as Kenyon floats a ball on from the right. Wainwright strikes from 25 yards out the City defence blocking. The Eagles keep possession the ball long into the box attacked near post bodies forwards lifted over a corner awarded.

 Tonks is applauded off for City as she is substituted Crow returning to the action. Buettner cutting the ball out at the back for The Eagles as Gillies plays it on from the right. Cropp catching a shot well from 25 yards out for The Eagles sees her attempt race wide of goal. Pearce coming off for City with Simmons returning. Jump comes off for The Eagles with Hannah Sanderson coming on. A throw on the right City want to make a change Littlewood called to the bench on the opposite side of the pitch, a false alarm as she is sent back getting a cheer for her efforts.

Eli Cropp coming forwards for Cambridge University

   Gillies bringing the ball on down the right a shot driven in from 20 yards out Robson saving at her near post. A late change for The Eagles Lu Liu on for Kenyon. City continue to press the ball high keeping their opponents back inside their own half a comfortable lead now the final whistle blows on the game and their season and City have done it completed the treble adding the League Cup to the already to the already bulging trophy cabinet.

Full time Cambridge City Ladies Development 5-0 Cambridge University Women

  City with a strong 2nd half capitalising on their good finish to the 1st half, creating chances to go further in front Tonks scoring 2 more to take her tally to 36 for the season. Pressing the ball high themselves lively in attack kept The Eagle from getting any foothold in the 2nd period. A bright start from The Eagles playing their part in an entertaining and good-natured final but once City got the lead they were in control. One more game for The Eagles runners-up spot still there for the taking as they play March Town United Ladies on Sunday.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  On to this evenings Women’s Football East – Player of the Match, two names above the others and that quickly became one as the 2nd half wore on. Bella Simmons with some great movement in attack creating opportunities for herself and others was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet herself. Megan Tonks did however for 4 goals took her chances well and showed great movement and vision throughout to get herself into space and be available whenever City attacked. 

A double for the first team, the Development side go one better to claim a treble and that along with a host of silverware for their youth sides a very successful season as both sides prepare now for life at a higher level.

Cambridge City Ladies Development, 2018/19 Cambridgeshire Women’s League Cup winners

 Congratulations to Cambridge City Ladies Development on this evenings league Cup win and doing the treble. 

One more final to come a trip to Essex this Sunday for their league Cup final. The season almost done. Have enjoyed all of this season’s Cambridgeshire finals and my thanks go to Chris Abbott and the rest of the committee for the great work they do throughout the season. Thanks to too both clubs for their help with the team details.

Match Report – Cup Final Special

Sunday 12th May

ERWFL League Cup Final

Bedford Ladies v Cambridge City Ladies

 On to the 2nd final of the day the sun high in the sky to greet Bedford Ladies and Cambridge City Ladies as they step out onto the pitch at The County Ground in preparation for this afternoon’s ERWFL League Cup Final.

ERWFL League Cup

Another close looking final on the cards between the two Premier Division sides. Bedford a long established side at regional level a brief spell in the FAWNL coming to an end 3 seasons ago. Currently in mid-table on their day a side capable of beating anyone else have won as many as they have lost often by the odd goal. A strong run in the League Cup aswell as the Bedfordshire Women’s County Cup where they successfully defended the trophy against rivals Luton Town back in March. A tough test today as close as it might appear Cambridge City remain unbeaten in the ERWFL this season.

  Cambridge City’s stay in the ERWFL soon to come to an end after 3 season’s a rapid rise in that time losing just 4 league matches along the way. Winning the ERWFL Division One title in their debut season at this level along with a League Cup final appearance. A runners-up finish in the Premier Division following last season. Pushed on again this campaign winning the title with games to spare unbeaten dropping just 2 league points, now looking to follow that up with the double a success acheived two season’s ago by Haringey Borough Women. Promotion to the FAWNL to come the club with a strong youth set up to back up the first and development teams, Goals throughout the side.

Road to the Final

  The ERWFL Premier Division sides entering the League Cup competition at the 3rd Round stage. The last 16 Bedford Ladies handed a tough draw at home to Premier Division newcomers Wymondham Town Ladies, a single goal enough to see them beat the Norfolk side. Cambridge City Ladies alos at home in the last 16 hosting Division One side Hutton Ladies with new striker Vicky Kinsman in their ranks firing in plenty of goals. Cambridge City restricting her to just the one however as they found the back of the net up the other end for 8 goals themselves.

Into the quarter finals another tough looking draw for Bedford as they were away to St Ives Town Ladies the Division One newcomers hitting the ground running making an unbeaten start, not conceding many either the tie going all the way to extra-time Bedford finding the crucial winning goal to book a spot in the last 4. Cambridge City at home to Colney Heath Ladies a 2-0 win against their fellow Premier Division side seeing them into the semi-finals.

  Into the last 4 and a strong all Premier Division line-up, Bedford on the road again to take on Peterborough Northern Star Ladies the first of 3 encounters they would have over the next four weeks, all close Bedford edging their opponents out 2-1 to reach the League Cup Final. Cambridge City at home once more this time taking on Essex side Harlow Town Ladies like Wymondham promoted to the Premier Division this season, having secured a top half finish proved a tough opponent Cambridge coming through however to reach the League Cup Final courtesy of a 3-1 victory.

  Still at The County Ground, Letchworth home of the Hertfordshire FA, the 3G pitch new along with the barriers surrounding it and a redeveloped bar/cafeteria serving hot and col drinks. The sunny still beating down good job I brought my suncream still had the umbrella in the bag too mind the odd black cloud around but these wouldn’t yield anything.

 Bedford Ladies starting XI – Lauren Webb, Gemma Franklin, Priya Bhatti, Jodie Molloy (C), Sophie Mulvihill, Michelle Byrne, Jasmine Ajayi, Eden Kibron, Carissa Kaczorowski, Catalina Costas & Mya Sidhu. Subs – Amy Magnus, Lauren Murray, Sector Acolatse, Jessica Bunnage & Sian Beames.

Cambridge City Ladies starting XI – Tee Mhunduru, Lauren Tomlinson, Ceri Flye, Becca Fay (C), Robyn Phillips, Sarah Mosley, Amy Reed, Anna Goggin, Hannah Bodily, Erin Davies & Shannon Shaw. Subs – Freya Standing, Laura Mills, Carla Penny & Megan Tonks.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

   Cambridge to get this season’s League Cup Final underway wearing white shirts, black shorts and black and white hooped socks. Bedford lined up opposite wearing blue and black vertical striped shirts with black shorts and blue socks. The ball played long to the left Bedford goalkeeper Lauren Web out to kick the ball clear. Eden Kibron picking up the ball right side for Bedford driving forwards attempts to play Catalina Costas in as she makes a near post run into the box, Cambridge captain Becca Fay intercepting at the back. 

 Bedford with a fast start to the game getting the ball into the Cambridge half a throw won on the left headed on by Costas top of the area the ball finding its way through to Cambridge goalkeeper Tee Mhunduru. Bedford win it back in midfield play it wide down the right winning a corner.

  GOAL! Bedford take an early lead in the game scoring inside the opening 3 minutes the delivery from the corner flicked on into the middle by Sophie Mulvihill into the six yard box, captain Michelle Byrne free sticking up a leg to bring the ball down well and smashes it into te back of the net 1-0.

  Cambridge looking for a quick reply the ball at the feet of Erin Davies attacking left side her cross into the box cut out by Bedford captain, Jodie Molloy. 

 GOAL! No sooner have Bedford taken the lead then they counter to double thier advantage 2 goals t the good right at the start of the game 5 minutes played the ball put on through the middle into Mya Sidhu 30 yards out to the left flicking the ball over her shoulder inside to drop into the path of Kibron breaking into the box from the right, no need to check her stride meeting the ball she strikes it low and hard from inside the area to send it across the diving keeper into the bottom corner 2-0. 

Eden Kibron with Bedford’s 2nd goal

  A fantastic opening to the game from Bedford, Cambridge shell shocked 2 goals down inside the opening 5 minutes of the match. Bedford lively early on have come out of the blocks running quick to close the ball down, Kibron making several powerful runs forwards. On for Costas in attack moving wide her cross swung into the box claimed by Mhunduru. Cambridge with a free-kick wide on the right as Gemma Franklin fouls Amy Reed. The delivery in towards the top of the box met by a Cambridge head the ball headed on in towards goal lacking pace gathered by Webb. 

   Bedford’s turn to have a free-kick inside the Cambridge half, played forwards to drop into the box, Mhunduru coming forwards to claim it not put off by the onrushing Kibron. End the end as a shaken Cambridge look to get back into the game, Bedford winning it through Byrne in the middle as Anna Goggin looks to play the ball forwards. Bedford making ground on the left win getting a corner the delivery in close to goal, Mhunduru up for it is fouled. Kibron right the ball put inside to Costas making the near post run can’t quite get the ball under control as Mhunduru comes to collect.

Cambridge’s Ceri Flye with Bedford’s Mya Sidhu

   Sarah Mosley with the ball 30 odd yards out allowed time to line up a shot her strike in looks to be heading over, dipping on Webb late back on her line the keeper producing a fantastic save to tip the ball up over her bar. Th corner played to towards the top of the area headed on wide across the goal. Bedford counter with pace and purpose Kibron forwards inside to Carissa Kaczorowski on for Costas, Robyn Phillips regaining possession for Cambridge. Sidhu with another flicked ball over the top of the Cambridge defence 25 out left to right, Costas the target this time can’t connect with the shot.

  Goggin with a good run on the ball central for Cambridge getting forwards is tackled by Bedford’s Franklin. Bedford winning a corner right players come forwards the delivery into the six yard box the attempted clearance by Cambridge struck straight t Kibron 8 yards out closed down as she attempts to get a shot in the ball hustled out to the top of the area met by Bedford Jasmine Ajayi her shot in low has no power safely in Mhunduru’s gloves. Kaczorowski out wide right on the ball in the final third shoots Mhunduru diving in front of her goal to her left to push the ball away. 

Bedford’s Jasmine Ajayi

  Davies central looks to combine with Shannon Shaw in attack the attempted one two not coming off as Bedford’s Mulvihill charges the ball down. Bedford appealing for a penalty as Kibron bursts into the box left of goal put in by Sidhu, goes down under challenge but the appeals waved away. Mhunduru with another vital save to keep the scoreline down as Bedford press well getting forwards Costas into the box appeals for a push still managing to get something on the ball Cambridge’s keeper having gone to ground in front of her getting a arm up to pluck the ball down as it threatens to go over her inside the six yard box. 

 Ceri Flye bringing the ball on for Cambridge right side allowed to travel with it pace to get into the area Franklin sliding in to tackle win the ball for Bedford. Bedford make a change, Kaczorowski the player heading off on comes Sector Acolatse. Mosley peeling away to the left as Cambridge come forwards puts an early ball into the area Davies making the run near side, Webb coming to get to the ball and claim before she can reach it. Cambridge make a double switch bringing Mosley and Shaw off, Carla Penny and Megan Tonks on. Bedford bring on Amy Magnus in attack for Sidhu.

   The game played at a furious pace, Bedford putting alot of effort in to keep the ball moving keep Cambridge from getting any momentum going forwards. The sun beating down is hot out there. Lauren Tomlinson defending for Cambridge at left back as Costas tries to get in behind n the right wing. Davies making some great runs forwards for Cambridge through the middle getting into the box as a cross is put in from the left sees it across her body getting a shot away before she can be challenged the ball swerving in the air it favours Webb in goal falling straight to her.

  Davies combining with Penny in attack for Cambridge no final ball as Bedford defend the ball cleared straight to Hannah Bodily she strikes it from 25 yards out the shot wide. Cambridge gaining a little bit of the attack the ball forwards win a corner out on the right, the delivery in defended  headed away Reed fouled as she looks to retrieve outside the box to the right of goal. 

  GOAL! Cambridge getting a goal back late in the first half scoring from the free-kick, Reed on the ball looks to play the ball in towards the near post little to aim at finds the target, Webb closed down by players from both sides going to claim the ball squeezing out of her gloves on behind her in front of goal, Tonks on the follow up for Cambridge getting her boot on the ball to send it on into the back of the net 2-1. 

  Bedford attack coming left the ball inside to Byrne in an advanced position a great touch to lift the ball over the top for Kibron bursting into the area, closing in on the byline the angle against her twists to get the ball in towards goal, landing awkwardly as she does so, too close to Mhunduru the goalkeeper claiming. Kibron up slowly didn’t look good but after treatment as allowed to come back on. Ajayi with a superb ball on for Acolatse through the middle, Mhunduru out to close he down the ball scrambled clear. 

 Into stoppage time the 1st half racing by Bedford bringing the ball on Acolatse lining up a shot outside the area right of the D, Flye getting a foot in to block. 

Half-time Bedford Ladies 2-1 Cambridge City Ladies

  A fast paced lively 1st half comes to a close, Bedford making a blistering start to the game getting themselves into a 2 goal lead within the opening 5 minutes, on the front foot for much of the half since, getting forwards well with intent as well as working hard to close the ball down. Cambridge stunned early on far from the start they wanted has taken them a while to get going as an attacking force slowly building momentum in the final 3rd, pulling a goal back late in the half to trail by just the one, Mhunduru in goal keeping the score down.

   Bedford out early for the start of the 2nd half Kaczorowski back on the pitch in place of Acolatse Sidhu back on too. Bedford to get the game restarted an early clash of heads between Costas and Flye in the area, both players okay. Byrne winning the ball central for Bedford playing it forwards, Fay stopping it at the back for Cambridge. 

   Bedford have a throw on the right inside the Cambridge half the ball put inside to Costas helped in field to Sidhu 25 yards out, spots Kaczorowski making the run to her left into the box slides the pass on for her, Mhunduru out quickly to close the single and save at the attackers feet. Davies attempting to carry the ball forwards in attack for Cambridge supported by Bodily in the centre. Davies coming left the ball on for Tonks in attack, Mulvihill with the tackle the ball pushed out wide picked up by Penny her shot back in towards the near post tame gathered by Webb.

Erin Davies always looking to get into an attacking position for Cambridge City

   Bedford come left the ball hit on the diagonal into the area Kibron lunging forwards getting a touch to send the ball goalwards under diving Mhunduru, to strike the base of the post, the flag up against her however. Davies and Bodily winning more of the ball in central areas now. Penny strong in possession on the left for Cambridge the pass forwards for Tonks holds it up trying to turn get in behind closed down by Molloy who tackles to regain the ball. Cambridge push on the right winning a free-kick put long to Penny top of the box left of goal brings the ball down well to turn into the shot lifting the ball over the crossbar. Freya Standing on for Cambridge in place of Flye.

Bedford’s Carissa Kaczorowski tackling Cambridge’s Carla Penny

  Mulvihill tackling Davies as she brings the ball on a throw out left, Tomlinson with a long delivery to take sends it into the area cleared back to her, moves out towards the top of the area before striking from distance Webb back on her line making the save. Cambridge with a bit more of the ball, Bedford still looking a threat closing down and getting forwards. Priya Bhatti close on Penny to prevent the winger getting forwards. A corner on the right fro Cambridge in high central Webb punching the ball high in the air Franklin seeing it don sends clear. Goggin moving with the ball left pushes it into Penny looking for the return pass top of the area, Byrne charging the shot down.

  GOAL! 20 minutes played in the 2nd half and Cambridge come back to level the scores at 2 a piece scoring from a throw wide on the right top of the area put into Davies closing in on the area puts the pass up towards Bodily positioned to corner catching it well lifts a shot in towards goal looping high over the keeper to fall into the bottom corner 2-2. 

Hannah Bodily with Bedford’s Jasmine Ajayi

  Cambridge make a change with Mosley back on for Goggin. Davies in to win the ball 20 yards out looks to play in Tonks but can’t get a pass into the box instead plays it out to Penny on the left she switches play putting a cross long to the far post for Standing running in can’t reach it out for the goalkick. Acolatse back on for Bedford attacking left is brought down by Phillips complaints from the Bedford bench about her being the last defender, but 30 yards out players were in a position to get back central. The free-kick a long way out the shot nevertheless taken on put over.

  Tomlinson with the ball for Cambridge has space to run into runs unopposed 3 quarters of the pitch getting into the box left of goal sending a shot up over the bar. The game entering the final 15 minutes, tension out there from both sides Cambridge attacking, Bedford defending well especially on their flanks Franklin and Bhatti. Tonks comes off for Cambridge, Shaw rejoining the attack. Bedford with the ball left the cross in low cut out Fay near side her clearance straight to Byrne outside the box she puts it back in for Kibron lunging for it the ball held by Mhunduru. 

Carla Penny coming forwards for Cambridge City

  The play getting scrappy as both sides rush passes late on Penny fouled on the left the ball played down the line Mosley with the run looks to play the return ball to Penny, Mulvihill tackling for Bedford. Tomlinson off for Cambridge Flye back on. Shaw driving on through the middle for Cambridge, Mulvihill out o the area to slide in to win the challenge. Sidhu off for Bedford, Kaczorowski back on. The game looks to be heading to extra-time neither side getting a clinical chance late on Shaw winning Cambridge a late corner the ball in headed on towards goal Webb behind it.

Full time Bedford Ladies 2-2 Cambridge City Ladies

  Nothing to separate the sides Cambridge coming back to level the scores 2nd half and send the final into extra-time, both sides putting alot into it especially Bedford some tired legs out there. An extra 30 minutes to play 2 15 minute halves for either side to find a winning goal the temperature remains high. 

Extra-time

 Cambridge to get extra-time underway, Bedford winning an early free-kick Molloy on it left side played on to Kibron she looks to put Sidhu away on the right side. Mhunduru out to her saves well, Sidhu after the loose ball falling awkwardly and she attempts to put it back in on the angle. After treatment is okay play resuming with a corner the ball in high claimed by Mhunduru.

  Franklin does well in defence to get back on Standing as Davies moves over to the right with the ball. Sidhu left plays a low ball into the six yard box, Mhunduru out to claim before Kaczorowski can get there. Lauren Murray coming on for Bedford in place of Sidhu. Standing on the right gets the ball into the box for Davies near post looking to control then shoot is closed down by Franklin and Molloy both sliding in to block a corner conceded the ball in central Shaw goes for it can’t connect half cleared falls straight to Bodily 25 yards out a nick on her shot but Webb can make the save. 

  Kaczorowski striking a shot on the half volley right of the box the ball held by the keeper. Both sides working hard to stop the other cancelling each other out a 2nd ball thrown onto the pitch as Bedford look to get forwards, play stopped the referee having words with the Bedford bench. The fist half of extra-time comes to an end the sides still level.

   Tomlinson returning to the field for Cambridge as Bedford get the 2nd period of extra-time started. Phillips defending for Cambridge as Kibron plays the ball on. Sian Beames on for Bedford played on by Kibron on the right crossing the ball early cut out Phillips. Murray bringing the ball on for Bedford support from Beames played out to Ajayi moving clear on the left her cross in met be Kibron central her touch too strong allowing the Cambridge defence to clear. 

  Play scrappy players giving away free-kicks tension showing passes going astray. Flye cautioned for a foul on Kaczorowski. Standing coming off Tonks back on. Beames conceding a corner on the right the delivery in central under the bar Webb punching the all landing amongst a crowded far post the ball lifted over the bar. Tomlinson sees a ball fired into her inside the box as Cambridge attack right she prods her shot wide of the near post. 

 Cambridge make one last push winning a corner the ball defended near post another corner won, this one flicked on by Phillips a shot blocked from close range at the far post. Reed comes on for Cambridge, Bedford defend. A late goal ruled out for offside. Cambridge come right a cross into the box put on to Tomlinson far post her shot striking the upright before being scrambled clear. The final whistle blows this season’s ERWFL Cup Final to be settled on penalties.

Penalties

  No fan of a penalty shootout but a game has to be decided somehow. Five for each side if still not decided it then goes to sudden death.

 Cambridge up to take the first penalty, Mosley placed the ball on the spot, scores sending a pacy ball wide to the right evading the diving keeper 1-0.

  Magnus to take Bedford’s opening penalty Mhunduru saving superbly as she dives to her left to keep the low strike out 1-0.

Tee Mhunduru saving Bedford’s opening penalty

  Shaw up next for Cambridge, a composed finish straight through the middle the keeper rooted to the spot 2-0.

  Mulvihill up next for Bedford opts for power her rising shot cannoning down and in off the crossbar 2-1.

  Tomlinson forwards to take Cambridge’s third penalty kick goes for placement sending the ball low racing into the bottom left corner to make it 3-1. 

  Jessica Bunnage on late on to take Bedford’s third penalty shoots to the right Mhunduru getting her fingertips to it but not enough to keep it out 3-2.

   Tonks placing the ball on the spot for Cambridge’s fourth a cool finish finding the bottom corner to score 4-1.

  Bedford have to score to keep themselves in the shootout, captain Byrne up to take the penalty, agony as she sends it wide of the post to see Cambridge roar in celebration and rush from the halfway line to Mhunduru winning the shootout 4-2 to win the ERWFL League Cup and do the double.

Joy for Cambridge heartbreak for Bedford a cruel finish to an entertaining final, both sides playing their part. Bedford racing out of the blocks taking a 2 goal lead early in the match putting Cambridge on the back foot, slowly they came back into the game pulling it back to 2-1 before half-time scoring the leveller in the 2nd half the game getting tense late on scrappy neither side on top chances for both. Extra-time unable to separate them.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto the 2nd Women’s Football East – Player of the Match award of the day. Another competitive final with a few contenders from both sides. Eden Kibron setting the tone early on for Bedford helping them get off to a fantastic start. At the back Gemma Franklin was strong nothing much getting past her. For Cambridge City, Erin Davies making some positive forward runs looking to get on in attack. Carla Penny making a huge impact coming on, Hannah Bodily supporting Davies playing well too. The award though goes to Cambridge City goalkeeper Tee Mhunduru pulling off some vital saves as Bedford started strong commanding her area and the all important save in the penalty shootout.

Cambridge City Ladies 2018/19 ERWFL League Cup winners

Congratulations to Cambridge City Ladies on winning this season’s ERWFL League Plate Final and on the double.

Another highly entertaining match, great to see to competitive finals today a fantastic advert for the ERWFL. An enjoyable but tiring day, thanks to everyone for their help today. Alot of kind comments too much appreciated, will be tired once the dust has settled on another busy Sunday not many to go now however the season soon coming to an end.

 

Match Report – Cup Final Special

Sunday 12th May

ERWFL League Plate Final

Histon Ladies v Newmarket Town Ladies

 Another cup final double bill this Sunday a trip to Hertfordshire for the ERWFL Finals Day. First up kicking off at 11am the League Plate Final this season being contested by Histon Ladies and Newmarket Town Ladies.

The ERWFL League Plate

   Hutton Ladies winning the ERWFL League Plate previously, celebrating back to back wins having successfully defended the trophy last season beating Stevenage Ladies Reserves. A new name on the trophy this season. 

  Histon Ladies are an established side within the ERWFL, this their 3rd season playing as Histon having previously been known as Great Shelford Ladies. The link up with Histon seeing a pathway created between Histon’s youth sides through to adult football. Backed up by a Reserves side play at The Glassworld Stadium. Two league games left after today’s final are comfortable in mid-table in what has been a very competitive league this season, currently 8th can still gain a position or two. 

Newmarket reaching a cup final in their debut season in the ERWFL. Joining this season suffering an opening day loss then found thier feet to go on a run of 6 games unbeaten to climb the table and put them in amongst the top 4 sides, amongst the title challengers for a while have tailed off currently 4th will secure that position at least with a win in their final league game of the season next Sunday a top half finish guaranteed. Winning through to a cup final capping off a successful start to life playing at regional level. Plans in place for a new development side next season. Winning through to the final the club knew they would be without a number of key players for the game today away for various reasons.

Road to the Final

 The Division One sides knocked out of the League Cup itself in the 1st and 2nd round going on to contest for the League Plate. Straight to a quarter final. Histon were drawn away to league newcomers Hatfield Peverel Ladies the Essex side 2nd bottom in the table, goals form Sophie Lanham and Georgina Huse securing a 2-0 win for the visitors. Newmarket were also on the road taking on Hertford Town Ladies. Goals form Beth and Jodie Woodfield along with a brace from Abbi Griffin seeing Newmarket through to the last 4 courtesy of a 4-1 win.

  Two tough looking games in the semi-finals with 4 sides all fancying their chances of reaching the final. Histon away to 3rd placed Stevenage Ladies Reserves, drawing 1-1 after 90 minutes of play the game heading into extra-time. Histon coming up with the winning goal to reach today’s final. Newmarket Town Ladies at home to Hoddesdon Town Owls Ladies, who they had beaten in the league at Hoddesdon just the week before coming back win the game 3-2 with a last gasp winner form young striker Annabel Cuthbert. Newmarket having the better of their opponents in the semi-final with goals from Jess Linger and Cuthbert sending them through to the final winning the game 2-0.

 The ERWFL Finals Day once again being played at The County Ground, Letchworth. The stadium seeing some redevelopment, prominently a new playing surface the pitch now 3G. The bar area also upgraded a new cafeteria serving hot and cold drinks. The main seated stand along one side of the pitch. The weather fantastic still, clear blue skies and warm. The 3G pitch new holding alot of rubber.

Histon Ladies starting XI – Keeley Robinson, Lucy Julian, Kaya Haq, Briannah Baker, Tessa Shaw, Alison Wright, Georgia Day, Kayleigh-Jo Castell, Katie Seagrave, Rebekah Finch & Sophie Lanham (C). Subs – Rebecca Lenton, Kirstie Smith, Kirsty Geal & Danielle Briggs.

Newmarket Town Ladies starting XI – Dominika Szary, Holly Dryland, Olivia Orme, Beth Woodfield (C), Olivia Cafferelli, Jess Linger, Antonia Smith, Sarah O’Rourke, Laura Bailey & Annabel Cuthbert. Subs – Lauren Deller, Molly Agnew Hannah Rogers & Eleanor Mcleish.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

 Dominika Szary back on goal for Newmarket having missed the semi-final with Hoddesdon through suspension. Newmarket with the kick-off 1st half getting the final underway wearing yellow coloured shirts with blue shorts and blue and yellow hooped socks. Histon opposite wearing red shirts with black shorts and socks. The ball charged down straight away by Histon, Georgia Day on Newmarket’s Jess Linger the deflecting all the way back to goalkeeper, Keeley Robinson for an early feel of the ball. 

Histon’s Alison Wright winning the ball

 Both sides closing down the ball forwards by Histon defended by Newmarket played on through the middle for Annabel Cuthbert getting hold of it looks to take players on driving towards the box the Histon defence converging to close her down full back Lucy Julian in to clear the ball up field. Sarah O’Rourke seeing the ball into her feet inside the Histon half plays a great diagonal ball on into the area for Cuthbert making a run, latches onto the shot Robinson down to make the parrying save the ball back to Cuthbert sends it back in towards goal the Histon keeper saving as the ball comes off the post. 

Attacking intent from both sides Histon captain, Sophie Lanham in attack moving out to the right winning her side a corner kick. The delivery defended near post back to the taker the cross long kept in past the far post by Kayleigh-Jo Castell put back up the line the ball put into the top of the area defended. Kaya Haq coming on from left back for Histon with a fantastic diagonal pass long to Katie Seagrave bursting in behind on the right wing takes on the shot early 25 yards out the ball whistling over the crossbar. Histon gaining momentum in the final 3rd winning the ball high put forwards into Lanham right off goal 25 yards out has a shot the low strike gathered by Szary back on her line. 

  GOAL! 10 minutes played and Newmarket get themselves an early goal. Awarded a free-kick central as the ball in picked up by Laura Bailey and she his barrelled over carrying it towards goal. Newmarket’s dead ball specialist, Jess Linger to take. Strikes the ball well on target Robinson getting something on it by not enough to keep the ball slipping past her and into the back of the net 1-0.

Jess Linger scorers of the opening goal

   Straight from the restart Histon look to get on the offence, good footwork from Alison Wright central to evade a challenge and bring the ball on attempts to lift it over the top the flag up against Day inside the area. Holly Dryland goes on the overlap past O’Rourke on the right for Newmarket. Haq closing the full back down quickly tackling to prevent the return pass. 

  GOAL! Newmarket’s lead short lived as Histon come back to level the scores awarded a free-kick out on the right Seagrave fouled past the 18 yard line, Haq coming across to take it. Struck well in towards goal Szary can’t reach it as it dips under the cross bar and in at the far post 1-1. 

Kaya Haq with the levelling goal for Histon

  Rebekah Finch seeing a poor kick out from goal fall to her the ball deflected on into the box gives chase, Olivia Orme back well pressure charging the shot down taking the pace off for Szary to collect. Histon pushing on up the right wing a throw won top of the area drops to Wright 20 yards out central shoots with her left foot dragging the ball wide of the near post. Seagrave showing great pace on the ball down the right for Histon a cross flashed into the near post cut out by Newmarket defender Olivia Cafferelli. A great response from Histon to going behind Wright strong in the centre.

  A free-kick for Newmarket wide right Linger to play the ball into the six yard box, lifts it high, Robinson rising well to make the claim through a crowd is clattered upon landing as her defence scramble the ball away, but okay to continue after treatment. Szary up the other end out of her area rapidly to deal with a forwards pass that sees Lanham in to attack. O’Rourke with a great receive and turn inside the Histon half to put the ball on for Cuthbert racing in behind the Histon back line left of the D opens up her body to shoot across the keeper, to straight at Robinson at her quickly the keeper palming it away. 

Newmarket’s Sarah O’Rourke

  Cuthbert on the move again after a ball on the right wing, Briannah Baker sliding in to tackle catching Cuthbert the advantage played by referee Stacey Fullicks as she maintains her footing to run on past and cut a cross back into the area, Tessa Shaw sliding in to win it for Histon the ball coming out to Newmarket’s Chloe Slater top of the area she sends a shot over the bar. Baker booked for the earlier foul. Cuthbert spinning in behind as the ball is played into her feet left into the box, Robinson quickly out to close the angle slides in well to make the save at the attackers feet.

  GOAL! Half and hour played and Histon go on to take the lead, have a free-kick inside the Newmarket half on the right played in from deep the ball into the six yard area not dealt with by the Newmarket defence popping out to Finch at the near post getting hold of it to turn unopposed and fire the ball home from close range 2-1.

  Newmarket come forwards right side O’Rourke fouled a free-kick Linger on it the ball put on into the area, Robinson able to collect on the bounce. Histon push on through the middle the ball lost Slater with it out to Dryland making a run on the right wing the diagonal ball played into the top of the area early, Julian there to clear for Histon. Wright down in the middle having taken a knock on the ankle players from both sides taking on fluid whilst she receives treatment. Is a competitive game played at a good tempo.

Histon’s Sophie Lanham looking to get in to attack

  O’Rourke putting the ball on for Dryland off on a run down the right wing her cross cut back along the top of the Histon area helped on into the centre for Antonia Smith making a run from midfield catching the ball strikes it well rising sees her effort smash down off the crossbar. Seagrave out right for Histon bursting forwards played on by Lanham her cross met and cleared by Newmarket captain Beth Woodfield. 

Newmarket’s Antonia Smith

  Wright strong in the tackle central for Histon winning it 40 yards out as Slater looks to play it forwards for O’Rourke right side the past through for Lanham beating the offside trap, Szary with a good starting position out sharply to the edge of her area to claim the ball. Scrappy towards the end of the first have both sides rushing their passes, Bailey on the left attacking for Newmarket stopped by Shaw. Baker tackling Cuthbert outside the box as Linger threads a ball on. A late flag halting Smith as she breaks beyond the attack for Newmarket Bailey attempting the flick on.  

Half-time Histon Ladies 2-1 Newmarket Town Ladies

  Histon with the narrow advantage at half-time coming back from a goal down to lead 2-1 at half-time. A competitive match so far both slides putting alot on energy into it confident closing down a positive going forwards, chances for both sides to score more goals set-pieces unlocking both defences. Is warm out there midday fast approaching little cloud in the sky. The pitch carrying alot of rubber still slow the ball not racing on. Fairly evenly matched all to play for 2nd half.

Histon with a couple pf changes Danielle Briggs and Kirsty Geal on replacing Julian and Castell as they get the 2nd 45 underway. Molly Agnew on for Newmarket wide right in place of O’Rourke. Histon with the ball central played out to Seagrave attacking right into the area after it, Orme getting back on her to push her wide of goal, Seagrave managing to get a shot away nevertheless the ball safe on Szary’s gloves at her near post. Newmarket gain ground on the left Bailey turning back inside plays it central to Smith in an advanced position 20 yards out her shot lacking any power at it runs along the ground wide of target Robinson gathers.

Laura Bailey bringing the ball on for Newmarket

  Agnew getting on with the ball on the right wing for Newmarket to the byline sends a cross back up towards the top of the area, Wright tracking back superbly to win and clear for Histon. Cuthbert shoots wide across goal for Newmarket after getting into the area following good hold up play to spin in behind. Cuthbert charging on looking to get away through the middle in attack, Baker back on her with a somewhat clumsy challenge outside the area effective however as the ball runs behind for a corner. Robinson dealing with the corner for Histon. Geal bringing the ball on left side for Histon is closed down by Dryland and Woodfield.

  GOAL! as with the first half Newmarket score again 10 minutes into the 2nd half building on a bright start getting the ball up into Cuthbert quickly a delivery in sent on from the right side Newmarket’s young striker getting free at the far post to stab a shot under the keeper and into the bottom corner to level the scores 2-2.

Annabel Cuthbert getting the equalising goal for Newmarket Town Ladies

  Dryland comes off having picked up an injury, Hannah Rogers sent on for Newmarket goes to left back, Orme over to the right. Geal storming on for Histon left wing fires a cross low into the area Cafferelli with the interception central for Newmarket. Smith fouling Lanham as she gets hold of the ball central top of the circle the ball forwards Newmarket defend. Bailey getting forwards with the ball Cuthbert providing the run ahead of her moving left, Baker stays with her. Smith central for Newmarket threads a pass on for Bailey getting to the top of the box left side gets a shot away a low strike racing wide past the far post.

Histon Ladies, Danielle Briggs

 

  Rogers getting on up the pitch left side for Newmarket a terrific ball played long into the area met at the far post by Agnew turned goalwards, Robinson across her goal seeing the ball fired straight into her. Woodfield coming to close down Wright as she attempts to turn and get a shot away from 25 yards out, Day playing in forwards into her. Histon bring off Finch with Kristie Smith coming on to join the attack. Slater gets on with the ball right with support for Bailey and Rogers the ball inside to Cuthbert a corner conceded on the right. Newmarket to play the ball in put in long to the far post for a moment looked like it had crept in under the bar but instead narrowly over and dropping behind the net. Newmarket press the attack the ball on seeing Cuthbert threatening to break in clear, Shaw back to defend tackling to concede the corner. 

  GOAL! The game entering the final 15 minutes and Newmarket get their noses back in front scoring direct from a corner the ball on the right played in by Rogers an inswinging ball under the bar Robinson goes for it but can’t get a telling touch as the ball flies over her into the far corner. 3-2.

  Rogers on the left forwards for Bailey, Shaw getting across to slide in and put the ball out for a throw. Bailey getting forwards at will for Newmarket now as Histon frustrated cannot get the ball to stick in attack late on, Agnew forwards right of the D Bailey fires the pass into her Agnew dragging her shot wide away from goal. Newmarket make a change with Lauren Deller coming on in place of Smith. Bailey fouled by Shaw as she brings the ball on a free-kick for Newmarket wide left, Linger on it the delivery into the six yard box claimed well by Robinson. 

Beth Woodfield defending as Kristie Smith brings the ball on for Histon

  Lanham takes a blow to the head as she and Cafferelli contest a ball lifted forwards into the box from midfield. Is brought off with Rebecca Lenton coming on. Bailey keeping the ball well up field for Newmarket running down the clock as Histon are desperate to get hold of it build an attack. Wright out to Seagrave over on the left gets forwards a cross driven in central early, Lenton the target, Cafferelli in front of her to regain possession for Newmarket. 

  The game entering stoppage time, Newmarket doing well to keep the ball up the other end working hard to force Histon into rushing their passes, their opponents can’t get anything meaningful in the final third. Briggs breaking with the ball on the right for Histon is fouled by Cafferelli. A change before the free-kick is taken, Finch back on the field. Briggs to take doesn’t make it count put behind near side. Newmarket send on another youngster 16-year-old Eleanor McLeish in the closing minutes for Agnew, a throw won on the right Newmarket play it down the line Bailey taking it into the corner. One last chance for Histon as Wright wins them a corner on the left, taken short however Newmarket clear their line quickly to see Histon’s attackers flagged offside. 

Full time Histon Ladies 2-3 Newmarket Town Ladies

  The full time whistle blows and Newmarket are the side celebrating winning the ERWFL League Plate Final 3-2 and winning an unexpected piece of silverware to cap a strong debut season in the regional leagues. An entertaining final played between two evenly matched sides, chances created the momentum shifting one way then the other, good spirits, hotly contested especially in midfield. Histon responding well to losing an early goal, Newmarket getting it back to 2 all before getting their noses in front with 15 minutes left and from then on in preventing Histon from getting any foothold up the other end. 

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto the first Women’s Football East – Player of the Match award of the day. A few names to mention, Alison Wright superb for Histon strong in midfield winning the ball and getting passes on to the attack. Katie Seagrave a threat on the right especially first half. For Newmarket Annabel Cuthbert just 16 shows great movement and pace in attack, Jess Linger has a fantastic range of passes and a threat from any dead ball situation. The award however goes once again to the player who got it in the semi-finals Laura Bailey terrific on the left getting forwards, timely runs her link up play excellent and towards the end kept the ball well frustrating Histon.

Newmarket Town Ladies, 2018/19 ERWFL Plate winners

Congratulations to Newmarket Town Ladies on winning the ERWFL League Plate Final.

 An enjoyable first final of the day, between Histon and Newmarket, evenly matched a good contest, time for something to eat and a much needed cup of tea the 2nd game of the day not too far away.

Match Report – Cup Final Special

Tuesday 7th May

Suffolk Women’s County Cup Final

Ipswich Town Women v Needham Market Women 

A Tuesday night trip to Portman Road home of Ipswich Town FC for the final of this season’s HomeStore Suffolk Women’s County Cup, Ipswich Town Women looking to retain the trophy for the 5th successive season, Needham Market Women their opponents reaching the final of the County Cup in their debut season.

Ipswich Town Women have dominated in the Suffolk Women’s County Cup for over a decade now appearing in 10 of the last finals winning the competition winning the trophy on 8 occasions, whilst it was a shared competition with Norfolk that as a stand alone competition in Suffolk. 4 successive wins coming into tonight’s final looking strong to make it five in a row as they come up against an emerging side playing 3 leagues below. Ipswich the leading woman’s club in Suffolk playing in the FAWNL South East Division One where they secured a 7th placed finish with a last gasp winner on Sunday. A change of management after an indifferent start to the season Jo Sheehan looking after their U21s side stepping up to the role, has brought some of Ipswich’s talented youngsters through to play for the senior team to bolster an established and experienced squad.

 A fantastic first season for Needham Market Women coming together in the summer, the squad building, several names familiar having been part of Bacton United Ladies and Coplestonians Ladies. Hit the ground running winning their opening 5 league games matching East Bergholt’s 100% winning start, their 1st league defeat of the season at home to East Bergholt losing narrowly 3-2 Needham Market nevertheless bounced back well returning the compliment with a 3-0 win against East Bergholt at the start of March that though East Bergholt’s only defeat, Needham Market losing 3 in total clinching runner-ups spot, more success too in the cup competitions reaching both the finals of the League and County Cup.

 Missing out on collecting silverware in the League Cup played last week losing 2-1 to East Bergholt who won a 2nd successive double. Plenty of goals within the squad over 120 scored a wonderful occasion to mark the end of their first season together getting the opportunity to play at under the lights at Portman Road. Know it will be a tough test playing against a side playing their football 3 leagues higher in the FAWNL. Suffolk itself ready for new sides to establish themselves up the women’s football pyramid and Needham Market as in a good position to build.

Road to the Final

 Ipswich Town Women away to ERWFL Division One side Ipswich Wanderers Ladies in the 1st round of the Suffolk County Cup a close result Town going through with a 2-1 win. Needham Market receiving a bye.

Both sides with a walk over in the 2nd Round with their opponents pulling out. A home draw for both in the quarter finals with Ipswich at home to Suffolk Women’s Division One side, Brantham Athletic Ladies a big score ranked up with Ipswich finding form in front of goal winning the game 14-0. Needham Market at home playing title rivals and Suffolk Women’s Division Champions, East Bergholt United Ladies. A fantastic result seeing Needham Market edge East Bergholt out winning the game 2-1.

The semi-finals to be held at neutral venues, Ipswich were meant to be taking on last season’s finalists AFC Sudbury Ladies, however the ERWFL Premier Division side struggling for numbers throughout the campaign made the decision to pull out sending Ipswich unopposed through to another final. Needham Market taking on Haverhill Rovers Ladies at Long Melford FC, a 4-1 victory sending them through to their 2nd final of the season.

The final returning to Portman Road the home of Ipswich Town FC having hosted the final back in the 2015/16 Ipswich winning 8-0 against Norfolk Division Two side Kirkley & Pakefield Ladies. Another leading stadium within a county in the East and beyond hosting their Women’s County Cup Final, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire too showcasing the women’s game a tell to how much the game is growing. A fantastic opportunity for both sets of players the pitch immaculate. The lights on the upper tier filling with supporters. Overcast the threat of rain in the air. 

Needham Market Women starting XI – Amber Leeks, Niamh Thomas, Megan Stock (C), Maria Smith, Nicola Henderson, Elysia Young, Emily Steward, Amber Sparkes, Laura Tuley, Francesca Rainbird & Lois Balfour. Subs – Amy Dunn, Milly Carter, Isobel Chaplin, Ashleigh Goddard & Abbie Wilkinson.

 Ipswich Town Women starting XI – Sian Fagg, Nicole Pannifer, Eva Hubbard, Aimee Stretch, Lindsey Cooper, Paige Wakefield, Amanda Crump (C), Amy Nash, Zoe Cossey, Natasha Thomas & Charlotte Kellett. Subs – Danni Clarke, Jac Ball, Flo Cage, Sophie Welton & Toni-Anne Wayne.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

  Ipswich to get this season’s Suffolk Women’s County Cup Final underway kicking-off the 1st half wearing blue shirts and socks with white shorts, Needham Market kitted out all in red, captain Megan Stock taking her place in the back-line having recovered form what looked like a nasty knee injury in the League Cup Final a week ago. Needham Market pressing the ball from the start keep Ipswich inside their own half. A free-kick awarded top of the centre circle as Laura Tuley getting hold of the ball for Needham Market in attack is upended, the ball played high into the box defended by Amy Nash the clearance sent back into the area claimed by goalkeeper Sian Fagg.

  Ipswich attack Zoe Cossey left sending Eva Hubbard on from left back bombing forwards her diagonal ball into the box met by Natasha Thomas her touch deflecting the ball goalwards, safely held by Needham Market goalkeeper Amber Leeks back on her line. Charlotte Kellett one of those impressing for the U21s side for Ipswich moves out to the right with the ball cutting it back into the area for Thomas near side on her quickly can’t adjust to get a shot away before the Needham Market defence close and clear. 

  The flag up against both sides in quick succession Cossey going too early in the left for Ipswich, Lois Balfour through the middle for Needham Market following a great ball forwards from Elysia Young. Niamh Thomas does well at right back to tackle  Natasha Thomas inside the box as the Ipswich attacker bombs forwards with the ball left, Maria Smith clearing the ball. Kellett latching on to the ball from a Needham market goalkick moves left to get into a crossing position flights a great ball into the box Thomas rising to head the ball knocking it down towards goal grabbed by Leeks.

   Having had vocal support at the League Cup Final the Needham Market fans within the crowd were in good voice, that stirring the Ipswich supporters into action a good atmosphere in the stands adding to the occasion. Thomas playing the ball forwards for Ipswich into the left channel, Kellett their supporting Cossey getting the ball in the box tackled the ball behind for the corner. An inswinging ball by Nash claimed high on her line by Leeks. Thomas busy in defence at right back for Needham market as Cossey looks to attack Kellett sending the pass into her run the defender doing well to stick her foot in take the ball. 

Ipswich Town Women’s Zoe Cossey

  Needham Market trying to get there strikers into the game whenever they can a ball long into the right chased down by Balfour her cross into the box cleared by Lindsey Cooper. The ball out from the back has Cossey attacking left checking back top of the area curls a cross in towards the six yard box, Ipswich captain, Amanda Crump meeting it n the volley the ball straight at and held by Leeks. Needham Market doing okay in the early stages mostly defensive Stock vocal leading well, Young in midfield looking to find a forwards ball. Hubbard latching onto a loose ball in the middle bursting on into the area stopped by Thomas, Nicola Henderson clearing.

Needham Market’s Nicola Henderson

  Amber Sparkes playing the ball through for Balfour in attack, Aimee Stretch getting in front of her in defence for Ipswich to guide the ball back to her keeper. First Thomas, then Kellett fouled to the right attacking for Ipswich 30 yards out Paige Wakefield sending both free-kicks high. Ipswich press forwards numbers in attack looking for the opening goal Cossey left he cross long Nash jumping far post can’t reach it. Emily Steward with a rare opportunity to attack for Needham Market looking to combine with Tuley in attack the return pass cut out at the back.

  Kellett in behind off a Needham Market throw misjudged on the left to the byline cuts her cross back central the ball met by Crump driven goalwards Leeks diving to her right making a fantastic save pushing the ball behind for a corner. Put in from the left Cooper up from the back heading the back wide of the near post. 

 GOAL! 27 minutes played and Ipswich’s pressure brings the opening goal attacking down the right the ball crossed in to the near side top of the six yard box Leeks coming to claim doesn’t get it fall straight into the path of Kellett beyond and she sends it into the back of the net. 1-0.

Charlotte Kellett with the opening goal at Portman Road

  Young back to help in defence for Needham Market top of the area tackling Crump as she looks for a one two with Kellett. Thomas looking lively for Ipswich and hungry to score coming on right side holding the ball up finds room to get a shot away the effort over the bar. Cossey lets out a roar of frustration as she sees her 25 yard strike held by Leeks as she is given the ball by Crump. Henderson putting in the tackle to deny Thomas as she threatens to run in behind. Pace in the Needham Market side penned back they can’t exploit it their attacking players seeing little of the ball. 

  Henderson carrying the ball out from the back for Needham Market forwards to Balfour looks to send the ball on for Tuley who is upended. The free-kick played up towards the top of the area Ipswich heading it away. Ipswich creating and getting numbers on haven’t found the clinical edge yet. Needham Market battling, Francesca Rainbird wanting to get forwards more often than not supporting Stock in defence on the left. The game entering the final 5 minutes of the 1st half. 

Post! Cossey getting hold of the ball on the left dribbling inside 25 yards out drawing the attention of the Needham Market defence, Thomas slipping into a gap near post as Cossey sends her the pass she sends the ball on towards goal cannons off the base of the upright. Wakefield with the ball on for Cossey left cuts back and sends a shot long past the far post. Cossey continues to be a menace on the left getting away to cross the ball falls to Crump at the back stick strikes a shot in towards goal, Leeks with another fine stop diving to push the ball wide. 

Into injury time Ipswich push forwards looking for another goal. Needham Market although on the back foot for long spells haven’t been overwhelmed and to keep it at 1-0 going into the changing rooms a great achievement. Cossey getting down to the byline sending the ball back towards the near post Thomas with the well timed run meeting her puts the ball straight into Leeks. 

  GOAL! Right on the stroke of half-time Ipswich get the 2nd goal they wanted, Crump bringing the ball on lays it on for Thomas breaking away into the area right of goal, hits it well putting the ball across the goalkeeper into the bottom corner. 2-0.

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

  A crucial goal right on the stroke of half-time for Ipswich Town Women to see them finish a strong 1st half leading the Suffolk Women’s County Cup final 2-0. Have been the dominant side by far and created plenty of chances not as clinical as they would like so far but you can only soak up so much pressure. Needham Market doing okay creating nothing in attack as of yet Ipswich getting the ball forwards with intent regularly Young doing well in the middle trying to break up attacks Ipswich though with options all over the pitch. The 2nd goal so late a blow a 1-0 deficit going along way to encourage Needham Market heading into the 2nd half.

Needham Market to get the 2nd half underway their supporters shouting encouragement. Ipswich get hold of the ball straight away however Thomas getting on through the middle her run stopped by Smith. 

GOAL! The worst possible start to the 2nd half for Needham Market as their opponents go further in front the ball played into Thomas left of goal as she enters the box catching it with the outside of her boot lifts the ball on past the keeper into the top corner to score her 2nd of the game and see Ipswich lead 3-0.

Ipswich Town Women attacker, Natasha Thomas (picture credit Gary Reed)

  Needham Market look to be positive the ball played long for Rainbird looking to get away down the left wing the flag halting her progress.

  GOAL! 3 minutes gone in the 2nd half and Ipswich take full control of the final getting a 4th goal. Cossey with the ball left on for Crump bursting forwards the Ipswich captain moving left down the line with the ball at her feet getting into the box close to the byline the angle against her nevertheless strikes it goalwards the ball squeezing under Leeks and inside the post as she goes down for it 4-0.

Ipswich captain, Amanda Crump (picture credit Gary Reed)

  Thomas moving left has support from Hubbard getting on the ball played inside to Cossey she takes it on shooting from 25 yards out Leeks claiming it. Niamh Thomas out to charge down the ball as Hubbard gets on down the left attacking for Ipswich. Stock in to clear for Needham Market her side a little shell shocked at the start to the 2nd half. Young with a fantastic ball long to the left Rainbird and Tuley after it, Cooper in between intercepting taking the ball to the left Tuley in to nick it turns back into the area, getting a shot away as Cooper slides in the ball blocked by the defender and Fagg in goal. 

  Cossey up the other end getting a shot away from distance, forcing Leeks to tip the ball over. Thomas surging into the box getting in behind shooting from the angle the goalkeeper parrying it behind for a corner right side put in central headed down, Rainbird on the post blocking for Needham Market. Ipswich strong in attack coming forwards with more intent Thomas moving across the back line to make herself available, Crump with several good runs from the middle to support. 

  Changes for both sides, with Milly Carter on for Steward, a double switch for Ipswich Stretch and Pannifer off at the back, Flo Cage and Jac Ball on. The support hasn’t been dampened in good voice another well supported final with 769 in attendance. 

   GOAL! close to an hour on the clock and Ipswich extend their lead further a fine individual goal for Nash as she attacks right, breaking on into the area stays on her feet as Henderson tackles, the evading Stock sliding in the ball sent across the keeper and inside the side netting to see Ipswich go 5-0 up.

Ipswich’s Amy Nash with Needham Market’s Francesca Rainbird (picture credit Gary Reed)

   Nash coming off then replaced by Sophie Welton, Natasha Thomas off too with Toni-Anne Wayne. The substitutes looking to link on the right in attack straight away Smith doing the defending for Needham Market. A double switch for Needham Market then with Smith and Balfour coming off for Amy Dunn and Ashleigh Goddard. Cossey keeps trying her luck from distance another shot sailing over the bar. Needham Market aren’t deterred prepared to attack and try and get forwards whenever they can, Ipswich’s movement and counter attacking dangerous.

  GOAL! 67 minutes on the clock and Ipswich score another with Wayne running in behind onto a long ball taking it into the box staying composed as she is closed down clever with her movement away left any tackle likely to result in a penalty she closes in on the keeper and slots it past Leeks to score. 6-0.

 Dunn does well making a recovering tackle to concede the corner as Kellett gets forwards into the box. 

  GOAL! 3 minutes after taking a 6 goal lead Ipswich moving the ball well in attack score a well worked 7th, Crump with it at her feet on the left level with the top of the area passing it inside to Kellett central she sends it on to Welton ahead of her right of goal six yards out she shoots across the keeper to find the bottom corner 7-0.

  GOAL! A purple patch from Ipswich as they add an 8th in quick succession Kellett bringing the ball on through the middle on for Wayne in behind inside the box sets up Crump forwards with her on the her left for a simple tap in to make it 8-0.

  Ipswich running away with it now Needham Market making a change with Abbie Wilkinson on for Tuley. Ipswich substitute their goalkeeper Fagg off, Danni Clarke going on between the sticks. Ipswich who are restricted to three substitutes in the FAWNL rolling the changes at Portman Road in the County Cup make multiple changes towards the end of the game. Stock having battled for Needham Market coming off Smith returning to the action. 

  Needham Market despite the heavy scoreline continue with their positive intent getting forwards cheered on whenever they get the ball Sparkes through the middle stopped by Cage. Rainbird bursting forwards showing what she can do in attack getting in behind into the box one on one with the keeper, Clarke does well saving at her feet. Henderson prepared to bring the ball out of defence onto Young her pass for Wilkinson intercepted. Rainbird with Sparkes left Jac Ball cutting out finding Cossey central she puts it on for Crump top of the area she shoots over. 

  Thomas passing to Wakefield running on into the area left side her strike goalwards saved by Leeks the loose ball gathered by Welton 20 yards out her shot put over. Henderson defending as Wayne attacks conceding a corner on the right the ball met by Wayne near post her header dropping over. Thomas getting in behind 25 yards out tees up Wayne to send a shot in goalwards the ball smashing down off the crossbar. Wakefield taking the ball on plays a one two with Crump central before seeing her shot drop wide of goal. 

  Into added time Rainbird bursting clear right into the box taking the ball in close the the keeper placing it wide of her inside the near post, the crowd cheer seeing a Needham Market goal scored at Portman Road or so they thought Rainbird’s joy short-lived a chorus of boo’s ringing out at the sight of the flag raised for offside. Young winning the ball back high up the pitch on for Sparkes 25 yards out her low shot gathered by Clarke late on.

Full time Ipswich Town Women 8-0 Needham Market Women

  Full time and Ipswich Town Women celebrate winning the County Cup once again matching the scoreline the last time they graced Portman Road winning 8-0. Found the clinical edge not with them 2nd half taking full advantage o Needham Market’s inexperience and as they tired create goal scoring opportunities taking their chances well. Showing good movement going forwards and using the space to full advantage, an early 3rd goal 2nd half putting them in full control after scoring at the death in the first half.

These defeats hurt, will take the gloss of what Needham Market Women have acheived the score raw in the memory, but over time those achievements will return, a goal would have been nice at Portman Road but it wasn’t to be. A great occasion nonetheless. In the end runners-up in all three competitions but to be in contention for a possible treble just months after forming is amazing and for Needham Market Women this is just the beginning.

Needham Market Women thanking their supporters

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Time for tonight’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match a few players to mention, for Needham Market, Elysia Young in midfield and Nicola Henderson at the back standing out. For Ipswich, Zoe Cossey was a threat all game running with the ball an unlucky not to be on the scoresheet. Natasha Thomas did score two goals crucial to either side of half-time great movement and desire shown in attack runs tonight’s winner close with Ipswich captain Amanda Crump getting the award make some fantastic runs forwards and scoring two herself whilst setting up chances for others.

Ipswich Town Women, 2018/19 Suffolk Women’s County Cup winners

  Congratulations to Ipswich Town Women on winning a 5th successive Suffolk Women’s County Cup.

 Not the pre-match to a game I wanted but got there in the end and enjoyed the game Portman Road a great venue, a fantastic crowd in support. My thanks to those that helped me out and thanks to Gary Reed for the additional pictures used.