Sunday 5th September
ERWFL Division One North
A trip down to South West Suffolk this Sunday afternoon to take in a game from the ERWFL Division One North, with Haverhill Rovers Ladies hosting league newcomers Biggleswade United Ladies (Red).
The regional set-up representing tiers 5 and 6 of the women’s football pyramid. Set 5 the ERWFL Premier Division, below that is set six in the East of England split into two Division One’s, North and South. The ultimate aim for the FA to see the ERWFL reach it’s full compliment of 3 leagues with 12 sides in each. To that end and with the COVID outbreak seeing some readjustment to the pyramid the ERWFL family has see 8 new sides join Division One, split evenly between North and South. In the South section come Essex sides, Billericay Town Women Development and Barking FC Women with Cheshunt FC Women and Herts Vipers joining from Hertfordshire. Cambridgeshire side Whittlesey Athletic Ladies along with Bury Town Ladies of Suffolk join an 8 strong Division One North with two new comers from Bedfordshire, Wootton Blue Cross Lionesses and Biggleswade United Ladies (Reds).
The growth of the ERWFL is sadly tempered by the withdrawal of two sides who were previously well established within the ERWFL, both struggling for numbers during the close season, Peterborough North Star Ladies from the Premier Division and Histon Ladies who would have lined up in Division One North both folding their first teams. Both will continue within the Cambridgeshire County league as they look to rebuild and hopefully both will be able to re-join the ERWFL in the not too distant future.
Without Histon the ERWFL Division One North is a fresh faced league with Newmarket Town Women being the most experienced at this level joining in the 2018/19 season. Needham Market Women and Cambridge City Ladies Development both joining 2 season’s ago.
Haverhill Rovers Ladies making up the 8 sides contesting the league this season relative newcomers to the ERWFL themselves having joined last season. Their debut season in the ERWFL of course disrupted by the COVID pandemic will be hoping for a clear run this time around. Formed just two season’s before that rapidly moving through the Cambridgeshire league before applying for promotion. The pandemic halting their development as it has so many others. Haverhill have two senior women’s sides with Haverhill Rovers Ladies Community playing in the Cambs Women’s Division Three this season. A good blend of experienced and young players the squad further bolstered with the signings of Ali Wright who can operate comfortably as an outfield player more so as a goalkeeper in recent seasons. Amy Round comes to Haverhill having previously been with Cheshunt. Have played just the one league game to date and got off to a poor start with a 6-0 home loss to Cambridge City Ladies Development that though is their only game to date with last weekends fixture called off.
A rapid rise up the league pyramid too for Biggleswade United Ladies only formed a couple of seasons ago when Biggleswade United showed an keen interest in setting up a women’s side. Beds & Herts Division Three side Shefford Town & Compton Ladies the base for the new beginning. Good player recruitment from the off saw the new Biggleswade United Ladies side get off to a strong start in Division Three before the pandemic curtailed the season. Bumped up to Division One the story continued but alas with the ongoing pandemic another season was finished early. During the close season the FA inviting any clubs that wished it at county level to apply for the regional set-up. Biggleswade’s application successful seeing them climb two leagues again to reach set 6 of the pyramid. 3 matches played so far got off to a great start with a 3-1 win at home to Newmarket Town Women since then has been back to back defeats both by a narrow margin going down 3-2 away to follow promoted side Wootton Blue Cross Lionesses and most recently a 2-1 loss away to league leaders Cambridge City Ladies Development.
A big jump up and the club has responded in kind giving the women’s set-up full backing, a 2nd Biggleswade United Ladies side the Blues set to make their debut in Beds & Herts Division One this season. The ERWFL side now the Reds. Luke Molloy coming to the club to oversea both teams is joined by Ashley Pead who was very successful in his time with ERWFL Premier Division side AFC Dunstable Women as he helped to turn the clubs fortunes around his spell ending with a Bedfordshire County Cup Final appearance. Luke Molloy too with experience coaching in the ERWFL Premier Division with Colney Heath Ladies last season, Stevenage Juniors before that. Have brought in players with Premier Division experience, one too with FAWNL experience, Amy Butler like Wright for Haverhill a very good keeper in her own right but can operate outfield too.
The New Croft the venue for today’s game. Previously Haverhill Rovers Ladies have plied their trade on the 3G pitch set behind the main stadium and community building. This season they will be playing on the main grass pitch, a quality looking pitch offering good width. A small covered seated stand on one side with the clubhouse and kitchen behind. Busy today with a Subbuteo tournament also taking place. The sprinklers on giving the grass a good watering before the game. Newsflash a bright and sunny day September starting off on a positive note after a pretty dull August. A warm one drinks breaks will be required.
Haverhill Rovers Ladies starting XI – Ali Wright, Melissa Townson, Julie Brown, Abi Head, Amy Evans, Charlotte Westrope, Stacey Roper (C), Kayleigh Steed, Hollie Turner, Olivia Dunne & Georgia England. Subs – Keira Ball & Amy Round.
Biggleswade United Ladies starting XI – Joshua Fitch, Helen Spencer, Amy Butler, Ashley Emerton, Tasmine Gentle, Jodie Molloy (C) Megan Molloy, Kayleigh Gray, Tashai Simms, Charlene Moreton & Tayla Murray. Subs – Kendal O’Connor, Sophie Norman & Alex Bush.
(Roll on roll off substitutes)
Ironically the Reds are in blue this afternoon as Haverhill too play in an all red kit. Biggleswade with blue shirts and socks with black shorts a change of ends seeing the visitors kick off the 1st half. The high sun over the clubhouse a potential factor for goalkeepers and defenders to consider. The grass watered well before kick-off unlikely to be a factor in the heat. The ball played back to the defence Biggleswade look to spread play wide to Tashai Simms on the left. Haverhill’s Melissa Townson at full back moving in quickly to close her down on half way. The centre of the park congested as players from both side move in rapidly to close down each other neither side making much headway in the opening minutes.
Haverhill forcing Biggleswade to play the ball all the way back to their goalkeeper, Joshua Fitch to send upfield for striker Tayla Murray to try and bring under control, Amy Evans in on her to nudge the ball into captain Stacey Roper central, takes it on before Megan Molloy puts in the tackle the ball out with Amy Butler at right back brings it on for Biggleswade before sending a diagonal ball high towards the top of the area, Murray the target goes beyond her Simms beyond left of the D goes for the ball the sliding block put in the ball deflected behind for the first corner of the game.
The delivery from the left in towards the top of the box attacked sliced behind another corner conceded over on the right. Fired in head height near post his headed on into the centre, turned goalwards the ball rising up over the bar to land on the roof of the net. Biggleswade starting to gain some momentum finding space on the flanks players drawn over to Simms who is linking up well with Charlene Moreton in attack, space for Kayleigh Gray on the opposite side to exploit. Kayleigh Steed winning the ball for Haverhill central clipping a pass forwards central for Olivia Dunne to attack, Ashley Emerton out from the back line well putting in the challenge to regain possession for Biggleswade. Sends it long for Gray on the right space to run into his a very quick player bursting forwards controlling as she reaches the by-line and flashes a cross high into the six yard box, Ali Wright with a confident high catch.
Roper taking the ball into her feet central on for Dunne who returns the pass as Roper advances sees Georgia England making a left channel run sends the pass on for her. Trying to bring the ball inside as she reaches the box, Butler steps in to make the tackle for Biggleswade.
GOAL! The visitors starting the game well capitalise with the opening goal inside 8 minutes. Play drawn over to the left off attack as Megan Molloy plays the ball out to Simms in the wing, Murray and Moreton rushing forwards to provide support near side the ball is instead played long diagonally into the box picking out Gray in an advanced position free at the top of the six yard box right of the goal, strikes the ball hard on the angle, little time for Wright to set herself falling as she attempts to make the save can only look on helpless as the shot deflects of her to strike the back of the net 0-1.
Simms and Gray out wide have the Haverhill defence on the back foot, as the ball is won in the middle competitive between Steed and Roper and Megan and Jodie Molloy the ball put up to Murray back to goal outside the D knocks it down to Moreton on her left she spots Gray with another burst of pace stealing into the box, striking the 1st time shot on the angle, Wright in goal is right behind it to make the save.
Gray’s pace a real asset for Biggleswade in attack an outlet the play spread out to her checks inside to put a cross into the advancing Megan Molloy her shot dragged wide of the far post from 20 yards. Steed brings the ball on for Haverhill lifting it up the right for England to chase, Helen Spencer getting across the attacker shielding the ball for keeper Fitch to clear. Haverhill’s England manages to get in behind on the left going to the corner checks her run cutting back inside moving into the box looks to line up a curling effort but closed down quickly by Emerton ends up pulling her effort wide of the near post.
Simms carrying the ball on left side puts it inside to Murray outside the box, Hollie Turner sliding in for Haverhill making the tackle, the ball loose deflected inside the box Moreton going after it with Simms, Townson doing really well defending for Haverhill sliding into to tackle wins a goal kick.
GOAL! The respite is short lived as Biggleswade are quick to regain possession in the middle Molloy out to Simms has Moreton with her on the flank the pair linking up making ground, Simms put in to make a charge from the left into the box, is tripped as she enters the area, the referee blowing up a penalty kick awarded. Moreton placing the ball on the spot, strikes it hard and high into the top right hand corner to double the lead 0-2.
18 minutes played and Biggleswade make their first change bringing on Sophie Norman at right back for Butler. A good start to the game from Biggleswade have their opponents on the back foot moving the ball quickly and getting in first to win the ball. The visitors with a free-kick on halfway left side play moved over to the left Norman with space to run into on for Gray to chase has a lot of ground to cover but does well to hook a cross in from the by-line probably catches her teammates out as no one moves to attack the ball Wright up to claim it unchallenged.
Simms dribbling the ball shifts inside pushing it into Murray top of the area left side, attempts to bring it down into her feet wanting to turn into the shot, Julie Brown in to close her down tackling well for Haverhill in defence. This game is being played at a really high tempo both sides consuming alot of energy in the sunshine Roper strong on the ball moving forwards is clipped as she releases England ahead of her, nothing doing and play is brought back for the free-kick for Haverhill. Evans to play the ball into the box right side attacked by Roper up with Spencer not sure who got the touch to send it in towards goal but Fitch reacts smartly getting a glove up to turn the ball wide and behind for a corner. Tasmine Gentle defending from the corner for Biggleswade possession back with Haverhill but the defence steps up will to catch their slower reacting opponents offside.
Play pauses for both sides to take on fluids. Biggleswade restarting where they left off on the attack the ball closed down well in the final 3rd out to Gray left side jinks left then right before lifting it square into the top of the area, Murray going for it a 50/50 challenge the defected ball rising towards goal, Wright holding onto it well back on her line. Simms rapid down the left up against Townson, goes inside Townson reading it diving in to tackle win the ball back. Murray central chips it right to Gray her touch taking it into the corner wriggles free of her marker to come inside feed it back into the top of the box Moreton going to strike it first time, Brown sliding in to make the block. The loose ball running to Simms on the left gathering it into her feet shifts then blasts a shot in on the angle, Wright across her goal mouth down at her near post to make the save.
Biggleswade with a free-kick 25 yards out on the right fired into the area far side Moreton onto it brings it down, Brown in to close her down doesn’t let her get a shot away. For a moment the break is on Steed carrying the ball on through the middle out to England left side, comes back inside looking to tee it up for Steed central, hasn’t read it however as Biggleswade captain Jodie Molloy comes back to take the ball get another attack flowing for the visitors. Roper getting hold of the ball forwards for Dunne to go after, Emerton stepping out of the back line again to intercept.
Steed over halfway riding a challenge plays England in on the left in behind for once draws Fitch out to her committing the keeper to a save going to ground knocks it beyond her moving in on goal six yards out the Biggleswade defence getting plenty of bodies back has little to aim at plants her strike into the side netting. Roper with a powerful run as she gathers the ball into her body 25 yards out driving on into the box hits a shot in towards goal pace on the ball, Fitch right behind it gloves the ball down comfortably.
Biggleswade reintroduce Butler swapping places with Norman again. Haverhill starting to find some joy in the final 3rd as the first half draws to a close. Roper pushing on getting hold of the ball, Steed winning it central a good passage of play sees Evans lift it on for Roper up to Dunne back to goal lays it back to her captain who spots England moving to the left a tough ball to play gets it into England but before she can turn is closed down by 3 Biggleswade defenders. Simms coming off for Biggleswade, Kendal O’Connor coming on left side. Pushing on a throw high on the left Biggleswade’s Moreton 20 yards out sees the ball down turning inside flashes it out to Butler free high on the opposite side struck first time Butler’s effort is sliced wide.
Westrope comes on with the ball for Haverhill inside for Turner then Steed lifted on for Dunne, it’s Emerton again stepping out of defence well to make a vital interception. Haverhill finishing the half well Brown sliding in strongly on Murray, the last chance of the half goes to the visitors Megan Molloy left channel sending a diagonal ball low into the box right side for Moreton, lines up a strike looking to put it back across the keeper, is also past the far post.
Half-time Haverhill Rovers Ladies 0-2 Biggleswade United Ladies Red
A strong first half performance from Biggleswade sees them leading 2-0 at the break. Started the game well getting on the front foot Simms and Gray using the space out wide well. Getting the better of the 50/50 battles closing down the ball creating chances whilst limiting opportunities at the other end for Haverhill. A lot of energy expanded by both side in the heat however. Haverhill struggling to match their opponents intensity early only falling behind got into the game late in the first half creating a couple of half chances forcing a save from the keeper. Will be looking to make a better start to the 2nd half.
A change for the hosts with Amy Round coming on for England in attack. Haverhill to kick-off the 2nd period. Evans on the ball played up to Dunne left cuts inside feeding it into Round, Gentle in on her to defend for Biggleswade outside the box. Brown comes through the back of Murray again with another strong tackle, already having a warning the referee issues her with the first yellow card of the game.
Haverhill with a positive start to the 2nd half going in to win the ball higher up the pitch Roper further forwards cutting out a poor pass 25 yards out lays it back to Steed to strike 1st time towards goal. Fitch back on her line sees it all the way claims safely. Biggleswade attack right side Gray up for Murray inside the box back to goal right side brings the ball down into her body knocking it down wide of goal, stretching as she falls trying to strike the ball goalwards doesn’t get a good touch her effort charged down by Evans. The visitors with a throw high on the left inside for Moreton turns on the ball running into the D gets her foot wrapped around the ball drags it wide of the far post.
Fitch alert comes early as Roper is ready to pounce of a ball lifted into her as she drifts into the left channel. The game more even now Haverhill pressing for a reply, Roper higher Steed winning the tackles in middle. Butler finding space right is allowed to come on covers alot of ground before she is eventually stopped by the sliding challenge of Westrope.
Dunne carrying the ball on wide left is sent to the ground winning a free-kick. Players come forwards into the area a great ball fired in with pace the overhead kick is attempted the ball met Fitch can’t move watches the ball come back off the crossbar! If someone wants credit for that kick they’ll have to let me know good effort.
Pressure building from Haverhill asking the Biggleswade defence a few questions, Emerton and Gentle both tackling well however. Another free-kick for Haverhill 40 yards out left of centre lifted in to the box left side of goal a jumping player missing but almost un-sighting Fitch she is almost caught out with the bounce but plucks the ball down well. Wright with a confident call and claims as Butler goes for goal off a 30 yards free-kick.
GOAL! Haverhill’s good start to the 2nd half is of no avail as Biggleswade go on to extend their lead on the hour. A throw beyond the halfway line left side taken early setting Moreton away as she finds a pocket of space taking the ball on into the box, Brown up with her looks to keep her wide of goal pulls up sharply, Moreton checking inside moving across the six yard box not closed down picks her spot chipping the ball past the keeper at the near post 0-3.
Brown needing treatment has to come of holding her hamstring is replaced by Keira Ball who takes up an advanced role on the right supporting Round and Dunne in attack. Megan Molloy with a great diagonal past up to O’Connor top of the D a good first touch to bring the ball down into her feet, the shot after less so as she puts too much on it striking the shot wide of the top corner. Gray comes off for Biggleswade with Simms coming back on to attack the right flank.
GOAL! Biggleswade go further ahead to take full control of the game the ball central played into Murray 35 yards out sends it forwards into O’Connor top of the D, good control once more his Moreton inside the D wanting the pass, threads it through low to see the attacker burst in behind the defence to set herself up with a one on one with the keeper, is an experienced customer can pick her spot once again and opts to send it wide of the keepers left this time to plant the ball in the bottom right corner to score her hat-trick! 0-4.
A hammer blow for Haverhill having started the 2nd half well to fall behind by 4 goals have a mountain to climb now with a little over 20 minutes left. Another drinks break called a chance for players to regroup Biggleswade making another change with Alex Bush coming on for Murray up top. Play resumes Megan Molloy releasing O’Connor moving left, Wright comes well making the tackle with her foot inside the box before carrying it outside and clearing. Evans intercepts well as Biggleswade threaten to cut a path through the middle.
Bush with a shot from 25 yards out as she picks up the ball and has a run at the defence, the shot straight at Wright caught in her midriff. Roper and Megan Molloy have had a battle throughout the match two committed players nibbling at each other Molloy ends up bringing Roper down on this occasion Haverhill getting the free-kick. Biggleswade confident 4 nil up pile players forwards in attack Simms carrying the charge on the ball right side lays it back for the advancing Jodie Molloy difficult to bring under control wants to release a shot. Head is in to close her down and block as she does.
Haverhill are tiring space is opening up, O’Connor is another pacy player for Biggleswade is put through on the right after the ball, Evans with a vital interception to throw out a leg cut the pass out. Haverhill make a change Dunne coming off England back on to re-join the attack. Westrope too intercepting a past sent on by Emerton looking for Bush up top.
GOAL! A frustrating game for Haverhill just as they were looking to get back into found themselves conceding a further 2 goals. Keeping going and finally get a goal. The ball fed out from the back to Ball in space on the right takes on her marker going on pushed wide the by-line does well to work a powerfully struck cross into the near post the ball cut out is deflected straight to Steed top of the area inside right, drags it into a better position before smashing a shot low across the keeper into the bottom corner 1-4.
10 minutes left to play a much needed boosts for the hosts. Both sides are tiring have put alot into it space opening up everywhere. O’Connor in particular on the left. Townson tracking back well to tackle Bush inside the box for Haverhill as Simms pace on the right threatens to open them up straight from the restart. Turner comes off for Haverhill, Dunne sent back on.
GOAL! Biggleswade soon restore their 4 goal lead with Haverhill over committing in attack the move breaking down the ball played on into the middle is fired on up field to O’Connor in behind the defence bearing down on the box one on one with the keeper Wright stays big as long as she can coming out to close O’Connor down, the young attacker striking the ball close in Wright moving left gets a touch but not enough slowing the ball but no one can catch O’Connor as she runs in beyond the keeper to clip the bouncing ball into the net from close range. 1-5.
Moreton and Jodie Molloy come off for Biggleswade, Murray and Gray back on. Spencer defending in the corner against Ball brings the ball out from the back inside for 12 bombs on up the line getting the return ball continues her run laying it off to Murray as she continues her run going central Murray playing her in takes on the shot from outside the box right of the D in low, Wright down low to save.
Biggleswade finishing the game strong Gray pacy on the right on for Murray 20 out turns to play the ball through for Simms, looks offside and the flag is up as she buries the ball into the back of the net past the keeper in stoppage time. The final whistle goes as Haverhill see Emerton break up another attack intercepting well at the back.
Full time Haverhill Rovers Ladies 1-5 Biggleswade United Ladies Red
A 2nd win of the season sees Biggleswade climb into 2nd spot in the Division One North table behind Needham Market Women after they ran out comfortable winners against previous leaders Cambridge City Ladies Development 6-2. A strong start to the game from Biggleswade on the front foot the pace of Gray and Simms out wide causing problems and were the first to the ball more often than not taking an early lead before Moreton doubled the advantage from the penalty spot. Haverhill were sluggish took too long to find any rhythm encouraging signs towards the end of the 2nd half and began the 2nd period better, chances created may well have pulled a goal back if not drawn level. Biggleswade though always a threat in the final 3rd getting a 3rd goal quickly followed by a 4th killing off the game. Haverhill kept going getting a goa to make it 4-1 Biggleswade straight back to restore their 4 goal cushion.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. A few notable performances to mention first. For Haverhill Kayleigh Steed with strong winning numerous challenges and looking to get her side going in the final 3rd as was captain Stacey Roper getting hold of the ball and making some determined runs, whilst at the back Melissa Townson and Amy Evans produced a number of important tackles. For Biggleswade, Ashley Emerton and Tasmine Gentle were solid at the back, Emerton in particular stepping out well to intercept stopping Haverhill attacks before they ever go going. Megan Molloy was superb in the centre of the park. Kayleigh Gray and Kendal O’Connor full of pace caused problems throughout. The award though goes to Biggleswade’s hat-trick hero, Charlene Moreton. Was great in linking up the attack and midfield reading the wide players runs and offering support, showing great composure for all 3 goals.
Enjoyed my trip to The New Croft, the sunshine definitely helping. Good to see both sides in action. Another new name to tick off the list… it’s a long list. A fast paced entertaining game the ERWFL rarely disappoints. My thanks as always to both clubs for their help with the team details is much appreciated.
by Darren Gilham