Sunday 13th August
ERWFL Division One North
Here we go again! The new season quickly upon us with the ERWFL getting the ball rolling for the 2023/24 campaign. Promises to be an exciting season ahead and with the Lionesses going strong in the FIFA Women’s World Cup reaching the last 4 the game continues to rise.
Not quite the restful period I was hoping for am nevertheless ready to go again and besides it never really stops in the footballing community with clubs and managers busy preparing for their next season. Has certainly been alot of movement, most likely an increase in club numbers aswell and certainly the case the ERWFL as the league’s representing the 5th and 6th tiers of the women’s football pyramid reach their full potential in terms of numbers with 11 new names joining taking all three divisions the Premier and Division One’s North and South to 12 sides each.
Regretfully one side has since been forced to withdraw due to lack of numbers, East Bergholt United Ladies having worked hard to get to the ERWFL always finding it a challenge with a number of strong sides around them to retain players, have always had a good youth set-up and will hopefully return some day in the women’s game. 35 clubs then beginning the new season with Hertford Town Women, Wormley Rovers Ladies, Southend United Ladies, Stanway Pegasus Ladies and Watford Ladies Development joining ERWFL Division One South. Harpenden Town Women, Histon Ladies, Mulbarton Wanderers Ladies, Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Ladies, Thetford Town Ladies and Stevenage FC Women Development joining Division One North and where Women’s Football East begins it’s season with St Ives Town Ladies hosting one of the leagues new sides, Thetford Town Ladies.
St Ives Town Ladies bursting onto the scene formed in 2015 enjoying a rapid rise up the women’s football pyramid, reaching the ERWFL Premier Division. Dropped back into Division One North last season looking to bounce straight back ultimately finishing third in the table along with reaching the Hunts Women’s Cup final for the 2nd successive season. With 7 new sides in the league their may well be several challenging for the title. Some upheaval towards the end of the season with Ben Green departing as manager, with ex-Cambridge United player Emily Ingle joining the club last season taking on taking on the role. Have a trimmed down squad for the 2023/24 campaign while retaining a solid core of experience with a promising youth set-up backing them up their U18’s side winning their league last season with a 100% record. A few of these stepping up to join the first team along with Natalie Munden from the Development side. Olivia Dunne also recruited having previously been with Haverhill Rovers Women.
Thetford Town Ladies originally missing out on a place in the ERWFL due to the high volume of applications were later given the news they had been successful after another side chose to withdraw. Manager Luke Pickford joining Thetford midway through last season busy in the close season recruiting players to help bolster the squad to play at a higher level. Kamile Omelevicuite and Laura Martins retained having impressed joining the club last season. Added to the squad are Katie Fray and Kate Morris starring for Taverham Women’s 7-aside team last season, Fray scoring an incredible 78 goals in just 18 matches with Morris not doing bad either netting 24. Also joining the attack are Jordanne Sillitoe with plenty of experience in the ERWFL previously with Haverhill, Hannah Claughton the winger dual signed with Aylsham and Maryanne Hoy most recently with Long Stratton Women. With two more new signings joining the defence, Libby O’Callaghan and Fran Peeling who was ERWFL Premier Division side King’s Lynn Town Ladies vice-captain last season. Assistant coach Amber Browne donning the goalkeepers clubs with a long term injury to Millie Askins.
Starting this season where I ended the last one at Westwood Road home of St Ives Town FC. Back then to attend the last ever Kick Cancer Cup held in memory of Sam Issacson and Charlene Martin both losing their lives to bowel cancer. Many of the St Ives players featuring for the Charlene’s XI squad that won the game on the night raising lots of money for charity. The Westwood Road pitch replaced by a new 3G surface a couple of seasons ago which saw an end to the infamous hill on one corner of the grass pitch. A lovely surface now nice and wide with viewing all round the bar and clubhouse overlooking one side with kitchen hatch serving hot drinks. A small seated stand opposite. A bright sunny afternoon if a little cloudy at times to begin the season all in all good conditions for a match.
St Ives Town Women starting XI – Sarah Aftelak, Sasha Smith, Jess Conyard, Lauren Fort, Koren Evans, Jasmine Cowie, Hannah Seymour-Shove (C), Niamh Sutherland, Katie Stancombe, Olivia Dunne and Maya Edwards. Subs – Elle Jefferson, Natalie Munden, Enya Griffiths and Emily Waterman.
Thetford Town Ladies starting XI – Amber Browne, Elizabeth Moore, Zoe Klimcke, Fran Peeling, Mia Bambury (C), Dayna Howard, Kamile Omeleviciute, Kate Morris, Maryanne Hoy, Katie Fray and Jordanne Sillitoe. Subs – Erin Lloyd, Laura Martins, Amber May, Hannah Rogers & Hannah Claughton.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
It’s Thetford to get the game underway kicking off the first half wearing an all claret strip with sky blue trim on the shirts. St Ives lined up opposite wearing white shirts with black vertical striping on the front along with black shorts and socks. The ball rolled back into Dayna Howard in midfield back to Moore on the right of defence shifts inside as Katie Stancombe moves to challenge the ball back for Howard lifted out wide to Maryanne Hoy the the move down the left flank sends the ball inside for Jordanne Sillitoe coming to receive top left corner of the area, she swivels lifting a cross to the far post, Kamile Omeleviciute running in meeting it as it drops on the volley to smash against the base of the right post! Goalkeeper Sarah Aftelak going down for the initial shot able to adjust on the ground the snatch up the loose ball. An early chance for Thetford.
The visitors feeding off their bright start getting on the front foot pressing St Ives high, Lauren Fort stepping on well to clear the ball inside the D for St Ives look to break hit Thetford on the counter, Fran Peeling backing up to head the ball clear. Sillitoe and Omeleviciute combining through the middle for Thetford the ball laid out to Hoy wide left her cross whipped in to the far post cleared by St Ives, Sasha Smith. Attacking on the left the ball on for Stancombe driving forwards fed into the area for Maya Edwards in behind the defence volleys wide at the near post as she closes down the keeper.
Thetford press high captain Mia Bambury playing the ball into Howard threaded on for Sillitoe, Jess Conyard incepting and clearing for St Ives outside her area. Hannah Seymour-Shove captaining St Ives putting in a good tackle in the middle looking to take the ball on travelling right, Zoe Klimcke out to close her down as Hoy tracks back to defend. Omeleviciute getting on well from the middle for Thetford overloading the attack as the short diagonal ball is rolled into her left of the D puts her foot through the shot clipped goalwards angling in high swerving narrowly wide of the top left corner.
GOAL! Thetford building on their positive start opening the scoring inside the opening 10 minutes, fighting for possession in the final third Sillitoe battles to gain possession 25 yards out with Omeleviciute stealing in behind her taking hold of the loose ball to charge at the goal sliding in under challenge to knock the ball wide of the keeper low into the bottom corner. A brief conversation between referee Charlotte Hindmarch and the linesman however the goal stands 0-1.
Thetford pressing the ball at the back limiting the opportunities for St Ives to get their own attacking players involved in the game. Seymour-Shove working hard to break thing’s up put herself about looking to win the ball preventing Omeleviciute getting forwards with Hoy and Sillitoe breaking in front of her. Not long before Thetford win the ball back however Katie Fray into Sillitoe out to Hoy wide left players tracking back to defend the box, Jasmine Cowie on hand to head the cross clear for St Ives.
Moore on the right sending the ball on for Morrie on the wing powers forwards with the ball at her feet the shot on the angle put straight into the keepers gloves. St Ives mount an attack sending players on as Cowie lifts the ball long for Evans running on down the right checks back level with the top of the area laying the ball back for Edwards 25 yards out she in turn lifts the ball high into the middle of the area, Peeling under it to head away for the visitors.
Fray seeing the ball into her feet central turns right of the D looking to take on Fort in the centre of defence the centre back getting her boot in to take the ball away, Thetford getting numbers on however to pressure the ball win a corner on the right. Swung in St Ives defend solidly at the near post. Look to get on the attack Stancombe getting hold of the ball taking it forwards through the middle pace has support from Dunne on her left laying the ball into her strikes it hard from 25 yards out rising the keeper beaten as the ball smashes down off the bar collected by Stancombe outside the box central lines up the strike this time Browne sees it all the way takes it well moving to her left.
GOAL! No sooner have St Ives struck the woodwork one end Thetford attack up the other and double their lead. The ball played on from the middle to find Omeleviciute on the move right of the D 25 yards out sends the ball into Sillitoe moving across the top of the area dragging the defence to the left before checking back to play the shot low back across the keeper into the opposite corner to score her first Thetford goal 0-2.
Thetford 2 goals to the good inside the opening 20 minutes continue to press inside the St Ives half the ball wide for Hoy taking it on down the left winning her side a corner kick. Sillitoe down for Thetford with a knock as players take on fluids he visitor’s with a double change bringing both Sillitoe and Morris off on come Laura Martins and Hannah Claughton. The corner ball cut out by Dunne inside the box, Seymour-Shove carries it out quickly into the Thetford half her crossfield ball looking for Stancombe cut out well by Moore at the back for Thetford.
Fray with a mishit shot from 30 yards out central turns into a great pass for Hoy racing on down the left her cross whipped into the six yard from deep just a little too high for Claughton at the far post, Fray getting hold of it beyond her can only turn the ball into the keeper. Natalie Munden on at the back for St Ives replacing Smith. Evans into block a vicious strike from outside the box as Thetford attack on the right.
Claughton up front getting after the ball eager to run at the defence turning inside from the right, Conyard and Fort between them make her think twice before taking the strike the ball lost. Klimcke out to close down Evans as the St Ives defender looks to run into space on the right. Evans coming off soon after replaced by Enya Griffiths. Stancombe with the ball for St Ives out left charging on squares it inside for Dunne, Omeleviciute tackling well 25 yards out to prevent a shooting opportunity. Seymour-Shove with Sutherland in the middle working the ball all almost through the Thetford defence for Edwards but for Peeling getting a vital touch as she stretches for the ball to take it away from the attacker.
Cowie off for St Ives, with Elle Jefferson into the action. The hosts getting the ball into Stancombe looking to produce some magic jinking inside the ball rolled into the D, Klimcke stretching to intercept is closed down by Dunne getting inside her to shoot drills a low ball to the left Browne diving low making a fantastic save to claim the ball. St Ives finding a little momentum winning the ball in the middle Seymour-Shove battling for everything on for Edwards has Dunne ahead of her who plays it out for Griffiths wide to the right her cross swept across the goal face hooked behind by Moore to concede the corner kick. Taken short the ball whipped in near post cleared by Omeleviciute.
Thetford strong in the final third getting after the ball Claughton in to close down the St Ives defence moves across the D to the left before shooting clipped narrowly wide of the top left corner. Hoy latching onto a clearance 30 yards out left side sending the ball back into the area knocked on pass the far post the shot turned back in low caught by Aftelak on the ground. Thetford push forwards Hoy left inside for Fray then Claughton out for Morris wide the shot struck on the angle claimed by Aftelak.
Morris out on the left firing in a shot on the angle to rattle the bottom of the post. Omelevicuite does well flicking on Browne’s goal kick to send Claughton racing through into the area Seymour-Shove with a burst of pace getting back at her lunging in to tackle winning the ball well. Thetford winning a free-kick inside the St Ives half on the right late in the first half the ball swung into the box by Peeling met by Fray near side on the half volley turned goalwards, Aftelak though right behind it to claim.
Omeleviciute pulling free to the left of the D receiving the ball of Fray to strike a swerving shot into the side netting. Thetford ending the half strong Howard forwards into Fray looks to drive at the defence, sees her shot blocked.
GOAL! The ball won back in the middle by Thetford, Howard finding Omeleviciute outside the area left of the D, not closed down sends her shot low across the keeper to nestle into the bottom corner 0-3.
Half-time St Ives Town Women 0-3 Thetford Town Ladies
A goal at the end of the first half sealing a dominant display from Thetford starting well taking an early lead pressing the ball high St Ives limited in their reply nevertheless creating a couple of chances striking the woodwork before immediately conceding a 2nd goal midway through the first half. Thetford remained on the front foot getting after the ball creating a few chances of their own, St Ives still looking a threat when they were able to take the ball on hit with a 3rd goal before the break. Thetford with a comfortable lead to defend going into the 2nd half, St Ives with things to work on if they wish to get back into the game in the 2nd period.
A double switch for Thetford at the start of the 2nd half Martins and Sillitoe back on for Morris and Hoy. St Ives to get the 2nd half underway played into Sutherland back for Munden Thetford quick to press the ball played back to the keeper forced into a rushed clearance.
GOAL! The ball dropping to Omeleviciute 30 yards out floated out to the left flank with Claughton on the attack the ball fizzed into the box near side 12 yards out met by Sillitoe her strike blocked by Fort lunging across her coming to Omeleviciute having burst into the area to lift the loose ball back up over the keeper to score an opening day hat-trick 0-4.
A huge blow for St Ives conceding a 4th goal straight at the start of the 2nd half. Give away a free-kick in a dangerous position 25 yards out to the left of the area, Sillitoe over the ball goes for it sending her strike over the bar. St Ives with a change bringing Evans back on replacing Munden at the back. Martins looking to get on with the ball take it on left side is tackled by Seymour-Shove giving away the free-kick. Peeling over the delivery wide right a teasing ball put into the corridor in front of goal defended by Fort headed out.
Thetford pushing on well with Martins running on to the by-line wide right before sending a cross in low nearside Fray close in on goal turning the ball on across somehow kept out by the St Ives defence comes back to the right post Omeleviciute attempting an audacious overhead kick doesn’t get a strong enough touch the ball caught by Aftelak.
For all of Thetford’s dominating play getting after the ball St Ives remain a threat going forwards themselves looking to expose gaps through the back line the ball put on by Sutherland for Jefferson taking it on right channel holding her marker off well before rifling a shot wide of the near post. Bambury finding Martins going right the ball hit on the diagonal finding the run of Omeleviciute top of the area turns her shot over.
Seymour-Shove getting in to tackle Martins turning to play the pass on for Dunne, Moore stepping in to challenge at the back for Thetford. St Ives bringing Cowie back on replacing Sutherland in the middle. Omeleviciute brings down Jefferson bringing St Ives a free-kick central 35 yards out players go up as Seymour-Shove plays it high into the box, Browne keeping her eye on the ball making a clean catch.
Fray finding space for Thetford clipping a diagonal pass out for Claughton advancing on the left her cross squared into the area cut out by Fort. Out for a throw left side lifted into Fray inside the area looks to turn on the ball quickly closed down by Stancombe. Thetford quick to regain possession through Howard the ball to Martins right her cross cleared by Griffiths for a corner on the left. Played in low dipping near side met by Claughton looks to flick the ball on towards goal Aftelak with a sharp save at her near post.
Thetford with a double change with Fray and Klimcke coming off, Erin Lloyd and Amber May sent on with Lloyd going to the right of defence Moore coming left. Conyard off for St Ives, Munden back on. Fort doing well at the back coming in to close down Claughton as she drives into the box with the ball at her fee from the left. The visitors press on the left winning a throw high into May plays it on for Sillitoe breaking on into the box, Fort sticking out a foot snatching the ball off her, out to the left of goal Omelevicuite flashing a shot wide across the face of goal.
Griffiths with some pace on the ball out on the right played on by Cowie drives a shot in on the angle held by Browne. Sillitoe from the left taking the ball on into the box shifting left then right before powering a shot wide off the base of the post. Claughton off for Thetford with Hoy back on. St Ives replacing Edwards with Conyard. Munden finding Jefferson up top with a well placed pass, linking up with Griffiths to her right look to play the one two, Moore getting her foot in to regain possession for Thetford.
GOAL! Players tiring on both sides Thetford win the ball back on halfway with Bambury opens up her body to send the pass on for Martins breaking forwards on the right whips her cross into the six yard box players running in he ball over May central drops for Sillitoe behind to smash the ball past the keeper to make it 0-5.
A 5th goal coming with a little under 20 minutes left St Ives finding it difficult to get any meaningful possession inside their opponents half Seymour-Shove continue to fight for everything the ball on for Jefferson out to Griffiths on the right flank taking it on down the line her shot on the angle driven behind. Sillitoe left puts the ball forwards for Hoy on the touchline, Evans getting across her to defend for St Ives conceding the corner. The ball floated in central headed out to the left side with Stancombe looking to break getting in behind wide, Peeling comes rushing across to clear the ball away for a throw.
Off the throw Evans puts the ball in across the top of the Thetford area for Jefferson who helps it on for Stancombe to her right the number 17 rifling a shot in Browne throwing herself at it past her comes crashing down off the crossbar for a 2nd time, Browne grounded in a favourable position to take the rebound before Jefferson can meet the follow up.
Up the other end Aftelak makes a strong blocking save as she comes out to the top of her area to close Sillitoe down as she bursts in behind the hosts defence on the left. May bringing down a diagonal ball into the box shifts inside to shoot, is tackled by Seymour-Shove diving in the ball deflected out to the right post May with a 2nd bite getting her foot under the ball forcing Aftelak into another brilliant save pushing the ball over her goal.
GOAL! Thetford though go on to score from the resulting corner the ball curled into the box knocked down by Lloyd off her chest into the path of Omeleviciute central to lift past the keeper and into the back of the net for her 4th goal of the match 0-6.
Omeleviciute coming off after her 4th goal to be replaced by Hannah Rogers. Thetford on top pressing the advantage with Martins going on with the ball right side into the box for May who goes out to the by-line right held up before cutting it back into Martins central, slipping as she goes to pull the trigger her shot running harmlessly wide of the far post.
St Ives still looking to attack catch Thetford sleeping at the back Griffiths taking the ball on right side putting it into the box for Dunne, her effort blocked by Moore. Stancombe charging on with the ball looking for Jefferson through the middle with 9 breaking into the box the final ball just won’t fall as Peeling scrambles it away. Stancombe off late on with Edwards back into the action as the host look for a late flurry, Lloyd lunging into tackle Dunne left of the D as Seymour-Shove rolls the pass into her.
May pulling right knocking a diagonal pass down inside for Martins to run onto right channel 25 yards out hit well Aftelak diving to her left but the shot races wide of the post. Aftelak then producing a low save to her right as Sillitoe turns inside to shoot off a throw on on the left, Conyard in to close Sillitoe down then as she goes after the loose ball. One last corner won by St Ives on the right Thetford back to defend as the ball is played short before Griffiths fires the cross wide along the face of goal.
Full time St Ives Town Women 0-6 Thetford Town Ladies
A great start to life in the ERWFL for Thetford Town Ladies as they begin life in the 6th tier with a dominant victory away from home. Set the tone early getting after the ball high up the pitch putting the home defence on the back foot scoring and early goal. St Ives coming close to equalising denied by the woodwork before being hit with a sucker punch up the other end to concede a 2nd straight away midway through the half. Thetford getting on well with good runs from midfield to add a 3rd goal t the end of the 1st half. The last thing St Ives wanted was to concede another goal early in the 2nd half unfortunately they did as Thetford began strong getting after the ball. A mountain to climb Thetford proved relentless in attack although signs were there they might be exposed at the back St Ives didn’t do it enough to exert any real pressure going on to concede a 5th the 6th goal. A tough opening day for the hosts will need to regroup and go again for Thetford it will be more of a case of keeping everyone’s feet on the ground, nevertheless a fantastic result.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto the first Women’s Football East – Player of the Match award of the season, most of the time it’s not an easy decision although today is an exception. A few performances to mention first though. For St Ives no doubt Hannah Seymour-Shove their captain ran herself into the ground getting after the ball making tackles and spurring her teammates on. Katie Stancombe looking the most likely to make something happen driving on with the ball at her feet. For Thetford the defence was kept relatively free of pressure by the forwards getting after the ball high up the pitch, Jordanne Sillitoe strong getting in to win the ball moving into some good positions scoring a brace. Hannah Claughton and Maryanne Hoy enjoying good spells out on the flanks getting into some great positions. Dayna Howard winning the ball well in the middle of the park the award though goes to Kamile Omeleviciute a fantastic game in her ERWFL debut (someone said to me recently she’s going to get noticed further afield now and she’s certainly done that) make some fantastic runs to support the attack adding pressure to the hosts back line taking her goals well.
Great to be back, did feel a little under prepared going into the new season but having written 531 reports hoped it would all come back to me and it has ( at least I think so) plenty of goals scored in the ERWFL this weekend promises to be an exciting season be intriguing to see how it all pans out. My thanks to both clubs for their assistance with the teams today and best of luck for the rest of the season. Up and running.
by Darren Gilham