Sunday 5th May
Norfolk Ladies League Plate Final
Sprowston Athletic Ladies v Beccles Town Ladies
An early start to day this Sunday with a trip east along the A47 to Plantation Park for this season’s Norfolk Women’s & Girls Football League Finals Day. Three games in total, the action kicking off at 10am with the League Plate Final this season being contested by Sprowston Athletic Ladies and Beccles Town Ladies.
The Ladies League Plate competition introduced in the 2015/16 season sees the sides knocked out of the early rounds in the League Cup go on to contest the Plate, both of today’s opponents running foul of Taverham Women United knocked out of the Cup, Taverham’s young guns making a blistering start to playing in women’s football for the first time winning the Division Two title losing just one game along the way.
A third successive finals day appearance for Sprowston this Sunday in their various guises over recent season’s. Reaching the in Plate final the 2016/17 losing to King’s Lynn Town Ladies. As FC Sprowston Ladies last season reached the final of the League Cup itself whilst winning the Division Two title, were taking on Bungay Town Ladies both sides entering the game looking for a league and cup double, a single goal scored in the 2nd half seeing Bungay win the trophy. Entering Division One, the club joining forces with Sprowston Athletic FC. Didn’t get off to a good start playing in the higher league losing their opening 3 games but since then have picked up some notable results and rising up the table an encouraging finish as they secured a top half position in the league.
Promoted with FC Sprowston Ladies last season were Beccles Town Ladies making their debut in women’s football, pushing their opponents all the way in the title race. Life in Division One has been tough however finishing bottom have struggled with an awful injury list and long spells without a game, despite all that, the club continues to have a positive outlook. Is well supported by Beccles Town FC. Reaching their first ever final the club making the trip down to Wembley Stadium yesterday to watch the FA Women’s Cup, where they saw local girl, Lauren Hemp score for Manchester City Women as they beat West Ham United Women 3-0.
Road to the Final
A bye for Beccles in the 1st Round of the Plate competition. Sprowston were away to Division Two side Gorleston Rangers Ladies a 6-1 victory seeing them comfortably through to the quarter finals.
Another away trip for Sprowston in the last 8 of the Plate competition once more taking on Division Two opposition, Bure Valley Wildcats Ladies leading 2-0 at half-time Sprowston went on to win the game 5-1 with Melissa Belsey scoring a hat-trick. Beccles Town Ladies were at home taking on Bulldogs Ladies bottom of Division Two with Beccles leading heavily the game was abandoned due to a serious injury to Bulldogs captain Emma Johnson the game to be played again, Beccles comfortable winning 9-0 to book their spot in the last 4.
An all Division One line-up in the semi-finals, Sprowston at home taking on Wymondham Town Ladies Reserves, a brace form Katie Fray plus a goal for Olivia Leggett seeing them through the the final with a 3-1 win. Beccles were away playing Aylsham Ladies in the semi-finals a goal in each half from captain Megan Vincent seeing Beccles into their first final.
Plantation Park the home of Norwich United FC once again the venue for the NWGFL Finals Day, home to Norwich City Ladies too and they were down to play their final game of the season at home against Billericay Town Ladies, that game switched to Fakenham Town FC’s Clipbush Park. The pitch at Plantation Park offers plenty of with a surprisingly good condition at the end of the season, not had the weather on it however a mild and very dry winter good grass coverage if anything perhaps a little hard and in need of some moisture. Dark clouds overhead heavy downpours a possibility hopefully not anything like Norfolk had the day before. Chilly the sun trying to make an appearance. The bar open with hot food and drinks on sale.
Sprowston Athletic Ladies starting XI – Tyla Cole, Hannah Taylor (C), Sophie Rose, Keri Boorman, Olivia Leggett, Katie Fray, Nicole Read, Rebecca Kirby, Rachel Bussey, Kate Morris & Laura Jenkins. Subs – Megan Belsey, Melissa Belsey & Monica Cass.
Beccles Town Ladies starting XI – Chloe Pearce, Emily Coe, Elisha Maher, Megan Vincent (C), Poppy Wilson, Vicky Ottey, Fran Heaney, Lucy Robbens, Bethan Owen, Darcie Keiley & Eva Evans. Subs – Chelsea Caplin, Marie Carter & Poppy Fenn.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
It’s Beccles to get the Plate final underway kicking off 1st half wearing white shirts with black shorts and socks. Sprowston wearing orange coloured shirts with black shorts and socks. Beccles play the ball on right for Bethan Owen to chase support from Elisha Maher coming on from fullback, Rachel Bussey tackling for Sprowston the ball out for a throw in. A bright start from Beccles have Sprowston penned back in their half the ball worked across the top of the area Fran Heaney out to Darcie Keiley left she gets a throw taken quickly Heaney turning to put a cross into the box from 25 yards out safely gathered by Sprowston goalkeeper Tyla Cole.
Sprowston get up the left a throw high up the pitch, on into the area Laura Jenkins near side heading it on to the far post Kate Morris closing in, Beccles captain Megan Vincent in to win the ball put it behind for the 1st corner of the game. The ball played in by Rebecca Kirby long across the six yard box a touch far post deflecting in goalwards Beccles goalkeeper Chloe Pearce down making a reactive save the ball pushed out of the area a shot driven back in a nick deflecting it wide a corner signalled. Pearce coming for it near post misses it over her is blocked and cleared by the defender on the post.
Katie Fray getting on the ball in the middle bringing it on for Sprowston sees Morris making a run away into the right channel picks her out Morris travelling on into the area, Vincent getting back at her to make the challenge the ball away for a throw. Eva Evans in attack for Beccles running onto the ball right comes inside looking to get into the area is pulled down a free-kick awarded Lucy Robbens to play the ball into the area the delivery cleared headed back out to the right Robbens taking a touch lining up a shot the ball charged down.
Fray breaking up a Beccles counter attack as captain Hannah Taylor gets forwards on the right her cross intercepted. Owen dribbling with the ball right wing cuts inside and shoots for Beccles the effort tame easily gathered by Cole. Players up for Sprowston as they win a throw high up on the right the ball put on for Morris getting her foot wrapped around it on the byline sends a cross back into the box, Keri Boorman attacking it from 8 yards out under challenge lifts a shot in across goal the rising ball hitting the crossbar.
Vincent with another timely interception sticking a leg out to prevent Morris running clear from Fray’s through ball. Sprowston starting to see more of the ball getting players forwards Taylor high on the right winning a corner. The ball from Kirby in towards the near post defended the clearance straight to Sprowston’s Nicole Read positioned inside the D controls before playing it to Fray to her right the midfielder brought down right on the edge of the box a free-kick awarded. Sophie Rose on it gets her shot past the wall but not Pearce beyond the ball straight into her midriff.
Vicky Ottey through the middle driving on with the ball has Evans ahead of her the striker playing it out to Keiley left, Taylor sliding in conceding the throw taken quickly Robbens away down the left her cross into the area long. Heaney getting back to help the defence an throw for Sprowston right pt inside for Morris a poke goalwards from the top of the area runs wide of the post. Poppy Wilson defending well inside the box as Jenkins left looks to get onto the end of a diagonal ball from the left by Fray.
Midway through the 1st half Sprowston beginning to get on top have Beccles penned back, Fray with support from Read in the middle breaking up Beccles attacks before they can begin. Kirby looks to play the ball on for Morris right get forwards to receive the cross in top of the area, close on Vincent looks to shift the ball take it in past her the defender reading it putting in the well timed tackle. Heaney getting forwards for Beccles her diagonal pass right looking for Owens stopped by Rose, Sprowston break forwards Morris with Kirby right side, Emily Coe managing to get enough on the ball to regain possession for Beccles.
Beccles make the first change of the game Chelsea Caplin on in attack replacing Evans. Rose doing well up against Heaney. The ball on left for Keiley a throw won played into the area Kirby inside the box up for the header the ball back to the keeper safe. A double change for Sprowston, Megan and Melissa Belsey coming on in place of Read and Morris. Olivia Leggett wining the ball at the back into Fray 40 yards out goes for goal catching the ball well doesn’t have the height to trouble Pearce.
Vincent although busy at the back is winning everything inside the box. Bussey cutting in field from the left drives a ball in towards the near post cut out by Wilson deflected behind for corner. Beccles making a change before it’s taken Ottey coming off, Evans back on. The corner defended Beccles struggle to get out the ball won back Kirby pushing on central checks and lays it back to Fray 25 yards out she hits it first time the shot straight at Pearce a comfortable save.
The ball played up the right for Melissa Belsey to chase with Coe the ball squared central to Leggett in a higher position with Megan Belsey at the back she looks to play it back to Fray to strike goalwards, Heaney sliding in denies the opportunity for Beccles. An injury late in the first half to Rose after on the pitch treatment need to come off Monica Cass coming on. Little goalmouth action Sprowston ending the half well pressing high Kirby getting on up the right, Coe tackling.
Half-time Sprowston Athletic Ladies 0-0 Beccles Town Ladies
Goalless at the break neither keeper overly tested, Sprowston growing into the game on top for large spells have had Beccles penned back however their defence although the busier has coped well Boorman’s strike onto the bar their best chance so far. Are creating opportunities in attack and look the more likely to find the opening gal as it stands. Beccles not getting the ball into their opponents box too often have yet to trouble Cole in goal. 0-0 though you get the feeling at this stage there might just be one goal in it.
Sprowston to get the 2nd half underway the ball out to the left Beccles defend Morris back on for Kirby. Jenkins up the wing into the right corner holding the ball up gets a throw the ball dropped into Bussey her cross fired in long across the face of goal, Melissa Belsey in at the far post can’t quite reach it. Pressing right the ball bouncing along the top of the area met by Fray on the volley her shot goalwards once more picking out Pearce. Coe getting outnumbered as Sprowston overload the right wing closes in to make a fine tackle to get the ball up field. Leggett picking up an injury has to go off for some treatment.
Play resuming with a free-kick the stalemate continuing neither side looking like they are going to change the game with a goal. Vincent with a strong tackle at the ball the ball cleared through the middle on for Caplin she has a half a yard on the defence racing after the ball, Cole out of her area getting there first to clear. Sprowston having looked the more likely to score, Beccles having kept them out for so long are beginning to find a bit more going forwards Heaney influential on the ball central. Morris away right on for Melissa Belsey she cuts infield 20 yards out preparing to shoot Coe back to win the ball for Beccles.
A miscue at the back sees Melissa Belsey in behind left racing towards the box Maher back on her to slide in play the ball away from a throw. Sprowston with players up into the box for a corner kick on the right the ball fired in low towards Fray positioned top of the area she meets it first time lifting a shot wide across goal. Robbens comes off for Beccles on comes Ottey. Morris right squaring a cross into Leggett central 25 yards out her shot blocked by Vincent. Leggett comes off for Sprowston with Read back into the action.
Read on the ball left up for Melissa Belsey nicks it off the defence running n behind into the area cutting inside before winning a corner kick. The cross played in put behind by Vincent for a 2nd corner on the left. Put in central a glancing touch sees the ball spin wide of the far post. Pearce sliding in to claim well top right of her box as Melissa Belsey plays the ball on. Heaney with a powerful run on the right taking the ball on lifts a cross into Caplin top of the area looking to control with her head and cushion it down for a shot, is closely marked by Megan Belsey tries to get in back to Heaney closing in from the right, Sprowston getting bodies back to defend.
Fray through the middle on for Morris, Vincent sliding on to tackle the ball out to the right gathered by Melissa Belsey the cross sent in towards the near post Wilson getting a boot on it to send behind for the corner. Fray off for Sprowston, Leggett back on Poppy Fenn on for Keiley for Beccles. Evans off too with Robbens back on. Kirby returning for Sprowston Bussey off. The changes doing nothing to improve the tempo the neither side threatening to score cancelling each other out as Beccles defend Belsey in attack for Sprowston making some good runs played in by Leggett through the middle, Pearce racing out of her area clears.
Morris off for Sprowston, Bussey back on, Beccles on the attack Heaney brought down, Robbens on it right side delivers into the box Cole claiming the ball. Bussey on the ball right attacking for Sprowston gets into the area pulls the trigger her near post effort stopped by Pearce. Jenkins winning a corner on the left the ball put in towards the top of the area Read with the header the ball dropping wide of the right post. Into the closing minutes cannot see either side scoring. Pearce with a brave stop top of her area is hurt as she and Melissa Belsey come together the striker attacking the ball played in from the right. Pearce is okay up on her feet able to continue. A late corner for Sprowston right into the box, Vincent as she has done all game defending for Beccles.
Full time Sprowston Athletic Ladies 0-0 Beccles Town Ladies
The 90 minutes end goalless the Plate Final heading into extra-time neither side looked like getting what would have most likely been the winning goal, Beccles coming into the attack a bit more 2nd half another 30 minutes to see if the game can be won in open play or we head into the dreaded penalty shoot-out.
Assistant Paul Coe departing to referee the 7’s final a substitute made with the officials. Sprowston t get the 1st half of extra-time underway. Attacking left the ball played into the top of the area long finds Cass advanced on the far side her strike dropping wide back across goal. Leggett sends Melissa Belsey on through the middle shooting from outside the box lifts her attempt over the crossbar.
Jenkins on the left cuts in field 25 yards out before shooting no power behind the strike safely gathered by Pearce. Robbens with the ball for Beccles on for Owen right inside to Ottey gives Owen the return ball shooting the ball deflected behind for a corner, cut out at the near post for a 2nd corner this one dropping central inside the six yard box Heaney on it back to goal tries to control and turn into a shot, Sprowston in to scramble it away.
Sprowston come right from a throw the ball crossed into the near post a spot of head tennis sees the ball fall to Melissa Belsey 8 yards out stabs her shot wide. Keiley back on for Beccles. Sprowston getting forwards not finding the one clinical chance they need.
Half-time Sprowston Athletic Ladies 0-0 Beccles Town Ladies
15 minutes left a goal now would surely win it but it’s hard to see who it will be, Beccles battling hard to keep Sprowston out have had few opportunities themselves. Beccles get things underway. Owen off Evans back on. The flag up against Evans as Robbens plays the ball forwards. Fray on the ball central for Sprowston bouncing into her won’t fall favourably as she looks to shoot 20 yards out Vincent an Wilson closing her down. Heaney getting forwards with support from Caplin goes right wins a corner can do little else well marked inside the box, the corner behind.
Evans brought down on the right a free-kick for Beccles, Robbens with an inviting ball in for runners to attack, Read winning the race for Sprowston in front of everyone to head behind for the corner. A good delivery into the middle of the six yard box Ottey on it can;t get a shot away pushed back for Vincent to strike a low shot back in the ball cannoning off the base of the right post!
Morris tries to get away into the right channel the ball lifted on Vincent with Coe getting back to regain possession for Beccles. Sprowston make further changes late on attacking can’t get a shot in to trouble Pearce, the final whistle blows and after 2 hours of football it remains goalless the game to be decided by a penalty shootout.
Full time Sprowston Athletic Ladies 0-0 Beccles Town Ladies
I hate penalty shootouts (as I may have mentioned before) a game though has to be settled and so each team has five penalties each then if they remain tied it goes to sudden death.
Beccles to take the first penalty Wilson on the ball goes for placement high but too close to the keeper, Cole saving. Kirby to take Sprowston’s first penalty scores a low strike hit with pace low into the bottom corner past the keeper diving to her left. Sprowston 1-0 Beccles.
Ottey with Beccles 2nd penalty a composed strike driven low into the bottom corner to score. Bussey matching her strike to score Sprowston’s 2nd penalty. Sprowston 2-1 Beccles.
Maher up to take Beccles 3rd penalty puts it into the air a comfortable save for Cole shifting left. Rose next for Sprowston her penalty flying over the bar. Sprowston 2-1 Beccles.
Robbens up next for Beccles sends her penalty in past the keep low to the right to score. Jenkins up next for Sprowston her penalty converted. Sprowston 3-2 Beccles.
Vincent up to take Beccles 5th penalty has to score and does to put the sides level at 3 each. Read with the opportunity to win it for Sprowston puts her head int her hands as she sees her high effort saved by Pearce the shootout heading to sudden death! Sprowston 3-3 Beccles.
It’s goalkeeper Pearce to take Beccles next penalty her strike too close to her counterpart Cole with the save. Morris forwards from half way to take smashes her low strike into the bottom corner and turns away in celebration as her teammates race forwards having won the League Plate. Sprowston winning 4-3 on penalties.
A cruel way to settle a match but the winning goal didn’t look likely to come from normal play Beccles battling hard at the back defending Sprowston coming on but not finding a clinical edge. The longer it went on at 0-0 the more likely it looked to stay that way, either side nicking it at the end would have been harsh, Beccles doing well to take Sprowston all the way to penalties.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto the Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. Katie Fray performing well in central midfield for Sprowston setting up attacks and breaking up play. Melissa Belsey a threat in attack always looking to get in behind. Fran Heaney doing her best to get things going in attack for Beccles with some good runs getting hold of the ball. The award though goes to Beccles captain Megan Vincent a towering performance in defence putting in some vital and well timed challenges thwarting Sprowston on several occasions.
So at the 3rd attempt of asking on a finals day in Norfolk, Sprowston get their hands on the trophy, the League Plate took all the way by their opponents end the season with silverware.
Congratulations to Sprowston Athletic Ladies on winning the Norfolk Ladies League Plate.
A fine effort from Beccles Town Ladies whose season isn’t quite over as they enter the BT Sports Pub Cup, wishing them the best of luck and will keep a look out for thier progress.
My thanks to both clubs for their help with the team line-ups a brief rest and some food before we go again with the League Cup Final.