Sunday 20th November
Suffolk Women’s County Cup
Back to Suffolk this Sunday to watch a game from the 2nd Round of the County Cup competition, a repeat of last season’s final no less with Needham Market Women draw at home to face AFC Sudbury Women.
The two sides the strong favourites to win the competition again this season. AFC Sudbury Women coming out on top to beat Needham Market Women 3-1 in that final played at Colchester United FC goals from Evie Creaton, Jess Allen and Alex Penny to lift the trophy after a decade of dominance by Ipswich Town Women (now no longer competing in the competition)
The two clubs following a similar path as they have become two of the leading sides for women’s football in Suffolk. With academies and pathways for female players, with top quality 3G facilities. Likewise both promoted to the ERWFL Premier Division having become Division One North and South Champions respectfully last season. Both going strong in the 5th tier too with AFC Sudbury Women 4th and Needham Market Women 5th with identical records having won 4 and lost 2 in a close battle at the top of the table all looking to close down Luton Town Ladies.
Needham Market Women having risen quickly up to the 5th tier in their relatively short history having reached the final of the Suffolk Women’s County Cup on 3 occasions would love to go all the way in the competition. Growing year on year have added quality and experience to their side in bringing in a number of ex-Ipswich players including Eva Hubbard this season who has hit the ground running the defender netting 6 goals so far. So too has Molly Hall another ex-Ipswich player. Lois Balfour with Needham Market from the beginning leading the way in the goal scoring charts with 8 goals too date. Have recently added another player with huge experience in Amber Cantwell playing the the ERWFL and FAWNL with Cambridge United WFC. On Friday Needham Market Women enjoying a memorable and fantastic day out playing at Wembley Stadium in the BT Sport Pub Cup Final representing the The Three Tuns.
AFC Sudbury Women forming stronger ties with AFC Sudbury over recent season’s slowly rebuilding bringing in a host of young players into their academy set-up cumulating in the club returning the ERWFL Premier Division. Enjoying a triple winning season last time out not only winning the Division One South title but also the League Plate along with the County Cup. Are a side with plenty of goals in them, last season’s top scorer Jess Allen moving on to play in the US, Alex Penny is currently top scorer with 9 goals closely followed by Evie Creaton with 8 while Holly Kennard has 6.
Broomfields the venue for today’s cup tie, The Hub cafe and bar situated on the 2nd floor of the new building situated between the main grass patch and 3G pitch with a balcony overlooking the pitches. The changing room housed on the first floor a small seated stand with viewing for spectators along one side. The rain blowing through during the morning leaving it dry for this afternoon’s cup tie, the sun low potentially an issue setting behind one goal a 2:30 kick off the floodlights will be needed come the 2nd half.
Needham Market Women starting XI – Daisie Gibbs, Eva Hubbard, Jodie Sharp, Lindsey Cooper, Eloise Ward, Mia Etheridge, Paige Wakefield, Amber Cantwell, Jo Brawn, Ellie Rossiter & Lois Balfour (C). Subs – Charlotte McGrath, Ele Catchpole, Lina Nagib, Molly Hall & Niamh Thomas.
AFC Sudbury Women starting XI – Millie Carter, Jodie Donley, Ronni Harrison (C), Teigan McHale, Ali Lambe, Kate Edwards, Emily Smith, Alex Penny, Holly Kennard, Leonie Bezant & Evie Creaton. Subs – Amber Provan, Phoebe Guiver, Kaylee Dodds, Sophie Jeffery & Tye Smith.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
With a game at Wembley on Friday manager Warren Lewis-Claxon making changes including a 1st start for new signing Amber Cantwell. Both sides with 5 substitutes to call upon during the game. Needham Market to kick off the first half wearing red shirts and socks with black shorts. Sudbury lined up opposite wearing yellow shirts and socks with blue colure shorts. The visitors looking to press the ball right form the off forcing Needham Market to play the ball back into their defence out to right back Jodie Sharp sends a diagonal ball up to striker and captain Lois Balfour seeing it into her feet well turns to release Jo Brawn breaking forwards on the left, Jodie Donley closing in to challenge for Sudbury the ball out for a throw in.
Sudbury get the ball forwards with pace on the right played inside for attacker Evie Creaton right of the D, Needham Market goalkeeper Daisie Gibbs rushing out to close her down Creaton nudging the ball forwards getting it behind the keeper as she goes to ground, her defence though can see the ball run wide of the right post for a goalkick. Sudbury with a lively start to the game getting on with the ball win a corner on the right, swung in Needham Market defending before the near post. A foul given away in the middle a chance for Sudbury to get players up around the top of the area as defender Ali Lambe looks to play the set-piece in. The home defence heading clear.
Competitive in the middle of the park as both sides go in on the ball Sudbury breaking left as captain Ronni Harrison sends it forwards for Holly Kennard, Gibbs coming out of her goal can see it safely out for a goalkick. A few tackles flying in the referee letting the game flow early on Needham Market attack right Eva Hubbard up for Brawn the diagonal pass up to Ellie Rossiter making an attacking move through the middle intercepted well by Harrison.
Sharp getting up around the D taking aim as the ball is deflected into her 20 yards out, Millie Carter in the Sudbury goal seeing the shot safely taken into her body. Amber Cantwell getting onto the ball left channel driving into the area Donley tackling the ball out for a throw in. Sudbury pressing the ball high won back into the final 3rd Creaton with a shot struck into the side netting a deflection a corner given, played in near side comfortably cleared by Needham Market.
Balfour dropping into midfield to receive the ball into her feet aiming to release it over the top quickly to set either Rossiter or Brawn away the latter the intended target this time, through to attack the box, bar a well timed interception from Lambe at the back for Sudbury. With both sides squeezing up at times is leaving players exposed at the back, Sudbury quick to get the ball forwards, up to Holly Kennard left with Leonie Bezant inside looking to exchange passes get in behind the defence Sharp and Eloise Ward hold their line bravely to catch Kennard offside.
Both Alex Penny on the right and Kennard on the left have pace to take the ball on past their full backs if they get the opportunity good battles for both with Penny up against Hubbard for Needham Market, Kennard up against Sharp. A clever touch seeing Kennard evade Sharp to run on down the line flashes a cross into the box looking for Creaton in the middle of goal. Ward cutting the ball out and clearing for Needham Market. It’s not a tight game by any stretch both sides going for it play one end to the other, Needham Market clearing Mia Etheridge up into Balfour played out to Rossiter right turns infield her strike from range blocked by Harrison the ball deflected across the top of the area, Donley putting in the block as Brawn strikes the ball.
Gibbs taking a catch high as Penny sends a cross in from deep on the right for Sudbury. Up the other end Carter comes racing out of her box to clear, as Rossiter looks to get after another Balfour flick on only this time the offside flag is raised against her. Balfour is shoved over in the middle presenting Needham Market with a free-kick. Played up to the top of the area cleared out to the left Lambe gives away a silly free-kick in a dangerous position out wide. Well struck the ball races in missing everyone to run wide of the far post.
Carter with a great ball forwards from the back that sees Penny on the attack right wing for Sudbury, taking on the early strike on the angle, flashed in across the six yard box wide of Gibbs’ far post. Sudbury pressing the advantage right side Creaton moving out to receive the ball laid into Bezant 20 yards out right of the D, puts her foot through the ball angling in, Gibbs diving beaten the ball cannoning off the post before being cleared.
GOAL! 20 minutes gone and the deadlock is broken by a truly wonderful strike, got to see this one go in from behind and it looked a goal even before being struck. Sudbury attacking right side a rapid counter the pitch opening up the crossfield pass flighted into Kennard some 25 plus yards out left of the D, a fantastic 1st touch to get the ball down and turn to strike on the half volley perfectly hit the top corner there to be found, makes no mistake the curling into the back of the net 0-1.
Needham Market a little frustrated a couple of naughty tackles flying in need to settle down. Carter rushing out of her area comes together with the advancing Rossiter, the ball loose Rossiter unable to get to it before the Sudbury defence recovers to clear. Kate Edwards looking to dig the pass out wide for Penny on the left pulls up straight away feeling pain in her ankle. A lengthy pause in play whilst she is assessed not risked Sudbury bringing off the midfielder, Phoebe Guiver coming on. Is an entertaining contest the game open Sudbury looking to get the ball to Kennard and Penny on the flanks, Needham Market more effective bringing the ball on through the middle with Rossiter and Brawn getting the furthest forwards.
GOAL! Needham Market get themselves back on level terms in the 29th minute winning a free-kick on the left Sharp hooks it up the line for Rossiter racing in behind getting hold of the ball to fire a cross into the six yard box Balfour beating the keeper to it turning her shot goalwards, Teigan McHale stabbing a foot out of the goal line to send it clear to the left straight at Brawn however the Needham Market attacker blasting her shot home 1-1.
Is a contest between Kennard and Sharp on the flank the Sudbury winner looking to exploit her pace get behind Sharp who is vastly experienced isn’t making it easy, Kennard getting half a yard running into trouble as Ward coming to assist Sharp gets her challenge in. Sudbury appealing (well their fans at least) as Kennard’s cross is intercepted inside the box appears to strike an arm the referee waving the protests away play carrying on. Brawn advancing up the left for Needham Market with the diagonal ball into the top of the area for Rossiter, Harrison doing well up against her, then makes another good tackle as Balfour attempts to latch onto the loose ball.
GOAL! Sudbury get themselves back into the lead attacking with purpose down the right Penny forwards the ball crossed into the area, Creaton inside the six yard box central looking to see the ball across her sent it into the far corner doesn’t get the touch she intending however wrong foots the keeper as Gibbs dives to her left, the ball skipping up into the air Creaton stooping into the header to drive the ball in back across the goal 1-2.
The clock ticking own in the first half Needham Market looking to get on the attack Rossiter getting in behind on the right to the by-line flashing a cross into the six yard box intercepted by Lambe.
GOAL! Needham Market coming straight back to level the scores for a 2nd time as Cantwell gives chase to a ball on the right whipping a cross in from the by-line into the six yard box missed by Carter, but not by Brawn racing in close at the far post to smash home her 2nd of the game 2-2.
Needham Market pushing up looking to finish the first half strong the ball up into Balfour inside the area right of goal off a throw in, a strong challenge by Lambe winning the ball. Balfour picking up a knock. the ball cleared.
GOAL! Into stoppage time Creaton looking to pressure Ward on the ball at the ball top of her area as she looks to shield the ball back to her keeper, gets her foot on the ball to play her shot wide of the advancing keeper and into the bottom corner 2-3.
Cantwell advancing on the left combining with Balfour in attack aiming to drive for the box, Smith going with her for Sudbury putting in the tackle. Smith fouled shortly afterwards by Wakefield who picks up a yellow card in the dying seconds of the first half.
Half-time Needham Market Women 2-3 AFC Sudbury Women
A highly entertaining first half sees Sudbury taking the lead in stoppage time having been twice pegged back by Needham Market. Certainly a competitive game and a surprisingly open one too with both sides looking to take the game to the other commit players forwards risk exposure at the back at times. Good battles all over the pitch competitive in the middle, Paige Wakefield with Mai Etheridge winning the ball well for the hosts Cantwell looking to drive on with the ball. The visitors looking to use Penny and Kennard on the flanks their pace often stretching the pitch. Has led to 5 goals being scored can’t see that being the end of it.
The floodlights on beginning to take effect at the start of the 2nd half appears to be no changes. Sudbury to get the the 2nd period underway straight to penalties if level on the 90. A scrappy start to the 2nd period as both sides rush to close the ball down Smith releasing Kennard on the left her deep cross finding Penny on the opposite side outside the box, Hubbard defending for Needham Market.
Cantwell is brought down by Smith as she looks to carry the ball out from the back, Sudbury though quick to regain possession off the set-piece the ball played up to Creaton inside the area, Cooper with a well timed tackle for Needham Market. A competitive start to the 2nd half Needham Market looking to get after their opponents.
GOAL! The perfect start to the 2nd half as Needham Market come straight back to level the game for the 3rd time in the match and with a wonderful strike too. The hosts attacking down the left Brawn with Hubbard the ball crossed in along the top of the Needham Market area is cleared back out into the midfield. Wakefield gathering the ball some 35 yards out puts her laces through it , arrowing in towards goal, Carter dives to her left but can get no where near it as the shot is buried 3-3.
Needham Market making a change straight after the goal bringing on Molly Hall in attack to replace Balfour. The hosts with their tails up the challenges still flying in in the middle of the park Smith bringing down Wakefield and Etheridge. The former over the set-piece to the left of goal midway inside the half, Wakefield taking on the shot the ball curling wide of the far post. Sudbury making a change bringing off Donley for Sophie Jeffrey who slots in at left ack Harrison moving to the right of defence.
Free-kicks continue to be given away at regular intervals, Needham Market with one wide right sent players up into the box, flung in near side, Carter is cleaned out as she goes up for it by an onrushing attacking. Play stopped straight away, Carter down and looking in trouble. Another long pause in play as she is assessed possible alternatives discussed with no recognised goalkeeper on the bench. Looks to be Carter’s elbow is given time to be checked over feels okay to play on the game resumes.
Wakefield strong in the middle winning the ball knocking it on for Hall in attack who flicks it wide to Brawn on the left 25 yards out, aims to open up her body curl a shot in towards the top corner, doesn’t get the necessary height on it an easy take for Carter. Needham Market putting alot into the game at the beginning of the 2nd half winning the ball better preventing Sudbury from finding their wide players. Brawn winning a corer on the left, played deep back to Wakefield central outside the box the ball struck hard racing wide of the left post.
McHale getting hold of the ball at the back for Sudbury cleared on for Kennard skipping away left side going forwards sweeping a crossfield ball into Penny up on the right slightly behind her Penny after it to strike on the turn 25 yards out can only place her effort into the goalkeepers gloves. Hubbard getting forwards to support Brawn, Penny tracking back with her opens up her knee as she goes to block the ball going down in distress looks in trouble again play is paused players from both sides concerned as the trainer is quickly on. Doesn’t look good a long delay the stretcher brought on, Penny needs to come off, never a nice sight to see and can only wish her well and that it’s not too serious. Kaylee Dodds the player sent on.
Play eventually resuming. Lina Nagib on to for Needham Market on the left replacing Brawn. Sharp putting the ball into the box for Needham Market looking for Nagib, McHale defending for Sudbury the ball deflected away Cantwell latching onto it looking to drive into the box Dodds coming round to defend for the visitors.
Rossiter coming on with the ball attacking for Needham Market on the right, Jeffery getting across her to defend for Sudbury. The ball is like a hot potato pinging around in the middle of the park knocked forwards by Guiver, intercepted by Cooper, Hubbard takes it on for the host driving forwards on the left going on after playing a one two with Nagib her cross deflected behind for a corner kick. In from the left at an inviting height Hall jumping near post can’t quite connect the ball half cleared outside the area struck ack in with place deflected away for a corner on the right.
GOAL! The pressure building from Needham Market the corner played long to the far post cleared, Sudbury looking to clear their area the ball put up to the left won back by Sharp, knocked forwards Hall with a good flick on to send the ball into the path of Rossiter running on right side, strikes the shot on the angle from the top corner of the area lashing the ball in across the keeper to find the bottom corner and put Needham Market into the lead for the 1st time in the game 4-3.
Sudbury a little subdued have been a little flat since losing Penny to injury now find themselves behind in the cup time. Needham Market finding renewed energy as Hubbard gets forwards linking up well with Nagib on the left. Smith lifting the ball on for Kennard on the left, Sharp with a timely header to intercept. Cooper clearing the ball out of the ground as Creaton combines well with Dodds as the pair attack right. Cantwell pressing forwards with the ball releasing it forwards for Nagib her cross field ball aiming for Rossiter breaking right, Jeffery getting her leg out to intercept well for Sudbury.
Still 20 minutes left to play with all the stoppages have no doubt interrupted the rhythm especially for Sudbury. Hall with a turn and hit 25 yards out straight at the keeper. A corner for the hosts on the right defended by McHale at the near post cleared back to the taker the shot blasted back in wide at the near post. Gibbs comes rushing out of her box as Creaton gives chase to the ball colliding with the striker, her defence back on the cover before Creaton can capitalise.
Hall on for Rossiter on the right, Lambe across with the tackle bringing Rossiter down the hosts complain but again their protests are waved away. Creaton bringing the ball down turning to drive for the area tackled by Ward. Dodds attacking right is brought down giving Sudbury a free-kick 25 yards out. Bezant over the ball curled in Gibbs has it covered looks over dips late though to drop onto the cross bar and out of play. Sudbury finding their feet gaining some momentum coming forwards better Bezant with Creaton through the middle the striker chopped down left of the D by Ward, the visitors appealing the free-kick awarded, Ward in trouble, defenders looked to be round on the cover though as a yellow card is brandished. Jeffery on the set-piece sends her shot over.
Sudbury coming back strong Needham market possibly feeling the affects of two games in 3 days. Wakefield winning the ball well in the middle however helping to take the pressure off on for Hubbard bombing on left side winning a throw high up the pitch. 10 minutes left Sudbury bring on Tye Smith to replace Guiver in the middle. Etheridge attempting a shot from distance not troubling the keeper.
Bezant carrying the ball on through the middle for Sudbury up to Dodds on the right, cuts inside Hubbard sticking out a foot to take the ball away from her. The hosts with a rapid counter the ball clipped out wide to Rossiter on the right opts for the early shot angling in low, Carter has her near post covered down to make the save.
Ward defends well on Tye Smith as the midfielder drives on with the ball for Sudbury. Kennard breaking clear in behind on the left shooting from an acute angle the ball racing wide across the face of the Needham Market goal. Needham Market come left the ball into Hall the striker lifting it up the left flank for Nagib to take on holds up edge of the area laid back to Hall some 25 yards out shapes to shoot curling her strike over the crossbar.
Cantwell bundled over not for the first time in the game left of the circle the free-kick flighted in towards the top of the area Hall pulling clear with the header, goes too early the flag up against her. Nagib draws the foul off Bezant to eat up valuable time less than 5 minutes left to play, holding onto a narrow lead. That said the free-kick top of the centre circle Wakefield takes on the shot the ball struck well drops over the bar.
Needham Market press forwards Hall to Nagib inside the box left, tackled by Harrison, Etheridge winning the ball back inside to Cantwell then Wakefield drives forwards stopped by McHale. Sudbury counter Bezant taking the ball on through the middle tackled by Ward.
GOAL! Hall seals the victory for Needham Market in the dying seconds the hosts with one last effort to press the ball inside the Sudbury half comes into the strikers feet some 40 yards out to the left of the D, gets her foot through the ball to send the lob over the keeper to score 5-3!
Barely time left for Needham Market to make a double substitution before the final whistle blows and the hosts celebrate.
Full time Needham Market Women 5-3 AFC Sudbury Women
A highly entertaining cup tie, a final in itself payed between to committed side alot of effort put in. Needham Market turning it around in the 2nd half with 3 superb strikes to seal the win having been trailing 3-2 at the break. Sudbury getting off to a positive start getting joy on the flanks with the pace of Penny and Kennard. Kennard with a fantastic strike of her own to open the scoring. Needham Market competing for the ball especially in the middle of the park soon coming back to level through Brawn. Sudbury nudging into the lead again with Creaton on target the lead again short lived as Brawn pounced for her 2nd of the game. Creaton restoring Sudbury’s lead in the closing stages of the 1st half. Needham Market making a determined start to the 2nd half a thunderbolt from Wakefield getting it back to 3-3. Injuries taking their toll having already lost Edwards in the 1st half and then a concern for goalkeeper Carter, Sudbury saw Penny stretched off. Needham Market on top at that point capitalising a Rossiter fired the hosts into the lead. The game could have gone either way as Sudbury fought back Hall with another superbly hit ball from distance securing the win for Needham Market 5-3.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. Again it’s a tough one a few contenders but one I feel edges it. A few performances of note to mention firstly for Sudbury, Holly Kennard was a constant threat on the left flank with some good runs turn of pace and an excellent strike to open the scoring. Evie Creaton too up top getting into some good positions taking the game to the Needham Market defence scoring twice. For Needham Market, Eva Hubbard was strong at left back dealing with Penny’s pace on that flank limiting her chances. Lindsey Cooper solid in the back line with a number of well timed tackles and interceptions. Elli Rossiter out on the right full of running all game a ready option throughout putting Needham Market into the lead. Amber Cantwell making some great runs with the ball from midfield looking to link with the attack. The award though goes to another midfielder Paige Wakefield. Solid through out strong in the tackle getting about to win the ball back a strike of the highest quality the icing on the cake.
Enjoyed my trip to Bloomfields a thoroughly entertaining cup tie could have gone either way and was as competitive as expected. My thanks to both clubs for their help with the teams today as always much appreciated. Hoping the injuries to Kate Edwards and Alex Penny are not too severe wishing both players all the best for a speedy recovery.
by Darren Gilham