Sunday 8th May
ERWFL League Cup Final
Another trip into Suffolk this Sunday for another final event this time from the ERWFL holding its League Cup Final at Haverhill Rovers FC contested between two Norfolk sides this season as Wroxham Women take on Premier Division Champions, Wymondham Town Ladies aiming to make it a league and cup double.
Today’s League Cup Final will be the last in charge for Wroxham Women manager, Rebecca Burton as she stands down from the role having helped Wroxham to a 4th placed finish in the ERWFL Premier Division and seen over the transition of the woman’s side since it’s move to the Broads club. Has been a tale of two seasons on the pitch getting off to a fantastic start winning 5 out of 5 keeping pace with the title contenders then it all fell apart a tough spell following towards the end of 2021 into 2022 with 4 straight defeats and a high proportion of postponements adding to the frustration. The squad has rallied fantastically however and coming out the other side have recaptured their early season form with 5 straight league wins to get them back into contention at the top to finish 4th. A cup final appearance testament to the character shown. Grace Birchall the leagues 2nd highest goal scorer netting 21 times from just 16 appearances.
Wymondham Town Ladies like Wroxham showing great form at the start of the season 4 straight wins before a dip suffering back to back defeats towards the end of September, never looked back after that going on to win 12 of their remaining 14 games unbeaten to storm to the ERWFL Premier Division title and finish some 12 points clear of the rest. The squad going from strength to strength under manager Alex Guy promoted to the FAWNL 3rd and 4th tiers of the women’s football pyramid. Have done so with one of the smallest squads in the Premier Division using just 22 players in part testament to their fitness and togetherness with 3 of their attackers in the top 5 leading goal scorers behind Natasha Fensome and Wroxham’s, Birchall. Hannah Waters 3rd with 19 goals followed by Francesca Catchpole and Laura Nicholls with 16 and 15 respectfully. Aiming to make it a league and cup double could yet be a treble as Wymondham are into this season’s County Cup Final taking on Norfolk Division One Champions, Mulbarton Belles Ladies at Carrow Road on Wednesday 25th May.
Road to the Final
The first two round of the ERWFL are contested between the Division One North & South sides with 4 winning through to join the 12 Premier Division sides in the 3rd round. Wymondham starting their league cup campaign at home to Division One South title contenders, Cheshunt FC Women a brace from Kyla Love who joined Wymondham from Wroxham along with a goal each for Francesca Catchpole, Katie Knights and Rebecca Russell seeing them through with a 5-1 win. Wroxham away to Norfolk rival, King’s Lynn Town Ladies newly promoted to the Premier Division a single Grace Birchall goal the difference between the sides on the day
Onto the quarter finals Wymondham again at home taking on their closest rivals 2nd placed Royston Town Women, Rebecca Russell once again on the score sheet along with Natasha Youngs to put them into the semi-finals winning 2-0. Wroxham form returning were drawn away to Colney Heath Ladies who themselves were showing strong form going into the tie. Wroxham coming home form Hertfordshire with a 2-0 win courtesy of goals from Grace Birchall and Lauren Bullard. A trip to Haringey Borough for Wymondham in the semi-finals Hannah Waters hitting a double in the match with Hayley Kindred and Laura Nicholls both getting a goal in a 4-1 victory. Wroxham through to the final without kicking a ball after opponents AFC Dunstable Ladies called of unable to raise a side the league ruling seeing Wroxham progress.
The New Croft, home of Haverhill Rovers FC, along with it’s women’s sides. The main grass pitch hosting the final the clubhouse and kitchen open seating in front overlooking the pitch, being watered before the game. A seated stand beside with viewing all round. A bright sunny day, warm with a few dark clouds around but otherwise a pleasant day for a cup final.
Wroxham Women starting XI – Cyan Fullbrook, Hope Strauss, Grace Squire, Jess Horn, Tigi Robson, Becky Russell, Broghan Scully, Rosie George, Naomi Cooper, Lauren Bullard & Gracie Birchall (C). Subs – Hope Armstrong, Kayleigh Robb, Charlotte Gardiner-Banks, Holly Walker & Rhianne Brister.
Wymondham Town Ladies starting XI – Chloe Pearce, Leah Newcombe (C), Chelsea Clarke, Lauren Kett, Mary Croft, Jennifer Codman, Rebecca Russell, Natasha Youngs, Laura Nicholls & Hannah Waters. Subs – Jess Luff, Hayley Kindred, Kyla Love, Lyla Studd & Francesca Catchpole.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
Had to happen sooner of later writing a report where players on opposite sides have identical names with both Wroxham and Wymondham having a Rebecca Russell, know one as Becky however and will go with that. Both sides without a key defender for the match with both Wymondham’s Aimee Stretch and Wroxham’s Alice Parker ruled out through injury. Wymondham’ first competitive match in a month that being their semi-final game their league campaign wrapped up in March. It’s Wroxham to get the cup final underway kicking off the first half wearing blue and white vertical stripe shirts with blue shorts and socks. Wymondham opposite wearing red coloured shirts with black shorts and socks. The ball played out to the right put forwards for captain Grace Birchall in attack holds the ball up before playing it back into central midfield for Becky Russell who in turn spreads play to the left for full back Hop Strauss who attempts to play it up the line for Lauren Bullard moving out wide, Wymondham captain Leah Newcombe on her to challenge send the ball out for a throw.
Both sides moving in quickly on each other in possession, Wymondham’s Hannah Waters giving away a free-kick on halfway to the left bringing down midfielder, Broghan Scully. Strauss to play it up towards the top of the area, Newcombe up stretching to head the ball misplaces her header plying it on into her box, goalkeeper Chloe Pearce alert quickly advancing to grab hold of the ball. Wymondham push players on the diagonal pass sent out to Waters chasing into the right corner, does well to win a corner. Players up from the back, Wymondham from the right play it short the ball taken up the line before the cross is angled back into the box, Becky Russell up to head the ball clear for Wroxham.
Rebecca Russell on the ball through the middle for Wymondham attempts to play the pass out to Waters drifting right, the ball intercepted by Becky Russell. Newcombe allowed to travel on with the ball for Wymondham lifts it on looking to put Waters in behind the Wroxham defence top of the area won well by Jess Horn. Newcombe then fouls Rosie George on halfway upending her as she looks to break with the ball at her feet. Strauss over the set-piece launching the ball high up into the Wymondham area, Lauren Kett with a strong header putting the ball clear for Wymondham. Both sides giving away free-kicks Wymondham hustling Wroxham on the ball forcing them into errors rushing passes winning a free-kick on halfway left themselves, Kett sends the ball up into the box, bounces through to goalkeeper, Cyan Fullbrook.
Katie Knights getting about the pitch for Wymondham comes out to the right looking to hold up the ball wide of the Wroxham area is fouled. Rebecca Russell on the free-kick flashed into the box at in inviting height is won and cleared by Horn at the far post. Wymondham quick to turn the ball around Wroxham a little nervous not finding the forwards pass allowing their opponents to press forwards.
GOAL! The ball played into Rebecca Russell central comes on, sees Waters out to the right looking to get in behind, sends the diagonal ball out to her, Wroxham immediately appeal for offside, no flag Waters turns the ball on into the area driving forwards and smashes a powerful strike across the keeper into the back of the net 0-1. 9 minutes played.
Wroxham furious adamant Waters was offside, was certainly close. Wroxham try to find Birchall in attack, Mary Croft defending for Wymondham, to Jennifer Codman forwards for Rebecca Russell inside the Wroxham half moving right passes inside to Waters who plays the pass out to Laura Nicholls moving into the right channel, going into the corner Strauss closing her down wins a corner off the defender. Played in from the right is over Nicholls rising far post retrieved out on the left the cross then charged down.
Scully in the middle with Becky Russell on to Bullard has Birchall breaking away in attack on the left side the ball into her feet holding it up as Strauss rushes on taking the ball on on the overlap, Kett comes out to the wing to make the tackle put the ball out for the throw. Play stopped then as Scully is down in the middle clearly in pain, didn’t actually see what happened whether she was caught or not but is in trouble looks to be her ankle, the trainer on needs to be helped off can’t continue. Wroxham send on Holly Walker a rejig of personal with Horn coming into midfield, Strauss going over to the right and George dropping back into left back.
Wroxham continue to look unsettled, Wymondham able to regain possession easily with the forward passes not finding anyone. No love lost between the sides certainly has the edge of a derby to it, tackles flying in a free-kicks being given away regularly, Wymondham after a hand ball is spotted on halfway. Played forwards to the top of the area intercepted by Horn. Newcombe on with the ball left forwards for Natasha Youngs her cross put into the area finding Nicholls close in at the near post, she shot blocked by Tigi Robson out for a corner. In across the six yard box from the right, Knights heads over at the far post.
Horn fouled in the middle for Wroxham the ball out to George up on the left getting into the Wymondham half has Walker ahead of her the pair playing a one two looking to get forwards Kett across to help Newcombe the ball defended cleared for a throw. Wymondham sharp getting the ball forwards from the ball fizzed into Waters left outside the Wroxham area turns sending it on for Nicholls racing away down the wing looking to get into the box, Fullbrook able to get hold of the bouncing ball, Nicholls would have been offside anyway. A throw deep inside Wroxham territory for Wymondham on the right, players battling for possession, Bullard getting hold of it looking to get on the move for Wroxham the potential break stopped by Youngs as she gets the tackle in on Bullard.
George with a strong run forwards with the ball on the left for Wroxham on for Walker, Kett in to challenge halting her advance. Fouls continue to be given away a feisty contest. Birchall on the recieving end of a strong challenge. From a throw high on the right Becky Russell wins Wroxham a corner kick. Frustrations with decisions boiling over for Wroxham as the first half moves into the last 15 minutes. Wymondham from a throw on the right Knights showing great skill on the ball turning it infield for Rebecca Russell 20 yards out looking to go forwards, Horn in on her defending for Wroxham.
George clearing the ball right for a throw as Waters flicked on ball from the middle comes out to Nicholls breaking right. Wymondham’s turn to complain about a decision going against them players from both sides showing their frustration risking action being taken against them. Wroxham beginning to find some momentum going forwards at last getting players on better, finding Birchall and Bullard up top. Wymondham always ready to spring the counter Walker needing to track back on the right tackle Newcombe as she gets forwards. The throw deep into the area Waters up near side twisting her header down towards goal, players attacking it, thwarted by the offside flag.
Strauss coming away with the ball on the left side for Wroxham moves inside sending the diagonal ball into Birchall’s feet back to gaol outside the D, looking to turn to her right spin off her marker, Kett reads it lunging out with her leg to take the ball away from her. Soon after though Kett picks up the first yellow card of the game as she catches Horn with a rash tackle in the middle. Strauss on it, into the top of the area Newcombe’s header clear falling to Becky Russell attempts to lob it back in over the defence, claimed by Pearce beyond.
Wroxham get up the pitch on the left George up with Walker the ball worked in across the top of the Wymondham area comes out to Bullard 20 yards out right side, curls a viscous shot in towards goal Pearce diving to her left can’t reach it the ball cannoning down off the crossbar and out for a corner off the falling keeper. Wroxham applying some pressure now in the final 3rd the corner played in across the penalty spot headed up twice by Wroxham before dropping to Horn at the near post stabbing her header wide.
The clock ticking down in the first half Wroxham finishing it the strong with the ball higher up the pitch played with renewed confidence Birchall driving on powerfully on the right her cross from deep saved by Pearce out of her area quickly regained by Wroxham Horn into Becky Russell outside the D turns on the ball left intending to shoot, Kett diving in with a last ditch tackle to deny her the opportunity. A pause in play with Nicholls pulling up for Wymondham needing treatment. Okay to continue, the ball won back by Wroxham in the middle up to Bullard with Birchall to her right, Croft defending for Wymondham as the half-time whistle blows.
Half-time Wroxham Women 0-1 Wymondham Town Ladies
A strong opening half hour from Wymondham as they pressed the Wroxham defence back getting the ball on quickly through the middle to their attackers. Waters opening the scoring inside 10 minutes. A feisty game played at a good pace has the feel of a derby about it some strong challenges being made, decisions upsetting both sides, as of yet though just the one card shown. Wroxham looking a little unsettled at the start not getting their passes right, finding their way towards the end of the half not really wanting the whistle to blow. Wymondham heading into the changing rooms. Wroxham staying out on the pitch, manager Rebecca Burton giving one last impassioned half-time team talk spurring her side on for the 2nd half.
No changes at the break for either side, 1 goal in it still all to play for as Wymondham get the 2nd half underway. The ball with Newcombe at the back is quickly closed down Wroxham looking to press, Becky Russell getting hold of the ball played inside cut out by Codman. Walker bringing the ball on left fires a diagonal ball inside for Birchall back to goal top of the D, bodies around her turns into traffic no way through. Wymondham regain possession on the right sent on for Waters taking the ball on to the by-line her cross is deflected behind into the side netting for a corner kick.
The corner swung into the near side attacked as Wroxham defend getting it clear play stopped however with a player down, Robson needing treatment. Clarke up on the left with the ball clipping a long pass forwards into the box with Waters pulling off the Wroxham defence, Fullbrook starts to come close the angle, the striker not getting to it the goalkeeper allowing it to bounce on wide of goal. The game stretched more now as Wroxham push up losing the ball out wide, Wymondham counter on the right the diagonal ball forwards seeing Nicholls in through the middle, Fullbrook comes running out to the top of her area sliding in to clear it as the attacker arrives the ball won the pair collide a painful coming together of knees that leaves both on the floor in some discomfort and another long pause in play for treatment to be administered.
Both up gingerly can play on. Knights coming out to the right holding the ball up twists and turns getting the angle for the cross the ball lifted into the six yard box claimed by Fullbrook. Waters with the ball high on the right winning a throw, players from both sides battling for possession outside the Wroxham box, Becky Russell preventing the cross coming in. Knights stealing in on the ball for Wymondham laying it on for Water right channel, Robson with a good tackle defending for Wroxham. Wymondham’s defence sitting back keeping it tight making it difficult for Birchall to find a way through on goal, angry not to get awarded a corner as she drives on right side.
A change for both sides with Wroxham bringing on Charlotte Gardiner-Banks for Squires. Wymondham bringing off Youngs replaced by Hayley Kindred. An hour played a much more even contest, Wroxham after the ball getting players up. Wymondham ready to counter at every opportunity Rebecca Russell on through the middle for Nicholls, Fullbrook coming out to meet her doing well to bat the ball down then smother it at the top of her area. Bullard to Birchall taking the ball on into the right corner getting inside to send a cross in towards the near post Becky Russell with the run, the ball clears by Croft.
Birchall with the ball at her feet outside the Wymondham area turns towards goal, Codman back to help her defence with the challenge to win it back. Becky Russell closing down the ball central sends it out to Cooper running into space on the right lifts the ball on into the box for Birchall right side bringing it down gets to the by-line, Kindred tackling for Wymondham. An Injury concern for Wymondham in the middle Waters has pulled up, hurting herself chasing down a ball moments earlier can’t continue a blow, Kyla Love coming on.
Another change for Wroxham with Walker off, Rhianne Brister coming on. Another injury concern for Wymondham with Kett the player down again needs to come off, Wymondham sending on striker Francesca Catchpole. Love in the middle losing possession to Becky Russell, gets back at her to win the ball back a committed tussle from both side now. Horn picking up the ball in the middle allowed to travel pulling the trigger some 20 yards out, Pearce seeing it wide of her left post. The advantage played as Strauss is clipped bringing the ball on on to George out wide her cross into the middle, headed clear. 20 minutes left to play the game could yet go either way Wroxham much improved but as yet to test Pearce.
Birchall battling her way forwards on the right calling for support as she moves infield her ball into the area covered by Pearce. Love heading the ball on up to Catchpole in attack, Strauss closing in to defend for Wroxham. Wymondham upping the pace as they look for a 2nd goal themselves. Players beginning to struggle with fatigue pulling up, Nicholl has taken a few knock during the game. Codman down too needing treatment a large chunk of stoppage time to be added. Codman coming off for Wymondham, Youngs returning to the pitch.
Love running onto the ball, 20 yards out looking to press into the box is tackled by Robson, Horn in the middle fouled by Catchpole as she tries to send it forwards. A free-kick for Wroxham wide left halfway into Bullard central has Cooper free to the right the pass into her moves inside lifting it forwards for Brister left of the D, Rebecca Russell up with her, attempts to turn her header on into the area, the ball loose for a moment a 2nd attempt to head it on for Brister the ball on through to the keeper.
Gardiner-Banks curls a shot into the keeper 25 yards out on the left side as the advantage is played after Love’s foul on Birchall. Free-kicks the story of the game regularly given away little quarter being given from either side. Brister comes off for Wroxham with Walker returning for the closing stages, time running out for Wroxham to get a goal force the game into extra-time. Strauss on for Cooper right side her cross in cut out. Clarke picking up the ball for Wymondham 20 yards out left of goal getting into the box her shot miscued wide at the near post. Game is very open Wymondham defending deep not leaving any gaps Bullard into Cooper right inside for Walker, top of the Wymondham area left, the ball cleared by Croft for a throw.
Youngs off a throw left getting to the by-line, Strauss defending for Wroxham, Youngs coming back on her to play it across the top of the area, Love onto it her attempt sent high.
GOAL! Regular time up Catchpole on the ball halfway inside the Wroxham half, Cooper closing in lunges in to win the ball Catchpole going down over her legs, Wroxham incensed as the free-kick is awarded against her. Looked a good tackle diving in though adjudged as dangerous play. Clarke over the set-piece the back hit well heading for goal to the right side swerving through the air Fullbrook getting something on it not enough though as it is lost beyond her bouncing down in front of goal, Wymondham have players racing in on the follow-up Love amongst those smashing the ball into the back of the net. Confusion as Wroxham think it’s been ruled out for offside, Wymondham celebrating. A pause in play as the officials consult, the goal is given the ball already over the line before Love arrived 0-2.
A much needed goal for Wymondham with a substantial amount of injury time to be played. A huge blow for Wroxham who feel they have been on the wrong end of decisions for both goals. Birchall bringing the ball on right her crossed flashed into the six yard box, cleared before Gardiner-Banks can get her head on it. Lyla Studd coming on for Wymondham replacing Youngs. Catchpole holding up the ball fouled by Robson on halfway.
Wroxham press forwards in search of a goal Cooper 30 yards out on the right shifts inside letting fly with a stinging shot, Pearce diving to her right with the save pushing the ball out wide to the left. A free-kick crossed into the Wymondham area just out of Birchall’s reach, a foul for Wymondham then as Wroxham attempt to regain possession. Studd back to defend for Wymondham as Becky Russell and Bullard look to combine out on the right. Deep into stoppage time 5 minutes already played.
A free-kick for Wroxham 30 yards out central, a booking for Kindred. Strauss’ shot striking the 3 man wall. Robson staying up now for Wroxham the ball with Cooper right lifted on Robson that side but the pass too long. 90 + 8 Wroxham with a free-kick on the left Strauss to put it on, headed clear top of the area by Rebecca Russell. Cooper central threading the pass into Robson right her cross into the Wymondham area won by the defence.
GOAL! 90+11 Wroxham pushing hard at the death winning another set-piece Strauss on it 25 yards out to the left of the D. Sent in on target Birchall attacking it even as Pearce looks to take it with both hands on her line, does well to hold onto the ball, a little bit of afters between Birchall and Croft that sees the defender kick out at her opponent. The referee blowing up cooling thing’s down calling Croft over booking her and awarding the penalty. Bullard placing the ball on the spot, calm as you like the keeper doesn’t move as she slots it low into the right corner 1-2.
A goal back at the death for Wroxham, but only a consolation as moments later the final whistle blows and Wymondham celebrate as the win the League Cup and complete the double.
Full time Wroxham Women 1-2 Wymondham Town Ladies
An entertaining Cup Final played between two committed sides local rivals, very much a derby. Wroxham much improved 2nd half taking the game to Wymondham opened things up, as they looked for a goal. Wymondham though keeping it tight at the back deep at time not leaving any room in behind. Losing players to injury Wymondham had to fight for the victory getting the crucial 2nd goal in the finish. Some controversial decisions Wroxham feeling hard done by for both goals. Entertaining nonetheless a great advert for the league the ERWFL only getting stronger.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. Was a committed battle with both sides playing there part contenders on both sides. For Wroxham, Tigi Robson making a number of crucial challenges at the back. Becky Russell in the middle getting stuck in winning the ball on numerous ocassions looking to get forwards. Lauren Bullard outstanding getting hold of the ball coming close to scoring late in the first half scoring the penalty at the death. Wymondham had to fight for the victory and did a great job as a team. Lauren Kett at the back standing out amongst a solid defensive line. Hannah Waters up top with her movement on and off the ball always causing issues. The award though goes to midfielder Katie Knights covered a huge amount of ground in her pursuit of the ball breaking up several Wroxham moves holding up the ball and getting into some good forward positions.
Congratulations to Wymondham Town Ladies on winning this season’s ERWFL Cup Final and completing a league and cup double.
An entertaining trip down to Haverhill my 3rd final in 6 days one more to come on Tuesday at Newmarket for the Cambridgeshire Women’s Junior Invitation Cup Final before a slight rest. My thanks to both sides for their help today as always is appreciated.
by Darren Gilham