Sunday 26th August
FA Women’s Cup Preliminary Round
An early start to the FA Women’s Cup this season. The Road to Wembley beginning in August with a record number of entrants to the competition that saw 53 ties drawn for the Preliminary Round more than ever before. Women’s Football East travels to Beccles this Sunday to watch one of those new entrants, Beccles Town Ladies take on Essex side, Chelmsford City Ladies.
An early start to the season for several clubs which has led to difficulties in player availability some clubs forced to withdraw. Is a magical competition that throws up many memorable and intriguing ties over the season. Regionalised in the early rounds clubs can still make journey’s longer than they are accustomed to and test themselves against higher league opponents.
This time last year Beccles Town Ladies hadn’t even played a competitive fixture. The Suffolk side joined the Norfolk Women & Girls Football League (NWGFL) last season. A memorable debut season in Division Two saw the club clinch promotion as runners-up losing just the one league game along the way. Beginning the new campaign in Division One their season begin’s with their 1st ever game in the FA Women’s Cup. New signings made over the summer the side is still getting to know one another on the field.
The visitors today Chelmsford City Ladies, travelling up to Suffolk from Essex the club plays in the Essex Women’s Premier Division, where more often than not they have been amongst the sides challenging for the title. Injuries to a number of players last season made for a difficult season, a mid-table finish nonetheless have built over the summer and are confident to once again be amongst the top sides challenging for the league title. A home tie against ERWFL Premier Division side, AFC Sudbury Ladies awaits today’s winner in First Round Qualifying next Sunday.
Heading east for today’s game I was just in front of the wet weather that was sweeping in from the west to cover pretty much the entire region come the afternoon. Beccles Town Ladies play their home games at Beccles Town FC the football ground part of a larger sports facility on the outskirts of Beccles, housing a cricket, bowls and rugby. The football ground has seen some recent upgrades. Is a large pitch with a lush cover of grass, wide space to exploit. A small covered stand with some seating (very much needed today) a tea hut beside. The rain light before the game the heavens pretty much opened the minute the two sides took their positions either side of the referee for the handshakes.
Beccles Town Ladies starting XI – Chloe Pearce, Millie Fisher, Marie Carter, Megan Vincent (C), Poppy Wilson, Victoria Ottey, Francesca Heaney, Lucy Robbens, Bethan Owen, Chelsea Caplin & Taylor Whiting. Subs – Darcie Keiley & Caitlin Harvey.
Chelmsford City Ladies starting XI – Kin Ripton, Holly Gurnett, Broghan Lambert, Aimee Gannon, Gaby Freedman (C), Rosie Coe, Shannon Kelly, Adele Munday, Niki Medici, Georgia James & Lisa Overall. Subs – Laura Kendle, Charlotte Palmer & Monique Black.
Both sides used to roll on roll of substitutes the FA Women’s Cup is different only 3 substitutes each in the 90 minutes. Raining heavily it’s Beccles to kick-off the 1st half, wearing white shirts with black shorts and socks. Chelmsford lined up opposite in their claret strip. The hosts look to make progress into the Chelmsford half straight away the ball fed through the middle knocked on into the box an early claim of the ball for Chelmsford goalkeeper Kim Ripton.
Play condensed in the middle of the park, defences from both sides cutting out any forward balls. Victoria Ottey and Francesca Heaney in midfield for Beccles look to combine through the middle bringing the ball forwards the pass out to the left for Chelsea Caplin to chase is instead won by Chelmsford right back Holly Gurnett. Ottey onto the ball again forwards into Heaney on for Taylor Whiting in attack the Beccles forward placing her shot from outside the box wide of goal.
Chelmsford come forwards the ball played out to Georgia James peeling out into the channel, Beccles captain Megan Vincent at centre back comes across to make the tackle prevent James getting into the box with the ball. Niki Medici takes the ball on down the left wing for Chelmsford her low cross squared into the box intercepted and cleared by Beccles, Poppy Wilson.
Whiting is forced off the ball as she makes a run for the top of the box having be played in by Lucy Robbens in midfield for Beccles, Gaby Freedman the Chelmsford captain with the challenge. The first real chance of the game falls to the hosts, Heaney charging a ball down on the right sprints beyond the full back and sends a dangerous low cross along the six yard box, evading Ripton comes straight to Whiting at the far post looks to send the ball back across goal into the bottom corner, instead it flashes wide across the face of goal out for a goalkick.
The weather a far cry from the heatwave enjoyed earlier in the summer, conditions miserable the rain falling heavily, both sides are struggling to get in full flow, Shannon Kelly backed up with Coe in midfield for Chelmsford tries twice to get James and Lisa Overall in attack in on goal as the attackers attempt to get in behind, Wilson and Vincent winning the ball on both occasions. Millie Fisher challenging Adele Munday and winning the ball as the Chelmsford midfielder attempts to get in behind.
James wins Chelmsford the first corner of the match on the right side the ball into the box cleared at the near post. Chelmsford attack the ball forward into Kelly right inside the Beccles half sends the pass on with James making a run, Wilson stays with her putting in the tackle inside the D, the deflected ball falling to Medici coming on from the left strikes the ball in across the goal face drops wide of goal.
James is starting to peel of the Beccles centre backs out into the channels to find room, the Chelmsford striker pushing the ball out to Medici on the left takes the ball on before sweeping a cross into the area, Wilson the first to it to clear for Beccles. Both sides with a spell of sustained pressure Chelmsford mounting an attack the Beccles centre backs cutting out the final pass. Beccles counter attack numbers forwards Heaney with Whiting ahead of her on the right, Aimee Gannon intercepting her cross at the top of the box, Robbens races in to steal it back looks to release Caplin on her left, Ripton able to gather the ball.
Bethan Owen finds a Chelmsford goal kick coming straight to her 25 yards out controls and sends the ball into Whiting ready to turn in behind central to goal takes a shot her low effort saved by Ripton on her penalty spot as she goes to ground. Heaney has a shot from the edge of the area as she gets forwards to support the attack for Beccles from midfield left side, Ripton claiming the ball safely at her near post.
It’s Overall’s turn to make a run into the channel giving chase to a ball popping free after pinging around in the midfield, Wilson has the pace to catch up with the Chelmsford attacker putting in the tackle concedes a corner kick. Medici to play the ball in from the left cut out near post the deflected ball dropping to Kelly outside the box, taking the shot on the half volley, her curling effort is straight into the arms of Beccles goalkeeper Chloe Pearce.
Chelmsford are awarded a free kick wide on the right inside the Beccles half, players go forwards into the box as the ball is played in James allows the ball to run past her near post as she pulls her marker with her the ball rolling on is met by Coe who strikes it 1st time her powerful strike driven wide. Beccles bring the ball on Heaney carrying in on through midfield her past setting up Whiting for a shot outside the area right of the D pulls the effort wide of the right post.
Ripton with a good take to claim the ball low inside her box and Owen dinks a ball in over the top for Beccles. James manages to shake off the attentions of her marker in the centre spinning clear to the left has space to run into but opts for the early strike 20 yards out on the angle doesn’t get enough on the ball to threaten Pearce’s goal the keeper gathering the ball. Medici with the ball left side squares a cross along the face of the area, Overall meeting the ball her strike is charged down by Vincent.
Late into the 1st half Chelmsford have a corner on the right the ball played in low near side is turned in towards goal by Freedman, Vincent blacking and clearing the ball for Beccles. Overall is flagged offside and Chelmsford attack in the closing moments of the half going slightly too early as Coe threads a pass through the middle.
Half-time Beccles Town Ladies 0-0 Chelmsford City Ladies
A goalless 1st half, wet and horrible conditions have contributed to the stalemate neither side getting control of the ball for very long, quality lacking at times is still very early in the season for both sides Beccles creating slightly more in the final third but defences on top so far.
A change for Beccles at the break with Darcie Kelly joining the action, the rain still persistent as Chelmsford get the ball rolling for the 2nd half. The visitors on the attack straight away Munday with a strong run on the ball down the left fires a cross in hard into the six yard box evades everyone near post Carter getting in front of Medici defends as she comes on far post the ball deflected straight into the path of Overall she opens up her body in an attempt to get the ball around the keeper, can’t as Pearce claims the ball into her midriff.
Chelmsford have started the 2nd half strongly getting forwards the ball is played to Overall drifting right her early cross in cut out by Wilson, the ball back into the middle regained by Chelmsford Kelly out to Overall who has stayed right her early cross into the near post James under challenge gets a shot away blasts the ball straight at Pearce.
GOAL! The bright start to the 2nd half from Chelmsford sees them take the lead in the cup tie James and Overall have been trying all sorts up top to find room in behind the Beccles centre backs both peeling into the channels combine for the opening goal well worked as the ball is put into James out wide left she whips a cross in towards the near post Overall has made a run near post in evading her marker to get her head on the end of the ball sends a looping header up over Pearce from the top of the six yard box to drop into the back of the net 0-1.
Overall almost has a 2nd goal moments later as she charges down the ball on the right outside the box and from the corner of the area attempts to lob the keeper, Pearce back on her line however is well positioned to bring the ball under control. Beccles relieve the pressure sending a long ball forwards allowing it to bounce Chelmsford don’t have it, almost sets Whiting away in the left as she goes after it Gannon sliding in has to concede the throw, taken quickly Whiting plays the ball in from the byline her cross in cut out by Ripton as the keeper goes to ground at her near post.
Another change for Beccles one substitute for the other as Harvey withdraws, Caitlin Harvey coming on to join Whiting in attack. Coe in to win the ball in the centre of midfield plays it forwards into Overall outside the box she looks to divert the ball towards goal with the outside of her boot off target running wide she and Pearce have a coming together as the keeper slides in on the ball. Treatment needed but Pearce is okay to continue. Medici with a deft ball on the left into the area James attacking it, Vincent in across the attacker wins the ball.
Caplin is played in by Ottey left side charges forwards but lacking options is marshalled off the ball by Gurnett. Munday brings the ball on for Chelmsford right side lifts the ball on for Overall positioned top of the Beccles area gets a shot away over the defence looking to lob the keeper back on her line once again awkward for Pearce she does well to get a fist on the ball punch it away to the right.
Robbens has been getting into more advanced positions for Beccles as the 2nd half has worn on and spinning clear of the centre backs 20 yards from goal as the ball is played across her from the right she swivels into a shot cutting the ball back towards goal swerving through the area is narrowly wide of the top corner nestling into the side netting. Lambert slides in to deny Harvey getting forwards for Beccles as she attacks down the right.
James with a jinking run on the ball attacks for Chelmsford outside the box across the D, Overall tries to get inside the box for the cut back, Carter coming inside from the left slides in to claim it for Beccles. Gannon gets across Whiting as the Beccles forwards attempts to power her way through the middle after being played in by Robbens. A free-kick for Beccles on half way Vincent over it the ball played in towards the top of the area somehow manages to squeeze on through into the box Robbens is on it spinning onto the shot maybe gets a little too much power behind it as she fires it wide across the face of the Chelmsford goal.
Chelmsford make a change, Medici the player coming off, Monique Black a direct swap for her on the left wing. Robbens onto the ball in the centre tries to release Caplin on her left, the winger run off the ball by Gurnett. Pushing forwards into the Chelmsford half Beccles come close once again Carter setting up Heaney as she surges forwards pulls the trigger from outside the area the ball racing low across the face of the Chelmsford goal Ripton can see it wide of her far post.
Robbens with a shot from 20 yards out as the ball is diverted into her, the ball straight at Ripton. Wilson brings the ball on from centre back for Beccles releases Caplin on the left cutting back inside a shot from 20 yards out skipping along the floor, Ripton gets down sharply to get her body behind the ball, a quick turn around by Chelmsford the ball played through the middle James evading the challenge top of the area into the box left of goal her shot held by Pearce as she dives to her right.
Into the final 10 minutes and Beccles have their first corner of the game from the right in near post both Vincent and Ottey get something on the ball as it is diverted across the opposition six yard box, Gannon the one running onto it to launch it to safety for Chelmsford.
PENALTY! Late in the game from a corner kick up the other end Chelmsford are awarded a penalty, the ball played in near post is touched on and cut out in the middle by a Beccles arm the referee pointing to the spot even as Caplin attempts to clear the ball. A pause before taking it as Caplin has hurt herself and after treatment on the pitch she can’t continue carried off Beccles are down to 10 no more substitutes available. Time to take the penalty Coe with the ball places it on the spot for Chelmsford, runs in strikes the ball, sending it to the keeper right, Pearce has guessed right and diving gets her fists to the ball to make the save send the ball out to her right as her team mates rush in to congratulate her.
The ball isn’t out of play however regained on the left swung back in Pearce marshals her defence quickly giving herself room to defend her near post punches the ball down out to Kelly who curls a shot back in the ball bouncing wide of goal. James with another shot across the face of goal as Beccles throw caution to the wind in the closing moments of the match but the visitors hold out comfortably in the finish to claim a narrow victory that sees them progress into next weekend First Round Qualifying tie at home to AFC Sudbury Ladies.
Full time Beccles Town Ladies 0-1 Chelmsford City Ladies
A close match in the finish Chelmsford City Ladies finding a moment of magic early in the 2nd half to take the lead in the tie and claim the win. Beccles Town Ladies with a good showing in their debit in the FA Women’s Cup defended well on the whole, Pearce with vital saves, gave a good account of themselves and but for better finishing might well have been victorious themselves. Credit to Chelmsford City however James and Overall worked hard all game to find openings trying many thing’s not deterred combining for the winning goal. Know they will get better too.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this Sunday’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match award, as ever a difficult one but one did stand out for me. Both sides contributing to an intriguing cup tie, Wilson and Vincent pairing up well at centre back for Beccles, Heaney with some excellent running in midfield too, Munday strong on the ball for Chelmsford, their attackers both did well and to that end have chosen Georgia James as she grew into the game and found room in the channels and ultimately set up the winning goal.
I do love an FA Cup game, they can often throw up a surprise or two. Enjoyed my trip to Beccles despite the weather and my thanks to both the cricket club and football club for their help and hospitality today. I stayed dry that was a bonus. Best of luck to both clubs for the season ahead and thanks for the team details as ever.