Sunday 6th January
Norfolk Ladies League Cup
Happy New Year! The first game of 2019 for Women’s Football East, another great year of football action to look forwards too. A quiet end to 2018 with just the one game watched have missed it and keen to get this year off to a flyer, the action beginning in Norfolk from the 2nd Round of the Ladies League Cup with Aylsham Ladies at home to Sprowston Ladies.
A place in the quarter finals of the competition up for grabs the one remaining tie the other 7 places decided and with half the Division One sides set to be gone from the competition after today’s game a great opportunity awaits the winner of today’s tie.
Aylsham Ladies reformed this season after a brief withdrawal from the league. Managed now by Robert Highe formerly in charge of the Stalham Town Ladies side, he has brought with him a good number from that side with players formerly with North Walsham Angels Ladies also joining the squad has plenty of experience competing in Division One. 8 sides in the league this season Aylsham were one of the early pacesetters neck and neck with Thorpe United Ladies, a dip in results seeing Thorpe who have remained consistent throughout stretch their lead.
Aylsham are second and well clear of the chasing pack, the dynamic of the league changing over the first few months of the season, several teams struggling for numbers early on most have added to their squads and alot closer to one another now, anyone can feel capable of beating anyone on their day as the new year begins.
Sprowston Ladies are 4th in Division One their squad light early on has gotten stronger, this side making their debut in Division One last season were very strong pushing eventual winners Bungay Town Ladies all the way to the title, collected silverware too winning the League Plate. Both sides will be keen to get going in 2019 having both played their last competitive fixture back in November! The two sides drawing 2-2 at Sprowston when they met in October.
Youngs Park the venue for today’s fixture and the first time I’ve been back there since the redeveloped site was opened in 2016. A new housing development close by easier to get to than I remember, a large carpark a large clubhouse with bar and refreshments, beside the main pitch, lots of space for additional practice pitches, a great sporting facility. The weather a pretty dull picture, gloomy and overcast, not too cold mind
Aylsham Ladies starting XI – Katie Clarke, Charlotte Darvill, Hannah Sturman, Megan Champion, Sophie-Jayne O’Connor, Amber Mayhew, Kerry Wright, Summer Moore, Mary Anne Hoy, Vicky Lubbock & Leanne Symonds. Subs – Jade Knights, Emma Gillespie & Abbie Charlton.
Sprowston Ladies starting XI – Megan Lightfoot, Paige Barnard, Ria Drake, Calista Tink, Georgina Belton, Abbi Nobbs, Melissa Anderson, Amee Kennett, Abby Hutchin, Chelsea Brister & Vicky Leyer. Subs – Rebecca Basten, Jade Mundford & Evie Tolson.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
8 teams in the league, 3 of them play in orange. Aylsham as the home side wearing there first choice colours, orange shirts and socks with blue shorts. Sprowston wearing black shirts today with orange shorts and black socks. It’s Aylsham with the kick-off 1st half. The visitors press the ball straight away Abbi Nobbs getting hold of the ball for Sprowston, played forwards cut out by Aylsham’s Sophie-Jayne O’Connor.
Vicky Leyer with the ball at her feet for Sprowston inside the Aylsham half central played on down the left for Amee Kennett to chase, Hannah Sturman across her for Aylsham sees the ball out for a goal kick. Sturman with some good defensive work soon after as Kennett given the ball left side looks to turn inside get into the area the Aylsham defender getting in a good challenge.
Abby Hutchin getting forwards with the 1st goalwards attempt for Sprowston her low ball gathered easily by Aylsham goalkeeper Katie Clarke. A good start to the game from the visitors Sprowston attacking have the ball inside the Aylsham half making in difficult for the hosts to counter.
GOAL! Sprowston capitalise on their good start by taking an early lead in the match attacking right side Chelsea Brister on the ball down the line plays it back of Hutchin behind her she sends a cross along the top of the six yard box Leyer central send the ball on for Kennett closing in at the far post she sends a shot back across the goal and scores 0-1.
Aylsham look for an immediate response the ball forwards into Vicki Lubbock right channel her ball forwards cut out by Ria Drake, the visitors counter the ball forwards finding Leyer top of the centre circle is clear running in towards goal, the flag is up however and when eventually spotted her run ended.
Clarke does well coming early to kick the ball clear as Hutchin making a great run through the left channel is almost played in on goal. The passes not coming off for Aylsham frustration in the early part of the game as Sprowston continue with their energetic game. Amber Mayhew bringing the ball forwards fro Aylsham looks to set up Lubbock as she moves with her to the right the Sprowston defence regaining possession.
Mary Anne Hoy flicking the ball on down the left wing gives chase tries to tie up Leanne Symonds in the middle, the best the attacker can do is win a throw as Georgina Belton slides in with her in win the ball. Sturman with more good defensive work inside the box the deny Kennett a shot as she turns inside. Charlotte Darvill defends for Aylsham as Sprowston try to double up on her at left back Hutchin with the run into space on her right with Leyer holding up the ball.
Paige Barnard has a long throw in her arsenal and uses it to good effect for Sprowston on the right the ball into the box causing problems, Megan Champion clearing for Aylsham. Barnard likes to charge forwards with the ball at her feet too a good run from half way is ended as her heels are clipped 25 yards out Sprowston winning the free-kick. The ball flighted into the box headed down out of the area the defensive clearance dropping straight to Hutchin outside the box, shoots her looping effort straight at Clarke well placed in the Aylsham goal.
Aylsham haven’t registered a shot on target yet are struggling to get anything going in the final third, Summer Moore gathering the ball into her feet inside her opponents half looks to plough her way towards the box, eventually after three challenges Sprowston manage to stop her.
GOAL! From the resulting counter attack Sprowston get the ball up the other end and score to double their lead the ball played direct up through the middle Hutchin picking it up carrying it on into the area, Sturman managing to get in the challenge on her takes the ball away from her Kennett free behind Hutchin coming in from the left onto the loose ball sends her shot from outside the box up over the keeper to score her 2nd of the match 0-2.
A change for Sprowston, Brister coming off a straight swap on the right with Evie Tolson coming on. 25 minutes played. Sprowston remain strong in attack numbers forward win a throw deep on the right, Barnard to take the long throw, drops to Leyer inside the area right side holds the ball up well before trying to tie up Hutchin top of the area central her shot blocked by Moore the deflected ball racing out to Melissa Anderson positioned left she 1st time shot over the bar.
GOAL! A mix up at the back sees the visitors score a third goal. The ball played up over the top with Tolson the target right side, Darvill to it first as it runs into the box, the keeper calls aiming to clear it as she advances, defender and goalkeeper too close to each other as she does the ball unfortunately striking Darvill rebounds behind both into Tolson who has an empty net in front of her scores her 1st goal for Sprowston in just her 2nd appearance.
Darvill getting forwards for Aylsham tries to link up with Hoy on the left the pair gain ground on the wing before Barnard slides in with the tackle to win the ball. Sprowston counter Hutchin running into the space vacated by Darvill right side to the by line her cross in low towards the near post taken well by Clarke. Aylsham’s turn to counter quick to get the ball forwards into Symonds left of goal across the top of the area into Lubbock, Belton sliding in on her as she shoots the ball looping up over the bar a corner awarded, the ball near side defended.
GOAL! 35 minutes gone and Sprowston add to their lead Nobbs on for Hutchin breaking forwards a good run through the middle sends it on for Leyer bursting clear into the area moving right away from goal gets a shot away wrong footing the keeper moving to close down the angle the ball back across her and into the far bottom corner 0-4.
A free-kick for Sprowston awarded on the left side 35 yards players up from the back as the ball is played diagonally across to Hutchin moving in from the right 20 yards out her shot blocked… by Tink.
GOAL! A late life line for Aylsham in the first half as they are awarded a penalty. Mayhew getting the ball forwards into Symonds getting into space on the right her cross squared into Lubbock top of the area she is upended as she goes to receive the ball the referee pointing to the spot. Lubbock gets up to take, a well taken effort placed to her right pulls a goal back for the home side 1-4.
A double change for Aylsham in the cards before the penalty and with it a change of formation 3-5-3 now with Darvill and Moore coming off for Abbie Charlton and Emma Gillespie. Little time left in the first half for the changes to take effect, Sprowston press on the ball from Hutchin up to Leyer running right sends a cross along the face of goal into Kennett a chance for a hat-trick the ball bouncing the attempt screwed wide.
Half-time Aylsham Ladies 1-4 Sprowston Ladies
A strong first half from Sprowston, an early goal pressed the ball well inside their opponents half making it difficult for Aylsham to get anything going in attack, frustrated Sprowston capitalised getting into a 4-0 lead. Chances few and far between for Aylsham a goal back late on gives them something but know they have alot of work to do if they are to get themselves back into the game 2nd half.
Another change at half-time for Aylsham, Moore on for Sturman. Sprowston to get the 2nd 45 underway. Aylsham need to start on the front foot, Anderson though wins the ball for Sprowston on for Leyer central drives on, Champion tacking her and winning the ball for Aylsham spins away to the right Wright doing well too in defence before Clarke lays claim to the ball.
Aylsham much more positive at the start of the 2nd half pushing on Symonds winning a throw on the right as Lubbock sends the pass down the line. Champion winning the ball inside her opponents half pushes forwards on for Symonds looks to turn inside tackled by Tink.
A second penalty awarded to Aylsham early in the 2nd half the ball played into Lubbock standing just inside the box a kick out at her calves spotted. 4-2 now and it’s a huge boost for the hosts Lubbock to take again, missed the ball lifted over this time.
Aylsham regroup push on Moore plays the pass out to Lubbock right side as she looks to combine with Symonds the cross into the six yard box Charlton the target far post the ball headed clear of the area collected by Hoy left side 20 yards out her strike wide. Lubbock with a 30 yard attempt on target Megan Lightfoot in the Sprowston goal back on her line claims the ball firmly over her head.
All Aylsham at the start of the 2nd half Sprowston with the 3 goal advantage soaking up the pressure. Lubbock with more support around her influential on the ball spins the pass out to Symonds right her looping cross falling central Mayhew forwards lays the ball off for Lubbock drifting in central top of the area her snap shot pulled wide.
Sprowston always ready to launch a counter Hutchin a good run forwards played in on goal into the box closing in on the keeper Clarke saves well at close range the ball pushed straight back into Hutchin’s path she tries to adjust place her shot wide of the keeper but Champion is back to clear for Aylsham.
Leyer holding the ball up for Sprowston brings Barnard into play as she bursts forwards on the right side, Wright reading the threat in quickly to put in the tackle deny a cross. A chance fro Sprowston Drake the player off, on comes Rebecca Basten. Tink intercepts at the back for Sprowston as Symonds aims to put Lubbock through. The final ball just not happening for Aylsham this afternoon.
Kennett with the ball at her feet on the left wing for Sprowston pushes on lays the pass on for Leyer 25 yards out she checks inside shapes to send a shot towards the top corner the ball flying wide of the upright.
GOAL! Leyer does score soon after Sprowston have ridden out Aylsham’s early pressure 2nd half find space in attack Kennett central with the run and shot 25 yards out the ball blocked manages to squirm it’s way through into the box for Leyer drifting free left of goal 8 yards out shoots her strike back across Clarke diving full stretched does well to get glove on it but the touch not enough to keep it out of the back of the net Leyer with her 2nd of the game 1-5.
Another chance for Sprowston with Jade Mundford coming on. Jade Knights on for Aylsham replacing Mayhew. Lubbock wins Aylsham a corner on the right side the ball into the area defended the half clearance straight to Charlton running onto the ball no time to control a shot too many bodies in front of her the rebound falling to Champion top of the area her shot runs wide.
Sprowston hit on the counter right side Leyer on the ball checks in field again shapes to shoot, this time Wright is in her face before she can unleash a strike tackling wins the ball. Champion back behind her keeper to clear the ball again as Clarke does well saving against Leyer at close range.
GOAL! Closing in on the final 15 minutes and Sprowston extend their lead with Aylsham pushing forwards gaps are opening up at the back as they tire Leyer a willing runner is played in Clarke sets herself making the save as she strikes the ball hard from the top of the area left of the D the ball racing out to the right Hutchin the player getting ahead of the Aylsham defence to meet t blasts a low strike from the top of the area into the back of the goal 1-6.
GOAL! A further hammer blow for Aylsham moments later as Sprowston go on to add a 7th from a corner. Won on the right, Tink with the near post run isn’t picked up six yards out gets a free header turning the ball on towards goal and into the back of the net 1-7.
Aylsham are tiring has been a frustrating afternoon, not happening in front of goal, Sprowston press on late on remain full of energy. Anderson in to win the ball in the middle, out to Barnard running on right side the ball in field to Leyer cut out by Champion.
GOAL! a penalty awarded late in the game going Sprowston’s way this time. Plenty of options for the visitors leading 7-1 up to take it central defender Belton, A well taken effort wide into the side netting to her right scores her 1st goal for the side 1-8.
Sprowston press on late on the wind gone from Aylsham’s sails, Hutchin with a strike from 25 yards out runs wide of goal. The final whistle blows and Sprowston progress to the quarter finals of the League Cup with a convincing win.
Full time Aylsham Ladies 1-8 Sprowston Ladies
A comprehensive win for Sprowston Ladies in the finish reaching the last 8 of the League Cup, a great win to start 2019. Strong from the start an early goal setting them on their way pressed well inside their opponents half. Raced into a 4-0 lead, Aylsham out of sorts poor in the first half hour got a life line from the penalty spot 4-1 at the break needed an early goal 2nd half and despite starting well it didn’t come. Sprowston always ready to counter having soaked up the pressure added a further 4 goals. A confidence boosting result for the visitors the opposite for Aylsham not the start to the year they were looking for but no doubt out of character, know alot of these players from watching them before are better and will regather and bounce back.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto the first Women’s Football East – Player of the Match award for 2019. From the outset I had an early contender. Sprowston dominated the first half, soaked up some pressure 2nd half before ending strong, Vicky Leyer pushing for it towards the end the award today however goes to Abby Hutchin made some great runs from midfield to join the attack get ahead of play early on and maintained that throughout the game a constant threat adding a goal too.
Good to get a game in after a month and thrust me I needed it too after the weekend I’ve had, the best medicine great to see both teams in action. My thanks as always for the help with the teams. The draw for the Norfolk Ladies League Cup quarter finals will be made soon keep an eye on the @NWGFL twitter account for all the details.