Sunday 19th May
Essex Women’s League Cup Final
Leigh Ramblers Ladies v Harlow Town Ladies Development
One more final before the season draws to a close a trip down to Essex this Sunday to watch Leigh Ramblers Ladies play Harlow Town Ladies Development for the League Cup.
Finishing one two in the Essex Women’s Premier Division the pair going head to head in their final game of the season. A strong campaign for both, Leigh Ramblers Ladies winning the Premier Division title in just their 2nd season playing women’s football following promotion from Division One as runners-up the previous year. A very young squad too, with just 3 players over 18, thier Reserves side joining Division One this season.
Starting life in the higher division with a defeat Leigh Ramblers Ladies never looked back after that going on a run of 10 straight league wins before suffering just their 2nd defeat, top of the table for most of the way along with Frontiers Ladies emerged as clear leaders winning their last 5 league games to clinch the Premier Division title. Have applied for promotion to the ERWFL no doubt encouraged by beating higher league Bowers & Pitsea Ladies in the opening round of the FA Women’s Cup. Kate Newton leading their goal scoring charts with 31 goals to her name this season. A hard run to the League Cup Final too taking top half Premier Division sides all the way.
The last time I was able to attend the Essex Women’s League Cup Final was when Harlow Town Ladies 1st team were a fast emerging force within the women’s game, beating Runwell Sports (Hospital) Ladies as they were then at the end of the 2015/16 Harlow have risen through the pyramid rapidly, a solid top half finish in their debut season in ERWFL Premier Division the first season they have not tasted promotion. Are now well backed up by a fast improving Development side although they are as often referred to as the Reserves, I’ll stick with Development.
Like Leigh Ramblers Ladies, another very young side, a solid start to the season in the Premier Division the side to beat Leigh Ramblers on the opening day were long unbeaten themselves amongst the top three. Table adjustments along the way saw them lose ground a strong run however towards the tail end of the season sees them coming into this Sunday’s final in strong form winning 6 in a row and scoring 42 goals along the way. Hannah Smith top scorer with 44 goals to her name, Ellie Nicholls wading in with 24 goals herself, most of the squad contributing with goals over the season with 21 of the 30 used on the scoresheet.
Road to the Final
A tough draw for both sides in the 1st Round of the League Cup. Leigh Ramblers were drawn at home to play fellow Premier Division side Chelmsford City Ladies a 2nd half goal from Chloe Gilligan enough to see Leigh Ramblers into the 2nd Round. Harlow away to Billericay Town Ladies Reserves who were amongst the title challengers and eventual winners of Division One. A 2-0 lead for Harlow at half-time went on to win 4-2.
Leigh Ramblers taking on their title rivals Frontiers Ladies at home in the 2nd Round of the competition. Goals from Aimee Skinner, Kate Newton and Amy Jacobs securing a 3-0 victory. Harlow at home to fellow Premier Division side, Silver End United Ladies, Hannah Smith amongst the goals netting a brace in a 4-0 win.
A trip to play Collier Row Tigers for Leigh Ramblers in the quarter finals. The 2016/17 League Cup finalists capable of beating anyone on their day and it was a high scoring encounter between the sides drawing 3-3 after 90 minutes the game heading into extra-time Collier Row Tigers scoring a 4th goal but so to Leigh Ramblers and another to reach the last 4 with a 5-4 extra-time win. Harlow away to Leigh Ramblers Reserves in their quarter final, Hannah Smith and Ellie Nicholls both scoring 4 each the the game with Jazi Davidson also scoring in a 9-1 win to put Harlow into the semi-finals.
Leigh Ramblers having home advantage in the semi-finals taking on another top half Premier Division side, Southend United Ladies, a first half brace for Kate Newton seeing them reach their first League Cup Final. Harlow away to Division One side Runwell Sports Ladies in the last 4.Hannah Smith again top scoring in the game netting 4 goals once again as Harlow’s young guns won 8-1 to reach their first ever League Cup Final too, that win at the beginning of their winning run.
The Runwell Sports & Social Club once again hosting the Essex Women’s League Cup final. A new road layout leading up to it easy to find. The large clubhouse serving hot and cold drinks along with food leading onto the playing pitches themselves a large playing field beyond sporting a number of full sized pitches amongst other sporting activities. Goo grass cover on the pitch, like most pitches currently very dry uneven could all do with some moisture the ground hard. The weather muggy, warm, clouds around overcast still the odd spot of rain but nothing more.
Leigh Ramblers Ladies starting XI – Emily Mackler (C), Megan Thomas, Jordan Castle, Rebecca Dalgarno, Megan Downes, |Cassie Mashford, Sasha Vail, Maddie Archer, Paige White, Amber Denton & Amy Jacobs. Subs – Emily Diwell, Molly Giles, Lucy Dalgarno, Abbi Brown & Aimee Skinner.
Harlow Town Ladies Development starting XI – Josie Burke, Jazi Davidson, Kaydee King, Evie Anderson, Nicole Storey, Savannah Japal, Maisy Wyer (C), Ronni Harrison, Poppy Binding, Ellie Nicholls & Hannah Smith. Subs – Harriet Douglas, Tamsin Turner, Maisie Ryan, Amelia Hall & Ciara Purdue.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
Leigh Ramblers without their top scorer for the game Kate Newton unavailable, a couple of others carrying knocks. Harlow the opposite getting back to full strength players returning from injury sustained earlier in the season. A minutes silence held before kick-off as a mark of respect for Daniel Webster one of the league referees who passed away suddenly on 2nd April. Harlow to kick-off the 1st half wearing red shirts with white sleeves and vertical pencil stripes, red and white shorts with red socks. Leigh Ramblers lined up opposite wearing blue and black vertical striped shirts, black shorts and socks. The ball pressed early Leigh Ramblers closing Harlow down in midfield.
Harlow’s Poppy Binding moves out to the right combines with Savannah Japal on the wing getting forwards the pass inside Binding attempting to get into the box, Leigh Ramblers in to defend the clearance long up top, Amy Jacobs after it, Evie Anderson doing the defending for Harlow. Sasha Vail getting hold of the ball for Leigh Ramblers on the right wing drives on space in front of her, Kaydee King coming across from the centre of defence to make the challenge win the ball. Jacobs chasing another long ball put forwards from the back the Leigh Ramblers attack moving right to the byline flashing a cross back across goal just evading the runners from midfield.
Harlow come forwards in numbers Binding moving right combining with Japal forced back but possession kept the ball with captain Maisy Wyer central options ahead of her plays the diagonal ball looking to spread play, Maddie Archer intercepts for Leigh Ramblers. A bright start from Harlow getting players forwards with attacking intent. Hannah Smith pushing on left side sliding a ball through for Binding in attack, chasing it left side, Leigh Ramblers Jordan Castle going with her defending the ball out for a throw. From the throw in Smith looks to turn top of the area and shoot, Rebecca Dalgarno putting in the blocking tackle for Leigh Ramblers.
Binding moving all over the place in the final 3rd in the early stages for Harlow drags a shot wide from 20 yards out as she turns her marker 20 yards out on the right. Leigh Ramblers pushed back by Harlow are struggling to get the ball into their attackers, Jacobs leading the line chasing after long ball as the defence clears, plenty of pace from Jacobs, Harlow goalkeeper Josie Burke able to get there first. Nicole Storey bringing the ball on from the back for Harlow pushed onto Ellie Nicholls ahead of her sends it on for Binding up top, Dalgarno cutting the pass out at the back for Leigh Ramblers.
Binding put through to attack the goal inside the six yard box right, goalkeeper and captain Emily Mackler making the blocking save at close range, the ball deflected wide across goal, Binding after it retrieves and turning puts the ball back central. Leigh Ramblers clear. Coming left the ball seen into her feet by Jacobs turns in behind left side driving on into the box, tackled by King. Paige White on the ball for Leigh Ramblers takes it forwards 20 yards out sending it on for Jacobs left inside the area moving across to the right, Storey staying with her putting in the blocking tackle as Jacobs goes to shoot. Play stopped as Jacobs is down injured a knee bandaged before the game comes off for further treatment before being allowed back on.
Nicholls fouled by Megan Thomas outside the box as Binding looks to play the ball into her run central. Nicholls over the set-piece goes for it for a moment looked like it was in certainly the Harlow fans surrounding me thought so but no the ball over the bar. Leigh Ramblers the busier in defence, Castle and Dalgarno with several blocks as they are pushed back into their box. Wyer lining up a shot from distance lacking the power to trouble Mackler. Harlow pressuring the ball well lively showing plenty of energy a throw won left Binding inside to Smith top of the area, drags her shot wide of the near post.
Half an hour played Leigh Ramblers all back inside their half, Jacobs breaks after a ball hooked clear by Connie Mashford. Takes the ball all the way into the area, King doing well to get back on her Jacobs hesitating before shooting giving the defender the chance she needs to put the tackle in regain possession. Binding charging down Castle at the back top of the area steals into the box after the deflected ball left of goal looks to come inside her intent to smash it low round the keeper, Mackler doing well however lunging forwards to snatch the ball from the strikers feet.
GOAL! Leigh Ramblers counter and somewhat against the run of play find themselves taking the lead, the ball headed on through the middle up to Jacobs in attack shoulder to shoulder with King as they look to control the bouncing ball, Jacobs winning the header the ball struck as it falls sent low past the keeper into the back of the net 1-0.
Jacobs is substituted straight after putting Leigh Ramblers into the lead, Emily Diwell coming on. Vail taking the ball on down the right wing covering ground but no cross in as Harlow close her down. A 2nd change for Leigh Ramblers with Downes coming off Abbi Brown coming on.
GOAL! Harlow are soon back on level terms just 2 minutes after falling a goal behind get up the other end and equalise Binding on the scoresheet racing onto the ball inside the box central shoots wide of the advancing keeper low to her left shes her effort strike the base of the post the rebound back across goal favouring the attack she meets it in the air to volley home 1-1.
Leigh Ramblers press forwards from the restart White out to Vail on the right up the line her cross fired into the area met by Diwell her headed ball straight at Burke. Binding shown a yellow card for throwing the ball away after a decision goes against her team. Harlow com on numbers forwards the play with Smith on the left into the area coming across the top of the box goes to shot, Castle putting in the blocking tackle a painful one goes down immediately play stopped much to Harlow’s chagrin, but a serious injury for Castle cannot continue helped off the pitch Lucy Dalgarno comes on in her place.
GOAL! Penalty! Leigh Ramblers are awarded the spot kick after Diwell is upended inside the area looking to get in behind as she comes towards Lucy Dalgarno’s cross from the right. Molly Giles on for Leigh Ramblers to take the spot kick a composed finish sending the ball to the keepers left wide into the back of the net to put them back into the lead 2-1.
Leigh Ramblers press the attack lead in the first half a throw won on the right the ball into the area for Diwell no shooting option brings it back for White who screws her shot from 25 yards out away from goal. Moments left a free-kick on halfway for Harlow Nicholls to play the ball forwards into the box, Binding can’t bring it down to shoot as she drifts into a gap, Leigh Ramblers clear as the whistle blows.
Half-time Leigh Ramblers Ladies 2-1 Harlow Town Ladies Development
A narrow lead for Leigh Ramblers at half-time and they would be the first to agree somewhat against the run of play. A lively start from Harlow pushing their opponents back, creating opportunities Leigh Ramblers battling in defence however keeping them out Jacobs up the other end a threat whenever they did get the ball forwards into her taking the opening goal well. Harlow coming straight back into it to level the scores through Binding only to concede a late penalty to see Leigh Ramblers back in front. Alot of energy expanded first half Leigh Ramblers losing Castle to injury a blow.
Leigh Ramblers to get the 2nd half underway, Harrison in to win it straight away for Harlow playing the ball on for Binding, Thomas intercepting at the back for Leigh Ramblers. The 2nd half starting at the same pace as the first half. Denton pushing on with the ball at her feet for Leigh Ramblers right side getting a throw in, the ball put inside defended by Davidson.
A RED CARD! Harlow’s goalkeeper Burke shown a straight red card for handling the ball outside the area! Leigh Rambler’s Denton sending the ball on through the middle Burke coming to the top of her area looking to claim, drifts over the line, is extremely unfortunate however, have a picture that clearly shows her outside the box but also shows her slipping as she goes to back peddle her studs sticking in the turf. The decision incensing Harlow but the decision is clear ball handled outside the box Harlow down to 10.
A free-kick for Leigh Ramblers outside the box a substitute goalkeeper needing to be sorted for Harlow, initially Storey dons the shirt but a change see her come off with Harriet Douglas coming on to go between the sticks. Rebecca Dalgarno over the free-kick her shot taking a deflection off the wall behind for a corner, in from the left across the six yard box over the keeper to the far post no one there however Harlow clear.
Harlow attack Smith on the left driving forwards cutting inside to cross central Binding fouled by Rebecca Dalgarno a free-kick to Harlow just outside the box. King forwards to take it curls a shot low and wide. Harlow fired up by the loss of their goalkeeper, pro-active spurred on by King continue their attacking play. Binding coming back into the middle to regain possession out to Smith left up the line wins a corner against Denton.
Leigh Ramblers Diwell running onto a central pass pushing forwards, King staying with her sliding in to take the ball. Harlow quick t turn play around Smith on the left cutting inside lifting a shot over the bar. Archer doing well in defence tackling Smith on the left as she receives the ball from Wyer. Anderson across to block as Diwell and Denton combine in attack for Leigh Ramblers on the right. Thomas coming off for Leigh Ramblers, Downes rejoining the action. Diwell off too with Jacobs back on.
King determined at the back for Harlow winning the header the ball on for Smith left support from Nicholls central closed down by Rebecca Dalgarno. Binding put through into the box left of goal rides the challenge staying on her feet as Mackler slides in to try and save at her feet the ball beyond her Binding unable to get a shot away. Brown getting forwards on the right for Leigh Ramblers attempts to play the pass inside for Jacobs the flag up against her.
A corner for Leigh Ramblers on the right changes for Harlow before it with Maisie Ryan and Amelia Hall coming on. The delivery flashing in across the face of goal dropping wide at the far post. Harlow push forwards in attack Nicholls away left side shooting from outside the box, Mackler with the save down to push the ball wide. Japal getting into the area right for Harlow sees a shot blocked the ball spinning behind for a corner. Appeals for handball from the resulting corner but nothing given.
GOAL! 20 minutes gone in the 2nd half and Harlow come back to level the score. Harlow awarded a free-kick wide on the right after Japal is fouled. Nicholls on the ball sends it on into the area, King making the near side run getting to the ball first to turn it on across goal, Mackler diving gets her fingertips on the ball but not enough to keep it out at her far post 2-2.
Harlow looking the stronger side now despite being down to 10, Leigh Ramblers tiring, Harlow buoyed by the equaliser and the injustice they feel from the sending off. Giles getting the ball forwards for Leigh Ramblers into the run off Denton right her cross into the box claimed by Douglas. Mackler with another fantastic save diving to her right to deny Nicholls as she shoots from outside the area right set up by Japal. Nicholls showing good movement in the final third playing in Smith left her shot parried up by the keeper collected on the bounce. The game entering the final minutes of normal play. Changes for Leigh, Mashford and Diwell back on. Harlow pressing forwards Binding moving left hits a shot on the turn from the top of the area her effort always rising.
GOAL! Harlow launch an attack in the 88th minute Binding bringing the ball on from halfway allowed to travel taking it all the way to the edge of the area left of goal letting fly with a shot a fantastic finish! The ball in over the keeper dropping under the bar to nestle in the bottom corner. Harlow down to 10 have the lead 2-3.
Into stoppage time Harlow with the lead Leigh Ramblers with little time to find a reply, Rebecca Dalgarno now in an advanced position. Risk being hit on the counter Harlow with their tails up not interested in defending what they have Binding up on the right cutting a ball back for Nicholls to line up a shot from 25 yards out her strike over.
GOAL! The game surely won for Harlow as they score a further goal at the death Nicholls bringing the ball on central forwards for Smith breaking into the box she shoots early putting the ball past the advancing keeper to make it 2-4.
Leigh Ramblers have a late corner on the left players forwards into the area the delivery in low met by Rebecca Dalgarno at the far post close range she turns to strike, Davidson blocking on the line for Harlow the rebound popping straight to Brown can’t keep it down from close in.
Nicholls bringing the ball on for Harlow in the closing minutes up towards the top of the area strikes the ball the attempt rising over the bar. The final whistle blows and Harlow complete a sensational win having been a goal and player down with 25 minutes left to play, players rushing onto the pitch to celebrate.
Full time Leigh Ramblers Ladies 2-4 Harlow Town Ladies Development
An entertaining cup final played at a fast temp Harlow on the front foot from the off, Leigh Ramblers not settling early on. Chances created Harlow didn’t capitalise Leigh Ramblers ahead against the run of play soon pegged back a late penalty first half giving them the advantage at the break. The game turned on it’s head early 2nd half with the sending off of Josie Burke that decision galvanising Harlow however as they pushed on getting back on level terms and despite the player disadvantage looked the more likely to find the winning goal as they pressed the attack late on.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Time to pick this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. Was a competitive game with lots of energy expanded. Some notable performances, Kaydee King strong at the back for Harlow so too Rebecca Dalgarno for Leigh Ramblers. Ellie Nicholls impressive in attack bringing the ball on showing good movement throughout. The award though goes to Harlow’s Poppy Binding a threat all game getting forwards making intelligent runs to get into scoring positions and back when needed to regain the ball covered alot of goal and scoring two fantastic goals.
Congratulations to Harlow Town Ladies on winning the Essex Women’s League Cup.
Not to be for Leigh Ramblers Ladies but a fantastic season nonetheless winning the Premier Division title.
Two sides that I have covered alot in this season’s Round-Ups always good to see the players and sides you write about in action for the first time. My thanks for the help with the teams and good to meet everyone. Almost done one game to go.