Sunday 16th February
Norfolk Women’s County Cup
Storm Ciara blew through the country last weekend wiping out the women’s football fixtures lists and hot in it’s Storm Dennis arrived promising another weekend of disruption this time around, a case of leaving it to the last minute to see what games might hold out, Norwich City Women announcing their game was on it was a short trip to The Nest in the north of the city to watch their Norfolk Women’s County Cup semi-final clash against Wroxham Women.
The Norfolk Women’s County Cup final played at Norwich City FC’s, Carrow Road ground for the first time last season the trophy won for a 2nd successive season by Wymondham Town Ladies, the holders were looking to make it 4 county cup final appearances on the bounce as they took on Sprowston Ladies in the other semi-final match beating the weather this weekend. Carrow Road to host the final once again this season a huge opportunity for both today’s opponents.
Norwich City Women dominating the County Cup in Norfolk at the start of the decade withdrew from the competition for a couple of season’s returning to compete a couple of seasons ago falling in the early stages on the previous two ocassions against King’s Lynn Town Ladies and Acle United Women last season now Wroxham Women. Norfolk’s leading league placed sides competing in FAWNL South East Division One are in a period of transition to a degree bringing in alot of youthful players with a strong experienced spine within the squad. Striker Chelsea Garrett amongst the goals this season has 18 to her name so far. Reaching a Carrow Road final would be a dream come true.
Wroxham Women are a new name for an experienced side making the move from Acle United an established side in the ERWFL Premier Division a league below the FAWNL South East Division One. Have been warmly embraced and supported by Wroxham FC as they look to push on further within the women’s football pyramid. Have a striker too prolific in attack this season Grace Birchall leading the line netting 27 goals already this season from just 12 appearances. Have been frustrated by postponements in recent weeks today’s game thier first competitive action since the 19th January. Injuries to affecting the squad whilst new players coming in are ineligible to play in today’s game.
The Nest in Horsford to the north of Norwich close the the airport the venue for today’s semi-final. Norwich playing here a few times are keen advocates for seeing the side fully developed building work ongoing in very early stages has the potential to add to good sporting facilities already dotted about the county. Had this game earmarked early on but the weather forecast meant I daren’t commit until late on and with the rainfall heavy over night had my doubts but the game was on still with rain falling all the way still wasn’t convinced, wind blowing too, very unpleasant as I headed out to the pitch, but passing inspection by the officials was in surprisingly good shape holding up well with no standing water. A good walk from the clubhouse hot drinks available. No cover wind strong and rain sweeping across not ideal playing conditions. Women’s football supporters have a tendency to appear out of nowhere 5 minutes before kick-off and a surprising number had braved the elements. Wroxham bringing a small but hardcore following who were in loud voice singing throughout the match.
Norwich City Women starting XI – Hope Armstrong, Brooke Osborne, Lauren Cullum, Tigi Robson, Kate Parsons, Jodie Drake, Millie Daviss (C), Rosie George, Aimee Durrant, Natasha Snelling & Chelsea Garrett. Subs – Keunna Dill, Abbigail Tate & Sian Douglas.
Wroxham Women starting XI – Amy Bell, Anna Larkins (C), Kayleigh Holloway, Chloe Shields, Lauren Bailey, Victoria Pleavin, Ciera Flatt, Lauren Bullard, Naomi Cooper, Kirstie Kindred & Grace Birchall. Subs – Kate Pasque, Mary-Anne Hoy & Leanne Symonds.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
Working out how best to wield an umbrella, notepad and camera without a stand to hide in the wind was blowing the rain across the pitch so having at my back worked well abandoned the umbrella altogether with the rain lightening up somewhat the wind still strong would be a factor in the game along with a slick pitch. Norwich licking off the game wearing yellow shirts and socks with green shorts. Wroxham lined up opposite wearing blue and white vertical striped shirts, with blue shorts and socks. The ball played back to the defence launched forwards, Wroxham goalkeeper, Amy Bell getting her gloves on the ball early on.
Bell’s kick out of goal high carried by the wind, difficult to bring under control Norwich regain possession the ball put out long on the diagonal to the left Rosie George on the flank, checks back playing it inside the ball lifted towards the box dealt with by the Wroxham defence. The early exchanges scrappy conditions difficult the wind swirling across the pitch. Wroxham make ground on the right getting forwards the cross standing up in the wind Grace Birchall inside the box can’t bring under control, the visitors pressure in the final third drawing the foul a free-kick out wide, players up from the back into the box, the ball delivered towards the near post Lauren Bailey attacking it for Wroxham can’t direct her effort on target wide behind goal.
Norwich play the ball out from the back a push in the back on captain Millie Daviss as she looks to head the ball on from halfway, referee Stuart Jessop playing the advantage as the ball is gathering into her stride by Natasha Snelling running on puts it through the Wroxham defence for Chelsea Garrett breaking in behind, Bell quickly out of her area winning the race for the ball launching it up field.
Wroxham getting joy on the right captain Anna Larkins getting forwards to support the attack with Naomi Cooper a dangerous ball whipped in close to the near post cut out by Norwich’s Lauren Cullum. Wroxham quick to close down Norwich as they look to carry the ball out from the back. The wind playing it’s part ball running on for Wroxham as they attack, Norwich counter Jodie Drake sliding in to win the ball on half way forwards into Garrett’s feet, turns sees Snelling making a run the forwards past carrying too mach weight allowing Bell to come and claim. Garrett with a strike on the volley from 25 yards out racing wide of the left post.
George on the ball good close control coming inside from the left slides the ball through central for Snelling top of the area, going a fraction too soon the flag up against her. Kayleigh Holloway back in defence for Wroxham being kept busy by Norwich’s Aimee Durrant pushing on from the right. Wroxham hustling the ball inside the Norwich half Ciera Flatt combining with Birchall and Cooper win a corner on the right. the wind getting stronger the corner delivered towards the top of the box attacked by Bailey, Durrant with her challenging bringing the ball away for the hosts can’t make any headway.
George getting on with the ball left side checking inside 25 yards out puts in a low diagonal ball looking for Snelling in the middle, Chloe Shields misses it for Wroxham allowing the attacker to steal in behind, Bell diving as she shoots stabs her attempt wide of goal. Holloway defends for Wroxham playing the ball on well pushed through for Kirstie Kindred right channel plays it on for Birchall the wind taking it on allows Norwich goalkeeper to come and claim before Birchall can latch onto it.
An even match both sides finding openings creating chances looking for space, Garrett this time away into the left corner with the ball flashes a cross into the box Durrant near side can’t adjust her body to get a telling touch gathered by Drake out on the right turns back to cross low fires the ball into the side netting. Birchall with an audacious attempt from just beyond the centre circle turning as she receives the ball looking to catch Armstrong unawares the ball landing wide of goal. Space fro Holloway on the left inside the Wroxham half lines up a shot her curling effort dropping safely into Armstrong’s gloves.
GOAL! The visitors open the scoring a strong attack on the right wing Larkins away in behind bursting on drives a rising sot in on the angle Armstrong flashes up a glove to keep in out deflects the ball across her goal face dropping at the far post Birchall sliding in puts it in from close range 0-1.
Norwich come straight on from the restart Daviss out to Durrant on the right takes the ball on looping a high ball into the area caught cleanly by Bell. Wroxham counter coming on down the right Lauren Bullard linking with Cooper a corner kick won. A difficult one for the keeper put in under her bar Armstrong deflects it out into her six yard box comes straight to Birchall, on her quickly an instinctive header sends the ball over the crossbar.
GOAL! Norwich get straight back on level terms the ball direct put through the middle sees Garrett race away in behind the defence, Bell starts to come but realises she can’t get there, can’t get back into position in time is caught in no mans land as Garrett clinical lobs the ball over her into the back of the net 1-1.
A good contest between Birchall in attack and Kate Parson’s in defence for Norwich the Wroxham attack always looking to get away when the ball is played forwards. Norwich pushing on gaining some momentum Brooke Osborne travelling out from the back with the ball trying her luck from distance. Drake sending a shot wide.
GOAL! On the attack Durrant is brought down on the right outside the box the ball played into the centre of the area evades everyone comes out to the left still inside the box a vicious strike fired back in charged down deflected straight to Garrett top of the area left of the D she smashes her shot home to score her 2nd of the game and fire Norwich into the lead 2-1.
GOAL! No sooner have Norwich taken the lead then they race into a 3-1 lead, cutting Wroxham open on the counter attack Durrant with space to exploit on the right drives a fierce strike low into the six yard box Birchall lurking at the far post the ball is turned into the back of their own net by the Wroxham defence.
Wroxham make the first change of the game Kate Pasque coming on at the back for Bailey. Wroxham attack on the right Kindred on for Birchall turning inside the box is adjudged to foul Cullum as she goes past her. Tigi Robson cutting out a diagonal pass from Bullard as Wroxham build through the middle.
GOAL! A devastating spell from Norwich sees them further extend their lead the ball played forwards the game somewhat stretched to the right Durrant closing down Shields at the back as Bell comes towards the right hand corner of her area wanting the ball, defender and goalkeeper close Durrant reads it and steals in on Bell to rob the ball and walk it into the back of the net beyond 4-1.
Wroxham well and truly on the back foot tempers flare in the middle a foul leading to pushing and shoving, Flatt and Drake both shown a yellow card. Flatt letting her frustration out with a strike from distance 35 yards out the ball looping into the box caught by Armstrong. Daviss coming on for Norwich as they press the ball on the left side fires a 20 yard shot over the bar. At the back Cullum recovers well showing good pace to catch kindred as she almost gets away from her following a great through ball from Flatt.
A mis-hit from George top of the area, Durrant able to latch onto it her shot in held by Bell. Wroxham counter attack quickly Bullard with a good ball through for Larkins away on the right her strike from the angle hitting the top of the crossbar.
Half-time Norwich City Women 4-1 Wroxham Women
Norwich with a devastating 15 minute spell coming back from a goal down to lead at the end of the 1st half 4-1. A even contest up to that point both sides creating opportunities coping well despite the terrible playing conditions the rain light the wind strong throughout. Norwich capitalising on some Wroxham errors with a strong advantage to carry into the 2nd half, Wroxham with alot of work to do to get back into the game will need a goal back quickly in the 2nd half.
Wroxham to get the 2nd half underway no changes for either side that I can see, the skies are brightening a little the rain easing. Wroxham straight on the attack Birchall turning on the ball looks to release Kindred ahead of her, Cullum on her shoulder muscles her off the ball. Durrant with a ball on from the right aiming to get Birchall in on the box this time Armstrong out of her box to clear the danger. Wroxham starting the 2nd half well a high ball forwards headed clear by Parsons. Lots of high ball, no one getting hold of it Drake spreading play to Durrant on the right her cross in intercepted by Pasque for Wroxham.
Wroxham win a free-kick out wide on the left Holloway on the ball played short back to Larkins lets fly from 30 yards out looks wide from where I’m standing on halfway but maybe not as Armstrong dives to her right to glove the ball behind for a corner kick. The ball from the left into a crowded near post area put wide of goal a 2nd corner awarded. This ball dealt with by the head of Parsons.
Victoria Pleavin brings the ball on from the back for Wroxham allowed to drive on comes into the middle before Norwich numbers force her off the ball. The rain has stopped at last just makes the wind feel stronger. Bell with a good claim in the middle of her six yard box as Norwich flung a cross in from the right. Norwich make their first change of the match Keunna Dill coming on for Durrant, George switching to the right side. Wroxham make another change too with Mary-Anne Hoy on for Pasque. Flatt carries the ball forwards for Wroxham a strong run putting it on for Birchall giving her a run into the left channel, Robson showing great pace to get back on her and put in the challenge.
Space opening up as Wroxham commit in attack Norwich playing the ball though the centre for Garrett she turns playing the diagonal ball to Dill in acres of space on the left takes the ball on into the box the angle closing fires in a low strike Bell saving fantastically with her legs the ball deflected behind for a corner on the left.
Chances at both ends Flatt up to Birchall left 25 yards out Bullard rushing on through the centre the ball put inside she robs it off the Norwich defence stealing into the box, the final shot tame in the finish easy for Armstrong going to ground to smother the shot. George away on the right for Norwich down the line fires in a low cross at the near post Garrett there turn into the shot puts it straight at Bell. Wroxham need to get back into the game Norwich ready to capitalise going forwards.
Bullard through the middle again takes the ball round the grounded keeper top of the area, Parsons back on her to put the ball behind for a corner before she can get a shot away. The corner put in near side havoc in the box Armstrong beaten as the shot comes in, Cullum keeping it out on the goal line clearing for Norwich. Larkins defending up the other end for Wroxham as Garrett looks to send the ball on through the middle. Wroxham make a third change with Leanne Symonds coming on for Bullard.
End to end Garrett stealing in on the ball in the final third robbing the Wroxham defence into the area the angles going away from her she sends in a fierce strike Bell saving with her legs again putting the ball behind for another corner. Norwich making a change before the corner is taken Abbigail Tate coming on for Osborne, Sian Douglas on for Garrett shortly after. Bell holding onto the corner the ball forwards Birchall fouled by Robson outside the box 20 yards out to the left takes on the shot herself fires over.
Birchall determined in attack getting away from Parsons letting fly from 25 yards out central her shot swerving through the air Armstrong diving full stretch to her right the ball narrowly wide of the post. The game entering the final 10 minutes.
GOAL! Drake winning the ball as she has done all game in the middle bringing it on right side 35 yards out striking the ball sending her shot in over the keeper to seal the win 5-1.
GOAL! A blow for Wroxham late in the game and they are delivered another sucker punch straight away possession lost in the middle the ball put out to Dill clear on the left taking the ball to the byline whipping in a pacey cross into the six yard box Norwich players racing in Snelling there to turn the ball in from close range 6-1.
Norwich with a late burst of energy tails up push forwards Daviss getting on winning a corner kick on the right.
GOAL! The corner taken short up the line on the right fired in on the angle a powerful strike clearing the keeper to smash against the far post and deflect over the line across goal. Sian Douglas with the strike to make it 7-1 scoring her first Norwich goal.
GOAL! Wroxham blown away at the end of the match as Norwich go on to score an 8th goal. Dill a constant threat on the left since being introduced to the game put clear into space to run on central releasing a shot top of the area looping over Bell her shot cannons back of the cross bar, Bell off balance tries to claim, Snelling running in on top of her nicking the ball and running it on into the empty net. 8-1.
Wroxham come on minutes left beaten keep going in attack Birchall has run herself into the ground moves out to the right to receive the ball fires in a cross along the top of the six yard box, Cooper rushing forwards at the far post can’t quite get there. Flatt advancing through the middle putting the ball onto Birchall, Robson getting across her in the box seeing the ball back to her keeper. The final whistle blows up and Norwich City Women with a comfortable final score advance to the Norfolk Women’s County Cup final.
Full time Norwich City Women 8-1 Wroxham Women
A game played in terrible weather conditions a credit to both sides for making a competitive contest out of it. An even start to the match chances for both sides Wroxham taking the lead, Norwich coming straight back to level the scores and a devastating spell saw them race into a 4-1 lead at half-time. Wroxham had to attack 2nd half and needed an early goal if they wanted to get back into the game Norwich defending well ready to hit on the counter going 5-1 up with 10 minutes to play a 2nd spell of destruction saw them hammer home the result taking them through to a Carrow Road final a truly special occasion for the club especially their senior players who have long deserved the opportunity. A disappointing end result for Wroxham but they matched Norwich for long periods of the game and created chances.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
On to this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match, a few players to mention, firstly for Wroxham, Lauren Bullard with some superb passing and runs in attack. Grace Birchall too in attack worked tirelessly to create goal scoring opportunities. For Norwich, their defence was excellent as a unit, Lauren Cullum in particular, Rosie George out wide too, today’s award though goes to central midfielder Jodie Drake a strong performance in the centre of the park breaking up play making tackles and getting forwards well to support the attack plus scoring a well taken goal.
Norwich City Women will player the holders Wymondham Town Ladies in the Norfolk Women’s County Cup Final after they beat Sprowston Ladies 4-0 this afternoon. The Final to be played on Sunday 19th April at Carrow Road an 11am kick-off, looking forwards to it already.
Suppose it was good to get back to it after missing last weekend through Storm Ciara, enjoyed the football but certainly didn’t enjoy the weather, the notepad was well and truly soaked, along with the writer but both dried out now. My thanks to both sides for giving me the team details always appreciated.