Sunday 20th September
FAWNL South East Division One
The new season of FAWNL football starts this Sunday and once again Women’s Football East will be keeping a close eye on both the Southern Premier Division and South East Division One. The 24 sides unchanged from last season due to the COVID outbreak raring to get going once again the leagues promising to be more competitive than ever with some very strong new signing made. Begin the action with a trip to St Neots Town FC to watch Cambridge United WFC v Norwich City Women in South East Division One.
The 20/21 season starting a month later than usual due to the virus that brought the previous season to an early end. A new season played with strict COVID regulations on place to maximise the safety of both players an supporters. South East Division One has seen several strong signings as the whole of the women’s football pyramid strengthens at both ends. The FAWSL just beginning it’s journey as a professional league at the top. Growth is happening too at the base in the county leagues with 3 new divisions created in the East alone this campaign. That in turn will only serve to strengthen the sides already there including the FAWNL sides competing in tiers 3 and 4.
Another competitive season promised, two sides looking to improve this season in South East Division On are Cambridge United WFC and Norwich City Women. Cambridge United WFC moving to a new home at the start of the 2019/20 season moving from Mildenhall Town FC to St Neots Town FC. A move which brought both their 1st and Development sides together training at one facility. Lost a few players during the close season and made a slow start to the season. A change of manager saw Ben Yeomans step up to first team manager results beginning to improve before the season was brought to an abrupt end. Have brought in a few new signings over the close season. Attacker Samaira Khan impressing in the ERWFL with both AFC Dunstable and last season Colney Heath Ladies is dangerous in front of goal testing herself now in the FAWNL. Defender Grace Waygood joins having previously Spurs, so to winger Laura Mitchell who has represented Wales at youth level and young attacker Ella Mercer.
Norwich City Women too have found themselves at the wrong end of the FAWNL South East Division One table in recent seasons. Several managerial chances haven’t helped there progress. The Norfolk side bringing in Shaun Howe to lead the 1st team this season has a alot of talented youngsters with a mix of good experience . The league getting stronger with every season can hopefully find the winning formula to get them pushing up the table. Injuries to key players another factor hindering the side at times were dealt a blow in pre-season losing goalkeeper Hope Armstrong to an ACL injury. Have brought in Elli-Rai Quinn-Nicholls is a good replacement performing very well for Newmarket Town Women in the ERWFL last season. Defender Alice Parker returns to the club as does full back Anna Larkins, who captained Wroxham Women previously an accomplished defender has a good set-piece on her too.
Needless to say both sides will be looking for and fancy there chances of achieving an opening day win.
St Neots Town FC’s Premier Plus Stadium is situated on a new built estate on the outskirts of the town, featuring a small stadium housing the clubhouse and changing room with a seated stand overlooking one side of the grass pitch. An excellent 3G pitch set behind it. One good thing I suppose about this long lay off from football is the pitches have enjoyed a good rest too. The grass pitch looking superb. COVID restriction in place and well observed. The weather bright and sunny blue skies, drinks breaks needed but I did get a cup of tea before kick-off.
Cambridge United WFC starting XI – Amy Butler, Abi Davis, Carrie Bennett, Kayleigh-Anne Burt (C), Grace Waygood, Tori Lawless, Gisela Otten, Faith Hewitt, Emma Jenkins, Laura Mitchell & Samaira Khan. Subs – Liz Pamplin, Albany Hodgson, Jemma Moore, Charlotte Crisp & Ella Mercer.
Norwich City Women starting XI – Elli-Rai Quinn-Nicholls, Alice Parker, Anna Larkins, Jordan Arnoup, Laura Thacker, Jodie Drake, Millie Daviss, Josie Jarvis, Lauren Cullum, Kathryn Stanley & Natasha Snelling. Subs – Izzy Collins, Brooke Osborne, Rosie George, Abi Tate & Leilah Gooding.
Norwich wearing their away colours, green shirt and shorts with yellow socks to get the first half underway. Lining up opposite Cambridge in their home colours amber coloured shirts with black vertical stripes down the front, black shorts and socks. Technically goalkeeper Amy Butler to is a new signing for the hosts having joined from Colney Heath last season and gotten just one game in before it all came to an end one the bench Liz Pamplin ready to make her 496th appearance for the club if called upon.
The visitors playing the ball back to their defence, centre back Jordan Arnoup playing a long diagonal pass out to the left wing for Kathryn Stanley to attack, knocks it down the line, right back Abi Davies closing in to tackle and clear for a throw in for Cambridge. The hosts looking to get straight on the counter attack the ball up into midfield sent out to the left Emma Jenkins straying offside. A lively start to the game two sides keen to get going, Cambridge on the right Laura Mitchell pushing in through to Samaira Khan attacking the right channel, centre back Laura Thacker sliding in to push the ball away from her for Quinn-Nicholls to clear out to the wing, Mitchell after in gaining possession and lifting a high cross into the box attacking near post Khan rises we to meet it, the ball looping up to and on the roof of the net.
Cambridge press on the right Mitchell driving on winning a corner kick. The delivery into the six yard box cleared back to the taker a second ball put in captain Kayleigh-Anne Burt up from the back getting something on it near side sending in goalwards the ball deflected away. Cambridge with intent early on the ball through the middle finding Jenkins left of the area brings it inside across the top of the area eventually getting a shot away blocked by Thacker comes back to Khan who flashes a shot over from the angle. Norwich mount an attack left side Stanley carrying the ball at her feet a determined run her pass forwards into the box looking for Natasha Snelling closing in on the near post , Grace Waygood close on her to defend the loose ball fired back in flashes wide of goal a corner awarded.
GOAL! Norwich open the scoring from the resulting corner, the delivery played long to the congested far post the ball ending up knocked down into the six yard box in front of goal on a plate for Natasha Snelling standing a half yard out unmarked to turn over the line for Norwich’s first goal of the season 0-1 with 6 minutes on the clock.
Norwich come on in attack getting numbers forwards Lauren Cullum with a cross field ball out to Snelling left of the area plays it wide to Stanley the pair attempting a one two, Stanley’s ball a little heavy Snelling doing well to retrieve on the by-line cuts it back towards the top of the area, Stanley can’t connect with the shot. The visitors regaining possession in the middle Josie Jarvis to captain Millie Daviss coming on sends a great low ball into the Cambridge area a deflection sending it wide for another corner. Another delivery put in invitingly to the far post however it clears everyone this time around. Cambridge gather far side and get straight on the counter the ball sent up the line for Khan looking to get in behind full back Alice Parker doing well tackling to take it away for a throw.
Is a fairly even start the tempo quick play turned around quickly exciting to watch Jenkins taking the ball clear on the left into space put through to Khan wriggling clear right of the D, sets herself to strike Quinn-Nicholls quickly out to close her down making a great blocking save. Won in the middle of the park by Gisela Otten for Cambridge looking forwards sees Jenkins making a run on the left her pass threaded through picking her out takes the ball into the box closing in on the keeper aiming to send a shot across her Quinn-Nicholls diving full length getting a glove to the ball stopping it, loose for a moment Jenkins after it, the Norwich keeper grabbing it to pull safely into her body.
Daviss covering alot of ground in the middle for Norwich brings it forwards right side into the Cambridge half, passes it to Snelling 20 yards out right side of the area, Carrie Bennett getting in on her to tackle going to ground trapping the ball with her feet before being cleared. Norwich sitting deeper are inviting Cambridge on a bit getting players forwards in attack as Khan gets hold of the ball left side fizzes a ball into the penalty spot, Mitchell attempts to bring it under control shifts it between her feet looking to pull the trigger, Thacker getting a foot in to tackle is deflected out towards the top of the area Otten 20 yards out hitting it first time the ball cannoning off the crossbar.
GOAL! 20 minutes played and Cambridge draw the scores level. Khan making some good runs into the channels leading the line picked out on the right by Mitchell the ball at her feet drives into the box closing in on the keeper towards the near post opens up her body well to slot the ball past her into the back of her net to score her first and Cambridge’s of the season 1-1.
Is a lively game can’t take your eyes off it for a 2nd, Jenkins getting hold of a misplaced pass at the back for Norwich 25 yards out sends her shot back in straight at the keeper. Khan peeling away into the right is tackled by Parker. Norwich are looking very dangerous on the counter attack the midfield getting the ball out to the wings quickly, with Stanley left and Cullum right. Stanley this time getting half a yard on her marking firing in a shot on the angle 25 yards out flies over the keeper to smash down off the crossbar. The ball still in play to the right cut back into the box Daviss racing in tackled well by Tori Lawless tracking back from midfield.
Norwich strike the woodwork again moments later a loose ball 30 yards out struck with venom by midfielder Jodie Drake through everyone inside the Cambridge box Butler sees it late doesn’t move the ball thumping against her left post, One end to the other Cambridge advancing on the right a free-kick awarded a yard outside the box close to the by line players coming up from the back. Burt coming into space asking for it right side given it smashes in a shot low racing wide through the six yard box wide at the far post. Time for a drinks break is pretty warm out there and both sides are putting alot of energy into the game.
Play resuming Cambridge get forwards winning corner on the left, the ball played deep knocked up into the air by Burt, Quinn-Nicholls getting a merest of gloves on the ball as it comes down out to the right of goal a shot comes in flashed wide. Up the other end Butler with a great save down low getting good hands out to stop a shot fired in from six yards by Jarvis as Stanley plays her in. Waygood getting to the loose ball first clearing the danger for Cambridge. Fantastic combination play between Lawless and Otten in the middle for Cambridge, as Bennett makes a run left side Otten laying the ball into her she sends a looping pass long into the area for Khan to attack closing in on the keeper, Quinn-Nicholls stays big doing enough to see Khan plant her shot wide of goal.
Snelling catches the Cambridge defence playing a high line is clear to attack the area, only a good starting position from Butler stops her the keeper able to get out and put her foot through the ball before Snelling can send a shot wide of her. Out for a throw on the right taken quickly, Stanley and Daviss link up for the visiting side the ball put in to the top of the area Otten back to win it for Cambridge this time is tripped by Stanley as she tries to bring it away.
Cambridge are looking dangerous on corners have a bit of height in their side now one won on the left after a driving run from Khan is put into the mix Norwich half clear, Burt has hung back inside the D the ball straight it her is fired in through bodies towards goals blocked and cleared by Larkins on the post. Daviss is booked as she brings down Jenkins. The free-kick 35 plus yards out on the left taken by Lawless and flighted ball into the rea knocked down by Khan pushed into Otten top of the area lunging into the shot sends it over the bar.
Mitchell on the right taking the ball on well for Cambridge into the channel for Khan holding it up as Mitchell comes on in support the ball put across the area into Jenkins, Arnoup in to win it for Norwich put on into the middle the counter attack is on for a moment it’s two v two with Cambridge caught on half-way but Stanley can’t pick out Snelling as Waygood sticks a leg out to intercept. Waygood with a good ball on from the back picks out Jenkins running on left side, Larkins though gets back on her well coming across her to roll the ball safely back to her keeper to clear.
Burt sliding in to tackle gets the ball back to Butler inside the D as Cullum and Stanley come together from the flanks to try and carves the hosts open through the middle. Khan with her weaker left foot does get enough power behind the shot as she tries to put it across the keeper inside the box following a good ball in from Mitchell on the right Quinn-Nicholls down to claim the ball.
Half-time Cambridge United WFC 1-1 Norwich City Women
An exciting first half comes to an end with the scores level at 1-1 could well have been 3-2 to Norwich if the woodwork counted both sides with some excellent chances. The game played at a very high tempo both sides attacking with pace and purpose getting players forwards. Norwich inviting Cambridge on somewhat the hosts showing good movement in the final third. Norwich dangerous on the counter attack, both keepers called into action making good saves beautifully poised for the 2nd half.
A change for Norwich at the start of the 2nd half Abi Tate on to replace Thacker in the heart of the Norwich defence. Cambridge to get the 2nd half underway. Play a little disjointed early in neither side getting to pace Larkins coming to tackle Jenkins as she is played in right side, Burt winning the ball at the back as Drake attempts to slide it through to Snelling. Jenkins is really putting in a shift for Cambridge on the left running on as Bennett sends her pass up the line, Arnoup comes across to support Larkins to close her off win the goal-kick.
Davis with a vital interception in the box for Cambridge as the ball in fired in from the wing early for Snelling to attempt to run onto. Jenkins getting hold of the ball left side brings it on Khan giving her the run to the left channel the pass along the ground into her feet Khan taking it on closing in on the advancing keeper, Quinn-Nicholls stays big again Khan knocking it wide of her goes to retrieve it on the by line cutting it back into the box Jenkins arriving to strike the ball blocked well by Tate.
A scrappier start to the 2nd half alot of energy expanded in the first half neither side on top yet. Tate gives away a free-kick 30 yards out right side to Cambridge. Lawless over the ball dinks in a shot the ball caught low by Quinn-Nicholls on her line. Tate sliding in moments later on Mitchell outside her box gives away another foul much to the visiting sides complaints that she’d won the ball.
GOAL! this one closer in 20 yards out right of the D, Mitchell and Jenkins over the ball as players comes forwards from the back to load the box. Jenkins with the dummy run, Mitchell striking it in across the area to the far post attacked Lawless emerging from the crowd to turn into the goal to give the hosts the lead on the hour 2-1.
Cambridge coming on strong attacking tails up, Davis winning it in defence laying it down the line for Khan left side is brought down by Larkins bemused that she doesn’t get anything.
GOAL! Cambridge race into a 2 goal lead overlooking the attack on the right Khan fires a diagonal ball into the D, Hewitt making a great run is well placed to get a shot away hitting it sweetly to send in low swinging wide to the keeper’s right 3-1.
Norwich respond with a double change, Rosie George and Brooke Osborne sent on in place of Cullum and Jarvis. Tate flying on with a sliding challenge once more is shown a yellow card as Cambridge are awarded a free-kick right of centre. Burt to play in in towards the top of the area, Norwich struggling to get the ball clear the hosts can’t capitalise.
GOAL! A moment of controversy a hot patch for Cambridge sees them score a 4th much to the visiting sides displeasure. Attacking the ball in to the top of the area Khan I think, Tate goes off her feet sliding in to win in doesn’t make contact with anything, referee Romana Bria has covered alot of women’s football and keeps up with play well close to the tackle the Norwich defence stop concerned I feel that having just been booked Tate might be in trouble, warns her to calm down. Whilst this is going on the ball is put out to the right Mitchell running on free into the area lays it across the face of goal for Jenkins to send it home far side 4-1.
The Norwich players and bench aren’t happy as the goal stands, the referee though never blew the whistle an as players are told often you play to the whistle. Can see why Norwich stopped but play was never stopped. A hard goal to concede. Cambridge though with 3 goals in nine minutes have gotten themselves into a fantastic position. A crunching 50/50 tackle between Khan and Tate sees the Norwich defender down hurt and play stopped so she can be treated and drinks.
Tate is okay to continue Norwich with a chance to regroup. Stanley on the ball 30 yards out right side clips it into George top of the area she connects with the ball flashing her shot wide of the near post. The visitors get forwards winning a free-kick 30 yards out, Daviss an Snelling over the ball, it’s Snelling who takes on the shot up over the wall on target but caught high by Butler drifting across her line. Cambridge make a change Jenkins has ran herself into the ground makes way for Ella Mercer to make her Cambridge debut up front as Khan moves to the left.
Lawless feeds a pass through to Khan on the left side she cuts it across the top of the area into the advancing Hewitt to clip her first time strike over the bar. Space beginning to open up as both sides begin to tire, Norwich see an attack break down Mercer making a run into space on the right for Cambridge Hewitt picks her out with the pass takes the ball onto into the box closing in on the keeper sends her shot high beating Quinn-Nicholls but has the angle covered well the rising ball coming back off the post. A second change for Cambridge Charlotte Crisp comes in on place of Lawless.
Their lead giving Cambridge renewed energy the hosts push on in attack Otten sending a 20 yard ball into Mitchell closing in n the box she shots her effort rising over the bar. Cambridge winning a free-kick on the right Crisp to play a diagonal ball invitingly into the box Tate rising well to head behind for a corner. The corner on the left in at the near post defended by George out behind for a 2nd corner. This one taken short put up the line before being delivered is deflected behind a goal kick awarded. The game heading into the final minute of normal time. Khan dragging a shot wide as she attacks on the right.
Norwich get up the other end George right cutting a ball in towards the top of the area Snelling there right of the D, both Burt and Waygood in to prevent her getting a shot away the ball cleared to the right Norwich keep up the attack another cross comes in Snelling with the shot a combination of keeper post preventing a goal. Cambridge continue to press the attack looking for another goal the ball threaded through into the box Mitchell right squaring it central for Khan her shot blocked at point blank range comes back to Mitchell who flashes a shot wide across the six yard box a corner awarded. The delivery into the six yard box headed over by Khan as the final whistle blows.
Full time Cambridge United WFC 4-1 Norwich City Women
An opening day win for Cambridge United WFC beating Norwich City Women 4-1. A victory that will give them a great deal of confidence at the start of the season. A strong start to the 2nd half getting getting into the lead and quickly adding 2 more goals to get themselves into a strong position, were fluid in attack creating several chances, there midfield winning the ball more often in the 2nd period. Was a pretty even first half however, both sides attacking with purpose made for an exciting contest Norwich taking the lead, Cambridge coming back well to equalise. 3 goals in 9 minutes in the 2nd half changing the game. The 4th goal controversial no doubt. Cambridge deserved winners in the end. Norwich I suspect will be hit hard by that 4th goal but for an hour I thought the game could go either way looked very dangerous on the counter attack in particular.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match, clearly the intent this season is not for it to be an easy decision. Several contenders once again. A few performances to mention, firstly Millie Daviss for Norwich, the amount of ground she covered was superb to try and break up Cambridge attacks. For Cambridge Tori Lawless worked the ball well making some great tackles and runs. Emma Jenkins made herself constantly available on the left side, with Laura Mitchell impressing on her Cambridge debut on the right. The award though goes to another Cambridge debutant Samaira Khan scored her first goal for the club and as the spearhead of the attack made some fantastic runs into the channels to receive a pass.
A fantastic opening game from FAWNL South East Division One fast paced, between two determined sides, bodes well for the season ahead. As always my thanks and appreciation to both sides for the team info.