Sunday 27th September
Norfolk Women’s Division Two
The first taste of county league action this weekend on Women’s Football East and a relatively short journey this one to take in a game from Norfolk Women’s Division Two, Thetford Town Ladies v Stalham Town Ladies.
19 sides competing across two divisions in Norfolk this season, 10 of those sides playing in Division Two. Today’s opponents will both fancy their chances of challenging for title this season. The COVID outbreak bringing the previous season to an abrupt end declared null & void there has nevertheless been some adjustment to the leagues.
Thetford Town Ladies drop back down to Division Two this season after being bumped up to Division One last season due to a large increase in new sides entering the women’s league in 2019/20. Had finished 6th in the league in the previous season making their debut in women’s football and moving up to Division One represented a huge jump. Struggled to get points early on, but signs of improvement were being made points were being won prior to the season being ended. A steep learning curve the squad would have gained valuable experience. Dropping back down to Division Two, got off to a flying start last Sunday in their opening game of the season winning 7-0 away to Red Rose Ladies with Emily Escreet scoring a brace, a goal a piece for Dayna Howard and Rebecca White with Laura Martins scoring an opening day hat-trick. Taking my first look at Thetford Town Ladies today one the closest sides to me less than half an hour away.
Has been a good while too since I last saw Stalham Town Ladies in action, one of the sides joining the league in the 2019/20 season having spent a couple of seasons away several of their players going to play for Aylsham Ladies in that time. Maintained a presence playing in the popular 7-a-side league that also plays on a Sunday afternoon in Norfolk. Re-established last season returning to Division Two made a very strong start, out in front early on and a long unbeaten record. Amber Mayhew spearheading the attack scoring plenty of goals. That season ending early Stalham Town Ladies will be amongst the favourites this time around and will be looking for another strong start to the season today’s away game against Thetford their first competitive match of the season.
The venue for today’s match Thetford Town FC on the Mundford Road leading into Thetford. Has been a while too since I’ve been here, Brandon Town Ladies having used it for the odd midweek game under the lights. A small stadium fenced off from the larger recreation ground beyond. With a clubhouse beside the main stand offering some cover for spectators. The grass pitch sloping somewhat from one side to the other. COVID regulations in place as at all grounds now. A cup of tea much welcomed the weather a distinct contrast from last Sunday, heavy rain falling for much of Friday and Saturday it remained dull and overcast a chilly breeze blowing across the pitch.
Thetford Town Ladies starting XI – Lydia Ward, Katherine Davies, Emily Bullett, Katie Hardie, Sausha Levy-Twoney (C) Emily Escreet, Mel Boulton, Shannon Richardson, Laura Martins, Erica Camacho-Besa & Becky White. Subs – Coral Ring, Dayna Howard & Kerri Griffiths
Stalham Town Ladies starting XI – Danielle Barnes, Lalaine Davey, Charlotte Darvill, Emma McMillan, Charlotte Crane, Andrea McCombe, Chloe Yarham, Emma Gillespie, Amber Mayhew (C), Sian Clarke & Sophie-Jayne O’Connor. Subs – Becky Houghton, Jade Copeman & Holly Ferguson.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
It’s Stalham to get the first half underway taking kick-off wearing red shirts with white trim, red shorts and red socks with white stripes. Thetford opposite wearing claret coloured kit with sky blue trim, blue numbers fading into claret on their backs too which were going to give the eyeballs a workout. The visitors playing the ball back to their defence right full back Chloe Yarham looks to play it long up the right with Andrea McCombe providing a run, coming to mark her Thetford’s Emily Bullett can see the ball safely out of play.
Bringing the ball away to their right possession with Laura Martins into the Stalham half puts it on for Shannon Richardson to her right out on the wing goes forwards, Emma Gillespie getting across to close her down blocks as she attempts to fire a diagonal ball into the box. Attacking Thetford have come forwards as a team the defence on half way as Stalham attempt to play it through the middle, captain Sausha Levy-Twoney at the back with a vital interception to prevent Stalham’s captain Amber Mayhew getting clear in behind to run at goal.
Lalaine Davey finds space out on the left going forwards as Stalham get forwards quickly the past crossfield picking her out she gets control of the ball before twisting back inside to push towards the area, Martins coming in to close her down making the tackle sending the ball out for a throw in. The game has started at a fast pace, expected little else, Stalham attempting to put the ball on through the middle a couple of times the wind causing it to run on reach the keeper before anyone can capitalise. Thetford bringing the ball down the left Mel Boulton out to Becky White, plays it central looking for Erica Camacho-Besa, Charlotte Darvill steps in to tackle for Stalham top of the area.
Bullett stays on Sian Clarke as the Stalham attacker aims to get in behind with the ball out on the right wing the full back lunging in to make the tackle prevent the cross. Lydia Ward has to come racing out of her area to clear the danger for Thetford as a ball over the top sees both Mayhew and Clarke race clear after it, the goalkeeper launching it upfield, Camacho-Besa up top has close support from Boulton the Thetford pair combining trying to plough there way through into the area, the ball cleared out to the right for a throw. A turn and shot coming in from the right corner of the area the ball racing wide across the six yard box. Stalham attacking the flanks are getting numbers forwards in support up the right across squared into the six yard box, Levy-Twoney defending sends it out for a corner kick.
GOAL! 10 minutes into the match and Stalham open the scoring netting from the resulting corner. The ball played short up the line to Emma McMillan brings it in closer to the edge of the box before clipping in a ball with the outside of her boot, sends it over the keeper into the far corner of the net 0-1.
Stalham have looked very dangerous on the break, Clarke getting in behind on the right flashes a cross in towards the near post, Ward down low with a very good take to claim it with a Stalham attacker racing it to meet it. Ward is again called into action to cover her near post saving low as Clarke running with the ball on the right drives an angled shot in. A change for Thetford Camacho-Besa coming off with Dayna Howard entering the game. Thetford gain momentum on the left as Boulton takes the ball out wide loops a ball in towards the D, a difficult one for Richardson to attempt to bring down and control with Darvill close in on her the defence clearing it back out to the left this time the cross in claimed by goalkeeper Danielle Barnes at the top of her six yard box.
Richardson right side peels in behind her marker making a run as Katherine Davies has possession at right back for Thetford, sending the ball on isn’t enough with on the pass giving Barnes time to come off her line and lay claim to it. Martins is brought down Thetford awarded a free-kick by referee Paul Gibson 30 yards out in a central position. Before it’s taken Stalham make a change bringing on Holly Ferguson for Clarke. Emily Escreet smashes the free-kick straight into the Stalham wall the ball going out to the right for a throw in, collected by Martins turns 25 yards out corner of the area and takes on the strike a looping shot in collected high by the keeper.
Is an entertaining contest, no one dwelling on the ball played at a fast pace, Thetford getting players forwards better now, Stalham continue to look threatening whenever they regain possession. Martins is down feeling the effects of being tackled minutes before needs to come off, Kerri Griffiths comes on going up top in attack. Stalham’s Gillespie making a determined run through the right channel with the ball gets clear before unleashing a 20 yard strike that flies over the crossbar. The visitors build in attack a good diagonal ball from McCombe out to Davey in space wide left, getting it under control turns to attack the area, Thetford getting bodies back on her struggle to clear their six yard box, Katie Hardie eventually stabbing it away falls straight to Sophie-Jayne O’Connor left of the D stabs it back in and over the bar.
A corner for Stalham on the right put in low by Mayhew into the crowded six yard box Ward down smartly saving at point blank range and again with her legs as the loose ball is hit hard against her, deflected out to the top of the area Stalham are first to it once again the shot hit back in towards goal, Ward quickly back t her feet right behind it catching it low into her body. Thetford get straight on the attack pushing players on well, Escreet with it right side up towards the area whips an inviting cross in, the flag goes up for offside straight away even as Boulton collects it in her stride through the defence and strokes it pass the keeper into the back of the net. It won’t count.
Chances for both sides a lively contest still, McCombe on for Gillespie racing into space in the right channel spins with the ball at her feet top of the area shooting on the angle her shot swinging wide out at the far post. Davies gets back to defend well against Mayhew and a viciously bouncing ball evades everyone on the wing. Gillespie left channel puts the ball square to O’Connor in attack through the middle for Stalham controls it well, Levy-Twoney getting a foot in to take the ball away from her before she can shoot, O’Connor retrieves it 20 yards out right corner of the box volleying over the crossbar.
Boulton is looking to get hold of the ball for Thetford and drive on with it central, attempts to thread it through to Griffiths looking for a one two, Yarham tackling to prevent the return ball. Levy-Twoney with another vital interception at the back and Davey’s pass through the middle almost sends Mayhew in behind. Ward with a brave save coming out to close down O’Connor top of the area as she is fed the diagonal pass in from the right, the Thetford keeper down well to save a point blank range. Boulton taking control of the ball in the centre for Thetford brings it forwards travelling into space on the right side able to go on before looping a high ball back onto the area players attacking it near side, Charlotte Crane with a composed header safely guiding the ball back to her keeper.
Half-time Thetford Town Ladies 0-1 Stalham Town Ladies
An entertaining and fast paced first half sees Stalham Town Ladies hold a narrow 1-0 lead over Thetford Town Ladies. An early lead for the visitors who have looked a threat going forwards throughout. Pacey on the counter attack, took Thetford a little bit of time to get some momentum of their own having a goal ruled out for offside. Lydia Ward in goal making some vital saves to keep Stalham from extending their advantage.
Thetford to get the 2nd period underway, loose possession on the right as Ferguson carries it on for Stalham angling a ball into the box, Ward able to claim it low. Stalham with a strong start to the 2nd half particularly Ferguson who is again able to run with the ball in behind in the right, Levy-Twoney doing well to get back on her take her to the by-line take the sting off her cross allowing Ward to claim it at her near post. Howard moving to her left out to stop Yarham winning the ball as the full back attempts to get forwards.
Stalham come again the ball out to Mayhew wide clips a diagonal ball in towards the top of the area Ferguson with a central run, Hardie stepping up to clear the ball for Thetford up to Escreet attempts to play it long the wind taking it on for the keeper to clear.
GOAL! The visitors capitalising on their good start to the 2nd half double their lead attacking with intent down the left the cross fired in low to the advancing Gillespie left of the D 20 yards out hits it first time her rising shot flying in Ward driving t her right the ball striking the crossbar rebounds down and unfortunately straight against the falling Ward to deflect into the goal 0-2.
Boulton is down needing treatment in the middle for Thetford but up on her feet able to continue. Moving out to the flanks more in the 2nd period looking to get on with the ball. Stalham win a corner on the right as O’Connor’s first time strike from outside the box takes a deflection. The six yard box congested as the ball comes in Ward calls determined to claim it an does. The hosts build through the middle the pass laid out to Richardson left side sends it on to Griffiths in attack back to goal she returns it to Richardson moving up the line she sends her strike bouncing wide through the six yard box.
Richardson with another opportunity for Thetford moments later as Boulton brings it on right side putting it into the middle, struck first time by Richardson looping up is claimed high by Barnes back on her line. Stalham waste no time getting up the other end the ball put on by Gillespie to Mayhew wins a corner. Mayhew to swing the delivery in to the six yard box Ward again up to claim it confidently. Martins having recovered from her knock in the first half returns to the field for Thetford in place of Griffiths in attack. Boulton with a chipped ball from the right looks to put her through on goal, Crane gets there first to clear for Stalham.
Thetford are looking sharper now having conceded a 2nd goal are coming on well Boulton causing issues out on the right lays it inside for Martins in the area, looking to jink right then left taking on the defence Crane stands up to her putting the foot in to take the ball away from her the pressure stays with the hosts as the ball is put out to Richardson left side in the area aiming to get inside onto her right foot strike the ball, MacMillan closing her down to get it away to safety for the visitors. Thetford lively now moving the ball quickly in the final third pressuring the area the ball played across the D to the right side a shot is struck hard blasted wide of the goal, not sure if it was Howard or Boulton.
Jade Copeman comes on for Stalham replacing McCombe. Escreet central plays a diagonal ball out to Boulton in the wing with the ball at her feet gets up the line whips a dangerous cross in near post the keeper diving Barnes may have gotten a hand to it enough to deflect it across the face of goal behind Martins racing in central. As much as Thetford are posing a threat now Stalham remain a danger on the counter Mayhew getting a throw deep on the right side the cross fired in by Ferguson into the top of the box the ball deflected out to the left gathered by Darvill 30 yards out brings it forwards couple of yards before lining up a strike angling in low Ward has her near post covered. Becky Houghton is on for Stalham in place of Davey.
Thetford’s turn to counter the ball rolled into Horward’s feet in the middle releases Martins through on goal, Barnes having started to come for the ball now back peddles rapidly to cover her goal. Martins though doesn’t make the most of the opportunity her shot tame in the finish struck to close to the keeper allowing her to gather.
GOAL! A hammer blow then for the hosts up the other end as Stalham go on to score a 3rd goal. Nothing unusual about the attack Stalham have broken well and with purpose all game, O’Connor the furthest forwards this time played in through the middle closing in on the area sends her low strike wide of the advancing keeper to make it 0-3 in the 63rd minute.
Thetford building from the back into Martins central lifts it out to Richardson left side taking it on attempts to get inside Yarham aiming to strike a ball in towards the far post Yarham gets a foot on the ball to deflect it up and be caught by her keeper in the box. Clarke returns to the field for Stalham replacing Ferguson. Ward with another excellent save low to her left post pushing it behind for a corner as Clarke is played through into the area for Stalham strikes it hard. The corner put in from the left punched up into the air by Ward at her near post falls to a Stalham player top of the area hit first time low the shot is blocked by Levy-Twoney.
Both sides are keeping up a good tempo, despite conceding a third goal Thetford aren’t deterred in attack Howard spraying the pass out to Boulton on the right her cross in defended by Crane. The visitors . Yarham with a crossfield ball to fins Clarke on the left wing the Stalham attacker playing it back to the advancing Darvill, Boulton tracking back with her regains possession for Thetford. The ball played out to the left Martins up with Richardson the cross fired in across the face of goal no one to meet it defected away falls to Boulton top of the box her shot back on lacks power Barnes saving low. McCombe comes back on for Stalham
GOAL! Thetford’s pressing brings them a deserved goal, the ball with Escreet central plays it wide to Boulton charging on down the right cuts the ball in towards the top of the box White well position meets it first time with a back heel to deflect the ball ninety degrees and in past the diving keeper at the near post 1-3. 15 minutes left to play.
Stalham make a change bringing off full back Davies and sending attacker Camacho-Besa back on. Martins blasts over from 25 yards after keeping control of the ball well on the right wing for Thetford. O’Connor comes off for Stalham Davey back on. The visitors get a corner kick on the right Mayhew with another good delivery into the six yard box the ball cleared straight back to her floats another ball in Ward rising to claim it.
Martins away in the left for Thetford racing towards the area strikes the ball on the angle straight into the keepers gloves. McCombe on the ball centrally for Stalham comes to the right on for the advancing Yarham she whips in a diagonal ball looking for the advancing Gillespie, Hardie stepping out of the back line to win in back for Thetford. Thetford get on the attack Boulton away on the right players arriving in the box as the cross comes in a half yard off the ground Richardson going for it can’t make contact to deflect it past the diving keeper at the near post.
Into stoppage time both sides looking for another goal Thetford attacking, Stalham pounce with a counter Davey getting hold of the ball well central laying it on for Clarke making a run left channel, Levy-Twoney goes with her forcing her to the by-line managing to stop the cross coming in. The ball cleared the final whistle blows and Stalham start their season with a 3-1 win.
Full time Thetford Town Ladies 1-3 Stalham Town Ladies
Was a highly entertaining game end to end 2nd half, Thetford getting better as the game wore on. Stalham good for their lead in the 1st half getting a crucial early goal in the 2nd half. Thetford rallied well creating opportunities to pull it back a hammer blow to concede a third goal. Weren’t deterred going on to score themselves. On another day might well have been 3-3 the hosts having the better of the 2nd period… perhaps Stalham will argue they were the ones who scored twice though a good contest both sides can take plenty from it.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. These thing’s are never easy to decide and leaving the ground I wasn’t sure. Nevertheless have lots of notes as you know to fall back on so… a few performances to mention. Some fine saves from Lydia Ward 1st half especially keeping Thetford in it. Mel Boulton a threat more so out on the right and Lauren Martins too showing great movement. For Stalham were particularly dangerous on the counter attack getting forwards as a unit well. Lalaine Davey doing alot of work getting about the pitch with some good tackles. Charlotte Crane composed at the back. The award though goes to Emma Gillespie like Davey covered alot of ground making some fantastic forward runs always available for the ball.
An entertaining game to start my county league season good to season both sides in action Thetford for the first time and Stalham after so long. Thanks for your help in getting me those all important team sheets. Appreciate all the help given today.