Sunday 25th April
NWGFL GiveToLocalUK Challenge Cup
A trip down the A140 in Norfolk this Sunday for the featured game on Women’s Football East. The NWGFL in Norfolk setting up a new competition to see out what’s let of the season with the regular one being declared null & void due to the ongoing Covid pandemic. An opportunity to see one of the few sides yet to appear in a match report for the first time Long Stratton Women as they host North Walsham Angels Ladies.
The new competition the @GiveToLocalUK Challenge Cup seeing the teams entering from both Division One and Two drawn into 4 groups of to 5 in a Champions/Europa League format playing each other once with the final standings seeing the teams positioned for the knock-out stages.
Long Stratton Women and North Walsham Angels Ladies drawn in Group B along side Division One sides Dussindale & Hellesdon Women and Sprowston Athletic Ladies, both of who were amongst the title challengers before the season was curtailed.
Long Stratton Women are an established side within the NWGFL, promoted back to Division One a couple of seasons ago were comfortable in mid-table before the season ended, the addition of Sam Walker to their attack adding a potent goal threat to an experienced group of players. As I said despite seeing them in action in a couple of pre-season friendlies with Bungay I’ve yet to see Long Stratton in competitive action and was keen to do so before the end of the season. Long Stratton beginning their Group B campaign away to Dussindale & Hellesdon last weekend without their goalkeeper, Walker donning the gloves herself was missed up front as Long Stratton went on to lose the game 5-0.
North Walsham Angels Ladies are too a side I yet to see play… at least this Angels side as the first side folded up at the end of the 2016/17 season having enjoyed a brief yet successful spell in the NWGFL. Missing for a couple of seasons North Walsham returned for the 2019/20 campaign a young squad with barely anyone from the original side left. Were finding their feet in Division Two just as the pandemic hit, Rhianne Holt top scoring with 10 goals. Keira Brown joining this season having had a fantastic season in front of goal for Bure Valley the season before, were looking to put pressure on the top three before seeing another season end. Placed into a tough group with three Division One sides. Will face Group rivals Sprowston Athletic Ladies two weekends in a row as the only Division Two side to reach the Norfolk Women’s County Cup quarter finals.
Has been difficult for anyone to develop a side during these past 12 months and hopefully better times are around the corner.
Manor Road the venue for today’s match the council pavilion overlooking a multi-sports recreation ground, featuring numerous grass pitches, a skate park and playground. A public facility in the heart of Long Stratton. Fairly overcast making it feel cooler than in previous days, but when the sun could break through plenty of heat in it. A large pitch plenty of grass cover, even a sprinkling of dandelions.
Long Stratton Women starting XI – Kathryn Critchell, Emily Farmer, Karmen Harvey, Megan Vincent, Kate Ransome, Milly Cawcutt, Beth Stratton, Rachel Bussey, Annie Mayes, Sam Walker (C0 & Ellie Sostman. Subs – Harriet Hunwicks-Rush Megan Bird & Ellie Lyon
North Walsham Angels Ladies starting XI – Emily Penrose, Shannon Owen, Rhianne Hindle, Grace Hanley, Sophie Hall, Megan Briggs, Rhiannon Holt, Marth Wittrick-Riley, Jade Starling, Keira Brown & Lucy Taylor. Subs – Gracie East, Rio Dobbie & Mia Harris.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
Emily Farmer and Rachel Bussey both starting for Long Stratton were regulars for the first incarnation of North Walsham Angels. Kathryn Critchell in goal for Long Stratton today seeing captain Sam Walker back up front leading the attack. The hosts wearing red shirts and socks with black shorts to kick-off the first half. North Walsham lined up opposite wearing black and white vertical striped shirts with black shorts and socks. The ball put back to the defence sent long out to the right side for Beth Stratton to chase early on, bounces once in the box before being safely claimed by North Walsham goalkeeper Emily Penrose.
North Walsham play out from the back the ball helped on through the middle dropped in behind on the left with Keira Brown giving chase, Farmer forced to play it out for a throw deep inside the half.
GOAL! Long Stratton win the ball back from the throw and launch a rapid attack down there left Farmer playing it down the line into the feet of Stratton 30 yards out she completes a neat triangle turning the ball forwards central to Walker making a run in the box gathering it inside the D, stapes to go left before checking back on her right to curl her shot past a defender and into the top right corner of the goal 1-0.
A great start from the Division One side taking the lead inside the opening 2 minutes of the match. The hosts on the front foot Farmer with a high ball from halfway, Ellie Sostman central tries to bring down under control, doesn’t quite manage it the ball running through to Penrose. Bussey lively in the opening minutes nipping into her challenges winning the ball moves into space on the right as Long Stratton counter Stratton central receiving the ball spinning her pass out to the left picked up by Bussey drives into the box, Grace Hanley getting onto her shoulder for North Walsham preventing a shooting opportunity taking it behind for the first corner of the game.
The corner is played long invitingly through the six yard box cleared at the far post Long Stratton close down quickly to keep the attack alive a cross turned in from the right dealt with by North Walsham captain Sophie Hall. Megan Hindle right side puts the ball on for Martha Wittrick-Riley as North Walsham attack up the wing Brown racing onto the forwards pass looking to take players on closed down by two defenders Long Stratton re quick to turn play around, Milly Cawcutt clearing the ball long Stratton on the shoulder of the last defender beating the offside flag strikes the bouncing ball early 20 yards out right of the D her attempt running wide of the post.
Long Stratton getting attackers forwards in numbers Stratton and Annie Mayes out wide getting forwards to join Walker and Sostman putting the back four of North Walsham on the back foot. Megan Briggs with a crucial interception as the last defender for North Walsham to cut out a dangerous through ball from Bussey as Walker threatens to steal in behind. North Walsham’s opportunities limited up top are getting joy down the right with Brown on the ball and the bouncing ball is causing the Long Stratton defence problems.
GOAL! A little over 10 minutes played and North Walsham come back to level the game a ball hit in behind bouncing sees Rhiannon Holt race through from midfield onto it showing a great turn of pace to out manoeuvre the Long Stratton defence takes the ball on into the area right side of goal, Critchell coming to close her down, Holt fires her shot past her and running towards the open goal beyond is an agonising chase for the defence as it rolls over the line 1-1.
North Walsham having got themselves back on level terms defend at the back Hanley clearance up o the right collected by Brown, drives forwards before being clattered into as she makes the cross her diagonal ball just to close to the keeper at the near post as Holt makes the run to intercept, play brought back however for the foul on Brown. Nothing coming from it North Walsham win possession back in midfield Jade Starling picking out Wittrick-Riley breaking right flashes in a cross/shot over the crossbar.
Long Stratton defending a high line at times gives them the platform to press forwards in numbers as Walker moves out to the right, taking the ball on whipping a dangerous ball in across the top of the six yard box narrowly misses Sostman central, Hanley behind her attempts to clear for North Walsham doesn’t get it away the hosts pressuring to top right of the area, a scramble for the ball pops up for Ransome attempts to scoop her shot up wide across the keeper Penrose’s gloves up sharply to pluck the ball down into her body.
Play at a rapid pace no one settling one allowed to settle on the ball, Bussey determined to travel with it whenever she has it at her feet, coming right is tackled well by Shannon Owen for North Walsham. Rio Dobbie joining the action for North Walsham. Hall coming to the left for North Walsham on the ball has Holt bolting past her looking for the past in behind, up the flank, Ransome stays on her into the area well to prevent her turning inside and getting a shot away. Hanley in to clear a bouncing ball central again sees Holt up in attack run clear of the defence 25 yards out has more time than she realises as she slices her first time effort wide.
Holt moving into a more advanced position as given North Walsham the attacking impetus, isn’t pretty at times however the bouncing ball is being pressured well, Holt linking up with Wittrick-Riley right side he ball swung into the box is intercepted by Stratton coming all the way back into her box. Stratton running with the ball looking to power her way forwards covers the ground well, Walker moving left Sostman ahead of her, Hall putting the the tackle allowing North Walsham to regroup Bussey has it back spreads play to Stratton now on the left travels towards the area Hanley standing her up Stratton shoots the ball deflected by Hanley away for a corner.
Is a very dangerous delivery from the corner bouncing through a crowded six yard box evading everyone Holt sending it behind for a corner on the opposite flank. Again the delivery from the right catches everyone out again even the taker is apologising thinking sees put into the near side netting but instead it stays in passing right in front of the goal line without now one moving. Collected by Long Stratton in the left corner put back to Walker who strikes it hard from the angle her shot going over the top.
GOAL! Half an hour played and the hosts retake the lead the 2nd goal as with the first involving great link up play between Stratton and Walker. Stratton inside the North Walsham half seeing the ball played into her feet is aware of Walker making a run central merely helps the ball on into her path the striker taking it on towards the box right of goal has Briggs on her shoulder holds her off getting free to pick her shot send it angle across the keeper into the far corner of the net 2-1.
From the restart North Walsham get the ball up the right winning a corner kick. Swung in near side the ball attacked in headed in across the face of goal, Stratton defending the far post heading the ball clear.
GOAL! As North Walsham commit more forwards they risk getting hit on the counter, Long Stratton quickly moving the ball forwards whenever the back four gain possession back, comes to Walker free on the left holds onto it gaining ground drawing players towards her before whipping in a fantastic cross into the middle of the area that falls invitingly to Sostman arriving unmarked, has tome to control the ball before scooping a rising shot high wide of the static keeper 3-1.
Walker causing issues for the North Walsham defence with her movement drawing players to her creating space for Sostman and Stratton in particular to run into. 2 goals in 5 minutes seeing them gain the advantage.
GOAL! 3 goals rapidly become 4 Long Stratton quick to bring the ball out from the back over half way into Sostman coming to the right opens up her body to send the diagonal ball angling into Walker making a left channel run gathering the ball runs at the area, Penrose off her line quickly coming to close her down, Walker experienced staying composed getting her shot away just into time beating the keeper, little power on the shot but placed perfectly as it trickles over the line Walker scoring a first half hat-trick 4-1.
GOAL! The hosts running riot in the closing minutes of the first half to take total control of the game as they deliver another sucker punch to North Walsham. A throw inside the visitors half taken quickly into Walker’s feet she sweeps round to play the ball into Stratton racing in towards the top of the box who strikes it hard rifling her shot into the back of the net 5-1.
North Walsham blown away with 4 goals in quick succession from Long Stratton have made changes with Mia Harris and Gracie East coming on prior to the 4th goal look to regroup have a free kick on the right wide players up, Hall to put the ball in, Hanley gets a shot away on the angle the keeper misses it however the ball bounces wide of the far post. Harris central carries the ball on for North Walsham his clattered into the advantage played as the loose ball falls to Dobbie beside her lifts it forwards with Holt breaking in behind the bounce of the ball seeing it run through to the keeper before she can get there.
GOAL! A late goal in the first half as North Walsham pull one back, Holt staying forwards is well placed right of the box as Hanley’s clearance bounces in behind the defence. Holt racing onto it pushes for the area into the top corner Critchell starts to come to close her down Holt releases her shot early putting it past her into the far corner 5-2.
Time for one more attack from Long Stratton look a threat every time they go forwards Walker out wide with Mayes, a shot is driven in on the angle Penrose down low to her left stretching saves with her gloves managing to push the ball wide onto the post comes out and is cleared by Hall.
Half-time Long Stratton Women 5-2 North Walsham Angels Ladies
No doubt about it scoring 4 goals in quick succession late in the first half have seen Long Stratton take control of the game putting them in a solid position. Started well taking an early lead and looked a threat going forwards throughout the half. North Walsham however under pressure at times fought back to level the match and were causing problems of there own bypassing midfield at times the bouncing ball no easy to deal with. Play from back to front rapid from Long Stratton, Walker back up front always a clinical finisher, scoring 3 and setting up 2. North Walsham scoring a 2nd goal late in the half to give them some belief as they look put some pressure on 2nd half.
The sun has been doing it’s best to break through the clouds has become a pleasant afternoon to play a game of football, both sides putting alot into the first half will be interesting to see if the tempo can be maintained 2nd half as North Walsham get things underway. Long Stratton though are straight on the front foot Bussey closing the ball down, into Harvey long up to Stratton on the right the cross swept in claimed by Penrose.
North Walsham’s goalkeeper called into action moments later as she makes a brave save sliding in at the feet of Long Stratton’s Mayes as she receives a crossfield pass from the right, driving into the box from the left, the ball deflecting between attacker and keeper cleared by Hindle getting back to clear. A few positional changes for North Walsham in the 2nd half, Wittrick-Riley furthest forwards on the right in support of Holt central getting hold of the ball travelling into the box keeping possession to check inside and send a ball into the near post claimed well by Critchell low at her near post any mistake and Holt was racing in behind her.
Long Stratton frustrated as a decision goes against them offside a free-kick to North Walsham inside their D the keeper hitting it long threatens to send Holt clear in behind but a good starting position from Critchell sees the keeper out of her area to send the ball back up field. A good contest in midfield shaping up Bussey busy as ever rives on only to be tackled well by Harris. Is physical too although without any obvious malice, both sides getting on with it. Hanley over a free-kick wide on the right, headed clear out of the Long Stratton Box, drops to East 30 yards out looks to ding it back over the top for Holt, the host defence stepping out well seeing her flagged offside.
Harriet Hunwicks-Rush comes on for Long Stratton to replace Harvey. The hosts winning s free-kick 30 yards out on the left side Walker on it goes for goal her effort claimed high back on her line by Penrose. North Walsham are doing well to keep Mayes and Stratton quieter now Long Stratton sitting back comfortable with a 3 goal cushion however. Holt working hard up top but too often isolated does well on the right to win a free kick on the by-line. Hall playing it in across the face of goal is headed clear at the far post. North Walsham get it back the ball fired into Holt central outside the area her snap shot lacking power runs wide.
The game has become a little scrappy both sides hitting it long looking for there attackers to break away. Holt with space to burst into in the left channel, Critchell comes charging out of her area to challenge Holt misses it is stranded as the loose ball is claimed out wide on the left red shirts racing back to close down angles prevent any attempt on goal. Vincent comes back on for Mayes for Long Stratton. Bussey taking the ball out to the right swinging in a deep cross too close to Penrose the keeper plucking the ball down safely.
Good work from Long Stratton off a throw inside their own half on the left Bussey away up the wing comes inside, playing it on for Walker to take on top of the area 20 yards out moves across the D looking for an opening to release a shot, cutting it back in across goal Penrose comfortable on her line down to smother it. Cawcutt has picked up a knock needs to come off for Long Stratton, Harvey coming back on.
Quieter in the 2nd half, North Walsham putting alot of effort in, Long Stratton able to sit back. Holt with a snap shot from 35 yards out left side not troubling the keeper. Sostman has been playing in a deeper role 2nd half, finding herself up with play exchanges a one two with walker 25 yards out that almost sees the latter slip in behind Hindle the defender with a timely lunge to take the ball.
Walker always looking for an opening drifts to the left the ball clipped into her surges forwards into the box East tracking her, Walker wants to check back on her right 8 yards out East setting in to nick the ball away from her. Walker nevertheless gets a 2nd bite at it crossing to the far post Stratton bringing it down is closed down quickly forced to play it back Harris winning it back. The game entering the final 20 minutes. Brown returning to the action for North Walsham.
GOAL! Long Stratton extend their lead Ransome on the ball central playing a great ball forwards for Walker to attack right side into the box on the shoulder of the last defender leans back as she strikes the ball putting power into her shot rifles it home for her 4th of the game 6-2.
GOAL! Just as it was in the 1st half one goal quickly brings a 2nd another hammer blow for North Walsham as Long Stratton full of confidence now press forwards a throw high up the pitch left side played across the North Walsham defence. Walker snapping in to close the ball down steals the ball to cut in behind into the box and blast high into the back of the goal to claim her 5th of the game 7-2.
Long Stratton find a renewed level of energy as they press the advantage have North Walsham on the back foot. Hanley having made several good challenges at the back doing well as Sostman pushes forwards left side. Starling returns to the action to replace Hindle for the visitors as the game enters the final 15 minutes. Wittrick-Riley up top along side Holt the pair are released in behind by Hall, Critchell coming out of her area again smashes her clearance against her own defender Harvey the deflection favouring the keeper however as she reacts to kick away before either attacker can turn.
Hanley running towards her own goal doing well to deal with a long ball played up field by Long Stratton with Walker on her shoulder deftly heading it into her keepers gloves inside the box. Soon after Penrose carrying the ball out of her area gives away a free kick just outside the area. Walker placing the ball, Long Stratton making a change before it is taken Mayes back on for Sostman.
GOAL! A free-kick in a dangerous position for Long Stratton left side inside the D, Walker on a double hat-trick takes on the shot, the North Walsham walk jumping as she looks to clip the ball over towards goal takes a wicked deflection knocking the ball downwards, Penrose wrong footed attempting to get down to it is unfortunately as it evades her clutches to cross the line 8-2.
Walker is proving a real handful for the tiring North Walsham defence continues to create chances prods a shot wide across goal, takes a slight deflection off a defender however to see a corner awarded. left side swung in North Walsham defending at the far post have no one up can’t break. Hall nevertheless getting hold of the ball plays it up the line for Holt to chase the attacker doing what she can nut outnumbered is closed off the ball by Hunwicks-Rush.
Wittrick-Riley breaking free right side for North Walsham does well to get into the box checks inside before crossing the high ball collected by Critchell. Hanley right charges down Stratton ending the ball up top for Holt to attack, Critchell coming out of her box again to close her down top of the D does enough to put Holt off forcing her into an early strike that lacks power and accuracy.
Despite conceding three goals late in the 2nd half North Walsham keep up their efforts to find another goal from a throw on the right inside the Long Stratton half Holt lays the ball inside for Starling she in turn feeds a diagonal ball through the middle for Wittrick-Riley to race onto, Critchell has come committed drops to close the angle deflected the ball away, Wittrick-Riley’s momentum sees her collide with the keeper, a moment of concern but both players are okay, Critchell undoubtedly feeling it more. One more chance comes to Wittrick-Riley right to cross the ball in find Holt near post but once again Critchell is well placed to intercept the ball.
Full time Long Stratton Women 8-2 North Walsham Angels Ladies
Long Stratton win the Group B match comfortably to claim their 1st points in the Challenge Cup. The Division One side starting the game well taking an early lead. Never what a lower division side wants however North Walsham fought back well the level the game. Long Stratton always looked a potent threat going forwards and creating openings took their chances hitting in 4 quickfire goals to leave North Walsham with a mountain to climb. A late goal giving the visitors some belief reshaped 2nd half containing Long Stratton whilst never finding the goal they needed to exert some pressure of their own. In the end a repeat of the 1st half Long Stratton finally scoring a 6th were quick to add 2 more. An 8-2 score line maybe harsh on North Walsham a young side with lots of potential Will give Long Stratton plenty of belief going into their final group game against Sprowston Athletic.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this Sunday’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. Often a difficult choice however not the case today I suspect you’ve already picked her yourself. Before that however a few notable performances to mention. Firstly for North Walsham, Rhiannon Holt was superb in attack doing well to lead the lone when called upon took her chances well. Sophie Hall and Grace Hanley too with some good challenges throughout the match. For Long Stratton, Beth Stratton was superb especially first half and for a while was neck and neck with the eventual winner. Rachel Bussey too put herself about in the middle of the park never letting North Walsham settle on the ball. The award though has to go to Sam Walker scoring a double hat-trick and assisting with the other 2 goals showing fantastic movement leading the attack throughout the 90 minutes.
A pleasure to see both sides in action today, a good match despite the final score line another new side checked off, and I’m sure I’ll be seeing both in action again soon. As always the help with the team details is much appreciated.
by Darren Gilham