Sunday 3rd October
Women’s FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round
A trip to Hertfordshire this Sunday to watch a game from the 2nd Qualifying Round of the Women’s FA Cup. An all ERWFL Premier Division clash between Royston Town Women and Bowers & Pitsea Ladies.
A record number of entries into this season’s competition, 120 ties pulled out of the hat for the 2nd Qualifying Round. For many it’s the first step to Wembley regardless of how long the journey might be. A historic competition that stirs up emotions. Last season’s competition still ongoing delayed due to the ongoing COVID pandemic the quarter finals played in midweek see FAWSL sides Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Brighton reach the last 4. For those sides competing today it’s the beginning of a new adventure.
An all ERWFL Premier Division clash between Royston Town Women and Bowers & Pitsea Ladies as both begin this season’s Women’s FA Cup having met already once this season with Bowers & Pitsea Ladies having home advantage in a 2-0 win.
That loss aside Royston Town Women have made an excellent start to the season in the league, winning 4 of their 7 games so far including a 5-1 midweek win at home to Haringey Borough Women that saw them climb up to 2nd in the Premier Division table. Emma Slater, Royston’s top scorer so far netting 7 times in 7 appearances whilst Bella Simmons, dual signed to Royston with Cambridge City Ladies has 5 goals to her name including a midweek hat-trick against Haringey. Also coming into the squad are 3 former Histon Ladies players, Becky Charter and Lauren Martin with Abby Laughlin also returning to the club. Matt Phillips formerly head coach at Histon joining Lewis Endacott’s coaching team.
Change’s at Bowers & Pitsea in the management department too. Darren Fraser and Daniel Foord bringing Little Thurrock Dynamo’s to the club to become Bowers & Pitsea Ladies the club has grown successfully. Fraser moving on whilst Foord is now ladies chairman aswell as looking after the media. John Levy now managing the 1st team assisted by Adam Sinclair. The ERWFL Premier Division not an easy league to get established in getting stronger year on year Bowers & Pitsea have made a solid start to the season pitching up some useful results. Sit comfortably in mid-table well placed to push on as the season progresses. Have a largely settled squad backed up by a Development side. Amber Amey coming in from Hutton Ladies whilst, Phoebe Keys and Talisa Bruton come up from the Development side.
Garden Walk the venue for today’s game home to Royston Town FC aswell as the women’s side. A large clubhouse and bar area serving hot and cold drinks. A small seated stand on one side of the pitch opposite the dugouts. The pitch itself looking immaculate the grass lush and green offering good width whilst sloping slightly from on end to the other. After a day of heavy rain yesterday the pitch has drained well, the weather much calmer today clouds around but the sun still ale to offer a little heat when it breaks through as we enter October.
Royston Town Women starting XI – Mia O’Brien, Fran Gough, Abby Laughlin, Tally Miles, Amy Cooper (C), Sammy Edgar, Georgia Miller, Charlotte South, Becky Charter, Emma Slater & Bella Simmons. Subs – Paris Coldicott-Stevens, Grace Georgiou, Anny Chambers, Hattie Bourne & Ellie Pickard.
Bowers & Pitsea Ladies starting XI – Violet Hickman, Natalie Strange, Phoebe Keys, Danielle Sillitoe (C), Katie Whitehead, Amber Amey, Sarah Wilson, Sophie Rhodes, Holly Moore, Talisa Bruton & Georgia Fraser. Subs – Danielle Styles, Courtney Fraser, Eloise Ives & Sophie Dowman.
A change of ends to begin the game with Bowers & Pitsea kicking off the 1st half wearing and all red strip with white trim and white across the breast of the shirt. Royston in their home colours of white shirts and socks with black shorts. Played back to Danielle Sillitoe in defence, Bowers & Pitsea’s captain sends it long out to the left looking for the run of Holly Moore, has the pace but so does the ball as it skips on along the surface enabling Royston’s Fran Gough to get across Moore and see it out of play for a goal kick.
The ball quickly closed down in the centre of the park Bowers & Pitsea look for width again out to the right this time with Katie Whitehead getting up the pitch to support Talisa Bruton looks to get infield towards the box, Tally Milles getting in on her shoulder defending for Royston the ball running behind for a corner kick. Fired in central Royston captain Amy Cooper gets up highest to head it clear of the six yard box, Bowers & Pitsea reclaiming left side put back in central, Charlotte South blocking a shot at close range before a strike comes in off the deflected ball outside the box runs wide of the left post.
Royston bring the ball up the pitch right side on for Emma Slater peeling out to the wing squares it inside for Bella Simmons outside the box right of the D, Sillitoe sliding in to cut the ball out puts it away for a throw. South links up with Simmons on the right for Royston laying the ball on into the area for Simmons to chase Phoebe Keys getting across the striker to guide the ball out for a goalkick. Bowers & Pitsea looking for runners right and left as they break up play in the middle. Cooper has to come across to deal with Bruton as she jinks her way inside from the right the ball cleared for a throw.
Is competitive both sides putting in the challenges early on Bowers & Pitsea frustrating Royston harrying the defence, South unhappy as a decision goes against her presenting Bowers & Pitsea with a free-kick in a central position 30 yards out. Georgia Fraser over the set-piece the attacker having an attempt on goal the shot looping over the bar. Sammy Edgar clatters into Sophie Rhodes out wide right giving the visiting side another free-kick some 40 yards out.
GOAL! Sillitoe on the set-piece as Bowers & Pitsea load players into the box, is a fantastic delivery whipped in towards the fair post attacked well, Sarah Wilson at the back stick amongst those running in gets her head to the ball powering it past the keeper into the back of the net to score her 1st goal of the season 0-1.
Tally Miles defending well at left back for Royston carrying the ball out from the back plays a one two with Georgia Miller in the middle before taking the ball on up the line sending a early ball into the box looking for Slater, Violet Hickman out of her six yard box early coming to claim the ball. Play a little stretched at times Bowers & Pitsea quick to get on the counter attack the ball won by Rhodes out to Bruton breaking away down the right drawing players to her Gough finds herself outnumbered in the box as the cross is fired in Georgia Fraser can’t reach it central in bounces through to Moore beyond the far post clips her half volley over the bar from 10 yards out.
Bowers & Pitsea have started the game well getting on the front foot, Royston haven’t really settled the Essex side using Moore and Bruton well on the flanks. Rhodes busy in the middle of the park breaking up play. South turning on the ball sweeping a pass out wide right to the advancing Charter crosses early the ball taking a deflection favouring the goalkeeper. Edgar battling for possession in the middle for Royston lays it into Miller who flicks it out to the right for South, attempts to thread it through for Slater, too much on it Hickman can come and gather. A vicious bounce on the ball inside the box as Moore attacks on the left for Bowers & Pitsea sides Mia O’Brien coming to close the angle deceived the ball looping over her turns relieved to see it run wide of her far post.
Royston are getting frustrated some decisions going against them, Rhodes mopping up in the middle once again for Bowers & Pitsea rolls the ball back to her defence who are straight away looking to get their wide players on the attack. A throw inside the Royston half on the right for Bowers & Pitsea inside for Rhodes turns and puts a great diagonal ball in behind the defence for Georgia Fraser to attack, O’Brien sharp off her line to slide in and save at the attackers feet.
GOAL! Midway through the first half and Royston come back to level the scores the ball played out of the back quickly to Charter on the left wing breaks forward well laying it inside for Slater to take on into the area, Hickman rushing out to close her down, saves well at close range blocking Slaters attempt the ball still alive in the area, Simmons racing in on the follow-up first to it strikes the ball Hickman on the floor throwing herself at it making another save the ball though dropping straight back to Simmons who keeps her composure to lift her 2nd attempt over the stranded keeper into the back of the net beyond 1-1.
Royston get straight back on the offensive after the restart attacking right, Keys winning it back for Bowers & Pitsea into the middle play turned around rapidly Moore away on the left Georgia Fraser breaking central as the winger gets to the by-line turning to flash a rising cross in near post Fraser meeting it on the volley around six yards out clipping her attempt over the bar. Neither side looking to dwell on the ball wanting to move it forwards quickly Royston finding Charter on the move left side has support from South inside she turns playing the ball along the top of their opponents area for Edgar on the right who sends it up the line for Gough making the overlapping run, Natalie Strange stepping in to win the challenge for Bowers & Pitsea.
Whitehead getting up the pitch with Bruton right side a dangerous cross whipped in near post Georgia Fraser throwing herself at it can’t quite make contact. The game opens up suddenly one moment Bowers & Pitsea are on the attack with Moore on the left, O’Brien holding onto the ball put into the box is played out rapidly to Charter on the left, Slater providing a good left channel run seeing the ball rolled into her path strikes it on the angle Hickman down low saving well the ball loose though Simmons in on the follow up sees her strike blocked by the keeper this time the Bowers & Pitsea defence getting back to block another goal attempt.
Key fouls South out wide left a free-kick to the hosts, Edgar on it plays an inviting ball in long to the far post, Sillitoe doing well defensively for Bowers & Pitsea the ball carried out of the area by Rhodes the counter attack is on as the midfielder spreads play long to the left for Moore breaking away down the wing sending it through for Georgia Fraser, O’Brien quick off her line to the edge of the area to slide in and smother the ball.
Bruton gets herself into a central position taking the ball on travelling at pace looks to plough her way through the Royston defence, Laughlin holding her up, the ball rolls back to Rhodes closing in with Bruton, Cooper though stepping in quickly to charge the ball down as Rhodes goes to shoot. Bruton causing problems for Royston is central still attempting a through ball right to left for Georgia Fraser to run onto, O’Brien sharp out quickly to meet her once again.
Wilson in the middle for Bowers & Pitsea threading the ball through to Bruton inside the D, Cooper getting in a foot to stab the ball away for a throw on the right. Key playing a long diagonal ball out to Moore advancing on the right, an ambitious attempt striking the falling ball on the volley connects with it well enough the strike though whistling over the bar. Bruton on the right wrestles the ball off Gough at the back sends it inside for Georgia Fraser some 30 yards out a scuffed effort doesn’t trouble O’Brien running wide of her near post.
Royston with a throw high on the left Laughlin into South puts it infield for Slater 25 yards out lays it back for Edgar to lift into the box to the right looking for Simmons who can’t quite get it down with her head to direct a shot on target. Royston attacking late in the first half on the left inside for Slater who lays it back central for Miller 25 yards out. leaning back into her shot puts it up over the crossbar. Whitehead bringing the ball on for Bowers & Pitsea right side crossing for Georgia Fraser central, Miles in ahead of her to head the ball clear for Royston.
Half-time Royston Town Women 1-1 Bowers & Pitsea Ladies
A lively first half that has seen plenty of action certainly has a cup tie feel about it. Bowers & Pitsea starting the game well going on to open the scoring inside 10 minutes. Were on the front foot early on whilst Royston seemed to take a while to settle were frustrated at times as thing’s didn’t appear to go their way. The visitors using the width of the pitch quick to get attacks going. Royston coming back to level the scores though settling better the game open at times as both looked to get on quickly the hosts coming closest to having the lead, as it stands it remains all square with both sides creating opportunities. Has to be settled on the day either with a goal through open play or penalties.
A change for Bowers & Pitsea at the start of the 2nd half with Courtney Fraser coming on for Katie Whitehead. The sun making a appearance at the start of the 2nd half low in the sky a potential problem for the team defending that end, Bowers & Pitsea goalkeeper, Hickman donning a cap as the players return to the pitch. Royston to get the 2nd period underway. The visitors getting hold of the ball with Strange at left back able to travel forwards into space on for Moore, is tackled by Cooper play quickly turned around put into the middle with Simmons on the turn putting it over the top for Slater, Hickman needs to come racing out of her box, just about wins the race getting her foot on the ball before Slater can nick it past her.
South with the ball on the left passes inside to Edgar who in turn places it central for Miller to line up a low strike from 25 yards out angling in low Hickman dives to her left to make the save inside her six yard box turning the ball behind for a corner kick. Royston looking to get on the offensive early on in the 2nd half a throw left inside for South battles her way infield to pick out Miller top of the D she lays it back to Edgar who hits the shot 1st time blasting the ball wide of the right post. A double change for Royston with Miller and Laughlin coming off, on come Ellie Pickard and Paris Coldicott-Stevens who recently celebrated making her 100th appearance for the club.
Simmons in on the ball right of the box as Edgar wins it high up the pitch, whips in a strike on the angle always rising goes over the bar. South tussling for the ball does well to win a corner on the right for Royston following good work from Charter up the wing. In low towards the near post Wilson defends well for Bowers & Pitsea. Regained on the left by Charter players turning back towards goal as she whips a cross into the area Cooper up trying to get her head on the ball knocks it down, too close to Hickman who can snatch it to safety.
Royston with all the pressure in the 2nd half, Bowers & Pitsea pushed back, the ball put in from the left Simmons central gets a strike away defended comes out to the right another strike blazed in Hickman with a spectacular diving catch at her near post. Bowers & Pitsea finding themselves on the back foot at the start of the 2nd half. The trainer on as both Moore and Rhodes are down.
Both up on their feet play resuming Wilson putting it out to the right Bruton racing forwards getting in behind fires in a shot on the angle driven in low races across the six yard box Moore closing in far side can’t get there as it runs out of play. Royston make another change bringing on Hattie Bourne for Gough. Rhodes central up to Bruton right of the D 20 yards out Georgia Fraser close to her, Miles in between both seeing the ball safely back to her keeper. Refereeing decisions still causing Royston some frustration as they feel they are not getting the rub of the green.
Bowers & Pitsea with a free-kick on halfway to the right of the centre circle. Sillitoe to play it up into the area Royston head it away drops to Rhodes outside the D her shot is charged down runs back to Georgia Fraser central leaning back into her shot sends a curling effort narrowly wide of the top corner. Rhodes last action of the game as she is replaced by Sophie Dowman.
A busy few moments for Key in the Bowers & Pitsea defence as first she sees the ball back to her keeper as Slater gets on her bike in the middle. Then the defender makes a double block as both Slater and Simmons have a go from outside the box. With Royston getting players forwards much better in the 2nd period Moore is called into action at the back tracking back well to slide in and take the ball away from Charter as she gets past Strange.
Edgar plays a superb pass out to Charter getting clear on the right taking a run at the box Sillitoe gets across to put in the blocking tackle as she goes to unleash a shot. The ball running behind for a corner. A great delivery flashed in low to the top of the six yard box near side, Edgar digging out a goal bound effort, defended on the post by Wilson. Royston are quick to reclaim the ball out on the right Charter’s cross flying harmlessly through the six yard box as the game moves into the final 15 minutes.
Royston a pressing hard for a goal coming trough the middle Coldicott-Stevens then Edgar lifting an inviting ball in towards the top of the back on both occasions Sillitoe winning a vital header at the back for Bowers & Pitsea. The visitors away on the right Bruton with pace after the ball, O’Brien out to the top of her area sliding in to clear the ball out for a throw. Up on the right Bowers & Pitsea work the ball in central top of the area, a hand ball is spotted the referee pointing to the spot!
GOAL! Royston disputing the decision arguing the infringement was outside the box the decision stands however. A penalty for Bowers & Pitsea, up comes the captain to place the ball on the spot a chance to fire her team into the lead with a little over 10 minutes to play, running up makes no mistake wrong footing the keeper to place the ball high to her left to score 1-2.
A blow for Royston go straight on the attack from the restart, Slater bursting on winning a corner that frustratingly comes to nothing. Charter is causing problems on the right for Royston however Moore is tracking back with her constantly to slide in and defend putting the ball out for another corner. Comes in near side Miles getting something on it knocking it down into the middle, Amey fouled as she goes to defend Bowers & Pitsea with the free-kick.
Space opening up at the back for Bowers & Pitsea as Royston commit players forwards looking to get back on level terms Bruton away right firing in a cross/shot claimed by O’Brien. Simmons chases out to the right to nick the ball back of a defender turns back to attack the box flashing in a cross along the penalty spot picking out Slater falling back into the shot, sees her strike run wide of the right post. Cooper carries the ball out from the back for Royston before playing it on down the right for Simmons to the by-line her cross is plucked down confidently by Hickman.
Royston piling forwards late in the game South battling to win possession right on for Charter who lifts a cross in to the far post attacked well by Edgar the ball seeming to take a deflection as it drops wide of goal, Edgar furious a corner isn’t awarded recieves a yellow card. Less than 4 minutes plus stoppage time left for Royston to find a goal. Bowers & Pitsea defending for their lives at times can’t get the ball to stick up top, Charter and South combining on the right before the cross is played into the top of the area Slater getting her head on the ball turns it over the crossbar.
A hand ball decision favours Royston this time out on the left a free-kick awarded 35 yards out a high ball played into the area is dangerous threatening to dip under Hickman’s bar, gloves up to claim it on her line as players close in the keeper falls to the ground keeping hold of it as Royston’s attack trying to get the ball over the line, the whistle blowing Royston claim the goalkeeper carried the ball over the line are dismayed when after consulting with the linesman the original decision that the goalkeeper was fouled stands.
Into stoppage time Royston winning a corner send everyone up the delivery in to the far post hooked clear by the visiting defence, a strike from distance rattles back in wide of the left post. One last attack on the left for Royston, Coldicott-Stevens on for Miles breaking forwards, Courtney Fraser can get across her to guide the ball out safely for a goalkick.
Full time Royston Town Women 1-2 Bowers & Pitsea Ladies
The final whistle blows and it’s Bowers & Pitsea who celebrate as they win 2-1 to advance in the competition. Certainly had to put in a defensive shift 2nd half to keep Royston at bay. Scoring the all important goal with 10 minutes left to play. A proper cup tie Bowers & Pitsea getting off to a good start on the front foot early whilst Royston didn’t seem to settle find their rhythm the visitors taking the lead inside 10 minutes, Royston battling back to level midway through the first half both having chances to lead at the break. A different story 2nd half arguably Royston were the better side getting on the front foot straight away putting the Bowers & Pitsea defence under pressure. The Essex side stood firm however having few opportunities up the other end but when they had one they took it to get their noses in front and held on to claim the win. Royston will no doubt be hurting after that result a game they themselves might well have won just wasn’t to be their day decisions going against them adding to their frustrations. Bowers & Pitsea though advance in the cup and will be hoping for a home draw in the 3rd Qualifying Round scheduled to be played Sun 24th October.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match, thought this was going to be a tough one but the notes I’ve taken present a clear winner. A few performances of note to mention first. For Royston, Becky Charter carried a strong threat on the both flanks throughout the game getting forwards and linking up with the attackers. Charlotte South got about the pitch battling for possession well, along with Sammy Edgar who put in a committed performance in the middle of the park. For Bowers & Pitsea, Talisa Bruton and Holly Moore caused plenty of problems on the wings whilst Sophie Rhodes was excellent in the middle especially 1st half. The award today though goes to Bowers & Pitsea’s captain Danielle Sillitoe a strong performance in the heart of the defence winning numerous balls, setting up the 1st goal and scoring the winning penalty.
An enjoyable trip to Hertfordshire today, an entertaining cup tie, could well have gone either way and shows what the ERWFL is all about even if this was a cup tie. My thanks to both clubs for their help with the team line-ups today as always much appreciated.
by Darren Gilham