Sunday 13th March
ERWFL League Plate
A trip down into Suffolk this afternoon to watch a match from the quarter Finals of the ERWFL Plate with East Bergholt United Ladies taking on Whittlesey Athletic Ladies for a place in the last 4 of the competition.
The ERWFL Plate contested between the Division One, North and South sides within the regional set-up taking place after rounds one and two of the League Cup have been completed.
Haven’t seen East Bergholt United Ladies in a while, not since joining the ERWFL in fact back in 2019. Prior to that enjoyed a couple of very successive seasons in the Suffolk Women’s County League, back to back league and cup doubles in 2017/18 and 2018/19. A strong youth set-up within the club it was a natural progression to take the women’s side up into the regional setup test themselves at a higher level. Of course we know what happened next 2 null and void seasons heavily affecting development throughout the pyramid. 2021/22 being much more settled and likely to go the distance now with some finals to look forwards too.
East Bergholt United Ladies put into a strong Division One South this season with 9 sides completing have struggled for results 4 straight defeats to start the season, before recording victories over Billericay Town Ladies Development and Wodson Park Ladies. Another lean spell over Christmas however 4 points won in their previous two matches have moved East Bergholt clear of the bottom two giving them some momentum coming into today’s cup fixture. Elena Nitsche their top scorer with 13 so far from 9 played. Received a bye into the quarter finals.
Taking my first look at Whittlesey Athletic Ladies. Newcomers to the ERWFL having joined with the intake of new sides this season after the promotion pool was widened to allow more clubs to enter regional football. A new side altogether making their debut the season before in the Cambridgeshire Women’s Premiership, having formerly been ICA Sports Ladies U18s side. A strong start to the season one of the few league to complete it’s fixtures after the various lockdowns finished in 6th position. Close to Peterborough, the club joining the ERWFL Division One North featuring 7 sides. Opening the season with a 3-3 draw with eventual champions Needham Market Women. Have been involved in a tight contest for the mid-table spots throughout recent results seeing them slip to 2nd bottom with 2 matches will be look to gain a place or two.
Involved the 2 more cup competitions have semi final in the Cambridgeshire Women’s Junior Invitation Cup to look forwards too next weekend. In the ERWFL League Plate progressed to the quarter finals with a 2-0 away victory over Division One South side Wodson Park Ladies, with goals from Chelsea Burr and Holley Ross. Burr and fellow striker Annie Posnett scoring the bulk of Whittlesey’s goal this season with 28 between them, Burr scoring 13 from 12 played whilst Posnett has 15 goals from 11 appearances.
East Bergholt Sports Ground the venue for today’s match, the sports ground accommodating, bowls, cricket, football and tennis. Home of East Bergholt United FC’s adult and youth sides. The pavilion/clubhouse overlooking the grassed sports pitches. Well used today’s playing pitch offering good width, a strong breeze blowing across the ground with unfortunately rain forecast. Set-up with my back to it hoping the wind would calm enough for the umbrella to go up and I could perform my usual juggling act between that the camera and notepad.
East Bergholt United Ladies starting XI – Zoe Adams, Jess Clarke, Katie Bruce, Deban Howlett (C), Jell Gill, Millie Wilding, Megan Partridge, Stacey Desborough, Kira Wealls, Jess Quinsee & Vic Hall. Sub – Shannon Cameron.
Whittlesey Athletic Ladies starting XI – Danni King, Brooke Harley, Lauren Mapleston, Lauren Fort, Sophie Ellen, Maddison Moore, Hannah Murphy (C), Holley Ross, Hannah Johnson, Aliyah Palmer & Chelsea Burr. Subs – Megan Mapleston & Grace Spencer.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
Both Elena Nitsche and Annie Posnett missing for both sides this afternoon, East Bergholt naming just the one substitute. Whittlesey with 2 on the bench and a change of keeper following the sending off of regular keeper, Milena Vygovskaja last time out serving a one game ban in between the sticks for today’s game is outfield player Danni King. The rain beginning to fall steadily a kick-off approaches the wind dying somewhat. East Bergholt to kick-off the first half wearing green shirts with black trim, black shorts and socks with Whittlesey lined up opposite wearing blue and black vertical striped shirts, blue shorts and socks. The ball played back to captain Deban Howlett on central defence she sprays the ball out to the right looking for Kira Wealls, Holley Ross tackling for Whittlesey her pass sent long out to Aliyah Palmer over on the right in attack, Jess Clarke forcing her wide for East Bergholt the full back seeing the ball out for a throw in.
Both sides looking to get the ball out into the wide areas early on Clarke in again to deny Palmer as she looks to take the ball on down the right, East Bergholt playing the ball crossfield into Wealls, Lauren Mapleston at left back in to close her down for Whittlesey. With players drawn to the right, Mapleston has space to run into as the ball pops free out to her travels with it before Chelsea Burr up top provides the passing option drifting out into the left channel taking the ball on to the by-line whips a cross looping into the six yard box, East Bergholt keeper, Zoe Adams able to claim it unopposed.
Howlett with a timely interception at the back, needed as Ross nips in to steal the ball centrally lifts it forwards for Palmer. A free-kick for East Bergholt in the middle played out to Clarke on the left powers on before laying it into the path of Jess Quinsee the attacker taking the ball down the left wing, whipping a cross into the six yard box caught cleanly by King in the Whittlesey goal. Whittlesey captain Hannah Murphy in to win the ball in the middle, linking with Ross the ball played forwards bouncing in front of Howlett a tricky one for the defender to deal with, with Burr chasing, experienced though composure to play the ball and clear.
Burr looking to take on the East Bergholt defence as play is turned around in the middle Palmer racing on with it right channel Burr moving to that side the ball rolled into her path lets fly from outside the box, her shot racing wide of the right post. East Bergholt attack on the right Wealls winning a throw high up the pitch, Vic Hall coming to head the ball on central top of the D into Quinsee she is upended the hosts awarded a free-kick. Quinsee over the ball 20 yards out right of the goal, the shot bouncing up in front of the keeper, King adjusting well to knock it away to her right allowing her defence to clear.
East Bergholt gaining some momentum in attack, Whittlesey switching off a little presenting the ball back to the hosts as they press the advantage out on the right the ball fired in central, Stacey Desborough playing it out to the left, Clarke advancing striking from distance her effort wide across goal. Playing 3 up front East Bergholt are looking for Wealls and Quinsee to provide width left and right, keeping Whittlesey’s full backs penned back. Desborough finds herself free on the right looking to drive forwards, Ross gets back on her to defend for Whittlesey the ball not cleared as Hall and Millie Wilding regain possession 25 yards out the shot from distance struck wide of the far post.
Clarke over on the left with a set-piece players up into the area for East Bergholt the ball floated in central, Howlett twisting as she heads the ball down towards goal, King right behind it able to collect on the bounce without challenge. East Bergholt pushing hard Megan Partridge on the ball central forwards for Quinsee her touch left taking her into the area on the angle wraps her foot around the ball a rising shot powerful smashes down off the cross bar bouncing before Quinsee as King comes to close stoops to head the ball from close range places it wide of the near post.
Up the other end Burr is working hard agianst the East Bergholt defence but is often forced wide, players not getting close to support. Desborough plays the ball out to Hall on the right going on her cross is lifted into towards the top of the area, defended by Whittlesey’s Lauren Fort, half hearted appeals for handball from East Bergholt but play continues. Ross with a strong tackle in the middle gets the ball out to Burr peeling left her crossed ball dropping for Palmer to drive at the East Bergholt box, she is denied by Jess Gill’s well timed tackle at the back.
A double save of sorts from King in the Whittlesey goal as East Bergholt running on with the ball through the middle let fly with a strike from distance angling in King leaps but can’t get there the ball though smashing against the crossbar for a 2nd time for the hosts dropping down hitting King on her backside as she lands pushing it out to the right, King quickly to her feet as Wealls comes surging in to smash the lose ball goalwards from six yards out on the angle, King saving with her gloves palming the ball away.
Whittlesey definitely on the back foot errors at the back giving the ball back to East Bergholt the hosts buoyed as they press forwards, risk getting hit on the counter with Ross winning it back centrally putting it through for Burr taking on the strike on the right 20 yards out putting the ball over Adams crossbar. Ross and Murphy battling for the ball in the middle, Ross right on for Burr, Adams is quickly off her line out to the top of her area to deal with the threat for East Bergholt.
Palmer taking the ball on down the right side for Whittlesey 20 yards out cutting the pass inside for Burr, a cleaver back heel to wrong foot her marker turning into the shot her attempt straight at the keeper a straight forward save for Adams. The rain has stopped the umbrella abandoned which is just aswell as this is a thoroughly enthralling contest. Palmer twisting away right side on the ball squares it inside for Burr, Katie Bruce moving in to support Howlett, the Whittlesey striker finding no way through.
Partridge putting the pass out to Wealls racing clear on the right in behind taking the ball down the line whips a fantastic ball in across the six yard box, Quinsee flying in with an outstretched leg at the far post can’t quite reach it to turn it home. A great touch at the back from Whittlesey defender Sophie Ellen to control and clear inside her box as Howlett up the opposite end plays a dangerous ball forwards as she clears the ball.
Palmer on the right playing the ball over to Murphy in space on the left sends it forwards for Burr the striker taking the ball into the corner keeping possession well before digging out a looping cross into the box. Caught by Adams. Hall sends the ball out to Bruce on the right as she bombs forwards sending a high ball into the area looking for Wealls, too close to King though the keeper able to claim the ball. Bruce is replaced then as East Bergholt make there first change bringing on Shannon Cameron a straight swap at right back.
Whittlesey much more composed now taking the game to East Bergholt defending a high line Ellen chests the ball down on halfway then plays it on for Burr peeling away into the left channel on into the area striking the shot on the angle over the bar. Play back and forth, East Bergholt finding Hall over on the right in the corner holds the ball up then turns to deliver a cross into the box, turned goalwards straight into King’s gloves however. Murphy in to win the ball centrally strong moves to the right on for Palmer goes on before firing an angled shot in along the ground held by Adams down at her near post.
East Bergholt winning the ball back on the left spray it diagonally forwards with Wealls clear of her marker right of the D. waiting for the ball to come across her to strike it takes a wicked bobble before her seeing Wealls catch it with the underside of her boot scuffing her shot harmlessly wide. A pause in play with Wilding having taken a knock for East Bergholt, okay after treatment Whittlesey make a change bringing Megan Mapleston on for Harley, Hannah Johnson moving to right back.
GOAL! The deadlock is broken late in the first half, Whittlesey with possession in the 41st minute a good triangle between Lauren Mapleston, Ross and Murphy on the left Murphy feeding the ball on for Burr pulling free on the left drives forwards players bomb on in support. Taking the ball on Burr whips an angled shot in towards goal, dipping Adams gets up well to get a glove on the ball turn it down away to her left, unfortunate as Clarke goes to clear it she slips, Murphy arriving has the composure to get her foot up over the ball lift it over the defender and into the goal beyond 0-1.
East Bergholt press the ball from the restart Wilding with Partridge on for Quinsee, Fort into defend for Whittlesey. The visitors break on the right Palmer racing forwards with the ball releasing an early strike angled in low, Adams down smartly with a fingertip save to deflect the ball wide of her far post. A corner on the left set in across the six yard box met by Palmer turned low towards goal, Adams saving back on her line.
Wealls and Quinsee switching flanks late in the first half the later over on the right now looking to take the ball on down the line tackled by Lauren Mapleston for a throw in the corner. East Bergholt work in a dangerous cross from the throw in near side spilt by King, Johnson able to scramble it to safety at the far post. The game moving into stoppage time at the end of the 1st half Ros putting the ball out to Burr moving left, Cameron defending well for East Bergholt. Burr strong on the ball checks inside from the left firing a ball across the top of the East Bergholt area Ross closing in right of the D, a vital interception from Gill to stop her stealing through on goal.
Half-time East Bergholt United Ladies 0-1 Whittlesey Athletic Ladies
An entertaining first half draws to a close with Whittlesey Athletic Ladies holding a narrow 1-0 lead over east Bergholt United Ladies. Could have easily been the other way around with East Bergholt carving out a number of good opportunities in attack striking the crossbar twice. Playing three up top taking the game to Whittlesey the visitors switching off putting themselves under pressure still a threat on the counter attack, Burr working hard up top if lacking support at times. Whittlesey held out however and finding some good passages of play created chances to going on to take the lead late in the first half. The game still very much open as the teams emerge from the changing rooms hoping the rain will stay away for the 2nd half, extra-time and penalties if required.
No changes for Whittlesey. East Bergholt making a switch, Bruce back on in the middle for Hall with Desborough moving forwards to join Wealls and Quinsee in attack. Whittlesey to get the 2nd half underway. The ball out to the right won by Quinsee for East Bergholt, back to Clarke she attempts to play the ball over the top, Whittlesey recovering in defence to clear the ball. Cameron right side bringing the ball forwards playing it inside for Desborough outside the area right of the D, Ellen in to close her down defending for Whittlesey.
The hosts looking to take the game to Whittlesey straight from the off Wilding winning it centrally with Bruce on for Desborough again closely watched by Ellen. Burr still leading the attack for the visitors, closely monitored by Gill on halfway stopping her getting in behind. Palmer over on the left twists inside travelling towards the box, Howlett stepping out to challenge winning the tackle. Murphy busy in the centre battling for possession for Whittlesey finds Burr on halfway lays it on for Ross getting forwards with Palmer on the left, taking the ball on Cameron comes to close her down well for East Bergholt.
East Bergholt are intent on pushing players on pressing Whittlesey on the ball inside their own half. Wealls on for Desborough shifting right her cross in not collected by King dropping loose inside the six yard box is scrambled away to safety. Quinsee on the left receiving the ball steals on into the area after the ball, Ellen getting across in the nick of time to slide in take the ball. Murphy in strong to regain possession support from Moore, then Ross out to Burr left of the area her cross back along the 18 yard line, cleared by Clarke with Palmer stretching for it.
Ross comes off then as Whittlesey make a change looking to match East Bergholt with 3 up top, Grace Spencer on to join Palmer and Burr off comes Ross. Quinsee with the through ball to set Desborough away, just too much on it allowing King to claim it first. Whittlesey unsettled making mistakes as East Bergholt press. The hosts push on the right Wealls in her cut back to the top of the area missed before Partridge plays Desborough through on goal right side in the box, King coming sliding in the ball there to be won Desborough goes to ground sliding in catching King as she sees the ball into her midriff. The King down a pause on play as she recieves treatment. Looks to be a leg injury is up gingerly is okay to continue as Ross returns to the action for the visitors replacing Moore.
Howlett winning the ball at the back for East Bergholt her clearance finding Wealls out on the right takes the ball on down the flank whipping a good ball in near post, Desborough running in twists to try and connect her header, is taken well by King nonetheless. Clarke able to travel with the ball on the left for East Bergholt lifted on for Quinsee powers forwards to the by-line before lifting a cross into the near post Fort getting there before Desborough. Midway through the 2nd half and East Bergholt are knocking on the door as they search for an equaliser, Whittlesey’s defence standing firm.
East Bergholt keep coming forwards, Clarke left inside for Wilding onto Bruce played out to Partridge right she shot from 25 yards out charged down by Ellen. Wilding with a shot from distance 30 yards plus, King with a faint touch taking it wide a corner on the right. Played in near side defended by Ross out for a 2nd corner. The 2nd delivery angled in near post Gill attacking it putting the ball wide for a goal kick.
Wealls on the right with an angled shot driven in low from 25 yards out collected safely by King at her near post. East Bergholt on top piling forwards at will Whittlesey battling hard at the back unable to get any meaningful possession up top. Spencer moving out to the left to receive a pass from Murphy is tackled by Cameron at the back for East Bergholt. The visitors could do with another goal to take the pressure off Burr continuing to cause problems in attack getting hold of the ball from a throw in on the right outside the D unleashing a low strike put straight at Adams back on her line.
Partridge playing the ball on for Desborough going left for East Bergholt taking the ball on to the by line lifts a cross into the box, no one attacking it as King catches the ball high. Palmer comes off for Whittlesey with Moore coming back on. Partridge brought down outside the box right side a free-kick won. The shot sent over the bar. East Bergholt are getting crosses into the Whittlesey box but all too often no one is there to attack them the perfect cross coming in from the right is put on a plate in front of goal six yards out but frustratingly the opportunity goes begging the ball missed.
East Bergholt keep coming, King with a magnificent double save to keep Whittlesey’s lead intact as Clarke free on the left comes on with the ball angling a dipping shot in towards the top corner King get up stretching to push the ball away to her left dropping beyond the far post the ball attacked blasted back in the keeper reacts to blocking to save the shot at close range!
The game moving into the final 5 minutes has been all East Bergholt 2nd half but still no way through Whittlesey fighting to retain their advantage. The sun even trying to make an appearance late in the afternoon, as East Bergholt win a throw high up the pitch, Gill up to take a long one on for Desborough who has caused the Whittlesey defence a few issues, not this time as Johnson tackles to take the ball away from her.
Pushing up the break still remains a threat as Whittlesey clear up to Ross central on for Burr in the middle, Cameron holding her up well forcing her wide as numbers get back to defend. Burr doing well however to win a free-kick out wide. Players come forwards, Ellen no able to get it under control before Clarke nips in to clear to the right. Murphy after the ball sends her cross/shot onto the roof of the net. Whittlesey are a very young side and they don’t as a rule run the ball into the corner to run down the clock. Burr clipping in a shot from the left saved by Adams as Ross snatches it back in the middle.
Into a very nervy stoppage time, East Bergholt doing all they can to win it going to 3 at the back late on with Gill pushed up into attack. Whittlesey have everyone back to defending no gaps to exploit Fort charging the ball down as it is played in across the top of the area before it is scrambled away to the right. The final whistle blows and Whittlesey win an enthralling cup tie by a single goal to move into the semi-finals of the ERWFL League Plate.
Full time East Bergholt United Ladies 0-1 Whittlesey Athletic Ladies
A thoroughly entertaining game in the finish won by Hannah Murphy’s goal scored late in the 1st half for Whittlesey. The visitors with a long trip home having another semi-final contest to look forwards too. Were made to work hard for the victory by the hosts as East Bergholt dominated the attacking play 2nd half taking the game to there opponents could find no way through however with Danni King pulling off a fantastic double save late on. A find effort from East Bergholt nonetheless who should be heartened by the number of chances they created if bitterly disappointed to come away with a defeat. Whittlesey had to battle to keep their clean sheet intact and were in need of a 2nd goal just couldn’t get enough of the ball in the final 3rd to get their attackers into the game. A great contest especially for the neutral.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this afternoon Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. A number of performances of note to mention first. Starting with East Bergholt, Stacey Desborough good in midfield 1st half, posed a great many problems for the Whittlesey defence joining the attack 2nd half. Out on the flanks both Jess Quinsee and Kira Wealls make some great attacking runs and created a chances both on another day would have been celebrating a goal. For Whittlesey, Hannah Murphy put in a number of good tackles in midfield winning possession and looking to set attacks going scoring the winning goal. Along side her Holley Ross had a solid game challenging for the ball and taking it forwards to try and link with the attack. Chelsea Burr working hard up top alone at times moving across the East Bergholt defence to find openings. Today’s award though goes to goalkeeper, Danni King. May not be her natural position but she was superb pulling off a number of brilliant saves to ensure her side kept a clean sheet to progress to the last 4.
A thoroughly entertaining cup tie, great to catch up with East Bergholt 1st time seeing them at home too a fine effort just missing out. My first look at Whittlesey Athletic, a long journey home so much better after a win, had to work for it but rose to the occasion. My thanks to both sides for the team details as always much appreciated.
by Darren Gilham