Sunday 12th February
Norfolk Women’s Division Two
The attention this Sunday turns to the title race in Norfolk Women’s Division Two as two of the main contenders meet at Youngs Park, 2nd placed KLSC FC Women taking on newly formed Aylsham FC Women in 5th.
Alot of games still to be played in the 12 strong league as we approach the middle of February. With the top six sides all well positioned to mount a title challenge. Blofield United Ladies stepping up into woman’s football this season currently on top by 3 points having won 8 of their 10 league games played to date. KLSC FC Women long time leaders dropping back to 2nd with Mulbarton Belles Ladies Development and Thorpe St Andrew Women 3rd and 4th respectfully. Aylsham the only side with a 100% winning rate in 5th having played just 6 of their expected 22 league matches. Gorleston GC Ladies in sixth have games in and too and will be involved in the battle for the title and promotion.
Aylsham FC Women newly formed this season headed up by former Norwich City Women coach, Steve Kenny. Is the 3rd incantation of a women’s side in Aylsham since I began Women’s Football East. Adams bringing with him a few ex-Norwich City Women Reserves players adding experienced players such as Charlotte Crane and Sophie-Jayne O’Connor from Stalham Town Ladies build a decent looking squad. Aylsham FC itself always a club with a strong youth set-up keen to have a women’s team and with Youngs Park providing a great community based set-up the facilities are in place to help the woman’s side grow. Certainly get the sense of a team that is very much together and wanting to grow and succeed.
One of the favourites before a ball was even kicked Division Two has certainly proved it will be no walk over for anyone with other sides emerging as a force to content with. Aylsham have played just 6 league games to date which is going to make for a busy end to the season. Have won all 6 of those games scoring 50 goals along the way and conceding just 1 goal. Of those 6 games though have yet to face a top 6 side due to a combination of postponements and cup competitions seeing fixtures moved. Today their first real test against a top side. Hannah Claughton showing great form in front of goal top scoring with 16 goals from 9 appearances. Sophie Lubbock dual signed with Fakenham Town Ladies has 13 goals from just 4 appearances with captain Jordan Arnoup bagging a double hat-trick last time out to move into 3rd position in the goal scoring charts with 9.
KLSC FC Women (King’s Lynn Soccer Club) as I mentioned were the early pacesetters getting games in where others didn’t winning all 7 of their opening league matches to sit top of the Division Two table. A 3-3 draw with a resurgent Thorpe St Andrew Women at the start of 2023 seeing them drop their first points of the season but as yet are unbeaten. Blofield United taking over top spot while KLSC FC Women were in action in the 3rd Round of the Norfolk Women’s County Cup a 4-3 win over Division One side Stalham Town Ladies seeing them into the last 8 of the competition.
Josie Turner has been prolific in front of goal for KLSC FC Women since their formation in 2021 providing King’s Lynn with a much needed 2nd women’s football side. Finishing 3rd in their debut season behind Caister FC Ladies and UEA FC Women, Turner netted 21 goals to finish well clear as top scorer. This season Turner is already at 21 goals from just 9 appearances. Today’s trip to Aylsham the 1st of a trio of vital games, 2 against a fellow title contenders with a county cup quarter final against Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers FC Women in between an away trip Blofield United on the 26th of Feb.
Youngs Park the venue for today’s game, hosted last season’s NWGFL finals day last season a community sports ground with the main pitch beside a newly built clubhouse and changing rooms surrounded by numerous grass pitches. The kitchen hatch open serving hot drinks. A decidedly dull and overcast day, grey clouds all around no sun at all no rain forecast very still all in all pretty miserable weather wise.
Aylsham FC Women starting XI – Hannah Lock, Ellie Cleaver, Abbie Butcher, Jordan Arnoup (C), Charlotte Crane, Michaela Brown, Rhiannon Dack, Carly Allum, Georgina Bobbin, Hannah Claughton & Sophie-Jayne O’Connor. Subs – Chelsea Crowley & Flo Simpkin.
KLSC FC Women starting XI – Bryony Russell-Smith, Chloe Birch-Bailey, Chloe Moulton, Viktoria Burkauskaite (C), Caitlin Jacob, Taeya Miles, Kesley Ramm, Chloe Edwards, Leeanne Smith & Josie Turner. Subs – Lucy Clarke & Millie Bareford.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
Both sides naming 2 on the bench it’s the hosts Aylsham to get the first half underway wearing orange coloured shirts with blue short and orange socks with KLSC lined up opposite wearing blue and black vertical striped shirts with blue shorts and socks. The ball rolled back to captain Jordan Arnoup in defence sprays the pass out to the right for Rhiannon Dack, defended by KLSC’s Caitlin Jacob the visitors straight on the counter, Chloe Edwards on the left shifting inside to beat her marker racing forwards tackled by Aylsham centre back, Charlotte Crane.
KLSC win possession on the centre of the park the ball put forwards into Josie Turner sends the pass out to the right for Trinity Tokaji cutting back inside top of the area rolls the ball inside for Turner who lets it run across her body preparing to line up a strike inside the D the shot charged down by Aylsham’s Georgina Bobbin.
Aylsham attack through the middle, Carly Allum with Bobbin forwards into attacker Sophie-Jayne O’Conner held up top of the area, lays it back for Bobbin spinning in behind to receive the return pass right of goal struck on the angle racing wide of the near post. Turner is bundled over winning KLSC a free-kick central 35 yards out. Players up into the box with Turner over the ball, struck well towards goal skipping up in front of goalkeeper Hannah Lock knocks the ball down, doesn’t quite have possession as KLSC’s Leeanne Smith comes chasing in the pair colliding, the resulting free-kick favouring the goalkeeper. Lock down for a moment assessed but okay to continue.
A good sized pitch both sides looking to get the ball out to their wide players, Allum sliding in to tackle Tokaji as she prepares to break on the right for KLSC. No one settling on the ball both sides looking to get it forwards with haste both defences get players out to intercept the ball. Hannah Claughton bursting forwards wide left for Aylsham tackled by KLSC captain, Viktoria Burkauskaite halting Claughton’s momentum, she stays on her feet to dart inside take the ball on feeding a good ball across the six yard box, no one gambling however. Allum with a powerful drive from midfield going left with Claughton is tackled by Burkauskaite.
Edwards on the left for KLSC doing well on the ball to get in behind wraps her foot around the ball her cross deflected square into the path of her teammate Kesley Ramm 30 yards out her snap shot wide of the right post. Turner pressuring the defence outside the box to the right of the goal inside lifts a looping ball into the near post bouncing awkwardly in front of Lock, the defensive clearance across the six yard box, Turner alive after it struck wide on the half volley.
Both 11’s are getting joy down the left side of the pitch, Edwards for KLSC and Claughton for Aylsham, a powerful run forwards cuts back inside 20 yards out to lay the ball into O’Connor right of the strikes for the top corner, KLSC goalkeeper, Bryony Russell-Smith scrambling across her goal can see the ball safely wide of the right post. Allum down having taken a knock for Aylsham needing treatment a lengthy pause follows before she is up and brought over to the side-lines for further assessment.
Allum waved back on as play resumes a melee in the middle as players close down the ball it pops free to the left into Claughton’s path for the attacker to drive forwards towards the area wrapping her left foot around the ball looking to shoot across the keeper the racing wide of the far post. Allum showing a great piece of skill bringing a high ball down under control releasing it to Claughton the left, Chloe Moulton stretching to make the challenge regain possession for KLSC. Taeya Miles back to help the defence making several good interceptions to prevent the ball finding O’Connor central.
Tokaji frustrated as her run is halted by the offside flag as Edwards attempts to put her through on goal with a diagonal pass. Bobbin sending the pass out to the left for Claughton does well to keep it in play in the corner getting inside to left a cross into the six yard box, Allum rising in front of goal with a glancing header can’t get enough on the ball to deflect it towards goal.
Ramm on the ball for KLSC central plays the ball out to Edwards breaking forwards on the left cutting inside top corner of the area to shoot a low drive Lock down at her post safely behind it. Aylsham with numbers through the middle Michaela Brown on for Bobbin, Claughton up with her the pass threaded into the box for O’Connor right of goal her shot deflected behind for a corner kick. The corner taken from the right, (once Claughton has retrieved the ball from the allotments behind the goal) and inswinging delivery players attacking the near post the ball into the side netting.
Burkauskaite tracking back with her defence cutting out a cross from Dack on the right heading the ball away for KLSC. The game could do with someone calming their side down both are playing at a break neck pace hence players can’t get into position to receive the ball seeing possession ebb and flow with neither side gaining the upper hand. Russell-Smith out to the top of her area sliding in bravely to stop Dack running onto the ball. KLSC winning a freekick out wide left on half way Miles with a good kick on her sending the ball into the area headed clear drops straight to Turner 25 yards out who needs no invitation to shoot her effort angled straight at the keeper.
Edwards getting some unwelcome abuse from the ‘supporters’ on the far side of the pitch hardly needed leading to some frustration. Allum on the move through the middle with the ball for Aylsham both O’Connor and Claughton getting in behind as the ball is put on but Russell-Smith does well out early to come clear the ball high up the pitch. KLSC are dropping back as a defensive unit all the way to their six yard box at times going as Claughton attacks left her cross won and cleared by Miles.
Allum fouled by Miles out wide left, Arnoup forwards to take the set-piece struck well a teasing delivery across the six yard box would have been a nightmare for KLSC to try and defend however no one gets near it for Aylsham out for a goalkick. KLSC make a substitution bring Smith off for Millie Bareford. Aylsham with a free-kick wide right this time Arnoup’s powerful delivery catching Bobbin in the face, shaken it on her feet but replaced soon after with Chelsea Crowley coming on O’Connor dropping into a deeper role.
Tempers flare up on the far side of the pitch a brief scuffle between Edwards and Cleaver. referee Steven Ciriboto, quick to intervene calm everyone down a talking too and yellow card shown to both. The first half coming to a close, Claughton continuing to get joy down the left for Aylsham racing to the by-line getting inside Moulton, Miles back to support her getting in the blocking tackle to deny the cross the ball coming off Claughton for the goal kick.
GOAL! Aylsham on the attack in stoppage time at the end of the first half Allum with the ball strong into the left channel heading into the box, Burkauskaite closing her down lunging in clipping the midfielder on the calf, the whistle could have blown then for a penalty, Allum staying on her feet shifting inside six yards out is then bundled over by the KLSC captain the penalty is given. Arnoup forwards to place the ball on the spot a powerful hit rising to the right to bulge the back of the net 1-0. Arnoup with her 10th goal of the season.
Aylsham lively at the end of the first half numbers up in the final 3rd a KLSC handball spotted the free-kick awarded central 30 yards out, Arnoup over the ball again strikes for goal past the wall wide of the left post.
Half-time Aylsham FC Women 1-0 KLSC FC Women
Aylsham’s players race into the changing rooms having secured a narrow 1 goal lead late in the first half thanks to a strong run into the box from Carly Allum that lead to captain Jordan Arnoup scoring the penalty. Overall the sides fairly evenly matched, KLSC defending the deeper inviting more pressure with Aylsham getting into some useful attacking positions both sides creating chances as of yet none clear cut. Set up beautifully for the 2nd half. KLSC staying out on the pitch ready to get the 2nd half underway.
The ball played into Turner looks to turn on the ball drive forwards, Brown closing her down. Cleaver onto the ball for Aylsham the full back looking to get forwards challenged by KLSC’s Miles. Both teams into each other in the early exchanges a little niggly, Ramm seeing the ball into her feet out on the right for KLSC 25 yards out with a clever turn on the ball to shake off her marker get inside to pick out Turner central who in turn thread a diagonal ball out to Edwards breaking down the line on the left wing her cross lifted into the box headed clear by Crane.
Allum continuing to get forwards well from midfield support from Claughton wide left going forwards Burkauskaite closing her down to tackle put the ball out for a throw in. Bareford playing the ball on in midfield with Crane and Turner in a race for the ball, the KLSC attacker getting their first under pressure from Crane can only send her low shot in straight for Lock to gather cleanly.
KLSC pushing hard from a reply at the start of the 2nd half Ramm out right bursting clear to strike the ball, deflected off Butcher to go behind for a corner. Swung in to the near post from the right, Crane doing the defending at the near post. Aylsham finding space with KLSC committing a extra player forwards Allum moving the ball wide for Dack, tackled by Birch-Bailey. Issue’s with the crowd continue leading the referee stopping play and speaking to the offenders. Dack getting into an advancing position on the right lifting a cross through the six yard box a swing and a miss from Crowley central runs on for Claughton to control left side and strike in on the angle, Russell-Smith gathering low at her near post.
The pattern of the game beginning to shift Aylsham getting more of the ball KLSC getting frustrated with some of the fouls being given against them. Claughton charging the ball down on the left able to run in behind take it on to unleash a low shot in on the angle, Russell-Smith getting down sharply to make a good save turning the ball wide across her goal for a corner. Aylsham making a change before the corner bringing off ack, Flo Simpkins coming on.
The corner coming in cleared back out right edge of the box the attempted cross blocked deflected behind, judged to be a handball and Aylsham are awarded a 2nd penalty! A harsh one but given Arnoup up to take it placing the ball on the spot opts for power again going to the left this time Russell-Smith going the right way the ball struck hard smashing down off the woodwork, the follow up lifted over the bar. Arnoup not happy.
Heavy contact from a 50/50 ball between Cleaver and Miles it’s the Aylsham defender who comes off worse needing a moment to recover but is up okay to play on.
GOAL! A couple of minutes after seeing a penalty missed Aylsham are awarded a free-kick out wide on the left 25 yards out. Arnoup once again on set-piece duties. No mistake this time is a wonderfully struck ball lots of pace and dip on it as it sails over Russell-Smith to find the far corner of the net 2-0.
21 minutes gone in the 2nd half and Aylsham double their lead. Equal amounts of joy and frustration for Arnoup as Aylsham feel they are getting the rough call on a few decisions too. Is a competitive match KLSC are getting into their opponents looking to disrupt their play a few tired legs out there play beginning to get stretched in places. Crowley pulling off the defence from a diagonal ball right corner of the area a lunging shot rising, is taken high by Russell-Smith across at her near post.
Cleaver lifting the ball up the line on the right for Aylsham’s Crowley to run onto heading for the by-line whips a great ball into the KLSC six yard box just no one arriving to turn it home. Claughton is unceremoniously upended attacking on the left a free-kick awarded, Arnoup over it angles the ball long to the far post out for a goal kick. Bobbin returning to the game for Aylsham as the hosts win a free-kick wide on the right. Arnoup again aiming for a crowded far post area, Simpkin rising very close to getting the header.
Russell-Smith moving quickly out to the top of her area to slide in bravely at the feet of Claughton to save. Aylsham getting the better of the possession now coming forwards at will KLSC defending deep making it hard to get a counter going. Burkauskaite unhappy as she feels she’s fouled in the middle as Aylsham break away with the ball Crowley to the right breaking into the box firing her angled shot wide across goal.
Crowley making a nuisance of herself in front of the box forcing an error from the defence snapping onto the ball to break into the box right of goal her lobbed attempt drops wide. Bareford with a push on Bobbin Aylsham with the free-kick on half way played out wide to Claughton her squared cross intercepted by Burkauskaite. The game moving into the final 10 minutes, Aylsham winning a throw high on the right the ball cleared by Miles falling to Bobbin lays it into the path of Arnoup to hit from distance rattles wide of the left post.
GOAL! Crowley has been threatening a score for Aylsham all through the first half and is played through on goal by a superb pass from Allum central to put her one on one with the keeper, keeps a cool head to slot the ball to her left and score her first goal for the club 3-0.
Bobbin booked as she goes in hard on Birch-Bailey catching her from behind, the defender struggling needs to be helped off, with Clarke coming on. Edwards pushing on with the ball left side trying to get on with Ramm in support does well to win a corner kick. Driven in from the left to the top of the box for Bareford takes the ball into the area, Arnoup putting her foot in to clear the ball out of the ground into the wooded public footpath beyond. Allum’s work done late in the game she is taken off with Dack sent back on with barely a minute of regular time to play. Claughton done soon after replaced by Dack.
Dack with a try from distance easily held by Russell-Smith. KLSC stretched in the closing stages Aylsham getting the ball about the pitch, Bobbin on for Crowley, Jacobs preventing her spinning in behind. The final whistle blows and Aylsham extend their 100% record to 7 games climbing to 4th within a point of KLSC who suffer their first defeat in the league dropping a place as Mulbarton Belles Development move above them, Aylsham’s next opponents.
Full time Aylsham FC Women 3-0 KLSC FC Women
Aylsham going on to dominate the 2nd half after an early push from KLSC to find a reply to falling behind late in the first half. Using the pitch well to stretch the game wear their opponents down. Coming though their first test against a fellow title contender well winning in the end by 3 goals. Alot of football still to be played and will fancy their chances of reaching the latter stages of the League Plate competition too. KLSC working hard in the first half looking a match for Aylsham eventually tiring in the 2nd half a big game in the county cup to come next weekend. Is incredibly tight at the top of Division Two the top 5 separated by 5 points will be a few twists and turns yet.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this Sunday’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match once again is a tough decision in many regards. Several performances of note firstly for KLSC, Taeya Miles with some strong tackling getting back to help the defence, intercepting balls and getting it away from danger. Kesley Ramm working hard in the middle with some clever footwork to get room for a pass. Chloe Edwards despite having to put up with some unnecessary abuse a threat out on the left. Aylsham with an all round solid defensive game. Jordan Arnoup with the set piece goals to help the club on the way to another victory. Chelsea Crowley looked lively up top in attack creating chances. Is an extremely close call for today’s award Hannah Claughton carried a threat all game out on the left in attack with the ball at her feet showing a great work rate. Carly Allum is today’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match a powerful performance in the middle of the park getting hold of the ball and driving forwards with some excellent attacks winning the penalty and setting up Crowley for Aylsham’s 3rd goal.
Great to be back at Youngs Park, see Aylsham for the first time good to catch up with a few familiar faces I haven’t seen in a while. An enjoyable game from NWGFL Division Two, my thanks to both clubs for their help today much appreciated.
by Darren Gilham