Sunday 12th March
Norfolk Women’s Division Two
Football action from Norfolk Women’s Division Two this Sunday on Women’s Football East with now side Blofield United Ladies amongst those challenging for the title travelling to play an in form North Walsham Angels Ladies in 6th.
Visiting the league earlier this year there was an intriguing tussle going on at the top of the table with up to 6 sides in a position to mount a title challenge. One of those has very sadly since withdrawn from the league Gorleston FC Ladies their results and points for and against removed. Can only hope we will see Gorleston back in the league soon. The table adjusted as a result sees the other 5 sides still in contention with 7 points between them KLSC FC Women back on top, however a new side has emerged that could yet put the cat amongst the pigeons picking up some great results against the top 5 in recent games.
That side is North Walsham Angels Ladies currently 6th 2 points behind Aylsham FC Women in 5th. In form a run of 5 straight wins pushing them into contention, after a slow start to the season that saw just 4 points picked up from their opening 5 games. Follows a particularly difficult season up in Division One where they were to struggle not pick up a single point. That season seeing the Norfolk league originally go with 3 Divisions but subsequent withdrawals seeing this becoming increasingly impractical a vote was held to make it 2 divisions and what was division two then was split in two with 4 sides ‘promoted’ to Division One. North Walsham quick to jump on my choice of words with a young side weren’t ready to go up and it showed. A tough season in which the club could have folded but bringing in some of their u16s have stuck together for a renewed campaign in Division Two.
4 points from their opening 5 matches, returning to league action at the start of February after a series of cup matches North Walsham picked up a fantastic result away from home beating high flying Mulbarton Belles Ladies Development 2-1 to kick start a 5 game winning streak which included 1-0 away to another pair amongst the title contenders Thorpe St Andrew Women and Aylsham FC Women last Sunday. 4 clean sheets in a row too, Stella Fletcher-Helps their top scorer with 6 goals
Blofield United Ladies making the step up from youth to women’s football this season. Can be a big jump with players eligible from 16 onwards. Hit the ground running chasing KLSC FC Women as one of the early pace setters 5 wins and a draw from their opening 6 league matches before a 3-2 loss at home to Thorpe St Andrew Women before returning to winning ways. Back to back defeats against fellow title contenders 1-2 and 1-5 at home to Mulbarton Belles Ladies and KLSC FC Women respectfully seeing them drop to 4th, remain in a very good position with the top six proving they are all capable of taking points off each other will be an interesting end to the season for sure. Bailey Duffield the 3rd highest scorer in the league netting 17 goals for Blofield United from 10 appearances.
North Walsham Town FC the venue for todays game, and despite seeing North Walsham Angels a few times over their tenure is the first trip to the stadium. Grass pitches leading into the stadium itself a small clubhouse and compact pitch. The decision taken early with the poor weather forecast not to play on the main pitch despite it looking in good nick. The game instead on the main grass pitch leading into the ground a decent sized pitch if a little bobbly in places. Exposed to the elements a stiff wind blowing across the pitch but thankfully the forecast improving leading into the weekend across the East at least very few call offs in the finish. A warm and dry afternoon getting away with it so far this winter.
North Walsham Angels Ladies starting XI – Rio Dobbie, Grace Monsey, Paige Samwell, Tanisha Grayling, Elise Carroll, Maddy Welton, Sophie Hall (C), Fiona Swanson, Rhiannon Holt, Lucy Taylor & Stella Fletcher-Helps. Subs – Gracie East, Holly Murphy, Grace Walker, Leah Carroll & Kiera Brown.
Blofield United Ladies starting XI – Jessica Luff, Laureena Reid, Sophie Crowle, Freya Stewart-Miles, Jade Copeman (C), Darcey Peters, Lucy Schug, Lauren Monument, Elise Downer, Scarlett Royden & Lola Eadie. Subs – Bethany Freestone, Lola Hallam & Bethany Williams.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
A decent sized pitch but it could have done with the white lines refreshing as they hard to pitch out, nevertheless everyone’s rearing to go, North Walsham wearing black and white vertical striped shirts with black shorts and socks with the wind at their backs to a degree, with Blofield kicking off the 1st half wearing red shirts with black across the shoulders and sleeves, red shorts and socks. Played back to the defence at the start put forwards into midfield, Maddy Welton snapping in to win it for North Walsham, the ball cleared by Blofield long out to the left for Scarlett Royden to attack, Paige Samwell at full back dealing with the ball for North Walsham.
North Walsham with a throw won high on the right the ball into Fiona Swanson crossed into Stella Fletcher-Helps top of the box to the right of goal, bobbling up before the striker her touch heavy the ball turned into the area snatched up by Blofield goalkeeper, Jessica Luff before Fletcher-Helps can adjust. North Walsham quickly onto the front foot pressing players forwards, Grace Monsey bombing on from left back taking the ball on all the way to the by-line before cutting the cross back in along the top of the area, Lucy Taylor central passing it out to the right for Swanson, Samwell up in support plays it inside for captain Sophie Hall, looks to thread it through to Fletcher-Helps breaking in at the far post, Luff across her goal well able to scoop the ball up into gloves first.
No one afforded any time on the ball two sides that are intent on keeping the ball on the move makes for a frantic pace players rushing in to close down no time allowed to pick a pass. Darcey Peters closing down to take the ball on putting it onto Royden’s path, Elise Carroll challenging for North Walsham at the back the counter attack sprung as Hall comes away with the ball left side sending it on for Rhiannon Holt up the wing, curls the ball in towards goal, bouncing safely into Luff’s hands.
Holt getting some joy on the left the ball sent into her path the winger driving on for the by-line before checking back into the box striking a low shot in on the angle across goal, Luff down well to save. Holt on the attack again moments later the ball put into by Hall down the line her cross floated into the box, Lucy Schug heading clear for Blofield.
Peters battling for possession in the middle for Blofield brings the ball on picking out Royden in the left channel, bursts forwards, Samwell lunging in to tackle for North Walsham. North Walsham getting themselves a free-kick to the left of goal 30 plus yards out, Holt over the ball takes on the shot but with the wind coming across the pitch the shot is pulled wide of the near post.
A busy opening 10 minutes can’t take your eyes off it for a moment both sides continuing to rush into the ball get it moving, pinging around in the middle pops loose for Fletcher-Helps central to turn and drive at the Blofield defence, Sophie Crowle forcing her to go right, as Schug closes in to tackle. Peters getting about in the centre of the park for Blofield winning the ball pushing it into Royden and running forwards to receive the return pass, attempts the diagonal pass for Lola Eadie out to the right, the offside flag going up against her.
Peters in the middle tackling the ball won, Lauren Monument up with her lifting the ball on for Eadie pulling away from the defence right side, North Walsham goalkeeper quickly out to the edge of her box to claim the ball. Hall strong to win the ball in the middle for North Walsham playing it forwards for Fletcher-Helps pulling into the left channel taking the ball in behind into the box left of goal pulls her shot wide of the near post. Crowle appears to have picked up a knock for Blofield and needs to come off, Blofield making their 1st change bringing on Lola Hallam.
Fletcher-Helps has her heels clipped as she breaks away on the left side, Hall over the set-piece for North Walsham 30 yards out flighted into the box towards the far North Walsham players coming in late on it not distracting Luff who sees the ball cleanly into her gloves.
North Walsham seeing more of the ball rushing in to close Blofield down getting the ball forwards with intent, Stewart-Miles tackling at the back to break up an attack the visitors get forwards rapidly Monument putting it on for Hallam through the middle on to Eadie running at the defence is tackled well by North Walsham’s Tanisha Grayling outside the D. Swanson bringing the ball forwards on the right for North Walsham her cross lifted high into the box, Copeman heading it away to safety for Blofield.
North Walsham making a double switch bringing off their attackers, Fletcher-Helps and Taylor on come Kiera Brown and Gracie East. Holt continuing to get joy out on the left supported by Monsey coming forwards takes the ball on to the by-line the cross not finding its mark. Hall with a firm header as Luff’s kick out from the back drops short into her knocked forwards into the path of Brown central bearing down on the keeper, Luff stays big composed forcing Brown to take the ball wide to the left of goal cuts her cross back into the middle, Copeman back in position to clear for the visitors.
At this point in my notes I’ve written the game needs to slow down… but I’ve also written no chance! The women’s game is rarely slow and the pace is particularly frenetic. Peters advancing through the middle for Blofield on for Royden left channel sends it across the top of the rea into Eadie right of the D, riding a challenge stays on her feet to force a shot in low towards goal Dobbie behind it down to save for North Walsham.
Elise Downer getting on right side with the ball feeding it on for Eadie, Grayling closing her down to tackle on the edge of the box for North Walsham. Samwell bombing on right side for North Walsham checking inside 25 yards out running into traffic, Blofield lifting the ball on helped on looking to counter, Carrol with the headed interception at the back for the hosts. East getting on the ball for North Walsham central finding Hall moving on left side forwards into Holt turning infield, tackled by Stewart-Miles for Blofield.
North Walsham press numbers forwards Hall getting on well through the middle with the through ball cutting open the Blofield defence for Brown to attack closing down the keeper, won’t sit as Brown looks to take it around Luff pushed left to the by-line holds it up well before sending it back in across the top of the area Hall latching onto it right of the D driven low in towards goal, Luff down to make the save.
Brown making her presence felt up top for North Walsham taking up some good positions as Swanson attacks with the ball on the right her cross lifted into the box Brown stretching to bring it down is charged down before she can attempt the shot. Luff the busier of the two goalkeepers, throwing herself down low to her left to parry the ball away as Brown shoots low for the post having battled her way into the area from the left. Blofield making another change bring of Reid at the back bringing on Bethany Freestone.
GOAL! The deadlock broken with 38 minutes on the clock, North Walsham advancing through the right channel the diagonal ball coming into Brown top of the area left of the D, carries it away to the by-line, holding it up looking for support Holt bursts into the box left side the ball rolled into her, is tackled by Freestone tracking back, the ball knocked into Brown takes it inside before shooting low across the keeper to place the ball inside the far post 1-0.
Holt breaking forwards on the left for North Walsham checking back inside to curl a shot wide across goal. A 3rd change for Blofield late in the first half Bethany Williams on for Royden. Grayling defending well in the box for North Walsham shielding the ball back to her keeper getting across Eadie to the right of goal as Peters lifts the pass forwards.
Brown going into steal the ball out on the right turning back inside to attack the box shooting low towards the near post, Luff with her angles covered down to claim the ball. North Walsham pressing in the closing stages of the 1st half Brown with the long ball into Holt central, Stewart-Miles nipping in to tackle, Holt nibbling back to get hold of the ball snatching her shot back across goal wide of the left post.
Half-time North Walsham Angels Ladies 1-0 Blofield United Ladies
Both teams staying out on the pitch during the first half interval. North Walsham with the narrow lead making a strong start to the game after the ball playing at a frantic pace getting players forwards through the middle and out wide creating chances, but for a couple of great saves from Jessica Luff might be leading by more. As it stands a single goal in it Blofield with an opportunity to set a few things right the pace of the game seeing balls rushed more often than not picked up by a North Walsham shirt.
No changes for Blofield at the start of the 2nd half, Taylor and Fletcher-Helps back on up top for North Walsham with Brown and East off. The hosts getting the 2nd 45 underway the wind picking up noticeably a distinct chill in the air should favour the visitors now. The ball played back into Hall in midfield out to Samwell right has Holt ahead of her now playing the pass on, Holt sends it inside for Taylor top of the area, turns to attack, Stewart-Miles into her well to tackle the ball gathered by Luff.
Monsey getting up on the left for North Walsham firing a shot in on the angle, held by Luff. North Walsham beginning the 2nd half where they left off the 1st win a corner on the right. Holt putting it in towards the near post cleared back to the corner taker Holt up the line firing a cross into the six yard box taken well by Luff despite Taylor closing her down.
Carroll with a good tackle at the back for North Walsham on Peters as the midfielder gets forwards well for Blofield. Samwell winning the ball well high on the right for North Walsham firing a great ball into Fletcher-Helps right of goal, back to goal holding off her marker turns well on the ball to spin and shoot sends her effort wide of the near post.
Stewart-Miles with a vital interception at the back for Blofield as North Walsham press well through the middle Welton sending the ball on. Blofield getting on left side Downer up with Williams who is brought down advantage played as Downer gets onto the ball in behind to cross along the top of the area, Eadie looking to nurse it into Hallam’s path as she gets up in support to her left, Dobbie grabbing hold of the ball for North Walsham.
Fletcher-Helps seeing the ball into her feet out on the right spins away to run forwards, riding a tackle from Freestone before being stopped by Stewart-Miles top of the area. Hall over the free-kick awarded to North Walsham wide on the left from the touch line lifts the ball in towards the near post, Taylor attempting to hook it goalwards caught by Luff.
Welton putting the ball on through the middle sees Fletcher-Helps pulling away into the right channel to attack the goal in her sights fires in a low shot, Luff superb again getting down quickly to make the save. The pressure building from North Walsham as they look for a 2nd goal.
Is a good contest between Stewart-Miles and Fletcher-Helps with the striker looking to run at the defence. Stewart-Miles sliding in to deny Fletcher-Helps this time the ball out for a throw on the right. Holt on the right cutting inside firing the ball into Fletcher-Helps central Copeman in on her this time to challenge clear for Blofield.
Welton linking with Hall through the middle for North Walsham forwards into Fletcher-Helps pulls off Copeman going to her left to turn and shot blasting the ball narrowly wide of the post. Blofield making a change Williams and Hallam coming off, Crowle and Royden back on with a little over an hour played. Taylor inside from a throw in North Walsham’s right pushed into Fletcher-Helps looking to get into the box is well marshalled b Stewart-Miles as Freestone gets back to support.
GOAL! The pressure building North Walsham pushing for a 2nd goal advance on the left Swanson all the way to the by-line her cross flashed in across the six yard box gathered by Holt beyond the far post turns back to put the ball in across the top of the area Hall running onto it right of the D to smash the ball hard into the back of the net to score her first goal of the season 2-0.
Hallam back on for Blofield replacing Monument. North Walsham bringing 5 substitutes on, Brown and East returning with Holly Murphy, Grace Walker and Leah Carroll introduced to the action. 3 of the back four coming off, Monsey, Samwell and Grayling along with Swanson, Taylor going left Brown up with Fletcher-Helps. Downer pressing forwards well out left for Blofield winning a corner players forwards the visitors waste the opportunity to get the ball into the box.
Blofield coming on left side a throw won lifted into Eadie nodded down for Downer to take on is tacked by North Walsham’s Elise Carroll. Brown pulling off her marker right side bursts on down to the by-line before sending a vicious cross along the face of goal Murphy not quite able to run onto the ball. East sending a great pass forwards into Fletcher-Helps up to pulling left off her marker to spin into the box right of goal strikes a rising ball goalwards but can only pick out Luff.
Downer finding a bit of joy in the left now for Blofield getting on the move turns inside to shoot, Dobbie down low at her near post to gather the ball into her body. Copeman coming off for Blofield, Reid sent back on. Fletcher-Helps is working hard up top for North Walsham sliding in to win the ball gets clear on the right wide lifting a diagonal ball in central looking for Brown too much on it Luff able to gather.
Blofield getting a free-kick out wide on the left a chance to get players up into the box Royden over the ball flighted into the box, East heading clear at the near post the ball helped up field into Brown, Stewart-Miles tackling to prevent the counter attack. Blofield getting on better with the ball now through the middle Schug on for Peters lifts up to Eadie, Dobbie quick to come out getting to the ball first.
A few players in the wars more momentum than malice as players rush in to close the ball down, Brown collecting a awkward bounce in the face needing a moment before being picked up to her feet. Hall with a free-kick for North Walsham on half way up the right for Fletcher-Helps spins inside her cross cut out by Reid going away for a corner.
Copeman called back on to replace Freestone for Blofield with a little under 10 minutes left to play. The game stretched now but no let up in the energy levels from both sides. Royden with a snap shot some 25 yards out as North Walsham make a mess of clearing their lines the shot straight at Dobbie. Eadie battling through the middle with Downer making progress before being closed down Walker tackling to send the ball away for a throw. Blofield asserting a little pressure late in the game.
Downer on the left finding Eadie to drive inside towards the area tackled by Elise Carroll the ball cleared for a throw. 5 minutes left to play Blofield winning a corner left side put in near side cleared up into Fletcher-Helps right side launching a counter attack forwards for Brown running to the box a heavy challenge from Crowle right on the edge of the area both players down, Brown coming off the worse. Crowle back to her feet shown the yellow card. Brown struggling to put weight on her ankle can’t continue hops off the pitch with Fletcher-Helps assistance. Hall over the set-piece sets her sights on goal but snatches her shot wide of the near post.
Schug coming right for Blofield sees her cross cut out deflected behind for a corner kick one last chance for Blofield to try and find a goal the ball hooked in near side cleared to safety for a throw by North Walsham as the final whistle blows and their extend their winning streak to 6 games along with 5 consecutive clean sheets.
Full time North Walsham Angels Ladies 2-0 Blofield United Ladies
Are an in form side and it showed today as North Walsham got on the front foot early on and never looked back pressing the ball a frantic tempo to the game both side full of energy after one another. North Walsham getting players on down the flanks creating opportunities forcing some good saves from Blofield keeper Jessica Luff before eventually taking the lead. 1 goal up at the break you sensed another was needed and North Walsham never let Blofield settle into a rhythm 2nd half attacking from the start Fletcher-Helps turning the defence, Hall scoring that all important 2nd goal. Blofield never really got going matching North Walsham for energy battled well enough but couldn’t get the rub of the green the ball more often than not cut out by a North Walsham shirt to get the host back on the offensive improved towards the last half hour but couldn’t find the goal that might have set up a nervous finish.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East -Player of the Match as is so often the case another hard decision but there you go only highlights the performance level out there. A few performances of note. Freya Stewart-Miles with a number of vital tackles at the back for Blofield. Darcey Peters with a strong shift in the middle of the park getting about to challenge for the ball got forwards well to support the attack. Goalkeeper Jessica Luff with some impressive saves to help keep Blofield in the game. North Walsham with a confident squad right now a good team performance. Sophie Hall excellent in the middle winning the ball and getting forwards to join the attack. Rhiannon Holt out on the left causing Blofield problems throughout the first half. Now it comes down to two for the award and it’s close let me tell you. Elise Carroll was brilliant at the back for North Walsham winning the ball and protecting her goal throughout. Today’s award though goes to Stella Fletcher-Helps made some fantastic runs up top as well as coming for the ball and turning the defence unlucky not to score.
An entertaining if high speed match between to young energetic sides that you can see will only get stronger. 6 points separating the top 6 in the league now with some big games to come and points to be won from one another plenty of football yet to be played will be interesting to see how it finishes. Both sides will play their part. My thanks to both for their help with the teams details today.
by Darren Gilham