Norfolk Women Division One
The action this Sunday on Women’s Football East comes from Norfolk, a game from Division One, Fakenham Town Ladies hosting Sprowston Athletic Ladies.
Another game close to home for myself with Fakenham just 25 minutes up the road. Norfolk Women’s Division One looking strong again this season with 10 sides competing in the top tier of the county league this season. A match today between two sides who will be aiming to push for a top 5 finish at least.
Fakenham Town Ladies begin the new season under new management with Ben Binder moving on to take charge of Norwich City Women’s Reserves side. Thomas Bulley and Ed Savage taking on the running of the women’s side at the club. A good set up with in the club Fakenham returning to Division One last season bouncing back from Division Two at the first attempt last season of course cut short by COVID. Olivia Baker and Shelley Woods amongst the new faces joining the squad have experience at a higher level and in Woods in particular a player with an eye for goal. Lost their opening two league fixtures before registering their first win last time out a good result away to rivals Tavern Ladies winning 6-1.
Sprowston Athletic Ladies have themselves had their best start to a season yet in Norfolk Women’s Division One winning 3 of their opening 4 matches to lay 2nd in the early table. Have recently merged with Sprowston FC who have a strong tradition in youth football both boys and girls and are now part of one of the biggest clubs in terms of sides present in the county. Have scored 13 goals so far in 4 matches with Bryony Brierley top scoring with 5 from 4. Katie Fray to often amongst the goals for Sprowston has 3 in 3 so far. A match today between two sides who are high in confidence.
Clipbush Park the venue for today’s match (The Daly Group Stadium as it’s also known) usually the match is played on the main pitch, however for the first time I’ve known it the game today to be played on one of the grass pitches behind the stadium the raised pitch where the reserves play, Is smaller than the main pitch offering less width, not so energy sapping as the larger pitch with is always a good test of fitness. The pitch railed off all round with brick dugouts. Despite the heavy rainfall overnight the pitch is in great shape, the weather set to be dry a few clouds around but breezy and mild. The clocks going back the sun already on it’s way down could cause issues later on in the game.
Fakenham Town Ladies starting XI – Chloe Easter, Amie Hutchison, Gina Pooley, Sian Sands (C), Maddie Smith, Holly Davies, Vicky Lubbock, Jemma Riches, Sophie Lubbock, Shelley Woods & Chantelle Ketteringham. Subs – Olivia Baker, Chelsea Thomson & Karina Townsend.
Sprowston Athletic Ladies starting XI – Jade Knight, Georgia Bryant, Zuleika Laffitte, Maria Braithwaite, Keri Boorman (C), Katie Fray, Kate Morris, Olivia Leggett, Rebecca Kirby, Courtney Leggett & Bryony Brierley. Subs – Laura Jenkins, Tabby Mileham & Hannah Taylor.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
Sprowston to take the kick-off 1st half wearing blue shirts with navy blue sleeves, blue shorts and socks. Fakenham opposite wearing amber coloured shirts with black sleeves, black shorts and socks. Fakenham in to close Sprowston down right from the off chasing down the defence as the ball is played back passes rushed possession quickly regained Vicky Lubbock for Fakenham onto the ball central moving right pushed out to Jemma Riches on the wing attempts to thread it in behind, the pass cut out by Sprowston’s Courtney Leggett.
Fakenham making a bright start pushing 3 in attack, Sophie Lubbock and Chantelle Ketteringham either sides of Shelley Woods central rushing at the Sprowston back line defended by captain Keri Boorman the ball put straight to Riches closing on from the right her touch knocking the ball high into the air dropping 20 yards out central Vicky Lubbock closing in to strike it on the bounce through on target bouncing in the six yard box Jade Knight drifting across her goal catching it cleanly.
Sprowston come on through the middle Olivia Leggett carrying the ball forwards into the Fakenham half a good pass out to the right finding Kate Morris her cross looping up high into the box close to goal is collected high by goalkeeper Chloe Easter at her near post. Fakenham get straight on the counter attack the ball into Amie Hutchison on for Holly Davies left side players from both sides drawn over to that side of the pitch as Sophie Lubbock takes it on Woods in close support a vicious cross fired in low towards the near post Zuleika Laffitte does well coming across to win it and take it away from danger.
Intent from Fakenham early on press forwards looking to get players in left and right, Ketteringham in behind on the right this time spin back on the by-line to send a cross racing along the face of the Sprowston goal. Is scrappy with players rushing in to close each other down throws being given away by both sides unable to make headway up the flanks. Georgia Bryant stepping in to tackle Sophie Lubbock as Woods turns the ball on into her path. Bryony Brierley has pace in attack for Sprowston ready to go get in behind the Fakenham defence, the flag going up against her as a ball in threaded into her through the middle.
Rebecca Kirby on the ball for Sprowston coming left plays in on for Brierley left of the D, holding it up the striker looks to turn inside, Fakenham captain Sian Sands closing in on her lunging to make the tackle the ball going away for a throw in. Morris getting in some advanced positions with the ball for the visitors moves right her cross spinning behind for a goal kick. Vicky Lubbock jumping in to win the ball centrally nods it out to Riches on the right she takes a touch laying it on for Ketteringham ahead of her, a little too much on the ball, however Woods racing into the box beyond her almost reaches it Knight unfazed by her run gathering the ball safely.
Laffitte with a good stop at the back to cut out a through ball intended to put Ketteringham in behind to her right from Davies. Fakenham setting the tempo Sprowston not settled yet the visitors push on through the middle Maddie Smith stepping out of the Fakenham back line to clear the ball long upfield, turns into a great ball for Woods to exploit taking it on towards the opposition area right side under challenge from Laffitte manages to get a shot away on the angle a tame effort however lacking the power to trouble Knight. Sophie Lubbock left side plays it inside 20 yards out looking to play it into Woods path, Boorman sticking out a leg nicking the ball away from her.
A good battle forming between the Sprowston full backs Bryant and Laffitte as Fakenham push Sophie Lubbock and Ketteringham on left and right. Sophie Lubbock on the angle smashes in a shot from all of 25 yards out the ball wide at the near post. Olivia Leggett comes away with the ball at her feet left side for Sprowston travelling up the wing looking for crossing options as Brierley comes to make herself available, Riches though tracks back for Fakenham to regain possession for the hosts.
Fakenham’s twin sisters, Vicky and Sophie Lubbock both causing problems for Sprowston, Vicky making some strong runs through the middle getting the ball down chasing into space on the right swings in a high cross into the six yard box, Knight leaping excellently getting up to glove the ball up and reacts well as she comes down getting across her goal to smother the ball at the far post before any Fakenham attacker can latch onto it. Knight busy in goal for Sprowston with another double save as Fakenham overload the left a diagonal ball angled in towards goal kept out spins away to the right Riches rushing onto it hits it hard from close range, Knight back on her line doesn’t know much about it as she saves with her legs deflecting the ball away behind for a corner.
The delivery from the corner on the right angled in towards the top of the area a shot comes in taking a deflection sending it away for another corner. This delivery attacked far post ends with a goal kick awarded. Bryant is busy in defence on the right for Sprowston, Vicky Lubbock getting support from Woods and Davies as se comes forwards the full back standing up against her putting in the blocking tackle to stop the hosts advance. Smith brings Brierley down 35 yards out from goal right of centre Sprowston awarded the free-kick. Boorman plays it on for Kirby right side outside the area looks to come inside getting a shot away through bodies on target low lacks pace Easter seeing it into her gloves.
Fakenham are straight on the attack the ball on for Riches right side her cross in half cleared loose 25 yards out a shot coming in from distance Knight safely behind it. Vicky Lubbock coming down the left cuts inside getting past Boorman flashes a ball into the six yard box, cleared by Laffite comes to Davies 25 yards out takes on the strike dipping in front of goal is caught by Knight. Strong tackling between Fray and Morris in the middle for Sprowston sees the visitors getting on up the right as Kirby takes the ball on coming infield runs into trouble as Smith comes to close her down win the ball outside the box.
Sprowston starting to gain some momentum in the final third as Morris gets further forwards with the ball looking to link up with Brierley in attack winning a throw high on the left lifted into Brierley the attack spins in behind her marker making a move for goal inside the box, Smith comes across with a strong but well timed challenge to take the ball away. Fakenham continue to attack with pace and purpose, Vicky Lubbock on for Woods left channel has Sophie Lubbock ahead of her feeds the ball on into the area, Knight out saving bravely at Lubbock’s feet as her momentum takes her on.
A good triangle between Olivia Leggett, Morris and Fray in the centre for Sprowston as they gain momentum inside the Fakenham half, the final ball into Brierley outside the D see’s her closely marked by Sands, Fakenham’s captain winning the ball back. Morris bringing the ball on 30 yards out on to Brierley moving to the right inside the area latching onto the ball swings in a cross from the by line a dangerous ball flashing across the face of goal scrambled away for a corner at the far post by Hutchison. The set piece going long Fakenham get hold of it press forwards, Sprowston giving away a free-kick central Fakenham push players up to the top of the area a Hutchison places the ball. Vicky Lubbock getting a head on the delivery under challenge the ball put back to Hutchison all of 40 yards out takes a wild swing at it her attempt off target.
Fakenham press down the left after Davies wins possession back central Vicky Lubbock pushing on down the line fires in a low cross on the angle, Knight down onto it at her near post with Ketteringham racing in. Morris strong on the ball comes left into space 25 yards out squares her pass inside for Olivia Leggett, Davies closing in wins the 50/50 the loose ball running behind Leggett to Fray she looks to loft it up into the area spotting Brierley peeling off her marker, Smith though intercepts the pass for Fakenham.
Boorman cuts out a cross inside the area as Pooley gets away down the left for Fakenham the Sprowston centre back conceding a corner. The set-piece delivered towards the congested near post is half cleared to the top of the area, Smith latching onto it for Fakenham sends her shot up over the crossbar. Into the final 5 minutes of the first half. Sprowston’s defence have been the busier Braithwaite deflecting a cross flashed in from the left out towards the top right hand corner of the box, Ketteringham rushing onto it sends her strike over the bar.
Brierley continues to look a threat in attack for Sprowston has had to go it alone more often than not does well to shake of Sands get after a threaded ball laid into the area right of goal, Smith though produces a risky but well timed tackle to deny her a shot. Throw in’s have been a constant feature in the first half no one afforded any tie to settle on the ball. Riches trying to race away after the ball right side, Knight rushing out of her area clearing the danger for Sprowston.
Half-time Fakenham Town Ladies 0-0 Sprowston Athletic Ladies
The first 45 minutes end goalless the game played at a furious pace Fakenham attacking throughout creating the better opportunities forcing a couple of excellent saves from Jade Knight in the Sprowston goal. Pushing on against the visitors full backs looking to take on the defence have had the better of the half but frustratingly haven’t broken the deadlock. Sprowston dealing with alot of pressure at the back have stood firm put in some vital tackles when needed didn’t settle early on and haven’t been afforded much time on the ball keeping a clean sheet began to create opportunities of there own and if they can get closer support to Brierley in the 2nd period will create more chances of their own.
A change for Fakenham at the start of the 2nd half with Olivia Baker on in midfield for Vicky Lubbock. The hosts to get the 2nd half underway Chloe Easter donning a cap with the sun now low in the sky facing her goal. A scrappy start to the 2nd half a few niggly challenges too free-kicks given away in the middle. Sprowston getting hold of the ball centrally Fray sending it up towards the box Smith back peddling chesting it down to her keeper, just enough pace on the ball for Easter to claim with Brierley rushing in to close her down.
Fakenham play the ball up the line left side Pooley racing forwards doing well to not only keep it in play but put it in diagonally into Sophie Lubbock inside the area, attempts to turn Boorman close in on her preventing her going anywhere with a good challenge putting the ball away for a corner. An inswinging delivery from the left into the six yards box Smith getting her head on the ball placing it over, however a goal kick is signalled.
GOAL! 6 minutes into the 2nd half and Fakenham find the break through pressing forwards through the middle the ball lifted on Boorman looks to head it back to her keeper inside the box doesn’t get enough weight on the ball with both Woods and Sophie Lubbock racing in to close down the advancing keeper, Woods doing well getting a touch before Knight can reach it knocking it past her presenting Sophie Lubbock with an open goal to tap the ball home 1-0.
Braithwaite comes across from the centre to support Laffitte as Baker plays Ketteringham in behind on the right hand side sending the ball away for a corner. Fakenham placing a cluster of players at the top of the area as the corner is played into the box, Smith and Hutchison are on top of one another as they attack the ball not sure which one got the final touch driven in towards goal however is straight at and a comfortable height for Knight to hold onto.
Sprowston play the ball out from the back into Courtney Leggett getting on down the left side advancing down the wing squared it inside to Morris her reverse ball sending it on into the area as Brierley peels off Sands in behind, Easter off her line quickly out to claim it before the striker can shoot. Laffite sliding in does well to deny Ketteringham an opportunity to skip in behind on Fakenham’s right. Chances for both sides with Fakenham making a double substitution bringing on Chelsea Thomson and Karina Townsend for Davies and Pooley. Sprowston making their first change bring on Tabby Mileham for Courtney Leggett.
Laffite conceding a corner as Ketteringham pushes on right side off a Baker ball from the centre. The delivery in from the right towards the top of the box is meet by Baker left of the D hit hard and low races narrowly wide of the far post.
GOAL! A little over an hour gone and Sprowston draw level pushing on well through the middle Morris up with Brierley as the ball comes into the striker left outside the area turns well the ball taken on by Morris, riding the challenge from Smith gets into the box left of the D and smashes the ball hard and high across the keeper 1-1.
Fakenham get straight on the attack from the restart playing the ball out to the right winning a corner of Laffite. The ball played into the box cleared by Braithwaite the visitors looking to get forwards quickly Olivia Leggett is taken out by Smith on half way a strong tackle in from behind leaves Leggett floored in some pain. Smith recieves a yellow card. Leggett up gingerly on her ankle hobbling a little is keen to get back on the pitch and is allowed too. Sands produces a good tackle to stop Morris turning inside the D as Mileham gets a cross in from the left.
Sophie Lubbock often the most advanced in attack for Fakenham in the 2nd half drifts inside to receive the ball centrally dribbling on takes on the defence gaining ground before Fray back tracking puts a foot in to stop her outside the D. Up the other end Smith slides in well to deny Brierley an opportunity 20 yards out as Morris plays the ball on the ball going away for a corner kick. An inswinging ball in towards the near post sent behind for another corner. Fakenham defend well and attempt to break the ball up to Ketteringham spinning away right side is brought down by Laffite conceding a free kick.
Woods over the ball some 40 yards out as players head up into the box from the back. lofts a ball in dropping six yards out right of goal Sophie Lubbock with the cushioned header back across goal Sands with a bullet header to drive the ball home into the back of the net… however the celebrations are cut short by a raised offside flag in won’t count. Sprowston make a double change with Laura Jenkins and Hannah Taylor coming on for Olivia Leggett and Boorman. The hosts keep up their pressing on either flank Riches sending in a cross from the right forcing a corner. In towards the top of the area gathered into her feet by Baker turning into a strike has too any bodies to go through Sprowston blocking with a little over 15 minutes left on the clock.
Sands is fouled bringing the ball out from the back for Fakenham the advantage played though as Woods spins away into space with it left into the box, doesn’t make the most of it dragging her shot wide. Vicky Lubbock returns to the game for Fakenham replacing Riches. Straight into the action centrally playing the ball out to Thomson racing on up the left wing goes on checking back to spin in behind Bryant before lifting a cross into the area the ball headed clear by Fray.
Smith sends the ball up field finding Sophie Lubbock on the left gets in behind riding a sliding challenge on into the area the angle going against her left of goal drags her shot wide across the six yard box Woods running in far side almost capitalising. Courtney Leggett back on for Sprowston with 10 minutes left to play for Kirby. The hosts push on through the middle Baker onto Vicky Lubbock her diagonal ball picking out Thomson high on the left into the box shoots Knight reacting smartly gloving the ball down and away from danger. Townsend getting on with Ketteringham on the right the ball fired in along the face of goal Thomson close in at the far post can’t get a telling touch.
GOAL! The game stretched both sides looking to find opportunities late on Fakenham winning it in midfield lofting the ball up to Woods making a run into the right channel into the box the keeper coming to close her down narrow the angle Woods does well to lob the ball over her to bounce on into the empty net 2-1.
GOAL! Fakenham regaining the lead with 7 minutes left to play Sprowston however hit back straight away from the restart playing the ball out to the left side sent down the line with Jenkins peeling away in behind checks back inside skipping past a challenge to get into the area the angle tight hits it well low and fast across the keeper to find the bottom corner and equalise 2-2.
Late drama the hosts regaining the lead but pegged straight back, Olivia Leggett retuning to the action the game stretched now Sprowston finding renewed energy to push forwards. Has been a physical game through out the referee needing to have a word calm thing’s down, Sands playing the ball on for Sophie Lubbock left inside the area, Olivia Leggett back on her to tackle and concede the corner kick.
No advantage as Brierley is pulled down on half way play brought back for the free-kick, Olivia Leggett to play the ball in towards the top of the area headed clear by Vicky Lubbock comes bac to Leggett who takes a wild swing it it falls well wide of the mark. Jenkins offering a threat on the left in attack for Sprowston now taking on the Fakenham defence getting a cross into the area Smith heading it clear for a throw. Sprowston press forwards numbers around the edge of the box win a free-kick in a very dangerous position outside the area.
GOAL! Right on the edge of the box left corner of the area Mileham placing the ball, hits it beautifully rising with power and pace behind it finds it’s way through to strike the back of the net 2-3. Sprowston coming back for a goal down twice to lead the match with just stoppage time left.
Fakenham suddenly on the back foot for the first time in the match get forwards on the left Thomson fouled by Courtney Leggett giving away a free-kick 25 yards out, a threatening position on the angle as Woods advances to take it. Angles it in high across goal to be attacked far post, a little too much height on the ball sees it run out of play.
Sprowston get hold of the ball, Courtney Leggett in the middle comes inside form the right is encouraged to run it into the corner runs into traffic instead 30 yards out Fakenham defend the ball loose latched onto by Morris, goes for the shot blasts it wide of the right post.
Full time Fakenham Town Ladies 2-3 Sprowston Athletic Ladies
Sprowston win all 3 points to make it 4 wins out of five and remain 2nd in the Division One table level on points with Bungay Town Ladies at the top. Grinding out a win at the death having fallen behind twice in the 2nd half. Weren’t at their best and they will be the first to admit it would no doubt have been happy with a point but to win when you haven’t played so well is often the sign of a good team a battling performance to keep Fakenham at bay 1st half showed good character to get back level twice before going on to find the winner at the death. Fakenham in contrast will feel gravely unfortunate not to take anything at all from the game created by far more opportunities in front of goal had the Sprowston defence on the back foot for large spells of the game. Perhaps should have held a lead at half-time and will rue misses chances getting the lead twice and not holding on disappointing a late goal conceded tough to take.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this Sunday’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match and once again several contenders tough to single out one but you know I have to. For Fakenham the Lubbock sisters were both superb, Vicky in particular 1st half the driving force in midfield, Sophie in attack on the left a threat throughout. Maddie Smith making several tackles at the back strong in defence. For Sprowston Kate Morris made some good runs in midfield getting forwards and bringing others into play. At the back the full bacs had a busy afternoon stuck to their tasks well making several important challenges never made it easy for Fakenham, Georgia Bryant at right back is narrowly edged out and it is narrowly (two tackles according to my notes) by Zuleika Laffitte.
An entertaining game, expected nothing less, Division One certainly looks strong this season of these two sides are anything to go by. Crazy times we live in but it has to be said the football provides a much needed and welcome piece of normality for all playing and spectating. My thanks to both sides for the team details as always much appreciated.