Sunday 26th Jan
Wasn’t the intention to have a two week break from the football a weekend off and then a game postponed late on seeing no action on Women’s Football East for a fortnight, keen to get back at it this Sunday, the action from the 1st Round of the ERWFL Cup, Wymondham Town Ladies v Harlow Town Ladies.
The game itself originally due to be played a fortnight ago, cancelled on the day due to Harlow Town Ladies mini-bus being hit by a lorry whilst parked up at the services on route to Norfolk. The game rearranged for this Sunday, a group stage played in the first half of the season between the Division One clubs the 4 group winners going on to the knockout stages of the ERWFL League Cup joined by the 12 Premier Division sides.
The ERWFL Cup is certain to be hotly contested if the league itself is anything to go by, Harlow Town Ladies are well clear at the top but beyond that just 7 points separate 2nd placed Peterborough Northern Star Ladies down to Bowers & Pitsea Ladies in 9th. Wymondham Town Ladies in amongst those currently in 7th spot well placed to push on for a top half finish. Everyone capable to taking points off each other going on a run.
Wymondham Town Ladies promoted two seasons ago along with Harlow, doing well despite having an awful injury list to contend with, several players out with long term injuries including captain and vice-captain Rachel Cossey and Leah Newcombe both suffering bad knee injuries during last season’s Norfolk Women’s County Cup win at Carrow Road. Both on the road to recovery Newcombe in particular close to a return. Long term injuries to hitting their defence with Bethany Fretwell, Chardonnay Johnston and Summer Ward all out. New players arriving in the summer, Mia Etheridge from AFC Sudbury and Jennifer Codman from Fakenham Town Ladies. Freya Symonds too with a trio of ex-Ipswich players, Cassie Craddock, Jac Ball and goalkeeper Danni Clarke. Plenty of goals within the squad captain and striker Hannah Waters with 19 to her name top scoring.
Harlow Town Ladies have enjoyed alot of success in their short history regularly winning promotions moving up the women’s football pyramid the Essex side are currently 9 points clear at the top of the ERWFL Premier Division and in a strong position to go on and win the title and with it promotion to the FAWNL for the first time in their history. Undefeated have won all but one of their 12 league matches so far this season. The only points dropped way back on the opening day a 1-1 draw with today’s cup opponents Wymondham Town Ladies. Harlow coming back to win 4-3 in the reverse fixture. Have brought in several players to add experience to their young squad, goals too, Becky Shephard one of those new arrivals netting 22 goals so far this season.
Ketts Park the home to Wymondham Town Ladies a new venue on the outskirts of the town close to the A11. My first visit to the ground a smart facility offering a main 3G playing surface available for hire. Grass pitches beyond. The clubhouse offering hot drinks with plenty of parking outside. The 3G pitch itself a good size with adequate room for spectators to stand beside the pitch. Overcast conditions rain forecast not expected to arrive until after the game a stiff breeze making it feel chilly. A hot cup of tea welcome.
Both sides with absentees through injury and unavailability on the day. Harlow frustrated having travelled with two new signings but both ineligible to play under league cup rules, alos missing the experience of players such as Nicole Farmer, Georgia Box and Amy Nash, only able to name one substitute. Wymondham likewise having a few missing having just the one on the bench.
Wymondham Town Ladies starting XI – Danni Clarke, Becca Russell, Chelsea Clarke, Lauren Kett, Jac Ball, Katie Knights, Jennifer Codman, Mollie O’Callaghan, Freya Symonds, Mia Etheridge & Hannah Waters (C) Subs – Cassie Craddock.
Harlow Town Ladies starting XI – Charlie Orwell, Tayla Handscombe, Fran Gamble, Kaydee King (C), Mel Jones, Chloe Bassett, Abbey Dell, Beth Chambers, Lucy Edmeades, Becky Shephard & Liv Steele. Subs – Evie Love.
(Roll on roll off substitutes)
Wymondham wearing red shirts and shorts with black shorts to kick-off the first half. Harlow in their away colours yellow shirts with blue shorts and socks. The hosts playing the ball back into their defence Harlow rushing forwards to press the ball Abbey Dell involved straight away, a long punt forwards cleared by Harlow captain Kaydee King gathered by Wymondham goalkeeper Danni Clarke. Harlow build down their left winning a throw deep in the Wymondham half controlled the cross lifted high towards the top of the area, Freya Symonds up to head clear for Wymondham.
A bright start from Harlow pressing the ball, Wymondham look to break the ball into Mollie O’Callaghan’s feet left side of midfield looks to take it on chopped down inside the Harlow half. A fee-kick given the ball put across the park to Becca Russell forwards on the wing lifts it on for Mia Etheridge the flag goes up against her. O’Callaghan bringing the ball on once again is brought down as she sends it on for Symonds play brought back for the fee-kick, further forwards Chelsea Clarke over it into the box, caught by Harlow goalkeeper, Charlie Orwell.
GOAL! 6 minutes played and an early break through, Harlow take the lead Beth Chambers getting hold of the ball left side inside the Wymondham half playing a dangerous looping diagonal ball in towards the top of the area Chelsea Clarke stretching to clear can only push it into the onrushing Becky Shephard’s path takes it on a yard before driving a powerfully struck shot past Danni Clarke into the back of the net 0-1.
Wymondham go on the attack straight from the restart players up and around the 18 yard box, O’Callaghan tries her luck from range 25 yards out off target, Orwell able to come across her goal to collect. Harlow’s Chloe Bassett receiving the ball centrally off a throw in on the left turns and hits a shot goalwards from 25 yards out swearing through the air Danni Clarke back on her line keeps her eyes on it catching safely. Gamble with a great tackle to stop Etheridge from stealing in behind her with the ball on the right side for Harlow.
GOAL! Harlow caught with a high line as Wymondham play the ball forwards Lauren Kett winning it at the ball bringing it on firing a low pass forwards over half way captain Hannah Waters getting away from King to latch onto the ball a carry it on towards the area Orwell coming to the top of her area to close the angle Waters shaping to shot shifting to her right to get wide of the keeper and send the ball on to score. Wymondham back on level terms just 6 minutes after conceding 1-1.
Wymondham with their tails up strong in the middle of the park Etheridge getting hold of the ball taking players on central looks to play a one two with Katie Knights run on in behind as Knights attempts to lift the ball over the defence, Bassett reading it in to take the ball away for Harlow. The visitors looking to make use of the flanks Beth Chambers left side has Dell racing into space on the wing sends the ball in for her to take on down the line a strong run cuts back inside to deliver the cross near post with Shephard making the good run, the attack rising aiming to flick the ball with her boot in across goal doesn’t get enough on it the ball put behind wide.
Lucy Edmeades away into space on the opposite wing sending a dangerous cross into the six yards box too high for Danni Clarke to save, no one coming in at the back post for Harlow. Danni Clarke with an excellent and brave piece of goalkeeping soon after as Harlow thread a long ball through the middle with Liv Steele attacking the area right, Clarke rushing out sliding in to make the blocking save at Steele’s feet, the striker coming off worse for the clash. Harlow win a free-kick wide right a good delivery into the box Steele positioned on the penalty spot cushioning the ball down looking to swing into the shot the Wymondham defence rush in to block at close range.
Steele has take a couple for knocks needs to come off from treatment Harlow making the first change of the match, Evie Love coming on to join Shephard up top. O’Callaghan is certainly in the wars for Wymondham getting clattered again the free-kick striking the wall set up by Harlow Symonds though retrieves for the hosts left side sends in a cross, Orwell coming near post to claim. A competitive game played at a fast past both sides giving free-kicks away Harlow turn with a set-piece inside the Wymondham half, Gamble over the ball towards the left a good way out nevertheless goes for goal a high ball in dropping late Danni Clarke can’t get it the ball clatters against the ball drops back into play stabbed back towards go Clarke back on her line down smartly to save on the line.
Katie Knights making several good runs with the ball through the middle for Wymondham sends in through for Waters to chase in attack, Orwell out of her area early trapping the ball with her legs inside the D clearing before Waters can get it. O’Callaghan with a shot from distance bouncing low through towards goal left side Orwell down to save the ball behind for a corner kick. Defending the ball Harlow clear up to half way Evie Love looking to break is fouled by Kett a free-kick awarded. Gamble to play it forwards players up into the box King bringing it down her tough too strong allowing Wymondham to steal in and clear top of the area.
Is getting a little heated out there a bit of pushing and shoving going on quickly dealt with by the referee the game continues to set a furious pace challenges strong at times. Several players talked too already. A quick free-kick by Gamble into Steele central puts it on quickly Shephard away but adjudged offside as she shoots. Mel Jones turning play around quickly in the middle for Harlow forwards for Shephard beating the offside trap this time can’t control her shot top of the area, Jac Ball back to win possession for Wymondham. Pressuring the ball inside the Wymondham half Harlow’s Bassett gets away on the right crossing from the corner Shephard coming near side sends it wide.
Wymondham making ground on the right win a throw the ball into the feet of Waters right corner of the box plays the pass infield to Knights central has O’Callaghan to her left gives her the ball Harlow back defending their area O’Callaghan comes back in central looking to get a shot away finds a way through but not past Orwell as she drops to save the ball. Etheridge and Chambers clash going for the ball, Chambers down landing awkwardly play stopped so she can receive treatment up gingerly play resumes with a free-kick to Harlow to the bemusement of the home support.
Into the closing moments of the first half, Wymondham also frustrated at the number of offside decisions going against them Waters a constant threat enjoying a fantastic battle with King intriguing to watch Waters thinking she’s got half a yard only to be pulled back by the flag. Dell covering alot of ground across the park for Harlow setting the tone for the game for much of the first half wants to be in the thick of the action breaking up a number of Wymondham moves. The offside flag up against Edmeades on the right a decision that infuriates the Harlow bench. Knights sneaking in to take the ball plays Waters through central not catching her strike cleanly the ball straight at Orwell catch after the initial save pops out of her gloves. The last action of the half.
Half-time Wymondham Town Ladies 1-1 Harlow Town Ladies
A fast paced game so far competitive not alot between the sides, the pace leading to several mistimed challenges plenty of free-kicks given away and knocks being picked up. Harlow with an early goal Wymondham coming straight back to level has remained even Harlow hitting the bar from a free-kick. Changes for both sides at half-time. Cassie Craddock on for Wymondham the players off goalkeeper Danni Clarke suffering a hand injury the tall Freya Symonds donning the gloves for the 2nd period. Chambers off for Harlow with Steele back on.
Harlow to get the 2nd half underway the temperature dropping considerably very chilly on the sidelines now. The visitors getting an early set-piece on halfway King to play the ball out to Edmeades on the right side in space cuts inside no shot on lays the ball across the top of the area for Bassett laying it back to Gamble she floats a high ball in towards goal safely caught by Symonds. Handscombe brings the ball on through the middle for Harlow pushing on towards the D is closed down by three Wymondham defenders Craddock putting in the final tackle to get the ball away O’Callaghan away on the left forwards for Waters to chase Orwell can come to the edge of her area an collect.
Codman playing the ball on for Knights in the middle plays it forwards with O’Callaghan forwards on her left cuts back inside, 25 yards out closed down Gamble and King combining. O’Callaghan and Jones with a crunching 50/50 in the middle both hurts but quick to acknowledge the ball was there to be won. Harlow over half way the ball played long to the left side a cross whipping on at pace Chelsea Clarke central sticking a foot out to intercept almost scores an own goal inside the six yard box the ball flashes up to strike the cross bar bouncing down grabbed by Symonds before anyone can follow up from Harlow to score.
Wymondham have Etheridge on the ball attacking right a strong run her cross in cleared play brought back for an earlier foul on the winger. Players forwards taken short into the top of the area with O’Callaghan coming for the ball the shot in hesitates shifting it before pulling the trigger a deflection sending it wide for the corner kick. King up well at the near post to defend for Harlow. A flowing attack from Wymondham Knights doing well once again bringing the ball on support from Craddock out to Etheridge on the right plays it back to Russell she swings in the cross long, King up at the far post to win the header for Harlow clearing the threat.
Kett stepping out of defence sliding in strongly to win a number of tackles for Wymondham is down with an injury, a pause in play Harlow make the change bring Chambers back on for Love on the left. Play resumes Waters doing well to win a corner on the right the ball in cleared firmly by the head of King at the near post. King with the interception and touch back fr her keeper to clear as Knights almost sends the running Waters and Etheridge in on goal for Wymondham. Harlow bring Jones off sending Love back on.
Wymondham pressure O’Callaghan closing in on the area closed down, Waters almost in Harlow look to play out from the ball O’Callaghan giving chase goes down in agony play stopped straight away the Wymondham midfield in clear distress has hurt her knee, a long pause in play on the field treatment hobbles off can’t continue Wymondham to end the game with 10 with no more substitutes over 15 minutes left to play. Gamble carries the ball on for Harlow up to Steele in attack, Clarke closing her down to tackle for Wymondham the hosts break quickly the ball put through the middle King intercepting.
Wymondham actually upping their intensity despite being a player down, renewed energy to close down the ball Waters keeping King busy the clash of the captains King lunging in to win the ball this time. Chambers finding space on the right incensed at being flagged offside with Harlow playing the ball crossfield from the left. Edmeades forwards on the left sends a cross in attacked near post by Steele up to head the ball plays it over the bar. Love and Shephard combined on the right the former with the back heels Shephard’s cross in bringing a corner kick. Swung into the box central blasted goalwards saved on the line by a combination of defender and goalkeeper.
Etheridge storming on down the right side for Wymondham in attack the angle going against her as she unleashes a powerful shot the ball rising smashing against the crossbar falling into the box players in on the follow so too King putting her body in the way to block. The tie on a knife edge could go either way Harlow bring Edmeades off late on sending Jones back into the fray. King with a last ditch tackle to deny Waters inside the box the clock running down Harlow get forwards the ball fed along the ground into Shephard’s feet outside the box left turns and shoots the ball flying over the crossbar. Russell defending late on as Love tries to lift a ball into the box for Steele to run onto. The final whistle blows the cup tie heading into extra-time.
Full time Wymondham Town Ladies 1-1 Harlow Town Ladies
A really enjoyable game lots of action not much between the sides neither on top, defending well committed and lively in the middle on the cusp of boiling over but both sides want to get on with it. Neither keeper overly tested in the 2nd half clear cut chances at a premium Wymondham doing well at the finish despite their player disadvantage could have snatched a late win. Now another 30 minutes awaits.
Into extra-time Wymondham back up to the full 11 on the field, Danni Clarke able to take up an outfield role comes on to the left wearing Symonds no 18 shirt. Wymondham to get the extra period of play underway 2 15 minute halves for either side to try and find a winning goal or the tie heads to penalties. Good to see O’Callaghan up on her feet her knee iced up. Gamble on the ball for Harlow coming forwards long up to Chambers making a run right side the ball collected by Symonds. Chambers lively at the start of the half picking the ball up has pace drives on Wymondham closing her down.
A long diagonal ball left to right finds Etheridge stealing through into the box on the right she shot sliced though swerves wide of goal. Steele spinning on the ball as it is played into her feet very nearly has Shephard in on goal but for a raised flag. Wymondham get on down the right win corner kick players forwards the ball long beyond the far post knocked down into the path of Danni Clarke, the goalkeeper turned outfield player with a snap shot the ball running wide of the post. Harlow with a corner up the other in inswinging cleared off the line.
Harlow attacking the ball fed into the box a race between Steele and Kett shoulder to shoulder Steele getting a shot away flashes over the bar. All action both sides going for it Etheridge winning Wymondham a corner.
GOAL! Wymondham get their noses in front late in the first period of extra-time the corner taken long over the player rising well at the far post gathered as players rush out towards the ball a cross in flicked on and met by Waters jumping to get her foot on the ball in the centre of goal a yard out couldn’t miss 2-1.
Russell defending as Harlow fling a cross into the area from the right. Bassett gathering the ball deep for Harlow bringing it on well Chambers on the move right side Bassett looks to pick her out but to Chambers dismay she’s flagged offside once again.
Half-time extra-time Wymondham Town Ladies 2-1 Harlow Town Ladies
Advantage Wymondham with 15 minutes to play leading 2-1 as Harlow get the 2nd period of extra-time underway. A few spots of rain in the air the visitors on the attack Dell put through right into the box the angle tight drives in a shot the ball held well by Symonds in goal. Harlow pressing at the start of the half looking to put Wymondham on the back foot. Kett stepping out well from the back to win the ball.
Waters sensing space may open up behind moving across the back line getting free momentarily on the left side after the ball, King doing well to get back on her make the challenge. Chelsea Clarke stopping Chambers as she drives towards the box. A Harlow free-kick won 22 yards from goal on the left played into the box cleared Harlow have it back driven into the box deflected wide for a corner. Symonds coping well to get something on the ball to get it away inside a congested six yard box.
Less than 5 minutes left Wymondham attempting to keep possession run the ball into the corners frustrate Harlow. Bassett brings the ball out from the back on for Love, but too much on the ball. Waters across to charge down King as she attempts to launch the ball up field. Time almost up Kett winning another tackle Harlow can’t get a clear chance on goal late on no way through. The final whistle blows and Wymondham are through to the quarter finals of the ERWFL League Cup beating Harlow 2-1 in extra-time.
Full time extra-time Wymondham Town Ladies 2-1 Harlow Town Ladies
Another close contest between the two sides both short on numbers on the day a committed and entertaining cup tie. Early goals the game played at a fast pace several strong challenges and tempers frayed at times but never boiling over. A few bruises to show for the cause the following day I think. Wymondham holding on well with 10 getting back up to 11 for extra-time getting their noses in front. Harlow frustrated a lack of options from the bench not helping out of cup competitions in successive weeks, the focus now on the league and in a strong position to push for the title.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
On to this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. Several contenders it has to be said and narrowing it down to one wasn’t easy. Starting wit the stand out performers for Harlow, an excellent game at the back for Kaydee King strong and had her hands full with Hannah Waters. In the middle of the park great energy shown by Abbey Dell covered alot of ground and her energy set the tone for the game. For Wymondham was impressed by Katie Knights in the middle several great runs and setting up attacks, Waters leading the line well. The defence doing well as a unit Freya Symonds didn’t look out of place in goal 2nd half. The award though goes to Lauren Kett won numerous challenges in the centre of defence and set up the opening goal.
An enjoyable first trip to Ketts Park, an entertaining game just what was needed after two weeks without a game. Played at a fast pace two committed teams could have gone either way Wymondham finding the winner in extra-time. My thanks to both teams for today’s starting line-ups.