Sunday 6th September
Women’s FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Dusting down the notepad after 175 days of inactivity the previous season ending abruptly declared null & void as the COVID pandemic spread across the globe. Good to be back and raring to go many sides getting there season underway this Sunday taking part in the Extra Preliminary Round of the Women’s FA Cup, a record number of entrants once again and a whooping 87 ties taking place across the country. Heading to Trafford Park home of Wroxham Women as they welcome Northamptonshire side Kettering Town Women.
376 sides entering this years FA Cup competition, plenty of sides making their debut in the cup to all taking the first step to Wembley. Today’s clash a meeting between two sides that locked horns in the early stages of last seasons competition, Kettering the hosts that time around getting into the lead before Wroxham came back to win 6-2. Kettering making the trip to Norfolk this time around, both sides playing in the Premier Division of their respective Regional Leagues.
Wroxham bringing the already established ERWFL side Acle United Women under their umbrella last season. The club offering plenty of support to the woman’s set-up and have high ambitions for Wroxham Women to go on and achieve promotion into the FAWNL. Manager Rebecca Burton bringing in several new faces to further strengthen the squad amongst them, pacy winger Zoe Cossey who has plenty of experience playing in the FAWNL most recently with Ipswich Town Women. Becky Russell also brings plenty of experience to the side, the ex King’s Lynn Town Ladies captain strong in an attacking midfield role has a decent range for goal from outside the box. Jess Horn another new addition joining from AFC Basildon. Erin Wilson coming to the club from Lincoln with Ellie Prentice adding to the goalkeeping options joining from King’s Lynn too.
Northamptonshire side Kettering Town Women are established in the East Midlands Women’s Regional Premier Division. Like the ERWFL the regional Premier Division’s are getting stronger year on year offering plenty of competitive action. Kettering have added a few new faces to thier squad prior to today’s match. Centre back Hayley Matthews coming in along with goalkeeper Jade Smallbones. Winger Lauren Adams and Stephanie Gale in attack who has plenty of experience leading the line will pose strong threat for opposing defences.
Trafford Park the venue for today’s match, my first trip to the ground. On the outskirts of Wroxham coming from Norwich. A large grass pitch sloping from one goal mouth to the other. Plenty of room for spectators a small seated stand one side of the ground the clubhouse and changing rooms situated behind the dugouts on the opposite side. The bar open, tea and coffees also being serves along with food… and although I very nearly did I resisted the temptation to purchase a cheeseburger. Pleasant weather sunny and bright a few clouds around keeping things cooler.
Wroxham Women starting XI – Cyan Fullbrook, Laura Dawson, Lauren Bailey, Leanne Symonds, Jess Horn (C), Kate Pasque, Broghan Scully, Becky Russell, Kayleigh Holloway, Lauren Bullard & Grace Birchall. Subs – Ellie Prentice, Victoria Pleavin, Amber Rowland, Charlotte Gardiner, Zoe Cossey, Madeleine Pitt, Rhianne Brister, Laura Beevor & Emma Allsopp.
Kettering Town Women starting XI – Jade Smallbones, Sami Jones, Kylie Evans, Hayley Matthews, Maddie Bates, Jo Brandon (C), Brodie Betts, Lauren Handley, Caitlin Redfern-Christie, Leah Stacey & Stephanie Gale. Subs – Charlotte Hyams, Michelle Smith & Jess Perrin.
Nine substitutes on he bench for Wroxham, this is new for the FA Cup this season still the same number can be brought on during the game however. Wroxham having the numbers available and knowing I was coming knew they’d all get a mention in the match report. Becky Russell and Jess Horn captaining the side making their competitive debuts with fellow new signings Zoe Cossey and Ellie Prentice on the bench. Jade Smallbones, Hayley Matthews and Stephanie Gale all starting for Kettering. The visitors getting the tie underway kicking off first half wearing red and black vertical striped shirts, black shorts and red socks. Wroxham opposite wearing blue and white vertical striped shirts blue shorts and socks.
The hosts pressing the ball straight away inside the centre circle comes to Kayleigh Holloway right side pushed into midfielder Broghan Scully back playing after missing most of last season through injury prods it on for Russell driving on towards the box before sending it out to Laura Dawson on the wing, Brodie Betts in to make the challenge for Kettering the ball going out for a throw. A bright start from Wroxham numbers forwards the ball crossed in from the throw in headed clear by Hayley Matthews for Kettering. A free kick given outside the box in a dangerous position for Wroxham, Scully over the ball hits a good strike goalwards, Smallbones up well on her line to make a confident claim.
The ball is quickly regained by Wroxham pushing on with intent in the opening minute, put in from the right headed clear to the left, Lauren Handley attempting to get it up the pitch for Kettering, Leanne Symonds closing her down inside her own half getting Wroxham back on the offensive. Laura Dawson linking well with Holloway on the right, Russell getting on to support Grace Birchall and Lauren Bullard in attack the hosts keeping Kettering penned inside their own half in the opening 5 minutes. Russell bringing the ball on central with the attempted through ball for Birchall top of the area sends to to Dawson deep on the right who lays it back for Holloway to lift a cross into the area Birchall there nipping in to attack it near post getting her boot up to connect with the ball drills it wide of the post.
A free kick won inside the Wroxham half gives Kettering an opportunity to try and get a foot hold in opposition territory, the ball put in high towards the top of the area defended well by Jess Horn heading clear, Wroxham look to build an attack on the right, Handley over on that side now putting the a good tackle to regain possession. Wroxham look sharp Dawson providing a good outlet on the right, pacy down to the byline wins her side a corner. The delivery into the box won by Matthews she looks to play it up field to Gale in attack, getting the ball into her feet, using her strength to get forwards hasn’t support is eventually crowded off the ball.
Getting numbers into the Wroxham half Kettering are caught on the counter attack, Russell getting hold of the ball driving forwards lining up a curler from distance is blocked by the back tracking defence. Frustration up the other end as Sami Jones looks to have gotten Caitlin Redfern-Christie clear on the right wing only for the flag to go up against her. Wroxham setting a good pace building up quickly on the right the ball sent in low central Russell rushing on to strike it goalwards her shot straight into keeper Jade Smallbones. Handley looking a threat for Kettering whenever she gets hold of the ball inside the opposition half holding off her marker spins looking to send it through the middle for Gale, the Wroxham defence moving well to catch her offside.
Birchall scores plenty of goals and never needs an invite to shoot, from a throw in on the right the ball is helped on towards her top of the area right side, strikes it on the volley the shot looping up over the bar. Gale is left frustrated again by another offside decision. Handley on the left does well to get the ball up the line to Leah Stacey the Kettering attacker winning a throw in the ball sent in towards the box left hand corner Gale attacking it but can’t turn to shoot as three Wroxham defenders converge on her.
A heavy blow to the face for Kettering captain Jo Brandon as she goes up for the ball with Birchall. A pause in play so she can receive treatment, is up and okay to continue, Scully in the wars for Wroxham moments later in a coming together with Gale. 20 minutes played Wroxham with the better start as play stops for a drinks break. Play resuming were Wroxham left off on the attack Russell skipping past a challenge in the middle threading a pass low through to Dawson right side Birchall running in behind her plays a clever back heel to her, her shot blocked by Kylie Evans inside the box, spins out to Dawson wide right driven back in races wide across the face of goal.
Again Russell finds Smallbones in the Kettering goal as she attempts to dink the ball in high from the edge of the box having been set-up by Birchall receiving the ball after good build-up play on the right between Dawson and Holloway. Brandon sliding in to regain possession in the middle for Kettering onto Handley, drives up the right, Symonds coming in to close her down can’t release the ball as Wroxham get it back and are immediately racing forwards. Birchall peeling away to the left side spins in behind is clear grass in front of her, Bullard racing on through the centre, Birchall finding her, her strike from outside the area charged down by the Kettering defence.
GOAL! with a little over 10 minutes to play in the 1st half Wroxham get the goal their dominance has deserved. Players rushing on as the hosts attack down the right Holloway down the line for Dawson her cross back in towards the top of the area over Birchall near side comes to Russell top of the D strikes her foot through the ball stroking it past the keeper for her first Wroxham goal 1-0.
GOAL! One goal brings two as Wroxham immediately double their lead, attacking right side Holloway with a ball lifted into the box initially headed clear falls straight to Russell all of 25 yards out right of the area hits it hard and low into the bottom corner 2-0.
Birchall on the ball 25 yards out jinks left the right looking to get a shot away, leaning back as she does she sends her strike over the crossbar. Wroxham looking strong in the latter stages of the 1st half Holloway right side drills in a low cross cut out by Matthews. Holloway fed the ball into her feet by Scully moments later sends it central for Birchall who can’t quite tee up Russell bombing on.
Kettering haven’t had much of the ball at all in the 1st half in the closing moments win a corner on the left a chance to bring players forwards into the opposition box. The first corner cleared behind at the near post for 2nd take, this one deeper headed high into the air dropping onto the roof of the net a 3rd corner given this one cleared brings with it the whistle for half-time.
Half-time Wroxham Women 2-0 Kettering Town Women
Wroxham going into the half-time interval leading 2-0 with Becky Russell scoring a brace on her debut. A dominant display from the hosts during the first 45 minutes on the front foot right from the off, getting players forwards good runs down the right and through the middle. The hosts defence rarely troubled Kettering struggling to match Wroxham’s pace haven’t been able to fashion much in the final third. Have alot of work to do if they want to get back into it and certainly you feel need to keep it tight early on in the 2nd half not concede a third and then hopefully pull a goal back themselves apply some pressure on Wroxham.
The teams back out for the 2nd half Wroxham making a change Zoe Cossey on to make her debut right side replacing Scully with Holloway coming central and Dawson dropping deeper. The hosts kicking off the 2nd period straight on the the attack winning a throw in the right Cossey straight into the action receiving the ball to her feet twisting inside and bursting towards the box, a boot stabbed out tripping her inside the area a penalty kick awarded.
GOAL! Bullard has the ball under her arm sets it on the spot, deceives the keeper who is wrong footed as the ball is sent along the ground into the opposite corner 3-0. The perfect start to the 2nd half for Wroxham.
Cossey full of pace and energy as she gets hold of the ball for Wroxham prepared to take players on Betts getting the challenge in to deny her a chance, the visitors get the ball on quickly mounting an attack on their right the cross swung in across the face of goal, Fullbrook snatching it into her gloves. Up the line for Cossey on the right wing her cross into the box just over Birchall near post cleared central by the Kettering defence the visitors on the back foot.
GOAL! Birchall with a sweet strike from close to 30 yards out as the ball comes to her left of the D connects well the ball up and over the keeper dipping under the bar into the back of the net 4-0.
GOAL! Wroxham going for the kill at the start of the 2nd half scoring 2 quick goals add a 3rd as Bullard nets her 2nd of the game the ball into her top if the area right of the D into the box closing in on the keeper looks to slot the ball past her, Smallbones making an excellent save close in to turn the ball up onto the crossbar, brutal then that it should rebound back into the six yards box and Bullard alert as any attacker shoulder be runs onto it to send into the empty net 5-0.
Cossey finding herself on the left has the ball played into her feet takes on the Kettering defence lets loose from all of 25 yards out her rising strike saved fantastically by Smallbones diving to her right to put the ball behind for a corner.
GOAL! The corner taken short played back up the line left side a diagonal ball sent into the box dipping at the near post Cossey nipping in in front of the keeper to score her 1st goal for Wroxham 6-0.
A devastating spell from Wroxham at the start of the 2nd half scoring 4 goals in just 9 minutes to take the game firmly away from Kettering. A further blow for the visitors too as Handley picks up a knock from a challenge and can’t continue Michelle Smith coming on. Wroxham making their 2nd change with Amber Rowland coming on for Lauren Bailey. Russell playing deeper in the 2nd half with a chance to get forwards a good run up towards the top of the box before being tackled by Brandon, Birchall looks to get hold of the lose ball but is quickly closed down by Jones and Evans.
Holloway coming on central dribbling the ball gains alot of ground before attempting to thread the pass through for Birchall central, Evans doing well to cut it out. Birchall’s not interested in tap ins today as she has another go from 30 yards out her effort whistling over the bar nevertheless getting a loud cheer from the vocal home support from behind that goal. Jess Perrin and Charlotte Hyams are on for Kettering with Gale and Stacey coming off.
GOAL! Cossey scoring her 2nd of the game as she makes a great run between two defenders into the box following a fantastic pass from Rowland in the middle, lifts the ball up into the back of the net to make it 7-0.
GOAL! Wroxham are running rampant Kettering getting pulled out of shape tiring a cross lifted up and into the box from the right, Birchall lively nipping in to attack in near post gets her head down to nod it in before the keeper can claim 8-0.
Four Wroxham players all on a brace the race is on to see if anyone can claim their hat-trick, energy levels and confidence are high. Kettering reeling trying their best to regroup. Cossey setting up Birchall outside the box opens her body to shoot across the keeper, Smallbones with a wonderful save to deny her.
Smallbones gets exposed by her defence moments later called into action produces a brilliant double save, Bullard running into the box clear left side this time headers the ball from close range Smallbones instinctive gloving it down to the floor, is up quickly as Bullard takes a swing at the loose ball saves with her legs a save of top quality despite the scoreline.
Cossey making a huge impact since coming on 2nd half for Wroxham is after a ball played on up the right wing for her by Holloway, cuts inside beating a defender gets her heels clipped but stays on her feet carrying the ball across the top of the box into the D squeezes a shot away the ball screwed wide of the far post.
GOAL! Doesn’t take Cossey long to make amends however gathering the ball into her feet having drifted over to the left head down charges towards the box one intent lets fly with a strike curling it low past the diving keeper into the far corner of the goal to make it a hat-trick on debut 9-0.
Kettering have yet to trouble Fullbrook in the Wroxham goal, get an opportunity when Rowland brings down Brandon 35 yards out central a long way out but the shot is attempted Fullbrook seeing it wide of her right post. Perrin shifts the ball between her feet looking to gain ground attacking left can’t quite find Redfern-Christie with the pass the ball cleared straight to Betts however she has a go from distance the shot on target caught by Fullbrook.
Hyams tackles Cossey to concede a corner on the right as Holloway looks to roll the ball on for Cossey. Swung into the box the ball is cleared.
GOAL! The hosts make it a double figure score-line with the game closing in on the final 5 minutes Russell having scored a brace in the first half with two well taken strikes saves her best till last time on the ball from all of 30 yards out hits it cleanly sending it flying in over the keeper to complete her hat-trick 10-0.
Wroxham are full of confidence the stuffing knocked out of their opponents pace in every attack get it out from the back rapidly into Birchall 25 yards out not closed down lines up her shot, Smallbones has had to keep picking herself up and produces yet another excellent save to send the ball wide. Symonds off in the closing stages on comes Victoria Pleavin at the back. Birchall central 25 out receiving the ball into her feet lays it off for Bullard to strike her shot swerving wide of the right post. Evans charging down a shot from Bullard inside the box as the hosts push on looking for more goals.
Holloway making some good runs with the ball through the middle sends the pass on for Birchall top of the area right side turns under challenge her shot sent off target behind goal. Cossey with a punt from 30 yard out late on falling wide across goal. The Wroxham attackers getting clear too easily in the closing minutes Kettering down and out, Birchall away, Smallbones not letting her get a strike away rushing out to meet her as she enters the box sliding in to save with her legs. The final whistle blows.
Full time Wroxham Women 10-0 Kettering Town Women
A comprehensive 2nd half display from Wroxham with 4 goals in 9 minutes at the start of the 2nd period to take the game away from their opponents. Having had the better of the first half eventually going on to lead 2-0. The next goal is often crucial in these games and Wroxham took the game by the scruff of the neck. The display and goals seeing their energy levels remain high an confidence grow. Their defence rarely troubled worked well as a unit throughout the match Kettering finding it tough to break down. The scoreline sapping their energy didn’t offer a threat in attack and inviting Wroxham on made for a tough game came have little complaints, a very harsh scoreline, all you can do is dust yourselves down and move onto the next one, their league campaign is still 3 weeks away no doubt fitness levels played a part.
The draw for the next round already made Wroxham will now play King’s Lynn Town Ladies away from home on Sunday 20th September.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto the first Women’s Football East – Player of the Match award of the new season. Rarely is it an easy choice and today is no exception. Several displays of note to mention, firstly for Kettering, Lauren Handley looked like she could cause problems for Wroxham especially first half with some good tackling and runs. Jade Smallbones too I know it sounds odd when a keeper has conceded 10 but she nevertheless pulled off some brilliant saves that kept that score down might well have been 15-0. For Wroxham the team produced a dominant attacking display whilst being disciplined at the back, have laid down a marker for the season already. Kayleigh Holloway was excellent linking up with Laura Dawson who attacked well down the right. Becky Russell with three great strikes on her Wroxham debut making some great runs from midfield, nudging her out though is the other hat-trick debutant Zoe Cossey made an instant impact coming on 2nd half and took the game away from the opposition.
Great to e back covering games looking forwards to the season ahead, was terribly rusty today my notes more shocking than usual but I wrote far too much as usual. Enjoyed my first trip to Trafford Park and will no doubt be back at some point. My thanks as always to the teams for providing me with the squad details much appreciated.