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Cup Final Special – Mulbarton Belles Ladies v Wymondham Town Ladies

Wednesday 25th May

Norfolk Women’s County Cup Final

Final game of the season for Women’s Football East this evening, ending thing’s with a midweek trip to Carrow Road for the Final of the Norfolk Women’s County Cup sponsored by Harrod Sport between Mulbarton Belles Ladies and Wymondham Town Ladies.

The women’s county cup finale back at the home of Norwich City FC for the 2nd time having hosted the women’s showpiece game in Norfolk back in 2019, between King’s Lynn Town Ladies and Wymondham Town Ladies. The final originally at the newly developed Harrod Sport arena at the FDC, the game switched to Carrow Road following online protests over the decision.

A county cup double at Carrow Road this week for Mulbarton Belles Ladies with the man’s side beating Dereham Town 2-1 on Monday to lift the Ashtons Legal Senior Cup. Mulbarton Belles Ladies very much looking forwards to the experience at playing at the home of the Canaries having reached the county cup final for the 2nd successive season and their first full season playing under the Mulbarton banner. The side born following a  despite with their former club that saw much of the senior squad and their manager Martin Francis move to Mulbarton who have had a woman’s side previously. Now taking on a talented and tightly knit squad to compete in the NWGFL bearing fruit straight away as they reached the county cup final where they were beaten by Norwich City Women.

Building on that successful debut in the NWGFL have had a hugely successful league campaign running away with the Division One title winning all 20 of there league matches to finish 12 points clear of the rest. A potential treble on the cards having reached both the finals of the league and county cups, were to miss out in the league cup final 10 days ago beaten in a sudden death penalty shootout by Fakenham Town Ladies. Still one more shot at a double although it will be a tall order agianst Wymondham this evening. That said Mulbarton have knocked out higher league opposition twice on their way to this season’s final. Captain Rebekah Lake their talisman in front of goal netting an incredible 42 goals so far this season. Missing the league cup final due to a broken arm was hoping to get the cast removed in time to be available for this evenings final, and I had no doubt she would. 

 Like Mulbarton, Wymondham Town Ladies have had  hugely successful season, under manager Alex Guy the club has progressed up the women’s football pyramid, the stand alone club as they won the ERWFL Premier Division to win promotion from the regional set-up to the national FAWNL tier 4 above. Made it a league and cup double with a 2-1 win over fellow Norfolk side Wroxham Women in the League Cup final 2 weeks ago and are now seeking to make it a treble winning season by winning the county cup for the 3rd time. Have fond memories of Carrow Road having won the first women’s county cup final to be played here back in 2019 beating King’s Lynn 4-1 to lift the trophy for the 2nd successive season and will want to end an excellent season on a high. Hannah Waters leading goal scorer netting 20 goals this season with fellow attackers, Francesca Catchpole and Laura Nicholls with 16 and 15 respectfully.

Road to the Final

   The 4 leading sides in Norfolk through league placing, Norwich City Women, Wymondham Town Ladies, Wroxham Women and King’s Lynn Town Ladies not entering the competition until the quarter final stage the rest of the entrants playing for the other 4 places in 3 rounds. Mulbarton Belles Ladies effectively given a bye through to the quarter finals themselves progressing without kicking a ball, a first round bye followed by Away wins awarded in rounds 2 and 3

The quarter final draw throwing up a tough tie and repeat of the previous years final as Mulbarton were away to Norwich City Women. Winning that final 7-0, Norwich would have been strong favourites but back then were struggling in their league whilst Mulbarton were in good form scoring goals the the game level at 2-2 at the final whistle heading to a penalty shoot out often a lottery, it was Mulbarton who emerged victorious winning 4-3 to book their spot in the semi-finals. Wymondham also away in the quarter finals drawn against Division One side Thetford Town Ladies. Wymondham eventually going on to run out comfortable winners 6-1 to progress into the semi-finals with Francesca Catchpole scoring a hat-trick, Chelsea Clarke, Katie Knights and Laura Nicholls all getting a goal each.

Both sides drawn away in their respective semi-finals. Mulbarton with a trip to The Walks to play ERWFL Premier Division side, King’s Lynn Town Ladies. Another close game with a single goal enough to win the game going in Mulbarton’s favour as they reached the final for a 2nd successive season. Wymondham taking on Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women, the NWGFL Division One side knocking out ERWFL Premier Division rivals Wroxham on penalties in the quarter finals. Goals for Laura Nicholls and Katie Knights securing a 2-0 win and another appearance in a Carrow Road final looking to win the county cup for a 3rd time and with it the treble.

Great to see the Women’s County Cup Final back at Carrow Road. A superb venue hosting a Lionesses game here back in February, and with the upcoming Euro’s this summer an fantastic opportunity to see substantial growth in the women’s game. A special occasion for the players and coaching teams and fans alike just as it was for the men’s Senior Cup final on Monday, a showpiece final at a leading stadium in Norfolk. Up in the press box for this one a great view of the pitch is large and as you’d expect an immaculate grass pitch to play on. A decent crowd building in buoyant mood both teams with plenty of support. Cloudy but mild with little chance of rain.

Mulbarton Belles Ladies

Mulbarton Belles Ladies starting XI – Cara Anderson, Vicky McNorton, Olivia Mungham-Gray, Megan Belsey, Lucy Lincoln, Alice Smith, Laura Hedtke, Ellie Hunter, Sophie Jermy, Atlanta Griffith & Rebekah Lake. Subs – Melissa Belsey , Annie Smith, Olivia Smith, Meg Anderton & Molly Ryan.

Wymondham Town Ladies

 Wymondham Town Ladies starting XI – Chloe Pearce, Chelsea Clarke, Leah Newcombe (C), Lauren Kett, Mary Croft, Becca Russell, Katie Knights, Jennifer Codman, Natasha Youngs, Kyla Love & Hannah Waters. Subs – Jess Luff, Hayley Kindred, Francesca Catchpole, Laura Nicholls & Lyla Studd.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

 A moment of silence held before kick-off held in memory of the tragic victims of the senseless mass shooting at Uvalde School in Texas, followed by a period of applause for those lost in the Norfolk football community over the past year. 

  Captain Rebekah Lake in the starting line-up for Mulbarton having had her cast removed, a few players carrying knocks, whilst Wymondham have players out injured too. Both sides having seen little competitive action over leading up to the final with Mulbarton’s league campaign finishing a month ago, Wymondham’s as far back as March 27th with a couple of cup games in between. Wymondham to get the county cup final underway kicking off first half wearing red coloured shirts with black shorts and socks. Mulbarton opposite wearing black and blue vertical striped shirts with blue shorts and socks. The ball played back into Jennifer Codman in midfield back to her right back Mulbarton closing down forcing play back to the keeper.

  Atlanta Griffith on the ball for Mulbarton linking up with Laura Hedtke in midfield she spreads play out to the right for Ellie Hunter getting up on the right her cross turned away for a throw in. Mulbarton making a positive start rushing in to close Wymondham down who look a little nervous in comparison the ball given away, Kyla Love looking to get on into the left channel, Vicky McNorton defending for Mulbarton who look to counter through the middle, Codman tackling to reclaim possession for Wymondham.

Mulbarton’s Vicky McNorton

 Chelsea Clarke bringing the ball on for Wymondham on the left from the back lifting it forwards for striker Hannah Waters moving out onto the wing, McNorton going with her for Mulbarton with the challenge to win the ball, play stopped however with the flag raised for offside. Katie Knights controlling the ball in midfield for Wymondham turning to lift it forwards for Love bursting through on the left side but unable to keep the ball in play. Becca Russell winning the resulting header from the goal kick for Wymondham 30 yards out left put on for Knights looking to run in behind, Megan Belsey alert stabbing a foot out to take the ball from her feet out for a throw high up the pitch.

  Griffith getting about the pitch closing players down to pressure possession linking well with Hedtke and Smith in midfield for Mulbarton. Getting the ball into her feet 20 yards out back to goal left of the D Griffith helps it on for Lake breaking into the area left side gets to the by-line her attempted cross, turned behind for a corner kick. The delivery flashed in near side comfortably defended by Wymondham. The ball played out to Waters right over halfway looks to get forwards, lacking support is outnumbered on the ball.

Kyla Love winning the header for Wymondham

  Mulbarton pressing outside the Wymondham box, Griffith strong with Knights heading the ball forwards right side for Hunter who looks to take it inside towards the box, Mary Croft defending well for Wymondham clearing the ball. Mulbarton with a promising start up on the right with a throw inside for Sophie Jermy right of the D playing the ball inside for Lake again taking the ball onto the by-line seeing her cross charged down behind for a corner. 

Mary Croft clearing the ball

  Coming on with the ball through the middle Wymondham’s Russell on for Waters in attack, has Love getting on ahead of her, the threaded pass, cut out by Mulbarton centre back, Lucy Lincoln. Codman given the ball on the left for Wymondham looks to drop it over the top into the box to be attacked, goalkeeper, Cara Anderson getting her gloves around the ball safely first. Wymondham looking better now getting numbers forwards quicker as they win possession a throw high on the left into Waters can’t capitalise with her cross. 

Vicky McNorton an Hannah Waters

  Love controlling the ball on the left in attack for Wymondham has full back, Clarke bombing on on the overlap laying the ball on into her path escapes in behind wide the send a cross into the six yard box, Lincoln with the hasty clearance getting to the ball ahead of Waters closing in. Griffiths doing the defending at the near post for Mulbarton. Causing problems at the other end too is fouled wide. 15 minutes played a competitive game in store. Griffith to the right taking the ball on from Hedtke sends it across the top of the Wymondham area for Jermy to take on the spin into the area left side, Lauren Kett closing in to tackle for Wymondham win the ball.

  Smith central for Mulbarton picking out Jermy forwards on the left she squares it into Griffith central 20 yards out top of the D her shot on the turn dipping in towards goal, goalkeeper Chloe Pearce right behind it to save comfortably for Wymondham. An opportunity out of nothing for Wymondham as Natasha Youngs wide on the right is in to attack the box after the defence miss the ball, driving for the area, is rapidly closed down under challenge managing to get a shot away the ball deflected behind at the near post for a corner.

Wymondham’s Becca Russell

  Put in near side, Jermy heading it away up the left side for Mulbarton, won back by Wymondham captain Leah Newcombe the cross sent back in towards the top of the area Mulbarton’s defence stepping up, Lincoln winning the header to clear. Lake seeing the ball rolled into her feet in attack looks to press forwards for Mulbarton in attack, isolated however, Croft getting back at her to tackle regain possession for Wymondham. Jermy with the ball left side crossing into Griffith near post area 10 yards out stooping an twisting to get her head on the ball, sees it blocked before being turned behind.

  Waters drifting left looking to get in behind with the ball, Megan Belsey doing well against her for Mulbarton, Love up the pitch pressing winning Wymondham a corner. The ball knocked on into the middle of the box, no shot on as the ball is closed down. Knights full of energy for Wymondham taking the ball on through the middle, McNorton and Lincoln closing her down. Croft bringing the ball on from the back for Wymondham with a great pass forwards for Waters beating the offside trap, Lincoln recoverin to get a foot in to take the ball away for a corner on the right. The inswinging delivery curling onto the top of the crossbar ear side. 

Wymondham’s Chelsea Clarke

  The crowd in good voice backing both teams. Waters appears to have pulled up with an injury for Wymondham, down can’t continue midway through the 1st half, on comes Laura Nicholls. Jermy moving to the right in attack for Mulbarton getting forwards looking to thread it on for Lake pulling off the defence to get into the box, Croft back at her well to clear the ball away for a throw. Is a little lively with a few strong tackles flying in adding to the crowds enthusiasm. Youngs breaking right side for Wymondham attempts to put the ball on for Nicholls the pass over hit. 

Mulbarton’s Laura Hedtke

  Knights getting on left side supporting Love, Belsey winning the ball back for Mulbarton. Kett strong in defence with Griffith on her shoulder looking to attack the ball left of goal, gets it bac into her keeper to clear. Smith and Hedtke battling in the middle to get the ball back for Mulbarton put out to the right the cross sent long on into the area left side, Newcombe winning the header for Wymondham. Newcombe then getting up the pitch on the right looking to support Youngs and Nicholls as they try to make headway outside the Mulbarton area.

GOAL! That move breaking down Mulbarton getting the ball back up their left, Newcombe closing in to reclaim it sending a superb ball on for Nicholls to turn and take on into the area, strong as she breaks into the box, Anderson coming to close the angle, defenders trying to get back on her sliding in Nicholls gets the ball past the keeper to send it home to open the scoring 0-1.

 

Wymondham celebrating after Laura Nicholls fired them into the lead

Laura Nicholls opening the scoring in the County Cup Final

  Wymondham taking the lead with a little under 15 minutes left in the first half, Knights winning the ball back in the middle, Clarke on the move left side crossing early, McNorton winning the header for Mulbarton top of the area. Clarke attempting to get on past Love on the overlap as the pair look to exchange passes on the left side, Belsey reading it well for Mulbarton. Smith with time on the ball central for Mulbarton attempts the through ball for Lake, Kett intercepting at the back for Wymondham.

  Jermy central back to go controlling the ball looks to feed it into Griffith’s path as she bursts into the box from the left, Kett she idling sees the ball back to her keeper. Smith having a go from all of 30 yards out, has a decent strike on her, not this time though as it drops kindly for Pearce to claim. A clever turn from Knights out left for Wymondham forwards for Love, she i turn with the dummy outside the D letting in roll on for Nicholls, Lincoln in on her making the challenge to deny a shot. 

  Lake pulling away looking to get in behind left into the box Newcombe quick to recover back on her to defend for Wymondham. Mungham-Gray getting up on the left for Mulbarton looking to support Jermy an Griffith as they battle for possession outside the area left side wins a corner. Put in from the left to the near post Griffith up to challenge the keeper, the ball out for a goalkick. Into the final 5 minutes of the 1st half the goal going a long way to lift Wymondham getting more of the ball looking to take the game t Mulbarton. Lincoln defending with Nicholls as she rounds her inside the box looking to get in on goal, frustrated when a goa kick is awarded against her and not the corner she wanted.

  Newcombe getting up on the right swinging a cross into the Mulbarton box, cut out a strong appeal for hand ball but nothing doing. The ball behind for a corner from the right. In near side Love attacking it twisting as she looks to turn her header towards goal is wide across the target. An opportunity for Mulbarton as Griffith gets clear on the left side breaking on for the area, Pearce starts to come but hesitates not getting there, attempts to back track, Griffith striking the ball on the angle can only pick out the side netting. One last attack for Wymondham in the closing stages of the 1st half, Love up on the left putting a diagonal ball into Nicholls outside the D she spins it onto Youngs on the right has, Newcombe racing past her on the overlap putting the ball on for her, sends the cross into the six yard box, Love having made the run to get there can’t get a meaningful touch.

Half-time Mulbarton Belles Ladies 0-1 Wymondham Town Ladies

  Wymondham with the single goal advantage at the break. Substitute, Laura Nicholls with the break through with a little over half and hour played put through on goal to send her shot past the keeper. A bright start from Mulbarton, Wymondham taking longer to settle the game competitive, even for a long period. Closing the ball down forcing errors. The goal giving Wymondham renewed confidence getting forwards well. A couple of chances for Mulbarton to get back on level terms not taken. Just a goal in it though still all to play for 2nd half. 

  A couple of changes for Mulbarton at the start of the 2nd half, Melissa Belsey on up top replacing Lake with Olivia Smith on at left back replacing Mungham-Gray. It’s Mulbarton to get the 2nd half underway, look for Griffith on the right the ball lost for a throw. Looking to get on from the start Smith sends the ball on through the middle for Jermy whose attempted through ball for Melissa Belsey is claimed by the advancing keeper. Wymondham coming on left side getting a throw in the ball crossed into area attacked near side by Russell her effort sent wide across goal.

Mulbarton’s Melissa Belsey

  Love nipping in to regain possession for Wymondham right side putting it forwards for Youngs looks to travel with it, Olivia Smith tackling well for Mulbarton. Griffith getting on left looks to play in Melissa Belsey central, getting away from Kett momentarily, Croft is around on the cover to clear the ball. 

GOAL! A goal early in the 2nd half for Wymondham to double their lead. Croft with possession at the ball ,looks up seeing Clarke racing on free into space left side picks her out superbly with the diagonal ball, Clarke taking it on firing the cross in, Youngs there six yards out to attack volleying ball up high past the keeper into the back of the net 0-2.

Natasha Youngs doubles Wymondham’s lead

 Another change for Mulbarton, Megan Belsey having picked up an injury coming off with Molly Ryan coming on. Mulbarton press on the left winning a throw high, Griffith with the header on up the wing for Jermy to the by-line, her cross fed into the area, cleared but only as far as Alice Smith 25 yards out goes to strike the ball pulling her effort wide of the left post. Play more open in the 2nd half with the game becoming a little stretched a free kick on half way knocked on by Wymondham the ball won back from the resulting goal kick the cross angled in from the right clear inside the six yard box for a corner. The ball nodded on across goal cleared, Mulbarton can’t get out as Wymondham close down quickly the ball out to Nicholls right her cross coming to Knights central, can’t turn Mulbarton closing her down the clearance out to the left side the shot struck back in from all of 25 yards out smashed wide of the near post.

Mulbarton’s Atlanta Griffith with Wymondham’s Kyla Love

  All action with Wymondham looking to turn the screw. Hunter finding some useful pockets of space for Mulbarton getting forwards on the right of attack combining with Ryan out wide, her cross into the Wymondham area cut out by Croft. Griffith has carried the game to Wymondham all game for Mulbarton a powerful runner on the ball comes on left side turning inside sends it on for Hunter in an advanced position left of the D, who into sends the return back inside her Griffith to strike, the attempt curling in has Pearce scrambling across her goal but wide of the far post.

Mulbarton’s Ellie Hunter holding off Wymondham’s Becca Russel

  A double change for Wymondham, players pulling up with cramp and other niggles, Hayley Kindred on for Kett with Francesca Catchpole on for Youngs. The substitutes linking up in attack for Wymondham in the right channel with Kindred sending the ball on for Catchpole to take on, Olivia Smith getting a foot in to deny her. Kindred with Nicholls moving right this time plays the pass inside for Catchpole central driving at the Mulbarton box, Lincoln standing form for Mulbarton winning the ball. Is a little testy between the sides a word needed from the referee. Pearce with a low save diving onto the ball as Griffith shoots from 30 yards out. 

Wymondham defender, Lauren Kett

  Players struggling with cramp, both sides carrying niggling injuries. Annie Smith on for Mulbarton. Alice Smith with another long range attempt, easily dealt with by Pearce. With more space to play into with the game stretched not being closed down as they were in the 1st half, Wymondham are looking more comfortable on the ball. Alice Smith coming right with Ryan out wide the cross into Hunter inside the box near side her shot hit wide across goal. Catchpole getting hold of the ball looking to drive on for Wymondham in attack, riding a challenge space opening up ahead of her the shot on left of the D, instead attempts to pick out Nicholls inside the area, the flag going up straight away.

   Alice Smith looking to thread the pass in through the middle for Griffith, Croft composed to clear for Wymondham. Griffith taking the ball on fouled centrally giving Mulbarton a free-kick 3o yards from goal. Jermy and Hedtke over it. Jermy running in with the step over, Hedtke striking the shot goalwards her attempt over the crossbar. Knights continues to be busy on the pitch getting about to hustle possession and close Mulbarton down. Ryan pulling away left swinging a cross for Mulbarton is cut out at the near post. Another substitution for Mulbarton that sees Hedtke come off replaced by Meg Anderton.

  Griffith strong running in towards the Wymondham D, giving the ball to Alice Smith positioned high she looks to clip it into the area for Melissa Belsey to break onto, Pearce alert out well to get hold of the ball before Belsey can pounce. A double change for Wymondham with Codman and Russell coming off, on come Lyla Studd with Youngs returning to the action. The clock ticking down a couple of minutes of regular time plus stoppages left. Griffith bringing the ball on left attacking for Mulbarton on for Jermy, Newcombe defends for Wymondham seeing the ball back to her keeper.

 Knights on the right for Wymondham laying the ball on for Youngs, Annie Smith winning the ball back for Mulbarton. Knights on the ball left into Nicholls outside the D, looks to turn inside into the box, Lincoln defending for Mulbarton. 5 minutes of stoppage time to be played. Mulbarton pressing on looking for a late goal Jermy out left back for Alice Smith in the middle, Knights quick to close her down and clear. Nicholls looking to take the ball into the corner for Wymondham eat up valuable time, is shoved over, Anderton shown a yellow card.

Wymondham captain, Leah Newcombe

  Wymondham keeping the ball well in the closing moments frustrating Mulbarton, winning the ball inside their opponents half Catchpole with another forceful run towards the area, Lincoln in with the challenge the ball loose picked up by Love 25 yards out her shot sent in towards goal safely in Anderson’s gloves. Advantage played by the referee as Olivia Smith is tackled on halfway, Griffith with the ball pace in the left channel shoots wide from 25 yards out. That’s it the final whistle blows and Wymondham celebrate as they win the County Cup for a 3rd time and with it complete a treble winning season.

Celebrating at the final whistle

Full time Mulbarton Belles Ladies 0-2 Wymondham Town Ladies

  An incredible crowd of 959 in attendance for this evenings Women’s County Cup Final a record attendance and another great sign the game is growing fast and worthy of being held in such a prestigious venue. An entertaining game from start to finish competitive, Mulbarton bright at the start Wymondham growing into the game getting the goal on the half hour to see them lead at the break, their 2nd goal coming early in the 2nd half. Taking their chances well. Mulbarton with a couple of their own sadly not taken remained in contention throughout, Wymondham with good game management towards the end looked solid defending their lead. A hugely successful season, they can look forwards now to making their FAWNL debut with a couple of derby games with Norwich to relish. 

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

Onto the final Women’s Football East – Player of the Match of the season. One clear winner in the finish but as usual a few performances of note to mention first. For Mulbarton, Atlanta Griffith was a threat in attack throughout with some powerful runs looking to take the game to Wymondham and created some good opportunities in front of goal. Sophie Jermy too with good movement up top getting wide to receive the ball, Ellie Hunter finding pockets of space and getting onto join the attack. For Wymondham Mary Croft was strong at the back with a number of well timed tackles, reading the game. Kyla Love getting on to support the attackers using the wide areas well. The award though as it did in the ERWFL League Cup final goes to Katie Knights winning it on the night also was full of running getting about the pitch tackling and closing down breaking up a number of Mulbarton attacks.

Katie Knights, winning this evening’s Player of the Match

Congratulations to Wymondham Town Ladies on winning the County Cup for a 3rd time and one their treble winning success.

Wymondham Town Ladies, 2021/22 Norfolk Women’s County Cup Winners

  Another season over great to see one through to the end finals got to as many finals as I could, afterall they are what the season is all about, celebrating the game which is bound to grow following this summer’s Euro’s a brief rest a few games to enjoy then pre-season will be upon us, know you’re all rearing to go already, but we all need a rest. An entertaining cup final played in front of a huge crowd. My thanks to Norfolk FA for giving me media accreditation very much appreciated. Put on a great event.

by Darren Gilham

Cup Final Special – Lawford Ladies v Chelmsford City Women

Sunday 22nd May

Essex Women’s League Cup Final 

A trip down into Essex for my penultimate game of the season, with Lawford Ladies taking on Chelmsford City Women in the final of the League Cup.

Today’s prize

  The two sides will be very familiar with each other by the end of next weekend as they have yet to meet this season and face a double header on the final day to determine who will become Premier Division Champions. Meeting first in the final of the League Cup have attempted to see both sides play on a couple of ocassions this season already by a combination of Covid and the weather has thwarted those attempts. A frustrating season for both in many regards in that the ECWFL Premier Division is ending with 7 sides, 12 games for each side played yet it will go down to the final weekend of the domestic season. A number of factors playing their part, 2 teams have withdrawn from the league, weather and Covid too along with cup competitions. 

 Lawford Ladies have been out in front leading the Premier Division table from the start 5 straight wins are undefeated from 10 played with 8 wins and 2 draws with just the double header with title rivals Chelmsford to come. Games less frequent in the 2nd half of the season have bolstered their squad with the addition of former Billericay Town Women captain, Lindsey Morgan who brings a wealth of experience to the side. There own captain, Daisy Canny the driving force for Lawford in recent seasons with another strong campaign in front of goal netting 18 from her 9 appearances this season before getting injured. Lisa Ward 2nd in the goal scoring charts with 13 from 12 appearances. The season coming down to the final two Sunday’s with a potential double on the cards.

 That is also the case for Lawford’s opponents, Chelmsford City Women, although they could go one better and make it a treble having already won a trophy this season beating Division Two Champions, Stanway Pegasus Ladies 4-0 in the final of the Tiptree Charity Cup 2 weeks ago. Chelmsford have always been a strong side in Essex’s top division in and around the title contenders. Has been a strange season in which they have always been playing catch up with the rest of the league didn’t even start their league campaign until November with just a handful of games in the first half of the season.

 Drop-outs, Covid, weather and cup games all playing there part. When they have played however have been strong emerging as Lawford’s main rival for the title winning 8 of their 9 games played so far like Lawford unbeaten a point behind with a game in hand an crucial week to come with a cup final and 3 league matches to squeeze in a midweek trip to play Frontiers before meeting Lawford in what will be a league deciding double header next weekend. In attack, Rebecca Hollocks and Abigail Woollvin have scored 31 goals between them with Hollocks one ahead of Woollvin with 16 for the season so far.

Road to the Final

  The league cup competition kicking off in February, Lawford were drawn at home to Division One side Blackmore Ladies, goals from Laura Allen, Alison Hindley, Daisy Canny and Georgia Box saw Lawford leading 4-2 at half-time with another goal each for Hindley and Canny securing a 6-2 win. Chelmsford City Women with a tough opening game in the league cup at home to fellow Premier Division side Frontiers Ladies in the 1st Round. Goals from Hellen Alder, Rebecca Hollocks, Shannon Kelly and Abi Woollvin seeing them through to the 2nd round with a 4-1 victory.

  Lawford away to Division Two newcomers Southminster United Ladies in the 2nd Round of the League Cup progressed to the last 8 with a 2-0 win courtesy of a goal in each half for Canny and Liza Ward. Chelmsford advancing without kicking a ball awarded the away win against Aveley Ladies. Lawford at home to Division One side Tigers Ladies in the quarter finals Lindsey Morgan scoring to see the sides level at the break, 3 goals inside the opening 15 minutes of the 2n half seeing Lawford go on to win 4-1, Canny, Ward and Morgan with her 2nd on the scoresheet. Chelmsford taking on Division One leaders Corringham Cosmos, Alder, Hollocks and Mia Brisley amongst the goals as they went on to win the game 4-1 to advance to the semi-finals.

  A difficult tie for Lawford in the last 4 at home to Division One title challengers Hutton Ladies Reserves, a free scoring side, it was a high scoring game with Hutton finding the back of the net on three ocassions. Lawford though after fighting out a 2-2 draw in the first half went on to score a further 3 to win through to the final. Allen and Morgan scoring 1st half, Hindley plus a brace for Ward in the 2nd. In contrast Chelmsford were to advance without kicking a ball after opponents Southend United Ladies forfeited the game.

 Runwell Sports and Social Club hosting this Sunday’s final was here two season ago before the Covid hiatus to watch Harlow Town Ladies Reserves beat Leigh Ramblers Ladies. Entering the ground the large clubhouse overlooking the main pitch with numerous other grass pitches beyond. An archery range in the distance. Hot and cold drinks being served plus hot food. A bright and sunny day, hot with little cloud cover certainly no chance of rain during the game.

The teams lead out onto the pitch a presented to special guest Lana Gillard before kick-off.

Lawford Ladies

 Lawford Ladies starting XI – Erin Hornby, Alisha Blake, Saffron Heffer, Zoe Smith (C), Sheena Foley, Anna Ryan, Lisa Ward, Alison Hindley, Laura Allen, Lindsey Morgan & Nancy Butler. Subs – Toni Mott, Stacey Desborough & Daisy Canny.

Chelmsford City Women

Chelmsford City Women starting XI – Hannah Streetley Amy Vernon, Mia Brisley, Jess Loble, Gaby Freedman (C), Emma Rushen, Rosie Coe, Ashleigh Holland, Helen Alder, Kaci Crook & Abi Woollvin. Subs- Holly Richards, Melissa Burton, Amelia Murphy & Charlotte Palmer.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

Captains. Zoe Smith and Gaby Freedman with the match officials

  Lawford to get the Essex Women’s League Cup final underway kicking off the 1st half wearing light blue and white vertical stripped shirts with light blue shorts and socks, Chelmsford opposite lined up in an all claret kit. The ball sent from the middle up the left channel for Lindsey Morgan to attack for Lawford, Mia Brisley dealing with it at the back for Chelmsford clearing it up the line the ball lost out for a throw in. 

 A competitive start out on the far side of the pitch the ball closed down out for a series of throw ins neither side making any head way. Cleared at the back into midfield Chelmsford look to get forwards Rosie Coe with the ball on for Emma Rushen through the middle lifts it on for Abi Woollvin up top, Sheena Foley winning the ball back for Lawford. Lawford losing the ball high on the right from a throw in Chelmsford are quick to counter the ball into Rushen central plays it early through the defence for Woollvin to run onto taking the ball on into the area right side s=her low shot is straight at Lawford goalkeeper, Erin Hornby making a comfortable save.

  A strong start to the game from Chelmsford closing down the ball, winning challenges looking to get forwards quickly, find Woollvin through the middle or Kaci Crook attacking right side. A free-kick for Chelmsford inside the Lawford half as Alisha Blake is adjudged to have handled the ball going to clear it for Lawford. Defender Jess Loble over the set-piece played in towards the top of the Lawford area, Anna Ryan wins it to clear for Lawford.

 GOAL! 5 minutes played and an early break through for Chelmsford, battling for the ball in midfield, the pass is lifted on for Crook in attack right channel beating the offside trap races on into the Lawford box, striking the ball low in the angle, Hornby reacting down sharply to stop it doesn’t get hold of it the ball rolling loose to her right, Woollvin running in with a simple tap in to give Chelmsford the lead 0-1.

Abi Woollvin congratulated by Helen Alder after she opens the scoring for Chelmsford

  Laura Allen out on the right in attack for Lawford sees the ball into her feet shifting inside 25 yards out attempts to thread it on for Nancy Bulter central, the pass cut out by Chelmsford captain, Gaby Freedman. Chelmsford are up for the game vocal encouraging each other on closing down the ball despite the heat. Rushen tackling to break up an attack. Attempting to find Crook again on the right, Foley across to clear the ball for a throw. 

Lawford’s Laura Allen with Chelmsford’s Helen Alder

  Rushen with a great diagonal ball looking for Helen Alder breaking forwards on the right looking to travel on into the box with the ball is forced wide by Lawford’s Blake the defender than tackling to win the ball back and clear. A few free-kicks being given away in the middle, Alison Hindley fouling to see Chelmsford with a set-piece inside their opponents half, sent long up into the box over everyone lands before Hornby the keeper seeing it bounce up over her goal. 

 Butler looking to take the ball on through the middle for Lawford after recieving it from a throw on the right, turns goalwards, Freedman strong on her shoulder getting her foot on the ball to hook clear. Lisa Ward pulling away to the left for Lawford angles a cross into the Chelmsford area the ball turned behind for a corner. Played long through the six yard box Morgan can’t get it down at the back post the ball cleared into the middle, Lawford press well regaining possession looking to turn play around into Allen right side lifted on the move ending with a throw.

  Allen looking to attack with the ball on the right, the move breaking down has another opportunity as she squares it central for Ryan 25 yards out, Freedman quick to close her down the ball cleared away for a throw. A more even game now Lawford looking to close the ball down higher up the pitch. A strong tackle in the middle from Lawford’s captain, Zoe Smith on Chelmsford midfielder, Ashleigh Holland the ball cleared out to the right the referee stopping play with Holland staying down. Up okay play to resume with a drop ball.

  GOAL! The ball with Chelmsford’s Amy Vernon at left back, Lawford switch off as the ball is played forwards Vernon clipping it long over the top with Woollvin breaking in behind through the middle, hesitates for a moment with no one after her no flag though she carries the ball on into the box right of goal and smashes her shot across the keeper into the bottom corner to score her 2nd of the game 0-2. 

Abi Woollvin doubles Chelmsford’s lead

 Lawford not happy with the goal, it stands however with play resuming with 20 minutes gone in the 1st half. Coming down the right Morgan with support from Ward the ball is crossed into the Chelmsford area, goalkeeper Hannah Streetley diving forwards to get hold of the ball with Ryan closing in. Chelmsford are quick to mount a counter attack the ball fed on through the middle on for Crook to chase into the box on the right, bouncing up between her and Hornby the goalkeeper, getting a strong fist on the ball to punch it away to her right. 

Lawford captain, Zoe Smith clearing the ball

  Butler pulling away into the left taking the ball on lays it back to Saffron Heffer coming on from full back for Lawford her cross looped on into the box, Allen can’t quite connect as she goes to strike it on the volley. Their opponents straight up the other end the ball played out to Woollvin moving into space wide left bombs on down the line turning into the area before opening up her body looking to place the ball wide across the keeper, only succeeds in picking her out, Hornby safely behind the ball. 

Lawford fullback Saffron Heffer

 Hornby busy as she comes rushing out of her area to clear with Woollvin put on through the middle. Rushen then picking up the ball in midfield looking to drive forwards for Chelmsford is eventually closed down. A hot day a drinks break called by the referee midway through the 1st half. Play resumes with Lawford looking to battle for the ball, a series of headers resulting in a throw right side, played in central Butler sending the ball over the defence into the box looking for Morgan, Streetley getting her gloves around it first. 

Emma Rushen driving forwards with the ball for Chelmsford

  Butler strong in possession outside the Chelmsford area on the right battling inside squares the pass into Morgan left of the D she in turn puts it back into the area right side with Hindley stealing in at the far post attempts to lift a shot in past the keeper, Streetley though is right behind it to make the blocking save. Lawford squeezing the ball in the final 3rd Hindley putting herself about sending the pass out to Heffer pushing up from full back shrikes the shot on the a angle from distance rises over the crossbar. 

Lawford defender, Alisha Blake

  Lawford winning a set-piece level with the top of the Chelmsford area on the right. Ward to play it into the box, Streetley is one of the tallest goalkeepers around makes a firm call and plucks the ball down unhindered. Another handball spotted on the left side giving Chelmsford a free-kick some 35 yards plus out Loble nevertheless takes on the shot getting the ball on target but drops kindly for Hornby who can see it into her midriff back on her line. Is a little niggle between the sides Lawford clearly frustrated. Adler keeping the ball in play well on the left side looks to get on held up keeps possession played back up to Vernon to cross into the Lawford area, Hornby with the call this time coming to catch the ball.

  Lawford finding a little joy out on the flanks, Morgan on the left pushing on her cross all the way across to Allen wide right turned back into the area, Vernon turns it behind for a corner. Fired into Morgan from the right, 20 yards out left of the  knocks it up into the area attacked by Ward knocking it across to the far post Streetley can let it go for a goalkick. Hindley taking the ball on down the eft in attack for Lawford strong holding it up well before angling a shot in towards goal, Streetley comfortably behind it.

 GOAL! A couple of minutes left in the 1st half, Lawford looking to attack late on get themselves back into the game are hit on the break the ball cleared long to the left side seeing Woollvin escape in behind race on to the box coming central Hornby out to close the angle Woollvin shifts the ball away from her to the left to open up the goal beyond and strokes her shot into the back of the net to get her hat-trick 0-3.

A cup final hat-trick for Abi Woollvin

  A change late in the half for Chelmsford with Amelia Murphy on for Crook in attack. Little time left to play the half-time whistle blows. Both sides retreating to the shade provided by the trees over behind the dugouts for their half-time team talks.

Half-time Lawford Ladies 0-3 Chelmsford City Women

 A strong 1st half from Chelmsford making a positive start taking the game to Lawford pressing the ball in the middle and looking to get it up to Crook and Woollvin in attack. That bright start bringing a goal inside the opening 5 minutes. Woollvin with her 2nd running in behind as Lawford switch off at the back following a drop ball. Frustration for Lawford going 2 goals down have looked to match things up with Chelmsford battling for the ball have gotten some joy a couple of half chances as they look to pull a goal back before the break, hit on the break late on Woollvin stealing in behind on the left to score her cup final hat-trick. Alot of work for Lawford to do if they are to get themselves back into the game, a hot day could be a case of who runs out of energy first Chelmsford can sit back more with a healthy lead to defend.

  It’s Chelmsford to get the 2nd half underway, don’t think there have been any changes made from either side. Look to get the ball out to the left, Smith in to win it for Lawford. Hindley and Rushen scrapping for the ball in the middle Hindley getting the free-kick this time. Ryan on the ball inside the Chelmsford half looks to go for goal, Streetley can see it over. Heffer on the left defending well against Murphy as she looks to get the ball down on the right and turn in behind. 

Alison Hindley battling for possession for Lawford

  Hindley getting about the pitch for Lawford winning the ball comes left turns inside sending it central with Ward running on free 30 yards out is caught in two minds as to strike the ball or clip it over the top with Morgan giving her the run left side. Picking her out Morgan sends a low cross into the box no one there to attack it however. Ward central sending the ball on through the middle, Hindley after it right of the D, Streetley out of her area to kick the ball clear. 

  Chelmsford with more bodies behind the ball allowing Lawford to come on making a positive start to the 2nd half as yet though to test the keeper. Roe brought down in the middle for Chelmsford following a strong challenge. Ward central with some useful passes forwards long for Morgan running on through the middle Streetley racing out to the top of her area, just about getting there to clear. Loble with the tackle to get the ball as Foley plays it on for Morgan out left side.

Lindsey Morgan

  Woollvin picking up the ball in midfield sends it out to Brisley advancing on the left, her crossfield ball looking for Alder, intercepted by Blake. Rushen taking the ball on through the middle for Chelmsford picks the pass for Alder on the left channel getting forwards, Blake closes her down the challenge seeing the ball behind for a corner. Fired in from the left attacked at the near post the ball is send wide across the Lawford goal.

Chelmsford’s Mia Brisley

  Lawford getting forwards on the right numbers up the pitch a throw won high, lifted on high into the area dropping central Morgan under it sees her touch take the ball wide of the left post. Ryan coming on with the ball from deep for Lawford going left comes inside, her attack stopped by Loble for Chelmsford. Morgan getting clear wide left flashes a cross into the six yard box the Chelmsford defence tracking back, Streetley has it covered, Vernon in front of her heading clear nevertheless.

  Ward springs the offside trap is clear through the middle for Lawford racing for the box, Brisley racing after her the goalkeeper advancing. Brisley diving in to tackle gets the ball before the player, Play halted however brought back as Ward went too early. Lawford creating opportunities, Chelmsford strong in defence however giving little away winning most things put into their area. Attacks less frequent as a result however Lawford need to stay alert at the back as Woollvin remains a threat, sprinting over to the right crossing over with Murphy the pair looking to combine Woollvin crossing the ball in Hornby down on it with Murphy closing her down.

Chelmsford’s Kaci Crook

  Morgan sending a clipped ball on through the middle for Hindley running on in behind, Streetley out to clear first Hindley unable to get out of the way colliding with the keeper, leaving her down for a moment winded more than anything else. Another drinks break is called. Chelmsford largely in control with Lawford coming on but unable to find that clinical final ball. Another long range goal attempt from Lawford on halfway from a free-kick Streetley can again see it over her goal. 

  Hindley carrying the ball on in attack for Lawford turning of Freedman to get into the box right side, Freedman back on her well lunging out with her boot to take the ball away from Hindley swerving behind for a corner. Rushen on through the middle with the ball on for Woollvin left channel put across to Murphy on the right side can’t turn in behind. Butler taking the ball of Ryan central running on looks to thread it on for Ward ahead of her, the ball cut out by the Chelmsford defence, Butler with a 2nd attempt playing it out to Morgan getting into the box left side, attempt to play her shot up over the keeper, Streetley with her angles covered getting hold of the ball.

Chelmsford captain, Gaby Freedman

 Chelmsford make a change bringing off hat-trick heroine in attack with Crook returning to the game. At the back Freedman across to deal with the threat posed by Ryan as she takes the ball on right for Lawford. Into the final 15 minutes. Lawford with a set-piece put high into the area Ryan up to knock the ball down across goal, no one can reach it before Chelmsford launch clear. Morgan driving on left side whips a low cross into the area, Vernon sliding in to clear for the corner. Send in deep from the left Freedman close on Morgan the ball put out the right Lawford winning the free-kick. Played in near side knocked up high into the air turned on towards goal, Streetley back on her line able to claim it high.

  Murphy comes off for Chelmsford as they strengthen the back line bringing on Holly Richards. Lawford making a change too, Stacey Desborough on for Blake to join the attack. Coming on right side Allen into Ward 25 yards out looks to strike the shot first time, frustrated as she sees her effort pulled wide  out at the far post. Holland on for Rushen takes the ball on for Chelmsford putting it on for Crook up top, Smith in close attendance tackling to regain the ball for Lawford.

  Allen comes off for Lawford on in her place Toni Mott she moves central in attack with Desborough going to the right. Time running out to find a goal try an pressure Chelmsford late on. Ward running on from the middle seeing a shot blocked the ball coming to Mott pulling in behind right of goal, Vernon on her to defend getting the ball back for her keeper to clear. Rushen and Alder look to combine through the middle in attack for Chelmsford, Smith getting hold of the ball for Lawford. The pairs last action of the game as they come off with Charlotte Palmer and Melissa Burton coming on. 

  Crook up top laying to ball off to Burton up on the right, her attempted pass in behind for Crook gathered by Hornby inside the Lawford area. Mott with the ball travelling right side into Morgan bursting for the area, Brisley on her shoulder doing enough to hold her up allowing the ball to run onto Streetley. Streetley thwarting Lawford right till the end as Morgan top of the area spins in behind on the right to shoot across the keeper, Streetley down well getting a glove to the ball to turn it away from goal.

Chelmsford goalkeeper, Hannah Streetley

Full time Lawford Ladies 0-3 Chelmsford City Women

  That’s it the final whistle blows and it’s Chelmsford who celebrate as they make it a cup double winning the League Cup final 3-0 thanks to a first half hat-trick from Abi Woollvin. A strong 2nd half from Lawford with Chelmsford looking to defend their lead. Chances created, Streetley for the majority standing firm in the Chelmsford goal. A positive start to the game energy from Chelmsford bringing them an early goal. Going on to double the advantage Lawford frustrated looking for a reply conceding a 3rd at the end of the half making it a tall order in the 2nd half, needed an early goal to put some pressure on Chelmsford defence looking comfortable.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. A few performances of note to mention first though. For Lawford it was a strong game in the middle for Liza Ward getting into some great positions, looking to get others into scoring opportunities. Alison Hindley too covering a huge amount of ground looking to get hold of the ball play it forward. For Chelmsford it was a solid performance in midfield from Emma Rushen. Her desire to win the ball right from the start setting the tone for Chelmsford. The defence strong throughout. The award contested by players at opposite ends of the pitch, Hannah Streetley was immense in the Chelmsford goal, Great positioning and vital saves. The Player of the Match award though goes to Abi Woollvin not too many players get to score a cup final hat-trick and her running and movement caused the Lawford defence issues especially 1st half as she ran at them on hand to score the opening goal and her 3rd late in the half taken well going along way to winning the trophy.

 Before the trophy could be presented however their was a delay a medical emergency that required an ambulance being called. One of the Chelmsford substitutes struggling with asthma struggling to breathe. No chances being taken the emergency service called an ambulance arriving in good time. Full credit to the NHS stabilising the player and ensuring she was okay. Takes priority over anything else. Albeit delayed the presentations going ahead.

Chelmsford City Women 2021/22 Essex Women’s League Cup winners

 Congratulations to Chelmsford City Women on winning the 2021/22 Essex Women’s League Cup.

  An enjoyable trip down to Essex, good to have the final back after a 2 year hiatus. An enjoyable contest. A cup double for Chelmsford little time to rest on their laurels however with 3 games still left to play away to Frontiers in midweek with the opportunity to move above Lawford in the league before they meet again at Lawford for a double header to end the season which one will be crowned champions it’ll be a tense final day. My thanks to both clubs for the team details and to the ECWFL committee for thier assistance this afternoon. One game left to end the season for me a midweek trip to Carrow Road for the Norfolk Women’s County Cup Final.

by Darren Gilham

Match Report – Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women v Thetford Town Ladies

Wednesday 18th May

Norfolk Women’s League One

 The 2021/22 season is reaching it’s climax, just a handful of fixtures left to complete just 3 more left for Women’s Football East to cover, beginning this evening with my final league fixture of the season, from Norfolk Women’s Division One with Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Ladies fresh from winning the League Plate on Sunday playing they’re penultimate game of the season at home to Thetford Town Ladies playing their last competitive fixture of the campaign.

A cup final win for Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women on Sunday against Caister FC Ladies in the NWGFL Plate their first trophy under there new name after moving from Sprowston to become Dussindale & Hellesdon a couple of seasons ago, are currently 3rd in the Division One table 4 points behind 2nd placed and League Cup winners, Fakenham Town Ladies with 2 games to play. Fakenham played out their fixture can only watch now Dussindale & Hellesdon with a superior goal difference needed 4 points from their remaining two fixtures to ensure them of a runners-up finish, lose and it’s all over Fakenham can’t be caught. A hat-trick for Shanice Sutton in Sunday’s Plate Final seeing her become leading goal scorer for Dussindale & Hellesdon with 38 goals one ahead of Victoria Leyer.

 Thetford Town Ladies travel over to The Nest this evening knowing they are going to finish 4th in the Division One table. They’re highest ever finish to a season as the club looks to become an established force in the league with the ambition to push on further next season. Have achieved this having had terrible luck with injuries, there squad struggling for numbers at times particularly to their defenders. Have bolstered the squad with some useful signings to help their challenge for a top 4 finish such as Hannah Claughton from Norwich and Becky Russell dual signed from Wroxham. Becky White, Thetford’s leading goal scorer with 17 for the season so far.

  The Nest the venue for this evenings game the state of the art facility on the outskirts of Norwich home to not only Norwich City Women but also Dussindale & Hellesdon, who normally use the grass pitch leading into the complex but with that undergoing maintenance the main 3G pitch is hosting their Division One clash with Thetford a game under the lights the cafe open serving a range of cakes and snacks, along with hot food and drinks. Like most 3G facilities the 3G pitch well used a large number of youth goalkeepers being put through their paces whilst two sides warm up behind. Another warm and sunny day leading into a pleasant evening beginning to cool but no sign of any rain.

Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women

Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women starting XI – Tyla Cole, Amee Kennett, Siesha Humphries, Calista Tink (C), Maddy Goodenough, Abi Nobbs, Lucy Wetherall, Georgina Belton, Abby Hutchin, Chelsea Brister & Shanice Sutton. Subs – Ruby Wilson, Kari Kowalczyk, Charlie Head & Tallulah Bell.

Thetford Town Ladies

 Thetford Town Ladies starting XI – Lydia Ward, Zoe Klimcke, Ellie-Mae Davies, Erin Lloyd, Rachel Lynch, Dayna Howard (C), Becky Russell, Hannah Claughton, Abbie Corbyn, Charlotte Howard & Becky White. Sub – Courtney Musgrove.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

  Dussindale & Hellesdon with just the one change to the squad that started Sunday’s Plate final, Tallulah Bell named on the bench. Thetford travelling with just the one substitute available with a number of players carrying knocks. Dayna Howard named as captain in the place of the absent Melissa Boulton. It’s the visitors to kick-off the first half, Thetford wearing blue shirts with a white band across the front and sleeves, navy coloured shorts and socks. Dussindale & Hellesdon in their claret strip. The ball played out to the left Hannah Claughton getting forwards, Dussindale & Hellesdon close straight away the ball out for a throw in.

  The ball contested on the far side of the pitch both sides battling for possession out for a series of throws, Thetford play it forwards a strike from distance running wide of the near post. Howard with Becky Russell in the middle for Thetford the ball won play spread out to Abbie Corbyn wide right bringing it down turns infield looking to drive towards the area, is brought down, Thetford awarded the free-kick. Becky White over the set-piece the striker sends an angled ball up towards goal, Tyla Cole calling for it in the Dussindale & Hellesdon call making a straight forward catch unchallenged.

Becky White with the goal attempt for Thetford (photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

   Cole with another solid claim for Dussindale & Hellesdon setting up a swift counter attack the ball fed on up the right for Abby Hutchin to bomb on into the corner winning her side a throw deep in the corner. Ellie-May Davies defending for Thetford on the left seeing the visitors regain possession. A crossfield pass finding Corbyn on the right she once again takes the ball inside looking to drive for the box, Siesha Humphries challenging at the back to win the ball for Dussindale & Hellesdon. 

  Dussindale & Hellesdon captain, Calista Tink carrying the ball out from the back sends the ball on into the right channel with midfielder Georgina Belton pushing on, with the ball at her feet powers forwards, Erin Lloyd tackling her for Thetford halting her progress. Humphries getting up on the left to support Chelsea Brister on the wing the pair looking to get the ball into the Thetford area held up by Zoe Klimcke, as Corbyn tracking back lunges in with the tackle to put the ball away for a throw in. Put into Abbi Nobbs outside the box central passes the ball out to the right side, the cross sent in near side attacker, Shanice Sutton heading the ball over the bar.

Thetford Town Ladies, Hannah Claughton (photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

   Both Belton and Lucy Wetherall looking to get on from midfield for Dussindale & Hellesdon. Won at the back Tink plays the ball up through the middle for Nobbs central has Hutchin to her right squaring the ball to her, shifts forwards, up against Davies, the Thetford full back with a strong tackle to thwart her. Brister taking the ball on left side for Dussindale & Hellesdon with an early diagonal pass into Sutton inside the D, Rachel Lynch closing her down winning the ball back for Thetford. Hutchin looking to get forwards on the right as she did in the Plate final, Davies playing the ball out for a throw. 

Thetford Town defender, Zoe Klimcke (photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

 Thetford’s Howard with the pass for White pulling left, has Russell making a run inside to get beyond her, the pass cut out by the Dussindale & Hellesdon defence. Regained in the middle Thetford send the ball on through the middle White’s touch deflecting the ball out to Corbyn to the right, gets on with the ball heading for the area, Maddy Goodenough blocking her shot from outside the box, the counter attack on the ball lifted forwards for Sutton who beats the offside trap in behind through the centre, Thetford goalkeeper, Lydia Ward rushing out to the top of her area to close the angle saves well, blocking the shot deflecting it behind, running wide out for a corner. 

Thetford goalkeeper, Lydia Ward (photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

  The corner from the right played into the top of the area, Charlotte Howard clearing for Thetford. Quickly regained, Dussindale & Hellesdon are pulled up for a hand ball. Is a decent sized pitch a lot of ground to cover Thetford’s defence keeping a good shape, Lynch marshalling her defenders. Lloyd clearing the ball out of the ground as Brister looks to attack on the left. Brister getting hold of the ball taking it on moving inside closing in on the box, strikes her shot over the crossbar. A change for Thetford at the back with Lloyd coming off, Courtney Musgrove coming on.

Dussindale & Hellesdon’s Georgina Belton

   Midway through the 1st half Belton onto Hutchin right into the Thetford half threads the pass on to find Sutton right of the D, squares it across to Brister inside the D, her 1st time strike curled wide of the right post. A few free-kicks creeping into the game, Nobbs going right with Humphries pulled back, no advantage play brought back for the free-kick. Wide left Brister over it angles a cross in to the far post, goes long out for a goal kick. Belton pulling away to the right, strength on the ball winning a throw. Up the line for Hutchin to the by-line her cross in turned behind for a corner. Goodenough looking to attack the ball near side can’t turn onto her shot as Thetford scramble it clear. 

Abbie Corbyn with Lucy Wetherall (photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

 Lynch getting a cross to support her full back cutting out Wetherall’s pass intended for Brister on the left. Lynch’s clearance put long for Corbyn to go after on the right, Cole coming can claim top of her area. A free-kick for Thetford inside the Dussindale & Hellesdon half Lynch over it goes for goal her long range effort wide of Cole’s goal. Dussindale & Hellesdon with more of the possession looking to get forwards. the Thetford defence, Lynch in particular reading the passes intercepting the ball. Sutton narrowly offside to the right of goal.

 GOAL! The opening goal coming in the final 10 minutes of the 1st half. Dussindale & Hellesdon with a quick counter attack the ball fed through to Hutchin right side travelling for the box, Davies stretching tackling her from behind upending Hutchin inside the box Penalty! Sutton placing the ball on the spot hits it well to the keepers right, Ward going the right way can’t get near it 1-0.

Shanice Sutton scoring from the penalty spot for Dussindale & Hellesdon

  The break through at last Thetford haven’t get forwards much, Corbyn the most likely on the right is given the ball by Russell drives on but is soon outnumbered run off the ball by Dussindale & Hellesdon at the back. Dayna Howard winning the ball in the middle for Thetford on for Corbyn right comes inside looking to pick out Charlotte Howard central, cleared for a throw right side. Charlotte Howard then brought down outside the box to the right corner of the area. White on the ball looks to curl a shot in towards goal, on target, Cole though with a firm call right behind it to claim.

  White coming left for Thetford taking the ball on from Claughton playing it forwards for Russell getting in on the left angles a cross in near side Corbyn arriving, Goodenough close on her blocking to turn the ball away for a corner. Late in the 1st half players up the inswinging cross lifted in near post players attacking it goes through everyone bouncing a cross goal, Corbyn free back post not really expecting it unable to get anything on it as it runs out of play.

Half-time Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women 1-0 Thetford Town Ladies

  A double change for Dussindale & Hellesdon at the start of the 2nd half with Tallulah Bell and Charlie Head coming on up top for Wetherall and Brister. The move seeing Sutton pull out out out to the right, Hutchin deeper into midfield left side. The hosts getting the 2nd half underway looking to get Belton on the ball push on from midfield, Dayna Howard getting back on her to tackle regain the ball for Thetford. Davies on the left for Thetford looking to get on with the ball support Claughton on the wing winning a throw in. Lynch with a strong throw on her the ball long up to the area Tink getting her head under the ball to clear for a throw. 

  Russell linking up with Lynch outside the Dussindale & Hellesdon area pushing inside is closed down by the defence. Lynch with another throw down the left White taking it on as Thetford look to attack racing on sending a vicious cross into the six yard box, Cole down to lay claim to the ball with Corbyn drifting in far side. Claughton fouled on the left side as she looks to get the ball down for Thetford. Lynch on the set-piece lining up a shot, catches it wrong dragging the ball wide.

Ellie-Mae Davies with Shanice Sutton

  Thetford with a brighter start to the 2nd half, are caught out as Nobbs plays the ball through to Bell the half-time substitute racing forwards left channel feeding the ball on into fellow substitute Head inside the box, she shot fired in Ward with an instinctive save throwing out a leg to cut out the ball deflect it away to right. A strong 50/50 challenge outside the area between Belton and Klimcke leaves the defender on the ground hurt looking in trouble. A lengthy pause following as she is treated and assessed. Lloyd back on. 

15 minutes played in the 2nd half, Dussindale & Hellesdon winning a corner on the right side. A great delivery in high to the near post Tink rising for it sending her effort narrowly over the bar despite a clash of heads with Lynch getting up with her. A blow to the back of the skull. Tink needs a moment to recover.

(photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

  Thetford look to get forwards on the left White across with Claughton, Kennett defending for Dussindale & Hellesdon. Hutchin coming left getting on playing a crossfield pass into Belton central outside the D, opening up her body as the ball runs across her turns it goalwards, Ward with the save beating the ball down to her left before claiming it. 

 GOAL! 20 minutes into the 2nd half Dussindale & Hellesdon attacking down the right Sutton on the ball taking it in behind fires a cross into the middle of the six yard box, both Head and Bell closing it down in front of Ward, Bell with the telling touch to smash the ball past the keeper into the back of the net to double the lead 2-0.

Tallulah Bell doubles Dussindale & Hellesdon’s lead (photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

  Dussindale & Hellesdon break on the right as a Thetford set-piece into their area is cleared Sutton bringing the ball away pace winning a corner kick. Fired into the middle of the box the ball cleared back to the corner taker, Nobbs outside whips another ball into area across the six yard box coming to Head at the far post her headed attempt not far over the bar. 

  Is a little feisty out there, a few comings together between Davies and Sutton a foul on Sutton returns the favour with a push. The referee quick to intervene cool it down issuing Sutton with a yellow card. A free-kick on the left for Thetford, lifted on into the box White stealing through her header off cue. The lights taking full effect now not the highest any high ball struck is getting lost in the darkness, calls from both sides to try and keep in on the ground. Dussindale & Hellesdon pressing through the middle Belton making her presence felt. Head is put in the clear breaking for the box central a one on one with the keeper, a push of blood as she looks to place it wide of Ward sends her effort wide of her right post. 

(photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

  Klimcke returning to the game for Thetford for Corbyn with 15 minutes of regular time left to play. Humphries finding a burst on pace to get back on White to tackle outside the area for Dussindale & Hellesdon as the Thetford attacker is played through by Russell. A free-kick given away by Dussindale & Hellesdon outside their area right of goal. The curled effort in, Cole has been strong with her calling all game and is once again firmly behind the ball.

(photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

  Charlotte Howard tackling Humphries conceding a corner kick as the defender looks to get on with Hutchin in attack. The ball played in low near side finds it’s way through to Bell central, back to goal attempts the backheel rolls wide of the far post. Bell is taken out on the right just inside the box as she looks to travel with the ball, Dussindale & Hellesdon winning a 2nd penalty in the 77th minute. Sutton over it again this time looking to place it in the opposite corner gets too much on it playing it wide.

  Tink with another strong tackle on Claughton as she attacks coming on from the left. On the opposite side Nobbs plays in Bell on the left running with the ball shifts inside heading for the area lining up a strike Lynch closing her down with the blocking tackle. Brister and Wetherall returning to the field for Dussindale & Hellesdon with Kennett and Sutton off. Nobbs on for Hutchin left puts it into Bells path, Klimcke cutting the ball out for Thetford. Klimcke coming off then with Corbyn retuning to the game.

(photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

  Davies doing well in defence for Thetford has taken a far share of knocks for her efforts too, does well as Bell looks to link up with Brister wide. Wetherall cutting in from the left outside the D sees her shot strike the crossbar. Bell stabbing out a foot intercepting Lynch’s clearance 20 yards out sees the ball run safely through to Ward in the Thetford goal. Bell with another near miss moments later as Dussindale & Hellesdon attacking left side fire a ball in across the face of goal, Bell diving in sending it over. Goodenough coming off for Dussindale & Hellesdon at the back, Ruby Wilson coming on. 

 The game moving into stoppage time, several minutes likely to be played. Tink with the ball on from the back lifted on to Bell right side of attack her cross cut out by Dayna Howard for a corner kick. Thetford tiring late on Dussindale & Hellesdon nipping in to regain the ball. Russell looking to get on through the middle tackled by Hutchin. Bell turning a shot in straight to the keeper as Brister fires a cross in from the left, Ward taking it low. Players up and around the Thetford area Dussindale & Hellesdon squeezing the ball in the final 3rd late on. 

 GOAL! 5 minutes of stoppage time played and breaking up a Thetford attack, Dussindale & Hellesdon are quick to counter the ball fed on through the midfield finding Brister racing into the area left of goal on the angle strikes her shot across the area low into the bottom corner 3-0.

 GOAL! A further blow to Thetford deep in stoppage time as they concede a 4th goal, Hutchin on the ball central for Dussindale & Hellesdon putting the forwards pass into Head breaking on into the area holding off the challenge with the keeper advancing to close her down, she places her shot wide of Ward to send the ball on into the back of the net 4-0.

Charlie Head with Dussindale & Hellesdon’s 4th goal (photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

It gets worse for Thetford on the closing seconds as Head is pulled down inside the box as the ball is lifted over the top the hosts with a 3rd penalty on the night. Sutton off the field it’s Wetherall with the kick, placing the ball low to the right, Ward getting down to block it with her leg, saved out to the right, Bell racing in on the follow up smashed her shot over the bar.

Full time Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women 4-0 Thetford Town Ladies

(photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

4-0 win in the finish for Dussindale & Hellesdon moving them to within a point of 2nd placed Fakenham with one game to play at home to bottom side North Walsham Angels Ladies on Sunday. Runners up spot within their grasp. Shanice Sutton’s first half penalty the difference between the sides at the break. Thetford whilst creating little going forwards working hard to keep their opponents out in defence. A 2nd goal coming in the 65th minute. Thetford continued to work hard a rough end to the game to concede to late goals in stoppage time. Dussindale & Hellesdon though creating enough chances with two penalties also missed. Thetford nevertheless can be proud of what has been achieve this season.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this evenings Women’s Football East – Player of the Match, a few contenders as is often the case. Some performances of note to mention first. For Thetford, Rebecca White put in a shift up top covering alot of ground looking for openings. In defence Ellie-Mae Davies will have a nice collection of bruises for her efforts as she put in a number of tackles, battling for the ball. Rachel Lynch powerful in the back line reading the ball and getting across to support her full backs. For Dussindale & Hellesdon, Shanice Sutton was once again lively in attack making some excellent runs. Abbi Nobbs with a solid midfield display, Georgina Belton with some powerful runs getting forwards to receive the ball. The award this evening though goes to Dussindale & Hellesdon’s captain, Calista Tink. Fantastic at the back winning the ball, getting into some good positions with some great play out from the back.

  Last league game of the season completed, a good evening under the lights at The Nest is a great facility pleasing to see players form other woman’s sides within the division thier to watch the action too. My thanks to both sides for the team details always appreciated and to Scott Grearhardy again with the photo’s used in the report. 2 more games left a trip down to Essex this Sunday for the League Cup Final between Lawford Ladies and Chelmsford City Women then to Carrow Road in midweek for the Norfolk County Cup Final between Mulbarton and Wymondham.

by Darren Gilham

Cup Final Special – Mulbarton Belles Ladies v Fakenham Town Ladies

Sunday 15th May

Norfolk Women’s League Cup Final

Onto the 2nd of this Sunday’s final this one the NWGFL League Cup Final to be contested by Division One Champions, Mulbarton Belles Ladies and 2nd placed Fakenham Town Ladies.

  Before that however a special mention for the winners of the 7’s League Cup Final played earlier that afternoon. Hugely popular in Norfolk the 7’s league features a 12 strong division the game a hour long and a smaller playing surface. Growing year on year some sides fielding an 11 and a 7-a-side team. The two contesting today’s final Kirkley & Pakefield Ladies, 4th in the league against Costessey Sports Women challenging for the title itself a point behind current leaders Mulbarton both with one game remaining. Costessey Sports winning today’s final courtesy of a single goal scored by Sharnie Boast.

7’s Cup Winners, Costessey Sports Women (photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

Congratulations to Costessey Sports Women on winning the 2021/22 &’s League Cup.

One potential league title on the way for Mulbarton Belles Ladies another sown up a while back with their 11-a-side squad clinching the Norfolk Women’s Division One title with a 100% winning record taking maximum points for all 20 of their league games finishing some 14 points clear of the rest. Playing their first full season as Mulbarton with the club stepping in to provide a new home for a talented squad in danger off being broken up after a despite with their former club. Going with their manager Martin Francis reached the County Cup Final last season, and have done so again this season beating the likes of Norwich and King’s Lynn along the way to set up a dream final at Carrow Road against Wymondham Town Ladies who have already achieved a league and cup double. Mulbarton with ambitions to achieve the same.

A strong squad enhanced with the signings of Lucy Lincoln and Atlanta Griffith from Tavern Ladies. Have scored an incredible 114 league goals whilst conceding just 11. Captain Rebekah Lake their talisman up front one of the best attackers in the county, a nightmare for defenders has scored 42 goals this season. Griffith strong in attack too with 22 from 14 appearances with Sophie Jermy on 18 for the season, their league campaign ending on the 24th of April has been a bit of a wait for today’s League Cup final with the County Cup to follow on the 25th of the month.

Fakenham Town Ladies come into today’s final as the underdogs despite finishing their league campaign, currently 2nd can finish no lower than 3rd should Dussindale & Hellesdon catch them up. Were only assured of their place in the final in mid-week after playing their semi-final against fellow Division One side Stalham Ladies on Wednesday evening. Made a flying start to the season racking up a 22-0 win on the opening day and from there have remained in contention at the top throughout grinding out results when they’ve been under the cosh. Beaten 5-2 and 4-1 in the league respectfully by Mulbarton know they will be up against it today. Attackers, Shelley Woods and Sophie Lubbock with the bulk of their goal with Woods scoring 28 and Lubbock 33.

Road to the Final

  Contrasting routes to the final itself for both sides. Mulbarton with a potential banana skin handed to tough looking fixture with Dussindale & Hellesdon. Braces for both Rebekah Lake and Atlanta Griffith plus a goal for Sophie Jermy seeing them win 5-1. Fakenham recieving a bye in the 1st Round. Into the 2n Round and this time it was Mulbarton’s turn to progress without kicking a ball awarded the A-W over Beccles. Fakenham a short trip to play Division Two side Red Rose FC. Up against a depleted squad Fakenham racked up the goals a double hat-trick for Chantelle Ketteringham with Sophie Lubbock and Olivia Baker on target for 5 and 4 each respectfully in a crushing 24-0 win.

  Onto the last eight. Mulbarton at home to Division Two newcomers FC Viking and Valkyries Women. Lake and Griffith both netting hat-trick along with Ellie Hunter as Mulbarton ran out 17-1 winners. Controversy in Fakenham’s quarter final tie at home to fellow Division one side Long Stratton confusion with the competition rules seeing it go straight penalties Fakenham coming out on top before the league ruled the game should have gone to extra-time and be replayed Fakenham emerging victorious again in regular time this time Vicki and Sophie Lubbock both scoring along with Ketteringham in a 3-0 win. Mulbarton away to Bungay Town Ladies in their semi-final Laura Hedtke scoring a brace with Griffith and Melissa Belsey on target in a 4-0 win t send Mulbarton into the final. Fakenham’s semi-final seeing a long delay with their opponents eventually changed with UEA FC Women who won their quarter final in extra-time against Stalham kicked out of the competition the result voided Stalham progressing taking place just four days ago, Shelley Woods with 2 goals and another for Sophie Lubbock securing a 3-1 win and a spot in Sunday’s final.

  Aylsham FC’s Young Park the venue once again hearing several positive comments about the choice of venue for the finals weekend. The modern clubhouse with bar and kitchen with a barbeque serving sausages in a bun and burgers going down a treat o much so they ran out of food for Sunday with demand so high on the Saturday. The weather not so great with a few spots of rain in the air, the umbrella needed on occasion. A good crowd building a buoyant atmosphere.

Mulbarton Belles Ladies

Mulbarton Belles Ladies starting XI – Cara Anderson, Megan Belsey, Olivia Smith, Lucy Lincoln, Vicky McNorton, Ellie Hunter, Laura Hedtke (C), Alice Smith, Sophie Jermy, Atlanta Griffith & Melissa Belsey. Subs – Jenna Wales, Olivia Mungham-Gray, Alice Ladbrooke, Molly Ryan & Annie Smith.

Fakenham Town Ladies

Fakenham Town Ladies starting XI – Tilly Betts, Gina Pooley, Maddie Smith, Jemma Riches, Amie Hutchison, Sian Sands (C), Nicole Costin, Megan Spurrell, Imogen Dilling, Sophie Lubbock & Shelley Woods. Subs – Hayley Marjoram, Olivia Baker, Vicki Lubbock & Holly Davies.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

Captain’s Laura Hedtke and Sian Sands at the coin toss

  An injury blow for Mulbarton with their captain, Rebekah Lake out having suffered a broken arm. A couple of other injury concerns within the squad. Fakenham to get the NWGFL Cup underway kicking off the 1st half wearing amber coloured shirts with black shorts and socks. Mulbarton opposite wearing black and blue vertical striped shirts with blue shorts and socks. Played out to Sophie Lubbock in attack, Vicky McNorton defending for Mulbarton the ball sent forwards helped on to Sophie Jermy looking to advance on the right, Amie Hutchison closing in to defend for Fakenham.

Mulbarton’s Sophie Jermy

Fakenham look to play the ball out from the back on the left Hutchison on with Gina Pooley looking to put Sophie Lubbock in behind has strayed offside. Atlanta Griffith on the ball for Mulbarton left side squares the ball inside to Alice Smith getting on through the middle clips the ball on over the top looking to put Jermy into the box from the left, Pooley going with her to challenge and get the ball away for Fakenham.

Mulbarton midfielder Alice Smith

Nicole Costin on the ball in midfield for Fakenham getting it out to Megan Spurrell advancing on the right side her crossfield ball in towards the top of the area finding Sophie Lubbock her attempt on goal blocked by Alice Smith. The ball worked through the middle by Mulbarton up to Melissa Belsey inside the D, Jemma Riches getting in a high challenge to take the ball away from her. Jermy looking to take the game to Fakenham on the right running the ball on into the corner turning to flash a cross in along the six yard box, Maddie Smith stabbing out a boot to clear for Fakenham. Defending deep at times working hard not to let Mulbarton have a run at goal.

Megan Belsey at right back inside for captain, Laura Hedtke she in turn sends a diagonal ball out to Jermy on the move right side, Pooley cutting it out for Fakenham. Spurrell on the right for Fakenham getting up on the right support from Imogen Dilling and Shelley Woods playing a neat triangle as they get up the pitch, Olivia Smith in to tackle for Mulbarton the ball out for a throw. The cross lifted into the Mulbarton area near side Hedtke back to clear the ball regained by Fakenham in midfield a shot struck from distance goalkeeper, Cara Anderson right behind it palming the ball down safely.

Ellie Hunter looking to control the ball for Mulbarton (photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

Alice Smith sends a diagonal ball from the centre out to Jermy on the right stealing into the box, goalkeeper Tilly Betts comes out to close down the angle staying big as Jermy shoots, her effort off target. Griffith closing the ball down inside the Fakenham box left side getting it out of her feet stabbing a shot narrowly over the crossbar. Fakenham play the ball out to Sophie Lubbock on the left side looks to get on, no way past Megan Belsey. Alice Smith into Hedtke on the ball through the middle for Mulbarton lifts it on for Melissa Belsey to the right of goal, looking to put Jermy in making the run to get beyond her, Hutchison going with her for Fakenham putting in the challenge to regain possession .

Mulbarton’s Megan Belsey with Fakenham’s Sophie Lubbock challenging for the ball

Fakenham soaking up a good amount of pressure at the back from Mulbarton as they look to keep it tight at the back. The ball cleared out to Alice Smith 30 yards out lines up a strike her shot racing wide of Betts’ left post. Hutchison with a crucial interception at the back for Fakenham with Melissa Belsey trying to get in behind. Fakenham looking to keep hold of the ball whenever they have it play it out from the back not launch it looking for Lubbock and Woods to get them passing options up top.

Fakenham defender, Amie Hutchison with Mulbarton’s Melissa Belsey

Melissa Belsey bringing the ball down top of the D, screws her shot wide as she strikes it on the turn. Sophie Lubbock getting on with the ball left side turns infield travelling towards the Mulbarton area, McNorton standing firm in defence tackling to win the ball back. 20 minutes played Mulbarton looking strong with more of the ball looking to get forwards create openings. Fakenham’s defence fighting to win their tackles.

Jermy escapes in behind wide right for Mulbarton her cross lifted in across the six yard box, Hutchison getting something on it defending for Fakenham, drops for Ellie Hunter, her shot blocked deflected behind for a corner on the left. Put in near side cut out by Maddie Smith for Fakenham. Mulbarton press players on in attack when they have possession Jermy and Griffith combining as the latter comes over to the right Jermy’s pass finding her inside the box, slips though as she goes to strike the ball allowing the Fakenham defence time to clear.

Mulbarton captain, Laura Hedtke (photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

Melissa Belsey good on the ball inside the D turns to escape her marker into the box, Riches recovering well to nip back a her shielding the ball allowing her keeper to clear the ball. Hedtke playing the ball on through the middle into Melissa Belsey inside the box, Riches getting a foot in to deflect the ball away for a corner kick. Taken short between Jermy and Belsey the cross angled into the box, headed clear by Fakenham. Dilling helping it on through the middle for Fakenham up to Sophie Lubbock up to, Lucy Lincoln winning the ball back for Mulbarton.

Fakenham up on the right Spurrell getting a throw worked inside to Woods striking the ball on the angle from outside the box her effort racing wide of the near post. Melissa Belsey with the ball on the right for Mulbarton looks to take on Hutchison getting away into the corner, Hutchison staying on her Belsey squeezes a ball into the box near side for Griffith, she is tackled by Maddie Smith unable to get a shot away. A good battle between attack and defence, Fakenham’s back line fighting for the ball.

(photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

Hunter with possession in the middle for Mulbarton lifting it out to Melissa Belsey wide right her cross into the box headed behind by Maddie Smith for a corner at the back stick. A scramble to clear the ball then as the ball drops down into the six yard box. Mulbarton awarded a free-kick wide on the left as Fakenham look to clear their lines. Struck in across goal the ball attacked at the far post but wide. Pooley bringing the ball out from the back left side lifting it on for Sophie Lubbock, Megan Belsey not giving her any room closing in to tackle.

Alice Smith on for Jermy out to Melissa Belsey drifting right, turns back infield heading for the box, too many bodies to get through loses the ball. Jermy moving over to the other side of the pitch looking to get into the area from the left, Maddie Smith winning the challenge for Fakenham. The Belsey twins look to combine on the right with Megan overlapping Melissa to send a cross in near side Jermy unable to get her head on it the ball running onto Griffith left, Riches standing firm against her for Fakenham.

Megan Belsey

The Belsey’s linking up on the right side to win Mulbarton a corner kick. In across the six yard box Lincoln at the far post knocking it down Alice Smith running onto it her strike charged down, the ball half cleared won back by Smith her 2nd attempt lifted in towards goal caught by Betts. Mulbarton continue to press, a few signs of frustration creeping in with the break through yet to be made another strike from outside the box deflected through to the keeper. Hunter holding the ball up for Mulbarton 25 yards out on the middle laying it back for Hedtke to curl a shot in towards goal, coming in at Betts at a comfortable height catching confidently.

Fakenham’s Gina Pooley

Sands looking to make ground on the left with the ball plays it inside for Dilling forwards for Woods right channel, pushing for the area, McNorton going with her defending to see the ball out for a goal-Kick. Into 1st half stoppage time Mulbarton with a free-kick some 30 yards out to the left with a push spotted on Jermy. Hedtke over the ball struck in towards goal, not troubling Betts.

Half-time Mulbarton Belles Ladies 0-0 Fakenham Town Ladies

  The 1st half draws to a close with the sides level no goals scored. Mulbarton with much of the possession and chances as yet to find the break through. Getting on with the ball Jermy and Griffith looking to drive at the defence. Fakenham holding a solid line deep defending inside their own box leaving little room t exploit winning their tackles with Betts solid beyond not exposed. Have soaked up alot of pressure and as such found it tough to get anything going up the other end. Can they maintain it 2nd half or will Mulbarton start finding gaps to exploit.

(photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

A change for both sides at the break. Vicki Lubbock on for Sands for Fakenham. Molly Ryan on for Mulbarton joining the attack with Melissa Belsey dropping back, her sister Megan off. Mulbarton getting the 2nd half underway. Hedtke winning the ball for Mulbarton putting it on for Jermy clear on the right her cross swung into the six yard box headed behind by Riches for a corner. Played into Hunter top of the area near side angles the ball in across to the far post, Fakenham heading the ball clear. The threatened showers have arrived the umbrella needed.

Fakenham looking to get forwards with greater intent at the start of the 2nd half Costin into Woods right plays the ball inside to Sophie Lubbock making a central run striking a shot wide from inside the D. Pooley defends well on Hunter as the midfielder brings the ball away to the right for Mulbarton. A more open start to the 2nd half this though will suit Mulbarton, Pooley carrying the ball out into the middle forwards into Vicki Lubbock has a go for goal from distance 35 yards out her effort running wide of Anderson’s left post.

Shelley Woods attacking for Fakenham

Woods out right with the ball at her feet for Fakenham in attack pushing it inside to Vicki Lubbock outside the box her first time strike charged down by Belsey. Jermy away with the ball left side on for Hunter who plays it into Ryan inside the box right of goal, Pooley getting in on her to tackle deflect the ball away for a corner kick. In from the right Mulbarton with plenty inside the box comes to Griffith on the penalty spot, strikes the ball goalwards, smashes against the right post coming back out into the mix, Alice Smith latching onto it her blast at goal blocked. Fakenham look to launch a counter attack the ball launched up to Vicki Lubbock in attack, Anderson though out on her area to clear the ball.

Fakenham’s Vicki Lubbock (photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

Griffith with Alice Smith sent on for Ryan top of the box, Hutchison backing off her in the right place to make the tackle as she turns inside. Mulbarton put it long to Griffith advancing on the left holding the ball up has support from Olivia Smith giving her the ball crosses into the box, Riches heading clear for Fakenham. A change for Mulbarton with Alice Smith coming off on comes Jenna Wales. The ball through the middle for Fakenham into Woods 25 yards out central, moves left then right looking for half a yard to shoot getting her strike away can only plant it into Anderson’s gloves.

The Lubbock twins turn to combine as they bring the ball on through the middle Vicki on for Sophie, Wales cutting the ball out for Mulbarton. Hedtke off for Mulbarton with Alice Smith returning to the action. Griffith with a shot outside the D 20 yards out as the ball, lifted in towards goal dips late on the keeper, Betts nevertheless getting hold of it. Players starting to show signs of tiredness a few down with cramp as they stretch for the ball. Alot of effort put in. Riches dealing with Jermy as she looks to get the ball on inside the box.

Changes for both sides, Sophie Lubbock off for Fakenham Olivia Baker joining the attack. Melissa Belsey and McNorton off for Mulbarton on come Olivia Mungham-Gray and Annie Smith. Alice Smith sending the ball on for Mungham-Gray right, fresh legs takes the ball on into the corner. Pooley getting back holding her up before the ball inside is cleared. Hunter right with Ryan to Alice Smith in the middle, Costin tracking back to defend for Fakenham.

Mulbarton’s Molly Ryan

Getting on down the left Fakenham win a corner, the ball fired into the six yard box knocked on across the face of goal, Woods getting it down into her feet at the far post seeing her shot charged down. Mulbarton straight on the counter attack Ryan though the middle to Griffith left shooting from the angle her strike racing wide across goal. The clock ticking down neither side finding the break through yet the game opening up more with players tiring. Hunter with the ball right crossing into the area looking for Griffith, Maddie Smith clearing for Fakenham.

Atlanta Griffith

Mulbarton press on down the left Jermy into Griffith strong inside the area, Riches with her attempting to challenge as the defence is turned, Betts out to close Griffith down, the shot striking her squeezing under the keeper trickling through to goal, Pooley around on the cover to clear the ball off the line. Wales bringing the ball on right side lifted on for Mungham-Gray she crosses the ball into the area near side for Hunter, leaning back into her shot, doesn’t get it on target. Costin attempting to thread the ball on for Baker for Fakenham the attack looking to get in behind can’t take the ball in her stride.

A substitute for Mulbarton, Hunter coming off for Alice Ladbrooke. Vicki Lubbock with a distance strike for Fakenham, not troubling the keeper. Into the closing moments of the 2nd half the game looking to be heading for extra-time Mulbarton winning a last gasp corner as Alice Smith’s shot from a lay off from Ryan on the right is deflected behind. The ball lifted into the area Griffith deep with a header forwards, headed out of the six yard box knocked back to Jermy right outside the area puts in central for Ladbrooke to clip a looping shot back in from inside the D, the ball dropping down of the crossbar before being cleared, the last action of the game with the final whistle blowing and the Cup Final heading to extra-time.

Full time Mulbarton Belles Ladies 0-0 Fakenham Town Ladies

 Alot of tired bodies out there, a huge effort put in by all. Fakenham continued to be strong in defence frustrating Mulbarton who have come close to scoring but thwarted by the woodwork on two ocassions. Another 30 minutes to be played, will tiredness play a part now. Fakenham getting forwards more in the 2nd half opening the game up a little yet to test Anderson. The players eager to get underway waiting on the officials.

Extra-time 

  Mulbarton getting extra-time underway the ball lost on the right as Wales looks for Ryan. Mulbarton come right again getting to the by-line the cross cut out for a corner turned behind. Players up into the area, the ball attacked near post Alice Smith twisting round as she goes to head the ball sending her attempt up over the bar. Jermy through on the left into the channel shifting inside striking the shot from the angle across the keeper, her effort coming back off the base of the far post. 

  Mulbarton pushing on looking for a goal in extra-time Griffith out to Jermy left plays it in central for Ladbrooke smashes a shot in towards goal, Betts with the save a great effort as she tips the ball up beyond her far post out for a corner that Mulbarton don’t capitalise on. Fakenham bring off Costin with Sands returning to the pitch. Mulbarton winning a free-kick inside the Fakenham half right of the circle players up as Wales plays it up into the box, Alice Smith at the near post turning her header in across goal, gaps as it runs narrowly wide. 

GOAL! Having upped their game at the start of extra-time Mulbarton at last find the break through attacking left Ryan up with Jermy the ball turned behind for a corner kick the two combine for the set-piece as players come up from the back Jermy into Ryan coming for the ball gives it back to Jermy she drops her shoulder to get inside at the by-line before lifting a cross into the six yard box, dropping at the far post Lincoln is there to head the ball down back across goal to score 1-0.

Lucy Lincoln scores for Mulbarton in extra-time

  Fakenham’s resistance broken at last they respond straight away bringing Sophie Lubbock back on in attack. Gets an opportunity straight away as Fakenham press players on Sophie Lubbock into the box left side flashing a ball into the six yard box Woods attacking it turning the ball up over the bar. Woods then brought down outside the D left of goal a free-kick awarded she attempted shot striking the wall. Mulbarton bringing the ball out looking to counter Griffith taking the ball on down the left, Maddie Smith with a tired lung bringing the attacker down earning a yellow card in the process. Played into the box from Jermy wide left, Betts doesn’t get hold of it loose Griffith on the follow up placing it wide. 

  Griffith driving on with the ball towards the Fakenham box, Riches closing down holding her up well as Maddie Smith slides in to take the ball behind for a corner. Goes through everyone inside the six yard box out the far side for a goal kick.

Half-time extra-time Mulbarton Belles Ladies 1-0 Fakenham Town Ladies

 Fakenham making a change at the start of the 2nd period of extra-time, Hayley Marjoram on at the back for Maddie Smith wary of her earlier booking. Fakenham with the kick-off out to Spurrell on the left, Wales tackling for Mulbarton. Olivia Smith back on for Mulbarton. Jermy travelling with the ball attacking left side runs the ball into the side netting. 

Griffith with a shot from distance some 30 yards out central running wide of the left post. Ryan getting on right side for Mulbarton into the box her shot cut out and cleared by the Fakenham defence. Fakenham bringing on Holly Davies for Pooley at the back, Marjoram over to left back. Mulbarton with changes too Ladbrooke and Smith off Melissa Belsey and Hedtke back on. 

  Betts brave with the blocking save in front of Griffith inside the box as the diagonal ball is played in from the left. Melissa Belsey after it right side her cross back in cleared by Riches for a corner. Fakenham batting to win possession get the ball forwards as they look to find a goal. Mulbarton bringing of both Griffith and Jermy, Hunter and McNorton back on. 

GOAL! Fakenham look to play the ball out from the back a long diagonal ball up to Spurrell on the left bombing on with support from Baker wide combining the ball put back into Baker outside the box she strikes a dangerous dipping shot in towards the keeper on Anderson quickly doesn’t get hold of it deflecting of her across the face of goal , Sophie Lubbock lunging in to turn the ball home. 1-1 is immediately pounced on by her gleeful teammates. 

 Back level both Marjoram and Davies come off with Costin and Dilling back on for Fakenham. The game minutes away from going to penalties Fakenham find a burst of energy getting the ball onto Baker wide right she helps it into the box for Sophie Lubbock closing in on the six yard box left side gets hold of the ball a rush of blood sends her strike wide of the far post. That’s it Fakenham come back to level the tie late in extra-time to see it settled by the dreaded penalty shootout.

Full time extra-time Mulbarton Belles Ladies 1-1 Fakenham Town Ladies

Penalties

  Penalties are a lottery, 5 each if the scores remain level it will go to sudden death. 

Mulbarton up 1st Jermy placing the ball on the spot looks to placed it high to the keeper left, sees her strike hit the woodwork. 0-0

 Hutchison up 1st for Fakenham makes no mistake a pile driver high into the back of the net 0-1.

  Griffith up next for Mulbarton a composed strike fired into the bottom right corner 1-1.

  Woods next up for Fakenham, their most experienced player she pulls her penalty wide seeing it strike the right post 1-1.

  Alice Smith with Mulbarton’s 3rd places the ball high past the keeper giving Mulbarton the advantage 2-1.

  Sophie Lubbock up to take Fakenham’s third penalty opts for powers sent home through the middle. 2-2

Hedtke’s turn for Mulbarton placing the ball down cool as you like wide of the keeper 3-2.

Costin up next for Fakenham, neither keeper getting near the ball as of yet, Anderson down to get behind the ball save as Costin sends it on low…. miss but wait the lineman is flagging Anderson coming off her line too soon the penalty to be retaken. Costin with another opportunity strikes it hard and low into the bottom corner 3-3.

  Wales up into the box for Mulbarton’s 5th penalty has to score or hand the advantage to Fakenham a powerful drive finding the back of the net 4-3.

  Now it’s Fakenham’s turn to score or the tie is all over Vicki Lubbock up for this one no mistake placed to the keepers left into the bottom corner 4-4.

The shootout heads to sudden death, Ryan to take the 6th for Mulbarton, sweeps the ball into the bottom corner right of the keeper 5-4.

 Again Dilling has to score for Fakenham if she’s feeling the pressure it doesn’t show struck well hard and low into the corner of the net. 5-5.

McNorton the next penalty taker for Mulbarton. Running up to strike the ball her hands fly to her head in agony as she sees her shot fly up over the crossbar, distraught her teammates rush to console her 5-5.

A chance for Fakenham to win the Cup Final, Baker with the ball the referee blows his whistle Baker runs in and sends the ball wide of the keeper to score running away in celebration as her teammates rush forwards in triumph 5-6.

  Fakenham win this season’s League Cup Final with a 6-5 sudden death penalty win over Mulbarton after the sides draw 1-1 in extra-time. A hard fought contest for Fakenham who for the large part where defending resolutely as Mulbarton came at them. Creating numerous chances Fakenham’s defence deep at times doing well to keep it tight win challenges and protect their goalkeeper. Meant getting forwards became a challenge. Mulbarton hitting the woodwork on several occasions coming close but not close enough. The game heading into extra-time players tiring space opening up the break through at last as Lincoln headed home. The clock ticking down Fakenham giving it one last push the shot coming in from Baker spilt and sent home by Sophie Lubbock to take the tie into the penalty shootout could have gone either way, but Fakenham are delight it went there way. Mulbarton disappointed nevertheless finishing the league season as Division One Champions with a 100% winning record and a County Cup final to look forwards to. Congratulations to them

Mulbarton Belles Ladies, Norfolk Women’s Division One, Champions (photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

 Onto the Women’s Football East – Player of the Match and boy is this a tough decision to single out an individual player for the award. Several strong contenders players to mention for both sides. For Mulbarton Alice Smith was superb in the middle constantly winning the ball back and getting forwards herself or setting up her attackers coming close to scoring on a couple of occasions. Sophie Jermy too full of running taking the game to Fakenham looking for a way through the defence to shoot herself or set up others. For Fakenham a pat on the back for the whole defence and goalkeeper Tilly Betts a strong display from start to finish winning numerous tackles full credit to Maddie Smith, Amie Hutchison and Gina Pooley edging you out by a whisker the award goes to Jemma Riches. A great defensive display all round.

Fakenham Town Ladies 2021/22 NWGFL League Cup Winners (photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

Congratulations to Fakenham Town Ladies on winning the 2021/22 NWGFL League Cup Final 

 An enjoyable but long day over at Aylsham extra-time and penalties adding to the drama good to see finals day back after the previous season were cut short. Congratulations to all the winners both sides for getting me the team details I might know most of the players but it always pays to check. Thanks again to Scott Grearhardy for the use of his pictures for the report will share more as they a produced. Thanks also to the NWGFL committee and Aylsham FC for putting on a great weekend of woman and girls football too.

  by Darren Gilham

Cup Final Special – Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women v Caister FC Ladies

Sunday 15th May

Norfolk Women’s League Plate Final

A cup final double from Norfolk this Sunday on Women’s Football East with the NWGFL hosting the it’s final day for it’s women’s sides. Following on from yesterday’s youth finals day 3 finals taking place today, the League Plate and League Cup aswell as the 7’s League Cup. First up with a 10:30am kick-off the Women’s Plate Final between Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women and Caister FC Ladies.

 A clash between two of the highest scoring sides across the league with well over a 100 goals scored for each. Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Ladies currently 3rd in the Norfolk Women’s Division One table with 2 games still to play and could yet clinch runners-up spot with 4 points needed to overhaul Fakenham Town Ladies in 2nd. Have been playing catch-up all season, having made good progress in the cup competitions including reaching the semi-finals of the County Cup. Victoria Leyer has always been prolific in front of goal for the club since first joining the league as Sprowston carrying on as the club moved to Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers a couple of seasons ago. Leyer has 37 goals for this campaign from just 13 appearances. Closing her down for top scorer is Shanice Sutton now on 35 from 20 games. Charlie head in good form too in front of goal since joining from Long Stratton scoring 20 goals with Chelsea Brister netting 16 times. 108 league goals in total for Dussindale & Hellesdon with just 19 conceded.

With 3 more goals to their name with 11 in the league are today’s opponents, Caister FC Ladies who have stormed to the Norfolk Women’s Division Two title in their debut season winning 14 of their 15 games played so far. A strong side have vast experience in the league having formerly been Gorleston FC Ladies 1st team. Making the move up the Norfolk coast this season they were hot favourites to win the league. Scoring 111 league goals an incredible 51 of those have been scored by Bethany Turner coming from just 17 games too! Ellie Hills has 22 to her name too from 17 appearances with Samantha Hunn also in double figures. Winning the Division Two title with the best defensive record too less than a goal a game with 11 conceded.

Road to the Final

  The sides knocked out of the early stages of the League Cup going onto contest the League Plate in Norfolk. Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women were unfortunate to be drawn at home to Mulbarton Belle Ladies in the 1st Round of the League Cup a strong side like Caister odds on favourites to retain the Division One title, lost 5-1 to put them into the Plate competition. Caister FC Ladies were at home to in the 1st Round of the League Cup taking on Division One side, Stalham Town Ladies. Narrowly missing out on the wrong end of a 4-3 defeat.

Finding their goal scoring form Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women racked them up in the 1st Round of the Plate at home to North Walsham Angles Ladies with both Shanice Sutton and Chelsea Brister netting hat-tricks in an 11-1 win. Caister FC Ladies progressing without kicking a ball awarded the A-W over Horsford FC Women.

Onto the quarter final and it was once again a double figure winning margin for Dussindale & Hellesdon this time at home to Division Two newcomers, KLSC FC Women. Chelsea Brister on target for 4 goals with Charlie Head netting a double in an 11-0 win. Caister at home to local rivals, Gorleston with their new look side. A closer result this one with goals from Samantha Hunn and Bethany Turner securing a spot in the semi-finals with a 2-1 victory. Dussindale & Hellesdon needing to squeeze there game in their semi-final against fellow Division One side Sprowston FC Women taking place at The nest under the lights, drawing 2-2 at half-time Sprowston were to have their goalkeeper sent off in the 2nd period Dussindale & Hellesdon going on to score 3 to win the game 5-2. Victoria Leyer scoring 4 goals, Sutton with the other to send them into this Sunday’s final. Caister originally drawn to host Freethorpe in their semi-final the weather playing it’s part the tie switched to Freethorpe’s ground. Goals from Turner and Laura Atkinson seeing Caister into a final in their debut season winning 2-0.

A new venue for NWGFL Finals day after it’s 2 season absence due to Covid. Youngs Park, home of Aylsham FC. The modern, new built clubhouse and changing rooms overlooking a number of grass football pitches with the main pitch behind. The clubhouse is a god size housing the bar and kitchen area. Hot food available on the day. Hosting the youth finals the day before a busy one with 10 games squeezed in today’s action hosting the 3 senior final the Women’s Plate and Cup along with the 7’s final between Kirkley & Pakefield and Costessey Sports. Not as warm as yesterday. Mild but with plenty of cloud around with the threat of a shower growing throughout the day.

Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women

Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women starting XI – Tyla Cole, Amee Kennett, Siesha Humphries, Maddison Goodenough, Calista Tink (C), Abbi Nobbs, Georgina Belton, Lucy Wetherall, Abby Hutchin, Chelsea Brister & Shanice Sutton. Subs – Ruby Wilson, Charlie Head, Kari Kowalczyk, Kirstie Rusted & Zuleika Laffitte. 

Caister FC Ladies

Caister FC Ladies starting XI – Laura Beevor, Hayley Muir (C), Enya Tooke, Elisha Maher, Maia Hollis, Nicole Sheldrake, Courtney Charlton, Molly Sims, Ellie Hills, Olivia Broughton & Bethany Turner. Subs – Kelly Allen, Caitlin Smith, Melissa Anderson & Samantha Hunn.

  (roll on roll off substitutes)

  It’s Dussindale & Hellesdon wearing an all claret kit to get the final underway kicking off 1st half with Caister lined up opposite wearing an all navy away kit.

  GOAL! A fast start to the game for Dussindale & Hellesdon the ball played back into Abbi Nobbs in midfield passed out to right back Amee Kennett is fed forwards to Abby Hutchin racing away up the right wing getting in behind taking the ball on squares her cross along the top of the six yard box low straight to Shanice Sutton at the far post to turn the ball into the back of the net with her first touch of the match 1-0. 

Shanice Sutton on target to score with her first touch of the game (photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

  A fast start to the game for Dussindale & Hellesdon taking the lead inside the opening 15 seconds. a blow for Caister who look to get the ball into Bethany Turner moving right from the restart her ball into the area cleared by Dussindale & Hellesdon’s Maddison Goodenough is help on upfield out to Sutton pulling away right her early diagonal ball into the top of the Caister area looking to Chelsea Brister moving in from the left, bringing the ball down Enya Tooke is in to close her down clear the threat for Caister. 

Abby Hutchin on the move for Dussindale & Hellesdon

  Dussindale & Hellesdon buoyed by their early goal pile players on in attack Sutton drifting out to the left taking the ball off Brister dribbling to the by-line cutting inside into the box goes on before shooting close in the angle acute, Caister goalkeeper, Laura Beevor down smartly to her right diving to push the ball behind for a corner kick. The corner driven into the near post from the left is headed wide by Dussindale & Hellesdon captain Calista Tink up from the back. 

  Both Brister and Hutchin looking to travel with the ball on the flanks for Dussindale & Hellesdon with Sutton looking to play off the Caister defence. Siesha Humphries on the left of defence for Dussindale & Hellesdon defending as Turner looks to drive on with the ball wide. Caister make ground on the left winning a throw in the final 3rd, Molly Sims bringing the ball under control hooking it forwards into the Dussindale & Hellesdon area with Ellie Hills making the run, goalkeeper, Tyla Cole off her line quickly to claim the ball. 

  Beevor comes rushing out to the top of her area to save at the feet of Sutton as she is put in behind from a diagonal ball from Hutchin on the right. The offside flag however is up against her.  Georgina Belton coming into space on the right for Dussindale & Hellesdon is played in by Nobbs, her diagonal ball into the top of the Caister box is won by Elisha Maher. Dussindale & Hellesdon looking a threat everytime they go forwards closing down the ball Caister are unable to gain a foothold inside their half. Tink coming on with the ball right sending it on for Kennett running up the right wing her cross into the area sliced clear drops straight to Lucy Wetherall outside the D drops her shoulder moving inside onto her left foot to send a shot in from 20 yards is straight at Beevor. 

Enya Tooke tackling for Caister FC Ladies

  Nicole Sheldrake bringing the ball on through the middle for Caister has Olivia Broughton ahead of her playing the ball into her path she looks to spread it left for Hills making the run to get in behind, the pass intercepted by Kennett for Dussindale & Hellesdon. Caister with a change Caitlin Smith on for Maia Hollis at the back. A throw high on the right for Dussindale & Hellesdon dropped into Belton controls and turning sends a cross in along the top of the area, coming to Brister left side, her first time strike blasted wide of the right post. 

Defending the corner (photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

  Little respite for Caister as Nobbs with Belton and Wetherall in the middle hustle possession forcing errors the ball lost. A chance for Caister to relieve some pressure as they win a free-kick wide on the right send into the opposition box, the ball cleared put on upfield the break on with Sutton racing after it. Beevor though out rapidly to the top of the area to see the ball safely into her gloves. Hutchin strong on the right bursting forwards her cross cut out by Maher falls straight to a Dussindale & Hellesdon shirt the 25 yard strike picking out Beevor back on her line to grab down. 

Laura Beevor busy in the Caister goal (photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

  Beevor by far the busier of the two goalkeepers, Humphries on for Brister left cut out rolls straight to Weatherall outside the area top of the D her strike held by the Caister keeper. Belton bringing the ball on from the middle for Dussindale & Hellesdon moving right sends the diagonal pass into the box looking for pulling off the defence, her header held by Beevor. Keeping the ball in the final 3rd Dussindale & Hellesdon with a throw right put inside for Weatherall top of the box right side sends it across to Brister far side her shot struck in low racing wide across the Caister goal. 

 GOAL! 20 minutes played and Dussindale & Hellesdon have shown attacking intent throughout press forwards through the middle the ball fed out to Brister moving down the left pace on the ball fires a cross into the top of the six yard box Sutton at the near post getting her foot on it striking the ball high past the keeper into the the roof of the net 2-0. 

Shanice Sutton doubling Dussindale & Hellesdon’s lead

  Strong midfield running from Dussindale & Hellesdon, Belton in particular bringing the ball out finding space on the right with Hutchin occupying the defence her cross in the attack thwarted by the offside flag. Caister are doing their best to get their attackers into the game primarily Turner on the right pushes the ball out wider to be crossed into the area, cleared by Tink. Forwards into Belton again moving right attempts to lob the keeper from distance her high ball into the area dropping short, caught low by Beevor a good claim back on her line needing to be wary of players looking to rush in on her.

  Smith on the ball for Caister left travelling has Turner making a run into the left channel looking to pull in behind, threading the pass on, Tink reads it cutting the ball out for Dussindale & Hellesdon. Courtney Charlton defending inside the box for Caister as Sutton plays the ball into Hutchin right of goal. A corner for Dussindale & Hellesdon on the right the ball in defended by Beevor at the near post falls to Wetherall moving left but can’t find a way through. 

Bethany Turner fighting for the ball in the Caister attack (photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

 Dussindale & Hellesdon regain possession in the middle Belton with the crossfield pass left to right for Hutchin, jinks inside her mark moving across the top of the Caister area before shooting her low strike saved by Beevor. Hutchin right on the attack inside for Sutton 20 yards out right side of the box looks to play it across to Brister moving in from the left, Maher getting the tackle in on her to clear the threat for Caister. 

  A free-kick to Dussindale & Hellesdon on the right as Hutchin is body checked by Tooke the set-piece 30 plus yards out. Brister over it flights a ball in to be attacked far post area, won and cleared by Caister captain, Hayley Muir. Hutchin is quick to nip in and win it back 30 yards out her shot taking a slight deflection on it’s way through to the keeper. Muir is then booked as she brings down Brister as she looks to accelerate away with the ball on the left. A pause for drinks before the free-kick is taken. Brister with a dangerous ball in across goal to the far side, Charlton getting her head on it for Caister good work to turn the ball up over her own crossbar for a corner kick. Charlton then defending from the corner as Dussindale & Hellesdon fire it in towards the near post area. Comes to Humphries up the line on the right to send a curling strike in towards goal swerving in front of Beevor the keeper is down well to lay claim to the ball.

   Caister struggling to get anything going up top getting hold of the ball in the middle placing a pass into an attack is proving difficult, Tink and Goodenough reading the ball well. Hutchin driving inside with the ball from the right, the pass fizzed into Sutton getting free central inside the area her shot sent goalwards, Beevor with a superb save instinct as she throws a leg out to block the ball deflect it out to the left, Brister back in across the six yard box Hutchin right after it with Charlton the defender doing well against her for Caister.

 The free-kick count rising another one for obstruction this one closer outside the area as Brister places the ball down for Dussindale & Hellesdon right of the D, curls a shot in her effort landing on the roof of the net. Weatherall getting on for Dussindale & Hellesdon angling a shot in from wide her strike palmed down by Beevor. 

 GOAL! A couple of minutes left to play in the 2nd half largely dominated by Dussindale and Hellesdon, they go on to extend their lead. Nobbs on for Wetherall through the middle sends it out to Brister on the left attacking turns inside and strikes the shot in on the angle rising for the top corner across goal Beevor dives in vain the ball smashing down off the crossbar over the line 3-0. 

Chelsea Brister extending Dussindale & Hellesdon’s lead

  Pressing on from the restart Caister find no way through the Dussindale & Hellesdon defence, Goodenough out to Belton who passes on to Nobbs getting forwards plays the ball into Sutton’s feet as she drifts in left of the D, her shot pulled wide of the left post. 

 GOAL! Moments later Sutton goes on to score her hat-trick. Once again linking up with Brister breaking on down the left with the ball, her cross lifted in near side Sutton gets under the ball to head it in up over the keeper 4-0.

 A frustrating 1st half for Caister haven’t get going at all, Smith taking the ball on through the middle looking to link up with Turner outside the area playing a one two the final pass cut out by Kennett for Dussindale & Hellesdon. Beevor out to save bravely at Sutton’s feet as she looks to get onto the end of a Brister pass fed into the box from the left. Charlton doing enough at the back for Caister to stop Hutchin getting into a shooting position as Sutton sends the ball on for her right side.

Half-time Dussindale & Hellesdon Women 4-0 Caister FC Ladies 

 4-0 lead for Dussindale & Hellesdon in the League Plate Final. In control of the half from start to finish. Taking the lead in their very first attack seconds on the board the early goal clearly settling any nerves, whilst rocking their opponents. Caister never looking settled have struggled to get the ball into their attackers while keeping any meaningful possession, given away too easily has invited Dussindale & Hellesdon on in attack their movement causing problems. A mountain to climb if they are to find a way back into the tie in the 2nd half.

Dussindale & Hellesdon’s Lucy Wetherall

Caister look to have made a change at the start of the 2nd half, Melissa Anderson on. Caister to get the 2nd 45 underway. The sun making an appearance, the ball quickly lost as Belton closes in for Dussindale & Hellesdon out to Hutchin on the right on for Sutton trying to break into the box, Beevor racing out to close her down the pair colliding, nothing in it, as Muir clears the ball. Sutton down for a moment but is okay to continue.

Dussindale & Hellesdon captain, Calista Tink (photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

Caister looking to get the ball into Turner, use her strength to battle her way through the Dussindale & Hellesdon defence, linking up with Smith out on the wing, Humphries steals in to win the ball back sends it up to Brister on the move left playing in forwards for Sutton her angled shot in low from 25 yards out wide at the near post.

  GOAL! 5 minutes into the 2nd half and Dussindale & Hellesdon go on to extend their advantage the ball fed out wide to Hutchin running on play drawn across to the right support from Sutton the cross is driven into the area straight to Brister free in front of goal, unmarked opens up her body to place the ball into the bottom corner 5-0.

Dussindale & Hellesdon with plenty of energy, just won’t click up top for Caister, Turner working hard on the ball finding no way through. Hills inside to Broughton, Tink halting progress for Dussindale & Hellesdon. Belton getting free on the right on to the top of the box the shot in down off the crossbar rebounding to the left Brister with the outside of her boot looking to turn it back in towards goal Beevor down at her near post the ball behind for a corner. 

Dussindale & Hellesdon midfielder, Georgina Belton

  Tink comes out to challenge, Turner as she is given the ball by Sheldrake on the right out for a throw in. Sutton on the attack into the box Maher on her stretching for the ball, Sutton turns to life her shot up over the bar. Dussindale & Hellesdon keeping the ball getting on with it at every opportunity. Changes for Caister with Hollis back on along with Kelly Allen. Charlton on the ball making a driving run through the middle for Caister challenged landing heavily a pause for treatment up gingerly. A change for Dussindale & Hellesdon with Charlie Head coming on for Brister. Charlton off for Caister on comes Samantha Hunn. 

Molly Sims tackling for Caister FC Ladies

  Humphries winning the ball back off Allen high up the pitch shoots on the angle 25 yards out left side her effort racing wide across the Caister goal. Belton in the middle putting the ball on into Sutton in attack central lays it out to Head on the right drives on into the area, shooting the strike wide across the goal out at the far post. Sutton up on the right with Hutchin the ball into the box for Head her shot, charged down by Muir. 

Caister’s Kelly Allen

  Caister battling for possession, Allen and Anderson in the middle looking to send it forwards, Turner moving across the Dussindale & Hellesdon area. Hutchin attacking right cuts the ball inside to Weatherall on for Head in the box her angled strike low to the near post saved by Beevor the ball loose for a 2nd, Beevor dragging it back into her body with Sutton closing in.  Caister with the ball central up with King knocking it on for Turner moving right a powerful run getting into the box, falling back as she goes to strike the ball on the angle sends it over the bar. 

  Caister fighting for the ball in the middle now, Allen with Anderson, no way through the Dussindale & Hellesdon defence. Anderson playing the ball out to Turner moving into the right wing drives on with the ball squaring a cross into the Dussindale & Hellesdon box, Cole diving forwards to push the ball away a good save with Hunn running in clear behind. King lifting it back into the box for Turner six yards out closed down the ball scrambled away. A double change for Dussindale & Hellesdon with Kennett and Belton coming off on come Kari Kowalczyk an Ruby Wilson. Allen with the crossfield ball out to Turner in the right channel turning inside is tackled by Wilson at the back. 

 GOAL! The game moving into the final 15 minutes, the substitutes breaking up some momentum, Dussindale & Hellesdon find Hutchin out on the right again sends the ball inside for midfielder Nobbs up with play 25 yards out right of the D, shapes to shoot, the ball rising in towards goal, am behind it have to say I thought it was going over so did the crowd around me but no it drops down late to find it’s way in under the bar to bring up the 6th goal for Dussindale & Hellesdon’s number 6. 6-0!

Abbi Nobbs scoring Dussindale & Hellesdon’s 6th goal (photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

  Caister make a change bringing Broughton back on for Smith. Play brought back for the foul with no advantage after Nobbs is upended in the centre. The ball played out to the right with Sutton up with Head put back to Wetherall top of the area sends it out to Kowalczyk on the left plays it back infield for Wetherall drives on by too much traffic ahead of her. Head taking the ball out to the left corner lifts a cross into the far post Sutton can’t get it down under control before the ball is launched clear. 

 Turner up the other end looking to get away on the right is stopped by Wilson in the corner. Muir looking to lift Caister make one last push as the game enters the final 5 minutes. Anderson off for Caister, Hills back on. Humphries up on the left forwards into Kowalczyk turns infield pushing the ball into Wetherall, attempts to lift it over the top into the box for Head but Beevor out to snatch it first. Head seeing the ball into her feet for Dussindale & Hellesdon outside the box moving central to right turning to send a shot wide across goal. 

Abby Hutchin

 A quadruple change for Dussindale in the closing minutes with Goodenough, Humphries, Wetherall and Sutton coming off for Kennett, Belton, Kirstie Rusted and Zuleika Lafitte. Broughton getting hold of the ball central almost through for Caister but stopped by Kennett. Sims with the pass on for Hunn left for Caister can’t quite reach it before the keeper can claim. Belton looking to get on for Dussindale & Hellesdon left, Maher defending in the box for Caister doing well to get a goal kick. Beevor out to clear as Rusted looks to burst on through the middle for Dussindale & Hellesdon.

Full time Dussindale & Hellesdon Women 6-0 Caister FC Ladies

Dussindale & Hellesdon with a strong performance from start to finish to win the Plate Final 6-0 scoring in the opening seconds and playing a high energy game through out never letting their opponents settle on the ball racing into a 4-0 lead at the break. A mountain for Caister to climb to try and get themselves back into the game 2nd half. An early goal 2nd half denting those hopes will be disappointed with their performance on the day taking the gloss off what has been a magnificent first season as Caister. Runners-Up in a cup final they were still smiling at the end getting to collect there Division Two Champions medals after the game promoted to Division One next season. Congratulations to Caister on their title success.

Caister FC Ladies, Norfolk Women’s Division Two Champions (photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

 Onto the first Women’s Football East – Player of the Match today. Several good performances to choose from and isn’t easy to single one out. Firstly for Caister a special mention for goalkeeper Laura Beevor despite the score line pulled off a number of crucial saves to keep the score down. Bethany Turner up top worked hard without getting much reward for her efforts. For Dussindale & Hellesdon were solid throughout. Calista Tink strong at the back. Georgina Belton in midfield winning the ball playing some great passes forwards. Lucy Wetherall getting on from the middle to support the attack. Chelsea Brister dangerous on the left of attack always available for the pass. Abby Hutchin too on the right side her first attack setting the tone for the rest of the game strong throughout. The award though goes to striker Shanice Sutton scoring with her first touch of the game going on to get a first half hat-trick found some great positions and space in and around the box.

Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women winning the 2021/22 NWGFL League Plate (photo credit Scott Grearhardy)

 Congratulations to Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women on winning the 2021/22 NWGFL Plate Final. 

  One final down one to go, a quick look at the 7’s final in between. My thanks to both clubs for helping me out with the team details. Also for photographer Scott Grearhardy for the use of some of his pictures in the report. One more game left for Caister away to 3rd placed UEA FC Women with runners-up spot yet to be decided. 2 games for Dussindale & Hellesdon the first on Wednesday at The Nest welcoming 4th placed Thetford Town Ladies.

by Darren Gilham

Cup Final Special – Newmarket Town Women Development v Whittlesey Athletic Ladies

Tuesday 10th May

Cambridgeshire Women’s Junior Invitation Cup Final

The cup final action continues thick and fast with my 4th featured match in 8 days happening this Tuesday evening with a trip to Newmarket Town FC for the final of the Cambridgeshire Women’s Junior Invitation Cup sponsored by S-tech Insurance between Newmarket Town Ladies Development & Whittlesey Athletic Ladies.

Newmarket Town Women’s 1st team making history by reaching the Women’s Invitation Cup Final for the 1st time this season, missing out to Cambridge City Ladies their Development side looking to go one better in the Junior Invitation Cup. One of the youngest squads out there the oldest players on the field tonight just 19 years old with six of the squad just sixteen years old completing thier 1st season in women’s football. Newmarket with a strong youth system bringing players through, manager Shane Lebbon proud to develop and bring players on through the club. Promoted to Cambridgeshire Women’s Division One this season, making a solid start winning 3 of their opening 5 games, a tougher spell followed with some heavy defeats have rallied well to finish 5th in the table bringing several players up to gain experience and ultimate develop ending their season with a cup final. Kaitlin Elsey their top scorer netting 16 times from 11 appearances.

Facing another young squad this evening as they take on Whittlesey Athletic Ladies. The majority of the players with manager Shaun Harley for U10’s moving through the various age groups at ICA Sports Ladies before moving to form Whittlesey Athletics first women’s team 2 seasons ago. A solid debut in the Cambridgeshire Women’s Premiership before applying to join the ERWFL (tier six) this season. Entering Division One North games haven’t been as regular as they could have been with 2 sides withdrawing before the start of the season leaving just 7 competing. Drawing with eventual Champions Needham Market on the opening day have held their own amongst the chasing sides, eventually finishing 5th a draw and a defeat to Newmarket’s 1st team along the way. Missing out on a spot in the ERWFL Plate final losing in extra-time to Hutton went one better in the Junior Invitation Cup as they compete for their first piece of silverware. Chelsea Burr their top along with Annie Posnett with 15 goals.

S-tech Insurance sponsoring the Invitation Cup and Junior Invitation Cup’s now for 15 years proudly supporting the women’s game in Cambridgeshire.

Road to the Final

  `17 sides entering the Junior Invitation Cup both Newmarket and Whittlesey were given a bye in the 1st Round seeing them straight into the quarter finals of the competition. Newmarket away to Division Three side Chatteris Town Lillies Ladies in the last 8, goals from Georgia Blackaby, Ella Cummins and Sarah O’Rourke seeing the game won 3-0. Whittlesey progressing without kicking a ball handed a home win against Leverington Sports Ladies.

  Onto the semi-finals, it was another Division Three opponent for Newmarket as they were drawn at home to face Burwell Tigers Ladies. Kaitlin Elsey scoring a brace to help the hosts advance to the final the result 6-2. Whittlesey at home to in their semi-final taking on fellow ERWFL Division One North side Cambridge City Ladies Development. Looked a close game on paper and proved to be the case with a single goal enough to see Whittlesey into their 1st final Chelsea Burr scoring it.

  Newmarket Town FC the venue for this evenings final. The top class artificial playing surface seeing alot of action. Hosting numerous teams and finals over the course of the season. A main seated stand beside the changing rooms and clubhouse with viewing all round. The bar open along with the kitchen. Another bright and sunny day leading into a mild evening but growing cloudy with rain on it’s way for the following day.

Newmarket Town Women Development

Newmarket Town Women Development starting XI – Hannah Lock, Kara Wayman, Shannon Chandler, Jess Sharp, Lydia Mason (C), Emily Wallis, Cerys Compton, Mary Lowe, Ella Cummins, Georgia Blackaby & Kaitlin Elsey. Subs – Isobel Davies-Trainer, Leah Harper, Scarlett Lander, Amy Savage, Chloe Dunn.

Whittlesey Athletic Ladies

Whittlesey Athletic Ladies starting XI – Danielle King, Sophie Ellen, Hannah Johnson, Leah Barnes Lauren Fort, Hannah Murphy (C), Lauren Mapleston, Maddison Moore, Holley Ross, Aliyah Palmer & Chelsea Burr. Subs – Brooke Harley, Megan Mapleston, Amelia Roberts & Grace Spencer.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

Two young squads going head to head in a senior women’s cup final a great experience for all involved. Newmarket to get the game underway kicking off the first half wearing yellow coloured shirts with blue shorts and socks. Whittlesey lined up opposite wearing blue and black vertical striped shirts with blue shorts and socks. The ball put into midfield sent out to Shannon Chandler on the right the full back powering forwards delivering a cross into the top of the Whittlesey area, won and cleared by Lauren Mapleston for Whittlesey. 

   Whittlesey look to get on through the middle, Maddison Moore travelling with the ball support from captain, Hannah Murphy linking 25 yards out, Newmarket centre backs Jess Sharp and captain Lydia Mason closing the door the ball won back. Out to Kara Wayman on the left forwards for Emily Wallis pressing forwards with the ball gets a cross into the Whittlesey box, Sophie Ellen clearing for Whittlesey. Lauren Fort challenging Chandler and the back as she storms on up the right plays it forwards for Chelsea Burr left on halfway, sending in inside for Aliyah Palmer central runs on down the line the return pass played into her path taking the ball on into the box looking to turn inside towards goal, Mason closing down wins possession back for Newmarket.

  Mary Lowe getting on through the middle for Newmarket pressing winning the ball high moving to the right the ball into the box blocked by Whittlesey. Players from both sides looking to take the ball forwards rather than get rid as soon as possible. Newmarket looking to press players on through the middle, Burr and Holley Ross looking to keep wide left and right in attack for Whittlesey with Palmer through the middle. Newmarket goalkeeper, Hannah Lock racing out of her area to clear the ball as Palmer tuning on the ball attempts to sends Burr on in behind.

  Kaitlin Elsey battling for the ball taking it on to the right by- line her cross fired in cut out at the near post. Whittlesey break quickly Moore and Murphy in the middle sent on for Burr running away on the left pulling the trigger on the angle 25/30 yards out her shot flashing in across goal over Lock strikes the far post cannoning of it across the face of the Newmarket goal hitting the other upright before Lock gets her gloves firmly around it. 

Maddison Moore looking to take the ball on for Whittlesey (photo credit Sean Doyle)

  A free-kick awarded to Newmarket in the centre circle the ball played up to towards the left side of the Whittlesey box, Hannah Johnson winning it with her head getting it away. Whittlesey starting to press the ball with 10 minutes played competitive in the middle of the park, Murphy and Moore winning tackles. 

  GOAL! Whittlesey open the scoring with a well worked finish between the front three as play is spread out to Burr on the left, pace on the ball getting on sends a great diagonal pass across the top of the Newmarket area finding Ross over on the right, she in turn passing it into the middle for Palmer stealing in on the penalty spot to open up her body to plant the ball wide of the keeper to score 0-1.

Aliyah Palmer on target for the opening goal for Whittlesey (photo credit Sean Dayle)

  Newmarket look for a quick reply as the ball is picked up in the middle by Ella Cummins driving on threads it on for Elsey the striker moving left of the D strong on the ball shooting a cross goal her shot wide of Whittlesey goalkeeper, Danielle King’s far post. Ellen defending for Whittlesey as Georgia Blackaby looks to get into a shooting position for Newmarket from a throw in. Moore taking the ball on through the middle for Whittlesey laying it out to Ross on the right side, going on, Kara Wayman winning the ball back for Newmarket with a good challenge.

   Burr is a threat in attack for Whittlesey moving out to the left the ball played into her chased into the corner, holds off Newmarket defenders before flashing a cross along the face of the Newmarket goal. Retrieved out on the right Ross with Moore her angled ball into the area, just behind Palmer making the central run. Johnson with the clearance on the right sees Burr left running onto the ball again opts to shoot early slicing the ball her effort sent over. A good contest shaping up both sides looking lively in attack, Whittlesey looking to stretch Newmarket’s back line. The ball launched forwards by Whittlesey a hopeful pass turns into an opportunity as a defensive miscue sees the ball headed on in behind, Burr after it racing forwards, Sharp though doing well for Newmarket getting back herself to tackle inside the D.

Newmarket’s Ella Cummins (photo credit Sean Doyle)

  Burr lively heading the ball on for Palmer central, mason winning it back for Newmarket. Elsey given the ball 25 yards out bursts forwards through the middle driving at the Whittlesey defence, Leah Barnes making the tackle bringing the ball away, before having a heavy collision with Blackaby that eaves her on the ground hurt. Appears to be winded, after treatment is back up on her feet. Midway through the first half. Fort carrying the ball on moves central eventually closed down the ball cleared for a throw. Off the throw on the left Burr controls the ball and turns on down the line in behind to whip a cross into the six yard box, Wayman at the far post controlling the ball with her head dropping it down for Lock to gather.

Whittlesey’s Lauren Mapleston

  Cummins on the ball running on towards the Whittlesey box has Blackaby ahead of her right of the D rolls the ball on for her, bodies back for Whittlesey as Blackaby pulls the trigger her shot deflected wide for a corner kick. Put in from the right the ball headed out of the area near side by Murphy. Chandler gathering moving on before sending a high cross into the area, this time claimed by King. Whittlesey looking a threat on the counter getting the ball on quickly, Burr the outlet on the left landing at her feet squares it across the top of the Newmarket box, Ross after it far side, Wayman winning the ball back for Newmarket. 

Shannon Chandler looking to get on for Newmarket (photo credit Sean Doyle)

  Murphy getting on right for Whittlesey sends the ball into Burr top of the D, is quickly closed down by Sharp and Mason can’t turn inside attempts to lay it back for Murphy the midfielder can’t take it in her stride as Crompton closes in for Newmarket. Whittlesey turning the screw pressing forwards Mapleston on for Palmer right channel plays it on into the box with Burr coming across to receive the ball shots on the angle, Lock with a sharp save down well to get her hands on the ball push it out to the left for a corner kick. Players up into the box for Whittlesey the corner long beyond the far post attacked an infringement spotted by referee, Ceredig Cattanch-Chell, Newmarket have the free-kick.

Whittlesey captain, Hannah Murphy (photo credit Sean Doyle)

  10 minutes left to play in the first half, Wallis looking to get on left side, held up by Johnson. Chandler getting up on the left for Newmarket sends a diagonal ball into Elsey in attack lays it back for Cummins advancing through the middle 25 yards out stabs her 1st time strike wide. Mapleston bringing the ball on through the centre of Whittlesey has Palmer free on the left, turns and is tackled by Chandler. Lowe with the ball central Newmarket running on towards the Whittlesey box lifts it on looking for Elsey, Ellen winning the header for Whittlesey. Elsey getting inside off a throw on the left high for Newmarket plays the pass into Lowe left of the D sent in low, King is down to get behind it for Whittlesey. 

Newmarket striker, Kaitlin Elsey

 Elsey with the ball left holding it up as Blackaby gives her an option outside the D, lays it back to Lowe in midfield, her diagonal ball back out to Elsey moving inside the area is won by Whittlesey’s Johnson. Chandler getting up well on the right for Newmarket crosses in along the top of the Whittlesey area Lowe clipping a shot forwards headed away a distance strike hit back into the box, taken high by King dropping down onto the ball. Whittlesey are quick to break Mapleston with Ross through the middle out to Burr left shifts inside leaning back as she shots striking the ball over from outside the box. 

  Newmarket looking to get on late in the first half Chandler on the right forwards for Blackaby taking the ball to the by-line her cross in cut out at the near post, won back inside the Whittlesey half by Lowe twisting and turning on the ball getting forwards her forwards pass claimed by the keeper. Lowe then drops a pass over the top for Elsey outside the D, forced wide left as Barnes and Johnson recover to get back on her, Johnson tackling to regain possession.

GOAL! Into 1st half stoppage time Whittlesey playing the up


field ball into Burr over on the right turning to take the ball down clear right of the D, striking it well her shot racing across Lock to find the bottom corner 0-2. Whittlesey doubling their lead at the death in the first half.

Chelsea Burr bearing down on the Newmarket goal (photo credit Sean Doyle)

A blow for Newmarket they look to get on the attack the ball forwards, Ellen winning it for Whittlesey moving on as Lowe comes in to challenge a painfully collision a coming together of knees that leaves Ellen down in some discomfort. Play stopped so she can receive treatment up gingerly can’t continue however helped off the pitch, Megan Mapleston coming on. The ball forwards by Whittlesey from the back, Moore looking to take it on through the middle finding no way through.

Half-time Newmarket Town Women Development 0-2 Whittlesey Athletic Ladies

  An entertaining first 45 minutes. A good contest between the sides playing positively. Newmarket looking to bring the ball on. Whittlesey keeping it tight at the ball defending the top of their area making it difficult to break though while looking dangerous on the counter attack, Burr in particular out left then right later on always available. The opening goal coming on 10 minutes, with Palmer on target have created further chances Burr hitting the woodwork and forcing a great save by Lock. Newmarket kept coming on playing through the middle some clever runs a sucker punch to concede a 2nd goal so late in the first half. Never an easy score line to hold at half-time and the old cliché applies the next goal could prove crucial.

Whittlesey attacker, Chelsea Burr (photo credit Sean Doyle)

 

  Changes for both sides at the break, Grace Spencer on for Whittlesey replacing Ross. A triple change for Newmarket with Leah Harper, Scarlett Lander and Isobel Davies-Trainer coming on for Cummins, Blackaby and Sharp. Whittlesey with the kick-off in the 2nd period, put forwards into midfield Newmarket get hold of the ball on for Elsey out to Lander on the right. Fort tackling for Whittlesey. 

Newmarket’s Leah Harper

 Wayman on the ball at the back for Newmarket looking to lift it over the top for Elsey, won back by Barnes. Newmarket looking to get the ball forwards quicker at the start of the 2nd half Lander out wide right, Davies-Trainer on the left. It’s Lander with the ball on the right driving on put on into the six yard box, Elsey after it get her head on the ball, King getting in to scramble it away to the left. Whittlesey break Murphy with the ball forwards for Palmer out on the right in attack, Wayman standing firm against her for Newmarket. Lander speedy on the right for Newmarket on with the ball her cross flashed in near post claimed by King with Crompton closing in. 

  A lively opening 5 minutes Newmarket looking to take the game to Whittlesey their opponents getting the ball into the middle play spread to Burr on the left getting in behind taking on the early strike her shot held well by Lock. Moore down injured for Whittlesey a pause in play need to come off, Ross returning to the field. Wallis playing the ball to Davies-Trainer on the left threaded inside for Elsey to attack, Barnes defending for Whittlesey. Megan Mapleston with the ball on through the middle for Whittlesey has Burr on the move left side attempts the pass, Chandler intercepting for Newmarket. 

Newmarket’s Kara Wayman (photo credit Sean Doyle)

  Newmarket with a strong start to the 2nd half getting players on using the wide areas trying to find Elsey with a cross inside the area. Chandler on the right and Wayman left with some good defending for Newmarket as Whittlesey attempt to get Burr and Palmer in behind. Burr a constant threat running onto a pass through the middle breaking on into the area, Wayman closing her down as she shapes to go left take a shot, the full back has to get her tackle right an does superbly well to take the ball cleanly away from the attacker. 

  Wayman again winning the challenge as Whittlesey’s Spencer looks to get on with the ball right side, playing it up the line for Davies-Trainer who in turn attempts to thread the ball into Elsey inside the box is quickly closed down. Murphy getting hold of the ball outside her area for Whittlesey looks for Burr out wide left side, Chandler winning the ball then again as Burr comes nipping back at her. Ross with a powerful run on the ball through the centre for Whittlesey left of the D 20 yards out puts it into the area right looking for Spencer, can’t reach it before Wayman clears the danger.

(photo credit Sean Doyle)

   Elsey with the ball left side bouncing up does well to win a corner kick. Spencer goes down for Whittlesey needing treatment, whilst Palmer appears to be struggling with an injury too. Spencer comes off with Amelia Roberts entering the game. 20 minutes played in the 2nd half. Lock with a crucial save for Newmarket as Burr latches onto the ball outside the area following a defensive error racing forwards into the box left of goal, Lock comes to close the angle staying big making the blocking save as Burr smashes the ball into her her defence racing back clearing the ball.

  Elsey attacking on the right for Newmarket her angled shot in cut out by Fort behind for the corner kick. The ball played in near side is turn high towards goal, dropping down, King with a comfortable take. The game moving into the final 20 minutes, Newmarket pushing hard for a goal to get themselves back into the game, Whittlesey back defending. Play pulled over to the right as Newmarket get on Elsey wide holding the ball up has support from Crompton her cross flashed in near post won well by Johnson heading clear with Wallis waiting beyond. 

(photo credit Sean Doyle)

  Wayman bringing the ball on down the left plays it inside for Mason forwards into Elsey outside the D, closed down the ball put back to Davies-Trainer left side to strike a shot over the bar from 20 yards. Chandler bursting on right side with a vicious ball angled into the the Whittlesey area, intercepted and cleared by Johnson. Whittlesey forced back finding it difficult to get out of their half now as players come back to help the defence. Murphy strong on the ball wanting to find Burr on the left can only pick out Chandler.

  Ross bringing the ball down off a throw right side, looks to attack before being tackled by Wayman. Brooke Harley coming on for Whittlesey replacing Palmer. Newmarket think they have a goal back as Lander out wide on the right rifles a shot in towards goal players closing in on the keeper the ball smashed home from close range into the roof of the net. However as everyone starts to celebrate the flag is up the goal ruled out for offside. 

 Burr not seeing as much of the ball now as Whittlesey concentrate on keeping Newmarket out at the back nevertheless reman a threat ready to attack if the ball comes up t her, pacy with it at her feet left side shoots wide across the area. A double change for Newmarket with the clock ticking down a little over five minutes of regular play to score 2 goals. Lowe and Chandler coming off for Amy Savage and Chloe Dunn. 

  GOAL! Newmarket get on the attack play spread to Lander out wide right taking it on down the line shrikes the shot in from the angle the ball rising King jumping can’t get a touch the ball cannoning down off her crossbar out to the left side. Elsey getting after it is pushed to the ground, Penalty! Well not straight away. Elsey stays down hurting her shoulder in the fall and needs attention. So too King in the Whittlesey goal. Both players back on their feet it’s Elsey with the penalty an unstoppable drive hit high into the roof of the net. 1-2.

Kaitlin Elsey scoring an unstoppable penalty to pull a goal back for Newmarket (photo credit Sean Doyle)

  A goal back for Newmarket in the 85th minute, setting up a nervous finish to the cup final for Whittlesey who look to get straight on the attack from the restart, Murphy looking to put it on for Burr intercepted by Wallis. Whittlesey come right Ross with support from Mapleston, Dunn defending well for Newmarket. Attacking Whittlesey press on Lauren Mapleston tackled by Harper as she takes the ball on through the middle. Murphy bringing the ball down some 30 yards out seeing her shot caught by Lock. 

  Newmarket on the ball left Dunn on for Davies-Trainer attempts the ball over the top for Elsey, won by Johnson. The game open at the death moving into stoppage time will be several minutes added. Neither side making head way lander stopped on the by-line right side, Whittlesey unable to pick out Burr on the left. Burr winning a throw high up on the left, rather than looking to keep it in the corner Whittlesey are looking to score Johnson up the pitch battling for possession passes to Ross inside for Murphy 20 yards out screws her shot wide. 

  On last attack for Newmarket the ball with lander on the right crosses it into the box, falls to Elsey central peeling off the last defender turns and shoots, not a clean connection her effort dragged wide of the right post. That’s it the final whistle blows and despite a valiant effort from Newmarket to fight back in the 2nd half Whittlesey stand firm to win the Junior Invitation Cup.

Full time Newmarket Town Women Development 1-2 Whittlesey Athletic Ladies 

  A really entertaining final between these two young sides. Some great football played. Whittlesey opening the scoring in the 10th minute a well worked move. Further chances coming for Burr as Newmarket carried the ball on in attack themselves suffering a late sucker punch with Burr scoring in the closing moments to hand Whittlesey a 2 nil lead at the break. Changes for both sides at the break. Newmarket strong in the 2nd half as they pushed on looking for a goal to get back into the game came close with a goal ruled out for offside as the Whittlesey defence stood firm under pressure. Burr looking capable of getting them another goal up the other end, Newmarket’s full backs in particular making things difficult. The goal coming from the penalty spot late in the game Whittlesey responding by getting out attacking rather than inviting continued pressure. Two sides that you feel are only going to get better.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

Onto this evenings Women’s Football East – Player of the Match and boy is this a tough one to pick one out with both sides having strong contenders. For Newmarket the full backs were superb, Shannon Chandler on the right and Kara Wayman on the left making some great tackles. Kaitlin Elsey up top strong on and off the ball looking to find an opening not easy against a well drilled Whittlesey defence. For Whittlesey, Hannah Johnson had a great game at full back winning the ball more often than not. Hannah Murphy too in midfield getting about closing players down. The award though and it is close because Kara Wayman was excellent for Newmarket goes to Whittlesey’s, Chelsea Burr. Played a fantastic game always an outlet for her side as they looked to attack from midfield, on the ball getting down the line or into a scoring position herself a great pass for the opening goal, creating chances herself before getting on the scoresheet late in the first half.

Whittlesey Athletic Ladies, 2021/22 Cambridgeshire Women’s Junior Invitation Cup Winners

Congratulations to Whittlesey Athletic Ladies on winning their first piece of silverware the Cambridgeshire Women’s Junior Invitation Cup.

 A really entertaining game to end a run of 4 finals in 8 days, starting last Tuesday with the Suffolk League Cup, with the Suffolk County Cup and ERWFL League Cup, Friday and Sunday. A brief rest now before a cup final double in Norfolk of Sunday. My thanks to everyone for their assistance this evening an to Sean Doyle for allowing me to use some of his pictures in the report.

by Darren Gilham

Cup Final Special – Wroxham Women v Wymondham Town Ladies

Sunday 8th May

ERWFL League Cup Final

Another trip into Suffolk this Sunday for another final event this time from the ERWFL holding its League Cup Final at Haverhill Rovers FC contested between two Norfolk sides this season as Wroxham Women take on Premier Division Champions, Wymondham Town Ladies aiming to make it a league and cup double.

Today’s prize

Today’s League Cup Final will be the last in charge for Wroxham Women manager, Rebecca Burton as she stands down from the role having helped Wroxham to a 4th placed finish in the ERWFL Premier Division and seen over the transition of the woman’s side since it’s move to the Broads club. Has been a tale of two seasons on the pitch getting off to a fantastic start winning 5 out of 5 keeping pace with the title contenders then it all fell apart a tough spell following towards the end of 2021 into 2022 with 4 straight defeats and a high proportion of postponements adding to the frustration. The squad has rallied fantastically however and coming out the other side have recaptured their early season form with 5 straight league wins to get them back into contention at the top to finish 4th. A cup final appearance testament to the character shown. Grace Birchall the leagues 2nd highest goal scorer netting 21 times from just 16 appearances.

Wymondham Town Ladies like Wroxham showing great form at the start of the season 4 straight wins before a dip suffering back to back defeats towards the end of September, never looked back after that going on to win 12 of their remaining 14 games unbeaten to storm to the ERWFL Premier Division title and finish some 12 points clear of the rest. The squad going from strength to strength under manager Alex Guy promoted to the FAWNL 3rd and 4th tiers of the women’s football pyramid. Have done so with one of the smallest squads in the Premier Division using just 22 players in part testament to their fitness and togetherness with 3 of their attackers in the top 5 leading goal scorers behind Natasha Fensome and Wroxham’s, Birchall. Hannah Waters 3rd with 19 goals followed by Francesca Catchpole and Laura Nicholls with 16 and 15 respectfully. Aiming to make it a league and cup double could yet be a treble as Wymondham are into this season’s County Cup Final taking on Norfolk Division One Champions, Mulbarton Belles Ladies at Carrow Road on Wednesday 25th May. 

Road to the Final

The first two round of the ERWFL are contested between the Division One North & South sides with 4 winning through to join the 12 Premier Division sides in the 3rd round. Wymondham starting their league cup campaign at home to Division One South title contenders, Cheshunt FC Women a brace from Kyla Love who joined Wymondham from Wroxham along with a goal each for Francesca Catchpole, Katie Knights and Rebecca Russell seeing them through with a 5-1 win. Wroxham away to Norfolk rival, King’s Lynn Town Ladies newly promoted to the Premier Division a single Grace Birchall goal the difference between the sides on the day

Onto the quarter finals Wymondham again at home taking on their closest rivals 2nd placed Royston Town Women, Rebecca Russell once again on the score sheet along with Natasha Youngs to put them into the semi-finals winning 2-0. Wroxham form returning were drawn away to Colney Heath Ladies who themselves were showing strong form going into the tie. Wroxham coming home form Hertfordshire with a 2-0 win courtesy of goals from Grace Birchall and Lauren Bullard. A trip to Haringey Borough for Wymondham in the semi-finals Hannah Waters hitting a double in the match with Hayley Kindred and Laura Nicholls both getting a goal in a 4-1 victory. Wroxham through to the final without kicking a ball after opponents AFC Dunstable Ladies called of unable to raise a side the league ruling seeing Wroxham progress.

The New Croft, home of Haverhill Rovers FC, along with it’s women’s sides. The main grass pitch hosting the final the clubhouse and kitchen open seating in front overlooking the pitch, being watered before the game. A seated stand beside with viewing all round. A bright sunny day, warm with a few dark clouds around but otherwise a pleasant day for a cup final. 

Wroxham Women

Wroxham Women starting XI – Cyan Fullbrook, Hope Strauss, Grace Squire, Jess Horn, Tigi Robson, Becky Russell, Broghan Scully, Rosie George, Naomi Cooper, Lauren Bullard & Gracie Birchall (C). Subs – Hope Armstrong, Kayleigh Robb, Charlotte Gardiner-Banks, Holly Walker & Rhianne Brister.

Wymondham Town Ladies starting XI – Chloe Pearce, Leah Newcombe (C), Chelsea Clarke, Lauren Kett, Mary Croft, Jennifer Codman, Rebecca Russell, Natasha Youngs, Laura Nicholls & Hannah Waters. Subs – Jess Luff, Hayley Kindred, Kyla Love, Lyla Studd & Francesca Catchpole.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

  Had to happen sooner of later writing a report where players on opposite sides have identical names with both Wroxham and Wymondham having a Rebecca Russell, know one as Becky however and will go with that. Both sides without a key defender for the match with both Wymondham’s Aimee Stretch and Wroxham’s Alice Parker ruled out through injury. Wymondham’ first competitive match in a month that being their semi-final game their league campaign wrapped up in March. It’s Wroxham to get the cup final underway kicking off the first half wearing blue and white vertical stripe shirts with blue shorts and socks. Wymondham opposite wearing red coloured shirts with black shorts and socks. The ball played out to the right put forwards for captain Grace Birchall in attack holds the ball up before playing it back into central midfield for Becky Russell who in turn spreads play to the left for full back Hop Strauss who attempts to play it up the line for Lauren Bullard moving out wide, Wymondham captain Leah Newcombe on her to challenge send the ball out for a throw.

Wymondham captain, Leah Newcombe

  Both sides moving in quickly on each other in possession, Wymondham’s Hannah Waters giving away a free-kick on halfway to the left bringing down midfielder, Broghan Scully. Strauss to play it up towards the top of the area, Newcombe up stretching to head the ball misplaces her header plying it on into her box, goalkeeper Chloe Pearce alert quickly advancing to grab hold of the ball. Wymondham push players on the diagonal pass sent out to Waters chasing into the right corner, does well to win a corner. Players up from the back, Wymondham from the right play it short the ball taken up the line before the cross is angled back into the box, Becky Russell up to head the ball clear for Wroxham.

Wymondham’s Laura Nicholls looking to get away from Wroxham’s Broghan Scully

   Rebecca Russell on the ball through the middle for Wymondham attempts to play the pass out to Waters drifting right, the ball intercepted by Becky Russell. Newcombe allowed to travel on with the ball for Wymondham lifts it on looking to put Waters in behind the Wroxham defence top of the area won well by Jess Horn. Newcombe then fouls Rosie George on halfway upending her as she looks to break with the ball at her feet. Strauss over the set-piece launching the ball high up into the Wymondham area, Lauren Kett with a strong header putting the ball clear for Wymondham. Both sides giving away free-kicks Wymondham hustling Wroxham on the ball forcing them into errors rushing passes winning a free-kick on halfway left themselves, Kett sends the ball up into the box, bounces through to goalkeeper, Cyan Fullbrook.

Wymondham’s Rebecca Russell

   Katie Knights getting about the pitch for Wymondham comes out to the right looking to hold up the ball wide of the Wroxham area is fouled. Rebecca Russell on the free-kick flashed into the box at in inviting height is won and cleared by Horn at the far post. Wymondham quick to turn the ball around Wroxham a little nervous not finding the forwards pass allowing their opponents to press forwards.

  GOAL! The ball played into Rebecca Russell central comes on, sees Waters out to the right looking to get in behind, sends the diagonal ball out to her, Wroxham immediately appeal for offside, no flag Waters turns the ball on into the area driving forwards and smashes a powerful strike across the keeper into the back of the net 0-1. 9 minutes played.

Hannah Waters with the opening goal for Wymondham in the ERWFL Cup Final

  Wroxham furious adamant Waters was offside, was certainly close. Wroxham try to find Birchall in attack, Mary Croft defending for Wymondham, to Jennifer Codman forwards for Rebecca Russell inside the Wroxham half moving right passes inside to Waters who plays the pass out to Laura Nicholls moving into the right channel, going into the corner Strauss closing her down wins a corner off the defender. Played in from the right is over Nicholls rising far post retrieved out on the left the cross then charged down. 

  Scully in the middle with Becky Russell on to Bullard has Birchall breaking away in attack on the left side the ball into her feet holding it up as Strauss rushes on taking the ball on on the overlap, Kett comes out to the wing to make the tackle put the ball out for the throw. Play stopped then as Scully is down in the middle clearly in pain, didn’t actually see what happened whether she was caught or not but is in trouble looks to be her ankle, the trainer on needs to be helped off can’t continue. Wroxham send on Holly Walker a rejig of personal with Horn coming into midfield, Strauss going over to the right and George dropping back into left back.

Wroxham’s Jess Horn with Wymondham’s Katie Knights

 Wroxham continue to look unsettled, Wymondham able to regain possession easily with the forward passes not finding anyone. No love lost between the sides certainly has the edge of a derby to it, tackles flying in a free-kicks being given away regularly, Wymondham after a hand ball is spotted on halfway. Played forwards to the top of the area intercepted by Horn. Newcombe on with the ball left forwards for Natasha Youngs her cross put into the area finding Nicholls close in at the near post, she shot blocked by Tigi Robson out for a corner. In across the six yard box from the right, Knights heads over at the far post.

   Horn fouled in the middle for Wroxham the ball out to George up on the left getting into the Wymondham half has Walker ahead of her the pair playing a one two looking to get forwards Kett across to help Newcombe the ball defended cleared for a throw. Wymondham sharp getting the ball forwards from the ball fizzed into Waters left outside the Wroxham area turns sending it on for Nicholls racing away down the wing looking to get into the box, Fullbrook able to get hold of the bouncing ball, Nicholls would have been offside anyway. A throw deep inside Wroxham territory for Wymondham on the right, players battling for possession, Bullard getting hold of it looking to get on the move for Wroxham the potential break stopped by Youngs as she gets the tackle in on Bullard.

Wymondham defender, Lauren Kett

  George with a strong run forwards with the ball on the left for Wroxham on for Walker, Kett in to challenge halting her advance. Fouls continue to be given away a feisty contest. Birchall on the recieving end of a strong challenge. From a throw high on the right Becky Russell wins Wroxham a corner kick. Frustrations with decisions boiling over for Wroxham as the first half moves into the last 15 minutes. Wymondham from a throw on the right Knights showing great skill on the ball turning it infield for Rebecca Russell 20 yards out looking to go forwards, Horn in on her defending for Wroxham.

Wroxham’s Becky Russell

   George clearing the ball right for a throw as Waters flicked on ball from the middle comes out to Nicholls breaking right. Wymondham’s turn to complain about a decision going against them players from both sides showing their frustration risking action being taken against them. Wroxham beginning to find some momentum going forwards at last getting players on better, finding Birchall and Bullard up top. Wymondham always ready to spring the counter Walker needing to track back on the right tackle Newcombe as she gets forwards. The throw deep into the area Waters up near side twisting her header down towards goal, players attacking it, thwarted by the offside flag. 

Wroxham’s Rosie George

  Strauss coming away with the ball on the left side for Wroxham moves inside sending the diagonal ball into Birchall’s feet back to gaol outside the D, looking to turn to her right spin off her marker, Kett reads it lunging out with her leg to take the ball away from her. Soon after though Kett picks up the first yellow card of the game as she catches Horn with a rash tackle in the middle. Strauss on it, into the top of the area Newcombe’s header clear falling to Becky Russell attempts to lob it back in over the defence, claimed by Pearce beyond. 

  Wroxham get up the pitch on the left George up with Walker the ball worked in across the top of the Wymondham area comes out to Bullard 20 yards out right side, curls a viscous shot in towards goal Pearce diving to her left can’t reach it the ball cannoning down off the crossbar and out for a corner off the falling keeper. Wroxham applying some pressure now in the final 3rd the corner played in across the penalty spot headed up twice by Wroxham before dropping to Horn at the near post stabbing her header wide.

Wroxham’s Jess Horn

  The clock ticking down in the first half Wroxham finishing it the strong with the ball higher up the pitch played with renewed confidence Birchall driving on powerfully on the right her cross from deep saved by Pearce out of her area quickly regained by Wroxham Horn into Becky Russell outside the D turns on the ball left intending to shoot, Kett diving in with a last ditch tackle to deny her the opportunity. A pause in play with Nicholls pulling up for Wymondham needing treatment. Okay to continue, the ball won back by Wroxham in the middle up to Bullard with Birchall to her right, Croft defending for Wymondham as the half-time whistle blows.

Half-time Wroxham Women 0-1 Wymondham Town Ladies

  A strong opening half hour from Wymondham as they pressed the Wroxham defence back getting the ball on quickly through the middle to their attackers. Waters opening the scoring inside 10 minutes. A feisty game played at a good pace has the feel of a derby about it some strong challenges being made, decisions upsetting both sides, as of yet though just the one card shown. Wroxham looking a little unsettled at the start not getting their passes right, finding their way towards the end of the half not really wanting the whistle to blow. Wymondham heading into the changing rooms. Wroxham staying out on the pitch, manager Rebecca Burton giving one last impassioned half-time team talk spurring her side on for the 2nd half.

Rebecca Burton giving her final team talk as Wroxham manager (nobody died by the way)

  No changes at the break for either side, 1 goal in it still all to play for as Wymondham get the 2nd half underway. The ball with Newcombe at the back is quickly closed down Wroxham looking to press, Becky Russell getting hold of the ball played inside cut out by Codman. Walker bringing the ball on left fires a diagonal ball inside for Birchall back to goal top of the D, bodies around her turns into traffic no way through. Wymondham regain possession on the right sent on for Waters taking the ball on to the by-line her cross is deflected behind into the side netting for a corner kick. 

Katie Knights with Wroxham’s Becky Russell

 

The corner swung into the near side attacked as Wroxham defend getting it clear play stopped however with a player down, Robson needing treatment. Clarke up on the left with the ball clipping a long pass forwards into the box with Waters pulling off the Wroxham defence, Fullbrook starts to come close the angle, the striker not getting to it the goalkeeper allowing it to bounce on wide of goal. The game stretched more now as Wroxham push up losing the ball out wide, Wymondham counter on the right the diagonal ball forwards seeing Nicholls in through the middle, Fullbrook comes running out to the top of her area sliding in to clear it as the attacker arrives the ball won the pair collide a painful coming together of knees that leaves both on the floor in some discomfort and another long pause in play for treatment to be administered. 

 

  Both up gingerly can play on. Knights coming out to the right holding the ball up twists and turns getting the angle for the cross the ball lifted into the six yard box claimed by Fullbrook. Waters with the ball high on the right winning a throw, players from both sides battling for possession outside the Wroxham box, Becky Russell preventing the cross coming in. Knights stealing in on the ball for Wymondham laying it on for Water right channel, Robson with a good tackle defending for Wroxham. Wymondham’s defence sitting back keeping it tight making it difficult for Birchall to find a way through on goal, angry not to get awarded a corner as she drives on right side.

  A change for both sides with Wroxham bringing on Charlotte Gardiner-Banks for Squires. Wymondham bringing off Youngs replaced by Hayley Kindred. An hour played a much more even contest, Wroxham after the ball getting players up. Wymondham ready to counter at every opportunity Rebecca Russell on through the middle for Nicholls, Fullbrook coming out to meet her doing well to bat the ball down then smother it at the top of her area. Bullard to Birchall taking the ball on into the right corner getting inside to send a cross in towards the near post Becky Russell with the run, the ball clears by Croft. 

Wymondham’s Laura Nicholls

  Birchall with the ball at her feet outside the Wymondham area turns towards goal, Codman back to help her defence with the challenge to win it back. Becky Russell closing down the ball central sends it out to Cooper running into space on the right lifts the ball on into the box for Birchall right side bringing it down gets to the by-line, Kindred tackling for Wymondham. An Injury concern for Wymondham in the middle Waters has pulled up, hurting herself chasing down a ball moments earlier can’t continue a blow, Kyla Love coming on.

Naomi Cooper coming forwards for Wroxham

  Another change for Wroxham with Walker off, Rhianne Brister coming on. Another injury concern for Wymondham with Kett the player down again needs to come off, Wymondham sending on striker Francesca Catchpole. Love in the middle losing possession to Becky Russell, gets back at her to win the ball back a committed tussle from both side now. Horn picking up the ball in the middle allowed to travel pulling the trigger some 20 yards out, Pearce seeing it wide of her left post. The advantage played as Strauss is clipped bringing the ball on on to George out wide her cross into the middle, headed clear. 20 minutes left to play the game could yet go either way Wroxham much improved but as yet to test Pearce.

Wymondham’s Kyla Love

  Birchall battling her way forwards on the right calling for support as she moves infield her ball into the area covered by Pearce. Love heading the ball on up to Catchpole in attack, Strauss closing in to defend for Wroxham. Wymondham upping the pace as they look for a 2nd goal themselves. Players beginning to struggle with fatigue pulling up, Nicholl has taken a few knock during the game. Codman down too needing treatment a large chunk of stoppage time to be added. Codman coming off for Wymondham, Youngs returning to the pitch. 

  Love running onto the ball, 20 yards out looking to press into the box is tackled by Robson, Horn in the middle fouled by Catchpole as she tries to send it forwards. A free-kick for Wroxham wide left halfway into Bullard central has Cooper free to the right the pass into her moves inside lifting it forwards for Brister left of the D, Rebecca Russell up with her, attempts to turn her header on into the area, the ball loose for a moment a 2nd attempt to head it on for Brister the ball on through to the keeper. 

  Gardiner-Banks curls a shot into the keeper 25 yards out on the left side as the advantage is played after Love’s foul on Birchall. Free-kicks the story of the game regularly given away little quarter being given from either side. Brister comes off for Wroxham with Walker returning for the closing stages, time running out for Wroxham to get a goal force the game into extra-time. Strauss on for Cooper right side her cross in cut out. Clarke picking up the ball for Wymondham 20 yards out left of goal getting into the box her shot miscued wide at the near post. Game is very open Wymondham defending deep not leaving any gaps Bullard into Cooper right inside for Walker, top of the Wymondham area left, the ball cleared by Croft for a throw. 

 

  Youngs off a throw left getting to the by-line, Strauss defending for Wroxham, Youngs coming back on her to play it across the top of the area, Love onto it her attempt sent high. 

 GOAL! Regular time up Catchpole on the ball halfway inside the Wroxham half, Cooper closing in lunges in to win the ball Catchpole going down over her legs, Wroxham incensed as the free-kick is awarded against her. Looked a good tackle diving in though adjudged as dangerous play. Clarke over the set-piece the back hit well heading for goal to the right side swerving through the air Fullbrook getting something on it not enough though as it is lost beyond her bouncing down in front of goal, Wymondham have players racing in on the follow-up Love amongst those smashing the ball into the back of the net. Confusion as Wroxham think it’s been ruled out for offside, Wymondham celebrating. A pause in play as the officials consult, the goal is given the ball already over the line before Love arrived 0-2.

  A much needed goal for Wymondham with a substantial amount of injury time to be played. A huge blow for Wroxham who feel they have been on the wrong end of decisions for both goals. Birchall bringing the ball on right her crossed flashed into the six yard box, cleared before Gardiner-Banks can get her head on it. Lyla Studd coming on for Wymondham replacing Youngs. Catchpole holding up the ball fouled by Robson on halfway. 

 Wroxham press forwards in search of a goal Cooper 30 yards out on the right shifts inside letting fly with a stinging shot, Pearce diving to her right with the save pushing the ball out wide to the left. A free-kick crossed into the Wymondham area just out of Birchall’s reach, a foul for Wymondham then as Wroxham attempt to regain possession. Studd back to defend for Wymondham as Becky Russell and Bullard look to combine out on the right. Deep into stoppage time 5 minutes already played.

  A free-kick for Wroxham  30 yards out central, a booking for Kindred. Strauss’ shot striking the 3 man wall. Robson staying up now for Wroxham the ball with Cooper right lifted on Robson that side but the pass too long. 90 + 8 Wroxham with a free-kick on the left Strauss to put it on, headed clear top of the area by Rebecca Russell. Cooper central threading the pass into Robson right her cross into the Wymondham area won by the defence. 

 GOAL! 90+11 Wroxham pushing hard at the death winning another set-piece Strauss on it 25 yards out to the left of the D. Sent in on target Birchall attacking it even as Pearce looks to take it with both hands on her line, does well to hold onto the ball, a little bit of afters between Birchall and Croft that sees the defender kick out at her opponent. The referee blowing up cooling thing’s down calling Croft over booking her and awarding the penalty. Bullard placing the ball on the spot, calm as you like the keeper doesn’t move as she slots it low into the right corner 1-2.

Lauren Bullard scores from the penalty spot for Wroxham

  A goal back at the death for Wroxham, but only a consolation as moments later the final whistle blows and Wymondham celebrate as the win the League Cup and complete the double.

Wymondham celebrate at the final whistle

Full time Wroxham Women 1-2 Wymondham Town Ladies

  An entertaining Cup Final played between two committed sides local rivals, very much a derby. Wroxham much improved 2nd half taking the game to Wymondham opened things up, as they looked for a goal. Wymondham though keeping it tight at the back deep at time not leaving any room in behind. Losing players to injury Wymondham had to fight for the victory getting the crucial 2nd goal in the finish. Some controversial decisions Wroxham feeling hard done by for both goals. Entertaining nonetheless a great advert for the league the ERWFL only getting stronger.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. Was a committed battle with both sides playing there part contenders on both sides. For Wroxham, Tigi Robson making a number of crucial challenges at the back. Becky Russell in the middle getting stuck in winning the ball on numerous ocassions looking to get forwards. Lauren Bullard outstanding getting hold of the ball coming close to scoring late in the first half scoring the penalty at the death. Wymondham had to fight for the victory and did a great job as a team. Lauren Kett at the back standing out amongst a solid defensive line. Hannah Waters up top with her movement on and off the ball always causing issues. The award though goes to midfielder Katie Knights covered a huge amount of ground in her pursuit of the ball breaking up several Wroxham moves holding up the ball and getting into some good forward positions.

 Congratulations to Wymondham Town Ladies on winning this season’s ERWFL Cup Final and completing a league and cup double.

Wymondham Town Ladies 2021/22 ERWFL Cup Winners

  An entertaining trip down to Haverhill my 3rd final in 6 days one more to come on Tuesday at Newmarket for the Cambridgeshire Women’s Junior Invitation Cup Final before a slight rest. My thanks to both sides for their help today as always is appreciated.

by Darren Gilham

Cup Final Special – AFC Sudbury Women v Needham Market Women

Friday 6th May

Suffolk Women’s County Cup Final

Back down the A12 for my 2nd Suffolk cup final of the week. Following Tuesday’s SGWFL League Cup Final season climax won by Holland Ladies it’s the turn of the County Cup. The showpiece event in the women’s football calendar being played at The JobServe Community Stadium home of League Two side Colchester United FC between AFC Sudbury Women & Needham Market Women.

This evening’s prize

The competition dominated by Ipswich Town Women since the Suffolk and Norfolk County Cups became separate competitions in 2010. Have featured in 9 of the last 10 finals victorious in all including a 7 game streak before withdrawing from the competition as their excellent growth saw the club reach the 3rd tier of the women’s game. Several sides aiming to be as successful in Suffolk as the game continues to grow at pace and this evenings finalists chief amongst them. Both emerging as a leading force in the game, Needham Market Women winning the ERWFL Division One title to win promotion to the Premier Division the 5th tier of the women’s football pyramid. AFC Sudbury Women aiming to join them as they make a late charge to claim the Division One South title.

 Sudbury the only other side bar Ipswich to have won the Suffolk Women’s County Cup since it’s inception in 2010. AFC Sudbury Ladies as they were back then beating Brandon Town Ladies 5-0. Is a very different Sudbury side now, AFC Sudbury Women now fully integrated with the men’s club and academy with a Reserves side backing up the 1st team playing in the Suffolk Women’s Premier Division. Goal scorers throughout the side Jess Allen is leading the way with 17. ERWFL Division One South proving a strong league this season with new sides joining was a 5 way battle for the title for a long period Sudbury with games in hand remaining the dark horse now with their rivals having completed their fixtures in 4th Sudbury are 8 points behind leaders Cheshunt FC who have finished on 35 points. Sudbury with 3 games left will be Champions if results go their way. Are also in the final of the ERWFL Plate.

  Needham Market Women burst onto the scene reaching the County Cup Final in their debut season just 4 season’s ago. Like Sudbury are fully integrated with their men’s club and academy set-up. Establishing a Reserves side to back up the 1st team that has gone from strength to strength joining the ERWFL have gone on to win Division One North with ease this season winning 10 of their 12 league matches scoring gaols by the bucket load, Lina Nagib with 26 to her name from 20 appearances. Have recruited a few ex-Ipswich players adding valuable experience to the squad with both Molly Hall and Ellie Rossiter having prolific seasons with 19 and 16 goals respectfully. Lois Balfour too celebrating her fair share of goals on 16 too. Made their 2nd County Cup Final appearance last season again losing out to Ipswich. Now making back to back finals like Sudbury will be fancying their chances.

Road to the Final

The early rounds of any county cup competition can see some eye watering results as teams across all tiers are drawn together. In Sudbury’s case it was a walk over for both the 1st and 2nd Rounds seeing them into the quarter finals. Needham Market were at home to Mildenhall Town Women in the 1st Round back in September, Racked up the goals against the Cambs Division Two side winning 20-0. A similar score line in the Round as they were away to Halesworth Town Women bottom of the Suffolk Women’s Championship 22-0 this time around.

  Both sides were strong in the quarter finals as they came up against sides in the Suffolk Premier Division. Sudbury away to Brantham Athletic Ladies winning the game 10-1 to progress to the last 4, Georgia Sleep netting 4 goals. While Needham Market were 9-0 winners at home to Woodbridge Town Ladies with Molly Hall also on target for 4 goal. Into the semi-finals played at neutral venues Sudbury taking on a rejuvenated Haverhill Rovers Ladies. Luiza Silva on target to score a hat-trick seeing them into the final courtesy of a 3-1 win. Meanwhile Needham Market were taking on Sudbury’s reserve side in the other semi-final, Lina Nagib with a brace and Jodie Sharp with a hat-trick seeing the club into their 3rd final in 4 seasons winning 5-0.

 The JobServe Community Stadium, home of League Two side Colchester United FC the venue for this evenings final. Great to see more County Cup finals taking place at venues such as this, Portman Road also hosting the women’s finals previously. Has hosted a women’s county cup final before aswell as a Lionesses match. Situated just off the A12 with alot of parking the main stand open to fans with sections for both the Sudbury and Needham Market support the large grass pitch looking great. Suffolk FA putting on a fantastic event to showcase the game one of 6 finals being played here. The weather again warm and dry little chance of a shower.

 

AFC Sudbury Women

AFC Sudbury Women starting XI – Millie Carter, Boni Shepherd (C), Ronni Harrison, Amber Provan, Teigan McHale, Kate Edwards, Phoebe Guiver, Isabella Crawford, Alex Penny, Evie Creaton & Jess Allen. Subs – Faith Candice, Sophie Jeffrey, Tye Smith, Kaylee Dodd, Luiza Silva.

Needham Market Women

Needham Market Women starting XI – Dani Clarke, Nicole Pannifer, Niamh Thomas, Laura Bloomfield, Ele Catchpole, Nicola Henderson (C), Abbie Fisher, Mia Etheridge, Ellie Rossiter, Lina Nagib & Lois Balfour. Subs – Eloise Ward, Paige Wakefield, Jo Brawn, Jodie Sharp & Molly Hall.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

  The crowd in good voice before the match both sides with great support, it’s Needham Market to get this season’s County Cup final underway kicking off 1st half wearing red shirts and socks with black shorts, Sudbury lined up opposite in an all yellow kit. The ball played out to the right side with Ellie Rossiter looking to get forwards for Needham Market, Boni Shepherd defending, Sudbury’s captain seeing the ball out for a throw in. The ball contested over on the far side of the pitch as both sides jostle for possession in the early exchanges.

  Ex-Sudbury player, Mia Etheridge tackling to win the ball on the right sending it forwards for Lois Balfour to attack edge of the box, Teigan McHale getting the challenge in to win the ball back for Sudbury. Lina Nagib, through the middle with support from Etheridge and Abbie Fisher the ball spread out to the left wing as Niamh Thomas looks to get on from full back, cutting inside, Amber Provan comes to face her tackling to see the ball out for a throw. Good distance on it into Etheridge inside the box controlling the ball down into her feet looking to turn and shoot, Provan close on her getting her foot on the ball to send it out for another throw.

Amber Provan winning the header for Sudbury

  Needham Market making the brighter start going forwards with the ball Sudbury keeping a good shape readily regaining possession, Nagib battling her way through in the left channel eventually outnumbered, Ronni Harrison getting hold of the ball for Sudbury. Fisher central lays the ball back to centre back Ele Catchpole who sends a long diagonal ball out to the right Rossiter and Etheridge playing a one two finding no way through the Sudbury defence. Sudbury launch a quick counter offensive with a diagonal pass forwards finding Alex Penny running in behind clear on the right running on sends the cross into Jess Allen inside the box turns the ball goalwards, Needham Market goalkeeper, Dani Clarke down smartly to her right to save push the ball behind for a corner kick. Fired in with pace low at the near post Allen turning to strike it can’t get a touch as the ball runs on for Needham Market to launch clear.

   Both sides taking advantage of the pitches width Etheridge strong on the right moving forwards whipping a cross into the top of the Sudbury area is cleared by Harrison at the back. Pushing up almost to half way at times there is space in behind for Sudbury to exploit and they have pacy players in their side, Penny sending it on through the middle for Allen running clear into the left channel, Clarke has to come running out of her box to deal with the threat. Balfour plays a great pass on for Rossiter racing in behind through the middle into the box, McHale getting back to slide in and tackle as goalkeeper Millie Carter closes the gap, Rossiter amongst those appealing to referee Nick Ward but no penalty the ball out for a throw on the left.

  Catchpole playing the ball on for Thomas away on the left for Needham Market, Harrison closing her down the ball gone for a throw, good distance reaching the area, Provan up to head the ball away. 

 GOAL! On 10 minutes the deadlock is broken Sudbury’s turn to press a high line the middle of the park congested Kate Edwards winning the ball plays a fantastic ball in behind for Evie Creaton to run onto breaking clear in the left speedy travelling towards the box shoots on the angle the ball driven forwards, Clarke down sharply gets something on it but not enough to deflect it wide as the ball nestles in the back of the net 1-0.

Evie Creaton opens the scoring for Sudbury

Needham Market get on the attack from the restart captain Nicola Henderson on for Nagib left side a powerful run forwards getting into the box, slowed up by Harrison, lays it back to Balfour 20 yards out who curls a shot narrowly over the crossbar. Nagib looking to get the ball into her feet run at the Sudbury defence at every opportunity sends it across the top of the area picking out Balfour who sees her low shot blocked by McHale. Catchpole at the back with a timely interception as Harrison coming on up the right attempts the through ball to put Allen away in behind the defence.

GOAL! Sudbury double their advantage the ball won in the middle by Edwards her pass defence splitting pass sending Creaton clear as she breaks inside from the left closing in on the area left of the D, Clarke coming out to close her down makes a blocking save as Creaton’s shot shrikes her body, the ball spinning loose central, Allen is alert snatching onto it a stabs the ball goalwards 2-0.

Jess Allen firing Sudbury into a 2 goal lead

  A great start for Sudbury getting into a 2 goal lead inside the opening 16 minutes. Showing lots of energy Sudbury hustle the ball centrally put on for Penny on the right side, looks to driven on, Thomas tackling to deny her. Rossiter providing the outlet for Needham Market on the right wing pace runs on with the ball sending a shot in on the angle 25 yards out, Carter behind it with a safe pair of hands any spills and Nagib was closing her down fast. Penny taking the ball on right flashing a cross into the six yard box, a the ball sliced goalwards off a Needham Market boot, Clarke reacting instinctively down to save the ball. 

  Isabella Crawford finding Penny on the right, up against Catchpole looking to spin in behind the defender, Catchpole gets her tackle right to put the ball out for a throw. Penny is away in the clear on the right as a defensive clearance from Shepherd at the back finds her running on wide her shot/cross flies across the face of goal Clarke unconcerned. Harrison strong up against Nagib as she is put in on the left by Catchpole carrying the ball out from the back for Needham Market. 

  Rossiter out on the right springs the offside and takes the ball on towards the box, Shepherd recovering after her sliding in as she reaches the by-line to send the ball away for a corner. In from the right twice Sudbury defend putting it out for another corner the 3rd coming in more central, Catchpole under it inside the six yard box heading her attempt over the bar. Closing in on half an hour played Needham market press forwards Nagib out left crossfield to Rossiter on the right has Etheridge ahead of her takes the ball on slotting a cross into Balfour inside the area, Harrison seeing the threat emerging getting in tight on Balfour to stop her getting a shot away.

Needham Market’s Mia Etheridge

   Allen pressing the Needham Market back line steals the ball 25 yards out and bursting in behind right of goal flashes a cross in Clarke down on it well with Creaton running in far post. Nagid sends Rossiter away with the ball on the right for Needham Market running on her touch into the box a little heavy as Carter comes to save sliding in Rossiter leaves the ground with a somewhat reckless challenge feet up as she attempts to get the ball Carter holding onto it despite being hurt in the collision. Play paused whilst she recieves treatment but is up and okay to play on. 

  Needham Market’s build up play is slower than Sudbury’s giving them time to get back into their positions whereas when Sudbury regain possession they are rapid in their counter play with Creaton, Allen and Penny all breaking. Provan winning it at the back for Sudbury clipping the ball into Allen 30 out who sends it through to Creaton running in behind her left she plays an early cross out to the right looking for Penny, this time though their progress is halted by the offside flag.

GOAL! 5 minutes left to play 2nd half and a much needed goal back for Needham Market, as Nagib ploughing her way forwards is fouled halfway inside the Sudbury half. Fisher on the ball looks to go for goal a long way out but connects well getting the ball up and down dipping dangerously for Carter back on her line, the ball smashing down off the crossbar into the six yard box with players closing in, Catchpole getting her head to it as it bounces up to turn home 2-1.

Abbie Fisher’s free-kick on its way to hit the crossbar

Ele Catchpole with the header to pull a goal back for Needham Market

  Sudbury aggrieved feeling it wasn’t a foul in Nagib in the first place. Attack on the left Guiver on for Creaton, drives on tackled by Pannifer for Needham Market. Rossiter bringing down a crossfield ball on the right well moving forwards top of the area strikes a vicious shot wide across the face of goal. The game moving into stoppage time in the first half Needham Market encouraged by their goal getting forwards scrapping for the ball left with Fisher supporting Nagib lifted on into the area for Balfour her attack halted by a raised flag.

Needham Market striker, Lois Balfour

  Balfour with good hold up play on the left shielding the ball has Thomas racing forwards on the overlap puts the pass into her path taking it on Thomas moves inside, looking to get around Harrison, the full back flicking out a leg to win the ball back. 

Half-time AFC Sudbury Women 2-1 Needham Market Women

  A good contest so far a 2-1 lead for Sudbury at the break with a good start inviting Needham Market on finding gaps in behind to get their attacking players in on goal opening the scoring on 10 minutes a 2nd added on 16. The ball hotly contested throughout Needham Market on the back foot finding some joy on the right with Rossiter with Nagib too running at the defence needed the next goal and found it with 5 minutes left to play in the half, setting it up nicely for the 2nd 45.

  Sudbury to get the 2nd half underway, no changes for either side as of yet the ball played left Edwards with the ball, on for Creaton but comes to nothing.

GOAL! A fantastic start to the 2nd half… if you’re a Sudbury fan as they win the ball back in defence left side Shepherd on for Creaton racing away on the wing travelling into the box fires a cross into the six yard box, Allen her target, up against Catchpole the defender challenging the ball deflected out to the right and is blasted into the back of the net by Penny to make it 3-1!

Alex Penny puts Sudbury into a 3-1 lead early in the 2nd half

  A blow for Needham at the start of the 2nd half, restart the game going left Nagib with Balfour, the Sudbury defence keeping a solid shape. Allen getting to the by-line on the left with the ball is challenged by Pannifer eventually winning a corner. The ball put into the area, Clarke comes a long way out of her six yard box has to get something on it a fist knocking it down away to the right a shot blasted back in to the angle is blocked. Needham Market make a change early in the 2nd half bringing off Pannifer, with Jodie Sharp on. 

  Sudbury have looked to be more energetic right from the start and a lively at the start of the 2nd half. Creaton attacking on the left has Allen up with her on her inside squares the ball to her goes into the box, Bloomfield, closing her down to defend for Needham Market. Henderson in the middle passing the ball out to Rossiter on the right has Sharp with her pace going past her taking the  ball on as she drifts infield. Sharps cross fizzed into the six yard box his headed clear at the far post landing right of the D, Rossiter is arriving to curl a low shot in towards goal can only find Carter who saves comfortably. 

Needham Market’s Ellie Rossiter

  Shepherd defends against Rossiter on the right a throw high up the pitch, helped on into the box the cross comes in but no one attacking it as Carter catches unhindered. Bloomfield with a great ball forwards for Rossiter on the right wing travelling with it Shepherd back with her forced to concede a corner. In from the right the delivery is met by Etheridge at the near post her header put wide. Half chances created for Needham Market, Sudbury make their first change bringing on Kaylee Dodd for Shepherd, Edwards donning the armband. 

 Nagib holding off challenges turning inside from the left to centre attempts to find Rossiter on the right, Sudbury giving away the throw. Needham Market winning a free-kick inside the Sudbury half similar to the one they had first half. Fisher on it again and again she goes for goal well struck this time though Carter can see it drop safely wide of her left post. Sudbury looking to keep it solid at the back not willing to break as often that said when they get an opportunity they’ll take it Edwards putting Allen on left cuts inside as Needham Market get bodies back into their box her shot cut out by Etheridge. 

  The game stretched opens up as Creaton is sent away on the left towards the area Clarke comes rushing out to charge her down the ball landing in the middle, Guiver taking on the shot from distance with the Needham Market goal exposed, Clarke though back peddles enough stretching up her arm to push the dropping ball down to the right Dodd latching onto it seeing her strike charged down. Sudbury win a corner on their right curled in over the penalty spot Edwards rising at the back post can’t get a touch.

  Nagib as picked up an injury and is struggling for Needham Market, a blow can’t continue, helped off far side, attacker, Jo Brawn comes on. Sudbury too with another change Tye Smith on in attack replacing Allen. 20 minutes left to play players tiring, more changes with Molly Hall coming on, an attacker for a defender with Thomas coming off. Smith straight away flagged offside as Guiver with Edwards look to turn play around in the middle of the park. 

  Hall on halfway with a good flick on for Etheridge right cuts inside looking to get in behind her marker, Penny doing well against her getting the ball back for Cater to clear. Luiza Silva comes on for Sudbury replacing Guiver. Smith with the ball turning in from the right attacking the box her shot sliced away to the left Penny looking to chase it down, not before Bloomfield clears. Needham Market looking for a goal pushing players on gaps at the back, Edwards finding Creaton dropping deep for the ball left, Henderson across to tackle for Needham Market, Etheridge then winning her side a free-kick wide on the right in the corner. Fisher over to take flashed into the six yard box headed outside falling to Rossiter hits the shot takes a deflection robbing it off it’s venom as Carter scoops it up into her gloves. 

   Sophie Jeffery on for Sudbury as the game moves into the final 10 minutes replacing Creaton. A double substitution for Needham Market, Catchpole and Balfour off replaced by Paige Wakefield and Eloise Ward. Sharp over on the left now bombing forwards looks to thread the ball in for Brawn, Carter racing out to the edge of her box getting to the ball first. Faith Candice comes on for Sudbury replacing Harrison at the back. Penny defending top of the D as Brawn looks to turn on the ball. Needham Market pressing on in search on a goal, Sudbury back soaking it up. Sharp getting on left side overruns the ball. 

  The clock ticking down alot of tired legs out there Needham Market leaving gaps as they risk pushing players on, Smith with fresh legs ready to run on with the ball turn the Needham Market defence. Playing in Jeffery to her right, Bloomfield defends for Needham Market. Guiver back on for Edwards late on with stoppage time about to be played. Guiver is fouled 20 yards out left of the Needham Market box trying to bring a ball down from a throw in. Penny on the ball goes for goal her effort landing on the roof of the net. 

  Needham Market come left Henderson with Sharp on for Brawn wide sees her cross charged down. Shepherd back on for McHale in the closing stages for Sudbury. One last attack for Needham Market, Hall laying the ball out to Sharp on the left wing makes a run into the box, Sharp down the line to cross in low Hall meeting it close in near post turns it goal wards, Carter dropping on it smartly, snatching it into her body as Hall follows up. That’s it the final action of the game as the final whistle blows players from the bench rush on to celebrate Sudbury’s victory.

AFC Sudbury Women celebrate at the final whistle

Full time AFC Sudbury Women 3-1 Needham Market Women

  An entertaining final between two strong sides. Sudbury the better on the night solid with plenty of energy taking the lead inside 10 minutes 2 up just 6 minutes later. Looked dangerous on the counter throughout. A goal back five minutes from the end of the first half giving Needham market encouragement going into the 2nd half, the worst possible start however as Sudbury raced into a 3-1 lead and from there looked to keep a good shape and limit opportunities for Needham Market who will feel they didn’t play their best this evening created some chances, Sudbury though had the quicker build up play and threat in attack.

 Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

 Onto this evenings Women’s Football East – Player of the Match and this is not an easy one at all several great performances out there. A few of note to mention, firstly Needham Market. Ele Catchpole making a number of vital tackles at the back getting the goal to narrow the gap at the break. Lina Nagib strong with the ball at her feet driving on, looking to set up chances. Ellie Rossiter carrying the biggest threat out on the right always available with some pacy running. For Sudbury the side was solid from back to front Millie Carter in goal, Teigan McHale and Ronni Harrison in defence with some great tackles and cover play. Kate Edwards winning the ball in the middle with the front three lively throughout, Jess Allen central with Alex Penny on the right both scoring. Pipping them all too it though the award goes to Evie Creaton. With some incredible runs took the game to Needham market right from the start and helped set the tone ran herself into the ground always ready to get on the attack.

Congratulations to AFC Sudbury Women on winning the 2021/22 Suffolk Women’s County Cup. Still plenty to play for yet this season.

 Both sides back in action again on Sunday with Sudbury in league action at home to Billericay Town Women Development and Needham Market at home to Barking FC Women in the ERWFL Challenge Cup.

 An enjoyable trip to Colchester (admittedly the journey home wasn’t so good with both the A12 and A14 shut but I got home in the finish). A fantastic attendance with 566 fans treated to a great event. Full credit to Colchester FC and Suffolk FA. Thanks for all you help this evening much appreciated. I suspect this is the beginning of a long rivalry between AFC Sudbury Women and Needham Market Women and there with be many more exciting games to come.

by Darren Gilham

Cup Final Special – Holland Ladies v Woodbridge Town Ladies

Tuesday 3rd May

Suffolk Women’s League Cup Final

A trip into Suffolk this evening for the first of 4 cup finals over the next 8 days. Begin with the Final of the Suffolk Women’s League Cup, this season being contested between Holland Ladies and Woodbridge Town Ladies.

The competition back after the 2 previous seasons were affected by the Covid pandemic, bringing a close to the 2021/22 SGWFL season. Featuring 2 divisions for the 2nd successive season as the game grows within the county. The 7 strong Premier Division won by Brettvale Ladies. The 9 strong Championship below seeing AFC Kesgrave Ladies pip Henley Athletic Women to the title on goal difference. This evenings final between two of the emerging sides with the league looking to win their first piece of silverware.

Holland Ladies joining the SWGFL at the start of the 2019/20 season. The north east Essex side hitting the ground running a strong outfit signing a number of experienced players at this level and above odds on for a late charge at the title itself before the Covid pandemic began bringing it all to a close. A 2nd Covid hit season following again stifling the sides development, this is really their first full season. With a 7 strong Premier Division had led for much of the campaign with rivals Brettvale playing catch up, eventually overhauling them to win the title. Pushed down to 3rd in the finish by AFC Sudbury Women Reserves who they had originally been expecting to face this evening  but we’ll get to that in a moment. Jasmine Cox an attacker with a wealth of experience and an eye for goal their leading scoring with over 20 this season with captain Lauren Lucas and Lauren Borne both on 7 each.

   Woodbridge Town Ladies were formed the season before Holland joined the league. Like this evenings opponents looking strong from the start recording a 4th placed finish in their debut season in 2018/19 and in the 2 seasons that followed were pushing for the top of the table on both ocassions with Covid stopping them in their tracks again ruining their development and potential. Amongst the goals too. This season has been a different story ultimately ending up bottom of the table in the finish, have suffered from a lack of numbers at times this season. Tough but have the unexpected bonus of a cup final to look forwards too and know that on their day can match anyone in the league. Sadie Jamieson their top scorer with 8 goals this term.

Road to the Final

 16 sides entering the competition, the first round saw Holland Ladies drawn away to fellow Premier Division side Brantham Ladies. Showing great form in the league Holland running out comfortable winners in the finish 7-1 to progress to the quarter final. Woodbridge were drawn away to would be Championship winners, AFC Kesgrave Ladies. A tricky tie finishing 1-1 went into a penalty shootout Woodbridge eventually emerging winners 8-7 to get into the quarter finals. 

Holland at home to Championship side, Chantry Grasshoppers a brace from Jasmine Cox and a goal from Mary-Jane Walsh sending them into the semi-finals. Woodbridge at home to against another Championship side, league newcomers Waveney Ladies, goals from Tayler Cooke, Sadie Jamieson, Charlene Roach-Smith and Stacey Hadley seeing them through to the last 4. Holland ran riot in their semi-final away to fellow Premier Division side, Stowupland Falcons Women, Lauren Bourne with 4 goals and Cox with a hat-trick amongst the goals in a 10-2 victory to reach their first final. There they were thinking they were going to face AFC Sudbury Women Reserves after they beat Woodbridge 3-0 in the other semi-final but competition rules were broken and they were removed seeing Woodbridge into this evenings final.

  Brantham Leisure Centre the venue for this evenings final, home of Brantham Athletic FC including their women’s team. The large clubhouse with bar and kitchen serving hot food and drink overlooking the grass pitches. The main pitch surrounded by fencing on all sides now. A covered seated stand behind one goal and another between the dugouts. Another warm day with sod all rain around the pitch dry dust coming up off it as the ball is kicked. Cloud cover around turning chilly.

Holland Ladies

Holland Ladies starting XI – Charlotte Warren, Becky McDougall, Elise Purser, Hannah Campbell, Keeley Brickwood, Lauren Lucas (C), Lauren Bourne, Jade Meaney, Charlotte Robertson, Mary-Jane Walsh & Jasmine Cox. Subs – Yssie Tye, Lucy Brown, Phoebe Rose & Sasha Moy.

Woodbridge Town Ladies

Woodbridge Town Ladies starting XI – Georgie Bryant, Alice Ager (C), Natasha Williams, Chloe Stopher, Caitlin Howe, Lauren Jacobs, Grace Murphy, Stacey Hadley, Tayler Cooke, Emma Drake & Sadie Jamieson. Subs – Charlene Roach-Smith, Kerry Scott, Natalie Claridge & Emalene Haynes.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

It’s Woodbridge to get the League Cup Final underway kicking off the first half wearing back and white vertical striped shirts with black shorts and socks with Holland wearing orange coloured shirts and socks with black shorts.

 GOAL! No doubt the fastest goal I’ve seen score in a cup final, as Woodbridge play the ball back to their captain Alice Agar at right back is played long up the right side, won by Holland full back, Becky McDougall the cleared ball sent forwards back where it came the defender unaware her goalkeeper is coming as the ball drops towards the corner of her area, the pair collide with Jasmine Cox looking to attack moving left capitalising as she gets hold of the loose ball inside the box and opening up her body slots the ball on the angle into the empty net 1-0.

Jasmine Cox with a quickfire goal for Holland Ladies

  The perfect start for Holland a goal up inside the opening 30 seconds a huge blow for Woodbridge. The game restarting they need to regroup recover quickly the ball is hotly contested in the middle with players from both sides in to close down and block. Stacey Hadley bringing it on for Woodbridge out to Tayler Cooke on the move left side, is forced wide by Holland’s Elise Purser, managing to send low driven ball in on the angle to the near post, Holland goalkeeper, Charlotte Warren closed down by Woodbridge’s Sadie Jamieson the ball not collected knocked behind for a goalkick. 

Woodbridge’s Emma Drake

  Holland captain, Lauren Lucas heading the ball on through the middle for Lauren Bourne to take on shifts it out to Cox on the left of attack, Ager in to close her down forced infield Woodbridge regain possession, Grace Murphy with a forceful run on lifting it forwards, dealt with at the back by Holland’s Hannah Campbell. The midfield busy the ball no still for a moment Murphy forwards out to the right, Holland defend come forwards on the right side with Bourne looks to take on Ager, the full back putting in the tackle the ball going for a throw. Pressing bodies up around the Woodbridge box the ball headed on across the top of the area before a shot from the left is struck wide. 

  Murphy threading the ball on for Jamieson central has Emma Drake giving her a run across her going left to right, attempting to pick her out, Campbell with the foot in to intercept the pass. 

  GOAL! Playing the ball up to Cox right channel, 25 yards out in attack she sends it out to the wing for Charlotte Robertson. Moving forwards plays the cross inside to Mary-Jane Walsh getting clear top of the D, striking the ball with the inside of her right boot looking to send it wide of the keeper into the bottom corner, the crowd and I have to say I did too, thought it was going wide, but no perfectly placed inside the post to double the lead 2-0.

   A strong start to the game for Holland 2 goals up inside the opening 8 minutes. Woodbridge frustrated, a few niggly free-kicks given away. Lucas fouled on half way the ball floated up towards the top of the area dealt with by Hadley for Woodbridge. Coming on down the left wing a throw high for Woodbridge level with the top of the 18 yard line McDougall getting it into Bourne inside the box left corner, controls and strikes the ball on the half volley, caught by Woodbridge goalkeeper, Georgie Bryant.

Woodbridge captain, Alice Ager with Stacey Hadley

  Jamieson looking to put herself about up top for Woodbridge moving right winning a throw, put into Hadley 25 yards out left of the D, strikes a lobbed effort goalwards swerving away off target, Warren claiming the ball. Holland break through the middle Walsh on the ball, is brought down the advantage played though as Cox ahead of her takes on the ball running towards the box shooting from distance on the angle her shot held by Bryant. From a throw on the right, the ball into the Woodbridge box a shot his sliced out to the far post, Cox rising trying to get on the end of it directs it wide.

Alice Ager with the block for Woodbridge

   Cox looking to pick up the ball driven on at the Woodbridge defence Chloe Stopher forcing her wide, as Cooke comes back to defend the ball gone for a throw in. McDougal up on the left winning the ball high looking to drive on towards the Woodbridge area, Murphy across to help Williams as she faces off ends up on the floor and in disbelief as she free-kick is awarded against her. A set-piece in a dangerous area outside the box left side McDougal over the ball strikes the ball with her right foot curling in towards goal, the keeper beaten the ball smashes down off the crossbar rebounding out to the right where a hurrying shot is lifted over. 

McDougall’s effort striking the crossbar

  Holland looking a threat coming forwards Walsh in the middle on for Cox out to the right players drawn across as the cross is flighted into the box, won by Ager and cleared. Competitive in the middle, Woodbridge aren’t getting much joy trying to feed in their attackers with Campbell and fellow centre back Keeley Brickwood winning most things in the air. Bourne central with a great threaded pass to send Cox through in behind right side running at goal blasts the ball goalwards, Bryant behind it down sharply to save. 

Holland Ladies, Hannah Campbell

Holland with a corner on the right players up into the area the inswinging ball helped on across the six yard box, Lucas getting up to head the ball at the back stick, put over a touch off a Woodbridge player spotted another corner awarded from the left. Flung in low cleared at the near post coming back to corner taker, Purser has help from McDougall plays it to her to cross into the area nodded in towards goal, Bryant getting her gloves on it before it can be attacked.

  Jamieson seeing the ball into her from the right with a casual looking flick in behind that sees Drake running into the box striking a shot wide of the near post for Woodbridge. Cooke getting on down the left putting a diagonal ball in towards the top of the box, Warren out quickly to lay claim to the ball with Jamieson stealing through. Jacobs on for Jamieson right the ball played across the top of the Holland area coming to Cooke left side trying to get the ball down under control before she is closed down, snatches at it lifting her attempt over. 

Grace Murphy on the attack for Woodbridge

   Both Cooke and Murphy making an attempt to thread the forwards pass into Drake in attack both times intercepted by Campbell for Holland. Murphy tracking back to defend on Cox as Walsh looks to send her on through the middle. Woodbridge are a little stretched at the back as they commit players on risking the counter attack in their attempts to get the ball into Jamieson in attack, driving on with it left channel, Purser does well to force her out to the touch line  the ball going for a throw in. Both Caitlin Howe off a Holland free-kick and Stopher heading the ball out for defence for Woodbridge. 

 GOAL! 5 minutes left on the clock in the 1st half, Cox with her 2nd of the game, canny as the ball is rolled into her through the middle in behind Bryant coming to close her down, checks shifting the ball to her right to present her with an open goal beyond and sends it home to make it 3-0. 

 Cox’s movement up top often allowing others to get forwards from the middle or full back, is out on the left with Bourne, linking up as McDougall gets on in support the left back clips the cross into the box, Bryant in untroubled able to let the ball run wide of her far post. A corner out of nothing for Holland on the left the ball curled in towards the top of the area a glancing header knocked down by Lucas is turned wide at the far post.

Lauren Bourne with the ball for Holland

  Late in the first half Howe brings the ball out from the back for Woodbridge into the middle back to Ager to send up to the attackers, Brickwood with a timely interception to deny Jamieson the chance to run through on goal. Into stoppage time Cox attacking Howe across to defend a corner given against her on the right players up into the box, into the box McDougall free at the far post getting plenty of power into her header isn’t far wide with her effort.

Holland Ladies, Becky McDougall

Half-time Holland Ladies 3-0 Woodbridge Town Ladies

  A fantastic start to the cup final for Holland with a goal inside the opening 30 seconds adding a 2nd within 8 minutes. Have had the bulk of the attack since creating a number of chances McDougal striking the crossbar from a free-kick, then heading wide at the end. A 3rd goal coming at the right time with Woodbridge competitive throughout. Recovering well from their poor start haven’t found it easy going forwards, Campbell and Brickwood solid at the back for Holland. Keeping it to 2 goals a half-time would have given them some confidence for the 2nd half conceding a 3rd makes it difficult to get themselves back into the game.

  Changes for both at the start of the 2nd half roll on roll off substitutes not always the easiest to keep track of. Charlene Roach-Smith on in attack for Woodbridge. Sasha Moy  on for Holland replacing McDougall. Holland to get the 2nd half underway. The ball contested in the middle straight away no time on the ball, Hadley getting away on the right for Woodbridge finding no way through. Roach-Smith winning Woodbridge a corner as she pressure the defence inside the box as Cooke puts the ball on from the left. 

  Free-kicks keep being given away in the middle, Holland with the ball on up into the box Howe clearing , Woodbridge look to counter through the middle, Brickwood dropping off to give herself room as Jamieson looks to get the ball down making the tackle. Woodbridge looking to put more pressure on Holland at the start of the 2nd half Jamieson holding the ball up left side winning her team a corner. Whipped in across the six yard box Jamieson then gets up in front of goal but can’t get a telling touch. Walsh on the move with the ball at her feet over halfway for Holland on for Cox, Stopher in to close her down with a good challenge. 

Woodbridge’s Chloe Stopher

Getting a little heated between the sides as Woodbridge finding more possession inside the Holland half. Holland with a free-kick on the right inside the Woodbridge half in towards Robertson top of the D, can’t find a way through the ball cleared. Phoebe Rose coming on for Woodbridge. Purser getting the ball back to Warren as Murphy plays Jamieson on through the middle. 

  GOAL! An hour played and Holland stretch their lead off a corner won on the left, swung into the six yard box dropping down a real goal line scramble ensues as both sides go after the ball pinging back and forth it squirms free to Lucas positioned to the right of the melee and she in turn flicks the ball off her boot into the back of the goal 4-0.

Holland captain, Lauren Lucas putting her side into a 4 goal lead

 A 4th goal coming for Holland denting Woodbridge’s spirited start to the 2nd half. Holland coming right forced wide, back for Brickwood to hit an angled ball into the box wide at the near post. Another sub for Woodbridge, Kerry Scott on at the back. Drake over on the right for Woodbridge running in behind can’t get there before Warren racing out of her area can kick clear. Bourne with some powerful runs through the middle for Holland putting it on for Robertson, Ager tackling for Woodbridge. Holland press on the flanks winning throws high up the pitch from the left the ball sent into the box near side, Bourne running in, Bryant getting her gloves around the ball first. 

Lauren Bourne tackled by Woodbridge’s Caitlin Howe

  Cooke stealing onto the ball out with with a burst of pace put on for Jamieson attacking the box in behind, Warren out to the top of her area getting hold of the ball before she can get a touch. From front to back as Warren’s kick out in headed on by Lucas in the middle on for Robertson who finds Cox drifting to the right forced wider still her cross/shot lands in the side netting. A free-kick for Holland 30 yards out right of the Woodbridge goal, Moy over it directs her strike over at the near post. The game open with both sides looking to score Woodbridge getting Drake away on right sends it in for Roach-Smith running into the box, just overruns the ball allowing the keeper to claim. 

  Robertson just offside as Cox looks to turn the ball in behind on the left. Yssie Tye onto the pitch for Holland along with Emalene Haynes for Woodbridge with around 15 minutes left on the clock. Purser with a great long ball on for Cox pulling right takes it to the by-line before sending a cross into the six yard box, Bryant down to smother it. Players starting to pull up with cramp. Purser feeling something go as she stretches for the ball on the touch line needs to come of McDougall back on. 

 Brickwood with a great challenge to deny Roach-Smith as the ball is lifted in through the middle. McDougal has a decent throw on her sending it on down the right Tye with Cox working a cross into the box, Bryant snatching it down well. Lucas with a driven ball into the area from the left for Holland, Bryant knocking it up into the air appears to get fouled as she goes to catch the ball, her defence though scramble the ball clear. Get up the other end quickly Jamieson moving towards the D checking right before her shot in is saved by Warren, end to end as Holland counter the ball fed on for Cox moving left, Ager with a robust tackle clearing the ball for a corner on the right. 

  Cox drifting right moves wide with Lucas playing her on sees her shot from distance angled in held by the keeper. Walsh sending a shot over from distance as Holland look to keep the ball with the game moving into stoppage time alot of tired legs out there. The ball inside the Woodbridge half late on as Holland come on crossing from the right along the six yard box Cox beyond the far post twisting to head the ball places it wide. Walsh brought down in the middle in front of the Woodbridge D, Ager with the clearance, Cox charging down the ball runs wide behind goal.

  Full time Holland Ladies 4-0 Woodbridge Town Ladies

  A spirited 2nd half from Woodbridge, just couldn’t find the goal they needed to apply any pressure to Holland. a 4th goal coming on the hour making it comfortable at the back for Holland. Woodbridge limiting there chances 2nd half pressed the ball higher. The game opening up as players tired and changes were made. Holland celebrating winning their first piece of silverware.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this evening’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. A few performances of note to mention first. For Woodbridge, their captain Alice Ager was strong at the back throughout with a number of vital challenges. Taylor Cooke winning the ball well out wide getting on with the ball when she could. For Holland both Lauren Lucas and Lauren Bourne were strong in midfield winning the ball, Lucas with several great passes getting into some great positions from set pieces. Bourne with a number of purposeful runs forwards to join the attack. Becky McDougal strong at the back for Holland and a threat getting forwards unlucky not to get on the scoresheet. The award though goes to Jasmine Cox. Was a menace up front all match with her running on and off the ball moving left and right scoring twice.

Congratulations to Holland Ladies in winning this seasons Suffolk Women’s League Cup Final

Suffolk Women’s League Cup Winners, Holland Ladies

  An enjoyable trip back down to Brantham, an entertaining contest, full credit to Woodbridge after the start they had to keep fighting and not let the result get away from them limiting it to 1-0 in the 2nd half. Holland capitalising on that start however never looked back to win the cup. My thanks for everyone’s help this evening and for the team details as always appreciated. Next up the County Cup Final see you all again Friday.

by Darren Gilham

Match Report – Milton Keynes Dons Women v Keynsham Town Ladies

Sunday 1st May

FAWNL Southern Premier Division

 The beginning of May sees some mammoth games taking place on the final day of fixtures across the FAWNL, one in particular in the Southern Premier Division as Milton Keynes Dons Women host Keynsham Town Ladies in a must win game to see them extend their tier 3 status into a 5th season.

  25 matches played and it all comes down to the final game of the season. Plymouth Argyle Women getting the point they needed to survive in midweek against Bridgwater leaving it between Milton Keynes Dons Women and Cardiff City Ladies on the final day. Milton Keynes with the advantage 2 points clear of 10th placed Cardiff. A better goal difference too for Milton Keynes would mean a point would be enough so long as Cardiff don’t win by 4 clear goals a tall order as they travel to league champions Southampton FC Women who have lost just once this season. Victory guarantees safety for Milton Keynes and that is very much the aim.

  Milton Keynes making a terrible start to the 2021/22 campaign in an expanded league of 14 sides following the Covid hit season’s previously. The down side as the FA looks to balance thing’s up again next season 4 are most likely to go down. Losing 8 of their opening 10 league games with just 2 points gained Milton Keynes looked in serious trouble. Back to back wins at the turn of the year giving the side something to take forwards into the new year. Player departures and injuries, notably to captain Laura Bright with a serious ACL injury that will keep her on the side lines for some time. The squad has fought on though and in stark contrast the 2n half of the season has seen Milton Keynes win 5, along with some hard fought draws particularly against title chasing Ipswich Town Women to see them claw there way out of the bottom 4 and get themselves into the position they are now with their fate still in their own hands, one more push needed.

  In complete contrast, today’s opponents Keynsham Town Ladies have had a terrible 2nd half of the season winning just once the losses stacking up some heavy defeats along the way too to see them pulled into the relegation mix and 2nd bottom their 3 year stay in the Southern Premier Division comes to an end. Down the bottom of the table all season a 3 game winning streak a strong response after 2 heavy losses getting them out of the bottom 4. Just one win since doesn’t mean Milton Keynes can take anything for granted Keynsham beating them 2-1 in the reverse fixture back in November.

  Stadium MK the venue for today’s match, Milton Keynes Dons Women playing the bulk of their matches here. A great venue to host any game of football, the mens side narrowly missing out on automatic promotion to the Championship with be hoping the achieve that goal through the play-offs. Will be hosting several matches too during this summers Women’s Euro’s which is on course to be fantastic for the further growth of the women’s game in the country, will be back here for a couple of games myself including the semi-final. A great playing surface offering plenty of space the fans on one side, up in the press area myself on the opposite side. A mild but overcast afternoon. Considering it’s a bank holiday weekend made good time getting down here from Norfolk.

Milton Keynes Dons Women

Milton Keynes Dons Women starting XI – Chloe Sansom (C), Hannah Warren, Kerry Newman, Sofia Stovold, Tally Miles, Gemma Biggadike, Rhianne Rush, Nicole Pepper, Lucy Wood, Chez Albert & Mollie Coupar. Subs – Marianne Taho, Laura Mills , Amy Gooderham, Dominika Netschova & Mathilda Brown.

 Keynsham Town Ladies starting XI – Xanna Kierk, Lily Withers, Amy McCorkell, Nadine Grogan (C), Celyn Garton, Jade Munro, Henna Butcher, Natalia Bak, Justine Lorton, Laura Williams & Kerry Bartlett. Subs – Courtney Adams, Ylenia Carabott & Nia Sparks.

It’s the visitors Keynsham to get the match underway kicking off 1st half wearing green shirts with black sleeves and white trim, black shorts and socks. Milton Keynes lined up opposite wearing and all white strip. The ball sent out to the left side for Laura Williams seeing the ball down into her feet looks to drive forwards towards the area is fouled giving Keynsham an early free-kick. Players up from the back the ball floated into the box, goalkeeper and captain Chloe Sansom coming forwards calling to claim taking a confident catch.

Chloe Sansom with the claim for Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes carrying the ball out for the back the ball fed through to Chez Albert top of the D, 25 yards out looks to spin in behind left side, Celyn Garton putting her foot out tackling for Keynsham to thwart her attack the ball cleared out to the right side lifted back in towards goal, caught by Keynsham’s goalkeeper, Xanna Kierk. Milton Keynes seeing more of the ball in the early stages able to travel to the halfway line unopposed as Keynsham get everyone behind the ball. A few signs of nerves however as the final ball fails to find it’s mark on a few ocassions. 

Milton Keynes Gemma Biggadike

  Seeing the ball into her feet back to goal right side Pepper spins right sending the ball out to Lucy Wood on the wing pushes on into the box as Wood attempts to slide the ball into her, Garton on her to defend for Keynsham clear the ball. The free-kick count growing as niggly challenges are put in. Milton Keynes get forwards on the right side Woods squaring a cross into the box, Amy McCorkell with a strong challenge for Keynsham sending the ball behind for a corner kick. Delivered in from the right across the six yard box comes to Pepper at the far post jumping has to lean back to get any power on her header, sends it wide of the post. 

 GOAL! The ball is with Kerry Newman at left back plays the ball forwards for Albert ahead of her, taking the ball in down the wing, turns inside top of the area strong on the ball fires it into the D for Pepper, her strike is charged down by Keynsham captain, Nadine Grogan the loose ball rebounding out of the D straight to Rhianne Rush 20 yards out, connects with the ball her shot arrowing into the back of the net a great strike to open the scoring inside the opening 10 minutes 1-0.

Rhianne Rush opens the scoring for Milton Keynes

  Noticeable at times that Keynsham have no one inside the Milton Keynes half this is allowing the home defence plenty of time on the ball bringing it on with Wood and Albert looking to provide options left and right. Garton with the interception as Gemma Biggadike looks to link up with Pepper through the middle she in turn looking to fed the diagonal pass out to Albert on the left. Getting hold of the ball in the middle Keynsham look to up the tempo look more of a threat moving the ball quickly, Ex-England international, Justine Lorton still going strong in her forties threading the ball forwards comes close to sending Natalia Bak through on goal but for a timely interception from Milton Keynes centre back, Tally Miles.

  Sansom sending the ball long out to the right from outside her box for Mollie Coupar the Milton Keynes attackers is fouled by Keynsham’s Lily Withers the hosts awarded a free-kick. The set-piece headed clear by McCorkell. The visitors give away another free-kick inside their half top of the the circle, lifted on into the area right side, Wood does well to keep into in play on the by-line, comes back to dink a cross into the middle the ball scrambled clear. The goal settling Milton Keynes down Woods sends the ball on down the right for Hannah Warren on the overlap a pacy run to the by-line her cross fired in near post, Kierk down sharply pushing the ball out into the middle of her area, the follow up turned wide.

  The hosts press forwards Albert free on the left 20 yards out shifts inside pushing the ball on for Pepper, left of the D, 25 yards out her shot angles up over the bar. Lorton picking up the ball 30 yards out makes a surging run forwards, holding off players making it all the way into the box before numbers back crowd her off the ball. Keynsham regain possession in the centre Lorton looking to lift it over the top as Henna Butcher makes the run into the left channel, is narrowly offside. 

Mollie Coupar after the ball for Milton Keynes

  Rush turning on the ball well in the middle out to Albert forwards on the left, her touch seeing the ball into the box, after it, a Keynsham defender comes sliding it, Albert caught doing well to stay on her feet moves central before turning and striking the ball goalwards, straight at the keeper, Kierk holds. A good shout for a penalty. Milton Keynes moving the ball well look settled with more possession. Pepper finding pockets of space in front of the Keynsham defence on the spin 20 yards out drags her low strike wide of the right post. 

Little opportunity to take the game to the defence for Keynsham, coming back to receive the ball Bartlett passes it forwards to Williams breaking on the left, wide, Miles comes to close her down sending the ball out for a throw. Off the throw Keynsham swing a threatening ball into the box, neither Williams or Bak can get a touch in front of the six yard box as Milton Keynes clear to the left Newman up to Albert, drives on, is held up by McCorkell before Grogan comes across to clean out the ball. 

Keynsham Town Ladies, Natalia Bak

  Albert a threat out on the left strong taking the ball to the by-line plays it back to Newman left of the D, she shot goalwards swerving through the air but not troubling Kierk. Half an hour played Milton Keynes continue to create opportunities, Biggadike out to Warren as she burst on down the right wing closing in on the by-line she cross lifted in taking a deflection off a defender as Kierk puts it behind at her near post for a corner kick. The ball attacked at the near post, Coupar up behind for a goal-kick.

Keynsham Town Ladies, Justine Lorton

  Butcher sending the ball out to Bak on the right she looks to drive on, Newman defending against her. Sofia Stovold carrying the ball on all the way up to halfway from the back for Milton Keynes has plenty of options ahead of her, lifted into Coupar right of the D, her touch inside favouring Grogan as she gets a foot out to knock clear. Bak bringing the ball down deep on the right well off a diagonal ball from the middle does well to win her side a corner. Milton Keynes are taking no chances everyone back to defend as the delivery comes to Grogan top of the area, is closed down before she can get a shot away.

  GOAL! Albert always the outlet on the left side controls the ball on the wing shifting it level with the top of the area plays the cross inside for Pepper free outside the D. Seeing the ball across her she strikes it beautifully, a powerful drive that bursts the back of the net 2-0.

Nicole Pepper doubles the lead for Milton Keynes

 5 minutes left to play in the 1st half Milton Keynes with a crucial 2nd goal. An injury at the restart with Munro coming off the worst as she and Albert come together. After treatment is okay to continue. The hosts attack on the right Wood crossing into the area the clearance dropping straight to Biggadike 20 plus yards out right of the , struck first time the shot lifted over. Warren with alot of pace drives on past Wood before getting held up by Withers, squeezes the ball back up the line to Wood who strikes on the angle her shot racing wide across the face of the Keynsham goal. 

  Miles on the ball coming on for Milton Keynes sends it on into the path of Warren running down the right taking it on to the by-line her cross/shot his held by Kierk at her near post. Signs from Keynsham that Milton Keynes must stay alert at the back, Lorton on the ball 30 out controlling before attempting to lift it through for Bartlett trying to steal in between the centre backs, Stovold cutting it out well. Stovold with the opportunity to carry the ball over halfway in the closing stages of the 1st half a burst of pace taking her deep inside the Keynsham half before laying it out to Wood on the right put on for Coupar, Withers close on her tackling to regain possession. 

Milton Keynes defender Sofia Stovold.

Half-time Milton Keynes Dons Women 2-0 Keynsham Town Ladies

  So far so good for Milton Keynes Dons Women a goal inside the opening 10 minutes helping to settle the nerves. Have had the majority of the possession since able t play the ball out from the back with little trouble as Keynsham drop off. Chances created using the wide areas well, a 2nd goal coming on the half hour to see the hosts 2-0 up at the break. Keynsham offering little in attack but the odd sign for Milton Keynes that they need to stay alert the jobs not done yet. The added bonus being Cardiff are trailing at Southampton. 2-0 is often a dangerous score where the next goal more often than not proves crucial.

  The teams back out for the 2nd half Keynsham making a change with Maltese international, Ylenia Carabott coming on for Garton. Out on the left Williams dropping deeper. No changes for Milton Keynes as they get the final 45 minutes of the season underway. Put back to the defence, Miles plays it forwards for Coupar moving to the right, Withers getting in on her to defend for Keynsham. 

  GOAL! The perfect start to the 2nd half for Milton Keynes as they attack on the left Albert drives inside looking to get into the box tackled by Grogan the ball cleared up to Newman up to support on the left flank 25 out crosses the ball inside for Wood right of the D, does well to see the ball drop over her to run onto it touch into the box right of goal and rifle her shot in across the static keeper 3-0.

  Milton Keynes confident at the start of the 2nd half attacking through the middle out into Albert left channel, gets the better of McCorkell to drive on towards the box, Grogan though comes sliding in with a strong challenge to dispossess her. Albert is causing Keynsham plenty of problems out on the left in attack shifting left then right riding a challenge staying on her feet as she enters the area, it’s Grogan once again with the robust tackle to take the ball and is fouled herself as she tries to carry it out of the area.

Mollie Coupar looking to get past Keynsham captain Nadine Grogan

  Butcher looking to get forwards more through the middle for Keynsham support Carabott out on the left, up to head the ball on trying to get on Newman comes to close down tackle and launch the ball forwards, Coupar after it right side can’t reach t before the keeper. Biggadike into Pepper central out to Albert on the left bringing the ball down 25 out move infield before striking a shot over the crossbar. Off a throw high on the right Pepper on the turn 25 yards out sees her strike held by Kierk in the Keynsham goal. Are a few tasty tackles flying in. Munro with a talking too from the referee for a foul on Pepper. The freekick to the left of centre lifted on into the area, Kierk keeps her eye on it taking the catch well as players rapidly close her down. 

  Carabott has had few opportunities on the left for Keynsham since coming on but is willing to take players on when she has the ball, a superb reverse ball on for Butcher has her through to attack the box, is thwarted by the raised flag. Milton Keynes need to stay focused Keynsham look a threat when they start moving the ball quicker, a diagonal pass finding Bak out on the right her angled shot in has Sansom scrambling across her goal line but can see it run safely wide of her far post. Moments later Sansom is called into action to save and feet of Butcher as she looks to get in on goal from a Bak cross from the right.

Chloe Sansom saving at the feet of Keynsham’s Henna Butcher.

  Kierk is called upon too at the other end making a great blocking save on Wood as she is fed in behind as Coupar flicks the ball on through the middle, to the left bursting into the box, the keeper rushing out to meet her stays big as the ball is struck against her. The game has suddenly opened up as Lorton lifts it through for Carabott clear in the left channel breaking into the box Sansom comes rushing out Carabott getting the ball beyond her inside looking to turn and shoot Miles on the cover though back to defend put in the tackle and win the ball.

Keynsham’s Henna Butcher with Milton Keynes Tally Miles

 Keynsham not going down without a fight looking to score a goal of their own, an over zealous tackle out left giving Milton Keynes an opportunity to play the ball into the box, floated in to the far post Coupar up but twisting can’t get near it as the ball runs out of play. Milton Keynes make their first change midway through the 2nd half Laura Mills coming on for Biggadike. The substitute battling for the ball on the right wing does well to come away with the ball powering infield attempts to put a ball in over the defence, Miles has ghosted in unnoticed from the back, as Grogan hooks it away. 

 A 2nd change for Milton Keynes sees Dominika Netschova coming on for Newman. Pepper on the ball central threads a low ball through on the diagonal for Coupar right side, too much on it as Kierk can claim before it can be attacked. Keynsham with a free-kick 30 yards out central the shot struck over by Bak. Grogan picks up the first yellow card of the game with 20 minutes left as she brings down Coupar on halfway. Grogan has to be careful with her tackles now as she closes Coupar down into the right corner, wins the ball.

 GOAL! Milton Keynes get forwards on the left Albert on for Netschova on the overlap  her stabbed cross into the box cut out by Bak cleared to the top of the area, Albert steals in to regain the ball coming inside to curl a shot into the top corner from 20 yards out 4-0.

Chez Albert on the score sheet for Milton Keynes 4th goal

  Baring a complete collapse Milton Keynes status in the Southern Premier Division is assured leading 4 nil with 15 minutes left to play. A triple substitution being readied for Milton Keynes as Keynsham attack the ball on the left fizzed into Carabott takes it on squaring a cross along the top of the area for Butcher, leaning back into the shot sends her low strike straight at Sansom who gets down to claim the ball. Quick to turn play around the ball through the middle finding Albert she turns playing it on into the box for Coupar right of goal, Withers going with her, Coupar hurt after initially fouling the defender a bit of afters as she goes to ground. The physios on Coupar appears in alot of pain. Has had terrible luck with injuries this season and it’s more bad news for the young striker as she can’t continue has to come off.

  Coupar one of the 3 substituted she is replaced by Marianne Taho, also on Amy Gooderham for Albert and Mathilda Brown an MK Dons RTC graduate in her first season in women’s football making her home debut on for Rush. Mills breaking on right side down to the by line her cross whipped in turned behind at the near posy by the keeper. Butcher taking the ball away to the left with a good run on into the area pushed wide the angle rapidly going against her Miles closing down blocking her shot. Williams booked as she fouls Netschova attacking left side.

  GOAL! The free-kick lifted into the box headed clear by Munro. Is quickly regained by Milton Keynes in the final third, into Wood right of the D turns inside to smash a shot goalwards, taking a slight deflection on its way home 5-0.

  5 goals for Milton Keynes with 5 minutes left to play another superb strike from outside the box, Milton Keynes are staying up with style. Soon on the attack after the restart the ball into Taho 30 yards out turned on for Mills away right side inside the box sends her shot angling in wide of the far post. 

  GOAL! Time for one more goal and a small consolation for Keynsham as they get on down the right the ball fed on through for Butcher bursting into the box, getting there just before the keeper this time to stab the ball under Sansom and score. 5-1.

  Taho moving right with the ball for Milton Keynes sees her cross into the box cut out by Williams. Cleared to the top of the area Pepper looks to retrieve but his closed down. A free-kick for the hosts right into the top of the six yard box cleared by Grogan. Butcher through the middle sends the ball into Carabott left side drives into the box is forced wide by Miles running out of ground attempts to lift the ball goalwards with the outside of her boot is cut out. and cleared. 

Milton Keynes, Marianne Taho

  Moving into stoppage time Milton Keynes attacking Wood central 25 out on for Mills on the right flashes a cross into the six yard box, Kierk scooping it up as Taho closes in. The game is open in the closing stages Keynsham tiring Milton Keynes full of energy Wood dragging a shot wide in the middle 25 yards out. The hosts with the ball Taho with Mills on the right her cross cut out by Withers, Pepper on the loose ball send out to the left Netschova linking with Gooderham her cross in seeing the flag go up. The final action of the season and Milton Keynes can celebrate as they turn their season around to secure league status on the final day!

Full time Milton Keynes Dons Women 5-1 Keynsham Town Ladies

  5 superb strikes from outside the box to see Milton Keynes secure a 5-1 victory in their must win fixture. As it was Cardiff lost 4-1 away to Southampton to confirm their relegation. The win though moves Milton Keynes up a place to 9th in the table over Plymouth. A fantastic result a goal inside 10 minutes settling any nerves, 2 up at half-time a 3rd goal coming so quickly in the 2nd half were in control of the game throughout. An incredible turn around when they only had 2 points on the board from their opening 10 matches. Keynsham’s time in the 3rd tier comes to an end a tough 2nd half to the season costing them in the finish.

The Milton Keynes players going over to thank the fans at the end of the game

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match, is a tough one have three contenders hard to single one out. A few performances of note to mention first. For Keynsham, captain Nadine Grogan gave her all in defence with a number of strong tackles, winning the ball. For Milton Keynes, Tally Miles was strong at the back with some great positional play read the game well. In the middle Nicole Pepper was strong going forwards bringing others into play and scoring a great goal. So too on the scoring front Lucy Wood a great game out on the right, always an option for the defence and midfield getting on with the ball, scoring twice. Narrowly edging them both out though today’s award goes to Chez Albert strong on the left side always available caused the Keynsham defence problems though out whether getting to the by-line or coming inside also on the scoresheet with a fantastic strike.

  A long but enjoyable trip down to the Stadium MK this afternoon, look forwards to returning for the Euro’s it’s going to be a great occasion. My thanks to Milton Keynes for their hospitality and to Charlie Bill for supplying me with the team details. A day off then it’s 5 cup finals in 8 days!

by Darren Gilham