Sunday 2nd May
Norfolk Women’s County Cup
Sponsored by Harrod Sport
The football action on Women’s Football East this weekend comes from the quarter finals of the Norfolk Women’s County Cup quarter finals and a match that should have been the final last season as Norwich City Women take on Wymondham Town Ladies.
This weekend seeing the whole of English football and several other sporting bodies taking part in a social media boycott until 23:59pm Mon 3rd May in protest against the growing wave of racism and discriminatory abuse directed at players and clubs alike. Asking as one for the social media giants to do more about it. Social media can be a fantastic way for football to engage with fans and certainly women’s football has become a leader in this but for a while now for a minority it has brought out the worst and needs to be addressed. Women’s Football East supports the boycott hence no coverage of this weekends game.
A tie between two of the leading sides in Norfolk, both will fancy there chances of going all the way. The quarter final draw pitting them together as both enter the competition at this stage along with ERWFL Premier Division side, Wroxham Women. Wymondham Town Ladies back to back winners of the County Cup looking to keep up the defence of the trophy they held onto back in the 2019 final against King’s Lynn Town Ladies played at the first time at Carrow Road the home of Norwich City FC. The Covid pandemic seeing the competition ending before that final could take place last season.
Norfolk FA pushing on with their County Cup competitions as most leagues have been declared null & void with football only able to return at the start of April due to a 3 month lockdown and too much of the season being lost. A boost for the women’s county cup too as it is sponsored for the first time Harrod Sport one of the world’s leading sports equipment manufacturers signing a 3-year deal to support the competition.
Norwich City Women playing in the FAWNL South East Division One having reached the final last time out after a period away from the competition. Dominated the county cup early on in it’s inaugural season back in 2010/11 winning the trophy and defending it successfully for 4 seasons before stepping away. Returned three of season’s ago, reaching the final last time out before seeing the season curtailed. Like most leagues the FAWNL was declared null & void and whereas others have set-up temporary competitions to fill what weeks remain of the season the FAWNL didn’t leaving sides to organise post-season friendlies. Thus the County Cup presenting a great opportunity for Norwich to challenge for silverware something the club having been in something of a transition period hasn’t done for a while.
Standing in Norwich’s way however are the current holders Wymondham Town Ladies, back to back winners the club has risen through the pyramid of women’s football in Norfolk to become one of the leading sides. Reaching the ERWFL Premier Division, were in a strong position at the top of a competitive table before sadly seeing the season end. The ERWFL setting up a Challenge Cup competition to fill the gap, teams form both divisions drawn into 4 groups with the winners going on to compete in a finals day featuring semi-finals and final aswell as a 3rd place play-off match. Wymondham drawn into what would be the group of death if you follow the leagues along side fellow Premier Division sides St Ives Town Ladies, Colney Heath Ladies and Luton Town Ladies along with Division One North side Needham Market Women. 2 wins and a draw including a 2-1 win against Luton Town Ladies last time out putting Wymondham in a strong position to finish top of their group with just Needham Market Women to play. Have been playing competitive football which may just give them an edge over Norwich
The Nest the venue for today’s quarter final. The new home for Norwich City Women who were keen to get involved with the project from the very start. Was still being build the last time I was here one a very wet and windy day for Norwich’s semi-final with Wroxham back in 2020. Progress has been rapid. A new state of the art facility constructed, with cafe clubhouse and function room leading out onto a new 3G playing surface. Situated on the outskirts north of the city past the airport, features multi-sports pitches and is aiming to become another leading community sports facility within the county. A better day weather wise this time round a few clouds around but otherwise sunny and pleasant.
Norwich City Women starting XI – Elli-Rai Quinn-Nichols, Anna Larkins, Alice Parker, Kate Parsons, Izzy Collins, Millie Daviss (C), Ellie Smith, Megan Todd, Aimee Durrant, Kathryn Stanley & Natasha Snelling. Subs – Brooke Osbourne, Reeanna Cook & Jess Harper.
Wymondham Town Ladies starting XI – Chloe Pearce, Chelsea Clarke, Leah Newcombe (C), Lauren Kett, Chardonnay Johnston, Katie Knights, Jennifer Codman, Freya Symonds, Natasha Youngs, Rebecca Russell & Hannah Waters. Subs – Laura Nicholls, Francesca Catchpole & Mary Croft.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
Good to see players returning from long term injuries featuring with Megan Todd in the starting line up for Norwich and Chardonnay Johnston starting in defence for Wymondham having both suffered from ACL’s. It’s Norwich to kick-off the game wearing yellow shirts and socks with green shorts. Wymondham lined up opposite wearing red shirts and shorts with black socks. The ball put out to the right for Aimee Durrant to have an early run at the Wymondham defence is soon closed down the ball cleared up field.
Hannah Waters leading the attack for Wymondham, is looking to break in behind the Norwich central defence the ball threaded through for her to gather 30 yards out, she is closely marshalled by both centre backs, Kate Parsons in to tackle with Izzy Collins around on the cover the ball won back Norwich look to push players on captain Millie Daviss on the ball in the middle of the park playing the pass out to Kathryn Stanley moving into the left channel knocks it forwards but can’t get the better of Wymondham right back and captain Leah Newcombe.
Newcombe defends again moments later as Daviss playing a give and go with Alice Parker on the left attempts to run in behind a throw conceded inside the Wymondham half , into Todd’s feet she turns and drives towards the box, shoots left of the D takes a deflection off a defender sending it behind for a corner kick. The delivery long from the left towards the far post his headed over. Dropping deep at times Wymondham are allowing Norwich to come on with the ball, Todd dribbling the ball on combining with Natasha Snelling up top winning a throw.
Parker and Anna Larkins at right back have space to run into as Wymondham drop everyone bar Waters into their own half. The game cagey at times passes rushed, Wymondham anting to play out from the back Norwich’s attacking players closing down well snapping at the ball, Stanley putting Newcombe under pressure, Chardonnay Johnston closing in challenging to prevent her taking the ball on into the area. Freya Symonds getting hold of the ball on through for Waters, Collins and Parsons however staying tight on her, finds no way through.
An opportunity for Newcombe to get out from the back on the right for Wymondham crosses the halfway line before delivering a high diagonal ball into the top of the Norwich area, Collins heading it to safety for the hosts. Norwich moving the ball quickly, passes not always finding there mark, the energy high, Todd and Stanley making forwards runs to support Snelling up top, Wymondham defending deep are keeping a solid shape, no one able to find a way through. Larkins puts a high diagonal cross into the box, Todd furthest forwards on the penalty spot getting her head on the ball, loops it up towards goal, Wymondham goalkeeper Chloe Pearce with a confident take under her bar.
Space for Natasha Youngs to run into playing on the right for Wymondham as she is fed the ball from Rebecca Russell in the middle takes it on, Parsons racing across to close her down, takes the ball as Youngs checks back inside. Having soaked up some pressure Wymondham are beginning to find some joy on the flanks, Chelsea Clarke left side playing the ball long towards the top of the area with Youngs providing the run her shot blocked by Parker on the edge of the box. Katie Knights playing the ball on for Symonds as Wymondham build from the back play spread to Youngs out wide right whips a cross back in across the top of the Norwich area, Russell racing into the D, the ball taken off her toes by the defence.
Pearce is forced into making a quality save as out of nowhere a long distance strike in fired into the area bouncing up off the 3G surface threatens to creep in under the bar, Pearce back peddling tipping it up over her crossbar. Swung into the area Parsons up highest near side looks to head it on across the area, Snelling gathers it but is forced out of the box by the Wymondham defence. 25 minutes played a pause as Symonds receives treatment inside the Norwich area.
Stanley is brought down by Newcombe giving Norwich a free kick 30 yards out on the left. Parker to deliver. Played into the far post Todd looks coming round the back stretching can’t get there. Looking to play out from the back almost costs Wymondham a moment later as Pearce’s ball rolled to the top of the area is pounced upon by Stanley nipping in ahead of the defender takes it inside into the D, striking it well a curling effort flying towards the top corner, Pearce recovers well however as she dives across at full stretch to make the save beating the ball away to the right.
With Parker and Larkins able to come forwards at will for Norwich they have plenty of bodies inside the Wymondham half, Ellie Smith linking with Daviss in the middle, Jennifer Codman stretching a legs cutting out the pass intended for Snelling 20 yards out. Stanley travels with the ball through the middle, pushed onto Snelling she sees Parker making a run of the left the diagonal ball fizzed into her, Parker can’t quite get the intended touch to knock it inside and behind Newcombe as the full back reclaims possession. Durrant takes aim from 25 yards out on the right her shot taking a wicked deflection favours Pearce however the keeper getting down low to claim on her line.
Norwich allowed to come on have been forcing the pace of the game, get caught out as Codman releases Youngs on the right has Waters ahead of her moving into the right channel takes the ball on into the corner turning to send it in towards the top right of the box the ball behind Russell however, Norwich regain possession and are straight on the offensive Todd playing in on for Smith she has Daviss up with her, the Norwich captain spreading play out to Parker surging on down the left pots Stanley bombing into the box crosses, Lauren Kett stepping up to take hold of the ball carry it clear of the box for Wymondham to relieve the pressure.
Waters is isolated in attack for Wymondham at times but always a willing runners and a constant threat pulling off the shoulder of the last defender, so far she has been well marshalled by Parsons and Collins at the back for Norwich. Russell looking to get on in support whenever she can finds herself up into the final 3rd left of the D, Symonds making a run to her right squares it to her, Parker closing her down defending well for the hosts. Todd comes left on the ball has Stanley in front of her rolls the ball into her path, knocks it inside looking to escape Newcombe but can’t as the full back lunges to take the ball from her feet before she can line up a shot.
Wymondham make the first change of the game having taken a knock earlier on it’s Symonds who comes off with Mary Croft coming on. Both Parsons and Youngs are hobbling after the Wymondham winger goes in to make a strong tackle. The game paused again as Youngs needs treatment. Norwich with more of the ball but aren’t really making it count, Wymondham aren’t leaving any gaps at the back, but starting from so deep a position they are finding it hard to get anything going in attack can’t find Waters who has started coming back to get hold of the ball.
Norwich come right the ball squared into the D, Snelling with the back heel helping it on for Parker behind her her tough taking it into the box, shoots bodies in front of her is deflected through to the keeper. Smith joining the attack from midfield adding to Norwich’s threat is upended outside the box but doesn’t get the decision. Norwich with a corner kick however in the right load the six yard box a sweet delivery played in Pearce does superbly under pressure to claim the ball.
Croft charges down Stanley at the top of the D as the Norwich attacker looks to put her foot through a dropping ball fired in from the right. Wymondham with a chance to put the ball into the box late in the first half as they are awarded a free-kick inside the Norwich half in the right, Johnston over it aims for the far post runners coming in drops in front of goal, Youngs takes a swing at it is blocked by a Norwich body spinning away to the left. A coming together between Knights and Smith the free-kick given in favour of the visitors a talking too for Smith receives a yellow card but talks herself into further action as she is sin binned. Just the 2nd time it’s been recorded on WF East (and incidentally the first time was for a Norwich player in the County Cup too).
Norwich to end the half with 10 on the pitch, Clarke to play the free-kick wide left forwards into the area bounces through to Youngs at the far post not easy to get under control rising stabs it goalwards, a block put in before goalkeeper Elli-Rai Quinn-Nichols grabs it.
Half-time Norwich City Women 0-0 Wymondham Town Ladies
Goalless at the break. Norwich with more of the ball have had Wymondham under pressure at times but have yet to create many clear cut opportunities, the best coming from a Wymondham error. Have been able to press the attack get bodies forwards closing down the back line forcing the midfield back leaving Waters isolated up top. Passing has been somewhat loose though that first touch not quite there. Wymondham have kept a solid shape pushed back have left no room in behind for the likes of Todd, Durrant and Stanley. Whilst soaking up the pressure have looked for opportunities creating a couple of half chances themselves. A cagey game it might take an error to give one side the advantage all to play for 2nd half.
Norwich of course still down to 10 with Smith still sin binned as Wymondham get the 2nd half underway. Norwich quickly regain possession Durrant on the right flashing a ball in to the D, spotting the run of Stanley on the opposite side, the ball bouncing just behind her. Parsons slides in with a strong tackle to take the ball away from Waters as she attempts to knock it on into the box from inside the D on the right. Snelling gathering the ball on halfway drives on with the ball, making ground is eventually hauled down Norwich awarded the free-kick, flashed into the far post on the angle Pearce back peddling is able to claim it unopposed.
Parsons with the ball at her feet tries her luck with a long distance strike all of 40 yards out, skipping along the ground finds it way through to the keeper. Clarke checking inside from the left sweeps a diagonal ball into Waters central bringing it down turns straight into Collins. Knights gives herself the room to adjust and make the tackle as Durrant drives on from the right looking to get into the box.
Wymondham make a 2nd change Laura Nicholls coming on to replace Youngs in the right. An early opportunity to run with the ball at her feet right side squares it across the D into Waters, Parker on the cover around to defend for Norwich. Smith returns to the action for Norwich back up to their full compliment get up the right to win a corner. Headed clear at the far post cleared out to the left a shot comes flashing back in on the angle to land in the side netting. Norwich make a change bringing off Durrant, send on Reeanna Cook. Parker smashes the ball in from the angle sees her effort charged down.
Russell takes the ball on through the middle nudges it on for Waters who plays it back to the advancing Codman she puts her foot through the shot, on target skips up in front of Quinn-Nichols who saves smartly with her feet having so far seen little action. Norwich quick to get up the other end looking sharper with there passing now, Smith looking to get on the offensive through the middle almost steals through into the box, Clarke taking it away from her, Smith on the rebound however sends a shot wide. The additional runs made from midfield starting to stretch the Wymondham defence gaps starting to open up everyone back finding it tough to get out of there half.
Waters leading the line for Wymondham remains a threat, the visitors comfortable soaking up pressure ready to break, the passes sent forwards Waters a willing chaser, Collins needing to get across to clear 30 yards out. Knights with a talking as she brings down Smith charging on with the ball central. A few strong challenges creeping into the match neither side wanting to give the ball away. Daviss with a hand ball presents Wymondham with a free-kick in a dangerous position central 25 yard out. Croft placing the ball, the wall does its job as the ball is deflected through to the keeper.
Russell gets forwards up to support Waters inside the D, Parsons defending well for Norwich clears the threat. Pearce with another solid take from a corner for Wymondham despite the close attention from Todd. Kett stretching cuts out the ball top of her box as Smith surges into the D from the left, a shot flashed in from the other flank goes wide. Kett hurt going for the ball stays down. Needs treatment, a blow as she can’t continue, Symonds returns to the field. The clock ticking down moving into the final 15 minutes.
GOAL! The deadlock is broken at last as Norwich press the attack, Smith who has been more proactive going forwards in the 2nd period attacking central with Snelling 20 yards out, she spots Larkins racing clear down the right fires the ball into her path taking it on Larkins smashes a diagonal ball in to the near post the defence back tracking Smith moving across Knights gets her head on the ball a glancing touch aiming to put it into her keepers gloves, coming at her quickly Pearce can’t get it under control and to her despair pops out behind her into the back of the net 1-0.
Norwich ecstatic as they take the lead a cruel goal for Wymondham to concede. The hosts come on from the restart catching Wymondham at the back as Smith steals in to take the ball of Croft outside the box moves to her right shooting on the angle, Croft recovers well to get in the block, Norwich claiming handball but it clearly struck her backside. The rebound falling to Daviss 25 yards out left of the D sends a shot back in swerves wide of the post.
Smith is everywhere at the moment moving to the right has Larkins with her exchange passes Smith down to the by-line is clumsily brought down. Players into the box for the free-kick put in at an inviting height central, Snelling is up well to connect with the header sending it across goal, for a moment looks certain to score only for the ball to be cleared excellently by Johnston at the far post.
Wymondham looking to get more bodies up and around Waters now as they chase the game, Nicholls and Russell making good runs Symonds attempting to pick Russell out as she breaks into the right channel, but can’t take the ball on in behind as she is dispossessed by Collins. Up the other end Todd breaks in behind to the by-line on the right dragging the cross in to the near post Pearce well placed to gather in front of Snelling. The Norwich no10 with a great chance to double to score-line moments later as a cross is played into the box from the left, seeing it drop in front of her Snelling opens up her body to strike the ball back across goal, sees her effort race wide of the post. Francesca Catchpole comes on for Wymondham to join Waters in the attack with Knights off. Norwich bring on Brooke Osbourne for Kathryn Stanley.
Norwich win a free-kick on the right played short to Smith she flashes a cross into the area, Johnson with a strong header to launch clear defending for Wymondham. Parsons firing a shot over the top from distance as the hosts prevent Wymondham getting the ball out of their half. Stanley back on for Norwich late on replacing Todd puts the ball on for Snelling right side, Croft defending clips the attacker to give away a foul. Norwich fail to make the most of the opportunity.
Time is running out for Wymondham to get themselves a levelling goal, Clarke has time and space left side 30 yards out lets out a cry of frustration as her shot flashes wide. Into the closing moments of the match Wymondham attacking Clarke picking up the ball on the right has time to line up her cross, players rushing on as she sends a diagonal ball in takes a deflection turning it across goal to the far post Nicholls coming in behind sliding onto it inside the six yard box turns it goalwards but lacks the pace to beat Quinn-Nichols getting down low to stop it. Parker picking up a knock in the attack coming off for Norwich, Jess Harper comes on. One last attack for Wymondham a hand ball spotted 25 yards out giving the visitors a free-kick, Clarke over it sends it goalwards on target, Norwich clear the threat over as the final whistle blows.
Full time Norwich City Women 1-0 Wymondham Town Ladies
Norwich coming out on top in the finish scoring the winner in the final 15 minutes to send them through to the last four of the County Cup. Strong in the first half, improved in the 2nd launching a constant barrage at the Wymondham defence, getting players forwards from both the middle of the park and wide positions keeping there opponents penned in the final 3rd. Passing sharper moving the ball well. Again clear cut opportunities rare largely due to the Wymondham defence, battled well keeping tight, too deep maybe but left no room in behind. Waters isolated up front is a deadly as anyone in a one on one situation, Norwich defending from the front limiting the balls Wymondham could play into her. A single goal in the end enough to decide it, on the balance of play Norwich deserved the win, nevertheless was a cruel way to lose a game for Wymondham.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Time to choose today’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. Once again not an easy choice. Wymondham worked hard as a defensive unit with Leah Newcombe making several tackles to deny Norwich on the left. Rebecca Russell getting forwards with some good positioning whenever she could to support Waters in attack. The attack from Norwich was lively showing great movement and runs, Kathryn Stanley especially first half testing the Wymondham defence. Megan Todd and Natasha Snelling combining well. Whilst at the back Kate Parsons and Izzy Collins kept close tabs on Waters all game. The award though goes to Norwich’s Ellie Smith putting herself about in the first half came into her own 2nd half making some dynamic runs from midfield and applying more pressure to the Wymondham defence.
Norwich will be at home for the semi-final of the Norfolk Women’s County Cup there opponents will be King’s Lynn Town Ladies finalists last time out back in 2019 after they emerged 4-3 winners away to Dereham based side Tavern Ladies. The other semi-final will be an all county league affair with NWGFL side Sprowston Athletic Ladies who beat division two opponents 4-0 at home to rivals Mulbarton Belles Ladies who produced a shock in the quarter finals beating ERWFL Premier Division side Wroxham Ladies 1-0 away from home. Both games due to be played next Sunday 9th May.
Better weather this time at The Nest. Is a great facility, an intriguing game to watch unfold, cagey took a late goal in the end. My thanks to everyone at the The Nest for their help today.
by Darren Gilham