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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 – 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

Match Report – Mulbarton Belles Ladies v Thetford Town Ladies

Wednesday 26th May

NWGFL GiveToLocalUK Challenge Cup

 A spot of midweek action on Women’s Football East with a trip east along the A47 to watch a game from the NWGFL @GiveToLocalUK Challenge Cup, with Mulbarton Belles Ladies hosting Thetford Town Ladies.

The NWGFL Challenge Cup a temporary competition replacing the regular season that was curtailed due to the ongoing Covid pandemic. The sides from both Divisions One and Two drawn into 4 groups of 4 or 5 sides playing each other once for position before advancement to a knockout competition.

 A second midweek viewing for Mulbarton Belles Ladies, having been in action in the Norfolk Women’s County Cup Final last Wednesday. No sooner was their fairy tale cup adventure over (the final being just the 7th game in the sides history) they began their Challenge Cup campaign this past Sunday with a home tie against Tavern Ladies. Two strong sides a point apiece in the finish as they drew 3-3. Mulbarton 3rd in the Group C table on 4 points having been awarded the win against Freethorpe Ladies lay a point behind Tavern with fellow Division One side Fakenham Town Ladies leading the way on 7 points with 2 wins and a draw so far. Three tough games in quick succession for Mulbarton the squad picking up a few knocks.

The other team in Group C are Division Two side, Thetford Town Ladies. A tough group up against three Division One sides. However they started off well in their opening match winning 7-1 away from home against fellow Division Two side Freethorpe Ladies with both Laura Martins and Becki White scoring a brace apiece. That game almost a month ago fixtures delayed due to Mulbarton’s involvement in the County Cup, were away to group leaders Fakenham Town Women on Sunday, trailing 2-0 at half-time pulled a goal back in the 2nd half before eventually losing 4-2. A quick turnaround for both meeting this evening.

Mulberry Park the venue for this evenings match, has been a good while since I was last here, then to watch the previous Belles side. The main grass pitch beside the clubhouse and changing rooms, pitches beyond. A small seated stand one side the men’s side having just been promoted to the Thurlow Nunn Premier, like the women’s side making the Senior County Cup Final losing to Gorleston. The weather very overcast for the game the floodlights on early although rain wasn’t forecast.

 Mulbarton Belles Ladies starting XI – Cara Anderson, Meg Anderton, Melissa Belsey, Olivia Mungham-Gray, Megan Belsey, Alice Smith, Laura Hedtke, Ellie Hunter, Millie Cursons, Sophie Jermy & Rebekah Lake (C). Subs- Morgan Devine, Aneliese Smith & Bryony Knights.

 Thetford Town Ladies starting XI – Lydia Ward, Lucy Tancock, Ruby Robertson, Sausha Twomey (C), Rachel Lynch, Mel Ovenden, Dayna Howard, Shannon Richardson, Becky White, Laura Martins & Mel Boulton. Subs – Emily Bullet, Coral Ring, Jess Knight.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

  It’s the visiting side to get the first half underway wearing an all marron coloured kit, with hosts Mulbarton lined up opposite wearing blue and black vertical striped shirts, blue shorts and socks. Thetford play the ball back to their defence before looking to go left, Sophie Jermy putting in a good tackle to get Mulbarton on the ball, inside to Alice Smith the midfielder firing a straight ball through the middle, intercepted by Thetford centre back Rachel Lynch. Thetford come away down the left making good ground before a cross is lifted in towards the top of the area, Megan Belsey clearing it for Mulbarton

Sophie Jermy sending the ball on for Mulbarton

 GOAL! Mulbarton go straight on the attack the pass put to Jermy moving left she plays it on for Ellie Hunter getting in behind on the left wing, the ball taken down into the corner as players race up from midfield towards the top of the area, Hunter turns sending the ball central is met by Smith 20 yards out left of the D helped on across the area into the path of Laura Hedtke she in turn releases it forwards, captain Rebekah lake timing her run to perfection stealing in behind the defence before shooting on the angle driving the ball across the six yard box into the bottom corner 1-0.

Mulbarton captain, Rebekah Lake puts her sides 1-0 up

  The perfect start for the hosts less than 3 minutes on the clock. A wide pitch Lake pulling out to the right as the ball is lifted up to her, Lucy Tancock running out towards her sliding in to win the ball, a strong challenge, Lake appealing but no foul given. Thetford finding some joy down the left Mel Ovenden taking it on , her cross falling short of Mel Boulton making a central run. Megan Belsey launching it clear up to Smith she looks to take it on, Dayna Howard getting on her shoulder lunging in to make the tackle.

Dayna Howard tackling Mulbarton’s Ellie Hunter

  Lynch clears at the top of her area as Hunter attempts to play a through ball on for Lake into the right channel. Mulbarton quickly regain possession moving left, Jermy on the move up with Hunter left side, holding the ball up looks to shift inside, Ruby Robertson putting her foot in to take the ball, played up for Shannon Richardson on the right wing, gets her head down looking to drive on, Meg Anderton preventing her from doing so for Mulbarton. 

  The hosts spread play right to left getting up the pitch to win a corner. Fired in across the top of the six yard box at a decent height is met by Smith at the far stick, directed in on target, straight at Thetford goalkeeper, Lydia Ward though who catches it well. A good start to the game from Mulbarton looking to keep on top Smith and Hedtke winning the ball in midfield, Lake, Jermy and Hunter showing for the ball moving well up top looking to stretch the Thetford defence. 

  Howard getting the ball on from outside her box for Richardson right side brings it beyond halfway before sending a diagonal ball on up through the centre, Olivia Mungham-Gray collecting it for Mulbarton. Thetford’s crosses are just falling short at the moment, easily dealt with by the Mulbarton defence. Hunter sends the ball on for Millie Cursons right side she in turn sends it on through for Lake to attack, Lynch getting there first for Thetford to clear. 

  Ward out well towards the top of her area to gather into her gloves as Jermy threatens to send Lake clear once again. Lively in the middle with both sides nipping into their tackles, Hunter on Laura Martins this time as the Thetford player turns looking to find Richardson making the run to her right. Richardson does get hold of the ball for Thetford taking it into space on the right, Anderton holding her up she moves infield sending it on to Boulton in the middle, goes on before Smith closes her down and regains possession. 

  Boulton bringing the ball on central for Thetford is forced to the right passes to Richardson who lays it forwards for Martins, aiming to get into the box is stopped by Anderton. Mulbarton surge forwards the ball sent on diagonally to the right for Lake to attack, Lynch sliding in to challenge the ball sliced behind for a corner kick. Players up is delivered towards the top of the area, Howard getting hold of it to clear for Thetford but Mulbarton quickly have it back, fed into Hunter on the left, the ball played across the top of the area 25 yards out Robertson stepping out to take the ball of Jermy. 

  Mulbarton are awarded a free-kick on halfway towards the left, Anderton to play the ball up towards the top of the area, the initial ball defended pings back and forth before being prodded to Hunter free on the left inside the box flashes a squared cross towards the far stick, Thetford captain Sausha Twomey getting her toe on the ball to take it away from Lake who was ready to strike. Ward saving confidently at her near post as Lake fires in a shot from the angle 20 yards out on the right, the ball palmed down and quickly smothered. 

 Richardson with the ball for Thetford moves infield, Boulton makes a run into the right channel taking players with her space opening up, Richardson looks to send it on diagonally to the left for Becky White, Megan Belsey getting tight on her stops Thetford’s advance. A free-kick out wide on the right by the touchline 20 yards out for Mulbarton, fired into the area players up is just behind Cursons near side 10 yards out, falls to Smith behind her to hit first time a low shot angled in, Ward down smartly to her right to make the save. 

  Play paused due to a pitch invasion a pair of mallards encroaching onto the playing surface, Megan Belsey and Anderton with the task of chasing the ducks away. Lynch with another timely tackle for Thetford winning the ball inside the D to deny Cursons. Smith winning it back in the middle for Mulbarton on for Hedtke out to Cursons on the right has support with Lake the pair combining the cross met first time by Jermy near side, too heavy a contact her shot high over the bar.

Megan Belsey and Meg Anderton see off a pair of feathered pitch invaders

 Lake’s pace causing a few problems as she bombs on right side, Lynch out to meet her slows her down, Lake getting hold of the loose ball putting it central for Cursons, Howard in on her the ball deflected behind for a corner. The ball not still for long Mulbarton on the attack Melissa Belsey on the right sending a diagonal ball into the box, Thetford come away with it Richardson wanting to take it on, Smith closing her down.

  Howard wins the ball central for Thetford spreads play out to the left for White, gets it on down the line before whipping a cross into the middle, taken down by Megan Belsey and cleared. Thetford get into a good position final third, Richardson, Boulton and then Martins with a opportunity to pull the trigger from 25 yards or so out but no one does before Mulbarton regroup with Mungham-Gray winning the ball back. 

Mulbarton’s Olivia Mungham-Gray

 GOAL! A little of 5 minutes left to play in the first half and Mulbarton double their lead with a well worked goal. Laura Hedtke bringing the ball on over half way pushing it out to Lake on the right, before continuing to run all the way into the box. Lake 25 yards out has support from Jermy a give and go between the pair sees Lake race into a great crossing position and getting her foot around the ball lays it on a plate for Hedtke arriving at the near post to strike low past the keeper 2-0.

Laura Hedtke doubling Mulbarton’s lead

A free-kick won deep for Thetford put long up to Boulton central knocks it down to her left looking for Richardson in the right channel, knocks it forwards, Mungham-Gray coming to challenge well for Mulbarton. Hunter advancing with the ball on the left sends it inside for Lake, Lynch doing well stepping out in front of her to intercept. Mulbarton a denied a third goal as they pile numbers forwards through the middle, Lake up on the penalty spot causing mayhem players drawn to her put back to Jermy to smash into the bottom corner however the flag was up long before the strike, Lake having strayed offside beforehand. 

  Jermy with another strike on the angle right side, Ward saving at her near post the ball knocked behind for the corner. Late pressure from Mulbarton as Smith sees a shot blocked from the top of the area, then Lynch defends to put it out for another set-piece. Ward saving before a shot is blazed over.

Half-time Mulbarton Belles Ladies 2-0 Thetford Town Ladies

  A goal at each end of the 1st half seeing Mulbarton go into the half-time break leading 2-0. Got off to the perfect start taking the lead inside the opening 2 minutes. Have created further chances since, Lynch and Twomey with some timely tackles at the back for Thetford. Both sides using the width of the pitch. Thetford not troubling Cara Anderson in the Mulbarton goal have nevertheless gotten into some good positions out wide without finding their mark on the cross, haven’t been able to get in behind. 

 

Changes for Mulbarton at the break with Aneliese Smith on up top along with Bryony Knights and Morgan Devine, Melissa Belsey and Jermy off. Emily Bullett on for Thetford as they make positional changes for the 2nd half, the hosts getting the 2nd period underway. Howard winning the ball for Thetford out to Richardson left side plays in on but White is caught flat footed Megan Belsey clearing.

 A free-kick awarded to Thetford in a 30 or so yards out in a central position, Richardson on the set-piece strikes the ball fantastically Anderson diving to her left can’t get it the ball striking the top of the post and angling down to bounce across the face of the goal. 

Ovenden plays the ball out to Richardson left advances down the line before whipping a cross into the area is met by Bullett her first time shot angling wide past the far post. Anderson comes out to clear at the top of the area Richardson puts it on for White. Thetford better at the start of the 2nd half. Mulbarton win a free-kick wide on the right played in by Hedtke, half cleared by Thetford a shot taken from distance flashes wide. Hunter taking the ball on into the right corner, Tancock defending a corner conceded, the delivery into the box cleared by Howard. 

Thetford’s Dayna Howard

Play more open in the 2nd half Thetford able to get further forwards apply a little pressure, Boulton deep out to Ovenden struck on the angle Anderson saving getting her gloves on the ball. The visitors getting a corner on the right fired in across the six yard box at an inviting height no one gets a touch on it however. The game more open now, Smith back to help the defence for Mulbarton as Richardson plays a ball into the D.

Mulbarton’s, Alice Smith

  A free-kick for Thetford awarded 30 or so yards out in a  Lynch with a strong challenge at the back to deny Lake at the top of the area as Hunter fires the ball into her. Twomey heading a cross clear. At the other end Richardson sweeping a cross into the box from the left is met in the air by Boulton, drops narrowly wide of the post.

GOAL!  A couple of god opportunities for Thetford to pull themselves back into the game, Mulbarton find a response getting up the other end to score a much needed 3rd goal, the ball sent out to Lake running in behind on the left wing play stretched gaps opening up the attack drills a low ball in towards the near post, Aneliese Smith arriving unmarked to place the ball into the empty net 3-0.

Aneliese Smith giving Mulbarton a 3-0 lead

A double change for Mulbarton with Melissa Belsey and Jermy returning to the action in place of Hedtke and Anderton. 20 minutes left to play Mulbarton attempt to feed Lake in central, Twomey defending against her for Thetford. The visitors come through the middle, Howard on to Boulton, Megan Belsey in to make the challenge. Twomey with a vital interception at the back as a cross in put in from deep on the right. The pace of the game slower 2nd half, Mulbarton do look tired have played alot of football in a short space of time, soaking up some Thetford pressure but remain a danger on the counter. 

  Mulbarton with a corner on the right played short up to Belsey scoops it up towards the far post, an effort on goal blocked at close range before being scramble behind for another corner on the left, Thetford defending play it out to Richardson wide, Alice Smith across to prevent the break. Laura Martin returning to the game for Thetford . Jermy lifts the ball on left channel for Aneliese Smith ahead of her scoops the ball up looking to send her shot up over the keeper but doesn’t get enough on it a comfortable catch for Ward.

Thetford goalkeeper, Lydia Ward

The 3rd goal has taken a little of the fight out of Thetford given Mulbarton a lift the hosts keeping the ball slowing the pace of the game the game moving into the final 5 minutes, Cursons coming back on for Mungham-Gray. Hunter making it to the by-line on the right whipping a cross in across goal to the far post Cursons there her effort charged down. Knights letting loose a shot from all of 40 yards out on the left for Mulbarton the ball caught by the keeper. 

Thetford’s captain, Sausha Twomey

Alice Smith adjudged to have handled the ball a free-kick to Thetford wide on the left one last chance to bring players up from the back, White to put it into the mix over Twomey central Richardson beyond her nodding it back towards her Twomey stooping into the header trying to get some power on it, Anderson saving back on her line pushing the ball away comes out to the right for Ovendon to hit on the angle driven in is beat away, Mulbarton break the ball sent on through the middle up to Lake on the run attempts to lob the keeper, but coming to close the angle Ward is able to get her gloves up to the ball and claim.

 

Full time Mulbarton Belles Ladies 3-0 Thetford Town Ladies

  The final action of the match as Mulbarton win 3-0 to move level with Fakenham on 7 points at the top of the group with the pair due to meet on the 6th June. A chance for Mulbarton to have a little rest after an intense spell. Were looking tired towards the end of the match. A fantastic start taking an early lead, you feared for Thetford then but the Division Two side competed well, defending without applying too much pressure in the final 3rd in the first period a well worked goal seeing Mulbarton go two up. Changes at half-time saw Thetford improve a couple of good opportunities to pull a goal back before Mulbarton broke to score a 3rd and effectively kill off the game. Thetford with one more group game to play a break now till they meet Tavern Ladies on the 9th June.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this evenings Women’s Football East – Player of the Match a few performances of note to mention. For Thetford, Dayna Howard making some good challenges in the middle helping out the defence, at the back Sausha Twomey did well with some vital interceptions, whilst alongside her Rachel Lynch was strong several well timed tackles. For Mulbarton, Rebekah Lake stretched play moving out to the flanks drawing players to her. Ellie Hunter with good movement on and off the ball, The award though goes to Alice Smith in the middle won plenty of tackles reading the game well often well positioned to prevent a Thetford attack before it could even begin.

 No ducks were harmed in the making of this match report.

  An entertaining slice of midweek action at Mulberry Park, my thanks to both sides for their help with the team details much appreciated as always.

by Darren Gilham

Cup Final Special – Mulbarton Belles Ladies v Norwich City Women

Wednesday 19th May

Norfolk Women’s County Cup Final

sponsored by Harrod Sport

It’s been over 440 days since the last one but it’s great to be covering a Cup Final match once again. The FDC the venue for his evening’s Final for the Norfolk Women’s County Cup seeing newly formed Mulbarton Belles Ladies playing just their 7th competitive fixture taking on Norwich City Women.

  The Covid pandemic of course the reason for so many games and finals being lost, football returning after the 3rd lockdown ended towards the end of match seeing alot of league football being declared null & void. Norfolk FA making the decision to play their county cup competitions, including the women’s cup, receiving a sponsor for the first time Harrod Sport.

 Norwich City Women making it to the final of the Norfolk Women’s County Cup for the 1st time since 2014. Norfolk’s leading female side competing in the FAWNL South East Division One dominated the competition from it’s inaugural year in the 2010/11 season winning the cup 4 season’s in a row. A period away from the competition followed, before the club returned 3 season’s ago going to to make it all the way the the final last time out where they were due to face back to back winners Wymondham Town Ladies at Carrow Road only for the season to be curtailed due to the pandemic. Norwich have had a few season’s of transition finding themselves at the wrong end of the league but now under new management and with a new home at The Nest, a wonderful sporting venue newly built on the outskirts of the city are hoping to begin a new era by lifting some silverware.

 In complete contrast are Mulbarton Belles Ladies are the new kids on the block, didn’t play their first competitive fixture till 1st November 2020 and have due to the lockdown played just 6 in total. A new side reaching the final but for several Mulbarton players not the first County Cup final they’ve experienced. The original Mulbarton Belles team folding a few years back, the club was approached last year by a group of players who had fallen out with their previous club, thing’s getting messy then, the players just wanting to play football and being prevented from doing so, didn’t want to be broken up. An EGM was eventually called and although some clubs were unhappy with the decision Mulbarton Belles Ladies were allowed to join the league entering NWGFL Division One, just two matches were played however before the November lockdown hit with the NWGFL season being declared null & void after that, a temporary competition the Challenge Cup taking up the remainder of the season. The Mulbarton players taking part in a number of challenges during lockdown to raise money for charity. Know they face there toughest challenge yet with there opponents competing three leagues above.

Road to the Final

  The Norfolk Women’s County Cup returning after lockdown, Mulbarton Belles Ladies taking part in the 1st Round at home, fought out a 0-0 draw with Division Two title contenders Stalham Town Ladies eventually progressing on penalties. Mulbarton were at home again in the 2nd Round taking on fellow Division One side, Fakenham Town Women, captain Rebekah Lake on target scoring 5 goals as Mulbarton went on to win the game 10-1 to set up a quarter final tie away to ERWFL Premier Division side Wroxham Women. A tough match with Mulbarton the underdogs however they were to find the back of the net scoring the only goal of the game to book their spot in the semi-finals were they were once again at home taking on another Division One side Sprowston Athletic Ladies who themselves were mounting a strong challenge at the top end of the table before the season was curtailed. Lake putting Mulbarton 1-0, their opponents got it back to 1-1 to send the game to penalties. For the 2nd time in the competition Mulbarton came out on top in the shootout winning 3-1 to make it through to the final after just 6 competitive matches as a side.

Mulbarton celebrating after winning the penalty shootout to reach the County Cup Final (photo credit Hardy Scott Photo’s)

Norwich City Women along with ERWFL Premier Division sides, Wroxham Women and Cup holders Wymondham Town Ladies received a bye through to the quarter finals of the competition. The draw throwing out a tough tie as Norwich were drawn at home to play Wymondham, the pair due to met in the final the previous season, Women’s Football East went along to watch was a strong display from Norwich who pushed Wymondham back from the off getting players forwards whilst limiting the threat their opponents carried up the other end. For all the chances Norwich created Wymondham defended strongly and it wasn’t till late in the game another driving run from Ellie Smith forced an error seeing an own goal scored that in the end proving to be enough to send Norwich into the the semi finals. There they were drawn at home once more taking on the 2018/19 finalists King’s Lynn Town Ladies. Norwich strong in the final third once again, clinical as they wrapped up the game 7-0. Aimee Durrant scoring a hat-trick, with Natasha Snelling also on target for a brace, along with one for Ellie Smith and Megan Todd from the penalty spot to see Norwich reach back to back finals and this time getting to play.

The venue for this evenings final the FDC Bowthorpe ‘The Field of Dreams’ restrictions easing spectators are once again permitted, each club offered an allocation of tickets that were eagerly snapped up. Covid protocols in, the staff at the FDC as eager to welcome fans back as anyone else. A large grass pitch a small seated stand and snack hut on one side. The weather bright a nice evening the heavy showers we’ve suffered of late not forecast. 

Mulbarton Belles Ladies

Mulbarton Belles Ladies starting XI – Cara Anderson, Olivia Mungham-Gray, Melissa Belsey Vicky McNorton, Megan Belsey, Laura Hedtke, Alice Smith, Sophie Jermy, Ellie Hunter, Bryony Knights & Rebekah Lake (C). Subs – Morgan Devine, Annaliese Smith, Meg Anderton, Millie Cursons & Julie Robathan.

Norwich City Women

Norwich City Women starting XI – Elli-Rai Quinn Nichols, Anna Larkins, Alice Parker, Kate Parsons, Izzy Collins, Millie Daviss (C), Ellie Smith, Aimee Durrant, Kathryn Stanley, Megan Todd & Natasha Snelling. Subs – Jordan Arnoup, Brooke Osbourne, Reeanna Cook, Leilah Gooding & Jess Harper.

(roll on roll of substitutes)

   An huge lose for Mulbarton going into this evenings final having lost Alice Ladbrooke who suffered a broken bone in her leg during the semi-final against Sprowston Athletic Ladies, a midfielder with huge experience. The teams lining up around the centre circle before kick-off to firstly honour a minutes silence in memory of those lost to Covid during these traumatic times and 9 year old Jordan Banks from Blackpool who was tragically  killed by a lightning strike during a coaching session last week. This followed by a minutes applause thanking those in the NHS.

 

 It’s Norwich to get the final underway kicking off 1st half wearing yellow shirts and socks with green shorts. Mulbarton lined up opposite wearing black and blue vertical striped shirts with blue shorts and socks. Norwich send the ball long out to the left for Kathryn Stanley to attack, full back Melissa Belsey can let it run out of play for Mulbarton. Norwich quickly on the offensive playing the ball on looking to get runners through left and right, Aimee Durrant racing clear coming inside from the right, the ball skips off the surface allowing goalkeeper Cara Anderson to claim inside her box.

Anderson needing to be on her toes right from the off as Norwich midfielder, Ellie Smith grabs hold of the ball on halfway and bursts forwards into the right channel before sending it on for Durrant ahead of her, she in turn sweeps a long diagonal ball into the area, Anderson taking it into her gloves on the bounce as Megan Todd comes barrelling in. Melissa Belsey cutting the ball out at the back for Mulbarton clears it out to Ellie Hunter on the left side, turns looking to get up the pitch, as her captain Rebekah Lake providing a run ahead of her, can’t find her as Norwich’s Anna Larkins steps in to win the ball back into Smith put on for Durrant on the right, Olivia Mungham-Gray challenging for Mulbarton.

Ellie Smith bringing the ball on for Norwich

  Smith lively for Norwich, a feature of her game as she collects the ball in midfield and drives forwards with it, into space plays has Stanley coming across the top of the area, Megan Belsey lunging in to deny her the ball. Norwich stay on the right winning the first corner of the game. Fired in across the face of goal referee Cameron Saunders spots a Norwich push and awards Mulbarton the free-kick. Laura Hedtke getting hold of the ball central for Mulbarton links up with Alice Smith bringing the ball on, spreads play to Hunter on the left attempts to play it through for Lake in attack, Norwich’s Kate Parsons is tight on her ensures she doesn’t get the ball. Play is quickly turned around Smith with a strong run moving right a cross cut back along the top of the area, Vicky McNorton intercepting for Mulbarton, the defence busy in the opening five minutes, Norwich quick out of the traps. 

 GOAL! Norwich regaining possession in the middle, captain Millie Daviss with Smith close to her bringing the ball clear moving right lays it on for Durrant already on the move able to take the ball in her stride charges down to the by-line doing well to get inside her marker before flashing a dangerous ball into the six yard box Todd running in throws herself at the ball as it evades the keeper and sends it into the back of the net 0-1.

  An early blow for Mulbarton their defence under pressure from the off conceding a 6th minute goal, Norwich are straight on the attack getting another corner on the right, players up from the back the delivery long headed back in across goal, Mulbarton have players defending the post the one on the right getting a head on the ball the defence scrambling it clear. Can’t get any momentum going forwards the ball quickly back with Norwich out on the right Durrant’s cross lands on the roof of the net.

  If she can get the service Lake is as good a striker as anyone at making a run on goal, closely watched by Parsons, moves to the right as Hedtke sends an early pass up to Sophie Jermy who puts it into the channel, Lake escapes off Parsons shoulder after the ball, gains momentum as it bounces allowing goalkeeper Elli-Rai Quinn Nichols to get her gloves around it before Lake can reach it. Releases it quickly helped on Norwich line up a strike from distance 35 yards out left side, hitting the advertising boards beside Anderson’s goal. 

Natasha Snelling has the ball at her feet for Norwich in a central position 25 out, no one closes her down lines up the shot, slips however as she goes to strike the ball, screwing her effort wide off target. With Stanley, Todd, Snelling and Durrant coming on well in attack, Smith carries a threat for Norwich able to get on with the ball from midfield difficult to track isn’t allowing Mulbarton any time to settle at all. Mungham-Gray especially occupied with Durrant on the right the defender doing well stepping in to deny her on a couple of occasions. Smith surging on towards to top of the area lays it into Durrant, close to her right the winger attempting to return the pass into Smith’s run into the area, Megan Belsey with a solid piece of defending for Mulbarton.

 

   Opportunities for Mulbarton to get forwards rare, Smith getting it out to Hunter on the left she sends a crossfield ball up to Jermy coming central from the right 20 yards out hits it her her effort blocked, rebounds back down to Smith who hits it from a long way out, Izzy Collins cutting the shot out for Norwich. Hunter on the ball left for Mulbarton shifts it getting on up the line Lake coming over to her side offering the passing option, Hunter checks inside looking to get inside Larkins, Collins coming across to support the full back winning the challenge for Norwich. Stanley is caught offside as Mulbarton step out well at the back. 

Mulbarton’s Ellie Hunter

  Todd powers her way through the middle bringing the ball on stopped by McNorton. Parsons delivers a fantastic long pass from the back over the top for Snelling to chase, Anderson from a good starting position able to get to the edge of her area to see the ball safely into her gloves. Smith with space on the ball attempts to put it on into the right channel for Lake to attack, turns Parsons angling to get a yard on her, Parsons though lunges into the tackle taking the ball away from the striker. Collins at the back for Norwich into Smith left fires it into Snelling top of the area left come lays it off for Stanley making the run on the left flank, turns inside heading into the box, Melissa Belsey tackling well for Mulbarton denying an opportunity on goal.

Norwich captain, Millie Daviss

  Smith charges into space with the ball right side has Snelling attacking the near post plays the ball looking for her, Megan Belsey with the striker sliding in to take the ball for Mulbarton, can’t get it away however Norwich getting a throw on the right Durrant inside for Larkins getting upfield she whips a cross in from the top corner of the area flashes wide across the Mulbarton area, Stanley racing in far post can’t quite get there as it evades the goal by the merest of fractions. Norwich on top, Mulbarton can’t get any respite, even when they do win a free-kick Norwich are quick to win it back and turn play around Smith putting an early ball in for Durrant central getting clear of the defence once again however Anderson comes well to take at the top of her area. 

  The woodwork comes to the rescue for Mulbarton as Durrant 25 yards plus out right side attempts the strike fired in well on the angle over Anderson, smashes against the bar and spins out to the left. Megan Belsey called into action does well against Snelling as she drives at the area from a central position off Todd’s pass. Norwich using the width well Stanley left firing a dangerous ball into the area is just behind Snelling at the far post, Durrant out right looks to retrieve checks inside but doesn’t get the better of Mungham-Gray. 

Mulbarton’s Olivia Mungham-Gray holding off Norwich’s Aimee Durrant

   Norwich with a corner on the right side a pinpoint delivery fired into the six yard box met firmly by Parsons who sees her header driven up to smash down off the crossbar. Mulbarton scramble it out of their box but it comes straight back a shot fired wide left of the D. Both the Belsey twins, McNorton and Mungham-Gray are battling to keep Norwich at bay in defence for Mulbarton the FAWNL side coming forwards in waves it’s a question of how much pressure can be soaked up can’t get the ball up to Lake. Larkins up with Durrant on the right the ball fired into the area comes to Stanley wide of the far post lay it off for Smith charging in towards the top of the area her low strike comes straight into Anderson. Mungham-Gray defends on Smith as the midfielder attempts to skip into the area making a right channel run as Snelling brings the ball on through the middle.

 GOAL! A feature of the game as Norwich double there lead the ball plays direct diagonally from the middle out to Durrant getting in behind on the right side Anderson coming out to close her down, Durrant gets there first this time, getting her foot up onto the ball to send it past the advancing keeper and bounce on into the goal beyond 0-2. 

Aimee Durrant putting Norwich 2 up

  Norwich’s Daviss plays the ball on for Stanley left the ball crossed into the area Smith central attacking it on the penalty spot, Megan Belsey with a last gasp tackle sliding in on her does enough, blocking the shot deflecting Smith’s attempt over. Mulbarton are attempting to get out of there area following a corner on the right, Collins getting it back to Larkins right crossing from deep falls to Parsons still up from the back at the far post 10 yards out gets up well putting power into her downwards header, on target Anderson with a fantastic save diving to her right to push the ball away. 

 GOAL! The clock running down in the first half there is no let up from Norwich, Smith with another powerful run from the middle onto the D put it inside to Stanley furthest forwards meets the pass with a clipped shot that sees the ball loop up and fly beyond the keeper to nestle in the back of the goal 0-3. 

 Norwich finish the half strong Smith getting on with the ball 20 out looking to put it into the path of Durrant travelling into the area, Megan Belsey making the challenge for Mulbarton.

Half-time Mulbarton Belles Ladies 0-3 Norwich City Women

  A strong first half performance from Norwich see them in a strong position leading 3-0 at the break. Right from the off were at the Mulbarton defence, there attackers providing strong runs left and right and through the middle. With Daviss sitting in midfield Smith has been able to come on at will the Mulbarton defence busy, little opportunity to get the ball into Lake up top cause a few questions up the other end. Alot of work put in by the Mulbarton defence would have taken alot out of them, hard to see their being any respite 2nd half. 

Laura Hedtke with the ball for Mulbarton

  A change for Mulbarton with Meg Anderton joining the action the floodlights starting to take affect the surface slick no with a coating of dew. Mulbarton getting the 2nd half underway. The ball put long to the right Lake having Jermy up with her lays it back for her to send into the box as lake spins in behind, Quinn-Nichols coming across can claim the ball on the bounce before anything can come of it. Norwich come up the right the ball on for Snelling clear for a moment (is in theory on a hat-trick having gotten credited for both Durrant’s and Stanley’s first half goals) attempts to lob the advancing keeper, however doesn’t get it wide enough allowing Anderson to pluck it down. 

Mulbarton captain, Rebekah Lake (phot credit Hardy Scott Photos)

  A mazy run from Durrant on the right, shifts the ball inside evading Mungham-Gray’s sliding challenge firing a cross into the box Smith arriving meeting it first time blasting her effort wide. Hedtke plays the ball on for Jermy, Lake comes to receive the pass, 30 yards out, attempts to peel around Parsons, but the ball is there for Alice parker to clear. Snelling advancing on the right as the ball is fed up the line, Megan Belsey sliding in to take the ball off her feet away for a throw. 

Norwich’s Natasha Snelling

Hedtke finding a little room in the centre fires it through for Lake to attack central, getting momentarily away from Parsons the centre back recovers well throwing herself into the lunging tackle to block the run of Lake deflect the ball away to the right. Norwich get bodies up on the left Parker sending it on for Stanley, Smith going with her powering towards the top of the area Melissa Belsey sliding into the tackle, grounded as Stanley is able to gather the loose ball send it back into the crowd Snelling is upended a penalty given.

 GOAL! Parsons comes up from the back to take the set-piece placing the ball on the spot, takes it confidently opening her body sending the keeper the wrong way to stroke a low shot home 0-4.

Norwich adding to their lead early in the 2nd half. Durant full of running on the left jinks inside looking to go beyond Mungham-Gray however the full back recovers lunging into the tackle taking it away from Durrant, Megan Belsey clearing from inside the box. Larkins up on the right lofts a cross in towards the near post, Anderson catching well not distracted by the onrushing Todd. Changes for Norwich as they bring off Todd and Durrant, Reeanna Cook and Brooke Osbourne. 

  Mungham-Gray with a timely interception as Smith prods it on for Norwich having drifted over to the right. Norwich with a corner on the right players up Cook putting it in near post goes through a mass of bodies out to the far side kept in by Snelling lays it up to the top of the area for Collins her diagonal ball in claimed well by Anderson. 

 GOAL! Norwich stretching the tiring Mulbarton defence now get away on the right Snelling taking the ball on in behind to the by-line before sending a looping cross in along the face of goal, Stanley arriving unmarked far post with a simple nod in from all of a foot out 0-5.

  On come Norwich as Daviss dispossesses Hedtke in the middle play out to Osbourne on the right, tries to pick out Snellings central run Melissa Belsey just about getting in front of her to defend take it out of the area. Smith seeing a goal ruled out for offside, as Parker plays it up the left for Stanley sees Smith on the move but the midfielder strays beyond the defence before the ball is played. Parker on for Stanley left side again keeps it in taking it on up the line checking back inside to evade the tackle lets fly from the angle 20 yards out her shot straight into Anderson. 

  Lake evades Parsons in behind her as Hedtke feeds her a good through ball central, Collins is quickly round on the cover getting shoulder to shoulder with lake easing her off the ball. Smith up on the right with Osbourne ahead of her, the pair link well before Smith puts it into the path of Snelling attacking right of the D, Megan Belsey back tracking lunging to deflect the ball up and away for a corner kick. Cook firing in a dangerous ball to the far post Snelling getting under the ball powering a header towards goal the Mulbarton woodwork claiming a hat-trick of it’s own as for the 3rd time a Norwich player sees an attempt at goal denied by the crossbar!

 Norwich bring on Jess Harper for Larkins. Annaliese Smith comes on for Mulbarton replacing Melissa Belsey. The pace of the game slowing with the changes Norwich have made, having used the pitch well with a healthy lead are content to let Mulbarton come on a bit hit them on the counter. Smith still full of running charging on for Norwich, Megan Belsey standing up to her inside the area blocking her effort, Smith getting a 2nd bite puts it straight at the keeper. Megan Belsey goes down suffering from cramp a pause in play follows. Daviss off for Norwich with Leilah Gooding being sent on. One Belsey twin replaces the other with Melissa returning to the action for Megan.

  Osbourne springing the offside trap on the right getting down the line checking inside allows Mungham-Gray the opportunity to tackle the corner conceded. Anderson can’t get it near post, the defence scrambling it away beyond as Stanley goes to attack it. 

 GOAL! A well worked 6th goal for Norwich with the game moving into the final quarter hour coming on up the left the ball on for Stanley into the area her momentum risking her taking he ball out of play performs the back heel sending it straight to the on rushing Snelling, defenders drawn to her the number 10 sends it straight back to Stanley who from the angle six yards out strikes it on the rise to loop up across the keeper and in at the far post 0-6. A cup final hat-trick for Stanley.

A cup final hat-trick for Norwich’s Kathryn Stanley

  Mulbarton bring on Julia Robathan to replace Melissa Belsey. The substitute with the ball straight away playing it out wide to Anderton on the left sends a diagonal ball in towards the near post is intercepted by Gooding for Norwich. The game moving into the final 10 minutes Anderson to the top of her area gathering the ball in a both Snelling and Osbourne race in behind after a ball from Smith. Morgan Devine coming on for Mulbarton replacing Hedtke. Stanley hitting a shot on the run from 20 yards out in the right channel seeing it run wide. Her last action of the game as she comes off with Todd back on. 

  Lake keeps trying to get free up top, goes after a ball put on from Robathan down the right gets inside the full back into the box, too much on it however as Quinn-Nichols comes to collect near post. Norwich striking from distance put across the area takes a slight deflection the ball out for a corner kick.

 GOAL! Players up from the back the delivery fired in with pace from the left into the six yard box, the ball dangerous head height is met firmly by Parsons who powers the header home 0-7.

  Mulbarton have given it there all players are struggling now but still battling hard in defence, Todd through the left channel sending it on for Snelling, Smith and McNorton close in on her outside the area the ball deflected back to Todd behind she strikes the shot her goal bound effort pushed away well by Anderson diving at her far post. The game moving into stoppage time Parsons off with Daviss sent back on. Todd with on final strike on goal from all of 30 yards out held by Anderson.

Full time Mulbarton Belles Ladies 0-7 Norwich City Women

  The final whistle blows and 7 years since they last lifted the trophy Norwich win 7-0 to be crowned County Cup winners again. A strong performance right from the first minute stayed on the front foot throughout the front 4 dangerous a constant threat backed up by Smith in the centre. Taking an early lead were comfortable at 3-0 at the break carrying on where they left off in the 2nd half. A valiant effort from Mulbarton who were no match on the day battled hard in defence throughout. Reaching a cup final in your debut season a magical achievement.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

Onto this evening’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. A few performances to mention can’t single out a single defender for Mulbarton they all battled hard putting in some vital challenges throughout had to soak up alot of pressure. Going forwards Norwich were strong relentless. Amy Durrant out on the right. Natasha Snelling through the middle. A close run thing in the end though, between two players, Ellie Smith’s runs from the middle proving impossible to stop, edging it though and agreeing with official award has to be Kathryn Stanley great movement off the ball got into some fantastic positions and took her hat-trick superbly.

Kathryn Stanley collecting the PoM award for this evenings final

Fantastic too to see a good crowd at a football match again 180 in attendance. The whole occasion run well by the staff at the FDC. Norwich City Women the 2020/21 Norfolk County Cup Winners. Congratulations.

Norwich City Women win the 2020/21 County Cup

  Great to be at a final once again has been too long, an enjoyable occasion all round. My thanks to everyone at the FDC for their help this evening much appreciated. Great to catch up with a few football friends too.

by Darren Gilham