Sunday 24th November
ERWFL Division One North
League action this weekend on Women’s Football East, a game from the ERWFL Division One North, newly promoted Needham Market Women hosting Newmarket Town Ladies.
A meeting between two sides that have several similarities, a young talented squad looking to make an impact. Needham Market Women just over a year old formed during last summer made a great start one of several new sides competing in an expanded Suffolk Women’s Division. Made a strong debut pushing eventual champions East Bergholt United Ladies all the way in the title race aswell as reaching the finals of both the League and County Cup. Moving straight up to join the ERWFL along with East Bergholt, the club setting up a new Reserves side to compete the the Suffolk Women’s Division, going well with a 100% record after 7 games played.
Freya Louis one of the youngest managers around looking after the 1st team and pretty much involved with everything to do with the club. Passionate about her role and loving it to the max, writes the Happy Gaffer blog in her spare time and most recently has set up the #WeAre twitter account with the aim to celebrate females in all roles within the game and to encourage more participation, to find out more go to and follow @UK_WeAre
Stepping up to the regional set-up Needham Market into Division One split into two divisions this season North & South. Are in the North league along with East Bergholt, Cambridge City Ladies Development and Gorleston Ladies also new this season with AFC Sudbury, Histon, King’s Lynn and Newmarket seeing 8 competing. Has been a stop start season so far for Needham Market which can often be the case for ERWFL in the first half of the season. 3 league games played so far yielding 4 points. Cup games dominating for the large part the early stage of the League Cup seeing the Division One teams divided up into 4 groups of 4 playing each other once with the group winners going on to join the Premier Division sides in the knockout stages, Needham Market topping Group C. Lois Balfour featuring for the first team today, prolific in front of goal for the Reserves so far this season with 28 goals from just 7 appearances.
Newmarket Town Ladies beginning their 2nd season playing in the ERWFL made a solid debut upon stepping up into regional league football, quickly found their feet in a highly competitive single division last season eventually finishing in fifth spot. On top of that won silverware as they reached the final of the ERWFL Plate beating Histon Ladies to lift the trophy. Reestablishing a Development side this season, Craig Boneham coming in to take charge of the 1st team as the club looks to push on once again. The ERWFL Division One North looking a strong league this season Newmarket have 7 points from their opening 5 games, young striker Annabel Cuthbert finding her form in front of goal early netting 16 goals so far this season from 10 played.
Bloomfields the venue for today’s game home of Needham Market FC, it’s women’s sides part of a wider club and academy. The Hub cafe & bar was in construction the last time I visited now build dominating as you enter the ground the grass pitch beyond overlooking the 3G pitch where today’s game will be played. Two stories the ground floor home to the changing facilities, the upper floor housing a conference room and the cafe itself serving hot and cold food and drinks a balcony for viewing surrounding it. A smart looking set-up. A hive of activity very much a community feel to the place. Pity the weather was rubbish, dull and overcast, the rain though should stay away. A game taking place on the 3G on arrival would run into the next game causing a delay in kick-off so both sides can get warmed up properly.
Needham Market Women starting XI – Freya Louis, Jodie Sharp, Ashleigh Goddard, Maria Smith, Amy Dunn, Sasha Diston (C), Taylor Cooke, Amber Sparkes, Francesca Rainbird, Lois Balfour & Annie Northwood. Subs – Megan Stock.
Newmarket Town Women starting XI – Elli-Rai Quinn-Nichols, Rebecca Towler, Holly Dryland, Beth Woodfield (C), Chloe Slater, Jess Linger, Antonia Smith, Laura Brame, Molly Agnew, Lauren Deller & Annabel Cuthbert. Subs – Yasmin Woodfield, Hannah Rogers, Jordanne Sillitoe & Layla Weston.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
A few players missing for Needham Market only able to name the one substitute, manager Freya Louis donning the goalkeeping gloves today with 1st choice keeper Amber leeks out injured. Newmarket naming two 16-year-old Development players amongst their squad today Rebecca Towler and Layla Weston. Needham Market to get the first half underway wearing an all red kit with yellow trim. Newmarket lined up opposite wearing yellow shirts and socks with blue shorts. Back to the defence Newmarket quick to close down on the right forcing a throw, Needham market build again through the middle captain Sasha Diston bringing a wealth of experience to Needham Market having joined in the summer playing the ball forwards into Lois Balfour she lays it out to the left wing, Francesca Rainbird racing down the line fizzing in a cross towards the near post Newmarket captain Beth Woodfield racing in clearing despite goalkeeper Elli-Rai Quinn-Nichols well placed to pick up.
Newmarket bring the ball out from the back central forwards into attacker Lauren Deller, spots Molly Agnew making a run on the left putting the pas into her feet she takes it on Jodie Sharp, another of Needham Market’s summer recruits playing right back getting back across Agnew to defend and play the ball back to her keeper to clear. Woodfield plays a fantastic pass from the back out long to the rights to set Laura Brame away recently joining Newmarket was at Needham Market at the beginning of the season. Against her former club takes the ball in behind a good turn of pace letting fly from the angle her shot over the bar.
Brame played in again on the right after another superb ball from Woodfield at the back taking the ball on travelling into the box Maria Smith sliding on to tackle brilliantly for Needham Market the ball sent behind for a corner kick. The corner delivered near side Woodfield running forwards to meet it getting a firm header on the ball looming high into the air dropping over the goal.
Rainbird getting hold of the ball for Needham market left side threads a pass through to Annie Northwood in attack, joining from rival East Bergholt United scoring 40 goals last season. Northwood touching the ball looks to shift inside to get a shot away inside the box, well read and defended by Newmarket centre back Chloe Slater. Maria Smith with another fine piece of defending on Annabel Cuthbert central as Deller almost slides her through in behind, the ball put back to Louis to kick clear. Holly Dryland up on halfway as Newmarket lose the ball does well defensively to stop Needham market getting away on the wing.
Needham Market win the ball back central put forwards into Amber Sparkes she plays the ball forwards with the outside of her boot scooping it over the Newmarket defence for Northwood getting in behind moving to the right into the area sends a shot in low across the keeper, Quinn-Nicholls down well throwing out a glove to push the ball wide of the far post for a corner. A god delivery in from the right through the six yard box, Diston the target gets no contact retrieved by Sparkes hooks the ball over her head back across the face of goal Diston inches away again.
Diston with a strike from distance off a throw in on the left side sets her sights from 40 yards out on target one bounce in the box, Quinn-Nichols catching safely right behind it. Newmarket pressing well showing good movement intercepting more than one mislaid Needham Market pass and getting it forwards quickly, Deller finding room coming for the ball, Brame and Agnew outlets on either flank. Nearly pays off as Agnew is played in right side squaring a cross into Cuthbert top of the area a great piece of skill to wrong foot the defence and get into the box, Maria Smith recovering fantastic to dive in make the challenge put the ball away for the corner before Cuthbert can pull the trigger.
GOAL! Closing in on the opening 20 minutes and Newmarket open the scoring. From the corner kick put in from the right Woodfield making the run once again closer in across goal, forcing the error Diston getting her head on the ball to her dismay sends it into her own goal 0-1.
Needham Market haven’t settled not giving themselves enough time on the ball in the early stages Sparkes gets hold of the ball 40 yards out and battles her way forwards riding a couple of tackles before shooting from the top of the box, the ball straight into Quinn-Nicholls back on her line. Sparks has Sharp making a run on the overlap right side puts her in taking it to the line sends in a cross along the top of the six yard box the ball cut out by Slater.
Sparkes showing intent in attack getting on for Needham Market a great pass forwards putting her in by Diston central Sparkes quick takes the ball into the area, right of goal has it in her sights Slater coming to close opts to take another tough into the six yard box wide of the post turns inside looking to knock it past the keeper and shoot, Quinn-Nicholls down at her feet makes the save. Needham Market creating opportunities now have a free-kick wide on the left the ball flighted in goes long Taylor Cooke hooking it back in across goal beyond the far post met first time by Northwood fired over.
Antonia Smith and Jess Linger working well together in the centre of Newmarket frustrating Needham Market as they look to play the ball though the middle, Rainbird always ready to break on the left for Needham Market almost in behind, Rebecca Towler getting in close to tackle and deny the cross. Louis races out of her area to get to the ball first as Cuthbert is played in behind by Antonia Smith getting forwards as Brame wins the ball. Amy Dunn coming to help Sharp on the right as Agnew receives from Deller in the middle.
Balfour on the ball high on the right for Needham Market passing central for Diston getting forwards good work on the ball dinks it over the top into the area for Northwood great control with her first before shooting lifting the ball high but straight at Quinn-Nicholls, gloves up palms it down coolly. Cuthbert has been almost gotten away from the Needham Market defence on a few ocassions playing off the shoulder of the last defender, more often than not Maria Smith has been the defender making the vital tackle. The home sides turning play around quickly look to get Sparkes away central as she comes inside, Dryland getting her toe on the ball to deflect it away from her into the box for Quinn-Nichols to clear.
GOAL! Late in the first half Newmarket double their lead Brame running with the ball on the right in behind crosses into the box, Louis coming out to that side gets her fists on the ball, pushes it out of her area, but it well out of position as the ball falls straight to Deller 20 yards out puts her foot through the ball rifling it into the back of the empty net 0-2.
Sparkes seems intent on taking the whole Newmarket defence on at once as she picks up the ball 35 yards out central forces her way forwards checking back inside the D, spots Rainbird to the left breaking in behind attempts to chip the ball to her, Woodfield getting hold of it clearing for Newmarket.
GOAL! Time almost up first half, Needham Market frustrated so far getting a late lifeline on the attack Balfour lifting the pass forwards for Rainbird racing on into the box, Quinn-Nichols to the ball first knocking in away from the winger, does claim however as Rainbird gets back on her to steal possession and roll the ball into the empty net beyond 1-2.
On last attack for Newmarket Deller taking the ball on down the left, Sharp quick staying with her for Needham Market putting in a good challenge to win the ball back.
Half-time Needham Market Women 1-2 Newmarket Town Women
2-1 to Newmarket at half-time, a late life line for Needham Market giving them something to take into the first half. Good chances created by both sides the goals however all coming from errors. An intriguing contest, Newmarket settling the quicker looking a threat out wide and Deller picking up the ball finding space. Needham Market frustrated passes not finding their marked have more time on the ball than they are giving themselves. The game still very much there for the taking.
No changes at the break the floodlights coming on Newmarket to get the 2nd half underway. Sparkes on the attack straight away forcing her way forwards brought down 30 yards out winning a free-kick. On the set-piece herself goes for goal on target finds its way through but not troubling Quinn-Nichols. A positive start from the hosts on the offence driving forwards Sharp running in behind on the right delivering a low cross into the area takes a deflection sending it behind for a corner.
GOAL! Needham Market straight back on level terms at the start of the 2nd half an inswinging corner falling into the six yard box takes an unfortunate deflection of a Newmarket defender sending it straight into the path of Diston close in to stab over the line and equalise 2-2.
Needham Market fired up now coming forwards a fantastic through ball to set Northwood away into the area clear left of goal fires a low drive across goal, Quinn-Nichols down well to save pushing the ball wide well away from danger. Newmarket win the ball central Linger into Brame left forwards to Cuthbert making a run into the channel the striker carrying the ball inside looking for a shooting opportunity tackled by Dunn, the ball spins loose to Deller central her first time strike charged down.
Newmarket make a double change Towler and Agnew coming off on come Yasmin Woodfield and Jordanne Sillitoe. Linger a threat from any dead ball situation, over a free-kick 40 yards out, plays the ball into the box swinging towards the far post, Louis doesn’t catch the ball dropping wide of goal. Diston plays a nice crossfield pass 30 yards out left into Sharp advancing into the area on the right catching it on the volley blasts into the side netting. Needham Market make a change Sparkes the player off Megan Stock on comes over to left back with Goddard switching to the right Sharp pushed forwards. Goddard called into action right side straight away defending well as Cuthbert controlling the ball 25 yards out looks to shift and shoot.
Anyone’s game at the moment Needham Market coming back well, both sides looking to get forwards. Sharp getting clear on the right into the corner does well to get a cross towards the top of the six yards box, think it’s Balfour racing in near post stooping into the header, sends the attempt wide across goal. Stock linking up with Rainbird bringing the ball out from the back the latter crossing along the top of the area Northwood receiving looks to tie up Balfour inside the box, Beth Woodfield in between the strikers intercepts the pass. Newmarket make another change Layla Weston coming on for Deller.
Goddard shown the first yellow card of the game for a somewhat ungainly challenge on Cuthbert as she attempts to break into the box. The free-kick in a dangerous position 20 yards out left of the D, Linger over the ball takes on the shot, on target Louis with a superb save tipping it over the bar, is rather pleased with her effort. The resulting corner sees Slater almost steal in around the back to poke out a boot stab towards goal her shot blocked. Needham Market hit Newmarket on the counter Northwood carrying the ball down the left all the way into the area closing in on goal drags her shot wide of the near post. The game entering he final 15 minutes Sharp causing problems for Newmarket on the right in attack a surging run with the ball towards the ball Slater tackling the ball behind for the corner.
GOAL! Needham Market come back from 2-0 down to take the lead for the first time in the match. The corner from the right into a congested six yard box Quinn-Nichols up amongst bodies gets her fist on the ball knocks it down and straight at Rainbird back on the penalty spot an instinctive hit lifts her shoot back in an down off the underside of the crossbar 3-2.
Newmarket respond straight away with a substitution, Hannah Rogers on Brame coming off. Needham Market lively getting players forwards Rainbird continuing to carry a threat on the left winning a corner. Diston making thing’s tick in the middle for Needham Market now coming inside of a throw in right side drags a shot narrowly wide from 20 yards out. The game open Needham Market on the attack, Newmarket still carrying a threat up the other end Cuthbert pushing the ball central for Sillitoe can’t get a clean connection as she throws herself into the shot.
Newmarket come forwards Antonia Smith playing it on for Cuthbert on the left comes infield is challenged the ball deflected spins out to Sillitoe right comes inside top of the area into a shooting position a shot curled in low Louis diving to her right making the save.
GOAL! Needham Market get down the other end win a corner on the right the delivery in with pace attacked near side missed runs across goal, Balfour racing after it to retrieve left side turns an fires the ball in towards the near post, Northwood sticking out a leg meets the ball turning it into the back of the net to give the hosts a 2 goal cushion late in the match 4-2.
Needham Market come forwards Balfour playing her pass out to Rainbird advancing on the left shoots towards the near post Quinn-Nichols down to make the save. Sharp on the opposite flank striking the ball on the run blasting it wide across goal. Time running out Needham Market starting to put everyone behind the ball Newmarket press forwards, Dunn and Maria Smith solid through out the game.
GOAL! Into stoppage time a last gasp free-kick wide on the right for Newmarket Linger to delivery played long to the far post knocked down back across goal, defended on the line the block putting it straight into Sillitoe to smash home from close range pull a goal back 4-3.
No time left however for another attack the final whistle blows and Needham Market record back to back wins in the league to join Newmarket on 7 points.
Full time Needham Market Women 4-3 Newmarket Town Ladies
A thoroughly entertaining match this afternoon, Needham Market coming back from trailing 2- to win the game 4-3. Newmarket having the best of the 1st half causing Needham market problems creating chances forcing errors. A vital goal coming late in the 1st period for Needham Market began the 2nd half strongly straight back on level terms. The game wide open for a spell, Needham Market taking the lead and getting a 2 goal cushion, Newmarket never out of it pulling one back late hadn’t enough time left to find another.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match, several contenders out there. Lauren Deller for Newmarket scoring their 2nd goal, finding pockets of space between midfield and defence almost had Cuthbert in on goal on a couple of ocassions. For Needham Market I’ve mentioned the centre backs a few times, Maria Smith in particular with some great tackles first half to prevent Newmarket shooting. Jodie Sharp in defence but mostly in attack a threat on the right as was Francesca Rainbird on the left. Have gone for Sasha Diston overall strong in the middle the engine for Needham Market a good range of passing bringing others into play and winning the ball.
An enjoyable trip to Bloomfields, an entertaining match, always competitive in the ERWFL, never disappoints. My thanks to both clubs for the team line-ups much appreciated.