Wednesday 1st March
Norfolk Women’s Division One
Midweek football action from Norfolk Women’s Division One, a short trip for myself down to Mundford Road to watch a clash between 3rd vs 4th, Thetford Town Ladies taking on Mulbarton Belles Ladies.
Division One being lead by Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers FC Ladies out in front from the start one of the favourites for the title along side defending champions, Mulbarton Belles Ladies who have games in hand. With a strong battle for a top 4 finish below with Thetford Town Ladies very much in the mix.
Thetford Town Ladies under the stewardship of manger Dave Skipp have grown to become an established and competitive side at the top end of Norfolk Women’s Division One over recent season’s enjoying great support from Thetford Town FC. Skipp now standing down from the role moving on along with former assistant Stuart Terry. Luke Pickford is now in charge of the side, inheriting a strong talented group with Amber Browne becoming assistant coach.
Looking to progress to the next level have made 2 strong additions to their attack in Laura Martins and Kamile Omelevlclute who have scored 22 goals between them so far this season including the goals that saw Thetford make it to their 1st ever final in the League Cup on Sunday. Trailing 1-0 to UEA FC Women 3 goals in an 8 minute burst saw Thetford turn it around with Martins heading home and Omelevlclute netting a brace. Currently 3rd in the Division One it’s now about nurturing a belief within the squad that they can regularly compete at the top end of the table. One major injury blow have lost experienced centre back Rachel Lynch to an ACL injury .
Mulbarton Belles Ladies were born out of turmoil, basically Thorpe United’s 1st team after their split from the club, going with manager Martin Francis to Mulbarton Wanderers, who have embraced having a women’s side. A already strong and united squad becoming Division One champions last season have grown in terms of playing talent to form a new Development team going strong in their debut season in Division Two. Plus a side in the ever popular Norfolk Women’s 7s league leading Division One along with making it to the final of the League Cup.
Rebekah Lake is one of the best strikers in the county a nightmare for defenders and prolific in front of goal captaining the side has 11 goals listed so far this season. Has a new strike partner with Mulbarton another side to recruit following the withdrawal of Wymondham Town Ladies from the FAWNL. Francesca Catchpole with the potential to become one of the leading strikers in the county herself putting away 12 goals in 6 appearances since joining the club. With plenty of games left to add to their tally’s 2 thirds of the season gone, Mulbarton have played just a third of their games 6 so far with a 100% record and with games in hand they can catch Dussindale & Hellesdon who they have to play twice yet. So from a game a month due to cups competitions and call offs it’s now full on action from now till the end of the season while reaching the semi-final of both the League Plate and County Cup (where they beat Thetford 4-0 in the quarter finals) a large squad is going to come in handy.
Mundford Road the venue for this evenings game, the grass pitch a good size offering plenty of width. The clubhouse open serving hot and cold drinks beside the main seated stand with the changing rooms beneath. Entering March the weather still unseasonably pleasant dry with no rain around, still if a slight chill in the air. Bit of a last minute call for this evenings game with the car needing so TLC at the garage to get me back on the road, it’s done a few miles covering women’s football.
Thetford Town Ladies starting XI – Millie Askins, Sausha Levy-Twomey, Erin Lloyd, Mia Bambury, Georgia Parker, Dayna Howard, Courtney Musgrove, Melissa Boulton (C) Laura Martins, Chelsea Paige & Rebecca White. Subs – Shannon Richardson, Hannah Rogers, Abbie Corbyn & Kerby Colgan.
Mulbarton Belles Ladies starting XI – Cara Anderson, Megan Belsey, Lucy Lincoln, Olivia Smith, Melissa Belsey, Laura Hedtke, Alice Smith, Ellie Hunter, Sophie Jermy, Francesca Catchpole & Rebekah Lake (C). Subs – Aneliese Smith, Emma Farmer, Alice Ladbrooke, Charlotte Groves & Molly Ryan.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
Thetford without Kamile Omelevlclute who picked up a knock at the weekend, naming 4 on the bench. This the first of a run of 6 away matches for Mulbarton have a squad of 16 for this evenings match with plenty of experience on the bench. Thetford to get the first half underway wearing an all claret kit with sky blue across the shoulders of the shirts. Mulbarton opposite lined up wearing blue and black vertical striped shirts with blue shorts and socks. The ball rolled back to Dayna Howard in midfield lifted out to the right for Laura martins to attack, Olivia Smith dealing with the threat for Mulbarton the ball out for a throw.
Mulbarton quickly on the front foot surging forwards on the left Francesca Catchpole putting the ball on for Sophie Jermy with support from captain Rebekah Lake the shot fired in on the angle to the near post palmed away by Thetford goalkeeper, Millie Askins. Pushing Thetford back into their own half the hosts attempting to get the ball forwards to captain Melissa Boulton on the left, Melissa Belsey clearing for Mulbarton the ball lifted forwards into the right channel taken on by Ellie Hunter checking back inside to strike the ball from outside the box, Askins with a firm call to claim covering her near post.
A pause in player with Thetford having a player down, attacker, Rebecca White struggling with an injury can’t play on Thetford forced into an early change with Shannon Richardson coming on. Askins quickly out to the edge of the box to get hold of the ball before Lake can run onto a forward pass from Hunter into the right channel. Mulbarton with a throw high on the left the cross whipped into the area headed clear by Erin Lloyd.
GOAL! Mulbarton making a strong start to the game competing for the ball high up the pitch Jermy attempting to slip the through ball in central for Lake at the top of the area, Askins out to get to it first sending the ball clear, as the defence look to clear there lines Melissa Belsey with it for Mulbarton on for Jermy has Lake pulling off the centre back into the D rolls it forwards Lake running onto the ball closing in on goal to the right shoots sending it low across the keeper into the bottom corner 0-1.
Thetford pressed back in defence struggling to get the ball forwards, Martins with a great pass out from the centre to Boulton left side as the host look for a rapid counter, lifts the diagonal pass on attempting to ick out Chelsea Page running through the middle, too much on it goalkeeper Cara Anderson can clear for Mulbarton. Thetford with a couple of positive attacks getting the ball on quickly with Martins on the right stretching Mulbarton her pass inside finding Boulton central coming into the box, Anderson rushing out to close her done, Boulton snatching her effort sending it wide of the right post.
GOAL! No sooner have Thetford shown a couple of bright openings they are hit at the back conceding a 2nd goal, Mulbarton winning the ball on halfway fed out to the left, Catchpole delivering a threatening cross into the six yard box, Lake closing in on the keeper getting her foot up to knock the bouncing ball wide of Askins to score 0-2.
The visitors 2 goals to the good inside the opening 12 minutes. Mulbarton soon regain possession from the restart Jermy onto Catchpole left played through for Lake, Sausha Levy-Twomey defending for Thetford getting a foot up to take the ball away from the attacker conceding a corner kick. The corner delivered in towards the near post, Howard with a firm header clearing for Thetford. The hosts on the back foot pressed on the ball can’t get out of their half Mulbarton up closing the ball down forcing errors.
Levy-Twomey in again on Lake to cut out the pass as Lucy Lincoln sends the ball forwards through the middle from halfway. Another injury concern for Thetford with their keeper down inside the box. Another lengthy pause while Askins is assessed up gingerly is okay to continue for now.
GOAL! Lake getting in the clear inside the box to complete a quick fire 1st half hat-trick, getting onto the end of a fantastic diagonal ball from Melissa Besley bursting clear of the defence moving left of goal sending her shot back across the keeper to score her 3rd 0-3.
20 minutes played Mulbarton with a strong grip on the game, Howard back to help the defence heading the ball away from inside the box. Mulbarton’s defence untroubled pushed up to the halfway line condensing play Alice Smith out to Olivia Smith forwards for Lake coming across the the left corner of the area her crossed lifted into the six yard box, headed clear by Howard a corner conceded on the right. Melissa Besley with a dangerous ball flashed in across the face of the Thetford goal, midfielder Laura Hedtke free at the far post can’t quite get to it.
Mulbarton relentless coming at Thetford, Jermy into Catchpole left her ball low into the box cut out by Parker. Does go far before Mulbarton have possession back out left the cross fed into the top of the area, Levy-Twoney clearing for Thetford. No pressure on the Mulbarton defence, Alice Smith picking out Catchpole on the left outside the box lines up a strike the ball put over the crossbar. Hunter on for Lake running on right corner getting a throw. Courtney Musgrove with a great tackle on Lake in the box as she plays a one two with Catchpole coming on through the left channel the ball cleared out for a corner.
No let up from Mulbarton pressing up against Thetford compacting their midfield and defence any clearances being tidied up b the defence. Melissa Belsey finding her range with her passes lifting the ball on for Lake to attack right inside the box, Parker across to nip in an clear for a throw ahead of her for Thetford. Parker again in to clear for Thetford at the right post as Hedtke hooks a looping ball in towards goal from inside the D.
Little for Thetford to ease the pressure Musgrove clearing at the back the hosts make good progress down the right Page running with the ball, pace playing it inside for Martins making a central run 20 yards out her first time strike a warning for Mulbarton as it whips narrowly over the crossbar.
A corner for Mulbarton on the right a congested six yard box as the ball comes flying in at the near post, players collide the ball attacked as Askins goes to claim it, the keeper going down, play stopped for the injured players to be treated. A long delay not looking good for Thetford’s goalkeeper unfortunately can’t continue, defender Erin Lloyd to don the gloves with Abbie Corbyn coming on.
Mulbarton preparing a triple change bring off Melissa Belsey, Hunter and Jermy with Emma Farmer, Molly Ryan and Charlotte Groves coming on. Groves a very talented midfielder often starring for the old Thorpe United side now re-joining her ex-teammates at Mulbarton scoring 9 goals in 9 games for the Development side in her return to the game. Lloyd soon involved in the action taking the ball down cleanly from a 25 yard strike.
Richardson and Page combine on the right attacking for Thetford, Alice Smith getting across to break up play for Mulbarton. Farmer at right back for Mulbarton on the move with the ball passing inside to Alice Smith, gives her the return pass sending it on to try and find Lake up top, Parker intercepting for Thetford. Mulbarton have another corner on the right in at the near post defended headed back out towards the taker, the 2nd attempt flashed across the face of goal, a Thetford head clearing it at the far post.
Farmer linking up with Ryan in attack for Mulbarton, Musgrove with the tackle for Thetford, lifted forwards Corbyn looking to get on his quickly closed down Mulbarton pour forward win a corner on their right. Howard winning the ball at the near post for Thetford. Catchpole getting back at Martins on the flank to win the ball back for the visitors turning to attack left 30 out sends a diagonal pass in across goal, Ryan breaking into the six yard box the ball bouncing up before her, Lloyd making herself big attempting to block the shot lifted over the bar. Ryan nipping in to win the ball off the Thetford defence moves right whipping a cross into the near post, Lake running in can’t quite get on the end of it.
GOAL! Lake with the ball central with Ryan exchange passes before playing it forwards to Catchpole breaking on into the box left corner, hits it hard smashing a low drive across the keeper and into the bottom corner to further extend Mulbarton’s lead. 0-4.
Thetford feeding on scraps can’t get out from the back, Howard looking to liven thing’s up get into Mulbarton’s midfielders, has been pressed back into helping the defence now looks to get the ball into Page in attack, Farmer cutting the ball out looks to try and find Lake cutting inside from the right the ball hurriedly cleared for a corner. Flung into the six yard box, Parker winning the header to clear for Thetford.
Boulton looking to get clear for Thetford on the right taking the ball on checks back inside feeding a ball into Richardson 25 yards out her shot is charged down.
GOAL! Right on the stroke of half-time Thetford have a set-piece on the right the ball from Boulton played into Corbyn top of the D, Lincoln lunging in to clear for Mulbarton the counter attack on moving the ball forwards played on for Catchpole racing away left side on the angle strikes it in low towards the near post the ball hitting the woodwork and spinning on in across the goal 0-5.
Half-time Thetford Town Ladies 0-5 Mulbarton Belles Ladies
A strong and relentless display from Mulbarton to lead 5-0 at the break. Lake getting a hat-trick inside the opening 20 minutes, have had Thetford pressed back inside their box unable to break out. Mulbarton’s defence high under no pressure able to mop up any clearances keep the pressure on. Thetford back to earth with a bump after their cup heroics on Sunday losing striker White and goalkeeper Askins to injury too, much to discuss at the half-time interval with both teams staying out on the pitch.
Alice Ladbrooke on for Hedtke for Mulbarton at the start of the 2nd half the visitors to get the game restarted. Played back to Farmer in defence, Thetford look to get after the ball Page pressing but the ball comes back off her behind for a goal kick. Mulbarton coming on right side Lake deeper with Ryan ahead of her, Boulton tracking back for Thetford to win the ball back.
Parker hooking the ball clear for Thetford top of their area as Ryan lifts the ball in from the right. Certainly a more open start to the 2nd half, Mulbarton not pressed up on Thetford’s defence can afford to sit back with a 5 goal lead, the visitors with a corner on the right taken short up the line the cross from deep cleared by Thetford’s Bambury at the near post. Alice Smith with Groves the ball threaded on for Lake, Musgrove getting a leg out to intercept.
Thetford have Martins on the ball right side up the pitch her cross played into the six yard box, Lincoln nodding it down and away for Mulbarton, Page nipping in to press the ball knocked wide of the right post. Mulbarton break forwards the ball coming to Lake from the left into the box onto her right foot driven in low, Lloyd with a tremendous save with her lefts the ball rebounding out to Martins and Catchpole wrestle for possession the Mulbarton striker getting the batter of her opponent to turn and strike the ball from 25 yards out a curling effort goes over.
Play congested through the middle Mulbarton coming on Ladbrooke almost stealing through on the keeper, Musgrove into block top to the box. Lloyd called into action again as Lake cuts into the box from the right side getting onto the end of an Alice Smith pass to angle a shot in with pace to the near post a comfortable height, Lloyd palming it down.
Ladbrooke breaking the ball on from midfield for Mulbarton moving left on for Catchpole to take on down into the corner her inviting cross over everyone attacking through the middle. Corbyn opening up her body to try and thread a pass through for Boulton bursting on right side, Farmer defends for Mulbarton. Lloyd saving well at her near post as a rising shot from Groves comes at her quickly gloved away to her left.
GOAL! With the game more open 2nd half Thetford have been able to get on with the ball, Martins looking to take it on drive for the area is bundled over winning free-kick to the right of the D. Over the set-piece herself shows great technic to clip the ball up over the wall and comes looping down to smash off the crossbar and bounce down and out of the goal and despite Mulbarton’s protests the goal is awarded Thetford with a goal back midway through the 2nd half 1-5.
Mulbarton ringing the changes with another triple change with Alice Smith, Lake and Megan Belsey coming off Jermy, Hunter and Melissa Belsey on, still potent threat going forwards Groves out to Lake on the right, Parker closing in to defend for Thetford. Both Parker and Musgrove with tackles to halt Mulbarton attacks as they push on right side with Catchpole over on that side now. Thetford make a change, Page coming off in attack, Hannah Rogers coming on.
Lloyd continues to thwart Mulbarton in the Thetford goal showing good positioning as Catchpole gets on the charge right side before checking inside to send a strike in on the angle, the stand in keeper, right behind it beating it down to claim. Mulbarton with fresh legs on the pitch pressing on right side Jermy whipping a cross into the box near side Bambury stretching has to get it with Catchpole ready to pounce on her shoulder, the ball turned behind for a corner.
GOAL! The ball send in towards the near side is met by Ladbrooke 10 yards out a powerfully struck header as she twists into the ball to rifle it home to score her 1st goal of the season (for the 1st team. Has 2 for the Development side and the mere 20 for the 7s) Mulbarton leading 1-6 with 12 minutes left to play.
Corbyn with a good tackle on Hunter top of the D as the Mulbarton winger looks to get into a striking position moving left to right. Martins heading the ball clear from the top of her area as Mulbarton push on up the right. Jermy with the ball twisting infield plays in Hunter who sets up Groves to hit, shoots wide, Lloyd with a faint touch corner given.
GOAL! Mulbarton have the near post over loaded as the ball is played short up the line the cross lifted into the mix knocked on across the six yard box falling to Catchpole completely unmarked getting the ball under control and picking her spot low past the keeper to score her hat-trick 1-7.
Two goals late in the game see Mulbarton finishing strong making a double switch more legs rested with Lincoln and Catchpole coming off, Hedtke and Olivia Smith back on. Corbyn bringing the ball on plays the pass out to Boulton right side, Farmer tackling for Mulbarton. Howard up to press taking the ball on played across the top of the are, cut out by Melissa Belsey.
Martins up with Howard on Thetford’s right the ball played up to Richardson in attack wins a corner. Whipped in near side Martins with the diving header at the near post put across goal but Mulbarton clear their lines look to counter Hunter left tackled by Levy-Twomey. Martins down picking up a knock as she is accidentally caught by Groves follow through as she goes to clear the ball. The clock rapidly ticking down the resulting drop ball kicked upfield the final whistle blows. The result seeing Mulbarton climb above Thetford into 3rd close the gap to leaders Dussindale & Hellesdon to 6 points with 3 games in hand.
Full time Thetford Town Ladies 1-7 Mulbarton Belles Ladies
Thought before the season started it was a straight battle for the title between Mulbarton and Dussindale & Hellesdon and having seen both now that is most definitely the case. Two big games against one another to come but neither can afford any slip ups in between. Mulbarton too hot to handle on the night making a fast start Lake running at the defence played in for 3 goals. The visitor strong keeping Thetford in the back foot throughout the 1st 45 going on to add 2 more goals to lead 5-0. Thetford struggled to get going losing players to injury not helping battled hard. The game opening up more in the 2nd half and Thetford built a few opportunities going on to get a goal before Mulbarton rang the changes to score 2 more late goals to seal a convincing win.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this evening’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. Sunday’s easy, this one not so much. Thetford despite being on the back foot fought well under pressure at the back no doubt, Sausha Levy-Twomey, Georgia Parker and Courtney Musgrove all making vital tackles in interceptions. Dayna Howard too needing to put a shift in to help her defenders. Erin Lloyd as stand in goalkeeper, with some decent saves to keep the score down. For Mulbarton it was a solid team performance right across the park. The midfield supporting the attackers well pressing high. Melissa Belsey at the back with several useful balls forwards setting up a goal. Two hat-trick scorers it comes down to them, Francesca Catchpole strong in attack with some composed finishes. It was the 3 goal blast at the start of the game that set Mulbarton on the road to victory saw them take control of the game, therefore the award goes to Rebekah Lake her running off the defence opening gaps and providing a ready outlet for those in possession to pick out a pass.
Has been a while but good to see both sides in action under the lights. A busy week hence the later write up but we go there in the end. My thanks to both sides for their help with the team details know most of the players but always like to check those numbers. Thanks to to Scott Grearhardy whose pictures I have used in this report taken at the recent county cup tie between the two sides. Sending my best wishes to Thetford’s injured players for a speedy recovery.
by Darren Gilham