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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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