Sunday 29th October
First match report for a fortnight, rearing to go again after illness forced a couple of weekends rest. The action comes from Norfolk this Sunday in Division One with 4th placed Stalham Town Ladies hosting top of the table Sprowston Ladies.
The Norfolk Women’s football league reverting back to 2 divisions this season having previously been 3. With several new sides joining the league this season the revamp sees most of the sides playing in Division Two last season promoted to Division One, Stalham Town Ladies and Sprowston amongst them.
Both have started the season very well. Stalham Town Ladies recovering from a heavy defeat on the opening day of the season have gone unbeaten in the league since winning 2 and drawing their other game to move into 4th position in the table on 7 points, very tight at the top with 3 points separating the top 4. 2nd and 3rd placed North Walsham Angels Ladies and Thorpe United Ladies the defending champions also meeting today.
Sprowston Ladies top of the table on 10 points undefeated from their opening 4 league games 3 wins and a draw. Sprowston have two sides in the Norfolk leagues this season. FC Sprowston Ladies are currently top of Division Two, but are not a reserve side, both sides standing on their own right. League Plate finalists last season went on to win the People’s FA Cup. A very strong youth set-up at the club too most of this Sprowston Ladies side from their U16s last season.
The two sides met in the Ladies League Cup 3 weeks ago Stalham Town at home then too knocking Sprowston out with a 2-1 win.
The venue for today’s game Rivers Park home for both Stalham Town FC’s mens and women’s sides. A large pitch elevated from the surrounding car parking area. The weather getting alot cooler as the clocks go back, cloud in the sky a threat of rain, a strong and chilly breeze blowing across the pitch which might influence play as the two sides emerged from the changing rooms for kick-off.
Stalham Town Ladies starting XI – Katie Clarke, Lauren Bunstead, Charlotte Crane, Megan Meale, Sophie-Jayne O’Connor, Kerry Wright (C), Sophie Burr-Walpole, Vicki Lubbock, Amber Mayhew, Millie Cursons & Sophie Lubbock. Subs – Chloe Yarham, Megan Bonham & Abbie Charlton.
Sprowston Ladies starting XI – Megan Lightfoot, Jenny Tranholm, Rea Drake, Calista Tink, Beth Cornwall, Nicole Smith, Rebecca Russell, Abby Hutchin (C), Chelsea Pettifer, Thea Hackney & Victoria Leyer. Subs – Georgia Cushion, Paige Barnard & Jade Mundford.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
It’s Stalham to kick-off the 1st half wearing an all red kit with Sprowston lined up opposite wearing orange shirts with black across right shoulder and sleeve, black shorts with black and orange hooped socks. Pressing the ball right from the start Sprowston make ground up the left wing Victoria Leyer looking to link up with Rebecca Russell going forwards, Stalham’s Charlotte Crane defending that side does well to prevent the cross puts the ball out for a throw. Winning the ball from the throw Stalham counter attack the ball long for Millie Cursons to chase down on the right taking the ball into the corner wins a throw in this brings the 1st corner of the game Megan Meale coming forwards to take fired in near post Sprowston defend headed back out to Meale her 2nd ball in deflected behind for the goal kick.
Sprowston attack on the right captain Abby Hutchin bringing the ball on knocks it inside for Thea Hackney positioned at the top of the box she looks to return the ball to Hutchin as she drives into the area her touch taking her away from goal holds the ball up looking up sends the past back towards the advancing Nicole Smith the midfielder takes on the 1st tie strike from 25 yards out sends her effort wide of the near post. Lauren Bunstead with a fantastic tackle at left back for Stalham denies Hutchin from getting a cross into the area following another strong run on the ball up the right flank for Sprowston.
GOAL! Sprowston win their 1st corner of the game and from take an early lead in the match on the right a great delivery whipped in with pace into the near post a great flick on sees the ball sent in across goal and Chelsea Pettifer is there to get her forehead on the ball and nod the ball down over the line to make it 0-1.
Stalham look to get on the offensive straight from the restart Vicki Lubbock putting the ball out wide right for Cursons holds off her marker getting down the line before firing in a cross high towards the near post, is headed clear by Sprowston centreback Beth Cornwall, Stalham pressure the ball Amber Mayhew back to Cursons the corner is won, delivered to the top of the area Sprowston get it clear a counter attack is on Hutchin bringing the ball on up the left, Stalham captain Kerry Wright with a vital sliding challenge to win the ball.
Hackney sees the ball into her feet 30 yards out for Sprowston the striker looks to turn and drive towards the area from a central position strong on the ball, Sophie-Jayne O’Connor goes with her putting the the challenge inside the box, the ball deflected inside Hackney looks to get after it shoot, O’Connor’s centreback partner Meale gets there first to clear the ball. Sprowston are enjoying more of the ball inside the Stalham half but for all their pressing are finding it difficult to get around the back 4. Hackney looks to take on both Stalham centrebacks once again the door is closed in front of her as both slide in to tackle.
Pushed back by their opponents Stalham have started the match slowly unable to get their attackers into the game. From a defensive clearance Sophie Lubbock picks up the ball on halfway looks to get clear and run at the Sprowston box is closed down and tackled by Calista Tink. Vicki Lubbock tries her luck from a long way out her attempt not troubling goalkeeper Megan Lightfoot. Leyer pressing the back high up the pitch, Meale’s back pass to goalkeeper Katie Clarke a little short has Hutchin interested she gives chase, Clarke slides in bravely at the top of her area they collide the ball back deflected away for the corner.
Both sides make a change Chloe Yarham coming on for Stalham replacing Wright. Paige Barnard joining the action for Sprowston. Getting plenty of bodies forwards Sprowston have the ball on the left played inside to Hackney top of the area holds the ball up well looks to turn and strike, Amber Mayhew getting back for Stalham is their to close her down put in the tackle gets the ball clear. Russell into Leyer central the striker 25 yards out jinks left then right before striking the shot takes a deflection off Meale taking it wide for the corner kick.
Clarke recovers well from an initial poor kick out of her area not getting the height or distance on the ball it’s Hackney who wins the header 25 yards out knocking the ball back in towards the area Leyer is after it, Clarke to getting to the edge of her area to intercept the bouncing ball gets a strong fist on it to send it up field. Sprowston continue to have the momentum the ball with Pettifer left side put infield Smith on for Hutchin right side she takes on the shot from 20 yards out puts the ball into the side netting. Another switch for Sprowston Georgia Cushion coming on for Hackney.
Hestitation between the Stalham centrebacks inside the box almost gifts Sprowston a 2nd goal as both leave it Hutchin steals in between them right of goal 10 yards out more brave goalkeeping from Clarke diving in at the attackers feet the shot blocked however the deflection sees the ball spin on towards goal, a Stalham defender gets back to hook the ball clear of the goal. Up the other end Cursons and Sophie Lubbock aren’t seeing much of the ball can make little impact in attack, the latter tries the flick on for Cursons 25 yards out, Cornwall reading it gets to the ball first to clear.
GOAL! Into the last 3 minutes of the 1st half and Sprowston double their lead. Attacking down the right plenty getting forwards again Stalham defending their box the cross is cut back inside towards Russell inside the D, uncharacteristically as has been the norm for 41 minutes Stalham don’t advance to close her down as Russell shifts the ball to her right to open up the angle and sends her shot curling wide of the diving Clarke into the back of the net 0-2.
GOAL! Straight from the restart Stalham lose possession of the ball it is sent forwards Leyer racing clear behind the home defence reaches the ball before Clarke racing out of her area can reach in the striker knocking the ball past the keeper and on into the empty net to make it 0-3 a hammer blow for Stalham just before the half-time whistle.
Half-time Stalham Town Ladies 0-3 Sprowston Ladies
An excellent end to a dominant 1st half from Sprowston Ladies scoring inside the opening 7 minutes then 2 goals late in the half putting them in control. Have been able to push bodies forwards keeping Stalham pinned back inside their own half. The back four has worked hard for Stalham preventing crosses and players have gone with runners for the whole just unable to get the ball up to their own attackers to put their mark on the game. Two late goals a hammer blow especially the 3rd alot of work to do if they want to get back into the match 2nd half.
The wind has picked up noticeably and gotten a lot colder too, The sun lower in the sky too will be Stalham’s problem 2nd half. Sprowston to get the 2nd half underway. Hutchin is off at the start of the 2nd half for the visitors Barnard now operating on the right in an advanced position with Jade Mundford at right back. Wright is back on in the centre for Stalham replacing Yarham. A quiet start to the 2nd half Burr-Walpole has taken a knock to the back and needs to come off, Yarham returned to the action.
Pettifer is upended looking to bring the ball through the middle a free kick at the top of the centre circle for Sprowston the centreback go forwards the ball delivered into Tink to the left of the D looks to turn is closely marked by O’Connor the ball won. Barnard is sent away on the right Bunstead going to ground tackles well preventing the cross. Pettifer bringing the ball on down the left this time puts an inviting cross into the six yard box, Leyer throws her head at the ball gets a touch Clarke at close range makes a great save to keep the ball out adjusting well as she’d started to move to her right a corner is awarded from the left the ball is cleared up field, Sophie Lubbock with Cursons get the ball up towards right corner of the box Lubbock with a hopefully cross no one fro Stalham in their to challenge for the ball.
GOAL! Mayhew has made some good forward runs early in the 2nd half for Stalham looking to win the ball higher up the pitch pressing on the left side over halfway wins the ball and brings it on taking it toward the byline holds it up well allowing teammates time to get forwards one of those being Vicki Lubbock getting into the area left of the six yard box, the angle is against her a Mayhew squeezes the pass into her feet the midfielder turns well and sweeps the ball up into the air across the face of goal to drop over the line at the far post 1-3.
The goal giving Stalham a little bit of confidence they get the possession of the ball from the restart Wright onto Bunstead picking out Mayhew finding space left side again driving on she fires her cross into the side netting. Sophie Lubbock has the ball takes on the shot from 25 yards out her low drive straight at Lightfoot the keeper gathering cleanly. With Mayhew and Vicki Lubbock getting forwards more Stalham look more of a threat.
GOAL! Just as the home side are starting to get some momentum in attack however Sprowston get up the other end and restore their 3 goal lead and great strike from Pettifer on the left as she picks up the ball and taking it on lets fly from 25 out her bouncing shot angling wide across the goalkeeper into the far corner for her 2nd of the game to make it 1-4.
Both Hackney and Hutchin return to the pitch for Sprowston. The visitors spring a counter attack from a Stalham corner the ball played long on the right for Hutchin to chase squares her cross along the top of the area Hackney positioned left of the D turns into the shot sees the strike angle away from the far post Clarke coming to gather. Megan Bonham comes for for Stalham. More changes for the home side with Wright and Meale coming off, Burr-Walpole back on along with striker Abbie Charlton.
A scooped shot from Hackney outside the area as the ball is worked into her from a throw on the left side, Clarke is right behind it the ball dropping safely into her gloves. Bunstead has had a sold game for Stalham at left back shoulder to shoulder with Hutchin as the winger looks to find a way in behind the cross is again denied.
GOAL! Sprowston further extend their lead this time Hutchin with the ball played into her on the right knocks it on for Leyer running in behind she plays the cross into the Stalham area is knocked outside into the path of Russell left of the D, 20 yards out she sends a thunderbolt racing into the back of the net to make it 1-5.
A fantastic save from Clarke keeps Stalham from going further behind the defence pushed up Leyer nips in to steal the ball runs on into the box, Clarke stays big inside her six yard box as the striker closes her down Leyer looks to slot the ball wide of the keeper instead plays it straight at Clarke who makes a great stop with her feet the ball deflected out to the left the goalkeeper rushes after it colliding with Pettifer, is down needs treatment but after a pause in play is okay to continue.
Sprowston get the ball forwards right side a viscous cross is whipped into the area, Clarke comes to punch is impeded by her own player misses it, drops for Pettifer far post to strike on the volley catches it wrong the ball screws wide away from goal. Into the latter stages of the game Sprowston in control of the ball the cross from the left into Hackney headed on for Hutchin to her right diverts the ball goalwards Clarke down smartly at her near post touches the ball wide for the corner.
Into stoppage time Sprowston with one last attack Hutchin on the right lays the ball on for Smith going past her her cross low into the box finds Hackney a turn and shot drags the ball wide of the near post.
Full time Stalham Town Ladies 1-5 Sprowston Ladies
A 5-1 win for Sprowston Ladies keeping up their unbeaten start to the season and seeing them stay top of Division One a point clear of Thorpe United Ladies who beat North Walsham Angels Ladies 3-1. A great performance from the visitors getting an early goal and dominating the ball for much of the game scoring 5 goals. A below par performance from Stalham defended well on the whole but pushed back by their opponents couldn’t get the ball into their attackers conceding 2 goals in quick succession at the end of the 1st half doing the damage going in at 1 nil or even 2 nil at the break might have made all the difference getting a goal back early 2nd half Sprowston were quick to respond. Nevertheless Stalham have enjoyed a good start to the season themselves and will loo to bounce back.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Another tough one today to pick the Women’s Football East – Player of the Match, a good all round team performance from Sprowston this afternoon, difficult conditions to play in scoring some quality goals and creating plenty of chances. Picking one out however I have gone for midfielder Rebecca Russell in the heart of the action not often giving the ball away and setting up attacks ahead of her two well taken goals to her name too.
Good to get back into it after a two week layoff even if it was freezing, better get used to that I suppose. My thanks to both clubs for their help with the team line ups today and Stalham for the cup of tea.