Monthly Archives: June 2021

Match Report – Histon Ladies Development v Newmarket Town Women Development

Tuesday 8th June

Cambridgeshire Women’s Championship South

 This evening’s match is literally a title decider, the winner takes all in the Cambridgeshire Women’s Championship South as 1st and 2nd meet in their final game of the season with just a point between them, Histon Ladies Development with the slender advantage as they take on 2nd placed Newmarket Town Women Development.

 The Cambridgeshire Women’s leagues as you know the only county league within the East to press on with there league campaign after the country emerged from its 3rd lockdown at the end of March due to the ongoing Covid pandemic. Has been a mammoth effort by Cambs FA and the clubs themselves to get the games played. Cardea Ladies wrapping up the Championship North title the weekend before last, earning promotion to the Premiership above. That the prize too for the eventual title winners this evening.

Was touch and go as to whether Histon would be able to field a Development side at the start of the season as a split within the club saw most of the old reserves sides move to become Histon Hornets WFC. The club however felt they had enough to field to sides, the Reserves becoming the Development side. Histon’s first team playing in ERWFL Division One and when there playing season was declared null & void the club opted not to take part in the Challenge Cup set up as a replacement competition by the league, but offered players from that side the option to continue playing with the Development, several going down that route meaning the club has been able to field a mixed side of Development and senior squad players, seeing them push up the Championship South table. Dropped points in their penultimate game meaning Newmarket fast climbing the table themselves with a chance to overhaul them before the pair were due to meet in there final game of the season.

Newmarket Town Women Development keeping faith with their young squad with the senior squad playing with Histon in the ERWFL Division One largely pausing until the new season can commence a handful of seniors coming in to give useful learning experience to the young players around them. Powered up the table due to the goals wracked up by Kaitlin Elsey who has an impressive tally of 30 goals from just 11 appearances. Entering the final straight Newmarket were a point behind Histon with a game in hand that against Histon Hornets WFC on Sunday, victory would have seen them leapfrog Histon to give them the points advantage going into this evenings game, frustratingly suffered from a below par performance that saw Histon Hornet take full advantage of to win 4-0. So a point behind they remain with one game left… now a cup final Newmarket have to win to take the title, Histon prevent that and they will be crowned Champions.

  Histon named as the home side the game instead taking place at Newmarket Town FC due to the unavailability of Histon’s home ground. Newmarket’s ground featuring a state of the art artificial playing surface that see’s alot of action during the week. Youth sessions taking place upon it before the game. The kitchen open serving hot food and drink. The weather warm and sunny a pleasant evening with no rain forecast.

Histon Town Ladies Development starting XI – Alison Wright, Katie Webb, Tara Fitzjohn (C), Brie Baker, Georgia Carter, Sophie Lanham, Lauren Martin, Becky Charter, Esther Mctrusty, Jordanne Sillitoe & Molly Blair. Subs – Daisy Barns, Emma Phillip, Rebekah Finch, Naomi Cooper-Jones & Flora Snelson.

Newmarket Town Women Development starting XI – Dominika Szary, Lydia Mason, Kara Wayman, Beth Woodfield (C), Becca Towler, Grace Muffett, Cerys Compton, Hannah Doyle, Leah Harper, Sarah O’Rourke & Kaitlin Elsey. Subs – Ella Cummins, Evie Jakes, Emily Davey, Annabel Cuthbert & Trixie Allsop.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

  Newmarket to get the game underway, wearing yellow shirts, blue shorts and yellow and blue hooped socks. Histon opposite wearing red shirts with black shorts and socks. The sun setting low behind the main stand across the pitch likely to have an impact players needing to shield their eyes. Histon getting hold of the ball straight from the off central is played into the right channel for attacker and former Newmarket player Jordanne Sillitoe, Cerys Crompton putting out a leg intercepting the ball sent up into the right channel Newmarket switch sides, Kaitlin Elsey after it, Histon captain Tara Fitzjohn at full back across to challenge the ball put out for a throw in.

  Something of a bitty start both sides rushing to move the ball not finding there mark, Lauren Martin plays the ball on from midfield for Histon with Sillitoe looking to make a right channel run trying to be behind the defence, Newmarket captain Beth Woodfield getting cross her run, stooping into the header to play the ball back to goalkeeper, Dominika Szary. Newmarket come right a corner won players up into the box from the back the delivery put in central, Woodfield attacks it, doesn’t get a solid connect, Histon scrambling it away to the right winning a throw in. 

 GOAL! Just 4 minutes on the clock and the deadlock is broken, Histon attack down the right Katie Webb at full back carrying the ball on before sending it through for Becky Charter bursting down the wing to get in behind the defend race into the box and strike the ball hard to send it racing across the six yard box into the bottom corner 1-0.

Becky Charter fires Histon into an early lead

   An early blow for Newmarket, Histon making the perfect start. Hannah Doyle turning on the ball sending it on to the left Elsey racing after it, Webb moving quickly staying ahead of the striker playing it back into the area for goalkeeper, Alison Wright to kick clear. Histon are looking to bring there wide players into the action, Charter lively on the right, Sophie Lanham in the centre puts a diagonal ball out to Esther Mctrusty on the left side, taking it on slips past her marker heading for the area, Becca Towler closing her down defending, Szary beyond her kicking the ball clear for a throw on the left. 

Leah Harper bringing the ball on for Newmarket

 The goal has woken everyone up, players snapping at the ball. Moving the ball rapidly through the middle Histon stretch the Newmarket defence as Sillitoe moves out to the left taking the ball on before firing in a cross along the six yard box to be met by Charter at the far post, knocks it back in looping up, Mctrusty in front of goal can’t capitalise before Newmarket’s defence scramble it clear. Bria Baker get’s caught in possession in defence for Histon, attack Sarah O’Rourke spotting Doyle’s run to her left attempts to send her in on goal, Georgia Carter putting a foot in nicks the ball from her. 

  Lydia Mason makes a good challenge on Mctrusty as the winger tries to take the ball on past the full back, in central to Grace Muffett fed on up to O’Rourke, Elsey makes a run left to right across the D, Fitzjohn in quickly to cut out the passing option to O’Rourke Newmarket are forced to play it back into the middle regroup. One lifted over the top Elsey breaking in beyond the defence after it, Wright coming up to the top of her box untroubled as she sees the ball safely into her gloves.

Histon goalkeeper, Alison Wright, gathering as Newmarket’s Kaitlin Elsey closes in ( photo credit Sean Doyle)

  End to end both sides showing there intent, wanting to score. Histon’s backline each taking the opportunity to get forwards join the attack whenever they have the ball, first Carter, then Baker. Webb full of energy on the right of defence getting up well to support Charter on the wing. A throw for Histon high on the right into Webb top corner of the area hooks it up into the centre falling Mctrusty back to goal sees it across her body looking to turn and shoot, is closely marked, nevertheless wins a corner kick. Sent in deep, Lauren Martin under it beyond the far post puts it over the top. 


  O’Rourke is pressing the Histon defence in the final third winning her fair share of challenges left side flicks it on for Elsey to latch onto, takes it on into the box, Carter getting in on her to lunge in tackle the ball sent out for a corner kick. The set-piece fired in near side 10 yards out met by Muffett, swings her leg through the ball, Martin in to block it for Histon, the rebound running back to Kara Wayman 20 out shoots striking the ball through the box out wide beyond the far post. Plenty happening barely 15 minutes played, Webb on the move taking the ball on central allowed to travel, Sillitoe giving her an option left channel, sees the ball into her feet turns, Woodfield closing her down before she can carry the threat into the box. 

  Breaking out from the back Newmarket have O’Rourke on the ball right side sends it long up to Elsey moving into space gets up with her attacking partner the two exchanging passes before Elsey clips the cross in long to the far post spotting the excellent run from Doyle to the far post can’t quite reach as the ball runs wide for a goalkick. Elsey is a pacy player likes to take on a defence, wriggles free central, just a little too much on the ball allows Wright to come out of her six yard box and clear.

It’s up there somewhere

  Lanham getting into an advanced position for Histon beyond the box right side recieves Mctrusty’s cross from the wing, strikes the ball 1st time whistles wide of Szary’s left post. The Histon defence for the most part keeping close tabs on Elsey don’t want her getting in behind, this though is presenting O’Rourke with more freedom operating slightly deeper picking up the ball, Crompton, Doyle and Muffett all trying to give her an option when they can. Carter keeps tight of Elsey inside the D, stops the striker skipping in beyond her. Fitzjohn with a burst forwards from the back a nutmeg seeing her get in beyond the defence to shoot from the top of the box, rising is straight at Szary, who catches cleanly. 

Histon captain, Tara Fitzjohn

  A fantastic double save from Szary as Lanham carries the ball across the top of the area inside the D left to right getting a shot back in across goal, Szary adjusting well down smartly to her right to push the ball out to the left, Mctrusty latching onto it the angle tight lets loose a strike, Szary moving quickly on her knees gloves it behind for the corner. The delivery from the corner long, Webb beyond the back post up to meet it sends it behind. 25 minutes gone referee Romana Brie pauses play for both sides to take on fluids. 

  GOAL! Play resumes Newmarket after the ball O’Rourke nipping in to win it 25 yards out right of the D, feeds it into Elsey central before breaking forwards. Elsey is immediately closed down, does well to slips the ball through to O’Rourke who takes it into the box clear she stays composed has time to pick her spot and drives it straight to run past Wright at the near post 1-1.

Sarah O’Rourke gets Newmarket back on level terms

  O’Rourke back to goal inside the D, sees the ball into her feet Doyle making a run left side, O’Rourke plays the pass into her path, Doyle is upended right on the line, the referee trying to play advantage as Elsey goes after the loose ball, nothing doing play is brought back for the foul a free-kick in a dangerous position, Elsey placing the ball goes for goal the shot sailing over the crossbar.

Histon get on right side, Webb to Charter, her progress stopped by Wayman as she gets across her. Woodfield in to tackle Molly Blair as she evades a challenge right side to get into the box. Martin plays the pass forwards into Sillitoe right of the D, has Charter running in behind her from the wide position, her pass however to close to Szary as the Newmarket keeper comes out quickly to deal with it. Ella Cummins has come on for Newmarket moving to a position on the right.

Newmarket goalkeeper Dominika Szary (photo credit Sean Doyle)

  Histon think they’ve retake the lead as Sillitoe moving right runs in beyond the defence as the ball is lifted over the back, strikes it across the keeper into the bottom come only to turn and see the raised flag. The ball brought up on the left by Newmarket squared into Elsey central turns her marker well evading her to take the ball into the area moving right the angle going against her strikes her shot over. Competitive in the middle Martin and Lanham getting hold of the ball for Histon, Martin allowed time on it is forced to play it back, Doyle nipping in to take it, sends it on up the right for Cummins, in a race with Fitzjohn, Histon’s captain dives into tackle the ball out for a throw. 

Newmarket’s Kaitlin Elsey shaping up to take on the Histon defence… again

  The Histon defence all continue to have a little foray forwards, Fitzjohn this time goes along way before eventually running into traffic, players up with her possession quickly regained put out to Webb forwards on the right 20 yards out fires a shot wide across goal. Elsey escape to attack on the right, Martin does well to get back on her shoulder apply some pressure, Elsey’s shot somewhat scuffed, runs safely through to Wright. The pace of the game and perhaps it’s  seeing several unforced errors, Webb taking the ball on right allowed to travel and cross put deep to the far post Mctrusty closing in can’t reach it. Blair on the right fires a cross into the box, Woodfield dealing with it well as Sillitoe goes for it. 

Katie Webb on the move for Histon Ladies (photo credit Sean Doyle)

Half-time Histon Ladies Development 1-1 Newmarket Town Women Development

  A lively contest most certain has a cup final feel about it. Both sides intent on attack, defending well on the whole. Both having strong spells Histon using the ball better getting in some good positions wide looking to stretch the Newmarket defence. O’Rourke finding some great positions for Newmarket in the final 3rd creating opportunities. A good tempo the evening still warm, can both sides keep it up still all to play for.

Histon getting the 2nd half underway. Doyle getting back well on Martin as she makes space for herself 25 yards out looks to tee up Mctrusty on the left wing. Pressure high up the pitch from Histon sees Blair win her side a corner. Webb in the mix gets her head on the delivery but can’t keep it down, Newmarket clear into Elsey outside the area looks to break, Charter with a good turn of pace coming in to tackle keeps Histon in the final 3rd a strong start to the 2nd half. Doyle gets up to support O’Rourke on the left the pair combine exchanging passes, O’Rourke turning to lay it into the middle for Elsey, Carter tight on her doesn’t let Elsey escape her.

Brie Baker tackling for Histon (photo credit Sean Doyle)

Charter running in behind on the right to the by-line sweeps a cross into the six yard box, deep to the far post Szary is able to claim it unopposed. Newmarket regain possession central Muffett with Doyle put forwards to O’Rourke 25 out left of the D passes across to the right with Elsey on the move, is upended some what clumsily by Baker as she attempts to get in behind, lands heavily, Baker is up immediately knowing she is in trouble as Brie comes running forwards, is fortunate to getaway with a yellow, were covering defenders. Elsey however not so fortunate, is hurt in a lot of pain, has broken her collar bone, (it’s painful I’ve done it.) can’t continue the stretcher brought on not the way she would have wanted her season to end. Annabel Cuthbert coming on in her place to join O’Rourke in the attack.

The free-kick to the right of the area a good position to shoot from, the ball placed, Szary is encouraged forwards from goal to take it, strikes it well racing in on goal neck height, Wright with a brilliant save gloves up up to her right to push the ball wide to safety.

  Histon make a change Mctrusty taken off to be replaced by Flora Snelson. Cuthbert well take on any defence onto the ball right jinks one way then the other on into the area before Fitzjohn moves in on her to challenge send the ball behind for a corner. Put into the near post from the right, Muffett heading it on into the middle, half cleared drops for Doyle ready inside the D sends her shot over. Carter intercepting stepping out from the back as Cuthbert recieves and turns 25 yards out. Newmarket enjoying a good spell Cummins getting a corner on the right knocked in near side Muffett there again puts it back wide for Mason drilled in to top of the box a shot taken is high and wild. 

Baker cuts out a pass from O’Rourke intended for Cuthbert central. The game free flowing Webb racing on with the ball, needs to be stopped by Towler. Newmarket break right Cummins inside to Cuthbert top of the D forced wide, cuts the pass back for Doyle to have a shot, straight at Wright who plucks it down a comfortable save. Cuthbert’s introduction has given Newmarket fresh impotence the game an hour old, Muffett wins the ball plays it forwards for Doyle on halfway she in turn sends it forwards into O’Rourke available left of the D who helps it on for Cuthbert, runs with it forced wide by Carter left from the angle gets a shot away the ball rising over the crossbar.

Hannah Doyle winning the ball for Newmarket (photo credit Sean Doyle)

  Lanham getting about in the middle travels on 25 out on for Sillitoe, Woodfield close in on her tackling, Muffett beyond launching clear. Doyle making some good runs from the middle arrives at the top of the box as Cummins right see fires in a low cross the shot struck first time is high over the target. Into the final 25 minutes signs of nerves from both sides. Sillitoe on the barn turns to lay inside right for Snelson into the box, Towler gets in the challenge.

GOAL! Newmarket get the ball forwards quickly is a fantastic long pass dropped over the top for Cuthbert to peel in behind on taking the ball on into the box fires it in low, skipping up off the artificial surface, Wright is down quickly to her left arms outstretched pushes it away but not far enough as she sees it to her despair trickle in inside the post 1-2, Players rush from all over the pitch to congratulate Cuthbert as they take the lead on the night.

   A double change for Histon with Charter and Sillitoe coming off on come Daisy Barns and Naomi Cooper-Jones. Snelson has made a strong impression since coming on for Histon getting into the area right side does well to win a corner. The ball falling to Lanham top of the box, gets her foot under the shot looking to lift it into the back of the net, too much however sends it over. 

  GOAL! Newmarket’s lead is short lived, Histon having rallied well after falling behind nip in to win it central Lanham on left of the D fed on for Blair to attack in between defender Szary comes out to attempt to close the angle sliding in as Blair pulls the trigger, Szary getting something on the ball deflecting it wide towards the far post is heading out of play, Histon though have a pack racing in on the follow up, Barns in front to tap the ball in from a foot out racing away in celebration, her teammates soon catching up with her 2-2.

  Another drinks break called, Histon back on level terms the title back with them. Newmarket restart moving left Doyle into Jakes pushes on, Webb defending against her for Histon. Wayman misjudges a ball fired in central from Histon to the top of the air swerving goes beyond her Cooper-Jones after it, Wayman though recovers excellent sprinting to catch Cooper Jones tackles the ball deflected back, latched onto by Snelson drills a shot in Szary is well placed to get down and gather it into her gloves. Renewed confidence from Histon are back on the front foot, snapping in to win the ball high up the pitch Newmarket can’t get out.

Newmarket’s Grace Muffett with Histon’s Sophie Lanham

 Into the final 15 minutes a highly entertaining match both sides going for it, the title decider is going all the way. Snelson wining it well 25 out into Barns top of the area, tackled by Crompton out wide left loose, Rebekah Finch on for Histon shoots her angled drive wide. Carter advancing from the back for Histon left clips a great diagonal ball into the area right for Cooper-Jones, catches it well on the half volley loops up and over the bar… but not by much! Histon forcing Newmarket back, Muffett tries to pick out Jakes left, Webb with a good tackle to keep the momentum with Histon.

 Snelson getting on the end pf a Lanham pass winning a corner for Histon on the right Awkward for Szary up gloves it down into traffic, Cooper-Jones sees a shot blocked before Szary drops onto the loose ball. O’Rourke comes back on for Newmarket. Trixie Allsop joining the game too for Newmarket in place of Doyle. Histon have kept Cuthbert out the game but can’t do so for long, picking up a pass on the right the striker powers forwards towards the box, she’s two shots blocked by back peddling defenders before getting a third strike away on the angle low, Wright is down to collect back on her line.

 5 minutes plus stoppages left, a free-kick central for Newmarket, Szary up to deliver the ball knocked out to the right is clipped back in near side into the area, O’Rourke latching onto it smashes a shot into the back of the net, Newmarket incredulous to see the offside flag raised against her word soon spreading on this side of the ground that O’Rourke was on. The goal however doesn’t stand.

  Snelson on for Lanham right linking up 20 yards out Lanham firing in an angled cross long to the far post, Blair jumping can’t keep it down. Time running out Webb up the pitch keeping it in the corner wins a corner. Cleared Newmarket have one last attack winning a corner of there own. Histon think they’ve cleared it a free-kick awarded a Newmarket player fouled right on the corner. Szary forwards to take it right side lines up the target strikes the ball, isn’t far over the crossbar. That the last action of the game the sides drawing 2-2. Histon are the Champions.

Full Time Histon Ladies Development 2-2 Newmarket Town Women Development

   The good sized crowd treated to a thoroughly entertaining game, a great advert for women’s football in the county, both sides knew what was at stake and gave it there all. The title swinging back and forth briefly with Newmarket having come back from conceding in the 4th minute to lead 2-1. Histon responded superbly getting straight back on level terms and upped the tempo to keep the advantage. Newmarket having a goal disallowed that would have seen a different outcome nevertheless has been a fantastic effort from a group of young talented players taking the title battle all the way to the last minute of the season. Runner-up could slip to 3rd if Cambridge Rangers Women win there final game by 13 clear goals against Haverhill Rovers Community on Sunday either way a fine effort. Histon are the Championship South Champions winning promotion to the Premiership above in what has been a difficult season.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

 Onto this evening’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. Have a clear winner but before that a few performances of note to mention. For Newmarket, Sarah O’Rourke was excellent, good positional play getting the ball back high up the pitch and bringing others into play, getting Newmarket back on level terms. Hannah Doyle too with some good runs from midfield. Alison Wright making some important saves in goal for Histon. Sophie Lanham strong in midfield. Was impressed by Flora Snelson and what she added to the Histon attack. The award though goes to Histon’s Katie Webb the full back covering alot of ground, tackling well and finding some great positions throughout the game.

  An enjoyable game both sides fully committed a title decider played in the right spirit, all action, couldn’t take your eyes off it. Wishing Kaitlin Elsey my best wishes for a speedy recovery from her injury. My thanks to both managers for there help with the teams always appreciated.

by Darren Gilham

Cup Final Special – Bedford Ladies v AFC Dunstable Women

Sunday 6th June

Bedfordshire Women’s County Cup Final

 A trip down to Bedfordshire this Sunday for one last County Cup Final and one I haven’t attended before as Bedford Ladies face AFC Dunstable Women.

 Normally the season would be done and dusted by now, and I would be grateful for the chance to rest before it begins all over again, but this time around with the ongoing Covid pandemic having disrupted another playing season, the FA have where wanted extended the season into June. Competition in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk set to continue for another fortnight, today’s final brings an end to the season in Bedfordshire. 

Today’s prize

The County Cup Final in recent years dominated by Bedford Ladies and Luton Town Ladies winning the last 8 between them, Bedford the current holders winning against Luton back to back on 2018 & 2019. No competition last season due to the pandemic, Beds FA along with their counterparts in Norfolk and Suffolk going ahead with their County Cup competitions when the country came out of it’s 3rd lockdown at the end of March. 

Bedford Ladies have won the County Cup on 5 occasions first in 2012, then back to back wins in 2014 and 15 then most recently 2018 and 2019 the Covid pandemic seeing no final played a victory to day would see Bedford win the trophy 3 times in a row. One of the leading female clubs in Bedfordshire along side Luton and Dunstable all playing in the ERWFL Premier Division, competitive rivals all three. Bedford have a strong youth section with two senior sides, the Development side completing in Beds & Herts Division Two.

  Despite being an established side in the ERWFL Premier Division AFC Dunstable Women came close to folding a couple of seasons back due to a shortage of numbers, Ashley Pead coming in to manage the side, something of a rebuilding process with a young squad followed, the ERWFL Premier Division a tough league to blood a young side but they have doe well improving all the time and getting back to the levels where they will once again being pushing Bedford and Luton for honours in the county.

Road to the Final

  Both sides along with Luton Town Ladies receiving a bye to the quarter finals of the County Cup. Bedford began their defence of the trophy at home to Beds & Herts Division Two side Biggleswade United Ladies, newly established with ambitions to become a leading force in women’s football in the county were outmatched on the day by Bedford who dominated to win the game 9-0. AFC Dunstable Women were away in their quarter final taking on Luton Town Ladies Reserves. A battle between the sides Dunstable edging it 2-1 to progress to the semi-finals with Tia Steadman netting both goals.

 Bedford were to take on AFC Dunstable Women Blues in the last 4 of the County Cup, won the initial game 2-0 booking their spot in the final the game voided however, and Bedford made to play it again. Dunstable’s Blue side a growing force in their own right didn’t make it easy however Bedford went on to win the game 3-1 to set up today’s final. A tough test for Dunstable in their semi-final away to Luton Town Ladies, was a determined performance though that saw the sides finish the game to send the tie into a penalty shootout. Goalkeeper, Ciara Taylor a recent addition for Dunstable the hero as she saved Luton’s 6th penalty as the shootout entered sudden death to send Dunstable into the final.

 Into June the venue for today’s final, Cranfield United FC, just off the A421 through the village of Cranfield you come to the ground, parking around 3 sides of the pitch, fenced off the playing surface looking superb the grass lush. A clubhouse, with bar and kitchen hatch serving hot food and drink at one end a small seated stand between the dugouts. A good size offering plenty of width. A few spots of rain about before kick-off, the dark clouds pasting however leaving behind a sunny if somewhat muggy afternoon. Traffic was a nightmare, but I suspect I was the only one who travelled from Norfolk today.

Bedford Ladies

Bedford Ladies starting XI – Alex Shore, Mollie Robinson, Stephanie Fisher, Sophie Mulvihill, Zara Carroll, Jasmine Ajayi, Shianne Swares, Destiny Pap, Gemma Franklin (C), Setor Acolatse & Natasha Fensome. Subs – Ashley Emerton, Mollie Marshall, Carissa Kaczorowski & Rianne Townsend-Brown.

AFC Dunstable Women

AFC Dunstable Women starting XI – Ciara Taylor, Shauna Smith, Mollie Burgess, Nicole Raffermati, Jodi McClelland (C), Chloe Esposito, Louise McCay, Rebecca Devereux, Gemma Darvill, Chelsea Jeffrey & Tia Steadman. Subs – Darcy Collins, Hannah Ring, Louisa Sexton & Ella Claridge.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

  Both sides play in blue as a rule, Bedford with the change strip today wearing white shirts with black shorts and socks to have the kick-off 1st half with Dunstable all in blue opposite. Bedford play the ball right for Destiny Pap moving forwards, Gemma Darvill stepping in to win it for Dunstable has support on the inside from Nicole Raffermati, the pair exchange passes Darvill powering on down the wing gaining ground before she is stopped by Mollie Robinson as the full back comes sliding in to take the ball out for a throw in.

Dunstable’s Gemma Darvill with Bedford’s Setor Acolatse

Dunstable with the early pressing keep the ball down the right working a cross on across the top of the area Bedford send it clear helped on up to the right with captain Gemma Franklin looking to get hold of it carry it forwards before being chopped down, Bedford getting the free-kick. Players go forwards the ball sent long up into the area, headed out by Dunstable, Shauna Smith the rolling ball comes to Shianne Swares 25 yards out, one thing on her mind striking the ball her attempt charged down.

Mollie Burgess for AFC Dunstable Women

Mollie Burgess with the ball at her feet playing on the left of defence for Dunstable lines up a fantastic pas sending it long into the path of Darvill on the moves taking it in her stride, runs on checking back aiming to reach the area before Sophie Mulvihill put in the sliding tackle for Bedford. Swares bringing the ball on through the middle, Louise McCay getting across to halt her progress, the midfield area lively. McCay with another strong challenge moments later to deny Setor Acolatse. Chelsea Jeffery with space on the ball central for Dunstable 35 yards out receiving the ball from Rebecca Devereaux on the left attempts to put it into Darvill’ run out wide right, plays it too close to the keeper allowing Alex Shore to come out of her six yard box and claim.

Bedford’s Shianne Swares

Two committed side Swares lays it wide for Pap on the left, up the wing, Darvill coming back closing in to challenge, allowing Burgess to clear the loose ball. Both side looking to work the width, Darvill and Devereaux for Dunstable, Pap and Franklin for Bedford all with driving runs when the ball is laid into their feet. Devereux plays it inside from the right into Chloe Esposito 25 yards out turns and strikes the ball goalward skipping up off the grass, Shore is right behind it see it up into her arms. Darvill strong on the ball takes it on right on for Jeffery into the right channel carrying on into the Bedford area comes inside, shift right, then left, failing to get a cross away before being closed down by Zara Carroll.

Gemma Franklin driving forwards for Bedford Ladies

Dunstable with a corner on the right, the ball headed away out of the box but no cleared Dunstable keep players up close the ball down sent back in cleared for a 2nd time then Bedford break, out to the right the ball fired up to Natasha Fensome in attack, hasn’t seen much of the ball early door running at the back tracking Dunstable defence let’s fly from all of 30 yard out her shot bouncing wide. Bedford getting Acolatse up with Fensome the pair combining outside the box right side slip the ball inside for Franklin running in behind, Taylor alert quickly out to save sliding it at the attackers feet.

Dunstable midfielder, Louise McCay

McCay spinning in the centre laying the ball out right for Darvill power forwards, Robinson across to close her down, the result a throw to Dunstable. Dunstable come close to opening the scoring are doing well keeping the ball in the final 3rd without so far finding the final ball, do so this time a a cross is flashed in across the six yards box to be met by Tia Steadman to hit it from close range goal bound, but for Shore down low at the post the make the blocking save. The ball out for a corner on the left.

Dunstable with the early pressure has taken Bedford a little longer to find their rhythm. T he corner swung inwards under the bar punched away well by Shore, Bedford break quickly right side Acolatse on up the field for Fensome she has the vision to spot Pap sprinting away up the left her pass pinpoint picking her out brings the ball into the box up against Burgess, shifts left then back inside attempting to find space to shoot, Burgess doing well however putting a leg in to block cut the ball out.

Bedford’s Setor Acolatse

Fensome leading the line for Bedford uses the space well, never still, never staying on one defender, moving right seeing the ball rolled into her exchanges passes with Franklin on the wing going beyond her wide shoots on the angle driven wide at the near post Bedford claiming it took a nick of a Dunstable body win the corner. The delivery looping in near post Fensome heads it down, striking a Dunstable head, instinctive sent over the bar for a 2nd corner. From the right a 2nd time fired into the six yard box runners racing in Franklin rises well meeting it to blast her head wide beyond the far post.

Robinson on for Acolaste on the right times her diagonal ball up towards the area perfectly seeing Fensome burst in behind between the centre backs, Taylor with quick reactions out to close her down sliding in to claim the ball, as Fensome lunges for it. Dunstable attack the ball out on the left Devereux inside for Steadman outside the box, Jeffery with her whip a dangerous ball across the area looking for Darvill far side, two defenders and the keeper closing in Darvill appears to be bundled over, despite appeals nothing is given.

Jasmine Ajayi along side Swares in the middle for Bedford has won her fair share of tackles gets into a shooting position 20 yards out as Fensome top of the area, sees a ball from the right into her feet and lays it back to her, Ajayi striking it 1st time sees her bending effort roll wide of the far post. The game is flowing well moving from one end to the other both sides looking to attack, Carroll with a clearance at the back finds Fensome away clear on the left breaking into the area, closing in on goal, strikes the ball hard before she is closed down, Taylor with a superb save diving to her left to push the rising ball behind with her gloves.

 GOAL! From the resulting corner however Bedford find the opening goal, little Taylor can do about it, the delivery is perfect fired in fast across the face of goal to the Bedford players attacking the far post, Mulvihill meeting it driving a bullet of a header into the back of the net 1-0. 22 minutes played.

   Stephanie Fisher recieves a talking too from referee James Cantwell, as she brings down Dunstable’s. McCay 35 yards from goal. Jeffery on the free-kick sends it long to the far post, Shore comes and punches the ball down to the left, Bedford can’t get it away Dunstable snapping in to get the ball is eventually cleared to the right for a throw. Bedford play the ball out from the back into Fensome on the halfway line is brought down the advantage played as Pap races on looking to get on up the wing her touch allowing Dunstable captain, Jodi McClelland to come and clear the ball over the hedge for a throw. 

  Darvill is a threat down the right for Dunstable getting on with the ball taking it to the by-line presses on into the area looking to cross, Mulvihill in to block it. A corner for Dunstable  on the right in central, Devereux up but can’t get enough on it to take it beyond the goalkeeper. Dunstable committing the foul as Bedford once again struggle to get it clear. Swares does well getting hold on the ball in midfield for Bedford left side has Fensome drifting across as the passing option sends it forwards, McClellan looks to have it only for the defender to slice her clearance, the ball deflected into the box beyond Fensome off like a hare after it, Taylor sharp comes out to claim it holding onto the ball as Fensome runs into her. 

Bedford attacking right side release a shot from distance no idea who took it the ball racing in from 25 yards flashing wide of the near post. The cars exposed behind the goal I’m glad I’m parked well out of the way.

  GOAL! Ajayi fouled inside the Dunstable half a free-kick given to the right of the centre circle. Carroll over it has a good set-piece on her fires the ball in through everyone Taylor may not have expected that reacts well to push the ball away to her right, the ball left of her goal Bedford are alert whilst Dunstable remain static Franklin and Fensome through on the follow-up, Franklin left retrieving the ball spinning to lift it back in across goal evading Taylor, Fensome is there unopposed in the middle to raise her leg and guide the ball home 2-0.

Natasha Fensome puts Bedford into a 2 nil lead

  Fensome causing the Dunstable defence problems with her movement drawing players out of position going into the right and left channels looking for the ball, moving right this time Burgess goes with her needing to slide in to defend on the attacker as she goes to shoot. Franklin is upended on the right for Bedford, Carroll on the set-piece goes for goal, a good range strike, the cars behind the goal saved as a spectator claims the ball as it drops over the bar. 

  Esposito on for Devereux on the left the cross fizzed inside for McCay top of the D the Dunstable midfielder striking it 1st time slicing her shot wide. McClelland with a vital interception eft side to deny Fensome as Acolatse looks to send the ball on. Swares and Ajayi work the ball well central up into Fensome outside the box right her flick to the right seeing Franklin break in behind, Smith lunging in with a timely tackle to stop her shot. A strong finish to the 1st half from Bedford, Ajayi turning central has support from Fensome dropping deeper, Acolatse going beyond her Fensome rolls the ball into her feet Acolatse turning to strike a shot from 25 yards out Taylor moving across sees it wide of the near post. 

  Bedford come on through the middle Acolatse right playing it crossfield for Pap on the left 25 yards out drops it into Fensome outside the box the attacker turning on the ball to clip a shot in towards goal, on the rise Taylor is right behind it a confident claim high. Dunstable get the ball on down the left Devereux inside for McCay central 20 yards out sees her effort charged down, the ball put back to Devereux left tries again, McCay top of the D seeing the ball across her body before striking it frustrated as her attempt races wide.

 Strong tackling all round some decisions frustrating Dunstable. McCay adjudged to have fouled Ajayi outside the centre circle Carroll up to take it again, keeps her shot lower this time but the keeper can see it wide. Fensome and Acolatse break through the middle seeking to get into the Dunstable area, Raffermati doing well in the defence to get in between the pair thwart the attack. 

Half-time Bedford Ladies 2-0 AFC Dunstable Women

  A 2-0 lead for Bedford at the break both goals coming after a good chance for Dunstable at the other end. Bedford taking a while to settle into the match, Dunstable applying pressure early on getting forwards well, both side using the width the midfield battle committed a good contest Bedford scoring at timely intervals to get themselves into a good position going into the 2nd half, work for Dunstable to do if they are to get back into the game, 2-0 though can be a tricky score-line.

  A double change for Dunstable at the start of the 2nd half, Hannah Ring and Darcy Collins on for Smith and Jeffery. No changes for Bedford as Dunstable get the ball moving 2nd half. Fisher defending on the right as the ball is played out to the wing. Bedford straight on the attack the ball worked across the pitch out to Pap on the move left side strikes it on the angle, Taylor down low at her near post making a comfortable save. 

Mollie Robinson, clearing the ball for Bedford

  Fensome left clips a ball over the top into the area for Acolatse, struggles to bring it down to shoot, allows Devereux to get in her her and clear the ball for Dunstable. McCay out on the right wins a throw as Dunstable advance, the set-piece put into the path of Darvill 20 yards out blazes a shot over the bar. Swares retrieves a ball fed out into space on the right for Bedford swinging a cross back in across goal, Franklin closing in far side connects with in but turns it wide. A pause in play Pap down with an injury but is okay to continue for now. 

Dunstable captain. Jodi McClelland

  Carroll defends in close on Steadman top of the area as Devereux advances down the wing sends the ball into her. Moments later Carroll is called into action again as Dunstable work a throw into the area from the left of Devereux. Bedford with a free-kick on halfway, Ajayi knocking it down into the path of Acolatse top of the D opens her foot to turn the ball goalwards in low Taylor down is right behind it. 

  Darvill still carrying a threat on the right for Dunstable breaks on in behind up the line, Steadman with a good near post run, Darvill wraps her foot around the ball, lifting it in, Shore can’t get there Steadman is inches away from heading it beyond her. Pap having sustained another knock has to come off for Bedford, on in her place on the left Carissa Kaczorowski. Ring chips the ball from 25 yards out, on towards the top of the area looking for Darvill, Mulvihill closing her down the ball running on behind for Shore to gather. 

  GOAL! 18 minutes gone in the 2nd half and Bedford find that all important 3rd goal, Ajayi lifting a ball up from the middle high to drop inside the area left of goal, Fensome getting onto Raffermati the Bedford attacker using her body well, experienced as it bounces difficult to deal with keeps her marker at bay before striking a fierce shot low wide across the keeper into the bottom corner 3-0.

Natasha Fensome puts Bedford 3-0 up

  A blow for Dunstable frustration showing the weather warm a drinks break called soon after a break in play, time to regroup. Play resumes Ring with good work on the ball right side passes inside for Burgess to send it on for McCay who in turn looks to put it into Steadman’s feet as she moves across the D from the left to the right, Robinson with a vital tackle stopping the Dunstable attacker getting in behind on goal. 

  Ring wins Dunstable a free-kick wide on the right, players come forwards the delivery in near side defended well by Ajayi, the break is on Bedford moving left get up the pitch quickly cut out by McClelland, the ball still alive left side Bedford fire it in central to Fensome, Esposito in on her with a fine tackle to win the ball. Acolatse comes off for Bedford to be replaced by Rianne Townsend-Brown. 

Dunstable’s Chloe Esposito

  GOAL! Bedford pressing forwards extend their lead the ball played out to Fensome drifting into space on the right takes the ball on driving to the by-line into the box flashes a cross into the six yard box, Franklin is there to smash goalwards a defenders dive to block, Taylor making a good save the ball still alive however Franklin sharp to scoop it up wide beyond the despairing Taylor to the right of goal 4-0.

Bedford’s captain, Gemma Franklin puts her side into a 4 goal lead

  Ring brings the ball on central for Dunstable strong riding a challenge surges on has McClelland with her, Dunstable’s captain brought down a free-ick given 30 yards out. McClelland over it goes for goal her shot blasted wide. Dunstable visibly frustrated fell decisions are going against them. Darvill continues to attack down the right powers forwards squares it top of the box into Steadman’s path the strikers 1st touch a little heavy let’s Shore snatch the ball up into her body. 

  GOAL! Darvill’s determination pays off as she pulls a goal back for Dunstable, getting players up central Bedford don’t get clear the ball won back play turned around 30 yards out the pass is perfect into Darvill right into the area pace taking her on blasts her shot on the angle wide across the keeper 4-1.

  15 minutes left to play plus stoppages, Dunstable find another level of energy as they look to rally, tempers though will need to be left in check. McClelland doing well at the back clearing the ball as Bedford drop it in left for Kaczorowski to chase, wants Taylor to come but can’t risk it clearing the ball to the left. Bedford with the throw allows players to come forwards crossed into Franklin top of the area back to goal she pushes it out for the advancing Carroll to hit from 25 yards out, her attempt running wide across goal.

  The game has suddenly livened up, Dunstable upping it, Bedford have responded well. Jeffery comes back on for Dunstable replacing McCay. Fensome with a shot on the angle from the left see Taylor down low at her near post to claim. 

  GOAL! Bedford score a wonder strike to effectively kill off the game, attacking on the left, Franklin pushing on across the top of the area, Dunstable clear it back to the left Bedford regaining possession the ball squared to Ajayi some 30 yards out left of the D wraps her foot around the ball and sweeps a looping shot beyond Taylor before she can move 5-1. 

Bedford’s Jasmine Ajayi

  Dunstable hit with another blow nevertheless look to get on the offensive, Darvill right side surging on into the box, Carroll comes sliding in to make the tackle. The game becoming stretched as players tire. Ring with Steadman top of the area for Dunstable played back for Jeffery to hit from distance her strike charged down. Dunstable with a throw right keep players up Bedford can’t get it away Darvill with a strike from outside the box charged down by Carroll. A corner won on the left.

 A double substitution for Dunstable before it’s taken Devereux and Esposito off, Louisa Sexton and Ella Claridge coming on. An inswinging delivery into the six yard box a good height attacked by Burgess sails over the crossbar. Bedford make a late change Ashley Emerton on for Kaczorowski. Franklin goes left on for Fensome, McClelland in to tackle the ball out for a throw. Fensome’s last action of the game as she is replaced by Mollie Marshall. 

Burgess’s header goes over for Dunstable

  The game moving into stoppage time Bedford attacking left side on for Townsend-Brown central lays it wide to the right the advancing Emerton her target but the pass doesn’t quite reach her, Dunstable bring it away played up to Jeffery turns over halfway into Ring beyond her moves left, Mulvihill steps out of the backline to tackle her. Collins with a great ball upfield to Darvill on the move right side crosses into the box for Steadman near side knocks it back for Claridge to strike her attempt charged down Bedford straight on the counter the ball long up to Townsend-Brown to hit on the run from distance sends it over the bar. 

Bedford’s Ashley Emerton

 A late corner for Bedford right side long to the far post knocked goalwards Taylor though takes high back on her line. Bedford with the energy in the closing moment push on Ajayi right side seeing her cross charged down for a corner. Dunstable clear, the ball though quickly back with Bedford Franklin central sending it to Ajayi to her left to hit from distance the strike over the top.  

Full time Bedford Ladies 5-1 AFC Dunstable Women

  Bedford Ladies win the Bedfordshire Women’s County Cup for a 3rd successive year. In the end proving too much for Dunstable. Despite starting the slower, Dunstable having opportunities Bedford came back to score twice to lead 2-0 at the break finished the 1st half well. Play stretched in the 2nd period Dunstable continuing to look a threat Bedford got the crucial 3rd goal going on to add a 4th the goal at regular intervals during the game hurting Dunstable, who never gave up however pulling a goal back, a wonder strike from Ajayi effectively sealing the win. 

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Time for the Women’s Football East – Player of the Match is once again a tough one, not often I have a nailed on candidate. A few performances to mention. Some great saves from Ciara Taylor despite the score line for Dunstable. Gemma Darvill’s performance deserved a goal, her pace and power on the right a threat for Bedford throughout the game. For Bedford, Gemma Franklin was a threat out wide too, picking up the ball and driving forwards bringing others into play linked up with Fensome well. In midfield it was a battle ultimately won by Shianne Swares and Jasmine Ajayi for Bedford both putting in several great tackles with Ajayi scoring a brilliant goal. The award though goes to Bedford’s Natasha Fensome scored twice, her movement off the ball causing Dunstable issues all game, is a hard player to mark and is more often than not clinical when given a chance in front of goal.

 Congratulations to Bedford Ladies upon another County Cup victory.

Bedford Ladies County Cup Winner 20/21

  An entertaining game the score-line perhaps not telling the whole tale. Nice to finally get to a Bedfordshire County Cup Final. Has been a long while too since I’ve opted to decamp to a hotel for the night get the report written instead of burning the midnight… usual well past it oil. My thanks to both teams for providing me with the team details and Mark from Beds FA for their help today as always much appreciated.

by Darren Gilham