Sunday 30th January
Norfolk Women’s Division One
County league action featured on Women’s Football East this weekend with a top of the table clash from Norfolk Women’s Division One, as 2nd placed Thetford Town Ladies host 3rd placed Fakenham Town Ladies.
A point between the sides going into the game with both having played 7 to date in Division One. Thetford Town Ladies making a fantastic start to life in Division One especially as they could very well have been on Division Two his season had the original plan for the county league in Norfolk gone with 3 divisions instead. As it was with teams withdrawing late in the planning the format was adjusted to accommodate 2 divisions with Thetford joining Stalham Town Ladies, North Walsham Angels and Beccles Town Ladies in Division One.
Of the four that moved up Thetford have by far had the best start, the squad gaining valuable experience since joining the league a few players with experience at regional level with Bury Town Ladies added to the squad at the start of the season. An unbeaten start to date recording 6 wins and a draw, reaching both the quarter finals of the County and League Cup. Losing out to County Cup favourites Wymondham Town Ladies a fortnight ago were narrowly beaten 2-1 by Bungay Town Ladies in last Sunday’s League Cup quarter final. Rebecca White is Thetford’s top goal scorer so far with 12 goals with Melissa Boulton and Shannon Richardson joint 2nd with 7 goals each from 7 played with Hannah Rogers scoring 6 from 6. Darrell Allen recently joining Thetford Town Ladies to help run the social media and promotion of the club brings valuable knowledge within the woman’s game and is keen to promote both mens and women’s football within Norfolk.
Fakenham Town Ladies too making a fantastic start to the season in Norfolk Division One, were rampant in their opening game running out 22-0 winners away to Thorpe St Andrew Women. Another 24-0 result logged in the League Cup too against Red Rose from Division Two. Are through to the semi-finals of the League Cup after they beat Long Stratton Women on penalties after the sides finished 3-3 in regular play. Sit 3rd after 7 played winning 6 with a single defeat. Sophie Lubbock top scoring so far with 18 goals from 9 appearances with Shelley Woods on 14 from 8 and Chantelle Ketteringham on 12 goals from 9 played.
Thetford Town FC the venue for today’s league encounter, one of the closest grounds to my home, on Mundford Road in Thetford. The grass pitch sloping offers plenty of width. Fenced on all sides leading onto more sports pitches and the leisure centre beyond. A covered stand offering seating for spectators on one side with a modern bar and spacious clubhouse beside. A bright dry day. The sun with a little heat in it falling behind the stand, noticeably cooler in the shade. Today’s game part of a Thetford/Fakenham double this weekend with the men’s sides meeting in their respective league yesterday. A single goal the difference then going the way of Fakenham.
Thetford Town Ladies starting XI – Lydia Ward, Chloe Webb, Ellie-Mae Davies, Sausha Levy-Twomey (C), Katie Hardie, Courtney Musgrove, Dayna Howard, Melissa Boulton, Abbie Corbyn, Chloe Bentick & Rebecca White. Subs – Amy Coaker, Mia Bambury, Hannah Rogers, Amy Skipp & Charlotte Howard.
Fakenham Town Ladies starting XI – Tilly Betts, Gina Pooley, Chantelle Ketteringham, Jemma Riches, Amie Hutchinson, Sian Sands (C), Vicky Lubbock, Megan Spurrell, Sophie Lubbock, Shelley Woods & Olivia Baker. Subs – Holly Davies.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
A minutes silence observed before kick-off in in respect to Fakenham’s Lewis Sturman and the passing of his mother.
Thetford short on numbers in last weeks quarter final loss name 5 on he bench for today’s top of the table league clash. Fakenham travelling with just the one named substitute available.
It’s the hosts Thetford to get the game underway kicking-off first half, wearing blue shirts with a white band across the top of the chest, navy shorts and socks with Fakenham lined up opposite wearing amber shirts with black sleeves, black shorts and socks. The ball played out to their left Thetford are quick to close it down in the middle the ball going out of play. Is scrappy in the opening exchanges the ball pinging between feet over on the far side of the pitch neither side making any headway.
Fakenham’s, Olivia Baker dropping deeper to get hold of the ball has Sophie Lubbock to her left the pair exchanging passes before Baker threads a diagonal ball to send Sophie Lubbock in behind on the left into the box takes on the early strike pulling the shot wide of the near post. Play is exclusively on the sunny side of the pitch in the opening minutes the ball not sticking with anyone Fakenham captain Sian Sands in with a strong tackle to win possession up to Baker, she in turn tackled by Thetford captain, Sausha Levy-Twomey at the back.
Baker moving to the right running onto the ball played on by Shelley Woods, wraps her foot around the ball her cross dragged back along the top of the area out beyond the D, gathered by Sophie Lubbock who turns into the box striking an angled ball rising towards the near post, Thetford goalkeeper, Lydia Ward, plucking the ball down and claiming it on the bounce.
GOAL! The deadlock is broken inside the opening 5 minutes, Fakenham with a couple of half chances are hit on the counter as Thetford play the ball long out to the right for attacker Rebecca White to run onto, checking back inside around her marker fires an inviting ball across the six yard box, Chantelle Ketteringham stretching for it for Fakenham deflects it out beyond the far post straight into the feet of Abbie Corbyn racing into the box from the left, hits it first time low back across the keeper and into the bottom corner 1-0.
Players from both sides rushing in to close the ball own in the middle, Sands playing a good diagonal ball out to the right for Megan Spurrell, is quickly closed down by Thetford’s Ellie-Mae Davies. Fakenham push players up as they are awarded a free-kick on halfway Amie Hutchinson over the ball, Thetford clearing the ball for a throw high on the left, Fakenham keep bodies up the pitch pressure as Hutchinson turning off the throw sends a diagonal ball in to the top of the area, cleared by Thetford’s Courtney Musgrove. Fakenham regain possession Hutchinson central punching her way through the middle takes on the shot from inside the D, a low effort bobbling up off the pitch, Ward behind it all the way down to gather into her body.
A lively contest the sides evenly matched, Melissa Boulton bringing the ball on down the right up to White she attempts the flick on looking to send Chloe Bentick clear through the middle, too much on it however allowing Fakenham’s goalkeeper, Tilly Betts to claim. Woods wriggling away on the right wing drives on before sending a dangerous cross in towards the near post, Ward needing to get her gloves on the ball punch clear or, Sophie Lubbock closing in is heading into an open goal.
Musgrove playing the pass forwards into Bentick she turns sending the ball out to White on the right, controls checking back inside to turn towards the box opening up her body to unleash a left for strike angled in the ball deflected off a Fakenham leg runs wide for the 1st corner of the game. The set-piece coming to nothing. Thetford are proving difficult to break down at the back, both full back making vital interceptions. Boulton coming on down the right linking up well with White before Hutchinson comes across sliding in to take the ball from the Thetford attacker.
Thetford press the ball in the final 3rd winning a corner on the right, driven low into the crowded six yard box is scrambled clear falling to Thetford’s Katie Hardie outside the D. Gets her foot over the ball to lash a shot back in taking a wicked deflection sending it up to smash off the bar and out for another corner on the left. Betts coming through a crowd to get her gloves on the ball half clears helped on Fakenham break through Vicky Lubbock, Dayna Howard quickly across to nullify the threat taking the ball out for a throw in.
Thetford taking full advantage of the width with White and Corbyn both gaining ground left and right. Corbyn playing a low cross into the box cleared out straight to Musgrove 20 yards out her shot driven back in blocked spinning out to the left Corbyn trying to take advantage, Ketteringham across her well to defend see the ball out for a goal kick.
Sophie Lubbock receiving the ball off her twin sister Vicky in the middle, takes the ball all the way up the left flank driving on forcing Boulton to concede the corner. Put in near side Vicky Lubbock coming for it turns the ball deflected behind for another corner. This delivery longer to the far post area, Baker getting it out of her feet smashing a shot goalwards blocked comes back to Baker for another bite fired in low is blocked on the line this time and launched clear.
Thetford make a change with Mia Bambury coming on for Chloe Webb at the back. Jemma Riches moving across from centre back to deal with the threat of White on the right as Boulton scoops the ball over the top for her to chase down. Off the resulting throw Boulton crosses the ball into Bentick outside the D, can’t dig the shot out before being closed down, retains possession shifting it back across the area for Boulton, aiming to curl a shot into the top corner, doesn’t get it further enough away from the keeper, Betts with a comfortable catch.
Thetford make a triple substitution bringing off, Musgrove, White and Bentick for new signing Amy Coaker, Charlotte Howard and Hannah Rogers. Boulton carrying a knock is brought down as she attacks coming inside from the right 25 yards out. Rogers over the free-kick goes for goal getting the ball over the wall well on target but dropping short safely into Betts’ gloves.
Boulton taking the ball on the right, Gina Pooley staying on her forcing her out wide, checks back managing to get a cross into the box but the Fakenham defence has regrouped, with Sands clearing from the top of the area. Boulton having been struggling with a knock needs to come off receive treatment. White back on with five minutes left to play in the first half. Coaker coming across to the right side immediately wins a corner kick.
Fakenham awarded a free-kick on halfway to the right played in towards the top of the area right side knocked down by Woods comes across to Sophie Lubbock left of the D her first time strike angling away from goal. Fakenham attacking late in the first half Spurrell into Baker she looks to combine with Sophie Lubbock left, Bambury intercepting the pass for Thetford.
Half-time Thetford Town Ladies 1-0 Fakenham Town Ladies
A pretty even 1st half between the sides. Few clear cut chances created, both sides applying pressure well in the final third at times. Thetford with the early lead Abbie Corbyn firing the hosts in front after 5 minutes. Have worked hard as a unit at the back to limit Fakenham’s chances. The final ball from Fakenham letting them down at times often too easily intercepted. Thetford have countered well, White and Corbyn using the flanks well. The woodwork struck and Fakenham seeing an effort blocked on the line is a close game. One goal you think is not going to be enough for Thetford all the play for 2nd half.
One change for Thetford at the break with Bentick back on in place of White. Holly Davies is on the field too for Fakenham at the back with Baker the player off. Fakenham with the kick-off in the 2nd period a carbon copy of the first the ball played out to the left immediately out for a throw. Spurrell comes on with the ball right side sent infield for Sands advancing through the middle takes on the early shot from all of 30 yards out the ball running safely through to the keeper.
Holly Davies in to defend close on Bentick as she looks to gain ground on the left with the ball at her feet. Corbyn gathering the ball off the throw in twists and turns her way free moving central turning towards goal before firing a shot from 25 out off target. Corbyn then back to help Ellie-Mae Davies at the back as Sophie Lubbock picks up the ball on the right powers her way forwards.
Rogers on the attack for Thetford moving left with the ball to the by line twists back to fire in a cross near side, attacked by Howard the ball smashing her in the face painfully as it cannons against her off a defender. Needs looking at and is brought off with White returning to the action. Play resumes the ball spread cross field to Ketteringham on the right advancing with the ball pace is closing in on the area, over runs the ball slightly allowing Ward to step out come drop onto the ball.
Vicky Lubbock through the middle picking up the ball drives on through the middle moving left to right, sliding onto the ball to shot under challenge the ball fired wide from 25 yards out. Spurrell on the right squares it inside for Sophie Lubbock up top ploughs forwards into the area wide sends a cross long through the six yard box into Ketteringham beyond the far post, can’t dig the ball out from under her feet before Hardie closes her down. The visitors have upped the tempo pressing forwards taking the attack to Thetford the hosts finding themselves under pressure.
Fakenham risk getting hit on the counter, as Thetford do just that White with the ball up to Coaker on the right goes forwards, Ketteringham coming all the way back to put in the tackle win the ball back. Holly Davies with a crucial interception on the left to deny Bentick as Corbyn’s clever footwork looks to put her through on goal. Davies though is hurt in the move and going down needs to come off. Baker returning to the action Spurrell dropping into the defence.
Woods powers her way forwards wide on the left for Fakenham playing an early diagonal ball into the area only Sophie Lubbock in there beyond the far post managing to reach the ball on the by line attempts to turn it back across goal, plays the ball into the side netting. Ellie-Mae Davies comes off for Thetford with Boulton back on with a little under half an hour to play. Howard moving into the left back position. Howard clearing the ball as Vicky Lubbock picking up the ball in the middle drives forwards left to right. A corner won on the right for Fakenham.
The set-piece played into the near post defended by Levy-Twomey a 2nd corner awarded. Ward coming into the crowded at her near post to punch the ball down Fakenham getting a 3rd corner on the left. An inswinging delivery from Ketteringham the ball striking the near post rebounding back into play half cleared Riches hitting it back into the top of the area Hutchinson turning into the shot striking the ball over the bar.
Thetford’s Corbyn getting a throw high on the left, Rogers and Boulton combine a one two Rogers putting Boulton in behind left, Betts rushing out to beat her to the ball clearing it for a throw in in the corner. Played into Boulton left corner of the box shifts to her right opening up her body to curl a shot in on the angle, Betts sees it all the way makes a comfortable catch. Ketteringham taking the ball on down the left for Fakenham striking the shot early from distance angling across the keeper, Ward down well to make the save getting something on the ball to turn it past her far post for a corner.
Ward getting her gloves on the ball to punch clear to the top of the area her defence scrambling it away. Corbyn showing more good footwork on the ball squirming free in the middle driving on towards the area, Riches standing firm to put in the challenge inside the D stopping her progress. Corbyn is proving a handful in the middle for Fakenham, slides the ball through to Boulton outside the D, turns into Hutchinson the centre back halting her attack the ball loose gathered by Corbyn left of the D 20 out sees her strike hit Boulton.
Baker on the right off a throw turns has Woods and Vicky Lubbock driving on though the middle attempts to lay the ball in behind the defence, too close to Ward however as the keeper gets it ahead of her attacking players. Bentick comes off for Thetford replaced by Musgrove with 15 minutes left to play.
Corbyn combining well with Boulton on the left the latter looking to get behind Spurrell, the full back recovering well to get back at her nip in to retake the ball. Fakenham make a change with Davies recovered back on for Baker. Fakenham with a free kick on the left angled in towards the near post skips up in front of Ward the keeper, not collecting, Musgrove there ahead of Sophie Lubbock to hook the ball clear. Fakenham applying pressure late on Thetford starting to look nervous at the back as they defend their single goal lead. Levy-Twomey across to tackle Sophie Lubbock put the ball out for a throw in as she looks to get in behind on the right.
The throw into Vicky Lubbock chests down and hits a shot in towards the near post from the top corner of the area Ward down at her near post to save. Woods comes on with the ball left side drives a cross through the box looking for Sophie Lubbock right side, Levy-Twomey hooking the ball behind for a corner. The delivery fired in towards the near post attacked players diving in, the ball sent narrowly over the cross bar. Fakenham turning the screw late on have a free-kick wide left some 25 yards out. Angled in towards the near post Ward sees it all the way.
Musgrove across to the left to prevent Ketteringham delivering a cross into the box. The game moving into the final minute of regular play Thetford make a late change bringing off Levy-Twomey for Ellie-Mae Davies.
GOAL! Fakenham capitalise as they are awarded a free-kick on the right the ball played up towards the top of the area push players forwards looking to get hold of the ball, half cleared Vicky Lubbock gets it threading a ball through the ball line into Woods breaking in behind to the left of goal and strokes a shot low across the keeper into the back of the net to score a late equaliser 1-1.
Into stoppage time a sucker punch for Thetford at the death they go on the attack straight from the restart the ball out to Corbyn on the left takes it on in behind whipping a cross in along the six yard box picking out White at the far post two yards out looks to send her header over the keeper and in, too close to Betts however the keeper getting her arms up to block pull the ball down to safety.
GOAL! A chance to retake the lead at one end Fakenham press the ball played on through the middle clipped on over the top into the box sees Woods breaking clear once more left off goal and from the angle hits a fantastic strike up over the keeper to nestle in the back of the net and steal the 3 points at the death 1-2.
There’s practically no time left for left for Thetford to mount a serious attack as referee Paul Gibson blows for full time.
Full time Thetford Town Ladies 1-2 Fakenham Town Ladies
Fakenham stealing the 3 points at the death with a last minute equaliser and winning goal in stoppage time to end Thetford’s unbeaten start to the season and climb above them into 2nd spot in the Division One table. Thetford good value for their lead at the break Abbie Corbyn’s 5th minute goal the difference. Limiting Fakenham’s chances. One goal however was never likely to be enough and with both sides making changes both in personal and tactically throughout the 2nd half you felt the hosts were going to need a 2nd goal. Fakenham applying pressure Thetford getting nervous towards the end, but just as it was starting to look like one of those days for Fakenham where a goal wouldn’t come Shelley Woods found the net with an 89th minute equaliser. Thetford with a good chance to retake the lead in stoppage time however it was Fakenham and Woods with her 2nd of the game that would have the final say. A draw may well have been the fairer result but that’s football.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. Not an easy one at all both sides playing their part in an entertaining contest. Several performances of note firstly for Thetford. Dayna Howard covering a lot of ground in both midfield and defence to win the ball back on numerous occasions. Melissa Boulton solid in defence and bringing the ball forwards bringing other into play throughout. Don’t normally single a player of the match out for both sides but on this occasion I will was impressed by Abbie Corbyn today showed great footwork and close ball control getting round players and setting up numerous attacks scoring the opener. For Fakenham, Jemma Riches played well in defence solid throughout tough to break down tackled well. Vicky Lubbock in the centre of the park was busy winning several tackles driving forwards and regaining possession. Today’s award though goes to Shelley Woods her goals winning the game for Fakenham, provided the thrust for many of Fakenham’s attacking moves.
Another great advert for women’s football in Norfolk between two sides that have improved immensely. An enjoyable afternoon at Thetford my thanks to both clubs for there help today and to Darrell Allen for his assistance.
by Darren Gilham