Monthly Archives: December 2023

Match Report – Cambridge United WFC v Worthing FC Women

Sunday 3rd December

FAWNL South East Division One

Two weeks later than originally advertised heading west into Cambridgeshire to St Neots to watch my final game of 2023, between Cambridge United WFC and Worthing FC Women in FAWNL South East Division One.

A clash between 4th and 5th in the league with Worthing FC Women moving above Cambridge United WFC winning 4-0 at home to Cambridge City Women last weekend. The two clubs enjoying a great first half to the season amongst the chasing pack looking to apply pressure to the leading pair of AFC Wimbledon Women and Norwich City Women going into the new year.

  Cambridge United WFC without last season’s top scorer Sarah Wiltshire as she announced she was pregnant with her 3rd child, at the beginning of the campaign, signing off by scoring all 4 goals in Cambridge’s 1st league win of the season. That seeing the management team having to device a new strategy for the season, and so far has paid off playing midfielder Alysha Stojko-Down as a false number 9, scoring 9 goals to date to push Cambridge United WFC into a strong position in the top half of the FAWNL South East Division One table.

  Ruth Fox netting 7 goals and Bella Simmons on 6, a run of 3 wins and a draw coming to an end last time out with a narrow 3-2 loss to QPR FC Women. Building a competitive squad the club backed well by Cambridge United FC itself with a number of games to take place at the Abbey Stadium itself. St Neots Town FC’s Premier Plus stadium remains the clubs main home, situated in an ever growing residential area on the outskirts of the town. Winger Charlotte Gillies to most recent player to join their squad often a thorn in United’s side when playing for rival Cambridge City her pace and skill will add to the sides attacking flare.

  Worthing FC Women newly promoted to the FAWNL after winning the London & South East Premier Division last season losing just one match along the way. Managed by ex-Lewes FC Women’s manager, John Donohue assisted by Kelly Newton, who is Lewes FC Women’s record appearance holder. The South Coast side the latest addition to a number of clubs sharing rapid growth in the area. Donohue recruiting a strong squad of players from, Lewes itself with FAWNL and Championship experience, such as goalkeeper Lauren Dolbear and captain Rachel Palmer along with some ex-Portsmouth FC Women players, such as Danielle Rowe, Tierney Scott and Samantha Quayle amongst others.

  That has seen them hit the ground running as Worthing plays in the 4th tier for the 1st time, winning 5 of their 6 opening league games to put themselves right in contention with the leaders. A slight dip in results seeing them fall back down to 6th before a 4-0 home win over Cambridge City Women saw them leap frog Cambridge United back into 4th. Becki Bath leading the goal scoring charts so far this season netting 13 goals in 12 appearances while Samantha Quayle has 9 goals from 11 games.

 St Neots Town FC’s Premier Plus Stadium the venue for today’s match, the way into the stadium seeing an ever growing residential development. The ground very much in the heart of the community the main grass pitch in good condition with plenty of green offering good width. A seated stand on one side housing the changing rooms beneath and clubhouse beside the bar open serving hot and cold drinks. A cup of tea definitely needed a bitter bite to the wind blowing, but a vast improvement on last weeks WET and miserable weather. One more game for 2023, lets go…

Cambridge United WFC

 Cambridge United WFC starting XI – Lauren Webb, Rachel Kosky, Brooklyn Cheal-Ferris, Lauren Rouse, Abbie Jackson, Gisela Otten (C), Sammy Edgar, Zoe Wood, Ella Marden, Ruth Fox & Alysha Stojko-Down. Subs – Mayzee Seymour, Natasha Collins, Niamh Day, Serena Cobb & Bella Simmons.

Worthing FC Women

 Worthing FC Women starting XI – Lauren Dolbear, Katie Young, Rachel Palmer (C), Emma Blakely, Chloe Winchester, Danielle Rowe, Tierney Scott, Chloe Humphrey, Shannon Albuery, Samantha Quayle & Becki Bath. Subs – Rebecca Bell, Niamh Anderson, Izzy Glass-Oliver, Gemma Worsfold & Katie Cooper. 

 The game rearranged from a fortnight ago, Cambridge ending the year nursing a few knocks with a few missing including midfielder, Fran Steele who has been a strong addition to the side since joining from Cambridge City this season. Gisela Otten captaining Cambridge, Rachel Palmer, Worthing joining the match officials in the middle to decide kick-off. Cambridge to get the 1st half underway wearing amber coloured shirts with black shorts and socks. Worthing in their all blue away strip lined up opposite. The ball rolled back for the midfield to play a ball out to the left with the advancing Ruth Fox the target, Katie Young instead intercepting at the back for Worthing knocked on into the middle for Danielle Rowe lays the diagonal pass out to the right for Chloe Humphrey pushing on, Lauren Rouse across to close her down the ball out for the throw in.

Worthing FC Women’s defender, Katie Young

  The throw dropped short laid back up the line for Rachel Palmer to send a deep cross in towards the top of the area, Sammy Edgar under it to head clear for Cambridge. The hosts looking to break on the left the ball played on for Fox to attack, Young though is quickly across o kick clear for Worthing. 

 GOAL! Cambridge win the ball on the right Rachel Kosky getting on up the wing to support Ella Marden the ball crossed into the six yard box, Young getting head head on it to intercept for Worthing, knocks it back out to the right of goal, falls straight to Alysha Stojko-Down and she lashes the ball back in across the face of goal to open the scoring inside the opening two minutes 1-0.

Alysha Stojko-Down firing Cambridge into the lead with her 10th goal of the season

  Worthing push players on from the restart looking to recover quickly from their early set back Tierney Scott linking up with Rowe the ball on for Shannon Albuery making a run into the box right side, Rouse getting in the challenge to take the ball away to the touchline. Zoe Wood with quick footwork taking the ball on left for Cambridge knocking it on for Fox chasing in behind taking the ball on to the by-line her cross low to the near post, adjudged to have gone behind before goalkeeper, Lauren Dolbear gets down to it.

  Cambridge with a bright start to the game lively on the flanks lose the ball on the left Worthing finding Quayle out on the wing knocks it into Albuery running into the area on the left, evading a couple of defensive challenges before squeezing a shot away on the angle, lacks the power to trouble Cambridge goalkeeper Lauren Webb as she has her angles covered getting down to claim the ball. 

Wood causing Worthing a few issues early on is brought down by Quayle the hosts awarded a free-kick. Moments later Scott fouls Cheal-Ferris as the pair tussle for possession. Proving to be a competitive tie between two sides closely placed in the top half of the table. Wood skipping free on the left with a diagonal ball long into the area looking for Stojko-Down, Dolbear can safely come out to lay claim to it. Kosky powering forwards on the right for Cambridge, Emma Blakely coming across to tackle for Worthing halting her run in the corner.

Worthing’s Emma Blakely

 Abbie Jackson with the tackle for Cambridge inside the D, as Albuery seeing the ball into her feet looks to turn into the box. Young on the ball at the back for Worthing time to look up pick her pass sends a dangerous diagonal ball forwards with Humphrey making a run into the area, Kosky tracking back with her the pair tangling, going down, the referee pointing to the spot Penalty! The Cambridge bench furious with the decision. An opportunity for Worthing to level things up from the spot. Bath to take the spot kick, strikes the ball to the left of goal, Webb diving the right way to make a fantastic save her right arm outstretched to push the ball wide of goal behind for a corner kick.

Lauren Webb saving Becki Bath’s penalty.

Lauren Webb

Lifted in high from the left a Cambridge head gets a touch near side but can only help it on into the middle, falls for Blakely, stabs the ball goal wards is trapped between her feet by Jackson in the six yard box before scrambling the ball clear of danger. 

Cambridge’s Abbie Jackson

  Worthing look to build through the middle Rowe on for Albuery, Humphrey entering the area likely to be flagged offside if the ball found it’s way through to her but the Cambridge centre backs close the door on Albuery the ball cleared. Rouse coming across on two occasions to stop Worthing on the left as they threaten to get in behind. Scott lining up a strike from distance, the Worthing midfielders shot not troubling Webb.

Worthing’s Tierney Scott

  Lively in the middle, both sides working hard to close down the ball, Worthing pressing forwards as Cambridge drop off at time to defend their area. Albuery linking up with Zoe Winchester going left, Rouse tackling, Cambridge countering right side Kosky them Marden inside for Stojko-Down 25 yards out looks to play the ball across the top of the D for Fox, can’t quite turn into the shot but keeps the attack alive pushing for the area, Blakely closing her down for Worthing.

  Cambridge not happy with the earlier penalty decision only further aggravated as they question other decisions. Wood winning a corner for the hosts on the right Worthing clearing their lines attack through the middle, the ball fired forwards into the area, Rouse not getting hold of it evades her as Bath steals in beyond her, striking the ball, Webb moving forwards to close the angle making the blocking save at close range. 

 Fox high on the left breaking the ball down well off her chest knocking the ball into the area, Blakely in to block as she shapes to shoot the ball deflected clear. Emotions rising the referee stopping play to have a word with Cambridge manager Darren Marjoram, settling things down… for now. Wood and Fox liking up well on the left the former lifting a long diagonal ball forwards for Marden to attack on the right, Dolbear alert to the danger out to the edge of her area to drop onto the ball.

  Worthing have the ball in the back of the net in the 26th minute as Scott free at the back post taps in Quayle’s pass to her from the left as Winchester and Albuery combine top of the area, however it won’t count as the Worthing attack breaking forwards with pace is flagged offside. Cambridge putting themselves under pressure dropping off allowing Worthing to come at them.

Worthing midfielder, Zoe Winchester

  Scott shifting the ball well between her feet sending the ball on into the left channel for Quayle, looking to get into the area, Kosky tracking back to tackle the ball deflected back across the D, Albuery rushing in looking to latch onto it, Otten diving in for Cambridge, just about getting to take the ball out of her path.

 No advantage, play brought back as Wood is pulled back for Cambridge out on the left inside the Worthing half, players forwards as Cheal-Ferris sends the set-piece angling into the far post attacked, Worthing defending the ball cleared, won back 30 yards out the shot taken struck wide, over the bar (and by bar I mean the stand behind the goal). A pause in play with Dolbear down in the Worthing goal, a chance for the coaches to get instructions to their players.

 Scott evading a tackle on the right getting forwards opening up her body attempting to thread a pass into the area for bath to run onto, too close to Webb however the keeper getting her gloves wrapped around the ball. Albuery turning on the ball in the middle sending a clipped pass out to Humphrey wide on the left, Marden tracking back for Cambridge putting in the tackle to clear the threat. Worthing though pushing players on force Cambridge back, Palmer sweeping a deep cross into the area, Fox heading clear for Cambridge.

  Worthing winning a free-kick central 25 yards out, Young running in to strike the ball smashes it into Cambridge’s wall. Cambridge attacking on the left Wood laying the ball back for Cheal-Ferris to hit long up towards Fox moving into the area, Blakely instead under it to hook clear for Worthing. 

Dolbear miscuing her goal kick putting the ball straight at Fox inside the box to the left of goal looking to control with her head get the ball down to strike, is closed down quickly by the Worthing defence. Moving into the final 5 minutes of the 1st half, pressing Cambridge back Edgar sends the ball back into her keeper coming at Webb with pace the keeper looking to try and adjusted her feet screws her clearances straight into the path of Bath charging in through the middle, the shot though fired straight back into the keeper, Webb falling back grateful to get the ball into her body.

Worthing’s Becki Bath

  Cambridge’s turn to appeal for a penalty as the ball is rolled in towards Fox inside the box from the right, a heavy challenge but well timed I think the appeals waved away. Cambridge getting a free-kick inside the Worthing half out to the left Cheal-Ferris over it again flighting a ball into the area headed clear, Edgar tackling stopping the visitors from breaking away keeping the pressure on around the area Kosky pushing on to the by-line on the right is closed down by Blakely preventing her from getting a cross into the box.

Ruth Fox

  Winchester out to Albuery moving to left her strike on the angle to the near post saved well by Webb with Quayle bursting forwards looking to attack. Worthing to the attack Rowe to Quayle on for Humphrey left side keeping the ball in play on the by-line laid back to Bath left of the D, her low strike in towards goal blocked by Jackson for Cambridge. 

Brooklyn Cheal-Ferris beating Worthing’s Tierney Scott to the ball

Into stoppage time, Cheal-Ferris and Scott continue to enjoy a lively contest as they look to win the ball the former fouled, the free-kick taken quickly Worthing quick to win it back forwards for Scott on the right lifts a diagonal ball towards the area looking to cut a hole in the Cambridge defence, Jackson coming across, throwing up a leg catching the ball with her heel a vital touch as she deflects the ball away from the advancing Bath into the arms of her keeper. 

  Stojko-Down bundled over as she looks to bring the ball on through the middle for Cambridge halfway inside the Worthing half. Jackson over it, sends a teasing strike in towards goal bouncing narrowly wide of Dolbear’s right post. Young forwards for Worthing on the right inside for Bath central lays it into Quayle right of the D, Cheal-Ferris close in, Quayle goes down, Cambridge not pleased with the decision a free-kick to Worthing 25 yards out in a dangerous position, Palmer across to take it curls her attempt straight against the wall. Wood looking to break clear on the left for Cambridge, Blakely out well to close her down for Worthing.

Half-time Cambridge United WFC 1-0 Worthing FC Women

  Cambridge with the early goal go into the break leading 1-0 at half-time have worked hard for their lead. Defending at the back, dropping off at times inviting pressure. Worthing have gotten forwards well moving the ball across the pitch winning a penalty, seeing the chance to level the scores saved whilst the offside flag has denied them another opportunity. The interval a chance to put a few thing’s right a competitive tie between the sides placed 4th and 5th in the league, set up nicely for the first half. 

  No changes for either side at the break, the light beginning to fade the floodlights coming on. Worthing to get the 2nd half underway. The ball put out wide, Wood moves in quickly to close it down for Cambridge, the visitors move in to regain possession get on the attack pressing up the left winning a throw high, knocked onto into the Cambridge area, cleared by Rouse. Worthing showing attacking intent at the start of the 2nd period winning a corner on the left, swept in low to the near post defended knocked on across the six yard box cleared by Kosky at the far post.

  Worthing looking to impose themselves on the ball, Albuery getting about the park to win the ball. Another corner won on the left, rolled in shot played back to the taker the ball crossed in towards the far post Kosky defending for Cambridge before the shot is struck over on the angle to the right of the box. 

  Worthing on the charge through the middle Rowe on for Humphrey inside the area, Quayle ahead of her looking to tee her up, Jackson comes in to close her down in the nick of time to clear the ball away from a throw on the left. Worthing making a strong start to the 2nd half keeping Cambridge penned inside their final 3rd winning another corner on the left whipped in across goal the ball cannoning down into the six yard box off the far post before Cambridge’s defence scrambles it away.

Worthing’s Chloe Humphrey

  Under the cosh in the opening exchanges little opportunity to break for Cambridge, Wood though with a fantastic flick on from a throw on the right sending Marden on give chase to the ball, ahead of Blakely, can’t quite get there before Dolbear comes rushing towards her to clear the ball.

 Cambridge under pressure needing to dig deep. Humphrey attempting to get onto the end of a cross field pass from the right as she attacks on the left, Rouse needing to come out to challenge conceding a corner. Kosky adjudged to have fouled Humphrey on the wing, looked more like a tangle of legs as the pair crossed paths, nevertheless the decision goes Worthing’s way.

  Cambridge feeling aggrieved with the decisions, as Worthing continue to press the ball, Winchester latching onto Rouse’s clearance 30 yards out, her 1st time strike angling wide past the left post. Fox clattered into out on the left the free-kick swept into the area cleared by Worthing’s Young. Another decision causing consternation amongst the Cambridge ranks as Wood is penalised for a foul on Humphrey. That leads to the ball being played up the line passed inside to Albuery pushing inside appears to be sent tumbling, the set-piece awarded again Cambridge livid at the decision…

Shannon Albuery winning Worthing a free-kick in the 61st minute.

 GOAL! The free-kick outside the area to the left of the box everyone back for Cambridge to defend, Worthing lining up at the far post ready to attack the ball is put right on the money players running in met by a blue shirt headed home across goal to put Worthing back on level terms, Albuery the player on the mark 1-1.

Shannon Albuery fires home Worthing’s equaliser

  Cambridge incensed by the decision to award the free-kick in the first place are further penalised, Edgar furious talking herself into trouble shown the yellow card by the referee and sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes. Cambridge down to 10 just as they look to make a change bringing on Simmons to replace Marden. Worthing though on a high looking to push home the advantage as Cambridge look to adjust personal to cover their missing players.

GOAL! And take advantage they do closing the ball down in the middle, the through ball cutting open the defence to see Quayle break in behind to the left of goal closing down the six yard box, strikes her shot across the keeper and into the bottom corner to fire Worthing into the lead 1-2!

Samantha Quayle puts Worthing into the lead

  A big spell for Cambridge the game going against them need to rally unhappy with the referee as another foul is given against them as Quayle is fouled. Worthing on top pushing on Rowe out to the right the cross lifted in near posted defended by Kosky, drops to Quayle on the angle sends her attempt at goal over. Bath running onto the ball in the middle with a wild strike on the ball, in towards goal easy for Webb.

  Scott 25 yards out to the right corner of the Cambridge box hesitates as she brings the ball down expecting like Cambridge to be pulled up for a hand ball, when the decision doesn’t come however she turns to take a shot sending her effort up over the crossbar. Worthing with a strong performance in the 2nd half, Cambridge having to battle hard at the back to keep them at bay struggling to make anything stick up top. Wood looking to get hold of the ball make things happen for the hosts but is quickly closed down.

  Edgar back on for Cambridge as the game moves into the final 15 minutes, Worthing making a change bringing on Rebecca Bell in place of Scott. Worthing with a set-piece Rowe to curl the ball into the area, Rouse heading it clear for Cambridge. Wood strong on the ball coming right is sent tumbling the advantage played however as she finds Simmons clear to the right, Kosky breaking past her on the overlap to cross the ball into the box, Blakely getting her head on the ball to clear the threat for Worthing.

Zoe Wood bringing the ball on for Cambridge

  Another switch for Worthing with Gemma Worsfold coming on Quayle. Worthing on the attack on the left a low cross flashing into the six yard box, Bath attacking the ball far post crashed down off the crossbar the ball then scrambled clear by the Cambridge defence. Worthing looking to put the game to bed the ball with Bath 30 yards out has time to line up a shot strikes the ball wide of the right post as Webb throws herself across her goal.

  Cambridge making a change bringing on Serena Cobb for Otten in the 85th minute, Worthing replacing Bath with Katie Cooper. Wood is brought down wide on the right inside the Worthing half. Jackson to swing the ball into the area, Worthing with a solid defensive line clearing the top of their area. Cambridge attack down the left Cheal-Ferris forwards for Wood turns into the area left corner appears to be sent tumbling but to Cambridge’s disbelief she is the player penalised Worthing awarded the free-kick… outside the area.

  Worthing come strong on the right a cross whipped in near post, Webb doing well under challenge to get hold of the ball. Cambridge with a free-kick out to the right. The ball lifted into the area knocked down into the ground, Blakely getting it clear for a throw for Worthing. Into stoppage time Worthing with a change slowing Cambridge down as they try and push for a late equaliser, Humphrey coming off, Niamh Anderson coming on. Worthing getting everyone back behind the ball to see out the closing moments of the match keep Cambridge at bay and celebrate as they come back from a goal down to win 2-1 in the 2nd half and claim the 3 points seeing them end 2023 in 3rd spot. 

Full time Cambridge United WFC 1-2 Worthing FC Women

  A strong 2nd half performance from Worthing making adjustments at the break to come out looking to impose themselves on the game right from the start put Cambridge on the back foot. Taking the lead and then with Cambridge reeling from the first goal striking fast to add a 2nd take the lead and press for a 3rd goal. Closing the ball down in their opponents half making the counter attack hard in turn allowing players to keep high to outnumber the midfield. Cambridge will no doubt feel hard done by, by some questionable decisions that ultimately cost them, but worked hard throughout and were good value for their 1st half lead, competing with Worthing. Under the cosh at the start of the 2nd half couldn’t get the ball to stick up top inviting pressure. 

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football east – Player of the Match, had someone in mind leaving the stadium and although a few contenders have put themselves into contention in the notes will stick with that call. Several performances of note however in what was a highly competitive game. Firstly for Cambridge, Lauren Rouse and Abbie Jackson were strong in the middle of the Cambridge defence making a number of vital tackles and interceptions. Zoe Wood was looking to get the ball down and make thing’s happen constantly throughout the match. For Worthing, Emma Blakely had a strong game at the back getting across to close the ball down and win it inside her box. Tierney Scott was lively out on the flanks winning the ball and looking to play it forwards, Danielle Rowe with a controlled performance in the middle, good control shifting play across the pitch. Samantha Quayle bursting forwards finding some great positions to attack scoring the winner. The award though goes to Shannon Albuery, covered a huge amount of ground getting across the pitch to get hold of the ball with some fantastic link up play, a constant threat to the Cambridge defence.

  My final game of 2023 complete as entertaining as any watched highly competitive between two sides enjoying a strong season in FAWNL South East Division One. My first time seeing Worthing in action (although I know of most of their players having seen several in action for their previous clubs) a strong side that will be a threat to everyone in the league in 2024. A hard one for Cambridge to take will feel hard done by by the decisions but should use it as fuel to drive them on in 2024 remain well placed to push the side above them. My thanks to both for their help with the team details as always much appreciated… time for a rest over the festive period. Merry Christmas and enjoy the celebrations with friends and family.

by Darren Gilham

Match Report – Manea Sirens LFC v Deeping United Ladies

Sunday 10th December

Cambridgeshire Women’s Division Three

 The featured football action on Women’s Football East comes from Cambridgeshire Women’s Division Three, a trip to Manea to watch Manea Siren LFC play Deeping United Ladies.

Women’s football in Cambridgeshire going strong with 32 sides currently competing across 3 divisions. A strong 10 team Premiership with 12 in Division 2 and 10 in Division Three, the sides in the lower divisions no longer split into a North and South section but playing across the whole county and beyond. Reaching the end of 2023 the league challengers emerging to press top spot. 

  Manea situated in the heart of the Cambridgeshire fens to the north east of the county between March and Chatteris (both with strong women’s football teams themselves along with Park Ladies in Wimblington) the Division Three side improving year on year since joining the league 3 season’s ago. Their debut season tough finishing bottom of the pile with just a single point on the board. Warren Fenwick coming in as part of the new coaching team to take Manea forwards into the new season saw a vast improvement in performances and results finishing 7th with a positive outlook to take into this season.

  Have seen an influx of players too, with a fair bit of playing experience amongst them with talk of a Development team in the future. Playing 6 league matches so far has been a mixed set of results with 3 wins and 3 losses the later against the top three sides, currently 5th in the table with a belief that the club can challenge for a top 4 finish if not better. A strong run in the county cup to date beating two sides a league higher in the previous rounds including a good 1-0 win against high flying Waterbeach Colts WFC, will play Cambridge United WFC’s new U18s side in the new year in the next round. Kyra Portugal is an attacker with a vast amount of experience playing in the Cambridgeshire leagues and is leading the goal scoring charts this time around netting 7 goals to date. A win today will lift Manea u to 4th.

  Has been a couple of season’s now since I last saw Deeping United Ladies play, and that just half a match with the game abandoned at half-time due to an unfortunate injury to Deeping’s Ellie Barnes-Brown. The most northly of the clubs represented by Women’s Football East, situated in South Lincolnshire the club has seen a lot of changes in both coaching and playing personnel since the last time I saw them play with just 4 players remaining from the game I watched back in 2021. One of those, Katie Clarke now manging the side. 

 Has been a tough start to the new season despite and opening day win, Deeping have been on the wrong end of some heavy defeats a torrid run of 4 straight loses ending with a much needed 7-1 away win against league new comers Mepal and Sutton Rangers, to lift the side up into 7th a close 2-1 lose to league leaders South Lincolnshire Swifts last time out, have a squad with a good blend of experience and youth having seen a number of their U16s step up into the women’s side. Evie Porch and Lauren Wyer top scorers netting 3 goals each. A positive result today will see Deeping push right up on the sides in the top half of the table.

  Manea Sirens LFC play their home games at the SM Guy Playing Fields in Manea. However with heavy rain falling the day before and more arriving before kick-off, making the grass pitch unplayable the gathered teams inside the pavilion waiting for the referee’s approval had booked a 3G pitch in case the pitch became unplayable at the nearby Chatteris Leisure Centre. A short trip to Chatteris, the rain falling steadily was going to be a wet start to the match at least with the waterproofs on and the not so easy juggling act between trying to wield and umbrella, notepad and camera. The 3G pitch behind the leisure centre a valuable asset and one the FA is keen to see more of available to the women’s game. Open to the elements with a low fence all round enabling a good view, the players out for a short warm-up before the match got underway with the light already gloomy from the heavy cloud. Nevertheless we had a game on…

Manea Sirens LFC

Manea Sirens LFC starting XI – Tiff Miller, Courtney Wales, Chloe (Ginge) Brown, Chloe Cook, Adele McKew, Charlotte Day (C), Christine Heslop, Lindsay Gardiner, Erin Rimmer, Stacey Graham & Kyra Portugal. Subs – Dannii Green, Tabitha Willis, Beth Skeggs, Lauren Barnes & Ella Nutter.

Deeping United Ladies

 Deeping United Ladies starting XI – Vicki France, Hayley Baldock, Caitlin Walker (C), Rachel Dudley, Niamh Wray, Lorna Hall, Annie Spriggs, Melissa Guest, Caitlin Burke, Grace Wilson & Lauren Wyer. Subs – Nicole Pearce, Lucy Lyon & Maddie Hill.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

  It’s Manea to kick-off the 1st half wearing teals colours shirts with navy blue and white on the sleeves and shoulders, navy blue shorts and socks. Deeping lined up opposite wearing navy blue shirts with red trim on the shoulders, grey coloured shorts and socks. The ball rolled back into Chloe Cook in defence, played back into the middle, Deeping’s Annie Spriggs moving in fast to close the ball down send the cross field ball out to the right the ball played down the right lifted into the area for Grace Wilson to attack, Manea goalkeeper Tiff Miller gathering the ball into her body.

  The inclement weather along the late change of venue seeing an unsettled start to the game the passes rushed the ball slick on the wet surface. Courtney Wales taking the ball forwards on the right for Manea fed inside for Christine Heslop making a central run, is tackled by Deeping’s Rachel Dudley outside the D. Deeping winning the ball at the back playing it quickly into Spriggs in the middle spots Wilson pulling into space in the left channel, the pass lifted into her path she strikes the ball from outside the area firing it straight at Miller who makes a comfortable save.

Manea’s Courtney Wales

  Spriggs finding room in the middle for Deeping having options going forwards with players bombing down the flanks goes to the right, the shot on the angle collected by Miller down low at her near post. Deeping making an early switch bringing off Niamh Wray, Lucy Lyon coming on. 

 GOAL! No sooner have Deeping made the change then, Manea score building through the middle players pushing up around the box, captain Charlotte Day carrying the ball forwards playing it out to Lindsey Gardiner left of the D, to strike a low shot in past the advancing keeper to find the back of the net 1-0. 

Lindsay Gardiner opens the scoring for Manea Sirens LFC

 Deeping look to get the ball out to Wilson pulling off to the left, looking to take the ball on, Wales moves in to close her down regains possession for the hosts. Day playing the ball forwards onto Kyra Portugal 25 yards out to the left of the box, her shot from range racing past the near post. Deeping keeper, Vicki France the busier early on called into action to make a smart save with her feet as Portugal drives in another shot from outside the box. 

 Lorna Hall winning the ball in the middle of the park for Deeping linking up with Spriggs the ball put out to the right, Guest putting it inside for Lauren Wyer up top, Adele McKew at the back for Manea closing her down inside the D to win the ball back. The notepad pages are pretty dog eared by the wet weather, not the greatest weather for watching a football game still the players are getting on with thing’s the ball being moved about quickly, Deeping looking to get down the wings, Chloe brown defending at left back for Manea the ball cleared up the line for Gardiner to attack for the hosts, Deeping captain Caitlin Walker coming out to challenge for the ball, into Spriggs gets the ball forwards quickly for the attackers to chase down, McKew clearing for Manea.

Deeping United ladies midfielder, Annie Spriggs

 GOAL! Deeping breaking up a Manea attack get down the other end quickly to equalise, Dudley with the ball forwards into the path of Wyer as she breaks clear through the middle to burst into the area and send the ball past Miller before she can get down to stop it 1-1. 

Lauren Wyer breaking forwards to equalise for Deeping

  Manea win the ball in the middle, Heslop on for Day taking the ball wide into space on the right before squaring a cross into the penalty spot, Walker intercepting it for the visitors, France out to the right of her goal to prevent the ball running behind for a corner. A lively game Deeping getting hold of the ball prepared to break forwards working well to unsettle Manea making for an open game neither side keeping the ball for long. Guest winning the ball on the right for Deeping pushing on into the box, Miller advancing to close down the angle clear the ball.

  Stacey Graham seeing the ball rolled into her path as she makes a move into the right channel drives on into the area chasing down the angle at the near post, shoots, France on her post, it’s Dudley tracking back who runs across her putting in the block. Brown forwards to the right for Manea picks out Rimmer wide on the right, her cross lifted into the six yard box claimed well by France, however play is halted by the offside flag. Deeping’s youngster’s getting about the pitch looking to link up up top, Wyer, on for Guest on the right driving on with the ball, Brown tackling to see the ball out for a throw.

 GOAL! Deeping with players up around the Manea box for the throw pressing the defence Hall sliding a pacy ball along the top of the area into Lyon positioned right of the D, puts her foot through the ball the pace on the ball enough to evade Miller as she drops down to save, the ball squirming under her body to roll on into the back of the net to see Deeping take the lead 1-2.

 20 minutes played the match action a welcome distraction from the weather, trying to keep the umbrella under control, while trying to keep both the notepad and camera dry (ish) is. Manea stung from conceding get straight on the attack from the restart Day picking out Rimmer breaking away on the right turning into the area, France rushing out to close her down, making the blocking save as Rimmer goes to shoot the ball rebounding behind for a corner kick. Goes long through the six yard box, Gardiner putting it back into the mix, Deeping scramble into their tackles eventually seeing the ball run out for a goal kick.

GOAL! It’s an error from the resulting goal kick that leads to Deeping conceding an unfortunate equaliser, France’s loose kick going straight to Portugal’s feet as she stands right of the D, doesn’t miss the opportunity quickly sorting out her feet to send the ball back across the keeper to find the bottom corner 2-2. 

Kyra Portugal intercepting the goal kick to fire Manea back onto level terms

  Day making some strong runs through the middle for Manea the ball played into her from Gardiner on the left is through into the box, France out to slide in and save isn’t to know the flag is up against her, a very close call. Manea looking to up their game Day linking up with Heslop, Portugal pulling out to the left seeing the ball into her feet, striking an angled ball in towards goal from all of 25 yards out France seeing it safely bounce wide of her far post. 

GOAL! Having gotten themselves quickly back on level terms Manea hit Deeping on the counter attack to retake the lead the ball won at the back carried forwards before being launched on for Graham up top right of the D, 25 yards out to press on towards the area before clipping it into the area for Portugal left of goal to strike over the keeper to score her 2nd goal of the game 3-2.

Two goals in quick succession for Manea’s Kyra Portugal

  Manea back in front rallying themselves looking for a strong finish to the first half, Spriggs with other ideas as she steals the ball in the middle lifts it on for Wyer up top, Cook getting across her shielding the ball well back to her keeper to collect inside the box. Cook then on a free-kick for Manea launched up into the area helped on for Portugal left of goal her snatched shot put straight into the keeper. 

  Spriggs coming off for Deeping with Wilson returning to the action having come off for a brief respite earlier. Wilson straight into the action breaking up a Manea attack on the left as Heslop picks out Gardiner on the left. Day with a good first touch getting Manea going forwards making some useful runs, picking out Rimmer on the right, Dudley coming across to defend winning her challenge for Deeping. A corner conceded is a teasing ball lifted in over the keeper at the near post, no one there to attack it as it drops at the far post. Manea with a change bringing , Rimmer off sending Lauren Barnes on. 

  Hall opening up her body to lay the ball into Lyon out on the left she threads the ball forwards into Wilson up top, Cook tackling for Manea outside the area to clear the danger. Spriggs returning to the field for Deeping, replacing Hall in the middle. A good call from France as the keeper is quickly out of her area to clear the threat as Graham is put clear through the middle for the hosts. 

 Walker in to regain possession at the back for Deeping setting up a rapid counter the ball helped on through the middle put into Wilson’s path as she peels into the left channel getting a half yard on her marker to knock the ball on into the area her touch just a little too heavy giving Miller the opportunity to get down to lay claim to the ball. Wales powering forwards on the right lays the ball on for Barnes ahead of her, the early cross low into the area cut out by Walker tracking back, deflected on France unable to put her gloves on the ball does well to kick the ball clear under pressure from Graham.

Deeping’s Rachel Dudley with Manea’s Erin Rimmer

 Is a lively game end to end Wales bringing the ball on on the right for Manea threading it into Portugal 25 yards out to the left of the D, looks to pick out her fellow attacker Graham to her right placing the ball into her feet as she breaks in behind the Deeping defence into the box, the flag going up just as she rifles the ball across the keeper into the back of the net, not sure about that one very tight.

  Miller out quickly to slide in lay claim to the ball top of her area as Deeping break up play on the right look to thread the ball inside to Wyer making a run forwards right of the D. Dudley moving out to the right to defend against Barnes as she is played in on the wing for Manea the ball out for a throw level with the area dropped into Portugal who turns to lift a cross into the area cut out by Dudley, Manea press sending a cross through to the left of the area where a strike from 20 yards out is fired wide right on the stroke of half-time.

Half-time Manea Sirens LFC 3-2 Deeping United Ladies

 A lively first half played in terrible conditions the rain finally starting to ease towards the end of the first half. The game often end to end, Deeping working hard to win the ball, doing a god job unsettling Manea putting the ball out wide. Manea in response getting joy playing through the middle, Day in particular with some good runs. The hosts getting the early lead failed to build on it as Deeping fought back to level the scores then take the lead themselves. An error leading to Manea quickly restoring parity then they themselves were quick to retake the lead. The game remaining open however neither side with a dominant spell, the weather settling down will see if thing’s change 2nd half.

  Deeping staying out on the field a quick turn around the 3G without floodlights and the risk of losing the light on an already gloomy day. Manea back into the changing rooms to warm up. Myself too made a flask of coffee (I drink too much coffee) expecting the be soaked through by now pleased the rain has eased at last. Difficult to keep up with the changes with roll on roll off substitutes as Manea return, Deeping ready to get things underway for the 2nd period.

Deeping’s Melissa Guest battling for possession with Manea’s Christine Heslop

  Portugal tackling Niamh Wray to win her side a throw on the left, knocked inside, Walker tackling to win the ball for Deeping lifting it on into the middle the ball fed on for Wyer bursting through the middle into the area strikes the shot goal wards waist high, Miller back peddling towards her goal seeing the ball fired straight at her throws her gloves up to save , the ball almost squirming loose as she falls back, but adjusts well to get a strong grip on the ball.

  Day spreading the ass out to Gardiner in space on the left for Manea, threads it into the feet of Portugal tracking into the area left of the D, powering forwards closing in on the six yard box strikes the shot hard, France closing the angle making the blocking save. Manea looking to press the attack at the start of the 2nd half, Heslop with day in the middle, Gardiner ahead of them laying the ball out to Graham surging into the right channel, France reacts well, out of her six yard box quickly got slide in and lay claim to the ball before the striker can pounce.

Deeping goalkeeper, Vicki France

  Spriggs with a good pass in her arsenal looking to make thing’s happen in attack for Deeping as she threads a great ball through to Wyer up top 25 yards out, is however caught a little flat footed, giving Cook the vital head start to get back onto the ball and put it away to safety. Walker making several vital tackles and interceptions at the back for Deeping as Manea look to up their game push players on in attack, France comes out to clear well again for the visitors as a deflected ball threatens to fall to Gardiner free to the left of the D.

  For all their pressing Manea risk getting hit on the counter by Deeping’s young attackers as they race on into space, Wyer on the angle right of goal firing a shot in, held well by Miller.

GOAL! Deeping winning a free kick out wide on the left inside the Manea half, Spriggs over it as players line up around the box, the delivery put in to the near post area causing chaos with Guest capitalising to stooping to attack the ball knocking it straight at the keeper, Miller throwing her gloves up unable to get enough on the ball as it evades her to deflect on into the goal beyond, Deeping equalise 3-3.

Melissa Guest knocking the ball goal wards to score for Deeping

  Deeping back on level terms 14 minutes into the 2nd half, Manea push forwards on their right Wales breaking on laying the ball on for Graham taking it all the way to the by-line before squeezing a shot in wide across the face of the Deeping goal. Graham racing forwards giving chase to a ball threaded on into the box from midfield to the right of goal. France alert to the danger all game out quickly to slice in and get hold of the ball at the strikers feet.

  Baldock does well at the back for Deeping with the defence stretched to get across to press Graham as she drives on into the right channel sees her shot put straight into the keepers gloves. The management team trying to get Manea to calm down attacks are fast paced not giving time for others to get forwards in support. Pushing up on the right Manea win a set piece out wide players come up from the back. 

GOAL! Deeping over commit on the right as they look to try and defend the ball leaving Manea with players free inside the box as the cross is driven in with pace towards the penalty spot McKew getting hold of the ball in front of the keeper to send it wide of her into the back of the net to put Manea back into the lead 4-3.

Adele McKew celebrates as she puts Manea back into the lead (apologies for the out of focus teammate)

 Changes for Manea with Ella Nutter coming on for Graham, Rimmer back on for Gardiner to the left of attack. Wilson back on the pitch for Deeping.

GOAL! Managers love it when a sub makes an immediate impact and Nutter certainly does that for Manea as they press forwards on the right, the cross lifted in across the D 20 yards out, falls to Nutter who catches it sweetly with her left foot to score a blinder, the ball clipped up to loop high over the stranded keeper and drop under the crossbar into the back of the net 5-3.

Substitute Ella Nutter with a superb strike to put Manea 5-3 up

 Manea getting themselves a 2 goal cushion in a topsy turvy game with 20 minutes played in the 2nd half. Manea with their tails up looking to press the advantage Rimmer out wide left free picked out with the pass to power her way into the area bearing down on goal looks to send her shot across the keeper in off the far post, France making a brilliant save getting a vital glove on the ball to deflect it beyond the post for a corner kick. The corner an in swinger to the near post, France is well positioned to call and claim the ball high.

  Manea starting to assert themselves on the game, the 2 goal lead giving them confidence to push on, Barnes out wide right sweeping a low cross into the six yard box, claimed by France. Rimmer free on the left advancing forwards for Manea squaring a ball into the near post for the advancing Nutter, Walker in close attention defending well for Deeping. The visitors with a change, bringing Baldock off sending Lyon back on.

  Manea pushing forwards the cross from the right finding Day rushing in to attack the far post her low strike saved by France as she dives the ball squeezing under her away for a corner kick. Tabitha Willis coming on for Manea in place of Heslop. Manea looking strong Portugal to the right 25 yards out putting the ball across the area to Rimmer inside the box fires her cross in to Nutter central, Walker closing in to tackle well for Deeping. 

Manea captain, Charlotte Day

 Portugal firing over from six yards out at the far post as the cross is whipped into the area off a throw from the right. Deeping still looking to hit Manea on the counter feed the ball on for Guest running clear into space on the right fires a pacy ball into the box, comes onto Lyon making a central run quickly trying to hit it first time screws her shot wide past the far post.

  Deeping ringing the changes with Pearce, Niamh Wray and Lyon off, Baldock, Wyer and  Hall back into the action for the final 14 minutes. Cook coming off at the back for Manea, Dannii Green comes on. Day from 25 yards out slicing her first time shot wide as the cross is fired into her from deep on the left. Green coming across to clear the ball as Deeping lift it forwards into the area. Deeping pressing the throw high on the left, Guest crossing for Wyer at the near post, Green there to block for Manea. 

 Deeping’s subs bringing renewed energy onto the field pushing on up the right Guest combines with Hall before a cross is fired into the box, can’t quite find Wyer at the near post. McKew out to defend as Guest is played in up the right for Deeping. Portugal taking the ball inside from the right corner of the area slips as she goes to shoot. Manea looking to keep the ball alive, Lyon cutting the pass of right for Deeping.

 Portugal coming off soon after with Graham sent back on in attack as the game moves into the final 3 minutes. Rimmer latching onto the ball left of the D, twists and turns on the ball as she looks to make her way towards goal, Walker getting back at her to put the ball out for a corner kick. The corner defended at the near post by France the keeper conceding a 2nd corner kick. Manea press players up into the area as the ball is flashed in near post deflects across goal loose inside the six yard box everyone rushing at it, Deeping’s defence scrambling it clear before anyone from Manea can get a stab at it.

Full time Manea Sirens LFC 5-3 Deeping United Ladies

  The final whistle blows the light fading fast as the teams shake hands Manea clinching a 5-3 win to claim the 3 points to lift them up a place into fourth, there last action of 2023. End on a high with plenty to look forwards too in 2024. Falling behind in the first half after taking an early lead responded well to come back to not only level by retake the lead going into the break. Started the 2nd half on the front foot looking to extend their lead but Deeping’s defence and goalkeeper battled well, the visitors coming back to level make it 3-3 before Manea found the extra burst pushing players on to get back in front and then get that vital  goal cushion to take the game beyond Deeping who were never out of the game applying good press in the first half fought hard can take plenty from the game with a home game against Ely City Women to finish their year next weekend. 

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. A lively match played at a pacy tempo despite the awful condition’s especially in the first half had a clear winner in mind leaving the ground and the soggy notes have only confirmed that. Several performances of note to mention, firstly for Deeping United Ladies, captain Caitlin Walker making several vital tackles at the back as Manea sought to burst forwards through the middle. Goalkeeper, Vicki France reading the game well ahead of her getting out to ball well making some good saves. Annie Spriggs in midfield with a good range of passes finding space to get Deeping going forwards. For Manea, Lindsay Gardiner and Erin Rimmer got forwards well out on the flanks as the midfield sought to break through the middle. Kyra Portugal pulling into the channels finding some good positions for herself to shoot and bring others into the game scoring twice. The award today though goes to their captain Charlotte Day. A strong performance in midfield her first touch often setting her side on the attack, Day herself carrying the ball forwards well with a number of surging runs through the middle.

  Got to see Manea at last having been trying to get to a game for the past couple of months. Not quite at home but I did get there, credit to both sides for agreeing to the switch of venues to get the game on and putting up with the awful conditions. Having followed Manea from their early struggles to the improvement made last season to this is a pleasure to see the sides development. Great to catch up with Deeping too, been a turbulent period since I last saw them in action but look in good shape now and hopefully can enjoy a stable spell and progress. Apologies for the quality of the pictures, the camera’s not build for a monsoon but I’ve watched women’s football in worse conditions, must be mad. Thanks to both sides for all their help with the team line-ups today as always greatly appreciated.

by Darren Gilham