Author Archives: WFEast

Match Report – Stevenage FC Women v Royston Town Women

Sunday 19th November

Hertfordshire FA Women’s Senior Challenge Cup

 Travelling down to Letchworth this Sunday to take in some action from the quarter finals of the new look Hertfordshire FC Women’s Senior Challenge Cup competition with a repeat of last season’s final taking place in the last 8 with five times winners, Stevenage FC Women taking on Royston Town Women. 

 Hertfordshire FA introducing a secondary women’s county cup competition this season, the Women’s Trophy, that sees the clubs competing within the county split according to league status into the two competitions with the Challenge Cup now the Senior competition featuring the sides playing in tiers 4, 5 & 6. The Trophy competition with the exception of Stevenage FC Women Development featuring the sides playing at county (tier 7) level. Personally I like the format, should in theory see a lot less eye-watering score-lines in the early rounds, and weekends lost due to sides pulling out of the competition through a mis-matched draw while giving those sides competing lower down silverware to contest. Makes the Senior competition highly competitive with a strong quarter final line-up. Stevenage v Royston a repeat of last season’s final with Stevenage edging it 5-4 in a penalty shootout to win the competition for a 5th time!.

  Stevenage FC Women have dominated the Hertfordshire Women’s County Cup in recent season’s featuring in every final since Women’s Football East started covering it, over a decade now, one of the leading sides in the county and will be determined to keep that run going. Have seen several comings and goings over the close season however losing a number of key players to rival clubs. With a strong squad of players last season have retained a good level of talent while recruiting some useful talent. Defender, Rebecca Edge and Ellie Stammers coming in from Cheshunt FC Women. Midfielder, Sarah Payne playing for 4th tier Cambridge City Women last season. Libby Stubbs has experience in tier 4 with London Seaward. Remi Martin joining from Northampton. Chloe Gunn returning to the club after a spell away with QPR. While Lilia Dempsey makes the step up into the 1st team squad. Mathilda Fidler recently re joining the club after a short stint away with Cambridge City Women. Vice-Captain, Amy Makewell currently top scorer, netting 7 goals so far this campaign while Dempsey has scored 6.

  Royston Town Women bitterly disappointed to miss out in last season’s final have battled back to level the scores late in the game. Like Stevenage, Royston have see a few players depart over the summer, but have also recruited to build a competitive squad to play in what is once again a strong ERWFL Premier Division. Signing, Erin Davies from Cambridge City Women. Sunny McGregor has valuable experience with Cambridge United WFC. Stacey Roper joining the squad having previously been with Haverhill Rovers Women. Royston delighted to welcome back defender, Tally Miles after a spell playing in tier 3 with MK Dons Women. Jordanne Sillitoe also with Haverhill Rovers Women last season the striker joining Royston after starting the season with ERWFL newcomers, Thetford Town Ladies. Also back running again is midfielder Riana Badel working her way back to fitness after suffering the dreaded ACL injury. Emma Slater currently top scorers netting 9 goals in 11 games, hot on her heels though is Sillitoe hitting the back of the net for 6 goals so far in 4 appearances.

  The quarter final tie being played at the County Ground in Letchworth home of Hertfordshire FA and home too in recent season’s for Stevenage FC Women. One large seat stand on one side of the ground with covered viewing areas all around. An over cast and miserable day with a keen wind blowing across the pitch, the odd shower around, hot food and drink being served in the cafeteria behind the main stand.

Stevenage FC Women

Stevenage FC Women starting XI – Celine Rey, Grace Brooks, Rebecca Edge, Chloe Gunn, Lilia Dempsey, Anna Baker Re, Hannah Bodily, Emily Schofield, Amy Gooderham, Mathilda Fidler & Amy Makewell (C). Subs – Kelsey Millen, Katie White, Hannah Nebbitt, Kristal Clarke & Matilda Thomas O’Keefe.

Royston Town Women

 Royston Town Women starting XI – Elle Sarter, Amy Houghton, Emma Todd, Tally Miles, Stacey Roper, Charlotte South (C), Erin Davies, Amy Josland, Emma Slater, Laura Mills & Jordanne Sillitoe. Subs – Nicole Hendrick, Emily Smith, Poppy Smith & Chloe Holt.

Captain’s Amy Makewell and Charlotte South with the match officials

 Several changes of personnel featuring in both of today’s playing squad compared to those that featured in the County Cup final back in March. It’s the hosts Stevenage to get the quarter final underway kicking off 1st half wearing red and white coloured shirts, with red shorts and white socks with red trim. Royston wearing their away colours and all aqua strip. The ball played back to Rebecca edge in defence sends it out to the right for Amy Gooderham who firs it long up to the attackers, Stacey Roper up to head the ball away for Royston, out to the right with Gooderham snatching hold of it driving to the by-line turning into the area before running the ball out of play before crossing.

  Royston closing Stevenage down inside their half feeding the diagonal ball out to Emma Slater racing away on the right wing, sends a low cross into the box, cut out by Chloe Gunn at the back for Stevenage. The visitors making a strong start to the match getting after Stevenage pushing forwards, captain Charlotte South battling for possession in the middle the ball finding Slater on the right drives on before firing her cross behind. 

Royston captain. Charlotte South

  Gooderham looking to provide an outlet for Stevenage on the right, the pass picking her out takes on Emma Todd at left back for Royston charging towards the area firing in a cross towards the near post, Mathilda Fidler seeing it into her feet turning to fire the ball across the six yard box, intercepted by Tally Miles at the far post and cleared. 

Grace Brooks tackling Royston’s Emma Slater

  Royston getting forwards with purpose winning a throw high on the right dropped into South puts it back up the line for Slater to whip a dangerous ball into the area, met by Laura Mills running in central, shoot low, Stevenage goalkeeper, Celine Rey saving well diving down to her left to push the ball past the past for a corner kick. Miles swinging the ball in across the top of the six yard box, Edge up well the head clear for Stevenage. 

Stevenage goalkeeper, Celine Rey.

  Royston winning the ball back inside the Stevenage half Erin Davies getting it out to the right for Slater level with the top of the area fires it in towards South right of the D, can’t quite dig the ball out from under her feet to get any power behind her strike before being closed down, the shoot tame through to Rey to claim as she goes to ground.

  Is competitive, a little testy between the sides a local derby after all. Edge fouling Jordanne Sillitoe as she looks to spin off her to the left of the centre circle. Miles taking it early played on down the left for Sillitoe checks inside to pass to South 20 yards out left of the goal, attempts the threaded ball for Mills and Slater tracking in behind, Anna Baker Re cutting the ball out slicing the ball away. 

Jordanne Sillitoe

  Slater causing Stevenage problems early on driving forwards with the ball on the right turning infield her cross blocked by Grace Brooks. Slater then up ended as she looks to sprint away with the ball on the right. Miles to sweep her free-kick in towards the near post, Baker Re there to clear for Stevenage, then is there to block as Todd on out on the left looks to send the cleared ball back into the mix. Amy Josland firing a strike from 25 yards out for Royston as the ball coms into her from a throw in on the left.

Royston’s Laura Mills with Stevenage’s Hannah Bodily

  Royston on top at the start of the match, South bustling about in the final 3rd looking to win the ball. With Sillitoe out on the left the cross swept into toward the penalty spot with Mills racing in the target a vital interception by Gunn. Davies getting the ball under control for Royston attempting to thread a through ball in behind for Sillitoe on the left channel, Rey out of her blocks quickly to race out and claim the ball first.

Stevenage’s Chloe Gunn

  Stevenage struggling to get the ball into their attackers as Davies closes Fidler down gets the ball forwards into Mills up top. lays it back to South as she spins in behind, South looking for Slater to the right, the flag going up against her. Mills making a move out to the right with the ball at her feet for Royston, squaring it back inside to South at the near post, the midfielder laying it back to the top of the area with Josland running onto the pass 20 yards out striking the shot over the bar. 

Royston midfielder, Amy Josland

  Slater surging on right side stinging the keepers gloves with a vicious shot angled in at the near post. Stevenage regaining possession in the middle Hannah Bodily on for Emily Schofield sends it through for captain, Amy Makewell in behind into the box right of the D takes it wide before sending a shot in low back across the keeper, Elle Sarter, down smartly to save. 

 Stevenage having rode out the early pressure from Royston working the ball well through the middle a fluid move with Schofield linking up with Makewell who in turn picks out Fidler pulling to the right firing a shot in low towards the near post, Sarter across down low to save has it covered. Baker Re sneaking in behind the Royston defence to take the ball wide right of the box sweeping a ball back in across the penalty spot, Makewell meeting it with a first time hit her shot angling up towards the top left corner, Sarter throwing herself across her goal can’t get there the ball though narrowly wide!

  Three god chances in quick succession for Stevenage after a spell of Royston dominance. Royston with another free-kick inside the Stevenage half, Miles to send it high into the area, headed clear by Bodily for Stevenage. Davies getting back to tackle Gooderham well timed on the right as the Stevenage winger powers her way forwards. 

 GOAL! Royston sending the ball on for Sillitoe pulling clear wide on the left clips the ball in high towards goal, her cross over Rey crashing down off the bar bouncing out to the right, Slater looking to keep it in on the by-line coming together with the defender, the decision initially going against the attacker, but after consulting with her linesman, referee Emma Chamberlain reverses the decision pointing to the spot. Penalty! South placing the ball on the spot taking it for Royston struck low, plenty of pace on it, Rey guessing right diving to her left gets her gloves to the ball, but not enough to deflect the ball pass her post as it instead crosses the line to give Royston the lead 0-1.

Charlotte South fires Royston into the lead from the penalty spot.

 Stevenage unhappy with the decision to award the penalty questioning the referee, the goal stands however, the game restarting Baker Re looking to get the ball out to Lilia Dempsey on the left, Amy Houghton getting a foot onto the ball to intercept the pass for Royston. Testy at times, is an intriguing game. Baker Re shown the yellow card.

GOAL! Stevenage looking for a response after conceding push players up into the final 3rd build up on the left the ball rolled on for Makewell who gets her head down driving into the area towards goal, is unceremoniously hauled to the ground, the referee pointing to the spot. Penalty! Stevenage with a chance to level straight away. Gooderham placing the ball on the spot, hit low and hard to the left sending the keeper the wrong way 1-1.

Amy Gooderham buries the penalty to level for Stevenage

  An entertaining contest the sides back level Royston threaten to break on the left, Todd looking to take the ball on, Gunn sliding in with a strong challenge to send the ball out of play. Davies peeling away to the left taking the ball on for Royston whipping a looping cross into the area, Rey up to pluck the ball down and claim confidently with both Mills and Slater closing her down. 

Royston’s Erin Davies

 Gooderham spinning off her marker well on the right to take the ball forwards laying it on for Fidler breaking into the area right of goal, Miles across to tackle the ball out for a corner on the right. Stevenage sending players up from the back, the ball put long towards the far post Edge rising to meet it with her head sending the attempt over the bar.

Amy Gooderham

   Royston get straight down the other end to win a corner of their own on the right as Slater drives down the line. Miles taking the corner curled in across goal, Roper appears to be bundled over as Slater meets it with her head inside the six yard box sends the ball up over the bar. 

Emma Slater heads over for Royston

  Stevenage unsuccessfully appealing for another penalty as they build on the left, an attacker claiming a shove in the back as the ball comes into her. The game end to end Sillitoe charging the ball down as Rey races out of her area to clear. Roper intercepting a the back as Dempsey floats in an inviting diagonal ball from deep on the left. Stevenage winning a free-kick out on the left the ball fired into Fidler outside the area, left, back to goal, controls on the turn to strike on the volley, straight at Sarter the keep holding onto the ball. Stevenage play the ball into Gooderham off a throw on the right in the closing seconds of the first half the winger crossing on the turn, Miles clearing inside the area for Royston.

Half-time Stevenage FC Women 1-1 Royston Town Women

  That was an entertaining and lively first half. A competitive contest between local rivals. Royston with a strong start to the match taking the game to Stevenage creating several opportunities. Took the hosts a little while to find their feet in the game but responded well with a succession of good chances before the penalty spot got involved. Royston taking the lead after Slater was fouled inside the box. Stevenage not happy with the decision, nevertheless responding well to falling behind, Makewell’s purposeful un into the area seeing her brought down and awarded the penalty. Gooderham burying it to level the scores. All set up for an intriguing 2nd half. 

  Light fading and the wind getting noticeably chillier as the sides come out for the 2nd half the floodlights coming on. Royston making a change bringing off Sillitoe, with Emily Smith. Royston to get the 2nd 45 underway, the ball played back to Miles in defence sweeps it forwards looking for Slater on the right, Brooks defending for Stevenage seeing the ball back to her keeper for Rey to clear. 

  Stevenage pressing the ball on the right at the start of the 2nd half, Baker Re forwards well the ball crossed onto the roof of the net. Gooderham with the ball at her feet, head down driving forwards, Todd lunging in to tackle getting the ball away for the throw, Gooderham going down the Stevenage bench erupting in fury.

  Mills getting hold of the ball breaking away through the middle for Royston in a race with Gunn as she powers her way forwards, laying it out to the right for Slater who has just strayed offside. Gunn down in the box needing treatment, but the defender is okay to play on. Houghton bringing the ball on right for Royston over halfway checks inside before shooting from all of 30 yards out her effort put wide of the near post. Several interesting individual battles taking place out there on the pitch, Baker Re looking to make things happen for Stevenage taking the ball away to the right, Davies tracking with her gets a foot onto the ball to prevent the cross divert it out for a throw.

  Lively taken quickly into Fidler’s feet inside the box right of goal, turns well hitting the strike on the half volley her attempt smashing down off the crossbar! Baker Re taking a blow for Stevenage down a concern as the trainer runs onto the pitch to administer treatment. Allowed back on isn’t running freely as play resumes Stevenage with another strong appeal as Houghton and Dempsey come together top of the Royston area. Baker Re can’t continue Stevenage making a change 10 minutes into the 2nd half bringing on Kelsey Millen. 

GOAL! The game fluid both sides looking to get the ball forwards carve an opening, Royston come forwards with Houghton central feeds the pass on for South 25 yards out she sends the diagonal pass forwards for Mills pulling clear right of the D into the area, turns, Rey racing out attempting to close her down, Mills with a composed touch to place the ball wide of the onrushing keeper, sending the ball into the bottom corner to score 1-2.

Laura Mills fires Royston back into the lead

  Royston back in front regain possession on the left Todd on for Smith who fires he ball into the box for Mills back to goal, lays it back into the path of Slater inside the D, moving inside she curls a shot wide of the left post. Stevenage make a 2nd change bringing off Schofield, sending on Hannah Nebbitt. Fidler with a purposeful run on the ball through the middle for Stevenage, Houghton coming in to charge her down the ball rebounding out to Dempsey on the left plays her shot low into the keeper.

  Royston quick to get on the counter Davies out to Slater breaking away on the right, skips inside her marker to get into the box and blasts a strike wide at the near post. Stevenage winning a free-kick on halfway, Gunn to play it long into the area, Josland defending for Royston, up towards Mills up top looking to break, Gunn doing well defending getting the ball back to Rey to clear. The referee stopping play to turn and book Brooks for something said. 

  Is tense out there a few decisions angering both sides the ball squirming through the back line into Slater to shoot from outside the box the ball plucked down well by Rey. Moments later Slater is fouled top of the D, Royston winning the free-kick, the offender, Brooks in trouble, just shown a yellow card, is shown her second in quick succession and is sent off! Slater needing treatment but okay to continue. An inviting angle for the shot, Miles goes for it her set-piece clipping the top of the crossbar on it’s way over. 

Tally Miles shot clipping the crossbar

  Smith with the shot for Royston, 25 yards out as she brings the ball down centrally to strike, angling in low towards the right corner, Rey saves well getting down at full stretch to push the ball past the post for the corner kick. The corner defended near side cleared back to taker, Miles for a 2nd attempt to cross, the ball coming back to Davies free top of the area her shot in low, Rey again down low to her left saving brilliantly putting the ball behind for another corner. 

Royston’s Emily Smith

  Davies sending a long range pass out to the right for Slater to chase, Rey coming out wide to deal with it needing a composed touch to drag the ball into her area before she is able to drop down to smother the ball. The wind picking up as Stevenage win a free-kick on half-way launched up towards the area dealt with by Roper, before Smith clumsily brings down Fidler presenting Stevenage with a free-kick 20 yards out. To the right of goal, Makewell over the ball hits a thunderous strike in towards goal the ball beating Sarter cannoning down off the crossbar, down into the mix, Fidler snatching at it lifting a rising ball towards the top corner, Sarter throwing her arms up saving to turn the ball over for a corner kick.

Royston goalkeeper, Elle Sarter

   Smith heading the ball from the right out of the box to the left for Royston, Gunn after it shooting low on the angle, well held by Sarter. Royston making a change breaking on Nicole Hendrick for Josland as Stevenage win a free-kick on half way the ball long up into the box headed down to the top of the area, Makewell meeting it on the volley her effort screwed wide past the right post.

   Fidler determined going forwards central the ball knocked on Stevenage winning a free-kick right of the D. Makewell over it goes for goal on target but Sarter is right behind the ball to make the save look comfortable. Stevenage making a triple switch with just a few minutes of regular time left, Bodily, Gunn and Dempsey coming off with Katie White, Kristal Clarke and Matilda Thomas O’Keefe coming on. Roper injured for Royston down receiving treatment needs to come off, Poppy Smith coming on with Slater dropping in to the left of defence. 

 The Smith’s linking up for Royston in attack straight away as the ball from South in put into Emily’s feet left channel lays it into Poppy’s feet as she attacks central in behind, the ball there to be hit as she enters the box takes another touch though a little heavy giving Rey the opportunity to get towards her to dive in make the blocking save.

  Fidler playing the ball on for Millen and Clarke up top for Stevenage central, Millen into Clarke bursting on into the area left of goal Houghton with her, Clarke going down, didn’t look like any contact from my angle, the referee waving play on as the visitors clear the ball. Stoppage time being played Stevenage pushing on looking for a goal, Royston defending as the hosts get a free-kick inside the circle Nebbitt to take, hit long Sarter back on her line getting her gloves behind it and not letting it drop loose inside her six yard box. 

  Mills off late on for Royston as the clock ticks down, Chloe Holt coming on, Stevenage throwing the ball forwards Millen bringing it down into her feet 25 yards out, Miles on her plays it out to the right but no one is there to run it down. Royston celebrating a memorable win in the cup ending Stevenage’s long run of successive finals in the process.

Full time Stevenage FC Women 1-2 Royston Town Women

  A hugely thrilling cup tie played between two local rivals, hotly contested a little testy at times but never overboiling, a penalty each in the 1st half seeing it all square at the end of the 1st half. Stevenage looking for a bright start to the 2nd half, falling behind to the Laura Mills strike then reduced to 10 players. Fought well to get themselves back into the game both goalkeepers pulling off great saves the woodwork struck too. Royston with the clinical finish to win the game and reach the last 4 of this season’s Hertfordshire Women’s Senior Challenge Cup where they will now be at home to face in form Harpenden Town Women from the league below in the semi-finals on Sunday 18th February.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this Sunday’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. Several top performances although I did have a clear favourite leaving the ground and my notes have only confirmed that. A few to mention first though, for Stevenage, goalkeeper, Celine Rey pulled off a number of tremendous saves to keep her team in the tie right to the very end. Anna Baker Re looked to make things happen in the middle get Stevenage going forwards. Mathilda Fidler showed excellent awareness up top getting into some great positions to create opportunities. For Royston it was an excellent goalkeeping performance from Elle Sarter. Tally Miles strong in the back line defending and from set-piece deliveries. Erin Davies getting about the pitch to win the ball and bring it on. Captain Charlotte South leading the way getting after the ball linking up well with the attackers. Today’s award though goes to Emma Slater a constant threat on the right driving on with the ball, taking players on and creating chances to score.

  Well worth the trip down from Norfolk, an hugely enjoyable cup tie, full of action and drama between two close rivals. My thanks to both clubs for their assistance today. Yet to meet in the league this season, promises to be two exciting matches.

by Darren Gilham

Match Report – Real Bedford Ladies v Billericay Town Women

Sunday 12th November

FA Women’s Cup

 An exciting Sunday of women’s football with this season’s FA Women’s Cup entering the 1st Round Proper, several exciting ties across the East to p[ick from and a few sides making history reaching this stage of the competition for the first time too. A trip to Bedfordshire today for Women’s Football East with Real Bedford Ladies leading the ERWFL Premier Division taking on FAWNL Southern Premier Division side, Billericay Town Women.

  The FA Women’s Cup receiving a boost in midweek with the announcement that the prize money is to increase again, however this news is tempered with this increase not being evenly distributed across the competition but for those reaching the 3rd Round Proper and beyond, this not going down well with grassroots clubs and rightly so. The extra money offered should have been better distributed.

  Nevertheless today’s winning side will receive £6,000 which remains a huge financial sum to clubs playing a this level. 

  Real Bedford Ladies born at the end of last season with the women’s side known as Bedford Ladies previously, moving next door basically with the two clubs next to each other. The transition beginning last season with the women’s teams moving to McMullen Park, merging to become part of The Pirate’s family. A new beginning for the club retaining their ERWFL Premier Division status, have brought in ex Harlow Town Ladies and Enfield Town Ladies manager Dean Parrett to head up the new side and has been busy in the transfer market bringing in a host of new signings which has seen the club win all 9 of their opening league matches to date taking them 8 points clear of the chasing pack.

  Goalkeeper, Sarah Hudson arriving from Cambridge City Women announced as the clubs first new signing was soon followed by fellow City players, defender Amy Reed and young striking talent, Sophie Billing. Midfielder, Izzy Crooks also joining along with attacker Francesca Partridge who was with Cambridge United WC Last campaign. Gemma Croucher has lots of ERWFL Premier Division experience having played for Royston Town Women. Defenders Kalyen Gerkey who was with Billericay last season and Kaydee King both added huge experience with Erin Price the latest player to join the side can perform equally well in midfield or the heart of the defence. Those additions added to a strong core of players looking to push up the ERWFL table and return to the FAWNL. Natasha Fensome a living legend for Bedford often amongst the goals and is doing so once again netting 15 already this term with Partridge and Croucher also into double figures. Strong in the ERWFL, Fensome was on target for a hat-trick in the previous round of the FA Women’s Cup as Real Bedford ran out 9-2 winners away to Hackney Women.

  Billericay Town Women too also busy in the transfer market as they look to build on a strong debut season in the FAWNL Southern Premier Division which saw them finish 6th in the table in their 1st season playing in the 3rd tier. Manager James Gibson bringing in attacker Maddie Biggs from Ipswich Town Women. Also joining from Ipswich defender Oliva Smith. Midfielder and ex-England youth international, Alex Hennessey added to the squad along with ex-Crawley Wasps captain Selin Buyukgiray. Leanne Bell joins from Portsmouth FC Women. Goalkeepers Hope Smith previously with London City Lionesses and Katie O’Hanlon dual signed from West ham. Guyanese international Otesha Charles. Defender Ellie Finneran and Amber Gaylor returning to the club has lots of experience in the FA Women’s Championship having played for London Bees, Millwall Lionesses and Crystal Palace. While Amelie Johnson steps up from the Reserves squad. Biggs hitting the ground running at her new club netting 10 so far this season, Billericay currently 9th in the table a little frustrated with some of the results so far entering the FA Women’s Cup will be looking for a decent un in the competition.

  McMillen Park the venue for today’s cup tie, the clubhouse and bar serving hot food and drinks leading into the stadium itself. The grass pitch with a small covered seated stand on one side opposite the dugouts with viewing all round. A damp day but still, very over cast and gloomy with the threat of a shower or two during the match.

Real Bedford Ladies

  Real Bedford Ladies starting XI – Sarah Hudson, Amy Reed, Lisa Milliken, Gemma Franklin, Amber Smith, Chloe Martin, Zara Carroll (C), Erin Price, Gemma Croucher, Francesca Partridge & Natasha Fensome. Subs – Neve Mayes, Becky Charter, Izzy Crooks, Kaylen Gerkey & Sophie Billing.

Billericay Town Women

  Billericay Town Women starting XI – Hope Smith, Scarlett Williams, Lucy Jones (C), Olivia Smith, Karesha Iton, Che Thomas, Leanne Bell, Amber Gaylor, Soraya Walsh, Ruby Sealey & Maddie Biggs. Subs – Alex baker, Karissa Doo, Otesha Charles, Charlotte O’Shea, Janaye Beaufort, Elise Jennings & Amelie Johnson.

 A moment of silence held before the game on this Remembrance Sunday to reflect on those who gave their lives during the World Wars and other conflicts around the world, Lest We Forget.

The clubs respecting a minutes silence before the match

  It’s Billericay to get this Women’s FA Cup tie underway kicking off the 1st half wearing blue coloured shirts and socks with navy coloured shorts, Bedford lined up opposite wearing orange shirts with black shoulder, black shorts and black socks. The ball rolled back to Olivia Smith in defence puts it out to the right side for Scarlett Williams to launch up the wing, the ball defended knocked back into the middle…

  GOAL! Billericay quick close the ball down regain possession clipped up into the right channel for Maddie Biggs bursting in behind the defence, goalkeeper, Sarah Hudson rushing out to close the angle down block Biggs as she attempts to put the ball past her, the attacker getting beyond the keeper to snap at the loose ball fire it in towards goal, met by Ruby Sealey at the near post who turns it home to see the visitors take the lead inside the opening minute. 0-1.

Ruby Sealey turning the ball home to give Billericay the early lead

  Far from the start Bedford wanted playing against a side 2 league higher, the hosts looking to get forwards straight from the restart out to Chloe Martin on the left sends in forwards down the line for Natasha Fensome to attack, Hope Smith though out quickly to the top of her area to slide in claim the ball. Bedford’s Erin Price and Billericay’s Amber Gaylor enjoying a good tussle in midfield, the Bedford player coming out on top to send a great ball out into the right wing for Amber Smith to chase down into the corner, whipping a dangerous ball across the top of the six yard box, Olivia Smith hacking it clear for Billericay. 

Bedford’s Erin Price battling for possession with Billericay’s Amber Gaylor

  Biggs is send tumbling as she takes control of the ball in the left channel turning to attack, the free-kick 25 yards out to the left of the D, Che Thomas over the set-piece, gets it round the wall on target but not troubling Hudson as she makes a comfortable catch.

  Releasing the ball quickly Bedford get on the attack the ball lifted on for Fensome inside the D rising to nod the ball down for Gemma Croucher inside the area right of the D, closed down quickly as she looks to get a shot away, Billericay captain, Lucy Jones stabbing the ball away to safety. Amber Smith running away with the ball into space on Bedford’s right into the corner before laying her cross back across the top of the area, the ball struck goal wards, Olivia Smith in the way to make the block deflected beyond her with the pace taken out of it for Hope Smith to claim even as Bedford appeal for handball, nothing doing.

Billericay defender, Olivia Smith

  Billericay getting the ball across the pitch well, lively in attack, Williams driving on the left winning a throw high the ball controlled played into the middle for Leanne Bell who switches play to the right with Karesha Iton hugging the touchline whips a high cross in towards goal, Hudson up high at her near post to claim it. A lively opening to the game Billericay looking to get after the Bedford defence find gaps in behind, the hosts countering well the tempo high. 

  GOAL! Billericay capitalising on their positive start as they race into a 2 goal lead, attacking on the right, Lisa Milliken tackling to halt Iton’s progress, the ball coming back to Gaylor free 25 yards out she plays a fantastic diagonal ball into Sealey left of the D, her touch bringing her inside one on one with the keeper and composed sends the ball wide of Hudson into the bottom corner for her 2nd of the game 0-2. 

Ruby Sealey firing Billericay into a 2-0 lead

 Billericay 2 goals to the good inside the opening 10 minutes, Bedford on the back foot needing a response, pushing up onto the Billericay defence, Francesca Partridge stealing the ball at the back attempts to lay it into the path of Fensome ahead of her, a timely foot sending the ball clear for a throw on the left. Bedford pressing high the ball crossed into the area from the left into Partridge is quickly closed down the ball ball cleared out of the area straight to Amber Smith 25 yards out central strikes the ball her shot angling wide of the right post. 

Real Bedford’s Amber Smith.

  Jones bringing the ball out from the back on the left for Billericay plays the pass long for Biggs spinning in behind  heading for the box, Hudson racing out to close her down sliding in at her feet, Biggs putting the ball under her but behind for a goal kick. Price has her hands full in midfield with Gaylor and Bell getting after the ball taking it forwards for Billericay. Threaded on for Sealey to take on to the by-line right side of the area hooks a cross in looping across the face of goal, just over Soraya Walsh rising at the far post before Bedford clear. 

Erin Price

  Bedford up on the right with Amber Smith linking up with Croucher winning the throw, Croucher with a superb take down from the throw sending a looping ball inside to Partridge inside the area left of goal, lets out a frustrated cry as she drags her shot wide across goal, Hope Smith dropping onto it. 

Francesca Partridge

  Bedford winning a free-kick inside the Billericay half 35 yards out, captain Zara Carroll strong on her set-piece deliveries over it curling an inviting ball in to be attacked, defended drops to Croucher top of the D to strike on the half volley connects well but can only place it straight into the goalkeeper’s mid-riff, Hope Smith holding onto the ball.

Real Bedford’s Gemma Croucher

 Bedford looking to get after Billericay press the ball, Croucher in particular snapping after the ball looking to get it on for Fensome to attack the area. Amber Smith having space to run into at times on the right for Bedford whipping a cross in near side, Jones under it heading the ball up beyond her across her six yard box, won’t quite fall for Martin at the far post before Olivia Smith can get it clear.

  A free-kick won for Billericay right side 35 yards out, Gaylor running in to strike the ball hit well angling in threatening to drop under the crossbar, Hudson with a brilliant save getting her glove on the ball to tip it over for a corner kick. The resulting corner flashed in across the face of goal, missing everybody. Iton taking the ball on right wing powering forwards striking it as she cuts infield, taking a nick off a defender seeing it race behind for a corner kick. Swung in from the left Hudson getting a glove on it to turn the ball away to the right, Billericay looking to keep the pressure on knocked inside, Price putting in the tackle to she the threat cleared for Bedford.

Real Bedford captain, Zara Carroll

   Croucher taking the ball on from Martin on the left 30 yards out slipping as she goes to strike the ball, making it an easy save for Hope Smith in the Billericay goal. Amber Smith up field pressing Jones at the back the left back forced into playing a rushed back pass to her keeper, Hope Smith in trouble as Fensome rushes in to close the ball down, trying to dig it out from under her feet, Fensome charging her down the ball landing in the side netting.

Natasha Fensome closing down goalkeeper Hope Smith

  Committing players forwards, Bedford hit Billericay on the counter with Gemma Franklin getting the ball on for Price who sends it forwards into Partridge in attack, Olivia Smith with a vital interception for the visitors. A pause in play with Walsh down needing treatment for Billericay, can’t continue, the visitors making their first change of the match bringing on Charlotte O’Shea.

Gemma Franklin

 Biggs spinning on the ball 25 yards out releasing Sealey into the area, her first touch a little heavy allows Hudson to dive forwards to get hold of it. Bedford counter quickly the ball into Fensome pulling right hooks the ball in central dropping inside the D for Croucher to latch onto her snap shot fired in low, Hope Smith saving getting down low to her left. Billericay remain sharp showing good movement across the pitch Gaylor strong making several positive runs. Williams tackling Fensome to win the ball inside the area as Partridge looks to play her in.

  Jones allowed to travel with the ball into midfield sends the pass on for Biggs to take down and turn right of the area driving forwards, Milliken lunging in to knock the ball out of her path can only play it straight to Sealey who checks inside before curling a shot straight into Hudson back on her line. Bedford pressing late in the first half winning a throw high on the left, Fensome taking it on into the area flashing a cross into the six yard box, Billericay clearing the danger.

Billericay Town Women’s captain, Lucy Jones

Half-time Real Bedford Ladies 0-2 Billericay Town Women

  The perfect start for Billericay racing into the lead inside the opening minute of the game. Far from the start Bedford would have wanted against higher league opposition. Building on a positive start moving the ball well the visitors soon adding to their lead and have continued to look a threat going forwards since. Bedford looking for a response getting forwards well enough but not quite finding the cutting edge to break open the Billericay defence, still at 2-0 the tie remains in the balance, the old clique the next goal counts you think it has to go to Bedford or it’s game over.

 Neither side making a change at the break, just the 3 subs allowed in the FA Cup with a 4th permitted if the tie goes to extra-time. Billericay bringing on O’Shea for the injured Walsh in the first period with Bedford out early to get the 2nd half underway. A few spots of rain in the air, the umbrella needed, thankfully no wind so I can tuck it inside my coat keeping the hands free for the notepad and camera. Billericay after the ball forcing Bedford to go all the way back to their keeper. Won back in the middle Thomas on for Biggs out to O’Shea on the right her cross lifted into the six yard box cleared by Reed. 

Real Bedford’s Amy Reed

 Croucher pulled down as she drives on with the ball for Bedford winning the free-kick, players forwards into the area as Carroll lifts it in towards the far post, Fensome leaping but can’t get any control on her header the ball dropping wide of the post. Reed cutting the ball out a Jones looks to pick out Sealey from range.

  Billericay push up on the Bedford area Thomas with Bell outside the D inside for Biggs, Martin defending for the hosts. Billericay strong at the start of the 2nd half looking for the 3rd goal to make the game more comfortable, Franklin out to tackle Sealey left side of the area as the attacker gathers the ball on the left powers her way forwards the ball behind for a corner kick. Swung in deep from the left defended knocked out to Iton outside the area, hook her shot wide of the mark.

Real Bedford’s Chloe Martin with Billericay’s Charlotte O’Shea

  Jones having to come across make the tackle to deny Croucher a run into the visitors area as she skips in behind central the ball out for a corner on the left. A dangerous in swinging delivery through the six yard box a collision beyond the far post seeing Iton down in need of treatment, another pause in play but is up and able to continue.

   Bell breaking in the middle for Billericay sending the ball on for Thomas racing clear on the right whips a cross low into the six yard box Milliken racing back turning it behind for the corner kick. Billericay looking a threat on set-pieces the delivery in towards the penalty spot, Carroll up well for Bedford to head clear, drops straight to Gaylor outside the area right corner, has a strike on goal flashes her shot over the bar.

Billericay midfielder, Leanne Bell

  Croucher picking up a knock for Bedford. Williams doing the defending for Billericay inside the D as Partridge seeing the ball into her feet attempts to turn into the area. O’Shea wins Billericay a corner on the left as she runs on down the line with Reed knocking the ball off the defender. Lifted in central, Bell rising to meet it knocking the ball down back towards the left post, Hudson diving down to grab hold of the ball.

  A double switch for Bedford with Partridge and Carroll coming off, new signing Becky Charter and Kaylen Gerkey coming on, the defender wearing a protective mask. Croucher knocking the ball down into Fensome’s path left of the area snatches at the shot pulling the ball horribly wide. Billericay breaking on the left Gaylor up with Sealey the ball crossed into the area behind both Biggs and Thomas knocked back out to Bell, 25 yards out smashes her shot in racing wide of the left post. 

  Thomas with a shot on the charge as she attacks on the right 25 yards out takes a deflection of Gerkey to see the visitors win another corner, pressure building from the set-pieces fired out to the top of the area falls for Gaylor, can’t dig the ball out from under her feet to shoot before being closed down, the ball with Olivia Smith though on the left she does well to win her side another corner. Hudson out to get something on it the ball flashed out to the right Iton looking to keep it in play winning Billericay another corner.

  GOAL! The threat has been building rom Billericay on their corners and the delivery is perfect from Jones fired into the six yard box, Gaylor up to meet it at the far post nodding the ball down past the keeper into the back of the net 0-3. 

Amber Gaylor heading Billericay into a 3 goal lead

 Billericay now firmly in control of the game capitalising on a strong 2nd half to extend their lead in the 70th minute. Quickly regain possession from the restart Bell out to Sealey on the left powers her way down the wing cutting into the box closed down by Franklin, the clearance straight into Gaylor left corner of the area on the angle strikes the ball wide across goal. Another switch for Billericay sees Otesha Charles coming no to replace Iton. 

 The visitors coming on through the middle, Bell for Sealey into Biggs right of the D lays it across to Gaylor on the left taking it inside the area hits the low shot, Hudson with the save diving to her left to push the ball away. Billericay looking strong as the game moves into the final 15 minutes, Bedford tiring, appeals for handball as Bell drives into the box shoulder to shoulder with Gerkey the ball off the defender, cleared. 

Natasha Fensome

  Price into Fensome left 20 of the D, 20 yards out turns twisting left and right looking to squeeze into the box, Olivia Smith lunging in to make the tackle. Croucher spinning in the right channel to pick out Charter wide on the wing her cross lifted into the top of the area cleared by Jones. Gerkey at the back lines up the long pass looking for Fensome making a run across the D up top, Olivia Smith getting there to head clear for Billericay. 

 Both sides making a change with Janaye Beaufort coming on for Billericay replacing Sealey. Neve Mayes coming on for Bedford in place of Croucher. Franklin across to cut out the pass as Thomas looks to pick out O’Shea out on the right channel. Price up with Fensome outside the area on the left the ball struck wide past the far post. 

  Martin getting on with the ball on the left for Bedford her cross flashed across the six yard box gathered by Charter on the right, drives inside, winning a corner off, Charles. Put in high to the near pot Billericay up to defend the ball. Bedford trying to get a goal pressing on the right Charter lifting in into the near pot, Fensome trying to adjust can’ quite get her head on it.

 GOAL! Billericay push forwards getting players up and around the area into the final minute of regular play Thomas laying it inside for Biggs outside the D, puts her foot through the ball rifling the shot past Hudson to score 0-4.

Maddie Biggs congratulated by her teammates after firing in Billericay’s 4th goal

  A 4th goal conceded as the game moves into stoppage time Bedford tired but still pushing on looking to get a reply the risk they get picked off at the other end, Gerkey with a vital interception lunging a leg out to stop the ball a Gaylor on the drive attempts to play Bell in on the right. Bell on the move with the ball right on for O’Shea looking to power her way on into the box Franklin giving chase diving in from behind in the box, risky but does well to get the ball take it away from the attacker.

  GOAL! The game stretched in the closing stages Bedford willing to push on looking to take something from the game are hit on the turn around the ball up into the box cleared back out into the path of Gaylor to meet it sweetly from all of 30 yards out to bury it into the back of the net to score her 2nd and Billericay’s 5th of the game 0-5.

Amber Gaylor with a 5th goal for Billericay in the closing seconds of the game

Full time Real Bedford Ladies 0-5 Billericay Town Women

  Two late goals perhaps harsh on Bedford but seal the dominance Billericay had, during the game, in control of proceedings pretty much from the off scoring inside the opening minute adding a 2nd 9 minutes later. Giving their lower league opponents a mountain to climb. Bedford with a strong start to their season not deterred as they looked for the reply creating half chances but not finding the clinical ball to unlock the Billericay defence. Still at 2-0 the game was still there for the taking the next goal crucial and Billericay wanted it starting the 2nd half strongly pressing on, Gaylor and Bell driving on from the midfield to support the attack, the pressure building from their corners eventually paying off in the 70th minute with Gaylor heading home the 3rd. Biggs and Gaylor with her 2nd at the death securing a comfortable win. A disappointing loss for Bedford but they can look forwards with positivity have made a fantastic start to the season nonetheless.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

 Onto this Sunday’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match, often a tough one but on occasion there is a stand out performer and today is such an occasion. A few performances of note to mention first however. For Bedford, Gemma Croucher was excellent, getting about the pitch to press the ball force errors and bring her fellow attackers into play. Erin Price battled valiantly in midfield to try and get hold of the ball while Natasha Fensome tried to find the openings in the Billericay defence to get her through on goal. For Billericay, Olivia Smith was strong in the heart of the Billericay defence winning the ball and making a number of interceptions. Leanne Bell was a driving force in the middle of the park winning the ball and driving forwards to bolster the attack. The award though goes to Amber Gaylor was immense in the middle throughout getting in her tackles winning the ball and getting into some great positions to receive the ball heading home the 3rd goal and rifling home the 5th.

  A great atmosphere at McMullen Park, the club certainly embracing their women’s team great to catch up with both sides, many changes for both but looking good. My thanks to everyone for their help today and looking forward to the draw for the next round.

by Darren Gilham

Match Report – AFC Sudbury Women v QPR FC Women

Sunday 5th November

FAWNL South East Division One

 A trip into Suffolk this bonfire Sunday to the MEL Group Stadium to watch some match action from FAWNL South East Division One, with newly promoted AFC Sudbury Women taking on Queens Park Rangers Women.

  The 4th tier of the women’s football pyramid getting stronger and more competitive season upon season and promotion into is not an easy challenge. AFC Sudbury Women though reaching this level for the 1st time in their history off back to back league title in the ERWFL.

  Playing in the 6th tier just two season’s ago the club has undergone a lot of changes in it’s recent history integrated into the club with AFC Sudbury setting up an academy for the girls side of the game as well as the boys, that has seen a crop of very talented young players come through to feature for the club, coming out of a highly competitive ERWFL Division One South with a host of clubs involved all the way to the finish to clinch the title and promotion to the ERWFL Premier Division.

Sudbury’s model very much based on bringing their young academy players through their young side hit the ground running in the ERWFL Premier Division, pushing the title contenders all the way to emerge on top of the pack to claim back to back promotions, top scorers in the league too with Holly Kennard, who has recently joined Norwich City Women netting 25 goals in 25 appearances and Jess Allen returning from a spell in the US notching up 17 from the 16 games she featured in. Back to back promotions to reach the FAWNL for the 1st time in the clubs history a huge step up and a bi test for their young squad, have stuck to their guns however giving them their chance to shine, a steep learning curve taking just a single point from their opening 4 matches before notching up their 1st win at home to Haywards heath Town Ladies. A further 2 draws sandwiched between another loss are starting to find their feet and know what the league is all about.

  Queens Park Rangers Women gaining promotion back to the FAWNL in 2021 after having to regroup with their former Development side in regional football following the 1st team’s playing in the FAWNL Southern Premier Division split that saw the formation of a totally new club. Much of the 1st team staying under the QPR badge to fight their way back into the FAWNL, strong on their return finishing 4th in the table. A mid-table finish last time out winning as many as they lost, that inconsistency has been the feature of this campaign to having played 8, have won 4 and lost 4 with their last 4 league matches all ending in 2-1 scores, winning 2 and losing 2, get a run of wins going and the West London club are well placed in the table to threaten the top 4. Signing Grace Stanley from Cambridge City Women during the last campaign the striker is top scorer so far this season with 9 goals from 9 appearances.

  Storm Ciaran bringing yet another wave of heavy rain across the country in the week leading into Saturday the flood plains leading into Sudbury full the river level high, a possible threat to the match, otherwise played on an artificial surface, the rain easing off water encroaching into the stadium behind the terraced stand opposite the clubhouse and onto the walk way and partially the home dug out the pitch raised however so no problem and whereas I usually migrate around that side of the ground to watch the match thankfully headed in the opposite direction so I didn’t have to paddle through the water. The women’s matches popular at Sudbury, the bar open with a special on today, curry and a pint for £10. Still settled for a cup of tea and a cheeseburger with the kitchen hatch open too. The sun doing it’s best to poke through the clouds bright at times, chilly when obscured.

AFC Sudbury Women

AFC Sudbury Women starting XI – Amelia Carter, Amber Proven, Kayleigh Dodd, Ronni Harrison (C), Aliyat Lambe, Leonnie Bezant, Maisie Goodwin, Phoebe Guiver, Sophie Jeffery, Jess Allen & Kate Edwards. Subs – Jodie Donley, Learna Daniels, Chloe Brame, Evie Creaton & Kiera Harms.

Queens Park Rangers Women

QPR FC Women starting XI – Nicole Melling, Alice Curr, Renai McCrea, Joanna Blodgett, Georgie Lewin, Emily Hill. Katie Akerman, Kasha Petit (C), Izzy Owen, Ellie Searle & Grace Stanley. Subs – Ailish Carolan, Emilia Parsons Frankie Webster, Zoe Cohen & Grace Shephard.

Captains, Kasha Petit and and Ronni Harrison with the match officials

 

A change of ends before kick-off with Sudbury putting the low sun at their backs the cloud cover disperses. QPR to have the kick-off first half wearing their away colours red and black striped shirts with black shorts and socks with Sudbury opposite in their usual colours, yellow shirts with blue shorts and yellow socks. The ball laid back into midfield, the clipped past long to the left sees Ellie Searle charging on to attack it, Kayleigh Dodd doing the defending for Sudbury seeing the ball out for a throw. The visitors looking to get on the front foot right from the start harrying the ball in the middle out to Renai McCrea on the left links up with Searle and Grace Stanley in attack the cross charged down spins away for another throw.

Sudbury’s Leonnie Bezant with QPR’s Izzy Owen

McCrea getting after the ball central as she tracks inside form the left laid forwards into Izzy Owen plays the ball into the right wing for captain Kasha Petit, Sudbury’s captain Ronni Harrison coming out to close her down defending for the hosts. QPR winning a free-kick on the halfway line, Georgie Lewin to flight a ball long into the area, Harrison putting her foot through it to clear for Sudbury. A lively tempo to the game both sides snapping at the ball Sudbury with Leonnie Bezant playing the pass forwards into Kate Edwards in attack looks for Jess Allen coming inside from the left, Joanna Blodgett getting a foot in to win the ball back the visitor look to counter rapidly with the past long for Searle in the clear on the left, her progress though halted by the raised flag of the linesman.

Sudbury attacker, Kate Edwards

Sudbury release Sophie Jeffery on their right to take the ball on into the corner, doing a step over to shift inside her marker, Lewin gets the challenge in the knock the ball out of her path, Bezant up with play snatching the ball back pushed into Jeffery wide, swings a cross into the QPR six yard box, Blodgett up to head clear. This is a lively game all action both side getting the ball on quickly can’t take your eyes off it for a second. Petit looking to get away on the right but Harrison is across to cut her off again clear the ball for a throw in.

Phoebe Guiver win the ball in the middle for Sudbury, rides the lunging tackle for Emily Hill before being chopped down by Katie Akerman the QPR midfield shown a early yellow card. The free-kick in half-way. The ball lifted forwards seen out safely by QPR, but put under pressure from the goal-kick give away a throw high up the pitch. Sudbury competing well looking to put the QPR defence under pressure as they are drawn out, Edwards and Allen pressuring the ball at the back, Edwards releases Allen the take the ball in behind strikes from distance her shot not troubling QPR goalkeeper, Nicole Melling.

Maisie Goodwin, with Guiver getting the ball on through the middle for Sudbury getting players up around the QPR box rolled into Bezant inside the D, her shot is charged down, the rebound coming to Allen to the left of the box, again her 1st time hit is blocked. Petit down with a knock for QPR a pause in play while she receives treatment. The wind having some bite to it now as the sun disappears behind the clouds. Play resuming with a drop ball, put out to Jeffery on the right, she hooks a looping all into the area, Blodgett getting a slight touch to deflect the ball away from the on coming attack, Melling’s claim it high behind her.

QPR’s Georgie Lewin

Alice Curr advancing on the right for QPR on for Petit, Amber Proven challenging the ball out for a thro high up the pitch the visitors get it down well to cross into the near post, Dodd getting their to clear for Sudbury. A chance for QPR to open the scoring as Sudbury are guilty of giving the ball away in the final 3rd central the through ball putting Searle into the box left of the D, taking it on towards the six yard box the angle closing she pulls her strike wide across the face of goal.

QPR’s Alice Curr

Harrison coming across to close Petit down as she gets clear on the right, the ball going behind Harrison and the Sudbury bench incredulous as a corner is given against them. A looping in swinger put in at the near post Sudbury goalkeeper, Amelia Carter jumping to punch the ball away back out to the right the corner taker rolling it back for Curr 25 yards out on the angle strikes the ball, blocked inside the area.

Getting a little testy out there a few clumsy tackles, McCrea getting the advantage as she is clipped going forwards looking for Searle left, Aliyat Lambe coming out to close her down for Sudbury. Lewin with a vital interception for QPR at the back and Sudbury build quickly through the middle. The QPR centre backs again under pressure as Sudbury turn play around playing it through the middle for Edwards racing forwards, Lewin and Blodgett racing back too, one getting the touch to push it on for Melling to launch clear.

Aliyat Lambe clearing the ball for Sudbury

If anything Sudbury are getting a little too excited as they reach the final 3rd, the final pass not quite on it’s mark giving QPR the chance to claim and get going in the opposite direction. Little time dwelled on the ball. 20 minutes gone a competitive match lively QPR with the ball on the left rolled back to McCrea with Dodd coming to close her down on the touchline the full back tangling as McCrea looks to dart past Dodd both holding onto each other shirt, Dodd thrown onto her back as the momentum is with McCrea. Dodd having the wind knocked out of her opposite the QPR dugout the Sudbury bench not happy as no action is taken against McCrea, the physio treating Dodd, they both had hold of one another, had the momentum been with Dodd then it’d be McCrea on her arse right now. As it is another long pause in play with Owen also needing treatment for QPR, Sudbury questioning the referee about the incident. Play resuming with a throw to QPR.

GOAL! Whether the incident unsettled Sudbury can be argued, but straight away they concede the ball not dealt with as it it threaded down the left wing for Searle to take in behind turning into the area along the by-line plays it into the six yard box with Stanley waltzing in central to tap home her 10th goal of the season to give the visitors the lead. 0-1.

Grace Stanley with her 10th goal of the season opening the scoring for QPR.

Proven feeding the ball on for Allen on the left closing in n the corner tracking inside towards the box, can’t capitalise with the cross as it is cut out by Blodgett. QPR push bodies forwards as they build through the middle Petit putting it right for Curr to lay inside for Stanley taking it on into the box right of the D, angles the ball back in across the penalty spot, played behind Akerman as she surges forwards, Dodd clearing for Sudbury.

Sudbury’s Sophie Jeffery

Sudbury getting caught in possession putting them under pressure at the back, Akerman sending the pass forwards for Searle advancing on the left squared into Stanley top left corner of the box, Bezant tracking back from midfield to challenge for Sudbury, possession though quickly lost the ball back with Searle on the right flashed into the box, Harrison scrambling it clear for the hosts. McCrea coming inside from the left on half-way playing a great threaded ball into Pettit in the right channel that sees her sneak in behind the Sudbury defence, Carter off her line rapidly to slide in and clear at the attackers feet.

Sudbury’s Phoebe Guiver

Again the Sudbury bench are livid as McCrea clatters into Guiver, with on action taken. Petit finding Stanley with the past up top the striker shooting over from outside the box to the right of goal. Lambe and Dodd both making good challenges at the back as QPR press up on the left with McCrea getting on well to support the attack.

Guiver carrying the ball on through the middle for Sudbury passes into Edwards ahead of her she in turn lays the ball into Allen racing in behind the defence on the right channel bearing down on the area, Melling racing out to close her down, going to ground, Allen shoots, the QPR keeping saving with her trailing foot, scrambling back up to her feet as Edwards races onto the loose ball 20 yards out trying to put it into the exposed goal, Blodgett back-peddling into her own six yard box able to intercept. A golden chance for Sudbury to equalise.

Sudbury’s Jess Allen

McCrea fouling Allen giving the hosts a free-kick wide on the right, Dodd to play the ball into the area dropping central Melling leaping doesn’t get much on it the ball out to the top of the area knocked back in Curr with the block for QPR the ball deflected behind, Sudbury furious when they don’t get the corner.

Blodgett is fouled by Allen as she looks to shield the ball out of play from a Bezant pass from the middle. Lewin bringing the ball on from the back for the visitors plays the pass to Searle breaking away wide left her cross whipped into the area defended by Harrison put behind for a corner kick. Sudbury defend the corner and look to break Edwards trying to play Allen in behind, Lewin stretching a leg to intercept the ball.

The Sudbury bench incensed once more as Bezant sends a great ball on for Allen long on the right the attacker getting back to it on the by-line to wrap her foot around the ball to lift in a cross, McCrea tracking back trying to block looks to have struck her arm as it knocked behind for the corner. The corner dropped into the mix drilled wide of the right post. The first half moving into stoppage time QPR on the attack, Hill forwards into Petit plays the ball into the area for Stanley right of goal cuts it back to the top of the area to be hit by the advancing Akerman her strike racing wide of the far post.

Half-time AFC Sudbury Women 0-1 QPR FC Women

  That was a fast paced and competitive first half some good chances created, QPR getting off to a positive start, getting the ball wide pressing players on taking the lead midway through the half, Sudbury missing a great chance to level. Both sides guilty of having sloppy periods in possession, the game often rushed, Sudbury in particular not quite finding the mark with the final pass, nevertheless competitive has been an exciting first 45 and with a single goal in it all to play for.

Chilly now with the sun low and the floodlights on as the teams emerge for the 2nd half, no changes with Sudbury getting the game restarted the ball rolled back into the middle, the diagonal ball forwards to the right the QPR defence seeing it out. Bezant latching onto the ball driving on through the middle for Sudbury, Akerman tackling, McCrea launching it up to Stanley up top on her own gets up well to head the ball down into the D, but lacking a runner to take it on, Lambe is untroubled as she clears the ball. The visitors snapping at the ball inside the Sudbury half, Hill with Petit out to Searle high on the left her low cross claimed by Carter.

GOAL! QPR with the ball inside the Sudbury half Petit plays it into Akerman who opens up her body to slot an inch perfect pass into the feet of Searle as she steals inside her marker to race into the area left of goal and send it under the advancing keeper as she rushes out to close her down to score, 0-2.

Ellie Searle played through to double QPR’s lead at the start of the 2nd half

The perfect start to the 2nd half for QPR as they double the lead, while delivering a huge blow to Sudbury at the same time. The ball given away inside their own half, Sudbury are on the back foot straight away as Owen drive through the centre towards the D for QPR, Dodd getting the tackle in to take the ball out of her feet send it behind for a corner kick on the right. The corner taken short before the cross is delivered, the ball knocked down towards goal Carter dropping out her left to save it doesn’t know the flag has been raised for an offside.

Allen bursting on right side after the ball striking it on the half volley her angled effort straight into Melling’s midriff. Dodd getting back at Searle on the left to tackle as the winger threatens to run in behind to cross, the visitors snapping back to regain possession, Akerman trying her luck from distance sending the shot over the bar. Sudbury make the first change of the game bring off Guiver, on comes Evie Creaton. The substitute involved straight away in a triangle on the right with Edwards and Bezant, the attempted ball into the area intercepted by Lewin for QPR.

Allen looking to make something happen for Sudbury driving on with the ball on the right before being tackled winning her side a corner kick. Lopped in to the near post, Lewin is up with a firm header to knock it back out towards the taker, then races out to press the ball well. Goodwin linking up with Bezant in the middle rolled on for Edwards who clips it to the right of the D for Creaton, she flicks it into the box turning to chase it wide to the right of goal, Melling sprinting over to throw herself on the ball.

Lewin busy for QPR at the back getting out to close down Allen as she comes left to attack the ball. Another stoppage in play with Creaton going down needing treatment. QPR have won a corner on the right as play resumes played deep towards the far post 10 yards out knocked down towards goal, Carter diving left to get down to save push the ball out past her left post then makes another blocking save on her knees as Owen tries to turn the ball in at the near post.

Sudbury get up the other end with pace as Allen wins her side a corner kick, Creaton allowed back on. QPR defending clearing the ball out of their box, Akerman taking it forwards playing it on into Petit who smashes a shot over from range. Sudbury make a change bringing Edwards off, Chloe Brame coming on. Stanley with the ball right corner of the area sends in central to Hill inside the D, shifts to go left before pulling the trigger, Goodwin blocking for Sudbury the ball deflected behind her, Harrison clearing to concede the corner kick. Played in from the left Bezant clearing near side.

QPR’s Joanna Blodgett

66 minutes played Sudbury making a double substitution taking off Dodd and Lambe at the back Learna Daniels ad Jodie Donley coming on. Harrison defends as Hill bringing the ball on into the left channel looks to play Searle in to cross. Petit fouls Jeffery inside the QPR half the free-kick top of the centre circle the ball defended headed out to the right with Searle then holding of Brame as she looks to gather and drive towards the area.

GOAL! Defending a corner at one end QPR break through the middle Akerman charging on with the ball, has Petit and Stanley ahead of her racing to get clear of the Sudbury defence, the pass putting the ball on into Stanley’s path heading into the box right of the D bearing down on goal. Carter comes rushing out to try and close her down going to ground Stanley slots the ball past the keeper into the back of the net to make it 0-3.

Grace Stanley with her 2nd of the game to see QPR lead 3-0

Stretching their lead QPR making a double change as they take of Petit and Curr, send on Emily Parsons and Zoe Cohen. Sudbury conceding a 3rd goal frustrated haven’t been able to get going in the 2nd half picking up another injury as QPR prepare a triple substitution. Brame needs to come off for Sudbury too, Kiera Harms coming on. Ailish Carolan, Frankie Webster and Grace Shephard onto the pitch for QPR replacing Stanley, Akerman and McCrea. QPR winning a free-kick on the right 35 yards out.

GOAL! Blodgett over the set-piece strikes a high ball into the area, runners breaking in towards the penalty spot to meet it, one of those Parsons only on the pitch for a few minutes she gets her head onto the ball to send a bullet of a header over the keeper before she can react into the goal beyond 0-4.

Substitute Emilia Parsons heading home to make it 4-0

QPR with a strong grip on the game with less than 15 minutes of regular play left, Harrison pushed up into the middle for Sudbury as the hosts win a free-kick 30 yards out, the captain over it herself strikes the ball in towards goal a comfortable catch for Melling. Hill sending the ball up to Parsons back to goal 25 out looks to turn it into the path of Shephard racing forwards, she can’t quite take it in her stride as she enters the box allowing Sudbury to clear. 

Harrison playing the ball on for Bezant the midfield lifting a great pass forwards for Harms to bring down under control top of the area, he progress halted though by the offside flag. Webster up ended inside the Sudbury half the set-piece seeing players go forwards, Hill up to knock the ball down into the box, before being struck wide of Carter’s left post. Bezant clipping a neat pass out to the left with Allen taking it down outside the area looking to shift onto her right foot and shoot, Blodgett putting the blocking tackle in.

The game getting a little ragged as it enters stoppage time several niggly challenges QPR playing with composure, hasn’t been Sudbury’ afternoon the hosts frustrated nothing working going forwards, play quickly turned around. The hosts with one last chance to get players up into the area winning a free-kick on the right, the ball won though by Hill cleared for Owen to break forwards pulls up suffering from cramp. The job done however the final whistle blowing QPR leaving Suffolk with the 3 points in the bag.

Full time AFC Sudbury Women 0-4 QPR FC Women

  The win lifting QPR up into 5th place. Coming out on top in the 2nd half after a reasonably even 1st half. Making a few tweaks to the side came out fast in the 2nd half getting at Sudbury to quickly double their lead, a blow for Sudbury who will want to put that half behind them, never got going, QPR performing well to frustrate them winning the ball and turning play around creating chances Stanley put clear to make it 3, wit substitute Parsons burying her header to make it 4-0.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Time to choose this Sunday’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match, a tight call yet again with some strong performers out there. A few performances of note to mention. For Sudbury Leonnie Bezant was strong in the middle especially 1st half winning her tackles and showing a good range of pass that on another day would threaten to unlock a defence. Captain Ronni Harrison defending well at the back getting across to defend and read the game as QPR turned play around. For QPR, Ellie Searle was a constant threat out on the left, looking to get in behind to cross the ball, played in to score their 2nd early in the 2nd half. Katie Akerman came into her own in midfield as the game wore on getting into some great positions driving forwards with  fantastic assists. Today’s award though goes to defender Georgie Lewin, a powerful display at the back winning the ball and bringing it out of defence, making several interceptions which played a large part in frustrating their opponents.

Great to be back at the MEL Group Stadium to watch Sudbury play in the FAWNL as frustrating afternoon for sure, but still a long way to go and will fight all the way to ensure they retain their new found FAWNL status. My thanks to both sides for their help with the team details, the nature of the league this time of year just one more league game scheduled for QPR, Sudbury with too will both be looking to end the year on a positive note.

by Darren Gilham

Match Report – Fakenham Town Ladies v Hertford Town Women

Sunday 22nd October

FA Women’s Cup 3rd Round Qualifying

 A place in the 1st Round Proper of this season’s FA Women’s Cup up for grabs this Sunday with 88 ties being played across England. A trip to the Daly Group Stadium featuring on Women’s Football East as Fakenham Town Ladies host Hertford Town Women both looking to made history in reaching the 1st Round Proper for the 1st time. 

  With the added incentive of £4,000 worth of prize money going to the winning side a huge amount for any grassroots club. The prize fund increasing (although still no where close to the men’s prize fund) giving the FA Women’s Cup more prestige seeing a record number of entrants. 

 Today’s tie between two sides competing in tier 6 of the women’s football pyramid. Albeit in separate leagues with tier 6 of the ERWFL divided into a Division One North and South. The ERWFL reaching it’s full compliment of 36 clubs across 3 divisions this season, has since been reduced by 3 due to teams struggling for various reasons often recruitment which continues to highlight how fragile the game remain despite rapid growth in recent seasons.

 Fakenham Town Ladies making the step up into regional football last season off the back of winning the Norfolk Women’s League Cup the year before. A big step up and despite initially struggling for results the squad grew into the league and finished strongly setting the base for the coming season. Division One North swelling to 12 sides (now reduced to 10) including 3 more from Norfolk, Fakenham started well with a home win over Bedfordshire side Wootton Blue Cross Lionesses, two defeats were to follow however, the club responding well to the early setbacks to take 7 points from their last 3 games to climb up to 3rd in the table. 

 Chloe Gravett top scorer so far netting 12 goals in 7 appearances. Have bolstered the squad with the return of some former players, Imogen Dilling back after a year away with, Kayleigh Robb and Jade Doy also returning. Defender, Sophie Buckley back this season after joining for a spell late last campaign. Sadie Anderson joins, from Scotland whilst studying in Norfolk. With Holly Walker the newest addition joining from Wroxham Women. Under new management this season with Kris Healy and Reserve team player Matty Wheeler in charge. Recieved a bye in the 1st Qualifying Round before knocking out ERWFL Premier Division side King’s Lynn Town Ladies at The Walks in the previous round winning 5-2 with Chloe Gravett scoring 4 goals.

  Hertford Town Women were only formed last season, entering the Beds & Herts Women’s Premier Division were amongst the title contenders all the way through to the very last game of the season that against title rivals Wormley Rovers Ladies in a winner takes all game. Sadly were to miss out losing the game 4-3 to finish runners-up, making up for that loss by winning the Chris Renshaw trophy. Applied to join the ERWFL and successful in their bid joining Division One South. 

Making a promising start to playing at regional level with 3 wins and a draw from their opening 5 matches to sit 2nd in the ERWFL Division One South table. A young side newly formed have set up a partnership with Hartham United Ladies which will see a number of players dual signed including the likes of experienced striker Nicole Emmings and defender Kat Calvert. Georgia Elmer-Roads and Kaylie Clark leading the goal scoring charts with 4 goals apiece. A goal each for Georgia Elmer-Roads and Charlie Mills seeing Hertford beat Beds & Herts Premier Division side Stotfold Women in 1st Round Qualifying setting up a trip to Essex to play Harlow based side, Frontiers Ladies. Hertford coming out on top in a 10 goal thriller winning 6-4 with Kaylie Clark on target for a hat-trick.

The venue for today’s game the Daly Group Stadium (formerly Clipbush Park) home of Fakenham Town FC. Storm Babet bringing heavy rainfall to much of the country over the past 48 hours, the pitch though coping well soaking up the moisture looking in great condition. A large pitch offering plenty of width with a seated stand opposite the dugouts and clubhouse serving hot and cold drink and food. The calm after the storm, pleasant and mild, settled the sun low behind one end of the ground.

Fakenham Town Ladies

Fakenham Town Ladies starting XI – Tilly Betts, Georgina Pooley, Ruby Curtis, Jemma Riches (C), Sophie Buckley, Sian Sands, Rochelle Woods, Kirstie Rusted, Imogen Dilling, Shelley Woods & Chloe Gravett. Subs – Maddie Smith, Olivia Baker, Vicky Lubbock, Sophie Lubbock & Holly Walker.

Hertford Town Women

 Hertford Town Women starting XI – Emma Gore, Leah Crocket, Kayleigh Elmer-Roads, Brodie McKie, Summer Young (C), Ellie Curtis, Kiera Groves, Georgia Elmer-Roads, Tazmin Symonds Bishop, Kaylie Clark & Charlie Mills. Subs – Katie Marshall, Ella Cripps & Ellie Young.

No roll on roll off substitutes in the FA Women’s Cup just 3 substitutes allowed with the tie being settled from the penalty spot if all square after 90 minutes. A switch of ends at kick-off with Fakenham attacking with the sun at there backs, wearing amber coloured shirts, black shorts and socks. Hertford to get the first half underway taking the kick-off wearing blue coloured shirts with white sleeves, blue shorts and socks. The ball played back to Brodie McKie in defence launched forwards up to attacker, Charlie Mills battling to win the ball getting it forwards to Georgia Elmer-Roads breaking in behind left wing, goes too soon the flag up against her.

  Fakenham look to bring the ball out of defence on their left Georgina Pooley getting on with the ball pushed inside into the middle, Keira Groves lunging in to tackle winning possession back for Hertford. Pushed out to the right with Tazmin Symonds Bishop breaking down the wing her early cross swung into the area headed clear by Fakenham’s Sophie Buckley. 

Fakenham’s Sophie Buckley

   The visitors winning a free-kick on the right, the ball floated in towards the top of the area defended by Fakenham’s Sian Sands the ball knocked down for Buckley to kick clear. Fakenham giving away free-kicks early in the match inviting pressure as Ellie Curtis places the ball down to take top of the centre circle, the ball looping into the six yard box, goalkeeper Tilly Betts getting a glove on the ball to punch it away behind to her right for a corner kick. The ball fired in low cleared at the near post. 

  Fakenham a little nervy at the start build on the right, Kirstie Rusted bursting forwards lifting the ball on for Chloe Gravett in attack, Leah Crocket coming across to challenge clear the ball out for a throw in. Hertford lively at the start of the game getting forwards and spreading the ball across the pitch, fed into the left channel for Mills to chase, Ruby Curtis coming across her shielding the ball out of play for a Fakenham goal kick. 

Fakenham’s Ruby Curtis

  Fakenham come left Rusted sending the ball into Shelley Woods coming inside form the right, looks for Gravett breaking into the D, Crocket again getting a foot in to take the ball away from the Fakenham attacker the ball out for a throw. The ball over on the left as Hertford get players forwards, space opening up on the right for Crocket to move into see the cross field past put into her path drives on before crossing, Buckley winning the interception heading the threat clear for the hosts. 

 The free-kick count mounting Hertford winning another inside the Fakenham half, Curtis sending it up in towards the six yard box, Betts comfortable as she takes the catch down into her body. Pooley bringing the ball into space on the left for Fakenham firing the pass forwards into Shelley Woods 20 yards out left of the D, gets it out from under her feet forwards into Gravett coming across her path top of the area, driving for goal taking on McKie, the defender cramped for room to turn and challenge doing well to flick a boot out, the ball taking the smallest of deflections to see it run on for onrushing goalkeeper, Emma Gore to snatch up into her gloves. 

Shelley Woods bringing the ball on for Fakenham

 Hertford winning another set-piece on half-way to the left the ball played on up the channel, Fakenham captain, Jemma Riches stabbing a foot out to knock the ball out of Mills’ path as she bursts forwards to attack it. A competitive cup tie both sides getting after the ball, Groves busy in the middle of the park for Hertford looking to put Crocket away to attack on the right, Pooley stepping in to challenge for Fakenham coming away with the ball on the left surging forwards turning for the area, runs into McKie as the defender stands her ground. 

Fakenham’s Georgina Pooley

  Hertford getting bodies around the ball central the through ball out to the right releasing Symonds Bishop down the line turning inside top of the area, has Clark waiting to receive right of the D, the ball into her as Mills overlaps to burst into the area the ball put into her feet her shot on the angle charged down, the ball gathered in the middle by Curtis whose shot from distance drops wide of the left post. Hertford captain, Summer Young intercepting the ball at the back as Buckley sends it long from the back looking for Gravett

Hertford captain, Summer Young

 GOAL! 25 yards out Gravett snaps back at Young to nick the ball play it forwards into Shelley Woods breaking in behind the defence left of the D to put herself one on one with the keeper, opening up her body to send the ball wide of the keeper before she can close her down to score 1-0.

Shelley Woods netting the opener for Fakenham

   Fakenham taking the lead just past the opening 15 minutes, the goal bringing some confidence as the hosts get hold of the ball in the middle, Rochelle Woods with a strong run with the ball, laid off to Rusted on the right, looks for Gravett, Young winning the ball back for Hertford. The visitors awarded a free-kick wide on the left, Clark to play the ball in towards goal, Betts again with an assured take catching the ball as she drops forwards. 

 Imogen Dilling putting the ball on for Shelley Woods coming in of the right channel threaded into the area for Gravett, McKie coming across the attacker to shield the ball as Gore comes to claim it. Mills darting about up top for Hertford making some teasing runs keeping the Fakenham defence on their toes Riches and Buckley halting her progress. The ball given away on the right as Hertford press the ball Symonds Bishop on the move passing inside to Mills right of the D, Riches quickly across to dive in with an outstretched leg to send the ball away from a throw.

 

  Penalty! The ball put in across the top of the area from the throw on the right sees Clark looking to turn get inside to shoot, Curtis bringing her down, referee Tom Miles pointing to the spot. Curtis shown the yellow card. Now my camera’s batteries chose this exact moment to die so I didn’t clock who took the penalty, nevertheless the ball is struck hard and rising, Betts going the right way is beaten but the ball cannons back off the crossbar, down into the area, Fakenham’s defence scrambling it clear the opportunity to level gone. 

 Ellie Curtis for Hertford with another attempt from range held by Betts back on her line. Hertford finding joy out wide, Georgia Elmer-Roads lining up a shot from the left on the angle driven in low to the near post, Betts right behind it. Fakenham getting themselves a free-kick wide on the right a chance for players to come up from the back, lifted into the area, Riches attacking it adjudged to have committed the foul. 

Georgia Elmer-Roads

  Groves getting stuck in in the middle for Hertford playing the ball out to Symonds Bishop on the right, powers forwards, Pooley getting back on her to tackle put the ball out of play for Fakenham. Shelley Woods finding useful pockets of space in the channels for Fakenham constantly looking to lay the ball into Gravett as she moves across the Hertford back line, McKie getting her head on the ball to clear. Young at the back sending a great pass forwards to see Mills race in between the Fakenham centre backs, 30 yards out, Betts though is alert to the threat and comes racing out of her box to get to the ball first kick clear.

Rochelle Woods

  Pooley bringing the ball on left for Fakenham  inside for Shelley Woods, 30 out rolls in inside for Rochelle Woods who sees Pooley continuing her run into the box hooks the ball forwards, McKie tracking across lunging in to get her foot on the ball knock it behind for the corner kick. The ball fired in near post cleared for a throw in.

  Fakenham building some pressure out on the right players forwards into the area lifted into the box, Shelley Woods looking to latch onto it get ahead of the defence under challenge lifts the ball over the keeper to score, won’t count however with the referee spotting a pull of the shirt.

  Clark moving across the path of Symonds Bishop on the right as the winner drives forwards with the ball, Clark taking the ball right of goal seeing her cross cut out, getting the rebound back attempts to pick out Symonds Bishop at the by line however the winger has strayed offside. Ellie Curtis sent tumbling for Hertford the visitors with another free-kick inside the Fakenham half central, Clark lines up a strike the shot swerving away from the top left corner. 

Ellie Curtis

  Hertford continue to press for an equaliser Groves getting the ball out to the left, Georgia Elmer-Roads inside for Clark moving into the area, Betts comes rushing out to close her down diving at her feet the ball knocked past her heading for the by-line Elmer-Roads after it from the acutest of angles gets a shot away the ball coming back off the base of the post. 

Fakenham captain, Jemma Riches

  End to end no sooner has Betts been called into action one end, Gore has to come rushing out to dive in save at the feet of Gravett as she looks to steal into the box from the right channel the keeper snatching hold of the ball quickly up to get her side on the move. 

Hertford goalkeeper, Emma Gore out quickly to deny Chloe Gravett.

  Betts down low to save at her near post as Georgia Elmer-Roads sends another angled shot in low towards goal. McKie doing well inside the box to defend against Gravett as Rusted attacking from the right hooks a high ball into the area. A busy end to the first half Hertford with a throw high on their right put across the top of the area into Mills slots the ball forwards for Clark to attack, Betts down smartly to save well at her feet. 

  Young stretching out a leg to cut the ball out as Shelley Woods attempts to put Gravett through into the box. Fakenham pushing up on the right, Gravett off a throw powering her way into the area, attempting to lay it back up towards the top of the area for Rochelle Woods, Kayleigh Elmer-Roads defending for Hertford. 

Half-time Fakenham Town Women 1-0 Hertford Town Women

  An entertaining 1st half, the teams go off with Fakenham holding the advantage, Shelley Woods 16th minute goal separating the sides. A bright start from Hertford have looked lively getting the ball about the pitch creating a few half chances. Fakenham a little nervous at the start settling into the game the goal seeing them press better get after the Hertford defence, giving away a penalty Hertford failing to capitalise both keepers called into action. The tie very much on a knife edge going into the 2nd half. 

  Hertford making a double substitution at the start of the 2nd half brining on Ellie Young and Ella Cripps for, Curtis and Crocket. Fakenham unchanged to get the 2nd half underway played back to the defence, Hertford pour forwards in an attempt to close the ball down the ball hastily cleared for a throw on the right. A strong start from Hertford winning the ball out on the left Clark inside for Mills out to Ellie Youngs attacking on the right side whips an early ball into the area headed away by Riches.

Ellie Young attacking for Hertford Town Women

  GOAL! Hertford get back on level terms with barely a minute of the 2nd half played, attacking on the right Ellie Young making an immediate impact laying the ball on for Mills wide of the area tracks inside towards the six yard box before laying the ball back towards the top of the area a host of blue shirts queuing up to strike it, Young with the strike smashing the ball into the roof of the net to equalise 1-1. 

Hertford celebrate levelling the scores

Pooley closing down Clark as the Hertford striker brings the ball out to the right, deflected inside, Mills chasing after it into the D, Sands hooking clear. Hertford pressing well at the start of the 2nd half looking to push Fakenham back. A competitive game in the middle of the park, tackles flying in, Sands being cautioned by the referee. 

  Mills out to the right taking the ball on from Ellie Young checks inside playing in into Clark right of the D, Sands tracking back for Fakenham doing the defensive work regaining possession for the hosts. Fakenham attempting to regain the momentum finding Rusted out on the right, Gravett over to support, Kayleigh Elmer-Roads forced to play the ball out for a throw.

Fakenham midfielder, Sian Sands

  Mills right sees her progress stopped by Pooley the ball out for a throw level with the top of the area played inside into Clark sees it down of her chest and turns into the shot striking the ball wide of the near post. Gravett hauled down as she breaks forwards from the left, no advantage play brought back for the set-piece the strike from distance fired over the crossbar. 

   Georgia Elmer-Roads coming out to the left has Cripps racing on ahead of her the ball fed into her run of for Clark who sends a dangerous ball into the area behind the defence, Buckley getting her toe on the ball to turn it behind for the corner kick. Swung in low to the near post cut out, Rusted rushing out to charge down a shot from outside the box the ball cleared upfield. Gravett pulling free on the right to chase the ball down into the area, Cripps chasing back stays on her well to lung in cut out her cross send it behind for the corner kick. The corner from the right, met by Groves coming out to clear, falls to a Fakenham player the shot struck from range angling wide of the far post. 

Hertford’s Kiera Groves

  Midway through the 2nd half the game delicately poised Hertford with a strong opening pushing players on stretching Fakenham the hosts defence coping well, Gravett and Woods looking to pull into the channels create an opening at the other end. Fakenham attacking on the left players attracted to the ball, the cross lifted into the box from deep, Rusted closing in on the keeper six yards out getting her head under the ball attempting to put it wide of Gore places it wide of the left post.

Fakenham’s Kirstie Rusted

  The fouls mounting up for Sands as she goes into the book for Fakenham, the free-kick wide on the right 35 yards out, floated into the area Betts comes out well to claim the ball. Hertford committing players forwards get caught with a high line as Shelley Woods nips in on the ball and attempts to thread Gravett through into the box, is a vital touch from Kayleigh Elmer-Roads to cut the ball out or Gravett was in with a one one with the keeper.

Kayleigh Elmer-Roads

  A double change for Fakenham with Pooley and Rochelle Woods coming off, Holly Walker and Vicky Lubbock. A change of shirt for Clark just to confuse things now wearing no 4. Kayleigh Elmer-Roads breaks away on the left in behind racing to the by-line as Riches comes out to close her down, completely misses her cross, but still manages to win her side a corner knocking the ball behind of the defender. Fired in near post defended knocked out to Ellie Young left corner fires a vicious ball back into the six yard box, cleared by Walker for Fakenham in front of her goal comes straight to McKie top of the box, shoots her shot rising clips the top of the crossbar on it’s way over.

  Both sides showing intent going for the winner Hertford committing players forwards, Fakenham looking to get the ball back into their attackers remains competitive in the middle of the park. The hosts with a free-kick out on the left taken quickly fired in across the goal, Rusted closing in far post can’t get a telling touch. Rusted’s last action of the game then as she is taken off replaced by Sophie Lubbock with a little over 10 minutes left on the clock. 

 Gravett working hard up top for Fakenham running into the channels taking the ball on from Dilling running into the corner her cross swung in behind the goal. Fakenham pressing high Sophie Lubbock seeing her shot charged down, Hertford attacking on the counter. Mills taking the ball right her cross cut out by Buckley, comes back to Mills lifted into Symonds Bishop at the near post Betts diving in front of her doing enough to knock it against the attacker out of play for the goal kick. 

Hertford’s Ella Cripps with Fakenham’s Chloe Gravett

  End to end late in proceedings both sides seeking what could prove to be the winning goal with penalties looming. Groves taking the ball forwards pushed on into Mills, she finds her run halted by Riches inside the D. Kayleigh Elmer-Roads picking up a yellow card as she up ends Sophie Lubbock. The set-piece right of the centre circle lifted in towards the right post, Gore coming across her goal jumping to catch the ball.

  Mills tracking in from the right seeing her strike deflected safely through to the keeper. Katie Marshall coming on for Hertford replacing Georgia Elmer-Roads. Gore down sharply to smother the ball as Fakenham lift it in from the left. Betts with a fantastic piece of goalkeeping as she comes racing out to meet Clark top of the area as she latches onto a through ball from midfield, the keeper down low on her knees getting a hand on the ball as Clark looks to go around her, Riches around on the cover clearing the ball. 

Fakenham goalkeeper, Tilly Betts

  Fakenham break up the other end the ball out to Gravett on the left 25 yards out with the turn and hit smashing a shot over the bar. The 90 minutes are up the game moving into stoppage time no sign that either side is settling for penalties Hertford press the ball, Sophie Lubbock though latching onto a misplaced pass 25 yards out drives for the area, Kayleigh Elmer-Roads getting across to dive in win the tackle. 

  Fakenham shooting from range a high ball in towards goal from the left threatening to dip under, Gore’s bar but she is tall, standing above her teammates isn’t caught off guard plucking the ball down from the air into the ground for the defence to clear.

  GOAL! Hertford clear the ball forwards through the middle Clark racing onto it 35 yards out doesn’t hesitate lines up the shot putting her foot through the ball, striking it over the keeper to land in the goal beyond and runs away to her bench to celebrate 1-2.

Kaylie Clark firing Hertford into the lead in the 93rd minute

  Hertford coming back from a goal down at the break to take the lead in the 93rd minute! Virtually no time left for Fakenham to respond a hammer blow the hosts press forwards looking to score. Hertford drop back to defend a little scrappy Clark picking up a yellow card. A free-kick wide on the left taken quickly in low cut out top of the area. Gravett inside to Vicky Lubbock on for Shelley Woods, cut out by McKie as she surges into the D the ball cleared the final whistle blows and Hertford win it at the death making history to reach the first round proper of the FA Women’s Cup. 

Full time Fakenham Town Women 1-2 Hertford Town Women

  A fantastic cup tie that looked to be heading to penalties until Kaylie Clark struck from range to find the winning goal for the visitors. A strong 2nd half from Hertford started quickly making changes paying off straight away with the equalising goal on 46 minutes. Further chances created after that, Betts with some great goalkeeping to frustrate them. Both sides looking for a goal to make it 2-1 after that. A great watch from a neutrals perspective could have gone either way, Fakenham will be bitterly disappointed had no time to reply. Hertford into the first round proper draw will be eager to see who they draw out of the hat.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. Often a tough call and although there were a few contenders from both sides, one player had edged it in my mind before the final whistle. For Fakenham, Tilly Betts was superb in goal, controlled and making some vital stops, will be disappointed to concede so late on. Jemma Riches and Sophie Buckley with some strong tackling at the back making a number of interceptions. Shelley Woods in attack making some useful runs into the channels, with Chloe Gravett working hard up top trying to create an opening. For Hertford, Brodie KcKie had a superb game in defence making a number of tackles. Keira Groves all over the place in midfield fighting to win the ball setting up numerous attacks. Ellie Young making a real impact from the bench. Kayleigh Elmer-Roads with several vital tackles at the back too. Had already clinched the award before scoring the 93rd minute winner, Kaylie Clark was excellent in attack making some brilliant runs into the channels and across the defence, linking up well with Mills and Symonds Bishop in particular.

An entertaining cup tie, from the sides 3rd and 2nd in their leagues respectfully going into the game promised to be a good game and certainly delivered. My thanks to both sides from their help with the team details, like Hertford will be looking forwards to the upcoming draw for the 1st Round Proper of the FA Women’s Cup.

by Darren Gilham

Match Report – Cambridge City Women v Cambridge United WFC

Sunday 15th October

FAWNL South East Division One

Derby match action this weekend on Women’s Football East a trip to Haverhill to watch the Cambridge showdown between Cambridge City Women and Cambridge United Women in FAWNL South East Division One.

 Originally set to be the season opener, the game postponed due to the not so small matter of the Lionesses reaching the World Cup final. A historic day for women’s football in the country and testament to how much the game has grown in recent times. The FAWNL representing tiers 3 and 4 of the women’s football pyramid the talent playing with in it getting stronger season upon season. Along with it the challenges clubs face to remain competitive and succeed.

 Cambridge City Ladies promoted to the FAWNL back in 2019 after enjoying a rapid rise through the leagues to join their fellow Cambridge side in the 4th tier. The clubs sharing a turbulent history having once been one before Cambridge Women as they were back then broke away eventually merging with Cambridge United FC. Cambridge City are now Cambridge City Women. Have always been a club that has put youth at the forefront of their pathway to the first team and have produced many talented sides over the years. Have seen many changes over the past few season’s from the very top with a new chairman to a total overhaul of the senior team losing a lot of experienced players as they have moved on to other clubs. Management changes too that have seen the club struggling for points at the bottom end of the league.

 More changes over the summer with more player departures, a new manager brought in Fadi Mazloum the ex-Stevenage FC Women’s head coach to lead the 1st team, overseeing a virtual rebuild of the squad. A number of new signings joining the young retained players. Eva Hubbard dual signed with Needham Market last season joining on a permanent basis. Rosy Wodhams joining from Stevenage FC Women. Sophie Mulvihill signing on with the club having experience with both Nottingham Forest and Leicester. Tilly Fidler another bringing valuable experience to the side. Striker, Libby Fraser joining from Cambridge United along with defender Abi Davies. Goalkeeper Nina Meollo comes in on loan from Ipswich Town Women. Jade Barrett back in the game after a spell out with injury. Jade McGibbon, Patience Ndlovu, Belle Shannon, Sakina Dhirani & Leila Awan also joining the club. A lot of new faces to bring in and form into a team over the summer and despite a opening day win in the Determining Round of the FAWNL Cup have struggled in the league losing their opening 6 matches to sit bottom of the table. Fadi Mazloum since setting down from his role sees the club on the look out for a new 1st team manager. Got a much needed boost with their 1st point secured at home against newly promoted AFC Sudbury Women in midweek.

Cambridge United WFC amongst the longest established sides playing in the 4th tier, but would love to shake of that accolade and strive for promotion. Since taking on the United mantle in their name have enjoyed closer ties with Cambridge United FC, forming a women’s board within the club last season and playing a number of matches at The Abbey Stadium. Setting up a better player pathway in the process with the aim of producing talent to compete for places in the senior team. Bringing in new players to bolster an experienced squad, Fran Steele joining from Cambridge City a driving force in midfield. Zoe Wood returning to football is an ex-England youth international. Brooklyn Cheal-Ferris also joining with Wymondham Town Ladies amongst her previous clubs. Mistie Fox-Barker another addition joining from Royston Town Women. Annie Posnett top scorer in ERWFL Division One North last season also aiming to make an impact. Serena Cobb, Eleanor Townsend and Niamh Day stepping up from the old Development squad.

Shaking off a lethargic loss in the opening days Determining Round match. Came back to record a 4-0 win in their opening league fixture against Haywards Heath Town Women with last season’s top scorer Sarah Wilshire netting all 4 goals. Was to be Wiltshire’s last appearance for Cambridge for now as she announced she is pregnant with her 3rd child. A big gap to fill in the attack would be interesting to see how the squad responded… and they have responded excellently, playing Alysha Stojko-Down in a false number 9 position has found the back of the net for 5 goals with Bella Simmons hitting 4. Followed that win with back to back and a win, suffering their 1st loss against Wimbledon bouncing back well with 3 successive wins on the road in league and cup the latest in midweek with Bella Simmons spectacular bicycle kick clinching a 1-0 at London Seaward FC. Sees them in 4th place just 3 points behind leaders Norwich City Women.

  The New Croft in Haverhill the venue for today’s match, Cambridge City Women’s new home while they await the completion of Cambridge City FC’s new stadium in Sawston.  Boasting a top class 3G facility as well as the main grass pitch with the clubhouse, bar and kitchen hatch in between. A small seat stand on one side. Quite open to the elements is a somewhat chillier day to those we’ve been used to, but they had to arrive sounder or later. Still bright the sun moving around one end of the pitch would cause issues but otherwise dry.

Cambridge City Women

Cambridge City Women starting XI – Nina Meollo, Jess Fitzpatrick, Eva Hubbard (C), Sophie Mulvihill, Abi Davies, Paige Gardiner, Rosy Wodhams, Libby Fraser, Jess Wood, Jade Barrett & Becca Stephenson. Subs – Georgia Anderson, Hannah Simpson, Milly Struthers & Theresa Kooh. 

Cambridge United WFC

 Cambridge United WFC starting XI – Lauren Webb, Ella Marden, Tash Collins, Lauren Rouse, Brooklyn Cheal-Ferris, Gisela Otten (C), Fran Steele, Ruth Fox, Bella Simmons & Alysha Stojko-Down. Subs – Sammy Edgar, Abbie Jackson, Annie Posnett, Serena Cobb & Mistie Fox-Barker.

United captain Gisela Otten and City captain Eva Hubbard with today’s match officials

You know the drill from here on in it’s City and United when these two meet (I write enough as it is without adding 300 references to Cambridge) It’s United to get the derby match underway wearing amber coloured shirts with black shorts and white socks. With City opposite wearing white shirts with black shorts and black and white hooped socks. The ball rolled back to Fran Steele in midfield clips a long pass out to the left, Ruth Fox harrying the City defence bringing the visitors an early corner.

Played into the near post area City half clearing out to United captain Gisela Otten positioned central strikes the ball from distance taking a deflection of a City defender to take the power out of it easily gathered by goalkeeper Nina Meollo. City look to drive through the middle, Paige Gardiner picking up a head of steam laying the ball on for Becca Stephenson pulling into the right channel the pass intercepted by Brooklyn Cheal-Ferris at the back for United. 

Cambridge City attacker, Becca Stephenson

  Competitive in the middle from the start with United looking to get the ball out to the flanks Fox left and Bella Simmons right willing runners. United winning a free-kick inside the centre circle Cheal-Ferris sending a diagonal ball out to Simmons on the right 25 out her feet slide out from under her as she goes to strike the ball the shot running harmlessly through to the keeper.

  Libby Fraser getting hold of the ball on the right for City looking to drive at the defence cutting inside losses possession as she runs into traffic. Another quick United free-kick sees Simmons skip in behind the defence on the right. Sophie Mulvihill coming across to put in the challenge for City clearing the danger away for a corner on the right. Swept in long across the six yard box Fox rising at the far post heading the ball down into the ground scrambled clear comes out to the left Ella Marden sending a strike from distance wide of the right post.

  United pressing into the City half the defence up on half way at times looking to be aggressive get after the ball turn play around. The ball won centrally United’s Simmons finds half a yard on the right wing to take the ball on down the line whipping a cross in central Fox closing meeting it with her head turns the ball wide of the right post. 

Cambridge United WFC’s Ruth Fox

  Lauren Rouse at the back for United putting in a strong tackle to win the ball against Rosy Wodhams as she looks to travel forwards. Playing a high line City find the pass to release Stephenson in behind right side racing after the ball, United goalkeeper, Lauren Webb closing in the opposite direction sliding in to lay claim to the ball.

  Another free-kick goes to United as Simmons is brought down outside the area 25 yards from goal. The ball curled into the box, Meollo punching it clear, City look to break with Jess Wood getting on down the wing before Collins closes her down challenging to put the ball out for a throw. City push players on for the throw in played inside to Stephenson left corner of the area tackled by United’s Steele. City with a good spell regaining possession centrally the pass forwards setting Stephenson away right side powers into the box before hitting the ball across the top of the six yard box, Fraser getting hold of it stealing past a couple of United defenders before rifling a shot wide past the right post 

  Wodhams dumped to the ground as she takes the ball forwards, City awarded the free-kick centrally, Fraser on the ball as players line up for a right sided delivery, instead Fraser whips the ball into the near post looking to wrong foot the keeper, Webb getting across her goal can see it safely wide. Remains a competitive tussle in the middle both sides battling for the ball. Rouse strong at the back for United winning her tackles. 

Cambridge City’s Rosy Wodhams

  Steele and Stojko-Down exchanging passes as they bring United on through the middle the ball clipped out to Simmons attacking right is sent tumbling, referee Lorraine Catchpole playing the advantage as Zoe Wood up with Simmons takes the ball forwards squaring a cross into the six yard box cut out by Mulvihill. 

Cambridge United WFC’s Zoe Wood

  Cheal-Ferris booked as she comes to close the ball down out on City’s right, the set-piece floated into the box from deep taken by Webb at her near post. City look to counter on the right, Collins with a great interception to hook the ball back into the middle for Stojko-Down back to goal turns well to lay the ball into the path of Fox coming on from the left striking the ball on the run Meollo diving across her goal with the merest of touches the ball behind for the corner. The ball swung in towards goal headed over.

United captain, Gisela Otten battling for possession with City’s Paige Gardiner

  Stephenson running the ball down for City into the left corner, holds it up as Fraser gets forwards to support played back to her up the line stabs it forwards looking to attack the area, Rouse in her path winning the tackle. Both sides looking to up the tempo get after the other into each other Jade Barrett coming into the middle to win possession for City, Otten snapping back at her to play the ball into Stojko-Down who in turn sets Wood away on the right her cross swung in from deep blocked by Fitzpatrick corner given. City defending their lines look to break the advantage played as a player is fouled in the middle the ball running on for Stephenson to knock forwards, can’t get to it before Webb as it runs on into her box.

Jess Fitzpatrick

  City gaining a little confidence having been defending deep earlier on are themselves pushing up as a unit into the middle, play there very congested with the ball pinging around. Wodhams bringing the pass from Gardiner under control on the left plays it forwards into Stephenson, Rouse in to close her down the ball gone for a throw in. Level with the top of the area the ball dropped into Barrett looks to turn corner of the area blocked at close quarters the rebound coming to Wodhams behind her 25 yards out curls her shot wide of the top corner.

Jade Barrett with the ball for Cambridge City

  Gardiner battling for the ball in the middle for City getting a favourable break surging forwards attempts to thread the ball in behind for Stephenson, Webb rushing forwards to gather it first. United come left Marden on for Fox wide outside the box jinks left then right before angling a shot straight at the keeper. United holding their line catching Stephenson offside on a couple of occasions. 

Cambridge City’s Paige Gardiner

  Cheal-Ferris with a long clearance out to the right finding Simmons holding the ball up top corner of the area before laying it out wide to Wood who sweeps a cross in towards the far post Stojko-Down up to meet it wide her head nods the ball wide. Simmons taking the ball wide right side sending a cross looping into the box caught by Meollo. Otten picking up a yellow card for United as the midfield battle continues.

  Wood winning City their first corner of the game on the left played in near post beat back out to the corner taker the 2nd attempt to play the ball into the box cleared by Rouse. City looking to build some momentum with Barrett and Wodhams linking up in the centre the ball out to the right intercepted well by Cheal-Ferris. Wood out on the right swinging a cross into the box caught high by Webb, United with a player down Fox hurt in the City build up down the right is okay after receiving treatment.

Cambridge United WFC defender, Lauren Rouse

 Gardiner on the move with the ball through the middle played on for Stephenson in attack, Rouse getting a foot in to cut it out for United. Fitzpatrick on the stretch with  a vital interception at the back for City as the diagonal ball threatens to see Simmons race in clear to attack the box on the right.

  Moments later the ball put into the box from the United right rebounds straight to Simmons top of the D, her snap shot taking a deflection behind for a corner on the right. Played long across the six yard box is headed back across wide of the post for a 2nd corner. This delivery to the top of the area, Simmons hauled down right of the D, Fraser receiving a yellow card. Wood and Cheal-Ferris over the ball, Wood with the dummy as Cheal-Ferris curls a strike in towards goal, Meollo behind it making the save as it dips late palming the ball over the bar with both hands.

City goalkeeper Nina Meollo tipping the ball over the bar

Nina Meollo

The resulting United corner played into the near post low, Meollo stabbing a foot out to block sending it behind for another corner. Put in towards the top of the area a strike towards goal wide of right post from 25 yards. Steele carrying the ball into the right channel has Wood with her on the overlap sending the ball into her feet the cross is whipped in central, Meollo with a confident claim taking the ball low into her midriff as Stojko-Down closes her down.

  City with a free-kick on the left late in the first half Hubbard over the ball put in to the top of the are knocked down into the path of Barrett top of the D, blasts a shot in towards goal, blocked by Marden inside the six yard box, Rouse clears for a corner on the right. The delivery goes long missing everyone in the six yard box, Barrett after the ball to regain on the left firing it back into the mix, the ball hotly contested before United scramble it away to safety.  

Half-time Cambridge City Women 0-0 Cambridge United WFC

  A goalless first half in the finish of what has been a competitive Cambridge derby so far with the game highly competitive in the middle of the park. United getting off to a positive start looknig to get at the City defence spread play out to the wide attacking players. Creating a number of opportunities. The City defence busy pushed back, United up on halfway play gradually swinging as City gained confidence to push their own defence up gaining momentum towards the end of the half to create a few chances themselves. The game lacking that one quality pass that could see someone through on goal.

  No changes from either side at the break, as City get the 2nd period underway the ball put back into defence as United race forwards to hustle the ball won on the right the visitors send it cross field out to the left Fox looking to get forwards, Meollo out to clear the ball. United looking to get on the front foot early in the 2nd half the ball rolled into Wood right of the D her shot low straight into the keeper. Fox cutting out a City pass on the left knocks it forwards into Stojko-Down coming inside from the left curls a shot from outside the box onto the roof of the net. 

Alysha Stojko-Down lining up the shot

  United looking to be aggressive get after the ball. Barrett looking to bring the ball down for City as she moves to the right, Marden in to win the tackle for United. The sun low behind one goal now City with it at their backs, Webb donning a cap. United get on well down the left Marden on for Fox wide of the area shifts left then right before whipping a ball into the six yard box, won by Mulvihill for City. 

Sophie Mulvihill

  A free-kick won by City central, Hubbard over it launching the ball into the area, Webb up well to claim it. Barrett getting about the pitch for City looking to disrupt United regain possession for City. Stojko-Down coming left fouled by Mulvihill giving United a free-kick. Cheal-Ferris having Wood up with her plays it short as Wood breaks down the left to sing the cross into the area, blocked by Davies for City. 

Brooklyn Cheal-Ferris

  Wood fouled on the left for City, Hubbard drops the ball into the mix from deep, chaos ensues for a moment as both side scramble for the ball, United eventually sending it clear. Marden getting forwards well on the left as she and Fox combine on the left her cross headed out for a throw by Mulvihill. United making a change on the hour with Sammy Edgar coming on for Otten in the centre of the park. The game settling down a little scrappy at time as neither prepared to give any quarter in the midfield. 

Ruth Fox on the attack for Cambridge United

 Davies defending at the back for City against Fox the ball cleared up to Wood attacking on the right flashes a shot wide across the six yard box, retrieved on the left by Fraser strikes her shot from distance over. City working hard to stretch United winning a free-kick on the right the ball swung in under the bar Webb getting her gloves up to turn the ball wide for a corner on the left. Fired in low to the near post Collins launching it clear for United. 

 United on the drive through the middle Steele advancing plays in through for Edgar to take on and put Simmons away to attack on the right striking the shot from 25 yards, the ball smashing against the bar and over. 

United’s Bella Simmons striking the crossbar

  United pressing right side winning a throw, Simmons attempting to put the ball into the box cut out comes back to Wood strikes wide of the left post from range. United knocking on the door with a little over 15 minutes left to play. City fighting for the ball looking to get it into Stephenson in attack the striker twisting and turning 25 yards out squeezing a shot away, Webb down low to gather.

Cambridge City captain, Eva Hubbard

  Wood adjudged to be offside as she breaks in behind the City defence as Meollo rushes out to clear off a Stojko-Down pass. City winning a free-kick central inside the United half 30 plus yards out the sun at her back Hubbard lines up a strike at goal, hit well, Webb throwing herself to the right making a fantastic one handed save pushing the ball behind for a corner on the left.

Cambridge United WFC goalkeeper, Lauren Webb

  Fired into the box from the left, Steele up to defend for United heading the ball over for a 2nd corner. Another vicious in swinger, Webb up to punch the ball away to the left back to the taker fired back into the box too many bodies to evade the strike is blocked and cleared. The United bench infuriated as Fox is judged to have handled the ball as she looks to break away down the left. Fox’s last action of the game as she is replaced by Abbie Jackson the defender joining the back line with Cheal-Ferris going to full back and Marden pushed forwards.

Cambridge United WFC’s Ella Marden

  Edgar battling for the ball for United the visitors looking for a strong finish, City working hard at the back to keep them out with the clock ticking down. Wood with the diagonal ball from the right looking for Marden breaking left, frustrated as the flag halts her run. Davies in to defend on Wood as she looks to bring the ball down of her chest and turn to strike the ball goes behind for a corner. Fired in from the left into the six yard box knocked down for Simmons sees her shot blocked turned away from another corner on the left. Taken quickly the cross into the box into Jackson back to goal looks to shield the ball looking for someone to lay it off to, but City close the ball down get it away from danger.

  Into the last five minutes of regular play United pushing on looking for a goal, Marden off a throw on the left firing a cross into the box, but no one there to attack it. Edgar bursting forwards for United looked to already have slipped as Barrett clatters into her the free-kick awarded to United central 25 out. Stojko-Down over it goes for goal strikes her shot over the crossbar. 

Alysha Stojko-Down

 United pour forwards Cheal-Ferris left with the cutting pass inside into Stojko-Down outside the D looks to bring the ball down hit on the turn catching the ball with the outside of her boot, not troubling Meollo. City hanging on towards the end players back to defend. A corner won in the dying minutes on the right to United. 

Cambridge United midfielder, Fran Steele

 

 Played high into the box, Wood knocking the ball down towards the far post, Meollo able to grab as Mulvihill and Steele come together in front of her, the game ending in controversy as the grounded defender kicks out towards Steele catching her in the chin, Steele retaliating with a shove, the referee blowing up immediately, calling both players up to her as the United bench scream for a penalty. One thing at a time as a red card is shown to both players, both stunned, Steele sporting a cut on her face. Now the referee goes over to consult with her lineswoman before pointing to the spot Penalty! City’s turn to surround the referee but it does them no good the decision is made. Stojko-Down with a chance to win the game for United with what would surely be the last kick of the game with all the commotion needs to settle down. Strikes the penalty over, missing as the final whistle blows, City joyous, Stojko-Down distraught on her knees.

Full time Cambridge City Women 0-0 Cambridge United WFC

United’s Zoe Wood with City’s Jade Barrett

  On the final whistle the game is drawn but for both sides very different emotions, for United it almost feels like a loss, for City it feels like a win! The Cambridge derby ending goalless United by far the stronger in the 2nd half creating numerous chances started well looking to get after their opponents coming close to scoring but City’s defence battling hard. Webb needing to save at the other end to ensure the visitors weren’t caught out. A busy 7 days for both sides and they can both have reason to be positive, 7 points for United who remain 4th. 2 successive draws for City gives the squad some much needed confidence and something they can use to build on as they continue their search for a new manager.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. A derby match very competitive there are a few contenders and narrowing it down to one wasn’t easy. Performances of note from both sides. For City, Paige Gardiner had a strong game in the middle of the park getting hold of the ball and driving forwards. Jade Barrett putting herself about, strong coming back to win the ball get City going in attack. Becca Stephenson lively in attack making some good runs. For United Ruth Fox and Bella Simmons were great outlets in attack wide and into the channels. Alysha Stojko-Down holding the ball up well getting into some fantastic positions to set up others. Fran Steele powerful in midfield closing the ball down, putting in the tackles. Came down to the numbers 5’s however and a close run contest too. Sophie Mulvihill with a strong defensive performance for City at the back, with some great tackling and interception play. The award though goes to United’s Lauren Rouse read the game well especially when United were holding a high line dropping off well and timing her tackles throughout.

  Might have ended goalless and I don’t cover many of those but this was as exciting a game as any I’ve watched this season, both sides working hard competitive in the middle of the park. My thanks to both sides for their help with the team details. On to the next one time to get the coat out I think.

by Darren Gilham

Match Report – Fulbourn Institute Bluebirds v Eaton Socon Ladies

Sunday 8th October

Cambridgeshire Women’s Premiership

 A return to county league action this Sunday on Women’s Football East with a trip into Cambridgeshire to watch a game from the Women’s Premiership with Fulbourn Institute Bluebirds taking on Eaton Socon Ladies.

 Cambridgeshire like the other county leagues across the East seeing a rise in the number of sides playing as the women’s game continues to grow across the country. The county now featuring 3 divisions with a total of 33 sides. 10 sides competing in the Premiership.

 Fulbourn Institute Bluebirds one of the longest established clubs within Cambridge competing in the counties top division. Of course can’t go past this without mentioning the heartfelt loss of Sam Issacson losing her battle with bowel cancer a well loved member of the Fulbourn team, taking part in the Kick Cancer Cup along with her Fulbourn teammates raising money for charity before final succumbing to the decease. A bench erected by the pitches at the Recreation Ground in her honour and the new coaching team of Ashley Hunt and Ryan Lee adding a tribute to the with the words Sam 10 on the shirt sleeves the number 10 shirt retired in her name. 

Sam’s bench, erected in memory of much missed Fulbourn player Samantha Issacson.

 A side that was often amongst the goals last season where they averaged 6.44 goals per game they featured in unfortunately not winning as many as they lost though, to record a 7th place finish. Ebony Crook and Marie Stubbings scoring 40 goals between them last season with Crook getting 18, Stubbings 22. Neither coming close to Ellie Woodley who found the back of the net for 40 goals during the campaign. Just two league matches played so far this season, suffering a 1-0 defeat against Cambridge Rangers WFC before bouncing back well away to Cambridge University Women last time out winning 5-0 with Marie Stubbings netting a hat-trick, Eleanor Woodley and Natalie Wells also on the score sheet.

 Eaton Socon Ladies joining the Cambridgeshire Women’s football league back ii the 2019 season, initially affected by the Covid pandemic season’s have progressed up the league’s winning Division One North in 2021. Promoted to the Premiership last season enjoyed a strong debut season at that level unbeaten in their first 6 matches, only losing 5 matches along the way with 4 of those being against the two sides vying for the title finishing 4th overall.  Sasha Tristram now out in the US to enjoy her football top scoring during that campaign with 12 goals. 

Due to unforeseen circumstances Eaton Socon Ladies having to bringing in a new manager just a few weeks before the season was due to start with Dan Dodson taking charge of the squad. Looking to bring in a different style of play it has been a tougher start to the campaign with 3 consecutive losses beginning with a 1-0 home defeat against Real Bedford Reserves then back to back losses on the road 2-0 and 6-0 away to Cambridge Rangers WFC and Whittlesey Athletic Ladies. Will be hoping to turn their fortunes around with their 3rd successive away trip.

Having not been to the Fulbourn Recreation Ground for a while I was still sure I knew the way, but I didn’t as I turned right at the pub bringing me out behind the pitch so a quick turn around and I sorted thing’s out. A large community facility with numerous sports activities on offer the grass pitches over looked by a large pavilion and cricket square. Today’s game on the pitch furthest from the changing rooms the whole area surrounded by trees. At first appearances the pitch appearing to be covered in dew in places but was in fact a carpet of spiders webs…  

Part of the pitch covered in a carpet of spiders webs

…with numerous little arachnids scuttling about getting disturbed by the arrival of the players and supporters alike. The weather remains beautiful for the time of year with it again over 20 degrees, dry and the sun high in a relatively blue sky.

Fulbourn Institute Bluebirds

 Fulbourn Institute Bluebirds starting XI – Rachel Fallow, Seema Grewal, Julie Brown, Sarah Bodger, Jess Anderson, Dani Quinn, Hollie Turner, Ebony Crook, Katie Luddy, Marie Stubbings (C) & Ellie Woodley. Subs – Jody Hoenink & Gabby Gallegos.

Eaton Socon Ladies

 Eaton Socon Ladies starting XI – Keeley Robinson, Abby Jones, Faye Prout, Gemma Cooksley (C), Georgia Bickley, Kelly Bingham, Hannah Hutchinson, Shannah Anico, Charlotte Crisp, Chloe Parncutt & Lily Horsler. Subs – Kayleigh Clarke, Hollie Radford-Dare, Cara Howell, Rebecca Jones & Leah Falzarano. 

(roll on roll off substitutes)

Captain’s Gemma Cooksley and Marie Stubbings with Richard May

The spiders might have enjoyed their Sunday so far, but now 22 football players are about to descend upon them. Eaton Socon doing the league double over Fulbourn last season will be hoping for a victory today to kick start the new campaign the sun moving around the pitch with the tree line leaving one goalmouth in shade with Fulbourn winning the kick-off attacking that end first half wearing sky blue shirts with claret sleeves, claret shorts and sky blue socks. Eaton Socon themselves usually playing in claret colours wearing a white away shirt with red on the sleeves, white shorts and claret socks. The ball rolled back to captain Marie Stubbings to clip long out to the right as Katie Luddy breaks forwards on the wing, Faye Prout clearing the danger for Eaton Socon.

 The visitors hustling in midfield the ball played out to the right for Shannah Anico to attack up the line whipping a dangerous cross into the Fulbourn six yard box players running no one can get a touch as it bounces on at the far post. Retrieved on the left the cross back in taking a deflection straight into goalkeeper Rachel Fallow’s gloves. Hannah Hutchinson battling for the ball in midfield for Eaton Socon picking out Anico with the diagonal pass out to the right, Fulbourn full back Julie Brown getting across her to take the ball out for a throw.

Kelly Bingham on the ball for Eaton Socon

  Eaton Socon looking to make a positive start pushing up into the Fulbourn half to press and win the ball, Anico providing an outlet on the right looking to take on Brown a good contest looming between the pair, Brown throwing a leg out to take the ball away from Anico. A high line from the visitors Fulbourn looking to expose the defence as Hollie Turner gets hold of the ball inside the centre circle attempts to thread it in behind into Stubbings as she pulls into the left channel, Abbey Jones with a timely interception for Eaton Socon.

Fulbourn captain, Marie Stubbings

  The Eaton Socon defence back peddling as Fulbourn turn play around with a high clearance from the back players rushing forwards, Georgia Bickley getting her boot up well to hook the ball away to safety. 

  GOAL! The ball contested hotly in the middle Fulbourn bring it on the attackers combining Woodley on for Stubbings breaking into the area left of the D, goalkeeper Keeley Robinson coming to close her down, saves with her foot as Stubbings shoots the rebound gathered by Stubbings who lays the ball in central for Woodley to turn unmarked and open up her body to slot the ball into the bottom corner 1-0. 

Ellie Woodley opening the scoring for Fulbourn

  A goal inside the opening 5 minutes from Fulbourn, a blow for Eaton Socon having made a positive start winning a free-kick on half way the ball floated in to the top of the area the header won by Fulbourn’s Sarah Bodger.

  GOAL! Fulbourn’s attackers carve open the Eaton Socon defence to double their lead as Stubbins picking the ball up on halfway travels on well before threading it through the middle for Woodley to race clear into the box and shoot low wide of the keeper for her 2nd goal in 3 minutes 2-0. 

Two quick fire goals for Ellie Woodley

  Eaton Socon well and truly on the back foot now, looking for a response as Hutchinson takes the ball on into the right corner before whipping a dangerous back in across the face of goal, no one there to turn it home however. The visitors getting a throw high on the right, Anico and Jess Horsler combining as another teasing ball is flashed across the six yard box, Seema Grewal able to clear for Fulbourn beyond the far post. 

  Fulbourn winning a free-kick on the left 35 yards out as Crook bringing the ball on is bundled to the ground. Over the set-piece herself strikes the ball in towards goal a curling ball that crashes down off the crossbar, Dani Quinn racing in on the follow up as the ball drops wide of the right post, Robinson on the ground having dived attempting to get to Crook’s effort scrambling up to make the blocking save, Quinn able to get hold of the ball for a 2nd bite looking to drag it round the keeper can’t believe it as she rakes her shot wide past the far post. 

Ebony Crook’s free-kick comes down off the bar

Dani Quinn, frustrated to see her shot race wide

  The visitors on the ropes coming close to conceding a 3rd scrapping for possession in the middle, Kelly Bingham on for Horsler, turns Bodger in to close her down. Turner and Quinn working together in the middle for Fulbourn the ball lifted forwards, cleared by Eaton Socon captain, Gemma Cooksley as she backs up towards her area, Stubbings racing in to steal the ball finding its way into Crook inside the D, turns inside looking to strike the ball sends her effort wide of the top corner. 

Fulbourn’s Ebony Crook

  Eaton Socon riding their look still aiming to get forwards with Hutchinson carrying the ball out to the right linking up well with Anico on the line to deliver a cross in along the top of the area, Horsler getting up to head the ball down towards goal, drops straight into Farrow back on her line. Hutchinson making some powerful runs on the ball again on the right winning a throw the ball down for Anico to cross, Charlotte Crisp looking to get it under control outside the box, turns into Jess Anderson as she closes her down.

   Bickley clearing at the back for Eaton Socon as she drops back on Woodley as Stubbings attempts to play the ball up to her. Brown lunging in to deny Anico getting in behind on the right. Eaton Socon pressing on the right with Bingham the latest player to take the ball on force her way through into the box, running into traffic. Crisp brought down presenting Eaton Socon with a free-kick 25 yards out to the right of goal. Takes on the shot the Fulbourn wall doing it’s job the ball deflected out to the left as the referee stops proceedings for a drinks break.

  25 minutes played a chance for Eaton Socon to regroup. Play resuming with an Eaton Socon throw on the right, Chloe Parnett crossing the ball in high headed clear by Bodger. Bodger then clearing as she closes down Hutchinson looking to drive on with the ball on the left side. Hutchinson sending a ball over the top into the area for Horsler and Crisp to attack, Anderson holding them off to see the ball safely back to her keeper.

Eaton Socon’s, Hannah Hutchinson

 Stubbings getting the ball down inside the Eaton Socon half off of their own goal kick knocks it forwards into Woodley inside the D, looking to turn inside to shoot Bickley stretching out a leg for Eaton Socon deflects the ball away. The visitors get on up the left winning a throw high leading to a looping cross dropping into the six yard box, Crisp under challenge trying to get something on it unable to connect as Fallow lays claim to it. 

  Eaton Socon winning the first corner of the game taken from the right a great delivery curled in across the face of goal over everyone, no one able to connect as it bounces past the far post. Fulbourn happy to drop invite Eaton Socon on defend around their box knowing the counter is always on the ball cleared out to the left with Crook looking to turn the defence, Jones just about staying on her stretching her leg to knock it against Crook to deflect it away to the left corner, then as Crook goes to retrieve it Jones prevents the cross coming in the ball off Crook for the goal kick.

  Turner and Quinn putting in a shift to win the ball in the middle for Fulbourn the ball forwards releasing Woodley away through the middle off Cooksley last man she can’t risk bringing her down as Woodley break into the box a chance to net her hat-trick shoots early a tame effort in the finish not troubling Robinson. 

  Stubbings pulling out to the right wide receiving the ball, held up lays it back up the line for Luddy her cross/shot from deep dropping over the Eaton Socon goal. Woodley put in the clear on the right wing sees the keeper way off her line attempts the chip sending the ball over her to bounce inside the six yard box, up onto the crossbar and behind!

Fulbourn’s Hollie Turner

 The chances mounting for Fulbourn to extend their lead. Eaton Socon still pushing for a reply however getting another corner on the right, swung into the near post, Farrow punching it behind for a 2nd corner, this one cleared out of the area, no break on as Eaton Socon put a diagonal ball into Horsley who hits the shot on the turn 30 yards out a good effort, but once again straight into Farrow.

 The visitors winning the ball central on for Horsley, right going in to challenge with Brown the defender grounded the ball deflected forwards, Bingham racing onto it striking the ball on the angle, Farrow scrambling across her goal seeing it crash into the side netting. Leah Falzarano on for Eaton Socon for Anico, up on the right with Hutchinson cut back inside for Horsler her shot blocked by Bodger. 

Eaton Socon’s Lily Horsler

  Eaton Socon overloading the right side getting up the pitch well delivering a dangerous ball into the box bouncing awkwardly at the far post with Parncutt closing down the keeper, Fallow composed taking it high on the bounce. Brown picking up a head injury for Fulbourn in the latter stages of the first half comes off with Jody Hoenink coming on. The game getting a little testy in patches Eaton Socon a little frustrated. The visitors with the opportunity to play the ball into the area off a free-kick on the right Bingham to deliver, Crisp up central can’t get strong contact the ball flicked out to the left gathered by Parncutt who rifles a shot over on the angle. 

  Cooksley winning the ball as she tackles Stubbings inside the D as she attempt to bring down a cross put in from Luddy on the right. Eaton Socon flabbergasted as they fail to win a corner in the dying seconds of the first half with Bingham and Anderson battling for the ball delivered into the box from the right, Bingham adamant it came off the defender.

   Half-time Fulbourn Institute Bluebirds 2-0 Eaton Socon Ladies

  Fulbourn in control of the first half, despite Eaton Socon looking to make a positive start the hosts capitalising on errors at the back to break away to score two early goals. Woodley on target for both, could well have added a couple more having created some golden chances and hitting the woodwork. Eaton Socon regrouping well after the drinks break to try and pressure the Fulbourn defence getting after the ball getting into some good positions but not testing the keeper. Still at just 2-0 are far from out of the game and as is often the case the next goal is critical. With the pavilion housing the changing rooms a good distance away both teams staying out in the shade for the half-time break. Spiders everywhere one crawling across my notepad and having left my bag open goodness knows how many I’ll be bringing home with me. 

Just one of thousands of spiders descend on Fulbourn Recreation ground this Sunday.

No fresh changes for either side with Jody Hoenink for Fulbourn and Leah Falzarano for Eaton Socon coming on late in the first half. The visitors to get the 2nd half underway. The ball launched forwards out to the right, Hoenink doing the defending for Fulbourn. The hosts straight on the counter with Turner in the centre helping the ball on for Stubbings to race forwards lay the pass out to Woodley on the right her strike on the angle saved low at the near post by Robinson. 

Seema Grewal defending for Fulbourn

 Fulbourn pressing the ball outside the box deflected back into the box, Robinson rushed into the clearance as Woodley closes her down. Quinn tackling in the centre playing the pass forwards into Stubbings sprays the ball out to the right for Luddy, her cross swept in towards goal put behind. 

Eaton Socon getting up on the right winning a corner the ball sent into Horsley top of the area plays it back to the taker driven in towards the near post cleared by Hoenink, Crisp getting back onto the ball from distance striking a shot wide. Bingham putting herself about to try and win the ball back for Eaton Socon get them on the attack driving a pass into Horsler 25 yards out back to goal controls on the turn striking a shot goal wards, Fallow must have a script for this game because the goalkeepers right behind it again to catch. 

Fulbourn’s Jody Hoenink

 Bodger defending as Bingham drives at her getting the ball off Parncutt on the left. Winning a throw on the left level with the top of the area Bingham sees the ball into her before tracking inside to strike the ball, falling back as she does so screws the ball wide of the far post. 

Kelly Bingham slipping as she unleashes the shot

 Eaton Socon remaining competitive looking to take the game to Fulbourn who allow sitting back remain comfortable in defence. The ball lifted into the six yard box off a throw on the left drops in front of Falzarano, the attacker can’t get a telling touch though before Fallow snatches up the ball. Fulbourn patient in attack ready to hit Eaton Socon on the counter Turner out to Stubbings left plays it forwards early into the channel looking to release Woodley, Robinson racing out to the edge of her box able to gather first.

Horsley controlling the ball 30 yards out putting into the path of Hutchinson bursting away into the left channel striking the ball in towards goal on the angle plenty of power behind it Farrow gets down low to save top of her six yard box the ball split running out to the left, Grewal back to hook the ball away from a throw before Parncutt can pounce. Eaton Socon with a double change the fullbacks Prout and Jones coming off Rebecca Jones and Cara Howell coming on. Brown back on for Fulbourn replacing Luddy.

Eaton Socon’s Chloe Parncutt

 Fallow down to stop a shot driven in on the angle by Crisp for Eaton Socon. Crook up on the right for Fulbourn whipping a cross in near post, Woodley closing in on the keeper, Robinson staying big making the blocking save holding onto the ball.

  Quinn tracking back well from the midfield to put the challenge in on Hutchinson top of the area as she drives on through the middle with the ball. Bickley defending for Eaton Socon at the back as Woodley takes the ball into the box a corner conceded on the right. Played in deep across the six yard box Quinn meeting it heads over. Bingham determined to get forwards on the right winning Eaton Socon a corner kick, this time Quinn is up to win the defensive header, Stubbings bringing the ball away to safety. Midway through the 2nd half. Fulbourn breaking away in attack Crook up with Woodley through the middle the latter running through into the area, Robinson coming to close her down saving the ball beat away to the right…

Eaton Socon’s Kelly Bingham

  GOAL! The ball deflected out to the right Crook racing after it the Eaton Socon defence stretched the cross fired in along the face of goal, Robinson can’t get down to it, with Woodley waiting at the far post for a simple tap in to secure her first hat-trick of the season. 3-0.

A hat-trick for Fulbourn’s Ellie Woodley

 A drinks break called immediately after the goal remains warm out there. The game restarted from the spot Eaton Socon sloppy in possession giving it away the diagonal ball out to Crook on the right wing hooks a high ball in towards the far post, has Robinson back peddling can’t get to it, close but lands on the roof of the net. 

  Woodley lining up a strike from 25 yards out as the ball deflects into her feet, races wide of the right post. Eaton Socon with another double switch bringing on Hollie Radford-Dare and Kayleigh Clarke for Horsley and Parncutt off. Crisp curls the ball forwards looking to drop it into the path of Falzarano racing towards the box, Farrow quickly forwards to claim. 

Eaton Socon’s Charlotte Crisp

 Hutchinson upended as she drives forwards with the ball the free kick awarded 20 yards right of the D. Crisp over it her shot deflected up off the wall falling to Hutchinson beyond the right post can’t sort out her feet before she is closed down snatches the ball wide. 

 Grewal winning the ball at the back for Fulbourn hooking it into the middle for Stubbings to who in turn feeds the ball up the left channel into Woodley in space the keeper off her line takes on the shot early slotting it past Robinson but too past the outside of the far post. Fulbourn gaining momentum as Eaton Socon tire Turner into Stubbings she and Woodley combine through the middle bringing the ball on played wide to Crook breaking away on the right fires a pacy ball low into the six yard box, Robinson down well to grab with a smart save with Woodley rushing to close her down.

  Fulbourn making a change at left back bringing on Gabby Gallegos for Grewal with a little over 10 minutes left to play. The hosts in control as Quinn is fouled on halfway. Bodger to send the ball on up into the area, Cooksley clearing for Eaton Socon. Anderson can’t help but collide with her keeper as Fallow makes the decision to come and claim the ball low off an Eaton Socon free-kick from halfway. Down for a moment is okay to continue. Howell picking up a knock on her knee (I know what they feel like) is taken off with Anico back on for the visitors.

  Fulbourn working hard towards the latter stages of the game to keep their clean sheet intact. Hutchinson pushing on with the ball right side winning a corner off Anderson. Into the last 5 minutes, Hoenink out to Quinn on for Stubbings through the middle on for Woodley left of the area 25 yards out her shot wide of the far post taking a nick off a defender the corner awarded. Swept in across the face of goal claimed confidently by Robinson. Crook taking the ball into the corner with the clock ticking down.

  Radford-Dare took out by Anderson a heavy challenge, the free-kick awarded, Bingham getting a warning from the referee after voicing her complaints. Crisp over the ball to the left swept in central one bounce and claimed by the keeper. Crook taking the ball away to the corner getting a late corner deep in stoppage time, the shot from the edge of the box held by the keeper. 

Full time Fulbourn Institute Bluebirds 3-0 Eaton Socon Ladies

Eaton Socon’s Abbey Jones with Fulbourn’s Ebony Crook

Full time and Fulbourn come away with the 3 points and a 2nd successive clean sheet, Ellie Woodley with all three of their goals. Breaking away to get in behind the Eaton Socon defence to score two early goals in the first half. Creating more good opportunities to extend their lead. Eaton Socon competing for the ball looking to press high making mistakes at the back letting their opponents in. Enjoyed good spells without really testing the keeper. At 2-0 however weren’t out of the game by any stretch and came out strong at the start of the 2nd half looking for a reply, Fulbourn happy to sit back defending comfortably waiting for the right moment to attack getting the crucial 3rd goal to seal the result.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match award. Once again not a straight forwards decision a few contenders and some performances of note to mention. First up for Eaton Socon. Hannah Hutchinson looked to be the driving force through the middle getting hold of the ball and making several good runs. Shannah Anico providing a great outlet on the right in the first half, while Kelly Bingham got about well covering the ground looking to win possession and take her team forwards. For Fulbourn Dani Quinn and Hollie Turner with a composed display in the middle of the park. The front 3 outstanding 80 goals between them last season, Marie Stubbings getting onto the ball carrying it forwards well with two assists. Ebony Crook out on the flanks offering some great runs and getting the ball into the attackers well with the other assist. The award though goes to the hat-trick scorer herself Ellie Woodley clinical in her finishes pulling into the channels well and reading the game developing behind her.

  Great to be back at Fulbourn again, has been a while but I can say that about several places, good to catch up though and pleased to finally see Eaton Socon even if they didn’t get a positive result stick together and the results will come. Appreciate the help given by both teams today. I dare say we’ve all taken a spider home with us but they don’t mean us any harm. 

by Darren Gilham

Match Report – Mulbarton Wanderers Ladies v Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women

Sunday 1st October

FA Women’s Cup

Promises to be another weekend of exciting cup action in this season’s FA Women’s Cup, a whooping 128 ties being played this Sunday as the competition reaches 2nd Round Qualifying. A Norfolk derby match for Women’s Football East with Mulbarton Wanderers Ladies hosting Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women both newly promoted to the ERWFL.

  The prestige of the FA Women’s Cup, at last offering the financial reward with the winners of today’s game pocketing £3,000. Valuable funds to any grassroots club and a positive cup run offers a great incentive. 

Both of today’s side stepping up to the ERWFL this season ready to test themselves at regional level. Both strong in Norfolk Women’s Division one for the past few season’s some questioning why they hadn’t gone up sooner, but it’s a lot more complex than that. Moving into regional football the club as a whole has to be prepared, from facilities, coaches, sponsorship and also have a team that wants to travel further afield to play their football. Along with Thetford Town Ladies, both Mulbarton and Dussindale & Hellesdon joining a 12 strong Division One North, joining Fakenham Town Ladies who took the step last season and after a tough start adapted to the league well. 

  Mulbarton Wanderers Ladies (called Belles previously) enjoying a rapid growth since joining the Mulbarton family, an already strong and tight knit squad winning Division One 2 season’s in a row, along with reaching the County Cup final twice, have since formed a Development side, also promoted to Division One this season and a 7 aside squad also winning titles.

  Have again added to their squads as they look push on. Welcome back midfielder Atlanta Griffith after a year away. Goalkeeper Jody Todd joining from Long Stratton Women as does striker Sam Walker, captaining Long Stratton previously. a prolific scorer who ever she’s played for. Also joining from Long Stratton are defenders, Emily and Katie Ransome-Farmer. Leah Brown and Poppy Loveland both join from Caister FC Ladies. Megan Spurrell with valuable experience at tier 6, with the winger having played for Fakenham Town Ladies. Emily Escreet coming to the club from Thetford Town Ladies. Beth Edwards another new signing joining the club while on placement form Loughborough University along with, Rachel Jermy. Captain Rebekah Lake one of the best strikers in Norfolk over many season’s hitting the ground running in the ERWFL scoring 5 goals so far in 3 matches a brace on the opening day a 4-3 home win against Yaxley Phoenix Ladies. Receiving a bye in 1st Round Qualifying due to their opponents withdrawing.

Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women , like Mulbarton with a strong, tightly knit squad that have progressed through the youth levels into women’s football with Sprowston, before breaking away to join Dussindale & Hellesdon and push on as a club, finishing runners-up in Division One in consecutive season’s while winning both the League Plate and Cup in that period. A big decision to make the step up into regional football have worked hard behind the scenes to make the transition. Has paid off too as the club has made a flying start to life in tier 6, a strong win on the opening day are unbeaten after 4 games with 3 wins and a draw.

  Retaining much of the squad from last season have made a few new additions to the side, bringing in, Rosie George and Breana Rudd both having played for Norwich, at Wroxham in the ERWFL Premier Division last season. Mia Wilkinson and Ella Swift also joining this season with Jessica Barnes the newest addition to the squad the 16-year-old defender making her debut last weekend. Victoria Leyer amongst the goals throughout the clubs history and has hit the ground running in tier 6 scoring 7 goals in 5 appearances scoring a brace on the opening day along with Abby Hutchin in a 5-0 win at home to Biggleswade United Women. Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women beating Cambridgeshire Women’s Premiership side Fulbourn Institute Bluebirds 3-1 away from home in the previous round. 

Mulberry Park the venue for today’s game the clubhouse and bar open beside the carpark leading out to the pitch itself, a large grass playing area with a small stand and tea hut on one side, standing viewing all round. Another mild day as October begins if somewhat overcast the cloud hanging on stubbornly will clear by kick off with no chance of rain. The game going straight to penalties if no winner determined after 90 minutes, substitutes limited to just 3 in the competition, with sides in the early rounds of the cup used to roll on roll off substitutes. 

Mulbarton Wanderers Ladies

Mulbarton Wanderers Ladies starting XI – Jody Todd, Rachel Jermy, Mel Belsey, Lucy Lincoln, Meg Belsey, Alice Smith, Laura Hedtke, Ellie Hunter, Sophie Jermy, Sam Walker & Rebekah Lake (C). Subs – Cara Anderson, Olivia Mungham-Gray, Laura Bumstead, Leah Brown, Poppy Loveland, Atlanta Griffith & Molly Ryan.

Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women

Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women starting XI – Tyla Cole, Amee Kennett, Siesha Humphries, Calista Tink (C), Jessica Barnes, Chloe Shipman Abby Hutchin, Rosie George, Kari Kowalczyk, Victoria Leyer & Tallulah Bell. Subs – Ella Swift, Rachel Bussey, Chelsea Brister, Lyla Studd & Shanice Sutton. 

It’s the hosts Mulbarton to get the cup tie underway with kick-off in the first half wearing blue and black vertical striped shirts with blue shorts and socks. Dussindale & Hellesdon lined up opposite wearing an all sky blue kit. The ball rolled back into Laura Hedtke in midfield sends a diagonal out to the right for Ellie Hunter to attack, Jessica Barnes moving out of the centre of defence to head the ball out of play for the visitors. 

  Sam Walker getting hold of the ball for Mulbarton driving through the middle before laying it out to Hunter bursting away down the right, sends it on into the box for captain Rebekah Lake moving into the right channel, Siesha Humphries closing her down the ball coming of the defender as it goes out for a corner kick. The delivery in near side headed on across the six yard post cleared at the far post the ball launched forwards as Dussindale & Hellesdon counter the ball played long up the right for striker Tallulah Bell to chase, pace Meg Belsey covering the ground to get across to dive in send the ball behind for a corner kick. 

Ellie Hunter tackling for Mulbarton

 GOAL! Players coming up from the back for Dussindale & Hellesdon lining up at the top of the area as the ball comes in captain, Calista Tink making a run towards the near post not tracked as the ball is put on a plate for her to drill her header into the back of the net to open the scoring 0-1.

Captain, Calista Tink opens the scoring for Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women

  Mulbarton conceding within the opening 3 minutes look to get on the attack form the restart, Hedtke with Alice Smith in the middle the ball threaded through the middle for Lake in attack to run onto, Tink lunging in with a timely tackle to stab the foot out of Lake’s path inside the D, away to the right for Humphries to clear. 

Mulbarton midfielder, Alice Smith

  A lively opening, Dussindale & Hellesdon looking to get after Mulbarton in possession winning a free-kick out wide on the right, floated up into the area, Meg Belsey under it to head clear, Smith playing it out to the right, Leyer snapping at the ball regaining possession for Dussindale & Hellesdon has her shirt tugged by Belsey as she threatens to break in behind. Kari Kowalczyk over the set-piece some 30 yards out to the left of the D, looks to curl the ball in towards the top corner, not a bad attempt but goalkeeper, Jody Todd can see it drop wide of the post. 

  Dussindale & Hellesdon straight in to press the Mulbarton defence off their goal kick, forcing another corner on the right, players forwards once again Tink running into the box unchecked coming towards the ball near side, striking a half volley wide of the upright. Rachel Jermy winning the ball back on the left for Mulbarton hands it onto Walker left side who carries it forwards well before releasing Lake with an over the top pass that the striker collects on the volley looking to clip the ball high in towards goal to drop over the keeper, instead Tyla Cole sees the ball land on the roof of her net. 

Abby Hutchin tackling Mulbarton’s Laura Hedtke

  Getting up well on the right Mel Belsey clips a high diagonal ball into the Dussindale & Hellesdon box looking to wrong foot the keeper, Cole back on her line though can see the ball drop safely into her gloves. Smith winning the ball well in the middle for Mulbarton taking it on with support from Hunter on her right giving her the ball, Lake providing a run into the right channel ahead of her, takes the ball wide looknig to check back inside and cross, Barnes closing her down blocking the ball.

  GOAL! Regaining possession at the back Dussindale & Hellesdon play a great ball forwards through the middle for Bell to run onto breaking in between the Mulbarton centre backs closing into the box moving right, Todd coming to close her down blocks as the two come together the ball striking Bell as she goes to ground upending Todd in the process the ball trickling beyond the pair to cross the goal line see the visitors double their lead 0-2. 

Tallulah Bell scoring Dussindale & Hellesdon’s 2nd goal

  Mulbarton frustrated some sloppy play leading to a 2nd goal being conceded in the 23rd minute, Dussindale & Hellesdon getting after the ball causing the hosts a few issues. Mel Belsey sliding in to tackles Layer as she gets hold of the ball on the left linking up with George. Mulbarton guilty of giving the ball away Dussindale & Hellesdon confident in their play. Leyer challenging Smith for possession of the ball 25 yards out having a pop from distance the ball driven wide of the left post. 

Mulbarton’s Mel Belsey

George and Leyer again building an attack on the right the latter rolling it infield for Abby Hutchin to take on powers her way through the middle into the D, doesn’t get the connection on the shot she was looking for the final ball tame into the six yard box gathered by Todd. Hutchin carrying the ball on well for Dussindale & Hellesdon moving left played up to to George 20 yards out seeing the ball into her body looks to lift it into Bell pushing up right of the D, Lucy Lincoln making the interception getting the ball away with a firm header.

Mulbarton defender, Lucy Lincoln

  Lake isolated at times in attack as Dussindale & Hellesdon forced Walker and Sophie Jermy to come back into the middle to defend. Kowalczyk bringing the ball on left comes infield lining up a cross/shot sees her attempt blocked by the Mulbarton defence. Kowalczyk with the ball again on the left up to the by-line held up by Mel Belsey, manages to get a cross away spins behind for the goal kick. 

  George goes down having picked up a knock for Dussindale & Hellesdon a chance for manager Martin Francis to get his side over to the dugout for some instructions calm them down. George okay to play on as play resumes Mulbarton with a spell of concerted pressure on the right forcing a corner kick. Players up from the back lifted in central Lincoln up well of drive a header down towards goal the ball blocked in the six yard box coming back out to the top of the area left of goal, Rachel Jermy with the strike, hit straight at the keeper Cole saves.

Mulbarton’s Sophie Jermy

   Hunter on the left now for Mulbarton, Jermy over the the right. Humphries defending taking a knock as Walker drives into the area. The hosts with a throw high on the right dropped into Hedtke looks to drive inside, no way through. Humphries down needing treatment. Smith tackling well to win the ball for Mulbarton sends it out to Walker on the right forwards into Lake, Barnes across to clear for a throw in. Lake spinning off her marker off the throw played into Sophie Jermy top of the area, she is tackled by Chloe Shipman the ball cleared up to Bell, Meg Belsey preventing the attacker spinning in behind.

Chloe Shipman

  Leyer brings down Hedtke on halfway the set-piece launched up towards the top of the area headed clear by Barnes. Leyer strong on the ball powering her way on through the middle for Dussindale & Hellesdon plays the ball on for George in attack, tackled by Rachel Jermy at the back the ball cleared up to Hunter wide on the left, Amee Kennett defending for Dussindale & Hellesdon as the winger looks to drop her shoulder spin in behind her the ball cleared for a throw. 

  Penalty! Attacking to the right deep off a throw in Lake turns into the box is brought down referee Craig Guy pointing to the spot, penalty! An opportunity for Mulbarton to pull a goal back before the break. Sophie Jermy to take placing the ball on the spot steps back and strikes the ball in towards goal, central rising Cole making a fantastic save gloving the ball up and away to the right. 

Tyla Coles saves the penalty for Dussindale & Hellesdon.

  The 1st half moving into stoppage time Kowalczyk bringing the ball on up the left rolling it inside for Leyer who in turn sends it up to Hutchin in the right channel, quick play Hutchin plays the ball across the D looking for Kowalczyk drifting inside, getting hold of the ball, meg Belsey is quickly in to close her down the ball deflected out to Leyer 25 yards out shifts the ball onto her right boot looking to curl a shot into the top corner, drifts wide.

Victoria Leyer after the ball for Dussindale & Hellesdon

   Hutchin coming on with the ball purposeful through the middle, letting fly from all of 35 yards a high looping ball, threatens to have Todd in trouble in the Mulbarton goal as she steps back onto her line, thankful to see the ball land on the roof of the net. Leyer strong after the ball in the middle won spread out to Hutchin advancing to the right sent of for George outside the box right of the D, turns, Meg Belsey there to put in the tackle for Mulbarton. 

Abby Hutchin

 Rachel Jermy intercepting at full back on the left heading the ball away as Leyer looks to send Bell in behind on the wing. Lake deep attacking on the left sees her cross charged down going away for a corner kick. Lifted in to the top of the area George heading clear for Dussindale & Hellesdon, Mulbarton quick to regain possession on the left lifting the ball into the box, Cole with a firm shout coming to claim the ball.

Half-time Mulbarton Wanderers Ladies 0-2 Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women

  Dussindale & Hellesdon leading 2-0 at the break with both teams staying out on the pitch during the half-time interval. The visitors good for their lead too, getting off to a strong start with an early goal. Closing the ball down well in the middle and forcing Mulbarton into some unforced errors. Defending well at the back getting out quickly turning play around adding a 2nd goal. a penalty save from Tyla Cole ensuring the half-time advantage. Still 2-0 is often a tricky score to defend and is always the case the next goal is crucial. Mulbarton with a few thing’s to iron out if they are to get back into the time haven’t been at it Dussindale & Hellesdon’s play frustrating the hosts still along way to go however. 

 

  Both sides making changes at the break, Humphries injured sees a change at the back with Ella Swift coming on for Dussindale & Hellesdon goes in at right back with Kennett switching over to the left. A double change for Mulbarton with Leah Brown and Poppy Loveland coming on replacing Mel Belsey and Hedtke. It’s Dussindale & Hellesdon to get the 2nd half underway, the ball played out to the right, Brown with an early bit of defending for Mulbarton clearing the ball. 

  Hutchin with Shipman in the middle for the visitors bringing the ball on lifted forwards with Kowalczyk breaking on the left, goes a little too soon flagged offside. Smith leaning into the pass lifting a superb ball up to Lake in attack, running through to attack the box, Barnes has the pace to catch her and win the ball for Dussindale & Hellesdon. Mulbarton looking to start the 2nd half strong pushing up on the right winning a throw knocked inside Barnes closing in to clear for the visitors.

  Leyer releasing the ball forwards for Bell bursting away into the right channel, Lincoln backing up times her tackle well as she striker looks to try and take her on. Mulbarton looking to press the ball risk over committing getting caught on the counter the pass finding Bell on the right dives inside into the area getting a low strike away on the angle, Todd down sharply making a fine stop with her foot to deflect the ball away. 

 Brown getting up well with the ball on Mulbarton’s left getting in behind, Shipman tracking back doing the defending for Dussindale & Hellesdon. Mulbarton winning a free-kick on the edge of the area close to the by-line left of goal as Walker his held back by Swift as she looks to get into the box. 

Sam Walker attacking for Mulbarton

 GOAL! Poppy Loveland over the set-piece a superb ball in across the face of goal rising, Cole flashing out a glove turning the ball up and down into the six yard box, players snapping after the loose ball is rifled into the back of the net a venomous header from Lake as the hosts pull a goal back early in the 2nd period. 1-2 game on.

Captain, Rebekah Lake pulling a goal back for Mulbarton

  The goal giving Mulbarton a much needed shot of confidence they move in quickly to close the ball down in midfield winning a free-kick on halfway. Lincoln to send the ball out up into the area cleared out to the left, Barnes and Walker looking to combine get the ball back into the box, Tink clears for Dussindale & Hellesdon. 

 GOAL! Mulbarton pushing numbers up on the right the cross lifted into the area, Tink stretching to get her head on the ball knocks it down into the area falls straight to Walker 10 yards out before the near post drills a low strike in towards goal, Cole diving but can’t get to the ball as in creeps in inside the post 2-2! Was game on a couple of minutes ago it certainly is now. 

Sam Walker running away in celebration after firing Mulbarton back onto level terms

 The match turned on it’s head in a space of a couple of minutes Dussindale & Hellesdon suddenly on the back foot, come forwards with George and Kowalczyk looking to combine on the left, the Mulbarton defence closing the ball down.

 GOAL! Mulbarton with a deadly spell completely turning the game around coming back from 2 down to take the lead! Breaking up the Dussindale & Hellesdon attack the ball is launched forwards up into the right channel for Lake to do what she does best chase it down and surge into the area right of goal, Cole rushing out to close the angle, Lake sends the shot past her to roll on into the back of the empty net 3-2! 

Rebekah Lake fires Mulbarton into the lead

  A clinical 5 minute burst from Mulbarton see them come back form 2 nil down to lead 3-2. Dussindale & Hellesdon responding with a change bringing on Chelsea Brister in attack for Kowalczyk. Assistant coach, Doug Francis booked for Mulbarton having voiced his opinion too strongly for the officials opinion (can’t help feel that will only fire up Mulbarton) Hutchin travelling with the ball on the left tacking inside before striking over from 25 yards.

  Dussindale & Hellesdon’s turn to regroup finding themselves on the back foot Mulbarton with a throw on the right across the top of the area into Lake looks to hit it on the turn, Tink close in getting a foot up to block the ball. Tink in again to defend at the back for Dussindale & Hellesdon as Walker, lake and Sophie Jermy link up well bringing the ball on left side. The substitutes making a real impact for Mulbarton, Loveland and Brown the latter looking to get after the ball high up the pitch take it on up the line.

Mulbarton’s Leah Brown

  Brown lifting the ball up towards Lake outside the box left of goal bringing the ball down off her chest to turn and strike on the volley smashes her shot over the bar. Brown lively getting away on the left whipping a dangerous ball into the six yard box, won and cleared by Kennett at the far post. Loveland taking the ball forwards for Mulbarton into the right channel upended by Leyer right on the edge of the area, presenting the hosts with a free-kick. Loveland the one to lift the ball towards goal, dealt with by Tink for Dussindale & Hellesdon.

Mulbarton’s Poppy Loveland

  Mulbarton pushing on well up the flanks taking the game to Dussindale & Hellesdon Lake right sending a cross into the area cut out by Kennett ,cleared out into the middle, the ball won back by Smith fired out to left for Brown advancing with Loveland the cross swept into the area cut out by Tink. Mulbarton turning the screw Brown linking up well with Loveland who shoots from distance, blocked by Tink. Swift with a fantastic tackle to win the ball from Brown on the edge of the area as she twists and turns on the ball coming in from the left. Swift busy on the right defending with Walker coming across looking to get hold of the ball the full back regaining possession. 

Ella Swift tackling Mulbarton’s Sam Walker

 A lot of effort put into the game, George down again struggling with a knock coming off with Shanice Sutton coming on to join the Dussindale & Hellesdon attack. Atlanta Griffith coming on for Mulbarton to replace Hunter in midfield. The clock ticking down Griffith getting forwards laying the ball back into the advancing Loveland to have a strike from distance her shot straight at the keeper. 

  Dussindale & Hellesdon digging deep working hard to get back into the match players going down with cramp. Griffith picking up a heavy knock as she goes in to win the ball, down for a moment but okay to play on. Shipman bringing the ball on right side with Leyer and Bell in support, Bell taking it to the touch line whipping a looping ball into the six yard box over everyone, cleared upfield comes to Brown on the left, Swift closing her down well to prevent the break. 

Jessica Barnes tackling Mulbarton’s Rebekah Lake

  Barnes with a well times tackle to stop Lake’s progress through the middle the ball running back to Griffith to strike on the move from distance loops up into the goalkeeper’s gloves. 

Atlanta Griffith

Dussindale & Hellesdon with a free-kick on half way the ball floated up towards the box headed clear by Smith. Players down with cramp as the clock runs down Dussindale & Hellesdon with one last push winning possession back in the middle…

 GOAL! the ball fired up to the attackers, Sutton top of the D hooking it on out to the left to drop into the path of the advancing Leyer as she carries it forwards into the box running down on goal, blasts the ball past Todd before she can react to level the scores 3-3!

Victoria Leyer celebrating with Shanice Sutton after she puts Dussindale & Hellesdon back on level terms late in the game

  Mulbarton building through the middle Loveland with Griffith making a strong run ahead of her looking to play it through into the area for Lake stealing in behind the defence, Cole out to get hold of the ball first. Leyer bringing the ball down into her body from the left 20 yards out looks to turn connect on the half-volley plants the ball straight at the keeper. 

 Rachel Jermy on the left cutting out Sutton’s pass as she attempts to put Bell in behind. Griffith driving forwards with the ball 20 yards out left of the D rams a shot wide of the near post. Both sides scrapping till the end the game into stoppage time penalties looming. Griffith clipping a diagonal pass out to the right for Lake, knocking it forwards Kennett in to block her angled shot the ball deflected behind for a corner. A chance for Mulbarton to push players up, the ball into the box won by Barnes knocked across the area to the far post cleared by Bell. The final whistle blows the game to be settled from the spot.

Full time Mulbarton Wanderers Ladies 3-3 Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women

  A magnificent comeback from Mulbarton in the 2nd half with a clinical 5 minute burst to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2. Had Dussindale & Hellesdon on the back foot for a good spell the visitor’s digging deep however getting the ball up top and seeing Leyer run into the box to level the scores. Onto penalties a harsh way to settle a fantastic cup.

Penalties

 Dussindale & Hellesdon up to take the first penalty Shanice Sutton advancing from the centre circle a composed finish struck hard rising to the right of goal 1-0.

  Sophie Jermy up first for Mulbarton, having seen a penalty saved in the first half sends her strike low and fast into the left corner giving Cole no chance 1-1.

Chelsea Brister up 2nd for Dussindale & Hellesdon, opts for power placing the ball the same side as Sutton’s strike 2-1.

 Atlanta Griffith to take Mulbarton’s 2nd penalty, doesn’t really do subtle, the ball smashed home with power to the goalkeeper’s left 2-2.

  Victoria Leyer up next for Dussindale & Hellesdon a powerful strike high into the left corner 3-2.

  Alice Smith coming forwards to take Mulbarton’s 3rd penalty hit the keeper’s left Cole going the right way the shot struck with too much accuracy and power settles in the bottom corner 3-3.

  Calista Tink up next for Dussindale & Hellesdon shoots for the bottom left corner drilled hard Todd getting the merest of touches as she dives but not enough 4-3.

 Poppy Loveland to take Mulbarton’s 4th spot kick a confident finish hit low and fast into the bottom corner no mistake 4-4.

  Tallulah Bell taking the 5th penalty for Dussindale & Hellesdon, strikes the ball through the middle, rising Todd can’t adjust quick enough brushes her fingertip as it nestles in the back of the net 5-4.

  Sam Walker up to take the spot kick for Mulbarton has to score to send the shootout into sudden death, cool as you like struck high into the back of the goal. 5-5.

  The shootout entering sudden death either side miss and it game over, unless they both miss and we keep going…

 16-year-old Jessica Barnes stepping up for Dussindale & Hellesdon a cool finish sent low into the bottom corner 6-5.

  Leah Brown coming forwards to take Mulbarton’s 6th penalty, strikes the ball in towards goal central, agony as she sees Cole save gloving the ball up into the air and away to see her side through to the next round of the cup 6-5.

Dussindale & Hellesdon win the penalty shootout

 Dussindale & Hellesdon win the penalty shootout 6-5 to advance in this season’s cup enjoyed so great encounters with Mulbarton in recent season’s and this match was no exception a great cup tie, cruel that it had to be settled the way it was a tremendous comeback in the 2nd half from Mulbarton but Dussindale & Hellesdon battle back to get back onto level terms. 

 

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

 Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football east – Player of the Match. What a game an exciting watch and a huge effort put in by both sides with several contenders hard to single one out, although I did have a clear favourite leaving the ground. A few performances of note to mention firstly for Mulbarton, Alice Smith with a solid display in the middle of the park winning the ball getting it forwards into the attacking players. Sam Walker was busy in attack and coming back for the ball getting into some great positions. The 2nd half substitutes making a real impact, Poppy Loveland getting hold of the ball and Leah Brown with her tenacity in chasing down the ball and breaking forwards on the left sent the tone leading to the comeback. For Dussindale & Hellesdon, both Calista Tink and Jessica Barnes were strong in the centre of defence winning the ball and closing down. Abby Hutchin with several powerful runs on the ball. Today’s award though goes to Victoria Leyer, she’s won the award before but that is usually for her goal scoring feats and yes she did score a great goal, however it was ore for her display in the middle closing down the ball, winning tackles and frustrating her opponents making some excellent runs too.

  Another great game to watch at Mulberry Park a proper cup tie entertaining between two committed sides, my thanks to both for their help with the team details. look forward to the draw for the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Women’s Cup.

by Darren Gilham

Match Report – Wroxham Women v Bowers & Pitsea Ladies

Sunday 24th September

ERWFL Premier Division

 Travelling to Trafford Park this Sunday to take in my first game of the season from the ERWFL Premier Division, representing tier 5 of the women’s football pyramid is a strong league with plenty of talent on show today’s game featuring Wroxham Women taking on Essex side, Bowers & Pitsea Ladies. 

 A competitive title battle last season seeing Luton Town Ladies getting off to a flying start before the others hauled them in with newly promoted AFC Sudbury Women clinching the title to secure back to back promotions to reach the FAWNL for the first time in their history. With just one promotion spot up for grabs it’s sure to be another tense battle at the top. A new look Real Bedford Ladies side setting the early pace with 5 wins from 5 to sit 7 points clear of the rest… a long way to go however. 

  Today’s game featuring two sides long established in the ERWFL, both under going transformations along the way. Wroxham Women formerly Acle United Ladies merging with Wroxham in 2019, the club keen to build on a side pushing for promotion to the FAWNL themselves and go all the way. Covid coming along to disrupt every bodies plans, Wroxham haven’t quite found the consistency to push for the top in what is a highly competitive league. A new start for the club this season bringing in a new manager, Adam Race, previously with Long Stratton Women, having turned the Norfolk Division One side into a strong team ready to challenge at the top of the league.

 Have recruited strongly over the past couple of season’s bringing in a number of fresh faces under previous manager Joe Simpson with the likes of goalkeeper Megan Gowing joining last season from Beccles. Brought in several players from their one time league rivals Wymondham Town Ladies with more joining this campaign, defenders Leah Newcombe and Chelsea Clarke, winger Natasha Youngs and midfielder Rachel Cossey returning to the pitch after battling back from 2 season’s lost due to injury. Ella Gambell joining from Norwich City Women along with Lily Alexander. Race also bringing striker Luci Middleton with him from Long Stratton after finishing top scorer in the league with 35 goals from 20 appearances. Hit the ground running with a 12-0 demolition away to King’s Lynn Town Ladies on the opening day. defeats away to Luton and at home to Real Bedford were to follow before earning the 3 points with a good win away to Needham Market Women last Sunday.

Bowers & Pitsea Ladies like Wroxham establishing themselves in the ERWFL under a different guise as Little Thurrock Dynamo’s before going on to become an integral part of the Bowers & Pitsea family in 2018, going on to secure promotion to the Premier Division that season. Having consolidated building into a strong team within tier 5 more than capable of beating anyone on their day. Robert Elmes coming in to manage the first team this season.

The first team backed up by a Reserves team playing in the Essex Women’s Premier Division and a strong youth set-up with a number of new recruits to the squad promoted from their treble winning U18s side with the like of goalkeeper Hannah Stone, Libby Cooper, Darcy Drewitt, Ella Ford, Olivia Harris, Ellie Barrett and Chloe Bardsley all featuring today. Danielle Hindley also joining this season from Hutton Ladies with Isabella Darby also new to the squad joining from London Seaward. Came out on top in a 7 goal thriller on the opening day winning 4-3 at home to Royston Town Women that followed up by back to back draws both 2-2 at home to AFC Dunstable Women and away to newly promoted Barking FC Women. Losing out narrowly 1-0 away to leaders Real Bedford Ladies last time out. 

 Trafford Park the venue for today’s game home, the large grass pitch with a slight gradient a good test for players fitness space to exploit. A small covered stand on one side with the clubhouse housing the bar and kitchen on the opposite side serving hot food and drink. The weather still mild as we enter autumn, cloudy but warm whenever the sun breaks through, still with no chance of rain. Still nursing a soar knee but the most comfortable position is standing up a god cup of tea and cheeseburger all set for the game.

Wroxham Women

  Wroxham Women starting XI – Megan Gowing, Leah Newcombe, Chelsea Clarke, Tigi Robson, Albany Hodgson, Becky Russell (C), Rachel Cossey, Lara Densley, Lauren Bullard, Ella Gambell & Hannah Fuller. Subs – Jennifer Drummie, Ellie Overton, Luci Middleton & Lily Alexander.

Bowers & Pitsea Ladies

 Bowers & Pitsea Ladies starting XI – Hannah Stone, Holly Moore, Libby Cooper, Natalie Strange (C), Olivia Bilson, Danielle Hindley, Megan Elwes, Ella Ford, Millie Isherwood, Whitney Locke & Darcy Drewitt. Subs – Olivia Harris, Isabella Darby, Ellie Barrett & Chloe Bardsley.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

  Couple of familiar faces in the Wroxham squad with new names this season both through marriage, midfielder Jennifer Codman now Jennifer Drummie while the Fuller girl who was scoring all the goals in pre-season like she was Hannah Waters, is Hannah Waters (now Fuller) although I’m so used to writing Waters in my notes it’ll take a while to adjust. A new captain too for Wroxham with Becky Russell taking over as captain. Natalie Strange captaining Bowers & Pitsea this season.

  It’s the visitors to kick off the 1st half attacking up the slope with Bowers & Pitsea wearing red and white vertical striped shirts with red shorts and socks. Wroxham opposite lined up wearing blue and white vertical striped shirts with blue shorts and socks. The ball pushed back into midfield played out to the right into Millie Isherwood held up and Libby Cooper gets up in support moving inside the ball rolled into her is fouled presenting Bowers & Pitsea with an early opportunity to push players up into the opposition box. 25 yards out to the right of the area Isherwood on the ball clips a high ball in towards the far post, over everyone and out of play for the goal kick. 

  Bowers & Pitsea fast to close Wroxham’s defence down at the start preventing the ball getting upfield. Leah Newcombe on the right clearing the ball up to Lauren Bullard in attack moving into the right channel for Wroxham squares it inside 20 yards out for Ella Gambell who in turn attempts to thread the ball through the Bowers & Pitsea defence onto Fuller right inside the box, Danielle Hindley sticking a foot out getting a nick on the ball to divert it back for her keeper to claim. 

 Gambell rolling her marker well on the left as she looks to take the ball on down the wing, Cooper in to close her down for Bowers & Pitsea. Albany Hodgson winning the ball at the back for Wroxham sending it long up to Fuller in attack right outside the box held up plays it back to Newcombe with Lara Densley coming over to support, Hindley tackling for the visitors the ball out for a throw in.

  Gambell with the ball left for Wroxham, checks inside passing central for Russell she opens her body to turn the ball into Fuller outside the D, Hindley close in tackling to win the ball back for Bowers & Pitsea cleared releases Whitney Locke, carrying the ball forwards well as they counter sends the ball inside for Darcy Drewitt making a central run in behind, goalkeeper Megan Gowing rushing out to close her down takes the ball wide of the keeper moving left looks to send the ball back across into the open goal, defenders racing back to try and clear their lines, the ball through rolls wide of the right post, an opportunity to open the scoring missed inside the opening 7 minutes.

Bowers & Pitsea’s Darcy Drewitt

  Ella Ford bringing the ball on for Bowers & Pitsea lifts it up to Locke breaking right, 20 yards out turns infield, Hodgson setting a leg out to tackle winning the ball well for the hosts. Gambell looking to get on down the left for Wroxham threatening to get onto the ball inside the box, Moore gets across her shielding the ball out of play Gambell hustling her is disappointed when a corner is given to Wroxham. A great in swinging corner from the left across the six yard box, Hodgson up to attack just a little too high gets her head to the ball but can’t direct it on target drops to the right of goal Bowers & Pitsea clear but can’t retain possession as Wroxham turn play around looking to carve their way through the middle, crowded, Bowers & Pitsea shut the door.

Wroxham defender, Albany Hodgson

  Strange playing the ball into midfield, helped on into Locke, has Megan Elwes making a run out to the right lays the ball into her feet reaching the top of the area crosses into towards the far post looking for Drewitt, too close to the keeper though, Gowing down well to lay claim to the ball in her six yard box. Bowers & Pitsea quick to build an attack getting the ball into midfield the diagonal pass fired up towards Isherwood left of the D, looks to control bring it down and spin off her marker, Newcombe though has read it backing off so she is ready to challenge as Isherwood turns.

  A intriguing contest both sides cancelling each other out to a degree, closing each other down, trying to use the width without getting any killer balls into the box. Bullard getting the ball into Fuller from the right 20 yards out over the ball sends her shot angling in towards goal straight into Stone’s gloves. Moments later a diagonal ball deep from the right from Wroxham wrong foots the Bowers and Pitsea defence leaving Fuller free inside the area one on one with the keeper, Stone staying big composed as Fuller trying to send the ball wide of her, saves well with the ball struck at her. 

Hannah Fuller with a one on one with the goalkeeper Hannah Stone

  Wroxham looking strong as they flood forwards attacking left the ball into Gambell drives infield 25 yards out curling a shot in towards goal looping up Stone again behind it backing up to claim the ball high.  Wroxham with two good chances to score in as many minutes. Bowers & Pitsea winning a free-kick the ball up to Drewitt outside the box, Rachel Cossey defending on her for Wroxham, the visitors press on the left winning the ball back send on for Drewitt in behind on the left, on her out looking for support Wroxham close her down en masse to clear.

Libby Cooper

Wroxham looking to counter with Cossey sending the ball out to Gambell on the left, good foot work to get away from her marker turning inside, Locke tracking back well to help her defence out regaining possession. Cooper up on the right with the ball at her feet for Bowers & Pitsea playing it on for Locke pulling wide moving into the corner fires a low cross into the six yard box Drewitt coming in central, Gowing down to save turning the ball behind for a corner kick. From the right dropping for Drewitt top of the area right side of the D. pulls the trigger, Bullard in the way blocks and clears.

Wroxham goalkeeper, Megan Gowing

  Bullard bringing the ball down well of her chest turning as it drops to lay the ball forwards for Fuller to attack bursting through the Bowers & Pitsea back line to the right of goal, Stone quickly off her line out to lay claim to the ball before it can be attacked. Hodgson sees the ball out for a corner as she defends with Cooper as Locke on the right lays the ball into her. The corner played into the top of the area from the right met in the air by Olivia Bilson a bullet header knocked down heading towards goal, Chelsea Clarke coming off the post to stick a leg out block the shot.

  Newcombe booked for Wroxham as Bowers & Pitsea are awarded a free-kick out wide on the left. The delivery sent long beyond the far post. The visitors winning another set-piece in a central position the ball fired up into the area, Gowing calls for it and coming claims well. Clarke breaking on the left for Wroxham with Gambell on the overlap, whipping a cross into the area intercepted by Bilson for Bowers & Pitsea. Fuller picking up a yellow card for Wroxham as they make a change with Densley coming off, Luci Middleton coming on.

  Elwes pushing up on the right with Locke as Bowers & Pitsea push forwards in attack looking to play a one two outside the box, Elmes can’t quite take the ball on past Wroxham’s Tigi Robson as Locke lays it back into her. Cossey charging down Harris as she lines up a strike from 20 yards out. Bowers & Pitsea upping the tempo towards the end of the 1st half but they are caught out as Wroxham turn play around sending a forwards pass long for Fuller breaking wide right fires the cross inside for Bullard in behind the defence Stone rushing out to the top of her area to close it down, Bullard dragging it wide of the keeper to put herself clear into the box rolls the ball in towards the open goal, defenders racing back to defend the line, between them Bilson and Hindley clear the ball for a corner on the left. In high to the far post Gambell rising heads the ball wide.

Wroxham’s Lauren Bullard

 

Hodgson playing a great ball out to Clarke on the left as the full back gets up the wing sending a good cross into the area, Stone getting up to catch it bring the ball down safely. The hosts building on the right Russell out to Bullard strikes the shot from 25 yards on the angle fired low wide past the far post. Both full backs looking to get on for Wroxham now Newcombe forwards on the right as Cossey and Russell link up trough the middle, Bowers & Pitsea defending seeing the ball out for a goal kick. 

Millie Isherwood

 Drewitt on through the middle for Bowers & Pitsea the pass out to Locke pulling right shoots on the angle a low drive in towards goal, Gowing down low to save. A change late in the 1st half for the visitors with Isabella Darby coming on for Hindley. Middleton combining with Bullard out on the right for Wroxham the ball fed back to Russell in the middle strikes from distance 30 yards plus fired wide across goal. Middleton with the ball on the right crossed in central Gambell not catching the volley cleanly the ball deflected safely into the box for the keeper to collect. 

Half-time Wroxham Women 0-0 Bowers & Pitsea Ladies

  All square at the break and fair enough on the balance of play however both sides with a gilt edged chance to score. Has been competitive with both sides cancelling each other out at times, enjoying good spells in attack looking to use the pitch without delivering too many killer balls both keepers called into action nevertheless looking comfortable. All set up for an exciting 2nd half.

  Both sides making changes at half-time a triple substitution for Wroxham with Jennifer Drummie, Ellie Overton along with Densley returning for Cossey and Newcombe and Bullard. A double switch for Bowers & Pitsea with Chloe Bardsley and Ellie Barrett on for Isherwood and Elwes. Wroxham to get the 2nd half underway put into Russell central sends it long for Gambell out left the visitors can see it safely out of play for a throw in, Wroxham taking it quickly down for Fuller knocks it inside for Middleton to strike on the volley from 25 yards on the angle her shot looping straight into the keeper. 

Luci Middleton lining up the volley for Wroxham

  Drummie bringing the ball on for Wroxham into space on the left lifting the diagonal ball into the box Stone keeping her eye on it taking it cleanly on the bounce not distracted by Fuller closing her down. Bowers & Pitsea get the ball down on the left, Locke now over on that side looknig to combine with Bardsley in attack shifting inside, Robson getting the tackle in for Wroxham top of the area. 

Tigi Robson defending for Wroxham

 Middleton seeing the ball into her 20 yards out flicking it out to Densley breaking clear into the box on the right, the flag going up against her as she chips the ball up over the keeper to cannon off the base of the far post. Bowers & Pitsea mount an attack on their left Cooper up with Locke the ball flashed across the top of the area collected by Drewitt right side, Clarke in to charge her down as she goes to shoot the ball deflected away for a corner. An in swinging ball high into the six yard box Gowing fouled as she rises to punch the ball. 

Bowers & Pitsea’s Olivia Harris

  GOAL! Cooper carrying the ball forwards well for Bowers & Pitsea on the left covering the ground before flashing a shot wide across the six yard box as players pile forwards, retrieved by Bardsley out beyond the fire posts sends it back into the danger area, a spot of pinball ensues as Wroxham look to clear their lines rebounds straight to Ellie Barrett up on the right to strike the ball on the angle 20 yards out to race along the ground to find the bottom corner scoring her 1st senior goal to put the visitors into the lead 0-1.

Ellie Barrett with the opening goal for Bowers & Pitsea

  Bowers & Pitsea breaking the deadlock early in the 2nd half Wroxham straight on the attack from the restart the ball out left with Gambell and Fuller crossed into the area, Middleton inside the box looking to hook it over her shoulder from 12 yards out plants it wide of the far post. Cooper taking on the ball as Bowers & Pitsea look to counter taking it left fed on for Bardsley, Gowing though out to the edge of her area quickly to claim.

  Middleton releasing Densley racing away on right with the ball into space crossing into Russell central 20 yards out her shot blocked by Bilson well, and then again the defender sticking a leg out to deflect the ball as Russell retrieves it for a 2nd bite.   Changes for Bowers & Pitsea as they bring Isherwood and Drewitt back on for Locke and Moore. Game on with Bowers & Pitsea looking top extend their lead, the goal though sharpening Wroxham up as they look to close in for the ball. Middleton clashing with Cooper as they go up for the ball, a little blood to wash out of her mouth Middleton frustrated as she has to go off to come back on. 

Bowers & Pitsea’s Whitney Locke with Wroxham’s Ellie Overton

  Off the resulting drop ball, Isherwood is put clear on the left to send a cross looping into the six yard box won and cleared by Clarke for Wroxham. Middleton taking the ball on from Drummie drives on central before being taken out the advantage played as the ball drops to Densley free on the right she swings a cross into the area, caught high by Stone. Hodgson with a word from the referee as she brings down Isherwood top of the circle the ball lifted into the area, Bowers & Pitsea appealing for a penalty as Bilson is sent tumbling but the protests waved away as the visitors press the ball high Wroxham scrambling it clear Russell sending it up to Fuller pulling left, Barrett doing the defending for Bowers & Pitsea. 

Olivia Bilson

   Moore back into the action for Bowers & Pitsea replacing Ford. Isherwood left putting the ball on for Harris for Bowers & Pitsea on the left, Overton in to close her down win the challenge for the hosts carries the ball into the middle forwards into Middleton who in turn sends it on for Densley peeling away right, Moore tackling well for Bowers & Pitsea. 

Wroxham’s Lara Densley

  Wroxham with a strong spell, Bowers & Pitsea a little disjointed on the back foot conceding a corner on the left defended at the near post. Lily Alexander on now for Wroxham replacing Gambell on the left. Into the final 15 minutes Clarke rifling a shot in towards goal from range held by Stone in the Bowers & Pitsea goal. The assistant referee raising his flag the keeper carrying the ball over the line… for a corner. Not spotted by the referee at first play goes on as Wroxham protest… play brought back for the corner Bowers & Pitsea not happy.

  GOAL! The corner played into the area half cleared a Wroxham player lining up a shot from the left on the angle 25 yards out driven in low Stone down sharply to save only succeeds in pushing the ball across her goal into the path of Middleton the striker reacting instinctively to smash the ball back across goal and in to equalise 1-1. 

Luci Middleton with the equaliser for Wroxham

 Bowers & Pitsea furious with the decisions that led to the equaliser, captain Strange going into the book for her protests. Heated from the bench too and as play build on the right the referee stops proceeding to issue the Bowers & Pitsea manager with a red card. Bowers & Pitsea need to regain their composure winning a free-kick 25 yards out right of the goal. Harris over it goes for the shot sending the ball over the bar. 

  More frustration for the visitors as Drewitt feeds the ball through for Isherwood breaking into the box right of goal to strike a low shot past the keeper into the back of the net nut throws her head up in dismay as she sees the flag raised against her. Hodgson winning the ball strongly at the back for Wroxham pinging the long pass forwards for Fuller pulling wide left drills an angled shot in low towards the near post, Stone getting her leg in the way deflecting the ball into her side netting. Gambell back on for Wroxham going to the right in place of Densley.

 Wroxham on the front foot pushing forwards Overton with Densley on the right taking the ball past her on the overlap, squares a cross into the box a dummied header from Fuller sees the ball drop past her into Drummie central, Bilson in to close her down can’t dig the ball out from under her feet. Strange furious talks herself into trouble once again, this time though she is sent to the sin bin leaving Bowers & Pitsea down to 10 for the final 10 minutes.

  Clarke getting on well for Wroxham in the 2nd half gaining ground with the ball, Bilson out to close her down. Russell striking a shot wide from distance as the hosts look to use their player advantage. Fuller holds the ball up on the left for Wroxham looking for support, Russell offering it laid into her 20 yards out, Bilson tackling to win the ball back. Don’t keep it for long as Overton find Gambell on the right to cross the ball into the area for Fuller central looking to see the ball down catch it on the volley, puts her effort wide of the far post.

Wroxham’s Chelsea Clarke

  Getting feisty a few tempers flaring Bowers & Pitsea unhappy with how the game has gone on the back foot in the closing stages the game moving into stoppage time Wroxham pressing forwards winning the ball inside their opponents half.

 GOAL! Wroxham with the ball on the left Clarke bring it on with an inch perfect past over the top to put Fuller though on goal one on one with the keeper composed with a finishers instinct sends the ball past her into the back of the net and turns with her arms raised in celebration moment before being piled on by her joyous teammates 90+3 2-1!

Hannah Fuller celebrates after scoring the winner for Wroxham in stoppage time

Fuller piled on by her joyous teammates after her goal at the death

 Strange allowed back on as Wroxham have the ball on the corner on the right Gambell with Fuller looking to keep it in the corner win a throw then a corner kick taken short into Fuller knocked off her behind for a goal kick. Bowers & Pitsea mounting one last attack going right Clarke defending but the free-kick conceded players forwards the ball flung into the area knocked out and launched clear by Middleton as the final whistle blows. Wroxham coming back from a goal down to win at the death.

Luci Middleton launching the ball clear at the final whistle

Full time Wroxham Women 2-1 Bowers & Pitsea Ladies

  Wroxham coming from a goal down to win the game 2-1 at the death. Both sides with good opportunities to score in the first half nevertheless going into the changing rooms goalless at the break. Bowers & Pitsea getting their noses in front early in the 2nd half with both sides looking to score after that, Wroxham livening up after conceding as Bowers & Pitsea looked to extend their lead. A spot of controversy leading to the equaliser Bowers & Pitsea not happy with the awarding of the corner in the first place, incensed when it led to the goal their captain booked and manager sent off. Wroxham pushing hard in the final 10 minutes, Bowers & Pitsea reduced to 10 with Strange sin binned used the advantage pressing to the end Clarke’s inch perfect pass sending Fuller through on goal in stoppage time to score the winner. The result lifts Wroxham into 3rd in the table.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

 Onto this Sunday’s Women’ Football East – Player of the Match award. As often is the case a tough on to call with several strong performances on the pitch. A few to mention firstly for Bowers & Pitsea. Goalkeeper Hannah Stone with some great positioning and composure. Olivia Bilson with a number of strong challenges at the back to win the ball. Darcy Drewitt taking the ball on well as did Libby Cooper with Whitney Locke looking to make things happen out wide. For Wroxham, Luci Middleton made a real impact coming on late in the first half looking to get onto the ball set up others as well as for herself. Ella Gambell with some strong runs out wide. Hannah Fuller (I’ve deleted the W a dozen tomes while writing this report) a force in attack taking on the defence and pulling out wide to set up chances, scoring the winner. The award though goes to defender Chelsea Clarke won the ball well at the back putting in the blocks and a threat carrying the ball forwards an inch perfect pass to set up the winning goal.

Another enjoyable trip to Trafford Park my thanks to both clubs for their help today and hospitality. As I’ve come to expect another competitive and well contested game from the ERWFL Premier Division plenty of talent on show.

by Darren Gilham

Match Report – Lawford Ladies v Wodson Park Ladies

Sunday 17th September

ERWFL Division One South

 Heading down into Essex this Sunday to watch a top of the table clash from ERWFL Division One South, with early leaders Wodson Park Ladies travelling to 3rd placed Lawford Ladies.

  The ERWFL representing tiers 5 and 6 of the women’s football pyramid across the East reaching it’s full potential this season with 36 clubs across three divisions, (now down to 35 with East Bergholt United Ladies withdrawing from Division One South) makes an already competitive league all the stronger and improves the talent pool further down the pyramid as the game continues to grow. 

  Division One South, dominated by Barking FC Women last season as they stormed to the title to win promotion to the ERWFL Premier Division, the league looks more open this season with 5 new sides joining the league.

 Lawford Ladies themselves re-joining the ERWFL after winning the Essex Women’s Premier Division title in 2022. Bringing in some quality players during that campaign were solid in Division One South securing a 4th placed finish the northern part of Essex becoming a hot bed for female footballing talent in recent seasons with Lawford close to Stanway who now have two female sides, Stanway Pegasus joining the ERWFL this season after winning the Essex Premier Division last season and with Colchester United Women re-establishing a women’s side it is sure to remain competitive for the future.

  Lawford though not resting on their laurels retaining much of their squad from last season. Adding 5 new additions to the squad striker Iola Vanharen joining from Ipswich Town Foundation. Midfielder, Kim Edwards dual signing from Stowupland Falcons Women. Jess Gill coming to Lawford having played for East Bergholt United Ladies. Megan Foord from Stanway Rovers Ladies and defender, Liubov Liushnenko joined from AFC Sudbury. Came back from 3-1 down at half-time to draw 4-4 with newcomers Wormley Rovers Ladies on the opening day then followed that up with a 3-0 victory at home Stanway Pegasus Ladies. Good form to start the season progressed in the FA Women’s Cup last weekend with a 6-1 win away to fellow ERWFL side Histon Ladies.

  Wodson Park Ladies now one of the more established sides playing in the ERWFL joining the league originally under the Hertford Town banner became Wodson Park Ladies in 2019. The Covid hit season’s soon following, Wodson Park Ladies have been making progress season upon season initially struggling for results in the lower half of the table improved to finish 5th last season and are the early pace setters in the new campaign making an excellent start to the season undefeated taking 7 points from their opening 3 games to sit top of the table.

  Drawing 2-2 at home to Essex side Hutton Ladies the Hertfordshire side went on to record two strong wins on the road 3-0 at Grays Athletic and most recently a 5-1 win away to Cheshunt FC Women. Retaining most of their squad including influential captain Kristina O’Connell who was also top scorer last season with 13 goals. Bringing in two new players Billie Alexander and Natasha Smits with Rhiann Patmore also re-joining after a year out.

The John Lyall Pavilion the venue for todays game, my first visit here despite trying to get to a Lawford home game a couple of times last season. The ground a hive of activity when I arrive with numerous youth matches taking place across the multiple grass pitches with the clubhouse and changing rooms beside the carpark. The kitchen and bar open, certainly a community orientated club. The ladies game on the grass pitch nearest the clubhouse a good size offering plenty of with a good test for fitness levels. The weather still reasonably mild for the time of year no where near the heatwave from last week by warm enough to still wear shorts which is just as well because I still can’t comfortably wear trousers with my damaged knee. Rain on the way however and could be heavy umbrella on stand by just hope it stays away until after the game ends.

Lawford Ladies

 Lawford Ladies starting XI – Erin Hornby, Lilly Bueggeln, Sheena Foley, Zoe Smith (C), Abigail Head, Carman Joyce, Charlotte Bryant, Megan Foord, Cate Jackson, Georgia Box & Iola van Haren. Subs – Laura Allen, Taylor Wakefield, Jess Gill & Davina Smith.

Wodson Park Ladies

 Wodson Park Ladies starting XI – Philly Stephens, Rhiann Patmore, Christie Seakens, Eliza Weeks, Georgia Gannaway, Amelia Hall, Natasha Smits, Lucy Chapman, Zoe Martin, Hannah Kelly & Kristina O’Connell (C). Subs – Sophie Vale, Hannah Nash, Billie Alexander & Megan Kelly.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

  Wodson Park travelling without a specialist goalkeeper, making the decision that 3 outfield players will each play a 3rd of the game in goal with Philly Stephens 1st to don the gloves. It’s the visitors to get the game underway kicking of the 1st half wearing their all red away strip with Lawford wearing sky blue and white vertical striped shirts, with sky blue shorts and socks. The ball played back to Natasha Smits in midfield she looks to play the ball out to the right, Lawford moving in fast to close the ball down particularly striker Georgia Box pressuring possession forcing a rushed pass the ball hurriedly cleared for a throw in.

Wodson Park’s Natasha Smits

  Cate Jackson on the left from the throw getting to the by-line and crossing for Lawford, stand in keeper, Stephens claiming it on the bounce inside her six yard box. Wodson Park with the ball out left Christie Seakens on for Lucy Chapman looks to thread the ball on for attacker Hannah Kelly pulling wide, Lilly Bueggeln closing her down the ball cleared for a throw. Wodson Park’s attackers looking to press the ball high, Kelly caught offside and the visitors quickly turn play around after regaining possession in the middle.

  The tempo fast as both sides look to get after the ball Lawford finding Box in the final third she gets it wide to Iola van Haren, Seakens sticking a leg out intercepting the ball for Wodson Park. Lawford looking to use the wide pitch have players breaking on up the wings, Megan Foord looking to link up with Van Haren on the right the final ball though travelling through to the keeper. On the left Jackson breaks into space only to see her cross cut out by Smits at the top of the Wodson Park area.

Cate Jackson breaking forwards on the left for Lawford

  Jackson providing a good outlet for Lawford in the opening exchanges, taking the ball on left side has Box bursting on ahead of her into the channel, Rhiann Patmore getting across the striker to clear the ball away for the throw. Lawford force a corner from the resulting throw in, the delivery high into the near side of the box Wodson Park defending the ball headed out to the left gathered by Lawford’s Charlotte Bryant fires a diagonal pass across the top of the area met by Foord right corner puts her foot through the ball, takes a nick of a Wodson Park player as it whistles over the bar. 

Lawford’s Lilly Bueggeln

  The corner comes into Carman Joyce top of the area, looks to drive into the area, Weeks stopping her with a good tackle. Lawford have bodies up press the ball played across from the left into Bryant 30 yards out catches the ball well striking it towards goal by Stephens is right behind it making a comfortable catch. Lawford exerting some meaningful pressure in the final 3rd, Wodson Park standing firm, counter on the left Chapman on for Kelly pulling wide her cross from deep lacking any pace an easy gather for Lawford keeper, Erin Hornby.

  Wodson Park looking to press high, Kelly and O’Connell though needing back up from their midfield, Lawford able to get themselves out of trouble with a cross field ball, Amelia Hall tackling to win the ball back for Wodson Park in the middle played forwards into her captain O’Connell attempting to release Kelly with the through ball left channel, Hornby quickly out of her area to put her foot through the ball. O’Connell with a clever hook over her shoulder as the ball falls to her 35 yards out sending it on for Kelly to attack right side of the area, Head closing her down to play the ball back to her keeper, hustled by Kelly, Hornby digs the ball out from under her feet to clear.

  GOAL! The deadlock broken in the 19th minute as Lawford win a throw halfway on the right the ball helped on played up to Box breaking in behind the Wodson Park defence top corner catches the shot beautifully to smash the shot in over the keeper to put the hosts into the lead 1-0. 

Georgia Box scoring the opener for Lawford Ladies

  Breaking up another Lawford attack soon after the restart Wodson Park break with purpose down their left flank Chapman with Kelly and O’Connell, Lawford across to close the ball down is deflected back into the middle picked up by Smits free 35 yards out has a go on goal her shot high and wide of the left post. Bueggeln taking the ball infield from right back looks to fire it forwards for Van Haren the pass intercepted by Weeks. 

Lilly Bueggeln with Kristina O’Connell

  Lawford regaining possession as Wodson Park don’t control the ball played out from their keeper, running into Bryant she sends the pass out to Jackson wide on the left wraps her foot round the ball sending a high ball into the area near side, Box under it can’t quite bring it down to put her foot though it as Georgia Gannaway scrambles it clear for the visitors. Lawford captain, Zoe Smith making a great tackle to halt Smits progress as Wodson Park look to force the ball on through the middle. 

Lawford captain Zoe Smith in to tackle Wodson Park’s Natasha Smits

 Space for Zoe Martin to run into on Wodson Park’s right, Jackson though tracks back to defend getting across her as she enters the box to put a risky ball back for her keeper to clear away to the right. Box flagged offside as she looks to break through the Wodson park defence to get on the end of the pass following a good run by Bueggeln. Kelly picking up a knock a pause in play as the attacker is assessed by okay to play on. Foley intercepting the ball as Patmore comes forwards for Wodson Park on the right.

Georgia Gannaway

 Half an hour played and Wodson Park make their first keeper change, Smits now donning the gloves as Stephens joins the attack with O’Connell dropping deeper. Sophie Vale also coming on to replace Hannah Kelly goes to the left. Joyce fouled for Lawford as she takes the ball out to the right giving the hosts a free-kick out wide, Box to lift the ball into the area near post Van Haren goes to attack it closely marked the ball wide for a goal kick. 

  Seakens doing brilliantly for Wodson Park in defence as Lawford attack on the right with Bueggeln coming on with the ball laying it forwards for both Foord and Joyce to chase, Seakens in between them racing back to winning the ball turning to clear. The hosts with some strong build up play attacking on the left Jackson inside for Box outside the area lays it out to the right, with Bueggein looking to attack it 25 yards out her shot charged down by Seakens.

Lawford’s Sheena Foley

  Foord taking the ball on right side lifting a high ball into the box, Smits coming for it takes it down into her gloves well with Box closing in. Vale top of the D with a good pass releasing Martin bursting away to the right taking the ball down to the by-line whips a dangerous ball across the Lawford six yard box, Foord clearing it behind for a corner kick. Put in across the six yard box is just a little too high as Weeks jumps for it.

Cate Jackson

  Joyce on the ball right for Lawford plays it inside for Box left of the D 25 yards out turns her marker to lay the ball on for Jackson breaking into the area ahead of her Smits out to meet her kicking the ball clear. Box lively in attack for Lawford showing good strength to get free hits a shot on the turn 25 yards out to the right of the area, the ball running wide past the far post. 

  Seakens cutting the ball out as Joyce looks to find Van Haren with the forwards pass the ball behind for a corner. The delivery nodded on across goal hooked clear by Vale at the far post. Lawford looking to finish the first half on the front foot. Wodson Park’s defence keeping things tight. Vale looking to provide an outlet with her pace on the left for the visitors checks inside eventually stopped by Foley. 

Wodson Park’s Zoe Martin

  GOAL! Out of nothing Wodson Park find themselves back on level terms as they bring the ball on left side Vale in possession out wide hits a hopeful ball high towards the Lawford goal, dropping out of the sky, Hornby knows she could be in trouble as the ball sneaks under the cross ball to bounce into the back of the net 1-1.

Sophie Vale celebrates after scoring the equaliser for Wodson Park Ladies

Wodson Park with their tails up, the management team trying to calm everyone down as Seakens with a rush of blood takes the ball on up to the area combining with Vale, Lawford defending conceding the corner. From the left a dangerous ball is dropped into the six yard box, just no Wodson Park player their to attack it. Seakens finds herself out on the right as Wodson Park regain possession in the closing seconds of the first half carrying the ball wide skips back inside into the box to have a shot on goal angled in low, Hornby down well on her line to save. 

Half-time Lawford Ladies 1-1 Wodson Park Ladies

  Wodson Park finding an equaliser out of nothing late on in the first half to see the sides go in all square at the break after a superb hit from Georgia Box had given the hosts the lead. Lawford using the pitch well getting on up the flanks putting some good balls into the area. Wodson Park defending solidly countering well looking to press the ball the strikers lacking support at times. The sides have cancelled each other out to some degree making for a competitive contest Lawford having good spells of possession without really imposing themselves on the game. Still all to play for.

  A few spots of rain at the start of the 2nd half, the umbrella needed will soon pass however. A change for Lawford at the break with jess Gill introduced at left back replacing Foley. Wodson Park unchanged. Lawford getting the 2nd half underway…

 GOAL! … the ball played into Joyce the midfielder spraying the ball out wide to Jackson up on the left from wide she strikes the ball hard into towards the near post Smits across to catch it, to her dismay doesn’t stick, loops up over her and rolls over the goal line beyond 2-1. Lawford retake the lead with barely 30 seconds played in the first half. 

Cate Jackson congratulated as her shot goes in off the keeper

  A blow for Wodson Park as Lawford look to make a strong start to the 2nd half Foord with the ball put out to Van Haren moving right breaks in beyond Seakens to attack the ball, Weeks across to clear the ball out for a corner on the right. A Wodson Park player sent tumbling as players move forwards to attack the powerfully hit ball cleared out to the right. O’Connell back to defend winning the ball of Bryant central twenty yards out as Foord plays it into her from the right.

  Seakens taking a knock for Wodson Park down for a moment but assessed and allowed to play on. A lengthy pause before play resumes. Gill from the back with an excellent pass to pick out Jackson on the left from the angle strikes the shot wide across goal. Vale with a knock in the back another injury concern for Wodson Park but despite being too eager to return is waved back on by the referee. Chapman and O’Connell combining well as they get on up the left for Wodson Park the cross in mopped by by Smith. 

Sophie Vale

 Seakens up well defending against Van Haren as Box looks to help the ball on into her in the final 3rd. Foord bringing the ball on well for Lawford down the right in behind to whip a dangerous cross with pace into the six yard box, Jackson going for it can’t quite connect as she comes in central. Lawford with a strong spell Foord outside right turns inside on the ball 20 yards out bundled over giving the hosts a free-kick in a dangerous area. Jackson over the set-piece smashes the ball into the 3 player wall. Bueggeln gathers for Lawford on the right but looking to drive inside can’t get the better of Seakens.

  Lawford winning another free-kick to the right a little deeper this time, Jackson looks to curl the ball high aiming for the far post Smits can’t take any chances as she gets a glove on it to take it out for the corner. Players up from the back the in swinging delivery dropping like a peach for Gill in the centre of the six yard box gets her head on the ball but no control sends the header wide back past the near post.

Lawford winger, Megan Foord

  Lawford playing on through the middle into Foord outside the D helps it on for Box looking to get into the box left of the D, Patmore stepping in to win the ball. Wodson Park making another keeper change, Gannaway going into goal as Smits comes off replaced by Hannah Nash. Bueggeln carded as she pulls O’Connell back presenting a free-kick to the visitors in a dangerous position 2o yards out to the left of the D.

 GOAL! O’Connell on the ball, goes for goal a fantastic ball hit over the wall high to curl in down over the keeper into the back of the net seeing the visitors back on level terms for the 2nd time in the match 2-2.

Captain, Kristina O’Connell levels the scores for Wodson Park

  Lawford get on the attack with Foord getting the ball down spreading play out to the left channel with Jackson looking to break on, Weeks in to clear the ball, Lawford pressing winning a corner on the left. The ball whipped into the six yard Smith their to attack it but can’t get a touch. Lawford making a change bringing of Joyce to be replaced by Davina Smith. 

The goal has help Wodson Park’s confident no end as they find an extra burst of energy to get after the ball, Lawford still a threat quick to turn play around, Bueggeln finding Foord racing into the corner turns inside the fire a ball across the face of goal, Gannaway down may have gotten a touch to take it away from Davina Smith closing in at the far post. 

  Lawford winning a free-kick wide left outside the box, Box placing the ball hits it hard against the wall, Wodson Park looking to hit their opponents on the break, Stephens after the ball, Gill getting a nibble on the ball enough to slow it down, Stephens nevertheless persistent to reclaim it and carry it on up the line shooting on the angle, Hornby with a reactive save with her leg to clear the ball away back to the right Stephens to put it in again this time Head sends in clear.

Abigail Head

 Wodson Park make a change bringing of Hall in midfield a straight swap with Smits back on. Wodson Park pressing the ball better frustrating Lawford, Bueggeln winning it back for Lawford sends a great ball into Box she looks to turn swing it over the top for Van Haren central not quite Jackson beyond flagged offside. Vale strong on the ball through the middle sprayed out to Stephens right side in a race with Gill trying to get into the area gets a shot away under challenge put straight into Hornby.

  Chapman defending as Foord attempts to play Box in on the right. Taylor Wakefield coming on for Lawford replacing Van Haren. Martin too off for Wodson park with Megan Kelly entering the game. Wodson Park conceding a corner kick as Jackson’s cross from the right is headed behind. Delivered high into the area the header won by Seakens back out to the right Bueggeln playing it inside for Zoe Smith 20 yards out drives the short narrowly wide of the right post. 

  Megan Kelly looking to turn on the ball accidentally stands on Foord’s foot, a painful blow that sees the winger needing to come off, Laura Allen her replacement. Wodson Park play the ball on for Megan Kelly into space up the left her cross whipped in near post attacked by Stephens off the goalkeeper for a corner kick. Before it’s taken a chance made by the hosts Zoe Smith can’t continue Foley comes back on. The corner won by Bryant cleared for a 2nd corner whipped in with pace into the six yard box attacked by both Weeks and Seakens the ball turned over the bar.

Laura Allen looking to close down Christie Seakens

  Box pulling right tussling with Chapman to get in behind the ball off the defender for a throw as the game enters the final 10 minutes. Box out on the left working hard in attack her shot tame in the finish as it runs into Gannaway at the near post a spot of cool goalkeeping as she flicks the ball up off her boot into her gloves. The game lively now both sides feeling they can still get the winner O’Connell into Megan Kelly a corner won the in swinging ball claimed well by Hornby into her midriff. 

  O’Connell coming off to be replaced by Hannah Kelly the visitors attacking on the right Stephens ball from wide wrong footing the keeper as she goes to kick clear but also Megan Kelly as it runs wide behind her. Wodson Park with a strong finish Lawford making a change Van Haren back on for Jackson. Bryant with a shot from distance over for Lawford. Box frustrated as she gives a free-kick away in a similar position to Wodson Park’s equaliser, no O’Connell to take, Vale on it a little deeper this time goes to curl the ball in wide of the far post the ball dropping behind over Hornby’s crossbar. 

Megan Kelly

 Wodson Park with one late push getting on with the ball Smits into Megan Kelly finds Vale wide on the right sends her angled shot wide of the near post. 

Full time Lawford Ladies 2-2 Wodson Park Ladies

  The game finishes all square 2 apiece with Wodson Park coming back twice to level. Finishing the half strong finding a renewed confidence from their goal, frustrating Lawford who started the 2nd half strong getting after the ball and creating some very good chances will be disappointed they didn’t capitalise. Wodson Park working hard to keep them at bay coping well with three keeper changes throughout the match, stay top as both sides maintain their unbeaten starts.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. Several contenders for this one, however I had a fair idea who I was going to award it to leaving the ground and the notes have helped confirm it. Plenty of good performances from both sides, Firstly for Lawford striker Georgia Box was strong up top getting in to win the ball and close the defence down got into some great positions and took her goal well. Cate Jackson very good out wide on the left getting into space a good outlet throughout. Lilly Bueggeln defending well and getting forwards with some purposeful runs on the ball. For Wodson Park credit goes to Philly Stephens, Natasha Smits and Georgia Gannaway for all taking a stint in goal. Kristina O’Connell pressing the ball well scoring the 2nd equaliser. Sophie Vale made a real impact when she came on with her pace attacking on the flank. Eliza Weeks with some great tackles at the back. The award though goes to another Wodson Park defender, Christie Seakens, was strong in defence all game, winning the ball well and preventing several Lawford attacks.

 Enjoyed my first trip to The John Lyall Pavilion, again another good advert for the ERWFL a good setup be interesting to see how Division One South develops. My thanks to both clubs for their help with the team info today as always much appreciated. 

by Darren Gilham

Match Report – Long Stratton Women v Brantham Athletic Ladies

Sunday 10th September

FA Women’s Cup

The football season gets into full swing this Sunday with the county leagues getting their season’s underway as well as the FA Women’s Cup where there is once again a record number of entrants with a whopping 103 ties in the 1st Round Qualifying draw with £1,800 going to the winning sides. Off to Manor Road today to watch Long Stratton Women v Brantham Athletic Ladies.

 The FA Women’s Cup now offering better prize money to go with the prestigious of the competition an opportunity for clubs to earn some decent and much needed money with a fortuitous run the road to Wembley begins today!

  Long Stratton Women having become an established side in Norfolk Women’s Division One over the past couple off season pushing on looking to challenge for honours, that said has been something of and overhaul coming into the new season with the club losing manager Adam Race to ERWFL Premier Division One side along with a number of experienced players. Have brought in Paul Simmons and Simon Charlton to co-manage the side and the duo have brought in a a number of new faces, for other sides and promoted within with the club benefitting from it’s youth set-up and wildcats programme. 

  Most notably in goal, far from the easiest of positions to fill within the women’s game have done fantastically to bring in Cyan Fullbrook who has season’s of experience playing at a higher level with Wroxham Women. Defender Jade Copeman joins having been with Blofield United Ladies last season. Elisha Bower and Lucy Robbens too bring a host of experience into the side joining from Beccles. While Madeleine Hopkins, Jess, Liv Charlton, Caitlin Skipper. Esme Goodall and Grace Wall set up from the U16s along with Emily Read and Lucy Tull who have been with the club since the Wildcats. 

 This time last season Brantham Athletic Ladies faced an uncertain future long established in the county league in Suffolk, were struggling for numbers and in doing so form languishing at the foot of the table brought in new coaching staff to help turn thing’s around and haven’t looked back since going on to reach the League Cup final, have grown in the close season with an influx of new players and additional coaching staff setting up a new Development side in the Suffolk Women’s Championship.

  The 1st team competing in the Suffolk Women’s Premiership have brought in several players with a great deal of experience from the former Brettvale side including defender, Kirby Seward, Claire Turnbull, Rachel White and Tarnya McKew. Goalkeeper Daisie-Mae Gibbs joins from Needham Market. Striker M’Leah Wright also new to the squad with merlin Watson returning to the club. Like Long Stratton this the clubs first competitive match of the season. 

 Manor Road the venue for this afternoon’s game the community playing field featuring a new clubhouse with numerous grass pitches a playground and skate park too. A blisteringly hot afternoon as the mini heatwave at the start of September continues promising hot playing conditions with the temperature 30 degrees break to take on fluids a must especially with two sides used to playing with roll on roll off substitutes the FA Cup different just the 3 substitutes permitted. Fitness and stamina sure to be tested.

Long Stratton Women

Long Stratton Women starting XI – Cyan Fullbrook, Karmen Harvey, Summer Whiting, Esme Goodall, Jade Copeman, Megan Vincent (C), Elisha Bower, Caitlin Skipper, Elsie Downer, Lucy Robbens & Grace Wall. Subs – Emily Coe, Kate Simmons, Scarlett Royden & Liv Charlton.

Brantham Athletic Ladies

 Brantham Athletic Ladies starting XI – Daisie-Mae Gibbs, Aimee Berry, Shannan Hill, Kirby Seward, Merlin Watson, Lucy Dunnett (C), Laura Tuley, Rachel White, Chloe Wilson, Sophie Crabtree & M’Leah Wright. Subs – Bethany Ryan, Claire Turnbull, Shannon Giles, Rebecca Prime & Jess Ryan.

Not much shade on offer at Manor Road shouldn’t complain the crap weather will be here soon enough. Referee Francesca Catchpole a top quality striker in her own right leading the two sides out for today’s cup tie. Megan Vincent, Long Stratton’s new captain. Lucy Dunnett captaining Brantham. Brantham wearing and all navy strip to get the game underway kicking off the first half with Long Stratton opposite wearing red shirts and socks with black shorts. The ball played back to Lucy Dunnett in midfield put out to Merlin Watson on the move up the right forwards Elisha Bower stepping out to cut the ball out for Long Stratton.

Brantham Athletic Ladies captain, Lucy Dunnett

Back with Dunnett in the middle puts the clipped pass on for Sophie Crabtree making a run into the right channel, Esme Goodall getting in the challenge to prevent the attacker stealing into the box, the ball cleared for a Brantham throw high on the right. Long Stratton heading the ball clear inside the box get on the attack the ball lifted forwards into Caitlin Skipper on the move wide right taking the ball on with pace, Kirby Seward comes across to slide in with the tackle send the ball out of play.

Hot out there but both sides willing to take each other on close down the ball, Merlin Watson lunging in with the tackle winning the ball a Megan Vincent looks to put Grace Wall away into the left channel for Long Stratton. Brantham get the ball down exchanging passes well outside the Long Stratton area, Dunnett finding Tuley right of the D some 25 yards out shapes to shoot drags the effort wide past the far post. Shannan Hill and Seward making several winning tackles at the back as Long Stratton look to tee up their pace players in attack, Seward stepping in to halt Skipper as she plough forwards.

Brantham’s Shannan Hill

Chloe Wilson tracking inside with the ball on the left for Brantham striking a shot over the bar from all of 30 yards. Long Stratton get the ball on through the middle lifted up to Wall breaking in behind the Brantham back line, Hill doing well staying on her shoulder to win the ball confidently tackling inside the box.

Long Stratton striker, Grace Wall

Pushing up Brantham risk getting opened up at the back as long Stratton bring the ball left the diagonal pass inside the clearance missed by Seward the ball travelling on to the right Long Stratton break with two spare, Aimee Berry getting a foot to take the ball away from Elsie Downer, allowing her defence time to recover. M’Leah Wright taking the ball on from the left cutting inside outpacing the defence shoots from the top of the area the ball rising held comfortably by Cyan Fullbrook in the Long Stratton goal.

Downer showing good pace on the right driving forwards down the line for Long Stratton gets a cross into the box well under challenge, Daisie-Mae Gibbs rising to claim the ball for Brantham.

GOAL!  12 minutes on the clock and the deadlock is broken as Dunnett getting hold of the ball in the middle lines up a shot from 30 yards out a thunderbolt rising central Fullbrook with a athletic leap throwing an arm up to try and stop it gets the merest of touches enough to turn the shot up to smash down off the crossbar, the ball smashed home as Wright runs through on the follow up to score from close range 0-1.

M’Leah Wright opens the scoring for Brantham

Long Stratton bring the ball on down the left Robbens out to Wall wins a throw in the ball launched into the area headed clear by Hill for Brantham. The Brantham backline high at times allowing the midfield to press, using their experience to intercept the ball, White playing the ball inside into Crabtree, Goodall with a well timed tackle against her right of the D as she looks to skip on into the box.

Long Stratton coming into their own as the first half enters the midway point Vincent and Bower closing the ball down in the middle looking for Skipper, Downer and Wall making runs ahead of them. Seward putting the ball on into Dunnett, Brantham’s captain looks to release Tuley to her right, Karmen Harvey stretching a leg out to win the ball back for Long Stratton.

Watson takes a high ball down superbly in the middle putting the pass into Dunnett who in turn sets Crabtree away to attack on the right racing into the box, Goodall getting back on her wins Brantham a corner kick. Players up from the back the ball played into the six yard box knocked down and wide past the far post. Summer Whiting doing the defending at the back for Long Stratton as Crabtree attacking through the right channel looks to tee up Wilson on the left.

Seward giving herself a vital half a yard on Wall in the Long Stratton attack as Robbens sends the ball on through the middle defender and striker racing towards the box Seward stretching to shield the ball seeing it safely back to her keeper. A drinks break called with players struggling in the heat, Long Stratton making a change bringing off Harvey with Emily Coe on at left back. Long Stratton press the ball from the restart getting forwards on the left with Wall, Robbens and Downer combining the latter storming into the area Hill going with her tackling to put the ball out off Downer for a goal kick.

Long Stratton captain Megan Vincent with Brantham’s Chloe Wilson

Brantham get straight up the other end to win themselves a corner on the left swept into the six yard box met by Seward at the far post knocked wide. A pause in play a Hill goes down needing treatment players taking on additional fluids is very hot out there. Hill okay to play on. Wilson cutting in from the left lines up a shot blocked by Long Stratton’s Jade Copeman, then Goodall heads the ball clear as Wilson attempts to lift the ball back into the box. Bower busy in the middle for Long Stratton getting after the ball.

White taking the ball inside from the left picks out Fullbrook with her strike on goal. Dunnett placing the pass into Tuley as Brantham build well through the middle Tuley opening up her body attempting to place the ball into Wright’s path as she bursts into the box left of the D, racing after the ball can’t quite keep it in play. Skipper bundled over by White as she drives forwards for Long Stratton the hosts winning a free-kick some 30 yards out, Bower over it floats a shot in towards goal, not troubling Gibbs claiming it low back on her line.

Brantham goalkeeper Daisie-Mae Gibbs

Skipper winning the ball wide for Long Stratton sending the pass inside for Robbens to line up a shot her effort lacking to pace to trouble Gibbs. Brantham hit Long Stratton on the counter Watson left inside for Dunnett on for Wright in attack Copeman throwing herself into the tackle just about getting a toe on the ball taking it wide to the left with Wilson breaking into the box from the left fires over as Fullbrook comes racing out to close her down.

Watson struggling for Brantham sees another long pause as she gets the necessary treatment. Wall pulling out to the right for Long Stratton in attack but Hill stays on her well to get the challenge in prevent the ball finding it’s way into the box.

Long Stratton finding some momentum late in the first half as Brantham tail away slightly pressing forwards win a free-kick out wide on the right the ball played across the top of the area by Bower, Robbens meeting it sees her shot charged down by Dunnett, the Brantham captain again in the way as Skipper strikes the rebound. Long Stratton pressing the Brantham back line forcing errors. Hill strong in the Brantham backline winning her tackles.

Long Stratton’s Elsie Downer

The visitors a threat on the counter turn play around quickly the threaded pass into the box finding Wright stealing in behind the defence right of goal, Fullbrook out to close her down with a brilliant blocking save as she slides in. Wright then looking to put the ball on for Wilson pulling left for Brantham her cross cut out by Long Stratton’s Goodall. The host quick to counter putting the ball long on the left for Downer racing on with the ball, Hill and Watson closing her down to defend for Brantham.

Play end to end all of a sudden with Dunnett putting the ball on for Tuley for Brantham right channel finds Crabtree breaking into the area her shot brushing the side netting. Heat taking it’s toll on a few players putting in a hard shift closing down the ball, the half stretching on with a number of breaks but precaution shown at all times by the officials. Watson busy on the left with Wall and Downer switching sides, Brantham bring Berry across to the right as Watson prepares to come back on on the left.

Kirby Seward winning the ball before Grace Wall can pounce for Long Stratton

Seward throwing herself into the tackle as she comes across to stop the marauding run of Skipper on the right the ball out for a throw. Off the throw Robbens finds Wall right of the D her low shot forcing Gibbs into a low save turns the ball wide of the right post for a corner kick.

GOAL! Whiting to put the ball into the box from the corner in towards the near post attacked six yards out by Downer turned onto the post before the rebound is fired past the keeper into the back of the net Long Stratton equalising late in the first half 1-1.

Elsie Downer at the near post firing home the equaliser for Long Stratton

Long Stratton with their tails up as the first half draws to a close Brantham on the back foot as Robbens looks to send the ball on for Skipper breaking on into the left channel, Hill intercepting for Brantham.

Half-time Long Stratton Women 1-1 Brantham Athletic Ladies

 The score all square at the break as Long Stratton battle back to find an equalising goal late in the first half. Both sides putting a lot of effort into the half despite the heat. Brantham pressing the ball in the middle with a high back line at time making a positive start taking the lead inside the opening 12 minutes, creating a couple more chances Cyan Fullbrook the busier of the two goalkeepers. Long Stratton with youth and pace in their attack looking a threat out wide and breaking into the channels capitalising a Brantham tailed off towards the end of the half. Still very much all to play for going into the 2nd half.

Brantham making a couple of changes at the start of the 2nd half bringing on Bethany and Jess Ryan on their left replacing Watson and White. Long Stratton unchanged as the hosts get the 2nd half underway. Brantham snapping in to win the ball in midfield the visitors mount the first attack bursting away down the right with Bethany Ryan on the ball her cross squared high into the box plucked down into her gloves safely by Fullbrook.

 Coe lunging in with the challenge to win the ball from Bethany Ryan as she is fed the ball out on the right by Dunnett. Long Stratton pressing bodies on at the start of the 2nd half, Hill defending as Robbens looks to track inside from the right, Dunnett links up with Crabtree and Tuley in attack as Brantham build on the left the cross squared into the top of the Long Stratton area won by Vincent and cleared. Jess Ryan bringing the ball on right side for Brantham plays it on for Bethany Ryan twists and turns on the ball looking to find her way into the box, Coe snapping at her heels going to ground just about getting in the tackle to deflect the ball off Ryan into her keepers gloves.

  A competitive tussle brewing between Skipper and Berry as the winger looks to get in behind the full back on Long Stratton’s right. Long Stratton win a free kick in a dangerous area 25 yards out left of the D as Wall is brought down looking to take the ball on from Robbens. Bower over the set-piece floats a shot over the Brantham goal. Brantham drop off allowing Bower time on the ball in midfield lines up a shot from distance, can only pick out Gibbs in goal. 

  Long Stratton looking to get the ball forwards find their way pass the Brantham defence, the visitors looking to launch the counter attack, Dunnett looking to pick the pass whenever she gets onto the ball finds Bethany Ryan on the right the pass inside for Tuley, taking the ball in Vincent in to close her down for Long Stratton. Goodall then getting the tackle in outside her area as Wright and Tuley look to link up in attack. Tuley covering the ground sending a strike over from 25 yards out.

Long Stratton captain, Megan Vincent

  A corner for Long Stratton out on the left cleared at the near post by Seward for Brantham who is then fouled by Bower.

  GOAL! Having struggled to find any rhythm at the start of the 2nd half Brantham hit Long Stratton with a sucker punch to retake the lead, Dunnett sending a great ball in over the defence that sees Wright run through into the box the flag stays down closing on the keeper places the ball wide of Fullbrook to score 1-2.

 The goal injecting a much needed boost into the Brantham players as they come on with purpose, Dunnett laying a diagonal pass into Crabtree bursting forwards on the left, Whiting intercepting the ball for Long Stratton. Tuley putting her shot wide as she lets fly from 25 yards out to the right of goal. Another pause for drinks as Long Stratton look to regroup. It’s Brantham though who have the momentum, Bethany Ryan out wide right surges infield before striking the ball low on the angle, Fullbrook has her near post covered.

Long Stratton goalkeeper, Cyan Fullbrook

  Brantham with a free-kick left on halfway Dunnett chipping the ball in over the back line Tuley stealing in behind clear onto the ball into the box Fullbrook rushing out to close her down with an excellent blocking save. Long Stratton’s turn to counter the ball lifted into Skipper right racing on with the ball fired inside towards Wall central can’t quite take it on the turn as Hill clears. Seward bringing the ball on for Brantham sends the ball over the top for Wright to attack, Fullbrook out to claim it keeping her eye on the ball catching safely and holding onto it as Wright crashes into her. Both up okay. 

  GOAL! Long Stratton equalise, strong from Wall at the top of the area as Whiting finds her out on the right with a superb diagonal pass the striker turning into the box driving into the six yard box right of goal holding off her challenger to knock the ball past the keeper into the bottom corner, 2-2.

Grace Wall battling her way to goal to equalise for Long Stratton

Grace Wall congratulated by her teammates after making it 2-2

  The contest between Berry and Skipper hotting up  the pair going shoulder to shoulder as Skipper drives on with the ball, Berry incensed as she is adjudged to foul the Long Stratton winger presenting the hosts with free-kick wide outside the area. Bower sweeping the ball in across the face of goal Wall getting up well, can only get a glancing header the ball carrying on out to the left sent forwards as Brantham break, through into the box for Wright to chase.

Brantham’s Sophie Crabtree

 Crabtree with the ball driving to the by-line on the left looking to get past Whiting checks back inside to flash a cross into the far post Wright inside the six yard box looking to attack it Coe going to ground getting enough of the ball to deny the snap shot before Wright does connect Fullbrook throwing an arm up to tip the ball over from close range. 

Brantham fullback Aimee Berry

 Both sides working hard despite the heat to get hold of the ball a competitive cup tie finely balanced as Brantham win another free-kick on half-way, Dunnett to deliver a high ball into the area the header won by Copeman clearing for Long Stratton the hosts break Skipper through the middle on for Wall top of the area, Seward getting back at her to defend. Players tiring have been out there for nearly 2 hours now due to the various breaks for drinks and injuries still 10 minutes left to play.

Tuley shooting wide inside the box for Brantham as she in played though to the left of goal, Fullbrook doing well as she comes out towards her to narrow the angle the ball played wide of the far post. Long Stratton making a change bringing off Skipper with Kate Simmons coming on. Dunnett lining up a shot from 35 yards straight at the keeper. The visitors winning a throw high in the right corner the ball knocked into the box close to the near post Wright attacking it Fullbrook down well to save pushes the ball straight into the on coming Tuley no time to adjust prods the ball wide.

  GOAL! Brantham restore their lead late in the game as they bring the ball on through the middle the Long Stratton defence backing up as Dunnett plays the ball out to Crabtree on the left, 20 out curls a cross into the box with both Wright and Tuley getting in behind the ball drops for Tuley who makes no mistake sending the ball back across the keeper into the bottom corner 2-3.

Laura Tuley celebrates after putting Brantham back into the lead

  Brantham confident as they pour forwards Dunnett with time on the ball to pick a pass finding Crabtree out left running into the box, Goodall across to defend putting the ball out for a corner kick. Brantham making a change before it’s taken bringing off Wilson on comes Turnbull. The corner angled into the box met on the volley by Crabtree 12 yards out crashed wide. The game entering the final 5 minutes Long Stratton with their 3rd change bringing off Downer, on comes Liv Charlton. 

 Brantham using their experience now running the ball into the corner Tuley holding players off eating up valuable time, Long Stratton trying to get hold of it, Bethany Ryan stealing it back to shoot on the angle the ball into the keeper. Crabtree coming left for Brantham laying the ball back into the middle for Dunnett to strike goal wards from 30 yards out, Fullbrook sees it all the way. 

Lucy Dunnett winning the header for Brantham

  A lot of tired legs out there a welcome breeze blowing across the pitch Brantham finishing strong winning a corner on the left fired in towards the top of the area, Dunnett with a miscued shot deflected through to put Wright clear on goal, however the flag goes up against her.

 Brantham break up a Long Stratton attack the ball cleared out to the left Whiting looking to see it run out of play as Crabtree closes her down the attacker stealing the ball on the line to turn inside run into the box and shoot, Fullbrook with a superb save leaping up to tip the ball up onto the bar and over. The resulting corner on the right the last action of the game as the ball falls to Bethany Ryan inside the box her strike blocked and cleared. 

Full time Long Stratton Women 2-3 Brantham Athletic Ladies

  Brantham scoring the winning goal inside the final 10 minutes to settle a tremendous cup tie, with both sides putting in a great effort in very hot conditions. Brantham starting well going in front inside the opening 12 minutes created some good chances, Long Stratton fighting back towards the end of the first half to get themselves back on level terms set up an intriguing 2nd half. The hosts making a positive start to the 2nd period Brantham guilty of tailing off a little but still remained a threat going forwards retaking the lead a Wright broke clear on goal to score her 2nd of the game but again Long Stratton fought back a strong run from Wall seeing them equalise for the 2nd time in the game. Fullbrook pulling off some fine saves along the way, Tuley though having missed a few opportunities got in behind the defence to score the winning goal late in the game. A home tie against another Norfolk Women’s Division One side awaits with Sprowston FC Women their opponents.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

 Onto this Sunday’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. A fine effort from both sides in very hot conditions to produce a great cup tie and both look in good shape going into the new season. Hard to single out a single player and their were several performances to note firstly for Long Stratton, Esme Goodall with some vital defending at the back. Elisha Bower strong in the middle looking to win the ball, Caitlin Skipper pacy on the ball looking to take her opponents on. Goalkeeper, Cyan Fullbrook outstanding on her Long Stratton debut pulling off a number of top quality saves. For Brantham both Kirby Seward and Shannan Hill were strong at the back winning the ball back, reading the game well. Sophie Crabtree out wide in attack with some great running throughout the match getting into some good positions. Pipping everyone though the award goes to midfielder Laura Tuley covered a lot of ground in the middle getting into some great positions to carve out opportunities in front of goal and ultimately score the winning goal. 

 An entertaining cup tie between two sides only beginning their season a great effort from both in very hot conditions Long Stratton pushing Brantham all the way levelling up the scores twice before Tuley’s winning goal. My thanks to both sides for their help with the team details today and good luck for the campaign ahead.

by Darren Gilham