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Cup Final Special – Hitchin Belles Women Blues v Stotfold Women

Sunday 5th May

Beds & Herts Women’s League Cup

A quick turn about in Bedfordshire for today’s 2nd cup final with Colney Heath Ladies still celebrating their league and cup triumph attention turns to this afternoon’s Beds & Herts Women’s League Cup Final with Hitchin Belles Women Blues taking on Stotfold Women for the trophy.

The League Cup the senior cup competition with all the sides across the 4 divisions in the Beds & Herts Women’s Football League taking part. In the finish the Premier Division Clubs dominating both competitions, the top flight in Beds & Herts always a competitive league often featuring a thrilling title contest. The League Cup final no exception.

This afternoon’s prize.

Another presentation taking place before kick-off with the winners of Division Three collecting their awards, Woburn & Wavendon Lionesses reforming a new women’s team this season storming to the title clear of the rest with a 100% record, well done to all.

Woburn & Wavendon Lionesses, Division Three Champions

Onto today’s opponents, Hitchin Belles Women a long established side with the Beds & Herts Women’s Football League have regrouped this season after losing a number of experienced players a couple of season back, ironically to today’s opposition Stotfold. Have since brought in a new crop of experienced players recruited from the old AFC Dunstable Women Reserves side. Found life tough going in the Premier Division at the start of the season picking up just one victory and 3 draws in their opening 9 matches, but have since turned thing’s around showing great form in the 2nd half of the season losing just one more match in their final 7 league outings, 4 wins in that spell pushing them up to 6th in the table. That form also getting them through to the League Cup final. Nicola Hollick the clubs top scorer with 14 goals this season. Marsha Glass on the scoresheet too for 8 goals during the campaign.

Stotfold Women formed just last season, building a team full experience playing in the Beds & Herts Women’s Football League, as touched on previously taking several players from Hitchin Belles were a strong side entering the league in Division One. Finished 10 points clear at the top of the table winning all but one of their 18 league matches. Promoted to the Premier Division the Bedfordshire side didn’t make a great start with just 2 points earned in their opening 5 matches, since then has been a different story with 8 wins in their final 11 matches including a 4 game winning streak at the end of the campaign that has seen them finish in 3rd place. Have a three way tie for top scorer with 3 players, captain, Amy Jack, Charlotte Peters and Amber Olney all on 10 each.

Road to the Final

  Both sides awarded a bye in the 1st round of the League cup the football action beginning in the 2nd round. Hitchin at home to Division Three side, Bury Rangers Women, goals from Marsha Glass and Gemma Williams along with a brace for Nicola Hollick securing a 4-0 win. Stotfold drawn away to play Division One side Harpenden Town Women u23s, Charlotte Ryan opening the scoring, Millie Frazer soon doubling the lead going on to add a 2nd goal in 2nd half, Amy Jack, Charlotte Peters and Amber Olney also scoring in a 6-0 victory.

Onto the 3rd round of the League Cup, Hitchin at home taking on newly crowned Division Two champions, Letchworth Garden City Eagles. Hollick on target for both goals to secure Hitchin a 2-0 win and a spot in the last 8 of the competition. Stotfold taking on Division One opposition with a trip to Sherrardswood. Amy Jack on target to rattle home 4 goals with Millie Fraser scoring a hat-trick, Lucy McShane, Olney and Peters all on the scoresheet too, final score 10-0.

Into the quarter finals, Hitchin once more at home taking on Wootton Blue Cross Lionesses Reserves form Division One. Progressed into the last 4 courtesy of a 3-0 win, with Hollick, Hollie Quince and Holly Thomson getting the goals. Stotfold once again on their travels playing Division one side, Berkhamsted Ladies. Peters getting the goal for the away side but with the sides drawing 1-1 at the final whistle the tie was to be settled from the penalty spot. Stotfold going on to win the shootout 4-2 to progress into the semi-finals.

An all Premier Division line-up in the last 4 and all fancying their chances of reaching the final. Hitchin were away taking on Langford Ladies who had shown strong form earlier in the season. A close match a single goal settling it, Hollick with the goal to send Hitchin into the final. A tough game for Stotfold too, away to league challengers, Garston FC Ladies. Amy Jack and Kiera How scoring for Stotfold, however goals from Emma Steele and Emma Trill saw the game finish 2-2 and Stotfold having to contest another shootout. Held their nerve to win it 3-1 to book their place in the final.

A lovely sunny afternoon at Kempston Rovers FC, getting the team details sorted early giving me a vital few minutes to grab some food from the kitchen hatch and I went of the special, chilli and chips, very nice it was too before taking up position for the 2nd game of the day. A good sized crowd building in anticipation of today’s League Cup final.

Hitchin Belles Women Blues

Hitchin Belles Women Blues starting XI – Lauren Brooker, Georgia Carey, Rachel Spendelow (C), Ella Parker, Lily Ludford, Emily Peat, Holly Thomson, Natasha Ridley, Hollie Quince, Maddison Woodcock &Marsha Glass. Subs – Amy Dewar, Ella Vizard, Nicole Cameron, Chloe Davis-Garcia & Helena Saul.

Stotfold Women

 Stotfold Women starting XI – Orlagh Daly, Charlotte Ryan, Cleo Haynes, Chloe Keller, Bonnie Woodward, Amy Jack (C), Charlotte Peters, Leigh Burrows-Hall, Storm Moore, Keira How & Amber Olney. Subs – Amelia Bacon, Maizie Marsh, Isabel brown, Lucy McShane, Rebecca Lightfoot & Chloe James.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

Captain’s Amy Jack and Rachel Spendelow with this afternoon’s match officials

  It’s Stotfold to get the 2023/24 Beds & Herts League Cup final underway kicking off in the first half wearing Amber coloured shirts with black shorts and Amber socks with Hitchin wearing an all blue kit without their top scorer Hollick. The rolled back into the defence Bonnie Woodward laying it out to Chloe Keller on the left played forwards into Cleo Haynes the midfielder driving on with the ball through the middle sending a diagonal ball out to the right for Storm Moore to attack, Holly Thomson defending for Hitchin the ball cleared for a throw.

Hitchin Belles, Holly Thomson

  Lily Ludford combining with Maddison Woodcock for Hitchin taking the ball upfield on for Emily Peat bursting into the left channel, Keira How getting back on her to defend play the ball out for Stotfold. Stotfold press down the left to win an early corner. Fired in to the near post the ball squirming through everyone to strike the post bouncing back out into play before being smashed away the clearance striking Woodcock full in the face, rebounding behind, could have gone anywhere. The Hitchin player stunned on her knees the game stopped and checked out she is okay to play on. 

 An even start, Hitchin keeping a tight shape pressing Stotfold well, neither side making much headway in the final 3rd. Stotfold winning a free-kick 30 plus yards out on the right, Charlotte Ryan to play the set-piece into the box, Ella Parker under it to head clear for Hitchin. Stotfold snapping in to regain possession with players up around the box rolled into Ryan coming left sending her shot over from 20 yards.

  Progress for Hitchin on the left winning a throw inside the Stotfold half taken quickly into Natasha Ridley outside the area left corner helps it on for Marsha Glass ahead of her turns looking to roll her marker, Woodward in close attendance, doesn’t let the attacker through. Stotfold captain Amy Jack sending a threaded ball out to the left for Charlotte Peters to cross into the box, Parker intercepting the ball for Hitchin.

Stotfold captain, Amy Jack

  Ryan bringing the ball on from the back for Stotfold on the right sees her diagonal ball clipped into the area headed behind by Parker for a corner kick. The delivery played in to Amber Olney positioned central the top of the area looks to turn the ball goal wards sends it angling wide of the far post.

 Hitchin working hard to get the ball up the flanks getting on with the ball, crossing opportunities limited however as Stotfold get back to close the ball down. Glass given the ball 25 yards out checks inside from the right, driving at the Stotfold defence, jinks left then right before unleashing a shot, her attempt put straight at Stotfold’s goalkeeper, Orlagh Daly. 

Hitchin Belles, Marsha Glass with Stotfold’s Charlotte Ryan

  Signs of frustration from Stotfold, Hitchin’s formation causing them a few issues as they look to get the ball moving, Jack on for Haynes out to Moore on the right, Thomson defending the ball out of play. Hitchin making a change bringing off Peat, sending on Nicole Cameron. Peters with Leigh Burrows-Hall on the left pushing on down the line the cross looped up into the Hitchin box, Ludford under it to clear the threat. Hitchin get on the counter attack the ball played up to Glass breaking into the right channel in behind after the ball, Daly comes rushing out of her area, to try and win the race, just about gets there stopping the ball with her legs to slow Glass’ progress and her defence track back to defend the open goal beyond, Keller in position to block Glass’ shot on goal as she gets hold of the loose ball.

Stotfold’s Chloe Keller

  Hitchin encouraged press the ball, Ridley on for Cameron to take on to the edge of the box right side her cross/shot put wide as referee Jacob Hamilton calls for the 1st drinks break of the match. Stotfold unsettled needing to calm down, Hitchin working hard to frustrate their attacks. Play resuming with a Hitchin throw out on the left. Woodcock playing the ball on for Cameron up the line, dinks the ball into the box looking for Glass, Peters back to get a foot in play the ball behind for the corner kick. 

  The corner swung in towards the near post sent behind for a 2nd set-piece. Played in central this time, Haynes gets hold of it for Stotfold brings the ball away to safety. Stotfold build through the middle Jack with Haynes forward into Olney she looks to release How bursting away on the right, Thomson get a foot out to cut out the pass.

Stotfold’s Keira How

 Ludford coming off worse in a 50/50 challenge as she goes to kick the ball, looked nasty, certainly painful but is up back on her feet ready to play on. Stotfold are stirred up can’t get their game going as Hitchin continue to work hard to keep things tight at the back, Ludford getting about the pitch winning the ball well. Stotfold making another change bringing off How, send Maizie Marsh into the game. Olney taking the ball down into the left corner, working to get inside to lift a cross into the six yard box, Thomson turning it behind for a corner.

  Played in towards the near post, goalkeeper, Lauren Brooker calling for it, making a confident claim. Jack surging on with the ball for Stotfold though the middle lays in on for Olney who sweeps the ball out to Marsh wide right, her cross floated into the area, taken cleanly by Brooker. Glass snatching possession back for Hitchin high on the right pushes up to the corner of the penalty area sending an angled ball in towards goal, Daly getting hold of it before Woodcock making a run in central can pounce.  

 Amy Dewar sent on for Hitchin to replace Glass. Stotfold feeling some decisions are not going their way adding to their frustration Jack getting a warning from the referee as she challenges a decision. Hitchin catching Stotfold in possession, Glass nicking the ball threading it on for Woodcock central, looking to get on the move attack the box, Haynes getting back at her to tackle for Stotfold. Haynes coming off than for Stotfold with Amelia Bacon.

  Ludford on the ball for Hitchin bringing it on through the middle played on for Dewar she looks for the give and go with Woodcock to her left, Woodcock playing the pass forwards, can’t quite get to the ball before the Stotfold defence clear their lines top of the area. Hitchin winning a free-kick on the right, close to halfway, Stotfold unhappy with the decision… Red Card! Jack has said something the referee is unhappy with and is incredulous as she is shown a straight red card and sent off!

Amy Jack shown the red card

 Stotfold reduced to 10 players late in the first half, nevertheless get on the attack down the left Olney out to Peters a corner won. Curled into the near post, Ludford defending for Hitchin. The counter attack on the ball on for Quince up the right crosses into Dewar outside the D, Bacon stepping out to close her down deny the shot. A frustrating first half for Stotfold comes to an end as the two sides head into the changing room for the respective team talks.

Half-time Hitchin Belles Women 0-0 Stotfold Women

 Stotfold certainly frustrated in the first half, unsettled with Hitchin playing a new formation working hard to limited their opponents opportunities going forwards. Chances have been limited the tactics working with neither side making much head way in the final 3rd. Those frustrations leading to Stotfold’s captain, getting sent off. Work to do to prepare for the 2nd half, now being played with a player down. Not always the advantage Hitchin will need to find a way to make their extra player count, still very much all to play for. 

 During the half-time interval, another league presentation, this time for Letchworth Garden City Eagles who have won the Division Two title, well done to all. 

Letchworth Garden City Eagles, Beds & Herts Women’s Division Two Champions

 Stotfold emerging from the tunnel early, ready to get going again, Woodward wearing the captain’s armband now. Making a change Haynes ready to return to the action replacing Bacon. Hitchin back out ready to get the 2nd half underway have Peat back on the pitch with Quince substituted. The ball played back towards Thomson plays it up the left, Woodcock fouled as she goes to attack the ball. The free-kick lifted up into the box, cleared by Haynes.

Stotfold’s Charlotte Peters

  Peters plays the ball into Haynes the midfielder getting on the move a powerful run taking her all the way into the box left of goal, Carey getting close to her for Hitchin putting the the challenge to clear before Haynes can get support up to her. Both sides setting themselves up to keep it tight not let the other cut them open, Stotfold dropping off a little inviting Hitchin on looking for an opportunity to counter. 

Hitchin Belles, Amy Dewar

 A different feel about the game now, Woodward marshalling her side to keep their shape, Hitchin pushing up Peat with Woodcock playing the ball to the left, Thomson putting her strike straight at the keeper. Haynes making some powerful runs from the middle to get up into the Hitchin area again turns looking for options, Ludford closing her down to regain possession.

Cleo Haynes with some powerful runs for Stotfold

 Olney turning the ball into the box for Haynes up to the left, Spendelow tackling the ball cleared out of the box, Burrows-Hall latching onto the loose ball shooting from range, Carey getting in the way to block. Hitchin making a change Quince returning to the action in place of Dewar. Stotfold competing for the ball winning a free-kick out wide for a shove in the back, a high ball played into the box, Brooker getting up to pull the ball down into her gloves.

Bonnie Woodward captaining Stotfold in the 2nd half

  Woodward up the other end heading a Ludford free-kick from halfway out of her area. Haynes continues to make good runs up the pitch dragging Hitchin players with her, but lacking options when she reaches the box outnumbered Hitchin having to build from the back again. Haynes on the move into the right channel as Burrows-Hall sends the ball into her path bursting into the box, Carey closing her do timing her tackle to put the ball out for a corner kick. 

 The corner swung into the area over Ryan near post, appeals once more as Peters goes down but nothing doing a Hitchin look to counter attack, Quince carrying the ball down the left all the way to the by-line under challenge runs the ball out of play. Glass returning to the action for Hitchin. Ryan allowed to travel with the ball through the middle for Stotfold, unleashes a powerful strike from all of 40 yards out, on target, Brooker producing a fabulous safe leaning back to get her arm up and glove the ball over the crossbar. The resulting corner swung in under the crossbar again caught high by Brooker in the middle of her goal.

Lauren Brooker making a superb save for Hitchin Belles

  Ryan then called into action to defend up the other end as Glass getting hold of the ball attacks from the right, the challenge seeing the ball played behind for a corner kick. Turned into the area the ball defended Hitchin with players up quick to get it back Ludford into Cameron played out to Glass wide right her cross floated into the area claimed by Daly. Stotfold get the ball up to Moore running om up the right wing, squares her cross into the box, Parker running back to defend getting there to cut out the pass ahead of Olney.

Stotfold striker, Amber Olney

 GOAL! 20 minutes played in the 2nd half chances limited, for both sides, Moore with the ball at her feet gets on up the right wing closing in on the by-line cuts her cross back into the near post, Olney making the run, Brooker getting down to try and stop the ball, only succeeds in knocking it up into the air, Olney’s eye lighting up as the defence looks to get back on the line she connects sending it home to put 10 player Stotfold into the lead rushed over to the cross provider, Moore to celebrate 0-1.

Amber Olney hugging Storm Moore as she puts her side into the lead

 Hitchin falling behind get a corner up the other end, everyone from Stotfold in the box lined up to defend it played in near post, Cameron coming to the ball loos to flick it of her head towards goal, Daly seeing it late with a reactive save knocking the ball up into the air, Woodward sending it clear. Another drinks break needed, Stotfold pumped up having got their noses in front.

  Ludford with an angled ball into the Stotfold area from the left taken down into the keepers gloves. Stotfold defending their box, not willing to concede any space in behind. Hitchin continue to probe down the flanks crosses put in from left and right dealt with Woodward and Burrows-Hall respectfully. Haynes the player willing to break forwards for Stotfold her marauding runs eating up time if nothing else, hard to get off the ball lays it out to Moore on the right her cross whipped into the area, intercepted crucially by Quince tracking back with Olney breaking central.

Stotfold’s Storm Moore

  Stotfold determined to hold onto their lead, Hitchin struggling to find and answer to finding a way through on goal. Glass managing to break in behind the defence as Peat from the right lifts a cross into the box, Daly getting her glove on the ball to keep it off the attackers head. Glass 25 yards out seeing the ball into her feet helping it on for Woodcock breaking down the right, Burrows-Hall out to meet her clearing for a throw.

  Peters looking to get on with the ball on the left for Stotfold, Spendelow in to challenge play the ball forwards into Woodcock,, puts the pass inside for Glass, Haynes coming back to put in the tackle. Haynes picking up the ball through the middle goes on another surging run, Carey getting across to put in the tackle 25 yards out the ball loose to the right of goal, Olney running onto it blazes her shot over the bar.

Hitchin Belles captain, Rachel Spendelow

  Into the last 10 minutes, Peters on the turn corner of the area sends her shot racing past the far post. Woodcock snapping back at Stotfold to win the ball 20 yards out plays it out to Glass pulling right, falling as she goes to strike the ball, pulls her effort in towards the keeper, Daly with a comfortable save. 

Hitchin Belles, Lily Ludford


Brooker racing out to the top of her area to put in the blocking save on Peters as she snatches hold of a loose ball played across the top of her area. Hitchin continue to probe looking for a way through the Stotfold defence their opponents though working hard to limit any options make it difficult to break them down. Glass taking the ball on into the left wing checking inside to run at the box, inside Woodward steps in to tackle, Ryan clearing the ball.

Nicole Cameron battling with Storm Moore for the ball

  The clock ticking down, Stotfold looking to keep possession, Olney running the ball into the corner to eat up time, Hitchin needing it back push players on into the final third risking the counter, Peters bringing the ball up the pitch for Stotfold rolling it on for Olney in attack, Spendelow closing in to make the challenge the throw conceded on the left. Burrows-Hall getting the ball kicked hard into the back of her her by her own teammate as Peters looks to launch it, left stunned for a moment gets up gingerly before letting everyone know she’s okay to play on.

  Time almost up Olney playing it safe taking the ball into the corner. Hitchin grab possession back the ball launched forwards by Woodcock, Glass wriggling free of her marker to turn and try and attack the ball, stretching can’t get a telling touch as it runs safely through to the keeper. That’s it the final whistle blows and Stotfold celebrate as they win this season’s Beds & Herts Women’s League Cup.

Stotfold celebrate at the final whistle

Full time Hitchin Belles Women 0-1 Stotfold Women

  A strong 2nd half performance from 10 player Stotfold even without the sending off, they needed to improve in the 2nd period and with that set back had to make a new game plan, keep a solid shape and take there chance if they got one. Having gotten their noses in front were determined to defend working hard to limit Hitchin’s opportunities. Hitchin buoyed by their strong first half, just couldn’t find the answer 2nd half pressed well getting the ball into good positions wide but couldn’t find that clinical moment to score. A game of few chances Stotfold taking the one that mattered.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

 Onto the 2nd Women’s Football East – Player of the Match award of the day. Not so easy this time around several good performances out there. First off for Hitchin, Lily Ludford got about the pitch well to contest the ball, and get the ball moving. Georgia Carey and Ella Parker with some crucial interceptions and tackling at the back. Nicole Cameron with some good runs to support the attack. For Stotfold, Storm Moore made some good runs down the wing. Amber Olney leading the line well, scoring the winning goal. Cleo Haynes strong in the middle making some forceful runs up into the box, hard to shake off the ball and providing an outlet to give her defence a break as they worked hard to defend in the 2nd half. The award though goes to the team captain in the 2nd half Bonnie Woodward was as frustrated as anyone with her sides performance 1st half and marshalled her side well in the 2nd making sure they keep a disciplined shape and won the ball well inside her box.

Stotfold Women 2023/24 Beds & Herts Women’s League Cup winners

Amy Jack ready to break down the pitch gate joining her teams celebrations

 Congratulations to Stotfold Women on winning this season’s Beds & Herts Women’s League Cup.

 An enjoyable if busy day at Kempston Rovers, nice to be back after so long away. Again my thanks to the two teams for their assistance today’s line-ups. My thanks to the the leagues committee members for all their help and hospitality today. They done well to have the season all done and dusted, enjoy the rest.

by Darren Gilham

Cup Final Special – St Margaretsbury Women v Colney Heath Ladies

Sunday 5th May

Beds & Herts Chris Renshaw Cup Final

After last weekend’s washout the cup final double bills begin this weekend with a trip down into Bedfordshire for the Beds & Herts Women’s League Finals day featuring two matches to end the season. First up The Chris Renshaw Cup being contested this season by St Margaretsbury Women and Colney Heath Ladies.

  Has been a while since I’ve been able to make the Beds & Herts Women’s Finals Day the traditional end to their season and an really looking forward to the two matches on offer. The Chris Renshaw Cup contested by the sides knocked out of the early rounds of the League Cup itself and some strong sides amongst them. The cup named after Chris Renshaw the leagues former referees officer who passed away, extremely liked and well thought off the competition formerly the Invitation Cup renamed in his honour.

The Chris Renshaw Cup

St Margaretsbury Women achieving back to back promotions to reach the Beds & Herts Women’s Premier Division this season. Winning Division Three with a 100% record in their debut season in 21/22. Finishing 2nd behind Stotfold Women in Division One last season to continue that rise. Have had a solid campaign in the Premier Division including a 7 match unbeaten run with 6 wins and a draw to put them right in contention for the title itself before eventually finishing 4th in the table.

Enjoyed a couple of good cup runs too, narrowly missing out to Stevenage FC Women Development on penalties in the semi-finals of Hertfordshire FA’s new Women’s Trophy competition before going all the way to the final in The Chris Renshaw Cup. Scoring plenty of goals along the way to with Paige Prior not only top scorer for the club but the league itself firing in 27 goals this season. Gabrielle Charalambous has 10 goals to her name too with Amber Strows on 9.

Colney Heath Ladies are the Champions, winning the Beds & Herts Women’s Premier Division and still in the hunt for a league and cup treble. A strong response from the club effectively rebuilding after losing their entire 1st team and with it ERWFL Premier Division status as they moved under a new club and name. Colney Heath Reserves side stepping up to the mark getting off to a flying start in the league with 6 wins and a draw in their opening 7 games. Going all the way to the Hertfordshire FA Women’s Trophy final where they will play Stevenage FC Women Development in the rearranged fixture after the original game was abandoned due to an medical incident for a Stevenage player. Knocked out of the league cup regrouped after a mini wobble to storm the league and reach the final.

 The league secured with just one defeat along the way, looking to make it a double today against St Margaretsbury have a squad with some useful experience and young talent scoring plenty of goals amongst them with 15 different players on the scoresheet so far this season. Mia Simmonds the top scorer netting 13 so far from 20 appearances. Cally Salter also into double figures on 10 with Holly Jury on target for 8 goals.

 Road to the Final

Both sides progressing without kicking a ball in the 1st Round of the competition, St Margaretsbury awarded the home win while, Colney Heath had a bye.

Into the 2nd Round St Margaretsbury were away in what could have been a potential banana skin again Division Three newcomers and leaders Woburn & Wavendon Lionesses. Goals from Chloe Ahmet, Gabrielle Charalambous, Kelly-ann Westgrath and Paige Pryor securing a 4-1 win to see St Margarets bury into the quarter finals. Colney Heath again not having to kick a ball awarded the H-W against Division Two side Hitchin Town Women.

Both sides rattling in the goals in the quarter finals St Margaretsbury were at home taking on Division Two side Buntingford Town Ladies. Pryor was on target for 5 goals alone with Charalambous also bagging herself a hat-trick. A brace each for Billie Curtis and Amber Strows with Katelyn Mulvey also scoring in a 13-2 victory. Colney Heath on the road taking on Division Two leaders, Real Bedford Ladies Development. Holly Jury and Mia Simmonds firing Colney Heath into a 2 goal lead inside 10 minutes, Jury would go on to net a hat-trick. Simmonds a brace, along with Amy Phillips. Cally Salter, Amy Williams and Jael Muzzi also on the score sheet in a 10-1 win.

Into the semi-finals, St Margaretsbury hosting Division One side Biggleswade United Women Blues in the last 4. Marched into the final confidently wining the game 6-0 with a hat-rick each for Pryor and Sherie Evans. Colney Heath away to another Division one side, Garston FC Ladies Mets. Leading 2-0 at half-time thanks to goals from Molly Slade and Sheree Oliver, Caroline Pennifold and Holly Jury on target to double the score in the 2nd half see Colney Heath into their 2nd final of the season.

The Beds & Herts Women’s Finals Day traditional taking place at Kempston Rovers FC in Bedfordshire. An early start a cup of tea the first port of call, the clubhouse and bar open along with the kitchen hatch serving hot food. A seat stand on the clubhouse side of the ground with standing viewing all round the grass pitch with 3G facilities beyond. The club a hive of activity with several youth matches being played. A washout in Cambridgeshire last Sunday couldn’t be any different this Sunday, bright and sunny some heat to the sun too, no wind and no rain forecast either, drinks breaks to be applied with the heat. 

St Margaretsbury Women

St Margaretsbury Women starting XI – Christina Xanthi, Evelyn Rose, Hannah Fowler, Jacqueline Stott, Sherrie Evans, Kelly-ann Westgrath (C), Faye Bullock, Amber Strows, Chloe Ahmet, Gabrielle Charalambous & Paige Pryor. Subs – Megan Walker, Billie Curtis, Laura Tyrell, Katelyn Mulvey & Katrina Martin.

Colney Heath Ladies

Colney Heath Ladies starting XI – Lauren Croucher, Anna Simou (C), Sophie Joseph, Maddie Gorton, Abbey Williams, Caroline Aubery, Sheree Oliver, Holly Jury, Amy Phillips, Cally Salter & Mia Simmonds. Subs – Laura Gifford, Olivia Corbett, Rachel Sherlow, Molly Slade & Lacey Blake.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

It’s Colney Heath to get the Chris Renshaw Cup final underway kicking off the first half wearing black and white vertical striped shirts with black shorts and white socks with St Margaretsbury lined up opposite earing yellow coloured shirts with black shorts and yellow and black hooped socks. The ball played into the middle rolled back to defence out to the left, Sophie Joseph sending it up the line for Cally Salter to attack, Evelyn Rose in defence for St Margaretsbury comes across to deal with the threat send the ball out for a throw in.

Colney Heath looking to get after the ball early on winning it high fed on for Mia Simmonds running the right channel fires a diagonal ball across the box looking for Salter’s run, Rose intercepts the ball for St Margaretsbury. Sherie Evans winning the ball for St Margaretsbury in the centre played up to Paige Pryor in attack back to goal lays the pass out to Gabrielle Charalambous on the left drives on before cutting her cross back to the top of the box looking for Pryor, Maddie Gorton getting her foot to the ball first clearing for Colney Heath.

Maddie Groton winning the tackle

Colney Heath break up on their left Salter wide with a give and go into Amy Phillips inside her, Phillips laying the return ball into Salter’s path as she surges up the wing before checking inside and pulls her cross, sending it swinging into goalkeeper, Christina Xanthi’s gloves. Holly Jury taking the ball forwards through the middle for Colney Heath sends it on for Simmonds attacking the right channel, lays the ball wide to captain, Anna Simou getting up on the right, Hannah Fowler getting in the challenge to deny the cross for St Margaretsbury.

St Margaretsbury, Hannah Fowler

Colney Heath getting players on pressing the final 3rd win a corner on the right the ball played in near side headed out back to the right by Jacqueline Stott, Colney heath returning the ball on the angle into the top of the box with Simmonds looking to control and turn in one motion, can’t keep her footing her shot tame in the finish rolling safely through to the keeper.

Joseph bringing the ball out from the back for Colney Heath on the left sends it long for Jury pulling out wide her cross dipping into the near post put behind by Xanthi for a corner kick. Played in near post not attacked however St Margaretsbury don’t get the ball clear comes back to Salter out left her cross, blocked. Amber Strows bringing the ball down for St Margaretsbury travelling left side played forwards into Pryor peeling wide, the striker turning inside to drive into the box her run halted by Simou.

St Margaretsbury’s Amber Strows

Colney Heath lively when they are in possession players driving forwards with the ball, Phillips on through the middle looks to release Salter wide left, St Margaretsbury hold their line well catching her offside. Oliver plays the ball out to Phillips on the left, Faye Bullock sliding in to take the ball away from her before she can release Salter. Simmonds fed the ball as she pushes on into the right channel looking to power her way into the box, Stott stays on her well to put in the tackle send the ball away for the throw.

St Margaretsbury defender, Jacqueline Stott

St Margaretsbury awarded a free-kick out wide on the left from deep the ball fired in towards the near post, Charalambous making a good run can’t reach the ball but puts pressure on goalkeeper, Lauren Croucher who doesn’t get hold of the ball instead knocked up into the air inside the six yard box in front of goal, Evans there looking to get her head on the ball, sees the ball land on the roof of the net.

Sherie Evans

Phillips pushing on left side up with Salter looking to double up on Rose at the back, the defender under pressure does well to get her foot on the ball take it out for a throw allow her side to regroup. The throw taken quickly Phillips puts the ball into Jury left top corner of the area turning on the ball releases a low strike fired into the near post, Xanthi has the angle covered. Colney Heath getting players forwards Joseph from the left sending a high ball in towards the top of the area, the clearance sliced behind for a corner on the left. Curled into the near post attacked but put wide.

Phillips getting up the pitch well to support Salter on the left causing St Margaretsbury a few problems, Stott winning the balls into the box cleared up to Westgrath plays it out to Charalambous wide left powers her way on before squaring a cross along the top of the Colney Heath box, Pryor taking a swing at it misses her kick as Gorton gets it clear. Colney Heath counter getting on in attack up the right, Fowler getting cross to challenge.

Gabrielle Charalambous on the attack for St Margaretsbury

St Margaretsbury making a change bring off Bullock sending on Billie Curtis. St Margaretsbury with a throw high on the left crossed into the box, appeals for a penalty as Joseph goes to tackle Pryor but nothing doing. A strike on the angle from distance from the middle held by Croucher.

GOAL! the mid point of the first half fast approaching Colney Heath building well through the middle, Caroline Aubery on the ball comes left lays it out wide for Phillips charging up the wing into the corner flashes a cross into the near post, Salter going in to attack the ball as Xanthi goes down for it, the attacker getting a touch with her left foot, not enough contact the ball still hanging there to hit, adjusts well getting the outside of her right boot to the ball to turn it over the line to score 0-1.

Cally Salter opening the scoring for Colney heath

St Margaretsbury look to get on down their left from the restart the ball inside for Charalambous  inside for Evans has a go from distance the shot over. The referee calling for a drinks break, is warm out there, fluids needed. Phillips getting on the the ball left side for Colney Heath as play resumes dribbling with the ball, Curtis lunging in to block her attempted pass as she looks to release Salter ahead of her.

Gorton with the ball for Colney Heath sends a diagonal pass out to Phillips breaking on down the left her cross squared in high towards the right of the D, Jury looking to meet it on the volley, gets her connection all wrong her shot blazing high. Strows on for Charalambous left side for St Margaretsbury her ross lifted into the box just over Pryor attacking the near post drops for Curtis far side, takes a swing at the ball but under pressure from Abbey Williams the defender squeezes the ball away to safety.

Colney Heath’s Holly Jury

A lively contest despite the heat Colney Heath pushing on stretching St Margaretsbury at times Oliver sending the cross field ball out to Phillips advancing on the left, pace to take the ball on before flashing a cross along the face of the St Margaretsbury goal, Salter flying in just missing it.


Williams clearing at the back for Colney Heath the ball long up to Salter 20 yards out central back to goal lays it off to her left for Simmonds who sends her strike over the crossbar. St Margaretsbury winning the ball in the middle Evans out to Strows inside to Charalambous who lays it into Pryor as she bursts into the box from the left her shot fired in low, saved by Croucher at her near post.

St Margaretsbury captain, Kelly-ann Westgrath

Westgrath taking the ball on for St Margaretsbury threads it on for Pryor up top, shifts her feet to march on into the area, Williams coming to close her down for Colney Heath. Aubery bringing the ball on through the middle takes aim, firing a shot in on goal from range, plenty of pace on the shot just not enough height to beat Xanthi, the keeper seeing the ball safely into her gloves.

Caroline Aubery strikes the ball

A nasty collision between Philips and Ahmet, the former coming off worse but ok as they both get to their feet. Simmonds seeing the ball into her feet turns to play the ball on for Simou getting on up the right her cross into the box collected by Salter near side turns puts it across goal but can’t pick anyone out.

Charalambous with the ball for St Margaretsbury with a powerful run bursting on to the by-line winning her side a corner kick. Swung in towards the near post, Oliver up well to head it clear back out to the corner taker, Swung back into the near post on the angle, Croucher calls for it and drops onto the ball.

Lauren Croucher

Colney Heath giving the ball to Phillips bombing up the left her clipped cross into the near side is misses by the on rushing Oliver, Rose getting hold of it hooks the ball out of the box, comes straight back in central, Stott intercepting and strong under pressure to get it away, Colney Heath pressing the box regain possession rolled into Simmonds right of the D turns to shoot sending the ball wide past the far post.

Late in the first half Colney Heath pressing for a 2nd goal, St Margaretsbury battling to find a reply, the ball played back to Joseph in defence, passes it back to her keeper as Pryor presses the ball, the striker looking to charge down the keeper as she goes to clear the ball top of her area strikes it against Pryor rebounding back into the box, Croucher instinctively goes to pick it up, St Margaretsbury appeal, the referee blows up and after consulting his assistant and indirect free-kick is awarded to the right of goal. A late chance for St Margaretsbury to pull a goal back shifts into Strows, moving central to unleash a shot smashes the ball wide past the far post.

Christina Xanthi

Colney Heath scrappy in the close moments of the first half the keeper missing Charalambous ball in from the left, scrambled clear, Strows adjudged to have handled the ball as she looks to get it under control top of the box.

Half-time St Margaretsbury Women 0-1 Colney Heath Ladies

  The half-time whistle blows Colney Heath putting themselves under pressure late on leading the game 1-0 thanks to Cally Salter’s goal midway through the half. Have looked strong on the attack getting players on well using the width and putting crosses into the box whilst in turn limiting the ball into Pryor in attack up the other end keeping St Margaretsbury’s top scorer quiet. Still with one goal in it the game still very much there for the taking and the result is far from settled.

Is warm out there, both sides putting a lot into the first half, the benches will play there part in the 2nd half. Colney Heath with a double switch at the start of the 2nd half with Jury and Simmonds taken off, Lacey Blake and Laura Gifford coming on. St Margaretsbury to get the 2nd half underway the ball played to the right, Colney Heath straight in to press the ball, St Margaretsbury keep possession well playing the ball on down the right winning a throw high the cross worked into the area taken cleanly by Croucher.

GOAL! Colney Heath with the ball in the middle as they turn play around fed out to Salter breaking away into the right wing sending a dangerous ball in across the top of the six yard box, Xanthi can’t reach it, but Phillips can as she meets it at the far post to turn home from close range to double the lead 0-2. 

Amy Phillips puts Colney Heath 2-0 early in the 2nd half

Colney Heath with their tails up breaking on down the left, Lacey Blake attacking firing a cross into the box, Fowler up to head the ball back out to the left, Blake lifting it back in Stott getting it away this time around for St Margaretsbury. Ahmet sends the pass out to Charalambous on the left taking the ball on strong with her run into the box before being stopped by Williams.

Gabrielle Charalambous

St Margaretsbury with the ball on through the middle by Evans for Charalambous, drives on, Williams putting in the tackle even as her keeper comes rushing out for the ball, the counter attack launched Blake on the left with Phillips the cross fired into the near post area, Salter beating the keeper to the ball sees her effort come back off the base of the post.

Phillips with the ball left, Rose tackling for St Margaretsbury the ball turned behind for a corner kick. St Margaretsbury clearing the corner, Colney Heath quick to regain possession turned out to Phillips left on for Blake on the move down the wing her crossed whipped into the near post headed away by Fowler.

GOAL! The ball with Colney heath central played into Phillips on the move left side taking the ball on power her way forwards into the box before smashing her shot low across the keeper into the bottom corner to put her side into a strong position with her 2nd of the game 0-3.

Amy Phillips celebrates her 2nd goal of the game

A blow for St Margaretsbury as they make a double change bringing off Westgrath and Ahmet, Laura Tyrell and Katrina Martin coming on. Curtis looking to attack on the left enjoying a good tussle with Simou, but gives away the free-kick this time. Salter caught offside for Colney heath as Gifford looks to release her on the right. Charalambous carrying the ball all the way into the box from the left for St Margaretsbury but hesitates before releasing a shot allowing Gorton to get a foot in on the ball, Colney Heath launching a rapid counter the ball lifted on for Blake out wide left taking the ball on surging into the area, getting a shot away under challenge runs through to the keeper.

Colney Heath defender, Maddie Gorton

Colney Heath’s turn to make a change bringing of Aubery in the middle, Molly Slade replacing her. Phillips into Blake on the left her cross whipped into the D, Salter near side bringing it down laying it off to Gifford beyond her strike, hit up high over the bar. At the mid point in the 2nd half, the third goal zapping the energy out of St Margaretsbury as they make another change, Rose coming off at the back, Megan Walker sent on as the drinks break is called.

Colney Heath’s Laura Gifford

Colney Heath making another change before play resumes, Salter the player off, on comes Olivia Corbett. The substitute out on the right playing the ball inside for Gifford, who attempts to thread a diagonal ball into Phillips attacking the area left side, Evans with a vital interception for St Margaretsbury.

Caroline Aubery holding off Chloe Ahmet

Simou opens up her body to slide the ball on for Gifford attacking down the right, taking the ball all the way to the by-line her cross is struck in across the face of goal with pace, too strong evades everyone as Corbett looks to get onto the end of it far post. Contrasting energy levels, Colney Heath with renewed energy pouring forwards, St Margaretsbury with the energy zapped out of them, Curtis still full of running however attacking left side taking on Simou once again, getting the free-kick this time around.

Colney Heath captain, Anna Simou with St Margaretsbury’s, Billie Curtis

The free-kick from the left up to the top of the area, Gorton looks to bring it away for Colney Heath, Curtis snapping in to challenge wins the ball back and puts it out to Charalambous wide left her cross dipping in central, cleared by Williams. Colney Heath straight on the counter attack Slade out to Blake powering forwards on the left her angled shot beat down by Xanthi at her near post.

Blake’s runs down the left adding to Colney Heath’s threat going forward in the 2nd half gets down into the corner before whistling a cross into the box, narrowly avoiding Corbett tracking in at the near post, runs through to Gifford central, Stott throwing herself in the way to block her shot. Colney Heath relentless getting the ball back high up the pitch, rolled into Corbett, left of the D, players the ball off the outside of her boot in towards goal, Xanthi, behind it getting down to claim.

Paige Pryor looking to attack for St Margaretsbury

 Oliver with the ball and her feet goes on a run through the middle, no challenge coming in is encouraged to go all the way, breaking into the box, setting herself up with a one on one with the keeper a Xanthi comes to close her down, Oliver shoots looking to put the ball past her, Xanthi saving with her leg, deflecting the ball behind for a corner kick. Both sides making changes as the match moves into the final 5 minutes, Charalambous coming off for St Margaretsbury with Katelyn Mulvey coming on. A double switch for Colney Heath, Phillips and Oliver taken off, Jury and Simmonds returning to the action.

Sheree Oliver

  The corner delivered into the near post from the right, St Margaretsbury defending the ball ack out wide, the shot taken on the angle, taking a deflection as it flashes wide, the resulting corner coming to nothing. Blake firing in a left wing cross to the far post, Gifford looking to get it down under control to shoot, Stott getting in the tackle to clear. Ahmet down for St Margaretsbury having picked up an injury, after treatment she needs to come off, helped to the side lines Westgrath comes back on. Slade finding Corbett on the right runs into space before sending a vicious cross in along the face of goal, Xanthi getting something on it to deny, Simmonds racing in to attack it.

  GOAL! Simmonds on the score sheet soon after as the ball won back on the left is played into her feet, the attacker taking it on, pressing inside heading for the St Margaretsbury box, Xanthi rushing out to the corner of her area to close her down, Simmonds gets her shot away sending it across the keeper to race on past her into the bottom corner 0-5.

Mia Simmonds running into the box to fire home Colney Heath’s 4th goal

 3 minutes left to play, Colney Heath  goals up not done attacking yet as Slade plays Corbett in on the right wing, takes the shot on on the angle her pacy effort, saved by Xanthi down low at her near post. Stott getting her head onto another right wing cross to concede the corner kick. Played in near side, Gorton coming for the ball can’t get it under control before Tyrell closes her down. Another corner on the right for Colney Heath, put in near side, Gifford looking to meet it knocking the ball up into the air, Simou looking to hit it on the volley sends the ball wide. 

GOAL! All Colney Heath in the closing moments of the match players up around the box the ball put across the D into, Gifford and Corbett left side from the top of the area, Corbett latches onto the ball and smashes a rising shot past the diving Xanthi inside the left post to score 0-5.

Olivia Corbett firing home Colney Heath’s 5th goal

  Into the closing seconds of the match, St Margaretsbury win themselves a corner kick on the right, Stott in the box putting the ball back out wide to the corner taker the ball fired back into the box on the angle, Williams with a vital interception with Pryor ready to pounce on it beyond her, the ball cleared up field the final whistle blowing soon after and Colney Heath celebrate as they win this season’s Chris Renshaw Cup and make it a league and cup double.

Full time St Margaretsbury Women 0-5 Colney Heath Ladies

  A dominant 2nd half from Colney Heath in the finish, piling on the pressure to score a 2nd goal early in the 2nd half, a 3rd goal coming quickly after zapping the energy out of St Margaretsbury giving them a mountain to climb, worked hard at the back, the 5-0 score line a little harsh perhaps, but no more than Colney Heath deserve for their attacking performance, came on at will at times, adding two more goals at the death to seal the win in style. Disappointment in the end for St Margaretsbury, nevertheless a strong first season in the Premier Division with a 4th placed finish and reaching the final of a cup.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Time to pick the first Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. Often a difficult decision, occasionally not however and this is one of those occasions. A few performances of note to mention first, for St Margaretsbury, Jacqueline Stott was strong at the back, called upon on a number of occasions to make vital tackles and win back the ball. Sherie Evans fighting to win possession in the middle trying to get her attackers into the game. Gabrielle Charalambous with some powerful runs on the ball running into the channels looking to create an opportunity in front of goal. Caroline Aubery and Sheree Oliver did well in the middle for Colney Heath winning the ball back and getting it forwards into their attackers quickly. Holly Jury ahead of them driving on with the ball and joining the attack. Cally Salter with some great positional play getting out wide to receive the ball and put several crosses into the box, as well as getting into the box herself composed to open the scoring in the first half. Lacey Blake making an impact on the left coming on 2nd half. The award goes to Amy Phillips who herself caused havoc on the left throughout the game getting onto the ball and driving forwards on a number of occasions, linking up well with Salter in the first half, her 2 goals early in the 2nd half, going along way to sealing the victory for Colney Heath.

Colney Heath Ladies 2023/24 Chris Renshaw Cup winners

Congratulations to Colney Heath Ladies on winning this season’s Chris Renshaw Cup.

Colney Heath Ladies also Premier Division Champions

A league and cup double for Colney Heath as they collect their award for winning the Beds & Herts Women’s Premier Division too.

  My thanks to both clubs for helping me out with the team details this morning, the celebrations moved off the pitch as the sides competing for this afternoon’s League Cup final take to the pitch a quick turn around, but just enough time to grab a bite to eat before setting up for the next one…

by Darren Gilham


Cup Final Special – Holland Ladies v Brantham Athletic Ladies

Friday 26th April

Suffolk Women’s League Cup Final

The end of season finals come thick and fast now with 3 this weekend across the East, starting with a Friday evening trip to Needham Market to watch the Suffolk Women’s League Cup Final, between, Holland Ladies and Brantham Athletic Ladies.

An accomplishment in itself to get this season’s women showpiece final even played with the league itself in doubt at the the start of the season with a new look committee working hard to hastily get thing’s organised and strive on throughout the campaign to get the games played. Under the circumstances a tremendous effort with the women’s section growing in terms of numbers a 7 strong Premiership and 14 strong Championship below with a close contest to see who will emerge out on top in both leagues. This evening the climax of the League Cup campaign.

Holland Ladies beating Woodbridge Town Ladies to win their 1st piece of silverware at the end of 2021/22 season. Woodbridge Town Ladies reaching as successive League Cup final last time out going on to beat Brantham Athletic Ladies. Now Brantham Athletic have repeated that feat knocking out Woodbridge along the way as they meet Holland in the final.

This evening’s prize.

Holland Ladies getting all the way to the League Cup final despite a tough 2nd half to the season where they have been short on players and looking to bolster their squad. Jasmine Cox a prolific goal scorer throughout her career, now player manager. Have done well despite being able to field a bare 11 at times. Retain a strong core of talented players more than capable of beating anyone on their day. Currently 4th in the league have fallen away in the title battle despite scoring plenty of goals. Cox herself the top scorer not only for her club but the league itself, way out in front with 35 goals from 15 appearances. Sennen Gregory and Charlotte Warren both have 7 apiece with captain Lauren Lucas and Charlotte Robertson on 6 each.

Brantham Athletic Ladies know what it’s like to be short on players, struggling the season before last at the wrong end of the league. Brought in Daniel Claxton in November of that season to help out with the coaching help turn their fortunes around and as they got a few more players in results started to improve and with it a run all the way to the League Cup final. 12 months on and fortunes are very different the club in a strong position at the top of the table for much of the season, defending champions Stowupland Falcons Women their fiercest rival a point behind now with the two sides having one more crucial match coming up on Tuesday evening. Have exchanged blows in the cup’s too, with Stowupland knocking Brantham Athletic out of the County Cup in the semi-finals, Brantham Athletic returning the favour in the League Cup. Another large influx of players, several with vast experience from the now folded Brettvale side have formed a new Development team this season playing in the Championship. Stacey Teager the leading goal scorer, netting 14 goals so far this season. Tarnya McKew returning after a serious injury at the end of last season, has 10 goals for Brantham. With Laura Tuley, Chloe Wilson and M’Leah Wright all with 8 goals.

Road to the Final

  Holland with a bye in the 1st Round of the League Cup. Brantham were at home taking on Championship newcomers, Coplestonians Ladies. Their captain, Lucy Dunnett on target for a hat-trick in the game with Chloe Wilson coring a brace and M’Leah Wright also on target in a 6-0 win.

 Onto the 2nd Round both sides racking up the goals. Holland away to newly Ipswich Vale Exiles Ladies newly promoted to the Premiership. Jasmine Cox finding the back of the net for 3 goals. Charlotte Warren bagging a brace too, with Megan Joy, Charlotte Robertson, Libby Batten, Olivia Dowsett and Sennen Gregory all scoring in an 11-1 victory. Brantham were taking on their new development side in the 2nd round, showed no mercy as they too won by double figures Megan Stock and M’Leah Wright scoring a brace each with goals too for Dunnett, Laura Tuley, Rebecca Prime and Sophie Crabtree final score 10-0.

  Into the quarter finals, Holland at home to Championship side, Ramsey & Mistley Ladies. Cox, Lucas and Joy all firing home a brace in another double figure win, 10-0 the final score with Warren, Gregory, Joy and Dowsett all on target too. Brantham taking on Woodbridge at home the current League Cup holders, going into the break leading 3-1, Brantham added a 4th goal in the 2nd half to reach the semi-final. Tuley bagging herself a brace with Chloe Wilson and Kirby Seward also scoring.

  The semi-finals, tighter affairs. Holland with a depleted squad for their match with just 9 available as they travelled to Championship newcomer and league challengers, Capel Plough Women. Despite their lack of numbers Holland’s quality won through with Cox on the score sheet for 2 more goals, Lucas also scoring in a 3-1 win. Brantham away taking on rivals Stowupland a single goal enough to settle it scored by Tarnya McKew to send Brantham into their 2nd successive final.

 This evening’s final being played at Needham Market FC’s Bloomfield’s ground. Have visited their to watch the women play on their 3G pitch and always though I’d like to see a game played on the grass pitch beyond. Both pitches overlooked by the The Hub, Café & Bar with a balcony on either side. The grass pitch a good size with a seated stand on one side and terracing behind one goal with viewing all round. The weather good, still after a bright but chilly day. No rain likely a few clouds around the sun beginning to set as the teams walked out onto the pitch. 

Holland Ladies

 Holland Ladies starting XI – Charlotte Warren, Alisha Blake, Rianne Dimmock, Hannah Campbell, Ellie Grafton, Lauren Lucas (C), Libby Batten, Lauren Bourne, Olivia Dowsett, Jasmine Cox & Sennen Gregory. Subs – Alison Warren.

Brantham Athletic Ladies

 Brantham Athletic Ladies starting XI – Daisy Gibbs, Aimee Berry, Merlin Watson, Shannan Hill, Kirby Seward, Lucy Dunnett (C), Rachel White, Emmi Dennett, Tarnya McKew, Chloe Wilson & Stacey Teager. Subs – Shannon Giles, Issey Bines, Rebecca Prime, Sophie Crabtree & M’Leah Wright.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

Holland with a small squad again or this evenings final naming a starting 11 plus one substitute, that a goalkeeper having kick-off in the 1st half wearing orange coloured shirts and socks with black shorts. Brantham with a full squad naming 5 on the bench lined up opposite wearing their all navy blue kit. The ball played back to Olivia Dowsett in the middle goes back to her defence, Rianne Dimmock retaining possession before giving the ball to Hannah Campbell on her right to play long up the right channel, Merlin Watson dealing with the threat for Brantham.

Brantham’s, Merlin Watson

  Watson looking to bring the ball on release Tarnya McKew on the left flank, hustled by Campbell the ball out of play for a Holland throw. taken the right played forwards into Libby Batten on the right channel looking to progress into the area, Kirby Seward across making the tackling to send the ball behind for a corner kick. The in swinging delivery headed out of the area to the right, Aimee Berry over on that side defending the resulting throw.

  Holland looking to press the ball in the Brantham half, coming back to captain Lauren Lucas she opens up her body attempting a threaded pass into the box for Sennen Gregory coming in off the left, the pass too square easily gathered by Brantham goalkeeper, Daisy Gibbs. Ellie Grafton with a strong challenge to stop Brantham launching a counter through the middle with Emmi Bennett making a run out wide on the right.

Holland’s Ellie Grafton

  Brantham win a free-kick deep on the right, captain, Lucy Dunnett to deliver in across the top of the area, met by Seward 20 yards out gets up to head the ball goal wards, an ambitious attempt, hasn’t the power or height to trouble Holland’s goalkeeper, Charlotte Warren. 

  Holland getting the ball forwards on the left side play Lauren Bourne on to attack running towards the top of the D with the ball at her feet her run stopped by Seward’s challenge. McKew getting hold of the ball on the left attacking for Brantham, holds it up well 20 yards out waiting for Watson to make the overlapping run the ball fed on for the full back into the corner she cuts it back inside to McKew inside the box left corner, turns and shoots her dipping effort played straight into the goalkeeper’s gloves.

  A competitive tussle played at a good pace, Holland looking to press Brantham on the ball, Brantham in turn aiming to stretch their attack, McKew left and Bennett right making strong attacking runs. Gregory taking the ball onto the by-line on the left attacking for Holland her cross charged down by Shannan Hill for Brantham. 

 Stacey Teager in attack through the middle for Brantham, sees the ball into her feet, held up turns well looking to play the diagonal ball in behind the defence for Bennett bursting on down the right, a little too much on the pass allowing Warren to race out to claim it. A loose pass from Rachel White 30 yards out for Brantham, sees Holland’s Gregory steal in on the ball left of the D powering her way into the area, Seward across quickly to lunge in with the challenge put it out to the left, the resulting cross/shot put over the bar.

  Chloe Wilson links up with White as the Brantham pair advance through the middle, White lining up a shot from 25 yards out, charged down by Holland’s Dimmock. Holland working hard at the back to challenge for the ball, Campbell winning it well on the right putting the pass forwards into Jasmine Cox, with a powerful drive forwards she cuts inside running across the top of the D, before getting a down shot away, lacking to pace to trouble Brantham goalkeeper, Daisy Gibbs as she drops to her left getting behind the ball.

Brantham goalkeeper, Daisy Gibbs

  Dunnett on another free-kick wide on the right sends it long beyond the far post Warren across her goal taking it on the bounce before McKew can get there, sets her side up for a rapid counter attack Cox taking it on with a determined run on the right wing squaring a pacy cross into the near post Gregory waiting for it attempting to back heel it on, Gibbs behind her pouncing onto the ball. 

  Holland pushed up in defence as Teager sees the ball into her feet off White, turns to lay the pass in behind on the right channel the flag stays down against Bennett as she breaks clear taking the ball on looking to shoot on the angle, Campbell getting across to stretch and put in the block the ball behind for a corner kick. 

 The corner played into the near post Grafton getting her head onto it for Holland clearing the ball out to the top of the area falling for McKew left of the D sees it across her striking it as she turns her chipped shot put straight at the keeper. 

 Cox out on the left now for Holland sends a diagonal ball into the area on the angle for Gregory to attack her run halted by a raised flag however. Cox receiving the squared pass across the top of Brantham’s area look to burst into the box left of goal, Brantham’s defence quickly converging on her to make sure there’s no where to go. Brantham build through the middle White on for McKew making a central run in behind, Warren alert out to the top of her area to clear the danger, the flag up against the attacker though.

  Brantham pour numbers on in attack runners into the box as Bennett charges down the right her squared cross running behind Teager at the near post, McKew out left looking to get hold of it, Campbell winning the race to take the ball clear of her area. Campbell clipping the ball on for Holland on the right looking for Gregory as she makes a run into the area from the flank, Gibbs quickly out to close the angle gather the ball into her gloves. 

  Teager combining with McKew on the left as Brantham build an attack, numbers forwards, Watson taking the ball on on the overlap her cross inside for Wilson central, Dimmock in to close her down for Holland the clearance falling to Dunnett 35 yards out, has a strong shot on her, goes for it her attempt over the bar. Likewise on her set-pieces as Brantham are awarded a free-kick right of the centre circle striking the ball on towards goal, Warren able to get across her six yard box to get hold of it.

Brantham captain, Lucy Dunnett

  Cox linking up with Dowsett in attack exchanging passes before Cox let’s fly from 30 yards out her shot driven wide a nick off a defenders boot spotted a corner given. Curled in from the left dropping near post, Brantham scramble it away back to the corner taker on the left, the return ball long past the far post. Holland getting bodies after the ball in the final third pressing the Brantham backline, pops back into the middle for Lucas, attempts to hit a shot in from range, Gibbs has it covered in the Brantham goal.

Holland captain, Lauren Lucas

  Bourne receiving the ball into her feet from 25 yards out for Holland drags it out of her feet as she lines up a shot her effort, played straight at the keeper from the right of he D. Teager with the ball at her feet looks to battle her way on through the middle knocked on for Bennett central holding it up as McKew runs across her, the pass when it comes seeing McKew flagged offside. Brantham pushing on in attack, Teager getting hold of the ball, delays her shot, allowing the defend to rush out to put in the block 20 yards out. Dunnett with another free-kick from halfway played into the box, Lucas heading clear for Holland.  

 GOAL! Brantham’s pressure in attack finally tells as they open the scoring with little more than 10 minutes left in the 1st half, White coming forwards with the ball into the left channel feeding the pass into McKew ack to goal top of the area, seeing the ball into her feet drags it to her right then turns into the strike, sending her chipped shot in on the angle over the keeper to score 0-1.

Tarnya McKew opening the scoring for Brantham.

  Holland look for a quick reply to falling a goal down, Lucas from distance with time to line up a shot, looks to hit it up and over the keeper, doesn’t get enough on it however the ball falling into Gibbs’ gloves backs up into her six yard box. Brantham get Bennett on the ball down the right winning a corner kick, put in near side defended by Lucas, Holland look to counter quickly, Cox the outlet in attack on the left drives on with the ball, Hill getting back at her to put in the tackle for Brantham. 

  Wilson passing the ball out to McKew on the left, is a competitive battle between her and Holland’s Campbell the defender close in preventing her from getting past her. Cox attacking with the ball at her feet from the left checking inside looks to play the one two with Gregory break into the box, Hill and Seward cutting off the space for Brantham.

  GOAL! Brantham’s turn to hit Holland on the counter the ball put on quickly through the middle clipped forwards to Bennett breaking in behind clear on the right channel, surging into the area smashes her shot across the keeper to find the back of the net to double the lead 0-2.

Emmi Bennett breaking on from the right flank doubling Brantham’s lead

  Holland conceding a 2nd goal late in the first half aim to get straight on the attack Grafton out to Cox on the left 30 yards out drives infield getting a shot away under challenge, the attempted tackle doing enough to take the sting out of the attackers shot see it run harmlessly through to the keeper. Bennett on the counter very nearly through on goal again from the right Warren comes rushing out to close her down can’t get hold of the ball knocked up into the air behind her, can turn and get hold of it on the bounce.

Rachel White winning the header for Brantham

Half-time Holland Ladies 0-2 Brantham Athletic Ladies

 The sides head into the changing rooms at half-time with Brantham leading the game 2-0. Getting forwards well pushing numbers on have looked to forceful up top creating chances. Holland though working hard all across the pitch to press the ball prepared to keep a high line to give their attacking players as much opportunity as they can to hustle the ball in the final third. The break through eventually coming with 10 minutes to go in the first half McKew giving Brantham the lead before Bennett broke clear to add a 2nd. The next goal if it comes you’d think has to go to Holland to keep them in the game a lot of effort put into the 1st half and without fresh legs will be interesting to see if they can keep up their determined performance in the 2nd half.

The sides as you were at the start of the 2nd half. Brantham to kick-off the 2nd half defending a 2 goal lead. Look to put the ball long on down the right, Blake dealing with it for Holland. Holland look to get the ball forwards through the middle Lucas on into Bourne right of the D, looks to drive forwards, stopped by Seward for Brantham.

Bennett bringing the ball down on the right fizzes a shot in from distance on the angles, Warren behind it to save for Holland. Holland attacking on the left pushing players on Cox through the middle now the ball back out to the left wing the cross cut back to Lucas 25 yards out sees the ball across her body opening the angle to shot, send in on target running for the bottom corner Gibbs down on her line to smother the ball.

Jasmine Cox with Lauren Lucas

Brantham find McKew on the left, Campbell in to close her down the ball out for a throw in. Controlled and played in central, Wilson with the shot fired over the crossbar. Holland looking to give it a go push Brantham back in defence Gregory playing the ball into the area for Cox to attack left side of the goal, Gibbs out to close the angle down onto the ball.

Holland winning a free-kick out wide on the left 25 yards out Bourne over it angling the ball into the near post, dropping amongst bodies, Brantham manage to scramble it away to the top of the area, Cox getting hold of it right off the D turns inside looking for the opening squeezes her shot away, doesn’t get hold of it though safely gathered by Gibbs. A lively start to the 2nd half.

Pushing on looking to attack Brantham ready to react on the counter the cross-field ball finding Bennett out on the right wing drives on down the line her cross cut back into the area with Teager hanging back to receive it top of the area, Campbell having gone with her for Holland putting in the blocking tackle.

Holland defender, Hannah Campbell

  Wilson winning the ball for Brantham centrally feeds the pass on for McKew on the left flank, Campbell a thorn in her side throughout closing in to tackle the ball quickly back with Brantham the cross field pass going out to Bennett on the right her cross/shot struck over. Holland giving it a go attacking down the right Batten with Bourne and Gregory a throw won in the corner the cross worked into the six yard box from the by-line Cox attacking it, Watson clears for Brantham.

Holland’s Libby Batten

  All action Brantham wanting a 3rd goal Wilson up to Teager, Dimmock preventing the turn back into Wilson then Seward looking to send McKew on down the left, Campbell fighting back to get possession back for Holland. Dunnett taking the ball forwards playing it on for Wilson who picks out Bennett wide right, Blake in to defend for Holland. Holland determined to push out retain a high line at times allow their forwards the opportunity to get at Brantham’s defence, Cox looking to get hold of the ball when ever she can drive forwards into the box. Seward and Hill needing to close her down.

Brantham defender, Kirby Seward

  Cox drives for the area in a race with Seward the defender getting her toe on the ball to take it behind for a corner kick. From the right taken short then back to the taker up the line to sweep the cross into the far post, Berry clearing for Brantham. Campbell aiming to send the ball back into the box with Cox pulling off the defence, Gibbs though can get hold of it first.

  Holland keeping their energy levels up pushing forwards, Berry winning the ball on for Dunnett surging on lays the ball out to Bennett on the right, held up lays it back to Dunnett 25 yards out, smashes her strike over the crossbar. 

Brantham making their first changes of the game bringing off both Watson and Bennett. Sophie Crabtree and M’Leah Wright joining the attack, Wilson dropping back into the back line on the left. Holland lay the pass out to Bourne pulling left on Wilson, taking the ball on, Seward across to support her teammate run Bourne off the ball. 


 Blake tackling for Holland as Wright looks to break forwards from McKew’s cross-field pass. Midway through a lively 2nd half both sides pressing for a goal, Warren out smartly to the edge of her area to snatch up the ball as McKew looks to run onto a diagonal ball. Holland on the attack Grafton into Lucas on for Gregory central 20 out picks out Cox to her left taking the ball on whips a pacy cross low into the six yard box, Gibbs gets down well to make the save pushing the ball out and away from Gregory closing in on the follow up. 

Holland’s Olivia Dowsett

  Campbell unfortunate to give away a handball on the left side as Brantham push players up for the set-piece. Dunnett striking the ball curls her attempt in near post, Warren across to cover the post can see it safely wide. Brantham making another change, Wilson off having gone to left back, Rebecca Prime coming on in that position. The pass clipped on for Crabtree in attack, Blake getting in a timely challenge for Holland.

  Cox laying the ball from left to right across the Brantham area, looking to pick out Batten making the run, can’t quite take the ball in her stride into the box as a defender runs across her. Dowsett laying the ball on for Cox left channel, breaking into the box her shot charged down, Gibbs onto the loose ball.

Stacey Teager

Into the final 15 minutes, Brantham can’t find the goal to put Holland to bed, their opponents giving it everything to pull a goal back. Crabtree peeling wide with the ball on the right for Brantham in attack picking out Teager central, 20 yards out, Dimmock in close making the blocking tackle. Lucas with the ball for Holland put forwards for Gregory wide left takes it to the by-line cutting the pass back up to Cox wide turns to drive into the area, attempts to pick out Bourne at the near post, Brantham snatching possession back.

Lauren Bourne

  McKew played into space on the left checks back inside to shoot from outside the area drags her effort wide of the near post. Comes off then to be replaced by Shannon Giles. Prime getting on down the left to support Teager making a run into the left wing, the ball forwards, Dimmock sliding in to play the ball out for a throw in.

  The game open Brantham counter the ball from White into Teager, almost sends Crabtree through on goal, however Warren with a good starting position top of her area is first to the ball. Another change for Brantham as White is taken off with Issey Bines joining the defence. Dimmock the last defender for Holland getting across to intercept the ball as Crabtree bursting away on the right side looks to get onto the end of Dunnett’s through ball.

Rianne Dimmock

   Prime picks up a yellow card as she looks to clips Cox’s heels as the attacker looks to drive forwards with the ball, unfortunate looked more of a tangle of legs as the defender tried to adjust her position. Cox feeling it late in the game but is up back on her feet with the clock ticking down. Bourne attempting to play Gregory into the area on the left, the attacker fouling Berry as she goes to attack the ball.

  Teager slipping as she goes to strike from distance sends her shot over. Is brought off then with McKew send back into the action with the game moving into stoppage time.

GOAL! Holland have battled on for the entire 90 minutes pushing for a goal in the 2nd half and it finally comes as Cox is played in on the left channel sliding the ball into the box for Gregory on the right she stabs the ball towards goal past the diving keeper and scores 1-2.

Sennen Gregory pulling a goal back for battling Holland late in the game

  A goal back for Holland but little time left in the game as Brantham look to keep it attacking on the right McKew fouled by Lucas a free-kick awarded. Dunnett over the ball strikes her shot over on the angle. That’s it though the final whistle blows and Brantham celebrate as they win this season’s League Cup Final.

Full time Holland Ladies 1-2 Brantham Athletic Ladies

  Two goals in the first half from McKew and Bennett enough to see Brantham win the game. A third goal wouldn’t come in the 2nd half. The game opening up as Holland fought hard to pull a goal back of their own set up a nervy finish, just came too late in the finish but a brilliant effort from the 11 on the pitch. Brantham able to rotate send on fresh legs hard to work hard at the back to keep them out and earn the win, an entertaining final. Have as big a game at home on Tuesday evening against Stowupland as they aim for a league and cup double, part one complete.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this evening’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. A tough call with both sides giving it their all for 90 minutes. Several performances of note and then I’ll probably not list all. For Holland, Jasmine Cox was the driving force for her side getting hold of the ball with some strong runs looking to find a goal. The midfield and defence pushing up well in support. Rianne Dimmock with several vital tackles while Hannah Campbell was determined to win everything throughout. For Brantham, Kirby Seward was strong in defence getting about to win her tackles. Rachel White composed in midfield getting forwards well. Stacey Teager leading the line holding the ball up well. The wide attackers causing issues throughout and it’s a straight fight between them for the award, Emmi Bennett breaking on well down the right a good outlet though out took her goal well. as did this evening’s Player of the Match, Tarnya McKew. A strong performance taking the ball on and looking to create opportunities for herself and other the entire match.


Brantham Athletic Ladies, 2023/24 Suffolk Women’s League Cup winners

  Congratulations to Brantham Athletic Ladies on winning this season’s Suffolk Women’s League Cup Final.

 An entertaining final, good to see a game on the grass at Needham Market. My thanks to both sides for there assistance with the teams details this evening much appreciated.

by Darren Gilham

Cup Final Special – Cambridge United WFC v Derby County Women

Sunday 21st April

FAWNL League Plate Final

A road trip up to Manchester this Sunday for Women’s Football East to watch the Final of the FAWNL Plate with both opponents reaching their first national final, Cambridge United WFC  from South East Division One taking on Northern Premier Division side, Derby County Women.

The FAWNL representing tiers 3 an 4 of the women’s football pyramid, with an ever growing pool of talented players an clubs wit high ambitions of reaching the Championship an WSL.  above. The league having two senior cup competition the League Cup and Plate, a determining round played at the start of the season seeing the sides from all 6 Divisions drawn against one another to ‘determine’ which competition each club will go on to compete in the winners the Cup the losing sides the Plate.

Today’s prize

Some mixed feelings about the Determining Round but on the whole positive, no one is dumped out at this stage a no loss game in some ways gives managers a great opportunity to look at their sides early on in a competitive match and make any tweaks for the forth coming campaign.

Cambridge United WFC losing 5-0 at home to Norwich in the Determining Round bounced back superbly with a 4-0 opening day league result against Haywards Heath, the clubs top scorer from the previous season netting all 4 goals! That though was to be Wiltshire’s last game for the campaign as she was pregnant with her 3rd child. A blow losing your top scorer so early in the season however Cambridge found a solution that worked superbly playing midfielder Alysha Stojko-Down in a false 9 position. Scoring crucial goals that pushed Cambridge up into the top 4 early in the season is leading scorer with 13 to her name. Chasing her down though are attackers Bella Simmons with 12 an Ruth Fox on 10 to date, all three scoring vital goals to propel Cambridge into their 1st national final.

The loss of Wiltshire not the only hurdle the club have had to deal with injuries to other keys players including new signing Fran Steele the midfielder joining from rivals Cambridge City at the start of the season. The squad responding each time whilst others have started to return from long term injuries, Harley Jean Simpson back on the score sheet against City last time out with the club in 7th looking for a top half finish with 2 league games to play. Two cup finals for the club in consecutive weekends with their new U18s side reaching the final of the Cambridgeshire Women’s Invitation Cup.

Has been quite a while since I last saw Derby County Women in action, back in the Supporting Women’s Football blog days. The East Midlands club are a long established club in the FAWNL North Premier Division. Like Cambridge reaching their first ever national final with a strong run to the final all of those matches away from home too. A good run too in the FA Women’s Cup getting through to the 4th Round Proper before eventually being knocked out by WSL side Leicester City Women. In between their cup exploits has been a mixed set of results in the league unable to put a run of results together however comfortable in 8th position in the league.

Capable of scoring goals, captain, Amy Sims is top scorer for the club this season and 2nd top scorer in the league itself netting 18 goals in 28 appearances. With Eleanor Ashton firing home 11 goals in her 26 matches. Rebecca May and Yasmin Mosby both on 7 a piece.

 Road to the Final

  Both sides away from home in the 1st Round of the League Plate, Cambridge taking on fellow South East Division One side, Actonians Ladies. Goals from defender Rachel Kosky and Alysha Stojko-own securing a 2-1 win. Derby up against Northern Division One side Doncaster Rovers Belles, a strong first half performance from the Ewes seeing them leading 4-0 thanks to goals from, Rebecca May and Maria Timms plus a brace for Marli Rhodes-Andrews. Sarah Jackson with a further goal in the 2nd half to seal a 5-0 victory.

Cambridge hosting South West Division One side, Keynsham Town Ladies in the 2nd Round, Ruth Fox scoring on the hour the sides drawing 1-1 after 90 minutes heading into extra-time. The dreaded penalty shootout looming Bella Simmons popping up to find the back of the net in the closing minutes of the extra period to send Cambridge onto the quarter finals. Derby travelling to play Midlands Division One side Northampton Town Women in the 2nd Round. Kira Rai firing in an 8th minute goal a further goal on45 minutes from Amy Sims saw Derby leading 2-1 at the break. Yasmin Mosby extending Derby’s lead early in the 2n half, Megan Tinsley and Ashton both on target in the 2nd half powering Derby to a 5-2 win.

Into the quarter finals Cambridge had to wait a bi before eventually travelling down to play Maidenhead United Ladies in their quarter final tie. A single goal enough to beat the South West Division One side, score by Stojko-Down to send them into the last 4. Derby taking on another Midlands Division One side in their quarter final tie travelling to play Sutton Coldfield Town Women. A 1st half half-trick from Amy Sims securing a 3-0 lead at half-time. Rebecca May adding a 4th in the 80th minute with Kira Ria securing a 5-0 win in stoppage time to send the club into the last 4.

Cambridge with a tough test at home in their semi-final contest taking on Division One North title hopefuls, Barnsley WFC. A good start for Cambridge as Rachel Kosky headed them into an early lead. Alayna Millard getting Barnsley back on level terms 1-1 at half-time the visitors came out strong at the start of the 2nd half looking to find a goal, Cambridge held firm breaking to retake the lead themselves through Bella Simmons. Ruth Fox coming off the bench to make it 3-1 with 15 minutes left. Jodie Michalska getting one more back for Barnsley but Cambridge held on to reach their first national final. A tough test for Derby too as they travelled to the South West coast to take on Exeter City WFC pushing for the South West Division one title. The hosts taking the lead on the half hour, Derby responded well firing in twice late in the half through, Eleanor Ashton and Charlotte Steggles to lead 2-1 at the beak. An own goal extending Derby’s lead early in the 2nd half Exeter pulled it back to 3-2 before Camilla Jenkins scored with 10 minutes to go to send Derby into their first national final with a 4-2 win.

Broadhurst Park the venue for todays final home of FC United of Manchester, their women’s team competing in the FAWNL. Hosting both the Reserve League Cup and Plate finals the day before. Both games ended 4-3! Oxford United WFC Development beating AFC Bournemouth Development to lift the Reserve Cup. Liverpool Feds Reserves beating Peterborough United Women U23s to win the Reserve Plate. A few fans expressing their dismay at the final venue with Manchester announced a good trek for 5 out of the 6 weekend finalists. Was booked before the announcement however just unfortunate it be announced after the finalists were confirmed. Think the sooner a venue can be announced for a final the better people know the score then and will accept it better. The FAWNL itself having a transitional period this season itself with the previous committee volunteers stepping down and the FA taking on the leagues. That all said, Broadhurst Park is an impressive looking stadium One large seated stand on entry housing all the facilities the press area outside the large hospitality area. The grass pitch with standing viewing on the opposite side and behind one goal with a terraced stand behind the other.

 I like the Cambridge United WFC squad opting to travel up to Manchester on the Saturday stay overnight. Derby a little closer travelling up on the day of the final itself. The weather absolutely perfect for a cup final, an we haven’t been able to say that much recently. Warm in the sun, no wind or rain in the forecast. A little cool in the shade fancied a spot in the sun on the opposite side of the main stand to take my notes as the teams headed out onto the pitch t begin the game.

Cambridge United WFC

Cambridge United WFC starting XI – Lauren Webb, Lauren Rouse Abbie Jackson (C), Brooklyn Cheal-Ferris. Rachel Kosky, Ella Marden, Sammy Edgar, Serena Cobb, Ruth Fox, Bella Simmons & Alysha Stojko-Down. Subs – Sophie Marjoram, Gisella Otten, Harley-Jean Simpson & Charlotte Gillies.

Derby County Women

 Derby County Women starting XI – Sarah Morgan, Camille Jenkins, Sarah Jackson, Charlotte Steggles, Emily Joyce, Emelia Wilson, Amy Sims (C), Hannah Ward, Kira Rai, Rebecca May & Eleanor Ashton. Subs – Anna Draper, Marli Rhodes-Andrews, Helena Meadow, Isabel Sheridan & Eve Shepherd.

Captains. Amy Sims and Abbie Jackson with todays Plate final officials

The pre-match formalities complete the captains meeting today’s officials to decide kick-off. Cambridge’s poor luck with injuries continuing into the final, with Zoe Wood not available, a new signing at the start of the season has been highly influential in games. Regular captain Gisela Otten on the bench, Abbie Jackson donning the armband for today’s Plate final as Cambridge prepare to kick off the 1st half, wearing amber coloured shirts with black shorts and socks. Derby lined up opposite wearing white coloured shirts and socks with black shorts. The ball rolled back to Sammy Edgar in midfield her pass clipped out to the right channel with Ruth Fox and Rachel Kosky bombing forwards, Camille Jenkins dealing with the ball for Derby cleared into midfield helped on out to the right Hannah Ward playing it forwards, Lauren Webb in goal for Cambridge gathering up the ball.

  Cambridge pushing on looking to press the Derby defence on the ball, regaining possession Derby put the ball long for captain, Amy Sims bursting on through the middle, Cambridge’s captain, Abbie Jackson intercepting the ball at the back seeing it back for her keeper to clear. Eleanor Ashton plays the ball across the pitch picking out Kira Rai out on the left combining with Rebecca Day taking the ball all the way to the by-line fires the cross low into the six yard box, cut out by Abbie Jackson and cleared. 

Cambridge captain, Abbie Jackson

  Derby given time on the ball at the back, Sarah Jackson n the right of defence with time to pick a pass looks to send the ball up into the left channel, Lauren Rouse heading it away for Cambridge. The game settling down Cambridge looking to drop back as a unit defend their area, inviting Derby on, look for the opening to counter. Emelia Wilson sending the ball out to Ward on Derby’s right flank plays it down the line for Sims breaking forwards, her attempted cross, blocked by Cambridge’s Brooklyn Cheal-Ferris out for a Derby throw in.

Derby’s Emilia Wilson

  Ward strong to win the ball for Derby on the right, has Ashton across with her the ball down the line crossed into the packed area cleared by Abbie Jackson, back to the right, Derby keeping the pressure on Ashton putting it back into the mix, Kosky throwing herself into the challenge for Cambridge, the ball loose in the area Derby seeing two shots blocked at close range before being turned wide for a goal kick. Serena Cobb winning the challenge for Cambridge looks to release Stojko-Down, Derby quick to get players around her crowd her off the ball.

  Derby’s midfielders taking the ball on with so forceful runs adding to the team pressure, Emily Joyce, coming right onto Ward, Alysha Stojko-Down tracking back to tackle for Cambridge. Sims with the ball at her feet pushing on central looks to lift it on for Ashton up top, Abbie Jackson close on her 20 yards out getting their first to clear for Cambridge. 

Eleanor Ashton

  Derby with time on the ball at the back the defence looking for options and have plenty of movement up top, Ward and Rai keeping wide, runners through the middle, Sarah Jackson clipping the diagonal ball in towards the top of the D with Sims making the run, lets the ball drop over her shoulder getting hold of it as it lands to chip, her snap shot racing wide of the left post.

  Winning the ball at the back Abbie Jackson for Cambridge releases Ella Marden into space on the left wing, taking the ball on Derby a coming to close her early cross cut out deflected back to goalkeeper Sarah Morgan. Cambridge are working hard to keep in compact inviting Derby on at times. Sarah Jackson taking the ball on down the right flashing a cross into the near post, Sims arriving to meet it driving her header wide. 

Amy Sims tackled by Cambridge’s Brooklyn Cheal-Ferris, Serena Cobb getting round to clear the ball

 15 minutes played Derby piling on the pressure, Abbie Jackson in to win another ball lifted forwards into the box, Cambridge can’t get hold of it, Derby straight back on the attack, Sims through the middle playing the pass out to the left for Rai to attack the by-line her cross cut back to the top of the area, Wilson looking to hit her shot 1st time can’t keep her effort down sends it over the bar.

Kira Rai on the attack for Derby

  Sims fouled by Edgar on the right Derby with a free-kick 30 yards out, Day effort hitting the Cambridge wall. Webb sending the ball on won well by Stojko-Down central puts Marden away on the left a rare attack for Cambridge, brings them a corner as Marden’s cross is deflected off Ward. The delivery played long through the area to the far post attacked by Abbie Jackson her attempt glanced wide. 

  Rouse winning the ball as she goes in to close Rai down inside the left channel as Sarah Jackson puts her diagonal ball into her. Derby pushing on Cambridge dropping off it is limited the latter’s chances to get the ball into their attackers, Bella Simmons and Stojko-Down having a lot of work to do as they try and get hold of the ball quickly closed down by Derby’s defenders, Charlotte Steggles reading the game at the back cutting those chances further.

Derby defender Charlotte Steggles

  Day on for Rai out on the left to the by-line her crossed whipped into the area, intercepted by Cheal-Ferris, before a 30 yard shot is charged down. The midway of the first half fast approaching Derby come forwards Sims playing a neat triangle with Ward and Ashton the ball crossed into the Cambridge box, Webb getting her gloves wrapped around the ball. Cambridge continue to work hard at the back, succeeding in slowing Derby’s tempo down.

  Stojko-Down getting the ball down for Cambridge inside the Derby half finds Simmons, she is closed down by Steggles, Cambridge have got players up to support as Kosky is played on down the right flank charging forwards her cross turned behind for a corner kick. An in swinging delivery from the right, Morgan is called into action getting up with her fist to turn the ball away from under her crossbar to drop beyond the far post Cambridge with a 2nd corner. 

 Derby with possession at the back Sarah Jackson on the left looking up playing the diagonal ball into the area looking t pick out Wilson getting forwards, Rouse looking to challenge in a packed box, the two come together Rouse knocked to the ground laying prone on the floor as the shot is stabbed forwards, strikes the defenders arm, the referee immediately pointing to the spot Penalty! Looked a harsh call little the defender could down about it her arm outstretched from the fall but the call has been made, an opportunity for Derby to take the lead from the spot.

 GOAL! Ashton placing the ball on the spot to take the penalty for Derby cool as you like, as she sends Webb the wrong way and smashes the rising back onto the left side of the goal to give her side the lead on the half hour 0-1.

Eleanor Ashton fires home the penalty

   The Derby pressure paying off a set back for Cambridge, battling for the ball can’t make it stick up top. Sarah Jackson up on the right the ball on for Sims pulling wide , Abbie Jackson intercepting well for Cambridge. Fox getting the ball on for Kosky bursting down the right for Cambridge, Jenkins defending for Derby. Cambridge with a throw in the right played inside to Cobb turning to attack the area left of the D, her shot charged down, the loose ball coming to Ward on the right gets Derby on the move with a rapid counter forwards for Ashton to flash a cross into the Cambridge six yard box, Joyce looking to meet it just evades her head as races wide to be cleared by Rouse on the far side.

Emily Joyce

  Sims lively with the ball at her feet in the heart of the action for Derby seeing the ball into her 20 yards out looks to roll her marker track inside to shoot, Cheal-Ferris staying on her well to win the tackle for Cambridge. Rai picking up the first yellow card of the game as she brings down Rouse. Abbie Jackson on the free-kick played up the right drops for Fox to strike on the angle a vicious effort that races past the far post. 

  Ashton driving on through the middle with the ball, is stopped by Abbie Jackson. A change for Derby, Day having received treatment coming off in the 44th minute to be replaced by Marli Rhodes-Andrews. 

 GOAL! Derby looking to finish the first half strong attacking down the right another neat triangle between Sims, Ward and Ashton the latter pushing down the wing firing a low driven cross into the six yard box, goalkeeper Webb down sharply looking to stop it, but can’t get hold of it palming it out beyond her to the left, it’s Sims racing into the area who is first to it turning the ball into the back of the net to double Derby’s lead 0-2.

Captain, Amy Sims firing Derby into a 2-0 lead

  Into first half stoppage tie Edgar finds Stojko-Down who sends the pass on for Simmons pushing into the right channel, the Derby defence back en masse to force her off the ball. Launch a counter attack the ball played out to Ward on the right her ball into the area defended by Abbie Jackson under pressure from Ashton, gets it back to her keeper to clear.

  Half-time Cambridge United Women 0-2 Derby County Women

  A blow for Cambridge conceding a 2nd goal so late in the first half, no more than Derby deserve however for all their attacking play. Creating numerous chances putting the Cambridge back line under pressure. Still having worked so hard at the back Cambridge will fell hard down by conceding a harsh penalty, Derby getting a 2 goal cushion will need to come out more in the 2nd half if they want to get back into the game, that will open up further gaps for Derby to exploit. 

  A presentation at half-time for Derby County Women’s Reserves side winning the FAWNL Reserve Midland Division. going the entire season unbeaten in the league a tremendous achievement, well done to all. 

  Derby to get the 2nd half under way, no changes for either side, Rhodes-Andrews a late substitute for Derby in the first half. Cambridge looking to press the defence Derby break forwards Sims playing the ball on for Sarah Jackson to bomb forwards her cross, intercepted by Edgar for Cambridge. 

Fox up on the right with Kosky gets the ball out to her, looking to receive the return ball in behind, Steggles defends for Derby. Cambridge showing more attacking intent at the start of the 2nd period, Rouse winning the ball high on for Kosky with Simmons puling wide looking to attack the corner, Jenkins tackling for Derby conceding the throw in. 

Camille Jenkins

 A more open feel to the 2nd half Cambridge getting on down their left the early cross, cut out by Jenkins in the Derby defence. Rai taking the ball inside with a forceful run before getting up ended taking a knock in the process. Ashton picked out on Derby’s right taking the ball on cutting the cross back to Wilson positioned top of the area right of the D, opens up her body leaning into the shot, fires her effort wide of the left upright.

  Sims threatening to catch, Webb in possession in the box charging her kick down, the ball looping up into the air though favours the goalkeeper as Webb can turn see it safely down into her gloves. 

Cambridge’s Ruth Fox

  Fox getting hold of the ball for Cambridge pushing on before being fouled on the left 30 yards out. Curled into the box across the penalty area, both Simmons and Abbie Jackson making a move for it, a raised flag from the official halting the attack. Cambridge seeing more of the ball now, that though has opened things up Derby looking for the right opportunity to counter. 

 Fox into Kosky as Cambridge get on down the right, Simmons making a run for Kosky, Jenkins cutting the pass out at the back for Derby. Rhodes-Andrews playing the ball on for Rai her cross intercepted by Edgar for Cambridge. Fox and Kosky linking up well for Cambridge, keeping Jenkins busy for Derby as she cuts out another pass intended for Simmons. 

Cambridge’s Sammy Edgar

  Cobb goes into the book after an over zealous challenge on Rai. Cambridge making a change in the 50th minute, bringing off Simmons, send on Harley-Jean Simpson. Rai taking the ball inside her pass over hit. Sims sends it out to Sarah Jackson free out right, laying the ball on down the line for Sims to attack, races after it but can only succeed in keeping it in play, the Cambridge defence clearing.

Sarah Jackson

  Marden getting onto the ball up the left for Cambridge attempting to thread the pass into the box for Simpson to attack, Morgan saving getting down to grab the ball before Simpson can pounce.

  Sims on the ball running infield for Derby playing a one two with Ward looking for the return ball inside the box, Webb down to claim it at her feet for Cambridge. Cobb with Edgar the ball played up to Stojko-Down inside the box, can’t quite feet as she is closed down, Morgan rushing onto the loose ball before Simpson can get there. 

 Derby making their 2nd change bringing on Helena Meadows to replace Rai. Rhodes-Andrews taking the ball on moving central left to right before unleashing a shot from 25 yards out her attempt fired wide of the left post. Derby winning a free-kick out wide right the delivery from Sarah Jackson fired into the near post, attacked well by Sims, heading her effort into the ground it bounces wide of the mark. 

Derby’s Marli Rhodes-Andrews

 20 minutes left to play the game remains at 2-0, derby looking to finish Cambridge off, Cambridge in turn looking for a goal to get themselves back into the match. Sims lining up a strike from all of 30 yards, put straight at Webb. Edgar winning the ball for Cambridge sending Fox on down the left, knocking the ball on her touch a little heavy giving Sarah Jackson the time needed to stretch and put the ball out for a throw.

Cambridge’s Rachel Kosky

  Cambridge from the throw working a cross into the six yard box, intercepted by Jenkins a vital touch with Simpson lurking ready to attack it. Kosky playing the ball on for Cobb coming to support on the right forwards for Simpson in attack, Jenkins cutting the pass out for Derby. looks to carry the ball out from the back forwards up to Ward, up the left, Rouse in to defend for Cambridge the ball out for a throw.

  Derby making another change bringing off Ashton, sending on Isabel Sheridan as the game moves into the last 15 minutes. Meadows attacking on the right with the ball for Derby her cross defended turned behind for a corner.  A dangerous delivery curled in on goal Webb saving well getting a glove on the ball to turn it onto the roof of her net for a 2nd corner. Again played in from the right, Webb up well with a confident claim.

Lauren Webb up to make the save for Cambridge

  Fox taking the ball on for Cambridge looking for Stojko-Down with the pass into the channel, Joyce intercepts for Derby. Simpson takes a blow as she and Sims come together in the middle. Needing lengthy treatment she is unable to continue, Cambridge bringing on Gisela Otten, with a little over 5 minutes plus stoppages left to play. Play resuming Rouse on the left forwards for Fox, Jenkins in to win the ball back for Derby. Ward on the left pulling wide for Derby delivering a cross into the box, cleared by Abbie Jackson.

  GOAL! And what a goal too! Derby on the attack the ball on the right coming into Joyce all of 30 yards out to the right of the area, hits an absolute thunderbolt rifling her shot past the diving Webb into the top corner, a beauty of a strike and doesn’t Joyce know it as she screams in celebration her goal sealing the win for Derby 0-3! Joyce’s first goal of the season too!

Derby celebrate as Emily Joyce makes it 3-0 with a beautiful strike

 Cambridge respond with a change bringing on Charlotte Gillies to replace Marden. Otten sends the ball forwards up to Stojko-Down puling to the right strikes it on the half volley the ball taking a nick off a defenders boot landing on the roof of the net a corner awarded. Curled in from the right under the bar, Morgan gets a glove up to punch in away to the left inadvertently catching her own player in the face in the process, play stopped but everything’s OK.

 Into added time Derby with a free-kick forwards to Ward on the left drives on before blasting her angled shot into the side netting. Derby bringing on Eve Shepperd late on to replace Sarah Jackson. Winning a free-kick 30 yards out. Rhodes-Andrews has to crack on goal her shot curled wide.

derby keeping the ball well in the latter stages Ward sending Jenkins on on the overlap down the left the cross, cleared by Edgar for Cambridge. The final whistle blows and it’s Derby celebrating winning their first national trophy.

Full time Cambridge United Women 0-3 Derby County Women 

  A strong performance from Derby to see them win the FAWNL Plate beating Cambridge 3-0 in the finish a thunderbolt from Emily Joyce sealing the victory after a powerful first half attack saw them leading 2-0 at the break. Cambridge working hard all through the first half to keep Derby at bay needed to come out and attack more 2nd half, the game opened up and chances fell to both sides. Cambridge couldn’t find the goal to haul themselves back into it, but can nevertheless be proud of their performance and having reached their first national final themselves should make them hungry for more. 

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. As is more often the case than not is a tough call and I am going to disagree with the PoM on the day. But that is the advantage of writing copious notes. Of course a few performances to mention first. For Cambridge, Abbie Jackson was the standout player wearing the captains armband rose to the challenge making several vital tackles and interceptions at the back. Rachel Kosky looked to get on down the right create opportunities. Ruth Fox with some useful attacking runs came close to finding a goal. The team as a whole battled hard throughout. Derby came on at will at times, but had to remain cautious in defence, Camille Jenkins won a fair share of her challenges and proved difficult to get through. Kira Rai was a threat down the left getting in some dangerous crosses. Emelia Wilson with some excellent midfield runs get into some great positions. Sarah Jackson used the ball well playing some useful balls into the box. Emily Joyce with a strong performance in the middle, scored a wonderful goal. The award though goes to Derby’s captain. Amy Sims drove her team forwards on a number of occasions, bringing the ball on through the middle or linking up out wide to set up opportunities for herself and others inside the box.

 Congratulations to Derby County Women on winning this season’s FAWNL Plate.


2023/24 FAWNL Plate winners Derby County Women

  An enjoyable trip to Manchester, an entertaining final. My thanks to the FAWNL staff and staff at FC United of Manchester for all there hospitality and assistance this afternoon. Much appreciated as always. The finals come thick and fast now off to Suffolk on Friday evening before a cup double from Cambridgeshire next weekend, best time of the season though.

by Darren Gilham

Match Report – Chelmsford City Women v Colchester United Women

Sunday 14th April

Essex Women’s League Cup

A road trip down into Essex this Sunday to take on one of the semi-finals from this season’s Essex Women’s League Cup with Premier Division leaders, Chelmsford City Women taking on the leaders of Division Two, newcomers Colchester United Women.

An intriguing line-up in the last 4 of the League Cup with just one Premier Division side left along with the league leaders of Division One and Two and Sudbury Sports Women also new to the league this season 2nd in Division Two away to Southminster United Ladies top of Division one and aiming to go one better than last season where they finished runners-up in the competition. 

 Chelmsford City Women won the League Cup in 2022 as they narrowly missed out on the Premier Division title. Have always been up and around the top of the league but frustratingly not quite win the title, the long standing ambition for the club, Chelmsford are in a strong position this time around to go all the way leading the Premier Division table by 7 points with 4 games left to play. A league and cup double very much on the cards however they face a strong test today in their semi-final. 

Welcoming back players from injury and making some additions to the squad Chelmsford have lost just the one league game so far this season, winning 11 of their 14 matches. Jay Blackie a prominent new addition to the side brings a wealth of experience to the side having played in the FAWNL. Is top scorer so far this season with 12 goals from 14 appearances. With Kaci Crook scoring 8 and Ellie Dopson on 7 goals. Recently welcomed back captain, Gaby Freedman from a long term injury, in part documented in a new film released recently on You Tube called False9 revealing a portrait of what a women’s football club at grassroots level goes through just to play the game they love. Well worth a watch can be viewed at the following link :- 

Colchester welcome back a women’s football side having featured in the ERWFL before the women’s side is now fully part of the Colchester United family and looking to become a force within Essex once more. Have certainly made an impact with big ambitions have built up a strong squad bringing in players with plenty of experience playing at regional level and beyond along with a crop of talented youngsters. Entering the league in Division Two have certainly proved that by winning all of their league matches to date 15 from and scoring plenty of goals along the way.

  A goal difference of 110 tells it’s own story have yet to concede double figures with no less than 8 players into double figures for the season. Ruby Greenleaf clear at the top as leading goal scorer netting 23 goals so far from 12 games. Ella Cahill has 17 from her 14 appearances with, Emily Agar, Kenza Chieowit-Munns, Hayleigh Jenkins, Ruby Vinton, Niamh Gamble and Lindsey Morgan the others into double digits. A league and cup double also within their sights have knocked out two other sides from the Premier Division on route to the semi-finals.

 The Melbourne Stadium the venue for today’s semi-final, home of Chelmsford City FC along with the Chelmsford Sports and Athletics centre, the grass pitch surrounded by a running track with a large seated stand on one side with seating opposite and viewing behind the goals. The clubhouse and function room leading into the stadium with a bar offering hot food and drinks. At long last a rather nice pleasant day for football with no rain around, nor the wind that persisted last weekend. Bright and sunny.

Chelmsford City Women

 Chelmsford City Women starting XI – Hannah Streetley, Kaylee Shurety, Shannon Kelly, Brogan Lambert, Mia Brisley, Rosie Coe (C), Helen Alder, Jay Blackie, Ellie Dopson, Kaci Crook & Broghan Kelly. Subs – Holly Richards Beth Morrell, Georgia Sleep, Emma Rushen & Michaela Iley. 

Colchester United Women

 Colchester United Women starting XI – Jamie Newstead, Sophie Farrow, Karys Paton, Deben Howlett, Niamh Gamble, Cassie Craddock-Ball (C), Thalia Adams, Emily Ager, Ruby Vinton, Lindsey Morgan & Ella Cahill. Subs – Ruby Greenleaf, Hayleigh Jenkins, Rosa Devall, Leah Pope & Jodie Morgan.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

Captain’s Cassie Craddock-Ball and Rosie Coe with today’s match officials

  It’s the visitors Colchester to get today’s semi-final underway kicking off the 1st half wearing yellow coloured shirts with blue shorts and blue and yellow hooped socks, with Chelmsford lined up opposite in their all claret strip. The ball played back into the defence as Chelmsford rush forward to press the ball played from right to left across the ball, Sophie Farrow’s ball forwards charged down out of play for a throw in.

  Chelmsford pressing early on looking to get after the ball in the final 3rd Broghan Kelly in attack hooking the ball forwards, for Kaci Crook to attack racing on to the by-line forces Colchester into clearing for a throw in the corner, to the left the cross driven in behind at the near post. 

Chelmsford’s Broghan Kelly with Colchester’s Thalia Adams

  Broghan Kelly looking to hold the ball up high on the left is bundled over, giving the hosts a free-kick. Players up into the area as Mia Brisley prepares to play the ball, floated in beyond the far post knocked down  back into the six yard box, Colchester goalkeeper, Jamie Newstead able to gather cleanly, unopposed.

  Chelmsford captain Rosie Coe winning the ball in the middle, linking up with Jay Blackie the ball fed out to the right for Ellie Dopson to attack, racing up the wing her low cross is cut out by Niamh Gamble at the back for Colchester. Competitive in the middle, Colchester captain Cassie Craddock-Ball combining with Thalia Adams bringing the ball on the diagonal ball finding Ruby Vinton on the move down the left flank her early cross into the area intercepted by Brisley. 

Colchester captain, Cassie Craddock-Ball

 Helen Alder getting hold of the ball in the final third for Chelmsford through the middle looking to play Crook on right channel, Gamble getting her foot on the ball. Vinton powering down the left wing for Colchester taking the ball to the by-line, Chelmsford’s Brogan Lambert tracking back to defend preventing the cross forcing Vinton back up the line to attempt to angle a cross into the box, her effort catching Lindsey Morgan straying offside through the middle.

  Vinton looking to cause Chelmsford issues out on the left wing taking the ball on checks inside, Brisley stepping out of the back line to close her down. Alder, Coe and Blackie with a slick move through the middle for Chelmsford the ball passed forwards to Dopson on the right, Farrow putting in the challenge for Colchester to deny the cross.

  The game played at a quick tempo a good contest shaping up, Chelmsford wining the ball high on the left, Broghan Kelly holding it up as Alder moves left the pair attempting a one two, Kelly’s return ball into the box a little too strong Newstead out of her six yard box to gather. 

Chelmsford’s Helen Alder

 GOAL! Colchester’s turn to press the ball in the final third, Emily Ager on the right closing down Shannon Kelly as she looks to bring the ball forwards, Ager stealing the ball nipping inside threading a perfect pass into Ella Cahill inside the D back to goal turns well left of goal and inside the area slots her shot under the advancing keeper into the back of the net to put the visitors into the lead 0-1. 

Ella Cahill opens the scoring for Colchester

 Colchester into the lead just past the 15 minute mark, win the ball back from the restart, Morgan getting onto the ball through the middle laying it on for Cahill, Brisley quickly in to close the attacker down. Chelmsford winning a free-kick out wide on the right, sent into the box from the angle, is a straight forward catch for Newstead. 

GOAL! Chelmsford quickly back on level terms with a goal from back to front as goalkeeper Hannah Streetley plays the ball up into midfield, Adler in space brings it down well and quickly releases it forwards into the path of Crook breaking into the right channel 20 yards out lifts the ball over the keeper as she comes rushing out to equalise 1-1.

Kaci Crook celebrating the equaliser for Chelmsford

  Colchester making a change, Farrow picking up an injury needing to come off for treatment, replaced by Leah Pope. Brisley coming across to the right of her defence to deal with Vinton as she gets in behind on the wing. Broghan Kelly getting hold of the ball moving left 25 yards out turns and let’s fly, her shot blocked by Colchester’s Karys Paton. Brisley hauls down Cahill on halfway presenting Colchester with a free-kick, a teasing ball played into the area, Dopson taking no chances conceding the corner kick Fired in towards the near post, Streetley stooping amongst bodies taking a knock in the process punching the ball clear. After being checked over is alright to continue.

Chelmsford goalkeeper Hannah Streetley

   Alder covering a lot of ground for Chelmsford in the middle getting out to the left looking to curl a cross into the area, cleared by Howlett for Colchester. Morgan in possession in the right corner for Colchester looks for the corner and gets it. Played in across the top of the area, Coe wins the header for Chelmsford the ball cleared up field the hosts looking to launch a quick counter, Pope preventing it at the back for the visitors.

  Shannon Kelly taking the ball on up the left for Chelmsford has support with Broghan Kelly and Alder showing for the ball into Broghan Kelly sends it on for Alder out wide, Paton moving in to defend for Colchester the ball sent out for a throw in. In the corner dropped into Broghan Kelly put back into Shannon Kelly to cross her looping ball played into the area, Dopson can’t get any control on her header knocked up into the area, Howlett putting it clear.

  The visitors spring a counter attack the ball from Morgan out to Vinton up on the left has Cahill with her, Brisley closing the latter down to intercept the ball. Chelmsford content to play a high line at time, works as they catch Morgan straying offside as Cahill looks to play her on. Gamble winning the ball well at the back for Colchester driving forwards into the midfield before attempting to thread it through the defence, Cahill though caught offside.

Colchester’s Lindsey Morgan

  Pretty even both sides competing for the ball looking to get on in attack. Broghan Kelly putting herself about up top for Chelmsford charging down the ball, but can’t keep the rebound in play. Blackie sending the header on for Broghan Kelly to attack racing after it towards the top of the area, Newstead out quickly alert to the threat clearing the ball. A nasty clash of heads between Howlett and Broghan Kelly as they jump for the ball. Both groggy for a moment time taken to see they are okay before the game can continue. 

  Gamble playing the ball out for Vinton wide on the left for Colchester fires the pass inside to Cahill left of the D, closely marked turns to play the ball across the top of the area into Morgan, no shot on lays to back to Paton coming on into space on the right, the full back clipping a looping ball back into the area. Streetley comfortable taking the catch on the bounce.

Colchester defender, Karys Paton

  Craddock-Ball putting the ball on for Pope who sends it forwards for Cahill to attack, Streetley racing out of her box, her clearance sliced out to the right Ager collecting it for a moment the goal is exposed but as Chelmsford quickly regroup at the ball the option isn’t taken instead Ager has Morgan pulling wide right giving her the ball Morgan ends her cross/shot racing wide of the far post. 

 Colchester with a burst late in the first half Morgan flicking the ball on for Ager, right Shannon Kelly defending for Chelmsford. The hosts with a free-kick in the closing stages of the first half Brisley over it wide on the right, not a bad effort her strike over the bar.

Half-time Chelmsford City Women 1-1 Colchester United Women

  All square at the break as Colchester head back into the changing roos, Chelmsford opting to stay out on the pitch for their half-time team talk. All in all a pretty eve contest, both sides competing for the ball, looking to get it forwards use the wide areas run at the defence. Chelmsford making a strong start before Colchester grew into the game and broke forwards to take the lead just past the quarter hour mark. Chelmsford with a quick reply getting the ball on quickly to score the equaliser. Chances few between both sides working hard at the back to limit balls into the area, beautifully poised for the 2nd half.

  Chelmsford making a change at the start of the 2nd half Beth Morrell coming on at the back to replace Lambert. Colchester unchanged as the hosts get proceedings underway in the 2nd period. The ball fed out to the right early on won well by Colchester’s Pope. Broghan Kelly moving out to the right to receive the ball fouled b Gamble 3 yards out. Picks herself up to take the free-kick herself, played into the top of the area, Chelmsford see a couple of shots blocked before the ball pops up to Blackie right of the D, looks to power her header on into towards goal, Newstead can claim it before any runner can interfere. 

  Chelmsford aiming to make a strong start to the 2nd half impose themselves on the game, Blackie and Alder in to win the ball, Kelly playing a cross into the six yard box, Newstead grabbing hold of the ball before Crook can pounce. 

Lindsey Morgan with Kaylee Shurety

 Morgan getting about the pitch looking to influence the game for Colchester in the final third moving to the wide her initial cross cut out by Brisley, comes back to her has Cahill in support feeding her the ball Cahill brings her side a corner kick. Played in to the top of the area comes back to Craddock-Ball 25 yards out right of the D, strikes the ball, a venomous strike over the crossbar… but not by much!

Chelmsford’s Beth Morrell

  Pope bringing the ball on for Colchester forwards into Vinton, powering on up the left whipping a cross in close to goal, Streetley getting down well to claim back on her line. Morgan and Blackie are two experienced campaigners one teammates know each others game well, getting stuck into the task of winning the ball, Blackie feeling it as the pair clash but no harm done.

Colchester’s Emily Ager


  Morrell getting her foot in to take the ball off Vinton’s toes as the winger looks to drive forwards on the flank. Very competitive both sides up for it

GOAL! Both sides pushing for a goal, Colchester attack on the left Morgan up with Vinton to close the ball down Vinton setting Morgan on her way wide in behind the defence, unable to close her down the cross is fired in across the six yard box, Streetley can’t quite reach it as it skips through to Cahill chasing in at the far post to attack the ball and put in over the line from close range 1-2.

Ella Cahill with her 2nd of the game putting Colchester back into the lead her teammates celebrating acknowledging the cross from Morgan

  Colchester back into the lead on 58 minutes. A blow for Chelmsford falling behind once again, straight on thee attack a burst of pace from Broghan Kelly on the right side checking inside from 25 yards out to curl and effort in on goal, caught well just evades the top corner as it flashes wide. 

Chelmsford striker, Broghan Kelly

  Chelmsford up on the left the ball running back for Blackie to strike on the angle, all of 30 yards out the strike racing wide past the far post. The game opening up Adams playing the ball out to Vinton on the move up the left wing her cross squared in along the top of the Chelmsford area Cahill looking to roll it on for Ager attacking right, Shannon Kelly making the tackle for the hosts.

Chelmsford’s Shannon Kelly

  Vinton with a give and go with Cahill as the attacker breaks out to the left Vinton driving in central looking for the return ball, Coe back to intercept and clear the threat for Chelmsford. A change at the back for Colchester with Paton coming off, Farrow returning to the action sees Pope switch over to the right of defence. Coe heading the ball on for Blackie through the centre attempts to play Broghan Kelly in behind, the attacker just straying offside as the Colchester defence holds it’s line.

  Vinton bursting away on the left crossing into the area aiming for Cahill, cut out by Morrell, the hosts launching a rapid counter, Crook caught offside, end to end now. Blackie picking up a card as she fouls Morgan, the free-kick on halfway launched up into the area headed away by Shannon Kelly. Chelmsford pressing on the right Shurety up with Broghan Kelly and Dopson, Gamble across to defend help out Farrow. 

 Colchester making another change bringing on their top scorer, Ruby Greenleaf replacing Ager. Blackie getting forwards on the right for Chelmsford top of the area putting the ball on for Broghan Kelly at the near post gets up to head the ball down into the six yard area, Newstead on the stretch able to get hold of it before Kelly can capitalise.

Colchester goalkeeper, Jamie Newstead

 Colchester pushed back in defence at times inviting Chelmsford on, the hosts attacking left Blackie up with Broghan Kelly and Crook the cross lifted into the area defended by Howlett. Blackie pushing on the pass into Shurety coming on right side dinks the ball in towards the top of the area, Broghan Kelly heading it on in towards the near post, Newstead snatching it into her gloves before Dopson can attack it.

Ruby Vinton

  Chelmsford making a switch sending on Emma Rushen in place of Dopson as they look to find an equaliser with the clock ticking down. Winning a corner on the left Chelmsford send players forwards played in towards Broghan Kelly top of the area gets up well to head the ball, her attempt blocked at close quarters rebounds to Shannon Kelly put back on to the left she wins throw in the corner. Colchester determined at the back to defend their advantage.

Mia Brisley coming forwards for Chelmsford

 With Chelmsford pushing on they are leaving space at the back, Vinton the outlet looking to take full advantage sending a diagonal ball inside for Cahill to race after in behind the defence, Streetley comes a long way out of her area just about getting there her clearance slicing away to the right for a throw. Chelmsford a little rushed in their attacks need to settle down. Brisley out on the left flashing a shot wide across goal.

Thalia Adams

  Shurety coming off for Chelmsford with Dopson adding to the attacking options back on. Winning a corner out on the right swung in towards the near post defended by Colchester’s, Farrow. Comes back to Brisley out wide curls the ball back in onto the roof of the net. Blackie joining the attack on a more regular basis now pushed up on the left her cross into the six yard box collected by Newstead. 

Chelmsford’s Jay Blackie

  Morrell lunging in with the challenge winning the ball back off Vinton on the left the hosts quickly countering the ball played cross the park to the left the attempted cross won by Howlett. Vinton brought down by Morrell this time as she gets hold of the ball on the left, the visitors with a free-kick 25 yards out on the angle. Morgan over the ball as Chelmsford set their wall. Morgan sending her strike up over it towards goal, however Streetley is well placed to accept the catch.

  Chelmsford pushing on Blackie to Broghan Kelly wide left the cross into the area won by Gamble. The visitors fighting at the back. The counter attack on as a free-kick is played up to Vinton up top 20 yards out right of the D turns to shoot placing the ball wide of the left post, took a nick off a defender though a corner awarded. From the left into the mix Chelmsford defend. Into stoppage time Chelmsford find Broghan Kelly peeling clear on the right, her cross into the area not finding a teammate, Colchester defending deep. 

 Chelmsford throwing everything forwards have a throw high on the left, stabbed on into the box, struck clear by Howlett. Morgan flagged offside as she looks to break free off a Greenleaf pass. Colchester with the ball up the other end with moments to spare winning a corner, keeping Chelmsford away from their goal as the final whistle blows and they celebrate reaching the League Cup final in their maiden season.

Colchester celebrate reaching the League Cup final

Full time Chelmsford City Women 1-2 Colchester United Women 

Chelmsford captain Rosie Coe getting the ball away as Colchester’s Ruby Vinton comes to try and block

  A brace from Ella Cahill, seeing Colchester over come Chelmsford to book their place in this season’s League Cup final. The scores all square at 1-1 at the break. Chelmsford looked to impose themselves on the game in the 2nd half but Colchester were determined working hard at the back, breaking forwards to get themselves back in front and despite a strong push from Chelmsford to get back on level terms the visitors defence held firm defending their box their forwards ready to take advantage of any openings up top. Colchester will now face Southminster United Ladies who are aiming for a league and cup double themselves after they reached their 2nd successive league cup final beating Sudbury Sports Women 2-1. Chelmsford will be thoroughly disappointed at not reaching the final but still have the league title to aim for and are determined to win it.  

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

 Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. After 3 weeks of having a clear contender it’s another tough call today with two players vying for the award. A few performances of note to mention first of course. For Chelmsford , Mia Brisley was strong in defence winning several important tackles and got the ball moving well. Jay Blackie battling for possession in the middle and pushing on late on to try and get her side back into the game. Helen Alder with some useful balls and movement in the middle linking up with the attack Broghan Kelly working hard throughout to to create openings up top getting about the pitch to receive the ball. For Colchester, Deben Howlett was a solid at the back winning everything. Ella Cahill scoring both goals make some great attacking runs took her chances well. Ruby Vinton was a ready outlet on the left during the entire 90 minutes causing Chelmsford issues throughout taking the ball forwards and looking to set up chances and score. Is narrow edged out by Lindsey Morgan who used her experience and skill on the ball to get about the pitch using the space well in the final third and create openings for herself and her teammates throughout.

 First time I’ve managed to get down to the Melbourne Stadium to see Chelmsford at home and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit, one of my favourite stadiums now I think (and I’ve been to a few) a good atmosphere, and entertaining contest. My thanks to both sides for their help with the teams today as always much appreciated. 

by Darren Gilham

Match Report – Real Bedford Ladies v Haringey Borough Women

Sunday 7th April

ERWFL Premier Division

Into the final 2 months of the season, crucial games up and down the league tables, teams battling for titles and promotion. And it’s a top of the table clash this Sunday on Women’s Football East, from the ERWFL Premier Division with a trip to Bedfordshire to watch, leaders Real Bedford Ladies, looking strong at the top in  their debut season under their new banner with a 100% taking on 2nd placed Haringey Borough Women.

The ERWFL Premier Division representing tier 5 of the women’s football pyramid in the east of England. An extremely difficult league to get out of with only one promotion spot as champions offered. Success earning the title winners a place in the FAWNL. Both today’s opponents having had a brief taste of life in the 4th tier.

Real Bedford Ladies formerly known as Bedford Ladies a long established side in the ERWFL. Moving to neighbouring Real Bedford the season prior adopting the name this season. The change seeing the senior women’s side bringing in a host of new players with plenty of experience in the ERWFL and the FAWNL above as they look to fulfil some very ambitious plans to progress up the pyramid. Initially under new manager Dean Perrett, has since departed with Georgia Clarke taking over the role. Not altering Real Bedford’s form one bit sitting 7 points clear at the top with a perfect record winning all 15league games so far.

In fact their only loss so far this season was at home to tier 3 Billericay Town Women in the FA Women’s Cup, (the one game I covered for WF East) that aside have also reached the finals of both the ERWFL League Cup and Bedfordshire Women’s County Cup where they will play Wroxham Women and AFC Dunstable Women respectfully. Have scored plenty of goals too with over a hundred shared amongst 15 different scorers. Top of the charts a Bedford legend, Natasha Fensome always prolific in front of goal bagging herself 29 so far from 22 appearances. 2nd and 3rd are new signings, Gemma Croucher and Francesca Partridge on 18 and 17 a piece with Neve Mayes scoring 13 and Chloe martin also into double figures.

Looking to end Real Bedford’s 100% are today’s visitors Haringey Borough Women, a run of 5 straight league wins powering them up into 2nd spot, have been amongst the sides looking to chase down the leaders all season. Are another of the most established clubs in the ERWFL, know what it takes to win the title and promotion to the FAWNL having done it back in 2017. There stay brief the North London club is back up there challenging at the top and will fancy their chances today having narrowly lost 3-2 in the reverse figure at the start of the year.

Haringey like Real Bedford have plenty of goals throughout the side with 12 different scorers this season. Bringing through another group of young talented players. Victoria Campbell leading the way with 22 to her name from 20 appearances. Ronnell Humes has found the back of the net for 15 goals with Kylie Manktelow also into double figures on 12 for the season. Have played 3 games more than Real Bedford and would need a lot to go their way to pip them to the title but nevertheless are will placed for a top three finish

McMullin Park the venue for this afternoon, ERWFL Premier Division match, just off the A421, parking leading into the ground itself, the clubhouse and bar by the entrance serving hot food and drinks. The stadium beyond a small seated stand beside a large grass pitch in great condition bearing in mind all the wet weather recently. A bright sunny day with a strong wind blowing across the pitch from one goal to the other. The teams walling out onto the pitch Real Bedford with today’s mascots.

Real Bedford Ladies

Real Bedford Ladies starting XI – Sarah Hudson (C), Amy Reed, Lisa Milliken, Gemma Franklin, Georgie Giddings, Erin Price, Gemma Croucher Amber Smith, Chloe Martin, Francesca Partridge & Natasha Fensome. Subs – Zara Carroll, Neve Mayes, Sophie Billing, Sophie Mulvihill & Lauren Coppin.

Haringey Borough Women

Haringey Borough Women starting XI – Liamara Hensel-Burg, Lexi Wade, Lola Shack, Chloe Ions, Summer Young, Rimini Lowe, Emily Pickard, Kylie Manktelow, Ronnell Humes (C), Jada Pollendine & Marta Boabonay. Subs – Victoria Campbell, Amy Hayes & Lillian Hart.

(roll on roll off substitutes) 

  Haringey with the wind at their backs in the 1st half taking the kick-off wearing their away colours green shirts and socks with black shorts. Bedford lined up opposite wearing  light orange coloured shirts with black shoulders, black shorts and socks. The ball rolled back to Kylie Manktelow in midfield she clips it long out to the right for Marta Boabonay to chase, too strong the ball carrying through to Bedford goalkeeper and captain, Sarah Hudson.

An early change for Haringey the switch made seeing Jada Pollendine coming off up top, Victoria Campbell sent on. Erin Price getting hold of the ball in the middle for Bedford laying the pass forwards for Natasha Fensome play switched out to the left with Chloe Martin on the move, Lexi Wade getting back at her to defend for Haringey prevent the cross from coming into the box.

Bedford looking to get the ball into the channels, Price on for Amber Smith away on the right, Emily Pickard tracking back with her sliding in to charge down her cross, deflect the ball behind for the corner kick. Lisa Milliken coming forwards to take the corner on the right, fired in deep towards the far post, Martin getting up to head the ball turns her effort wide of the left post.

Bedford with a lively start, Gemma Franklin with a strong challenge at the back to regain possession forwards into midfield for Gemma Croucher has Price with her laying the ball off Price sweeps the pass wide out to the left wing, Martin on the move getting hold of the ball whipping a cross into the six yard box, Fensome there under the ball, puts her header over the crossbar.

Haringey battling for the ball in the middle of the park, Manktelow forwards for Campbell looking to pull off the defence into the right channel, Franklin throwing a leg out to intercept the ball turning it out for a throw. Haringey working the ball down the line bringing themselves a corner kick. Chloe Ions to swing the delivery in across goal headed back out to the right side Ions on it up the line for Haringey captain, Ronnell Humes on the angle 30 yards out smashes a ball in across to the far post, defended by Amy Reed for Bedford before being knocked out of play for a goal kick.

Amy Reed wins the ball for Bedford

A busy start to the game both sides looking to be positive get the ball moving forwards as quickly as possible. Fensome gathering the ball into her feet with a driving run through the middle sending the ball on for Francesca Partridge up top pulling into the left channel, Summer Young getting in the tackle at the back for Haringey.

Erin Price with Haringey’s Kylie Manktelow

The visitors winning a free-kick inside the Bedford half the ball launched into the box, headed clear by the Bedford defence falls straight to Manktelow 25 yards out chips the ball back in towards goal on the half volley, straight at the keeper, Hudson right behind it with a comfortable catch. Lola Shack playing the ball on for Boabonay peeling away to attack on the right strikes the ball on the angle low and fast towards the near post Hudson has the angle covered.

Haringey attacker, Marta Boabonay

 GOAL! Just past the quarter hour mark and Haringey take the lead, the ball played up to Humes pressing Reed in possession wide getting hold of the ball, turning inside 30 yards out, Franklin coming to close her down the attacker takes the ball wide of her opening up the angle to shoot, puts her foot through the ball left of the D, I’m right behind it, it’s struck well, put the camera down as it looks in all the way whipping up over Hudson to drop into the back of the net 0-1.

Haringey captain, Ronnell Humes opening the scoring

Bedford looking for a quick response to falling behind the ball fed out to Martin racing on down the left wing her cross, bouncing into the six yard box, Smith looking to attack it far post, goalkeeper, Liamara Hansel-Burg called into action throwing herself across to make the blocking save. The visitors set off on the counter attack the ball lifted on for Humes to take forwards on the left, Reed defending for Bedford the ball rebounding back to Ions she opens up her body to fire a dangerous ball high in towards goal, wind assisted Hudson stretching to get to the falling ball back on her line does brilliantly to get her glove on the ball turn it behind for the corner kick.

Another vicious in swinger from Ions on the right drops at the far post the ball stabbed goal wards, Hudson down smartly on her line to get hold of it. End to end at times the game lively little time on the ball played forwards, Croucher out to Martin left winning a corner kick. Clipped in across the six yard box comes through to Price positioned beyond the far post heads the ball wide.

Bedford’s Georgie Giddings

Georgie Giddings on the ball for Bedford played on for Price to lay the diagonal pass out to Martin left side, tracking inside on the angle 20 yards out has an attempt on goal fires her shot straight into the arms for Hensel-Burg. Bedford regaining possession on through the middle Croucher passing the ball left for Martin to battle her way on down the line firing a cross into the six yards box, Partridge central can’t quite connect the ball not safe Haringey struggle to clear it, as Fensome takes a swing at it throws her arms up in frustration as the ball swerves wide of the right post.

Real Bedford striker, Natasha Fensome

Midway through the half, Haringey competing for everything, Rimini Lowe playing the ball into Manktelow who sends it up top for Campbell, back to goal 25 yards out looks to play Boabonay in behind on the right, Milliken with a vital interception for Bedford. Boabonay coming off then with Jada Pollendine returning to the action. Young tackling at the back to win the ball back for Haringey does well before being fouled trying to bring the ball away.

Humes playing on the right after the switch, the ball put out to her see’s her cross charged down for a corner. From the right another dangerous ball swung into the area, the crossbar struck, Bedford struggling to deal with the pace on the ball scramble it clear, look for the quick counter attack however the ball meant to release Fensome see’s her instead flagged for offside.

Haringey’s Rimini Lowe with Bedford’s Chloe Martin

Fensome turning on the ball threading the pass on into the right channel to release Smith charging forwards shoots on the angle power behind the rising ball, Hensel-Burg across to cover the angle palming the ball up into the air and claiming it. Haringey coming forwards Shack on for Ions left side looking for Pollendine in attack, Reed into challenge for Bedford, Ions after the loose ball her cross cut out by Giddings. Humes right channel looks to turn get in behind Franklin the defender getting back at her going to ground to block her cross turn the ball behind for the corner kick.

Gemma Franklin

GOAL! Haringey’s corners have caused Bedford problems all half and aided by the wind blowing towards there goal certainly favours Ions in swinging deliveries as she once again gets plenty of pace on the ball fired in across the face of goal, no one can get a touch but not needed as it whips inside the far post to see the visitors double their lead in the 31st minute 0-2.

Chloe Ions corner goes straight in

Chloe Ions celebrates her goal

A blow for Bedford as they restart the game attacking on the right Ions in to challenge Smith plays the ball up the line for Pollendine, tussling with Franklin for the ball, Bedford win it back played central into Fensome sweeps it out to Martin on the left, lifts her cross into the box, Partridge’s shot blocked the ball deflected behind for the corner. Swung into the box from the left Croucher looking to attack it central falls out towards Fensome positioned top of the area, slices her volley wide of the mark.

Shack with Ions on the left for Haringey the ball on for Pollendine checks inside looking to thread the ball in behind for Campbell making a central run, Franklin with a crucial cut out for Bedford at the back.

Bedford’s Amber Smith

Bedford mounting an attack Giddings to Partridge central plays it inside for Fensome 20 out puts the pass into the area with Croucher stealing in between the centre backs the flag going up against her straight away even as the ball runs past her on for Partridge coming round the back to send the ball home, the goal won’t stand.

GOAL! Ions is sent tumbling in midfield the free-kick awarded to Haringey inside the Bedford half, left of the centre circle. Lowe placing the ball on the ground the wind assisting anything the visitors play forwards, Lowe sets her stance before moving to strike the ball I’m right behind this one again and it’s a beauty of a strike heading for the top corner has Hudson in trouble as it drops late under the crossbar and Lowe celebrates her 5th of the season and Haringey’s 3rd 0-3.

Rimini Lowe with a beauty of a strike from nearly half way to put Haringey 3 up

Again Bedford are straight on the offensive from the restart the ball put on for Partridge powering into the left channel striking the ball on the half volley 25 yards out her effort saved confidently by Hensel-Burg. The hosts winning a throw high on the right Price getting the ball down for Smith, Shack tackling for Haringey. The Haringey defence battling for everything in to block crosses and close Bedford down in the final 3rd. Winning a free-kick wide left another opportunity to fire the ball in towards goal, whipped in on target, Hudson getting up well to deal with the threat.

GOAL! Into the closing stages of the first half Haringey getting on down the right, Humes taking the ball on her cross charged down turned behind for the corner. Ions to whip the ball in across the face of goal again, Campbell positioned at the far post getting her head onto the ball to send it over the line and extend the visitors lead 0-4.

Victoria Campbell heads home Haringey’s 4th

Half-time Real Bedford Ladies 0-4 Haringey Borough Women

Haringey’s Victoria Campbell putting the visitors 4 goals up at the break

Bedford head into the dressing room, with their 100% league record under serious threat, trailing 4-0, Haringey remain out on the field buzzing from their first half performance. An entertaining match with both sides looking to get forwards quickly both creating opportunities early on the opening goal on 17 minutes. Bedford looking for a quick reply forcing a save from the Haringey keeper, Hensel-Burg. The wind aiding Haringey going forwards took full advantage Bedford struggling to deal with their corners Ions in swinging delivery going straight in to make it 2-0, Campbell on the end of another delivery to make it 4 with a superb free-kick from Rimini Lowe in between. A tough task now for Bedford to get back into the match, but they have a side full of goals will be keen to pull an early goal back.

So much so they are out onto the pitch early for the 2nd half, Haringey excited to get going too, just one thing missing the officials and nothing can happen without them, half-time tea drunk the game is ready to restart. Bedford with a change, Zara Carroll on to replace Giddings in midfield. Bedford with the wind advantage in the 2nd half as they get thing’s underway the hosts looking to get on Croucher linking up with Price in the middle the ball out to Smith on the right dealt with.

Has been a physical game with some robust challenges, but between two sides who just get on with it. Bedford with a free-kick in midfield, Carroll on the pitch now a set piece specialist striking the ball up towards the box, Young heading it away for Haringey drops to Milliken 30 yards out on the left sends it back in on the angle, Hensel-Burg with a comfortable claim inside her six yard box.

Lisa Milliken looking to put Chloe Martin in to attack

Ions picking up a knock needs to have treatment, up and moving to the side lines is okay to play on. Price winning Bedford a free-kick on the right struck on the angle with pace the ball is driven wide past the far post. Bedford looking for an early goal to mount their fightback attacking down the left Fensome up with Martin the cross fired in with pace towards the near post Partridge racing in to attack it struck up against the crossbar and over, a corner signalled must have taken a nick off a defender. The corner curled onto the roof of the net.

Partridge taking the ball on up the left channel forcing Haringey into conceding the corner. From the left whipped in across the six yard box attacked beyond the far post turned wide. Pushing players on Haringey with their lead can sit back choose their moments to attack, Pickard winning it at the back on for Manktelow who picks out Pollendine on the move down the right breaking for the by-line looking to get into the area Milliken recovers to get back on her and put in the tackle, the ball launched clear.

Haringey’s Jada Pollendine

Fensome brought down as she attacks wide left on half way. Milliken to send the free-kick into the area swung in central looping over Fensome, Partridge rushing in at the far post, Hensel-Burg down smartly on her line stretching to smother the ball into her body.

Hensel-Burg called up as Bedford attack the ball out to Smith right fires a cross in to the far post looking for Fensome racing in to attack it, the keeper moving across to try and cover the angle as the ball lands just behind Fensome, Martin though is running into the area on the follow-up six yards out looks to smash the ball goal wards, her effort rising, Hensel-Burg gets up off the ground excellently to make herself big throwing her arms up to tip the ball over the bar.

It’s a scrappy game now Bedford putting the pressure on Haringey battling for everything at the back. Milliken left clips the ball forwards for Fensome, into the area too much to do as it runs safely through to Hensel-Burg. Fensome nipping into win the ball at the back sends it out to Martin wide on the left she lifts her high cross looping up into the six yard box dropping central, Hensel-Burg keeps her eye on it making the catch above her head not distracted by Croucher closing her down.

Smith running onto a diagonal ball played out to her on the right taking it on sees her cross blocked by Pickard for Haringey. The hosts winning a corner on the left fired into the near side defended by Campbell behind for another corner. Put into the mix the ball is cleared out to the right falling to Fensome on the angle strikes it back in towards goal, Hensel-Burg with another brilliant save to turn the ball over the bar for a corner out on the left.

 GOAL! The pressure tells with Bedford pulling a goal back past the hour the corner powered in across the six yard box coming to Price at the far post meets it well to drive her header back across the goal and over the line 1-4.

Erin Price pulling a goal back for Bedford

Bedford making a double change after the goal breaking on Sophie Billing and Neve Mayes to replace Martin and Partridge in attack. The ball won back in the middle played out to Fensome pulling into space wide left turns her marker to get in behind to cross the ball in central, Mayes on the spot closing it down, Hensel-Burg reacting sharply getting down to save block the ball on the line.

Neve Mayes

Young with a vital header at the back to clear Milliken’s diagonal ball aimed to Mayes pulling off the right channel. Time for a double switch from Haringey with Boabonay coming back on along with Amy Hayes replacing Pollendine and Campbell. Bedford attacking up the right the ball inside for Fensome, Wade closing her down making the tackle for Haringey. The clock ticking down, Haringey working hard, frustrating Bedford as they look to get the ball forwards. Lowe on the end of a strong challenge up ended as she looks to take the ball forwards for the visitors.

Hensel-Burg saving for Haringey again getting down to hold onto the ball as Fensome steals possession back left corner of the area to fire a shot in low on the angle. Franklin at the back for Bedford getting back t tackle Humes as she looks to break in behind down the left, the ball back to Carroll, lifts it forwards towards Billings, Manktelow closing her down for Haringey.

Humes marauding forwards down the left flank for Haringey, Franklin stretching dives in to make the tackle send the ball behind for the corner. A change before the corner for the visitors Shack coming off, Lillian Hart sent on moving up into the box. Swung in across the area, Reed defending getting her head on it Hudson catching the ball looking to get her side moving.

Lauren Coppin coming on for Bedford replacing Smith on the right side of attack. Haringey scrapping for ball winning it back central looking for Humes bursting down the left, too much for her to do this time. Bedford with a corner out on the right curled in across the face of goal knocked down, Hensel-Burg throwing herself down on her line getting behind it to save.

Haringey winning a free-kick wide a chance for Manktelow to play the ball into the area from the right put across to the far post knocked down back across to the opposite post, Hudson across well to lay claim to the ball with Hart closing in. Bedford counter rapidly the ball lifted long up the left Fensome to whip the ball in across the face of goal, Coppin throwing herself at the ball far post, can’t get a touch.

Bedford’s Gemma Croucher

Price taking the ball through the middle forwards into Mayes out to Fensome inside the left channel, but can’t quite take it on as Lowe gets her challenge in. Hensel-Burg throwing her glove up with the faintest of glances to deflect Coppin’s cross from the right onto the roof of her net.

Haringey’s goalkeeper, keeping Bedford at bay with another superb save this time on Fensome central as the ball is crossed into her from the right, getting her foot up over the ball looks to strike it back to the right post, Hensel-Burg diving full stretch to her left to keep the shot out.

Haringey goalkeeper, Liamara Hensel-Burg in the thick of the action.

More goalkeeping heroic’s from Hensel-Burg a double save as the ball is fired at her from close range by Mayes inside the six yard box off a Coppin ball fired in from the right. Hensel-Burg everywhere in the six yard box throwing her body on the line to thwart Bedford as they fight to get a goal.

An intense finish to the game Haringey fighting to keep Bedford out at one end looking for the chance to counter up the other with Humes and Boabonay working the channels left and right ready to run in behind. Milliken pushed up late on with a scuffed shot 30 yards out central running through to the keeper. Humes surging into the box from the left flank crowed off the ball by the Bedford defence.

Full time Real Bedford Ladies 1-4 Haringey Borough Women

The final whistle blows and Haringey celebrate as they win the 3 points and bring an end to Bedford’s 100% league record. Closing the gap at the top to 4 points. Battled hard for the win, the damage done in the first half. A 4 goal cushion to defend was always going to be a hard task to find a way back into the game but Bedford gave it a good go 2nd half creating chances only came up against a determined defence and goalkeeper. 15 league wins on the spin is no less an incredible achievement and Bedford shouldn’t be to disappointed. Seen a few of these runs end over the season’s they take some doing and no doubt the club will be setting it’s sights on a new run.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

 Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. For the 3rd game in a row it’s a straight forward decision, isn’t often the case, but another clear winner today. A few performances of note to mention first though. For Bedford, Erin Price won the ball well in the middle and drove forwards with it at her feet looking to bring her attackers into play. Gemma Franklin with some vital stops at the back. Natasha Fensome working hard up top to create goal scoring opportunities for herself and others, just wasn’t to be today. For Haringey captain Ronnell Humes was strong on the ball in attack a ready outlet looking to take on the defence opened the scoring. Chloe Ions corner deliveries a threat throughout especially first half scoring from one and assisting the 4th goal. Lola Shack with several important tackles at the back along side Summer Young and Rimini Lowe. Kylie Manktelow with some excellent passing from midfield. The award though goes to Haringey’s 17 year old goalkeeper, Liamara Hensel-Burg what a performance, acrobatic threw herself into her saves getting across her line to make several vital stops and help keep her sides lead largely intact.

Another entertaining game from the ERWFL Premier Division. An enjoyable trip to Bedfordshire. Whether I’ll be welcome at McMullin Park again is another matter as Bedford have only lost twice this season and I’ve been there both times (sorry). Still it’s a welcoming club and I appreciate the help from both sides today.

by Darren Gilham

Match Report – Fakenham Town Ladies v Newmarket Town Women

Sunday 31st March

ERWFL Division One North

Heading to The Daly Group Stadium, this Easter Sunday to watch a game from ERWFL Division One North, the league looking intriguing at both ends of the table as we move into the final two months of the season, with Fakenham Town Ladies taking on Newmarket Town Women.

  The title battle going to the wire between Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women and Harpenden Town Women. ERWFL Division One North feeding into the Premier Division above contested originally between 12 sides as the ERWFL reached it compliment of 36 sides across 3 divisions, sadly down to 10 early in the season following the withdrawals of St Ives Town Ladies and Yaxley Phoenix Ladies. As intriguing elsewhere with just 6 points between 5th placed Newmarket and 10th placed Fakenham, with plenty of points for most still to play for. Both of today’s opponents looking to end a poor run of losses.

  Fakenham Town Ladies currently 10th in the ERWFL Division One North table, slipping to the bottom off the back of 4 straight league defeats. Playing there 2nd season of regional football, looking to build on a successful spell for the club. With 5 games left will be aiming to turn thing’s around and push up into the middle of the pack. Began the new campaign with a 5-3 win at home to Bedfordshire side, Wootton Blue Cross Lionesses, two defeats following before an unbeaten run of 5 matches collecting 9 points in that period. Mixed results since with 4 league defeats in between a run to the last 4 of the County Cup. Chloe Gravett way out in front as leading goal scorers netting 17 goals in 17 appearances.

  This is Newmarket Town Women’s penultimate match of the season, both against Fakenham Town Ladies, they themselves looking to end a run of league defeats like Fakenham stretching to 4 now which has seen them fall away from the pack chasing the leading pair, all 4 games lost by a 2-1 score line. Are the longest established club in the ERWFL Division One North which is odd in itself as they are relative new comers themselves a club built very much on youth and bringing players up through the clubs various youth and Development sides, has produced some very talented players over the years. Starting with 2 wins, Newmarket were on the tails of the top two for a good spell that poor run denting their campaign will be aiming to finish on a high. Katie Hayes and Lydia Mykhaylechko joint top scorers on 5 apiece.

   The Daly group Stadium (formerly Clipbush park) the venue for today’s game, the ladies game advertised on the boards outside the ground entrance off a busy roundabout leading into Fakenham itself. The clubhouse and bar open serving hot food and drinks. The main pitch in use for today’s game a big pitch offering plenty of width always a good fitness tester. A few days of dry (ish) weather most welcome the clouds however building once again… were supposed to getaway with the rain, but sadly that wasn’t to be the case a light drizzle in the air as the teams walked out onto the pitch prior to kick-off.

Fakenham Town Ladies

Fakenham Town Ladies starting XI – Tilly Betts, Georgina Pooley, Ruby Curtis, Jemma Riches (C), Sophie Buckley, Sian Sands, Rochelle Woods, Scarlett Derrett, Kirstie Rusted, Shelley Woods & Chloe Gravett. Subs – Amie Hutchinson, Olivia Baker & Nicole Costin.

Newmarket Town Women

Newmarket Town Women starting XI – Dominika Szary, Koren Evans, Kara Wayman, Hollie dryland, Ellie Sturgess, Katie Walker (C), Felicity Payne, Katie Hayes, Abbie Corbyn, Holly Corley & Lidiya Mykhaylechko. Subs – Liv Caffarelli, Violet Jones, Becca Reynolds, Niamh Sutherland & Evonne Yerrell.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

Captain’s Jemma Riches and Katie Walker with today’s match referee Michael Clark.

  It’s Newmarket wearing their away colours, an all red strip with white trim to kick-off the first half with Fakenham lined up opposite wearing amber coloured shirts with black shoulders and sleeves, black shorts and socks. The ball rolled back into the middle clipped diagonally forwards to the right with Katie Hayes drifting inside from the flank allowed time to lift a clipped ball out to the left for Abbie Corbyn to attack left of the D, knocking it down into the area the angle rapidly closing her cross/shot dropping wide past the right post.

Newmarket’s Katie Hayes playing the ball forwards

Newmarket getting after Fakenham early on a competitive midfield the visitors winning a free-kick, won back by Fakenham, full back Georgina Pooley gets hold of the ball driving on down the left, Holly Dryland coming across for the back to support Koren Evans the defence marshals the ball back into their box for goalkeeper, Dominika Szary to kick clear. 

 Felicity Payne linking up with captain, Katie Walker through the middle as Newmarket get forwards a throw won out on the left taken quickly into striker Lidiya Mykhaylechko who turns into the channel looking to plough her way in behind the Fakenham defence, captain Jemma Riches staying on her getting her foot on the ball to halt the attack.

Newmarket’s Lidiya Mykhaylechko looking to get past Fakenham captain, Jemma Riches

  Fakenham regain possession central the ball played long out to Chloe Gravett pulling right into space chasing the ball down taking it down the wing whips a cross into the area, Ellie Sturgess intercepting for Newmarket at the back with Shelley Woods running in behind her. 

 Newmarket lively getting on the counter attack smartly looking to get the ball into their wide players, Hayes right and Abbie Corbyn left, Ruby Curtis tackling to prevent the latter getting in behind for Fakenham. Walker lifting her pass forwards into Mykhaylechko inside the D, looking to get the better of Sophie Buckley, the defender holding her ground the ball knocked down into the box gathered by goalkeeper, Tilly Betts as she runs out to the top of her area. 

Newmarket’s Kara Wayman

  Kara Wayman on the ball storms forwards down the left for Newmarket racing into the opposition half before attempting to put a cross-field ball into Hayes  running into the area from the opposite flank, the pass evading her. Fakenham under pressure in the middle from Newmarket limited in the final 3rd Rochelle Woods playing the ball into Shelley Woods 25 yards out central back to goal, lays it off to Kirstie Rusted pulling on into the right channel going wider angles a cross into the near post Shelley Woods looking to attack it, Dryland coming across in front of Szary to defend, clears the ball.

  A misplaced ball out from the back has Szary in trouble as it runs straight to Rusted 30 yards out an the angle looks to chip the ball towards the open goals even as she is closed down, doesn’t get enough purchase on her shot the chip safely back with Szary rapidly back peddling towards her goal. Fakenham finding a foot hold in the final 3rd after Newmarket’s strong start to the game. 

Newmarket’s Abbie Corbyn with Fakenham’s Ruby Curtis

  A mistake at the back from Fakenham the diagonal ball from Hayes on the right missed, leads to Corbyn stealing in on it left of the D to burst into the area, Riches recovering the ground well stretching for the ball, takes it off Corbyn even as the goes down as the attack goes to strike the ball which runs safely back to the keeper.

  Pooley advancing on Fakenham’s left on for Rusted plays the one two with Gravett inside her top of the box, Rusted after the return ball, Evans defending for Newmarket the ball back with Szary the goalkeeper with a quick throw out seeing Newmarket on the counter attack down their left Mykhaylechko peeling wide sweeping a cross into the box, Buckley defending as Hayes looks to attack the ball at the far post.

Scarlett Derrett looking to play Chloe Gravett in behind


   A few tasty tackles coming in a competitive match Newmarket pressing around the Fakenham area Hayes on the right passes inside for Mykhaylechko inside the D, screws her shot wide of the right post. Gravett looking to provide an outlet for Fakenham up top pulling into space on the right found by her teammates drives on before delivering a looping cross into the area, Dryland there to clear the ball for Newmarket.

Holly dryland contesting the header with Fakenham’s Shelley Woods

  Gravett getting in behind Sturgess on the right as the defender gets caught in possession turning in behind whips an early ball into the area with the same result, Dryland on the end of it to launch clear. Fakenham driving on through the middle Sian Sands, Rusted on for Shelley Woods 25 yards out blasts her strike over the crossbar. 

Sian Sands with Newmarket attacker, Holly Corley

  A pause in player with a player down for Fakenham injured, it’s Derrett needs to come off, the hosts sending on Nicole Costin. Gravett central taking the ball off Shelley Woods powers forwards, Dryland, Sturgess and Wayman all closing her down crowding the striker off the ball. 

 GOAL! The deadlock broken in the 15th minute Newmarket attacking down their left the ball on for Mykhaylechko wide 30 yards out, sees Holly Corley making a run across her out to the left lays the ball into her path Corley taking it down the line lifting a cross into the six yard box, Hayes getting a foot up to connect with the ball send it past the keeper and into the back of the net 0-1.

Katie Hayes opening the scoring for Newmarket

  Newmarket with their tales up taking the lead winning a free-kick on half way the ball put into Corley central has Wayman bursting down the line on the left plays the ball out to her before running into the area, Wayman picking her out she strikes the ball in towards a packed near post, Betts there to punch the ball away back out to the left, Wayman attempting to put in a curling ball over her, Betts with her gloves up to claim it, slips through her fingers, but has killed the flight as it drops behind her and she can turn and snatch the bouncing ball up before it can trickle over the line. 

Fakenham goalkeeper, Tilly Betts

  Betts with a busy spell in goal for Fakenham as Hayes left plays the ball through into the area for Corbyn advancing inside on the left, Betts out quickly to meet her sliding in to save with her feet, a corner conceded on the left. Delivered into the mix drops for Payne top of the area her snap shot driven into bodies blocked, the rebound from outside the area smashed over. 

 Newmarket looking sharp winning the 2nd balls getting play turned around quickly pushing forwards, Walker into Corbyn left, Curtis staying on her as she tries to break in behind, the defender slowing her progress as Riches comes across to clear. Gravett battling for everything up top for Fakenham often pulling wide, lacking bodies in the box to play the ball too.

  Corbyn taking the ball down on the left powering on, Curtis looking to stay on her going to ground as she looks to prevent the cross, is immediately in trouble screaming in pain looks to have caught her studs in the turf, play stopped straight away as her teammates rush over to assist. Didn’t look good, some concern for sure at ne point the stretcher is called for, but much to everyone’s relief Curtis is up to her feet and walking albeit with no weight on her damaged ankle can’t continue Fakenham forced into another change bringing on defender Amie Hutchinson at left back.


  The rain falling steadily now, Newmarket winning a throw in the left put down the line for Corbyn, digs out a cross on the by-line claimed by Betts at her near post. Newmarket looking to press high Corley with Mykhaylechko the ball out to Corbyn left on for Wayman going past her on the overlap sends the cross into the box won by Riches for Fakenham.

Fakenham’s Nicole Costin

  Free-kicks regularly given away on half way, Hayes on the right taking the ball on for Newmarket looking to check inside, Buckley getting a toe on the ball to take it off her foot before she can line up a shot. Defending their area from a Newmarket free-kick Fakenham launch the ball forwards into the right flank for Gravett to hunt down, no one up with her does well to hold it up in the corner invite the defender on and win her side a corner kick. The corner fired in low and fast towards the top of the area intercepted by Payne who brings it out of the box leading the counter attack…

Felicity Payne wins the ball from the corner to begin Newmarket’s counter attack

 GOAL! the midfielder firing the ball on for Mykhaylechko out to the left who sees the ball into her feet rolling her marker to spin in behind powers down the line before lifting a ball into the six yard box where Hayes has once again arrived to get onto the end of it and put it back across the keeper to score her 2nd of the match 0-2. 

Katie Hayes striking for the 2nd time in the match to double Newmarket’s lead.

 The 2nd goal coming in the 41st minute, Fakenham with a blow late in the half looking to get on the attack from the restart, Gravett picked out on the right taking the ball wide before lifting a cross into the near post a clean catch taken by Szary. Walker giving away the free-kick shoving Costin in the back, taken quickly Gravett for a moment looking to be in the clear as she carries the ball on towards the box right side of goal, defenders rushing to close her down, Szary advancing to close the angle the ball blasted wide a goal kick signalled.

Half-time Fakenham Town Ladies 0-2 Newmarket Town Women

 The rain falling steadily as the two sides head back into the changing rooms. Newmarket leading 2-0. Opening the scoring in the first 15 minutes, made a strong start to the game before Fakenham got back at them the visitors looking lively competing for the ball, winning the 2nd ball and looking to get players on down the flanks. Fakenham’s chances limited, Gravett often on her own up top as the numbers are needed back in midfield, Betts making a couple of vital saves to keep the score down the 2nd goal coming late in the first half putting the hosts on the back foot while losing a couple of players to injury too. 2-0 often that awkward score-line at the break the next goal crucial, Fakenham will want it to go there way as the teams come out for the 2nd half the rain falling all the more heavily looking set in.

  Fakenham to get the 2nd half underway, looks like no changes for either the ball put into a tight midfield quickly closed down by Newmarket clipped out to Hayes wide right for the visitors takes it on before seeing her cross cut out by Pooley at the back for Fakenham.

  The ball hotly contested in the middle of the park, tackles coming in pops out to Hayes breaking away on the right wing her cross taking a deflection turned in towards the keeper to claim. Costin fouled deep on the right for Fakenham inside the Newmarket half the ball flighted into the top of the area falls for Gravett inside the D, takes a step back looking to get so power behind her strike, her effort in low towards goal, Szary right behind it to gather up into her gloves. 

  Rochelle Woods opening up her body to lay the ball on well for Gravett peeling away right, out wide lifts a dangerous ball into the box, Shelley Woods looking to deflect it goal wards, sees Szary backing to her line saving well with her shin at close range sending the ball away to safety. 

Newmarket captain, Katie Walker

  Walker playing Hayes in down the right takes the ball on before looking to send the ball across the top of the Fakenham box, Corley the target central, Buckley gets a nick on the ball to deflect it on across the D, comes straight to Corbyn top of the area who smashes her first time attempt wide of the far post.

  Hayes a constant threat for Newmarket, enjoying a good contest with Pooley, this time opting to check inside 25 yards out find her way into the area, Riches though comes across to put in the blocking tackle for Fakenham. Buckley in the way to put in the block this time as Hayes coming inside from the right strikes the ball. Newmarket pressing winning a corner on the right, fired into a congested near post pops loose for Payne looking to get a shot in from the tightest on angles planted the ball into the side netting.

Felicity Payne battling for possession with Sian Sands

  Newmarket pushing for a 3rd goal Riches defending another corner at the near post from the right. Riches driving forwards with the ball from the back for Fakenham runs into traffic 25 yards out, Gravett though quick to win it back laying it on for Riches breaking into the box right side her cross lifted in central, cleared by Dryland. 

 Another injury blow for Fakenham as Costin is down and unable to continue come off with Olivia Baker coming on up top with Shelley Woods dropping deeper. Fakenham successfully defending a Newmarket free-kick look to counter, Rusted out in the right channel taking the ball in behind striking the ball wide across goal from the angle. 

Kirstie Rusted attacking for Fakenham

 Midway through the 2nd half and Newmarket ringing the changes bringing on four players with, Liv Caffarelli, Violet Jones, Becca Reynolds and Niamh Sutherland coming on for, Evans, Wayman, Coley and Corbyn. A fresh injection of energy as they look to put the game to bed. Fakenham winning possession though as Rochelle Woods plays Gravett in right side plays the ball inside for Baker 25 yards out, Shelley Woods attempting to get into the area, Baker’s attempt to find her cut out by Reynolds. 

  Thing’s getting worse for Fakenham as they find themselves reduced to 10 players, for 10 minutes at least as Sands gets herself sin binned. Newmarket with a free-kick all of 30 yards out central, Hayes over it looks to have a go on goal strikes her attempt wide. Szary called into action making another vital save for Newmarket as Gravett breaking in behind the defence from the right tracks in central bearing down on goal, Szary out to close her down sliding in saving with her legs as Gravett looks to slip the ball past her. 

Newmarket goalkeeper, Dominika Szary

 Fakenham not deterred with a player disadvantage, Gravett putting in a shift up top chasing down the ball, winning another corner on the right. Lifted in high near post headed away for a 2nd corner, Woods again lifting it in near post Szary amongst a crowd can’t get hold of it loose in the six yard box for a moment the visitors scramble it clear. 

Fakenham’s Georgina Pooley

 Pooley carrying a threat on the left whenever she is able to get forwards the ground soggy now as she races onto a Rochelle Woods pass whipping a diagonal ball in central Gravett looking to latch onto it Szary coming out to the top of her area looking to win the race is going to fall short, her defence recovers superbly as both Caffarelli and Reynolds make up the ground either side of Gravett doing enough between them to put the striker off and allow their keeper to clear it. 

 The game is really open, Newmarket not prepared to sit on their lead looking for a 3rd while Fakenham aren’t interested in damage limitation want a goal themselves. The visitors winning a corner on the left, an in swinging delivery aimed high, Betts up well to pluck it down at her near post dropping onto the ball. Newmarket hitting Fakenham on the counter Hayes with a fantastic pass forwards into Mykhaylechko turning for goal 25 yards out, Riches on her shoulder, as the striker drives for the box, Riches winning the battle challenging her tackle deflecting the ball of Mykhaylechko back for Betts to claim.

Fakenham captain, Jemma Riches

   Walker coming inside from the left 20 yards out blasting a shot in towards goal, Betts behind it beating the ball away. Newmarket with another set-piece on the left the game a little testy at times the ball floated in across the six yard box over everyone out the far side a nick off a defenders head seen a corner awarded. Cleared at the near post. Sands back on Fakenham back up to 11.

Shelley Woods

  Fakenham winning a free-kick inside the Newmarket half on the right into the top of the area cleared by Walker. Fakenham keep the pressure on wide right a high ball looped up into the D, Baker seeing it down into Rusted to strike a ball in high over the defence, dropping out of the sky as Szary steps back on her line has to keep an eye on it and catches safely with no one chasing in on the follow up. 

Fakenham’s Olivia Baker

  No let up in the action, Jones advancing on the left for Newmarket played in central the tackle seeing the visitors awarded a free-kick 20 yards out in a dangerous position. Hayes taking on the shot heading for the top corner Betts back on her line with a brilliant save to get her gloves up turn the ball wide for a corner on the right. The delivery swung in central Betts getting up well to bring the ball down, knocked out of her gloves cleared for a corner on the left. Again fired into the mix dropping the shot blasted into a sea of bodies deflected behind for a goal kick.

Tilly Betts saving the free-kick


  Pooley attacking on the left forcing Hayes to track back and put in the challenge the ground decidedly greasy now with the falling rain. Fakenham attacking late on Gravett shoved over by Payne getting a free-kick as she comes left, Rochelle Woods striking the ball in towards goal taken cleanly on the bounce by Szary back on her line. An intense finish to the game Newmarket haven’t put it to bed and Fakenham believe they can get something in the closing stages winning a free-kick in a central position in the closing seconds of the game 25 yards out Rochelle Woods aiming for goal curls the ball in to the right side, Szary across to bat it away, the final action of the game as the referee blows the final whistle and it’s a much welcome win for Newmarket lifting them back up into 4th spot. 

Full time Fakenham Town Ladies 0-2 Newmarket Town Women

  An entertaining match, played in some rubbish conditions in the finish, be nice to see a game completed in the dry can only hope that April’s better (needs to be still a lot of football to be played). Not for Newmarket however as they win their penultimate game of the season to end their winless streak and gain a spot in the Division One North table. Made a strong start to the game taking the lead inside the opening 15 minutes, Fakenham came back strongly to pressure the ball and looked to create openings in attack. Hampered by injury Newmarket won the 2nd ball well using the flanks effectively to push forwards and double their lead late in the first half. Didn’t sit back in the 2nd half wanting a 3rd goal, it wouldn’t come however even as Fakenham forced to vital saves from Dominika Szary as they pressed for a goal themselves further injuries and being reduced to 10 didn’t deter the hosts kept going Tilly Betts called into action to make a vital save too never gave up but wasn’t to be as their winless run extends, stay bottom but no where adrift with 4 games left to play, go to Newmarket next for the return match.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Tome to choose today’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. It’s rare I have it nailed in stone at the final whistle but not the caser today. Several performances to mention first though. Firstly for Fakenham a battling display, their captain Jemma Riches covering the ground at the back to win the ball with several vital tackles. Georgina Pooley on the left in a competitive tussle with Katie Hayes throughout getting forwards when she could and looked a threat when crossing into the area. Chloe Gravett battling for everything up top often lacking support chasing down lost causes setting up others unlucky not to score. Tilly Betts with some important stops to keep the score down keep Fakenham in the game right till the end. So too her opposite number Dominika Szary with two vital saves in the 2nd half to keep Newmarket’s lead intact. Holly Dryland reading the game well at the back getting into position to win a number of balls. Katie Walker strong on the ball in the middle winning her tackles and playing it forwards well. Today’s award though goes to Katie Hayes was a constant threat out on the right, to receive the ball and set up numerous attacks as well as getting forwards into the box on hand to score both goals.

  As always an entertaining game from the ERWFL, rarely does it not delivery in terms of action a competitive contest. The weather wet once again but never mind, glad to have caught up with Fakenham after having seen the two previous opportunities rained off and didn’t think I’d get an opportunity to see Newmarket at all this season so pleased that I did. My thanks to both sides for all their help today, hoping the injuries picked up by Fakenham’s players prove not to be too serious and wish everyone a speedy recovery.

by Darren Gilham

Match report – Beccles Town Ladies Development v Bure Valley Ladies

Sunday 17th March

Norfolk Women’s Division Two

Heading east this Sunday to catch some action from Norfolk Women’s Division Two with the title race really hotting up as we move into the final few weeks of the season with 5th placed Beccles Town Ladies Development hosting 2nd placed Bure Valley Women.

Into mid March and the title battle in Norfolk Women’s Division Two shaping up nicely. Talked about it at the start of the year with the top six sides all looking to challenge for top spot, Bure Valley Ladies along with fellow new side Mundford FC Ladies the early pace setters with Stalham Town Ladies and Beccles Town Ladies Development regrouping well after suffering relegation at the end of last season pushing hard along with FC Viking & Valkyries. Beccles losing their first league game of the season that day have since lost a bot of ground in the title battle yet with games in hand could force their way back into contention. Stalham Town Ladies losing just one this term taking over at the top 5 points clear of Bure Valley who have a game in hand. Shrublands Ladies too emerging as a dark horse up to 3rd off the back of 7 straight wins. All to play for with some big matches to come.

Bure Valley Ladies reforming a women’s side this season, having always had a strong youth set up. Ironically it was Beccles they were playing when I saw them back in 2018 at Bure Valley Wildcats Ladies. That team eventually folding with there young players moving on to university and so forth. Back now with a vengeance taking the new 14 strong Norfolk Women’s Division Two by storm. Winning their opening 6 league matches before suffering their only league defeat of the season a 5-3 loss at home to Beccles. Another run o 6 wins following before playing out a 1-1 draw with fellow title contenders Mundford.

A highly positive return to the NWGFL, Bure Valley were 3-1 winners at Beccles just last Sunday to clinch a spot in this season’s League Plate final where they will face FC Viking & Valkyries on Sunday May 12th. Captain Emma Macmillan fast approaching 30 goals for the season with 29 currently to her name from 16 appearances, with Maisie Redgrave and Willow Nye scoring 17 and 16 respectfully. Giving them a healthy goal difference in the title contest with vital games against Stalham (twice) Shrublands, Mundford and today’s match against Beccles to come.

  Beccles Town Ladies adding the Development part to their name to enable them to drop out of Division One where they struggled last season to regroup with a fresh group pf young players added to their squad. The development part of the club very much in mind in that thinking to better enable their players several stepping up from the U16s into the senior squad. Made a fantastic start to the season with 4 straight wins unbeaten going into the Christmas break, and with plenty of games in hand on those above them looked in a strong position to challenge in the new year. 

 Suffered their first loss of the season 2-0 away to Mundford and have since lost a 2nd to Shrublands seeing them fall back on the leading pack, yet with those games in hand and a very busy final few months of the season to come can certainly play their way back into contention and have a strong say in determining where the title might eventually go. Libby Elder top scorer with 13 goals to her name with Saffron Jones-Yates on target for 11 goals and Vicky Bloomfield on 10.

  The Alan Hutchinson Filed home of Beccles Town FC the venue for this afternoon’s league encounter, the football club part of a multi sports facility on the outskirts of Beccles. Didn’t get lost coming to the ground this time despite the many road closures in the city. A good sized grass pitch offering lots of width. A covered stand with some seating on one side opposite with the tea hut open beside selling drinks and snacks. Getting tired of all this rain and it was yet another damp one with the rain blowing across the county over night into the morning. Not overly heavy just persistent unlikely to threaten the match and was suppose to blow over before kick-off but annoyingly lingered. 

Beccles Town Ladies Development

Beccles Town Ladies Development starting XI – Anabel Outlaw, Emily Wilkinson, Evie Bailey, Georgia Tiffin (C), Lola Middlemass, Saffron Jones-Yates, Stevie Potter, Megan Sergeant, Tilly Bowen, Alesha Tuttle & Millie Reeve. Subs – Sophie Runnacles, Eliza Hanson, Phoebe Wakefield & Lauren Brewster.

Bure Valley Ladies

 Bury Valley Ladies starting XI – Dannielle Barnes, Lily Norman, Madeline Frost, Jasmine Snelling, Abbie Cushion, Eva Heald, Megan Swain, Maisie Gibbs, Emma Macmillan (C), Willow Nye & Maisie Redgrave. Subs – Maddison Woodcock & Emily Addison.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

Captains, Georgia Tiffin and Emma Macmillan walking out to meet this afternoon’s match official Tony Wickenden.

  Three players in the Bure Valley squad who featured for the previous woman’s side, goalkeeper, Dannielle Barnes, Abbie Cushion and Maisie Gibbs (previously Redhead). Made use of the stand to keep my beleaguered camera out of the elements with a steady drizzly rain blowing across the pitch as captains, Georgia Tiffin (Beccles) and Emma Macmillan walked out onto the field to greet referee Tony Wickenden. Beccles to have the kick-off first half laying into the rain wearing white coloured shirts with black trim upon the shoulders and sleeves along with black shorts and socks. Bure Valley lined up opposite wearing navy coloured shirts with a red upper portion. navy shorts and red socks. The ball played back to Stevie Potter making her first start for Beccles, clips the ball out to the left for Megan Sergeant on the right, Madeline Frost dealing with it for Bure Valley.

 GOAL! Bure Valley pour forwards with possession on the left Willow Nye getting hold of the ball driving inside across the top of the box and pulling the trigger shooting low across the keeper, Annabel Outlaw diving down to save at full stretch, getting her gloves to the ball knocked up, Maisie Redgrave racing in on the follow-up connecting with the loose ball to fire it past the keeper before she cane recover 0-1. Bure Valley taking the lead inside the opening minute.

Bure Valley celebrate their early goal, scorer Maisie Redgrave is there I promise just hidden…

.. there she is Maisie Redgrave

  The visitors taking an early lead pressing on early in the match Nye lively out on the left in attack the ball lifted on for her to attack, Evie Bailey stretching to make the tackle at full back for Beccles. Bure Valley pushing on to regain possession cutting across the top of the area the low shot in towards goal gathered cleanly by Outlaw. Beccles needing an outlet get themselves a foot hold in the game have Megan Sergeant driving forwards on the left, Alesha Tuttle sending the ball out to the wing, Sergeant turns infield, closed down by Bure Valley’s Abbie Cushion.

  Bure Valley captain, Emma Macmillan with the ball at her feet running on through the middle 25 yards out attempts to slide it into the path of Nye breaking into the area off the left channel, the pass a little too strong giving Outlaw time to get out to claim the ball first. Beccles captain Georgia Tiffin with a well timed tackle to deny Redgrave as she looks to take the ball on off a Maisie Gibbs pass into her from the right.

Beccles captain, Georgia Tiffin

  Saffron Jones-Yates takes the ball forwards driving all the way into the Bure Valley area before being held up by defender Jasmine Snelling keeping possession looking for support Tuttle providing the run looks to tee her up on the penalty spot, Cushion sticking a foot out to take the ball away from her. The hosts with a period of sustained pressure around the Bure Valley box Millie Reeve winning her side a corner on the left. 

  Winning a throw high on the right taken quickly into Sergeant, the Beccles winger hooking a high ball on into the area, Tuttle looking to get it down, is tackled by Snelling the defender launching the ball clear. The width offered means both sides have space to attack if they can find their passes, Nye looking to get away on the left is keeping Bailey busy, Lola Middlemass coming across from the centre of defence to help her full back out.

Beccles defender, Evie Bailey

GOAL! Bure Valley comfortable on the counter to exploit either flank with Macmillan conjuring a goal out of nothing as she carries the ball out to the right down the line before shooting on the angle a venomous shot from distance that whips across the keeper into the back of the net at the far post to double the visitors lead 0-2.

Bure Valley captain, Emma Macmillan firing her side into a 2 goal lead

  Two goals to the good inside the opening 10 minutes Bure Valley showing their intend right from the off. Beccles backs to the wall need to regroup quickly. Tuttle looking to take the game to Bure Valley on the charge through the centre with the ball at her feet, Snelling putting in the challenge as she arrives at the top of her area. 

GOAL! Having conceded two quick goals at the start of the match Beccles get on the attack and find a welcome reply attacking up the left Jones-Yates with Reeve the ball crossed into the top of the Bure Valley area isn’t dealt with as it runs on for Tuttle who hits it first time sending a looping shot in high on goal dropping out of the grey sky goalkeeper Danielle Barnes back peddling struggling to reach it as it drops over her skimming the cross bar as it bounces down over the line 1-2.

Alesha Tuttle pulling a goal back for Beccles.

  Game on Beccles pulling a goal back the ball rarely still, Megan Swain tackling in midfield for Bure Valley lifted on for Nye racing away on the left. Bailey getting back at her. Back in midfield Macmillan getting hold of the ball pushing left on for Nye down to the by-line Middlemass in to close her down gives away the free-kick outside the box. Taken by Macmillan driven into the side netting.

   MacMillan runs in behind the defence to attack the ball as it rebounds into the area of a competitive midfield tussle, Outlaw comes out to close down the angle Macmillan stretching to lift the ball over the keeper, sees the ball bounce wide of the right post. Bure Valley lively turning play around Swain out to Nye on the left taking the ball in behind, Middlemass coming across to challenge put the ball out of play for a throw. 

Bure Valley’s Willow Nye

Macmillan on the move with the ball out to the right linking up with Redgrave the shot on the angle claimed comfortably by Outlaw at her near post. Potter sending the ball through for Tuttle in attack driving out plays the pass wide for Sergeant up on the right, she swings a cross in along the top of the six yard box, Reeve can’t reach it cleared by Lily Norman for Bure Valley. 

Tuttle coming inside from the left 25 yards out for Beccles fires a low drive wide of Barnes’ left post. Sergeant taking the ball on from Bailey up the right for Beccles travelling into the corner, Frost staying on her the full back, blocking her cross the ball behind for a corner. The ball delivered into the near side Tuttle looking to bring it down and shoot from six yards out sees her effort blocked by a combination of defender and goalkeeper before Barnes drops down to smother the ball end the move. 

  Bure Valley quick to get the ball down the other end stretch play Redgrave on the right downing well to win her side a corner kick. Taken short Nye back to the taker lifted back in Beccles clearing back to the right, Bure Valley with players up pressing the ball fired in near post Redgrave looking to attack it, Outlaw though close in to grab hold of the ball. The game open at times one moment Beccles are on the attack, Bure Valley a threat on the counter. Cushion intercepting at the ball as Tuttle looks to put Sergeant on behind. 

  Nye and Redgrave swapping flanks for Bure Valley, Beccles making a change off comes reeve on comes Phoebe Wakefield. Bure Valley also making a change bringing on Emily Addison the 16 year old making her debut replacing Nye. Bure Valley winning a corner on the right into the area put back to the corner taker lifted back into the area headed clear by Middlemass back out to the right before a shot is fired in on the angle wide at the near post.

Beccles midfielder, Stevie Potter

   Bure Valley making a 2nd switch bringing on Maddison Woodcock with Gibbs coming off. Potter taking the ball forwards through the middle for Beccles played on for Sergeant pulling into the box right of goal seeing the ball across her path fires her cross/shot behind at the near post. Bure Valley patrolling down the right the cross clipped in high into the area, Outlaw has to come for it with Redgrave making a run for the ball, knocks it behind for a corner.

Megan Sergeant

  The in swinging delivery defended at the near pot by Wilkinson behind for a 2nd corner. Beccles dealing with the threat looking to get forwards late in the first half Jones-Yates on for Sergeant pushing up the right, Cushion across to put in the challenge for Bure Valley. Bailey does well in defence for Beccles up against Redgrave top of the area as she looks to get onto a superb flick on from MacMillan off a Barnes free-kick. 

Megan Swain with Megan Sergeant

Half-time Beccles Town Ladies Development 1-2 Bury Valley Ladies

  An entertaining first 45 minutes draws to a close with Bure Valley holding a 2-1 lead over Beccles as the two sides gather by their respective dug-outs for the interval. Bure Valley racing into the lead 1 up inside the opening minutes threatening to turn the screw as they quickly made it 2. Beccles under the cosh fought back well getting a goal back quickly to settle the ship, the game opened up after that. Bure Valley seeing more of the ball not capitalising with Beccles having a couple of good opportunities up the other end. Just a goal in it still all to play for.

  A shortened half-time break with the teams keen to get on with it the rain starting to ease up, not that it’s been pouring, just a persistent drizzle. Changes at the break, positional as well as personnel. Eliza Hanson on for Beccles replacing Potter going to the left. Bure Valley to get the 2nd half underway with Nye back on the field for Norman. Swain with the ball forwards for Macmillan, Tuttle in to close her down get possession for the hosts, looks for Hanson out on the left, drops her shoulder to drive on down the wing, Frost lunging in with the challenge to send the ball out for a throw.

  Beccles looking to be aggressive at the start of the 2nd period get the ball out to the flanks attack the area, Hanson sending a high ball in on the angle to the far post, Woodcock under pressure from Wakefield doing well in defence to clear for the visitors. Jones-Yates coming left has Wakefield moving into the channel the pass played into her Frost tackling to deflect the ball out for a throw.

Beccles, Eliza Hanson

 The steady rain making the pitch and the ball slick as Swain slips as she winds up a strike from range her effort from all of 25 yards out bouncing up as it arrives at Outlaw the keeper mishandling it to see the ball run behind for a corner kick. The corner flashed into the six yard box rebounds of a couple of players before running behind a goal kick signalled. 

 Beccles break through the middle Tuttle carrying the threat on the ball lifting it out to the right for Sergeant looking to run in behind, Wakefield with her the ball played into the area just out of Wakefield’s reach, Frost the last defender has to get there and takes the ball away from the attacker to kill off the threat. Beccles pushing on the right Bowen into Sergeant the cross into the area cleared by Barnes. 

Bure Valley goalkeeper, Danielle Barnes

GOAL! Bure Valley win the ball at the back come on down the left Nye taking on possession powering her way up the pitch turning inside 25 yards out playing the ball into the area looking for Redgrave central, Middlemass getting a toe on the ball as Outlaw comes rushing out to claim the ball knocked away from her out to Addison top of the D, keeps her composure to lift the ball back in over the stranded keeper and defence to plant the ball into the back of net, celebrates as she mark her debut with a goal 1-3.

Emily Addison scoring on her Bure Valley debut

  Bure Valley winning the ball in midfield Swain linking up with Macmillan the ball threaded on into the area Redgrave the target, looking to connect with it, Wilkinson back peddling doing well to trap the ball between her feet dig out the clearance for Beccles. Macmillan looking dangerous for Bure Valley every time she sees the ball into her feet and travels forwards, attempts to pick out Addison on the move up the right, Tiffin cutting out the pass for Beccles.

  Frost coming on up the right for Bure Valley with Swain ahead of her taking the ball to the by-line works the cross into the six yard box, Outlaw claiming it high. Hanson pushed over on the left winning Beccles a free-kick, players forwards into the area as Tuttle sends it in for post, a corner won. Whipped in low to the near post from the left, Barnes dropping forwards onto it to claim.

 Nye moving with the ball at her feet on the left checks inside as she arrives in the box stabbing it inside for Redgrave, taken off her toes by Tiffin, the loose ball runs straight to Swain 25 yards out sends the dipping shot in straight at Outlaw but skipping up viciously as she goes down to gather does well to adjust pluck it back down and grab.

Beccles goalkeeper, Annabel Outlaw

  Beccles regain possession on the left as Wilkinson steps in to tackle Addison the ball lifted on for Hanson who sends a cross field ball on looking to release Jones-Yates bombing on through the middle, the hosts frustrated as the attack is halted by an offside flag.

GOAL! Midway through the 2nd half Bure Valley are looking strong going forwards, swain and Macmillan providing strong back up for the attacking trio, Macmillan with the ball in the left channel powers forwards coming inside the D, getting the ball onto her right foot, connects with the strike to rifle her shot into the top corner 1-4.

Emma Macmillan about to pull the trigger to make it 4-1 to Bure Valley

  Beccles falling a further goal behind remain positive looking to get the ball forwards Tuttle with Jones-Yates clipped out to Sergeant on the right wing takes the ball to the by-line her cross stabbed in towards goal, Barnes dropping to claim doesn’t get hold of it loose in front of goal Bailey’s shot is charged down.

  Outlaw needs to make the claim take the ball high inside her six yard box as Macmillan lifts the cross in from the left, Addison ready for any mistake, Outlaw takes it cleanly. A pause while an injury is dealt with Beccles make a change bringing off Bailey on comes Sophie Runnacles at right back. Middlemass intercepting at the back as Swain slides the ball on through the middle.

  Norman back on for Bure Valley on the right of defence intercepts as Middlemass looks for Hanson on the left. Beccles winning a free-kick on half way play up to Tuttle outside the box looks the bring the ball down off her chest and hit on the volley as she turns her shot dipping but straight at the keeper, easy for Barnes. 

  Beccles making a double change bringing off Jones-Yates and Hanson, on come Lola Brewster and Reeve. The game moving into the final 15 minutes. Heald on for Swain out to Addison wide right into the corner her cross lifted into the box cleared by Outlaw punching the ball away with Gibbs making a run to the back post.

  Tuttle with a pop from distance, saved by Barnes. Sergeant up on the right for Beccles winning a corner. The in swinging ball cleared out of the six yard box back to the corner taker, the return ball into Tuttle near side sends her shot wide. Snelling up to head the ball clear top of her area as Sergeant crosses from the right. The game stretched Bure Valley pressing forwards comes right Addison crossing low into the box, Redgrave looking to attack it Tiffin defending for Beccles.

Madeline Frost coming forwards for Bure Valley

  Heald on for Macmillan through the middle Bure Valley’s captain letting fly from 25 yards out her effort bouncing just in front of the keeper, Outlaw down to gather has it safely in her grasp. Frost coming on well with the ball for Bure Valley on the left late in the game her cross aimed into Redgrave on the penalty spot cut out by Middlemass. 

 Macmillan taking the ball forwards strong on for Redgrave into the box, just over runs it allowing Wilkinson to nick it and clear for Beccles. The hosts willing to give it a go late on press on Brewster with the ball forwards into Wakefield, Gibbs tackling for Bure Valley the visitors quick to counter, Addison through to attack the box a vital interception from Tiffin. 

Megan Swain with the incoming tackle on Lola Brewster

Swain with the tackle on Brewster to keep her side in possession inside their opponents half Addison on the right crossing into the area Redgrave attacking it six out, Outlaw with the blocking save the ball rolling out to Macmillan outside the area, looks to curl a shot back in, Outlaw across to claim it safely. Tiffin across to tackle Addison as Swain looks to send her in on the right wing. Outlaw claiming the cross inside her six yard box off the resulting throw.

  Bure Valley looking for a 5th goal late in the match pushing players on Norman joining the attack on the left her looping cross into the area dealt with by Middlemass. Time for one last Beccles attack as the ball is sent on the diagonal out to Sergeant on the right, joined by Wakefield the cross angled in at the near post can be seen safely out of play by Barnes.

Full time Beccles Town Ladies Development 1-4 Bury Valley Ladies

  Bure Valley celebrate at the final whistle winning another 3 points the 2nd placed side keeping the pressure on leaders Stalham Town the gap still 5 points with their title opponents winning 3-2 away to Mundford this afternoon. With a game in hand on Stalham and yet to play them this season, have two crucial games to look forwards too. Bure Valley on top right from the off this afternoon, racing forwards to take the lead inside the opening minute quickly adding a 2nd, Beccles needed a response and Alesha Tuttle provided it pulling it back to 2-1 created chances after that yet Bure Valley carried a threat all game. Beccles wanting to make a positive start to the 2nd half attacking yet they were to fall a further goal behind, Emily Addison scoring on her debut before Macmillan rifled in her 2nd of the match to make it 4-1.   

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this Sunday’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. There’s more often than not several contenders, but I’d be lying if that was the case today still some performances of note to mention first. For Beccles, Lola Middlemass made a number of vital challenges at the back limiting Bure Valley’s opportunities from inside the box. Megan Sergeant got forwards well on the right as ready outlet for the hosts throughout the match. Alesha Tuttle looking to make thing’s happen for Beccles got forwards well with some determined running took her goal well. For Bure Valley, Willow Nye was a danger attacking on the left and right, as was Maisie Redgrave playing wide and through the middle 2nd half. Emily Addison making an impact on her debut. Megan Swain strong in the middle tackling and coming forwards with the ball. Today’s award though goes to Bure Valley’s captain Emma Macmillan. Ran the show getting hold of the ball driving forwards creating chances for herself and setting up other, two superb goals.  

 An entertaining contest today between two young talented sides that are only going to get better. Enjoyed my visit over to Beccles, long for a dry game but then so do we all. Good to catch up with both sides, my thanks for all their help today and I will be as intrigued as anyone to see how the Norfolk Women’s Division Two table finishes up. 

by Darren Gilham

Match Report – Isleham United Ladies v Ely City Women

Sunday 10th March

Cambridgeshire Women’s Division Three

Well in to the business end of the season now with the leagues and title challengers well placed. Some huge games coming over the next few weeks to determine the cause, taking in a top of the table clash from Cambridgeshire Women’s Division Three this Sunday afternoon, with leaders Isleham United Ladies taking on 2nd placed Ely City Women.

  Isleham 4 points clear of Ely at the top with 5 matches to play. Well positioned to battle for top spot, that not quite in their hands with 3rd placed South Lincolnshire Swifts having 5 games in hand 8 points back, will need a few favours from the opposition, but can only look after their on house some bug matches to come.

  Isleham United Ladies looking to bounce back at the first attempt after suffering relegation from Division Two last season enduring a tough campaign winning just 3 of their 18 games. One of the longest established clubs within the Cambridgeshire Women’s set-up, have returned with a vengeance this season after initially drawing their opening two matches went on a run of 5 straight wins to power there way up the Division Three standings back to back defeats either side of the New Year stalling that charge slightly got back to winning ways taking maximum points from their last 4 to go top. Young players joining an established crop of experienced players have all been amongst the goals, Kaitlin Elsey top scorer netting 23v goals from 15 matches with Evie jakes and Georgia Blackaby on 9 a piece while Amelia Thompson has found the back of the net for 8 goals. 

  Ely City FC have been supporting women’s football in Cambridgeshire for a number of years their Demcom Stadium the home ground for both of Cambridge’s big guns, United and City’s woman’s sides, before the club’s natural progression to form it’s own senior women’s football side last season. No doubt a tough opening campaign struggling for results finishing 2nd bottom but got through it with a much healthier 2nd campaign in the league. Despite starting with a loss 3 straight wins got them going in the right direction new faces joining the squad. Has been a change of management, was player Natasha Lane stepping up from assistant to lead the management team working along side experienced coaches within club. A run of 5 straight wins seeing Ely climb into 2nd spot definitely in the title mix, will need a lot to go there way to claim top spot but will certainly help to decide in which direction it heads. Goal throughout the side, Danni Youngs top scorer with 11 goals, Kelly Docwra joining from Willingham Wolves on target for 9 goals so far with Bella Pillow scoring 6 from 6.

  Isleham United Ladies playing today’s match at nearby Mildenhall and The Hub a new build leisure complex on the outskirts of the town. Making use of there 3G pitch, probably just as well with the rain that I hadn’t planned on lasting so long into the afternoon continuing unabated. There usual home the Isleham Recreation Ground likely to be water-logged as were several games in the finish, some even abandoned at half-time. A caged £g with viewing on one side a useful facility for clubs to have access too. Viewing for spectators on one side no cover though. Rain pouring going to be a challenge writing a report, thankfully no wind so the umbrella can be tucked down the coat leaving the hands free for the notepad and camera. 

Isleham United Ladies

Isleham United Ladies starting XI – Rebecca Finch, Michela Edwards, Jodie Copping, Kayleigh Pearson, Evie Luker, Shona Kelly, Laura McAllister (C), Erin Clarke, Chloe Dunn, Georgia Blackaby & Amelia Thompson. Subs – Evie Jakes, Kaitlin Elsey, Laura Todd Zoe Middleton.

Ely City Women

 Ely City Women starting XI – Tiff Toynton, Anna Petrova, Kerry Dyer, Vicky Bailey, Kaci Gibson, Amy Lloyd (C), Sammi Miles, Natasha Lane, Danni Youngs, Kelly Docwra & Bella Pillow. Subs – Harriet Ford, Christina King, Alice Creswick, Amanda Beavis & Carlene Bunton.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

  It’s the way side Ely to get the match underway kicking off the first half wearing, red shirts with maroon sleeves, black shorts and red socks with Isleham lined up opposite wearing black and white vertical striped shirts with black shorts and socks. The ball rolled back to Danni Youngs who send it into her defence, Isleham quick out of the blocks rushing to close down the ball, Amelia Thompson causing the Ely backline to hastily clear out to the right the ball out of play for a throw.

   Ely win the ball in the middle Sammi Miles for Kelly Docwra in the right channel lays it out wide for Youngs on the move down the wing squares a cross low into the Isleham area, cut out and cleared by Jodie Copping. Almost a mistake at the back for Ely as Anna Petrova under pressure from Thompson with goalkeeper Tiff Toynton coming to the top of her area, too close the ball taken wide into the box, scrambled away before Thompson can stretch to snatch it. A lively start the rain falling steadily the ball pinging about players getting drawn over to the ball play compact on the left space to exploit if the wingers are prepared to pull into it. 

Bella Pillow attacking for Ely

  Bella Pillow leading the attack for Ely getting the ball into her feet and drives towards the Isleham area, tracking back wit her defender Evie Luker who puts in a well timed challenge inside the D to regain possession. Georgia Blackaby keeping wide on the left for Isleham the ball played into her by Shona Kelly carries it forwards with pace sweeping a low cross into the Ely box, intercepted by Vicky Bailey. Isleham pressing in the final third numbers on the left the ball coming through to the centre sees a shot struck over the bar.

Isleham’s Georgia Blackaby

  Blackaby a threat on the left getting free of her marker driving for the by-line Toynton has come rushing out to close her down as Blackaby plays the ball back up to Thompson positioned right corner with the keeper out of position looks for the early strike smashes her shot wide at the near post.

  Play mostly confined to the far side of the pitch Isleham pressing the attack down the left flank, Ely competing for the ball looking to find Youngs attacking the other way on the right. Chloe Dunn over on Isleham’s right has been patient not getting drawn in too close ready when the ball comes springing out to her on the right to knock it forwards and power her way forwards, Petrova pushing hard to catch up with her making the blocking tackle as they reach the box the ball deflected off hr behind for the 1st corner of the game. 

 Whipped into the box from the right knocked down into the mix, Pillow down as Docwra scrambles the ball clear. A pause in play Pillow up okay to play on. Michela Edwards and Copping combining in defence to thwart an Ely attack on the right the ball lifted on for Thompson up to looking to get the ball under control 20 yards out won’t drop for her before the Ely defence converge to close her down.

   A drop ball for the referee as the ball hits the wire running across the centre of the pitch carrying the netting to divide the 3G pitch into two smaller ones. Captain Laura McAllister putting her foot in to win the ball for Isleham in the middle the ball clipped diagonal out to the right for Dunn, a vital interception from Petrova or she would have been free to run in behind.

Evie Luker battling for possession with Sammi Miles

 A loose goal-kick going straight to Ely on the right the ball swung back into the area, Luker needing to deal with it screws her volley wide for a throw for Ely deep on the left Ely pressing players on the ball comes back to Kaci Gibson to cross in central 25 yards out, Ely’s player manager Natasha Lane striking the ball on her right foot from outside the D angling low for the inside of the right post, Isleham goalkeeper Rebecca Finch down sharply getting something on it to deflect the ball behind for the corner kick. 

Ely’s player manager, Natasha Lane

  The corner played in from the right, captain Amy Lloyd jumping near side just under it as it drops central, Kayleigh Pearson launching it clear. Ely encouraged getting some joy now play has opened up and both sides are starting to use the entire width of the pitch. Pillow with Youngs through the middle placing the Isleham defence under pressure, Pearson back to goal 20 out can’t risk playing it back to her keeper, slides it inside for Copping who turns well to evade Youngs and send the ball out to the left.

  Pouring down, and not likely to let up anytime soon Youngs with the ball attacking on the right for Ely, squares it inside for Miles 20 yards out right of the D, lays it off for Lloyd running on her 25 yard strike whistling over the bar. The wire ropes at it again another drop ball as an attack is halted. Docwra playing the ball into Lane to hit from range her effort fired straight at the keeper.

  GOAL! 27 minutes on the clock and the deadlock is broken. Blackaby remains Isleham’s chief threat out on the left the ball fed into her feet knocks the ball on, Toynton again comes rushing out to the edge of her area looking to reach the ball, Blackaby getting to it first however stabbing the ball past the keeper the ball on it’s way towards goal will it have the pace to get their before the back tracking Ely defence can clear, Thompson through running in towards goal to making sure they don’t get the chance as she smashes it home to put Isleham into the lead. 1-0.

Amelia Thompson fires Isleham into the lead.

  Ely behind Lloyd playing the ball out to Docwra pulling right has support with Miles coming forwards the inside ball played Miles whipping a cross into the area, Luker behind it to clear for Isleham. Despite the weather (or maybe because of it) both sides playing at a good tempo the ball not settling for long Lloyd opening up her body to thread a pass into Pillow up top, Copping getting hold of it for Isleham instead. Miles with a high hooked ball in towards goal as it comes into her from the right top of the D, dropping his Finch concerned bounces down and for a second no ones sure if it crept under the crossbar or over but the goal-kick is signalled, who have been a few hearts in mouths there.

Ely’s Sammi Miles

    Youngs pressing on the left enjoying a good tussle with Edwards, the ball lifted into the box, Youngs stealing in to attack it as Finch moves to the ball the pair with a heavy collision the keeper coming off worse. Concern for a minute as she receives treatment but thankfully up okay the game resuming with a corner kick to Ely. Another delivery swung into the mix, Isleham’s defence standing firm the ball headed clear.

Isleham midfielder, Erin Clarke

  Kelly bringing the ball on for Isleham lifting it on for Blackaby racing on left side all the way to the by-line, Dyer catching up with her for Ely does well to get a tackle in send the ball out for a throw. Isleham pushing up Erin Clarke laying the ball into Thompson 20 yards out, Lloyd lunging in to knock it away from her the visitors looking to counter, Miles up with Youngs on her inside on the right puts it into her, Youngs’ shot charged down.

Kerry Dyer clearing the ball for Ely

  Dunn and Blackaby switching flanks for Isleham looking to run at Petrova. Play with Ely however as they win a free-kick outside the Isleham area on the right, Docwra sending a curling delivery in across the top of the six yard box, Finch with an unorthodox save with her legs hooking the ball away, effective nonetheless. Ely win the ball back quickly fired up to the attackers Pillow and Youngs make the same run right channel impeded each other giving Copping  the opportunity to win the ball.

   Play switched instantly Isleham sending it on up to Blackaby and Thompson attacking through the middle, Toynton has comes all the way to the top of the area looking to reach the ball first can’t and is in trouble back peddling as Thompson lays it into Blackaby to strike right inside the D, low, Toynton recovers with a fantastic save getting a glove on the ball doing enough to deflect it wide past her left post for the corner. Some good corner deliveries from both sides Isleham’s this time whipped into the six yard box Ely struggle to scramble clear before a shot from the top of the area is fired wide. 

Ely goalkeeper, Tiff Toynton

  The game open at times Ely rushing forwards Youngs right channel has Docwra running into the left channel slides the ball into he path takes it on, Copping getting back at her tangling with Docwra the ball deflecting off the defender running behind for the corner. Docwra takes a quick corner with miles coming for the short one on the left sweeps a curling cross in towards goal, Finch having little time to react beating it down as she falls back the ball loose, Pillow looking to latching onto it but has to round Pearson to do that and the defenders not having it as Finch snatches the ball into her gloves.

  The first half drawing to a close Isleham getting up on the left winning a corner kick. The set-piece whipped into the crowd at the near post turned wide a goal-kick signalled. Dunn with the ball wide on Isleham’s  left squares a cross into the box, cut out by Bailey rebounds back to Dunn who blasts a show over from the angle. Isleham finishing the half strong getting bodies up the pitch keeping possession on the left before the ball comes in central to Luker 25 yards out, seeing an opportunity to shoot, her attempt is charged down. 

  Dunn looking to race on down the left get past Dyer the full back though sticking a foot out to send it behind for the corner. Again swung in near post this time though Toynton is free unopposed to catch it into her mid-riff. One last attack for Ely a corner won on the right Docwra playing it into Pillow right side knocks it goal wards, Luker coming off the back post there to intercept and clear.

Half-time Isleham United Ladies 1-0 Ely City Women

Both sides staying out at the break, want to get on with it

  Amelia Thompson’s first half strike the difference between the sides as the half-time whistle blows, didn’t think the teams would want to head back to the changing rooms being drenched already and bot stay out on the pitch for a shorter interval, keen to get going again. can’t say I blame them. No let up in the rain. Both sides making good attacking runs down the flanks, Blackaby on the left effective for Isleham, Youngs on the right for Ely both keeper forced into making a save. Played at a good tempo chances created very much all to play for in the 2nd period. 

  Play resumes with Isleham getting the 2nd half started. Ely making a change at the start of the 2nd half with Harriet ford coming on replacing Pillow. Miles moving left with Youngs pushed up with Docwra in attack. The ball played immediately into traffic as Ely move to close it down, Kelly getting hold of it for Isleham putting it out to Blackaby back on the left flank drives on Dyer close on her challenging the ball going out for a corner kick. Swung into the mix bailey clearance goes to Edwards top left of the area inside for Kelly central top of the D, her shot taking a nick to deflect it over the crossbar.

Danni Youngs pushed up in attack with Kelly Docwra for Ely in the 2nd half

  Ely counter on the right Lane lifting the ball on for Docwra pulling wide right, crosses early sending the ball in behind the Isleham defence into the box just beyond Youngs making a far post run, looks to retrieve it with Finch also giving chase the keeper diving onto the ball. Kelly has threatened to unlock the Ely defence with a killer pass or two in the game and nearly succeeds again as she spots Thompson pulling into the right channel, through but for a vital interception from Gibson. 

Isleham’s Shona Kelly

  Pearson clearing for a corner kick with Youngs and Docwra looking to hunt the ball down in attack. Out on the left played in near side Copping dealing with it for the hosts. Miles into Youngs 25 yards out left of the D, turns on the ball and shoots over. Ely enjoying a strong spell getting hold of the ball high up the pitch stretching the Isleham backline the cross from the left running into Lane central 25 yards out putting her foot through the ball the keeper beaten as the ball smashes down off the crossbar. 

Natasha Lane and Michela Edwards fighting for possession

  Isleham making their first change bringing on Kaitlin Elsey to replace Dunn out on the right. That pesky rope wire across the centre of the pitch intercepts the ball once again another drop ball. Kelly long from Blackaby on the left is keeping Dyer busy the pair having a good contest the defender staying on her to see Blackaby’s pass go astray. 

Georgia Blackaby

  Coming through the middle Ford on for Youngs up to Docwra outside the D, can’t get the ball down to hit cleanly, Finch diving puts it wide for the corner kick. Ely’s corner’s causing a few issues whipped into the mix with pace, Copping clearing this time. The visitors winning a few kick wide 25 yards out right of goal driven in low Finch stopping it with her legs, Copping getting hold of the loose ball hacking it clear.

   The centre wire rope getting involved again, both sides finding it. Edwards coming on a bit more on the left to give Blackaby some support going forwards into an advanced position lays a diagonal ball into the far post with Thompson making a good run, Gibson though has time to see it and set herself to clear. Lloyd giving away a foul on Clarke who is knocked over, Edwards adding insult to injury by accident blasting the ball into her stricken teammate. Clarke’s a bit dazed but into prepared to let it slow her down. The set-piece cleared by Ely.

  GOAL! The pressure Youngs and Docwra have be applying on the Isleham back line paying dividends as Docwra puts Copping in possession of the ball the back pass to risky is hesitates lacking a save options as Docwra steals in to take the ball away from her right of goal skip to the by-line and fired a low dipping  ball in across the keeper with Youngs dropping to head the ball over the line beyond 1-1.

Danni Youngs heads home Kelly Docwra’s cross to level the scores for Ely.

  Ely back on level terms with an hour played. Toynton not one to stay back on her line will come racing out off her box to clear if she can. Gets there ahead of Thompson and Blackaby on a couple of occasions. Almost caught out as her clearance is latched onto by Kelly, the Isleham midfielder having a go from range her effort dropping wide of the open goal. Kelly busy getting up the other end to slide in defend against Youngs as Docwra attempts to slide the ball on. 

  Isleham frustrated at conceding upping the ante the ball clipped into Thompson stealing into the box right of goal strikes the ball down towards goal, Toynton reacting smartly diving to beat it down towards the left post, loose, Blackaby’s eyes light up as she comes steaming in Dyer can’t get there she connects the ball mashed wide of the upright, Blackaby down throws her hands up in disbelief the opportunity missed.

Georgia Blackaby throws her hands up in frustration having put the shot wide

 Lane on the left sends a high ball in towards Youngs attacking top left of the D, can’t quite get it down under control just evades her as Luker comes back at her to clear. Into midfield McAllister with Kelly looking to play Thompson in up to, Bailey doing the intercepting this time.

Captain Laura McAllister back to help the defence for Isleham

 You guessed it they’ve somehow managed to find that wire rope again another build up thwarted. Ford turning on the ball central into Lane up on the right, Docwra ahead of her played into her feet turns, Edwards close on her to tackle for Isleham.

Ely’s Kelly Docwra

  GOAL! Isleham mount an attack sending the ball on left side Thompson sending Blackaby clear on the left wing Toynton starts to come to close the angle the cross/shot put into the area a deflection off  the keeper sends the ball on though to the far post Elsey closing on to direct the ball into the back of the net to see, Isleham retake the lead… after a brief consultation with the linesman, the referee deciding the goal stands 2-1.

  Isleham ringing the changes, Dunn coming back on along with Zoe Middleton and Evie Jakes going up top to replace Thompson, Middleton into the back line for Luker, Clarke also off. Ely winning a corner cut out near side by Blackaby who looks to chase the ball out of the box launch a counter Gibson standing her ground to halt her progress. 

  Finch with a brave blocking save to deny Docwra as the attacker bursts into the box from the left channel, hits the shot into the keeper at close range as she makes herself big in front of her. Edwards carrying the ball out for Isleham, left sending the diagonal ball into Jakes central, caught a little flat footed, just gives Toynton the time to come out of her area to clear having committed to her action. 

  Isleham having gotten ahead and made changes looking to add more energy to their game, Edwards coming inside laying the ball back out to Blackaby wide on the left from the angle 25 yards out looks to curl a shot into the top corner, fired wide of the upright. Lane out on the right clipping a looping ball into the area looking for Ford running in near side, can’t get it down under control before Copping can close her down to challenge and hook clear.

Ely’s Harriet Ford

  The game ebbing and flowing Ely with a good spell at the start of the 2nd half to draw level, Isleham fighting back to retake the lead, pushing on, Jakes putting the ball out to Elsey on the right wing, Petrova seeing it out for a throw. Isleham working the ball inside back to Jakes, Gibson tackling to get Ely back in possession. 

  Ford pushing up to join the Ely attack central with Docwra play the one two, however cant find a way past Copping. Blackaby comes off for Isleham as they send on Laura Todd with the game moving into the final 10 minutes. Toynton coming out to the top of her area, makes a confident catch as the ball is launched forwards for Jakes to attack. Ely up on the left looking to put pressure on the ball Youngs with Docwra wide the ball worked into the area from the by-line, Ford attacking it near post sees her attempt blocked. Ely keep pressing the ball to win a corner on the right.

  GOAL! Have been some great deliveries from corners and this is one of the best swung in central from Docwra, met cleanly by Lloyd unmarked to drill her header into the back of the net put Ely back on level terms for the 2nd time in the game 2-2.

Ely captain Amy Lloyd powers home the header to equalise for Ely

  Isleham pegged back for the 2nd time in the match attack on the right McAllister out to Elsey, cuts inside, tackled by Gibson. The game really open one minute Isleham are on the attack the next the momentum swings in Ely’s favour as the visitors come right Lane’s cross into the box sliced by the defender straight into Docwra’s path 10 yards out, fires her strike over the bar.

Isleham’s Laura Todd

  Todd giving Dyer a new threat to deal with on the right, the full back getting in her tackle as Todd looks to get her head down power into the channel. Bailey stepping in to cut the ball out at the back for Ely. Into the closing moments of the match Ely on the attack the ball from lane into Lloyd played in central to Docwra 30 yards out goes for goal her shot put straight at the keeper. The final whistle blows the points are shared. The teams wasting no time in exiting the pitch and getting into the warm, dry changing rooms.   

Full time Isleham United Ladies 2-2 Ely City Women

  An entertaining contest despite the weather. As a neutral was an enjoyable watch played in a great spirit no tension between the sides. Lively, players soaked through, loving it or mad, you can decide. Isleham taking the lead in the first half. Both sides forcing the keeper into a save. Ely making a change at the break started the 2nd half well pressing the Isleham defence forcing an error to see them level the scores. Isleham came back well to retake the lead and making changes of their own had opportunities to extend the lead. Ely never gave in however and came back for a 2nd time to level the scores late on. Both might feel they could have gotten a better result but as a neutral observer I think the draw id the fair result.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

 Time to choose this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the match award. It’s a really tough one to single out one individual today, so the award is going to the wire rope instead, held a great line throughout the game and made plenty of interceptions… just kidding. A few performances of note, for Isleham the defence all made vital tackles, Jodie Copping and Michela Edwards in particular the latter also getting on well to help in attack in the 2nd half. Shona Kelly strong in the middle getting about the pitch making tackles winning the ball and showed a good range of passing that on another day would have seen one of her attackers through on goal. Kelly Docwra leading the line for Ely making some excellent runs putting the Isleham defence under pressure through setting up both goals. Again the Ely defence all made vital challenges, Kerry Dyer had her hands full with Blackaby for most of the game, stuck to her task well winning her fair share of the ball. Danni Youngs a real threat whether out on the right in the first half or more central in the 2nd driving on getting into the box, getting Ely back on level terms. She ran herself into the ground however and getting the award today is Isleham’s Georgia Blackaby carried the threat for Isleham in the 1st half, Dyer making her work for it no doubt always available, whether down the line or cutting inside to set up others unlucky not to score. 

  Despite a miserable afternoon weather wise it was still an enjoyable game from Cambridgeshire Women’s Division Three. Haven’t seen Isleham for a long long time so great to catch up and great to see Ely too. Will be an interesting title run in will certainly be an interested observer. My thanks to both sides for all their help today very much appreciated.  

by Darren Gilham

Cup Final Special – Eaton Socon Ladies v Godmanchester Town Ladies

Friday 8th March

Huntingdonshire FA Women Senior Cup Final

The cup finals getting off to an early start this year with a Friday evening trip to St Neots to watch this season’s Hunts FA Women’s Senior Cup Final between Eaton Socon Ladies and Godmanchester Town Ladies.

Very much a fledgling competition with this being the 3rd final to be played. Cambridge United WFC winning in inaugural competition beating St Ives Town Women with a stoppage time winner from Laura Mitchell to lift the cup. A single goal the difference in the finish in last season’s final too, albeit coming in the opening 50 seconds, Laura Rudd’s 30 yard screamer seeing Cardea FC Ladies win seeing St Ives Town Ladies finish runners-up for the 2nd successive year.

This evening’s prize

Huntingdonshire FA with a small catchment of clubs seeing a field of just 7 enter this years competition and that was further reduced with clubs sadly withdrawing from there respective leagues, one of those, St Ives Town Ladies, their 1st team at least, struggling for numbers and injuries making to tough decision to call it a day. Followed soon after by Yaxley Phoenix Ladies losing both their 1st team and development side. With two of the favourites not even getting to play their drawn matches the competition has opened the door to others. For despite these losses Huntingdonshire has huge potential for growth within the women’s game and interest is strong with the Hunts FA announcing over 600 tickets were sold leading up to this evenings final.

Eaton Socon Ladies into their 1st Hunt’s FA Women’s Senior Final a great opportunity to compete for silverware in what has been a tough season for the Cambridgeshire Women’s Premiership side. Due to unforeseen circumstances bringing in a new manager weeks before the start of the season. Dan Dodson looking to bring in a new style of play has taken a little bit of time for thing’s to settle but but after a poor start to the season and a good squad of talented players to work with results have started to come the bonus reaching their 1st cup final

Godmanchester Town Ladies were formed this season the side evolving from the core of the old St Ives Town Ladies Development side, initially moving to Huntingdon before establishing themselves with their new club. Are enjoying a very good season in the league. Top of Cambridgeshire Women’s Division Two look odds on to win the league with 7 matches to play, 8 points clear at the top undefeated winning all but one of their 13 games to date. Scoring plenty of goals long the way too with Kendal O’Connor leading scorer so far with 23 goals from 15 games with Ellie Harvey close behind on 20 for the season, with Francesca Worrall and Natasha Houchen also into double figures. That strong league form continuing into the cup competitions reaching a final in their 1st season.

Road to the Final

    With the quarter final draw being blown wide open by the early season withdrawals, Eaton Socon who had been handed a tough home game against St Ives Town Ladies progressed straight to the last 4. Godmanchester were drawn away to St Ives Town Ladies 2nd team which is still going. The away side winning 4-0 to reach the last 4 off the competition with holders Cardea FC Ladies and their new Reserves side the other semi-finalists.

  Eaton Socon at home again in the semi-finals drawn against Cardea FC Ladies 1st team. A 2nd half brace from Hannah Hutchinson and a stoppage time goal from Shannah Anico seeing Eaton Socon into the final winning 3-1 to knock out the holders. Godmanchester at home too taking on Cardea FC Ladies Reserves, rattling in the goals easily reaching the final with a 7-2 victory.

 The previous two Hunts FA Women’s Senior Finals taking place at Eynesbury Rovers FC, the final moved this season to St Neots Town Fc’s. Premier Plus Stadium. With a large crowd expected the ground starting to fill early, the main seated stand on one side of the ground with the kitchen hatch open for hot food and drinks along with the bar. Terraced standing behind both goals with viewing all round. The good sized grass pitch in great condition. A few welcome days of relatively dry weather leading up to the game although their was a bitterly cold breeze keeping temperatures down.

Eaton Socon Ladies

Eaton Socon Ladies starting XI – Keeley Robinson, Lily Horsler, Victoria Wilkinson, Erin Kelly, Chloe Armstrong, Gemma Cooksley (C), Mollie Childerley, Charlotte Crisp, Hannah Hutchinson, Shannah Anico & Chloe Parncutt. Subs – Melissa Davidson, Rebecca Jones, Kelly Bingham, Cara Howell & Kayleigh Clarke. 

Godmanchester Town Ladies

Godmanchester Town Ladies starting XI – Jade Carpenter, Leah Culpin, Leia Wheeler, Emily Stephenson, Megan Stow, Cherish Sibanda (C), Natasha Houchen, Sophie Crook, Francesca Worrall, Ellie Harvey & Kendal O’Connor. Subs – Georgina Astley, Steph Ransome, Erica Zimmerman, Natasha Colmer & Nicolle Surtees.

  It’s Godmanchester to get the Hunts FA Women Senior Cup Final underway kicking off the 1st half wearing sky blue shirts with navy blue across the top of the chest and sleeves, navy shorts and socks. Eaton Socon lined up opposite wearing claret coloured shirts and socks with sky blue shorts. Th ball played back to the defence clipped long out to the right, Eaton Socon’s Victoria Wilkinson challenging the ball taken out of play for the throw. 

  Godmanchester pressing on the right the ball won central threaded through for Kendal O’Connor running into the right channel, Chloe Armstrong intercepting the pass at the back for Eaton Socon. A lively start to the game both sides closing the ball down, little time to pick a pass. Shannah Anico with pace to burn looking to get free on the right as the ball is squeezed in the middle launched forwards, Emily Stephenson winning it at the back for Godmanchester.

Shannah Anico (photo credit Lucy Nicole Photography)

 Cherish Sibanda captaining Godmanchester combining with Sophie Crook through the middle played forwards for Francesca Worrall pulling in behind the Eaton Socon defence taking the ball into the area left of the goal, goalkeeper Keeley Robinson comes racing out to close her down going to ground making the blocking save at the strikers feet.

  Lily Horsler moving in to press the ball off a Godmanchester throw in on right looks to put Anico on down the wing, Stephenson getting across on the cover to close her down send the ball out for a throw. A high tempo both sides continue to get at one another, Eaton Socon come forwards Hannah Hutchinson on for Anico bursting down the right into the corner, holds possession sending it back into Hutchinson 25 yards out central, looks to return it to Anico as she races back to the top corner of the area, the number 9 brought down, referee Lauren Dobbs awarding the free-kick. 

 Crisp over the set piece 20 yards out right corner of the Godmanchester area whips a curling ball in low towards goal runners coming in to attack it, Mollie Childerley meeting it with a little too much power driving it wide at the near post. Eaton Socon starting to gain some momentum coming forward well, Erin Kelly on for Hutchinson out to Anico on the right Leia Wheeler getting her foot in to take the ball away from her clear for Godmanchester. Hutchinson pulling right again linking up with Anico threads the ball into the area, the Godmanchester defence across her to shield the ball out for the goal kick.

  Anico looking to play Hutchinson on this time down the right wing, Natasha Houchen tackling for Godmanchester. Jade Carpenter, keeping goal for Godmanchester comes to claim as Anico 25 yards out lifts the ball into her box. Carpenter then racing out of her area to kick the ball clear as Chloe Parncutt threatens to run in behind the defence from an over the top pass. 

 Eaton Socon doing well to win the 2nd balls stop Godmanchester finding their attackers turn play around played out to Childerley on the left, Wilkinson providing support the ball back to her played inside for Kelly to strike from distance Carpenter right behind it to save. Horsler putting herself about getting stuck in on the right linking up with Anico, Megan Stow getting across as she gets in behind to clear. Horsler with a nice piece of footwork to drag the ball back skip past her marker on the right cuts inside running into traffic can’t pick out a teammate before Sibanda tackles.

Lily Horsler (photo credit Lucy Nicole Photography)

  O’Connor gets hold of the ball in attack for Godmanchester powers her way in behind the defence looking to attack the area moving central, checks inside to come back onto her right foot as the Eaton Socon defence recovers the ground, nevertheless gets her shot away a low strike angled in at right post, Robinson down smartly onto it to save.

 The tackles continue to mount up O’Connor earning herself the 1st yellow card of the game as Eaton Socon get the free-kick on halfway. Sent long in towards the area Stow heading clear, Eaton Socon keep possession a diagonal ball angled out to the right with Hutchinson giving chase to the by-line looks to play the ball of the tracking defender and gets it to win her side a corner kick. Parncutt to take the corner played in low to the top of the box the pass returned to Parncutt coming inside to sweep a cross into the six yard box, Sibanda winning it for Godmanchester. 

  GOAL! The deadlock broken in the 19th minute Eaton Socon winning the ball back on their left Wilkinson into Kelly to Parncutt the ball fed into the left channel Childerley breaking in behind the defence moving central comes back onto her left foot to smash a low shot under the diving keeper from 20 yards out and turns to race away in celebration. Next to her grandparents they were pleased with that one 1-0.

Mollie Childerley opens the scoring for Eaton Socon Ladies (photo credit Lucy Nicole Photography

   Competitive in the middle, Crisp and Sophie Crook for Manchester getting stuck into each other as crisp comes right looking to pick out the run of Anico. Hutchinson finding room on the ball for Eaton Socon getting forwards well having the pacy Anico getting central slips the ball into the area forwards for Anico to attack left of goal a little too far ahead of her came on poke her shot wide of the post. Hutchinson then seeing the ball into her feet outside the box right corner turns to shoot, Stephenson out to block her.

  Godmanchester competing for the ball well, finding it hard to pick a pass with Eaton Socon moving quickly to get hold of the 2nd ball. Crook playing to the ball out to Worrall moves inside her inside pass cut out by Eaton Socon captain, Gemma Cooksley.

  GOAL! Out of nothing Godmanchester get themselves back on level terms, the ball played wide out to the left in the final third looking to be running out of play, chased down and kept in, Crook with it at her feet coming inside on the angle hitting the ball in towards the far post on the angle, sends it over Robinson under the crossbar to pull it back to 1-1.

  Back all square, Eaton Socon regain possession on the left the ball with Childerley forwards for Parncutt driving down the line, Leah Culpin getting in the challenge to win the ball back for Godmanchester. Kelly with Crisp in the middle the ball put forwards onto Anico up to, looks to steal half a yard on the defence get in behind, Stephenson with a great tackle recovering to nick the ball away from her.

  Stow winning the header in defence for Godmanchester the ball back into mid-field Crook out to the left wing for Worrall wins them their 1st corner of the game. The delivery swung into the near post clear by Hutchinson for Eaton Socon out for a throw. Eaton Socon build through the middle Parncutt combining with Crisp taking the ball right slide the pass in for Hutchinson 25 yards out, Stephenson quickly out to close her down tackling to win the ball back. 

Charlotte Crisp (photo credit Lucy Nicole Photography)

  Both sides maintaining a good tempo the ball rarely still, flowing been with some robust challenges. Horsler nipping in to win the ball of Worrall breaking forwards comes inside runs into Sibanda. Godmanchester caught high lose the ball, Stephenson well positioned to halt the counter attack. Houchen with a talking too as she chops down Hutchinson on half way. Eaton Socon break left Childerley on for Parncutt, the ball rolled back to the top of the area the cross swept into the six yard box claimed well by Carpenter.

  Carpenter out of her area to hack the ball clear as Hutchinson feed the ball on for Anico on the right. Anico’s pace continues to cause Godmanchester problems as Carpenter is needed to run out to the top of the box to clear before the attacker and race onto the ball in behind. Eaton Socon looking to finish the first half strong Childerley, Anico and Parncutt combining down the left can’t quite keep the ball in play as she stretches to cross on the by-line. Godmanchester with one last attack in the half getting up the left winning a corner. A decent ball swung in central Eaton Socon thought winning the defensive header to see the sides go in level at the break.

Half-time Eaton Socon Ladies 1-1 Godmanchester Town Ladies

  Hunts FA announcing an absolutely fantastic crowd of 708 at this evenings game. Have seen an entertaining first half with the sides drawing 1-1 at the break. Godmanchester breaking trough into the box with an early chance. The game played a a good tempo with little time afforded on the ball. Eaton Socon doing well to get themselves into a good position winning the 2nd ball well building momentum before opening the scoring in the 19th minute. Godmanchester though finding a goal out of nothing to pull the scores level. Both sides scoring in the final at the 3rd attempt will be intriguing to see if the pace of play can be maintained in the 2nd half very much still all to play for.

  No changes for either side at the break, with Eaton Socon getting the 2nd period underway, played back to Kelly into her defence, Cooksley and Armstrong pressed by the on rushing Godmanchester attackers the ball hastily cleared. Harvey and O’Connor getting after the ball both sides continuing to snap into their challenges. Crisp looking for Parncutt with the pass on the left, Culpin tackling for Godmanchester.

Kendal O’Connor on the attack for Godmanchester (photo credit Lucy Nicole Photography)

  Eaton Socon bringing the ball on going right Hutchinson wide angling the ball in towards Anico making the run top of the area, Carpenter rushing out to put her foot though the ball. Sibanda dealing with a cross swung in from Eaton Socon’s right. Godmanchester looknig to be a little more direct push on ha opened the game up a little more Eaton Socon countering Kelly through to Anico with Hutchinson through the middle the pass played on for Parncutt making a run right of the D, Stephenson in her path to put in the blocking tackle. 

  GOAL! Eaton Socon driving at the Godmanchester defence the ball from midfield played in to Hutchinson right side of the D into the area takes the ball round a defender to shoot on the angle, drives her shot across the keeper into the bottom corner 2-1.

Hannah Hutchinson fires Eaton Socon back into the lead (photo credit Lucy Nicole Photography)

  Eaton Socon getting back into the lead early in the 2nd half, Godmanchester looknig for a quickly response the ball from Crook into Worrall on the left checks inside turning into the box, tackled by Horsley. Culpin bringing the ball on down the right for Godmanchester playing the pass forwards for O’Connor, Wilkinson challenging for Eaton Socon. Hutchinson giving away a free-kick Godmanchester winning the set-piece 35 yards out Houchen over the ball lines up the strike on target but Robinson behind it all the way.

Vicky Wilkinson (photo credit Lucy Nicole Photography)

    Eaton Socon with the first changes of the match making a double substitution  on 58 minutes bringing on Melissa Davidson and Kelly Bingham to replace Kelly and Crisp. Anico brought down for Eaton Socon the free-kick wide 35 yards out Childerley to send into the box, Stow heading the ball clear for Godmanchester as they break with pace the ball sent on for O’Connor on the right racing forwards, Bingham catching up with her top pf the area doing enough to take the power off her cross the ball deflected across D in favour of Eaton Socon who get to the ball 1st to clear.

  Armstrong getting across to defend on O’Connor takes the ball on down the right flank. Godmanchester pushing on Crook up with the attack the ball played into her inside the D, looks to turn off her own flick on get into the area but is tightly marked can’t get into the box. 

 Hutchinson regaining possession on the right as Godmanchester are forced into a hasty clearance taking the ball on her cross/shot on the angle claimed by Carpenter at her near post. A lot put into the game players starting to go down with cramp. Eaton Socon moving the ball well. Childerley up on the left with support from Parncutt the latter taking the ball infield before whipping a cross into the far post for Hutchinson to attack but is stopped by the raised flag, offside. 

(photo credit Lucy Nicole Photography)

 Midway through the 2nd half, Eaton Socon pushing looking for a helpful 2 goal cushion, Godmanchester fa from out of it. Eaton Socon turning play around as Horsley cuts out the ball at the back played forwards Parncutt pulling off the defence into the box left of goal, Carpenter rushing out to close the angle, Parncutt screws her shot wide of the post. Eaton Socon enjoying a good spell Childerley and Hutchinson both useful outlets on the flanks. Houchen taking a heavy fall down needing treatment a chance for a pause but is up ok Godmanchester making a change bring off Wheeler on comes Rebecca Jones as the game moves into the final 20 minutes.

Chloe Parncutt (photo credit Lucy Nicole Photography)

  Bingham gathering the ball into her feet through the middle her momentum seeing her charge into the D is stopped by a somewhat clumsy challenge by Godmanchester get away with it the ball cleared. Another change for Godmanchester, Houchen having taken the knock coming off replaced by Erica Zimmerman. Harvey wit a strike on goal from the top of the area right of goal, Robinson back on her line seeing it all the way to save comfortably. A reminder to Eaton Socon that with just one goal in it the result is still in the balance.

 Anico with a burst on energy as the game moves into the final 15 minutes taking the ball right flashes a shot on the angle across the goal wide past the far post. Steph Ransome coming on for Eaton Socon to replace Armstrong at the back. Eaton Socon pushing on looknig for their 3rd goal Hutchinson wide right angling a ball into the near post, Childerley in the six yard box her attempt blocked at close range rebounds back to Bingham in the box on the right smashed her strike over the crossbar.

  Natasha Colmer coming on for Godmanchester with Harvey coming off with 5 minutes left on the clock. Eaton Socon on the whole looking comfortable continuing to push on in attack rather than begin dropping back looking to defend their lead. Parncutt breaks through the defence into the box right of goal, Carpenter out to block her. Bingham with Davidson passing on through the middle on for Parncutt, Stephenson cutting the ball out for Godmanchester. 

  Into stoppage time Eaton Socon making a double switch sending on Cara Howell and Kayleigh Clarke replacing Parncutt and Anico up top. Godmanchester going for it late on a strike from 25 yards out on the left rattling wide. Eaton Socon’s defence backed up by the midfield as they limited the spaces in behind the ball clear and the final whistle blows, Eaton Socon rush together to celebrate winning this season’s Hunts FA Women’s Senior Cup. 

Full time Eaton Socon Ladies 2-1 Godmanchester Town Ladies 

  Another new name on the cup and it’s only into it’s 3rd season. A entertaining final played at a fast tempo with both sides closing the ball down throughout, Eaton Socon winning more of the 2nd balls to get themselves on the front foot looked comfortable in the 2nd half once they got their noses back in front but would have liked a further goal to extend the advantage at 2-1 Godmanchester were never out of the game and will feel they just lacked that final killer ball to expose their opponents defence. A lot of energy put into the game and with the shape of thinks currently in Huntingdonshire theirs every reason to think these two sides could be at the beginning of a new rivalry.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this evening’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. It’s a tough one but my mid was leaning towards one player and that differs from the player who got the award on the night but it was close. A few performances of note to mention first for Godmanchester, Emily Stephenson was strong at the back reading the game well getting in some vital challenges and certainly denied Eaton Socon a few more chances. Cherish Sibanda got about the pitch to win the ball helped back in defence and looking to get the ball into her attackers. For Eaton Socon, Lily Horsley was a live wire at the back snapping in with her challenges to win the ball and keep Eaton Socon on the front foot. Mollie Childerley got forwards well to support the attack on the left took her goal well. Shannah Anico’s pace causing Godmanchester problems throughout made several good runs as did Chloe Parncutt who won the award on the night, was a great outlet up top running into the channels and setting up others unlucky not to find a goal herself. Edging it for me however was Hannah Hutchinson linked up fantastically with Anico getting forwards into some great positions whether inside or out on the right in the 2nd half took her goal well.

Captain, Gemma Cooksley with her hands on the cup for the victorious Eaton Socon Ladies (photo credit Lucy Nicole Photography)

Eaton Socon Ladies 2023/24 Hunts FA Women’s Senior Cup winners (photo credit Lucy Nicole Photography)

Congratulations to Eaton Socon Ladies on winning this season’s Hunts FA Women’s Senior Cup

  Hunts FA putting on a great final, fantastic to see a great crowd of 708 enjoy a good game, show piecing women’s football in the area. My thanks to everyone for their help tonight getting the team details. Thanks also to Lucy Nicole Photography (Instagram  @lucynicolephotography ) for allowing me to use some of her pictures in the report much appreciated. The cup finals have started my favourite time of the season.

by Darren Gilham