Thursday 13th April
Essex Women’s County Cup Final
Hot on the heels of the Hunts FA Women’s Cup Final last evening heading down to Colchester this evening for the final of the Essex Women’s County Cup with Billericay Town Women (also in cup final action last evening) taking on Hashtag United Women Reserves.
The showpiece women’s final being held at Colchester United FC’s JobServe Stadium for the first time. The woman’s game growing in popularity a bigger stadium natural progression hoping for a record crowd to match the occasion.
Billericay Town Women and Hashtag United Women dominating the County Cup competition in recent season’s with Hashtag United Women formerly C&K Basildon beating Billericay last season to regain the county cup. Billericay though going on to claim the main prize over their rivals finishing a point above Hashtag to win the FAWNL South East Division One title and reach the 3rd tier of the women’s football pyramid for the first time.
With some strong recruitment to bolster their squad Billericay have enjoyed a strong debut season in the FAWNL Southern Premier Division. Pushing up into the top half with some good results. Have since seen several players depart, those that remain united and focused on finishing the season strong comfortable in mid-table, reaching two cup finals which due to the scheduling were to be played on consecutive evenings. Jess king currently top scorer with 12 goals from 20 appearances with Zoe Rushen on 11 for the season.
Tonight’s squad having played in the Reposs Isthmian Women’s Cup Final on Wednesday against Charlton Athletic Women’s U21s. Lucy Jones firing Billericay into the lead 1st half before Charlton came back to level in the 2nd half. Morgan Rogers hitting the back of the net on the 90th minute to restore Billericay’s lead alot of stoppage time played Charlton coming back to equalise for a 2nd time on 90+11to send the final to penalties. Heartbreak for Billericay as they went on to lose the shootout 5-4. A quick turn around far from ideal the starting line-up rotated with the same players involved.
Hashtag United Women Reserves playing in the FAWNL South East and Central Reserve Division. Are a young squad mostly U18s in 8th spot in the league have enjoyed a fantastic run in the County Cup to see both Hashtag teams into the last 4. The Reserves going on better to win their semi-final and reach the final the first time. Starting from the 1st Round beating some strong sides along the way. Isabelle Thorogood top scorer this season netting 11 goals in 15 matches with Millie Langley scoring 6 and captain Ruby Kilden scoring 5 goals in the county cup.
Road to the Final
With Billericay Town Women one of 4 seeded sides scheduled to enter the competition at the quarter finals all the other entrants were to play progressing through 3 Rounds. Hashtag United Women Reserves at home to ECWFL Division One newcomers Toby Ladies, Isabelle Thorogood on the scoresheet twice with a race along with goals for Molly Bowness, Ruby Kilden and Jess Wright in a 5-0 win.
Into the 2nd Round drawn away to Grays Athletic Women newly promoted to the ERWFL Division One South. The game ending all square on 90 minutes with the sides sharing 6 goals, moved into extra-time Hashtag getting the better of their opponents in the extra half hour to rattle home 3 more goals to win 6-3, Thorogood again on target with a brace, so too Kilden with Bowness and Millie Langley also scoring.
The 3rd Round saw Hashtag on the road again drawn to another ERWFL Division One side Lawford Ladies pushing on at the top of the table Hashtag found themselves trailing by a single goal at the break to run out 3-2 winners in the 2nd half with Thorogood again scoring twice in between a Faye Murphy goal.
Reaching the quarter finals to FAWNL and ERWFL Premier Division sides entering the competition. Billericay drawn away to their Development side, riding high in ERWFL Division One South the first team strong as they racked up a double figure win with Ruby Sealey and Zoe Rushen both scoring a hat-trick there were goals too for Holly Turner, Che Thomas. Karissa Doo and Beau Parker. Hashtag Reserves once again away to ERWFL Division One South opposition in Hutton Ladies and with a repeat of the previous rounds score line edged the win 3-2 to reach the last 4, Ruby Kilden with a brace with Lily Wolstenholme also on target with a goal.
The semi-finals producing two contrasting matches. Billericay drawn away to rivals Hashtag United Women. A Jess King penalty for Billericay and a Katherine Nutman goal seeing the pair level 1-1 at 90 minutes the game heading into extra-time. Hashtag captain putting the hosts back in front in the 108th minute. Jay Blackie on hand to score a dramatic leveller in the closing seconds to send the tie to penalties. The shootout no less dramatic with it going to sudden death Billericay in the end taking it 9-8 to reach the final. Hashtag Reserves some how managing to get drawn away to another ERWFL Division One South side this time Barking FC Women who would go on to win the league, Thorogood scoring the only goal of the game in the 20th minute to see yet another Billericay Hashtag showdown in the final.
This season being played at Colchester United FC’s JobServe Community Stadium for the first time. The League Two club having hosted the Suffolk Women’s County Cup final in recent seasons as well as the Lionesses. Essex FA hoping for a record crowd buoyed by positive ticket sales. Just off the A12 the stadium boasts great facilities around the ground a large carpark. The main stand open with opposing fans having their own sections. The pitch immaculate offering good width. The weather pleasant once again a few ominous clouds but nothing forecast likely to get chilly as the evening wears on.
Billericay Town Women starting XI – Alex Baker (C), Scarlett Williams, Morgan Rogers, Kerry Stimson, Jess King, Jay Blackie, Zoe Rushen, Che Thomas, Karissa Doo, Karesha Iton & Ruby Sealey. Subs – Millie D’ath, Lucy Jones, Georgie Morton, Charlotte O’Shea & Paige Clemenson.
Hashtag United Women Reserves starting XI – Christie Hale, Rianna Everett, Stephanie Cornwell, Cayley Winters, Jessica Wright, Molly Bowness, Macey Rothon, Ruby Kilden (C) Faye Murphy, Isabelle Thorogood & Lauren Butcher. Subs – Kaja Grochowska, Chloe Galea, Millie Langley & Macie Windsor.
Elise Jennings the only change for Billericay form the squad that played in last evenings final, the subs rotated, with Karesha Iton coming in to the starting 11. Billericay wearing their all red kit this evening having the kick-off first half with Hashtag lined up opposite wearing white shirts with black sleeves, black shorts and white socks. The ball rolled back to Zoe Rushen in midfield back to the defence as Hashtag rush forwards, played back to the keeper, pressure on the ball but cleared to Scarlett Williams on the right the full back sending the ball long for Ruby Sealey in attack the offside flag up against her as Hashtag hold their defensive line well.
Billericay with time on the ball send it out to the right, Karissa Doo driving on brought down a free-kick awarded. The ball lifting in towards the top of the area, Che Thomas looking to get after it the flag raised quickly once again. Hashtag looking to keep their shape letting Billericay have the ball inside their own half play their passes.
GOAL! Williams with the ball at left back plays a peach of a pass forwards up top that sees Sealey run off the Hashtag defence to burst into the box central and fire the ball wide of the goalkeeper to score 1-0.
The perfect start for Billericay a goal inside the opening 4 minutes, on the opposite side of the coin a big blow to Hashtag’s young side conceding so early in the game. Pushed back as a unit as Billericay attack down the right Doo with Thomas Jessica Wright tackling to see the ball out for a throw. A high ball put into the six yard box from the right allowed to bounce Thomas knocking it on across the area, looking for Sealey wide of the attacker goes to retrieve and turn Hashtag’s defenders in to close her down the ball cleared.
Faye Murphy fouling Billericay’s Jess King as she lays the ball on down the right. Billericay with time on the ball Rushen passing to jay Blackie coming on through the centre the ball put out to the left for Sealey looking to break in behind, Rianna Everett defending for Hashtag putting the ball out behind however the flag is up once again play brought back Sealey offside.
Hashtag goalkeeper, Christie Hale comes rushing out of her area on her left just about getting there to clear as Karesha Iton breaks forwards. Billericay strong attacking on the right players up in support the ball fed into the area for Thomas laid back outside to Blackie 20 yards out to put her foot through looping up heading towards the top corner, Hale has plenty of height on her back on her line plucks the ball down confidently to save.
10 minutes played Hashtag trying to keep a good shape not over commit going forwards inviting pressure with Billericay able to move the ball about. Billericay’s, King attacking on the right running inside bursts into the box to shoot on the angle smashes her strike over the crossbar. Given time on the ball inside their half ideal for Billericay stroking the ball about not expanding too much energy after playing last evening. William coming on left side looking to find Sealey puling away down the line, Everett defending well, tackling for Hashtag.
Hashtag with some time on the ball, Lauren Butcher linking up with her captain Ruby Kilden playing the ball between them through the middle, Kilden’s return pass intercepted by Billericay’s Kerry Stimson played back t goalkeeper and captain, Alex Baker to clear, out to Williams on the left forwards into the middle helped on towards the top of the area Cayley Winters winning the ball for Hashtag at the back.
Rushen coming back to help the defence as they are caught dallying in possession by Kilden up with Butcher. Rushen coming forwards with the ball, tries the threaded pass into the right channel for Thomas, Winters stretching in to cut it out for Hashtag. Kilden playing the ball long out to the right corner for Butcher to chase down, Williams getting back to defend for Billericay the ball out for a Hashtag throw. Hashtag applying a bit of pressure around the Billericay area in central Rushen in to win the ball back looking to counter out to right Iton after it, Hale out quickly to the top of her area to gather the ball.
Billericay pour forwards Thomas on the right whipping a cross into the six yard box behind Sealey at the near post, retrieved far side deflected back out to the top of the D, Blackie rushing onto the ball, her strike taking a deflection of Stephanie Cornwall as she throws herself in to block out behind wide of goal. Billericay getting forwards the high ball into Thomas inside the D, Winters getting something on ball defending comes to Iton right side shot not troubling the keeper.
Billericay coming on strong with 20 minutes played Hashtag working hard at the back defending their box, King on the left inside to Iton can’t quite connect with the ball, Hale getting hold of it. A corner won on the right by Billericay in central knocked up into the air, before being nodded down by a defender and grabbed by the keeper. Rushen up on the right with Iton gets the ball back as she bursts into the area wide of goal, her strike taking a massive deflection off a defender behind for the corner.
The delivery in to the box finds Blackie near side knocked up into the Hashtag rush to close the ball down defected out for another corner. Thomas taking the ball on with pace right side down the line to square the ball in towards the near post, Doo attacking it shooting wide. A long throw by Williams as Billericay get on down their left high into the area cleared by Everett. Winters with a strong tackle on Rushen as she comes out of the back line to try and win the ball. Doo, Iton and Thomas getting on up the right for Billericay the ball fed into the top of the area won by Winters for Hashtag.
Billericay continue to enjoy good possession getting on with the ball looking for runs left and right. Hashtag doing okay remain disciplined defending deep hard to get out when the win the ball. Stimson with the ball at the back encouraged to travel forwards over half way pushing left, has her heels clipped by Everett. Moments later Everett earns the first yellow card of the game as she fouls Williams after a confident run forwards a free-kick out wide Sealey over it opts to try her luck from distance sends it over the bar. Kilden winning the ball back in the middle for Hashtag lines up a strike from distance her effort over the bar.
Sealey doing well to get high ball towards into her under control back to goal shifts it to her left looking for Iton, Winters getting her foot in tackling for Hashtag the ball out for a throw. Brings a corner kick on the left. Morgan Rogers to put the corner in swinging in near side put behind for a 2nd corner taken short up the line for Blackie to cross from deep dropping far post no one can get a touch. Winters rushing out to block as Blackie lines up a blast from range, Hale rushing out to claim the ball as it falls loose in the box.
Williams getting on well on the left for Billericay pushes the ball into Blackie who sends a great through ball in behind for Thomas to attack as she beats the offside flag. Hale though racing out of her box to clear get there first. Hashtag keeping it tight battling at the back to stop Billericay getting into the box, Winters, Wright and Rothon all making good tackles. Iton with a clever turn to get into the area plays the pass into Thomas, closed down quickly by the hashtag defence the ball cleared. Isabelle Thorogood to the left in attack picked out by Kilden drives on up the line before being tackled by Rogers
Billericay pour forwards Thomas left back for Sealey taking the ball across the top of the area looking for an opening, no shot on lays it back to Blackie right into Rushen who switches play out to the right Iton shooting over from the angle. Into the final couple of minutes of the first half Thomas plays the ball on for Doo in attack right of the D running into the area one on one with the keeper puts the shot straight into her arms.
Billericay finishing the half strong looking for a 2nd goal Williams pacy down the left into the corner to whip a dangerous ball into the six yard box Hale stooping to claim, Iton leaping in knocking it out of her hands loses sight of the ball as she lands the Hashtag defence scrambling back to clear their lines. Into stoppage time Everett defends well against Sealey as she looks to receive the diagonal pass from Blackie in the middle.
Half-time Billericay Town Women 1-0 Hashtag United Women Reserves
Ruby Sealey’s 4th minute strike the difference between the sides as they head down the tunnel for the half-time interval. The perfect start for Billericay scoring early have been afforded alot of time on the ball, chances created but on the whole Hashtag have been disciplined keeping their shape working hard to limit opportunities without seeing much of the ball. From an energy expending point of view Billericay haven’t been turned around too often able to play the ball around. Overall both will be pleased with the score line, Hashtag will look to keep it that way try and take their chance if it comes Billericay will want more goals to prevent a nervy finish.
A change made by both sides at the break, Kaja Grochowska coming on for Cornwall for Hashtag with Lucy Jones replacing Rogers for Billericay. Hashtag to get the 2nd 45 underway. Back into the midfield, Rushen quick to close the ball down all the way back into the defence. Billericay after the ball early on won on the left Doo with the strike on the angle, Hale diving to save pushing the ball wide beyond the far post conceding the corner kick. he delivery in central Hale able to catch unopposed.
Thomas seeing the ball into her feet central turning to her left to play the ball into Doo inside the box right side getting her foot over the ball her cross/shot over hit wide of the far post. Billericay pressing at the start of the 2nd half Doo put in on the right sending the cross into the middle Iton under challenge inside the six yard box heading over the ball dropping onto the roof of the net. Rushen seeing a shot put straight into the keeper as the ball comes across from the right into her inside the D off a throw.
Thomas spinning away to the right with the ball for Billericay, Winters coming across to tackle clearing the ball for a throw. Thorogood out on the left looks to give Hashtag some relieve driving on with the ball getting past Stimson, Rushen tracking back to defend stays on Thorogood tackling to prevent the cross. Billericay winning a free-kick wide on the left, Rushen sending a pacy ball angling in to the near post seen and caught well by Hale into her midriff.
Jones getting up on the left for Billericay as Blackie lays the ball into her, Everett across to challenge for Hashtag. The game opening up a little, Billericay coming on well Hashtag looking to get the ball into the channels for Thorogood and Butcher. Billericay winning a corner on the right Jones short into Sealey takes the ball on into the box her shot blocked the ball rebounding out to Blackie to the right corner of the box 20 yards out her shot picking out the keeper.
Essex FA announcing a record crowd of 2044 at the final a fantastic attendance and testament to the growth of the game. Both sides bringing good support getting behind there teams Billericay spurred on, Hashtag encouraging their young side who are fighting hard at the back. The ball knocked back out of the area into Rushen central the ball at her feet attempts to force her way through the defence in get in on goal too many to beat.
A push in the back sees Hashtag awarded a freekick to the right 40 yards out just past the hour mark, Kilden over it with a good attempt on goal whipped in dropping just over the cross bar. Thomas pulls away to the right taking the ball down the wing sending the cross into the box picking out Blackie top corner swings her leg trough the ball dragging the shot wide of the far post. Winters with a fantastic challenge to deny Thomas as the Billericay attacker cuts into the box from the right.
Iton on the move with the ball through the middle for Billericay flicking it on over the top to Doo right channel, Rothon intercepting the ball cleared falls straight to Iton outside the box with the outside of her boot attempts to lob the keeper, Hale though is back on her line and brings it down safely. Midway through the 2nd half Billericay frustrated looking for a 2nd goal Hashtag standing firm, Billericay making 2nd change bringing on Charlotte O’Shea replacing Doo. Hashtag too with a change Wright coming off with Millie Langley entering the pitch.
Sealey taking the ball out wide right seeing her cross sent over by Iton outside the box. Hashtag play the ball out to Thorogood on the left holding the ball up in the corner as support arrives plays the pass into Kilden 20 yards out left of the D lining up a curling shot puts it wide of the far post . All the time there remains a single goal in it the potential is there for extra-time and penalties if required. Rothon left putting a high ball into Hashtag’s Thorogood outside the box can’t get it down under control before Stimson gets in to her to clear the ball.
A good spell from Hashtag taking the pressure off the defence Thorogood attacking on the left wing getting a corner, can’t make it count, the game stretched Rushen looking to put the diagonal ball out to Thomas racing on left side, Hale rushing out to the top of her area can’t pick it up but does enough to put Thomas off giving her the chance to clear. Blackie coming off for Billericay to be replaced by Georgie Morton with 77 minutes played.
Williams defending well at the back for Billericay as Thorogood looks to take the ball on down the line. Rothon goes down for Hashtag in some discomfort looks to be cramping up can’t continue hashtag making the substitution bringing on Chloe Galea. Rushen right on for Sealey her cross cut out turned behind for a corner by Winters. Hashtag continue to work hard in keeping Billericay at bay Murphy and Grochowska with vital tackles the clock ticking down into the final 5 minutes a goal to either side completely changing things Billericay attacking left a free-kick won short into Thomas her strike on the angle charged down out to Rushen to strike sends wide of the left post.
Players getting tired going down with cramp alot of effort being put in. Morton with the ball through the middle for Thomas left channel sends it wide to Iton chasing down the right her cross cleared by Winters straight to Morton right of the D, sends her strike wide past the left post. The clock ticking down a tense finish into the 89th minute Williams into Thomas picks out Iton on the right turns inside tackled by Langley.
4 minutes of stoppage time to be played Billericay with appeals for a penalty as the ball is struck into the box, not given, a corner won on the right swung in towards the near post Hale up well to claim the ball. Billericay bringing off Thomas late on for Paige Clemenson. Billericay in possession in the closing stage Sealey 25 yards out finding Iton out wide right, Langley cutting out the cross the ball cleared as the final whistle blows, Billericay regaining the County Cup celebrating.
Full time Billericay Town Women 1-0 Hashtag United Women Reserves
Ruby Sealey’s well taken 4th minute strike proving to be the winner in the finish as Billericay regain the Essex Women’s County Cup. Did their best to find a 2nd goal coming on to Hashtag throughout the 90 minutes coming close on a number of occasions moving the ball around well. Hashtag with a resolute and determined performance worked hard to keep Billericay at bay and although losing by a single goal can be proud of their cup run. Two finals in two days little time to celebrate and rest for Billericay before welcoming Plymouth Argyle Women to their New Lodge ground on Sunday in the Southern Premier Division.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this evenings Women’s Football East – Player of the Match, Credit to both sides with a number of contenders. Hashtag’s youngsters working hard at the back to keep Billericay out, goalkeeper Christie Hale with an assured display with good positioning throughout. Cayley Winters the pick of the defenders although the rest deserve much credit making a good number of tackles and coming out to win the ball. For Billericay Zoe Rushen got the ball about the pitch well, getting players on in attack, tracking back and into some good shooting positions. Che Thomas lively seeing the ball into her feet and turning to attack either through the middle or out wide. Ruby Sealey taking her goal very well. The award goes to the player with the assist Scarlett Williams was a fantastic ball, gave an all round strong performance at the back using the ball well getting forwards down the line and launching attacks.
Congratulations to Billericay Town Women on winning the Essex Women’s County Cup.
An enjoyable evening at the JobServe Community Stadium, got a pic with the Euro Trophy too. Fantastic to see so many there watching huge credit to all involved and thanks to Essex FA for letting me cover both the County and Trophy finals for Women’s Football East. Credit and thanks to Nicky Hayes from Billericay and Lucy Copsey from Hashtag United for some of the pictures used in the report too. Plenty of finals still to come it’s going to be a hectic end to the season but that’s the best bit.
by Darren Gilham