Sunday 2nd April
Essex Women’s Trophy Final
A long road trip down into Essex this Sunday to watch my first cup final of the season with Southend United Ladies facing Toby Ladies contesting the Women’s Trophy competition.
Essex County FA’s secondary cup competition with the sides losing in the opening 2 rounds of the County Cup going on to contest for the Women’s Trophy.
This season seeing two sides reaching their first ever cup final. Two sides from the ECWFL (Essex County Women’s Football League) too.
Southend United Ladies looking strong this season riding high in the ECWFL Premier Division currently in 4th position 5 points behind leaders Stanway Pegasus Ladies with 2 matches in hand, very much involved in the title contest. Formed in 2017 have become an established side within the ECWFL assembling a talented squad, the Women’s Trophy the clubs first final appearance, are also going strong in the League Cup. Abbie Rex, Southend’s leading goal scorer with 8 goals so far this season from 10 appearances. Georgia Wilson 2nd with 7 goals, 4 of which have come in the Women’s Trophy competition.
Toby Ladies not only reaching a cup final in their debut season, but also the first Toby FC side to reach a cup final in the clubs 90 year history. Toby FC taking on a new women’s side this season and have firmly been embraced into the Toby family. Entering into ECWFL Division One quickly building a big squad with a good level of experience, large chunk of their squad part of the former St Clere’s Women’s side that featured in the ECWFL Premier Division last season. So have alot of players used to playing with one another, a strong squad that has so far achieved a 100% record in the league moving to the top of the table last weekend as they recorded their 10th straight win. That while conceding just the 2 league goals. The irony being the only game Toby have lost this season in the County Cup against Hashtag United Women Reserves putting them into the Trophy competition in the first place. Ellie Jones, Toby’s leading goal scorer netting 12 goals so far this season from 12 appearances.
Road to the Final
A bye for both sides entering the 1st Round of the Women’s Trophy. Southend were drawn at home to Division One leaders at the time Leigh Ramblers Ladies, a tricky tie on paper was settled by a single goal with Georgia Wilson putting the ball into the back of the net to see Southend progress to the quarter finals. Toby were drawn away to another side with a 100% league record as they squared off against Division Two leaders Emerson & Upminster Ladies like themselves another debutant side, Toby coming back strong in the 2nd half to win the match 6-1 to reach the quarter finals with goals from, Ellie Jones, Grace Woolley, Jade Kavanagh, Taylor Adcock, Kristi McLeavy and Demi Cassie.
Southend back at home for their quarter final tie up against fellow premier Division one side, Bowers & Pitsea Ladies Reserves. The pair going on to contest a 3-3 after extra-time with Georgia Wilson, Amber Denton and Abbie Rex all scoring. Southend coming out on top on the penalty shootout winning 3-1 to reach the last four. Toby’s match quarter final match no less eventful as they faced Premier Division side Chelmsford City Women at home. Having already knocked Chelmsford the current holders out of the League Cup the sides were to end the 90 minutes goalless. Chelmsford seeing 2 players sent off in extra-tine Toby went on to edge the contest 2-1 with goals from Jones and April Sykes to make it into the last four.
Onto the semi-finals. Southend at home once again hosting Division One side Tiger’s Ladies. The Hornchurch based side finding a bit of form coming into the game, Southend though too were in great form as they held a strong 4-0 lead at half-time going on to secure their place in the Women’s Trophy final with a 7-0 win. Amber Denton, Chloe Woolaway and Georgia Wilson all on target with a brace. Katie Burbridge also on the scoresheet. Toby drawn away to Premier Division side Frontiers Ladies. Jade Kavanagh netting a brace as Toby booked their spot in their first ever final with a 3-1 win. Ellie Jones like Southend’s Georgia Wilson also on target to score in each round of the competition.
Burroughs Park, home of Great Wakering FC the venue for this afternoon’s Women’s Trophy final. Situated to the east past Southend-on-Sea. Down a narrow lane surrounded by allotments. The stadium boasts a large grass pitch with a clubhouse leading into the ground with bar and kitchen hatch serving food and drinks. Fenced all round with two small covered stands on either side. The pitch looking a little cut up from the Veterans Cup Final having taken place in the morning a few divots. Much better weather this Sunday after the heavy rainfall the previous week seeing the finals originally scheduled for last Sunday called off. A total change to start April the sun out high and bright in the sky, dry with little cloud around.
Southend United Ladies starting XI – Molly Lee, Amber Denton, Lauren Johnson, Jordan Castle, Beth Cooper, Abbie Rex (C), Paige White, Georgia Wilson, Christina Fragnito, Izzy Wallings & Emily Perks. Subs – Sian Hills, Chloe Lyus, Zoe Perks, Fran King & Katharine Pearson.
Toby Ladies starting XI – Enya Hayes, Kristi McLeavy, Kesley Young, Donna Fletcher, Jodie Sanderson, Fran Browne (C) April Sykes, Jade Kavanagh, Charlotte Collins-Blaize, Ellie Jones & Becky Gallagher. Subs – Connie Heather, Taylor Adcock, Kiera Adcock, Grace Woolley & Rebecca Kemp.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
It’s Toby to get the Essex Women’s Trophy final underway kicking off the 1st half wearing an all royal blue kit with Southend lined up opposite wearing navy blue shirts and shorts with white socks. The ball played back to midfielder and captain, Fran Browne the pass lifted forwards into the right channel, cleared forwards by Southend’s Lauren Johnson. Southend press up on their left flank getting up the pitch winning a throw working the ball inside to captain Abbie Rex her cross in dropping wide at the near post.
Southend getting hold of the ball inside the Toby half the diagonal ball threaded out to Emily pert out on the right sees the attacker burst through into the box, goalkeeper Enya Hayes rushing out to try and close down the angle, Pert releasing her strike early sending the ball past the keeper heading for the goal beyond, Jodie Sanderson racing back clearing the ball off the line to prevent a goal inside the opening couple of minutes. The ball defended at the near post from the resulting corner kick.
The pitch offering plenty of space to exploit on the flanks Toby finding striker Ellie Jones out on the left wing, getting the ball down takes it forwards her crossfield pass intercepted by Johnson at the back for Southend. An open start to the game both sides looking to get on quickly with the ball. Toby winning a free-kick, Donna Fletcher playing the ball on for Kesley Young to put the cross into the Southend box, headed clear.
Southend getting players forwards well pushing up against the Toby defence, both Fletcher and Sanderson intercepting attempted through balls, before a quick counter attack is sprung the ball lifted forwards onto the right wing players rushing forwards the cross findings Jones breaking clear of the defence right of the D, the flag going up immediately as Jones slots the ball past goalkeeper, Molly Lee into the back of the net, won’t count.
Players drawn to the ball often compact, there is space to exploit if right pass is deployed. Southend getting forwards on the left Johnson up to Rex the ball sent into the top of the area headed away by Toby’s, Fletcher. Players rushing in to win the ball shaping up to be a physical contest.
GOAL! The deadlock broken in the 12th minute, Southend turning play around the pass forwards into Christina Fragnito driving on into the right channel laying the ball wide to Pert wide out near the touch line 25 yards out puts her foot through the ball sending a high looping ball in towards goal, drops over Hayes under the crossbar and bounces into the back of the net 1-0. Pert’s first goal of the season too.
Jones attacking on the left for Toby, up with jade Kavanagh the ball pushed on for Becky Gallagher to burst on towards the area, Jordan Castle getting across to defend tackling to send the ball out for a throw. The throw bringing Toby a corner on the left players forwards into the box the delivery in near side defended by Southend’s Amber Denton. Paige White battling for possession of the ball in the centre for Southend fed out to Pert on the right, out for a Southend throw. Pert seeing the ball down looking to get her head down drive forwards on the flank, Kristi McLeavy challenging for Toby. Another Southend throw players up pressing the ball the cross coming in landing on the roof of the Toby goal.
Southend finding Pert out on the right, prepared to break on with the ball at her feet all the way to the by-line sends the cross in, cut out by Toby’s McLeavy. Good footwork from Sykes for Toby in the middle to get room to thread the pass on for Gallagher to break in behind though the middle, racing forwards Lee is out quickly to get hold of the ball in the Southend goal. Southend spring the counter bringing the ball on through the middle with pace fired forwards into Izzy Wallings path, goalkeeper Hayes seeing the threat quickly out to the top of her area to close her down sliding in to make the blocking save colliding with Wallings, Fragnito onto the loose ball snatching her 1st time strike wide of the left post.
GOAL! Southend double their lead, with players up the pitch from the previous attack pressing the ball at the back to the left of goal, Georgia Wilson striking her shot on the half volley to lash it across the keeper into the bottom corner 2-0.
Toby making a change bringing off Young with Taylor Adcock coming on finding themselves 2 goals down inside the opening 20 minutes. Bringing good vocal support with them looking to spur the side on frustrated though when the offside call goes against them. White snapping after the ball in the middle for Southend on to Fragnito helped on through the middle, Sanderson heading away for Toby the ball dropping to Wilson 25 yards out left of the D, her strike wide past the far post.
Gallagher timing her run well beating the offside trap to break clear of the Southend defence races on towards goal. Lee racing out of her goal to try and close her down, Gallagher unleashing her shot 20 yards out shoots over the bar. Sykes fouled in the middle for Toby, send players up as Adcock puts the ball in to the top of the area, headed clear by Southend. Quick to get the ball forwards on the left winning a corner out on the left. Swung in near post Toby see it out behind for throw in the corner. Both sides with a long throw in their arsenal finding it’s way into the box Toby head clear the counter looking to be on, the crowd not happy as their player appears to be pulled back.
Gallagher making a run out to the left getting the ball put into her feet, cutting inside to drive into the box, Denton getting across her to lunge in with the tackle clearing the ball away for a throw on the left. Sykes with some great passes forwards for Toby in the middle, finding Gallagher pulling into the left channel, this time it’s Southend’s Castle getting into her to make the tackle the ball away for a corner. Neither side making the most of their corners so far in the match.
Wilson up with Rex and Wallings on Southend’s left flank the cross lifted into the box headed behind by Fletcher for the corner kick. Swung in short take a nick behind for a 2nd corner. Southend go short this time up the line to the top of the area the cross looped in near post, dropping for Rex, can’t direct her header on target. Southend seeing more of the ball in the final 3rd putting the Toby defence under pressure. A heavy clash between Toby’s Browne and Southend’s Denton as they go in for a 50/50 ball. Denton coming off the worse needing treatment before being allowed back on. Fletcher heading the ball to safety as Southend build on the left.
Fletcher and Sanderson doing well as they combine at the back to defend as Fragnito sends the pass on for Wallings. McLeavy too out on the left defending well stopping, Pert as she looks to bring the ball inside from the right flank. Strong challenges coming in all over the pitch a committed contest. Fletcher reading Wallings intent to get a foot on the ball inside the D as the attacker looks to hook it over her shoulder turn to attack.
The clock ticking down at the end of the 1st half Toby launching a counter attack the ball played on for Jones racing away on the right, wrapping her foot around the cross to lift an inviting ball into the middle of the six yard box Gallagher jumping on the keeper knocking the ball over the top.
Southend break the ball on through the middle White to Wilson out to the left winning a corner kick. The delivery swung in claimed well by Hayes on her line. Southend attacking late in the half the ball coming into Wallings central back to goal 25 yards out turns on the ball to lay it into Pert’s path as she bursts into the area from the right, McLeavy in to block her initial effort the rebound however seeing the ball run in behind the grounded defender for Pert to chase unleashing her strike as Hayes throws herself forwards to try and block the ball, the shot lifted up over the bar.
Half-time Southend United Ladies 2-0 Toby Ladies
Southend with a 2-0 lead at the break, getting on the front foot early in using the width well getting players forwards a shot cleared off the line in the opening 2 minutes, Pert’s speculative effort giving them the lead in the 12th minute. Further chances followed Wilson doubling the lead 6 minutes later. A physical contest, both sides looking to get after the ball Toby working hard have carved out some good opportunities in front of goal to try and pull a goal back and as is often the case with a 2 nil lead the next goal could prove critical in determining the outcome of the game.
The bright sun moving around the ground behind one goal now, Hayes donning a cap with Toby facing it in the 2nd period. A change for Toby at the break with Grace Woolley coming on at the back replacing Collins-Blaize. Looks to be a slight change for formation to switching to a 3 5 2. Southend to get the 2nd half underway put back into the middle before being fed long to the right, McLeavy dealing with it for Toby. Played forward quickly as Toby look to get on the front foot at the start of the 2nd half Jones attacking it, the ball though safely through to goalkeeper, Lee.
Denton shielding the ball back to the keeper well after a her kick falls short straight to Jones the striker looking to capitalise. A clash of heads between Adcock and White sees both players floored in need of treatment play paused. Toby’s crowd not happy with some of the refereeing decisions remains a physical game both sides giving as good as they get. Denton out to make a strong challenge on Jones as Fletcher coming on well into the middle sends the ball into her, the ball going for a throw.
Toby with a positive opening to the 2nd half Sykes linking up with Adcock in the middle the ball up to Gallagher played out to Kavanagh breaking clear on the right top of the area , hesitates the moment to shoot passing as she is closed down by the keeper, Lee sliding in to save at her feet. Southend getting the ball out to Rex on their left the ball played forwards Sanderson defending for Toby cleared for a throw. Johnson with the long throw. Into the box bouncing Toby launch clear up to Browne central hooked on for Jones up top outside the D, the bounce favouring Castle in to close her down getting a foot in to stab the ball away.
Another collision, between Fletcher and Wilson this time. Fletcher getting on into midfield looking to influence the game. Substitute Woolley with space to run into with the ball on the right for Toby lays it forwards for Kavanagh to take on to the by-line her cross whipped into the near post caught well by Lee. Wallings seeing the ball into her feet back to goal with a clever flick to take the ball in behind wrong foot her marker, Hayes alert out of her six yard box to snatch up the ball.
Wilson bundled over out wide left inside the Toby half a free-kick for Southend, players forwards with Denton placing the ball down, curled in towards the top of the area, Browne with the headed clearance for Toby.
GOAL! Southend dealing with a bit of Toby pressure at the start of the 2nd half get the ball moving through the middle the diagonal pass finding Pert racing on right side down the line to whip a teasing ball into the box, Wilson arriving near post under it to head the ball past the keeper to extend the lead 3-0.
A blow for Toby conceding a 3rd goal after making a positive start to the 2nd half. Battling for possession Sykes laying it forwards into Jones central running across the top of the area, Lee rushing out to close the angle, the striker getting to the ball first her shot narrowly wide of the far post.
Toby breaking up a Southend attack get on the counter the ball into Adcock laid out to Kemp racing into the right channel, strikes the ball goalwards racing in low straight at the keeper. Sanderson doing well in defence for Toby, getting hold of the ball of Wallings as she looks to spin off her from a throw in on the left.
Adcock getting hold of the ball central for Toby looking to release Kavanagh on the right, frustrated as the flag goes up against her. Southend making a change bringing off Cooper, on in her place Zoe Perks. Both sides going after each other looking to win the ball. Woolley fouling Wilson wide left, Denton to play the ball in towards the top of the area, cleared by Fletcher. Toby with a triple change Connie Heather, Kiera Adcock and Rebecca Kemp on for, Sanderson, Browne and Kavanagh.
Rex bringing the ball on down the left wing for Southend pressing forwards her cross inside to Wallings back to goal top of the D, held up release it to Pert 25 yards out, Heather tracking back to make the challenge for Toby before she can pull the trigger. McLeavy with a timely interception at the back for Toby as Southend’s Wilson looks to release Pert on the flank following good work at the back to win the ball by Perks.
Lee rushing out of her area to clear the ball as Kemp bursts clear though the middle, the ball loose the crowd venting their frustration as play is stopped with the keeper down needing treatment. Toby getting a free-kick on half way left side McLeavy to play it forwards, Perks defending against Kiera Adcock. Lee with a diving save at her right post pushing the low drive from Jones struck on the half volley from the left away for a corner kick. Toby again not making the most from their set-pieces not troubling the Southend defence.
Toby spurred on getting a throw high on the right taken long into the box Rex defending for Southend, Toby quick to press put back out to Woolley wide her cross swung into the six yard box missed by the keeper, Southend scrambling to get the ball clear knocked back out to the right, no shot on rolled back to Kiera Adcock 25 yards out the shot struck goalwards held by the keeper. Late pressure from Toby. Katharine Pearson coming on for Southend.
GOAL! That pressure bringing Toby a goal in the 84th minute, Fletcher with the forwards ball knocked through into the box for Jones to race onto from the left and strikes it well putting the ball across the keeper into the back of the net 3-1.
Lee certainly the busier of the two goalkeepers despite the score line saves well again at the feet of Kemp as Toby’s no 11 looks to race onto a high ball fed into the area from the right, Lee out well to close down the angle with the blocking save. Taylor Adcock getting the ball forwards well into Gallagher right of the D, Denton getting back at her making a superb tackle the ball away for a corner. Toby will their tails up giving it a go at the death s they push players on. Southend putting in the blocks around the edge of their box.
Fletcher on the ball closed down can’t get her shot away instead feds the ball on for Taylor Adcock bursting into the area to attack the near post going to shoot back across the keeper, Lee with a brilliant save throwing herself down to get behind the ball bat it away.
A goal kick giving Southend a spot of much needed respite. The clock tickling down Sykes picking up a yellow card, the first in the game despite it being a physical contest. The ball played on form half way McLeavy defending as Pert looks to attack through the middle the ball away to the right Wilson running it down into the corner holding the ball up letting the clock tick down. The final whistle blows and Southend win the 22/23 Essex Women’s Trophy.
Full time Southend United Ladies 3-1 Toby Ladies
Southend coming out on top in what proved to be a physical contest between two committed sides. The Premier Division side getting off to a good start with a early shot cleared off the line going on to open the scoring in the 12th minute soon adding a 2nd. Seeing more of the ball in the final 3rd. Toby working hard at the back weren’t without their chances carving out a couple of good opportunities to pull a goal back before the break. The Division One side with some adjustments at half time looking to make a positive start to the 2nd half getting after the ball applying a little pressure, Southend held firm however countering to score a 3rd goal before the hour. 3 up deflating Toby for a spell they came back strong in the final 10 minutes Jones getting them a deserved goal back but despite a strong finish Southend defended well with Lee producing a couple of quality saves to deny them.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. by no means an easy decision some great performances out there. both sides putting alot into the game. For Toby, April Sykes was composed in the middle of the park producing some great forward passes to launch attacks. Kristi McLeavy with some great tackles and interceptions at the back Ellie Jones up top getting hold of the ball and running the channels well. For Southend Georgia Wilson netting a brace linking up the midfield and attack well with some great runs. Emily Pert out on the right a ready outlet for the ball looking to get on opening the scoring. The work at the back just as important with a solid defensive display, goalkeeper Molly Lee with some superb saves. The award though goes to defender Amber Denton was excellent at the back making a number of tackles to deny Toby’s attacking players throughout the game.
Congratulations to Southend United Ladies on winning this season’s Essex Women’s Trophy
Both sides could yet meet again this season in another final with both in action in the ECWFL League Cup semi-finals this coming weekend, Southend away to Division One side Southminster United Ladies. Toby at home to Premier Division side, Bowers & Pitsea Ladies Reserves.
An enjoyable day out at Great Wakering, a long road trip from Norfolk for my 1st cup final of the season. Plenty more to come a busy month ahead! My thanks to both sides for their assistance with the team details today much appreciated.
by Darren Gilham