Wednesday 3rd May
Suffolk Women’s League Cup Final
Back on the cup final trail with a midweek trip to Ipswich to watch the final of this season’s Suffolk Women’s League Cup between Woodbridge Town Ladies and Brantham Athletic Ladies.
The Suffolk Women’s Football League once again featuring two divisions a 7 strong Premier Division and 6 sides contesting the Championship below. Initially looking to be alot larger but unfortunately some late pull outs saw numbers reduced, still encouraging signs for future growth with several clubs showing interest in starting up a women’s side for the new season. Stowupland Falcon’s Women looking firm favourites to clinch the Premier Division title in just their 3rd season playing at this level. Ipswich Exiles Ladies winning the Championship in their debut season a fantastic achievement.
Woodbridge Town Ladies through to the League Cup Final for the 2nd successive season. Reaching the final last season after a tough campaign, were struggling for numbers at times during that season and were to finish bottom of the league, the signs already in place that thing’s were improving. Lost that final 4-0 against Holland Ladies. Come into this season’s final as the favourites enjoying a long unbeaten run that has now extended to 13 matches. Have regrouped well under manger Charlie Jackson becoming a side that is hard to beat, while carrying a goal threat up the other end. Sadie Jamieson top scorer weighing in with 12 goals from 12 appearances while Jess Oxlade joining from East Bergholt has 6 goals so far.
Brantham Athletic Ladies the longest established side in the Suffolk Women’s League. That said they were in real danger of folding during the summer losing players also injuries and unavailability playing there part, struggling for results. Daniel Claxton coming in November to help coach the side along side manager Matthew Gribben. Brantham have been working hard to improve their fitness and make changes to best suit the players available to them pulling clear of the bottom have saved their best form for their cup run to this season’s final and with morale improving are confident of a better future. Stacey Teager top scorer with 9 goals from 5 games sadly unavailable for this evenings game. Captain, Lucy Dunnett has netted 5 so far with Chloe Wilson scoring 4.
Road to the Final
Woodbridge receiving a bye in the 1st Round of the competition. Brantham were at home to Championship newcomers Ipswich Valley Rangers Women. A comfortable result in the finish going a long way to set up the run to the final 5-0 the final score.
Woodbridge drawn away to Championship side Leiston St Margarets Ladies in the quarter final, proved resilient opposition, Amy Cook’s 1st half strike proving the difference with Woodbridge emerging 1-0 victors. Brantham handed a tough test in the quarter finals away to Brettvale Ladies one on the strongest sides in the Premier Division. Brantham though were beginning to turn thing’s around working hard to secure a 1-1 at full time send the game into extra-time. Scoring two more goals to win their spot in the last 4 of the competition winning 3-1.
Woodbridge at home to fellow Premier Division side Needham Market Women Development in their semi-final. Dep into their unbeaten run with a determination to reach a 2nd successive final, goals from Natalie Claridge and Taylor Cooke were to see Woodbridge win 2-1 to progress. Brantham paired at home to defending cup holders, Holland Ladies in their semi-final. Another tough game, plenty of goals scored with the sides level a 4-4 after the 90 minutes! Chloe Wilson netting a brace for Brantham, along with strikes for Stacey Teager and captain, Lucy Dunnett. No further goals in extra-time saw the semi-final settled from the penalty spot, Brantham edging it 6-5 to win through to the final.
This evening’s final at the SEH Sports Ground on Humber Doucy Lane, home to Ipswich Wanderers FC. Has been several years since I’ve seen a women’s football match on this ground. Ipswich Town Women hosting a few there. With a large parking area before the stadium the clubhouse and bar, along with kitchen hut serving hot food and drinks leading out to the pitch itself with standing viewing on three sides along with covered viewing opposite the dugouts with two small seated stands. A good sized crowd in attendance. The grass pitch looking in good condition for the time of season. The weather having been warm and sunny all day the temperature was beginning to drop sharply with a nip in the air still likely to stay dry for the game.
Woodbridge Town Ladies starting XI – Florence Dickin, Alice Ager (C), Molly Nicholson, Natalie Claridge, Caitlin Howe, Tayler Cooke, Lucy Eagle, Stacey Hadley, Jess Oxlade, Amy Cook & Sadie Jamieson. Subs – Grace Murphy, Eloisa Bruce, Rhianna Kiwomya, Izzy Owen & Pippa King.
Brantham Athletic Ladies starting XI – Connie Madley, Shannan Hill, Aimee Berry, Issey Bines, Charlotte Archer, Laura Tuley, Lucy Dunnett (C), Chloe Wilson, Sophie Crabtree, Ellie Robus-Miller & Lucy Elmes. Subs – Frances Turner, Jessica Ryan, Lucy Penn, Harriett Young, Shannon Giles.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
Both sides able to name a squad of 16 for the final with 5 players each on the bench to choose from during the match, walking onto the pitch with their young mascots. Woodbridge nicknamed the Woodpeckers joined by the club’s mascot Woody. It’s Woodbridge to get the 2022/23 Suffolk Women’s League Cup Final underway kicking off the 1st half wearing black and white vertical striped shirts with black shorts and socks. Brantham lined up opposite wearing an all dark blue coloured kit. The ball rolled back into the middle, Brantham captain Lucy Dunnett rushing forwards to close the ball down, comes out to Ellie Robus-Miller on the right for Brantham drives forwards, Molly Nicholson defending for Woodbridge the ball out for the throw in.
High in the corner on the right, Brantham getting the ball down and cross into the Woodbridge area, Jess Oxlade back to clear for Woodbridge out for Caitlin Howe wide right the full back taking the ball on, tackled by Brantham’s left back Aimee Berry. A positive start from both sides getting after each other looking to win the ball. Dunnett sent tumbling in front of the dugouts winning Brantham a free-kick on the halfway line, the back launched forwards into the area, claimed confidently by Woodbridge goalkeeper, Florence Dickin.
The ball out of play quite alot as both side look to get their wide players on the move, Howe coming back to tackle Brantham’s Chloe Wilson on the left and Berry lifts the ball forwards. Dunnett closing the ball down in the middle of the park playing it forwards into Lucy Elmes who in turn shifts play out to the left wing, Wilson racing on taking the ball into the corner, Woodbridge captain, Alice Ager getting across to close her down prevent the cross. Berry with a good tackle at the back on Woodbridge’s Sadie Jamieson passing in up the line into Dunnett lifts the ball over Howe to put Wilson in behind, Ager once again rapidly across to challenge.
The ball never still both sides after it the full backs kept busy with their opponents pressing forwards. Berry nipping in to take the ball of Oxlade. Dunnett getting it under control forwards into Laura Tuley, up to Elmes outside the box, Natalie Claridge defending for Woodbridge. Brantham lively contesting the ball a collision seeing Shannan Hill down needing treatment a long pause in play a head injury properly checked and seen to is up and okay to resume the match. Jamieson and Berry enjoying a good contest out on Woodbridge’s right the striker accidentally catching Berry in the shin as she goes to win the ball.
Lucy Eagle getting about in the midfield for Woodbridge getting hold of the ball bringing it forwards, fed on for Oxlade up top, Hill getting her foot in to win the ball back as she turns to attack. Woodbridge hustling the Brantham defence on the right as they look to play the ball short, Oxlade with Jamieson the ball played back to Eagle top right corner of the box 25 yards out her 1st time strike off target.
Amy Cook running with the ball attacking down the left flank swings a cross long into the area, Berry winning the ball for Brantham, playing a one to with Dunnett as she takes the ball up the left lifting it forwards for Wilson, Howe lunging in to tackle put the ball out for a throw. The stands and surrounding fence not too high several match balls needing to be retrieved, Wilson holding the ball up on the corner left sends the pass back for Dunnett getting up with play opens her body up looking to put the return ball into Wilson’s path as she breaks into the area can’t quite pick her out the ball gone for a goal kick.
Woodbridge’s turn to have some sloppy play at the back, Elmes snatching in to get hold of the ball right of goal with a strike outside the box, put straight at the keeper.
GOAL! The deadlock broken with a little over 20 minutes played, Eagle coming on with the ball for Woodbridge through the middle with the diagonal ball for Jamieson attacking the right channel, Berry tracking back with her well for Brantham no shot on Jamieson keeps possession turning back to lay the ball into Oxlade outside the back, taking it in central cut back on her left for to shoot putting a low strike past the keeper into the bottom corner 1-0.
The goal livening Woodbridge up as they pour forwards Stacey Hadley playing the ball into Cook on the left, turns inside 20 yards out, shooting as she is closed down the effort pulled wide of the near post. Issey Bines stepping out of the defence to win the ball for Brantham finds Sophie Crabtree out on the right with an excellent ball, Crabtree striking from distance on the angle the ball racing across the Woodbridge goal out past the far post. Tuley passing to Dunnett through the middle, has a go from range on target played straight into the keeper, Dickin catching cleanly.
A miscue at the ack for Brantham, sees Jamieson steal in on the ball right 25 yards out , hesitates as goalkeeper, Connie Madley comes to close her down, the defence recovering Jamieson putting the ball wide. Berry and Jamieson continue their battle on the right, Jamieson closing the defender down looking to wrestle the ball free turn for the box, Berry nipping back at her to clear the ball. Dunnett playing the clipped pass across field into Crabtree going forwards into the right channel, runs into traffic as Woodbridge’s defence close her down, Nicholson clearing. Eagle onto the ball with a forceful run for Woodbridge.
Robus-Miller fouled on the right for Brantham inside the Woodbridge half, Dunnett over the set-piece lifted forwards into the near post area, Claridge up well for Woodbridge heading the ball behind for the corner kick. From the right put in near side an emphatic clearance from Woodbridge to see the ball out for a Brantham throw. Put in across the top of the area, falls into Dunnett’s path has a decent strike in her arsenal, takes aim, shoots, turns away in frustration as she puts the ball straight into Dickin in the Woodbridge goal.
Eagle with several purposeful runs with the ball at her feet for Woodbridge, sends it into Cook now out on the right, looks to take on Berry, the full back stretching to tackle the ball put out of play. Woodbridge on the throw deep in the Brantham half Cook getting it down knocked inside for Oxlade her cross claimed by Madley inside her six yard box. Remains competitive both sides closing the ball down. Elmes seeing the ball into her body looking to shift it out to Crabtree attacking right, pushing on is tackled by Nicholson for Woodbridge.
Woodbridge have a break on the right, Ager winning the ball at the back on for Howe racing on down the flank with Cook ahead of her sending the ball on Berry across Cook to defend see the ball out for the goal kick. Cooke winning the ball in the middle for Woodbridge has Eagle inside her in turn out to Cook on the right, shifts the ball well between her feet attacking the Brantham defence, Charlotte Archer getting the challenge in to regain possession. Taking the ball forwards on to Elmes who finds Wilson shifting in field form the left, her shot blocked.
Oxlade with a turn and hit left of the D 20 yards out sends the ball into the keeper, Madley claiming the ball into her midriff. Jamieson out on the left taking on the strike from distance her angled drive wide past the far post. Woodbridge appealing for a handball inside the Brantham box as the cross in played in from the left following a strong run from Eagle out to the left. The clock running down in the first half the game remains open, Dickin with a great save for Woodbridge as the ball is fired in from the right. Cook on the right for Woodbridge winning her side a corner kick as Hill closes in to block her.
GOAL! The corner ball played in across the top of the Brantham area the shot struck in towards goal, strikes a Brantham arm, Woodbridge appeal, referee Mark Dyer pointing to the spot, Penalty! Jamieson placing the ball on the spot stepping back to strike hits it hard low to the bottom left corner, Madley diving the right way gets something on it but not enough as the ball bursts into the net 2-0.
A blow for Brantham conceding a 2nd goal late in the first half look for a quick response, Tuley central out to Crabtree on the right, Robus-Miller in support, Nicholson defending for Woodbridge the ball out for the corner kick. An inswinging delivery a little too much on it landing on the roof of the net.
Woodbridge give the ball away at the back played straight into Dunnett, 25 yards out left of the D, Wilson breaks inside taking the ball off her to feed to Elmes inside the area, back to goal closely marked by Claridge, can’t turn to shoot instead lays it back to Bines central who curls her shot wide of the right post.
Half-time Woodbridge Town Ladies 2-0 Brantham Athletic Ladies
A lively first half sees Woodbridge leading the game 2-0. Jess Oxlade cutting across the area to opening the scoring with 20 minutes played. A penalty late in the half seeing the score doubled. The goals livening up Woodbridge who have been well matched by Brantham. Several hotly contested duals across the pitch, both sides closing the ball down looking to get it out to their wide players stretch the game. Has been open Brantham creating a few opportunities of their own the 2nd goal a blow as is often the case with a 2 nil score line the 3rd goal could prove critical in determining the outcome of the game.
Appears to be no chances by Woodbridge at the break, Brantham bringing on Shannon Giles out early the floodlights taking full effect, a great attendance of 395 getting behind both sides with the floodlights now taking full effect. Brantham to get the 2nd half underway, The ball put back into the middle lifted out to Wilson attacking left her infield ball finding Crabtree, puts it back out to Dunnett pulling left, her cross cut out by Ager. Brantham looking to make a fast start to the 2nd half.
Eagle getting forwards well for Woodbridge striking from 25 yards out her attempt gloved down and claimed by Madley. Woodbridge counter well Hadley in space central lifting the ball out to Jamieson breaking clear on the left side running on towards the area pulling the trigger the shot driven in low Madley down to save diving to her right getting enough on the ball as it squirms under her, scrambling up to claim it behind her. Tuley in the middle for Brantham out to Crabtree bursting on right side her cross whipped in near post claimed by Dickin with Elmes running in to attack the ball.
Robus-Miller has alot of pace racing forwards on the right for Brantham getting on to support Crabtree in attack the cross lifted into the area, Claridge rises to head the ball clear for Woodbridge. Brantham pressing up Woodbridge look to counter get the ball out to Jamieson to break in behind on the left, Giles getting back on her defending for Brantham.
GOAL! Woodbridge making a few technical adjustments at the start of the 2nd half pay off as they go on to score a 3rd goal early in the 2nd half. Eagle with the perfect pass in the middle to pick out Jamieson running clear into the left channel, the defence can’t catch her as she strikes the ball on the run sending it inside the near post to net her 2nd of the game. 3-0.
A further blow for Brantham they nevertheless press on Tuley out to Wilson on the left, her deep cross, cleared by Claridge. The game end to end Jamieson pulling left the outlet and threat for Woodbridge Eagle picking her out again, Hill getting there first to play the ball back into her keeper to clear. Up for Crabtree wide right her cross finding Elmes inside the box back to goal, can’t turn and get a shot away as the defence converge on her.
Oxlade up on the right for Woodbridge holding the ball up before wriggling free to drive and angled ball into the side netting. Woodbridge making a change bringing off Cook for Rhianna Kiwomya. Oxlade fed the ball outside the box for Woodbridge rolls it across to Jamieson to the left as they look to open up the Brantham defence, Madley rushing forwards getting her foot to the ball to take it away from the strikers path.
Bines winning the ball at the back well for Brantham as Eagle ploughs on through the middle for Woodbridge. Eagle coming left playing the ball up for Jamieson, Hill under pressure in defence for Brantham, hit by Eagles shot into her. Woodbridge getting hold of the ball better 2nd half coming forwards, Eagle influential in the middle getting herself about. A throw won high on the left put into Jamieson turns and plays the pass into Kiwomya central striking the ball outside the box, lacking the power to trouble Madley.
Dunnett passing to Robus-Miller racing forwards sends the ball into Crabtree right, Nicholson challenging well for Woodbridge. Berry pressing no with the ball for Brantham wide right coming inside her cross coming to Crabtree inside the box right of goal her cross intercepted by Ager. Woodbridge clearing complaining at a foul not given Brantham send a strike in from distance wide of the left post.
Bines getting in well to defend for Brantham as Oxlade takes the ball on through the middle drives forwards the ball cleared out to the right, Kiwomya’s cross claimed by Madley. Eagle picking up a knock for Woodbridge as she brings the ball on, wants to play on but needs to come off, Eloise Bruce coming on. 20 minutes played in the 2nd half. Woodbridge defending at the back launching the counter attack Cooke on for Oxlade through the middle, looking to run at the box, Bines recovering to get back at her tackle for Brantham.
The ball out on the left put back into Nicholson forwards into Jamieson left of the area, sends her shot on the angle wide at the near post on the turn. Robus-Miller racing on with the ball for Brantham into Elmes up top, Ager and Claridge in to close her down for Woodbridge.
GOAL! Jamieson carrying the threat in attack for Woodbridge 2nd half getting hold of the ball on the left to advance and strike the ball from outside the area up and over the keeper to bag herself a cup final hat-trick 4-0.
20 minutes left on the clock Brantham making a double switch at the back with Jessica Ryan and Hill coming back on at the back. Cooke hitting a shot from outside the area for Woodbridge right of the D, taking a nick off a defender passing wide of the far post for a corner kick. Taken short from the left lifted into the middle of the box cleared back to the corner taker played back to Ager who lines up a crack at goal from 35 yards out isn’t far wide of the left post.
Woodbridge on top now finding the ball and stretching Brantham’s back line. Izzy Owen coming on for Woodbridge. Owen taking the ball on up the left for Woodbridge, the cross cleared Brantham find Robus-Miller charging on right side linking up with Crabtree, the cross in cleared by Ager. Kiwomya on the right for Woodbridge sending the ball in on the angle, beat down by Madley in the Brantham goal. Madley saving again moments later holding onto the fired fired straight at her by Jamieson central as she is given the ball by Hadley.
Robus-Miller getting Brantham a corner on the right, put in low knocked goalwards, Woodbridge clearing get on the counter the ball on the right cleared back into the middle, Cooke onto it from distance the strike claimed by Madley. Woodbridge confident finishing the game strong. Brantham working hard Giles out to Robus-Miller right still showing fantastic pace tracking inside finding Crabtree outside the box, Hadley closing her down defending for Woodbridge.
Ager getting in on Crabtree to tackle inside the area right of goal as she looks to take the ball down from a cross deep on the Brantham left. Crabtree strays down suffering with cramp a few players pulling up alot of effort put in. Brantham ringing the changes with a triple switch, Crabtree, Elmes and Robus-Miller off. Lucy Penn, Frances Turner and Harriett Young on. Hadley off for Woodbridge with Pippa King coming on. Penn getting onto the ball out wide seeing her cross claimed by Dicken.
The game entering the final 5 minutes of regular play Woodbridge in control in the closing stages. Dunnett bringing the ball down playing the pass into Tuley central, turns looks play the ball forwards, intercepted by Claridge. Cooke sliding in to win the ball, stays down having over stretched up but moving a little gingerly. Ryan heading a cross from the left clear at the back for Brantham as Owen gets up on the wing.
Brantham press on late on looking to get something out of the game winning a corner on the right send players up into the box the ball in across the six yard box knocked down towards goal Woodbridge clearing on the line then blocking the follow up shot before scrambling the ball is cleared behind for a corner out on the left. This delivery put behind off a defender at the near post conceding a 3rd corner late pressure from Brantham. Another dangerous ball swung into the area attacked central turned down towards the far post again Woodbridge clear off the line. Woodbridge get on the move up the left Owen taking the ball on, Giles getting back to defend for Brantham
GOAL! A late late consolation goal for Brantham as Berry charges on with the ball left side played on for Dunnett out wide 25 yards out catches to ball sweetly to strike a wonderful shot across the keeper into the far corner of the goal 4-1.
Just time for Woodbridge to make one last change bringing on crowd favourite Grace Murphy for hat-trick her heroine Jamieson. The final whistle blowing moments later, Woodbridge celebrating as they claim their first piece of silverware.
Full time Woodbridge Town Ladies 4-1 Brantham Athletic Ladies
Woodbridge with a strong 2nd half performance, making a few technical tweaks to get in behind Brantham and extend their first half lead. That after a largely and evenly fought 1st half. Jamieson finding space on the left a ready outlet going on to score twice more to claim her hat-trick. Losing last season’s final 4-0, scoring 4 in this season’s final would have liked the clean sheet no doubt but Brantham kept going pushing for a goal at the end and got it thanks to Dunnett’s screamer from outside the box.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Time to pick this evening’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. A well contested game with both sides playing their part. Brantham matching Woodbridge first half getting about the pitch winning their share of the ball, Aimee Berry with some fantastic tackling at full back. Lucy Dunnett looking to get hold of the ball find the wide players in attack scoring a wonderful goal. For Woodbridge the back line was composed and solid, Alice Ager and Molly Nicholson with several great tackles and interceptions throughout. Lucy Eagle getting about the park, chasing the ball down, making some dynamic runs forwards , tenacious in her pursuit of the ball. The award goes to the hat-trick scorer, Sadie Jamieson. Strong in attack winning the ball, enjoyed a good contest with Berry in the first half before the tactical switch to the left, a ready outlet in attack getting behind taking her chances well to see Woodbridge lift the cup.
Congratulations to Woodbridge Town Ladies on winning this season’s Suffolk Women’s League Cup.
An enjoyable well contested final between the sides played in front of a fantastic crowd. My thanks to Mandy Cutting the League Chair for her assistance and help this evening along with the staff at Ipswich Wanderers and to both sides for their help with those all important squad numbers.
by Darren Gilham