Cup Final Special – FC Viking & Valkyries Women v Bure Valley Women

Sunday 12th May

Norfolk Women’s League Plate

Onto the 2nd of today’s 11-a-side finals the Norfolk Women’s League Plate, this season an all Division Two contest with FC Viking & Valkyries Women taking on Bure Valley Women, both enjoying a strong campaign in the league, looks set to be great contest.

The League Plate contested by the sides knocked out of the early rounds of the League Cup. Usually featuring a top division side knocked out early on in the League Cup it is a coo for Division Two to see lower division sides contest the cup… well plate. Silverware nonetheless.

This afternoon’s prize

In between the League and Cup Finals, the Women’s 7’s final, a popular league featuring two Division across the county this years final between cup holders Mulbarton Wanderers Ladies and Left Field FC Women. A single goal settling the game, Mulbarton successfully defending the trophy to lift the cup for the 2nd successive season. Well done.

Norwich based, FC Vikings & Valkyries Women are enjoying a successful 3rd season playing women’s football. Manager Ben Binder seeing the club formed in 2021, initially struggled for results finished bottom of the league in their debut season but as I’ve seen several times before a side that can stick together during those tough early years will grow stronger and so is the case with the Valkyries, 9th the following season but ended the season with only 9 in their final match, have added to their squad since going from strength to strength into this season on the tails of the title chasers for much of the campaign in the top 5 are currently 4th in the table winning 14 out of the 22 league matches played so far picking up some good results along the way and reaching their 1st ever cup final. That success no doubt helped by having the top scorer in the league with Jessica Bennett leading Bure Valley’s MacMillan with 41 goals for the campaign scored in just 15 matches. Charlotte Kenny also into double figures with 17 goals so far.

Norfolk Women’s Division Two growing this season with the introduction of 8 new sides at the start of the season, and with the new blood an exciting title battle has been going on throughout the season and with a handful of matches left two have emerged to fight out top position, Stalham Town Ladies and one of today’s Plate finalists, Bure Valley Women. Win there two remaining league matches and Bure Valley Women will be crowned Division Two champions after reforming their women’s side this season. A strong youth section within the club their young side with their sights set on a league a cup double. Captain, Emma MacMillan the clubs top scorer, rattling in 38 goals so far this season. A strong attack too with Maisie Redgrave and Willow Nye on target for 23 and 17 goals respectfully. 

Road to the Final

  Dropping into the Plate competition FC Viking & Valkyries Women were handed a tough 1st Round draw at home to title contenders, Mundford FC Ladies but with their opponents unable to field a team for the game were handed the home win to advance. Bure Valley Women too had a tough 1st Round tie but home advantage as they took on fellow title challengers, Stalham Town Women, hat-trick from Emma MacMillan, plus a goal each for Maisie Redgrave, Willow Nye and Kathleen Tully making it look comfortable in the finish with Bure Valley Women winning 6-1

Into the the quarter finals, FC Viking & Valkyries at home taking on Division one outfit, North Walsham Town Ladies. An entertaining game, finished 3-3 after 90 minutes it was FC Viking & Valkyries that would go onto find the winning goal to take it 3-4 in extra time to progress into the last 4 of the competition. Bure Valley Women advancing to the semi-finals as they were awarded the home win against SWFC Lingwood Ladies who were to fold soon after.

A strong semi-final line-up FC Viking & Valkyries Women away to the side arguably favourites of the entire competition itself, Mulbarton Wanderers Women Development, however having shown good goal scoring form throughout the season, Jessica Bennett was on target twice with Leah Walthew also finding the back of the net to see FC Viking & Valkyries cause a shock winning 3-1 to reach their first ever final. Bure Valley Women away to fellow Division Two side Beccles Town Ladies Development in the last 4. Emma MacMillan on the scoresheet along with Willow Nye and Romily McLaggan securing the visitors a 3-1 win to reach the final in their debut season.

The pitch looking great at Aylsham FC

  Aylsham FC’s Youngs Park hosting the NWGFL Finals weekend, a busy day yesterday with the youth finals, the three senior women’s finals today. Refuelled with a cheeseburger from the barbeque, headed back to the main pitch for my 2nd final of the day, the pitch looking great. The weather remaining very warm a slight breeze and starting out in the sun despite being lathered up would burn a little, but always do before I start to tan. Better than the wet weather we been accustomed too these past few weeks.

FC Viking & Valkyries Women

FC Viking & Valkyries starting XI – Hannah Tims, Rhiannon Tims (C), Paige Hill, Maddie Smith, Imey Bird, Liv Crabtree, Megan Bird, Evie Tolson, Carla Blundell, Leah Walthew & Jess Bennett. Subs – Alesha Vincent, Ellie Jarmy, Emily Ross, Rosie Ryan & Charlotte Kenny.

Bure Valley Women

 Bure Valley Women starting XI – Danielle Barnes, Abbie Cushion, Jasmine Snelling, Madeline Frost, Romily McLaggan, Eva Heald, Lily Norman, Megan Swain, Emma Macmillan (C), Willow Nye & Maisie Redgrave.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

Captains Rhiannon Tims & Emma Macmillan with today’s match officials

 It’s Bure Valley to take the kick-off in the first half attacking into the sun, wearing their away colours white shirts with vertical green stripes, white shorts and socks. The Valkyries as I shall refer to them from now on wearing red coloured shirts with black shorts and socks lined up opposite. The ball played back to Megan Swain in the midfield sends it out to the right lifted forwards for Maisie Redgrave in attack the Valkyries defence seeing it out for a throw.

 Valkyries close in to press the ball, Liv Crabtree lifting the ball forwards, Jess Bennett up front looking to pull off the centre back, Jasmine Snelling holding her position for Bure Valley, intercepting the ball to clear. Played forwards into captain Emma Macmillan turns on the ball to lay it into the left channel for Willow Nye, taking it in her strike driving for the area, Maddie Smith coming across to close her down win the ball back for the Valkyries.

Valkyries Maddie Smith tackling Bure Valley’s Maisie Redgrave

  Madeline frost on the left for Bure Valley plays the ball on for Nye, getting on down the line tracking inside, Macmillan coming over to support taking on the ball, Smith in position to make the blocking tackle halt the attack. Valkyries, Evie Tolson plays the ball on for Carla Blundell advancing on the right, her cross into the box cleared at the far post out to the left. Valkyries competitive at the start of the game winning a free-kick deep on the right, played up into the top of the area, Leah Walthew looks to take the ball right get into the area, tackled by Bure Valley’s Abby Cushion.

Bure Valley’s Abbie Cushion

  Blundell presses to nick the ball on the right taking it up the line, Cushion gets back at her to put in the challenge regain possession. Valkyries getting players up well, a diagonal ball played out to Jess Bennett on the move up the left wing her cross blocked. Valkyries bringing good support with them, vocal too, the men’s team there to support the women’s team good to see. Smith across to help Imey Bird as Redgrave looks to attack with the ball on the right. Nye wrapping her foot round the ball lifting a diagonal ball from the left into the area, headed clear by Smith.

 An even start to the game. Macmillan taking the ball into her feet setting forwards into the right channel with Redgrave up with her wide, Smith across, as Imey Bird makes the blocking tackle the ball cleared up field. Macmillan looking to get forwards support Redgrave and Nye on the wings, over to the left this time plays in Nye who jinks inside heading for the box, Valkyries captain Rhiannon Tims stretching out a leg to win the ball back play it clear.

Valkyries captain, Rhiannon Tims

  The ball struck into the box from distance, caught well, high by Valkyries goalkeeper, Hannah Tims. Valkyries turning play around through the middle on for Bennett up top drives on Snelling on her shoulder the defender stays on her well to get a foot in to clear the ball. Valkyries using there strength and experience to good effect pressuring the ball in the Bure Valley half Blundell inside for Bennett central her shot from distance taking a nick off a defenders left runs safely through to goalkeeper, Danielle Barnes.

 GOAL! Valkyries attack up the left the, Walthew playing the ball in central, Bennett onto it 20 yards out, isn’t closed down, takes her opportunity putting her foot through the ball rifling it past the diving keeper into the back of the net 1-0. 

Jess Bennett fires Valkyrie into the lead

15 minutes on the clock Valkyries taking the lead having make a positive start to the game, Bure Valley with the ball left Frost on down the line for Nye stretching to keep the ball in play, sets off down the line, Macmillan racing over to offer support the pair playing a one two between them, Nye after the return ball, Smith has gotten across the defence to put her foot through the ball.

  Macmillan snatching hold of the ball central 25 yards out shoots early, dragging it wide of the left post, Tims across to gather. Tolson falling awkwardly hurting her elbow, needs treatment, referee, Paul Gibson using the pause to signal the first drinks break. Tolson sore but able to play on. Play resume, Valkyries encouraged by their start pushing on Blundell firing the ball into Bennett coming right to receive the ball a neat flick off her boot to spin in behind her marker, turn towards the box, Snelling though across on the cover in to clear the ball.

Carla Blundell on the ball for Valkyries

  Romily McLaggan passing to Macmillan in the middle turns to clip it on for Redgrave breaking on down the right wing, Smith in between jumping to intercept heads the ball up field. Valkyries working hard to close the ball down, effective Crabtree with Tolson up to Bennett, tries to roll Snelling but the young defender gets her leg in to nick the ball off her. Megan Bird taking the ball on through the middle for Valkyries, Macmillan tracking back sliding in to regain possession but can’t pick anyone out up front. Paige Hill getting hold of the ball for Valkyries. 

 Bure Valley making a change bringing off Nye, send in Emily Addison to join the attack. Valkyries with a throw high on the left players up, Bure Valley win the ball, launch a counter attack, the ball played long for Redgrave, Hill into challenge force the pacy attacker off the ball. Eva Heald winning the ball in the middle for Bure Valley getting forwards, looking to play in Redgrave on the right, Smith stretching out a leg to cut the pass out.

  Seeing the ball into her feet, Blundell central with a clever turn getting in behind her marker, runs towards the box, Snelling lunging in knocking the ball behind for a corner on the left. Players up from the back for Valkyries, the delivery looping down at the far post, Smith under drills her header wide past the post.

Bure Valley defender, Jasmine Snelling

  Plenty of energy being expanded despite the heat, Bure Valley with the ball in the middle frustrated by the Valkyries defence, Cushion up to Addison left, Macmillan heading for a gap, in behind, Addison tries to pick her out, Hill getting a foot on the ball to kill the move. Bure Valley coming on through the middle Heald into Swain out to Addison left down the line her cross cut out by Hill turned behind for a corner kick. Flashed in across the six yard box to the far post, Swain getting her head on the ball knocking it down towards goal, the defender on the post there to block and clear the ball.

  Macmillan, Bure Valley’s play maker with the ball at her feet twists and turns 20 yards out squeezing a shot away right of the D, runs in low Tims right behind it to scoop up into her gloves. Crabtree sending the ball on for Bennett through the middle, drives on towards the area, Snelling on her shoulder lunging to get a foot on the ball. Blundell gives chase to her own ball as she knocks forwards on the right, Cushion going with her the pair tangling, going down Bure valley aggrieved to have given away the free-kick. Bennett over it encouraged to have a go on goal, clips the ball in towards the far corner her attempt over.

Megan Swain

   Swain forwards into Macmillan on the right with Redgrave the pair combine, Redgrave sending the return pass inside for her captain, Macmillan’s shot 20 yards out charged down the sting took out of it as the ball runs in behind safe in the keepers gloves. Megan Bird sending the ball out to the left for Walthew, takes the ball inside, Norman tackling to win the ball back for Bure Valley, forwards into Swain, Macmillan making a move across the D left to right, Swain can’t pick her out as Smith steps out to intercept the ball.

Maddie Smith

  Addison tracking infield with the ball across the top of the D, tries to get a shot away, lacks the power to trouble Tims back on her goal line. Bennett peeling left as the ball is plays into her from the middle 30 yards out turns inside to shot on the angle, Barnes has it covered at her near post. Macmillan on for Addison up top, Smith in to defend for Valkyries, Macmillan grabbing hold of the loose ball looks to drive at the defence herself, no way through however slide it out to Redgrave wide on the right, cuts her cross back up to Macmillan outside the box, leaning back into her shot strikes the ball over the bar. 

Bure Valley captain, Emma Macmillan

  Bennett with a heavy tackle on Heald giving away the free-kick. Played up towards the top of the Valkyrie area the ball headed clear Valkyries come right, on for Blundell to attack up the right wing strong running Cushion doing well on her shoulder, holding her off putting the the challenge the ball coming off the attacker, behind for the goal kick. The first half almost down Bennett off a throw on the right turns on the angle 30 yards out places her shot straight at the keeper.

Half-time FC Viking & Valkyries Women 1-0 Bure Valley Women

  Half-time, a good first half performance from Valkyries sees them leading the Plate final as they retreat to the shade offered by the small stand beside their dugout for their half-time team talk. Have worked hard to compete for the ball, matching Bure Valley in the first 45 minutes. Encouraged by their fans have get about the pitch after the ball, and not sat back inviting pressure. Have put a lot of energy into the half though and with the heat will be intriguing to see if they can keep it up. Bure Valley doing okay competing well winning the ball getting forwards just coming up against a stubborn defence that isn’t leaving any gaps in behind. A single goal in it all to play for 2nd half.

  Bure Valley making changes at the start of the 2nd half bringing on Maisie Gibbs and Anya Sadler at the back along with Nye back on to the left. Redgrave now through the middle, Cushion, Norman and McLaggan off. No changes as yet for Valkyries get the 2nd half underway, Bure valley immediately in to try and close the ball down competing in the middle the ball out for a throw on the right. 

  Snelling with a good tackle on Bennett as the Valkyries forward gets on the move heading for the box with the ball. Valkyries winning a free-kick in the middle, put long up into the box Bennett pulling in behind after it, but travels safely through to goalkeeper, Barnes. Smith coming across with Redgrave as she goes after the ball right side, cleared high for a throw. Dropped into Addison 20 yards out chests it down into the path of Swain who smashes her strike wide of the near post. 

  Smith is moving across her defence well, reading the game in front of her, seeing where Bure Valley are trying to play the ball and cutting it out. Bure valley pushing up Swain getting forwards better moving right feeds the pass inside for Redgrave up top turns her shot blocked, player up Bure Valley press forcing a corner on the right. Tims in goal coming for the ball half cleared Swain playing it back to Addison on the right sends the ball back into the box, caught by Tims at her near post.

  Bure Valley looking to win the ball inside the Valkyries half committing players forwards, risking the counter, Crabtree challenging for Valkyries brings the ball away lifting it on for Blundell right channel has Bennett pulling into space ahead of her seeing the ball into her feet shoots wide across goal from 25 yards out. 


  Smith up well to head the ball clear, lands at Tolson’s feet lifts it on for Walthew sprinting away down the left wing, the ball over the top, the offside flag is raised against her halting the run. Valkyries battling, determined, Bure Valley struggling to find a way to unlock them. Gibbs winning the ball high for Bure Valley playing a diagonal ball into the right channel, Redgrave racing after it, Megan Bird their first however to clear for Valkyries. 


  Snelling does well at the back isolated against Bennett as Crabtree lifts the ball p to the attacker, strong to challenge take the ball off her feet. Macmillan succeeds in playing the ball over the Valkyrie defence on the left with Nye racing into the space beyond after it, Tims though is alert, quick to get out of her area and kick the ball clear. Is an open contest, Valkyries with their 1 goal lead fighting to hold the advantage, Bure Valley asking the questions probing.

Evie Tolson

 Valkyrie playing the ball clear out to Walthew running away on the left wing taking the ball into her path tracks into the box looking to shoot across the keeper, the block comes in deflected behind off Walthew for the goal kick. Hill cutting the ball out as Nye looks to get on the end of Heald’s pass into the left channel the throw conceded crossed into the D, almost picks out Addison, the ball sliced behind for a corner kick. The ball dropping into the crowded six yard box, Valkyries scrambling it clear, drinks break called, they take on some much needed fluids, full of nervous energy are pumped up knowing the win is there for the taking.

  Make a change before play resumes, Walthew coming off, Rosie Ryan coming on goes to the right with Blundell coming left. Bure Valley ready to go again, Addison and Nye switching flanks. 

  GOAL! The ball played up the left for Bure Valley into Addison 25 yards out put inside to Nye central top of the D, Valkyries don’t move to close her down and she takes her chance striking the ball in towards the left post, Tims diving can’t reach it and bure Valley equalise with 17 minutes left to play! 1-1.

Willow Nye scores the equaliser for Bure Valley

  Bure Valley back on level terms push on Sadler into the middle Heald playing the pass into Macmillan pulling into the left channel, Rhiannon Tims tackling for Valkyries. Bure Valley tails up now as they press high, Smith clearing for Valkyries. Norman returning to the game for Bure Valley, Frost coming off. Megan Bird sends the ball up to Bennett out to the right 25 yards out powers her shot into the side netting. Another change for Bure Valley, Gibbs off, Cushion back on at the back. 

  Bennett battling to get into the box, fouling Cushion. The game tense, Hill hooking the ball clear as Macmillan turns play around in the middle. Bure Valley have swain on the ball left side Addison ahead of her no way through, but play brought back for a foul with no advantage. Bure Valley making another change before it’s taken McLaggan back onto the field for Nye. Sadler over the free-kick shoots over.

Romily McLaggan

  Mistakes being made by both sides as the clock runs down, Crabtree looking the ball, Smith comes steaming in to clear. Blundell attacking down the left getting into the box, Snelling on her challenging the ball off the attacker for a gaol-kick. Bennett shoots, as Barnes presents the ball straight to her 20 yards out narrowly over the crossbar. McLaggan getting hold of the ball on the right for Bure Valley turning a cross into the top of the area, cleared by Hill for Valkyries. 

 The clock ticking down extra-time looming, Barnes out to the to of her box to lay claim to the ball as Ryan on the right attempts to put Bennett in behind. A free-kick to Bure Valley in the right corner as McLaggan is fouled, cleared out of the area to the left Bennett, coming inside, McLaggan getting back to close her down running her off the ball, the pair come together, the ball back with Sadler put back to her keeper. It all kicks off following the ball so didn’t see all of it Bennett squaring up to McLaggan, the referee on top of it settling things down and having a word with both individually, both shown the yellow card. Tense out there no time left we head to extra-time.

Full time FC Viking & Valkyries Women 1-1 Bure Valley Women

  Bure Valley fighting back to get back on level terms taking their chance on the one occasion Valkyries stood off the ball, Nye taking the opportunity. Valkyries having worked so had to keep it at 1 nil need to find more resolve as the managers give out their instructions.

Ben Binder giving words of encouragement as his team prepare for extra-time

Likewise Martin Redhead for Bure Valley


  Bure Valley to kick-off the first half of extra time the sides swapping ends Bure Valley with the setting sun at their backs. The ball played out to Cushion on the left forwards for Addison, Rhiannon Tims defending. Nye back on for Redgrave at the start of extra-time. 

Bennett has her shot blocked by Snelling 20 yards out, Sadler comes away with the ball on the right up to Addison, turns inside but can’t make any in roads. Both sides putting their all into the game, McLaggan on the right with Macmillan sides the ball across the top of the area looking for Addison, Tims in goal sharp to react racing out to clear for a throw. Valkyries making a double switch, Walthew coming back on along with Charlotte Kenny, Ryan and Tolson coming off. 

 Lively game opening up neither side settling for penalties. Crabtree caught in the stomach from a high foot as Swain goes to clear the ball on the corner of her area. No malice the free-kick awarded Swain making sure Crabtree’s okay. The set-piece on the corner of the area, fired in towards the far post no runner coming on goes wide out of play. Bure Valley pushing up on the right, McLaggan 20 out seeing the ball don off her chest into Macmillan’s feet, slides the ball into the box for Nye breaking free, Tims can grab it up into her gloves first. 

 GOAL! The game stretched Bure Valley committing players forwards Valkyries counter the ball up to Kenny through the middle with Bennett plays the ball into her as she continues her run, Bennett feeding the ball in behind the defence into Kenny’s path free to attack as she bursts into the box, the substitute with a clinical finish blasting the ball past the keeper into the back of the net to restore Valkyries lead in extra-time 2-1.

Substitute Charlotte Kenny fires Valkyries back into the lead

  A huge blow for Bure Valley get straight down the other end McLaggan right playing a one tow inside to Nye sending the return pass over from 20 yards out.

  GOAL! Valkyries hit Bure Valley on the counter the ball launched up to Bennett up top the striker in a race with Snelling into the box looking to get onto the end of the ball, Barnes comes rushing out to close her down, Bennett nicking the ball past her as she dives in colliding with Bennett, the referee pointing to the spot! Penalty! Both players down in need of treatment a long delay before the penalty can be taken. Bennett back on her feet, Barnes coming off the worst slowly up back to her goal line as Smith places the ball on the spot. Their no fancy stuff, the ball is blasted down the middle, Barnes not getting near it as Valkyries extend their lead 3-1!

Maddie Smith extends Valkyries lead from the spot

Half-time extra-time FC Viking & Valkyries Women 3-1 Bure Valley Women

  Bure Valley with a mountain to climb now falling 2 goals behind in extra-time send Redgrave back on adding to the attack as Valkyries get the final 15 minutes underway, played back to Smith in defence, lifts it forwards into Crabtree who sends Walthew away on the left, Sadler in to close her down win the ball back for Bure Valley. 

 Bure Valley have to take risks have an extra attacker up top now . Valkyries with a corner on the left put high into the box, Kenny knocking it down, Blundell with the snap shot a defender in the way the ball deflected behind for a 2nd corner. Played in long Smith stretching for it stabs her effort wide. 

Charlotte Kenny

 Redgrave fighting to get onto the ball through the middle as Smith looks to hold her off with Tims coming, not risking it clears behind for a corner kick. Cleared Valkyries get the ball up to the right Kenny on the move playing the ball inside to Bennett, 20 yards out Sadler in to close her down winning the ball. 

Macmillan launches the ball forwards for Redgrave to chase right of goal, Tims rushing out to the top of her area to get hold of it. Time running down Blundell moves to run the ball into the corner. Valkyries keeping the ball at the right end of the pitch. Cleared up to Addison left, Rhiannon Tims holding her up eventually squeezes a ball into the area but Redgrave can’t reach it before the keeper clears for a throw. Swain bringing the ball down off the throw putting into Macmillan central, goes with the outside of her boot the shot into the keeper. 

 Into the dying moment Valkyries left Walthew winning a corner, taken short held up in the corner before the cross is eventually played behind, no time left for Bure Valley to get it forwards the whistle blows and it’s the underdogs that win the 2nd final of the day. Valkyries celebrating with their fans 

Full time extra-time FC Viking & Valkyries Women 3-1 Bure Valley Women

 A fantastic win for FC Viking & Valkyries Women formed just 3 season’s ago, struggling in the early days now about to lift their first piece of silverware. A fighting display made a good start encouraged defended well and Bennett took her chance to fire them into the lead. Held on for so long Bure Valley struggling to find a way through but got their chance and took it, Nye equalising to send the game into extra-time. Charlotte Kenny coming off the bench with a clinical finish to restore their lead in the first half of extra-time, Bennett winning a penalty to see Smith finish the game off from the spot. Shows the cup run was no fluke and the whole squad played it’s part in getting them here. Heart break for Bure Valley in the finish but gave it there all. Still have the league title to play for and to be in this position in their debut season is fantastic.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

 Onto the 2nd Women’s Football East -Player of the Match. Several good performances out there this afternoon but there’s one clear winner in my opinion. First all all for Bure Valley, Jasmine Snelling was brilliant at the back getting in to win the ball and read the game well. Megan Swain won the ball in the middle played several useful balls forwards. Emma Macmillan get about the final 3rd doing all she could to unlock the Valkyries defence. A solid team performance from Valkyries had to dig deep at times and defended with a determination throughout. Jess Bennett a handful up front easy to see why she’s the league top scorer took her goal well. Carla Blundell caused problems on the right getting in behind and holding onto the ball. Charlotte Kenny coming off the bench taking her goal superbly. Credit to the entire defence, however as the game wore on I felt the only way Bure Valley were going to get a goal was if they could find a way past Maddie Smith but she didn’t let it happen read the game well getting across to support her full backs and intercepted the ball on numerous occasions, the penalty the icing on the cake.

FC Viking & Valkyries Women 2023/24 Norfolk Women’s League Plate winners

 Congratulations to FC Viking & Valkyries Women on winning this season’s Norfolk Women’s League Plate.

 Another enjoyable if busy NWGFL finals day comes to an end two reports to write up and someone shoved the County Cup Final on Monday night too, goodbye sleep! Two great games my thanks to all the clubs for their help today. The volunteers at Aylsham FC and the NWGFL committee members for their help today. 

by Darren Gilham