Cup Final Special – Real Bedford Ladies v Wroxham Women

Sunday 19th May

ERWFL League Cup Final

Onto the 2nd final of the day from Newmarket Town FC’s, Tristal Stadium, hosting this season ERWFL finals day, an all Premier Division clash for the League Cup, Wroxham Women taking on champions, Real Bedford Ladies, looking to win an impressive treble in their first season playing under their new banner.

The League Cup contested by all the clubs across the 3 divisions in the ERWFL, a Division One North and South (tier 6) feeding into a 12 strong Premier Division (tier 5). Often featuring some highly competitive matches with alot of talent on display, The League Cup Final itself no less so.

This afternoon’s prize

Real Bedford FC owned by Peter McCormack, bringing the Bedford Ladies side already competing in the ERWFL Premier Division in to the club becoming Real Bedford Ladies this season retaining their league status, Dean Perrett initially brought in as first team manager the club signing on a host of ne players with experience playing in the ERWFL and the FAWNL above. Indeed hit the ground running winning to go top of the Premier Division and stay there all season 15 straight wins in the league. Perrett moving on, with assistant Georgia Clarke heading up the side for the rest of the season. Their first defeat coming at home to FAWNL side Billericay Town Women in the FA Cup. Haringey Borough Women finally ending their 100% record with a strong 1st half performance (happened to be the two games I attended).

That did little to dent the charge to the Premier Division title secured with a 3-2 win against local rivals Luton Town Ladies, the league title secured and with it promotion to the FAWNL. Soon becoming a league and cup double as Real Bedford continued where Bedford Ladies has previously been on several occasions winning the Bedfordshire Women’s County Cup. League results tailing away at the end of the season, the job done however have one more game to play to achieve a historic treble. Natasha Fensome always prolific in front of goal for Bedford, once again top scorer netting 33 goals so far this campaign with new signings, Francesca Partridge and Gemma Croucher on 23 an 19 respectfully with 16 different scorers amongst the squad.

Wroxham Women securing a 5th placed finish in the ERWFL Premier Division this season, the first in charge for new manager, Adam Race, joining the club from Long Stratton Women. The Norfolk club under going another small period of transition have brought in players with plenty of ERWFL experience to build up a squad with a good blend of talent as they look to challenge at the top of the league. Success too in the cup competition’s not only reaching the League Cup final, but the final of the Norfolk Women’s County Cup for the first time.

That at the start of a busy week for the club on Monday evening the squad getting to play under the lights at Norwich City’s, Carrow Road Stadium. Losing in the end to a strong Norwich City Women’s side. Injuries not helping to key players at the business end of the season, need to regroup and focus on today’s game. One of those injured out for the County Cup final striker Hannah Fuller one of the leading scorers in the county often top scorer wherever she’s been and so too this season netting 25 goals. Lara Densley enjoying a good campaign with 10 goals to her name as does Luci Middleton the attacker joining Race from Long Stratton where she was the top scorer in Division One last season with 35 goals.

Road to the Final

 A bye for both sides in the 1st Round of the competition. Real Bedford at home in the 2nd Round taking on Division One North and fellow Bedfordshire side, Wootton Blue cross Lionesses. Starting the season strong that form continuing into the League Cup, Neve Mayes and Natasha Fensome both scoring a brace, with goal each for Chloe Martin and Erin Price in a 6-1 win. Wroxham making the long trip down to South Essex to play Division One South newcomers, Southend United Ladies, amongst the goals too with Holly Connell bagging herself a brace there were goals too for Lauren Bullard, Lara Densley, Hannah Fuller and Keela Olive the score 6-1.

Into the 3rd Round, Real Bedford staying in Bedfordshire away to fellow Premier Division side, AFC Dunstable Ladies. Goals from Fensome and Gemma Croucher securing a 2-0 to send them into the quarter finals. Wroxham at home taking on fellow Norfolk side and Division One North leaders, Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women, their opponents showing great form, Wroxham taking their chances however to secure a comfortable 5-1 win. Hannah Fuller bagging a hat-trick with a goal apiece for Ella Gambell and captain, Becky Russell.

Real Bedford at home in the last 8, Watford Ladies Development leading Division One South, like Real Bedford with a 100% start to the season. The gulf between the sides soon apparent and Real Bedford raced into a commanding lead racking up a double figure score line. Fensome netting 4 goals with Francesca Partridge firing home a hat-trick. There were braces too for Mayes and Croucher the final score 11-2. Wroxham staying in Norfolk a trip to Mulberry Park to play Mulbarton Wanderers Ladies newly promoted to the ERWFL. A tricky opponent, Wroxham getting the only goal of the game in the 2nd half, vice captain, Tigi Robson’s goal sending them into the semi-finals.

Real Bedford coming up against their Bedfordshire rivals all the way through their League Cup run drawn away to fellow Premier Division side and potential league rivals, Luton Town Ladies. Looked to be a close game on the cards and proved so on the day, Andie Dickens scoring for Luton, but a goal in each half for Fensome and Chloe Martin was enough to send Real Bedford into the League Cup final. Wroxham having home advantage in their semi final tie, taking on Hertfordshire side Stevenage FC Women, Stevenage scoring twice, Hannah Fuller with 2 goals for Wroxham seeing the sides all square after 90 minutes to head into extra-time, Fuller going on to complete her hat-trick to send Wroxham through to today’s final.

In need of food during the break between game, headed to the kitchen hatch to order a double cheeseburger. As you know I do like a cheeseburger and know a good one when I taste one have to say Newmarket’s offering is right up there with the best. Fuelled up and ready to go for the 2nd game, a walk round the pitch the sun bright the temperature in the early twenties. Great weather for the final, the crowd building nicely.

Real Bedford Ladies

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

Wroxham Women

 Wroxham Women starting XI – Bryony Williams, Leah Newcombe, Chelsea Clarke, Albany Hodgson, Lauren Kett, Rachel Cossey, Becky Russell (C), Lily Alexander, Ella Gamble, Lara Densley & Luci Middleton. Subs – Tigi Robson, Lauren Bullard, Lucy Eagle and Hannah Fuller.

(roll on roll off substitutes)


Captain’s Natasha Fensome and Becky Russell with today’s match officials

 Players out for both sides, captain Zara Carroll missing for Real Bedford, her set plays offering another dynamic to their play. Without goalkeeper Sarah Hudson too, Destiny Pap usually an attacking winger by trade has 5 goals for the Reserves this season keeping goal in recent games. Wroxham with injury problems late in the season missing midfielder Jennifer Drummie, Hannah Fuller out for the County Cup final on Monday makes the bench this time around. Both with attacking options to bring on from the bench.

  Wroxham with the kick-off in the first half wearing blue and white vertical striped shirts with blue shorts and socks. Real Bedford lined up opposite wearing amber coloured shirts with black sleeves, black shorts and socks. Played back to Chelsea Clarke, lifted across field to the right, Lara Densley looking to attack, Lisa Milliken in to challenge for Real Bedford, played into Natasha Fensome captaining the side today, gets on the move, Lily Alexander across to close her down.

  Wroxham pick out Ella Gambell coming inside from the right up with Luci Middleton in attack linking up the ball rolled out to Densley on the right plays it back inside to Gambell 25 yards out, she shot blocked by Real Bedford’s Gemma Franklin. Fensome making a positive start to the game looking to run into the channels take on the Wroxham defence coming left drives on with the ball checking inside into the top corner of the box unleashes a shot rising for the top corner Bryony Williams covering her near post throwing a glove up to push the ball over the bar for a corner kick.

  GOAL! Players up into the box as Lisa Milliken prepares to fire in the corner, curled into the six yard box, Wroxham look to head it clear, only to see the ball driven into the back of their own net, to concede an own goal inside the opening 3 minutes 0-3.

  Real Bedford lively at the start Georgie Giddings getting stuck in in the middle to win the ball on for Gemma Croucher played through to Fensome up top looks to angle her pass right into the path of Amber Smith racing on down the flanks, Wroxham holding their line catching her offside. Amy Reed closing down Gambell as she attacks on the left the ball put into the middle for Erin Price who is fouled the free-kick on halfway launched up towards the area, headed clear by Wroxham defender, Albany Hodgson.

Amy Reed

   Real Bedford find Fensome central, clips the ball on into the box giving chase left of goal, Williams out smartly to slide in grab the ball into her body. A lively opening 5 minutes Real Bedford pressing well, Fensome’s runs causing issues. Leah Newcombe at right back for Wroxham sending the ball on for Densley attacks on the wing putting it inside to Middleton, turns looking to fight her way through into the box, Sophie Mulvihill in to close her down for Real Bedford. 

  Milliken playing the ball on for Fensome to gather on the left makes a surging run forwards, getting inside the box, Hodgson on her shoulder looking to hold her off, Fensome gets a shot away sending the ball across the goal wide past the far post. 

Real Bedford captain, Natasha Fensome

  Rachel Cossey with the ball for Wroxham in the middle out to Gambell left sprays the ball long out to the right for Newcombe making her way forwards, sends it down the line for Middleton pulling wide to receive, Milliken getting across the attacker to see the ball out for a goal kick. Fensome a threat whenever she has the ball at her feet driving forwards prepared to take on players, Wroxham forced to drop back to defend. Francesca Partridge turning on the ball sweeps the pass out to Fensome on the left, Newcombe doing enough to put the attacker off see the ball run out of play. 

  Wroxham finding Densley up on the right, Middleton coming to offer support, Franklin doubling up with Milliken prevents the cross coming in. Wroxham regain possession central flighted on down the right with Densley still forwards fires the cross into the box, Reed tackling, Gambell on the penalty spot to deny her the shooting chance.

Real Bedford clearing the ball up to the left, Partridge looking to cause havoc get control of the bouncing ball inside Kett turns in field, Hodgson holds her ground turning to shield the ball Partridge clattering into her shoulder, left in a heap on the ground. Needs lengthy treatment a head injury, has to come off, will be sporting a nasty looking black eye later on. Real Bedford sending on Sophie Billing to join the attack on the left. Fensome looking to attack the resulting free-kick wins Real Bedford a corner on the left, the delivery curled in over the cross bar.  

  GOAL! 20 minutes played Real Bedford in possession central Giddings out to Smith right put back inside for Croucher to lift out to the left with Billing attacking on the wing sends her cross in blocked by Newcombe at close range, appeals for handball and the referee points to the spot! Penalty! Croucher lacing the ball on the spot and makes no mistakes sending the keeper the wrong way drilling it into the left side of goal to double the lead 2-0.

Gemma Croucher doubling Real Bedford’s lead from the penalty spot.

Wroxham get the ball up the right, Middleton up with Densley winning their side a corner kick. The ball put in close to the near post defended by Price put out for a 2nd corner. This delivery curled in central Pap on her line reacting instinctively knocking the ball up into the air, her defence scrambling it away to the right a high ball put back into the mix dropping to Alexander beyond the far post looks to head it back in across the penalty spot just over Middleton, the Real Bedford defence clearing the danger.

Ella Gambell looking to take the ball on for Wroxham

  Midway through the first half a drinks break called. Gambell seeing the ball into her feet left coming infield looking for Middleton up top, Franklin nipping in ahead of her to steal the ball. Middleton working hard up top to get across the back line supporting Densley on the right Real Bedford working just as hard to prevent the cross. 

 Clarke sending the ball into the middle for Russell, Wroxham’s captain playing the pass into Middleton up top has Alexander up with her central lays the ball into her then out to Gambell wide left her cross launched into the box too close to the keeper, Pap claiming the ball. 

 Real Bedford played on Fensome plays in cross the pitch to Smith on the right who in turn drops it into the middle for Price free 25 yards out top of the D, goes to put her foot through the ball, misses her kick, Cossey snatching it away to safety. Reed bombing on right side goes past Smith on the over lap bursting into the box, Gambell tracking back with her getting a toe on the ball to prod it back to her keeper, Williams kicking it clear.

  Fensome tricky to pick up as she’s constantly pulling of one defender or another, think you’ve got her then she’s gone. linking up well with Smith looking to get on down the right her cross lifted into the box, over Fensome making a central run. Croucher onto the ball central releases a shot from all of 30 yards out her effort straight at the keeper. Newcombe the furthest forwards for Wroxham on the right flagged offside as Densley plays the ball into Gambell 25 yards out looks to put the full back away down the line.

  GOAL! Real Bedford turn play around quickly lifted out to Fensome on the move up the left wing drives on pace, whips a dangerous ball in across the face of the Wroxham goal, Smith running in unchecked at the far post burying her header into the roof of the net 3-0.

Amber Smith roars in celebration as she heads Real Bedford into a 3 goal lead.

  Real Bedford scoring at regular intervals, making Wroxham’s efforts look laboured as a response, Fensome’s runs causing problems, 12 minutes left to play in the first half. Real Bedford winning the ball at the back Price up to Croucher shoots 25 yards out, on target but lacking the pace to trouble Williams as she moves across her goal to catch the ball. Wroxham feeling aggrieved decisions not going their way, Middleton brought down having a word with the referee.

Gemma Franklin

 GOAL! Real Bedford through the middle Giddings on for Croucher up to Fensome in attack drops her shoulder to break into the box central in behind, Williams racing out to close her down goes to ground, Fensome knocking the ball out of the keepers path to the left to round her and slot the ball into the back of the empty net 4-0.

Natasha Fensome getting her goal to put Real Bedford 4 up

  Wroxham pushing on getting the ball on central Gambell coming inside up to Middleton back to Alexander who shoots from range her effort not troubling Pap. The referee stopping play wanting to talk with Gambell and her captain, as the wide player vocally complains about the decision making. 


  Russell on the ball for Wroxham out to Densley right, Franklin sliding in playing the ball off Densley for a free kick. Price playing the ball to Billing on the left, Milliken going past her on the overlap the ball rolled into her path crosses into the box, Hodgson clearing at the near post. The ball back with Real Bedford on the left, Fensome coming to receive the ball lifted into the area, Kett the defender under it for Wroxham this time.

Wroxham’s Lauren Kett

 Into first half stoppage time Wroxham vexed as they concede another free-kick on half way to the left, launched up into the top of the area, Williams comes for it gloves up eyes on the ball, Fensome looking to run in see it over her shoulder, clattering into the keeper, unintentional, Williams going down does well to keep hold of the ball as play is stopped immediately so she can receive treatment A blow to the chest looks to be winded more than anything else need a few minutes to recover. Clarke getting on up the left with Gambell for Wroxham but Real Bedford close in leaving no way through as the whistle blows to bring the half to an end.

 Half-time Real Bedford Ladies 4-0 Wroxham Women

 Real Bedford head into the changing rooms, in control of the game with a healthy 4 goal lead. Scoring early and at regularly slots during the first half have looked a constant threat going forwards while limiting Wroxham’s opportunities up the other end. Wroxham stay out on the field gather on the pitch have a mountain to climb if they are to get back into the match. Hannah Fuller warming up hard before the break looks to be coming on. Clarke the player taken off. Tigi Robson on too for Cossey.

 Real Bedford to get the 2nd half underway, put out to the left, Wroxham see the ball out of play. The throw played inside to Giddings, Russell stepping in to steal the ball rolls it back into the defence for Kett to clear. 

Georgie Giddings

  Fuller seeing the ball into her feet turns inside looking to release Newcombe as she attacks down the right, Billing stretching out a leg t intercept the ball puts it into Milliken’s path the defender fouled as she looks to carry the ball forwards. 


  A competitive start to the second half Wroxham looking to close the ball down, win a free-kick on half way. Hodgson over the ball floated up into the box, Franklin under it knocking the ball up into the air, dropping right post Pap under it to make the catch. Fuller bringing a different dimension to Wroxham’s play straight away her presence alone giving her side confidence as she takes the ball into the box right side squares it central looking for Middleton closed down squeezes it out to Gambell on the left, Real Bedford shielding the ball out for a throw.

Wroxham striker, Hannah Fuller.

  Fensome ready to make her move whenever Real Bedford have possession, the ball rolled into her turns it to the left for Billing, drives on stopped by Hodgson. Gambell determined on the ball pushing inside from the left fires the ball into Densley, Milliken challenging to in the ball back for Real Bedford. 

Lisa Milliken

 Smith racing away down the right wing for Real Bedford in behind to send a cross into the box, Fensome overcooking her far post run the ball whipping behind her then cleared. Real Bedford defending a 4 goal lead can sit back a little pick their moments to break forwards the ball with Giddings in the middle played on for Croucher outside the box makes a run across the D, cutting her shot back in towards goal, Williams down low to push the ball behind for a corner kick. Put long to the far post Wroxham dealing with it Gambell fouled as she looks to bring the ball out.

Ella Gambell

  GOAL! Gambell fouled again in a much more dangerous are as she drives inside from the left, taken out outside the area 25/30 yards from goal. Standing over the ball with Russell, as the whistle blows Russell runs in to strike the ball angled in on target fizzed in at Pap back on her line hitting her looping up Pap can’t get hold of it as it loops up over her into the back of the net beyond 4-1. A goal back for Wroxham.

Wroxham scoring from the free-kick

Wroxham captain Becky Russell

The game restarts in the middle but is soon stopped with Pap down inside her box, Russell’s strike looking to have struck her in the face is a long pause in play but thankfully she is up back on her feet and able to continue. Wroxham putting the Real Bedford defence under pressure winning a corner on the left played in across the six yard line nocked back across goal to the left side falls straight to Kett who lifts her attempt on goal over the bar.

  GOAL! Wroxham pushing on down the left Fuller taking the ball to the by-line check back up the line turning into the box left corner to flash a cross into the middle, Middleton up with a defender near side making minimal contact, enough to deflect it on into the path of Alexander free to the right to rifle her shot past the keeper into the back of the net and score. 4-2.

Lily Alexander scoring Wroxham’s 2nd goal

  Two goal in 7 minutes Wroxham looking to get themselves back into the game ask Real Bedford a few questions. Wroxham finding an extra gear getting forwards well Fuller making the ball stick up top, Mulvihill getting a foot in to take the ball off the striker as she looks to drop her shoulder inside the D. 

Real Bedford’s Sophie Mulvihill

  Real Bedford still carrying plenty of threat in attack the ball played out to Billing on the left powers forward her cross claimed at the near post by Williams. Some of the decisions continue to vex Wroxham, Kett pulling up with a knock another pause while she receives treatment. Smith attacking down the right her cross blocked back to her puts it inside for Croucher out to Billing on the left her high ball into the box has Fensome interested, however Williams keeps her eye on the ball taking it cleanly above her head. 

Real Bedford attacker, Sophie Billing

  Middleton coming off for Wroxham with 20 minutes of regular play left, Lauren Bullard on to join the attack. Reed clearing the ball at the back for Real Bedford as Kett’s clearance has Fuller running to attack on the left. Gambell off a throw in the left inside to Russell, Alexander taking on the ball, looking to thread it into Fuller, cut out by Franklin. Russell taking the ball inside off of another throw on the left her shot on the angle straight at Pap.

  Russell laying the ball on for Densley out on the right, Newcombe bursting on to support her on the flank, Milliken isolated does well to get in between the pair to win the ball lift it forwards, Fensome looking it down knock to the left, Hodgson throwing out a leg to turn the ball away from her. 

Albany Hodgson

 Alexander up with Gambell central forwards to Russell inside the D her shot blocked by Mulvihill. Real Bedford spring the counter attack Price to Fensome releasing Billing on the left her cross cleared by Kett. A drinks break called alot of energy expanded out there. Play resuming Gambell taking the ball inside from the left laying it on for Densley top of the area, Franklin tackling, Gambell going down pulling up in alot of pain needs to come off Lucy Eagle joining the action with 10 plus stoppages to play.

  Eagle linking with Bullard on the left the ball clipped into the box, Mulvihill heads clear. Real Bedford dropping back intent on protecting their lead. Wroxham with a throw in the corner into Densley her cross cut out by Croucher inside the box, stays with Wroxham right up the line into Newcombe inside for Russell right corner digs the ball out from under her feet to cross too close to the keeper, Pap seeing the catch into her body. 

Wroxham’s Lucy Eagle

  Real Bedford with a rapid counter move getting the ball up to Fensome drifting left plays the one two with Billing wide getting the return pass inside the box to shoot on the angle, her strike fired in straight at the keeper. Billing taken off as Real Bedford send on Chloe Martin. One end to the other Eagles seeing Williams goal kick down left side, putting the defence under pressure the cross into the six yard box headed over for a corner. 

 Densley to take on the right dropping invitingly into the six yard box, think Russell gets her head on the ball drives the ball onto the crossbar, before a free-kick is called awarded Real Bedford’s way. 12 minutes of stoppage time in total. Real Bedford clear Price up to Fensome dinks the pass into Martin on the move left side her cross angled into the side netting, a Wroxham touch spotted, the corner awarded much to the annoyance of the fans. 

Erin Price

 Dropped into the six yard box from the left the ball headed down towards goal at close range, Williams with the sharp save little time to react straight at her knocks it up into the air dropping far post and dives down amongst legs to push the ball away to the right a goal kick awarded. 

Bryony Williams with a superb double save for Wroxham

  Real Bedford get on the attack Martin pushing inside with the ball at her feet from the left, played in central, Kett stopping it, knocked down, Fensome ready to pounce latching onto it inside the D pulling her shot wide of the right post. Eagle sees the ball into her feet lays it in to Bullard 20 yards out, Franklin out to close the attacker down. Eagle pulling up then taking a blow Wroxham take her off send Middleton back on for the final minutes of the game as Real Bedford look to get the ball forwards into the channels.


  Fensome breaking away still full of running coming in from the right across the top of the area her shot narrowly over from 20 yards. Fuller central looks to send the ball on turn and attack, Franklin sliding in to take the ball away from a throw in. A frantic finish to the game however Real Bedford see it out to celebrate winning the League Cup and completing a history making treble in just their first season.

Full time Real Bedford Ladies 4-2 Wroxham Women

  Treble wins aren’t common so to see two clubs do it in as many days is impressive, Real Bedford matching Whittlesey Athletic in that regards. Impressive. A strong first half seeing them race into a 4 goal lead. The damage done, it was nevertheless a spirited fight back from Wroxham in the 2nd half two goals in 7 minutes putting a different complexion on the game. Had further chances but Real Bedford were determined in defence not to concede again and remained a threat going forwards on the counter throughout William with a brilliant double save to deny them extending the lead. A treble won and FAWNL football to look forwards to next season, under a new manager. Georgia Clarke leaving her role, a treble winner in her first managerial role. Wroxham can be pleased with their 2nd half performance but will be disappointed to lose two cup finals. Nevertheless a great achievement to get there in the first place and a good platform to carry into next season. 

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

 Onto the 2nd Women’s Football East – Player of the Match award of the day. Again there was a clear contender early on although as the game wore on a few other get themselves into the mix with some good performances on both side. Firstly for Wroxham, goalkeeper Bryony Williams pulling off a superb double save with some brave goalkeeping to keep Wroxham in the hunt. Hannah Fuller came on 2nd half lifted the whole team got hold of the ball allowing other to get forwards creating chances. Ella Gambell frustrated in the first half used that positively in the 2nd half getting hold of the ball and linking up well with the forwards with some useful runs. Real Bedford out of the blocks well in the first half taking the game to Wroxham, Lisa Milliken, Gemma Franklin and Sophie Mulvihill all making good tackles at the back. Gemma Croucher linking up the midfield and attack well. Sophie Billing and Amber Smith lively down the wings. That drive coming from their captain Natasha Fensome wins the award got hold of the ball and drove at the Wroxham defence creating chances got into some great positions and was always ready to receive the ball.

Real Bedford Ladies 2023/24 ERWFL League Cup winners

Completing a historic treble in the process

 Congratulations to Real Bedford Ladies on winning this season’s ERWFL League Cup and winning the treble.

  Look forward to seeing Real Bedford in the FAWNL, another huge step up and I hope the club can sort out their ground issues with Bedford council before then. A busy but enjoyable day at Newmarket for the ERWFL Finals Day two entertaining matches. my thanks to both clubs for the help with the teams today and the ERWFL committee and staff at Newmarket for their hospitality. Into the final week of the season 3 more games to go…

by Darren Gilham