Match Report – AFC Dunstable Ladies v Billericay Town Ladies

Sunday 4th February

A trip to Bedfordshire this Sunday to watch a game from the Eastern Region Women’s Football League (ERWFL) Premier Division with AFC Dunstable Ladies hosting league leaders, Billericay Town Ladies.

   The ERWFL proving to be a very competitive league across all 3 divisions this season, any given team in the Premier Division capable of beating the other on the day. 10 sides contesting the league now following the sad withdrawal of both Lowestoft Town Ladies and Colchester Town Ladies both having struggled to find enough committed players at this level. That has see some points adjustment during the way. 

AFC Dunstable are currently in 7th place in the ERWFL Premier Division table, very tight in the middle of the table with just 3 points between 7th and 4th placed Writtle Ladies. A win today could take AFC Dunstable Ladies as high as 4th with the right result. Their form has yo-yoed this season like a few other sides in the middle of the table. More than capable of putting a good run together on the back of a strong league campaign last season that saw them push the top sides all the way eventually finishing 4th. Have brought in a few players form Offley & Stopsley Women who folded over the close season, Kelly Moss, Charlene Moreton and Rianne Townsend -Brown. A 2-0 win over Sharnbrook WFC last weekend saw Dunstable reach the semi-finals of the Bedfordshire Women’s County Cup.

  Billericay Town Ladies are often amongst the side competing at the top end of the table during recent times finishing runners-up for 4 out of the last 5 seasons. 6th last campaign began this season strongly setting the early pace matched by Essex rivals Writtle Ladies. Cambridge City Ladies promoted last season going on a great winning run to took over top spot for a little while before Christmas. Billericay have added a few new faces to their squad, Dempsey Favell joining from Harlow Town Ladies, whilst Lauren Bourne, Nancy Butler and Georgia Box were with Colchester at the start of the season. Box hitting the ground running at Billericay the striker scoring 10 goals from 8 appearance. Plenty of goals already in the side before her arrival with captain Lindsey Morgan netting 15 so far and Paris Smith top scorers with 22 goals. Opened up a 4 point lead at the top after coming back from 1-0 down at half-time against 2nd placed Cambridge City Ladies last weekend and with Cambridge not in action this Sunday an opportunity to open up a 7 point gap at the top.

The venue for today’s game, Creasey Park a council run sports facility home to several clubs, aswell as AFC Dunstable Ladies, AFC Dunstable FC and Dunstable Town use the ground. Is a very nice ground newly built offering several training pitches including a 3G surface aswell as the main pitch. A clubhouse with bar and hot food and drinks available laid out well the changing room adjoining leading out onto the main pitch a good size offering plenty of width a little worn in places has seen alot of action. Only been here before for night games so nice to see it it the daylight. A small seated stand, and a good sized carpark beside the ground. A few postponements in the area but the game was on frosty earlier wet before but the pitch had dried out well, chilly but the sun was doing it’s best.

AFC Dunstable Ladies starting XI – Hannah Payne, Jodie Patterson, Lauren Chimes (C), Elly Wade, Stephanie Fisher, Rachel Moffat, Danielle Carty, Charlotte South, Samaira Khan, Rianne Townsend-Brown & Charlene Moreton. Subs – Rebecca Langthorpe, Beth Stanton, Claudia Attenborough & Kelly Moss.

Billericay Town Ladies starting XI – Robyn Strauss, Rachel Armstrong, Kirsty Knight, Hayley Piggott, Sally Appleton, Lindsey Morgan (C), Nancy Butler, Lauren Bourne, Lauren Knight, Dempsey Favell & Georgia Box. Subs – Hope Strauss.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

   Billericay were without top scorers Paris Smith today, Hope Strauss an U18 player on the subs bench. Both sides have blue as their home strip, today Billericay were playing in their red away kit. It’s Dunstable to get the 1st half underway. Billericay press the ball straight from kick-off captain Lindsey Morgan bringing it forwards the ball played out wide right to Lauren Knight getting forwards her progress halted by Dunstable captain Lauren Chimes at left back. The visitors keeping possession inside their opponents half.

 Lauren Bourne and Nancy Butler combine on the left side for Billericay bringing the ball on down the line the cross swept into the box knocked down by Georgia Box at the far post into the path of Butler her low shot blocked by Stephanie Fisher at the back for Dunstable the visitors keep the ball inside the final 3rd a cross sent in long from the left Lauren Knight coming in right side sees her looping strike fly up onto the roof of the net. 

Billericay continue their good start Morgan busy in the middle of the park winning the ball sends the pass forwards for Box ahead of her the striker holding the ball up lays it back to Morgan 25 yards out she sends a shot in towards goal straight at Hannah Payne a comfortable catch for the Dunstable goalkeeper. Jodie Patterson brings the ball on for Dunstable up to Moreton central she looks to release Khan on the right Lauren Armstrong intercepts the ball.

AFC Dunstable Ladies, Jodie Patterson

Dunstable’s Danielle Carty bringing the ball in finds Rianne Townsend-Brown on the left driving on with the ball wins the home side the 1st corner of the game. A good delivery in from the left Samiara Khan get’s up highest near post puts her header wide of the goal. Butler plays the ball long up the pitch for Box moving into the right channel to chase down, Chimes sliding in to put the ball out for a throw in. Billericay work the ball across the top of the area, players drawn across Bourne his looking to get in behind, Khan doing well around on the cover to put in a vital tackle.  A good race on between Box and Dunstable centre back Elly Wade as Morgan plays the through ball on for her. the defender getting to the ball 1st plays it back to Payne to clear. 

GOAL! Billericay capitalise on their good start taking the lead 15 minutes into the game pressing forwards players racing to get into the area as Bourne carries the ball on down the left whips in a great cross along the six yard box met at the far post the shot comes in Payne makes an outstanding save to take the ball away across her goal back out to the left is knocked back out to towards the top of the area with Bourne latching onto it from 20 yards out smashes a stunning strike into the top corner no chance of stopping it 0-1. Bourne’s 1st goal for Billericay too.

Lauren Bourne opens the scoring for Billericay Town Ladies

Dunstable look to respond the ball played on through the middle by Charlotte South on for Khan coming central takes it on has Townsend-Brown making a run to her left rolls the ball on for her into the area left of goal goes to shoot, Kirsty Knight in the way making the block for Billericay the ball spinning behind for the corner. The ball played in towards the top of the Billericay box his headed over the crossbar.

 Morgan with a couple of efforts at goal for Billericay the 1st from a wide right position held low at the near post by Payne. The second as Sally Appleton plays the ball forwards from the back Morgan running onto it 20 yards from goal her strike right flashes wide across goal out at the far post. Payne with another top draw save for Dunstable this time however off one of her own defenders as Hayley Piggott getting forwards right side for Billericay puts a great cross into the box met by a blue shirt the header up heading goalwards threatening to dip under the ball Payne throws herself at it tipping it wide. 

An excellent save from AFC Dunstable Ladies goalkeeper Hannah Payne from one of her own players

 Butler receives the ball central from Morgan turns and plays it on for Dempsey Favell getting in behind the Dunstable defence a little too much on the ball allows Payne coming quickly off her line to get their 1st to clear the ball. A competitive game Appleton needed to come off to clean up a bleeding nose. Carty and Favell slid in for a 50/50 ball the Dunstable player aggrieved as the decision goes against her. A long ball played on is cleared by the Dunstable defence falls straight to Butler 30 yards out strikes the ball 1st time her effort swerving away from goal goes wide. 

Billericay Town Ladies captain, Lindsey Morgan

   Morgan taking the ball into the area for Billericay sees her shot blocked at close range by Wade another opportunity to put it in towards goal this time Fisher is in the right place to clear. Piggott with an ambitious effort from all of 40 yards out sees the ball fall just wide of goal. Charlene Moreton operating up front for Dunstable has been tracking back in order to win possession of the ball doing so has Khan making a break on the right wing the ball played up the line, Rachel Armstrong prevents her from getting a cross into the area. Counter attacking the ball played up to Morgan surging forwards into towards goal Box ahead of her right inside lays the ball back to her, Wade racing out charging down her shot. 

AFC Dunstable Ladies, Elly Wade

Dunstable make a substitution Beth Stanton coming on to replace Khan. Billericay press forwards Box picking up the ball 40 yards from goal sends it on for Favell looking to get onto it inside the box, Chimes coming around slides in to win the ball. Another change for Dunstable Khan’s stay on the bench short lived comes back on for Carty in the middle. Wade with another great defensive tackle gets across inside her box to prevent Morgan unleashing a shot as she is played on into the area. 

Billericay Town ladies, Georgia Box

  Billericay finish the half strongly getting on down the left the ball is fizzed inside towards Box the striker controlling well her 1st touch taking the ball in towards the area escaping her marker gives chase just a little too much on the ball again gives Payne time to get out to come kick the ball to safety. Dunstable break in the dying moment of the 1st half Khan with the ball right plays it into the centre with South getting up the pitch has Townsend-Brown to her left making a run into the area lets fly as she receives the ball, Billericay goalkeeper, Robyn Strauss coming to close the angle is able to hold onto the rising shot.

Half-time AFC Dunstable Ladies 0-1 Billericay Town Ladies

   A good 1st half from the visitors dominant on the ball leading 1-0 thanks to Lauren Bourne’s stunning 15th minute strike. More chances to extend the lead, Payne with some crucial saves the defence working hard for Dunstable keeping the lead down to just a single goal. Dunstable with little opportunity up the other end are far from out of the game as the sides emerge from the changing rooms for the 2nd half.

Changes for both sides at half-time, Rebecca Langthorpe on for Dunstable, Khan pushed up into an striking role alongside Moreton. Hope Strauss on for Billericay, replacing Armstrong. Operating wide right, Morgan dropping deeper, Favell into midfield Lauren Knight joining Box up front. Billericay to kick-off the 2nd half. The half getting off to a competitve start both sides looking to close the ball down quickly. Townsend-Brown getting away on the left for Dunstable her cross gathered at the near post by Strauss.

Billericay Town ladies, Dempsey Favell

 Lauren Knight putting the Dunstable defence under pressure as the ball is played into the corner on the right, Butler getting forwards to offer support Knight plays the ball to her then back to Knight her cross fired in towards the near post run Box threatening to nip in ahead of Payne coming towards the ball the striker getting a touch but only to take the ball out of play. Dunstable starting the 2nd half much better South getting the ball forwards into Khan back to goal right side has Stanton on the move on the wing the diagonal pass into her taking the ball on to the byline wins a corner kick. 

  Stanton getting forwards on the right again her cross fired in across the six yard box knocked out to Moreton positioned at the top of the area her strike charged down by Appleton. Dunstable good start has given them plenty of confidence are winning the 50/50 balls getting players into advanced positions, Billericay know they could do with a 2nd goal to quieten things down. Hope Strauss with the ball right plays it on for Butler making a run forwards her through ball into the box looking for Bourne, Payne reaching it 1st.

Nancy Butler passing the ball for Billericay Town Ladies

    Wade doing well at the back for Dunstable across to block Morgan’s cross the ball out for a throw Billericay have players forwards Morgan with another opportunity to put a cross in deeper this time cut out by Fisher coming back out to Morgan this time her cross flies across the six yard box Bourne coming in at the far post can’t quite get onto the end of it. The game is lively the action end to end Dunstable get forwards Khan picking the ball up has a run at the Billericay defence, Kirsty Knight putting the challenge in to win the ball take it away from the attack at the top of the box.

Stephanie Fisher clearing the ball for AFC Dunstable Ladies

Winning the ball at the back Wade looks up playing the ball into the middle his helped on out to the left side into the feet of Moffat taking the ball on down the wing fires a cross into the side netting. Moffat is replaced soon after with Carty returning to the field for Dunstable the home side sure they can find an equalising goal have the momentum. The ball is passed on into Khan peeling away to the right of goal in behind driving into the box Strauss comes racing out to close her down the attacker getting her shot past the keeper the ball heading towards goal the Billericay defence regrouping quickly are back on the cover Kirsty Knight clearing the ball off the line. 

Samaira Khan on the attack for AFC Dunstable Ladies

  Townsend-Brown with the ball left side sees her cross into the area cut out by Knight away for a corner, Dunstable on top with around 20 minutes left to play. Langthorpe is fouled as she brings the ball into the Billericay half. Carty over the free-kick in front of the centre circle a good ball lifted into the area dropping for South 8 yards out looks to see the ball down across her body turn into the shot, Kirsty Knight reading it closely marking her blocks the attempt. Billericay make a change Armstrong returning to the pitch in place of Favell. 

AFC Dunstable Ladies, Charlotte South

Carty seeing the ball down tries her luck from distance for the home side, on target Strauss is well placed in the Billericay goal to take the ball low into her body. Knight is shoved over by Khan as the Dunstable striker looks to get past her after the ball, despite winning the free-kick a few verbals from Knight booked see her booked. Billericay having to work hard to keep their lead in tack, Dunstable continue to press forwards. Dunstable with a free-kick inside the Billericay half Carty up into the box cleared Townsend-Brown has it left cuts the ball inside Carty forwards strikes the ball goalwards her shot looping up and dropping on target is taken high by Strauss.

 Is tense out there the game moving into the latter stages Dunstable on top in attack, Billericay defending well can’t get the ball into their own attackers to counter the game very much in the balance. Lauren Knight picking up the ball from a throw in on the right turns inside tries to get into the area, Langthorpe putting in the tackle to win the ball back for Dunstable. The home side with a late corner right side, put in near post Strauss comes in amongst the crowd to put the ball out for a 2nd corner delivered again to the near post a head puts in in at goal from close range, blocked saved or strikes the post I don’t know before being put behind for a 3rd corner as appeals for handball are made but nothing is given.

  Khan on the attack the ball passed to Townsend-Brown who sends it out to Chimes out wide her high ball into the area is met by South breaking clear of the Billericay defence her effort turned over the crossbar wouldn’t have counted to flag up for offside. An exciting 2nd half comes to an end the final whistle seeing Billericay hold on to their 1-0 lead to claim the 3 points that takes them 7 points clear at the top of the ERWFL Premier Division table.

Full time AFC Dunstable Ladies 0-1 Billericay Town Ladies

  A cliche I know but very much a game of two halves, with Billericay strong in the 1st half dominating the ball and creating plenty of chances scoring from one giving them a slender lead. A 2nd goal early in the 2nd half would have made things more comfortable, Dunstable coming out strong in the 2nd half regrouping and growing in confidence felt they could find an equaliser and it was Billericay who needed the strong defensive display in the end grinding out the win 3 point well earned.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

   A game of two halves makes picking today’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match as hard as ever several good performances out their Billericay dominating the 1st half Morgan strong in the middle along with Butler, Kirsty Knight at the back particularly 2nd half. Overall it comes down to a consistent display for the entire game and today that goes to a player from the losing side, Elly Wade for Dunstable Ladies reading the game very good positioning and marking, covering when needed is today’s Player of the Match.

 Fancied a game form the ERWFL today, the regional leagues are often overlooked but an integral part of the women’s football pyramid, plenty of good players on show producing good quality entertaining and committed football if you haven’t checked out the league before I’d highly recommend it. My thanks to both teams for their help with the teams today.