Sunday 24th September
ERWFL Premier Division
Travelling to Trafford Park this Sunday to take in my first game of the season from the ERWFL Premier Division, representing tier 5 of the women’s football pyramid is a strong league with plenty of talent on show today’s game featuring Wroxham Women taking on Essex side, Bowers & Pitsea Ladies.
A competitive title battle last season seeing Luton Town Ladies getting off to a flying start before the others hauled them in with newly promoted AFC Sudbury Women clinching the title to secure back to back promotions to reach the FAWNL for the first time in their history. With just one promotion spot up for grabs it’s sure to be another tense battle at the top. A new look Real Bedford Ladies side setting the early pace with 5 wins from 5 to sit 7 points clear of the rest… a long way to go however.
Today’s game featuring two sides long established in the ERWFL, both under going transformations along the way. Wroxham Women formerly Acle United Ladies merging with Wroxham in 2019, the club keen to build on a side pushing for promotion to the FAWNL themselves and go all the way. Covid coming along to disrupt every bodies plans, Wroxham haven’t quite found the consistency to push for the top in what is a highly competitive league. A new start for the club this season bringing in a new manager, Adam Race, previously with Long Stratton Women, having turned the Norfolk Division One side into a strong team ready to challenge at the top of the league.
Have recruited strongly over the past couple of season’s bringing in a number of fresh faces under previous manager Joe Simpson with the likes of goalkeeper Megan Gowing joining last season from Beccles. Brought in several players from their one time league rivals Wymondham Town Ladies with more joining this campaign, defenders Leah Newcombe and Chelsea Clarke, winger Natasha Youngs and midfielder Rachel Cossey returning to the pitch after battling back from 2 season’s lost due to injury. Ella Gambell joining from Norwich City Women along with Lily Alexander. Race also bringing striker Luci Middleton with him from Long Stratton after finishing top scorer in the league with 35 goals from 20 appearances. Hit the ground running with a 12-0 demolition away to King’s Lynn Town Ladies on the opening day. defeats away to Luton and at home to Real Bedford were to follow before earning the 3 points with a good win away to Needham Market Women last Sunday.
Bowers & Pitsea Ladies like Wroxham establishing themselves in the ERWFL under a different guise as Little Thurrock Dynamo’s before going on to become an integral part of the Bowers & Pitsea family in 2018, going on to secure promotion to the Premier Division that season. Having consolidated building into a strong team within tier 5 more than capable of beating anyone on their day. Robert Elmes coming in to manage the first team this season.
The first team backed up by a Reserves team playing in the Essex Women’s Premier Division and a strong youth set-up with a number of new recruits to the squad promoted from their treble winning U18s side with the like of goalkeeper Hannah Stone, Libby Cooper, Darcy Drewitt, Ella Ford, Olivia Harris, Ellie Barrett and Chloe Bardsley all featuring today. Danielle Hindley also joining this season from Hutton Ladies with Isabella Darby also new to the squad joining from London Seaward. Came out on top in a 7 goal thriller on the opening day winning 4-3 at home to Royston Town Women that followed up by back to back draws both 2-2 at home to AFC Dunstable Women and away to newly promoted Barking FC Women. Losing out narrowly 1-0 away to leaders Real Bedford Ladies last time out.
Trafford Park the venue for today’s game home, the large grass pitch with a slight gradient a good test for players fitness space to exploit. A small covered stand on one side with the clubhouse housing the bar and kitchen on the opposite side serving hot food and drink. The weather still mild as we enter autumn, cloudy but warm whenever the sun breaks through, still with no chance of rain. Still nursing a soar knee but the most comfortable position is standing up a god cup of tea and cheeseburger all set for the game.
Wroxham Women starting XI – Megan Gowing, Leah Newcombe, Chelsea Clarke, Tigi Robson, Albany Hodgson, Becky Russell (C), Rachel Cossey, Lara Densley, Lauren Bullard, Ella Gambell & Hannah Fuller. Subs – Jennifer Drummie, Ellie Overton, Luci Middleton & Lily Alexander.
Bowers & Pitsea Ladies starting XI – Hannah Stone, Holly Moore, Libby Cooper, Natalie Strange (C), Olivia Bilson, Danielle Hindley, Megan Elwes, Ella Ford, Millie Isherwood, Whitney Locke & Darcy Drewitt. Subs – Olivia Harris, Isabella Darby, Ellie Barrett & Chloe Bardsley.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
Couple of familiar faces in the Wroxham squad with new names this season both through marriage, midfielder Jennifer Codman now Jennifer Drummie while the Fuller girl who was scoring all the goals in pre-season like she was Hannah Waters, is Hannah Waters (now Fuller) although I’m so used to writing Waters in my notes it’ll take a while to adjust. A new captain too for Wroxham with Becky Russell taking over as captain. Natalie Strange captaining Bowers & Pitsea this season.
It’s the visitors to kick off the 1st half attacking up the slope with Bowers & Pitsea wearing red and white vertical striped shirts with red shorts and socks. Wroxham opposite lined up wearing blue and white vertical striped shirts with blue shorts and socks. The ball pushed back into midfield played out to the right into Millie Isherwood held up and Libby Cooper gets up in support moving inside the ball rolled into her is fouled presenting Bowers & Pitsea with an early opportunity to push players up into the opposition box. 25 yards out to the right of the area Isherwood on the ball clips a high ball in towards the far post, over everyone and out of play for the goal kick.
Bowers & Pitsea fast to close Wroxham’s defence down at the start preventing the ball getting upfield. Leah Newcombe on the right clearing the ball up to Lauren Bullard in attack moving into the right channel for Wroxham squares it inside 20 yards out for Ella Gambell who in turn attempts to thread the ball through the Bowers & Pitsea defence onto Fuller right inside the box, Danielle Hindley sticking a foot out getting a nick on the ball to divert it back for her keeper to claim.
Gambell rolling her marker well on the left as she looks to take the ball on down the wing, Cooper in to close her down for Bowers & Pitsea. Albany Hodgson winning the ball at the back for Wroxham sending it long up to Fuller in attack right outside the box held up plays it back to Newcombe with Lara Densley coming over to support, Hindley tackling for the visitors the ball out for a throw in.
Gambell with the ball left for Wroxham, checks inside passing central for Russell she opens her body to turn the ball into Fuller outside the D, Hindley close in tackling to win the ball back for Bowers & Pitsea cleared releases Whitney Locke, carrying the ball forwards well as they counter sends the ball inside for Darcy Drewitt making a central run in behind, goalkeeper Megan Gowing rushing out to close her down takes the ball wide of the keeper moving left looks to send the ball back across into the open goal, defenders racing back to try and clear their lines, the ball through rolls wide of the right post, an opportunity to open the scoring missed inside the opening 7 minutes.
Ella Ford bringing the ball on for Bowers & Pitsea lifts it up to Locke breaking right, 20 yards out turns infield, Hodgson setting a leg out to tackle winning the ball well for the hosts. Gambell looking to get on down the left for Wroxham threatening to get onto the ball inside the box, Moore gets across her shielding the ball out of play Gambell hustling her is disappointed when a corner is given to Wroxham. A great in swinging corner from the left across the six yard box, Hodgson up to attack just a little too high gets her head to the ball but can’t direct it on target drops to the right of goal Bowers & Pitsea clear but can’t retain possession as Wroxham turn play around looking to carve their way through the middle, crowded, Bowers & Pitsea shut the door.
Strange playing the ball into midfield, helped on into Locke, has Megan Elwes making a run out to the right lays the ball into her feet reaching the top of the area crosses into towards the far post looking for Drewitt, too close to the keeper though, Gowing down well to lay claim to the ball in her six yard box. Bowers & Pitsea quick to build an attack getting the ball into midfield the diagonal pass fired up towards Isherwood left of the D, looks to control bring it down and spin off her marker, Newcombe though has read it backing off so she is ready to challenge as Isherwood turns.
A intriguing contest both sides cancelling each other out to a degree, closing each other down, trying to use the width without getting any killer balls into the box. Bullard getting the ball into Fuller from the right 20 yards out over the ball sends her shot angling in towards goal straight into Stone’s gloves. Moments later a diagonal ball deep from the right from Wroxham wrong foots the Bowers and Pitsea defence leaving Fuller free inside the area one on one with the keeper, Stone staying big composed as Fuller trying to send the ball wide of her, saves well with the ball struck at her.
Wroxham looking strong as they flood forwards attacking left the ball into Gambell drives infield 25 yards out curling a shot in towards goal looping up Stone again behind it backing up to claim the ball high. Wroxham with two good chances to score in as many minutes. Bowers & Pitsea winning a free-kick the ball up to Drewitt outside the box, Rachel Cossey defending on her for Wroxham, the visitors press on the left winning the ball back send on for Drewitt in behind on the left, on her out looking for support Wroxham close her down en masse to clear.
Wroxham looking to counter with Cossey sending the ball out to Gambell on the left, good foot work to get away from her marker turning inside, Locke tracking back well to help her defence out regaining possession. Cooper up on the right with the ball at her feet for Bowers & Pitsea playing it on for Locke pulling wide moving into the corner fires a low cross into the six yard box Drewitt coming in central, Gowing down to save turning the ball behind for a corner kick. From the right dropping for Drewitt top of the area right side of the D. pulls the trigger, Bullard in the way blocks and clears.
Bullard bringing the ball down well of her chest turning as it drops to lay the ball forwards for Fuller to attack bursting through the Bowers & Pitsea back line to the right of goal, Stone quickly off her line out to lay claim to the ball before it can be attacked. Hodgson sees the ball out for a corner as she defends with Cooper as Locke on the right lays the ball into her. The corner played into the top of the area from the right met in the air by Olivia Bilson a bullet header knocked down heading towards goal, Chelsea Clarke coming off the post to stick a leg out block the shot.
Newcombe booked for Wroxham as Bowers & Pitsea are awarded a free-kick out wide on the left. The delivery sent long beyond the far post. The visitors winning another set-piece in a central position the ball fired up into the area, Gowing calls for it and coming claims well. Clarke breaking on the left for Wroxham with Gambell on the overlap, whipping a cross into the area intercepted by Bilson for Bowers & Pitsea. Fuller picking up a yellow card for Wroxham as they make a change with Densley coming off, Luci Middleton coming on.
Elwes pushing up on the right with Locke as Bowers & Pitsea push forwards in attack looking to play a one two outside the box, Elmes can’t quite take the ball on past Wroxham’s Tigi Robson as Locke lays it back into her. Cossey charging down Harris as she lines up a strike from 20 yards out. Bowers & Pitsea upping the tempo towards the end of the 1st half but they are caught out as Wroxham turn play around sending a forwards pass long for Fuller breaking wide right fires the cross inside for Bullard in behind the defence Stone rushing out to the top of her area to close it down, Bullard dragging it wide of the keeper to put herself clear into the box rolls the ball in towards the open goal, defenders racing back to defend the line, between them Bilson and Hindley clear the ball for a corner on the left. In high to the far post Gambell rising heads the ball wide.
Hodgson playing a great ball out to Clarke on the left as the full back gets up the wing sending a good cross into the area, Stone getting up to catch it bring the ball down safely. The hosts building on the right Russell out to Bullard strikes the shot from 25 yards on the angle fired low wide past the far post. Both full backs looking to get on for Wroxham now Newcombe forwards on the right as Cossey and Russell link up trough the middle, Bowers & Pitsea defending seeing the ball out for a goal kick.
Drewitt on through the middle for Bowers & Pitsea the pass out to Locke pulling right shoots on the angle a low drive in towards goal, Gowing down low to save. A change late in the 1st half for the visitors with Isabella Darby coming on for Hindley. Middleton combining with Bullard out on the right for Wroxham the ball fed back to Russell in the middle strikes from distance 30 yards plus fired wide across goal. Middleton with the ball on the right crossed in central Gambell not catching the volley cleanly the ball deflected safely into the box for the keeper to collect.
Half-time Wroxham Women 0-0 Bowers & Pitsea Ladies
All square at the break and fair enough on the balance of play however both sides with a gilt edged chance to score. Has been competitive with both sides cancelling each other out at times, enjoying good spells in attack looking to use the pitch without delivering too many killer balls both keepers called into action nevertheless looking comfortable. All set up for an exciting 2nd half.
Both sides making changes at half-time a triple substitution for Wroxham with Jennifer Drummie, Ellie Overton along with Densley returning for Cossey and Newcombe and Bullard. A double switch for Bowers & Pitsea with Chloe Bardsley and Ellie Barrett on for Isherwood and Elwes. Wroxham to get the 2nd half underway put into Russell central sends it long for Gambell out left the visitors can see it safely out of play for a throw in, Wroxham taking it quickly down for Fuller knocks it inside for Middleton to strike on the volley from 25 yards on the angle her shot looping straight into the keeper.
Drummie bringing the ball on for Wroxham into space on the left lifting the diagonal ball into the box Stone keeping her eye on it taking it cleanly on the bounce not distracted by Fuller closing her down. Bowers & Pitsea get the ball down on the left, Locke now over on that side looknig to combine with Bardsley in attack shifting inside, Robson getting the tackle in for Wroxham top of the area.
Middleton seeing the ball into her 20 yards out flicking it out to Densley breaking clear into the box on the right, the flag going up against her as she chips the ball up over the keeper to cannon off the base of the far post. Bowers & Pitsea mount an attack on their left Cooper up with Locke the ball flashed across the top of the area collected by Drewitt right side, Clarke in to charge her down as she goes to shoot the ball deflected away for a corner. An in swinging ball high into the six yard box Gowing fouled as she rises to punch the ball.
GOAL! Cooper carrying the ball forwards well for Bowers & Pitsea on the left covering the ground before flashing a shot wide across the six yard box as players pile forwards, retrieved by Bardsley out beyond the fire posts sends it back into the danger area, a spot of pinball ensues as Wroxham look to clear their lines rebounds straight to Ellie Barrett up on the right to strike the ball on the angle 20 yards out to race along the ground to find the bottom corner scoring her 1st senior goal to put the visitors into the lead 0-1.
Bowers & Pitsea breaking the deadlock early in the 2nd half Wroxham straight on the attack from the restart the ball out left with Gambell and Fuller crossed into the area, Middleton inside the box looking to hook it over her shoulder from 12 yards out plants it wide of the far post. Cooper taking on the ball as Bowers & Pitsea look to counter taking it left fed on for Bardsley, Gowing though out to the edge of her area quickly to claim.
Middleton releasing Densley racing away on right with the ball into space crossing into Russell central 20 yards out her shot blocked by Bilson well, and then again the defender sticking a leg out to deflect the ball as Russell retrieves it for a 2nd bite. Changes for Bowers & Pitsea as they bring Isherwood and Drewitt back on for Locke and Moore. Game on with Bowers & Pitsea looking top extend their lead, the goal though sharpening Wroxham up as they look to close in for the ball. Middleton clashing with Cooper as they go up for the ball, a little blood to wash out of her mouth Middleton frustrated as she has to go off to come back on.
Off the resulting drop ball, Isherwood is put clear on the left to send a cross looping into the six yard box won and cleared by Clarke for Wroxham. Middleton taking the ball on from Drummie drives on central before being taken out the advantage played as the ball drops to Densley free on the right she swings a cross into the area, caught high by Stone. Hodgson with a word from the referee as she brings down Isherwood top of the circle the ball lifted into the area, Bowers & Pitsea appealing for a penalty as Bilson is sent tumbling but the protests waved away as the visitors press the ball high Wroxham scrambling it clear Russell sending it up to Fuller pulling left, Barrett doing the defending for Bowers & Pitsea.
Moore back into the action for Bowers & Pitsea replacing Ford. Isherwood left putting the ball on for Harris for Bowers & Pitsea on the left, Overton in to close her down win the challenge for the hosts carries the ball into the middle forwards into Middleton who in turn sends it on for Densley peeling away right, Moore tackling well for Bowers & Pitsea.
Wroxham with a strong spell, Bowers & Pitsea a little disjointed on the back foot conceding a corner on the left defended at the near post. Lily Alexander on now for Wroxham replacing Gambell on the left. Into the final 15 minutes Clarke rifling a shot in towards goal from range held by Stone in the Bowers & Pitsea goal. The assistant referee raising his flag the keeper carrying the ball over the line… for a corner. Not spotted by the referee at first play goes on as Wroxham protest… play brought back for the corner Bowers & Pitsea not happy.
GOAL! The corner played into the area half cleared a Wroxham player lining up a shot from the left on the angle 25 yards out driven in low Stone down sharply to save only succeeds in pushing the ball across her goal into the path of Middleton the striker reacting instinctively to smash the ball back across goal and in to equalise 1-1.
Bowers & Pitsea furious with the decisions that led to the equaliser, captain Strange going into the book for her protests. Heated from the bench too and as play build on the right the referee stops proceeding to issue the Bowers & Pitsea manager with a red card. Bowers & Pitsea need to regain their composure winning a free-kick 25 yards out right of the goal. Harris over it goes for the shot sending the ball over the bar.
More frustration for the visitors as Drewitt feeds the ball through for Isherwood breaking into the box right of goal to strike a low shot past the keeper into the back of the net nut throws her head up in dismay as she sees the flag raised against her. Hodgson winning the ball strongly at the back for Wroxham pinging the long pass forwards for Fuller pulling wide left drills an angled shot in low towards the near post, Stone getting her leg in the way deflecting the ball into her side netting. Gambell back on for Wroxham going to the right in place of Densley.
Wroxham on the front foot pushing forwards Overton with Densley on the right taking the ball past her on the overlap, squares a cross into the box a dummied header from Fuller sees the ball drop past her into Drummie central, Bilson in to close her down can’t dig the ball out from under her feet. Strange furious talks herself into trouble once again, this time though she is sent to the sin bin leaving Bowers & Pitsea down to 10 for the final 10 minutes.
Clarke getting on well for Wroxham in the 2nd half gaining ground with the ball, Bilson out to close her down. Russell striking a shot wide from distance as the hosts look to use their player advantage. Fuller holds the ball up on the left for Wroxham looking for support, Russell offering it laid into her 20 yards out, Bilson tackling to win the ball back. Don’t keep it for long as Overton find Gambell on the right to cross the ball into the area for Fuller central looking to see the ball down catch it on the volley, puts her effort wide of the far post.
Getting feisty a few tempers flaring Bowers & Pitsea unhappy with how the game has gone on the back foot in the closing stages the game moving into stoppage time Wroxham pressing forwards winning the ball inside their opponents half.
GOAL! Wroxham with the ball on the left Clarke bring it on with an inch perfect past over the top to put Fuller though on goal one on one with the keeper composed with a finishers instinct sends the ball past her into the back of the net and turns with her arms raised in celebration moment before being piled on by her joyous teammates 90+3 2-1!
Strange allowed back on as Wroxham have the ball on the corner on the right Gambell with Fuller looking to keep it in the corner win a throw then a corner kick taken short into Fuller knocked off her behind for a goal kick. Bowers & Pitsea mounting one last attack going right Clarke defending but the free-kick conceded players forwards the ball flung into the area knocked out and launched clear by Middleton as the final whistle blows. Wroxham coming back from a goal down to win at the death.
Full time Wroxham Women 2-1 Bowers & Pitsea Ladies
Wroxham coming from a goal down to win the game 2-1 at the death. Both sides with good opportunities to score in the first half nevertheless going into the changing rooms goalless at the break. Bowers & Pitsea getting their noses in front early in the 2nd half with both sides looking to score after that, Wroxham livening up after conceding as Bowers & Pitsea looked to extend their lead. A spot of controversy leading to the equaliser Bowers & Pitsea not happy with the awarding of the corner in the first place, incensed when it led to the goal their captain booked and manager sent off. Wroxham pushing hard in the final 10 minutes, Bowers & Pitsea reduced to 10 with Strange sin binned used the advantage pressing to the end Clarke’s inch perfect pass sending Fuller through on goal in stoppage time to score the winner. The result lifts Wroxham into 3rd in the table.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this Sunday’s Women’ Football East – Player of the Match award. As often is the case a tough on to call with several strong performances on the pitch. A few to mention firstly for Bowers & Pitsea. Goalkeeper Hannah Stone with some great positioning and composure. Olivia Bilson with a number of strong challenges at the back to win the ball. Darcy Drewitt taking the ball on well as did Libby Cooper with Whitney Locke looking to make things happen out wide. For Wroxham, Luci Middleton made a real impact coming on late in the first half looking to get onto the ball set up others as well as for herself. Ella Gambell with some strong runs out wide. Hannah Fuller (I’ve deleted the W a dozen tomes while writing this report) a force in attack taking on the defence and pulling out wide to set up chances, scoring the winner. The award though goes to defender Chelsea Clarke won the ball well at the back putting in the blocks and a threat carrying the ball forwards an inch perfect pass to set up the winning goal.
Another enjoyable trip to Trafford Park my thanks to both clubs for their help today and hospitality. As I’ve come to expect another competitive and well contested game from the ERWFL Premier Division plenty of talent on show.
by Darren Gilham