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Cup Final Special – Cambridge United WFC Development v Park Ladies

Sunday 16th April

Cambridgeshire Women’s Junior Invitation Cup Final sponsored by the Alan Boswell Group

The cup finals coming thick and fast now this the 3rd in 5 days a trip over to Histon FC’s Bridge Road Stadium to watch the final of the Cambridgeshire Women’s Junior Invitation Cup between Cambridge United WFC Development and Park Ladies.

 Cambridgeshire like Essex having a secondary county cup competition giving the sides not usually expected to reach the latter stages of the senior cup a chance to contest for silverware.

Today’s prize

Cambridge United WFC Development playing their football in the FAWNL South East and Central Reserve League with 11 other clubs 2nd teams across tier 3, 4 and regional set-ups. The women’s section enjoying a stronger relationship with Cambridge United FC with the setting up of a woman’s board and growth within the youth pathway which of which the development side is a vital link. The Development side have struggled for points this season and are currently bottom of the table, not adrift by any means with 4 games to play a positive end to the season could see them move up a place or two. The league aside, reaching the Junior Invitation Cup Final and a chance to compete for silverware. Niamh Day top scorer with 8 goals.

 Park Ladies are having a great season vying for the title in Cambridgeshire Women’s Division Two. Top of the table unbeaten and the leagues top scorers  with 77 goals too. The Wimblington based side into their first ever cup final looking forward to the occasion. Taking the title battle all the way with Francesca Plitsch scoring in the dying moments to see Park come back from a goal down to beat main rivals Peterborough Sports Ladies at home back in February. Plitsch the top scorer for the club so far this season with 27 goals from 18 appearances. Georgia Stimson close behind on 25 goals from 18 played with Amy Hunt on 16 and Sophie Fenner on 11 goals respectfully.

Road to the Final

  Both sides with a bye in the first round moving into the quarter finals, Cambridge United WFC Development were to progress into the last 4 without kicking a ball awarded the away win against March Town United Ladies. Park Ladies were away to Division Three strugglers Ely City Women, Park’s attack proving too strong as they racked up a 16-1 win with Plitsch netting 5 goals. Hunt with 4 to her name. A hat-trick Georgia Stimson with a goal each for Eilish Brown, Imogen James plus a brace for Georgia Payne.

 Into the semi-finals Cambridge United WFC Development drawn away to rivals and fellow Reserve league opponents Cambridge City Ladies U23s, a goal for City’s Olivia Briffa and one for Niamh Day seeing the sides level at 1-1 to send the tie into a penalty shootout going into sudden death Cambridge United edged it 6-5 to win a place in the cup final. Park at home to Division Three side Cambourne Ladies who themselves were unbeaten in their league coming into the game. Georgia Stimson putting Park 1-0 in the first half, it wasn’t till the 80th minutes a a quick fire double from Amy Hunt and Erin Powell that victory was assured and Park reached their first ever cup final.

 Histon FC’s Glassworld Stadium the venue for today’s cup final. Hosting the Veterans Invitation Cup Final earlier in the morning. Soham Town Rangers Veterans beating Royston Town Veterans 4-0 to win the trophy. Onto the Junior Invitation Cup Final, a 2:30pm KO, my 1st visit to the Glassworld Stadium this season (although the weather has put pay to earlier visits, the home of Histon Ladies into the league cup final and vying for the title with opponents Cardea FC Ladies. A large grass pitch with covered viewing all round seated stands on both sides the man stand over the changing rooms the bar behind. The kitchen hatch open serving hot food and drinks. The weather set fair, mild if a little muggy with cloud cover around but no rain forecast.

Cambridge United WFC Development

Cambridge United WFC starting XI – Freyja Bermudez, Katie Harding (C), Beatrice Rogers, Talia Gisonni, Jorja Badcock, Serena Cobb, Emily Waterman, Eleanor Townsend, Maya Edwards, Niamh Day & Megan Chandler. Subs – Libby Fraser, Alyssa Bovis, Tilly leather & Gabby Cobb.

Park Ladies

 Park Ladies starting XI – Sian Holcroft, Erin Fox, Imogen James, Charlotte Marshall, Eilish Brown, Erin Powell (C), Francesca Plitsch, Georgia Payne, Sophie Fenner, Georgia Stimson & Amy Hunt. Subs – Liv Robinson, Maddie Jackson, Teagan Pulman, Casey Ward & Sophie Hunt.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

 It’s Park to kick-off the 1st half wearing dark blue shirt and shorts with red coloured socks, with Cambridge lined up opposite wearing amber coloured shirts with black shorts and socks. The ball fed into the middle, Cambridge rush to close the ball down, putting Park’s defence under pressure forced back to the keeper, Sian Holcroft going to kick the ball clear strikes the on rushing attacker, the deflected ball bouncing away to the left Holcroft able to retrieve without threat. 

  Park captain, Erin Powell turning on the ball in midfield lifting the pass out to the left channel with Amy Hunt making  a move in behind down the flank, Talia Gisonni across in defence to clear the ball out for a throw. Park get numbers up the throw nodded on into the box, Cambridge goalkeeper Freyja Bermudez can come to grab the ball at her near post. Eleanor Townsend getting hold of the ball central for Cambridge driving over half way is brought down by Park’s Eilish Brown winning the free-kick. Just in front of the centre circle Jorja Badcock nevertheless connects with the ball sending it in with pace towards the left of goal, Holcroft across her line to claim the ball into her midriff.

Cambridge’s Jorja Badcock

  A lively start from Cambridge getting after the ball, hustling Park in possession. Sophie Fenner taking the ball out to the for Park driving at the defence challenged the ball out for a throw. Both sides looking to use the whole pitch an open start to the game, Gisonni jumping into Imogen James with a strong challenge going to win the ball, conceding the free-kick out wide inside her half. Francesca Plitsch over the set-piece struck goal ward pulled a little wide of the near post. 

Park midfielder, Francesca Plitsch

  Cambridge advancing on the left the ball on for Megan Chandler takes it all the way to the by-line cutting inside to cross, Holcroft down low to claim the ball. Space for Niamh Day to run into on the right Badcock picking the past, Day gets the ball into her feet, cuts inside looking to get past James the defender sticking a foot out to take the ball away from her. Moments later James brings Day down on the right winning Cambridge a free-kick. Badcock on the ball delivers it across the top of the area far side, the defensive header sending the ball back out to her on the right, her attempted cross blocked Park look to break, Stimson in past the defence rushing after the ball, Bermudez out of her area to kick the ball clear.

 GOAL! A lively opening 10 minutes brings the opening goal, Cambridge winning the ball in the middle the diagonal pass picking out Day drifting clear wide right, sends her cross in low across the Park area, Chandler getting hold of it left of the D shapes to move to her left cutting back onto her right foot striking the ball goal wards, pace on the shot Holcroft down sharply can’t quite get enough on it the ball squirming under her into the back of the net 1-0.

Megan Chandler congratulated by her teammates after firing Cambridge into the lead

  Cambridge quick to regain possession from the restart Badcock in to win the tackle puts the ball forwards, Chandler up with Emily Waterman in front of the Park area the ball struck, Charlotte Marshall adjudged to have handled the ball as it comes at her with pace, the free-kick awards central 25 yards out Badcock with the attempt on goal pulls the low strike wide of the left post. 

 GOAL! Cambridge getting plyer on well both left and right, coming down the left they double their lead winning a throw high taken quickly the cross whipped in there to be attacked, Waterman racing in on the keeper getting there ahead of Holcroft to force the ball over the line to make it 2-0.

Emily Waterman getting to the cross ahead of Sian Holcroft to make it 2-0

  A blow for Park conceding two goals in quick succession inside the opening 17minutes. Forced back are struggling to get the ball into Stimson and Hunt up top. Soon find themselves under more pressure as they give away a free-kick wide on the right. 

 GOAL! Day over the ball in the right corner getting her foot under the ball to send the ball looping up in towards goal flies over Holcroft at pace, Waterman clear at the far post leaping after the ball, but it’s already over dropping under the bar 3-0.

Niamh Day with Cambridge’s 3rd goal

 3 quick goals for Cambridge getting themselves off to the perfect start, have been lively nipping in to win the ball, giving Park little time to settle. Maya Edwards with a 30 plus yard strike dipping late, Holcroft getting her gloves up to palm the ball down and safely claim. Holcroft the busier of the two goalkeepers sharp getting down to save at close range as the shot comes in off a Day cross from the right the ball deflected back out to Day, tries to get the ball out of her feet to shoot, James charging her down the ball going away for a corner kick. 

Park’s Imogen James

  Badcock putting the corner ball in long across the area, Erin Fox heading it clear for Park back out to Badcock on the right plays a low cross in along the top of the area, helped through to Chandler left side o the angle fires her shot over the bar. Park making a change bringing off Fenner, replaced by Casey Ward to the right of attack. Plitsch with a deft ball dropped over the defence, Hunt giving chase Bermudez starts to come, Gisonni tracking back with Hunt not taking any risks clearing the ball to the right for a throw. 

Park attacker, Georgia Stimson

 Stimson on the ball inside the Cambridge half playing it on for Hunt looking to get into the box from the left Gisonni back on her to tackle the ball behind for a corner kick. Cambridge clearing the corner, break on the right Day up the line to cross into the area, Erin Fox heading clear for Park. Cambridge making a double switch bringing on Libby Fraser and Gabby Cobb, bringing of Waterman and Chandler. Bermudez comes out of her area again to clear as Stimson looks to break through the defence get onto the ball Rogers in danger of becoming collateral damage!

  Stimson peeling away to the left wing getting the ball into her feet and squaring a cross into the top of the area, Hunt arriving, under pressure from Edwards doesn’t get  clean connection scuffs her attempt wide. Day wide on the right on the attack for Cambridge ending a diagonal ball into the area, takes a wicked deflection up off Marshall, looping over her towards goal, Holcroft in the right place to punch the ball away to safety. Serena Cobb with a 25 yard strike that rattles the Park cross bar as she sees the ball run across her from the left.

Serena Cobb

  Cambridge pushing forwards the ball rolled into Fraser running across the top of the Park area thinking about the strike by not one rolls the ball onto Day out wide on the right wins her side a corner kick. Park heading the ball clear of their area doesn’t stick Cambridge nipping in to regain possession, Rogers into Serena Cobb 25 yards out left of the D her strike landing on the roof of the net. Another double switch for Cambridge with Serena Cobb, and Townsend off, Tilly Leather and Alyssa Bovis coming on. 

Park midfielder, Francesca Plitsch

  Park with little of the attack under pressure Brown getting the ball forwards Hunt taking it on through the middle driving forwards playing the one two with Ward to her right, getting the return pass as she enters the box stretching puts her low shot into the keeper. Fraser putting the pass out to Day on the right touchline pushing for the corner her cross whipped into the area turned behind by Marshall for the corner. Put in across the six yard box from the right headed clear back to the corner taker a vicious ball fired in near post James here to clear for Park. 

Park’s Amy Hunt with Cambridge captain Katie Harding

  Cambridge rushing in to regain the ball inside the Park half Badcock firing a diagonal ball right side in across goal over Holcroft attacked beyond the far post, into the side netting. Edwards opening up her body to stab the ball forwards looking for Gabby Cobb pulling off the defence, a vital interception from Parks Brown. Plitsch more effective attacking from the midfield seeing her runs restricted in the first half getting holding of the ball linking up with Brown powers forwards, Rogers out to put in the challenge. 

Cambridge defender, Beatrice Rogers

  Ward fed the ball out wide right for Park powers her way forwards sending a stinging cross in low at the near post, Hunt stealing in unmarked getting her foot on the ball looking to turn it inside the post instead sends her shot over from close range.

Park striker, Amy Hunt

A couple of half chances for Park late in the half as they look to finish it on a positive note. Brown linking with Plitsch through the middle stabbing the ball on through the Cambridge back line for Hunt to attack, Bermudez racing out of her box to clear.

Half-time Cambridge United WFC Development 3-0 Park Ladies

  Making a fast start getting after the ball and finding the back of the net inside the opening 10 minutes Cambridge went on to score two quick goals to open up a 3 goal lead at the break. Creating chances to add to that score line too have been energetic and first to win the ball making use of the pitch to stretch Park at the back. Park quickly on the back foot have struggled to get the ball into their attackers, with goals in their locker however have broken away to created a couple of good opportunities in front of goal but know they have an uphill task 2nd half if they are to get back into the game.

Park making a change at the start of the 2nd half Fenner back on replacing Hunt in attack as Cambridge get the 2nd half underway. Park’s turn to press the ball won in midfield out to Fenner pulling left wins a throw high up the pitch, inside to Plitsch the ball cut out by Cambridge captain Katie Harding. 

 Powell tracking back to mark Leather top of the area as Bovis left whips a low cross in towards her wining the tackle the ball going behind for a corner kick. Swung in near post, James with the clearance for Park. The ball latched onto outside the area the shot blasted in towards goal, the flag goes up as it’s deflected through towards goal. Badcock moving left playing the ball on up the wing for Bovis, Fox getting out to her to clear the ball for the throw. Level with the top of the area dropped into Fraser runs across the top of the D before wrapping her foot around the shot, struck wide of the right post.

  GOAL! A busy start to the 2nd half Cambridge pressing the ball inside the Park half rolled into Gabby Cobb 30 yards out central, back to goal sees the ball into her feet then with a clever spin pulls off her maker putting in into the path for Fraser ahead of her 25 yards out strikes the ball goalwards racing in low Holcroft diving across her goal gets the merest of touches but not enough as the ball squeezes home inside the post 4-0.

Libby Fraser scoring early in the 2nd half for Cambridge

 Park looking to get going through the middle Brown to Payne lays the diagonal ball into Ward running on right side, Gisonni across to put in the tackle see the ball cleared out of the ground, not for the first time today. Fraser getting hold of the ball from atop the centre circle driving forward with a wild lash of the ball that goes well wide. Cambridge strong first to the ball Bovis left on the move fed inside for Fraser, Fox nipping back at her to win the ball for Park at the back. 

Park defender, Erin Fox

 GOAL! Day continuing to cause Park problems down the right wing on the ball driving to the by-line inside to lay the cross in near post Gabby Cobb inside the six yard box with the 1st time effort smashes up and down off the cross bar! The ball loose Day continuing her run into central first to the ball rifling home from close range 5-0.

Niamh Day on the follow up to score Cambridge’s 5th

  Cambridge ringing the changes with another double substitution, Waterman and Chandler returning to the action. Badcock and Edwards the players coming off. Park under the cosh look to get the ball into Fenner out on the left in attack, is tripped winning a free-kick. The ball into the area headed away by the Cambridge defence.

Park’s Casey Ward

 GOAL! A 6th goal for Cambridge as they press home the advantage at the start of the 2nd half Day on the ball again wide right bursting down to the by-line cutting her cross back into the area, the shot from the penalty spot blasted in towards goal blacked by Powell running back to defend, can’t do anything with the rebound as the ball drops straight to Fraser to smash home her 2nd of the game 6-0.

Libby Fraser with a cup final brace

  Park responding with a double switch bringing on Sophie Hunt and Teagan Pulman for James and Payne. Gabby Cobb passing to Bovis out on the left cuts the cross back along the top of the area for Fraser who has a go from 20 yards in low doesn’t have the power to trouble Holcroft. Fraser taking the ball away to the left to cross the ball running into the area for Gabby Cobb to race in to shoot, Marshall in to put in the block the rebound striking Cobb going out behind for the goal kick.

Sophie Fenner

  Fenner looking the most likely outlet up top for Park on the left to create something Plitsch giving her the ball drives forwards preparing to strike from range, Harding getting her leg out to make the blocking tackle bring the ball forwards for Cambridge. Cambridge full of energy quicker to the ball, Ward picked out on the right for Park with the diagonal ball but offside.

 Bovis with an awkward fall over the keeper as Holcroft comes to the left of her area diving in to get to the ball as Fraser lays it forwards. Looking to go over strike her head on the turf, but comes away holding her shoulder battered but otherwise okay. A throw for Cambridge on the right Fraser spinning in behind sends a cross into the box, Gabby Cobb racing to meet it top of the area slicing her shot wide, Day running in near post gets a stab at the ball sends it wide of the post.

Cambridge defender Talia Gisonni

  Fenner charges in on the goalkeeper as Bermudez comes to clear the ball, hitting the striker, the ball deflected in behind her Fenner can’t get to it before t ball runs out of play. Gisonni winning the ball on half way takes it forwards for Cambridge right channel laying the pass out wide for Day she sends the return ball into the defender arriving inside the box , Fox rushing out to charge her down as she lines up a shot the ball rebounding of Gisonni wide for a goal kick. 

  Day and Bovis come off for Cambridge as they rotate their substitutes with Townsend and Serena Cobb coming back on. Townsend involved straight away taking the ball left whipping a deep cross into the box claimed well by Holcroft with Gabby Cobb and Fraser rushing in however the flag is up for offside against one or both. Park making a change bringing off Plitsch on comes Liv Robinson.

 Park’s Fenner taking the ball on down the left winning a corner. Played in towards the near post defended put behind for another corner kick. Again an inswinging delivery cleared by Harding for Cambridge back to the corner taker played short into Brown inside the area left her shot charged down, Park with a another attempt to put the ball into the area too high for Powell to reach at the far post.

  The Park fans celebrate as they find the back of the net the ball long out to Powell on the right her cross from deep in across the face of goal over the keeper sees Fenner in beyond bundle the ball over the line, the flag though it up won’t count. Cambridge playing the ball out from the back on for Fraser time to line up a shot from all of 30 yards out straight at Holcroft. Serena Cobb away to the right on the ball lifting a cross in on the angle, Townsend meeting it on the volley sending the ball over the cross bar. Cambridge taking full advantage of having roll on roll off substitutes with another double change Leather and Fraser off for, Badcock and Edwards.

  Cambridge winning a corner on the right, swung in on the keeper, Gisonni leaping in on Holcroft causing Holcroft to drop the ball, the keeper though sharp to get down and smother the ball before it can be attacked. Park send Plitsch and Amy Hunt back on for Ward and Brown. Cambridge bring Day back on for Gabby Cobb. The game moving into the final 5 minutes. Townsend playing a diagonal ball into the area loose Marshall rushes in to charge down the ball as Day prepares to shoot.

 GOAL! Cambridge continue to see more of the ball play spread out wide to the right Serena Cobb in possession top of the are not closed down sends a cross/shot looping in towards goal, over the keeper and inside the top corner to make it 7-0.

Serena Cobb surrounded by her teammates after scoring the 7th goal

  Badcock fouled on the left for Cambridge. players up into the area for the free-kick, the header won well by Park’s Marshall out of the box for Plitsch to clear. Cambridge up on the right winning a corner the ball in near side Gisonni out to meet it and turn her shot charged down, the loose ball lifted back over the top, Day after it but the flag up straight away. Cambridge finishing strong getting bodies forwards right the cross in low near side evading everyone comes onto Townsend central sends her first time hit over. 

  Into stoppage time  Fenner left sending a cross long across the six yard box no one able to get near it. Cambridge counter up the left the ball put on for Townsend running into the box, Sophie Hunt with her for Park defending as Holcroft starts to come the ball deflected behind the keeper scrambling back to grab it. The final whistle blows and Cambridge celebrate as they win the Junior Invitation Cup.  

Full time Cambridge United WFC Development 7-0 Park Ladies

  A flurry of goals at the start of the 2nd half securing Cambridge’s victory and stifling any hopes of a Park comeback. With an energetic display getting to the ball first and using the width of the pitch to full advantage to stretch their opponents Cambridge’s young side took their chances never letting Park settle on the ball. Park battled hard but pressed at the back couldn’t get the support to the attackers to create chances. A tough defeat to take but shouldn’t distract from what has overall been a very successful season need to push to the end an unbeaten league campaign still there for the taking. The cup victory going along way to boost the confidence and give Cambridge belief going into their remaining league games.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. A few contenders for this one but with a clear winner in the finish. A tough game for Park nevertheless Erin Fox made  number of crucial challenges at the back. Sophie Fenner in attack working hard to provide an outlet 2nd half running with the ball. Cambridge with a strong game all over the pitch, Talia Gisonni strong at the back putting in the tackles and clearing the ball. Jorja Badcock a threat with the dead ball showing good passing range. Serena Cobb skilful with the ball at her feet taking on defenders. Libby Fraser with two goals getting into some great positions. The award though goes to Niamh Day. Strong out on the right flank getting forwards a ready outlet taking the ball to the by-line setting up goals and scoring two herself.


Cambridge United WFC Development lifting the cup

 Congratulations to Cambridge United WFC Development on winning the Cambridgeshire Women’s Junior Invitation Cup.

Cambridge United WFC Development 2022/23 Cambridgeshire Women’s Junior Invitation Cup winners

  A enjoyable return to Histon to a see my 4th cup final of the season. May yet be a double or Cambridge United in the County Cup with the 1st team facing rivals Cambridge City at the Abbey Stadium for the Invitation Cup on Tuesday 25th April. Will be there too. My thanks to Chris Abbott and the Cambs FA staff for their help today and both teams for providing me with the team details, as always much appreciated.

by Darren Gilham