Sunday 10th December
Cambridgeshire Women’s Division Three
The featured football action on Women’s Football East comes from Cambridgeshire Women’s Division Three, a trip to Manea to watch Manea Siren LFC play Deeping United Ladies.
Women’s football in Cambridgeshire going strong with 32 sides currently competing across 3 divisions. A strong 10 team Premiership with 12 in Division 2 and 10 in Division Three, the sides in the lower divisions no longer split into a North and South section but playing across the whole county and beyond. Reaching the end of 2023 the league challengers emerging to press top spot.
Manea situated in the heart of the Cambridgeshire fens to the north east of the county between March and Chatteris (both with strong women’s football teams themselves along with Park Ladies in Wimblington) the Division Three side improving year on year since joining the league 3 season’s ago. Their debut season tough finishing bottom of the pile with just a single point on the board. Warren Fenwick coming in as part of the new coaching team to take Manea forwards into the new season saw a vast improvement in performances and results finishing 7th with a positive outlook to take into this season.
Have seen an influx of players too, with a fair bit of playing experience amongst them with talk of a Development team in the future. Playing 6 league matches so far has been a mixed set of results with 3 wins and 3 losses the later against the top three sides, currently 5th in the table with a belief that the club can challenge for a top 4 finish if not better. A strong run in the county cup to date beating two sides a league higher in the previous rounds including a good 1-0 win against high flying Waterbeach Colts WFC, will play Cambridge United WFC’s new U18s side in the new year in the next round. Kyra Portugal is an attacker with a vast amount of experience playing in the Cambridgeshire leagues and is leading the goal scoring charts this time around netting 7 goals to date. A win today will lift Manea u to 4th.
Has been a couple of season’s now since I last saw Deeping United Ladies play, and that just half a match with the game abandoned at half-time due to an unfortunate injury to Deeping’s Ellie Barnes-Brown. The most northly of the clubs represented by Women’s Football East, situated in South Lincolnshire the club has seen a lot of changes in both coaching and playing personnel since the last time I saw them play with just 4 players remaining from the game I watched back in 2021. One of those, Katie Clarke now manging the side.
Has been a tough start to the new season despite and opening day win, Deeping have been on the wrong end of some heavy defeats a torrid run of 4 straight loses ending with a much needed 7-1 away win against league new comers Mepal and Sutton Rangers, to lift the side up into 7th a close 2-1 lose to league leaders South Lincolnshire Swifts last time out, have a squad with a good blend of experience and youth having seen a number of their U16s step up into the women’s side. Evie Porch and Lauren Wyer top scorers netting 3 goals each. A positive result today will see Deeping push right up on the sides in the top half of the table.
Manea Sirens LFC play their home games at the SM Guy Playing Fields in Manea. However with heavy rain falling the day before and more arriving before kick-off, making the grass pitch unplayable the gathered teams inside the pavilion waiting for the referee’s approval had booked a 3G pitch in case the pitch became unplayable at the nearby Chatteris Leisure Centre. A short trip to Chatteris, the rain falling steadily was going to be a wet start to the match at least with the waterproofs on and the not so easy juggling act between trying to wield and umbrella, notepad and camera. The 3G pitch behind the leisure centre a valuable asset and one the FA is keen to see more of available to the women’s game. Open to the elements with a low fence all round enabling a good view, the players out for a short warm-up before the match got underway with the light already gloomy from the heavy cloud. Nevertheless we had a game on…
Manea Sirens LFC starting XI – Tiff Miller, Courtney Wales, Chloe (Ginge) Brown, Chloe Cook, Adele McKew, Charlotte Day (C), Christine Heslop, Lindsay Gardiner, Erin Rimmer, Stacey Graham & Kyra Portugal. Subs – Dannii Green, Tabitha Willis, Beth Skeggs, Lauren Barnes & Ella Nutter.
Deeping United Ladies starting XI – Vicki France, Hayley Baldock, Caitlin Walker (C), Rachel Dudley, Niamh Wray, Lorna Hall, Annie Spriggs, Melissa Guest, Caitlin Burke, Grace Wilson & Lauren Wyer. Subs – Nicole Pearce, Lucy Lyon & Maddie Hill.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
It’s Manea to kick-off the 1st half wearing teals colours shirts with navy blue and white on the sleeves and shoulders, navy blue shorts and socks. Deeping lined up opposite wearing navy blue shirts with red trim on the shoulders, grey coloured shorts and socks. The ball rolled back into Chloe Cook in defence, played back into the middle, Deeping’s Annie Spriggs moving in fast to close the ball down send the cross field ball out to the right the ball played down the right lifted into the area for Grace Wilson to attack, Manea goalkeeper Tiff Miller gathering the ball into her body.
The inclement weather along the late change of venue seeing an unsettled start to the game the passes rushed the ball slick on the wet surface. Courtney Wales taking the ball forwards on the right for Manea fed inside for Christine Heslop making a central run, is tackled by Deeping’s Rachel Dudley outside the D. Deeping winning the ball at the back playing it quickly into Spriggs in the middle spots Wilson pulling into space in the left channel, the pass lifted into her path she strikes the ball from outside the area firing it straight at Miller who makes a comfortable save.
Spriggs finding room in the middle for Deeping having options going forwards with players bombing down the flanks goes to the right, the shot on the angle collected by Miller down low at her near post. Deeping making an early switch bringing off Niamh Wray, Lucy Lyon coming on.
GOAL! No sooner have Deeping made the change then, Manea score building through the middle players pushing up around the box, captain Charlotte Day carrying the ball forwards playing it out to Lindsey Gardiner left of the D, to strike a low shot in past the advancing keeper to find the back of the net 1-0.
Deeping look to get the ball out to Wilson pulling off to the left, looking to take the ball on, Wales moves in to close her down regains possession for the hosts. Day playing the ball forwards onto Kyra Portugal 25 yards out to the left of the box, her shot from range racing past the near post. Deeping keeper, Vicki France the busier early on called into action to make a smart save with her feet as Portugal drives in another shot from outside the box.
Lorna Hall winning the ball in the middle of the park for Deeping linking up with Spriggs the ball put out to the right, Guest putting it inside for Lauren Wyer up top, Adele McKew at the back for Manea closing her down inside the D to win the ball back. The notepad pages are pretty dog eared by the wet weather, not the greatest weather for watching a football game still the players are getting on with thing’s the ball being moved about quickly, Deeping looking to get down the wings, Chloe brown defending at left back for Manea the ball cleared up the line for Gardiner to attack for the hosts, Deeping captain Caitlin Walker coming out to challenge for the ball, into Spriggs gets the ball forwards quickly for the attackers to chase down, McKew clearing for Manea.
GOAL! Deeping breaking up a Manea attack get down the other end quickly to equalise, Dudley with the ball forwards into the path of Wyer as she breaks clear through the middle to burst into the area and send the ball past Miller before she can get down to stop it 1-1.
Manea win the ball in the middle, Heslop on for Day taking the ball wide into space on the right before squaring a cross into the penalty spot, Walker intercepting it for the visitors, France out to the right of her goal to prevent the ball running behind for a corner. A lively game Deeping getting hold of the ball prepared to break forwards working well to unsettle Manea making for an open game neither side keeping the ball for long. Guest winning the ball on the right for Deeping pushing on into the box, Miller advancing to close down the angle clear the ball.
Stacey Graham seeing the ball rolled into her path as she makes a move into the right channel drives on into the area chasing down the angle at the near post, shoots, France on her post, it’s Dudley tracking back who runs across her putting in the block. Brown forwards to the right for Manea picks out Rimmer wide on the right, her cross lifted into the six yard box claimed well by France, however play is halted by the offside flag. Deeping’s youngster’s getting about the pitch looking to link up up top, Wyer, on for Guest on the right driving on with the ball, Brown tackling to see the ball out for a throw.
GOAL! Deeping with players up around the Manea box for the throw pressing the defence Hall sliding a pacy ball along the top of the area into Lyon positioned right of the D, puts her foot through the ball the pace on the ball enough to evade Miller as she drops down to save, the ball squirming under her body to roll on into the back of the net to see Deeping take the lead 1-2.
20 minutes played the match action a welcome distraction from the weather, trying to keep the umbrella under control, while trying to keep both the notepad and camera dry (ish) is. Manea stung from conceding get straight on the attack from the restart Day picking out Rimmer breaking away on the right turning into the area, France rushing out to close her down, making the blocking save as Rimmer goes to shoot the ball rebounding behind for a corner kick. Goes long through the six yard box, Gardiner putting it back into the mix, Deeping scramble into their tackles eventually seeing the ball run out for a goal kick.
GOAL! It’s an error from the resulting goal kick that leads to Deeping conceding an unfortunate equaliser, France’s loose kick going straight to Portugal’s feet as she stands right of the D, doesn’t miss the opportunity quickly sorting out her feet to send the ball back across the keeper to find the bottom corner 2-2.
Day making some strong runs through the middle for Manea the ball played into her from Gardiner on the left is through into the box, France out to slide in and save isn’t to know the flag is up against her, a very close call. Manea looking to up their game Day linking up with Heslop, Portugal pulling out to the left seeing the ball into her feet, striking an angled ball in towards goal from all of 25 yards out France seeing it safely bounce wide of her far post.
GOAL! Having gotten themselves quickly back on level terms Manea hit Deeping on the counter attack to retake the lead the ball won at the back carried forwards before being launched on for Graham up top right of the D, 25 yards out to press on towards the area before clipping it into the area for Portugal left of goal to strike over the keeper to score her 2nd goal of the game 3-2.
Manea back in front rallying themselves looking for a strong finish to the first half, Spriggs with other ideas as she steals the ball in the middle lifts it on for Wyer up top, Cook getting across her shielding the ball well back to her keeper to collect inside the box. Cook then on a free-kick for Manea launched up into the area helped on for Portugal left of goal her snatched shot put straight into the keeper.
Spriggs coming off for Deeping with Wilson returning to the action having come off for a brief respite earlier. Wilson straight into the action breaking up a Manea attack on the left as Heslop picks out Gardiner on the left. Day with a good first touch getting Manea going forwards making some useful runs, picking out Rimmer on the right, Dudley coming across to defend winning her challenge for Deeping. A corner conceded is a teasing ball lifted in over the keeper at the near post, no one there to attack it as it drops at the far post. Manea with a change bringing , Rimmer off sending Lauren Barnes on.
Hall opening up her body to lay the ball into Lyon out on the left she threads the ball forwards into Wilson up top, Cook tackling for Manea outside the area to clear the danger. Spriggs returning to the field for Deeping, replacing Hall in the middle. A good call from France as the keeper is quickly out of her area to clear the threat as Graham is put clear through the middle for the hosts.
Walker in to regain possession at the back for Deeping setting up a rapid counter the ball helped on through the middle put into Wilson’s path as she peels into the left channel getting a half yard on her marker to knock the ball on into the area her touch just a little too heavy giving Miller the opportunity to get down to lay claim to the ball. Wales powering forwards on the right lays the ball on for Barnes ahead of her, the early cross low into the area cut out by Walker tracking back, deflected on France unable to put her gloves on the ball does well to kick the ball clear under pressure from Graham.
Is a lively game end to end Wales bringing the ball on on the right for Manea threading it into Portugal 25 yards out to the left of the D, looks to pick out her fellow attacker Graham to her right placing the ball into her feet as she breaks in behind the Deeping defence into the box, the flag going up just as she rifles the ball across the keeper into the back of the net, not sure about that one very tight.
Miller out quickly to slide in lay claim to the ball top of her area as Deeping break up play on the right look to thread the ball inside to Wyer making a run forwards right of the D. Dudley moving out to the right to defend against Barnes as she is played in on the wing for Manea the ball out for a throw level with the area dropped into Portugal who turns to lift a cross into the area cut out by Dudley, Manea press sending a cross through to the left of the area where a strike from 20 yards out is fired wide right on the stroke of half-time.
Half-time Manea Sirens LFC 3-2 Deeping United Ladies
A lively first half played in terrible conditions the rain finally starting to ease towards the end of the first half. The game often end to end, Deeping working hard to win the ball, doing a god job unsettling Manea putting the ball out wide. Manea in response getting joy playing through the middle, Day in particular with some good runs. The hosts getting the early lead failed to build on it as Deeping fought back to level the scores then take the lead themselves. An error leading to Manea quickly restoring parity then they themselves were quick to retake the lead. The game remaining open however neither side with a dominant spell, the weather settling down will see if thing’s change 2nd half.
Deeping staying out on the field a quick turn around the 3G without floodlights and the risk of losing the light on an already gloomy day. Manea back into the changing rooms to warm up. Myself too made a flask of coffee (I drink too much coffee) expecting the be soaked through by now pleased the rain has eased at last. Difficult to keep up with the changes with roll on roll off substitutes as Manea return, Deeping ready to get things underway for the 2nd period.
Portugal tackling Niamh Wray to win her side a throw on the left, knocked inside, Walker tackling to win the ball for Deeping lifting it on into the middle the ball fed on for Wyer bursting through the middle into the area strikes the shot goal wards waist high, Miller back peddling towards her goal seeing the ball fired straight at her throws her gloves up to save , the ball almost squirming loose as she falls back, but adjusts well to get a strong grip on the ball.
Day spreading the ass out to Gardiner in space on the left for Manea, threads it into the feet of Portugal tracking into the area left of the D, powering forwards closing in on the six yard box strikes the shot hard, France closing the angle making the blocking save. Manea looking to press the attack at the start of the 2nd half, Heslop with day in the middle, Gardiner ahead of them laying the ball out to Graham surging into the right channel, France reacts well, out of her six yard box quickly got slide in and lay claim to the ball before the striker can pounce.
Spriggs with a good pass in her arsenal looking to make thing’s happen in attack for Deeping as she threads a great ball through to Wyer up top 25 yards out, is however caught a little flat footed, giving Cook the vital head start to get back onto the ball and put it away to safety. Walker making several vital tackles and interceptions at the back for Deeping as Manea look to up their game push players on in attack, France comes out to clear well again for the visitors as a deflected ball threatens to fall to Gardiner free to the left of the D.
For all their pressing Manea risk getting hit on the counter by Deeping’s young attackers as they race on into space, Wyer on the angle right of goal firing a shot in, held well by Miller.
GOAL! Deeping winning a free kick out wide on the left inside the Manea half, Spriggs over it as players line up around the box, the delivery put in to the near post area causing chaos with Guest capitalising to stooping to attack the ball knocking it straight at the keeper, Miller throwing her gloves up unable to get enough on the ball as it evades her to deflect on into the goal beyond, Deeping equalise 3-3.
Deeping back on level terms 14 minutes into the 2nd half, Manea push forwards on their right Wales breaking on laying the ball on for Graham taking it all the way to the by-line before squeezing a shot in wide across the face of the Deeping goal. Graham racing forwards giving chase to a ball threaded on into the box from midfield to the right of goal. France alert to the danger all game out quickly to slice in and get hold of the ball at the strikers feet.
Baldock does well at the back for Deeping with the defence stretched to get across to press Graham as she drives on into the right channel sees her shot put straight into the keepers gloves. The management team trying to get Manea to calm down attacks are fast paced not giving time for others to get forwards in support. Pushing up on the right Manea win a set piece out wide players come up from the back.
GOAL! Deeping over commit on the right as they look to try and defend the ball leaving Manea with players free inside the box as the cross is driven in with pace towards the penalty spot McKew getting hold of the ball in front of the keeper to send it wide of her into the back of the net to put Manea back into the lead 4-3.
Changes for Manea with Ella Nutter coming on for Graham, Rimmer back on for Gardiner to the left of attack. Wilson back on the pitch for Deeping.
GOAL! Managers love it when a sub makes an immediate impact and Nutter certainly does that for Manea as they press forwards on the right, the cross lifted in across the D 20 yards out, falls to Nutter who catches it sweetly with her left foot to score a blinder, the ball clipped up to loop high over the stranded keeper and drop under the crossbar into the back of the net 5-3.
Manea getting themselves a 2 goal cushion in a topsy turvy game with 20 minutes played in the 2nd half. Manea with their tails up looking to press the advantage Rimmer out wide left free picked out with the pass to power her way into the area bearing down on goal looks to send her shot across the keeper in off the far post, France making a brilliant save getting a vital glove on the ball to deflect it beyond the post for a corner kick. The corner an in swinger to the near post, France is well positioned to call and claim the ball high.
Manea starting to assert themselves on the game, the 2 goal lead giving them confidence to push on, Barnes out wide right sweeping a low cross into the six yard box, claimed by France. Rimmer free on the left advancing forwards for Manea squaring a ball into the near post for the advancing Nutter, Walker in close attention defending well for Deeping. The visitors with a change, bringing Baldock off sending Lyon back on.
Manea pushing forwards the cross from the right finding Day rushing in to attack the far post her low strike saved by France as she dives the ball squeezing under her away for a corner kick. Tabitha Willis coming on for Manea in place of Heslop. Manea looking strong Portugal to the right 25 yards out putting the ball across the area to Rimmer inside the box fires her cross in to Nutter central, Walker closing in to tackle well for Deeping.
Portugal firing over from six yards out at the far post as the cross is whipped into the area off a throw from the right. Deeping still looking to hit Manea on the counter feed the ball on for Guest running clear into space on the right fires a pacy ball into the box, comes onto Lyon making a central run quickly trying to hit it first time screws her shot wide past the far post.
Deeping ringing the changes with Pearce, Niamh Wray and Lyon off, Baldock, Wyer and Hall back into the action for the final 14 minutes. Cook coming off at the back for Manea, Dannii Green comes on. Day from 25 yards out slicing her first time shot wide as the cross is fired into her from deep on the left. Green coming across to clear the ball as Deeping lift it forwards into the area. Deeping pressing the throw high on the left, Guest crossing for Wyer at the near post, Green there to block for Manea.
Deeping’s subs bringing renewed energy onto the field pushing on up the right Guest combines with Hall before a cross is fired into the box, can’t quite find Wyer at the near post. McKew out to defend as Guest is played in up the right for Deeping. Portugal taking the ball inside from the right corner of the area slips as she goes to shoot. Manea looking to keep the ball alive, Lyon cutting the pass of right for Deeping.
Portugal coming off soon after with Graham sent back on in attack as the game moves into the final 3 minutes. Rimmer latching onto the ball left of the D, twists and turns on the ball as she looks to make her way towards goal, Walker getting back at her to put the ball out for a corner kick. The corner defended at the near post by France the keeper conceding a 2nd corner kick. Manea press players up into the area as the ball is flashed in near post deflects across goal loose inside the six yard box everyone rushing at it, Deeping’s defence scrambling it clear before anyone from Manea can get a stab at it.
Full time Manea Sirens LFC 5-3 Deeping United Ladies
The final whistle blows the light fading fast as the teams shake hands Manea clinching a 5-3 win to claim the 3 points to lift them up a place into fourth, there last action of 2023. End on a high with plenty to look forwards too in 2024. Falling behind in the first half after taking an early lead responded well to come back to not only level by retake the lead going into the break. Started the 2nd half on the front foot looking to extend their lead but Deeping’s defence and goalkeeper battled well, the visitors coming back to level make it 3-3 before Manea found the extra burst pushing players on to get back in front and then get that vital goal cushion to take the game beyond Deeping who were never out of the game applying good press in the first half fought hard can take plenty from the game with a home game against Ely City Women to finish their year next weekend.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. A lively match played at a pacy tempo despite the awful condition’s especially in the first half had a clear winner in mind leaving the ground and the soggy notes have only confirmed that. Several performances of note to mention, firstly for Deeping United Ladies, captain Caitlin Walker making several vital tackles at the back as Manea sought to burst forwards through the middle. Goalkeeper, Vicki France reading the game well ahead of her getting out to ball well making some good saves. Annie Spriggs in midfield with a good range of passes finding space to get Deeping going forwards. For Manea, Lindsay Gardiner and Erin Rimmer got forwards well out on the flanks as the midfield sought to break through the middle. Kyra Portugal pulling into the channels finding some good positions for herself to shoot and bring others into the game scoring twice. The award today though goes to their captain Charlotte Day. A strong performance in midfield her first touch often setting her side on the attack, Day herself carrying the ball forwards well with a number of surging runs through the middle.
Got to see Manea at last having been trying to get to a game for the past couple of months. Not quite at home but I did get there, credit to both sides for agreeing to the switch of venues to get the game on and putting up with the awful conditions. Having followed Manea from their early struggles to the improvement made last season to this is a pleasure to see the sides development. Great to catch up with Deeping too, been a turbulent period since I last saw them in action but look in good shape now and hopefully can enjoy a stable spell and progress. Apologies for the quality of the pictures, the camera’s not build for a monsoon but I’ve watched women’s football in worse conditions, must be mad. Thanks to both sides for all their help with the team line-ups today as always greatly appreciated.
by Darren Gilham