Tag Archives: Cup Final

Cup Final Special – AFC Sudbury Women v Stowupland Falcons Women

Tuesday 21st May

Suffolk Women’s County Cup Final

  sponsored by MH Goals Ltd

Heading down into Suffolk this Tuesday evening for my penultimate cup final of the season. The Suffolk Women’s County Cup contest sponsored by MH Goals Ltd being played at Ipswich Town FC’s, Portman Road Stadium. AFC Sudbury Women playing Stowupland Falcons Women.

  The fabulous occasion for both clubs with the county cup final returning to Portman Road, the town on a high following Ipswich’s back to back promotions returning them to the Premiership. Many within both clubs huge fans and a dream for the players to get to play in the stadium. The competition dominated by Ipswich Town Women for a long spell before they bowed out of the competition, since then a rivalry has developed for the county cup between the next highest league placed sides in the county AFC Sudbury Women and Needham Market Women. But the final has also seen a good proportion of sides from tier 7 make it to the final, Bungay Town Ladies last season, now Stowupland Falcons Women into their first ever county cup final.

This evenings prize

  AFC Sudbury Women themselves enjoying back to back promotions to reach the FAWNL (tier 4) last season. A huge step up for their young players many coming through the ranks of their academy. However they rose to the challenge and despite struggling for results got the crucial wins against the sides around them at the bottom of the table to pull clear of the bottom two and retain their league status for a 2nd season. Winning the county cup back in 2022 beating Needham Market in the final were knocked out early on previous season by their rivals but went on to secure the ERWFL Premier Division. Returning the favour this time around they are overwhelming favourites to lift the cup once again. Jess Allen top scorer this season closely followed by Sophie Jeffery.

  Stowupland Falcons Women have grown as a side since 1st entering a women’s side into the league in Suffolk 4 years ago. A club with a strong youth setup the woman’s side adding Clare Bevan and Amy Gilson from Henley Athletic Ladies to squad last season went on to win the Suffolk Women’s Premiership. As defending champions this season Stowupland enjoyed a good rivalry with a newly rejuvenated Brantham Athletic Ladies. Stowupland with games in hand always chasing, just missing out to finish as runners-up. The two going head to head on both the semi-finals of the league and county cup, the score 1-1 their too with Stowupland’s players reaching the final for the first time and getting the opportunity to play at Portman Road. Clare Bevan captaining the side top scorer this campaign with over 23 goals, Amy Gilson also into the 20’s with her goals with 18 of the 22 players used this season all getting on the scoresheet. Know they face a tough test this evening against a side 4 league higher

  Road to the Final

  Unlike some of the other county cups in the East, Suffolk don’t have a seeding system in place all sides entering in the 1st round the big guns potentially drawn together. Sudbury beginning their county cup campaign on the road taking on the newly formed, Bury Town Community Women. The gulf between the sides soon apparent as Sudbury racked up a huge double figure score-line, Keira Harms on target for 5 goals. Evie Creaton hitting 4 into the back of the net Their were braces too for Sophie Jeffery and Phoebe Guiver. Kate Edwards, Kaylee Dodd and Holly Kennard all scoring too, final tally 16-0. Stowupland also away taking on another need side and can say they beat Sudbury in the cup no matter what, this the newly formed Sudbury Sports Women, Laura Brame scoring a hat-trick with goals from Clare Bevan, Emily Bates, Millie Gant and Lydia Denny securing a 7-1 win.

  Onto the 2nd Round, Sudbury at home taking on Premiership side, AFC Kesgrave Ladies, was to be another goal rout with Jasmine Drake putting away a hat-trick, Chloe Brame with a brace and five other scorers in a 10-0 win, Jess Allen, Maisie Goodwin Keira Harms, Kaylee Dodd and Amber Provan. Stowupland also winning by a double figure margin as they took on early Championship pacesetters, Ipswich Valley Rangers from the league below. Clare Bevan finding the back of the net for 4 goals. Emily Bates and Amy Gilson both netting a hat-trick each with Ellis Rabey also scoring. 

 Into the last eight, Sudbury at home taking on another Premiership side, Woodbridge Town Ladies. Progressed to the semi-finals courtesy of a 5-0 victory with 5 different scorers, Jess Allen, Eva Frazzoni, Maisie Goodwin, Sophie Jeffery and Alex Penny. Stowupland taking on fellow Premiership side Needham Market Women Development at home in the quarter finals, Amy Gilson scoring in the first half the sides level at the break, the hosts going on to in it by a single goal in the 2nd half with Enya Moore on target for the winning goal.

  The semi-finals played at neutral venues, the big guns drawn together in the last 4, the holders, Needham Market Women, Sudbury’s opponents. Knocking Sudbury out in the 2nd Round last season, Sudbury were in no mood to repeat the feat this time around and a brace for both Jasmine Drake and Jess Allen ensuring the win, 4-0. Stowupland up against their league rival, Brantham Athletic Ladies in their semi-final clash Amy Gilson firing home a brace as Stowupland ran out 3-1 winners, Ellis Rabey also scoring to send the club to Portman Road.

 The County Cup Final held at Colchester United FC in recent season’s making a welcome return to Portman Road home of Ipswich Town FC a dream for both sets of players and their manger’s too to get the opportunity to play at the stadium The Cobbold Stand open for the final, the fans allocated a section each opposite the dugouts. Suffolk FA looking to make it a special occasion for the players, which is great to see as these are the opportunities they dream of. The weather was going to have a large say in the final, with the forecast heavy rain beginning to fall… more about that later. For once undercover I didn’t have to worry about getting wet.

AFC Sudbury Women starting XI – Millie Carter, Ronni Harrison (C), Kaylee Dodd, Amber Provan, Aliyat Lambe, Leonnie Bezant, Maisie Goodwin, Jess Allen, Sophie Jeffery, Eva Frazzoni & Yasmine Drake. Subs – Jessica Egan, Amy Jarvis, Ava Jouvenel, Ella Edwards & Alex Penny.

AFC Sudbury Women

 Stowupland Falcons Women starting XI – Emily Huggins, Eloise Flack, Lucy Daly, Anya Williams, Ebonie Calvert, Ellis Rabey, Millie Gant, Laura Brame, Clare Bevan (C) Mollie Frost & Amy Gilson. Subs – Porscha Rampley, Caitlin Jackson, Millie Bloom, Lydia Denny & Enya Moore.

Stowupland Falcons Women

(roll on roll off substitutes)

Captain’s Ronni Harrison and Clare Bevan with this evenings officials

  AFC Sudbury wearing pink for this evenings final, their shirts and socks with black shorts, traditionally in yellow and blue, so too are their opponents colours, Stowupland wearing yellow coloured shirts with blue shots and socks. The rain getting stronger as the captains meet with this evenings official led by Isobel Chaplin. Stowupland to kick-off the first half the ball rolled back into the middle lifted out to the left, captain Clare Bevan racing on looking to pressure, Sudbury’s Aliyat Lambe as the defender looks to clear the ball, forces Sudbury into conceding the throw high up the pitch.

  A positive start from Stowupland looking to close the ball down on the left get a cross into the area, cleared by Sudbury’s Amber Provan the ball runs out to Stowupland midfielder, Ellis Rabey all of 25 yards puts her foot through the ball her shot racing wide of the left post. Bevan attacking left for Stowupland, with Millie Gant the cross fired into the area, just behind Amy Gilson on the penalty spot. 

 GOAL! Sudbury playing the ball out with pace fired up to Sophie Jeffery on the left getting the ball into her feet drives down the wing firing a diagonal ball into the box, Stowupland’s Anya Williams getting it clear to the right, latched onto by Sudbury’s Bermudan International, Eva Frazzoni out wide flashed  dangerous ball in across the face of the Stowupland goal, Jeffery having run in at the far post turning it over the line to put Sudbury into the lead inside 2 minutes 1-0.

Sophie Jeffery putting Sudbury into an early lead

 Jess Allen played in on the right for Sudbury, bursts forwards with the ball checking her run to lay it into the middle for Maisie Goodwin who carries the ball out to the left 25 yards out fires and angled ball in towards, Yasmine Drake at the near post, looking to hit the shot as the ball runs across her sends the ball wide of the post. 

Sudbury’s Jasmine Drake with Stowupland defender, Ebonie Calvert

  Sudbury moving the ball about quickly using the whole of the pitch, Allen and Jeffery outlets on the flanks. Leonnie Bezant with the ball in the middle, looks to thread it through the Stowupland defence, playing a high line, Frazzoni looking to run in behind, goes a fraction too soon, flagged offside.

 Gilson after the ball played into the left channel, tires to fight her way in behind Lambe the defender getting her body in between the ball and attacker to play it upfield. Ronni Harrison wearing the captain’s armband for Sudbury lifting a cross-field ball out to Allen on the right, cuts the ball back in towards the top of the box right side, Frazzoni looking to strike the ball, Ebonie Calvert lunging in to block the ball striking the referee, play halted resuming with a drop ball.

  Sudbury lively nipping in to win the ball, Stowupland snapping back to try and win it back, their opponents getting it moving quickly stretching them. Goalkeeper, Emily Huggins having to come racing out of her area to clear the ball as Frazzoni looks to pick out Allen with a diagonal ball on the right. The rain pouring down now with 10 minutes played. 

 Sudbury with the early goal settling quickly into a rhythm continue to spray the ball about the pitch, Goodwin linking up with Bezant in the centre the pass out to Allen powering on down the right wing to the by-line her cross turned behind for a corner by Stowupland’s Lucy Daly.

Leonnie Bezant holding off, Stowupland’s, Ellis Rabey

 GOAL! Jeffery to take the corner from the right a threatening delivery curled in towards goal at the far post the defender covering it trying to keep it out with Frazzoni pressuring the ball as it falls forced over the line, Sudbury double their lead, difficult to tell who got the final touch, Frazzoni or an OG, Jeffery’s corner may even have already been over the line either way it’s 2-0.

 The rain falling heavily, water already beginning to lay on the pitch. Sudbury undeterred press Stowupland for possession, Bezant in on Bevan as she looks to drive central, launched up field, Calvert looking to get it down, play it forwards for Rabey. 

  GOAL! Sudbury are awarded a free-kick out wide on the left, about level with the corner of the Stowupland area, Jeffery over the ball looks to float the ball in central, Lambe up from the back rising highest to get her head on the ball and drill her header down into the back of the net, Huggins throwing herself at the ball instinctively getting a faint touch but too much power on the ball 3-0.

Aliyat heading home for Sudbury

 Sudbury powering into a 3 goal lead inside the opening 20 minutes. conditions horrendous torrential rain now. Jeffery splashing up water as she sprints out to the left with the ball angling a diagonal ball back into the box targeting Drake making a near post run, the ball into her path turns her shot wide past the far post.

 GOAL! Coming out to the right Allen squares the ball into Drake right of the D, goes to strike the ball charged down by Calvert the rebound come into Frazzoni’s feet 22 yards out central, unleashes a powerful shot rising, crashes down off the underside of the crossbar to bounce down over the line, no mistake about the scorer of this one, fabulous strike 4-0!

Eva Frazzoni firing home Sudbury’s 4th goal

 Stowupland shipping in goals undeterred in their effort to try and get the ball up the pitch attacking on the right win themselves a corner. Players up lifted in near side, it’s Jeffery to head the ball clear for Sudbury midway through the first half. Goodwin rolling the ball on through the middle with Allen making a central run, can’t quite take it into her strike as Williams comes to close her down.

 GOAL! There’s no one else involved in Sudbury’s 5th goal as Kayleigh Dodd scores a superb solo effort. Picking up the ball on the wing the right back drives forwards checking back to turn inside a defender get into the box and smash her shot across the keeper into the bottom corner 5-0.

Kayleigh Dodd with a superb solo effort to put Sudbury 5 up

  All this and the rain is still raging down, players and officials alike, like drowned rats, “run the line in a cup final at Portman Road, yeah I’ll be up for that.” 

 Good for the sliding tackle mind, if you’re not planning to stop. Stowupland making a change Daly coming off, Caitlin Jackson coming on with half an hour played. Sudbury playing the ball from left to right at the back, Dodd getting on the move up the wing putting the ball on for Allen who surges towards the by-line, Gant looking to close her down doing enough to see the attacker turn her cross behind.

 Sudbury ringing the changes, as they often do, this time a quintuple substitution, Jessica Egan, Ella Edwards, Amy Jarvis, Ava Jouvenel and Alex Penny coming on. Jeffery, Allen, Goodwin, Dodd and Harrison the players off, Bezant now wearing the captains armband. Stowupland with a rare attack get the ball out to the right Mollie Frost with Gilson coming to support, turns inside on the by-line the ball laid back to the top of the area, Gant striking the ball, the shot blocked.

 Bezant bringing the ball on for Sudbury central looks to lay it out to Egan attacking on the right, Huggins again out of her box sharply to kick the ball clear. Alot of water on the pitch, players slipping over the ball holding up. Drake taking the ball on down the left flank, powers on before being up ended Sudbury awarded the free kick  out wide of the corner of the area, Penny stood in the pouring rain eying up a shot on goal. Fires in pacy strike towards goal, cutting through the spray, evades the keepers gloves to find the back of the net 6-0.

Probably not the image Alex Penny had in her head when she dreamed of scoring at Portman Road, but a great strike nonetheless

  Sudbury 6 goals up with nearly 40 minutes played doesn’t look good however rain pouring down off the stadium roof, water splashing up players falling, referee Isobel Chaplin calling over the captains, player safety the number one concern… they walk off play suspended.

Referee, Isobel Chaplin calling over the captains as the decision is made to suspend play

 Doesn’t look good the pitch having adsorbed alot of water in a short space of time the rain still falling an inspection to take place at 8:45pm. Headed downstairs to hospitality to take advantage of the buffet generously laid on by Suffolk FA. Some concern, will the final have to be abandoned, the only chink of light the rain has started to ease. A further inspection at 9:05 water still visible on the surface the ball not moving freely but no rain can it drain enough… the crowd patient a healthy number 920 in attendance a further inspection and discussions and play will resume at 9:35pm a delay of 1hr 20 minutes, the two sides back on for a short warm-up. 5 minutes left in the first half then a 5 minute turn around for the 2nd half.

 Play getting underway with a Sudbury throw on the right. Water still kicking up but the pitch is holding up well. Egan on the right putting a ball into the Stowupland box, Drake looking to head the ball down her effort charged down. 

 GOAL! Sudbury feed the ball out to Penny on the left on the move her cross lifted into the box, turned behind, a handball spotted, Chaplin pointing to the spot Penalty! Drake placing the ball on the spot opts for power drills the ball in central giving the keeper no chance 7-0.

Jasmine Drake putting Sudbury 7 up from the penalty spot.

  Pretty much one way traffic, Stowupland can’t make the ball stick Sudbury’s players lively snapping in to claim the 2nd ball. Bevan attempting to feed the ball into Gilson up top, Jarvis in close to challenge get Sudbury back on the ball. Egan putting the ball on for Penny as the pair attack on the right, Jackson getting back on Penny defending for Stowupland.

Half-time AFC Sudbury Women 7-0 Stowupland Falcons Women

  An extended first half draws to a close the teams staying out on the pitch with a brief turn around for the 2nd half. Sudbury adding a 7th goal to their tally before play was suspended. A commanding 7-0 at the break. Got off the the perfect start scoring early in the game settling quickly and moving the ball about well have steadily built up their lead. Stowupland working hard but can’t get the ball to stick, the conditions no doubt playing a part but Sudbury lively nipping in to win the 2nd ball. All they can do is continue to work hard and hope they get an opportunity to score a goal.

  The 2nd half kicking off at 9:47pm Sudbury to get the game restarted the ball played left down the line, Ella Edward pushing on, Flack clearing for a throw. Sudbury pressing get on down the left an early ball slid into the box for Drake to attack, Flack sliding in to get the ball out of the box. Sudbury keep it on the left Jouvenel up with Edwards, Frost back to help Flack in defence the ball turned behind for a goal kick.

  The left flank being over used in the opening minutes of the 2nd half the ball rolled into Drake wide looks to turn in towards the area, Flack getting her body across the attacker to shield the ball knocks it into Williams to hook the ball clear. Provan at left back since the changes for Sudbury pushing on down the wing sends it on for Jouvenel but the flag goes up against her offside. 

 Bezant gives the ball to Penny moving inside in the right channel drives for the area, Calvert standing in her path to close the ball down. Sudbury winning a free-kick 30 yards out on the right lifted into the area headed clear back to the right falls to Penny’s feet, latches a shot back in on the angle, the ball cannoning down into the six yard box off the crossbar. Penny carrying the ball down to the right corner, Gant up with her Calvert coming across, the ball put out for a corner kick.

  Played into the near post, turned behind for a 2nd corner. Curled in to the near post again, Drake looking to attack it, scrambled behind for another corner. This delivery in high before the near post, Frazzoni looks to turn her header in towards goal sends the ball over the bar. Lambe stepping in to block, Brame’s pass as she attempts to play Gilson in behind. 

Stowupland’s Millie Gant

 Frost with a strong tackle to wrestle the ball away on the right, turn and has an opportunity to run forwards coming inside sends the ball into the area for Jackson central holding off a challenge gets her shot away low to the left side of goal, Sudbury goalkeeper untroubled till that point getting down with a smart dive to her left to stop the ball. The Stowupland fans at that end of the ground giving a loud cheer of encouragement.

Stowupland’s Mollie Frost

 Frost and Edwards again in a tussle of possession on the right both going to ground, the Stowupland player eventually pulled up for a foul. Egan playing the ball on for Penny on the right pushing into the corner, Gant over to defend sees the ball out for a throw in. A busy start to the 2nd half, Jouvenel turns on the afterburners she she brings the ball forwards through the middle for Sudbury attempting to lay Drake on in behind, Calvert reads it and steps in to cut the pass out.

  Stowupland giving it their best looking to press, Frost getting about on the flank. Edwards racing on left wing looking to get inside Flack, the full back under pressure does well to see the ball back to her keeper to clear. An hour played, Sudbury once again ringing the changes, Harrison, Dodd, Allen, Jeffery and Goodwin back on. Frazzoni, Bezant, Drake, Lambe and Provan coming off. 

 GOAL! The changes breaking an immediate effect as Allen gets hold of the ball on the right and moves inside twisting and turning as the keeper come rushing out gets inside her to rifle her strike into the empty net 8-0.

Jess Allen firing home Sudbury’s 8th goal

 Stowupland making a double change, Rabey and Frost coming off, on come Millie Bloom and Enya Moore. Jeffery finding Penny inside the box forced wide to the left by Flack the ball cleared for a throw in the corner. Jeffery looking to find a way into the box, Brame back to defend for Stowupland. Sudbury full of running Allen playing a one two with Jeffery on the right running onto the box looking for the return pass, Flack sliding in with the challenge to clear.

  Huggins is drawn out of her goal to come out to try and close Allen down as the attacker gets in behind on the right, into the box, rounds the keeper, looking to fire the ball on the angle into the goal beyond the Stowupland defence back covering, Flack intercepting the shot. Gant blocks as Allen right lays the ball back to Jeffery top of the area. 

 GOAL! Jouvenel sees the ball into her feet central and turns to attack racing forwards into the box right of goal letting fly with her shot as putting it past the advancing keeper to score before running over to the Sudbury fans and knee sliding in celebration 9-0.

Eva Jouvenel with Sudbury’s 9th goal

 72 minutes played Jouvenel on the drive with the ball rom the left is knocked off the ball, hooked behind for a corner on the left, taken short is blasted into a Stowupland defender going to block. Allen is dispossessed on the right the ball fed on up the wing for Denny to chase, Egan getting back on her to clear the ball for a throw. 

Stowupland’s Laura Brame

Stowupland with a chance to get players up into the box as they win a free-kick wide on the left the ball angled in is behind everyone, Allen far side latching onto it races away on the counter attack surging up the flank comes inside bursting into the D before pulling the trigger, sending her shot racing wide of the far post. Gant coming off for Stowupland, Daly back on going into the left back position. 

 GOAL! Sudbury getting a corner on the right, curled in towards goal, Huggins getting her fist on the ball to knock it away from her goal drops straight to Penny running in top of the area puts her foot thought the ball rifling it through the crowd into the goal beyond to bring up Sudbury’s 10th 10-0.

Alex Penny racing onto the ball to score Sudbury’s 10th soon followed by her hat-trick

 GOAL! Moments later Penny has her hat-trick getting onto the ball from the right powering her way on into the area, evading a couple to challenges gets inside to blast the pall past the keeper 11-0.

  Into the final 5 minutes, Sudbury intent on getting forwards Dodd dinking the ball inside into Penny central inside the D goes to shoot, the ball caught by Huggins. 

 

 GOAL! Stowupland have been up against it all gave but never lost their spirit working hard to find an opportunity to threaten it comes a Moore up top nips in to steal the ball top of the area and moving inside keeps her composure to send her shot under Carter to score, the loudest cheer of the night coming from the Stowupland end as Moore runs over to celebrate with her teammates 11-1.

Enya Moore scoring for Stowupland at Portman Road

 Rabey sent back on for Stowupland replacing Williams at the back as they look to see out the close stages of the match, Penny into Allen wide right her cross scooped up into the area, caught well by Huggins at her near post. The final whistle blow at it’s Sudbury’s fans to roar out a cheer as they win this season’s Suffolk Women’s County Cup. 

Full time AFC Sudbury Women 11-1 Stowupland Falcons Women

 Never looked in doubt from the word go. An early goal is always going to settle any nerves and dampen the underdogs spirit. Sudbury moving the ball quickly using the pitch breaking down the flanks soon getting a 2nd and a 3rd despite the horrendous conditions play suspended with them 6 up after 40 minutes. The long delay thankfully seeing the rain ease and the pitch drain enough for the game to resume a penalty seeing Sudbury 7 up at the break. Stowupland continued to work hard keep the score down and try to find an opportunity of their own eventually forcing Carter into a save before Sudbury rang the changes again and extended the lead eventually reaching double figures, but not a clean sheet as Stowupland grabbed themselves a goal at the finish. The win probably never in doubt Stowupland nevertheless enjoying the occasion at Portman Road.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this evening’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. Glad I didn’t have to call this one at the game as I knew it was a tough one. Also know my notes can help immensely in that regards. A few performances of note to mention of course. For Stowupland the defence was under the cosh throughout nut still gave it there al, Ebonie Calvert and Eloise Flack with some good challenges. Clare Bevan running through the middle trying to unlock the defence for the attackers. Mollie Frost when she could making her presence felt. Sudbury were lively throughout using the whole squad moved the ball well creating numerous chances. Jess Allen with some great movement on the right setting up chances getting on the score sheet. Sophie Jeffery opening the scoring getting on well down the opposite wing. Eva Frazzoni with some great link up play and movement into the channels scoring a quality goal. The award though goes to the hat-trick scorer Alex Penny coming on to score a brilliant free kick. Ran constantly at the Stowupland back line creating chances and took her 2nd and 3rd goals well.

AFC Sudbury Women 2023/24 Suffolk Women’s County Cup winners

 Congratulations to AFC Sudbury Women on winning this season’s Suffolk Women’s County Cup.

  A late one in the finish but got the game finished 10.45 when I left the stadium the celebrations still going on The rain holding off or the 2nd half coming back with a vengeance for the drive back to Norfolk. Full credit to Suffolk Fa and Ipswich Town FC for coping with the atrocious conditions, play having to be suspended the fans patient the pitch drained enough to get the final finished. A night to remember no doubt. A great occasion and experience for the players and managers of both clubs. Thanks to everyone for their assistance tonight, and the hospitality. Good to catch up with Darrell Allen too, despite our shared interest in the game haven’t crossed paths much this season, but will hopefully do it again on Wednesday with a top of the table clash in Norfolk Division One possibly seeing the title won.

by Darren Gilham

Cup Final Special – Real Bedford Ladies v Wroxham Women

Sunday 19th May

ERWFL League Cup Final

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

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

This afternoon’s prize

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

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

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

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

Road to the Final

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

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

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

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

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

Real Bedford Ladies

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

Wroxham Women

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

(roll on roll off substitutes)

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amy Reed

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

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

Real Bedford captain, Natasha Fensome

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ella Gambell looking to take the ball on for Wroxham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gemma Franklin

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

Natasha Fensome getting her goal to put Real Bedford 4 up

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

 

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

Wroxham’s Lauren Kett

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

 Half-time Real Bedford Ladies 4-0 Wroxham Women

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

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

Georgie Giddings

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

 

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

Wroxham striker, Hannah Fuller.

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

Lisa Milliken

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

Ella Gambell

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

Wroxham scoring from the free-kick

Wroxham captain Becky Russell

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

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

Lily Alexander scoring Wroxham’s 2nd goal

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

Real Bedford’s Sophie Mulvihill

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

Real Bedford attacker, Sophie Billing

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

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

Albany Hodgson

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

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

Wroxham’s Lucy Eagle

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

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

Erin Price

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

Bryony Williams with a superb double save for Wroxham

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

 

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

Full time Real Bedford Ladies 4-2 Wroxham Women

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

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

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

Real Bedford Ladies 2023/24 ERWFL League Cup winners

Completing a historic treble in the process

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

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

by Darren Gilham

Cup Final Special – Stevenage FC Women Development v Wormley Rovers Ladies

Sunday 19th May

ERWFL League Plate Final

Into the penultimate weekend of the season, and one more cup final doubles day to look forwards too, over to Newmarket Town FC once again this Sunday for the ERWFL Finals Day with the regional league’s show piece bringing an end the season across tiers 5 and 6 in the East. First up the League Plate Final, this season being contested by two of the league’s newcomers, Stevenage FC Women Development and Wormley Rovers Ladies.

 The ERWFL (Eastern Region Women’s Football League) hosting two cup competitions, the League Cup and Plate with the sides knocked out of the early rounds of the League Cup going on to contest the Plate. A slight change in format from previous years when the early rounds were contested by the Division one sides with the 12 Premier Division sides entering in the 3rd round.

The ERWFL League Plate

 This the first of two cup finals in 8 days for Stevenage FC Women Development/U23s, although the first should have been done and dusted back in March. Sadly that game against Coney Heath Ladies in the new Herts Women’s Trophy competition had to be abandoned due to a medical emergency, a Stevenage player collapsing on the pitch and had be rescheduled for this coming Sunday. First up the League Plate Stevenage’s Development side re-joining the ERWFL after a spell in the FAWNL Reserves section.

Going into Division One North, found it tough going early on collecting just 4 points from their opening 8 games but rallied towards the end of the season with an unbeaten run of 5 matches 4 wins and a draw to pull off the bottom eventually finishing 8th. That momentum in the league no doubt playing a part in their charge to two cup finals. Have had a large talent pool to draw from with 46 players used during the season, will no doubt benefit the 1st team playing in the league above. Stephanie Fausse the sides top scorers with 9 to her name this season with Ella Mercer on back on 8.

Wormley Rovers Ladies only formed a women’s side two season’s ago. Situated in a strong catchment pool of football clubs in south Hertfordshire. Going straight into the Beds & Herts Women’s Premier Division, were involved in a thrilling title race with the two sides who would eventually come up with them, taking the league title in their final game of the season a winner takes all game against Hertford Town Women at the top a 7 goal thriller Wormley Rovers Ladies won 4-3 to become Champions in their debut season. Going up into regional football entering Division One South this campaign.

  Haven’t found life quite so easy, have added experienced players to their squad as they looked to consolidate in tier 6. Struggling for results, have been near the bottom most of the season but keeping away from the bottom position, eventually recording an 8th placed finish like Stevenage, have saved their best form for the cup. Chelise Fleming firing in 39 goals in their debut season, has been top scorer once again this campaign, firing in 17 goals in 17 appearances. With Kasey Keen and Niamh Gallagher both on 6 goals. 

Road to the Final

  Both sides with a bye in the first round of the League Plate drawn away in the 2nd Round. Stevenage away to Division One South side, Stanway Pegasus Ladies. Remi Martin scoring a brace in the game with Holly Southam, Chloe Gregory and Ella Mercer all on target with a goal in a 5-2 win. Wormley taking on fellow Division One South side and the current late holders Hutton Ladies. A close game Wormley coming out on top to win the match 2-1 with Lily Marie Hanlon scoring both goals.

 Into the quarter finals, both sides on the road again, Stevenage taking on another Division One South side, Billericay Town Women Development. Stevenage winning the tie by the odd goal in 5 winning the contest 3-2 thanks to goals from Ella Mercer, Stephanie Fausse and Matilda Thomas O’Keefe. Wormley too taking on Division One South competition, close neighbours Cheshunt FC Women, goals from Chelise Fleming and Charis Howell securing a 2-1 victory to send Wormley into the last 4.

  Once again both sides drawn away. Stevenage playing fellow Division One North side, Biggleswade United Women, advanced into the final of the competition with Izzy Ruse and Thomas O’Keefe on target in a 2-0 win. A tough semi-final for Wormley as they were taking on Premier Division side, Barking FC Women, the hosts coring twice, Wormley firing back with goals from Fleming, Niamh Gallagher and Savannah Japal to secure a 3-2 victory and progress to the final. 

 Back to, Newmarket Town FC’s, Tristal Stadium the ground having hosted the Cambridgeshire Women’s League Cup Final on Friday evening and the men’s first team lay off final victory on Saturday. Now hosting the ERWFL Finals Day. The state of the art artificial playing surface in almost constant use hosting football of all ages throughout the season. A seated stand on one side beside the clubhouse and changing rooms. The bar open along with the kitchen hatch serving hot food and drinks. The weather perfect the temperature rising nicely, the sun high in the sky and little cloud around, certainly no rain forecast.

Stevenage FC Women Development

Stevenage FC Women Development starting XI – Lucy Fox, Mistie Fox-Baker, Sophie Afshar, Neave Wilson (C), Amana Oguntuga, Izzy Ruse, Chloe Gregory, Isobel Matfield, Stephanie Fausse, Ella Mercer & Matilda Thomas O’Keefe. Subs –  Holly Southam, Katie Boyle, Remi Martin. Freya Rice & Anaise Corrigan.

Wormley Rovers Ladies

 Wormley Rovers Ladies starting XI – Amy Jo Hebborn, Adel Mehmet, Gracie Manning, Katie Church, Aimee Burling, Rachel Daltrey (C), Maddie Lang, Charis Howell, Savannah Japal, Niamh Gallagher & Chelise Fleming. Subs – Nicole Cooper, Taila Kirkpatrick, Monique Marshall & Lily Marie Hanlon.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

The two sides walking out onto the pitch with the morning sun high in the sky. It’s Stevenage to kick-off the 1st half wearing red and white patterned shirts, red shorts and white socks. Wormley usually wearing black and red vertical striped shirts the ‘away’ side today wearing their change strip, lime green shirts with black shorts and socks. The ball lifted out to Amana Oguntuga attacking on the right for Stevenage fed on up the line for Ella Mercer, celebrating her birthday today to chase into the corner, Katie Church closing the ball down to put out of play in the corner for Wormley.

Played in deep cleared by Church out to the left for a Stevenage throw, looking to get on up the right Adel Mehmet sending in on for Savannah Japal, Mistie Fox Baker closing in for Stevenage in defence to halt the move. Wormley closing the ball down in the middle Maddie Lang on for Charis Howell played out to the left channel with Chelise Fleming pulling into space drives on looking to run into the box, Stevenage captain, Neave Wilson across to tackle regain possession.

Stevenage captain Neave Wilson moving in to tackle Wormley’s Chelise Fleming

Wormley press the ball comes to Niamh Gallagher wide left plays the ball into the area, central attacked by Fleming, slices her shot, cleared by Stevenage back out to the left for a throw. Looking for the long throw, into the edge of the box Stevenage defending look to break played up to Mercer, strong on the ball knocks it in behind for Matilda Thomas O’Keefe breaking clear left channel, Wormley goalkeeper, Amy Jo Hebborn out quickly to the top of her box to lay claim to the ball.

Evie Church clearing the ball for Wormley as Stevenage’s Matilda Thomas O’Keefe closes in

Stevenage lively at the start looking to move the ball quickly across the pitch, down the left a cross lifted over the bar. Wormley winning a throw high on their left, Gallagher and Fleming looking to team up on the ball, Wilson getting hold of the ball her clearance long dropping into the box, Thomas O’Keefe interested in a race with Manning on her shoulder the defender doing well to not only see the ball out but win a goal kick too.

Fleming making so promising runs up top, peeling left as Howell plays the ball into her, Sophie Afshar getting back at the attacker to close the ball down clear with her blocking tackle. Mercer running into the right corner after a high bouncing ball, Church and Manning linking up to get the ball up the field for Wormley.

Wormley’s Gracie Manning

Stevenage bring the ball on quickly through the middle into Thomas O’Keefe she fires the ball on with Mercer looking to make a run into the box right of goal, Manning coming to close her down, Hebborn rushes out sliding in to get hold of the ball, evades her grasp, inside her, Manning holds up Mercer as she attempts to reach it, Hebborn grounded stretching out an arm to get her glove around the ball pull it into her body.

Mercer and Thomas O’Keefe linking up well in the opening 10 minutes for Stevenage, Mercer left 25 yards out across the top of the D into Thomas O’Keefe goes to strike the ball, Manning charging it down. Positive from Stevenage. Fleming the outlet up top for Wormley as captain Rachel Daltrey finds her on the left combines with Gallagher on the wing the cross into the top of the area cleared.

Aimee Burling winning the ball at the back for Wormley to Mehmet on the left played up the wing for Japal getting on the move, plays the one two off Fleming inside her before angling the ball into the near post, caught cleanly by Stevenage goalkeeper, Lucy Fox. Fox tested again moment later as a Wormley shot is struck at her from distance, bouncing at her knees as she goes down for it, skips up, reacts sharply to grab it safely into her chest before Fleming can pounce.

Stevenage loose the ball at the back, Gallagher snatching it 20 yards out central, sends her shot high and wide. Howell is fouled as she carries the ball out to the left inside the Stevenage half. Over the set-piece herself, fires a high ball into the box far side knocked down back across to Fleming top of the area, Oguntuga on her shoulder, squeezes a shot away places it straight at the keeper.

Stevenage’s Isobel Matfield

Competitive in the middle of the park, Daltrey linking up with Fleming as the pair look to get Gallagher in on the right the pass a little heavy runs out of play. Another Wormley free-kick on the left played up into the area, Mercer up well to defend it heading the ball out for a throw on the left. Mercer clearing the ball long up to Thomas O’Keefe on the move left wing, is bundled over a free-kick won. Mercer coming up to take fired in with pace into the near post, Hebborn throwing herself to her left, saving turning the ball behind for a corner.

Wormley slow to play the ball out at times risk getting caught in possession, Thomas O’Keefe doing just that, 30 yards out central, pulls her shot wide of the right post. Mercer pressuring the ball on the right forcing Wormley to concede a corner kick. The delivery put into Wilson top of the area central shoots, rising, blocked appears to strike and outstretched hand Stevenage immediately appealing even as the deflected ball drops to Thomas O’Keefe at the far post close in turns the ball home on the angle, the goal won’t count however as the offside flag is raised against her. A frantic spell as Wormley counter attack the ball fired long up to Fleming to bring down 25 yards out left of the D, strikes the ball in low across goal, Fox with a superb save diving down to push the ball behind for a corner kick!

Busy game a lot happening, the corner kick curled in across the face of goal beyond the far post retrieved the cross however turned behind. The game open, Stevenage pushing on he ball cleared into Daltrey looks to put Fleming away in the left channel as she powers forwards, Afshar getting a vital foot in to nick the ball off the attacker or she was clear to attack the box.

Stevenage defender Sophie Afshar

Stevenage’s Izzy Ruse on the ball linking up with Isobel Matfield on for Chloe Gregory the final pass up to Thomas O’Keefe cut out by Church. Japal with the ball at her feet driving on down the right wing for Wormley, Fox Baker slides in to defend for Stevenage.

GOAL! Almost half an hour played Wormley fight to win back possession in the middle, Daltrey launching it forwards up towards the Stevenage box left of the D, Fleming looking out run on the shoulder of the back tracking defender, Fox comes racing out the other way to try and win the ball, goalkeeper and defender collide left in a heap on the floor, Fleming is still standing and in behind onto the loose ball, to walk it into the net to open the scoring 0-1.

Chelise Fleming putting Wormley into the lead

Stevenage on the attack from the restart Mercer finding Oguntuga breaking clear on the right down the line her cross squared into the box, Hebborn collecting it on the bounce on her penalty spot. Matfield putting the ball inside to Thomas O’Keefe, 35 yards out pulls her shot dragging it wide of the near post. Oguntuga offside as Mercer attempts to pick her out on the right.

Stevenage’s Ella Mercer

Wormley quick to get the ball forwards up the right Japal inside for Fleming breaking in behind, Fox taking no chances rushing out of her area to clear, takes the ball off the striker moving left, Fleming stealing the ball back has the keeper out of position as she powers her way back towards the box, the defence running back to cover the goal en masse her eventual shot, blocked and cleared.

Stevenage on the left Gregory with Matfield into Thomas O’Keefe inside the box the ball angled in low at the near post, Hebborn there to claim. Fleming strong up top making some forceful runs into the channels the midfield picking her out the ball clipped into her on the left forces her way into the box angling a low strike in across goal, Fox down smartly to save getting her body behind the ball.

Wormley pressure mounting as the 1st half draws to a close up on the right Japal with Fleming across in support the ball played in across the top of the area into Howell lays it into the path of Lang right of the D to strike on the run her shot blasted in at Fox, the keeper batting the ball away for a corner kick. The corner in across the six yard box, Stevenage look to get it clear but Wormley move to close the ball down.

Wormley’s Maddie Lang

A double change for Stevenage, Remi Martin and Katie Boyle coming on for Matfield and Fausse. Afshar doing well at the back for Stevenage getting in to tackle Fleming as the Wormley attacker surges towards the box off a Howell pass. A drinks break called late in the half with Mercer needing treatment for an injury, looks to be her knee, is determined to stay on and see if she can play on.

Mercer showing little sign of her knock as she gets in to break up a Wormley attack as Howell and Gallagher combine on the left. Fired up towards Thomas O’Keefe on the box, a coming together between her and Burling, the attacker coming off worse, needs treatment but up and allowed back onto the pitch as play resumes the first half moving into stoppage time. Church cutting the ball out at the back for Wormley as Mercer attempts to play Thomas O’Keefe in behind.

Moments left in the first half, Howell steals possession in the middle sends the ball out to Fleming pulling into the left channel, on the angle fires her shot in across the keeper, but wide of the far post too.

Half-time Stevenage FC Women Development 0-1 Wormley Rovers Ladies

  The sides head back into the changing room with Wormley holding the narrow lead at he break. Chelise Fleming capitalising on a mix up at the back to open the scoring on the half hour. Wormley a threat getting forwards out wide and into the channels. Stevenage though with a positive start had a goal ruled out for offside, and a penalty shout moment before. Two contracting sides, Stevenage’s young players looking to get the ball moving quickly. Wormley with the experience finding the gaps to exploit. Set up perfectly for the 2nd half.

Both sides keen to get going out early for the 2nd half, Wormley to get thing’s underway with a change, Monique Marshall on coming into the middle replacing Church with Daltrey dropping into defence. A triple switch for Stevenage with Martin, Boyle and Thomas O’Keefe of, Fausse and Matfield back on along with Anaise Corrigan going up top in attack. Just waiting on the officials to return, referee Francesca Catchpole a pretty decent striker in her on right leading her team out.

Wormley get the 2nd half going looking to get straight on the attack, Marshall onto the ball clipping it out to the right Afshar defending as Fleming looks to go after the ball.

GOAL! Wormley pressing the ball into Japal inside right with Fleming ahead of her played across the top of the Stevenage area into Gallagher left corner turns the ball back up the line for Howell, who puts her foot through the ball angling a shot in with power high past the diving Fox to crash into the back of the net 0-2. 

Charis Howell fires Wormley into a 2 goal lead early in the 2nd half

A huge blow for Stevenage early in the 2nd half, Wormley out of the blocks quickly to double their lead. Bringing the ball on down the right played on Fausse looks to link up with Corrigan in attack, Japal racing back to help defend nicking the ball back for Wormley. Marshall making an impact for Wormley coming off the bench strong getting after the ball deep on the left with Japal the ball cleared forwards Fleming looking to attack it right channel heading for the box, Fox out well to gather the ball into her body.

Marshall lifting the diagonal ball out to Japal on the right squares her cross into the top of the area looking for Fleming, Fox again rushing on to get hold of the ball. Wormley strong on the ball, Marshall attacking right side of the area, Afshar on her shoulder sends the ball across the area into Gallagher left side her shot straight at the keeper. Wormley with a dominant start to the 2nd half.

Wormley’s Monique Marshall

Howell 25 out moving across the top of the Stevenage D, playing the ball off the outside of her boot out to Gallagher on the left, her cross cut out by Wilson, Ruse looking to bring it away is quickly closed down. Marshall fouled by Gregory wide on the right. players up to the top of the area as she stands over the resulting set-piece, puts a dangerous ball into the corridor, Fox with the acrobatic save to push the ball away from danger out for a corner on the left.

Lucy Fox with the acrobatic save to turn the ball wide for a corner.

The corner played short up the line to Fleming, turning as she breaks into the top corner of the box, fires her shot up over the cross bar. Mehmet pressing the ball, getting it up field on the right channel, Fleming bursting forwards, seeing the ball drop over her shoulder as she runs into the box, drills her shot into the side netting, a slight touch off a Stevenage player on it’s way through a corner awarded.

Adel Mehmet with Stevenage’s Anaise Corrigan

  The corner played in from the right comes out to Japal positioned outside the D, goes to shoot, stretching as she connects with the ball falling back dragging her shot wide away past the left post, pulls up immediately in pain, suffering from a nasty bout of cramp. Almost an hour played, Wormley make the change Taila Kirkpatrick on to replace Japal.

Mistie Fox Baker defending against, Wormley’s Chelise Fleming

  Fox Baker getting onto the ball for Stevenage left side rolled on for Gregory bursts on down the wing all the way to the by-line cutting into the box her cross put into the side netting. Stevenage looking to up the tempo as Mercer gathers the ball into her feet looks to travel, moving central is bundled over the advantage played as Corrigan races in behind after the ball, Hebborn though sprinting out to the top of her box to reach the ball first.

  Marshall lifting the ball on for Kirkpatrick looking to get on for Wormley up the right, Fox Baker getting her tackle in as the pair race to the by-line. Howell latching onto a shot from distance smashes the ball over the Stevenage crossbar. Stevenage making a double change bringing of Matfield and Afshar, on come Thomas O’Keefe and Holly Southam. Wormley strong through the middle the ball fed into Gallagher outside the D, lays it off for Fleming, turns inside to shoot from all of 25 yards out angling in across goal to the far post. Fox pushing it away to her left.

  Stevenage look to turn play around in the middle, Fausse turning on the ball to thread a pass in behind for Corrigan to attack, Hebborn racing out the other way to try and close the angle, Corrigan attempting to knock the ball wide past her to have a chance on goal, the keeper though with an excellent save stretching out her arm to get her glove on the ball snatch the ball.

Amy Jo Hebborn getting her arm out well to stop the ball getting past her.

  Fausse taking the ball out to the left attacking for Stevenage whips a cross/shot into the near post, Hebborn down to stop it knocked across the face of goal, Daltrey running back with Corrigan holding the attacker off. Stevenage with a set-piece out wide on the right curled into the box by Mercer, Hebborn up well pushing it down out away from her goal, runners closing in no one can get a touch the ball hooked clear. 

Amy Jo Hebborn up to save, Ella Mercer’s free-kick

  Wormley getting on the counter attack the ball long through the middle with Marshall providing the run strong into the box looking to get between the back tracking centre backs, Wilson getting it back to Fox, the keepers clearance striking Fox Baker full in the face leaving her floored in the box, play stopped immediately as she is treated a lengthy pause players taking on fluids.

 Fox Baker back up on her feet, as the game rolls into the final quarter hour, Fleming coming for the ball, turns and pushes into the right channel, Southam getting back into her to tackle for Stevenage. Burling in to break up a Stevenage attack clears the ball long up to Fleming breaking into the right channel, Fox Baker running back into the box after her getting her foot on the ball to play it behind for a corner kick. The delivery short into Howell curls a cross in towards the far post, headed behind.

Stevenage’s Holly Southam

  Wormley with the ball left in the corner Gallagher up the line for Fleming played in central, Mehmet latching onto the shot, dipping right in front of her Fox almost wrong footed adjusting quickly to get hold of the ball. Lang linking up with Marshall though the middle, on for Fleming the pass cut out by Southam. Oguntuga defending for Stevenage on the left stays on Marshall well as she looks to get onto the ball fed into the right channel getting a foot on the ball to block as Marshall crosses. the ball out for a throw in the corner.

Stevenage’s Amana Oguntuga with Worley’s Taila Kirkpatrick

 Dropped into Marshall on the by-line holds it up before rolling it back for Fleming to send a cross in across the face of goal, Gallagher attacking it at the far post inside the six yard box twisting to head the ball sees it cannon back off the post before the Stevenage defence scramble clear. 

Wormley’s Niamh Gallagher

  Fausse getting onto the end of a diagonal ball played across to her as she pulls away to the left squaring her cross into the top of the Wormley area, Burling doing the defending on Corrigan as she goes for the ball. Howell coming off for Wormley, Lily Marie Hanlon coming on. 85 minutes on the clock. Ruse sending the ball out to Fausse on the left angles the ball into the area, Hebborn letting everyone in the stadium know it’s hers as she comes out to gather the ball into her gloves.

  Another change for Wormley Manning coming off at the back, Church back on. Marshall fouled for Wormley on halfway as she looks to bring the ball on. The free-kick looping up into the area, dropping sharply in front of Fox, shoves the ball away, falls straight to Fleming on the penalty spot, her shot charged down.

 

  Mercer’s knee injury flaring up again, needs to come off, Martin sent on. Wormley have managed the game well their attackers pulling out wide, Marshall pushing on from midfield with space to run into, Fleming a ready outlet going forwards. The attacker seeing the ball into her feet dribbling forwards through the middle unleashing a shot 25 yards out, low into the box gathered by Fox. 10 minutes of stoppage time to be played, the game halted with an injury to Mehmet at the back for Wormley.

  GOAL! The defender back up on her feet play resuming with a drop ball, knocked long up towards the Stevenage box, bouncing in the area, Fox can’t get to it as Fleming central looks to get a touch knocked past Fox into the goal beyond 0-3.

Chelise Fleming forcing the ball home for Wormley’s 3rd goal

 A 3rd goal surely sealing the win for Wormley with the game into stoppage time. Kirkpatrick carrying the ball out to the right forwards for Fleming her touch to heavy the pass running out of play. Wormley keeping the ball well in stoppage time driving forwards looking to get the ball into the box, Gallagher wide left seeing her cross blocked, comes back up the line to Lang then Hanlon a shot fired in on the angle, straight at Fox.

  Fleming shooting narrowly wide of the right post as she controls the ball 30 yards from goal. Time almost up Stevenage lifting the ball forwards up to Corrigan in attack, turns on the ball driving into the left channel, riding a tackle stays on her feet to stab the ball on for Thomas O’Keefe racing into the box on the angle fires her shot wide across goal. The final whistle blows and Wormley celebrate winning the ERWFL League Plate in their debut season in regional football.

Full time Stevenage FC Women Development 0-3 Wormley Rovers Ladies

  An entertaining final between two contrasting sides, Wormley using their experience and strength will making a brilliant start to the 2nd half, doubling their lead in the 46th minute to press the advantage. Got the ball into their attacking players quickly and drove at the Stevenage defence forcing them back stretching play at times. Stevenage’s youngster kept going looking to pick out their attacking players in the channels, Wormley though comfortable at the back for the large part, Hebborn with a couple of useful saves too.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Time for the 1st Women’s Football East – Player of the Match, asked to choose the player of the match on the day too. Luckily this one an easy decision in the finish a clear contender emerging early on. A few performances of note to mention. Firstly for Stevenage, Ella Mercer having to play through the pain barrier at times got about the pitch well looking to find space up top and link up with the attackers, won the ball well. Izzy Ruse too getting her tackles in to win the ball in the middle, Sophie Afshar and Mistie Fox Baker with some vital tackles at the back. For Wormley, Amy Jo Hebborn with a couple of important stops in the 2nd half to ensure Wormley’s two goal lad remained intact. Charis Howell getting about the middle of the park into some great positions a great strike for the 2nd goal. Monique Marshall making an impact coming off the bench for the 2nd half, strong with some forceful runs on the ball linked up well with the attack. The award though goes to Chelise Fleming. Made some fantastic runs up top. Pulling into the channels strong on the ball putting the Stevenage defence under pressure opening the scoring a willing runner throughout.

Wormley Rovers Ladies 2023/24 ERWFL League Plate winners

 Congratulations to Wormley Rovers Ladies on winning this season’s ERWFL League Plate.

 An enjoyable first final of the day. My thanks to both sides for their help with the teams today. Stevenage disappointed, but have another final to prepare for next weekend, Wormley ending their season on a high. Time to find something to eat, get ready for this afternoon’s match.

by Darren Gilham

Cup Final Special – Fulbourn Institute Bluebirds v Whittlesey Athletic Ladies

Friday 17th May

Cambridgeshire Women’s League Cup Final

Beginning another long weekend of cup final football action this Friday evening with a trip to Newmarket Town FC’s, Tristal Stadium to watch the final of this season’s Cambridgeshire Women’s League Cup, between the top two in the Women’s Premiership, runners-up Fulbourn Institute Bluebirds play league winners, Whittlesey Athletic Ladies going for an impressive treble having won the Women’s Invitation Final just over a week ago.

The Cambridgeshire Women’s League Cup contested by the sides playing across all three divisions in the county, this time around the final featuring the two sides who have proved to be strongest in the top flight within that set-up. The competition proudly sponsored by The Alan Boswell Group that has been involved with the league in Cambridgeshire in various guises for close to 20 years now.

This evenings prize.

Fulbourn Institute Bluebirds one of the longest established sides within the Cambridgeshire Women’s Premiership under the leadership of Ashley Hunt and Ryan Lee have grown throughout the season finishing strongly with 7 wins in a row to pull 12 points clear of the pack to secure 2nd spot behind winners, Whittlesey Athletic Ladies. Both are to step back from the dugout after this evenings final with the club bringing in Shane Lebbon to manage the side, has a wealth of experience coaching within the woman’s game in Cambridgeshire having previously been with Newmarket Town Women, coaching at all levels, developing and bringing youth players into the 1st team. 

Fulbourn with a strong attacking quartet, scoring plenty of goals between them this campaign, Ellie Woodley on target to score 41 goals so far this season in 21 games. Captain, Marie Stubbings, often amongst the goals has 21 to her name while Ebony Crook and Eve Seyf has scored 18 and 14 respectfully. Face a tough test in this evenings final having lost heavily to Whittlesey in both there matches this season.

They aren’t the only club to lose heavily to Whittlesey Athletic Ladies this season however, with the club reforming it’s women’s side this season, pulling in players from a strong talent pool in the Peterborough area, easily equipped for tier 6. Can’t enter at that level however and have to be promoted from a county league, going straight into the Cambridgeshire Women’s Premiership, hit the ground running and never looked back a 100% record on their way to the league title after 16 of there 18 league matches, strong in the cup competitions too as they proved in the final of the Women’s Invitation Cup final last Thursday, beating Cambridge United WFC’s U18s 2-1 to make it a league and cup double.

Emma Pollard opening the scoring for Whittlesey back then has enjoyed another 50 plus goals season in front of goal, 58 last season as she helped Cardea FC Ladies to a league and cup double too, has 52 this season in just 15 matches. Tara Parker with 15 goals and Taylor dean also into double figures on 10. A cup hangover (maybe) saw them lose their 100% record last Sunday, a 1-0 defeat away to Cambridge University Women. Tonight though a chance to complete the treble.

 Road to the Final

 Both sides receiving a bye in the 1st round of the League Cup. The goals flowing for both in the 2nd road. Fulbourn especially as thy were at home taking on Division Three side Cambridge Rangers WFC Reserves. Ellie Woodley alone firing home 7 goals. Ebony Crook and Marie Stubbings getting 4 apiece. with a brace each for Eve Seyf and Katie Luddy in a 19-0 romp. Whittlesey at home against fellow Premiership side Cambridge University Women, Emma Pollard smashing home 4 goals, Jenna Nairn was to net a brace with Hannah Murphy, Taylor Dean and captain, Leah Barnes all getting a goal each in a 9-0 win.

Fulbourn continuing their goal scoring form in the League Cup as they took on Chatteris Town Lillie Ladies, from Division Two in the 3rd Round of the competition. Woodley and Crook both scoring a hat-trick, surpassed by Stubbings who grabbed another 4 goal haul with Hollie Turner also on target in an 11-0 win. Whittlesey handed the away win having been drawn against Division Three side, Willingham Wolves Women.

Into the last 8 of the League Cup, Fulbourn on the road this time taking on Division Two side, Waterbeach Colts WFC. Their attackers continuing their strong form in front of goal, Crook getting herself a hat-trick with Seyf firing in a brace, Woodley scoring too in a 6-1 victory. Whittlesey away to in the quarter finals up against Division Two title chasing Godmanchester Town Ladies, a rare game where Pollard didn’t score, they progressed into the semi-finals courtesy to a 2-0 win, Taylor Dean and Jenna Nairn with the goals.

Into the semi-finals an all Premiership line-up, Fulbourn at home taking on Newmarket Town Women Development, Woodley’s goals seeing them into the final, scoring a hat-trick to advance with a 3-1 win. Whittlesey at home too taking on Leverington Sports Ladies, who had improved over the 2nd half of the season pulling away from the bottom of the table. Goalless at the break, Whittlesey would break the deadlock in the 2nd half to into win the game 3-0 with goals from Murphy, Pollard and Megan Strickland.

Newmarket Town FC’s Tristal Stadium hosting some big matches this weekend, not only this evening’s Cambridgeshire Women’s League Cup Final, but a huge game for the men’s first team on Saturday as they take on Mulbarton Wanderers in the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division Play-off final. Onto Sunday the ground hosting this season’s ERWFL Finals Day. The ground featuring a state of the art cork based artificial playing surface. A seated stand on one side beside the clubhouse and changing rooms with the bar and kitchen hatch open. A warm evening, dry with a few clouds around but no rain likely.

Fulbourn Institute Bluebirds

Fulbourn Institute Bluebirds starting XI – Julie Brown, Nat Wells, Seema Grewal, Jess Anderson, Jess Adams, Mollie Turner, Dani Quinn, Marie Stubbings, Ebony Crook, Eve Seyf & Ellie Woodley. Subs – Rachel Fallow, Sarah Bodger, Gaby Gallegos Garrido & Amy Smith.

Whittlesey Athletic Ladies

Whittlesey Athletic Ladies starting XI – Zoe Shepherd, Megan Strickland, Maisie Homden, Hannah Johnson, Alice MacNicol (C), Hannah Murphy, Jenna Nairn, Taylor Dean, Mia Wilson, Tara Parker & Emma Pollard. Subs – Grace Spencer, Katie Barber, Jorja Badcock & Olivia Smith.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

  An injury blow for Whittlesey with captain, Leah Barnes out on crutches. Played a big part in there Invitation Cup success, however they do welcome back Hannah Murphy and Hannah Johnson to the starting line up with Jorja Badcock on the bench. Alice MacNicol captaining the side as they get the League Cup final underway kicking off the 1st half wearing an all blue kit. Fulbourn lined up opposite wearing sky blue coloured shirts with claret trim and sleeves, claret shorts and sky blue socks. The ball rolled back to Hannah Johnson in defence, fed up to Jenna Nairn looks to pick out Emma Pollard in attack pulling into the left channel, Jess Adams intercepting the ball for Fulbourn.

Fulbourn looking to press the ball win a series of throw ins on there left looknig to get forwards. Playing the ball into midfield, Hollie Turner into Eve Seyf looks to play Ellie Woodley in behind, MacNicol closing her down to tackle regain possession for Whittlesey. Fulbourn positive pushing on up the right, Seyf combining with Woodley out wide, her cross clipped into the area, cleared by Hannah Johnson for Whittlesey.

Fulbourn’s Eve Seyf with Ellie Woodley

Seyf making a nuisance of herself on the right in attack looking to see the ball into her feet, skip past her marker, turning inside is brought down, winning Fulbourn a free-kick in an inviting position 25 yards out. Ebony Crook over the set-piece, floated the ball in towards the far post, runners closing in however Whittlesey goalkeeper, Zoe Shepherd takes the ball cleanly above her head.

Fulbourn have Whittlesey penned back in their own half as Seema Grewal plays the ball into the middle helped on up to Seyf in attack as captain Marie Stubbings making a move to race in between the centre backs threads the pass on for her to attack, Shephard quickly out of her area gets there in the nick of time to kick the ball clear the ball out for a throw on the right.

For all there forward play at the start of the game Fulbourn have to be wary of the counter attack, Emma Pollard ready and waiting up top for the ball to be cleared into her path, Nairn lifting it into the left channel Pollard, clips it across to the right for Hannah Murphy into the right channel attempts to send, Tara Parker into the box, Adams close on the attacker getting her foot in to stop the ball reaching its target.

Fulbourn quick to turn play around launch the counter attack, Dani Quinn playing the ball forwards Crook left helping it on for Seyf racing in behind the Whittlesey defence into the box the keeper coming to close the angle, Seyf shoots, the ball racing wide of the right post, a corner given the keeper with the merest of touches keeping it out. The corner whipped into the six yard box by Crook, over Quinn jumping central, cleared back out to Crook on the right, sends her cross over.

Whittlesey’s Maisie Homden after Fulbourn’s Ellie Woodley

Parker loosing her boot as she is fouled trying to break clear wide on the left on halfway. Whittlesey bringing players up as the ball is lifted into the top of the Fulbourn box, Quinn heading the ball away. Fulbourn move the ball right Crook over on that side putting it on for Woodley central, in turn playing it forwards into Seyf, close control wriggles her way through the defence into the area, one on one with the keeper as Shephard comes to close her down, stays big as Seyf looks to place her shot past her, the keeper getting her left glove on the ball making a superb save to concede the corner. Curled in near post defended by Maisie Homden. A pause in play with MacNicol down inside the box with a knock, but okay to play on.

Whittlesey goalkeeper, Zoe Shepherd

GOAL! The deadlock is broken, Whittlesey having had to work hard at the back in the opening 10 minutes to keep a lively Fulbourn out hit their opponents on the counter, Nairn playing a great ball into Pollard left channel combines well with Parker in attack the pair playing the ball back and forth making their way forwards Pollard inside to Parker getting the return pass slipping the ball into the box behind the Fulbourn defence for Parker bursting into the area, before smashing her shot into past the keeper into the back of the net 0-1.

Tara Parker celebrates after scoring Whittlesey’s opening goal

Two good chances for Fulbourn not taken, Whittlesey clinical in their first meaningful attack open the scoring. Energised now get forwards Nairn combining with Pollard in the middle spots Homden on the move left wing breaking down the wing in behind with the ball, pushed to the by-line, can’t keep her cross in play. Murphy playing the ball onto Taylor Dean, who is fouled inside the Fulbourn half beside the centre circle on the right. Nairn to send the ball long towards the far post, MacNicol up from the back tries to get her head on the ball but can’t quite reach it as it runs behind for the goal kick.

Stubbings putting Woodley in on the right plays the ball down the line for Seyf to attack a race for the ball with Homden the defender seeing the ball out for a corner kick. Crook lifting an in swinging ball in high central, Shephard up well to make a comfortable claim. Fulbourn getting the ball moving in the final 3rd, Seyf feeding the ball out to Woodley wide right this time, looking to take the ball on, Homden with her the full back challenging to win the ball back.

 GOAL! Whittlesey always looking for Pollard up top whenever they regain position and the attacker is always looking to make herself available pulls left as Nairn wins the ball in the middle, picks her out with the past, Pollard racing away down the win, pace to cut back into the area before flashing a ball in across the face of goal, Julie Brown in goal looking to get something on it, the ball deflected into the onrushing Parker for her to turn the ball home for her 2nd of the game 0-2.

Tara parker doubling Whittlesey’s lead

Nairn comes close to putting Pollard through to score Whittlesey’s 3rd moments later lifting the ball into the left channel, Pollard seeing it drop over her shoulder top of the area, ready to latch onto her shot, Brown reacting sharply out to the top of her area, making the blocking save with her legs to deflect the ball away from danger.

GOAL! Whittlesey upping their game midway through the first half winning a corner on the right, players up rom the back, the initial corner lifted into the near post defended cleared out to the right lands at Dean’s feet, blasts the ball back into the box, blocked coming back out to the right a measured cross curled in across the goal the the far post with MacNicol in position to nod the ball down into the back of the net. 0-3.

Alice MacNicol heads Whittlesey into a 3 goal lead

A huge blow to Fulbourn with 2 good chances to take the lead, find themselves 3 goals down in the opening 23 minutes. Whittlesey lively as Murphy finds Dean out wide on the right her cross in towards the top of the area intercepted by Fulbourn’s Jess Anderson. Woodley central threads the ball on for Stubbings looking to break in behind, Johnson having dropped off, having a crucial half yard head start on the attacker getting to the ball first to put out for a throw in the corner. Fulbourn press well to bring themselves a corner.

Played into the near side helped on across the six yard dropping far post, Homden covering the post sees it out for another corner on the right. Crook’s delivery knocked down into the area, Seyf looking to latch onto it central, Murphy charging the ball down for Whittlesey.

Parker fouled on halfway as she looks to break away with the ball. Nairn to play the ball from right to left in towards the far post, Murphy jumping but over the attacker, nevertheless retrieves the ball on the by-line to spin back inside and flash the ball in across the face of the Fulbourn goal. Pollard with the ball at her feet right, Nat Wells sliding in slows her down by Pollard stays on her feet to cut the ball back into the area from the by-line, Parker looking to hit it first time, fires her strike wide.

Stubbings 30 yard out central with Crook to her left the pass into her played forwards with Woodley looking to surge into the box, MacNicol getting in close to prevent the shot, Woodley’s attempt deflected off her legs up over the crossbar.

Nairn winning the ball for Whittlesey central attempts to pick out Pollard pulling into the left channel once again, her touch a little too heavy this time allowing Adams the opportunity to get her foot through the ball before she can take it on. Woodley fouled outside the box on the left for Fulbourn the free kick fired in towards goal, Shepherd reacting late saving the ball with her legs, Whittlesey looing to mobilise a counter attack, Quinn stopping the advance for Fulbourn.

Fulbourn undeterred by falling 3 goals behind still going forwards looking to create something, win a throw high on the right, put into Seyf’s feet turns well to put a cross into the top of the area, Stubbings running in making contact with her knee places the ball wide of the near post. MacNicol just about gets there to tackle Woodley top of the area as Crook looks to play her in on goal.

Nairn strong to win the ball turns to pick out Pollard going left, has Homden on the sprint to get ahead of her on the overlap, Brown has to come racing out of her area to kick the ball clear. Whittlesey press on the right Dean with Wilson a corner kick won, Lifted in near side defended knocked out to the right, Murphy latching onto the shot, the ball fired into the crowded near post area, blocked turned behind for another corner, again defended at the near post back to the corner taker the cross turned over the bar.

Whittlesey bringing of Wilson, send on Katie Barber. Woodley left on for Seyf ahead of her, Johnson on her shoulder to pressure the shot, put straight at the keeper. Seyf getting about the pitch in the final 3rd stealing into the box on the right as the diagonal ball comes into her, can’t dig the shot out of her feet however instead putting the ball in central for Woodley, Whittlesey quickly into her to close the ball down.

Quinn getting up the pitch to win the ball for Fulbourn central plays it forwards into Woodley before making a run to the right, Woodley linking up with Seyf beside her who in turn picks out Quinn wide inside the box, her shot curled in across goal wide at the far post. Fulbourn pressing for a goal late in the first half, Crook on to Woodley left forwards into Seyf looking to race into the box Johnson looking to stay on her shoulder, Seyf gets her shot away looking to go across goal into the bottom corner, Shephard diving down to her left making another fine save getting her gloves on the ball.

Grewal getting forwards on the right picking out Woodley ahead of her turns to release Seyf down the right wing before making a run into the D, Seyf looking to find her with the cross, MacNicol in to close her down the shot blocked taking the sting out of it runs safely through to the keeper.

Pollard’s pace attacking down the right wins Whittlesey a corner, an in swinging delivery across the six yard, MacNicol nodding in down into the mix at the far post, the ball scrambled over the bar. Fulbourn get on the move left Grewal inside for Woodley, running in behind, Johnson looking to stay on her into the box, Shepherd coming the other way to block the ball deflected out to the left, Stubbings looking to race onto it, Strickland sliding in to get to it first clear the threat.

Half-time Fulbourn Institute Bluebirds 0-3 Whittlesey Athletic Ladies

  The sides head into the changing rooms at the break with Whittlesey holding a 3-0 advantage. Could have been a very different score line had Fulbourn put away their early chances, the difference between the sides in the first period Whittlesey clinical when they’ve had their chances, making them counter looking a threat on the break. Fulbourn undeterred have kept getting forwards looking for an opportunity to score and have forced goalkeeper, Zoe Shepherd into making some excellent saves. Still a lot of work to do if they are to get themselves into the game 2nd half, will have to come forwards and Whittlesey with the advantage an be patient with Pollard up top ready to spring into action.

The floodlights taking full effect as the sides emerge for the 2nd half. Fulbourn to get the 2nd half underway have changed their keeper, with Rachel Fallow in in place of Brown, Whittlesey immediately into hustle the ball, nick possession to lift the cross field pass out to Pollard on the right, sends it across the top of the area for Homden getting on down the wing, Grewal challenging to get the ball away from danger for Fulbourn.

Homden needing to defend up the other end putting the ball out for a throw as Seyf looking to march on down the wing. The ball taken to the by-line fired in central, Woodley looking to attack it, Strickland clears back to the right for Whittlesey, lifted into the near side right of goal Johnson defending the ball back out wide before the cross is flashed in wide across the face of goal.

Whittlesey’s Hannah Johnson

Fulbourn prepared to push on take on the Whittlesey defence, Stubbings with room in the middle picking out Seyf with her pass on the right, knocking it on down the line, Homden getting across her body to shield the ball out of play for a goal kick. Fulbourn pushed up the ball coming into Wells deep on the left lifts the ball high into the box at the near post, Shepherd up well to take with Seyf closing in.

Fulbourn captain, Marie Stubbings

Stubbings across to put in the challenge on Dean as the Whittlesey forward looks to advance on the right. Again Fulbourn press the ball well in the final 3rd without finding a way through then Whittlesey with a couple of passes forwards spring the counter, Pollard looking to race on with the ball into the left channel, however Anderson gets out to close her down tackles to win the ball back.

Whittlesey’s Taylor Dean

Dean on for Pollard on the right travels with the ball squaring a dangerous ball into the top of the six yard box, a vital touch from Fallow getting her gloves on the ball knocking it down to claim, especially with Barber running in behind the keeper ready to turn the ball home.

Fulbourn goalkeeper, Rachel Fallow

MacNicol down again for Whittlesey, having pulled up a couple of times in the first half, needs to come off this time, Whittlesey sending on Jorja Badcock. Fulbourn pushing on looking to cause problems for the Whittlesey defence winning a throw high on the left the ball flighted into the area, headed away by Johnson. Nairn getting the ball into her feet playing it into Murphy on for parker outside the box right of the D, moves inside looking for room to shoot, Anderson staying on her as Adams closes ranks the moment lost. 

Jess Adams

 Seyf getting on with the ball right side for Fulbourn sends the cross into the box turned behind by Strickland for a corner kick. Flung in near post players up to attack it, knocked on across goal out beyond the far post. Whittlesey dropping back inviting Fulbourn on allowing Quinn and Turner to press higher. Parker back on the cover to clear a Fulbourn free-kick launched up field for Pollard to chase down on the right, her initial cross into the box blocked comes back out to her Wells moving in to close her down Pollard playing the ball off the defender for a corner. Curled into the six yard box from the right, Pollard the player under it at the far post turns her header wide.   

  GOAL! Whittlesey powerful on the counter attack, Nairn seeing what’s ahead of her s she wins the ball back in the middle, lifting her pass up towards the right of the D for Pollard to attack, in a race with Wells, the defender trying to play it back to her keeper, but rushing out the other way they get too close, Fallow slicing the ball inside towards the penalty spot, Pollard reacting faster ducking inside to get onto the ball and side foot it into the empty net 0-4.

Emma Pollard extending Whittlesey’s lead in the 2nd half

  Whittlesey extending their lead midway through the 2nd half, Pollard getting herself on the score sheet. nip in to regain possession high Parker on the ball feeding it up to Pollard, Anderson lunging in to make the tackle. Barber advancing on the right as Whittlesey look to up the tempo comes inside heading for the box, Wells closing her down as Anderson makes the blocking tackle. Dean with Homden up on the left the ball played into the box headed away for a throw in the corner.

 GOAL! The throw in played into Pollard who turns on the ball and breaks into the box, left corner, angles her powerfully hit strike across the keeper into the corner of the net to make it 5. 0-5

 Whittlesey with two quick fire goals from Pollard pulling into a 5 goal lead. Making a change with 20 minutes to play as Dean comes off, Olivia smith on. Fulbourn having pushed on don’t let their heads drop, continue to attack looking for a goal of their own, Quinn letting fly from 20 yards out right of the D sees her shot come back of the post, Fulbourn pushing up winning a corner on the left. Knocked on across goal to the far post running out to Quinn on the angle her shot blasted in blocked by the Whittlesey defence. 

Hannah Murphy

  Turner playing the ball on for Stubbings central in attack looks to twist and turn find a way through the Whittlesey defence, Johnson closing her down. Wells putting the challenge in to put the ball out for a throw on the right as Barber drives down the right wing for Whittlesey. Badcock seeing the ball into her feet in attack central has Barber running past her rolls the ball into her path her 20 yard shot blocked at close range by Anderson. Badcock up with Pollard the ball played into the attacker 20 yards out, puts her shot straight at the keeper. 

  GOAL! Fulbourn awarded a free-kick inside the Whittlesey half to the right of the centre circle the ball floated into the area headed out to the right drops straight to Quinn beyond the far post, puts her foot through the ball and blasts her shot from an acute angle into the back of the net, their endeavour getting them a deserved goal 1-5.

Dani Quinn pulling a goal back for Fulbourn

 10 minutes left on the clock, Fulbourn pulling one goal back scoring against Whittlesey at last but their opponents still have a commanding lead. Wells firing the ball inside to Turner in the middle on for Quinn linking up with Stubbings through the middle, Murphy back to defend for Whittlesey. Nairn’s balls forwards up to Pollard so dangerous, the striker getting on the move, Anderson quick to close her down, nick the ball for Fulbourn. 

Eve Seyf

  Wells coming forwards has Seyf up ahead of her, the ball played on Seyf feeding it to Woodley left of the D, turns playing it across to Crook on the right, Homden cutting out the cross, back with Crook her 2nd attempt behind for a corner kick, the ball dropping in near post headed on across the six yard falling before Seyf, can’t get it out from under her feet before Whittlesey close her down.

 Fulbourn keep going Wells playing the ball up to Seyf left level with the box fires an inviting cross in along the face of the Whittlesey goal, Woodley racing in far post can’t quite get there. For a moment it looked as if Fulbourn had won a penalty, as they attack right t left Stubbings playing the ball into Seyf central is brought down, the foul however right on the line a free-kick awarded nevertheless. The set-piece struck low hitting the wall deflected behind for a corner on the right The delivery teasing flashing in  through the six yard box no one can get a touch.

Megan Strickland

  Seyf, cleaned out by Johnson out wide on the left another free-kick awarded. Fulbourn with the late pressure the ball in to the near post cleared by Strickland for a throw out on the left. The ball put across the top of the area Fulbourn pushing up the wing to get a corner on the right as the game moves into stoppage time, curled in near side, a turn on the ball and shot, the ball blocked on the line back out to the right then fired back in across the face of goal. 

 Whittlesey adsorbing a late Fulbourn push make a double change, Pollard and Nairn coming off, Wilson and Grace Spencer on. Woodley letting the ball roll cross her 30 yards out, sends a shot arrowing in straight at the keeper. Seyf sending a cross into the box from the left attacked at the far post, Homden with the block on the post. The final whistle blows and Whittlesey have done it won a league and cup treble with their newly reformed team.

Full time Fulbourn Institute Bluebirds 1-5 Whittlesey Athletic Ladies

  An impressive achievement for Whittlesey to win the league and two cup finals. Were clinical on the night putting away their chances. Counter attacking well and working hard at the back pushed back at times. A great effort from Fulbourn never gave up two great chances to take the lead themselves were hit on the counter to concede the opener, Whittlesey upping their game to put two further chances away before the break with goal keeper, Zoe Shephard called into action to keep the clean sheet on a couple of occasions. Fulbourn not prepared to settle back 2nd half gave it a go to try and find away back into the match, Whittlesey could bid their time however wait for the right moment to pounce get up the other end and Pollard was on hand with a quickfire double to put the game beyond doubt Fulbourn remained positive getting the goal their attacking play deserved and never let Whittlesey settle.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this evening’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match, again it’s a fairly straight forward one and too a player that has won a few of these before. A few performances to mention first, for Fulbourn they worked hard up top t find a way through no one more than Eve Seyf who got about the flanks looking to take the ball down create openings unlucky not to score,. Marie Stubbings too covering a good amount of ground to make herself available for the ball and help out in midfield. Dini Quinn making some great runs forwards took her chance well, also tracking back the other way to help the defence. For Whittlesey, Tara Parker was lively up top looking to get into the box on hand to score the opening goals. Zoe Shephard made some vital saves in the first half to keep the Fulbourn out. Jenna Nairn winning the ball played some fantastic passes forwards. The award winner once again Emma Pollard, played a part in all the goals assists and putting two away in the 2nd half. Running into the channels made herself a read outlet throughout.

Emma Pollard with this season’s haul

 Congratulations to Whittlesey Athletic Ladies on winning the Cambridgeshire Women’s League Cup and for claiming an impressive treble, there aren’t many sides that can claim that.

Whittlesey Athletic Ladies 2023/24v Cambridgeshire Women’s League Cup winners

  A good evening out at Newmarket, an entertaining final. Whittlesey strong all season finishing in style one game left to play. Fulbourn with a spirited performance can be proud, gave it there all. Ashley and Ryan leave the team in great shape, improved ready to challenge for honours next season. My thanks to both teams and referee Carlton Joseph for the help with the teams this evening. Back to Newmarket on Sunday for the ERWFL Finals Day, into the final run 5 games to go… 

by Darren Gilham

Cup Final Special – Wroxham FC Women v Norwich City Women

Monday 13th May

Norfolk Women’s County Cup Final

sponsored by Harrod Sport

No time to rest after a busy Sunday covering two finals on NWGFL Finals Day, the cup finals keep rolling on in May with a Monday evening trip to Carrow Road, home of Norwich City FC for this season’s Norfolk Women’s County Cup Final, with Wroxham FC Women reaching their 1st county cup final taking on current cup holders, Norwich City Women. 

The Norfolk Women’s County Cup enjoying a record crowd last season, played at Carrow Road. Had to wait and see how Norwich City FC’s, Championship season was going to turn out before announcing a date this time around. The competition proudly sponsored by Harrod Sport….

This evenings prize

Wroxham FC Women reaching the Norfolk Women’s County Cup for the 1st time in their history. One of two finals the ERWFL Premier Division outfit has reached this season with the ERWFL League Cup final to follow this coming Sunday at Newmarket Town FC against league champions Real Bedford Ladies. Another new manager at the start of the season the club bringing in, Adam Race from Long Stratton Women. New faces added to the squad, have a good balance on youth and experience, with several of their players having featured in finals at Carrow Road before.

Wroxham securing a 5th placed finish in the Premier Division, have goal scorers throughout their side. Hannah Fuller once again leading the goal scoring charts, firing home 25 goals so far this campaign. Lara Densley has had a fantastic season for the club scoring 10 goals. 10 goals too for Luci Middleton, doing well having come with race from Long Stratton stepping up to play regional football.

Norwich City Women fully merged with Norwich City FC now, dominated the county cup in it’s early years before stepping back from the competition, returning in recent season’s have won 2 of the last 3 finals to make it 5 in total. Winning at Carrow Road last season, the club is ambitious and aiming for promotion out of the 4th tier where thy have long been established. Bringing in Martin Herdman to manage the team, pushed eventual champions, AFC Wimbledon Women all the way. Herdman leaving part way through the campaign, Scott Emmerson from within the club taking on the job for the rest of the season were unbeaten, right up until the final day of the season losing out 1-0 away to Ashford Town (Middlesex) Women.

This evening’s final will be captain. Anna Larkins last game for the club, announcing she will be leaving the club she joined 16 years ago has been a fantastic servant for the club in that time. Natasha Snelling has enjoyed a prolific season in front of goal, the 3rd highest scorer in FAWNL South East Division One scoring 21 goals. Player of the season, Ellie Smith has scored 12 goals, with goal scorers scattered though out the side.

Road to the Final

 Norfolk County FC, using a seeding system in the competition meaning the higher ranked clubs don’t enter until the latter stages, in the case of both of this evenings opponents that being the quarter finals. Wroxham drawn away in the last 8 taking on Norfolk Women’s Division One side, Caister FC Ladies. Wroxham amongst the goals leading 4-0 at the break going on to add a further 3 in the 2nd half to cruise into the last 4 courtesy of a 7-0 win. Hannah Fuller on target for a brace, with a goal each for Chelsea Clarke, Lucy Eagle, Tigi Robson, Lara Densley and Luci Middleton. Seven goals too for Norwich City Women as they entertained, ERWFL Division One North leaders, Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women. Both, Hope Straus and Rachel Lawrence scoring 2 each. With goals too for Megan Todd, Eloise Morran and new signing Holly Kennard, joining from AFC Sudbury Women.

Both clubs amongst the goals in the semi-finals too, having home advantage, Wroxham were taking on ERWFL Division One North side, Fakenham Town Ladies. Fuller bagging herself a hat-trick, with goals too for Densley, Middleton and defender, Albany Hodgson, seeing Wroxham into their first county cup final. Norwich hosting Mulbarton Wanderers Ladies, their county cup opponents in their previous two finals, newly promoted to ERWFL Division One North, Norwich were determined to progress, with Natasha Snelling scoring twice. Shannon Shaw, Freya Symonds, Katie Knights, Lauren Hailes and Anna Larkins all on target too as Norwich won 7-0 to book their spot in a 2nd successive Carrow Road final. 

 Carrow Road hosting two of Norfolk FA’s County Cup finals this season on successive nights, starting tonight with the women’s cup and the men’s senior county cu on Tuesday. The pitch looking fantastic a brilliant surface to play on the teams out having a look round taking it all in pre-warm up. The Sir Geoffrey Watling Stand being used for spectators this evening, filing up nicely. The weather a little cooler after another warm day with some cloud cover but still pleasant.

Wroxham FC Women starting XI – Bryony Williams, Leah Newcombe, Chelsea Clarke, Lauren Kett, Albany Hodgson, Rachel Cossey, Becky Russell (C), Ella Gambell, Lara Densley, Lily Alexander & Luci Middleton. Subs – Holly Connell, Tigi Robson, Lauren Bullard, Lucy Eagle & Summer Copland.

Norwich City Women

 Norwich City Women starting XI – Sarah Quantrill, Anna Larkins (C), Hope Strauss, Ceri Flye, Alice Parker, Eloise Morran, Lauren Hailes, Katie Knights, Holly Kennard, Ellie Smith & Natasha Snelling. Subs – Millie Daviss, Freya Symonds, Lauren Tomlinson, Shannon Shaw & Charlotte Pernet.

Wroxham FC Women

(roll on roll off substitutes)

Captains, Anna Larkins and Becky Russell with this evenings match officials

Huge injury blows for Wroxham for this evening’s county cup final with striker Hannah Fuller out, along with midfielder Jennifer Drummie. Both not only influential for the team but with experience playing at Carrow Road in previous final too. Still the opportunity for others to step up. Norwich with a strong line-up, missing Megan Todd who has enjoyed county cup success in the past. Pre match ceremonies complete it’s Norwich to kick-off the first half wearing yellow coloured shirts with green striping, green shorts and yellow socks. Wroxham lined up opposite wearing blue and white vertical striped shirts, blue shorts and socks. The ball rolled back to Eloise Morran in turn to Hope Strauss at the back. Ella Gambell running at her looking to close the ball down, comes out to the right, Katie Knights on the drive up the wing her pass inside cut out by Lauren Kett.

Norwich push players on winning a corner on the right. Appling early pressure players up the ball swung into the six yard box, goalkeeper Bryony Williams previously with Norwich deal with the threat the ball put out of the box. Ellie Smith looking to keep it alive closing down scrambled out for a throw on the right. Up level with the penalty area played inside by Natasha Snelling fires it across the D to Lauren Hailes left side pulls the trigger, defender, Albany Hodgson putting in the block the ball spinning behind for a corner on the left.

A flurry of Norwich chances as the ball fires in near post is deflected on into the middle of the area, Wroxham’s defence blocking one shot on the line then a follow up scrambled back out to the left curled back in the ball striking the base of the post! Norwich showing attacking intent right from the off. Wroxham clear the ball up their right, Lara Densley able to travel with it bursting down the line, sends wide high past the goal out for a throw in the left corner.

Play stopped an injury concern in midfield following the early Norwich attacks Gambell down treatment required, comes off to be assessed as play resumes. Hope Strauss at the back alongside captain Anna Larkins with time on the ball as Wroxham back up lifted out to the left for Hailes, plays a diagonal ball from deep into the area, Kett heading clear for Wroxham. Gambell back on the pitch, Norwich able to push their full backs right up to join the attackers adding to the pressure applied. Ceri Flye taking the opportunity to run with the ball up the line.

Lauren Kett

Hailes lively turning a throw in across the top of the area, headed away by Densley for Wroxham. Snelling across to the right looking to link up with Flye, Chelsea Clarke  under pressure ends up being fouled. A strong opening 7 minutes for Norwich. Gambell sliding in on half way with a heavy challenge on Flye, referee Lorraine Catchpole having word. Flye up okay.

Luci Middleton leading the line for Wroxham, is isolated up top as Norwich push Wroxham back, Strauss and Larkins often the only two players bar goalkeeper, Sarah Quantrill still in their half. Flye playing the cross into the area off of a throw on the right, Hodgson heading clear for Wroxham at the far post. Norwich win it straight back on the left driven into the area turned behind for a corner.

Lara Densley

Wroxham looking for an outlet, Densley the most likely on the right as she steal in on the ball gets the Norwich defence turned around as she races forwards putting it inside for Middleton looking to break into the box near side, closed down the ball rebounding out to captain Becky Russell free 30 yards out looks to take on the shot a high ball looping in towards goal, however Quantrill backing up onto her line makes a comfortable catch.

Lauren Bullard

Strauss lifting the ball long up the right as Holly Kennard powers forwards racing on with the ball roared on by the crowd plays the ball into the box, Hodgson dealing with it for Wroxham. Hodgson lunging in on Snelling giving away a free-kick in a dangerous area left side out to the right for Kennard to attack, Clarke getting across her run, defending seeing the ball out for a goal-kick.

Clarke looking to wiggle clear on the left for Wroxham beats the ball down with her hand as it’s deflected up in front of her, everyone in the stands roaring up seeing it, all except the referee on the opposite side, Clarke taking the ball on, Larkins across to challenge. Wroxham absorbing a lot of pressure, doing okay unlikely to get many opportunities up top, need to make them count. Densley pushing on well on the right, Middleton offering support as she looks to make herself available for the counter.

Smith flagged offside as the attacker looks to break into the box off a Hailes ball put on through the middle. Rachel Cossey getting the ball into Middleton back to goal spins away to the left putting the ball into the on rushing Densley taking the ball on towards the top of the area, Strauss manages to trap the ball between her legs, not clear though, Lily Alexander tries to snatch it, Strauss’ momentum gets her back onto ball to force clear.

Wroxham midfielder Rachel Cossey

Norwich break up the left Parker crossing in low near post Smith the target, Kett sliding in to challenge gets the ball behind for a corner but hurt as Smith falls on top of her, another pause in play Kett needing lengthy treatment comes off with the trainer needing to be waved back on as Norwich resume with the corner kick. The offside flag putting the end to another spell of Norwich pressure.

Norwich looking lively players racing forwards often exchanging positions, Smith and Snelling floating pulling wide at times, dropping deeper in others allowing others to run on. Flye amongst those pace to get into the box, runs into Kett who puts in the blocking tackle. Densley winning the ball on the right gets on the move linking up with Alexander who gives her the return pass as she breaks down the wing striking the ball on the angle, Quantrill right behind the ball.

Flye excites the fans as she pulls off a nutmeg on the right, skipping in behind the full back to drive at the box, once again Kett is there to halt her run. Leah Newcombe putting the ball on for Densley ahead of her, Norwich sliding in on her brought down the free-kick given away. Floated into the box Quantrill coming into the crowd to punch the ball clear, Norwich take it forwards on the counter, Kennard racing away down the right Clarke looking to get back at her squeezes a cross in along the top of the area Snelling in position left side, her strike charged down by Newcombe.

Norwich strong going forwards Flye right into the middle for Hailes, Russell getting in the tackle the ball coming to Middleton looks to get away from Strauss, Norwich as quick to get players back as they are to race forwards crowd the striker off the ball.

Luci Middleton looking to get away from Hope Strauss

Middleton getting n with the ball central has Densley up with her on the right channel playing the ball into her the ball into the box tame off target as Quantrill dives forwards onto the ball. Parker down on with a knock for Norwich receiving treatment. Wroxham under pressure holding out for the first half hour.

GOAL! Norwich attack pushing down the left the cross lifted up to the top of the area, Hailes inside the D going to shoot, her effort taking a deflection looping up in front of goal, Snelling on the line seeing the dropping ball onto her boot to side foot into the back of the net to open the scoring 0-1. 

Natasha Snelling opening the scoring for Norwich

Kennard driving on up the right wing for Norwich down to the by-line turns the ball in to the box, snuffed out by Hodgson, Kett clears the ball. Wroxham a little unsettled after conceding Norwich sharp getting up the flanks Parker left firing a ball through the six yard box. Smith getting about looking to get onto the ball cause Wroxham problems. Middleton up with Densley on the right exchanging passes, Parker back to defend, as Strauss comes to challenge for the ball.

Knights on for Flye on the right on the attack her cross taking a deflection up off a defender seeing in loop dangerously in towards goal, Williams cool back on her line to take the ball high above her head. Norwich making a change bringing off Parker, Lauren Tomlinson coming on. Wroxham too with a change Middleton replaced up top by Lauren Bullard. Play with Wroxham on the left have a free-kick after Kennard shoves Gambell over., Lifted into the D by Clarke, Russell under it knocks it in behind across to the far post, Bullard running in looking to get onto the end of it Norwich see the ball out.

Hodgson fouling Tomlinson in a central position 22 yards out a dangerous position as Snelling and Smith stand over the ball, it’s Smith who takes on the shot over the wall high looping in towards goal destined to drop in under the bar but for an excellent save from Williams throwing her arm up to glove the ball over the bar.

The resulting corner into the top of the area, Densley does well defending on Strauss to clear the ball. Winning the ball back Strauss gives the ball to Larkins played on for Kennard racing away up the right whips a vicious ball in across the face of goal, Williams diving forwards to claim it vital with Snelling racing in to attack it beyond.

Russell finding Densley with the ball on the right, has Newcombe getting up with her laying it wide looks to break inside into the box, Newcombe unable to pick her out with her cross. Hodgson shown a yellow card as she tugs on Snelling’s shirt as the attacker attempts to skip past her left of the D. Hailes over the resulting free-kick, curled in towards goal not troubling Williams. A few wild challenges flying in Wroxham need to settle, Smith brought down. Winning a corner on the right Norwich play the ball short up the line the angled ball turned in towards goal, Williams right behind it.

Wroxham goalkeeper, Bryony Williams

Into stoppage time 5 minutes to be played, Wroxham with Alexander into Densley right channel inside for Bullard in the D, looks to wriggle free to get a shot away, Morran tracking back from midfield in to win the ball back. Smith carded as she slides in on Kett as the defender loos to clear the ball in the box. Norwich with a corner on the left played in far post cleared out of the area a fouls spotted as Wroxham attempt to bring the ball out, Hailes picks up a booking for kicking the ball away, the crowd booing the decision Hailes gesturing playing up to the crowd, good natured engaging with the support.

Lauren Hailes engaging with the crowd after picking up her booking

Morran giving away a late free-kick wide left into the top of the area Larkins in to block the ball as the half-time whistle blows.

Half-time Wroxham FC Women 0-1 Norwich City Women

  A strong first half performance from Norwich, getting forwards at will at times, still have just the one goal to show for it. Williams playing her part in keeping that number down with a fantastic save. Have been able to get on pushing the full backs up to join the attack throughout. Wroxham battling at the back dealing with a lot of pressure, getting forwards when they can Densley looking their best outlet if she can get support.

The sides out ready for the 2nd half

Wroxham making a double substitute as the 2nd half resumes, Middleton back on for Gambell, Tigi Robson on for Hodgson at the back. Wroxham to get the 2nd half underway in front of another fantastic crowd of 922. Norwich immediately in to close the ball down run out of play for a throw on the left, break away down the wing, Tomlinson flashing a cross into the six yard box, Snelling at the far post down to Smith central, can’t get her shot away, comes back to Snelling, Williams saving with her legs the shot put over.

GOAL! Norwich attacking at the start of the 2nd half threatening to overwhelm Wroxham pushing on up the right the ball comes into the top of the area, Knights to receive it strikes a rising shot in past the keeper to double Norwich’s lead 0-2. Knights definitely a fans favourite running over to the crowd to celebrate.

Katie Knights turns in celebration as she double Norwich’s lead rushing over to cheering crowd

A blow for Wroxham right at the start of the 2nd half. Get on down the right to win a corner. fired into the near post low Norwich defend turned out to the top of the box, Robson looks to lift the ball back in towards goal, Quantrill claiming it high. Cossey in the middle picking out Densley on the left travels forwards for Wroxham her cross into the box headed away by Larkins, Norwich getting it up quickly on the right for Kennard, evades Clarke, Kett coming into the corner to put the ball out for a corner.

Katie Knights

 

Curled in towards goal Williams right behind it to catch unchallenged. Smith attempts to thread a diagonal ball into Kennard coming in to attack inside the box on the right, Williams rushing out to making the blocking save with her legs the loose ball running in across the penalty spot, Snelling running in to attack it Wroxham’s defence rushing back to cover their goal, get the block in to turn the ball away for a corner.

A change before it’s taken, Kennard off with Parker back on, her first job to take the corner kick, Densley defending for Wroxham. Morran running onto the ball 30 yards out lashes a shot up over the crossbar. Clarke coming off for Wroxham, Holly Connell coming on to join the defence. Middleton jumping with Strauss gets the better of the defender turning to get onto the ball break into the right channel, Morran tracking back to get in to close her down, blocking her attempted cross turned behind for a corner.

Norwich back to defend at their near post. A double change for Norwich, Freya Symonds and Millie Daviss coming on, Hailes and Knights coming off. Newcombe playing the ball up the line for Bullard on the right the Wroxham attacker looking for Middleton in the box, pulls her diagonal ball into the keeper. Parker surging down the right for Norwich lifting a cross in near post attacked by Daviss, Kett on her defending well for Wroxham.

GOAL! Tomlinson knocking the ball on down the left wing getting in behind to square a great delivery into the six yard box, Snelling closing in on the far post, placing her head on the ball to ram home her 2nd of the game and Norwich’s 3rd. 0-3.

Natasha Snelling celebrates with cross provider, Lauren Tomlinson

Smith getting hold of the ball through the middle driving forwards, hauled down. The free-kick out to the right for Parker, eased off the ball by Russell inside the box. Cossey coming off for Wroxham on comes Gambell back into the action. Middleton the latest player to go into the book for a foul out on the wing. A free-kick in from the wide position won by Densley, another infringement spotted however Norwich keep the pressure on, Parker curling the delivery wide.

Ella Gambell

GOAL! Norwich looking strong full of running, Tomlinson deep cross from the left into the box Smith looking to attack it  dragged down as she goes to shoot, the referee immediately pointing to the spot. Penalty! Strauss to take the spot kick, a short run up but a powerful hit smashing the ball into the right side of the goal, Williams dives the right way but can’t get close to it 0-4.

Hope Strauss fires home Norwich’s penalty

Hope Strauss

Strauss has has had a fantastic season for Norwich. Can recall a time in the early days of Women’s Football East, when she was a young up coming player within the Billericay Town Women’s set-up, Kim Coster telling me how good a player she was, great to see that development. Under 20 minutes left to play it’s all Norwich.

Wroxham struggling to get the ball into their attackers in the 2nd half forced onto the back foot. Lucy Eagle coming on to go up top for Wroxham, Middleton coming off. Gambell booked for Wroxham after she brings Tomlinson down. Tomlinson subbed off moments later, Charlotte Pernet. Norwich in full control how Wroxham tiring pinned back, a high ball in from the right taken by Williams.

Norwich pushing on up the right to the by-line the cross cut back into the near post Snelling looking to get on the end of it, Alexander in to block for Wroxham. Kett coming off at the back for Wroxham, Hodgson sent back on. Snelling brought off, by Norwich Shannon Shaw going on up top. Pernet on the left level with the top of the area puts in into Shaw top corner of the box rolls her defender to send a shoot arching in towards goal, William s diving to push the ball away from goal falls straight to the onrushing Smith smashes her first time shot wide past the far post.

Eagle seeing he ball down into her feet turns to clip a diagonal ball long into the Norwich area looking for Densley breaking forwards, Strauss heading the ball clear. Symonds getting on with the ball on the left running into the box sees her cross blocked by Robson.

GOAL! Into the last 5 minutes Norwich press on the right the ball inside to Symonds bursts into the area her shot blocked the loose ball running across the face of goal, Smith rushing in to blast the ball home to get herself on the score sheet 0-5.

Ellie Smith gets her goal

Morran grabbing hold of the ball 25 yards out unleashing a strike, put straight at Williams back on her goal line. Knights returning to the pitch as the club brings off their captain Anna Larkins for one last time, rightly getting a standing ovation from the Norwich faithful.

Knights running onto the ball played into Shaw who send a shot racing past the far post on the angle. Hodgson defending closing in on Symonds as she looks to turn on the ball right side of the D.

GOAL! A corner conceded on the right, Norwich play it short rolled back to the taker played up the line Daviss firing the ball back into the area, the ball deflected for a moment the crowd are silent as no one reacts the ball creeping inside the right post however, a 6th goal scored, unfortunately an own goal 0-6.

An unfortunate own goal as the ball creeps in inside the post

Wroxham’s opportunities in attack few and far between in the 2nd half late on Densley gets on down the right, but can’t pick out Alexander inside the box from her cross. Norwich with one last push the ball fed into Symonds right side looks to send it on for Shaw making a move to get into the box, Williams running out to the top of her area getting there first. That’s it all over the final whistle blows and Norwich win 6-0 to retain the County Cup.

Full time Wroxham FC Women 0-6 Norwich City Women

  Norwich ramped it up 2nd half getting straight on the attack to quickly double their lead though Katie Knights, ringing the changes Lauren Tomlinson crossing the ball in for Natasha Snelling to head in Norwich’s 3rd. Wroxham fought hard at the back, but often penned in their box found it difficult to get anything going the other way. Norwich kept coming a 4th coming from the penalty spot, a couple of late goals sealing a dominant win to retain the county cup. Wroxham had injuries but will be hugely disappointed feel they could have posed a few more questions going forwards if they were prepared to give it a go still at 1 nil at half-time did okay and had the early goals not gone in the 2nd half might have fancied their chances. Still have to pick themselves up another huge game around the corner the ERWFL League Cup still to contest. A fifth placed league finish and two cup finals giving the club and excellent base to build on for next season whatever the out come. Will be there to see them in action at Newmarket on Sunday. Norwich finishing their season on a high retaining the county cup after a strong FAWNL campaign finishing 2nd losing just the one game by a single goal. Looking for a new manager to take the club forwards as they aim for promotion to the 3rd tier.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto the 3rd and final Women’s Football East – Player of the Match of a busy spell of cup finals, a few contenders but won’t veer from the player awarded on the night. Wroxham battle hard were pinned back for most of the game little room for defenders to manoeuvre, Lauren Kett in particular making a number of vital blocks and tackles. Bryony Williams understandably distraught to concede 6 goals but nevertheless made some critical saves and no doubt kept her side in it 1st half. Lara Densley a threat on the right got forwards when she could just needed more support. Norwich were rampant in attack right from the start taking the game to Wroxham, powering down the wings doubling up at times players rotating positions. Katie Knight getting about to win the ball high, Ceri Flye surging forwards linking up with Holly Kennard. Hope Strauss comfortable at the back ready to stifle any threat used the ball well. Natasha Snelling getting into some great scoring positions. The award though goes to Ellie Smith moved about the back line looking for the ball and to set up chances for herself and others.

Ellie Smith collecting her player of the match award

 Congratulations to Norwich City Women on retaining the Norfolk Women’s County Cup.

Norwich captain, Anna Larkins collecting the county cup trophy in her final game for Norwich

Norwich City Women 2023/24 Norfolk Women’s County Cup winners

 Another fantastic occasion at Carrow Road. Norfolk FA doing a great job, very grateful to get the opportunity to cover the final once again. Thanks for the help this evening. 3 finals in two days, makes for a busy schedule, 3 reports done, sleep sacrificed but it’s all done and dusted for another year… well till next weekend anyway 5 more finals to come… wouldn’t have it any other way.

by Darren Gilham

Cup Final Special – FC Viking & Valkyries Women v Bure Valley Women

Sunday 12th May

Norfolk Women’s League Plate

Onto the 2nd of today’s 11-a-side finals the Norfolk Women’s League Plate, this season an all Division Two contest with FC Viking & Valkyries Women taking on Bure Valley Women, both enjoying a strong campaign in the league, looks set to be great contest.

The League Plate contested by the sides knocked out of the early rounds of the League Cup. Usually featuring a top division side knocked out early on in the League Cup it is a coo for Division Two to see lower division sides contest the cup… well plate. Silverware nonetheless.

This afternoon’s prize

In between the League and Cup Finals, the Women’s 7’s final, a popular league featuring two Division across the county this years final between cup holders Mulbarton Wanderers Ladies and Left Field FC Women. A single goal settling the game, Mulbarton successfully defending the trophy to lift the cup for the 2nd successive season. Well done.

Norwich based, FC Vikings & Valkyries Women are enjoying a successful 3rd season playing women’s football. Manager Ben Binder seeing the club formed in 2021, initially struggled for results finished bottom of the league in their debut season but as I’ve seen several times before a side that can stick together during those tough early years will grow stronger and so is the case with the Valkyries, 9th the following season but ended the season with only 9 in their final match, have added to their squad since going from strength to strength into this season on the tails of the title chasers for much of the campaign in the top 5 are currently 4th in the table winning 14 out of the 22 league matches played so far picking up some good results along the way and reaching their 1st ever cup final. That success no doubt helped by having the top scorer in the league with Jessica Bennett leading Bure Valley’s MacMillan with 41 goals for the campaign scored in just 15 matches. Charlotte Kenny also into double figures with 17 goals so far.

Norfolk Women’s Division Two growing this season with the introduction of 8 new sides at the start of the season, and with the new blood an exciting title battle has been going on throughout the season and with a handful of matches left two have emerged to fight out top position, Stalham Town Ladies and one of today’s Plate finalists, Bure Valley Women. Win there two remaining league matches and Bure Valley Women will be crowned Division Two champions after reforming their women’s side this season. A strong youth section within the club their young side with their sights set on a league a cup double. Captain, Emma MacMillan the clubs top scorer, rattling in 38 goals so far this season. A strong attack too with Maisie Redgrave and Willow Nye on target for 23 and 17 goals respectfully. 

Road to the Final

  Dropping into the Plate competition FC Viking & Valkyries Women were handed a tough 1st Round draw at home to title contenders, Mundford FC Ladies but with their opponents unable to field a team for the game were handed the home win to advance. Bure Valley Women too had a tough 1st Round tie but home advantage as they took on fellow title challengers, Stalham Town Women, hat-trick from Emma MacMillan, plus a goal each for Maisie Redgrave, Willow Nye and Kathleen Tully making it look comfortable in the finish with Bure Valley Women winning 6-1

Into the the quarter finals, FC Viking & Valkyries at home taking on Division one outfit, North Walsham Town Ladies. An entertaining game, finished 3-3 after 90 minutes it was FC Viking & Valkyries that would go onto find the winning goal to take it 3-4 in extra time to progress into the last 4 of the competition. Bure Valley Women advancing to the semi-finals as they were awarded the home win against SWFC Lingwood Ladies who were to fold soon after.

A strong semi-final line-up FC Viking & Valkyries Women away to the side arguably favourites of the entire competition itself, Mulbarton Wanderers Women Development, however having shown good goal scoring form throughout the season, Jessica Bennett was on target twice with Leah Walthew also finding the back of the net to see FC Viking & Valkyries cause a shock winning 3-1 to reach their first ever final. Bure Valley Women away to fellow Division Two side Beccles Town Ladies Development in the last 4. Emma MacMillan on the scoresheet along with Willow Nye and Romily McLaggan securing the visitors a 3-1 win to reach the final in their debut season.

The pitch looking great at Aylsham FC

  Aylsham FC’s Youngs Park hosting the NWGFL Finals weekend, a busy day yesterday with the youth finals, the three senior women’s finals today. Refuelled with a cheeseburger from the barbeque, headed back to the main pitch for my 2nd final of the day, the pitch looking great. The weather remaining very warm a slight breeze and starting out in the sun despite being lathered up would burn a little, but always do before I start to tan. Better than the wet weather we been accustomed too these past few weeks.

FC Viking & Valkyries Women

FC Viking & Valkyries starting XI – Hannah Tims, Rhiannon Tims (C), Paige Hill, Maddie Smith, Imey Bird, Liv Crabtree, Megan Bird, Evie Tolson, Carla Blundell, Leah Walthew & Jess Bennett. Subs – Alesha Vincent, Ellie Jarmy, Emily Ross, Rosie Ryan & Charlotte Kenny.

Bure Valley Women

 Bure Valley Women starting XI – Danielle Barnes, Abbie Cushion, Jasmine Snelling, Madeline Frost, Romily McLaggan, Eva Heald, Lily Norman, Megan Swain, Emma Macmillan (C), Willow Nye & Maisie Redgrave.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

Captains Rhiannon Tims & Emma Macmillan with today’s match officials

 It’s Bure Valley to take the kick-off in the first half attacking into the sun, wearing their away colours white shirts with vertical green stripes, white shorts and socks. The Valkyries as I shall refer to them from now on wearing red coloured shirts with black shorts and socks lined up opposite. The ball played back to Megan Swain in the midfield sends it out to the right lifted forwards for Maisie Redgrave in attack the Valkyries defence seeing it out for a throw.

 Valkyries close in to press the ball, Liv Crabtree lifting the ball forwards, Jess Bennett up front looking to pull off the centre back, Jasmine Snelling holding her position for Bure Valley, intercepting the ball to clear. Played forwards into captain Emma Macmillan turns on the ball to lay it into the left channel for Willow Nye, taking it in her strike driving for the area, Maddie Smith coming across to close her down win the ball back for the Valkyries.

Valkyries Maddie Smith tackling Bure Valley’s Maisie Redgrave

  Madeline frost on the left for Bure Valley plays the ball on for Nye, getting on down the line tracking inside, Macmillan coming over to support taking on the ball, Smith in position to make the blocking tackle halt the attack. Valkyries, Evie Tolson plays the ball on for Carla Blundell advancing on the right, her cross into the box cleared at the far post out to the left. Valkyries competitive at the start of the game winning a free-kick deep on the right, played up into the top of the area, Leah Walthew looks to take the ball right get into the area, tackled by Bure Valley’s Abby Cushion.

Bure Valley’s Abbie Cushion

  Blundell presses to nick the ball on the right taking it up the line, Cushion gets back at her to put in the challenge regain possession. Valkyries getting players up well, a diagonal ball played out to Jess Bennett on the move up the left wing her cross blocked. Valkyries bringing good support with them, vocal too, the men’s team there to support the women’s team good to see. Smith across to help Imey Bird as Redgrave looks to attack with the ball on the right. Nye wrapping her foot round the ball lifting a diagonal ball from the left into the area, headed clear by Smith.

 An even start to the game. Macmillan taking the ball into her feet setting forwards into the right channel with Redgrave up with her wide, Smith across, as Imey Bird makes the blocking tackle the ball cleared up field. Macmillan looking to get forwards support Redgrave and Nye on the wings, over to the left this time plays in Nye who jinks inside heading for the box, Valkyries captain Rhiannon Tims stretching out a leg to win the ball back play it clear.

Valkyries captain, Rhiannon Tims

  The ball struck into the box from distance, caught well, high by Valkyries goalkeeper, Hannah Tims. Valkyries turning play around through the middle on for Bennett up top drives on Snelling on her shoulder the defender stays on her well to get a foot in to clear the ball. Valkyries using there strength and experience to good effect pressuring the ball in the Bure Valley half Blundell inside for Bennett central her shot from distance taking a nick off a defenders left runs safely through to goalkeeper, Danielle Barnes.

 GOAL! Valkyries attack up the left the, Walthew playing the ball in central, Bennett onto it 20 yards out, isn’t closed down, takes her opportunity putting her foot through the ball rifling it past the diving keeper into the back of the net 1-0. 

Jess Bennett fires Valkyrie into the lead

15 minutes on the clock Valkyries taking the lead having make a positive start to the game, Bure Valley with the ball left Frost on down the line for Nye stretching to keep the ball in play, sets off down the line, Macmillan racing over to offer support the pair playing a one two between them, Nye after the return ball, Smith has gotten across the defence to put her foot through the ball.

  Macmillan snatching hold of the ball central 25 yards out shoots early, dragging it wide of the left post, Tims across to gather. Tolson falling awkwardly hurting her elbow, needs treatment, referee, Paul Gibson using the pause to signal the first drinks break. Tolson sore but able to play on. Play resume, Valkyries encouraged by their start pushing on Blundell firing the ball into Bennett coming right to receive the ball a neat flick off her boot to spin in behind her marker, turn towards the box, Snelling though across on the cover in to clear the ball.

Carla Blundell on the ball for Valkyries

  Romily McLaggan passing to Macmillan in the middle turns to clip it on for Redgrave breaking on down the right wing, Smith in between jumping to intercept heads the ball up field. Valkyries working hard to close the ball down, effective Crabtree with Tolson up to Bennett, tries to roll Snelling but the young defender gets her leg in to nick the ball off her. Megan Bird taking the ball on through the middle for Valkyries, Macmillan tracking back sliding in to regain possession but can’t pick anyone out up front. Paige Hill getting hold of the ball for Valkyries. 

 Bure Valley making a change bringing off Nye, send in Emily Addison to join the attack. Valkyries with a throw high on the left players up, Bure Valley win the ball, launch a counter attack, the ball played long for Redgrave, Hill into challenge force the pacy attacker off the ball. Eva Heald winning the ball in the middle for Bure Valley getting forwards, looking to play in Redgrave on the right, Smith stretching out a leg to cut the pass out.

  Seeing the ball into her feet, Blundell central with a clever turn getting in behind her marker, runs towards the box, Snelling lunging in knocking the ball behind for a corner on the left. Players up from the back for Valkyries, the delivery looping down at the far post, Smith under drills her header wide past the post.

Bure Valley defender, Jasmine Snelling

  Plenty of energy being expanded despite the heat, Bure Valley with the ball in the middle frustrated by the Valkyries defence, Cushion up to Addison left, Macmillan heading for a gap, in behind, Addison tries to pick her out, Hill getting a foot on the ball to kill the move. Bure Valley coming on through the middle Heald into Swain out to Addison left down the line her cross cut out by Hill turned behind for a corner kick. Flashed in across the six yard box to the far post, Swain getting her head on the ball knocking it down towards goal, the defender on the post there to block and clear the ball.

  Macmillan, Bure Valley’s play maker with the ball at her feet twists and turns 20 yards out squeezing a shot away right of the D, runs in low Tims right behind it to scoop up into her gloves. Crabtree sending the ball on for Bennett through the middle, drives on towards the area, Snelling on her shoulder lunging to get a foot on the ball. Blundell gives chase to her own ball as she knocks forwards on the right, Cushion going with her the pair tangling, going down Bure valley aggrieved to have given away the free-kick. Bennett over it encouraged to have a go on goal, clips the ball in towards the far corner her attempt over.

Megan Swain

   Swain forwards into Macmillan on the right with Redgrave the pair combine, Redgrave sending the return pass inside for her captain, Macmillan’s shot 20 yards out charged down the sting took out of it as the ball runs in behind safe in the keepers gloves. Megan Bird sending the ball out to the left for Walthew, takes the ball inside, Norman tackling to win the ball back for Bure Valley, forwards into Swain, Macmillan making a move across the D left to right, Swain can’t pick her out as Smith steps out to intercept the ball.

Maddie Smith

  Addison tracking infield with the ball across the top of the D, tries to get a shot away, lacks the power to trouble Tims back on her goal line. Bennett peeling left as the ball is plays into her from the middle 30 yards out turns inside to shot on the angle, Barnes has it covered at her near post. Macmillan on for Addison up top, Smith in to defend for Valkyries, Macmillan grabbing hold of the loose ball looks to drive at the defence herself, no way through however slide it out to Redgrave wide on the right, cuts her cross back up to Macmillan outside the box, leaning back into her shot strikes the ball over the bar. 

Bure Valley captain, Emma Macmillan

  Bennett with a heavy tackle on Heald giving away the free-kick. Played up towards the top of the Valkyrie area the ball headed clear Valkyries come right, on for Blundell to attack up the right wing strong running Cushion doing well on her shoulder, holding her off putting the the challenge the ball coming off the attacker, behind for the goal kick. The first half almost down Bennett off a throw on the right turns on the angle 30 yards out places her shot straight at the keeper.

Half-time FC Viking & Valkyries Women 1-0 Bure Valley Women

  Half-time, a good first half performance from Valkyries sees them leading the Plate final as they retreat to the shade offered by the small stand beside their dugout for their half-time team talk. Have worked hard to compete for the ball, matching Bure Valley in the first 45 minutes. Encouraged by their fans have get about the pitch after the ball, and not sat back inviting pressure. Have put a lot of energy into the half though and with the heat will be intriguing to see if they can keep it up. Bure Valley doing okay competing well winning the ball getting forwards just coming up against a stubborn defence that isn’t leaving any gaps in behind. A single goal in it all to play for 2nd half.

  Bure Valley making changes at the start of the 2nd half bringing on Maisie Gibbs and Anya Sadler at the back along with Nye back on to the left. Redgrave now through the middle, Cushion, Norman and McLaggan off. No changes as yet for Valkyries get the 2nd half underway, Bure valley immediately in to try and close the ball down competing in the middle the ball out for a throw on the right. 

  Snelling with a good tackle on Bennett as the Valkyries forward gets on the move heading for the box with the ball. Valkyries winning a free-kick in the middle, put long up into the box Bennett pulling in behind after it, but travels safely through to goalkeeper, Barnes. Smith coming across with Redgrave as she goes after the ball right side, cleared high for a throw. Dropped into Addison 20 yards out chests it down into the path of Swain who smashes her strike wide of the near post. 

  Smith is moving across her defence well, reading the game in front of her, seeing where Bure Valley are trying to play the ball and cutting it out. Bure valley pushing up Swain getting forwards better moving right feeds the pass inside for Redgrave up top turns her shot blocked, player up Bure Valley press forcing a corner on the right. Tims in goal coming for the ball half cleared Swain playing it back to Addison on the right sends the ball back into the box, caught by Tims at her near post.

  Bure Valley looking to win the ball inside the Valkyries half committing players forwards, risking the counter, Crabtree challenging for Valkyries brings the ball away lifting it on for Blundell right channel has Bennett pulling into space ahead of her seeing the ball into her feet shoots wide across goal from 25 yards out. 

 

  Smith up well to head the ball clear, lands at Tolson’s feet lifts it on for Walthew sprinting away down the left wing, the ball over the top, the offside flag is raised against her halting the run. Valkyries battling, determined, Bure Valley struggling to find a way to unlock them. Gibbs winning the ball high for Bure Valley playing a diagonal ball into the right channel, Redgrave racing after it, Megan Bird their first however to clear for Valkyries. 

 

  Snelling does well at the back isolated against Bennett as Crabtree lifts the ball p to the attacker, strong to challenge take the ball off her feet. Macmillan succeeds in playing the ball over the Valkyrie defence on the left with Nye racing into the space beyond after it, Tims though is alert, quick to get out of her area and kick the ball clear. Is an open contest, Valkyries with their 1 goal lead fighting to hold the advantage, Bure Valley asking the questions probing.

Evie Tolson

 Valkyrie playing the ball clear out to Walthew running away on the left wing taking the ball into her path tracks into the box looking to shoot across the keeper, the block comes in deflected behind off Walthew for the goal kick. Hill cutting the ball out as Nye looks to get on the end of Heald’s pass into the left channel the throw conceded crossed into the D, almost picks out Addison, the ball sliced behind for a corner kick. The ball dropping into the crowded six yard box, Valkyries scrambling it clear, drinks break called, they take on some much needed fluids, full of nervous energy are pumped up knowing the win is there for the taking.

  Make a change before play resumes, Walthew coming off, Rosie Ryan coming on goes to the right with Blundell coming left. Bure Valley ready to go again, Addison and Nye switching flanks. 

  GOAL! The ball played up the left for Bure Valley into Addison 25 yards out put inside to Nye central top of the D, Valkyries don’t move to close her down and she takes her chance striking the ball in towards the left post, Tims diving can’t reach it and bure Valley equalise with 17 minutes left to play! 1-1.

Willow Nye scores the equaliser for Bure Valley

  Bure Valley back on level terms push on Sadler into the middle Heald playing the pass into Macmillan pulling into the left channel, Rhiannon Tims tackling for Valkyries. Bure Valley tails up now as they press high, Smith clearing for Valkyries. Norman returning to the game for Bure Valley, Frost coming off. Megan Bird sends the ball up to Bennett out to the right 25 yards out powers her shot into the side netting. Another change for Bure Valley, Gibbs off, Cushion back on at the back. 

  Bennett battling to get into the box, fouling Cushion. The game tense, Hill hooking the ball clear as Macmillan turns play around in the middle. Bure Valley have swain on the ball left side Addison ahead of her no way through, but play brought back for a foul with no advantage. Bure Valley making another change before it’s taken McLaggan back onto the field for Nye. Sadler over the free-kick shoots over.

Romily McLaggan

  Mistakes being made by both sides as the clock runs down, Crabtree looking the ball, Smith comes steaming in to clear. Blundell attacking down the left getting into the box, Snelling on her challenging the ball off the attacker for a gaol-kick. Bennett shoots, as Barnes presents the ball straight to her 20 yards out narrowly over the crossbar. McLaggan getting hold of the ball on the right for Bure Valley turning a cross into the top of the area, cleared by Hill for Valkyries. 

 The clock ticking down extra-time looming, Barnes out to the to of her box to lay claim to the ball as Ryan on the right attempts to put Bennett in behind. A free-kick to Bure Valley in the right corner as McLaggan is fouled, cleared out of the area to the left Bennett, coming inside, McLaggan getting back to close her down running her off the ball, the pair come together, the ball back with Sadler put back to her keeper. It all kicks off following the ball so didn’t see all of it Bennett squaring up to McLaggan, the referee on top of it settling things down and having a word with both individually, both shown the yellow card. Tense out there no time left we head to extra-time.

Full time FC Viking & Valkyries Women 1-1 Bure Valley Women

  Bure Valley fighting back to get back on level terms taking their chance on the one occasion Valkyries stood off the ball, Nye taking the opportunity. Valkyries having worked so had to keep it at 1 nil need to find more resolve as the managers give out their instructions.

Ben Binder giving words of encouragement as his team prepare for extra-time

Likewise Martin Redhead for Bure Valley

Extra-time

  Bure Valley to kick-off the first half of extra time the sides swapping ends Bure Valley with the setting sun at their backs. The ball played out to Cushion on the left forwards for Addison, Rhiannon Tims defending. Nye back on for Redgrave at the start of extra-time. 

Bennett has her shot blocked by Snelling 20 yards out, Sadler comes away with the ball on the right up to Addison, turns inside but can’t make any in roads. Both sides putting their all into the game, McLaggan on the right with Macmillan sides the ball across the top of the area looking for Addison, Tims in goal sharp to react racing out to clear for a throw. Valkyries making a double switch, Walthew coming back on along with Charlotte Kenny, Ryan and Tolson coming off. 

 Lively game opening up neither side settling for penalties. Crabtree caught in the stomach from a high foot as Swain goes to clear the ball on the corner of her area. No malice the free-kick awarded Swain making sure Crabtree’s okay. The set-piece on the corner of the area, fired in towards the far post no runner coming on goes wide out of play. Bure Valley pushing up on the right, McLaggan 20 out seeing the ball don off her chest into Macmillan’s feet, slides the ball into the box for Nye breaking free, Tims can grab it up into her gloves first. 

 GOAL! The game stretched Bure Valley committing players forwards Valkyries counter the ball up to Kenny through the middle with Bennett plays the ball into her as she continues her run, Bennett feeding the ball in behind the defence into Kenny’s path free to attack as she bursts into the box, the substitute with a clinical finish blasting the ball past the keeper into the back of the net to restore Valkyries lead in extra-time 2-1.

Substitute Charlotte Kenny fires Valkyries back into the lead

  A huge blow for Bure Valley get straight down the other end McLaggan right playing a one tow inside to Nye sending the return pass over from 20 yards out.

  GOAL! Valkyries hit Bure Valley on the counter the ball launched up to Bennett up top the striker in a race with Snelling into the box looking to get onto the end of the ball, Barnes comes rushing out to close her down, Bennett nicking the ball past her as she dives in colliding with Bennett, the referee pointing to the spot! Penalty! Both players down in need of treatment a long delay before the penalty can be taken. Bennett back on her feet, Barnes coming off the worst slowly up back to her goal line as Smith places the ball on the spot. Their no fancy stuff, the ball is blasted down the middle, Barnes not getting near it as Valkyries extend their lead 3-1!

Maddie Smith extends Valkyries lead from the spot

Half-time extra-time FC Viking & Valkyries Women 3-1 Bure Valley Women

  Bure Valley with a mountain to climb now falling 2 goals behind in extra-time send Redgrave back on adding to the attack as Valkyries get the final 15 minutes underway, played back to Smith in defence, lifts it forwards into Crabtree who sends Walthew away on the left, Sadler in to close her down win the ball back for Bure Valley. 

 Bure Valley have to take risks have an extra attacker up top now . Valkyries with a corner on the left put high into the box, Kenny knocking it down, Blundell with the snap shot a defender in the way the ball deflected behind for a 2nd corner. Played in long Smith stretching for it stabs her effort wide. 

Charlotte Kenny

 Redgrave fighting to get onto the ball through the middle as Smith looks to hold her off with Tims coming, not risking it clears behind for a corner kick. Cleared Valkyries get the ball up to the right Kenny on the move playing the ball inside to Bennett, 20 yards out Sadler in to close her down winning the ball. 

Macmillan launches the ball forwards for Redgrave to chase right of goal, Tims rushing out to the top of her area to get hold of it. Time running down Blundell moves to run the ball into the corner. Valkyries keeping the ball at the right end of the pitch. Cleared up to Addison left, Rhiannon Tims holding her up eventually squeezes a ball into the area but Redgrave can’t reach it before the keeper clears for a throw. Swain bringing the ball down off the throw putting into Macmillan central, goes with the outside of her boot the shot into the keeper. 

 Into the dying moment Valkyries left Walthew winning a corner, taken short held up in the corner before the cross is eventually played behind, no time left for Bure Valley to get it forwards the whistle blows and it’s the underdogs that win the 2nd final of the day. Valkyries celebrating with their fans 

Full time extra-time FC Viking & Valkyries Women 3-1 Bure Valley Women

 A fantastic win for FC Viking & Valkyries Women formed just 3 season’s ago, struggling in the early days now about to lift their first piece of silverware. A fighting display made a good start encouraged defended well and Bennett took her chance to fire them into the lead. Held on for so long Bure Valley struggling to find a way through but got their chance and took it, Nye equalising to send the game into extra-time. Charlotte Kenny coming off the bench with a clinical finish to restore their lead in the first half of extra-time, Bennett winning a penalty to see Smith finish the game off from the spot. Shows the cup run was no fluke and the whole squad played it’s part in getting them here. Heart break for Bure Valley in the finish but gave it there all. Still have the league title to play for and to be in this position in their debut season is fantastic.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

 Onto the 2nd Women’s Football East -Player of the Match. Several good performances out there this afternoon but there’s one clear winner in my opinion. First all all for Bure Valley, Jasmine Snelling was brilliant at the back getting in to win the ball and read the game well. Megan Swain won the ball in the middle played several useful balls forwards. Emma Macmillan get about the final 3rd doing all she could to unlock the Valkyries defence. A solid team performance from Valkyries had to dig deep at times and defended with a determination throughout. Jess Bennett a handful up front easy to see why she’s the league top scorer took her goal well. Carla Blundell caused problems on the right getting in behind and holding onto the ball. Charlotte Kenny coming off the bench taking her goal superbly. Credit to the entire defence, however as the game wore on I felt the only way Bure Valley were going to get a goal was if they could find a way past Maddie Smith but she didn’t let it happen read the game well getting across to support her full backs and intercepted the ball on numerous occasions, the penalty the icing on the cake.

FC Viking & Valkyries Women 2023/24 Norfolk Women’s League Plate winners

 Congratulations to FC Viking & Valkyries Women on winning this season’s Norfolk Women’s League Plate.

 Another enjoyable if busy NWGFL finals day comes to an end two reports to write up and someone shoved the County Cup Final on Monday night too, goodbye sleep! Two great games my thanks to all the clubs for their help today. The volunteers at Aylsham FC and the NWGFL committee members for their help today. 

by Darren Gilham

Cup Final Special – Bungay Town Ladies v UEA FC Women

Sunday 12th May

Norfolk Women’s League Cup Final

The football action coming from Norfolk this weekend, a busy schedule too with 3 finals in the space of 2 days starting this Sunday with a double bill from Norfolk Women and Girls League (NWGFL) starting with a 10:30am kick-off with Bungay Town Ladies taking on UEA FC Women for this season’s League Cup.

A busy weekend for all involved in the NWGFL finals with all the youth finals being played on Saturday at Aylsham FC and the venue hosting 4 women’s games today, as well as the League Cup & Plate finals, the Ladies 7 ‘s League Cup also taking place between Mulbarton Wanderers Women and Left Field FC Women plus a league match too from Division One with Aylsham FC Women taking on Costessey Sports Ladies in their final match of the season.

The Norfolk Women’s League Cup

Before all of that though the League Cup final. Bungay Town Ladies making it to another end of season cup final following their appearance in the Suffolk Women’s County Cup final last time out. That following a period of rebuilding the team at the start of the season that growth has continued into this season experienced players added to the squad that has propelled Bungay to the top of Division One with 3 games to play, looks to be between them and Sprowston FC Women for the title following the 12 point deduction to Caister FC Ladies for unwittingly fielding a banned player for 4 matches. 

  A busy end to the season Bungay playing catch up with their league fixtures powering their way to the top of the table with a 10-0 home with against Thorpe St Andrew Women on Wednesday evening to make it 6 straight league wins, unbeaten in 8 in total. There only league defeat to date against today’s cup final opponents UEA FC Women. Have plenty of goal scorers throughout the side with 18 different players on target throughout the campaign, Mia Rose top scorer with 13 goals, followed by Lauren Goulder who has since moved to Caister on 12. Zoe Cossey with 8 goals to her name along with Brooke Osborne who joined the club this season. 

  UEA FC Women (University of East Anglia) are into their 2nd successive Norfolk Women’s League Cup Final. Losing out to Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women last time around will be aiming to go one better this time out, knowing they are the only Division One side to beat Bungay Town Ladies this season. Currently in 7th spot in the table with one game left to play has been an inconsistent season winning as many as they have lost, struggling for a squad at times too have battled on and are more than capable of beating anyone on their day as the campaign results and cup run have shown. Records are a little sketchy in terms of goals scored however, Ella Burnley top scorer last season is leading the way too this time around.

Road to the Final

  Bungay beginning their League Cup campaign away in the 1st round taking on newly formed Mundford FC Ladies in Division Two. Lauren Goulder on target with a hat-trick it was a comfortable 7-0 win in the finish with Mia Rose, Brooke Osborne, Lauren Purling and Porsha Renwick also scoring a goal each. UEA FC Women’s first round trip to another newcomer Martham FC Ladies was awarded as an away win.

Into the 2nd Round another potential banana skin for Bungay as they hosted early Division Two leaders, Bure Valley Women at maltings Meadow. Looked to be the case too with the game ending 2-2 on the final whistle and going into extra-time. However Bungay found the extra gear to power home 5 goals to take it 7-2 in the extra period. 7 different scorers too with Goulder, Cossey, Osborne, Purling, Selina Rowland, Ciera Flatt and Lola barber King all getting goals.

Into the quarter finals, Bungay were at home once again taking on fellow Division One side Caister Ladies. The result has since been declared Void and Bungay Town Ladies advanced into the semi-finals. UEA FC Women also taking on Division One opposition travelling to play Long Stratton Women. Marched into the last 4 of the competition courtesy of a 4-0 victory.

Bungay were to progress into the final without kicking a ball, having been drawn away to fellow Division One side Aylsham FC Women, their hosts were having some troubles getting a squad together during that period and ultimately the away win was awarded. UEA FC Women had a tough semi-final draw but home advantage taking on Division one title challengers Sprowston FC Women. A close contest the sides drawing 1-1 after 90 minute the game heading into extra-time it was UEA FC Women who would find the winning goal in the final minute of extra time from Ella Burnley sending them into the final.

Youngs Park, the venue for today’s Norfolk Women’s league Cup Final. The ground seeing a lot of construction taking place with a brand new 3G pitch being built beyond the main playing pitch. Earth from that construction moved to build up an embankment planted with trees behind the other goal hiding the allotments beyond. The clubhouse open the bar and kitchen serving hot food and drink with a barbeque being prepared for later in the day. A fantastic weekend weather wise, a bright sunny start to the day with a light breeze blowing across the pitch. The grass pitch one of the best kept in the county in great condition for today’s finals games.

The new 3G pitch under construction at Youngs Park

 Bungay Town Ladies starting XI – Chloe Pearce, Brooke Osborne Charnelle Riggall (C), Ruby Roos, Chloe Ellis, Laura Thacker, Ciera Flatt, Selina Rowland, Abigail Bell, Zoe Cossey & Mia Rose. Subs – Kate Pasque, Lucy Hood, Grace Storey, Porsha Renwick & Lila-Grace Eden.

Bungay Town Ladies

 UEA FC Women starting XI – Maisie Johnson, Evie Bloom, Tasha Harvey, Olivia Seeley, Lilly Brewer, Hannah Thompson (C), Abby Durrant, Cass Piejko, Katie Appleton. Neha Mann & Ella Burnley. Subs – Leah Edwards, Ellie Wilson, Pernille Nerland, Tegan Collier, Lashay Moses. 

UEA FC Women

(roll on roll off substitutes)

Captain’s Charnelle Riggall (Bungay) and Hannah Thompson (UEA) with today’s match officials

  UEA having done a lot of preparation before today’s final naming a full squad with 5 on the bench. Bungay too with 5 to call upon from the bench as the sides are led out onto the pitch. UEA to take the kick-off in the 1st half wearing yellow coloured shirts with navy shoulder’s navy shorts and socks, with Bungay lined up opposite wearing their blue coloured shirts with black shorts and socks. The ball rolled back into the defence, Bungay move to close the ball down UEA slow to get it out coming eft, Abigail Bell steals it and surges on into the right channel for Bungay looking to play it on for Mia Rose coming over to receive UEA goalkeeper, Maisie Johnson rushes out to the top of her area to kick the ball clear for a throw in.

  Bungay looking to press the ball early on Bell, tackling Abby Durrant, the UEA midfielder coming straight back at her to win the ball. Selina Rowland brought down in the middle as she attempts to get the ball moving for Bungay, no advantage play brought back for the free-kick. Ciera Flatt over the ball sends it high in towards the top of the area won by defender Olivia Seeley who carries it into the midfield. 

  UEA regain possession on the middle captain Hannah Thompson playing the ball out to the right, Ella Burnley up top linking up with Neha Mann on the right wing, probing down the line, keep the ball back up the line squared into Burnley’s feet is brought down winning a free-kick 30 yards out. Thompson over the set-piece has lifts it over the wall into the box, defended headed behind for a corner on the left. Defended at the near post knocked back out to the corner taker, played long out to the right, Mann keeping in alive in the corner winning a throw leading to another corner. 

 GOAL! The corner curled into the box dropping far post, scrambled clear but the referee spots a handball and points to the spot. Penalty! Burnley placing the ball on the spot ready to take the penalty, strike the ball hard sending it racing to the left side of the goal, Pearce diving the right way can only get the merest of touches not enough to keep it out as Burnley runs away in celebration having fired UEA into an early lead. 0-1.

Ella Burnley opens the scoring for UEA from the penalty spot.

  6 minutes on the clock a nervous start from Bungay haven’t get their passes going UEA sharp to close the ball down. Free-kicks being conceded. Clearing a Ruby Roos long throw at the back UEA play the ball long up the left with Burnley pulling wide looks to play it inside to Cass Piejko running in behind looking for the return ball, Osborne cutting the pass out for Bungay.

Bungay’s Brooke Osborne

  Laura Thacker on the ball central for Bungay lines up a shot from range her strike not having the power behind it to trouble Johnson. Lilly Brewer winning the ball at the back for UEA puts a diagonal ball into the middle Piejko helping it on for Burnley peeling right running down the wing takes on the shot on the angle her low drive covered by Pearce down at her near post to gather. UEA gaining confidence from their bright start moving the ball quickly. 

Cass Piejko on the ball for UEA

 Flatt playing the ball up the left for Zoe Cossey to attack runs into the corner before lifting a high cross into the box, Bell coming in far post, Evie Bloom defending for UEA turning it behind for a corner kick. Fired into the penalty box, Thacker getting something on the ball before Rowland attacks it but can only place the ball into the keepers gloves. A clash of heads between Thacker and Katie Appleton as they go to head the ball, play stopped by both are soon back to their feet.

Bungay’s Ciera Flatt with UEA’s Abby Durrant

  Bungay winning a free-kick deep on the left, played up into the box, knocked back out falls straight to Osborne to the right of goal, on the angle strikes the ball a good hit rising, Johnson though shifting across her goal line gets her gloves up to knock the ball down to safely catch. UEA getting the ball forwards Piejko to Burnley out to Mann wide right looks to drive on, Bungay captain, Charnelle Riggall in to challenge the ball out for a throw. Osborne with the ball at her feet drives on up the left looking for Rose pulling across to the wing slides the ball on cut out by Bloom.

  GOAL! UEA double their advantage the ball helped on through the middle a fantastic ball to find Burnley back to goal top of the D, left, turns inside to get in behind and strikes the ball past the keeper before she can react to make it 0-2. 

Ella Burnley doubles UEA’s lead

Appleton is shown a yellow card after bringing down Bell in the middle. Flatt over the resulting free kick, lifts the ball into the box, easily gathered by Johnson in goal. Bungay clip the ball long up the left for Rose as she makes a run looking for the ball 20 yards out slides it across the top of the area looking for Rowland closing in to attack, Tasha Harvey lunging in with a foot to stab the ball clear. 

  Form the throw on the left, Riggall looks to dribble the ball into the box on the by-line lifts it high into the near post, Johnson there to pluck the ball down into the ground and snatch it into her gloves on the bounce. Bell latching onto a miscued goal kick from Johnson 25 yards out, looks for Rose as she turns to attack top of the areas however UEA hold their line catch the attacker offside. UEA making a change then bringing off Brewer, Ellie Wilson coming on. 

Bungay’s Abigail Bell

  Flatt on the ball coming across the midfield to play it into Osborne up on the left she sends it forwards into Bell just outside the box, looking to get the ball under control and turn inside, UEA get three defenders one her to crowd her off the ball. Flatt busy in the middle coming left putting the ball on for Bell her cross into the box is met by Rose, her attempt to shoot blocked at close range.

Bungay’s Zoe Cossey

  Bungay finding UEA’s defence tough to break down, Cossey coming into midfield with the ball puts it on for Rowland 25 yards out, puts her foot though the ball her shot whistling past the right post. 

Bungay’s Selina Rowland

  Bungay moving the ball sharper now looking to get forwards lifted over the top Rose breaks clear left channel, Johnson needs to come rushing out of her box to launch the ball upfield. Rose looking to link up with Bell as Bungay get the ball out to the right, Olivia Seeley helping out Bloom at the back the ball closed down well. Thacker up with Flatt in the middle the diagonal ball floated into the box right side with Bell making the run, Johnson out to challenge doesn’t get hold of the ball but on the floor is able to snatch it into her body before Bell can retrieve it.

UEA FC Women goalkeeper, Maisie Johnson.

  UEA making another change with Pernille Nerland coming on to take up a position on the left. Riggall battles her way forwards with the ball drifting in central before threading it on looking for Cossey, inside the D, looking to take the ball on a defender gets a leg in to deflect the ball out of her path. Flatt taking a heavy knock for Bungay, down in the middle, needing treatment a pause in play.

  Play resumes UEA win a free-kick on the right put into the box, cleared by Osborne. Bungay’s turn to win a free-kick out wide dropped into the box, scrambled away to the top of the area, falls to Thacker snatches at her shot lifting it over. Bloom gets forwards on the left for UEA, up with Nerland the pair exchanging passes, Nerland turning infield, Rowland getting out to close her down regain possession for Bungay.

Evie Bloom

  Nerland is brought down on the left UEA awarded a free-kick 30 yard out. Harvey to play it into the area, too close to the keeper, Pearce taking it high at her near post. Rowland winning the ball back high on the right played into 18 in the middle lifts it over the defence for Rose to attack, in behind, Johnson out quickly to get her fist on the ball knock it out of danger before Rose can meet it. Bungay a little rushed at time need to settle on the ball, Thacker on for Flatt plays it to Rose 25 yards out right of the D, sends her early strike wide of the near post.

Olivia Seeley

  UEA winning the ball at the back, Seeley clearing as Rose looks to see it into her feet off Bell. Thompson passing forwards onto Piejko, looks to play Burnley in on the right channel, a race into the box with Ellis on her shoulder the defender strong getting her body between the ball and attacker to see it back to her keeper to clear. 

  Riggall carrying the ball on well up Bungay’s left playing it into Rose inside the D, looks to bring it down under control off her cheat, Harvey knocking it away from her. Bell rushing in on the ball looks to take it on into the area but is quickly conversed upon, no way through. 

 Into the close moments of the first half Bungay attacking on the left Riggall on for Cossey comes inside and on the turn 25 yards out strikes the ball, her shot narrowly over brushing the roof of the net. Cossey inside with Flatt taking the ball on her shot, blocked 20 yards out.

Half-time Bungay Town Ladies 0-2 UEA FC Women

  Two strikes from Ella Burnley early in the first half seeing UEA holding a 2-0 lead at the break. Started the game well getting on the front foot in to close the ball down and move it forwards quickly. Bungay a little nervy at the start frustrated feel they haven’t got going yet, competing well enough not getting players up to support Rose in attack quickly the UEA defence comfortable closing down. Started to play better towards the end of the half creating a few opportunities and at 2-0 the game is far from settled an early goal in the 2nd half and Bungay are right back in it. 

  Changes for both sides at the start of the 2nd half. Bungay bringing on Grace Storey on with Flatt who had received a knock in the first half off. Storey going into the back line Osborne coming into the middle. UEA with Lashay Moses on up top in place of Burnley with Brewer back on replacing Wilson. Positional changes as Bungay get the 2nd half underway, UEA in the close the ball down straight away Bungay smuggle it out to Rowland coming left has Riggall on the move down the wing, Thompson coming across to close the ball down for UEA.

  UEA feed the ball up top into Moses helps it out to Mann on the right looking to get it under control, Ellis and Riggall combine to win the ball back.

UEA’s Neha Mann looking to get past Bungay’s Chloe Ellis and Charnelle Riggall

  Thompson on for Piejko lifts the ball out to Mann attacking on the right her cross squared into the top of the six yard box Moses stretching for it, Thacker blocking for Bungay. Mann working hard on the right winning UEA a corner kick. A determined start to the 2nd half from UEA. Durrant to curl the ball into the six yard box drops down into a crowd of players, Rowland scrambling it clear for Bungay.

Rowland seeing the ball into her feet 30 yards out left as Riggall storms on down the wing, looks to supply the return pass, Riggall, running into Harvey as she reaches the top of the area the defender playing the ball clear. Osborne over a Bungay free-kick on the right, lifted in towards the far post, Rowland stoops to head the ball, nods it wide of the upright.

UEA’s Tasha Harvey

  Cossey getting the ball on down the left looks to launch it up to the attackers, hurting herself as she goes down, is some concern as she receives treatment and has to come off a blow for Bungay, send Lila-Grace Eden on to join Rose up top. Harvey winning the ball well at the back for UEA coming forwards playing the ball up to Piejko moving left, Roos into defend for Bungay. 

Bungay defender, Ruby Roos

  A double change for UEA with Moses and Piejko coming off, Burnley back on along with Nerland with almost an hour played. Scrappy at times, the play and language colourful at times. UEA frustrating Bungay breaking up play keeping it solid at the back. Nerland taking the ball up the left wing cutting inside into the area playing it central for Mann, Ellis nicking it off her bringing the ball clear for Bungay.

Pernille Nerland

  Harvey picking up a yellow card for UEA, the free-kick to the right of the circle, Osborne floated the ball up into the area, Mann fighting to get hold of it getting it clear for UEA. Bungay frustrated things not happening, UEA working hard to get hold of the ball, Thompson breaking up play patrolling in front of her defence.

UEA captain, Hannah Thompson

 Appleton feeding the ball on for Burnley into the left channel knocks it up the line for Nerland to chase to the by-line just a little too much on it. Rowland knocking the ball on for Riggall powering up the left turned infield, the blocking tackle from Thompson, Osborne regaining possession of the loose ball right of goal drives into the box, Seeley challenging to win the ball for UEA. A drinks break called both sides over to the bench for fluids and instructions.

  Osborne with Rowland central for Bungay, playing the ball into Eden left of the box, turns inside running into the D looking for a shooting opportunity, Thompson sliding in to tackle for UEA. Changes for both sides, Tegan Collier taking up a position on the right for UEA, Flatt back on for Bungay. Osborne has her shirt pulled as she attempts to drive on through the middle for Bungay the free-kick awarded Flatt to send it into the box dropping far post cleared back out to the right, lifted back in high Johnson up to catch the ball. 

  The game opening up as Bungay commit players forwards UEA countering through the middle the ball on for Burnley to chase, Thacker on her shoulder as Pearce comes rushing out to the top of her area, just about wins the ball as Burnley goes down over her, the striker appealing but nothing doing. 

  Time running out for Bungay to get themselves back into the game winning a throw up on the right the ball comes into Riggall 20 yards out central, clips a shot in towards goal hr effort narrowly over the bar. UEA dropping everyone back now leaving Burnley up top on her own, Bungay getting down the flanks, but slow to get runners into the box. Brewer playing the ball up for Collier on the right attempts to thread the pass into Burnley’s path as she runs into the channel, Ellis going with her getting in the way to intercept the ball. Kate Pasque into the action for Bungay as they push players on looking for a goal.

  Rowland letting fly from range all of 30 yards out not troubling Johnson. Osborne inside on for Flatt 20 out, a defender getting something on the ball as she goes to shoot, enough to take the sting out of the ball see it run safely through to the keeper. Porsha Renwick coming on up top for Bungay, Eden coming off. Burnley seeing Appleton’s pass into her feet turns right of the D, looking to burst into the box, Ellis there to stick out a leg nick the ball.

Bungay’s Chloe Ellis

 Ellis bringing the ball on from the back played on for Flatt who in turn looks to set up Rose up top, Brewer tackling for UEA, Bungay pushing hard UEA proving stubborn to break down as the defence drops back, Osborne 25 yards out in the right channel screwing a shot wide. Into the last 5 minutes, with several minutes to be added for stoppages. Bungay pressing, attack right the cross send into the six yard box, UEA fight to get it clear. Seeley down in need of treatment.

  Renwick getting hold of the ball 20 yards out left side runs across the top of the D, tackled by Thompson the loose ball latched onto by Flatt, is charged down the ball screwed away to the right the shot on the angle fired back in across goal wide of the far post. Bungay applying pressure but UEA determined to hold out bring Burnley off, send Moses back on up top. Riggall inside for Osborne onto Ellis pushed up Roos available on the wing drives forwards, Bloom into challenge well for UEA.

 Johnson out to the top of her area a Roos lifts a hopeful ball in towards the box. Deep into stoppage time Renwick out on the right her cross into box cut out by Thompson with Pasque closing in beyond her. Lucy Hood joining the game at the death adding to the attack. Bloom getting hold of the ball with a foray forwards, eventually tackled by Roos, eats up valuable time. One last attack for Bungay Roos on the right, forwards for Osborne racing down the wing but the flag goes up to stall the move. The final whistle blows and UEA celebrate winning this season’s Norfolk Women’s League Cup.  

Full time Bungay Town Ladies 0-2 UEA FC Women

  A determined effort from UEA in the 2nd half, the defence solid soaking up pressure but rarely looking troubled, Bungay able to have the ball not finding a way through a frustrating game just couldn’t get going. UEA the better side started well, going 2 goals up and gaining confidence with it came the determination to keep Bungay at bay. Breaking up play well throughout. After missing out in the final last season, could see they wanted it this time around. Bungay disappointed but have to pick themselves up three huge league matches to come and a league title to play for. 

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

 Onto the first Women’s Football East – Player of the Match award of the day. Several performances of note to mention too. Firstly for Bungay, Chloe Ellis with some good tackling at the back. Charnelle Riggall getting forwards well to support the attack on the left looking to create opportunities. Ciera Flatt strong winning the ball and getting forwards. Selina Rowland too worked hard to get up around the box get onto the ball. UEA with a strong performance all round had a determination about them. The defence working hard to keep it tight throughout. Ella Burnley up top a menace her early goals securing the win. Neha Mann attacking on the right offering good support. The award though goes to their captain Hannah Thompson won the ball well, breaking up numerous attack and patrolled in front of her defence superbly in the 2nd half.

UEA FC Women 2023/24 Norfolk Women’s League Cup winners

  Congratulations to UEA FC Women on winning this season’s Norfolk Women’s League Cup

  An entertaining start to the Norfolk Women’s Finals day, UEA celebrating their triumph, and students are usually skilled in that department the drinks already flowing. My thanks to both clubs for their help with the team details. Time to find something to eat and catch a little bit of action from the other two matches currently under way before the League Plate final kicks-off.

by Darren Gilham

Cup Final Special – Hitchin Belles Women Blues v Stotfold Women

Sunday 5th May

Beds & Herts Women’s League Cup

A quick turn about in Bedfordshire for today’s 2nd cup final with Colney Heath Ladies still celebrating their league and cup triumph attention turns to this afternoon’s Beds & Herts Women’s League Cup Final with Hitchin Belles Women Blues taking on Stotfold Women for the trophy.

The League Cup the senior cup competition with all the sides across the 4 divisions in the Beds & Herts Women’s Football League taking part. In the finish the Premier Division Clubs dominating both competitions, the top flight in Beds & Herts always a competitive league often featuring a thrilling title contest. The League Cup final no exception.

This afternoon’s prize.

Another presentation taking place before kick-off with the winners of Division Three collecting their awards, Woburn & Wavendon Lionesses reforming a new women’s team this season storming to the title clear of the rest with a 100% record, well done to all.

Woburn & Wavendon Lionesses, Division Three Champions

Onto today’s opponents, Hitchin Belles Women a long established side with the Beds & Herts Women’s Football League have regrouped this season after losing a number of experienced players a couple of season back, ironically to today’s opposition Stotfold. Have since brought in a new crop of experienced players recruited from the old AFC Dunstable Women Reserves side. Found life tough going in the Premier Division at the start of the season picking up just one victory and 3 draws in their opening 9 matches, but have since turned thing’s around showing great form in the 2nd half of the season losing just one more match in their final 7 league outings, 4 wins in that spell pushing them up to 6th in the table. That form also getting them through to the League Cup final. Nicola Hollick the clubs top scorer with 14 goals this season. Marsha Glass on the scoresheet too for 8 goals during the campaign.

Stotfold Women formed just last season, building a team full experience playing in the Beds & Herts Women’s Football League, as touched on previously taking several players from Hitchin Belles were a strong side entering the league in Division One. Finished 10 points clear at the top of the table winning all but one of their 18 league matches. Promoted to the Premier Division the Bedfordshire side didn’t make a great start with just 2 points earned in their opening 5 matches, since then has been a different story with 8 wins in their final 11 matches including a 4 game winning streak at the end of the campaign that has seen them finish in 3rd place. Have a three way tie for top scorer with 3 players, captain, Amy Jack, Charlotte Peters and Amber Olney all on 10 each.

Road to the Final

  Both sides awarded a bye in the 1st round of the League cup the football action beginning in the 2nd round. Hitchin at home to Division Three side, Bury Rangers Women, goals from Marsha Glass and Gemma Williams along with a brace for Nicola Hollick securing a 4-0 win. Stotfold drawn away to play Division One side Harpenden Town Women u23s, Charlotte Ryan opening the scoring, Millie Frazer soon doubling the lead going on to add a 2nd goal in 2nd half, Amy Jack, Charlotte Peters and Amber Olney also scoring in a 6-0 victory.

Onto the 3rd round of the League Cup, Hitchin at home taking on newly crowned Division Two champions, Letchworth Garden City Eagles. Hollick on target for both goals to secure Hitchin a 2-0 win and a spot in the last 8 of the competition. Stotfold taking on Division One opposition with a trip to Sherrardswood. Amy Jack on target to rattle home 4 goals with Millie Fraser scoring a hat-trick, Lucy McShane, Olney and Peters all on the scoresheet too, final score 10-0.

Into the quarter finals, Hitchin once more at home taking on Wootton Blue Cross Lionesses Reserves form Division One. Progressed into the last 4 courtesy of a 3-0 win, with Hollick, Hollie Quince and Holly Thomson getting the goals. Stotfold once again on their travels playing Division one side, Berkhamsted Ladies. Peters getting the goal for the away side but with the sides drawing 1-1 at the final whistle the tie was to be settled from the penalty spot. Stotfold going on to win the shootout 4-2 to progress into the semi-finals.

An all Premier Division line-up in the last 4 and all fancying their chances of reaching the final. Hitchin were away taking on Langford Ladies who had shown strong form earlier in the season. A close match a single goal settling it, Hollick with the goal to send Hitchin into the final. A tough game for Stotfold too, away to league challengers, Garston FC Ladies. Amy Jack and Kiera How scoring for Stotfold, however goals from Emma Steele and Emma Trill saw the game finish 2-2 and Stotfold having to contest another shootout. Held their nerve to win it 3-1 to book their place in the final.

A lovely sunny afternoon at Kempston Rovers FC, getting the team details sorted early giving me a vital few minutes to grab some food from the kitchen hatch and I went of the special, chilli and chips, very nice it was too before taking up position for the 2nd game of the day. A good sized crowd building in anticipation of today’s League Cup final.

Hitchin Belles Women Blues

Hitchin Belles Women Blues starting XI – Lauren Brooker, Georgia Carey, Rachel Spendelow (C), Ella Parker, Lily Ludford, Emily Peat, Holly Thomson, Natasha Ridley, Hollie Quince, Maddison Woodcock &Marsha Glass. Subs – Amy Dewar, Ella Vizard, Nicole Cameron, Chloe Davis-Garcia & Helena Saul.

Stotfold Women

 Stotfold Women starting XI – Orlagh Daly, Charlotte Ryan, Cleo Haynes, Chloe Keller, Bonnie Woodward, Amy Jack (C), Charlotte Peters, Leigh Burrows-Hall, Storm Moore, Keira How & Amber Olney. Subs – Amelia Bacon, Maizie Marsh, Isabel brown, Lucy McShane, Rebecca Lightfoot & Chloe James.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

Captain’s Amy Jack and Rachel Spendelow with this afternoon’s match officials

  It’s Stotfold to get the 2023/24 Beds & Herts League Cup final underway kicking off in the first half wearing Amber coloured shirts with black shorts and Amber socks with Hitchin wearing an all blue kit without their top scorer Hollick. The rolled back into the defence Bonnie Woodward laying it out to Chloe Keller on the left played forwards into Cleo Haynes the midfielder driving on with the ball through the middle sending a diagonal ball out to the right for Storm Moore to attack, Holly Thomson defending for Hitchin the ball cleared for a throw.

Hitchin Belles, Holly Thomson

  Lily Ludford combining with Maddison Woodcock for Hitchin taking the ball upfield on for Emily Peat bursting into the left channel, Keira How getting back on her to defend play the ball out for Stotfold. Stotfold press down the left to win an early corner. Fired in to the near post the ball squirming through everyone to strike the post bouncing back out into play before being smashed away the clearance striking Woodcock full in the face, rebounding behind, could have gone anywhere. The Hitchin player stunned on her knees the game stopped and checked out she is okay to play on. 

 An even start, Hitchin keeping a tight shape pressing Stotfold well, neither side making much headway in the final 3rd. Stotfold winning a free-kick 30 plus yards out on the right, Charlotte Ryan to play the set-piece into the box, Ella Parker under it to head clear for Hitchin. Stotfold snapping in to regain possession with players up around the box rolled into Ryan coming left sending her shot over from 20 yards.

  Progress for Hitchin on the left winning a throw inside the Stotfold half taken quickly into Natasha Ridley outside the area left corner helps it on for Marsha Glass ahead of her turns looking to roll her marker, Woodward in close attendance, doesn’t let the attacker through. Stotfold captain Amy Jack sending a threaded ball out to the left for Charlotte Peters to cross into the box, Parker intercepting the ball for Hitchin.

Stotfold captain, Amy Jack

  Ryan bringing the ball on from the back for Stotfold on the right sees her diagonal ball clipped into the area headed behind by Parker for a corner kick. The delivery played in to Amber Olney positioned central the top of the area looks to turn the ball goal wards sends it angling wide of the far post.

 Hitchin working hard to get the ball up the flanks getting on with the ball, crossing opportunities limited however as Stotfold get back to close the ball down. Glass given the ball 25 yards out checks inside from the right, driving at the Stotfold defence, jinks left then right before unleashing a shot, her attempt put straight at Stotfold’s goalkeeper, Orlagh Daly. 

Hitchin Belles, Marsha Glass with Stotfold’s Charlotte Ryan

  Signs of frustration from Stotfold, Hitchin’s formation causing them a few issues as they look to get the ball moving, Jack on for Haynes out to Moore on the right, Thomson defending the ball out of play. Hitchin making a change bringing off Peat, sending on Nicole Cameron. Peters with Leigh Burrows-Hall on the left pushing on down the line the cross looped up into the Hitchin box, Ludford under it to clear the threat. Hitchin get on the counter attack the ball played up to Glass breaking into the right channel in behind after the ball, Daly comes rushing out of her area, to try and win the race, just about gets there stopping the ball with her legs to slow Glass’ progress and her defence track back to defend the open goal beyond, Keller in position to block Glass’ shot on goal as she gets hold of the loose ball.

Stotfold’s Chloe Keller

  Hitchin encouraged press the ball, Ridley on for Cameron to take on to the edge of the box right side her cross/shot put wide as referee Jacob Hamilton calls for the 1st drinks break of the match. Stotfold unsettled needing to calm down, Hitchin working hard to frustrate their attacks. Play resuming with a Hitchin throw out on the left. Woodcock playing the ball on for Cameron up the line, dinks the ball into the box looking for Glass, Peters back to get a foot in play the ball behind for the corner kick. 

  The corner swung in towards the near post sent behind for a 2nd set-piece. Played in central this time, Haynes gets hold of it for Stotfold brings the ball away to safety. Stotfold build through the middle Jack with Haynes forward into Olney she looks to release How bursting away on the right, Thomson get a foot out to cut out the pass.

Stotfold’s Keira How

 Ludford coming off worse in a 50/50 challenge as she goes to kick the ball, looked nasty, certainly painful but is up back on her feet ready to play on. Stotfold are stirred up can’t get their game going as Hitchin continue to work hard to keep things tight at the back, Ludford getting about the pitch winning the ball well. Stotfold making another change bringing off How, send Maizie Marsh into the game. Olney taking the ball down into the left corner, working to get inside to lift a cross into the six yard box, Thomson turning it behind for a corner.

  Played in towards the near post, goalkeeper, Lauren Brooker calling for it, making a confident claim. Jack surging on with the ball for Stotfold though the middle lays in on for Olney who sweeps the ball out to Marsh wide right, her cross floated into the area, taken cleanly by Brooker. Glass snatching possession back for Hitchin high on the right pushes up to the corner of the penalty area sending an angled ball in towards goal, Daly getting hold of it before Woodcock making a run in central can pounce.  

 Amy Dewar sent on for Hitchin to replace Glass. Stotfold feeling some decisions are not going their way adding to their frustration Jack getting a warning from the referee as she challenges a decision. Hitchin catching Stotfold in possession, Glass nicking the ball threading it on for Woodcock central, looking to get on the move attack the box, Haynes getting back at her to tackle for Stotfold. Haynes coming off than for Stotfold with Amelia Bacon.

  Ludford on the ball for Hitchin bringing it on through the middle played on for Dewar she looks for the give and go with Woodcock to her left, Woodcock playing the pass forwards, can’t quite get to the ball before the Stotfold defence clear their lines top of the area. Hitchin winning a free-kick on the right, close to halfway, Stotfold unhappy with the decision… Red Card! Jack has said something the referee is unhappy with and is incredulous as she is shown a straight red card and sent off!

Amy Jack shown the red card

 Stotfold reduced to 10 players late in the first half, nevertheless get on the attack down the left Olney out to Peters a corner won. Curled into the near post, Ludford defending for Hitchin. The counter attack on the ball on for Quince up the right crosses into Dewar outside the D, Bacon stepping out to close her down deny the shot. A frustrating first half for Stotfold comes to an end as the two sides head into the changing room for the respective team talks.

Half-time Hitchin Belles Women 0-0 Stotfold Women

 Stotfold certainly frustrated in the first half, unsettled with Hitchin playing a new formation working hard to limited their opponents opportunities going forwards. Chances have been limited the tactics working with neither side making much head way in the final 3rd. Those frustrations leading to Stotfold’s captain, getting sent off. Work to do to prepare for the 2nd half, now being played with a player down. Not always the advantage Hitchin will need to find a way to make their extra player count, still very much all to play for. 

 During the half-time interval, another league presentation, this time for Letchworth Garden City Eagles who have won the Division Two title, well done to all. 

Letchworth Garden City Eagles, Beds & Herts Women’s Division Two Champions

 Stotfold emerging from the tunnel early, ready to get going again, Woodward wearing the captain’s armband now. Making a change Haynes ready to return to the action replacing Bacon. Hitchin back out ready to get the 2nd half underway have Peat back on the pitch with Quince substituted. The ball played back towards Thomson plays it up the left, Woodcock fouled as she goes to attack the ball. The free-kick lifted up into the box, cleared by Haynes.

Stotfold’s Charlotte Peters

  Peters plays the ball into Haynes the midfielder getting on the move a powerful run taking her all the way into the box left of goal, Carey getting close to her for Hitchin putting the the challenge to clear before Haynes can get support up to her. Both sides setting themselves up to keep it tight not let the other cut them open, Stotfold dropping off a little inviting Hitchin on looking for an opportunity to counter. 

Hitchin Belles, Amy Dewar

 A different feel about the game now, Woodward marshalling her side to keep their shape, Hitchin pushing up Peat with Woodcock playing the ball to the left, Thomson putting her strike straight at the keeper. Haynes making some powerful runs from the middle to get up into the Hitchin area again turns looking for options, Ludford closing her down to regain possession.

Cleo Haynes with some powerful runs for Stotfold

 Olney turning the ball into the box for Haynes up to the left, Spendelow tackling the ball cleared out of the box, Burrows-Hall latching onto the loose ball shooting from range, Carey getting in the way to block. Hitchin making a change Quince returning to the action in place of Dewar. Stotfold competing for the ball winning a free-kick out wide for a shove in the back, a high ball played into the box, Brooker getting up to pull the ball down into her gloves.

Bonnie Woodward captaining Stotfold in the 2nd half

  Woodward up the other end heading a Ludford free-kick from halfway out of her area. Haynes continues to make good runs up the pitch dragging Hitchin players with her, but lacking options when she reaches the box outnumbered Hitchin having to build from the back again. Haynes on the move into the right channel as Burrows-Hall sends the ball into her path bursting into the box, Carey closing her do timing her tackle to put the ball out for a corner kick. 

 The corner swung into the area over Ryan near post, appeals once more as Peters goes down but nothing doing a Hitchin look to counter attack, Quince carrying the ball down the left all the way to the by-line under challenge runs the ball out of play. Glass returning to the action for Hitchin. Ryan allowed to travel with the ball through the middle for Stotfold, unleashes a powerful strike from all of 40 yards out, on target, Brooker producing a fabulous safe leaning back to get her arm up and glove the ball over the crossbar. The resulting corner swung in under the crossbar again caught high by Brooker in the middle of her goal.

Lauren Brooker making a superb save for Hitchin Belles

  Ryan then called into action to defend up the other end as Glass getting hold of the ball attacks from the right, the challenge seeing the ball played behind for a corner kick. Turned into the area the ball defended Hitchin with players up quick to get it back Ludford into Cameron played out to Glass wide right her cross floated into the area claimed by Daly. Stotfold get the ball up to Moore running om up the right wing, squares her cross into the box, Parker running back to defend getting there to cut out the pass ahead of Olney.

Stotfold striker, Amber Olney

 GOAL! 20 minutes played in the 2nd half chances limited, for both sides, Moore with the ball at her feet gets on up the right wing closing in on the by-line cuts her cross back into the near post, Olney making the run, Brooker getting down to try and stop the ball, only succeeds in knocking it up into the air, Olney’s eye lighting up as the defence looks to get back on the line she connects sending it home to put 10 player Stotfold into the lead rushed over to the cross provider, Moore to celebrate 0-1.

Amber Olney hugging Storm Moore as she puts her side into the lead

 Hitchin falling behind get a corner up the other end, everyone from Stotfold in the box lined up to defend it played in near post, Cameron coming to the ball loos to flick it of her head towards goal, Daly seeing it late with a reactive save knocking the ball up into the air, Woodward sending it clear. Another drinks break needed, Stotfold pumped up having got their noses in front.

  Ludford with an angled ball into the Stotfold area from the left taken down into the keepers gloves. Stotfold defending their box, not willing to concede any space in behind. Hitchin continue to probe down the flanks crosses put in from left and right dealt with Woodward and Burrows-Hall respectfully. Haynes the player willing to break forwards for Stotfold her marauding runs eating up time if nothing else, hard to get off the ball lays it out to Moore on the right her cross whipped into the area, intercepted crucially by Quince tracking back with Olney breaking central.

Stotfold’s Storm Moore

  Stotfold determined to hold onto their lead, Hitchin struggling to find and answer to finding a way through on goal. Glass managing to break in behind the defence as Peat from the right lifts a cross into the box, Daly getting her glove on the ball to keep it off the attackers head. Glass 25 yards out seeing the ball into her feet helping it on for Woodcock breaking down the right, Burrows-Hall out to meet her clearing for a throw.

  Peters looking to get on with the ball on the left for Stotfold, Spendelow in to challenge play the ball forwards into Woodcock,, puts the pass inside for Glass, Haynes coming back to put in the tackle. Haynes picking up the ball through the middle goes on another surging run, Carey getting across to put in the tackle 25 yards out the ball loose to the right of goal, Olney running onto it blazes her shot over the bar.

Hitchin Belles captain, Rachel Spendelow

  Into the last 10 minutes, Peters on the turn corner of the area sends her shot racing past the far post. Woodcock snapping back at Stotfold to win the ball 20 yards out plays it out to Glass pulling right, falling as she goes to strike the ball, pulls her effort in towards the keeper, Daly with a comfortable save. 

Hitchin Belles, Lily Ludford

 

Brooker racing out to the top of her area to put in the blocking save on Peters as she snatches hold of a loose ball played across the top of her area. Hitchin continue to probe looking for a way through the Stotfold defence their opponents though working hard to limit any options make it difficult to break them down. Glass taking the ball on into the left wing checking inside to run at the box, inside Woodward steps in to tackle, Ryan clearing the ball.

Nicole Cameron battling with Storm Moore for the ball

  The clock ticking down, Stotfold looking to keep possession, Olney running the ball into the corner to eat up time, Hitchin needing it back push players on into the final third risking the counter, Peters bringing the ball up the pitch for Stotfold rolling it on for Olney in attack, Spendelow closing in to make the challenge the throw conceded on the left. Burrows-Hall getting the ball kicked hard into the back of her her by her own teammate as Peters looks to launch it, left stunned for a moment gets up gingerly before letting everyone know she’s okay to play on.

  Time almost up Olney playing it safe taking the ball into the corner. Hitchin grab possession back the ball launched forwards by Woodcock, Glass wriggling free of her marker to turn and try and attack the ball, stretching can’t get a telling touch as it runs safely through to the keeper. That’s it the final whistle blows and Stotfold celebrate as they win this season’s Beds & Herts Women’s League Cup.

Stotfold celebrate at the final whistle

Full time Hitchin Belles Women 0-1 Stotfold Women

  A strong 2nd half performance from 10 player Stotfold even without the sending off, they needed to improve in the 2nd period and with that set back had to make a new game plan, keep a solid shape and take there chance if they got one. Having gotten their noses in front were determined to defend working hard to limit Hitchin’s opportunities. Hitchin buoyed by their strong first half, just couldn’t find the answer 2nd half pressed well getting the ball into good positions wide but couldn’t find that clinical moment to score. A game of few chances Stotfold taking the one that mattered.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

 Onto the 2nd Women’s Football East – Player of the Match award of the day. Not so easy this time around several good performances out there. First off for Hitchin, Lily Ludford got about the pitch well to contest the ball, and get the ball moving. Georgia Carey and Ella Parker with some crucial interceptions and tackling at the back. Nicole Cameron with some good runs to support the attack. For Stotfold, Storm Moore made some good runs down the wing. Amber Olney leading the line well, scoring the winning goal. Cleo Haynes strong in the middle making some forceful runs up into the box, hard to shake off the ball and providing an outlet to give her defence a break as they worked hard to defend in the 2nd half. The award though goes to the team captain in the 2nd half Bonnie Woodward was as frustrated as anyone with her sides performance 1st half and marshalled her side well in the 2nd making sure they keep a disciplined shape and won the ball well inside her box.

Stotfold Women 2023/24 Beds & Herts Women’s League Cup winners

Amy Jack ready to break down the pitch gate joining her teams celebrations

 Congratulations to Stotfold Women on winning this season’s Beds & Herts Women’s League Cup.

 An enjoyable if busy day at Kempston Rovers, nice to be back after so long away. Again my thanks to the two teams for their assistance today’s line-ups. My thanks to the the leagues committee members for all their help and hospitality today. They done well to have the season all done and dusted, enjoy the rest.

by Darren Gilham

Cup Final Special – St Margaretsbury Women v Colney Heath Ladies

Sunday 5th May

Beds & Herts Chris Renshaw Cup Final

After last weekend’s washout the cup final double bills begin this weekend with a trip down into Bedfordshire for the Beds & Herts Women’s League Finals day featuring two matches to end the season. First up The Chris Renshaw Cup being contested this season by St Margaretsbury Women and Colney Heath Ladies.

  Has been a while since I’ve been able to make the Beds & Herts Women’s Finals Day the traditional end to their season and an really looking forward to the two matches on offer. The Chris Renshaw Cup contested by the sides knocked out of the early rounds of the League Cup itself and some strong sides amongst them. The cup named after Chris Renshaw the leagues former referees officer who passed away, extremely liked and well thought off the competition formerly the Invitation Cup renamed in his honour.

The Chris Renshaw Cup

St Margaretsbury Women achieving back to back promotions to reach the Beds & Herts Women’s Premier Division this season. Winning Division Three with a 100% record in their debut season in 21/22. Finishing 2nd behind Stotfold Women in Division One last season to continue that rise. Have had a solid campaign in the Premier Division including a 7 match unbeaten run with 6 wins and a draw to put them right in contention for the title itself before eventually finishing 4th in the table.

Enjoyed a couple of good cup runs too, narrowly missing out to Stevenage FC Women Development on penalties in the semi-finals of Hertfordshire FA’s new Women’s Trophy competition before going all the way to the final in The Chris Renshaw Cup. Scoring plenty of goals along the way to with Paige Prior not only top scorer for the club but the league itself firing in 27 goals this season. Gabrielle Charalambous has 10 goals to her name too with Amber Strows on 9.

Colney Heath Ladies are the Champions, winning the Beds & Herts Women’s Premier Division and still in the hunt for a league and cup treble. A strong response from the club effectively rebuilding after losing their entire 1st team and with it ERWFL Premier Division status as they moved under a new club and name. Colney Heath Reserves side stepping up to the mark getting off to a flying start in the league with 6 wins and a draw in their opening 7 games. Going all the way to the Hertfordshire FA Women’s Trophy final where they will play Stevenage FC Women Development in the rearranged fixture after the original game was abandoned due to an medical incident for a Stevenage player. Knocked out of the league cup regrouped after a mini wobble to storm the league and reach the final.

 The league secured with just one defeat along the way, looking to make it a double today against St Margaretsbury have a squad with some useful experience and young talent scoring plenty of goals amongst them with 15 different players on the scoresheet so far this season. Mia Simmonds the top scorer netting 13 so far from 20 appearances. Cally Salter also into double figures on 10 with Holly Jury on target for 8 goals.

 Road to the Final

Both sides progressing without kicking a ball in the 1st Round of the competition, St Margaretsbury awarded the home win while, Colney Heath had a bye.

Into the 2nd Round St Margaretsbury were away in what could have been a potential banana skin again Division Three newcomers and leaders Woburn & Wavendon Lionesses. Goals from Chloe Ahmet, Gabrielle Charalambous, Kelly-ann Westgrath and Paige Pryor securing a 4-1 win to see St Margarets bury into the quarter finals. Colney Heath again not having to kick a ball awarded the H-W against Division Two side Hitchin Town Women.

Both sides rattling in the goals in the quarter finals St Margaretsbury were at home taking on Division Two side Buntingford Town Ladies. Pryor was on target for 5 goals alone with Charalambous also bagging herself a hat-trick. A brace each for Billie Curtis and Amber Strows with Katelyn Mulvey also scoring in a 13-2 victory. Colney Heath on the road taking on Division Two leaders, Real Bedford Ladies Development. Holly Jury and Mia Simmonds firing Colney Heath into a 2 goal lead inside 10 minutes, Jury would go on to net a hat-trick. Simmonds a brace, along with Amy Phillips. Cally Salter, Amy Williams and Jael Muzzi also on the score sheet in a 10-1 win.

Into the semi-finals, St Margaretsbury hosting Division One side Biggleswade United Women Blues in the last 4. Marched into the final confidently wining the game 6-0 with a hat-rick each for Pryor and Sherie Evans. Colney Heath away to another Division one side, Garston FC Ladies Mets. Leading 2-0 at half-time thanks to goals from Molly Slade and Sheree Oliver, Caroline Pennifold and Holly Jury on target to double the score in the 2nd half see Colney Heath into their 2nd final of the season.

The Beds & Herts Women’s Finals Day traditional taking place at Kempston Rovers FC in Bedfordshire. An early start a cup of tea the first port of call, the clubhouse and bar open along with the kitchen hatch serving hot food. A seat stand on the clubhouse side of the ground with standing viewing all round the grass pitch with 3G facilities beyond. The club a hive of activity with several youth matches being played. A washout in Cambridgeshire last Sunday couldn’t be any different this Sunday, bright and sunny some heat to the sun too, no wind and no rain forecast either, drinks breaks to be applied with the heat. 

St Margaretsbury Women

St Margaretsbury Women starting XI – Christina Xanthi, Evelyn Rose, Hannah Fowler, Jacqueline Stott, Sherrie Evans, Kelly-ann Westgrath (C), Faye Bullock, Amber Strows, Chloe Ahmet, Gabrielle Charalambous & Paige Pryor. Subs – Megan Walker, Billie Curtis, Laura Tyrell, Katelyn Mulvey & Katrina Martin.

Colney Heath Ladies

Colney Heath Ladies starting XI – Lauren Croucher, Anna Simou (C), Sophie Joseph, Maddie Gorton, Abbey Williams, Caroline Aubery, Sheree Oliver, Holly Jury, Amy Phillips, Cally Salter & Mia Simmonds. Subs – Laura Gifford, Olivia Corbett, Rachel Sherlow, Molly Slade & Lacey Blake.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

It’s Colney Heath to get the Chris Renshaw Cup final underway kicking off the first half wearing black and white vertical striped shirts with black shorts and white socks with St Margaretsbury lined up opposite earing yellow coloured shirts with black shorts and yellow and black hooped socks. The ball played into the middle rolled back to defence out to the left, Sophie Joseph sending it up the line for Cally Salter to attack, Evelyn Rose in defence for St Margaretsbury comes across to deal with the threat send the ball out for a throw in.

Colney Heath looking to get after the ball early on winning it high fed on for Mia Simmonds running the right channel fires a diagonal ball across the box looking for Salter’s run, Rose intercepts the ball for St Margaretsbury. Sherie Evans winning the ball for St Margaretsbury in the centre played up to Paige Pryor in attack back to goal lays the pass out to Gabrielle Charalambous on the left drives on before cutting her cross back to the top of the box looking for Pryor, Maddie Gorton getting her foot to the ball first clearing for Colney Heath.

Maddie Groton winning the tackle

Colney Heath break up on their left Salter wide with a give and go into Amy Phillips inside her, Phillips laying the return ball into Salter’s path as she surges up the wing before checking inside and pulls her cross, sending it swinging into goalkeeper, Christina Xanthi’s gloves. Holly Jury taking the ball forwards through the middle for Colney Heath sends it on for Simmonds attacking the right channel, lays the ball wide to captain, Anna Simou getting up on the right, Hannah Fowler getting in the challenge to deny the cross for St Margaretsbury.

St Margaretsbury, Hannah Fowler

Colney Heath getting players on pressing the final 3rd win a corner on the right the ball played in near side headed out back to the right by Jacqueline Stott, Colney heath returning the ball on the angle into the top of the box with Simmonds looking to control and turn in one motion, can’t keep her footing her shot tame in the finish rolling safely through to the keeper.

Joseph bringing the ball out from the back for Colney Heath on the left sends it long for Jury pulling out wide her cross dipping into the near post put behind by Xanthi for a corner kick. Played in near post not attacked however St Margaretsbury don’t get the ball clear comes back to Salter out left her cross, blocked. Amber Strows bringing the ball down for St Margaretsbury travelling left side played forwards into Pryor peeling wide, the striker turning inside to drive into the box her run halted by Simou.

St Margaretsbury’s Amber Strows

Colney Heath lively when they are in possession players driving forwards with the ball, Phillips on through the middle looks to release Salter wide left, St Margaretsbury hold their line well catching her offside. Oliver plays the ball out to Phillips on the left, Faye Bullock sliding in to take the ball away from her before she can release Salter. Simmonds fed the ball as she pushes on into the right channel looking to power her way into the box, Stott stays on her well to put in the tackle send the ball away for the throw.

St Margaretsbury defender, Jacqueline Stott

St Margaretsbury awarded a free-kick out wide on the left from deep the ball fired in towards the near post, Charalambous making a good run can’t reach the ball but puts pressure on goalkeeper, Lauren Croucher who doesn’t get hold of the ball instead knocked up into the air inside the six yard box in front of goal, Evans there looking to get her head on the ball, sees the ball land on the roof of the net.

Sherie Evans

Phillips pushing on left side up with Salter looking to double up on Rose at the back, the defender under pressure does well to get her foot on the ball take it out for a throw allow her side to regroup. The throw taken quickly Phillips puts the ball into Jury left top corner of the area turning on the ball releases a low strike fired into the near post, Xanthi has the angle covered. Colney Heath getting players forwards Joseph from the left sending a high ball in towards the top of the area, the clearance sliced behind for a corner on the left. Curled into the near post attacked but put wide.

Phillips getting up the pitch well to support Salter on the left causing St Margaretsbury a few problems, Stott winning the balls into the box cleared up to Westgrath plays it out to Charalambous wide left powers her way on before squaring a cross along the top of the Colney Heath box, Pryor taking a swing at it misses her kick as Gorton gets it clear. Colney Heath counter getting on in attack up the right, Fowler getting cross to challenge.

Gabrielle Charalambous on the attack for St Margaretsbury

St Margaretsbury making a change bring off Bullock sending on Billie Curtis. St Margaretsbury with a throw high on the left crossed into the box, appeals for a penalty as Joseph goes to tackle Pryor but nothing doing. A strike on the angle from distance from the middle held by Croucher.

GOAL! the mid point of the first half fast approaching Colney Heath building well through the middle, Caroline Aubery on the ball comes left lays it out wide for Phillips charging up the wing into the corner flashes a cross into the near post, Salter going in to attack the ball as Xanthi goes down for it, the attacker getting a touch with her left foot, not enough contact the ball still hanging there to hit, adjusts well getting the outside of her right boot to the ball to turn it over the line to score 0-1.

Cally Salter opening the scoring for Colney heath

St Margaretsbury look to get on down their left from the restart the ball inside for Charalambous  inside for Evans has a go from distance the shot over. The referee calling for a drinks break, is warm out there, fluids needed. Phillips getting on the the ball left side for Colney Heath as play resumes dribbling with the ball, Curtis lunging in to block her attempted pass as she looks to release Salter ahead of her.

Gorton with the ball for Colney Heath sends a diagonal pass out to Phillips breaking on down the left her cross squared in high towards the right of the D, Jury looking to meet it on the volley, gets her connection all wrong her shot blazing high. Strows on for Charalambous left side for St Margaretsbury her ross lifted into the box just over Pryor attacking the near post drops for Curtis far side, takes a swing at the ball but under pressure from Abbey Williams the defender squeezes the ball away to safety.

Colney Heath’s Holly Jury

A lively contest despite the heat Colney Heath pushing on stretching St Margaretsbury at times Oliver sending the cross field ball out to Phillips advancing on the left, pace to take the ball on before flashing a cross along the face of the St Margaretsbury goal, Salter flying in just missing it.

 

Williams clearing at the back for Colney Heath the ball long up to Salter 20 yards out central back to goal lays it off to her left for Simmonds who sends her strike over the crossbar. St Margaretsbury winning the ball in the middle Evans out to Strows inside to Charalambous who lays it into Pryor as she bursts into the box from the left her shot fired in low, saved by Croucher at her near post.

St Margaretsbury captain, Kelly-ann Westgrath

Westgrath taking the ball on for St Margaretsbury threads it on for Pryor up top, shifts her feet to march on into the area, Williams coming to close her down for Colney Heath. Aubery bringing the ball on through the middle takes aim, firing a shot in on goal from range, plenty of pace on the shot just not enough height to beat Xanthi, the keeper seeing the ball safely into her gloves.

Caroline Aubery strikes the ball

A nasty collision between Philips and Ahmet, the former coming off worse but ok as they both get to their feet. Simmonds seeing the ball into her feet turns to play the ball on for Simou getting on up the right her cross into the box collected by Salter near side turns puts it across goal but can’t pick anyone out.

Charalambous with the ball for St Margaretsbury with a powerful run bursting on to the by-line winning her side a corner kick. Swung in towards the near post, Oliver up well to head it clear back out to the corner taker, Swung back into the near post on the angle, Croucher calls for it and drops onto the ball.

Lauren Croucher

Colney Heath giving the ball to Phillips bombing up the left her clipped cross into the near side is misses by the on rushing Oliver, Rose getting hold of it hooks the ball out of the box, comes straight back in central, Stott intercepting and strong under pressure to get it away, Colney Heath pressing the box regain possession rolled into Simmonds right of the D turns to shoot sending the ball wide past the far post.

Late in the first half Colney Heath pressing for a 2nd goal, St Margaretsbury battling to find a reply, the ball played back to Joseph in defence, passes it back to her keeper as Pryor presses the ball, the striker looking to charge down the keeper as she goes to clear the ball top of her area strikes it against Pryor rebounding back into the box, Croucher instinctively goes to pick it up, St Margaretsbury appeal, the referee blows up and after consulting his assistant and indirect free-kick is awarded to the right of goal. A late chance for St Margaretsbury to pull a goal back shifts into Strows, moving central to unleash a shot smashes the ball wide past the far post.

Christina Xanthi

Colney Heath scrappy in the close moments of the first half the keeper missing Charalambous ball in from the left, scrambled clear, Strows adjudged to have handled the ball as she looks to get it under control top of the box.

Half-time St Margaretsbury Women 0-1 Colney Heath Ladies

  The half-time whistle blows Colney Heath putting themselves under pressure late on leading the game 1-0 thanks to Cally Salter’s goal midway through the half. Have looked strong on the attack getting players on well using the width and putting crosses into the box whilst in turn limiting the ball into Pryor in attack up the other end keeping St Margaretsbury’s top scorer quiet. Still with one goal in it the game still very much there for the taking and the result is far from settled.

Is warm out there, both sides putting a lot into the first half, the benches will play there part in the 2nd half. Colney Heath with a double switch at the start of the 2nd half with Jury and Simmonds taken off, Lacey Blake and Laura Gifford coming on. St Margaretsbury to get the 2nd half underway the ball played to the right, Colney Heath straight in to press the ball, St Margaretsbury keep possession well playing the ball on down the right winning a throw high the cross worked into the area taken cleanly by Croucher.

GOAL! Colney Heath with the ball in the middle as they turn play around fed out to Salter breaking away into the right wing sending a dangerous ball in across the top of the six yard box, Xanthi can’t reach it, but Phillips can as she meets it at the far post to turn home from close range to double the lead 0-2. 

Amy Phillips puts Colney Heath 2-0 early in the 2nd half

Colney Heath with their tails up breaking on down the left, Lacey Blake attacking firing a cross into the box, Fowler up to head the ball back out to the left, Blake lifting it back in Stott getting it away this time around for St Margaretsbury. Ahmet sends the pass out to Charalambous on the left taking the ball on strong with her run into the box before being stopped by Williams.

Gabrielle Charalambous

St Margaretsbury with the ball on through the middle by Evans for Charalambous, drives on, Williams putting in the tackle even as her keeper comes rushing out for the ball, the counter attack launched Blake on the left with Phillips the cross fired into the near post area, Salter beating the keeper to the ball sees her effort come back off the base of the post.

Phillips with the ball left, Rose tackling for St Margaretsbury the ball turned behind for a corner kick. St Margaretsbury clearing the corner, Colney Heath quick to regain possession turned out to Phillips left on for Blake on the move down the wing her crossed whipped into the near post headed away by Fowler.

GOAL! The ball with Colney heath central played into Phillips on the move left side taking the ball on power her way forwards into the box before smashing her shot low across the keeper into the bottom corner to put her side into a strong position with her 2nd of the game 0-3.

Amy Phillips celebrates her 2nd goal of the game

A blow for St Margaretsbury as they make a double change bringing off Westgrath and Ahmet, Laura Tyrell and Katrina Martin coming on. Curtis looking to attack on the left enjoying a good tussle with Simou, but gives away the free-kick this time. Salter caught offside for Colney heath as Gifford looks to release her on the right. Charalambous carrying the ball all the way into the box from the left for St Margaretsbury but hesitates before releasing a shot allowing Gorton to get a foot in on the ball, Colney Heath launching a rapid counter the ball lifted on for Blake out wide left taking the ball on surging into the area, getting a shot away under challenge runs through to the keeper.

Colney Heath defender, Maddie Gorton

Colney Heath’s turn to make a change bringing of Aubery in the middle, Molly Slade replacing her. Phillips into Blake on the left her cross whipped into the D, Salter near side bringing it down laying it off to Gifford beyond her strike, hit up high over the bar. At the mid point in the 2nd half, the third goal zapping the energy out of St Margaretsbury as they make another change, Rose coming off at the back, Megan Walker sent on as the drinks break is called.

Colney Heath’s Laura Gifford

Colney Heath making another change before play resumes, Salter the player off, on comes Olivia Corbett. The substitute out on the right playing the ball inside for Gifford, who attempts to thread a diagonal ball into Phillips attacking the area left side, Evans with a vital interception for St Margaretsbury.

Caroline Aubery holding off Chloe Ahmet

Simou opens up her body to slide the ball on for Gifford attacking down the right, taking the ball all the way to the by-line her cross is struck in across the face of goal with pace, too strong evades everyone as Corbett looks to get onto the end of it far post. Contrasting energy levels, Colney Heath with renewed energy pouring forwards, St Margaretsbury with the energy zapped out of them, Curtis still full of running however attacking left side taking on Simou once again, getting the free-kick this time around.

Colney Heath captain, Anna Simou with St Margaretsbury’s, Billie Curtis

The free-kick from the left up to the top of the area, Gorton looks to bring it away for Colney Heath, Curtis snapping in to challenge wins the ball back and puts it out to Charalambous wide left her cross dipping in central, cleared by Williams. Colney Heath straight on the counter attack Slade out to Blake powering forwards on the left her angled shot beat down by Xanthi at her near post.

Blake’s runs down the left adding to Colney Heath’s threat going forward in the 2nd half gets down into the corner before whistling a cross into the box, narrowly avoiding Corbett tracking in at the near post, runs through to Gifford central, Stott throwing herself in the way to block her shot. Colney Heath relentless getting the ball back high up the pitch, rolled into Corbett, left of the D, players the ball off the outside of her boot in towards goal, Xanthi, behind it getting down to claim.

Paige Pryor looking to attack for St Margaretsbury

 Oliver with the ball and her feet goes on a run through the middle, no challenge coming in is encouraged to go all the way, breaking into the box, setting herself up with a one on one with the keeper a Xanthi comes to close her down, Oliver shoots looking to put the ball past her, Xanthi saving with her leg, deflecting the ball behind for a corner kick. Both sides making changes as the match moves into the final 5 minutes, Charalambous coming off for St Margaretsbury with Katelyn Mulvey coming on. A double switch for Colney Heath, Phillips and Oliver taken off, Jury and Simmonds returning to the action.

Sheree Oliver

  The corner delivered into the near post from the right, St Margaretsbury defending the ball ack out wide, the shot taken on the angle, taking a deflection as it flashes wide, the resulting corner coming to nothing. Blake firing in a left wing cross to the far post, Gifford looking to get it down under control to shoot, Stott getting in the tackle to clear. Ahmet down for St Margaretsbury having picked up an injury, after treatment she needs to come off, helped to the side lines Westgrath comes back on. Slade finding Corbett on the right runs into space before sending a vicious cross in along the face of goal, Xanthi getting something on it to deny, Simmonds racing in to attack it.

  GOAL! Simmonds on the score sheet soon after as the ball won back on the left is played into her feet, the attacker taking it on, pressing inside heading for the St Margaretsbury box, Xanthi rushing out to the corner of her area to close her down, Simmonds gets her shot away sending it across the keeper to race on past her into the bottom corner 0-5.

Mia Simmonds running into the box to fire home Colney Heath’s 4th goal

 3 minutes left to play, Colney Heath  goals up not done attacking yet as Slade plays Corbett in on the right wing, takes the shot on on the angle her pacy effort, saved by Xanthi down low at her near post. Stott getting her head onto another right wing cross to concede the corner kick. Played in near side, Gorton coming for the ball can’t get it under control before Tyrell closes her down. Another corner on the right for Colney Heath, put in near side, Gifford looking to meet it knocking the ball up into the air, Simou looking to hit it on the volley sends the ball wide. 

GOAL! All Colney Heath in the closing moments of the match players up around the box the ball put across the D into, Gifford and Corbett left side from the top of the area, Corbett latches onto the ball and smashes a rising shot past the diving Xanthi inside the left post to score 0-5.

Olivia Corbett firing home Colney Heath’s 5th goal

  Into the closing seconds of the match, St Margaretsbury win themselves a corner kick on the right, Stott in the box putting the ball back out wide to the corner taker the ball fired back into the box on the angle, Williams with a vital interception with Pryor ready to pounce on it beyond her, the ball cleared up field the final whistle blowing soon after and Colney Heath celebrate as they win this season’s Chris Renshaw Cup and make it a league and cup double.

Full time St Margaretsbury Women 0-5 Colney Heath Ladies

  A dominant 2nd half from Colney Heath in the finish, piling on the pressure to score a 2nd goal early in the 2nd half, a 3rd goal coming quickly after zapping the energy out of St Margaretsbury giving them a mountain to climb, worked hard at the back, the 5-0 score line a little harsh perhaps, but no more than Colney Heath deserve for their attacking performance, came on at will at times, adding two more goals at the death to seal the win in style. Disappointment in the end for St Margaretsbury, nevertheless a strong first season in the Premier Division with a 4th placed finish and reaching the final of a cup.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Time to pick the first Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. Often a difficult decision, occasionally not however and this is one of those occasions. A few performances of note to mention first, for St Margaretsbury, Jacqueline Stott was strong at the back, called upon on a number of occasions to make vital tackles and win back the ball. Sherie Evans fighting to win possession in the middle trying to get her attackers into the game. Gabrielle Charalambous with some powerful runs on the ball running into the channels looking to create an opportunity in front of goal. Caroline Aubery and Sheree Oliver did well in the middle for Colney Heath winning the ball back and getting it forwards into their attackers quickly. Holly Jury ahead of them driving on with the ball and joining the attack. Cally Salter with some great positional play getting out wide to receive the ball and put several crosses into the box, as well as getting into the box herself composed to open the scoring in the first half. Lacey Blake making an impact on the left coming on 2nd half. The award goes to Amy Phillips who herself caused havoc on the left throughout the game getting onto the ball and driving forwards on a number of occasions, linking up well with Salter in the first half, her 2 goals early in the 2nd half, going along way to sealing the victory for Colney Heath.

Colney Heath Ladies 2023/24 Chris Renshaw Cup winners

Congratulations to Colney Heath Ladies on winning this season’s Chris Renshaw Cup.

Colney Heath Ladies also Premier Division Champions

A league and cup double for Colney Heath as they collect their award for winning the Beds & Herts Women’s Premier Division too.

  My thanks to both clubs for helping me out with the team details this morning, the celebrations moved off the pitch as the sides competing for this afternoon’s League Cup final take to the pitch a quick turn around, but just enough time to grab a bite to eat before setting up for the next one…

by Darren Gilham

 

Cup Final Special – Holland Ladies v Brantham Athletic Ladies

Friday 26th April

Suffolk Women’s League Cup Final

The end of season finals come thick and fast now with 3 this weekend across the East, starting with a Friday evening trip to Needham Market to watch the Suffolk Women’s League Cup Final, between, Holland Ladies and Brantham Athletic Ladies.

An accomplishment in itself to get this season’s women showpiece final even played with the league itself in doubt at the the start of the season with a new look committee working hard to hastily get thing’s organised and strive on throughout the campaign to get the games played. Under the circumstances a tremendous effort with the women’s section growing in terms of numbers a 7 strong Premiership and 14 strong Championship below with a close contest to see who will emerge out on top in both leagues. This evening the climax of the League Cup campaign.

Holland Ladies beating Woodbridge Town Ladies to win their 1st piece of silverware at the end of 2021/22 season. Woodbridge Town Ladies reaching as successive League Cup final last time out going on to beat Brantham Athletic Ladies. Now Brantham Athletic have repeated that feat knocking out Woodbridge along the way as they meet Holland in the final.

This evening’s prize.

Holland Ladies getting all the way to the League Cup final despite a tough 2nd half to the season where they have been short on players and looking to bolster their squad. Jasmine Cox a prolific goal scorer throughout her career, now player manager. Have done well despite being able to field a bare 11 at times. Retain a strong core of talented players more than capable of beating anyone on their day. Currently 4th in the league have fallen away in the title battle despite scoring plenty of goals. Cox herself the top scorer not only for her club but the league itself, way out in front with 35 goals from 15 appearances. Sennen Gregory and Charlotte Warren both have 7 apiece with captain Lauren Lucas and Charlotte Robertson on 6 each.

Brantham Athletic Ladies know what it’s like to be short on players, struggling the season before last at the wrong end of the league. Brought in Daniel Claxton in November of that season to help out with the coaching help turn their fortunes around and as they got a few more players in results started to improve and with it a run all the way to the League Cup final. 12 months on and fortunes are very different the club in a strong position at the top of the table for much of the season, defending champions Stowupland Falcons Women their fiercest rival a point behind now with the two sides having one more crucial match coming up on Tuesday evening. Have exchanged blows in the cup’s too, with Stowupland knocking Brantham Athletic out of the County Cup in the semi-finals, Brantham Athletic returning the favour in the League Cup. Another large influx of players, several with vast experience from the now folded Brettvale side have formed a new Development team this season playing in the Championship. Stacey Teager the leading goal scorer, netting 14 goals so far this season. Tarnya McKew returning after a serious injury at the end of last season, has 10 goals for Brantham. With Laura Tuley, Chloe Wilson and M’Leah Wright all with 8 goals.

Road to the Final

  Holland with a bye in the 1st Round of the League Cup. Brantham were at home taking on Championship newcomers, Coplestonians Ladies. Their captain, Lucy Dunnett on target for a hat-trick in the game with Chloe Wilson coring a brace and M’Leah Wright also on target in a 6-0 win.

 Onto the 2nd Round both sides racking up the goals. Holland away to newly Ipswich Vale Exiles Ladies newly promoted to the Premiership. Jasmine Cox finding the back of the net for 3 goals. Charlotte Warren bagging a brace too, with Megan Joy, Charlotte Robertson, Libby Batten, Olivia Dowsett and Sennen Gregory all scoring in an 11-1 victory. Brantham were taking on their new development side in the 2nd round, showed no mercy as they too won by double figures Megan Stock and M’Leah Wright scoring a brace each with goals too for Dunnett, Laura Tuley, Rebecca Prime and Sophie Crabtree final score 10-0.

  Into the quarter finals, Holland at home to Championship side, Ramsey & Mistley Ladies. Cox, Lucas and Joy all firing home a brace in another double figure win, 10-0 the final score with Warren, Gregory, Joy and Dowsett all on target too. Brantham taking on Woodbridge at home the current League Cup holders, going into the break leading 3-1, Brantham added a 4th goal in the 2nd half to reach the semi-final. Tuley bagging herself a brace with Chloe Wilson and Kirby Seward also scoring.

  The semi-finals, tighter affairs. Holland with a depleted squad for their match with just 9 available as they travelled to Championship newcomer and league challengers, Capel Plough Women. Despite their lack of numbers Holland’s quality won through with Cox on the score sheet for 2 more goals, Lucas also scoring in a 3-1 win. Brantham away taking on rivals Stowupland a single goal enough to settle it scored by Tarnya McKew to send Brantham into their 2nd successive final.

 This evening’s final being played at Needham Market FC’s Bloomfield’s ground. Have visited their to watch the women play on their 3G pitch and always though I’d like to see a game played on the grass pitch beyond. Both pitches overlooked by the The Hub, Café & Bar with a balcony on either side. The grass pitch a good size with a seated stand on one side and terracing behind one goal with viewing all round. The weather good, still after a bright but chilly day. No rain likely a few clouds around the sun beginning to set as the teams walked out onto the pitch. 

Holland Ladies

 Holland Ladies starting XI – Charlotte Warren, Alisha Blake, Rianne Dimmock, Hannah Campbell, Ellie Grafton, Lauren Lucas (C), Libby Batten, Lauren Bourne, Olivia Dowsett, Jasmine Cox & Sennen Gregory. Subs – Alison Warren.

Brantham Athletic Ladies

 Brantham Athletic Ladies starting XI – Daisy Gibbs, Aimee Berry, Merlin Watson, Shannan Hill, Kirby Seward, Lucy Dunnett (C), Rachel White, Emmi Dennett, Tarnya McKew, Chloe Wilson & Stacey Teager. Subs – Shannon Giles, Issey Bines, Rebecca Prime, Sophie Crabtree & M’Leah Wright.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

Holland with a small squad again or this evenings final naming a starting 11 plus one substitute, that a goalkeeper having kick-off in the 1st half wearing orange coloured shirts and socks with black shorts. Brantham with a full squad naming 5 on the bench lined up opposite wearing their all navy blue kit. The ball played back to Olivia Dowsett in the middle goes back to her defence, Rianne Dimmock retaining possession before giving the ball to Hannah Campbell on her right to play long up the right channel, Merlin Watson dealing with the threat for Brantham.

Brantham’s, Merlin Watson

  Watson looking to bring the ball on release Tarnya McKew on the left flank, hustled by Campbell the ball out of play for a Holland throw. taken the right played forwards into Libby Batten on the right channel looking to progress into the area, Kirby Seward across making the tackling to send the ball behind for a corner kick. The in swinging delivery headed out of the area to the right, Aimee Berry over on that side defending the resulting throw.

  Holland looking to press the ball in the Brantham half, coming back to captain Lauren Lucas she opens up her body attempting a threaded pass into the box for Sennen Gregory coming in off the left, the pass too square easily gathered by Brantham goalkeeper, Daisy Gibbs. Ellie Grafton with a strong challenge to stop Brantham launching a counter through the middle with Emmi Bennett making a run out wide on the right.

Holland’s Ellie Grafton

  Brantham win a free-kick deep on the right, captain, Lucy Dunnett to deliver in across the top of the area, met by Seward 20 yards out gets up to head the ball goal wards, an ambitious attempt, hasn’t the power or height to trouble Holland’s goalkeeper, Charlotte Warren. 

  Holland getting the ball forwards on the left side play Lauren Bourne on to attack running towards the top of the D with the ball at her feet her run stopped by Seward’s challenge. McKew getting hold of the ball on the left attacking for Brantham, holds it up well 20 yards out waiting for Watson to make the overlapping run the ball fed on for the full back into the corner she cuts it back inside to McKew inside the box left corner, turns and shoots her dipping effort played straight into the goalkeeper’s gloves.

  A competitive tussle played at a good pace, Holland looking to press Brantham on the ball, Brantham in turn aiming to stretch their attack, McKew left and Bennett right making strong attacking runs. Gregory taking the ball onto the by-line on the left attacking for Holland her cross charged down by Shannan Hill for Brantham. 

 Stacey Teager in attack through the middle for Brantham, sees the ball into her feet, held up turns well looking to play the diagonal ball in behind the defence for Bennett bursting on down the right, a little too much on the pass allowing Warren to race out to claim it. A loose pass from Rachel White 30 yards out for Brantham, sees Holland’s Gregory steal in on the ball left of the D powering her way into the area, Seward across quickly to lunge in with the challenge put it out to the left, the resulting cross/shot put over the bar.

  Chloe Wilson links up with White as the Brantham pair advance through the middle, White lining up a shot from 25 yards out, charged down by Holland’s Dimmock. Holland working hard at the back to challenge for the ball, Campbell winning it well on the right putting the pass forwards into Jasmine Cox, with a powerful drive forwards she cuts inside running across the top of the D, before getting a down shot away, lacking to pace to trouble Brantham goalkeeper, Daisy Gibbs as she drops to her left getting behind the ball.

Brantham goalkeeper, Daisy Gibbs

  Dunnett on another free-kick wide on the right sends it long beyond the far post Warren across her goal taking it on the bounce before McKew can get there, sets her side up for a rapid counter attack Cox taking it on with a determined run on the right wing squaring a pacy cross into the near post Gregory waiting for it attempting to back heel it on, Gibbs behind her pouncing onto the ball. 

  Holland pushed up in defence as Teager sees the ball into her feet off White, turns to lay the pass in behind on the right channel the flag stays down against Bennett as she breaks clear taking the ball on looking to shoot on the angle, Campbell getting across to stretch and put in the block the ball behind for a corner kick. 

 The corner played into the near post Grafton getting her head onto it for Holland clearing the ball out to the top of the area falling for McKew left of the D sees it across her striking it as she turns her chipped shot put straight at the keeper. 

 Cox out on the left now for Holland sends a diagonal ball into the area on the angle for Gregory to attack her run halted by a raised flag however. Cox receiving the squared pass across the top of Brantham’s area look to burst into the box left of goal, Brantham’s defence quickly converging on her to make sure there’s no where to go. Brantham build through the middle White on for McKew making a central run in behind, Warren alert out to the top of her area to clear the danger, the flag up against the attacker though.

  Brantham pour numbers on in attack runners into the box as Bennett charges down the right her squared cross running behind Teager at the near post, McKew out left looking to get hold of it, Campbell winning the race to take the ball clear of her area. Campbell clipping the ball on for Holland on the right looking for Gregory as she makes a run into the area from the flank, Gibbs quickly out to close the angle gather the ball into her gloves. 

  Teager combining with McKew on the left as Brantham build an attack, numbers forwards, Watson taking the ball on on the overlap her cross inside for Wilson central, Dimmock in to close her down for Holland the clearance falling to Dunnett 35 yards out, has a strong shot on her, goes for it her attempt over the bar. Likewise on her set-pieces as Brantham are awarded a free-kick right of the centre circle striking the ball on towards goal, Warren able to get across her six yard box to get hold of it.

Brantham captain, Lucy Dunnett

  Cox linking up with Dowsett in attack exchanging passes before Cox let’s fly from 30 yards out her shot driven wide a nick off a defenders boot spotted a corner given. Curled in from the left dropping near post, Brantham scramble it away back to the corner taker on the left, the return ball long past the far post. Holland getting bodies after the ball in the final third pressing the Brantham backline, pops back into the middle for Lucas, attempts to hit a shot in from range, Gibbs has it covered in the Brantham goal.

Holland captain, Lauren Lucas

  Bourne receiving the ball into her feet from 25 yards out for Holland drags it out of her feet as she lines up a shot her effort, played straight at the keeper from the right of he D. Teager with the ball at her feet looks to battle her way on through the middle knocked on for Bennett central holding it up as McKew runs across her, the pass when it comes seeing McKew flagged offside. Brantham pushing on in attack, Teager getting hold of the ball, delays her shot, allowing the defend to rush out to put in the block 20 yards out. Dunnett with another free-kick from halfway played into the box, Lucas heading clear for Holland.  

 GOAL! Brantham’s pressure in attack finally tells as they open the scoring with little more than 10 minutes left in the 1st half, White coming forwards with the ball into the left channel feeding the pass into McKew ack to goal top of the area, seeing the ball into her feet drags it to her right then turns into the strike, sending her chipped shot in on the angle over the keeper to score 0-1.

Tarnya McKew opening the scoring for Brantham.

  Holland look for a quick reply to falling a goal down, Lucas from distance with time to line up a shot, looks to hit it up and over the keeper, doesn’t get enough on it however the ball falling into Gibbs’ gloves backs up into her six yard box. Brantham get Bennett on the ball down the right winning a corner kick, put in near side defended by Lucas, Holland look to counter quickly, Cox the outlet in attack on the left drives on with the ball, Hill getting back at her to put in the tackle for Brantham. 

  Wilson passing the ball out to McKew on the left, is a competitive battle between her and Holland’s Campbell the defender close in preventing her from getting past her. Cox attacking with the ball at her feet from the left checking inside looks to play the one two with Gregory break into the box, Hill and Seward cutting off the space for Brantham.

  GOAL! Brantham’s turn to hit Holland on the counter the ball put on quickly through the middle clipped forwards to Bennett breaking in behind clear on the right channel, surging into the area smashes her shot across the keeper to find the back of the net to double the lead 0-2.

Emmi Bennett breaking on from the right flank doubling Brantham’s lead

  Holland conceding a 2nd goal late in the first half aim to get straight on the attack Grafton out to Cox on the left 30 yards out drives infield getting a shot away under challenge, the attempted tackle doing enough to take the sting out of the attackers shot see it run harmlessly through to the keeper. Bennett on the counter very nearly through on goal again from the right Warren comes rushing out to close her down can’t get hold of the ball knocked up into the air behind her, can turn and get hold of it on the bounce.

Rachel White winning the header for Brantham

Half-time Holland Ladies 0-2 Brantham Athletic Ladies

 The sides head into the changing rooms at half-time with Brantham leading the game 2-0. Getting forwards well pushing numbers on have looked to forceful up top creating chances. Holland though working hard all across the pitch to press the ball prepared to keep a high line to give their attacking players as much opportunity as they can to hustle the ball in the final third. The break through eventually coming with 10 minutes to go in the first half McKew giving Brantham the lead before Bennett broke clear to add a 2nd. The next goal if it comes you’d think has to go to Holland to keep them in the game a lot of effort put into the 1st half and without fresh legs will be interesting to see if they can keep up their determined performance in the 2nd half.

The sides as you were at the start of the 2nd half. Brantham to kick-off the 2nd half defending a 2 goal lead. Look to put the ball long on down the right, Blake dealing with it for Holland. Holland look to get the ball forwards through the middle Lucas on into Bourne right of the D, looks to drive forwards, stopped by Seward for Brantham.

Bennett bringing the ball down on the right fizzes a shot in from distance on the angles, Warren behind it to save for Holland. Holland attacking on the left pushing players on Cox through the middle now the ball back out to the left wing the cross cut back to Lucas 25 yards out sees the ball across her body opening the angle to shot, send in on target running for the bottom corner Gibbs down on her line to smother the ball.

Jasmine Cox with Lauren Lucas

Brantham find McKew on the left, Campbell in to close her down the ball out for a throw in. Controlled and played in central, Wilson with the shot fired over the crossbar. Holland looking to give it a go push Brantham back in defence Gregory playing the ball into the area for Cox to attack left side of the goal, Gibbs out to close the angle down onto the ball.

Holland winning a free-kick out wide on the left 25 yards out Bourne over it angling the ball into the near post, dropping amongst bodies, Brantham manage to scramble it away to the top of the area, Cox getting hold of it right off the D turns inside looking for the opening squeezes her shot away, doesn’t get hold of it though safely gathered by Gibbs. A lively start to the 2nd half.

Pushing on looking to attack Brantham ready to react on the counter the cross-field ball finding Bennett out on the right wing drives on down the line her cross cut back into the area with Teager hanging back to receive it top of the area, Campbell having gone with her for Holland putting in the blocking tackle.

Holland defender, Hannah Campbell

  Wilson winning the ball for Brantham centrally feeds the pass on for McKew on the left flank, Campbell a thorn in her side throughout closing in to tackle the ball quickly back with Brantham the cross field pass going out to Bennett on the right her cross/shot struck over. Holland giving it a go attacking down the right Batten with Bourne and Gregory a throw won in the corner the cross worked into the six yard box from the by-line Cox attacking it, Watson clears for Brantham.

Holland’s Libby Batten

  All action Brantham wanting a 3rd goal Wilson up to Teager, Dimmock preventing the turn back into Wilson then Seward looking to send McKew on down the left, Campbell fighting back to get possession back for Holland. Dunnett taking the ball forwards playing it on for Wilson who picks out Bennett wide right, Blake in to defend for Holland. Holland determined to push out retain a high line at times allow their forwards the opportunity to get at Brantham’s defence, Cox looking to get hold of the ball when ever she can drive forwards into the box. Seward and Hill needing to close her down.

Brantham defender, Kirby Seward

  Cox drives for the area in a race with Seward the defender getting her toe on the ball to take it behind for a corner kick. From the right taken short then back to the taker up the line to sweep the cross into the far post, Berry clearing for Brantham. Campbell aiming to send the ball back into the box with Cox pulling off the defence, Gibbs though can get hold of it first.

  Holland keeping their energy levels up pushing forwards, Berry winning the ball on for Dunnett surging on lays the ball out to Bennett on the right, held up lays it back to Dunnett 25 yards out, smashes her strike over the crossbar. 

Brantham making their first changes of the game bringing off both Watson and Bennett. Sophie Crabtree and M’Leah Wright joining the attack, Wilson dropping back into the back line on the left. Holland lay the pass out to Bourne pulling left on Wilson, taking the ball on, Seward across to support her teammate run Bourne off the ball. 

 

 Blake tackling for Holland as Wright looks to break forwards from McKew’s cross-field pass. Midway through a lively 2nd half both sides pressing for a goal, Warren out smartly to the edge of her area to snatch up the ball as McKew looks to run onto a diagonal ball. Holland on the attack Grafton into Lucas on for Gregory central 20 out picks out Cox to her left taking the ball on whips a pacy cross low into the six yard box, Gibbs gets down well to make the save pushing the ball out and away from Gregory closing in on the follow up. 

Holland’s Olivia Dowsett

  Campbell unfortunate to give away a handball on the left side as Brantham push players up for the set-piece. Dunnett striking the ball curls her attempt in near post, Warren across to cover the post can see it safely wide. Brantham making another change, Wilson off having gone to left back, Rebecca Prime coming on in that position. The pass clipped on for Crabtree in attack, Blake getting in a timely challenge for Holland.

  Cox laying the ball from left to right across the Brantham area, looking to pick out Batten making the run, can’t quite take the ball in her stride into the box as a defender runs across her. Dowsett laying the ball on for Cox left channel, breaking into the box her shot charged down, Gibbs onto the loose ball.

Stacey Teager

Into the final 15 minutes, Brantham can’t find the goal to put Holland to bed, their opponents giving it everything to pull a goal back. Crabtree peeling wide with the ball on the right for Brantham in attack picking out Teager central, 20 yards out, Dimmock in close making the blocking tackle. Lucas with the ball for Holland put forwards for Gregory wide left takes it to the by-line cutting the pass back up to Cox wide turns to drive into the area, attempts to pick out Bourne at the near post, Brantham snatching possession back.

Lauren Bourne

  McKew played into space on the left checks back inside to shoot from outside the area drags her effort wide of the near post. Comes off then to be replaced by Shannon Giles. Prime getting on down the left to support Teager making a run into the left wing, the ball forwards, Dimmock sliding in to play the ball out for a throw in.

  The game open Brantham counter the ball from White into Teager, almost sends Crabtree through on goal, however Warren with a good starting position top of her area is first to the ball. Another change for Brantham as White is taken off with Issey Bines joining the defence. Dimmock the last defender for Holland getting across to intercept the ball as Crabtree bursting away on the right side looks to get onto the end of Dunnett’s through ball.

Rianne Dimmock

   Prime picks up a yellow card as she looks to clips Cox’s heels as the attacker looks to drive forwards with the ball, unfortunate looked more of a tangle of legs as the defender tried to adjust her position. Cox feeling it late in the game but is up back on her feet with the clock ticking down. Bourne attempting to play Gregory into the area on the left, the attacker fouling Berry as she goes to attack the ball.

  Teager slipping as she goes to strike from distance sends her shot over. Is brought off then with McKew send back into the action with the game moving into stoppage time.

GOAL! Holland have battled on for the entire 90 minutes pushing for a goal in the 2nd half and it finally comes as Cox is played in on the left channel sliding the ball into the box for Gregory on the right she stabs the ball towards goal past the diving keeper and scores 1-2.

Sennen Gregory pulling a goal back for battling Holland late in the game

  A goal back for Holland but little time left in the game as Brantham look to keep it attacking on the right McKew fouled by Lucas a free-kick awarded. Dunnett over the ball strikes her shot over on the angle. That’s it though the final whistle blows and Brantham celebrate as they win this season’s League Cup Final.

Full time Holland Ladies 1-2 Brantham Athletic Ladies

  Two goals in the first half from McKew and Bennett enough to see Brantham win the game. A third goal wouldn’t come in the 2nd half. The game opening up as Holland fought hard to pull a goal back of their own set up a nervy finish, just came too late in the finish but a brilliant effort from the 11 on the pitch. Brantham able to rotate send on fresh legs hard to work hard at the back to keep them out and earn the win, an entertaining final. Have as big a game at home on Tuesday evening against Stowupland as they aim for a league and cup double, part one complete.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this evening’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. A tough call with both sides giving it their all for 90 minutes. Several performances of note and then I’ll probably not list all. For Holland, Jasmine Cox was the driving force for her side getting hold of the ball with some strong runs looking to find a goal. The midfield and defence pushing up well in support. Rianne Dimmock with several vital tackles while Hannah Campbell was determined to win everything throughout. For Brantham, Kirby Seward was strong in defence getting about to win her tackles. Rachel White composed in midfield getting forwards well. Stacey Teager leading the line holding the ball up well. The wide attackers causing issues throughout and it’s a straight fight between them for the award, Emmi Bennett breaking on well down the right a good outlet though out took her goal well. as did this evening’s Player of the Match, Tarnya McKew. A strong performance taking the ball on and looking to create opportunities for herself and other the entire match.

 

Brantham Athletic Ladies, 2023/24 Suffolk Women’s League Cup winners

  Congratulations to Brantham Athletic Ladies on winning this season’s Suffolk Women’s League Cup Final.

 An entertaining final, good to see a game on the grass at Needham Market. My thanks to both sides for there assistance with the teams details this evening much appreciated.

by Darren Gilham