Sunday 7th January
ERWFL Division One North
Wishing you all a very Happy New Year. Raring to go in 2024 as the football season resumes after the festive period. A wet start to the year with Storm Henk blowing in causing chaos with the fixture schedule, nevertheless plenty of tasty games to choose from beginning the year with a top of the table clash from ERWFL Division One North with early pace setters Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women hosting new leaders Harpenden Town Women in the first game of a double header between the sides that could go along way to seeing who can clinch to title and with it promotion to the Premier Division.
Both sides amongst a host of new sides joining the regional set up this season as the ERWFL reaches it full potential of 36 sides playing across 3 divisions a 12 strong Premier Division with a Division One North and South each 12 strong feeding into it. Two sides since withdrawing from ERWFL Division One North leaving 10 sides to contest the league.
Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women one of 3 Norfolk sides moving up into the ERWFL this season, with Mulbarton Wanderers Ladies and Thetford Town Ladies. Finishing runners-up to Mulbarton Wanderers Ladies in Norfolk Women’s Division One, went on to lift the League Cup. A lot of planning and preparation involved prior to promotion to ensure the club was ready on and off the field to challenge at a higher level, hit the ground running winning 5-0 at home against Biggleswade United Women beginning a 6 match unbeaten run winning 5 and drawing one to lead the table early on.
One defeat so far a narrow 2-1 to 3rd placed Newmarket Town Women allowing Harpenden Town Women to take over at the top prior to Christmas face their league challenges in back to back fixtures in January. Two crucial matches. Have build a large squad with several players coming through the youth levels together one of those top scorer Victoria Leyer who has always been amongst the goals for the club netting 16 to date from 12 appearances this season while Tallulah Bell has 8 goals to her name from 12. Bringing younger players on part of the clubs philosophy with Izzy Noakes and Alisha Juby named on the bench the latest additions to the squad.
Harpenden Town Women one of three clubs promoted to the ERWFL this season, the geography of the leagues seeing their fellow Hertfordshire sides, Hertford Town Women and Wormley Rovers Ladies join Division One South. Finishing in 3rd spot Harpenden Town Women like Dussindale & Hellesdon won silverware last season too beating Colney Heath Ladies Reserves to win the League Cup. Began their ERWFL campaign with a 4-3 loss away to fellow promoted side Histon Ladies… however haven’t looked back since with a 100% record stretching to 7 matches that has seen them overhaul Dussindale & Hellesdon at the top.
Striker Sophia Amanor’s goals going along way to seeing Harpenden Town Women win 7 straight league matches, way out in front as not only Harpenden’s top scorer but the league itself with a staggering 31 goals so far from 14 appearances. Becky McShane the next highest goal scorer in the side with 4 to her name. Goals right throughout the side however with a further 11 players on the scoresheet so far this season. Taking over at the top face two important matches against Dussindale & Hellesdon that could go along way into shaping the season.
The Nest the venue for todays league encounter, the new sports facility to the north of Norwich close to the airport the home to both Norwich City Women and Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women with a number of full sized grass and artificial pitches. The main artificial pitch beside the clubhouse featuring a large cafeteria/dining area and conference room beside. Storm Henk blowing in yet more rain, rivers full to bursting across the county the worst thankfully blown through the ground saturated, the artificial surface a blessing the game never in doubt, although with kick-off fast approach, Harpenden’s team bus was yet to arrive. the weather dry but overcast and chilly the visitors arriving at 1:40pm, little time to get warmed up kick off delayed slightly to allow the players time to limber up properly.
Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women starting XI – Tyla Cole, Siesha Humphries, Ella Swift, Jess Barnes, Calista Tink (C), Chloe Shipman, Abby Hutchin, Rachel Bussey, Victoria Leyer, Issy Moore & Rosie George. Subs – Addison Gregory, Kari Kowalczyk, Chelsea Brister, Izzy Noakes & Alisha Juby.
Harpenden Town Women starting XI – Sophie Harris, Kacee Warren. Erin Shacklock, Rebecca Dowdall (C), Iva Hrisimova, Chloe Dinsey, Melody Jones, Natalie Cloy, Jamie Curtain, Belle Shannon & Sophia Amanor. Subs – Jasmine Hughes, Hannah Pope, Reese Ayres & Becky McShane.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
It’s the visitors Harpenden to get the match under way kicking off the 1st half wearing aquamarine coloured shirts with black across the top of the chest and sleeves, with black shorts and aquamarine coloured socks. Dussindale & Hellesdon lined up opposite wearing claret coloured shirts with sky blue trim, claret shorts and socks. The ball played back into the defence swept out to the right Jamie Curtain out wide looking to play Natalie Cloy in ahead of her fullback Siesha Humphries sticking a foot in to take the ball off her for a throw in.
The visitors fresh having just warmed up and staying out ready for kick-off starting well putting the Dussindale & Hellesdon back line under pressure attacking down the flanks, Curtain again on the right flashing a cross into the top of the area, Chloe Shipman latching onto it for Dussindale & Hellesdon carrying the ball out clearing to the opposite flank, Harpenden snatching it back the strike from 25 yards out put over the bar.
Dussindale & Hellesdon winning the ball at the back find Issy Moore pulling wide on the left sends the ball on through the middle looking for Rosie George leading the attack, in a race towards the Harpenden box with captain Rebecca Dowdall, George is adjudged to have fouled the defender halting the attack.
Sophie Amanor looking strong with the ball at her feet pulling out wide to the right, looks to take the ball on inside the full back, Humphries late with her tackle catching Amanor with a painful blow to her ankle sending the striker sprawling. A moment of concern for Harpenden as Amanor receives treatment. Humphries shown an early yellow card. Amanor up and okay to play on as Belle Shannon stands over the resulting free-kick.
GOAL! The ball swept in towards the near post Amanor making the run across defender Jess Barnes as she goes to head the ball, only succeeding in glancing it on behind her into the onrushing crowd, Dowdall amongst those knocking the ball in towards goal past the keep, Amanor closing in stooping to head the ball which could very well have already been over the line 0-1.
Harpenden might have arrived late but have the early lead in Norwich as they open the scoring inside 5 minutes. The visitors looking to press the advantage Melody Jones getting hold of the ball in the middle of the park spreading the pass out to the left Cloy racing on the ball send into the area aiming for Curtain closing in on the far side, Humphries getting a foot on the ball to knock it out of play for a corner.
All action as the corner is lifted in near side, Curtain up well to power her header in towards goal blocked by the defender covering the post, down before the goal line goalkeeper Tyla Cole down looking to grab hold of the ball as Shannon rushes in to attack it deflected out of the keepers gloves Dussindale & Hellesdon defending for all their worth somehow keep the ball out before Cole eventually lays claim to it.
Jones regaining possession out on the left inside the Dussindale & Hellesdon half sweeping a long diagonal pass out to the right, Curtain the target, Moore tracking back well for the hosts there to intercept. Erin Shacklock clearing the ball up to Curtain central she looks to send the ball on in behind the Dussindale & Hellesdon defence with Amanor breaking in behind, Cole starts to come out of her area to clear but realising the ball has enough momentum on it falls back into her area to see the ball roll safely into her gloves.
Dussindale & Hellesdon having out ride out a strong opening salvo from Harpenden come away with the ball lifted on for Moore breaking into space on the left the cross turned back into the area near side for Victoria Leyer to try and shift inside to shoot her strike charged down the ball deflected down towards the by-line left of goal, George racing after it trying to put the ball back in across goal can only play it straight into the arms of Harpenden goalkeeper Sophie Harris.
Moore looking the best outlet for Dussindale & Hellesdon as she runs into space out on the left flank down to the touchline turning into the box rides two challenges before Iva Hrisimova comes across to block the ball turn it behind for a corner kick. The corner delivered into the six yard box headed out to the top of the area, Moore pulled up for a high boot as she looks to regain possession for Dussindale & Hellesdon.
Harpenden attacking down the right Curtain with Amanor combining the latter taking the ball on in behind turning into the area, Barnes getting back to charge down her cross turn the ball behind for a corner. Flighted in near side George getting her head to the ball takes a deflection off a Harpenden player to see the ball land on the roof of the net.
GOAL! Winning the ball back Barnes carries the ball out of the back for Dussindale & Hellesdon before laying it on for Moore racing away down the left wing squaring her cross into the six yard box, Harris calls for the ball going down to claim it, but George has other ideas as the attacker lunging forwards stretches a long leg out to turn the ball under the keeper and into the back of the net to level the scores 1-1.
Harpenden look for a rapid response getting down the other end to win a corner kick on the right, played in close to goal, Cole under it knocking the ball out to the top of the area, half cleared to the left Jones getting back onto the ball for Harpenden sending the cross back into the area cleared by Dussindale & Hellesdon captain Calista Tink.
Amanor seeing the ball into her feet 35 yards out turning and making a strong run towards her opponents area letting fly from distance the shot racing wide of the left post. A lively contest Dussindale & Hellesdon coming back into the game well after Harpenden’s bright start. Leyer bundled over on halfway as she looks to carry the ball forwards for the hosts. Players go forwards as Tink looks to play the ball long into the area, Kacee Warren winning it with her head for Harpenden then races out to charge down Humphries before she can send the rebound back into the box.
Harpenden bringing the ball on down the left wing Cloy with Shannon the cross lifted high in close towards Cole’s goal the keeper jumping up to confidently get hold of the ball. Amanor making some excellent runs into the channels looking to carry the ball in behind, the Dussindale & Hellesdon full backs busy. Dussindale & Hellesdon break from the back the ball put out to Abby Hutchin moving right her diagonal ball back inside put into Leyer’s path her touch seeing the ball swerve away from goal out to the right George closing the defender down as she looks to clear doing well to win a corner.
The delivery from the right played in near side attacked by George the header driven wide of the right post. Quick build up play from the hosts as Shipman plays the ball on for George who in turn spins the ball out to the right into the path of Hutchin whose early strike on the angle is driven wide.
GOAL! Pressing forwards Dussindale & Hellesdon win the ball outside the Harpenden area to the right of goal, Leyer with a superb strike to fire the ball in over the keeper into the back of the net to put the hosts into the lead on the half hour 2-1.
A lively affair now Dussindale & Hellesdon after the ball looking to get forwards with pace put the Harpenden defence on the back foot. Leyer picking up the ball charging on towards the top of the D, Dowdall with the tackle. Amanor with another powerful run driving on towards the Dussindale & Hellesdon area, brought down by Barnes 25 yards from goal. Chloe Dinsey over the set-piece takes on the shot, fired in on target, Cole diving to her right getting her gloves onto the ball to save knocking it away to the right.
Dussindale & Hellesdon winning a free-kick wide on the right, Hutchin to play the ball into the area, George up well to attack it but her header lands wide of the near post. Flowing football from both sides. Harpenden getting hold of the ball in the middle, Dinsey looking for Jones moving left, Swift sticking a leg out to intercept deflecting the ball out of her path. Bussey tracking back to defend for Dussindale & Hellesdon as Jones looks to get forwards on the left flank.
Warren hits a great ball in over the top for Shannon bursting in behind the Dussindale & Hellesdon defence but stretching can’t quite get the ball under control to threaten the goal. Harpenden with a free kick out wide on the left swept on into the area Tink knocking the ball out of her box, falls to Curtain who attempts to knock it back inside for Cloy on the penalty spot, Tink there again however to snatch the ball away to safety.
Harpenden with a change late in the first half bringing off Dinsey, on comes Becky McShane. The ball pinging back and forth in the middle comes back to Warren who attempts to play an awkward ball back to her keeper, the pass short, as Harris rushes forwards, Moore nips in to get her foot on the ball knock it past the keeper, who turns to see it safely roll wide of her goal.
GOAL! Into the closing seconds of the first half, swift in possession for Dussindale & Hellesdon at the back brings the ball on before sending a brilliant ball into the right channel for Leyer to latch onto 25 yards from goal, racing into the box pulls the trigger to smash her strike low past the diving keeper into the goal beyond 3-1.
Half-time Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women 3-1 Harpenden Town Women
A lively contest between the side at the top of the league, despite arriving late Harpenden got off the the brighter start taking the ball to Dussindale & Hellesdon attacking the flanks taking an early lead. Creating further chances before Dussindale & Hellesdon regrouped to start applying pressure the other way breaking down the left to find the equaliser the game free flowing at times a brilliant strike from Leyer putting the hosts into the lead on the half hour before Leyer was played through on goal by Ella Swift to make it 3-1 on the stroke of half-time. A useful cushion for Dussindale & Hellesdon going into the 2nd half Harpenden however carry a strong threat in attack.
No changes for the hosts at the break, Harpenden out for the 2nd half early keen to get going making two changes with Reese Ayres and Jasmine Hughes coming on for Warren and Shannon. Light already fading the floodlights partially on with Dussindale & Hellesdon getting the 2nd 45 underway. Harpenden in quickly to close the ball down looking to take the game to their opponents, Shipman getting in a timely tackle to stop Jones feeding the ball on for Amanor.
Amanor taking up a position on the left dragging the ball back under her feet before p[laying it down the left flank for Cloy the chase, Barnes going with her as the pair close in on the by-line the defender clearing the ball out for a corner kick. Flung into the six yard box, Tink up amongst bodies to win the header and clear for Dussindale & Hellesdon.
The hosts attacking down the left the ball played on for Moore her cross cut out by Dowdall. Back with Dussindale & Hellesdon on the left the cross-field ball finding Bussey to the right of the box, strikes the ball on the angle from 20 yards out Harris down to save pushing the ball out players rushing into attack the loose ball clatters down off the crossbar.
Leyer taking hold of the ball on the left flank her runs causing the Harpenden midfield some issues as she tracks inside before threading the ball into the area looking for George central, caught a little flat footed can’t react in time before Harris rushing out snatches hold of the ball.
Swift does well to tackle Amanor stop her getting in behind on the left the defending seeing things open up before her deciding to have a crack at goal from range, her effort not troubling the keeper. Amanor out on the left does find a way in behind this time racing down to the by-line cutting into the box closing in on Cole’s near post the keeper positioning herself the strike powerful blasted under her striking the base of the post rebounding back into the grounded keeper, Amanor trying to get over her to turn the loose ball goal wards can only place it into the side netting.
Swift having her hands full with Amanor as Jones plays the striker in down the left the defender back on her to challenge play the ball behind for a corner kick. The delivery into the six yard box knocked on towards the far post, cleared well by the defender on the post away to the right.
Harpenden build through the middle Hughes playing the ball to Cloy who in turn sends it out to Curtain bombing down the right her cross lifted into the area, Amanor making a near post run, Cole does well to read the flight of the ball come to catch it in front of the attacker. Amanor looking to take the ball on carrying it into the box from the left twisting and turning looking for an opening can’t find one before the Dussindale & Hellesdon defender converge en masse. Shacklock putting the ball on well for Amanor left side down the wing her cross along the top of the six yard box intercepted by Tink.
Dussindale & Hellesdon making a change, George coming off, with Alisha Juby a new singing from King’s Lynn coming on to make her debut for the club going up top. Continues to be an intriguing contest, Harpenden doing there all to get back into the game Dussindale & Hellesdon working hard to keep them at bay. The visitors making another switch bringing off Curtain for Hannah Pope. Referee Steven Hemp spotting a handball Harpenden winning a free-kick 30 yards out, McShane to play the ball on into the area, attacked and cleared by Tink for Dussindale & Hellesdon.
Leyer with the ball at her feet on the move for Dussindale & Hellesdon out to the left lifting a cross into the middle for Hutchin who attempts to help it on with her head for Bussey out to her right, the flag though going up against her. Cloy coming off for Harpenden with Shannon re-entering the action. Juby on the attack down the right for Dussindale & Hellesdon, Shacklock tracking back to put in the challenge knocking the ball of Juby behind for a goal kick.
Amanor turning on the ball central to lay it out to Pope attacking down the right channel striking the ball on the angle from 20 yards out, Cole gets down well to make the save for Dussindale & Hellesdon. The ball played long for Amanor to attack out on the left strong to get into the area closing in on goal, Barnes gets back across her to put in the challenge send the ball behind for a corner kick. Fired in near side attacked by Ayres the ball wide taking a knick of a defender on its way out. The 2nd corner put in low central into Hughes on the penalty spot squeezes her shot through the crowd towards goal but Cole is right behind it to drop low to save.
Harpenden pushing players on looking for a reply Shacklock inside to Shannon on halfway picks out Amanor breaking free left side squares her cross into the six yard box too close to the keeper, Cole down to smother the ball. Dussindale & Hellesdon soaking up a lot of pressure content to pick their moments going forwards determined to hold onto their lead. Leyer providing a good outlet going forwards with some useful runs on the ball.
A few spots of rain in the are as the floodlights take full effect the odd plane coming in to land flying low over the pitch. Amanor chasing after the ball shielding it out to win the corner on the left, another good delivery into the six yard box, Tink though the one defending for Dussindale & Hellesdon to head it clear. The hosts making another change with Bussey coming off and George coming on to support Juby in attack. Hutchin sending the ball on for Moore out on the left, Dowdall closing her down to defend for Harpenden the ball cleared up the line Humphries latching onto it shooting from all of 30 yards out her attempt put wide.
Dinsey coming back on for Harpenden replacing Jones. Dussindale & Hellesdon winning a free-kick 30 yards out to the left of the Harpenden goal, Leyer fancying in puts her strike over the crossbar. Cole out off her line quickly to come and lay claim to the ball as Shannon looks to play the pass on for Amanor pulling off her marker top of the D.
GOAL! Amanor has been threatening a goal all 2nd half and switching over to the right finds a way through to set up a nervy close to the match attacking down the right the ball is played into the attackers path racing to the by-line the angle rapidly going away from her slides into the shot Cole going down to save the ball somehow squirming under her at the near post to trickle over the line beyond her 3-2.
Dussindale & Hellesdon do well to win a corner on the left up the other end looking to eat up valuable time make a mess of it playing a short ball back up the line as Harpenden nip in to steal the ball and counter, Humphries doing well to force the attacker wide hold her up allowing her defence to get back into shape, Pope getting inside squeezing a ball into the area, Cole with a strong call rushing out to throw herself on the ball.
Barnes getting in the blocking tackle to stop Amanor as she looks to turn and run with the ball. Dussindale & Hellesdon attacking on the left Moore inside for Hutchin 25 yards out her strike charged down out for a corner high up the pitch. Steady rain falling now. time ticking down Dussindale & Hellesdon looking to keep possession with a throw on the right, Hrisimova winning it back for Harpenden looks to send the ball long for Hughes her cross cut out by Tink.
One last attack for Harpenden Amanor fed in on the right into the box driving to the by-line goes down appeals, the ref in a good position waving play on, no penalty. The final whistle blowing moments later, Dussindale & Hellesdon holding on for the win the 3 points taking them back to the top of the league.
Full time Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Women 3-2 Harpenden Town Women
Dussindale & Hellesdon with a strong defensive performance in the 2nd half to hold off a determined Harpenden fightback. Sophia Amanor strong on the ball creating chances eventually pulling a goal back for the visitors, not enough however as the hosts held on for the 3 points. Taking their chances in the first half to get themselves into a 3-1, Dussindale & Hellesdon played well having soaked up some early pressure before coming back into the match with several useful attacking moves. Overall an entertaining contest fought between the sides at the top of the table and the return game at Harpenden in two weeks time promises to be no less intriguing.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto the first Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. Might be a new year but it’s won by a player whose collected a few of these in the past. Several performance of note to mention of course for Harpenden, Sophia Amanor was excellent in attack running down the flanks taking on the defence easy to see why she scores so many goals created numerous chances. Jamie Curtain too very good on the right getting forwards and looking to set up her teammates while Melody Jones showed a useful range of passes in the middle of the park competing for the ball. For Dussindale & Hellesdon the defence had their work cut out at time however were up to the task, Jess Barnes and Calista Tink making some useful interceptions and tackles. Goalkeeper Tyla Cole commanding her box well with some great calls and positioning. The award today though goes to Victoria Leyer, scoring two superb goals but no only that make some brilliant runs from the middle to put the Harpenden back line under pressure and bring her teammates into contention.
A highly entertaining game from the top of ERWFL Division One North to start the new year. Both sides enjoying life playing at the higher level. Have no doubt the follow up game will be just as entertaining. Will we be any closer to knowing who might win the league after that… I doubt it. First time seeing Harpenden a pleasure to see them in action. My thanks for everyone’s help with the team line ups today much appreciated. Here’s to a great 2024.
by Darren Gilham