Sunday 22nd October
FA Women’s Cup 3rd Round Qualifying
A place in the 1st Round Proper of this season’s FA Women’s Cup up for grabs this Sunday with 88 ties being played across England. A trip to the Daly Group Stadium featuring on Women’s Football East as Fakenham Town Ladies host Hertford Town Women both looking to made history in reaching the 1st Round Proper for the 1st time.
With the added incentive of £4,000 worth of prize money going to the winning side a huge amount for any grassroots club. The prize fund increasing (although still no where close to the men’s prize fund) giving the FA Women’s Cup more prestige seeing a record number of entrants.
Today’s tie between two sides competing in tier 6 of the women’s football pyramid. Albeit in separate leagues with tier 6 of the ERWFL divided into a Division One North and South. The ERWFL reaching it’s full compliment of 36 clubs across 3 divisions this season, has since been reduced by 3 due to teams struggling for various reasons often recruitment which continues to highlight how fragile the game remain despite rapid growth in recent seasons.
Fakenham Town Ladies making the step up into regional football last season off the back of winning the Norfolk Women’s League Cup the year before. A big step up and despite initially struggling for results the squad grew into the league and finished strongly setting the base for the coming season. Division One North swelling to 12 sides (now reduced to 10) including 3 more from Norfolk, Fakenham started well with a home win over Bedfordshire side Wootton Blue Cross Lionesses, two defeats were to follow however, the club responding well to the early setbacks to take 7 points from their last 3 games to climb up to 3rd in the table.
Chloe Gravett top scorer so far netting 12 goals in 7 appearances. Have bolstered the squad with the return of some former players, Imogen Dilling back after a year away with, Kayleigh Robb and Jade Doy also returning. Defender, Sophie Buckley back this season after joining for a spell late last campaign. Sadie Anderson joins, from Scotland whilst studying in Norfolk. With Holly Walker the newest addition joining from Wroxham Women. Under new management this season with Kris Healy and Reserve team player Matty Wheeler in charge. Recieved a bye in the 1st Qualifying Round before knocking out ERWFL Premier Division side King’s Lynn Town Ladies at The Walks in the previous round winning 5-2 with Chloe Gravett scoring 4 goals.
Hertford Town Women were only formed last season, entering the Beds & Herts Women’s Premier Division were amongst the title contenders all the way through to the very last game of the season that against title rivals Wormley Rovers Ladies in a winner takes all game. Sadly were to miss out losing the game 4-3 to finish runners-up, making up for that loss by winning the Chris Renshaw trophy. Applied to join the ERWFL and successful in their bid joining Division One South.
Making a promising start to playing at regional level with 3 wins and a draw from their opening 5 matches to sit 2nd in the ERWFL Division One South table. A young side newly formed have set up a partnership with Hartham United Ladies which will see a number of players dual signed including the likes of experienced striker Nicole Emmings and defender Kat Calvert. Georgia Elmer-Roads and Kaylie Clark leading the goal scoring charts with 4 goals apiece. A goal each for Georgia Elmer-Roads and Charlie Mills seeing Hertford beat Beds & Herts Premier Division side Stotfold Women in 1st Round Qualifying setting up a trip to Essex to play Harlow based side, Frontiers Ladies. Hertford coming out on top in a 10 goal thriller winning 6-4 with Kaylie Clark on target for a hat-trick.
The venue for today’s game the Daly Group Stadium (formerly Clipbush Park) home of Fakenham Town FC. Storm Babet bringing heavy rainfall to much of the country over the past 48 hours, the pitch though coping well soaking up the moisture looking in great condition. A large pitch offering plenty of width with a seated stand opposite the dugouts and clubhouse serving hot and cold drink and food. The calm after the storm, pleasant and mild, settled the sun low behind one end of the ground.
Fakenham Town Ladies starting XI – Tilly Betts, Georgina Pooley, Ruby Curtis, Jemma Riches (C), Sophie Buckley, Sian Sands, Rochelle Woods, Kirstie Rusted, Imogen Dilling, Shelley Woods & Chloe Gravett. Subs – Maddie Smith, Olivia Baker, Vicky Lubbock, Sophie Lubbock & Holly Walker.
Hertford Town Women starting XI – Emma Gore, Leah Crocket, Kayleigh Elmer-Roads, Brodie McKie, Summer Young (C), Ellie Curtis, Kiera Groves, Georgia Elmer-Roads, Tazmin Symonds Bishop, Kaylie Clark & Charlie Mills. Subs – Katie Marshall, Ella Cripps & Ellie Young.
No roll on roll off substitutes in the FA Women’s Cup just 3 substitutes allowed with the tie being settled from the penalty spot if all square after 90 minutes. A switch of ends at kick-off with Fakenham attacking with the sun at there backs, wearing amber coloured shirts, black shorts and socks. Hertford to get the first half underway taking the kick-off wearing blue coloured shirts with white sleeves, blue shorts and socks. The ball played back to Brodie McKie in defence launched forwards up to attacker, Charlie Mills battling to win the ball getting it forwards to Georgia Elmer-Roads breaking in behind left wing, goes too soon the flag up against her.
Fakenham look to bring the ball out of defence on their left Georgina Pooley getting on with the ball pushed inside into the middle, Keira Groves lunging in to tackle winning possession back for Hertford. Pushed out to the right with Tazmin Symonds Bishop breaking down the wing her early cross swung into the area headed clear by Fakenham’s Sophie Buckley.
The visitors winning a free-kick on the right, the ball floated in towards the top of the area defended by Fakenham’s Sian Sands the ball knocked down for Buckley to kick clear. Fakenham giving away free-kicks early in the match inviting pressure as Ellie Curtis places the ball down to take top of the centre circle, the ball looping into the six yard box, goalkeeper Tilly Betts getting a glove on the ball to punch it away behind to her right for a corner kick. The ball fired in low cleared at the near post.
Fakenham a little nervy at the start build on the right, Kirstie Rusted bursting forwards lifting the ball on for Chloe Gravett in attack, Leah Crocket coming across to challenge clear the ball out for a throw in. Hertford lively at the start of the game getting forwards and spreading the ball across the pitch, fed into the left channel for Mills to chase, Ruby Curtis coming across her shielding the ball out of play for a Fakenham goal kick.
Fakenham come left Rusted sending the ball into Shelley Woods coming inside form the right, looks for Gravett breaking into the D, Crocket again getting a foot in to take the ball away from the Fakenham attacker the ball out for a throw. The ball over on the left as Hertford get players forwards, space opening up on the right for Crocket to move into see the cross field past put into her path drives on before crossing, Buckley winning the interception heading the threat clear for the hosts.
The free-kick count mounting Hertford winning another inside the Fakenham half, Curtis sending it up in towards the six yard box, Betts comfortable as she takes the catch down into her body. Pooley bringing the ball into space on the left for Fakenham firing the pass forwards into Shelley Woods 20 yards out left of the D, gets it out from under her feet forwards into Gravett coming across her path top of the area, driving for goal taking on McKie, the defender cramped for room to turn and challenge doing well to flick a boot out, the ball taking the smallest of deflections to see it run on for onrushing goalkeeper, Emma Gore to snatch up into her gloves.
Hertford winning another set-piece on half-way to the left the ball played on up the channel, Fakenham captain, Jemma Riches stabbing a foot out to knock the ball out of Mills’ path as she bursts forwards to attack it. A competitive cup tie both sides getting after the ball, Groves busy in the middle of the park for Hertford looking to put Crocket away to attack on the right, Pooley stepping in to challenge for Fakenham coming away with the ball on the left surging forwards turning for the area, runs into McKie as the defender stands her ground.
Hertford getting bodies around the ball central the through ball out to the right releasing Symonds Bishop down the line turning inside top of the area, has Clark waiting to receive right of the D, the ball into her as Mills overlaps to burst into the area the ball put into her feet her shot on the angle charged down, the ball gathered in the middle by Curtis whose shot from distance drops wide of the left post. Hertford captain, Summer Young intercepting the ball at the back as Buckley sends it long from the back looking for Gravett
GOAL! 25 yards out Gravett snaps back at Young to nick the ball play it forwards into Shelley Woods breaking in behind the defence left of the D to put herself one on one with the keeper, opening up her body to send the ball wide of the keeper before she can close her down to score 1-0.
Fakenham taking the lead just past the opening 15 minutes, the goal bringing some confidence as the hosts get hold of the ball in the middle, Rochelle Woods with a strong run with the ball, laid off to Rusted on the right, looks for Gravett, Young winning the ball back for Hertford. The visitors awarded a free-kick wide on the left, Clark to play the ball in towards goal, Betts again with an assured take catching the ball as she drops forwards.
Imogen Dilling putting the ball on for Shelley Woods coming in of the right channel threaded into the area for Gravett, McKie coming across the attacker to shield the ball as Gore comes to claim it. Mills darting about up top for Hertford making some teasing runs keeping the Fakenham defence on their toes Riches and Buckley halting her progress. The ball given away on the right as Hertford press the ball Symonds Bishop on the move passing inside to Mills right of the D, Riches quickly across to dive in with an outstretched leg to send the ball away from a throw.
Penalty! The ball put in across the top of the area from the throw on the right sees Clark looking to turn get inside to shoot, Curtis bringing her down, referee Tom Miles pointing to the spot. Curtis shown the yellow card. Now my camera’s batteries chose this exact moment to die so I didn’t clock who took the penalty, nevertheless the ball is struck hard and rising, Betts going the right way is beaten but the ball cannons back off the crossbar, down into the area, Fakenham’s defence scrambling it clear the opportunity to level gone.
Ellie Curtis for Hertford with another attempt from range held by Betts back on her line. Hertford finding joy out wide, Georgia Elmer-Roads lining up a shot from the left on the angle driven in low to the near post, Betts right behind it. Fakenham getting themselves a free-kick wide on the right a chance for players to come up from the back, lifted into the area, Riches attacking it adjudged to have committed the foul.
Groves getting stuck in in the middle for Hertford playing the ball out to Symonds Bishop on the right, powers forwards, Pooley getting back on her to tackle put the ball out of play for Fakenham. Shelley Woods finding useful pockets of space in the channels for Fakenham constantly looking to lay the ball into Gravett as she moves across the Hertford back line, McKie getting her head on the ball to clear. Young at the back sending a great pass forwards to see Mills race in between the Fakenham centre backs, 30 yards out, Betts though is alert to the threat and comes racing out of her box to get to the ball first kick clear.
Pooley bringing the ball on left for Fakenham inside for Shelley Woods, 30 out rolls in inside for Rochelle Woods who sees Pooley continuing her run into the box hooks the ball forwards, McKie tracking across lunging in to get her foot on the ball knock it behind for the corner kick. The ball fired in near post cleared for a throw in.
Fakenham building some pressure out on the right players forwards into the area lifted into the box, Shelley Woods looking to latch onto it get ahead of the defence under challenge lifts the ball over the keeper to score, won’t count however with the referee spotting a pull of the shirt.
Clark moving across the path of Symonds Bishop on the right as the winner drives forwards with the ball, Clark taking the ball right of goal seeing her cross cut out, getting the rebound back attempts to pick out Symonds Bishop at the by line however the winger has strayed offside. Ellie Curtis sent tumbling for Hertford the visitors with another free-kick inside the Fakenham half central, Clark lines up a strike the shot swerving away from the top left corner.
Hertford continue to press for an equaliser Groves getting the ball out to the left, Georgia Elmer-Roads inside for Clark moving into the area, Betts comes rushing out to close her down diving at her feet the ball knocked past her heading for the by-line Elmer-Roads after it from the acutest of angles gets a shot away the ball coming back off the base of the post.
End to end no sooner has Betts been called into action one end, Gore has to come rushing out to dive in save at the feet of Gravett as she looks to steal into the box from the right channel the keeper snatching hold of the ball quickly up to get her side on the move.
Betts down low to save at her near post as Georgia Elmer-Roads sends another angled shot in low towards goal. McKie doing well inside the box to defend against Gravett as Rusted attacking from the right hooks a high ball into the area. A busy end to the first half Hertford with a throw high on their right put across the top of the area into Mills slots the ball forwards for Clark to attack, Betts down smartly to save well at her feet.
Young stretching out a leg to cut the ball out as Shelley Woods attempts to put Gravett through into the box. Fakenham pushing up on the right, Gravett off a throw powering her way into the area, attempting to lay it back up towards the top of the area for Rochelle Woods, Kayleigh Elmer-Roads defending for Hertford.
Half-time Fakenham Town Women 1-0 Hertford Town Women
An entertaining 1st half, the teams go off with Fakenham holding the advantage, Shelley Woods 16th minute goal separating the sides. A bright start from Hertford have looked lively getting the ball about the pitch creating a few half chances. Fakenham a little nervous at the start settling into the game the goal seeing them press better get after the Hertford defence, giving away a penalty Hertford failing to capitalise both keepers called into action. The tie very much on a knife edge going into the 2nd half.
Hertford making a double substitution at the start of the 2nd half brining on Ellie Young and Ella Cripps for, Curtis and Crocket. Fakenham unchanged to get the 2nd half underway played back to the defence, Hertford pour forwards in an attempt to close the ball down the ball hastily cleared for a throw on the right. A strong start from Hertford winning the ball out on the left Clark inside for Mills out to Ellie Youngs attacking on the right side whips an early ball into the area headed away by Riches.
GOAL! Hertford get back on level terms with barely a minute of the 2nd half played, attacking on the right Ellie Young making an immediate impact laying the ball on for Mills wide of the area tracks inside towards the six yard box before laying the ball back towards the top of the area a host of blue shirts queuing up to strike it, Young with the strike smashing the ball into the roof of the net to equalise 1-1.
Pooley closing down Clark as the Hertford striker brings the ball out to the right, deflected inside, Mills chasing after it into the D, Sands hooking clear. Hertford pressing well at the start of the 2nd half looking to push Fakenham back. A competitive game in the middle of the park, tackles flying in, Sands being cautioned by the referee.
Mills out to the right taking the ball on from Ellie Young checks inside playing in into Clark right of the D, Sands tracking back for Fakenham doing the defensive work regaining possession for the hosts. Fakenham attempting to regain the momentum finding Rusted out on the right, Gravett over to support, Kayleigh Elmer-Roads forced to play the ball out for a throw.
Mills right sees her progress stopped by Pooley the ball out for a throw level with the top of the area played inside into Clark sees it down of her chest and turns into the shot striking the ball wide of the near post. Gravett hauled down as she breaks forwards from the left, no advantage play brought back for the set-piece the strike from distance fired over the crossbar.
Georgia Elmer-Roads coming out to the left has Cripps racing on ahead of her the ball fed into her run of for Clark who sends a dangerous ball into the area behind the defence, Buckley getting her toe on the ball to turn it behind for the corner kick. Swung in low to the near post cut out, Rusted rushing out to charge down a shot from outside the box the ball cleared upfield. Gravett pulling free on the right to chase the ball down into the area, Cripps chasing back stays on her well to lung in cut out her cross send it behind for the corner kick. The corner from the right, met by Groves coming out to clear, falls to a Fakenham player the shot struck from range angling wide of the far post.
Midway through the 2nd half the game delicately poised Hertford with a strong opening pushing players on stretching Fakenham the hosts defence coping well, Gravett and Woods looking to pull into the channels create an opening at the other end. Fakenham attacking on the left players attracted to the ball, the cross lifted into the box from deep, Rusted closing in on the keeper six yards out getting her head under the ball attempting to put it wide of Gore places it wide of the left post.
The fouls mounting up for Sands as she goes into the book for Fakenham, the free-kick wide on the right 35 yards out, floated into the area Betts comes out well to claim the ball. Hertford committing players forwards get caught with a high line as Shelley Woods nips in on the ball and attempts to thread Gravett through into the box, is a vital touch from Kayleigh Elmer-Roads to cut the ball out or Gravett was in with a one one with the keeper.
A double change for Fakenham with Pooley and Rochelle Woods coming off, Holly Walker and Vicky Lubbock. A change of shirt for Clark just to confuse things now wearing no 4. Kayleigh Elmer-Roads breaks away on the left in behind racing to the by-line as Riches comes out to close her down, completely misses her cross, but still manages to win her side a corner knocking the ball behind of the defender. Fired in near post defended knocked out to Ellie Young left corner fires a vicious ball back into the six yard box, cleared by Walker for Fakenham in front of her goal comes straight to McKie top of the box, shoots her shot rising clips the top of the crossbar on it’s way over.
Both sides showing intent going for the winner Hertford committing players forwards, Fakenham looking to get the ball back into their attackers remains competitive in the middle of the park. The hosts with a free-kick out on the left taken quickly fired in across the goal, Rusted closing in far post can’t get a telling touch. Rusted’s last action of the game then as she is taken off replaced by Sophie Lubbock with a little over 10 minutes left on the clock.
Gravett working hard up top for Fakenham running into the channels taking the ball on from Dilling running into the corner her cross swung in behind the goal. Fakenham pressing high Sophie Lubbock seeing her shot charged down, Hertford attacking on the counter. Mills taking the ball right her cross cut out by Buckley, comes back to Mills lifted into Symonds Bishop at the near post Betts diving in front of her doing enough to knock it against the attacker out of play for the goal kick.
End to end late in proceedings both sides seeking what could prove to be the winning goal with penalties looming. Groves taking the ball forwards pushed on into Mills, she finds her run halted by Riches inside the D. Kayleigh Elmer-Roads picking up a yellow card as she up ends Sophie Lubbock. The set-piece right of the centre circle lifted in towards the right post, Gore coming across her goal jumping to catch the ball.
Mills tracking in from the right seeing her strike deflected safely through to the keeper. Katie Marshall coming on for Hertford replacing Georgia Elmer-Roads. Gore down sharply to smother the ball as Fakenham lift it in from the left. Betts with a fantastic piece of goalkeeping as she comes racing out to meet Clark top of the area as she latches onto a through ball from midfield, the keeper down low on her knees getting a hand on the ball as Clark looks to go around her, Riches around on the cover clearing the ball.
Fakenham break up the other end the ball out to Gravett on the left 25 yards out with the turn and hit smashing a shot over the bar. The 90 minutes are up the game moving into stoppage time no sign that either side is settling for penalties Hertford press the ball, Sophie Lubbock though latching onto a misplaced pass 25 yards out drives for the area, Kayleigh Elmer-Roads getting across to dive in win the tackle.
Fakenham shooting from range a high ball in towards goal from the left threatening to dip under, Gore’s bar but she is tall, standing above her teammates isn’t caught off guard plucking the ball down from the air into the ground for the defence to clear.
GOAL! Hertford clear the ball forwards through the middle Clark racing onto it 35 yards out doesn’t hesitate lines up the shot putting her foot through the ball, striking it over the keeper to land in the goal beyond and runs away to her bench to celebrate 1-2.
Hertford coming back from a goal down at the break to take the lead in the 93rd minute! Virtually no time left for Fakenham to respond a hammer blow the hosts press forwards looking to score. Hertford drop back to defend a little scrappy Clark picking up a yellow card. A free-kick wide on the left taken quickly in low cut out top of the area. Gravett inside to Vicky Lubbock on for Shelley Woods, cut out by McKie as she surges into the D the ball cleared the final whistle blows and Hertford win it at the death making history to reach the first round proper of the FA Women’s Cup.
Full time Fakenham Town Women 1-2 Hertford Town Women
A fantastic cup tie that looked to be heading to penalties until Kaylie Clark struck from range to find the winning goal for the visitors. A strong 2nd half from Hertford started quickly making changes paying off straight away with the equalising goal on 46 minutes. Further chances created after that, Betts with some great goalkeeping to frustrate them. Both sides looking for a goal to make it 2-1 after that. A great watch from a neutrals perspective could have gone either way, Fakenham will be bitterly disappointed had no time to reply. Hertford into the first round proper draw will be eager to see who they draw out of the hat.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. Often a tough call and although there were a few contenders from both sides, one player had edged it in my mind before the final whistle. For Fakenham, Tilly Betts was superb in goal, controlled and making some vital stops, will be disappointed to concede so late on. Jemma Riches and Sophie Buckley with some strong tackling at the back making a number of interceptions. Shelley Woods in attack making some useful runs into the channels, with Chloe Gravett working hard up top trying to create an opening. For Hertford, Brodie KcKie had a superb game in defence making a number of tackles. Keira Groves all over the place in midfield fighting to win the ball setting up numerous attacks. Ellie Young making a real impact from the bench. Kayleigh Elmer-Roads with several vital tackles at the back too. Had already clinched the award before scoring the 93rd minute winner, Kaylie Clark was excellent in attack making some brilliant runs into the channels and across the defence, linking up well with Mills and Symonds Bishop in particular.
An entertaining cup tie, from the sides 3rd and 2nd in their leagues respectfully going into the game promised to be a good game and certainly delivered. My thanks to both sides from their help with the team details, like Hertford will be looking forwards to the upcoming draw for the 1st Round Proper of the FA Women’s Cup.
by Darren Gilham