Tag Archives: Hitchin Belles Women Blues

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