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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

Match Report – Real Bedford Ladies v Haringey Borough Women

Sunday 7th April

ERWFL Premier Division

Into the final 2 months of the season, crucial games up and down the league tables, teams battling for titles and promotion. And it’s a top of the table clash this Sunday on Women’s Football East, from the ERWFL Premier Division with a trip to Bedfordshire to watch, leaders Real Bedford Ladies, looking strong at the top in  their debut season under their new banner with a 100% taking on 2nd placed Haringey Borough Women.

The ERWFL Premier Division representing tier 5 of the women’s football pyramid in the east of England. An extremely difficult league to get out of with only one promotion spot as champions offered. Success earning the title winners a place in the FAWNL. Both today’s opponents having had a brief taste of life in the 4th tier.

Real Bedford Ladies formerly known as Bedford Ladies a long established side in the ERWFL. Moving to neighbouring Real Bedford the season prior adopting the name this season. The change seeing the senior women’s side bringing in a host of new players with plenty of experience in the ERWFL and the FAWNL above as they look to fulfil some very ambitious plans to progress up the pyramid. Initially under new manager Dean Perrett, has since departed with Georgia Clarke taking over the role. Not altering Real Bedford’s form one bit sitting 7 points clear at the top with a perfect record winning all 15league games so far.

In fact their only loss so far this season was at home to tier 3 Billericay Town Women in the FA Women’s Cup, (the one game I covered for WF East) that aside have also reached the finals of both the ERWFL League Cup and Bedfordshire Women’s County Cup where they will play Wroxham Women and AFC Dunstable Women respectfully. Have scored plenty of goals too with over a hundred shared amongst 15 different scorers. Top of the charts a Bedford legend, Natasha Fensome always prolific in front of goal bagging herself 29 so far from 22 appearances. 2nd and 3rd are new signings, Gemma Croucher and Francesca Partridge on 18 and 17 a piece with Neve Mayes scoring 13 and Chloe martin also into double figures.

Looking to end Real Bedford’s 100% are today’s visitors Haringey Borough Women, a run of 5 straight league wins powering them up into 2nd spot, have been amongst the sides looking to chase down the leaders all season. Are another of the most established clubs in the ERWFL, know what it takes to win the title and promotion to the FAWNL having done it back in 2017. There stay brief the North London club is back up there challenging at the top and will fancy their chances today having narrowly lost 3-2 in the reverse figure at the start of the year.

Haringey like Real Bedford have plenty of goals throughout the side with 12 different scorers this season. Bringing through another group of young talented players. Victoria Campbell leading the way with 22 to her name from 20 appearances. Ronnell Humes has found the back of the net for 15 goals with Kylie Manktelow also into double figures on 12 for the season. Have played 3 games more than Real Bedford and would need a lot to go their way to pip them to the title but nevertheless are will placed for a top three finish

McMullin Park the venue for this afternoon, ERWFL Premier Division match, just off the A421, parking leading into the ground itself, the clubhouse and bar by the entrance serving hot food and drinks. The stadium beyond a small seated stand beside a large grass pitch in great condition bearing in mind all the wet weather recently. A bright sunny day with a strong wind blowing across the pitch from one goal to the other. The teams walling out onto the pitch Real Bedford with today’s mascots.

Real Bedford Ladies

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

Haringey Borough Women

Haringey Borough Women starting XI – Liamara Hensel-Burg, Lexi Wade, Lola Shack, Chloe Ions, Summer Young, Rimini Lowe, Emily Pickard, Kylie Manktelow, Ronnell Humes (C), Jada Pollendine & Marta Boabonay. Subs – Victoria Campbell, Amy Hayes & Lillian Hart.

(roll on roll off substitutes) 

  Haringey with the wind at their backs in the 1st half taking the kick-off wearing their away colours green shirts and socks with black shorts. Bedford lined up opposite wearing  light orange coloured shirts with black shoulders, black shorts and socks. The ball rolled back to Kylie Manktelow in midfield she clips it long out to the right for Marta Boabonay to chase, too strong the ball carrying through to Bedford goalkeeper and captain, Sarah Hudson.

An early change for Haringey the switch made seeing Jada Pollendine coming off up top, Victoria Campbell sent on. Erin Price getting hold of the ball in the middle for Bedford laying the pass forwards for Natasha Fensome play switched out to the left with Chloe Martin on the move, Lexi Wade getting back at her to defend for Haringey prevent the cross from coming into the box.

Bedford looking to get the ball into the channels, Price on for Amber Smith away on the right, Emily Pickard tracking back with her sliding in to charge down her cross, deflect the ball behind for the corner kick. Lisa Milliken coming forwards to take the corner on the right, fired in deep towards the far post, Martin getting up to head the ball turns her effort wide of the left post.

Bedford with a lively start, Gemma Franklin with a strong challenge at the back to regain possession forwards into midfield for Gemma Croucher has Price with her laying the ball off Price sweeps the pass wide out to the left wing, Martin on the move getting hold of the ball whipping a cross into the six yard box, Fensome there under the ball, puts her header over the crossbar.

Haringey battling for the ball in the middle of the park, Manktelow forwards for Campbell looking to pull off the defence into the right channel, Franklin throwing a leg out to intercept the ball turning it out for a throw. Haringey working the ball down the line bringing themselves a corner kick. Chloe Ions to swing the delivery in across goal headed back out to the right side Ions on it up the line for Haringey captain, Ronnell Humes on the angle 30 yards out smashes a ball in across to the far post, defended by Amy Reed for Bedford before being knocked out of play for a goal kick.

Amy Reed wins the ball for Bedford

A busy start to the game both sides looking to be positive get the ball moving forwards as quickly as possible. Fensome gathering the ball into her feet with a driving run through the middle sending the ball on for Francesca Partridge up top pulling into the left channel, Summer Young getting in the tackle at the back for Haringey.

Erin Price with Haringey’s Kylie Manktelow

The visitors winning a free-kick inside the Bedford half the ball launched into the box, headed clear by the Bedford defence falls straight to Manktelow 25 yards out chips the ball back in towards goal on the half volley, straight at the keeper, Hudson right behind it with a comfortable catch. Lola Shack playing the ball on for Boabonay peeling away to attack on the right strikes the ball on the angle low and fast towards the near post Hudson has the angle covered.

Haringey attacker, Marta Boabonay

 GOAL! Just past the quarter hour mark and Haringey take the lead, the ball played up to Humes pressing Reed in possession wide getting hold of the ball, turning inside 30 yards out, Franklin coming to close her down the attacker takes the ball wide of her opening up the angle to shoot, puts her foot through the ball left of the D, I’m right behind it, it’s struck well, put the camera down as it looks in all the way whipping up over Hudson to drop into the back of the net 0-1.

Haringey captain, Ronnell Humes opening the scoring

Bedford looking for a quick response to falling behind the ball fed out to Martin racing on down the left wing her cross, bouncing into the six yard box, Smith looking to attack it far post, goalkeeper, Liamara Hansel-Burg called into action throwing herself across to make the blocking save. The visitors set off on the counter attack the ball lifted on for Humes to take forwards on the left, Reed defending for Bedford the ball rebounding back to Ions she opens up her body to fire a dangerous ball high in towards goal, wind assisted Hudson stretching to get to the falling ball back on her line does brilliantly to get her glove on the ball turn it behind for the corner kick.

Another vicious in swinger from Ions on the right drops at the far post the ball stabbed goal wards, Hudson down smartly on her line to get hold of it. End to end at times the game lively little time on the ball played forwards, Croucher out to Martin left winning a corner kick. Clipped in across the six yard box comes through to Price positioned beyond the far post heads the ball wide.

Bedford’s Georgie Giddings

Georgie Giddings on the ball for Bedford played on for Price to lay the diagonal pass out to Martin left side, tracking inside on the angle 20 yards out has an attempt on goal fires her shot straight into the arms for Hensel-Burg. Bedford regaining possession on through the middle Croucher passing the ball left for Martin to battle her way on down the line firing a cross into the six yards box, Partridge central can’t quite connect the ball not safe Haringey struggle to clear it, as Fensome takes a swing at it throws her arms up in frustration as the ball swerves wide of the right post.

Real Bedford striker, Natasha Fensome

Midway through the half, Haringey competing for everything, Rimini Lowe playing the ball into Manktelow who sends it up top for Campbell, back to goal 25 yards out looks to play Boabonay in behind on the right, Milliken with a vital interception for Bedford. Boabonay coming off then with Jada Pollendine returning to the action. Young tackling at the back to win the ball back for Haringey does well before being fouled trying to bring the ball away.

Humes playing on the right after the switch, the ball put out to her see’s her cross charged down for a corner. From the right another dangerous ball swung into the area, the crossbar struck, Bedford struggling to deal with the pace on the ball scramble it clear, look for the quick counter attack however the ball meant to release Fensome see’s her instead flagged for offside.

Haringey’s Rimini Lowe with Bedford’s Chloe Martin

Fensome turning on the ball threading the pass on into the right channel to release Smith charging forwards shoots on the angle power behind the rising ball, Hensel-Burg across to cover the angle palming the ball up into the air and claiming it. Haringey coming forwards Shack on for Ions left side looking for Pollendine in attack, Reed into challenge for Bedford, Ions after the loose ball her cross cut out by Giddings. Humes right channel looks to turn get in behind Franklin the defender getting back at her going to ground to block her cross turn the ball behind for the corner kick.

Gemma Franklin

GOAL! Haringey’s corners have caused Bedford problems all half and aided by the wind blowing towards there goal certainly favours Ions in swinging deliveries as she once again gets plenty of pace on the ball fired in across the face of goal, no one can get a touch but not needed as it whips inside the far post to see the visitors double their lead in the 31st minute 0-2.

Chloe Ions corner goes straight in

Chloe Ions celebrates her goal

A blow for Bedford as they restart the game attacking on the right Ions in to challenge Smith plays the ball up the line for Pollendine, tussling with Franklin for the ball, Bedford win it back played central into Fensome sweeps it out to Martin on the left, lifts her cross into the box, Partridge’s shot blocked the ball deflected behind for the corner. Swung into the box from the left Croucher looking to attack it central falls out towards Fensome positioned top of the area, slices her volley wide of the mark.

Shack with Ions on the left for Haringey the ball on for Pollendine checks inside looking to thread the ball in behind for Campbell making a central run, Franklin with a crucial cut out for Bedford at the back.

Bedford’s Amber Smith

Bedford mounting an attack Giddings to Partridge central plays it inside for Fensome 20 out puts the pass into the area with Croucher stealing in between the centre backs the flag going up against her straight away even as the ball runs past her on for Partridge coming round the back to send the ball home, the goal won’t stand.

GOAL! Ions is sent tumbling in midfield the free-kick awarded to Haringey inside the Bedford half, left of the centre circle. Lowe placing the ball on the ground the wind assisting anything the visitors play forwards, Lowe sets her stance before moving to strike the ball I’m right behind this one again and it’s a beauty of a strike heading for the top corner has Hudson in trouble as it drops late under the crossbar and Lowe celebrates her 5th of the season and Haringey’s 3rd 0-3.

Rimini Lowe with a beauty of a strike from nearly half way to put Haringey 3 up

Again Bedford are straight on the offensive from the restart the ball put on for Partridge powering into the left channel striking the ball on the half volley 25 yards out her effort saved confidently by Hensel-Burg. The hosts winning a throw high on the right Price getting the ball down for Smith, Shack tackling for Haringey. The Haringey defence battling for everything in to block crosses and close Bedford down in the final 3rd. Winning a free-kick wide left another opportunity to fire the ball in towards goal, whipped in on target, Hudson getting up well to deal with the threat.

GOAL! Into the closing stages of the first half Haringey getting on down the right, Humes taking the ball on her cross charged down turned behind for the corner. Ions to whip the ball in across the face of goal again, Campbell positioned at the far post getting her head onto the ball to send it over the line and extend the visitors lead 0-4.

Victoria Campbell heads home Haringey’s 4th

Half-time Real Bedford Ladies 0-4 Haringey Borough Women

Haringey’s Victoria Campbell putting the visitors 4 goals up at the break

Bedford head into the dressing room, with their 100% league record under serious threat, trailing 4-0, Haringey remain out on the field buzzing from their first half performance. An entertaining match with both sides looking to get forwards quickly both creating opportunities early on the opening goal on 17 minutes. Bedford looking for a quick reply forcing a save from the Haringey keeper, Hensel-Burg. The wind aiding Haringey going forwards took full advantage Bedford struggling to deal with their corners Ions in swinging delivery going straight in to make it 2-0, Campbell on the end of another delivery to make it 4 with a superb free-kick from Rimini Lowe in between. A tough task now for Bedford to get back into the match, but they have a side full of goals will be keen to pull an early goal back.

So much so they are out onto the pitch early for the 2nd half, Haringey excited to get going too, just one thing missing the officials and nothing can happen without them, half-time tea drunk the game is ready to restart. Bedford with a change, Zara Carroll on to replace Giddings in midfield. Bedford with the wind advantage in the 2nd half as they get thing’s underway the hosts looking to get on Croucher linking up with Price in the middle the ball out to Smith on the right dealt with.

Has been a physical game with some robust challenges, but between two sides who just get on with it. Bedford with a free-kick in midfield, Carroll on the pitch now a set piece specialist striking the ball up towards the box, Young heading it away for Haringey drops to Milliken 30 yards out on the left sends it back in on the angle, Hensel-Burg with a comfortable claim inside her six yard box.

Lisa Milliken looking to put Chloe Martin in to attack

Ions picking up a knock needs to have treatment, up and moving to the side lines is okay to play on. Price winning Bedford a free-kick on the right struck on the angle with pace the ball is driven wide past the far post. Bedford looking for an early goal to mount their fightback attacking down the left Fensome up with Martin the cross fired in with pace towards the near post Partridge racing in to attack it struck up against the crossbar and over, a corner signalled must have taken a nick off a defender. The corner curled onto the roof of the net.

Partridge taking the ball on up the left channel forcing Haringey into conceding the corner. From the left whipped in across the six yard box attacked beyond the far post turned wide. Pushing players on Haringey with their lead can sit back choose their moments to attack, Pickard winning it at the back on for Manktelow who picks out Pollendine on the move down the right breaking for the by-line looking to get into the area Milliken recovers to get back on her and put in the tackle, the ball launched clear.

Haringey’s Jada Pollendine

Fensome brought down as she attacks wide left on half way. Milliken to send the free-kick into the area swung in central looping over Fensome, Partridge rushing in at the far post, Hensel-Burg down smartly on her line stretching to smother the ball into her body.

Hensel-Burg called up as Bedford attack the ball out to Smith right fires a cross in to the far post looking for Fensome racing in to attack it, the keeper moving across to try and cover the angle as the ball lands just behind Fensome, Martin though is running into the area on the follow-up six yards out looks to smash the ball goal wards, her effort rising, Hensel-Burg gets up off the ground excellently to make herself big throwing her arms up to tip the ball over the bar.

It’s a scrappy game now Bedford putting the pressure on Haringey battling for everything at the back. Milliken left clips the ball forwards for Fensome, into the area too much to do as it runs safely through to Hensel-Burg. Fensome nipping into win the ball at the back sends it out to Martin wide on the left she lifts her high cross looping up into the six yard box dropping central, Hensel-Burg keeps her eye on it making the catch above her head not distracted by Croucher closing her down.

Smith running onto a diagonal ball played out to her on the right taking it on sees her cross blocked by Pickard for Haringey. The hosts winning a corner on the left fired into the near side defended by Campbell behind for another corner. Put into the mix the ball is cleared out to the right falling to Fensome on the angle strikes it back in towards goal, Hensel-Burg with another brilliant save to turn the ball over the bar for a corner out on the left.

 GOAL! The pressure tells with Bedford pulling a goal back past the hour the corner powered in across the six yard box coming to Price at the far post meets it well to drive her header back across the goal and over the line 1-4.

Erin Price pulling a goal back for Bedford

Bedford making a double change after the goal breaking on Sophie Billing and Neve Mayes to replace Martin and Partridge in attack. The ball won back in the middle played out to Fensome pulling into space wide left turns her marker to get in behind to cross the ball in central, Mayes on the spot closing it down, Hensel-Burg reacting sharply getting down to save block the ball on the line.

Neve Mayes

Young with a vital header at the back to clear Milliken’s diagonal ball aimed to Mayes pulling off the right channel. Time for a double switch from Haringey with Boabonay coming back on along with Amy Hayes replacing Pollendine and Campbell. Bedford attacking up the right the ball inside for Fensome, Wade closing her down making the tackle for Haringey. The clock ticking down, Haringey working hard, frustrating Bedford as they look to get the ball forwards. Lowe on the end of a strong challenge up ended as she looks to take the ball forwards for the visitors.

Hensel-Burg saving for Haringey again getting down to hold onto the ball as Fensome steals possession back left corner of the area to fire a shot in low on the angle. Franklin at the back for Bedford getting back t tackle Humes as she looks to break in behind down the left, the ball back to Carroll, lifts it forwards towards Billings, Manktelow closing her down for Haringey.

Humes marauding forwards down the left flank for Haringey, Franklin stretching dives in to make the tackle send the ball behind for the corner. A change before the corner for the visitors Shack coming off, Lillian Hart sent on moving up into the box. Swung in across the area, Reed defending getting her head on it Hudson catching the ball looking to get her side moving.

Lauren Coppin coming on for Bedford replacing Smith on the right side of attack. Haringey scrapping for ball winning it back central looking for Humes bursting down the left, too much for her to do this time. Bedford with a corner out on the right curled in across the face of goal knocked down, Hensel-Burg throwing herself down on her line getting behind it to save.

Haringey winning a free-kick wide a chance for Manktelow to play the ball into the area from the right put across to the far post knocked down back across to the opposite post, Hudson across well to lay claim to the ball with Hart closing in. Bedford counter rapidly the ball lifted long up the left Fensome to whip the ball in across the face of goal, Coppin throwing herself at the ball far post, can’t get a touch.

Bedford’s Gemma Croucher

Price taking the ball through the middle forwards into Mayes out to Fensome inside the left channel, but can’t quite take it on as Lowe gets her challenge in. Hensel-Burg throwing her glove up with the faintest of glances to deflect Coppin’s cross from the right onto the roof of her net.

Haringey’s goalkeeper, keeping Bedford at bay with another superb save this time on Fensome central as the ball is crossed into her from the right, getting her foot up over the ball looks to strike it back to the right post, Hensel-Burg diving full stretch to her left to keep the shot out.

Haringey goalkeeper, Liamara Hensel-Burg in the thick of the action.

More goalkeeping heroic’s from Hensel-Burg a double save as the ball is fired at her from close range by Mayes inside the six yard box off a Coppin ball fired in from the right. Hensel-Burg everywhere in the six yard box throwing her body on the line to thwart Bedford as they fight to get a goal.

An intense finish to the game Haringey fighting to keep Bedford out at one end looking for the chance to counter up the other with Humes and Boabonay working the channels left and right ready to run in behind. Milliken pushed up late on with a scuffed shot 30 yards out central running through to the keeper. Humes surging into the box from the left flank crowed off the ball by the Bedford defence.

Full time Real Bedford Ladies 1-4 Haringey Borough Women

The final whistle blows and Haringey celebrate as they win the 3 points and bring an end to Bedford’s 100% league record. Closing the gap at the top to 4 points. Battled hard for the win, the damage done in the first half. A 4 goal cushion to defend was always going to be a hard task to find a way back into the game but Bedford gave it a good go 2nd half creating chances only came up against a determined defence and goalkeeper. 15 league wins on the spin is no less an incredible achievement and Bedford shouldn’t be to disappointed. Seen a few of these runs end over the season’s they take some doing and no doubt the club will be setting it’s sights on a new run.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

 Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. For the 3rd game in a row it’s a straight forward decision, isn’t often the case, but another clear winner today. A few performances of note to mention first though. For Bedford, Erin Price won the ball well in the middle and drove forwards with it at her feet looking to bring her attackers into play. Gemma Franklin with some vital stops at the back. Natasha Fensome working hard up top to create goal scoring opportunities for herself and others, just wasn’t to be today. For Haringey captain Ronnell Humes was strong on the ball in attack a ready outlet looking to take on the defence opened the scoring. Chloe Ions corner deliveries a threat throughout especially first half scoring from one and assisting the 4th goal. Lola Shack with several important tackles at the back along side Summer Young and Rimini Lowe. Kylie Manktelow with some excellent passing from midfield. The award though goes to Haringey’s 17 year old goalkeeper, Liamara Hensel-Burg what a performance, acrobatic threw herself into her saves getting across her line to make several vital stops and help keep her sides lead largely intact.

Another entertaining game from the ERWFL Premier Division. An enjoyable trip to Bedfordshire. Whether I’ll be welcome at McMullin Park again is another matter as Bedford have only lost twice this season and I’ve been there both times (sorry). Still it’s a welcoming club and I appreciate the help from both sides today.

by Darren Gilham

Match Report – Real Bedford Ladies v Billericay Town Women

Sunday 12th November

FA Women’s Cup

 An exciting Sunday of women’s football with this season’s FA Women’s Cup entering the 1st Round Proper, several exciting ties across the East to p[ick from and a few sides making history reaching this stage of the competition for the first time too. A trip to Bedfordshire today for Women’s Football East with Real Bedford Ladies leading the ERWFL Premier Division taking on FAWNL Southern Premier Division side, Billericay Town Women.

  The FA Women’s Cup receiving a boost in midweek with the announcement that the prize money is to increase again, however this news is tempered with this increase not being evenly distributed across the competition but for those reaching the 3rd Round Proper and beyond, this not going down well with grassroots clubs and rightly so. The extra money offered should have been better distributed.

  Nevertheless today’s winning side will receive £6,000 which remains a huge financial sum to clubs playing a this level. 

  Real Bedford Ladies born at the end of last season with the women’s side known as Bedford Ladies previously, moving next door basically with the two clubs next to each other. The transition beginning last season with the women’s teams moving to McMullen Park, merging to become part of The Pirate’s family. A new beginning for the club retaining their ERWFL Premier Division status, have brought in ex Harlow Town Ladies and Enfield Town Ladies manager Dean Parrett to head up the new side and has been busy in the transfer market bringing in a host of new signings which has seen the club win all 9 of their opening league matches to date taking them 8 points clear of the chasing pack.

  Goalkeeper, Sarah Hudson arriving from Cambridge City Women announced as the clubs first new signing was soon followed by fellow City players, defender Amy Reed and young striking talent, Sophie Billing. Midfielder, Izzy Crooks also joining along with attacker Francesca Partridge who was with Cambridge United WC Last campaign. Gemma Croucher has lots of ERWFL Premier Division experience having played for Royston Town Women. Defenders Kalyen Gerkey who was with Billericay last season and Kaydee King both added huge experience with Erin Price the latest player to join the side can perform equally well in midfield or the heart of the defence. Those additions added to a strong core of players looking to push up the ERWFL table and return to the FAWNL. Natasha Fensome a living legend for Bedford often amongst the goals and is doing so once again netting 15 already this term with Partridge and Croucher also into double figures. Strong in the ERWFL, Fensome was on target for a hat-trick in the previous round of the FA Women’s Cup as Real Bedford ran out 9-2 winners away to Hackney Women.

  Billericay Town Women too also busy in the transfer market as they look to build on a strong debut season in the FAWNL Southern Premier Division which saw them finish 6th in the table in their 1st season playing in the 3rd tier. Manager James Gibson bringing in attacker Maddie Biggs from Ipswich Town Women. Also joining from Ipswich defender Oliva Smith. Midfielder and ex-England youth international, Alex Hennessey added to the squad along with ex-Crawley Wasps captain Selin Buyukgiray. Leanne Bell joins from Portsmouth FC Women. Goalkeepers Hope Smith previously with London City Lionesses and Katie O’Hanlon dual signed from West ham. Guyanese international Otesha Charles. Defender Ellie Finneran and Amber Gaylor returning to the club has lots of experience in the FA Women’s Championship having played for London Bees, Millwall Lionesses and Crystal Palace. While Amelie Johnson steps up from the Reserves squad. Biggs hitting the ground running at her new club netting 10 so far this season, Billericay currently 9th in the table a little frustrated with some of the results so far entering the FA Women’s Cup will be looking for a decent un in the competition.

  McMillen Park the venue for today’s cup tie, the clubhouse and bar serving hot food and drinks leading into the stadium itself. The grass pitch with a small covered seated stand on one side opposite the dugouts with viewing all round. A damp day but still, very over cast and gloomy with the threat of a shower or two during the match.

Real Bedford Ladies

  Real Bedford Ladies starting XI – Sarah Hudson, Amy Reed, Lisa Milliken, Gemma Franklin, Amber Smith, Chloe Martin, Zara Carroll (C), Erin Price, Gemma Croucher, Francesca Partridge & Natasha Fensome. Subs – Neve Mayes, Becky Charter, Izzy Crooks, Kaylen Gerkey & Sophie Billing.

Billericay Town Women

  Billericay Town Women starting XI – Hope Smith, Scarlett Williams, Lucy Jones (C), Olivia Smith, Karesha Iton, Che Thomas, Leanne Bell, Amber Gaylor, Soraya Walsh, Ruby Sealey & Maddie Biggs. Subs – Alex baker, Karissa Doo, Otesha Charles, Charlotte O’Shea, Janaye Beaufort, Elise Jennings & Amelie Johnson.

 A moment of silence held before the game on this Remembrance Sunday to reflect on those who gave their lives during the World Wars and other conflicts around the world, Lest We Forget.

The clubs respecting a minutes silence before the match

  It’s Billericay to get this Women’s FA Cup tie underway kicking off the 1st half wearing blue coloured shirts and socks with navy coloured shorts, Bedford lined up opposite wearing orange shirts with black shoulder, black shorts and black socks. The ball rolled back to Olivia Smith in defence puts it out to the right side for Scarlett Williams to launch up the wing, the ball defended knocked back into the middle…

  GOAL! Billericay quick close the ball down regain possession clipped up into the right channel for Maddie Biggs bursting in behind the defence, goalkeeper, Sarah Hudson rushing out to close the angle down block Biggs as she attempts to put the ball past her, the attacker getting beyond the keeper to snap at the loose ball fire it in towards goal, met by Ruby Sealey at the near post who turns it home to see the visitors take the lead inside the opening minute. 0-1.

Ruby Sealey turning the ball home to give Billericay the early lead

  Far from the start Bedford wanted playing against a side 2 league higher, the hosts looking to get forwards straight from the restart out to Chloe Martin on the left sends in forwards down the line for Natasha Fensome to attack, Hope Smith though out quickly to the top of her area to slide in claim the ball. Bedford’s Erin Price and Billericay’s Amber Gaylor enjoying a good tussle in midfield, the Bedford player coming out on top to send a great ball out into the right wing for Amber Smith to chase down into the corner, whipping a dangerous ball across the top of the six yard box, Olivia Smith hacking it clear for Billericay. 

Bedford’s Erin Price battling for possession with Billericay’s Amber Gaylor

  Biggs is send tumbling as she takes control of the ball in the left channel turning to attack, the free-kick 25 yards out to the left of the D, Che Thomas over the set-piece, gets it round the wall on target but not troubling Hudson as she makes a comfortable catch.

  Releasing the ball quickly Bedford get on the attack the ball lifted on for Fensome inside the D rising to nod the ball down for Gemma Croucher inside the area right of the D, closed down quickly as she looks to get a shot away, Billericay captain, Lucy Jones stabbing the ball away to safety. Amber Smith running away with the ball into space on Bedford’s right into the corner before laying her cross back across the top of the area, the ball struck goal wards, Olivia Smith in the way to make the block deflected beyond her with the pace taken out of it for Hope Smith to claim even as Bedford appeal for handball, nothing doing.

Billericay defender, Olivia Smith

  Billericay getting the ball across the pitch well, lively in attack, Williams driving on the left winning a throw high the ball controlled played into the middle for Leanne Bell who switches play to the right with Karesha Iton hugging the touchline whips a high cross in towards goal, Hudson up high at her near post to claim it. A lively opening to the game Billericay looking to get after the Bedford defence find gaps in behind, the hosts countering well the tempo high. 

  GOAL! Billericay capitalising on their positive start as they race into a 2 goal lead, attacking on the right, Lisa Milliken tackling to halt Iton’s progress, the ball coming back to Gaylor free 25 yards out she plays a fantastic diagonal ball into Sealey left of the D, her touch bringing her inside one on one with the keeper and composed sends the ball wide of Hudson into the bottom corner for her 2nd of the game 0-2. 

Ruby Sealey firing Billericay into a 2-0 lead

 Billericay 2 goals to the good inside the opening 10 minutes, Bedford on the back foot needing a response, pushing up onto the Billericay defence, Francesca Partridge stealing the ball at the back attempts to lay it into the path of Fensome ahead of her, a timely foot sending the ball clear for a throw on the left. Bedford pressing high the ball crossed into the area from the left into Partridge is quickly closed down the ball ball cleared out of the area straight to Amber Smith 25 yards out central strikes the ball her shot angling wide of the right post. 

Real Bedford’s Amber Smith.

  Jones bringing the ball out from the back on the left for Billericay plays the pass long for Biggs spinning in behind  heading for the box, Hudson racing out to close her down sliding in at her feet, Biggs putting the ball under her but behind for a goal kick. Price has her hands full in midfield with Gaylor and Bell getting after the ball taking it forwards for Billericay. Threaded on for Sealey to take on to the by-line right side of the area hooks a cross in looping across the face of goal, just over Soraya Walsh rising at the far post before Bedford clear. 

Erin Price

  Bedford up on the right with Amber Smith linking up with Croucher winning the throw, Croucher with a superb take down from the throw sending a looping ball inside to Partridge inside the area left of goal, lets out a frustrated cry as she drags her shot wide across goal, Hope Smith dropping onto it. 

Francesca Partridge

  Bedford winning a free-kick inside the Billericay half 35 yards out, captain Zara Carroll strong on her set-piece deliveries over it curling an inviting ball in to be attacked, defended drops to Croucher top of the D to strike on the half volley connects well but can only place it straight into the goalkeeper’s mid-riff, Hope Smith holding onto the ball.

Real Bedford’s Gemma Croucher

 Bedford looking to get after Billericay press the ball, Croucher in particular snapping after the ball looking to get it on for Fensome to attack the area. Amber Smith having space to run into at times on the right for Bedford whipping a cross in near side, Jones under it heading the ball up beyond her across her six yard box, won’t quite fall for Martin at the far post before Olivia Smith can get it clear.

  A free-kick won for Billericay right side 35 yards out, Gaylor running in to strike the ball hit well angling in threatening to drop under the crossbar, Hudson with a brilliant save getting her glove on the ball to tip it over for a corner kick. The resulting corner flashed in across the face of goal, missing everybody. Iton taking the ball on right wing powering forwards striking it as she cuts infield, taking a nick off a defender seeing it race behind for a corner kick. Swung in from the left Hudson getting a glove on it to turn the ball away to the right, Billericay looking to keep the pressure on knocked inside, Price putting in the tackle to she the threat cleared for Bedford.

Real Bedford captain, Zara Carroll

   Croucher taking the ball on from Martin on the left 30 yards out slipping as she goes to strike the ball, making it an easy save for Hope Smith in the Billericay goal. Amber Smith up field pressing Jones at the back the left back forced into playing a rushed back pass to her keeper, Hope Smith in trouble as Fensome rushes in to close the ball down, trying to dig it out from under her feet, Fensome charging her down the ball landing in the side netting.

Natasha Fensome closing down goalkeeper Hope Smith

  Committing players forwards, Bedford hit Billericay on the counter with Gemma Franklin getting the ball on for Price who sends it forwards into Partridge in attack, Olivia Smith with a vital interception for the visitors. A pause in play with Walsh down needing treatment for Billericay, can’t continue, the visitors making their first change of the match bringing on Charlotte O’Shea.

Gemma Franklin

 Biggs spinning on the ball 25 yards out releasing Sealey into the area, her first touch a little heavy allows Hudson to dive forwards to get hold of it. Bedford counter quickly the ball into Fensome pulling right hooks the ball in central dropping inside the D for Croucher to latch onto her snap shot fired in low, Hope Smith saving getting down low to her left. Billericay remain sharp showing good movement across the pitch Gaylor strong making several positive runs. Williams tackling Fensome to win the ball inside the area as Partridge looks to play her in.

  Jones allowed to travel with the ball into midfield sends the pass on for Biggs to take down and turn right of the area driving forwards, Milliken lunging in to knock the ball out of her path can only play it straight to Sealey who checks inside before curling a shot straight into Hudson back on her line. Bedford pressing late in the first half winning a throw high on the left, Fensome taking it on into the area flashing a cross into the six yard box, Billericay clearing the danger.

Billericay Town Women’s captain, Lucy Jones

Half-time Real Bedford Ladies 0-2 Billericay Town Women

  The perfect start for Billericay racing into the lead inside the opening minute of the game. Far from the start Bedford would have wanted against higher league opposition. Building on a positive start moving the ball well the visitors soon adding to their lead and have continued to look a threat going forwards since. Bedford looking for a response getting forwards well enough but not quite finding the cutting edge to break open the Billericay defence, still at 2-0 the tie remains in the balance, the old clique the next goal counts you think it has to go to Bedford or it’s game over.

 Neither side making a change at the break, just the 3 subs allowed in the FA Cup with a 4th permitted if the tie goes to extra-time. Billericay bringing on O’Shea for the injured Walsh in the first period with Bedford out early to get the 2nd half underway. A few spots of rain in the air, the umbrella needed, thankfully no wind so I can tuck it inside my coat keeping the hands free for the notepad and camera. Billericay after the ball forcing Bedford to go all the way back to their keeper. Won back in the middle Thomas on for Biggs out to O’Shea on the right her cross lifted into the six yard box cleared by Reed. 

Real Bedford’s Amy Reed

 Croucher pulled down as she drives on with the ball for Bedford winning the free-kick, players forwards into the area as Carroll lifts it in towards the far post, Fensome leaping but can’t get any control on her header the ball dropping wide of the post. Reed cutting the ball out a Jones looks to pick out Sealey from range.

  Billericay push up on the Bedford area Thomas with Bell outside the D inside for Biggs, Martin defending for the hosts. Billericay strong at the start of the 2nd half looking for the 3rd goal to make the game more comfortable, Franklin out to tackle Sealey left side of the area as the attacker gathers the ball on the left powers her way forwards the ball behind for a corner kick. Swung in deep from the left defended knocked out to Iton outside the area, hook her shot wide of the mark.

Real Bedford’s Chloe Martin with Billericay’s Charlotte O’Shea

  Jones having to come across make the tackle to deny Croucher a run into the visitors area as she skips in behind central the ball out for a corner on the left. A dangerous in swinging delivery through the six yard box a collision beyond the far post seeing Iton down in need of treatment, another pause in play but is up and able to continue.

   Bell breaking in the middle for Billericay sending the ball on for Thomas racing clear on the right whips a cross low into the six yard box Milliken racing back turning it behind for the corner kick. Billericay looking a threat on set-pieces the delivery in towards the penalty spot, Carroll up well for Bedford to head clear, drops straight to Gaylor outside the area right corner, has a strike on goal flashes her shot over the bar.

Billericay midfielder, Leanne Bell

  Croucher picking up a knock for Bedford. Williams doing the defending for Billericay inside the D as Partridge seeing the ball into her feet attempts to turn into the area. O’Shea wins Billericay a corner on the left as she runs on down the line with Reed knocking the ball off the defender. Lifted in central, Bell rising to meet it knocking the ball down back towards the left post, Hudson diving down to grab hold of the ball.

  A double switch for Bedford with Partridge and Carroll coming off, new signing Becky Charter and Kaylen Gerkey coming on, the defender wearing a protective mask. Croucher knocking the ball down into Fensome’s path left of the area snatches at the shot pulling the ball horribly wide. Billericay breaking on the left Gaylor up with Sealey the ball crossed into the area behind both Biggs and Thomas knocked back out to Bell, 25 yards out smashes her shot in racing wide of the left post. 

  Thomas with a shot on the charge as she attacks on the right 25 yards out takes a deflection of Gerkey to see the visitors win another corner, pressure building from the set-pieces fired out to the top of the area falls for Gaylor, can’t dig the ball out from under her feet to shoot before being closed down, the ball with Olivia Smith though on the left she does well to win her side another corner. Hudson out to get something on it the ball flashed out to the right Iton looking to keep it in play winning Billericay another corner.

  GOAL! The threat has been building rom Billericay on their corners and the delivery is perfect from Jones fired into the six yard box, Gaylor up to meet it at the far post nodding the ball down past the keeper into the back of the net 0-3. 

Amber Gaylor heading Billericay into a 3 goal lead

 Billericay now firmly in control of the game capitalising on a strong 2nd half to extend their lead in the 70th minute. Quickly regain possession from the restart Bell out to Sealey on the left powers her way down the wing cutting into the box closed down by Franklin, the clearance straight into Gaylor left corner of the area on the angle strikes the ball wide across goal. Another switch for Billericay sees Otesha Charles coming no to replace Iton. 

 The visitors coming on through the middle, Bell for Sealey into Biggs right of the D lays it across to Gaylor on the left taking it inside the area hits the low shot, Hudson with the save diving to her left to push the ball away. Billericay looking strong as the game moves into the final 15 minutes, Bedford tiring, appeals for handball as Bell drives into the box shoulder to shoulder with Gerkey the ball off the defender, cleared. 

Natasha Fensome

  Price into Fensome left 20 of the D, 20 yards out turns twisting left and right looking to squeeze into the box, Olivia Smith lunging in to make the tackle. Croucher spinning in the right channel to pick out Charter wide on the wing her cross lifted into the top of the area cleared by Jones. Gerkey at the back lines up the long pass looking for Fensome making a run across the D up top, Olivia Smith getting there to head clear for Billericay. 

 Both sides making a change with Janaye Beaufort coming on for Billericay replacing Sealey. Neve Mayes coming on for Bedford in place of Croucher. Franklin across to cut out the pass as Thomas looks to pick out O’Shea out on the right channel. Price up with Fensome outside the area on the left the ball struck wide past the far post. 

  Martin getting on with the ball on the left for Bedford her cross flashed across the six yard box gathered by Charter on the right, drives inside, winning a corner off, Charles. Put in high to the near pot Billericay up to defend the ball. Bedford trying to get a goal pressing on the right Charter lifting in into the near pot, Fensome trying to adjust can’ quite get her head on it.

 GOAL! Billericay push forwards getting players up and around the area into the final minute of regular play Thomas laying it inside for Biggs outside the D, puts her foot through the ball rifling the shot past Hudson to score 0-4.

Maddie Biggs congratulated by her teammates after firing in Billericay’s 4th goal

  A 4th goal conceded as the game moves into stoppage time Bedford tired but still pushing on looking to get a reply the risk they get picked off at the other end, Gerkey with a vital interception lunging a leg out to stop the ball a Gaylor on the drive attempts to play Bell in on the right. Bell on the move with the ball right on for O’Shea looking to power her way on into the box Franklin giving chase diving in from behind in the box, risky but does well to get the ball take it away from the attacker.

  GOAL! The game stretched in the closing stages Bedford willing to push on looking to take something from the game are hit on the turn around the ball up into the box cleared back out into the path of Gaylor to meet it sweetly from all of 30 yards out to bury it into the back of the net to score her 2nd and Billericay’s 5th of the game 0-5.

Amber Gaylor with a 5th goal for Billericay in the closing seconds of the game

Full time Real Bedford Ladies 0-5 Billericay Town Women

  Two late goals perhaps harsh on Bedford but seal the dominance Billericay had, during the game, in control of proceedings pretty much from the off scoring inside the opening minute adding a 2nd 9 minutes later. Giving their lower league opponents a mountain to climb. Bedford with a strong start to their season not deterred as they looked for the reply creating half chances but not finding the clinical ball to unlock the Billericay defence. Still at 2-0 the game was still there for the taking the next goal crucial and Billericay wanted it starting the 2nd half strongly pressing on, Gaylor and Bell driving on from the midfield to support the attack, the pressure building from their corners eventually paying off in the 70th minute with Gaylor heading home the 3rd. Biggs and Gaylor with her 2nd at the death securing a comfortable win. A disappointing loss for Bedford but they can look forwards with positivity have made a fantastic start to the season nonetheless.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

 Onto this Sunday’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match, often a tough one but on occasion there is a stand out performer and today is such an occasion. A few performances of note to mention first however. For Bedford, Gemma Croucher was excellent, getting about the pitch to press the ball force errors and bring her fellow attackers into play. Erin Price battled valiantly in midfield to try and get hold of the ball while Natasha Fensome tried to find the openings in the Billericay defence to get her through on goal. For Billericay, Olivia Smith was strong in the heart of the Billericay defence winning the ball and making a number of interceptions. Leanne Bell was a driving force in the middle of the park winning the ball and driving forwards to bolster the attack. The award though goes to Amber Gaylor was immense in the middle throughout getting in her tackles winning the ball and getting into some great positions to receive the ball heading home the 3rd goal and rifling home the 5th.

  A great atmosphere at McMullen Park, the club certainly embracing their women’s team great to catch up with both sides, many changes for both but looking good. My thanks to everyone for their help today and looking forward to the draw for the next round.

by Darren Gilham