Sunday 17th September
ERWFL Division One South
Heading down into Essex this Sunday to watch a top of the table clash from ERWFL Division One South, with early leaders Wodson Park Ladies travelling to 3rd placed Lawford Ladies.
The ERWFL representing tiers 5 and 6 of the women’s football pyramid across the East reaching it’s full potential this season with 36 clubs across three divisions, (now down to 35 with East Bergholt United Ladies withdrawing from Division One South) makes an already competitive league all the stronger and improves the talent pool further down the pyramid as the game continues to grow.
Division One South, dominated by Barking FC Women last season as they stormed to the title to win promotion to the ERWFL Premier Division, the league looks more open this season with 5 new sides joining the league.
Lawford Ladies themselves re-joining the ERWFL after winning the Essex Women’s Premier Division title in 2022. Bringing in some quality players during that campaign were solid in Division One South securing a 4th placed finish the northern part of Essex becoming a hot bed for female footballing talent in recent seasons with Lawford close to Stanway who now have two female sides, Stanway Pegasus joining the ERWFL this season after winning the Essex Premier Division last season and with Colchester United Women re-establishing a women’s side it is sure to remain competitive for the future.
Lawford though not resting on their laurels retaining much of their squad from last season. Adding 5 new additions to the squad striker Iola Vanharen joining from Ipswich Town Foundation. Midfielder, Kim Edwards dual signing from Stowupland Falcons Women. Jess Gill coming to Lawford having played for East Bergholt United Ladies. Megan Foord from Stanway Rovers Ladies and defender, Liubov Liushnenko joined from AFC Sudbury. Came back from 3-1 down at half-time to draw 4-4 with newcomers Wormley Rovers Ladies on the opening day then followed that up with a 3-0 victory at home Stanway Pegasus Ladies. Good form to start the season progressed in the FA Women’s Cup last weekend with a 6-1 win away to fellow ERWFL side Histon Ladies.
Wodson Park Ladies now one of the more established sides playing in the ERWFL joining the league originally under the Hertford Town banner became Wodson Park Ladies in 2019. The Covid hit season’s soon following, Wodson Park Ladies have been making progress season upon season initially struggling for results in the lower half of the table improved to finish 5th last season and are the early pace setters in the new campaign making an excellent start to the season undefeated taking 7 points from their opening 3 games to sit top of the table.
Drawing 2-2 at home to Essex side Hutton Ladies the Hertfordshire side went on to record two strong wins on the road 3-0 at Grays Athletic and most recently a 5-1 win away to Cheshunt FC Women. Retaining most of their squad including influential captain Kristina O’Connell who was also top scorer last season with 13 goals. Bringing in two new players Billie Alexander and Natasha Smits with Rhiann Patmore also re-joining after a year out.
The John Lyall Pavilion the venue for todays game, my first visit here despite trying to get to a Lawford home game a couple of times last season. The ground a hive of activity when I arrive with numerous youth matches taking place across the multiple grass pitches with the clubhouse and changing rooms beside the carpark. The kitchen and bar open, certainly a community orientated club. The ladies game on the grass pitch nearest the clubhouse a good size offering plenty of with a good test for fitness levels. The weather still reasonably mild for the time of year no where near the heatwave from last week by warm enough to still wear shorts which is just as well because I still can’t comfortably wear trousers with my damaged knee. Rain on the way however and could be heavy umbrella on stand by just hope it stays away until after the game ends.
Lawford Ladies starting XI – Erin Hornby, Lilly Bueggeln, Sheena Foley, Zoe Smith (C), Abigail Head, Carman Joyce, Charlotte Bryant, Megan Foord, Cate Jackson, Georgia Box & Iola van Haren. Subs – Laura Allen, Taylor Wakefield, Jess Gill & Davina Smith.
Wodson Park Ladies starting XI – Philly Stephens, Rhiann Patmore, Christie Seakens, Eliza Weeks, Georgia Gannaway, Amelia Hall, Natasha Smits, Lucy Chapman, Zoe Martin, Hannah Kelly & Kristina O’Connell (C). Subs – Sophie Vale, Hannah Nash, Billie Alexander & Megan Kelly.
(roll on roll off substitutes)
Wodson Park travelling without a specialist goalkeeper, making the decision that 3 outfield players will each play a 3rd of the game in goal with Philly Stephens 1st to don the gloves. It’s the visitors to get the game underway kicking of the 1st half wearing their all red away strip with Lawford wearing sky blue and white vertical striped shirts, with sky blue shorts and socks. The ball played back to Natasha Smits in midfield she looks to play the ball out to the right, Lawford moving in fast to close the ball down particularly striker Georgia Box pressuring possession forcing a rushed pass the ball hurriedly cleared for a throw in.
Cate Jackson on the left from the throw getting to the by-line and crossing for Lawford, stand in keeper, Stephens claiming it on the bounce inside her six yard box. Wodson Park with the ball out left Christie Seakens on for Lucy Chapman looks to thread the ball on for attacker Hannah Kelly pulling wide, Lilly Bueggeln closing her down the ball cleared for a throw. Wodson Park’s attackers looking to press the ball high, Kelly caught offside and the visitors quickly turn play around after regaining possession in the middle.
The tempo fast as both sides look to get after the ball Lawford finding Box in the final third she gets it wide to Iola van Haren, Seakens sticking a leg out intercepting the ball for Wodson Park. Lawford looking to use the wide pitch have players breaking on up the wings, Megan Foord looking to link up with Van Haren on the right the final ball though travelling through to the keeper. On the left Jackson breaks into space only to see her cross cut out by Smits at the top of the Wodson Park area.
Jackson providing a good outlet for Lawford in the opening exchanges, taking the ball on left side has Box bursting on ahead of her into the channel, Rhiann Patmore getting across the striker to clear the ball away for the throw. Lawford force a corner from the resulting throw in, the delivery high into the near side of the box Wodson Park defending the ball headed out to the left gathered by Lawford’s Charlotte Bryant fires a diagonal pass across the top of the area met by Foord right corner puts her foot through the ball, takes a nick of a Wodson Park player as it whistles over the bar.
The corner comes into Carman Joyce top of the area, looks to drive into the area, Weeks stopping her with a good tackle. Lawford have bodies up press the ball played across from the left into Bryant 30 yards out catches the ball well striking it towards goal by Stephens is right behind it making a comfortable catch. Lawford exerting some meaningful pressure in the final 3rd, Wodson Park standing firm, counter on the left Chapman on for Kelly pulling wide her cross from deep lacking any pace an easy gather for Lawford keeper, Erin Hornby.
Wodson Park looking to press high, Kelly and O’Connell though needing back up from their midfield, Lawford able to get themselves out of trouble with a cross field ball, Amelia Hall tackling to win the ball back for Wodson Park in the middle played forwards into her captain O’Connell attempting to release Kelly with the through ball left channel, Hornby quickly out of her area to put her foot through the ball. O’Connell with a clever hook over her shoulder as the ball falls to her 35 yards out sending it on for Kelly to attack right side of the area, Head closing her down to play the ball back to her keeper, hustled by Kelly, Hornby digs the ball out from under her feet to clear.
GOAL! The deadlock broken in the 19th minute as Lawford win a throw halfway on the right the ball helped on played up to Box breaking in behind the Wodson Park defence top corner catches the shot beautifully to smash the shot in over the keeper to put the hosts into the lead 1-0.
Breaking up another Lawford attack soon after the restart Wodson Park break with purpose down their left flank Chapman with Kelly and O’Connell, Lawford across to close the ball down is deflected back into the middle picked up by Smits free 35 yards out has a go on goal her shot high and wide of the left post. Bueggeln taking the ball infield from right back looks to fire it forwards for Van Haren the pass intercepted by Weeks.
Lawford regaining possession as Wodson Park don’t control the ball played out from their keeper, running into Bryant she sends the pass out to Jackson wide on the left wraps her foot round the ball sending a high ball into the area near side, Box under it can’t quite bring it down to put her foot though it as Georgia Gannaway scrambles it clear for the visitors. Lawford captain, Zoe Smith making a great tackle to halt Smits progress as Wodson Park look to force the ball on through the middle.
Space for Zoe Martin to run into on Wodson Park’s right, Jackson though tracks back to defend getting across her as she enters the box to put a risky ball back for her keeper to clear away to the right. Box flagged offside as she looks to break through the Wodson park defence to get on the end of the pass following a good run by Bueggeln. Kelly picking up a knock a pause in play as the attacker is assessed by okay to play on. Foley intercepting the ball as Patmore comes forwards for Wodson Park on the right.
Half an hour played and Wodson Park make their first keeper change, Smits now donning the gloves as Stephens joins the attack with O’Connell dropping deeper. Sophie Vale also coming on to replace Hannah Kelly goes to the left. Joyce fouled for Lawford as she takes the ball out to the right giving the hosts a free-kick out wide, Box to lift the ball into the area near post Van Haren goes to attack it closely marked the ball wide for a goal kick.
Seakens doing brilliantly for Wodson Park in defence as Lawford attack on the right with Bueggeln coming on with the ball laying it forwards for both Foord and Joyce to chase, Seakens in between them racing back to winning the ball turning to clear. The hosts with some strong build up play attacking on the left Jackson inside for Box outside the area lays it out to the right, with Bueggein looking to attack it 25 yards out her shot charged down by Seakens.
Foord taking the ball on right side lifting a high ball into the box, Smits coming for it takes it down into her gloves well with Box closing in. Vale top of the D with a good pass releasing Martin bursting away to the right taking the ball down to the by-line whips a dangerous ball across the Lawford six yard box, Foord clearing it behind for a corner kick. Put in across the six yard box is just a little too high as Weeks jumps for it.
Joyce on the ball right for Lawford plays it inside for Box left of the D 25 yards out turns her marker to lay the ball on for Jackson breaking into the area ahead of her Smits out to meet her kicking the ball clear. Box lively in attack for Lawford showing good strength to get free hits a shot on the turn 25 yards out to the right of the area, the ball running wide past the far post.
Seakens cutting the ball out as Joyce looks to find Van Haren with the forwards pass the ball behind for a corner. The delivery nodded on across goal hooked clear by Vale at the far post. Lawford looking to finish the first half on the front foot. Wodson Park’s defence keeping things tight. Vale looking to provide an outlet with her pace on the left for the visitors checks inside eventually stopped by Foley.
GOAL! Out of nothing Wodson Park find themselves back on level terms as they bring the ball on left side Vale in possession out wide hits a hopeful ball high towards the Lawford goal, dropping out of the sky, Hornby knows she could be in trouble as the ball sneaks under the cross ball to bounce into the back of the net 1-1.
Wodson Park with their tails up, the management team trying to calm everyone down as Seakens with a rush of blood takes the ball on up to the area combining with Vale, Lawford defending conceding the corner. From the left a dangerous ball is dropped into the six yard box, just no Wodson Park player their to attack it. Seakens finds herself out on the right as Wodson Park regain possession in the closing seconds of the first half carrying the ball wide skips back inside into the box to have a shot on goal angled in low, Hornby down well on her line to save.
Half-time Lawford Ladies 1-1 Wodson Park Ladies
Wodson Park finding an equaliser out of nothing late on in the first half to see the sides go in all square at the break after a superb hit from Georgia Box had given the hosts the lead. Lawford using the pitch well getting on up the flanks putting some good balls into the area. Wodson Park defending solidly countering well looking to press the ball the strikers lacking support at times. The sides have cancelled each other out to some degree making for a competitive contest Lawford having good spells of possession without really imposing themselves on the game. Still all to play for.
A few spots of rain at the start of the 2nd half, the umbrella needed will soon pass however. A change for Lawford at the break with jess Gill introduced at left back replacing Foley. Wodson Park unchanged. Lawford getting the 2nd half underway…
GOAL! … the ball played into Joyce the midfielder spraying the ball out wide to Jackson up on the left from wide she strikes the ball hard into towards the near post Smits across to catch it, to her dismay doesn’t stick, loops up over her and rolls over the goal line beyond 2-1. Lawford retake the lead with barely 30 seconds played in the first half.
A blow for Wodson Park as Lawford look to make a strong start to the 2nd half Foord with the ball put out to Van Haren moving right breaks in beyond Seakens to attack the ball, Weeks across to clear the ball out for a corner on the right. A Wodson Park player sent tumbling as players move forwards to attack the powerfully hit ball cleared out to the right. O’Connell back to defend winning the ball of Bryant central twenty yards out as Foord plays it into her from the right.
Seakens taking a knock for Wodson Park down for a moment but assessed and allowed to play on. A lengthy pause before play resumes. Gill from the back with an excellent pass to pick out Jackson on the left from the angle strikes the shot wide across goal. Vale with a knock in the back another injury concern for Wodson Park but despite being too eager to return is waved back on by the referee. Chapman and O’Connell combining well as they get on up the left for Wodson Park the cross in mopped by by Smith.
Seakens up well defending against Van Haren as Box looks to help the ball on into her in the final 3rd. Foord bringing the ball on well for Lawford down the right in behind to whip a dangerous cross with pace into the six yard box, Jackson going for it can’t quite connect as she comes in central. Lawford with a strong spell Foord outside right turns inside on the ball 20 yards out bundled over giving the hosts a free-kick in a dangerous area. Jackson over the set-piece smashes the ball into the 3 player wall. Bueggeln gathers for Lawford on the right but looking to drive inside can’t get the better of Seakens.
Lawford winning another free-kick to the right a little deeper this time, Jackson looks to curl the ball high aiming for the far post Smits can’t take any chances as she gets a glove on it to take it out for the corner. Players up from the back the in swinging delivery dropping like a peach for Gill in the centre of the six yard box gets her head on the ball but no control sends the header wide back past the near post.
Lawford playing on through the middle into Foord outside the D helps it on for Box looking to get into the box left of the D, Patmore stepping in to win the ball. Wodson Park making another keeper change, Gannaway going into goal as Smits comes off replaced by Hannah Nash. Bueggeln carded as she pulls O’Connell back presenting a free-kick to the visitors in a dangerous position 2o yards out to the left of the D.
GOAL! O’Connell on the ball, goes for goal a fantastic ball hit over the wall high to curl in down over the keeper into the back of the net seeing the visitors back on level terms for the 2nd time in the match 2-2.
Lawford get on the attack with Foord getting the ball down spreading play out to the left channel with Jackson looking to break on, Weeks in to clear the ball, Lawford pressing winning a corner on the left. The ball whipped into the six yard Smith their to attack it but can’t get a touch. Lawford making a change bringing of Joyce to be replaced by Davina Smith.
The goal has help Wodson Park’s confident no end as they find an extra burst of energy to get after the ball, Lawford still a threat quick to turn play around, Bueggeln finding Foord racing into the corner turns inside the fire a ball across the face of goal, Gannaway down may have gotten a touch to take it away from Davina Smith closing in at the far post.
Lawford winning a free-kick wide left outside the box, Box placing the ball hits it hard against the wall, Wodson Park looking to hit their opponents on the break, Stephens after the ball, Gill getting a nibble on the ball enough to slow it down, Stephens nevertheless persistent to reclaim it and carry it on up the line shooting on the angle, Hornby with a reactive save with her leg to clear the ball away back to the right Stephens to put it in again this time Head sends in clear.
Wodson Park make a change bringing of Hall in midfield a straight swap with Smits back on. Wodson Park pressing the ball better frustrating Lawford, Bueggeln winning it back for Lawford sends a great ball into Box she looks to turn swing it over the top for Van Haren central not quite Jackson beyond flagged offside. Vale strong on the ball through the middle sprayed out to Stephens right side in a race with Gill trying to get into the area gets a shot away under challenge put straight into Hornby.
Chapman defending as Foord attempts to play Box in on the right. Taylor Wakefield coming on for Lawford replacing Van Haren. Martin too off for Wodson park with Megan Kelly entering the game. Wodson Park conceding a corner kick as Jackson’s cross from the right is headed behind. Delivered high into the area the header won by Seakens back out to the right Bueggeln playing it inside for Zoe Smith 20 yards out drives the short narrowly wide of the right post.
Megan Kelly looking to turn on the ball accidentally stands on Foord’s foot, a painful blow that sees the winger needing to come off, Laura Allen her replacement. Wodson Park play the ball on for Megan Kelly into space up the left her cross whipped in near post attacked by Stephens off the goalkeeper for a corner kick. Before it’s taken a chance made by the hosts Zoe Smith can’t continue Foley comes back on. The corner won by Bryant cleared for a 2nd corner whipped in with pace into the six yard box attacked by both Weeks and Seakens the ball turned over the bar.
Box pulling right tussling with Chapman to get in behind the ball off the defender for a throw as the game enters the final 10 minutes. Box out on the left working hard in attack her shot tame in the finish as it runs into Gannaway at the near post a spot of cool goalkeeping as she flicks the ball up off her boot into her gloves. The game lively now both sides feeling they can still get the winner O’Connell into Megan Kelly a corner won the in swinging ball claimed well by Hornby into her midriff.
O’Connell coming off to be replaced by Hannah Kelly the visitors attacking on the right Stephens ball from wide wrong footing the keeper as she goes to kick clear but also Megan Kelly as it runs wide behind her. Wodson Park with a strong finish Lawford making a change Van Haren back on for Jackson. Bryant with a shot from distance over for Lawford. Box frustrated as she gives a free-kick away in a similar position to Wodson Park’s equaliser, no O’Connell to take, Vale on it a little deeper this time goes to curl the ball in wide of the far post the ball dropping behind over Hornby’s crossbar.
Wodson Park with one late push getting on with the ball Smits into Megan Kelly finds Vale wide on the right sends her angled shot wide of the near post.
Full time Lawford Ladies 2-2 Wodson Park Ladies
The game finishes all square 2 apiece with Wodson Park coming back twice to level. Finishing the half strong finding a renewed confidence from their goal, frustrating Lawford who started the 2nd half strong getting after the ball and creating some very good chances will be disappointed they didn’t capitalise. Wodson Park working hard to keep them at bay coping well with three keeper changes throughout the match, stay top as both sides maintain their unbeaten starts.
Women’s Football East – Player of the Match
Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. Several contenders for this one, however I had a fair idea who I was going to award it to leaving the ground and the notes have helped confirm it. Plenty of good performances from both sides, Firstly for Lawford striker Georgia Box was strong up top getting in to win the ball and close the defence down got into some great positions and took her goal well. Cate Jackson very good out wide on the left getting into space a good outlet throughout. Lilly Bueggeln defending well and getting forwards with some purposeful runs on the ball. For Wodson Park credit goes to Philly Stephens, Natasha Smits and Georgia Gannaway for all taking a stint in goal. Kristina O’Connell pressing the ball well scoring the 2nd equaliser. Sophie Vale made a real impact when she came on with her pace attacking on the flank. Eliza Weeks with some great tackles at the back. The award though goes to another Wodson Park defender, Christie Seakens, was strong in defence all game, winning the ball well and preventing several Lawford attacks.
Enjoyed my first trip to The John Lyall Pavilion, again another good advert for the ERWFL a good setup be interesting to see how Division One South develops. My thanks to both clubs for their help with the team info today as always much appreciated.
by Darren Gilham