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Cup Final Special – Stevenage FC Women Development v Wormley Rovers Ladies

Sunday 19th May

ERWFL League Plate Final

Into the penultimate weekend of the season, and one more cup final doubles day to look forwards too, over to Newmarket Town FC once again this Sunday for the ERWFL Finals Day with the regional league’s show piece bringing an end the season across tiers 5 and 6 in the East. First up the League Plate Final, this season being contested by two of the league’s newcomers, Stevenage FC Women Development and Wormley Rovers Ladies.

 The ERWFL (Eastern Region Women’s Football League) hosting two cup competitions, the League Cup and Plate with the sides knocked out of the early rounds of the League Cup going on to contest the Plate. A slight change in format from previous years when the early rounds were contested by the Division one sides with the 12 Premier Division sides entering in the 3rd round.

The ERWFL League Plate

 This the first of two cup finals in 8 days for Stevenage FC Women Development/U23s, although the first should have been done and dusted back in March. Sadly that game against Coney Heath Ladies in the new Herts Women’s Trophy competition had to be abandoned due to a medical emergency, a Stevenage player collapsing on the pitch and had be rescheduled for this coming Sunday. First up the League Plate Stevenage’s Development side re-joining the ERWFL after a spell in the FAWNL Reserves section.

Going into Division One North, found it tough going early on collecting just 4 points from their opening 8 games but rallied towards the end of the season with an unbeaten run of 5 matches 4 wins and a draw to pull off the bottom eventually finishing 8th. That momentum in the league no doubt playing a part in their charge to two cup finals. Have had a large talent pool to draw from with 46 players used during the season, will no doubt benefit the 1st team playing in the league above. Stephanie Fausse the sides top scorers with 9 to her name this season with Ella Mercer on back on 8.

Wormley Rovers Ladies only formed a women’s side two season’s ago. Situated in a strong catchment pool of football clubs in south Hertfordshire. Going straight into the Beds & Herts Women’s Premier Division, were involved in a thrilling title race with the two sides who would eventually come up with them, taking the league title in their final game of the season a winner takes all game against Hertford Town Women at the top a 7 goal thriller Wormley Rovers Ladies won 4-3 to become Champions in their debut season. Going up into regional football entering Division One South this campaign.

  Haven’t found life quite so easy, have added experienced players to their squad as they looked to consolidate in tier 6. Struggling for results, have been near the bottom most of the season but keeping away from the bottom position, eventually recording an 8th placed finish like Stevenage, have saved their best form for the cup. Chelise Fleming firing in 39 goals in their debut season, has been top scorer once again this campaign, firing in 17 goals in 17 appearances. With Kasey Keen and Niamh Gallagher both on 6 goals. 

Road to the Final

  Both sides with a bye in the first round of the League Plate drawn away in the 2nd Round. Stevenage away to Division One South side, Stanway Pegasus Ladies. Remi Martin scoring a brace in the game with Holly Southam, Chloe Gregory and Ella Mercer all on target with a goal in a 5-2 win. Wormley taking on fellow Division One South side and the current late holders Hutton Ladies. A close game Wormley coming out on top to win the match 2-1 with Lily Marie Hanlon scoring both goals.

 Into the quarter finals, both sides on the road again, Stevenage taking on another Division One South side, Billericay Town Women Development. Stevenage winning the tie by the odd goal in 5 winning the contest 3-2 thanks to goals from Ella Mercer, Stephanie Fausse and Matilda Thomas O’Keefe. Wormley too taking on Division One South competition, close neighbours Cheshunt FC Women, goals from Chelise Fleming and Charis Howell securing a 2-1 victory to send Wormley into the last 4.

  Once again both sides drawn away. Stevenage playing fellow Division One North side, Biggleswade United Women, advanced into the final of the competition with Izzy Ruse and Thomas O’Keefe on target in a 2-0 win. A tough semi-final for Wormley as they were taking on Premier Division side, Barking FC Women, the hosts coring twice, Wormley firing back with goals from Fleming, Niamh Gallagher and Savannah Japal to secure a 3-2 victory and progress to the final. 

 Back to, Newmarket Town FC’s, Tristal Stadium the ground having hosted the Cambridgeshire Women’s League Cup Final on Friday evening and the men’s first team lay off final victory on Saturday. Now hosting the ERWFL Finals Day. The state of the art artificial playing surface in almost constant use hosting football of all ages throughout the season. A seated stand on one side beside the clubhouse and changing rooms. The bar open along with the kitchen hatch serving hot food and drinks. The weather perfect the temperature rising nicely, the sun high in the sky and little cloud around, certainly no rain forecast.

Stevenage FC Women Development

Stevenage FC Women Development starting XI – Lucy Fox, Mistie Fox-Baker, Sophie Afshar, Neave Wilson (C), Amana Oguntuga, Izzy Ruse, Chloe Gregory, Isobel Matfield, Stephanie Fausse, Ella Mercer & Matilda Thomas O’Keefe. Subs –  Holly Southam, Katie Boyle, Remi Martin. Freya Rice & Anaise Corrigan.

Wormley Rovers Ladies

 Wormley Rovers Ladies starting XI – Amy Jo Hebborn, Adel Mehmet, Gracie Manning, Katie Church, Aimee Burling, Rachel Daltrey (C), Maddie Lang, Charis Howell, Savannah Japal, Niamh Gallagher & Chelise Fleming. Subs – Nicole Cooper, Taila Kirkpatrick, Monique Marshall & Lily Marie Hanlon.

(roll on roll off substitutes)

The two sides walking out onto the pitch with the morning sun high in the sky. It’s Stevenage to kick-off the 1st half wearing red and white patterned shirts, red shorts and white socks. Wormley usually wearing black and red vertical striped shirts the ‘away’ side today wearing their change strip, lime green shirts with black shorts and socks. The ball lifted out to Amana Oguntuga attacking on the right for Stevenage fed on up the line for Ella Mercer, celebrating her birthday today to chase into the corner, Katie Church closing the ball down to put out of play in the corner for Wormley.

Played in deep cleared by Church out to the left for a Stevenage throw, looking to get on up the right Adel Mehmet sending in on for Savannah Japal, Mistie Fox Baker closing in for Stevenage in defence to halt the move. Wormley closing the ball down in the middle Maddie Lang on for Charis Howell played out to the left channel with Chelise Fleming pulling into space drives on looking to run into the box, Stevenage captain, Neave Wilson across to tackle regain possession.

Stevenage captain Neave Wilson moving in to tackle Wormley’s Chelise Fleming

Wormley press the ball comes to Niamh Gallagher wide left plays the ball into the area, central attacked by Fleming, slices her shot, cleared by Stevenage back out to the left for a throw. Looking for the long throw, into the edge of the box Stevenage defending look to break played up to Mercer, strong on the ball knocks it in behind for Matilda Thomas O’Keefe breaking clear left channel, Wormley goalkeeper, Amy Jo Hebborn out quickly to the top of her box to lay claim to the ball.

Evie Church clearing the ball for Wormley as Stevenage’s Matilda Thomas O’Keefe closes in

Stevenage lively at the start looking to move the ball quickly across the pitch, down the left a cross lifted over the bar. Wormley winning a throw high on their left, Gallagher and Fleming looking to team up on the ball, Wilson getting hold of the ball her clearance long dropping into the box, Thomas O’Keefe interested in a race with Manning on her shoulder the defender doing well to not only see the ball out but win a goal kick too.

Fleming making so promising runs up top, peeling left as Howell plays the ball into her, Sophie Afshar getting back at the attacker to close the ball down clear with her blocking tackle. Mercer running into the right corner after a high bouncing ball, Church and Manning linking up to get the ball up the field for Wormley.

Wormley’s Gracie Manning

Stevenage bring the ball on quickly through the middle into Thomas O’Keefe she fires the ball on with Mercer looking to make a run into the box right of goal, Manning coming to close her down, Hebborn rushes out sliding in to get hold of the ball, evades her grasp, inside her, Manning holds up Mercer as she attempts to reach it, Hebborn grounded stretching out an arm to get her glove around the ball pull it into her body.

Mercer and Thomas O’Keefe linking up well in the opening 10 minutes for Stevenage, Mercer left 25 yards out across the top of the D into Thomas O’Keefe goes to strike the ball, Manning charging it down. Positive from Stevenage. Fleming the outlet up top for Wormley as captain Rachel Daltrey finds her on the left combines with Gallagher on the wing the cross into the top of the area cleared.

Aimee Burling winning the ball at the back for Wormley to Mehmet on the left played up the wing for Japal getting on the move, plays the one two off Fleming inside her before angling the ball into the near post, caught cleanly by Stevenage goalkeeper, Lucy Fox. Fox tested again moment later as a Wormley shot is struck at her from distance, bouncing at her knees as she goes down for it, skips up, reacts sharply to grab it safely into her chest before Fleming can pounce.

Stevenage loose the ball at the back, Gallagher snatching it 20 yards out central, sends her shot high and wide. Howell is fouled as she carries the ball out to the left inside the Stevenage half. Over the set-piece herself, fires a high ball into the box far side knocked down back across to Fleming top of the area, Oguntuga on her shoulder, squeezes a shot away places it straight at the keeper.

Stevenage’s Isobel Matfield

Competitive in the middle of the park, Daltrey linking up with Fleming as the pair look to get Gallagher in on the right the pass a little heavy runs out of play. Another Wormley free-kick on the left played up into the area, Mercer up well to defend it heading the ball out for a throw on the left. Mercer clearing the ball long up to Thomas O’Keefe on the move left wing, is bundled over a free-kick won. Mercer coming up to take fired in with pace into the near post, Hebborn throwing herself to her left, saving turning the ball behind for a corner.

Wormley slow to play the ball out at times risk getting caught in possession, Thomas O’Keefe doing just that, 30 yards out central, pulls her shot wide of the right post. Mercer pressuring the ball on the right forcing Wormley to concede a corner kick. The delivery put into Wilson top of the area central shoots, rising, blocked appears to strike and outstretched hand Stevenage immediately appealing even as the deflected ball drops to Thomas O’Keefe at the far post close in turns the ball home on the angle, the goal won’t count however as the offside flag is raised against her. A frantic spell as Wormley counter attack the ball fired long up to Fleming to bring down 25 yards out left of the D, strikes the ball in low across goal, Fox with a superb save diving down to push the ball behind for a corner kick!

Busy game a lot happening, the corner kick curled in across the face of goal beyond the far post retrieved the cross however turned behind. The game open, Stevenage pushing on he ball cleared into Daltrey looks to put Fleming away in the left channel as she powers forwards, Afshar getting a vital foot in to nick the ball off the attacker or she was clear to attack the box.

Stevenage defender Sophie Afshar

Stevenage’s Izzy Ruse on the ball linking up with Isobel Matfield on for Chloe Gregory the final pass up to Thomas O’Keefe cut out by Church. Japal with the ball at her feet driving on down the right wing for Wormley, Fox Baker slides in to defend for Stevenage.

GOAL! Almost half an hour played Wormley fight to win back possession in the middle, Daltrey launching it forwards up towards the Stevenage box left of the D, Fleming looking out run on the shoulder of the back tracking defender, Fox comes racing out the other way to try and win the ball, goalkeeper and defender collide left in a heap on the floor, Fleming is still standing and in behind onto the loose ball, to walk it into the net to open the scoring 0-1.

Chelise Fleming putting Wormley into the lead

Stevenage on the attack from the restart Mercer finding Oguntuga breaking clear on the right down the line her cross squared into the box, Hebborn collecting it on the bounce on her penalty spot. Matfield putting the ball inside to Thomas O’Keefe, 35 yards out pulls her shot dragging it wide of the near post. Oguntuga offside as Mercer attempts to pick her out on the right.

Stevenage’s Ella Mercer

Wormley quick to get the ball forwards up the right Japal inside for Fleming breaking in behind, Fox taking no chances rushing out of her area to clear, takes the ball off the striker moving left, Fleming stealing the ball back has the keeper out of position as she powers her way back towards the box, the defence running back to cover the goal en masse her eventual shot, blocked and cleared.

Stevenage on the left Gregory with Matfield into Thomas O’Keefe inside the box the ball angled in low at the near post, Hebborn there to claim. Fleming strong up top making some forceful runs into the channels the midfield picking her out the ball clipped into her on the left forces her way into the box angling a low strike in across goal, Fox down smartly to save getting her body behind the ball.

Wormley pressure mounting as the 1st half draws to a close up on the right Japal with Fleming across in support the ball played in across the top of the area into Howell lays it into the path of Lang right of the D to strike on the run her shot blasted in at Fox, the keeper batting the ball away for a corner kick. The corner in across the six yard box, Stevenage look to get it clear but Wormley move to close the ball down.

Wormley’s Maddie Lang

A double change for Stevenage, Remi Martin and Katie Boyle coming on for Matfield and Fausse. Afshar doing well at the back for Stevenage getting in to tackle Fleming as the Wormley attacker surges towards the box off a Howell pass. A drinks break called late in the half with Mercer needing treatment for an injury, looks to be her knee, is determined to stay on and see if she can play on.

Mercer showing little sign of her knock as she gets in to break up a Wormley attack as Howell and Gallagher combine on the left. Fired up towards Thomas O’Keefe on the box, a coming together between her and Burling, the attacker coming off worse, needs treatment but up and allowed back onto the pitch as play resumes the first half moving into stoppage time. Church cutting the ball out at the back for Wormley as Mercer attempts to play Thomas O’Keefe in behind.

Moments left in the first half, Howell steals possession in the middle sends the ball out to Fleming pulling into the left channel, on the angle fires her shot in across the keeper, but wide of the far post too.

Half-time Stevenage FC Women Development 0-1 Wormley Rovers Ladies

  The sides head back into the changing room with Wormley holding the narrow lead at he break. Chelise Fleming capitalising on a mix up at the back to open the scoring on the half hour. Wormley a threat getting forwards out wide and into the channels. Stevenage though with a positive start had a goal ruled out for offside, and a penalty shout moment before. Two contracting sides, Stevenage’s young players looking to get the ball moving quickly. Wormley with the experience finding the gaps to exploit. Set up perfectly for the 2nd half.

Both sides keen to get going out early for the 2nd half, Wormley to get thing’s underway with a change, Monique Marshall on coming into the middle replacing Church with Daltrey dropping into defence. A triple switch for Stevenage with Martin, Boyle and Thomas O’Keefe of, Fausse and Matfield back on along with Anaise Corrigan going up top in attack. Just waiting on the officials to return, referee Francesca Catchpole a pretty decent striker in her on right leading her team out.

Wormley get the 2nd half going looking to get straight on the attack, Marshall onto the ball clipping it out to the right Afshar defending as Fleming looks to go after the ball.

GOAL! Wormley pressing the ball into Japal inside right with Fleming ahead of her played across the top of the Stevenage area into Gallagher left corner turns the ball back up the line for Howell, who puts her foot through the ball angling a shot in with power high past the diving Fox to crash into the back of the net 0-2. 

Charis Howell fires Wormley into a 2 goal lead early in the 2nd half

A huge blow for Stevenage early in the 2nd half, Wormley out of the blocks quickly to double their lead. Bringing the ball on down the right played on Fausse looks to link up with Corrigan in attack, Japal racing back to help defend nicking the ball back for Wormley. Marshall making an impact for Wormley coming off the bench strong getting after the ball deep on the left with Japal the ball cleared forwards Fleming looking to attack it right channel heading for the box, Fox out well to gather the ball into her body.

Marshall lifting the diagonal ball out to Japal on the right squares her cross into the top of the area looking for Fleming, Fox again rushing on to get hold of the ball. Wormley strong on the ball, Marshall attacking right side of the area, Afshar on her shoulder sends the ball across the area into Gallagher left side her shot straight at the keeper. Wormley with a dominant start to the 2nd half.

Wormley’s Monique Marshall

Howell 25 out moving across the top of the Stevenage D, playing the ball off the outside of her boot out to Gallagher on the left, her cross cut out by Wilson, Ruse looking to bring it away is quickly closed down. Marshall fouled by Gregory wide on the right. players up to the top of the area as she stands over the resulting set-piece, puts a dangerous ball into the corridor, Fox with the acrobatic save to push the ball away from danger out for a corner on the left.

Lucy Fox with the acrobatic save to turn the ball wide for a corner.

The corner played short up the line to Fleming, turning as she breaks into the top corner of the box, fires her shot up over the cross bar. Mehmet pressing the ball, getting it up field on the right channel, Fleming bursting forwards, seeing the ball drop over her shoulder as she runs into the box, drills her shot into the side netting, a slight touch off a Stevenage player on it’s way through a corner awarded.

Adel Mehmet with Stevenage’s Anaise Corrigan

  The corner played in from the right comes out to Japal positioned outside the D, goes to shoot, stretching as she connects with the ball falling back dragging her shot wide away past the left post, pulls up immediately in pain, suffering from a nasty bout of cramp. Almost an hour played, Wormley make the change Taila Kirkpatrick on to replace Japal.

Mistie Fox Baker defending against, Wormley’s Chelise Fleming

  Fox Baker getting onto the ball for Stevenage left side rolled on for Gregory bursts on down the wing all the way to the by-line cutting into the box her cross put into the side netting. Stevenage looking to up the tempo as Mercer gathers the ball into her feet looks to travel, moving central is bundled over the advantage played as Corrigan races in behind after the ball, Hebborn though sprinting out to the top of her box to reach the ball first.

  Marshall lifting the ball on for Kirkpatrick looking to get on for Wormley up the right, Fox Baker getting her tackle in as the pair race to the by-line. Howell latching onto a shot from distance smashes the ball over the Stevenage crossbar. Stevenage making a double change bringing of Matfield and Afshar, on come Thomas O’Keefe and Holly Southam. Wormley strong through the middle the ball fed into Gallagher outside the D, lays it off for Fleming, turns inside to shoot from all of 25 yards out angling in across goal to the far post. Fox pushing it away to her left.

  Stevenage look to turn play around in the middle, Fausse turning on the ball to thread a pass in behind for Corrigan to attack, Hebborn racing out the other way to try and close the angle, Corrigan attempting to knock the ball wide past her to have a chance on goal, the keeper though with an excellent save stretching out her arm to get her glove on the ball snatch the ball.

Amy Jo Hebborn getting her arm out well to stop the ball getting past her.

  Fausse taking the ball out to the left attacking for Stevenage whips a cross/shot into the near post, Hebborn down to stop it knocked across the face of goal, Daltrey running back with Corrigan holding the attacker off. Stevenage with a set-piece out wide on the right curled into the box by Mercer, Hebborn up well pushing it down out away from her goal, runners closing in no one can get a touch the ball hooked clear. 

Amy Jo Hebborn up to save, Ella Mercer’s free-kick

  Wormley getting on the counter attack the ball long through the middle with Marshall providing the run strong into the box looking to get between the back tracking centre backs, Wilson getting it back to Fox, the keepers clearance striking Fox Baker full in the face leaving her floored in the box, play stopped immediately as she is treated a lengthy pause players taking on fluids.

 Fox Baker back up on her feet, as the game rolls into the final quarter hour, Fleming coming for the ball, turns and pushes into the right channel, Southam getting back into her to tackle for Stevenage. Burling in to break up a Stevenage attack clears the ball long up to Fleming breaking into the right channel, Fox Baker running back into the box after her getting her foot on the ball to play it behind for a corner kick. The delivery short into Howell curls a cross in towards the far post, headed behind.

Stevenage’s Holly Southam

  Wormley with the ball left in the corner Gallagher up the line for Fleming played in central, Mehmet latching onto the shot, dipping right in front of her Fox almost wrong footed adjusting quickly to get hold of the ball. Lang linking up with Marshall though the middle, on for Fleming the pass cut out by Southam. Oguntuga defending for Stevenage on the left stays on Marshall well as she looks to get onto the ball fed into the right channel getting a foot on the ball to block as Marshall crosses. the ball out for a throw in the corner.

Stevenage’s Amana Oguntuga with Worley’s Taila Kirkpatrick

 Dropped into Marshall on the by-line holds it up before rolling it back for Fleming to send a cross in across the face of goal, Gallagher attacking it at the far post inside the six yard box twisting to head the ball sees it cannon back off the post before the Stevenage defence scramble clear. 

Wormley’s Niamh Gallagher

  Fausse getting onto the end of a diagonal ball played across to her as she pulls away to the left squaring her cross into the top of the Wormley area, Burling doing the defending on Corrigan as she goes for the ball. Howell coming off for Wormley, Lily Marie Hanlon coming on. 85 minutes on the clock. Ruse sending the ball out to Fausse on the left angles the ball into the area, Hebborn letting everyone in the stadium know it’s hers as she comes out to gather the ball into her gloves.

  Another change for Wormley Manning coming off at the back, Church back on. Marshall fouled for Wormley on halfway as she looks to bring the ball on. The free-kick looping up into the area, dropping sharply in front of Fox, shoves the ball away, falls straight to Fleming on the penalty spot, her shot charged down.


  Mercer’s knee injury flaring up again, needs to come off, Martin sent on. Wormley have managed the game well their attackers pulling out wide, Marshall pushing on from midfield with space to run into, Fleming a ready outlet going forwards. The attacker seeing the ball into her feet dribbling forwards through the middle unleashing a shot 25 yards out, low into the box gathered by Fox. 10 minutes of stoppage time to be played, the game halted with an injury to Mehmet at the back for Wormley.

  GOAL! The defender back up on her feet play resuming with a drop ball, knocked long up towards the Stevenage box, bouncing in the area, Fox can’t get to it as Fleming central looks to get a touch knocked past Fox into the goal beyond 0-3.

Chelise Fleming forcing the ball home for Wormley’s 3rd goal

 A 3rd goal surely sealing the win for Wormley with the game into stoppage time. Kirkpatrick carrying the ball out to the right forwards for Fleming her touch to heavy the pass running out of play. Wormley keeping the ball well in stoppage time driving forwards looking to get the ball into the box, Gallagher wide left seeing her cross blocked, comes back up the line to Lang then Hanlon a shot fired in on the angle, straight at Fox.

  Fleming shooting narrowly wide of the right post as she controls the ball 30 yards from goal. Time almost up Stevenage lifting the ball forwards up to Corrigan in attack, turns on the ball driving into the left channel, riding a tackle stays on her feet to stab the ball on for Thomas O’Keefe racing into the box on the angle fires her shot wide across goal. The final whistle blows and Wormley celebrate winning the ERWFL League Plate in their debut season in regional football.

Full time Stevenage FC Women Development 0-3 Wormley Rovers Ladies

  An entertaining final between two contrasting sides, Wormley using their experience and strength will making a brilliant start to the 2nd half, doubling their lead in the 46th minute to press the advantage. Got the ball into their attacking players quickly and drove at the Stevenage defence forcing them back stretching play at times. Stevenage’s youngster kept going looking to pick out their attacking players in the channels, Wormley though comfortable at the back for the large part, Hebborn with a couple of useful saves too.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Time for the 1st Women’s Football East – Player of the Match, asked to choose the player of the match on the day too. Luckily this one an easy decision in the finish a clear contender emerging early on. A few performances of note to mention. Firstly for Stevenage, Ella Mercer having to play through the pain barrier at times got about the pitch well looking to find space up top and link up with the attackers, won the ball well. Izzy Ruse too getting her tackles in to win the ball in the middle, Sophie Afshar and Mistie Fox Baker with some vital tackles at the back. For Wormley, Amy Jo Hebborn with a couple of important stops in the 2nd half to ensure Wormley’s two goal lad remained intact. Charis Howell getting about the middle of the park into some great positions a great strike for the 2nd goal. Monique Marshall making an impact coming off the bench for the 2nd half, strong with some forceful runs on the ball linked up well with the attack. The award though goes to Chelise Fleming. Made some fantastic runs up top. Pulling into the channels strong on the ball putting the Stevenage defence under pressure opening the scoring a willing runner throughout.

Wormley Rovers Ladies 2023/24 ERWFL League Plate winners

 Congratulations to Wormley Rovers Ladies on winning this season’s ERWFL League Plate.

 An enjoyable first final of the day. My thanks to both sides for their help with the teams today. Stevenage disappointed, but have another final to prepare for next weekend, Wormley ending their season on a high. Time to find something to eat, get ready for this afternoon’s match.

by Darren Gilham