Wymondham Town lift this year’s Norfolk Women’s Cup Final after managing to hold onto a narrow lead against Acle United.
The fixture started at a high tempo from the off and it was Acle who began proceedings on the front foot. They should have been ahead on three minutes when Ciera Flatt met a Megan Todd header on the 6 yard line after a clever free kick by Amber Rowland, but her volley crashed against the bar, with Todd unable to convert the rebound.
Against the run of play, it was Wymondham who opened the scoring only a minute later when a cleared corner was crossed back in and met by Bethany Fretwell. The Wymondham defender's effort bounced off the top of the bar and kindly fell to the feet of Laura Nicholls who gratefully tapped home from a yard out.
Acle rallied and continued to play the ball around well, almost equalising when Laura Holden latched on to a Todd cross but fired into the side netting. Holden shot wide shortly after and then another great opportunity went begging when great combination play between Lauren Bullard, Flatt & Rowland saw the latter fire just over.
Town's Molly O'Callaghan was caught in possession and United's Todd, Holden and Anna Larkins combined effectively down the right with some neat play to cross the ball to Kirstie Kindred. She was unable to connect with the ball properly and Bullard chased down at the far post, however the Leah Newcombe was able to block the shot before the ball was stabbed away by Fretwell.
Acle got the goal they needed from a set piece after Kindred was fouled by Lauren Kett. The free kick from the right was whipped into the box by substitute Grace Birchall and Acle's Kate Pasque got a touch on the header and helped to bundle the rebound over the line.
Two minutes later Wymondham regained the lead with a sucker punch on the stroke of half time. A free kick from a foul in the Town half was sent in deep and resulted in another free kick after Birchall was adjudged to have pushed O'Callaghan in the back. The Wymondham youngster stepped up and took the free kick from 20 yards out which took a wicked deflection off the wall and looped in under the crossbar.
Almost instantly from the restart Todd drove down the middle of the pitch and fired a shot which Wymondham keeper Ashley O’Callaghan palmed wide for a corner. Three more Acle corners and a sliced shot from Birchall later, saw Acle go in behind at the break, despite having the better of the half.
Half Time – Acle United 1-2 Wymondham Town
Acle intended to start the second period in the same way as the first, pinning Wymondham in their own half. They came out of the blocks quickly making three attempts on goal in the first minute however none of real quality.
After another ten minutes of resilient defending, Town began to grow into the game and O’Callaghan was instrumental in drawing out players with mazy runs. The midfielder did this effectively to win a free kick on 59 minutes in which Pasque headed clear. Chelsea Clarke attempted to direct the rebound goal wards however fired high and wide for a goal kick.
Town got themselves the cushion they needed only a minute later when, after being switched on for the most part, a long ball from Newcombe was not dealt with by the Acle back line. Despite a recovering McGuire showing good pace to get back, her pass caught Larkins off guard allowing Hannah Waters, who had worked tirelessly all game without much service, to gain possession on the counter. A 5 yard square ball was met with a fantastic first touch by Clarke to take it through the line and set herself up to slot home past a stranded Fullbrook.
The two goal cushion gave Wymondham extra confidence and they began to attack more; by the same token, Acle’s conviction waived and for a few minutes they had to weather a storm in the middle with their back line on the ropes from direct play.
The balance of play soon reverted however as Acle began to once again look for the goals they needed. The got forward in numbers and had good possession in the Wymondham half, however failed to troubled O’Callaghan in goal. When pushing forward United left themselves a bit more vulnerable at the back and had a scare when Kayleigh Holloway drove through the middle and attempted to feed Waters, however McGuire was equal to the challenge.
Todd showed great skill to beat her marker and isolate the full back, however her pass hit Newcombe in the face and the Referee stopped play for a head injury. Surprisingly, the restart allowed Town to launch long into the Acle back line and then press, however the Acle defence were sharp to react. United then had strong claims for a penalty when Birchall was bundled over from behind, however the Referee dismissed appeals from the Acle players.
Things went from bad to worse for the trailing team in the next moment, when they were reduced to 10 players. Advantage was given but not utilised by Flatt with a wayward pass that Broghan Scully had to chase. Under pressure the midfielder was forced to foul Holloway on the halfway line and Flatt, in a moment of anger, kicked the ball at the Town player, receiving a red card.
As stoppage time arrived United continued to push and the Wymondham back line that had been resolute nearly all game finally gave way as Cooper found the back of the net after her initial shot was blocked by Kett.
Nevertheless the Wymondham Town defence held off another couple of attacks to cap off a professional display. Acle will rue the chances they did not take and the counter attacking goals they conceded, especially after dominating for most of the game. However Town showed a clinical edge and a professional performance to become this year’s Norfolk Women’s Cup Winners.
Full Time – Acle United 2-3 Wymondham Town
Acle United: Cyan Fullbrook, Anna Larkins, Naomi Cooper, Amber Rowland, Kate Pasque, Chloe Shields, Megan Todd ©, Ciera Flatt, Kirstie Kindred, Laura Holden & Lauren Bullard.
Subs: Broghan Scully, Erin Wilson, Rhianne Brister, Grace Birchall, Leah McGuire.
Wymondham Town: Ashleigh O’Callaghan, Lauren Kett, Leah Newcombe, Bethany Fretwell, Rachel Cossey ©, Kayleigh Holloway, Chelsea Clarke, Laura Nicholls, Hannah Waters, Molly O’Callaghan & Alice Ladbrooke.
Subs: Brooklyn Cheal-Ferris, Alice Collins, Jorja Patterson, Rose Glendinning, Louise Hamilton-Rout.
Player of the Match: Bethany Fretwell