Wymondham Town Ladies overcame Mulbarton Belles to win the Harrod Sport Women's Cup in front of a record breaking Carrow Road crowd on Wednesday night.
In a closely fought contest, a goal either side of the half time break proved to be the difference with Wymondham's Laura Nicholls and Natasha Youngs getting on the score sheet.
A massive 959 people turned out to the home of Norwich City FC to witness the occasion, breaking the record for the biggest attendance at the Norfolk Women's Cup Final.
Both teams opened the game with clear intention to attack early and it became apparent that it would be a battle in the middle of the park during the early periods of the game. Mulbarton started the game with a spell of attacking promise in the first 5 minutes, yet failed to convert the killer pass on to goal. Wymondham remained cool under pressure looking unworried and kept possession at the back nicely with quick passing.
The first shot of the game came about from a Sophie Jermy through ball to Atlanta Griffith who cut inside and curled an effort goal wards. However, it was an easy catch for Chloe Pearce in the Wymondham goal and the game remained goalless.
The first 25 minutes saw very scrappy play as both teams struggled to settle into the game. Despite pushing high, Mulbarton failed to make the final pass count and failed to create any clear cut chances in front of goal, leaving the game goalless as it approached the half hour mark.
It would be Wymondham who finally broke the stalemate in the 32nd minute. Town’s playmaker in the middle, Katie Knights, delicately chipped the ball over the Mulbarton backline to find super sub-Laura Nicholls who made an instant impact on the game by sliding to slot the ball home past an on rushing Cara Anderson in the Mulbarton goal.
Mulbarton looked to equalise quickly as an optimistic Laura Hedkte struck from distance minutes later, but Pearce was untroubled by the effort as she gathered the ball safely. Moments later there was a battle of the captains as Rebecca Lake beat her marker at the centre circle and dribbled half the length of the pitch before being stopped in her tracks by Leah Newcombe who did well to prevent the goal-scoring opportunity.
Town looked to double their lead as the half time whistle approached. Hand ball shouts were heard in the Wymondham fan section as a Mulbarton defender blocked Newcombe’s cross which deflected for a corner. Match Official Andrew Wilson ignored the calls and proceeded with play.
At the 45th minute, Griffith thought she had found the Belles equaliser as she chased a well-played through ball into the box. However, her side-footed strike rustled the side netting of Wymondham’s goal. This would be last real chance of the first 45.
Town entered the break with the 1-0 advantage hoping to continue their possession on the ball. Mulbarton did not look like they were going down without a fight as the first 45 minutes closed with Griffith’s effort echoing a warning call to Wymondham.
Half-Time Mulbarton Belles FC 0 - 1 Wymondham Town Ladies
Despite Town going one goal up, it was all to play for in the second half. The first 5 minutes saw back and forth play as both teams struggled in retain possession of the ball through the middle third due to great pressing and defending from each side.
However, it wasn’t long before Town found the back of the net once again to extend their lead to a two-goal cushion. Mary Croft remined calm at the back and delivered a quick pass to Chelsea Clarke out on the left wing. Clarke progressed up the pitch and delivered an early cross perfectly into the middle of the penalty area. Natasha Youngs beat her marker and latched on to power a first-time volley past Anderson to find the back of the net in the 51st minute.
Despite Town’s early dominance in the second 45, Mulbarton were able to work the ball forward a few minutes after going 2-0 down. Griffith found space 20 yards out and unleashed a vicious curling effort on goal which went just wide of the right-hand goal post.
With twenty minutes left to play, Town looked to control the game, keeping possession nicely and moving the ball throughout the thirds. Mulbarton continued to press high with their attackers pushing forward looking for a goal that would spark a comeback as the game entered the crucial last period.
Tensions heightened in the 75th minute as the tenacious Knights entered the Match Official's book for contact from behind on a Mulbarton player. The free kick routine saw a creative dummy run from Jermy before Griffith struck a curling effort that went over the crossbar.
Moments later Croft gave away another freekick in dangerous territory on the right wing. Mel Belsey whipped in a curling cross that saw Pearce leave her line catching the ball denying a Mulbarton head latching on to the ball.
Wymondham regained their attacking momentum through Francesca Catchpole as she proved to be a troubling presence up front. With ten minutes to go, Catchpole chased a chipped through ball beating her man before going one on one with Anderton. Despite a slip, the Belles goalkeeper managed to react quickly to stop Catchpole extending the Wymondham lead.
As the second half reached its conclusion, it would be Wymondham Town holding on to their lead and taking home the silverware in a brilliant game of football.
Full Time Mulbarton Belles FC 0 - 2 Wymondham Town Ladies
Mulbarton Belles FC: Cara Anderson, Vicky McNorton, Olivia Mungham-Gray, Alice Smith. Meg Belsey, Laura Hedtke, Ellie Hunter, Bex Lake ©, Lucy Lincoln, Sophie Jermy, Atlanta Griffith
Subs: Mel Belsey, Annie Smith, Olivia Smith, Meg Anderton, Molly Ryan
Wymondham Town Ladies: Chloe Pearce, Lauren Kett, Leah Newcombe ©, Mary Croft, Natasha Youngs, Chelsea Clarke, Hannah Waters, Becca Russell, Kyla Love, Katie Knights, Jennifer Codman
Subs: Hayley Kindred, Francesca Catchpole, Laura Nicholls, Lyla Studd, Jess Luff
Referee: Andrew Wilson
Assistants: Chris Brown & Craig Ellis
Fourth Official: David Fairhurst
Player of the Match: Katie Knights
Photographer: Matthew Usher