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Match Report

Needham Market v Stevenage

Stevenage inch a 3-2 win over hosts Needham Market in tight clash

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Edward Payne

18 April 2023

A place in the ERWFL League Cup final was at stake as Needham Market hosted Stevenage FCW on a glorious Sunday afternoon at Bloomfields. With both sides having faced each other in the league, this was to be the decider in the trinity of matches and in a game that contained no less than four penalties and two wonder goals, the away side came out on top. Goals from Lina Nagib for Needham and the triumvirate of Amy Makewell, Becky Shephard and Rosy Wodhams ensured that it will be the Hertfordshire side who were the first name into the final.

It was a cagey first few minutes as both teams were probing to see how the other would react. Needham blinked first. With just shy of ten minutes passed, the immense Hannah Bodily headed the ball from a Needham goal kick which saw a delightful turn, and a fortuitous deflection from Makewell. The resulting ball was chased eagerly by Emily Schofield who was caught by Ele Catchpole’s outstretched leg. Cue penalty number one. Coolly despatched in a similar fashion to last week’s opener by Makewell for her fourteenth goal of the season and her fortieth of her Stevenage career.

Photo: Edward Payne

The game began to open and both Shephard and the outstanding Paige Wakefield had good chances for their respective sides. However, just ten minutes after the first penalty, the second arrived. Needham worked the ball intricately through the middle of the pitch with good interplay from Mia Etheridge and top goalscorer, Molly Hall. Her ball towards Amber Cantwell was initially blocked by Erin Price, but Mia O’Brien was adjudged to have clattered into her. Lina Nagib stepped up to send the ball low to O’Brien’s left and collected her tenth goal of the season.

Ironically, it was again about ten minutes later when the crowd witnessed the third penalty in just half an hour of football. This time, a great run from Eleanor Rossiter dwn the right-hand side was matched by the energetic Vicky Neal. The Boro’ defender slid in to block the ball, which caught her hand. The penalty was awarded, and a yellow card added for her troubles. Nagib won the mind games by putting the ball exactly where she did previously, only this time it was inches past the outstretched hand of O’Brien.

As half time drew near, Makewell almost added to her tally with a low shot that was well saved by Evie McKane. The goalkeeper could do nothing about the injury time equaliser. Borough moved the ball from defence to attack with a cracking kick from hands by O’Brien following a free kick. The Needham defence allowed the ball to bounce before Makewell collected the half clearance. The ball was sent to Kelsey Millen on the right who cut infield and sent the ball across the eighteen-yard box to Shephard who looped the ball high and away from McKane for a dramatic leveller.

Both sides had efforts in the second half, in what was a much tighter and cagier affair. As the minutes ticked by, the sense of jeopardy from both sides was palpable, alongside the sheer will to win. It was going to take something spectacular to win the game, and with seventy-two minutes elapsed, Wodhams obliged. A Hannah Nebbitt throw, high up the left hand side of the pitch, was held up by Amy Gooderham who laid a simple ball back to Wodhams who unleashed her sixth career goal for the club from distance over McKane who could only turn and watch the ball bounce into the back of the net.

Needham did not roll over and were almost level three minutes later. A corner was earned after a brilliant save from O’Brien, who punched clear the set piece only to see the bar come to her rescue from an excellent effort by Wakefield.

That was the best opportunity for the hosts, but there was to be late drama in the penalty box as the game finished how it began. Holly Greenwood was unceremoniously brought to the ground during time added on. With Makewell off the pitch, Tilly Fidler stepped up, only to see her low effort saved well by McKane.

The result means that it will be Stevenage who will await the decision of the match between Luton Town and Colney heath to see which side will finish the season by lifting the league cup. With AFC Sudbury securing a vital win against Royston and inching closer to the required points tally that would secure the championship, there is still yet the chance of glory for some. Stevenage will move into this Sunday’s County Cup Final against Royston Town, with a spring in their step. After a second consecutive battling 3-2 victory, Interim Manager Dave Perry said, “We worked hard today, everything was there, the desire to win. It was a good game, and we did well. Whether it be a cup semi-final, or a league game, the girls want to do well and want to play. They give us the tools to win, they do it, not me. Now we get our day out at the final – it’s good!”

Needham Market XI: McKane, Bloomfield, Catchpole, Rossiter, Etheridge, Nagib, Hall, Ward, Wakefield, Cantwell, Thomas

Subs: Hubbard, Gooding, Pannifer, Sharp

Goals: Nagib x 2

Booking: Etheridge

Stevenage XI: O’Brien, Neal (c), Farmer, Price, Nebbitt, Bodily, Greenwood, Shephard, Schofield, Millen, Makewell

Subs: Fidler, Gooderham, Webster, Wodhams

Goals: Makewell, Shephard, Wodhams

Booking: Neal

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