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A National FA Community Charter Club

Posted October 20th, 2008

Manager Chris Bolderstone reviews the opening weeks of the season

for individual match reports and team news click here

Hethersett’s beginning to the current season has been something of a rollercoaster ride. After such a successful season previously, narrowly missing out on the league title and promotion to Norwich City, all eyes are on the club as the new campaign gets underway.

Pre-season began with the news that 5 players had decided to leave the club to join Norwich City as they prepared for South-East Combination football, while 3 of the club's longest serving players left for university. This was compounded by Nicola Stolworthy being given a chance to play Premier League South football at Ipswich, and Karen Wilson deciding to rejoin West Lynn. All of this meant that at least 10 players would need to be recruited in order to have a squad with a realistic chance of competing to last year’s standards. The recruitment process has been ongoing since pre-season training began and is only just slowing down now, with a squad of 19 players offering excellent quality and strength in depth all over the pitch.

Out:

In:

Jemma Smythe – Norwich City

Leanne Symonds – Fakenham Town

Sophie Fuller – Norwich City

Mel Moore – Norwich City

Kelly Gray – Norwich City

Donna Bonnett – Acle

Nicola Bray – Norwich City

Hannah Dugdale – Acle

Amy Brooks – Norwich City

Vicky Courteney – Taverham

Nicola Stolworthy – Ipswich Town

Rosie Rutherford – Mulbarton Belles

Karen Wilson – West Lynn

Kayleigh Ellwood – Swanton United

Logan Shepherd – Bedford University

Jo Woolnough – Woodbridge Town

Jodie Allard – Loughborough University

Kate Ellis – UEA

Laura Hodgson – Sheffield University

Emma Mulley – Hethersett u16’s

 

Rebecca Codling – Woodbridge Town

 

Tammy Graves – Norwich City Centre of Excellence

Many players have come into the club, or rejoined the club, having relatively little experience at playing in the Eastern Regions Premier League and as a result it has taken time for the players to get to know each other and acclimatise to the faster paced game, and competing against teams that are well aware of Hethersett’s growing reputation. This became immediately evident in the first friendly of the season against Braintree, who had travelled from Essex to play us. Braintree went home with a hard-fought 2-1 victory, and the celebrations after the game were a wakeup call to some players as to the reputation they are all now carrying. There were positives from the game, however. Mel Moore played her first football for almost 2 years after a battle with a serious knee injury and straight away showed her quality and determination that earned her the vice-captains role.

This was followed by some hard work on the training ground and a trip to Dereham Town with the squad desperately needing a turnaround in fortune. The girls put in a quality performance and came away with an 8-0 win and a huge improvement in confidence. Vicky Courteney showed that she can be lethal in front of goal, scoring after just 30 seconds and looking a constant threat. The week before the league season began; a spirited Wymondham team were beaten 2-1 with the girls starting to like a team.

The league season began with Hethersett given a tough fixture against Bedford, who finished just one place below them last season. A brilliant team performance and a goal from Emily Coates, who is flourishing this season as the main striker, secured a 1-0 win. The team owed a debt of gratitude to Jodie Rettie who stepped in to play in goal as Swanton United were delaying the transfer of Kayleigh Ellwood, Jodie put in a fantastic performance and kept a well deserved clean sheet.

The next game was the club's first ever in the FA Cup, away at a Swanton United side that had still managed to delay the transfer of Kayleigh Ellwood. This was a potential banana skin as Swanton have historically been fierce rivals of Hethersett, however a superb first half display saw the girls go in at half time 5-0 up, with a hat-trick from Emily Coates and a screamer from Lisa Ferdani who has treated the new season as a fresh start. The second half was played out at a pedestrian pace with the girls wary of a fixture 2 days away, and earned a 5-0 win.

The midweek fixture entailed a very tough trip to Woodbridge Town, without left-back Adele McCrory who had been showing fantastic form in the early part of the season but was having problems with an ankle that had been broken 2 years previously. This gave Mel Moore her first start in 2 years, and she took the chance with both hands. Mel put in the type of performance that should be an inspiration to children and even her own peers – despite being sick on the touchline near to half-time she battled through the whole game. This was reflected across the pitch, and the girls came away with a 4-2 win. The work rate was summed up by Emily Coates’ second goal of the night, chasing down a back pass over 40 yards that seemed a lost cause she managed to block the goalkeepers kick and tap the ball into an empty net.

This game appeared to take a lot out of the girls as they prepared to face a very experienced Dagenham and Redbridge side. These preparations were set back further when Emily Coates had to pull out with a hamstring strain suffered before the match, meaning that right back Leanne Symonds was asked to fill in up front. Leanne was voted player of the match for her performance, which is a massive achievement for her considering she had previously never played higher than county league football as a right back, yet a comment was made by the Dagenham central defender that she almost wanted to retire after facing Leanne. Unfortunately Dagenham were too experienced and went home with a 3-2 win which on another day could have been very different.

 The next weekend gave us a trip to Peterborough in the FA Cup; however an unfortunate coincidence in terms of timing saw 7 players miss the game through holidays or illness. As a result, only 12 players travelled including for the first time Emma Mulley who had turned 16 a week previously. Peterborough were an organised, committed team that took an early lead from a lazily defended set piece which shook Hethersett up, as did a dislocated shoulder to Rosie Rutherford after 20 minutes following an innocuous aerial challenge, giving Emma Mulley her debut and Rosie a trip to hospital. Despite Emma showing great potential and work rate Hethersett were unable to make a breakthrough and went home via the A&E Department of the local hospital feeling rather deflated.

The following week's trip to Cambridge United was postponed due to the weather meaning that the next game as away to newly-promoted Stevenage Borough. It turned out to be a lesson in the power of teamwork as Stevenage showed great character to come back from a goal down to lead 2-1 at half time. Hethersett started the second half brightly but were unable to make a breakthrough. A serious looking knee injury to Mel Moore held the game up for 5 minutes as she was carried from the pitch after collapsing on her troublesome knee through nothing more than a routine clearance. This shook Hethersett up even more, and a late goal from Stevenage gave them a 3-1 win that their work ethic deserved. This served as a massive wake up call to some of the girls that they are carrying a big reputation this year, and will have to be very much motivated for every single game as they are now the team to beat.

Looking to the future, it is important that we stick together as a squad and develop. We are a team filled with exceptional quality and determination that has the potential to do very well over the next few years. Thankfully Mel Moore didn’t suffer any lasting damage following the Stevenage game; it is players like her that will be needed over the season. As a club we have a fantastic set of young players coming through the youth teams, Emma Mulley has shown that already and with players such as Tammy Graves and Stacey Annison turning 16 through the season there are many reasons to be optimistic. The next few months will present many challenges, but as we get used to playing together as a team at a high level, we will be able to come out of them on a positive note and look to continue building a squad that can play at higher levels of the women’s game.