Norfolk draw after tough game

Hertfordshire 1, Norfolk 1 Reigning champions Norfolk faced a tough start to the new campaign as they travelled to meet a much-changed Hertfordshire side at Letchworth last week.

Hertfordshire 1, Norfolk 1

Reigning champions Norfolk faced a tough start to the new campaign as they travelled to meet a much-changed Hertfordshire side at Letchworth last week.

The home side's starting eleven boasted eight players who play in the Women's National Premier League with Watford.

Norfolk started brightly and a second-minute foul on Nicola Bray gave Norfolk their first chance and Paige Shorten stepped up to fire home a 25-yard free kick and give the visitors a perfect start.

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Bray then had a good chance sent clear by Jodie Drake but the keeper saved well. The home side responded and only a superb last ditch-tackle by Laura Thacker prevented Miles from equalising.

Good play between Drake and Shorten played in Beth Bygrave but she was penalised for a foul on the keeper. The game was end to end with Dixon and Wiltshire going close for the home side and then Norfolk keeper Holly Clarke, in for the injured Sarah Quantrill, made one of many fine stops when saving from Horwood.

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Clarke was now being kept busy but was looking confident, helped by the usual strong defending from Kate Parsons and Jemma Smythe.

Good work by Drake gave Bray a chance that wasn't taken and then a sloppy pass in midfield gave Hertfordshire's Miles a chance but Smythe got across to clear the danger.

Clarke then saved well from a Wiltshire free kick and the half finished with the home side failing to break down a stubborn Norfolk side.

The second half started slowly, but Shorten had a chance to repeat her effort of the first half, but this time her free kick sailed harmlessly wide.

The home side levelled the scores in the 55th minute, when after a scramble in the goalmouth the referee spotted an infringement and pointed to the penalty spot. Pittock gave Clarke no chance.

Norfolk responded well and Bray headed a corner over the crossbar from close range.

Chelsea Garrett replaced Emily Coates and was unlucky to see a good run and cross pushed away for a corner. Norfolk were producing a superb performance and were now the team on top.

A great run by Bray saw the keeper parry her effort out to the feet of Drake who smashed the ball over the bar from eight yards. Good work again by Drake set a chance up for herself that keeper Witney did well to block.

Bray again broke clear only to be brought down on the edge of the box by Daniels who received a red card. Shorten's free kick just cleared the crossbar.

Gemma Farman was replaced by Shelly Woods and Bray was replaced by Rebecca Burton as Norfolk looked to win the game.

In the final minute a brilliant effort by Shorten was superbly pushed away by Witney at full stretch, and that was the last action of a game that was a pleasure to watch.

The traveling Representative Committee voted Holly Clarke as their player of the match although the whole side deserve praise for a great performance.

Darren Moss, team manager, was also upbeat about the result. “What a game, high quality from both teams and a really good performance for the first game of the campaign away from home,” he said.

Emma Fletcher also made her debut as assistant manager for the season seeing her come through as a former player to join the full management team.

Norfolk's next game is against Cambridgeshire FA on Tuesday October 27, kick-off 7.45pm at Downham Town FC.

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