Acle Ladies earn their place in cup final

Acle United have reached the ERWFL Cup final. Picture: Archant

Acle United have reached the ERWFL Cup final. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Acle United Ladies booked their place in the ERWFL Cup final with a 3-2 victory over visiting Billericay Town.

They will now meet AFC Dunstable at the Herts County Ground in Letchworth on May 13.

It was the visitors who created the first chance of the game and Fullbrook in the Acle goal had to be alert to save at the visiting striker's feet, as the early pressure came from Billericay.

However, it was the hosts who took the lead on seven minutes. Good interplay between Larkins and Todd saw the latter fire in a low cross and Bullard was on hand at the far post to steer the ball into the goal.

This fired up Acle and from a Rowland corner, the ball was half cleared to Cooper whose dipping shot clipped the top of the crossbar then, just three minutes later, another corner saw Acle double their lead, with Todd rising above the Billericay defence to send Rowland's corner into the net with a powerful header.

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Despite holding a two-goal lead, the game was end to end and Fullbrook gathered a dangerous cross by the visitors at the second attempt, whilst at the other end Holden shot just wide after Kindred had gained possession just outside the penalty area.

Billericay reduced the deficit in the 22nd minute through a free-kick which dipped just under the crossbar and three minutes later the scores were level. From an Acle corner, a quick breakaway saw four passes upfield put the Billericay striker looking suspiciously offside clear on goal and, despite Fullbrook getting a hand on the shot, she was unable to prevent the equaliser.

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Birchall replaced Bullard just after the half hour mark and immediately forced the visitors to concede a corner and from the set-piece Pasque headed just over the bar and shortly afterwards from another corner there were loud claims from the home side when Pasque appeared to be bundled over in the penalty area.

With five minutes to go before half-time, Acle regained the lead. Billericay conceded a free-kick around 25 yards out from goal and Birchall's strike took a slight deflection past the keeper.

In the first minute of the second half Acle almost increased their lead when applying pressure on a short goal-kick by the visitors. A pass across the centre of the pitch was cut out by Todd whose shot just cleared the crossbar.

As the half progressed the game started to get a little feisty with both Shields and Birchall finding themselves in the referee's notebook for over-zealous tackles as the hosts looked to keep their goal advantage.

A long ball over the top of the Acle defence caught out the hosts and Billericay's forward brought out a fine save from Fullbrook and in a tussle for the loose ball, the visitors had strong claims for a penalty turned down by the referee after a challenge by Pasque. Just a minute later, Billericay clipped the Acle crossbar after Acle had failed to deal with a cross.

Play started to get bogged down in midfield as both sides tried to gain the ascendency with neither keeper getting tested. A quick break by Acle saw Birchall chase a through ball running past the away defence and slot the ball past the keeper only to be ruled offside although she was clearly onside when the ball was played.

In the 85th minute, Holden chased a ball and from the by-line passed inside to Todd who was brought down in the penalty area, but although the Acle captain sent the keeper the wrong way, her spot-kick was wide of the post.

Acle United Ladies: C Fullbrook, A Larkins, N Cooper, A Rowland, K Pasque, C Shields, M Todd, C Flatt, K Kindred, L Holden, L Bullard. Subs used: B Scully, R Brister, L McGuire, G Birchall. Unused: A Bell.

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