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Women's Football News
While the league season has finally come to an end in England and Wales, football still goes on for many players of all ages through the summer tournaments which take place through the next three months all over the country.
A small number are exclusively for female teams and one of the best of these took place at Denham on Bank Holiday Monday.
This tournament is unique is several ways. The competitions run over three days with the senior tournament on Holiday Monday. Six matches take place simultaneously on a divided single full size pitch with mini goals, ensuring fast paced spectacular action in a restricted space. Games last just seven minutes but points are awarded for wins, draws and the number of goals scored, encouraging attacking play. Six or seven group matches are followed by four knockout rounds. To ensure a knockout result avoiding the dreaded penalties, two out of four outfield players are withdrawn during two minutes of golden goal overtime, followed if necessary by removing the goalkeeper to create teams of two who play until a golden goal is scored. This system leads to some thrilling cliffhangers lasting upwards of 10 minutes.
The whole day is run with military precision by a huge number of volunteers from Denham United Ladies FC including the match officials. Some teams take the name of a particular club whilst others are scratch teams of friends. Denham is notable for welcoming a mix of grass roots and elite players where Premier League players take on teams representing County and RegionalLeague clubs. Over 25 clubs from around the South East provided between one and four teams in over forty squads this year.
Hemel Hempstead and Chesham did well, with two teams reaching the last sixteen, while scratch teams Geek Squad, Docklands Ladies, who defeated the eventual winners in the group matches, WFC Montepelier and The Wall all went close, each squad containing some players who have played for Premier league clubs. Denham B reached the last eight but lost in extra time to end local interest.
The final was contested between Barnet and Eltham Town, the latter having achieved the remarkable feat of not conceding a goal in ten matches. Cheryl Williams broke this record, beating Megan Lynch with a fierce left foot drive after three minutes. Eltham poured forward and twice went close to equalising but were undone by a fine shot from distance by Danielle Murphy to clinch the trophy and prize money.
Organisers will have been happy with cool, dull weather after undergoing in the three previous years a heatwave, flooding and an abandonment owing to storm damage! The bar, burger stall and drinks table all did a steady trade over the nine hours to boost club funds as a bonus to another enjoyable and well run Denham senior tournament. The junior versions of the Tournament take place this Saturday and Sunday.
(By Patrick Higgins)
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