Going for Challenge Cup Glory!

Like the majority of other leagues that won’t see league football played, the Eastern Region Women’s Football League have introduced a Champions League style cup competition that would see both Premier Division and Division One sides competing for the newly-founded trophy; the ERWFL Challenge Cup.

Not all sides are taking part though as Peterborough Northern Star (Premier Division), Newmarket Town Ladies (Division One North), Histon Ladies (Division One North), AFC Sudbury (Division One South) and Millwall Lionesses Community Trust (Division One South) have not been included in the draw of the groups.

Group A: Wroxham Women, Cambridge City Ladies Development, Haringey Borough Women, AFC Dunstable Women

Wroxham, Cambridge City Development, Haringey Borough and AFC Dunstable will make up Group A. One of the closest groups in the competition will see three of the bottom Premier Division sides and the one of top sides in Division One, this group is certainly open to any outcome. Wroxham will go into the competition as the highest ranked side, based on last season’s standings, having been 6th during the 2020/21 season. Below them sit Haringey Borough and AFC Dunstable who sat 8th and 9th respectively last season. Although less games were played, both Borough and Dunstable had already had a better season than last and will hope they can go into the competition with even better form. The lowest ranked side, but certainly not out of the running, is Cambridge City Development, who had found themselves 1st in Division One North. On their way to being a Premier Division side, Cambridge Dev will hope they can test themselves against their future opponents and this would be a good indication of where they sit within the standings.

Group B: King’s Lynn Town Ladies, Bedford Ladies, Harlow Town Ladies, Wodson Park Ladies, East Bergholt United 

King’s Lynn Town, Bedford, Harlow Town, Wodson Park and East Bergholt United will form the second group. As Premier Division title challengers, Harlow will go into the competition as one of the favourites. Although they found themselves 5th last season, the games in-hand meant the club were still on the hunt for the title. Also playing in the Premier Division, Bedford had a tough season, finding themselves 11th and just ahead of Bowers on goal-difference. Although they had a tough start to the season, Bedford will hope to still be on of the favourites to make it to the knockout stage of the competition. The three Division One sides were all high in the leagues when the season was cut short. King’s Lynn will hope to be the toughest competitors from the lower leagues having been 2nd last season but face more tough competition with 3rd-placed East Bergholt United from the South Division and 5th-placed Wodson Park, also from the South. This would be another good opportunity for strong Division One sides to test themselves against Premier Division sides, should they get promoted next season.

Group C: Haverhill Rovers Ladies, Royston Town Women, Leigh Ramblers Ladies, Bowers & Pitsea Ladies, Stevenage Women Development 

Another close group will see Haverhill Rovers, Royston Town, Leigh Ramblers, Bowers & Pitsea and Stevenage Development face off. Two Premier Division sides and Three Division One sides towards the lower end of the table, will hope to reach the knockout stage and face stronger opposition. Royston Town, who found themselves 10th in the Premier Division, and Bowers, who were bottom on goal-difference, will be favourites in group C, both with talented sides that had a disappointing season last time around. Haverhill Rovers will be the sole representation of the Northern Division in the group and will be the strongest out of the lower level sides. The Rovers finished 5th but will be slight favourites over Leigh Ramblers and Stevenage Development, who finished 6th and 7th respectively in the South Division. Although these sides weren’t destined to be promoted, it would be a good test for their players to face higher opposition ahead of a tough season coming.

Group D: St Ives Town Ladies, Needham Market Women, Wymondham Town Women, Colney Heath Ladies, Luton Town Ladies 

The toughest group of the cup will see 3 of the top four sides in the Premier Division, another strong top division side and a strong Division One North side go head-to-head. Wymondham Town will go into the competition as slight favourites, having been 2nd and level on points with Peterborough Northern Star but had only sat 2-points ahead of 3rd-placed St Ives Town. Just below the top-two sides in the group is Colney Heath who were 4th when the season was curtailed. The Magpies sat 6-points behind Peterborough and Wymondham with two-games in-hand. Luton Town, the fourth and final Premier Division side in the group, sat 7th, having played 3-games all season but were one of the favourites to win the title and will be one of the favourites in this group based on that. The last Division One side entering the Challenge Cup is Needham Market, of the Northern Division. Having been 3rd in the division and 2-points off the top-of-the-table, Needham had hoped to pursue promotion but will now hope to test themselves against sides who they could face in the next couple of seasons.