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Billericay Town Women hosting Ipswich Town Women in Women's FA Cup ignites rivalry for AFC Sudbury Girls Academy scholars Eloise King, Paige Clemenson and Ellie Mitchell




Both are happy to finally have a competitive game in sight but one AFC Sudbury Girls Academy scholar will certainly be wearing a bigger smile than the other come Monday morning.

For when Billericay Town host Ipswich Town in the Vitality Women’s FA Cup Second Round Proper on Sunday (2pm) it will see two of the academy’s players potentially taking to the field on opposite sides.

Second-year captain Paige Clemenson, who represents the Essex hosts, will be up against Sudbury-based England Under-19 player Eloise King’s Ipswich side.

Eloise King celebrates Ipswich Town Women's cup victory over Norwich City with the Tractor Girls' supporters Picture: Ross Halls (45574092)
Eloise King celebrates Ipswich Town Women's cup victory over Norwich City with the Tractor Girls' supporters Picture: Ross Halls (45574092)

And the interest in the tie in King’s Marsh’s classrooms does not end there with Ellie Mitchell, who like Clemenson has accepted a US scholarship for 2021/22, also a part of the Billericay set-up in their development side.

The Tractor Girls were flying high with four wins from four in the FA Women’s National League Division One South East when a second successive season was scrapped due to Covid-19.

While they are hoping to still be moved up the pyramid on their impressive record over the past two years, their divisional rivals Billericay were one place off the bottom with one win from their three games.

AFC Sudbury Academy's Paige Clemenson in action for Billericay Town Women Picture: Nicky Hayes (45577771)
AFC Sudbury Academy's Paige Clemenson in action for Billericay Town Women Picture: Nicky Hayes (45577771)

“We have had a bit of banter at college and our What’sApp group has been going off,” said third-year King, who turns 19 next month.

“Paige is pretty confident they will win but I am 100 per cent backing my team as you would like to think it is a very winnable game for us.

“It does add a bit of extra spice to it.”

Her recovery from a sprained ankle means King is rated doubtful for the clash, however, as her Ipswich side look to emulate last season’s record-breaking run.

How we revealed the story about Eloise King and Paige Clemenson going up against each other in the Women's FA Cup on today's Suffolk Free Press back page (45756604)
How we revealed the story about Eloise King and Paige Clemenson going up against each other in the Women's FA Cup on today's Suffolk Free Press back page (45756604)

They became the first fourth tier side to reach the last 16, finally going out in a 10-0 defeat to eventual champions Manchester City in the north west.

It would take another three victories to match that but King, who has been able to continue to train and play for Ipswich’s Under-21s under elite protocols, has her eyes on more history.

“Our plan is to go one further than we did last year,” she said.

Ipswich Town Women's player Eloise King is an injury doubt for Sunday's FA Women's Cup match at Billericay Picture: Ross Halls
Ipswich Town Women's player Eloise King is an injury doubt for Sunday's FA Women's Cup match at Billericay Picture: Ross Halls

“Once you have done it once you want another taste of it.”

Clemenson, who has come off the bench in Billericay’s last two outings in the competition, accepts they will be up against it with opposition whose side contain players who have mainly been able to keep going through lockdown.

Paige Clemenson is set to be the first AFC Sudbury Academy female to progress through to playing soccer at an American university after accepting an offer to join Clayton State in Morrow, Georgia (43930287)
Paige Clemenson is set to be the first AFC Sudbury Academy female to progress through to playing soccer at an American university after accepting an offer to join Clayton State in Morrow, Georgia (43930287)

But she feels the nature of cup football, and their home advantage on their 3G pitch, means an upset is within reach.

“We showed in our last two cup games how anything can happen,” she said.

“We are confident as a team that we can get something out of the game.”

The winners of the tie, which will be live streamed for free via Billericay’s YouTube channel, will be away to the winners of the tie involving higher-league sides Cardiff City or Oxford City the following Sunday.

Read more: Joe Sheehan on Ipswich Town Women's return to action