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Sheffield United are having a fantastic first season in the FA Women's Premier League following promotion and their 2-1 win over Radcliffe Olympic on Sunday stretched their unbeaten run in the league to 14 games and put them firmly in the Midlands Division One title race.
We talked to United defender Evie Robinson who praised the team's resilience in coming from behind to beat one of their fellow high fliers in the table and insisted that the future is very bright at the club:
WSS: That was a great result for your team on Sunday, how tough a game was it against a team that was in good form?
ER: It was a tough game for the team and Radcliffe put up a good fight throughout to battle for second place in the league. It felt as though we were stuck in second gear during the first half but the girls persevered and stepped it up in the second half showing our good form. It was a hard game to watch from the bench injured.
WSS: It was the best possible time to score a winning goal though, with Sophie Bell keeping her cool from the penalty spot. How good a feeling was it when her kick hit the back of the net?
ER: It was a great feeling with a massive sigh of relief from everyone. Sophie was very composed and handled the pressure very well!
WSS: Just how resilient did the team have to be after going a goal behind in the first half?
ER: It is easy to put your head down when you are in a losing position, especially when it is a frustrating and tough game. Nevertheless, the girls did a good job at pulling together in the second half, showing our resilience and how we work well as a team.
WSS: That result takes you up to second place in the table, and fourteen league games unbeaten, are the team doing better than you would have anticipated at the start of the season?
ER: I think we entered the season a little into the unknown as we were into a new league and had new players in the squad, myself being one of them. With this in mind, from the start of pre-season training, the whole team had the same goal to win the league and we have pushed together to try and achieve this.
WSS: Your manager Carla Ward has achieved a lot in the game during her playing career, has it been a big boost to the team to have someone of her experience in charge?
ER: Wardy's experience with coaching and as a player in women's football has been a great asset to helping our team grow stronger. She is passionate about helping players improve and the club progressing.
WSS: This week you take on Long Eaton United, who you have not played so far, what kind of game are you expecting against them?
ER: Although Long Eaton are lower in the league than us, we try not to go into any games with set expectations of teams. We will approach the game with a winning mindset and hopefully play our game.
WSS: You are in what is starting to look like a three horse race for the title and still have to play TNS and Loughborough before the end of the season, is the belief growing that you can still win the league?
ER: We are in good form and winning ways, so I think we can be confident.
WSS: Sheffield United have made great progress in the last few years and you have adapted well to a new league this season, just how far do you believe that the club can potentially go?
ER: Hopefully with growing support, the club can continue to progress onwards and upwards. Progressing to Super League level would be great and help to promote SUFC and women's football in Sheffield.
Our thanks to Evie!
It has been nothing short of a dream start to life at Charlton Athletic for SSE Women's FA Cup player of the round Charlotte Gurr.
Gurr was the star of the show in the Addicks' 3-2 extra time fourth round win against Blackburn Rovers last time out, chipping the keeper and setting up the winner to earn the well deserved Fourth Round gong.
The 28-year-old summer signing has scored in every round of the competition - with six goals in four games - and feels she's in the form of her life.
"It's a massive honour to win the award with some of the top players in the world being involved in the fourth round," she said. "I'm having a good season and haven't been this confident for a while.
"I've felt the warmth of the welcome since coming here and that's helped me hit the ground running.
"The group of girls have been great and I feel like I've fitted in really well."
The left sided player has taken a liking to the SSE Women's FA Cup since her move from Gillingham.
She bagged a hat-trick in the 5-0 Second Round win over QPR, netted a late winner to down AFC Wimbledon in the first round and also notched against Ipswich Town at the third stage.
Gurr started as a youth team player at Arsenal Ladies and, beyond the hurdle of Cardiff City in the Fifth Round, is targeting a quarter final tie with her former side.
She said: "The FA Cup is a really great competition to play in and you want to do your best playing against the best.
"We beat Cardiff earlier in the season in the league so they will be well up for beating us this time round.
"I'm hoping we can push on, beat Cardiff and get a big, big team.
"I started at Arsenal so playing against my first team would be nice. I did it with Gillingham a few years ago and it was a good occasion."
Gurr is helping continue Charlton's proud record in the cup, lifting the trophy in 2005 when Eniola Aluko's winner helped beat Everton in the Final.
But Riteesh Mishra's side have their eyes set on promotion to the FA Women's Super League, a point off the top of Women's Premier League South with a game in hand.
Gurr gained WSL experience with Millwall and, despite the romance of the SSE Women's FA Cup, admitted that is not the only priority for the season.
"Charlton are a massive club and it would be great to get them back into the top leagues," she continued. "I'll do whatever I can, use whatever experience I can, to help them do that.
"You want to do well in both but I'd say our main priority is to win the league.
"Hopefully we can push our way into the WSL but the FA Cup is the biggest competition around so we want to get as far as we can in that, as well."
Tickets are now on sale for the SSE Women's FA Cup Final on Saturday 5th May at Wembley Stadium connected by EE. For more information about tickets and SSE's involvement in women's football visit www.sponsorship.sse.com.
by Tom Harle, Sportsbeat
Leicester City Women captain Holly Morgan is confident that her team can acquit themselves well against Durham Women in the SSE Women's FA Cup Fifth Round on Sunday.
The FAWPL Northern Division side travel north east to take on their WSL opponents and Holly admits it is a challenge they are looking forward to. "As a squad we relish the chances of playing WSL sides as this is the level that we want to be playing at," she said. "We believe that we are capable of playing at such a level and every time we have played a WSL team we have competed and matched technically and physically with those oppositions not looking out of place or depth.
"We have been working very hard in training and we have a game plan which we plan to execute to the best of our ability. It's extremely important to keep our heads and to remain focused on our game and what makes us special. We must play the game and not the occasion.
"I think we'll enjoy being the underdogs on this occasion as the pressure lies with Durham. We can go into the game knowing that we are more than capable of competing with WSL Teams, but it is in fact Durham who need to prove that they are the team playing in a higher league. We are excited and raring to go!"
Leicester reached this stage of the competition with a 3-2 win against in-form South West Division One side Plymouth Argyle and Holly insists that this result should not be underestimated: "Plymouth were a tough opposition to face on Sunday and we knew it was going to be a difficult task. To get the win was a wonderful feeling and we now set our sights on progressing even further within the Cup."
As well as reaching the last sixteen of the SSE Women's FA Cup, Leicester are also in the quarter finals of the Premier League Cup and their County Cup Final. They are also doing well in the league but, accordingly to Holly, the increasing number of games will not be a problem.
"It's great that we remain in a high number of competitions this year," she replied. "Of course this has an impact on the number of games which we are getting through however with our fantastic squad depth we are able to effectively manage the workload in a way which allows us to competitively compete in all competitions and league games.
"This Club is all about growth, development and ambition. By reaching the last sixteen of the FA Cup for only the second time in the Club's history is a massive feat. You could therefore argue that this Sunday's game is historic for the Club as it highlights where we have come from and where we set our sights on going."
She bamboozles Women's Super League defences on a weekly basis, but Chelsea's Fran Kirby is expecting a few bumps and bruises from Sunday's SSE Women's FA Cup Fifth Round clash with Doncaster Rovers Belles.
The striker is in typically red hot form this season, leading the scoring charts with 14 goals in 20 matches in all competitions for Emma Hayes' Londoners.
While Chelsea are currently going toe-to-toe with Manchester City at the top end of FA WSL 1 in the league, Doncaster are powering clear at the summit of FA WSL 2.
This momentum, Kirby says, means the South Yorkshire side are a dangerous prospect and Chelsea will have to remain professional and expect a tough and frustrating ride in their Fifth Round clash as they look to unpick the Belles backline.
"Doncaster have got a really good squad of players down there and they always have done," said 24-year-old Kirby, who has nine goals in 26 England appearances.
"When I was at Reading playing against them, it was always a difficult game - they're a physical side and I think they're going to look to frustrate us as much as they can.
"They're only a few teams out there who would come out and press us, so I think it will be a frustrating game for us and one we have to be patient with and try and build a goal rather than it be end-to-end.
"Every time I play Doncaster I leave the pitch with a few bruises. It should be an exciting game - they've got quality in their team and they pose a threat going forward.
"It will probably be about physicality and them leaving a boot in here and there, but they have players who can play and we have to respect them."
Kirby, along with teammate and fellow England star Karen Carney, took questions from fans and held a signing and picture session at the Chelsea FC Megastore at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, with the trophy in full view for fans to admire.
Striker Kirby joined Chelsea in July 2015, with the Blues having won the FA Cup two months previously. She was also part of the side which lost the 2016 final to Arsenal.
The mercurial forward wants 2018 to be Chelsea's year as she eyes a Wembley triumph for her and her team mates.
"The SSE Women's FA Cup is always top of people's lists of the ones they want to win," added Reading-born Kirby.
"It's such an historic trophy to win and one that's probably one of the most important in the women's game. It's one that we've won before and one we can taste what it feels like to win.
"We want to put everything into this tournament so we can hopefully get that trophy at the end.
"It would just be such a magical moment - all you want to do is win trophies, whether it's the FA Cup, whether it's the FA WSL, it always has a big meaning when you win something.
"It's a bit of a relief when you do win it and we lost to Arsenal in the final last time - it's one that we really want to push to win."
Tickets are now on sale for the SSE Women's FA Cup Final on Saturday 5th May at Wembley Stadium connected by EE. For more information about tickets and SSE's involvement in women's football visit www.sponsorship.sse.com.
by Jimmy Booker, Sportsbeat
Tottenham Hotspur's Sarah Wiltshire is eyeing up one aim and one aim only for the new London Leopards coaching campaign - finding the next Karen Hills.
A new girls football schemed launched by the London FA, London Leopards is aiming to get 100 new female coaches into the game, keen to maximise the significance of female role models on girls in the sport.
Those coaches will then deliver sessions to 1,000 7-11-year-old girls, with an increase in female participation the optimum aim in a sport that is still predominantly seen as boys-only.
But for Wiltshire, this is far from the case. The 26-year-old first got into the sport after pestering her mum to take her to a club as late as 13 after her primary school had not allowed girls into their team.
With free coaching courses now on the horizon and women's football on the rise, the Spurs midfielder is adamant those barriers to the sport are finally coming down - hopeful women can follow in the footsteps of her club manager Hills.
"It's really important to get women more involved in coaching. Karen's our manager, she was a player and she's a good role model for anyone who wants to coach in the women's game," she said.
"I think it's important not just to get more female coaches in the women's game but into coaching in general, it's definitely growing so the fact that London Leopards are doing this is really, really good.
"I did my Level 1 and 2 coaching when I was at Arsenal academy, I got my qualifications while I was playing football so it is something I have thought about. I love coaching the young girls and seeing them develop.
"I'd really like to see more female coaches in the game, young girls would definitely like that and they can aspire to that so it's important, but having good coaches is the main thing.
"London Leopards is going to be a really good step to bringing in more coaches, it's a great start to get your Level 1 and hopefully we can see a new Karen Hills or Emma Hayes in the game in the future."
Backed by significant investment from the Wembley National Stadium Trust, the London FA will provide these 100 new female coaches with the tools to complete their Level 1 qualifications.
That will be delivered by eight Professional Club Community Trusts around the capital, notably Wiltshere and Hills' Tottenham side, as well as top-flight outfits Arsenal Women and the Chelsea Foundation.
Delivering eight-week introductions to football programmes, the clubs have also been tasked with identifying pathways beyond the initial bedding-in period into the new venture and with sustainability the name of the game, manager Hills is confident change will come to the fore - at least providing others with a different journey than the one she experienced.
"Spurs are excited to be a part of this, it's not an unrealistic target to get 100 coaches, it's more than doable and I'm excited to be in this process," she said.
"My coaching journey started when I was working in a leisure centre as a lifeguard, I got asked to look after a session and got straight involved, from there the coach said I might have an eye for this.
"I went on a course, I was the only female there but that was the start. I went to Spurs and worked within soccer schools, not many females were on these schools so it was my aspiration to boost the women's game.
"Over the past five or six years I've had that opportunity to get my A licence, work alongside some fantastic coaches and gain some invaluable experience, which has really helped me shape and mould my career until now."
For more information about the London Leopards initiative and how to apply for the coaching courses, please visit: www.londonfa.com. Applications open Monday 12th February 2018.
by Ross Lawson, Sportsbeat
Scotland captain Rachel Corsie will return from injury and be available to play two matches against New Zealand in a double header next month.
She will be joined by uncapped Abbi Grant who has been named in the squad.
The 22-year-old striker has been in impressive form for Glasgow City of late and has been rewarded by Shelley Kerr. Grant has represented Scotland at under-15s, under-17s and under-19s level.
Lucy Graham also returns to the squad, with Rachael Small and Lana Clelland both missing out through injury.
The two matches against New Zealand will act as preparation for Scotland as they aim to reach their first ever World Cup, having won their opening two fixtures.
This will be the second time this year the national team has visited Spain after the team lost to Norway and drew with Russia in another double header of friendles in January in La Manga.
The first match against New Zealand will take place on Saturday 3rd March, kick off 4pm and the teams will then meet again on Tuesday 6th March at 10am (both kick off times are GMT). Both matches will be played at the Pinatar Football Arena in San Pedro del Pinatar.
The Scottish FA have announced that the crucial match against Poland will take place at the Paisley 2021 Stadium on Tuesday 10th April, kick-off TBC. The match will be the second of Scotland's next competitive double header, where they will play Switzerland away from home on Thursday, 5th April in Schaffhausen.
This will be the second consecutive match Scotland have played in Paisley, following the 5-1 win over Albania in October last year.
Jayne Ludlow has named a strong Wales Women's squad for the upcoming Cyprus Cup tournament.
Wales have been placed in Group A alongside Finland, Italy and Switzerland, and will be keen to improve on last years 6th place finish.
Captain Sophie Ingle will again lead a squad that includes centurion Jessica Fishlock, whilst the Orchard Welsh Premier Women's League is represented by Swansea City's Ellie Lake together with Cyncoed Ladies duo Laura O'Sullivan and Gwen Davies.
Lake and Davies are two of three uncapped players named along with Elise Hughes of Everton, while Amina Vine, Alice Griffiths and Nadia Lawrence will represent the Wales Performance Squad.
Helen Ward and Charlie Estcourt both scored Wales in each of the last two Cyprus Cup tournaments, and are also included in Ludlow's squad of 24 players.
The competition starts for Wales against Finland on 28th February, and will end on 7th March when the final places will be decided.
This will be the third year in succession that Wales have competed at the tournament, and the four fixtures will form a crucial part of Ludlow's preparation for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifier away to England in April.
Wales conceded just once in four games during the Cyprus Cup tournament last year, and the defensive improvement has continued into the current World Cup qualifying campaign.
Twelve nations will once again compete for the Cyprus Cup this year, and once the three groups of four have been completed, a further round of games will take place on the final day to decide the overall standings.
Last year Wales were denied a fifth place finish through a penalty shootout defeat to Scotland. For more information on the tournament visit www.cypruswomenscup.net. (faw.cymru)
East Midlands League
Kathryn Mudge scored a hat-trick and Jenny Selman added the other as Premier Division leaders Oughtibridge won 4-0 away to Loughborough Students to stay one point ahead from Leicester City Women Development, who beat Eastwood Ladies 6-4 thanks to a Mai Muncaster treble, Gabriella Reid brace and Natalie Hurst. Peterborough Northern Star stayed in touch with the leaders by beating Mansfield Town 4-0, Vicky Gallagher netting twice along with Jess Evans and Paige Jones. Ollerton Town meanwhile ran out 5-0 winners over Rise Park with strikes from Megan Howard (2), Rachael Bell (2) and Natalie Gibson.
One game took place in Division One North, Calverton MW lifting themselves into third place with a 4-2 victory over Sleaford Town, Hayley Brown scoring all four goals.
Peterborough Utd are now just three points off the pace in Division One South after scoring eight times without reply past Desford. Keir Perkins, Jessica Driscoll and Amy Challis all netted twice along with Emily Smith and Tash Applegate.
Eastern Region League
AFC Sudbury and Bedford Ladies battled out a 1-1 draw in the solitary Premier Division match to go ahead on Sunday, Stacey Teager scoring to give Sudbury an important point.
Wymondham Town are continuing to close in on the leaders in Division One North as they go on winning their games in hand, this time triumphing 3-1 away to Ipswich Town Development thanks to a goal apiece from Alice Ladbrooke, Laura Nicholls and Chelsea Clarke.
In Division One South, Little Thurrock Dynamos bounced back from their first defeat of the season the previous week to beat Bishop's Stortford 6-3 and narrow the gap on leaders Stevenage Ladies Res to nine points. Georgia Fraser was on target twice for Little Thurrock along with Ebony Moore, Abbie Simmonds, Danielle Styles and Kerri Thomas. Harlow Town lost ground as they suffered a surprise 2-1 defeat at the hands of Hertford Town, whose markswomen were Bilge Taspinar and Donna Watts.
London & South East League
Parkwood Rangers enhanced their chances of finishing in the top four as they won 2-0 away to the team immediately below them, Carshalton Athletic. Jamie Hawkey and Chelsey Mayhew were both on target for Parkwood.
AFC Phoenix booked their place in the semi finals of the League Cup with a 6-0 victory over Eastbourne Town, which meant they took top spot in Group B. Kasey Kelm netted two of the goals for Phoenix and she was joined on the scoresheet by Zoe Bergeal, Natalia Mann, Lucy Monkman and Saskia Philp.
North East League
League leaders Durham Cestria continue to stretch the pace and preserved their lead of nine points by winning 3-2 away to Castleford White Rose. Sophie Hodgson, Molly Holder and Nisha Mistry all scored for Durham, with Castleford replying through Lauren Breen and Rachel Sherrard. Nyci Thorns hit a hat-trick along with others from Sian Williams and Shannon Reed as Norton & Stockton Ancients defeated Tynedale 5-1 to keep up the chase in second. Laura Midgley was on target for York City as they fought out a 1-1 draw with Farsley Celtic, whose reply came from Danielle Sidebottom.
The top three were not in action in the Northern Division and this allowed Boldon CA Villa to move in amongst them and go third after beating Cramlington Utd 6-0. Allison Ferris and Elizabeth Thompson-Clarke each netted twice along with Claire Pitt and Jade Murray to take Boldon to within two points of the leadership. Blyth Lions also won 6-0 in the other game played, against Guisborough Ladies, thanks mainly to a five-goal haul from Lauren Robson, Terri Nielsen adding the other.
In the Southern Division, Altofts Ladies lifted themselves into second place with a 6-0 victory over Doncaster Belles (Women's). Rachel Pritchard bagged a brace and she was joined on the scoresheet by Hollie Betts, Laura Pylypiuk, Natalie Riley and Grace Wilkinson.
North West League
Tranmere Rovers moved to within two points of Premier Division leaders Stockport County, thanks to a 7-1 victory over Sir Tom Finney. Merseyrail Bootle meanwhile won 3-1 at MSB Woolton to move up to third, ahead of Fleetwood Town Wrens who were beaten 4-0 by Burnley Girls & Ladies.
It was a good day for Burscough Dynamo in Division One North, as they won 7-3 away to Bolton Wanderers Res to lift themselves off the foot of the table and out of the bottom two.
One match was also played in Division One South, which produced a number of goals as second placed Curzon Ashton battled out a 3-3 draw with Liverpool Marshalls Feds Res, who remain two positions below them.
In the Argyle Sports Cup, CMB Ladies put their league form behind them to win 4-2 away to Northwich Vixens and book their place in the quarter finals.
Stockport County Blues are through to the last eight of the Argyle Sports Plate after they defeated Preston North End 2-0, the tie being played at the third attempt following two postponements.
South West League
Torquay Utd were held to a 1-1 draw by Charlestown but this was enough to return them to the top of the Premier Division as previous leaders Buckland Athletic did not play. Vicki Fannon scored a first half goal for Torquay. Marine Academy Plymouth meanwhile moved themselves closer to the leaders by beating Ilminster Town 2-1 with goals from Ellie Bishop and Jaydee Seaman, with Megan Purchase replying. Jana Richards hit a hat-trick and Hope Suominen added the other two for Exeter City as they won 5-3 against Forest Green Rovers, whose goals came from Marika Niekuwal (2) and Holly Thomas. Nicole Bell netted twice and Anusia Rourke the other for Middlezoy Rovers in their 3-1 success away to Keynsham Town Development, whose consolation came from Rhianna Ben-Carew.
In the only match to beat the weather on Sunday, Swindon Town Development climbed up into second place in the Eastern Division following their 7-0 victory away to FC Chippenham. Sophie Roberts led the scoring with a five-goal haul, while the others came from Natalie Goodright and Alice Telling.
There was a change of leadership in the Western Division, where Callington Town took over at the top with a 3-1 win against Alphington. Lucy Bounsall, Amy Hemingway and Jodie Shipton scored the goals to give Callington their ninth straight win in the league, with Mary Murphy replying.
Southern Region League
Oxford City have gone into second place in the Premier Division with a 2-1 victory over Ascot Utd in the only match to survive the weather.
The only other action took place in the Jubilee Cup and in Group A, second placed Barton Rovers battled out a 1-1 draw with Eastleigh. Rachel Allwright was on target for Barton, with Eastleigh replying through Rebecca Gooch. Meanwhile in Group B, Woodley Utd kept up their winning start with a 3-0 success against Oxford City Nomads. Natasha Masters gave Woodley the lead shortly before half time and they went on to seal the win with strikes after the break from Rosie Page-Smith and Mollie Haines. Wargrave Ladies replace Alton Ladies in second place after beating them 3-0, Millie Bilcliff was on target twice along with Hannah Sheehan.
West Midlands League
Bedworth Utd have powered further clear at the top of the Premier Division, their 6-1 victory over Wolverhampton Sporting has given them a lead of ten points. It had been an incredible 70 days since Stockingford AA Pavilion had played a game, however their fitness regime during the interim helped them overcome a determined Coundon Court side. Stockingford took the lead after 27 minutes with a goal from Ria Scarr and after Coundon equalised through a penalty before half time, Scarr scored her second on 55 minutes and Sharni Turnbull secured the three points for the home side with five minutes left. Worcester Utd meanwhile claimed their first league victory of the season when they won 3-2 away to Lye Town.
One match did manage to go ahead in Division One North, at Atherstone Rangers where visitors Tamworth went home with the points and a 3-2 victory which strengthens their mid-table position.
Redditch Utd have extended their Division One South lead to seven points following their 5-0 victory over Solihull Sporting, taking their unbeaten run to twelve matches in the process.
Blackburn Rovers stay twelve points clear at the top of the Northern Division after defeating Bolton Wanderers 7-0. Lagan Makin and Natasha Flint each netted twice along with Sarah Agger, Isabel Pacitto and Hannah Walsh. Bianca Owens (2), Harriet Dryden and Chloe Ryan were all on the scoresheet as second placed Middlesbrough won 4-2 away to Hull City. Robyn Hartley bagged a hat-trick as Huddersfield Town beat Newcastle Utd 5-1, Kathryn Halligan and Liuli Dyson adding the others to help take their team above Newcastle and into third. Leeds Utd meanwhile won for the second time this season, 2-1 against Guiseley Vixens thanks to Rachel McDonald and Chelsea Sandford.
In the Midland Division, Loughborough Foxes went second with a 4-2 victory over Nottingham Forest, Nicola Russell hitting a hat-trick with Paige Gunn also on target. West Bromwich Albion defeated Sporting Khalsa 6-0, Justine Buckmire netting twice along with Kathryn Pagan, Lily Eustace, Shannon Kelly and Seanna McCann-Lloyd. Stoke City maintained their unbeaten record and stepped up their challenge by beating Cardiff City Ladies 6-0. Abbie Iddenden led the scoring with a hat-trick, Roisin Kivel weighed in with a brace and Shannon Garner added the other. Emily Gillott (2) and Amber-Leigh Denny were on the scoresheet as Derby County won 3-0 away to Long Eaton Utd.
Florence Jackson and Emma Sherwood scored the goals as Charlton Athletic won 2-0 at Queen's Park Rangers to extend their lead at the top of the Southern Division to three points from Portsmouth who drew 1-1 with AFC Wimbledon, goals coming from Kayleigh Tonks and Sophie Manzi respectively. Crystal Palace defeated West Ham Utd 4-0 thanks to Isha Kamara (2), Sandra Martin and an own goal, meanwhile Lewes leapt up to fourth by winning 2-0 away to Denham Utd with strikes from Shantelle Gray and Mia Hyland.
Manchester City have gone seven points clear in the FA WSL Development League Northern Division following their 2-1 victory over Aston Villa. Sheffield FC remain in second despite going down to a 5-1 defeat at the hands of Birmingham City, who scored through a Heidi Logan hat-trick, Shania Hayles and Maddy Cusack. Annabel Blanchard had a great day, netting all of the goals as Liverpool beat Doncaster Rovers Belles 5-0.
Arsenal made a swift return to the top of the Southern Division with a 10-1 win against Tottenham Hotspur. Jessica Ngunga, Lachante Paul and Gabriella Ravenscroft all scored hat-tricks and Paige Bailey-Gayle was also on target. Ellie Strippel and Holly Chandler netted the goals as Bristol City beat Watford 2-0 to go third, just ahead of Reading FC Women who netted seven times without reply past Brighton & Hove Albion. London Bees meanwhile won 3-0 against Oxford Utd, courtesy of a Jo Wilson brace and Lisa Milliken.
Charlton Athletic 1 Lewes 2 (aet)
Lewes became the first team to reach the semi final stage of the 2017-18 FA Women's Premier League Cup after a fine away victory over 2014-15 winners and last season's finalists Charlton Athletic.
Two Sarah Kempson strikes saw the Rookettes claim victory after a hard fought, intense contest, the winning goal coming in the second period of extra time.
The opening twenty minutes saw Kylie McCarthy head over from a Katie McIntyre corner for Lewes on four minutes but the two sides generally cancelled each other out until Kempson struck the opener on 21 minutes, a superb left foot effort beyond keeper Katie Startup from 20 yards as she cut inside from the wing.
Charlton had their best spell in the last third of the opening 45 minutes. Charley Clifford sent a powerful effort just over the bar, then Lewes keeper Faye Baker turned away another shot from Graham on 36 minutes. Claire Johnson cleared a shot off the line for Lewes as the pressure mounted.
It was Graham found the equaliser with a sharp finish when Grace Coombs headed down a Nicole Pepper corner on 38 minutes, but Kempson nearly restored the visitors' lead before the break with another long range shot which took a deflection before being tipped acrobatically on to the bar by Startup at full stretch.
The Charlton keeper also had to be alert to turn over a powerful effort from Amy Taylor on 54 minutes as Lewes started the second half with good possession, restricting Charlton to more isolated breaks which were well contained by a resolute defence. Neither team could find a clear opening as the match moved towards the final quarter with both teams bringing on fresh legs and extra time was the inevitable outcome from an even encounter of good quality.
A moment of magic from Graham on 92 minutes saw her wriggle clear of challenges to go through on Baker's goal but the Lewes keeper was equal to her attempted lobbed finish, catching impressively at full stretch. Ex-Addick Avilla Bergin went close twice for Lewes early in the second period but it was Kempson who struck the crucial goal on 110 minutes, firing in a low shot from a similar distance to her first, the ball bouncing awkwardly in front of the diving keeper.
Lewes saw out the match with few alarms and had been impressive throughout the 120 minutes in both work rate and organisation to largely stifle Charlton, whilst offering pace and threat in attack at times. Ultimately, though, Kempson's opportunist strikes were the difference between two strong sides who both now turn their attention to the Fifth Round of the SSE FA Women's Cup next weekend.
Katie Startup, Kim Dixson, Olivia Lukasewich, Grace Coombs, Charley Clifford, Charlotte Gurr, Hannah Churchill, Sam Pittuck, Nicole Pepper, Charlotte Lee, Kit Graham. Subs: Chloe Brunton-Wilde, Georgia Griffin, Kerry Walklett.
Faye Baker, Claire Johnson, Rebecca Thompson, Kylie McCarthy, Natasha Wells, Katie McIntyre, Leeta Rutherford, Sarah Kempson, Avilla Bergin, Danni Lane, Amy Taylor. Subs: Rebecca Carter, Vicky Carleton, Darcey James, Georgia Bridges, Charlotte Owen.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Nicole Pepper tries to prevent Avilla Bergin from getting in a shot
(middle) Charlotte Gurr is challenged by Kylie McCarthy
(bottom) Charlotte Gurr under pressure from Rebecca Thompson
Leicester City Women became the final team to reach the Fifth Round of the SSE Women's FA Cup after they won 3-2 away to Plymouth Argyle in their delayed tie.
Plymouth had won every previous match they had played this season but that record was brought to an end by Leicester, who will now travel in completely the opposite direction in the last sixteen to play Durham Women.
Leicester took the lead in the 12th minute when Charlotte Greengrass latched onto a Rosie Axten free kick in the area and slotted home from close range. They took that lead into the half time break but within four minutes of the restart, Argyle were back on level terms thanks to leading goalscorer Natasha Knapman.
Leicester reacted well to this setback and were back in front just before the hour when Axten scored from the penalty spot, Michaela Phillips getting a hand to her kick but was unable to prevent it from finding the corner of the net.
Leigh Dugmore made it 3-1 late on when she slid home from close range and although Katie Middleton pulled one back for Plymouth deep into injury time, there was no time and Leicester had recorded a hard earned win.
Liverpool Ladies star Beth England has been named as the FA WSL 1 Player of the Month for January.
England cruised to the top of the goal scoring leaderboard in FA WSL 1 as the Chelsea loanee scored six goals in just two games for the Reds. England found the net four times in Liverpool Ladies' 8-0 win over Yeovil Town, following it up with a further two in her side's clinical 2-0 win against Bristol City, rounding off a superb month for the young forward.
England fought off some tough competition from a shortlist including Manchester City's Nikita Parris and Arsenal striker, Vivianne Miedema. Parris impressed in a 3-0 victory over Sunderland netting two goals as Manchester City extended their unbeaten run to 16 games. Similarly, Miedema picked up two goals, scoring one in an FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup match versus Reading and the other in a narrow defeat against London rivals Chelsea.
Presented with the FA WSL 1 Player of the Month award, England said: "As a striker I want to be in the action and scoring goals so I am really happy with how I have performed this month. I feel my goal against Bristol City was probably one of the best goals I've scored in my career, which meant a lot to me in a tough fixture."
Sheffield FC striker Melissa Johnson has been selected as the FA WSL 2 Player of the Month for January.
Johnson has been one of the key players in the Sheffield FC set up this season as her side have looked to edge their way into the top half of the table.
The striker was instrumental in securing valuable points in their FA WSL 2 fixture against Tottenham Hotspur at the end of January, scoring a hat-trick in the seven-goal thriller.
The FA WSL Player of the Month award celebrates the best players in WSL 1 and WSL 2 each month. Three players are shortlisted based on their performances that month, with a media panel selecting the winner for each division.
Johnson fought off some tough competition from a shortlist including Millwall Lionesses' Charlie Devlin and Doncaster Rovers Belles' Kirsty Hanson.
Devlin came off the bench to score twice in Millwall Lionesses' win over Tottenham, and helped her side to victory against Durham, extending their run of unbeaten games to three. Hanson was also in goalscoring form with a brace against Brighton & Hove Albion to keep Doncaster Rovers Belles at the top of the FA WSL 2 table.
Presented with the FA WSL 2 Player of the Month award, Johnson said: "I feel I've settled in well since joining the club in the summer and continue to grow in confidence. I was really pleased with my first half hat-trick against Tottenham - it's not every day that happens, but I was just really happy to play a part in winning the game."
Photo - Joe Smart
Northern Division One
The Leeds Utd revival is showing no signs of slowing down and they made it seven points out of a possible nine when winning 2-1 away to fourth placed Morecambe in the only match to survive the weather in the division. Goals from Rebecca Hunt and Shelby Morris gave Leeds a result which takes them out of the bottom two, with Morecambe's consolation coming from Yasmine Swarbrick.
Midlands Division One
Loughborough Foxes extended their lead at the top to three points by winning 3-0 away to Burton Albion. Charlotte Cooper bagged a hat-trick as the Foxes maintained their unbeaten record and chalked up their eleventh league win on the trot.
Sheffield Utd stretched their own unbeaten run to fourteen league matches and have climbed up to second place, their highest position of the season so far, following their 2-1 victory over Radcliffe Olympic. After Beth Bailey had given Radcliffe the lead on the half hour, Nat Shaw levelled matters before half time and, deep into injury time, Sophie Bell netted the winner for United from the penalty spot.
Sporting Khalsa have edged another place up the table, moving above Steel City Wanderers after beating them 2-0. Jodie Lewis scored a goal in each half to secure a fourth successive league win for her side.
South East Division One
Leaders AFC Wimbledon ran out 12-2 winners over Haringey Borough and this takes them eight points clear of their nearest rivals. Georgia Heasman led the scoring with a hat-trick whilst Hannah Searle, Laura Quinn-Low and Hannah Billingham all hit doubles, with Kelly-Jade Whelan, Jess Trimnell and Rebecca Sargent also getting on the scoresheet. Julia Carruthers and Brooke Hills replied for Haringey whose search for a first point continues.
The other game to be played was a tighter affair with a first half strike from Stavroulla Panayiotou giving Enfield Town a 1-0 victory against Cambridge Utd, a result which takes them to within one point of the U's.
South West Division One
Only one match managed to beat the weather in the division last week, at Poole Town where the home side won 6-1 against Cheltenham Town. Jemma Tewkesbury bagged a four-goal haul, with one each from Sacha Paynter and Katelyn Wyatt for a result which lifts Poole up to fifth place, Cheltenham's consolation goal coming from Lydia Amarquaye.
Goals in each half from Sophie Brown and Amy Russ saw Kent overcome Essex at Aveley's Parkside stadium to seal the Southern Counties Women's Cup.
Brown squeezed home an early free kick before Russ' stunning, long range effort doubled the visitors lead as a fourth successive win gave Kent an unassailable lead at the top of the table. Kim Coster's Essex side can hold their heads high from a positive performance, though, and will feel they could have grabbed something from the match themselves.
It was a first defeat of the season for Coster's side in their first season in the Southern Counties competition. Having drawn with the Royal Navy and Sussex, a victory over Hertfordshire in their previous fixture left Essex with a pleasing haul of five points from their fixtures.
It was with only two minutes on the clock that Kent edged themselves ahead. A Brown free kick from an acute angle snuck inside the near post after catching out Essex goalkeeper Robyn Strauss. Strauss will've been disappointed with the manner of the goal, but she has been in fine form for her county this season. Soon afterwards Strauss was quick off her line as Charlie Myhill burst through, but the subsequent angled shot was just wide.
Essex hit the crossbar when Miagh Downey's dipping strike bounced over the top and, seconds later, the hosts were close again. Courtney Clarke teed up Georgia Box, who sidefooted just wide. Strauss later made a good stop to deny Russ, with the Kent skipper having burst into the area just before the break.
After the restart, Essex hit the crossbar for a second time when debutant Chloe Bassett's corner bounced to safety before Kent scored their second on 63 minutes, Russ finding the roof of the net with a superb 40-yard effort. Another fine long-range attempt from Essex's Downey then brought an excellent save from Cara Davies, who tipped the ball over the top.
Essex substitute ‘keeper Hayley Johnson then did well to deny Jess Oldfield while, at the other end, the ball broke kindly for Essex's Clarke in the box and she turned and fired just over the top with what proved to be the last opening of the game.
Essex: Robyn Strauss (Billericay Town), Lucy Jones (Writtle), Charlotte Bryant (Writtle), Courtney Lumley (Billericay Town), Miagh Downey (Ipswich Town), Nicole Farmer (Billericay Town), Paris Smith (Billericay Town), Lindsay Morgan (Billericay Town), Georgia Box (Billericay Town), Hayley Piggott (Billericay Town), Courtney Clarke (Writtle). Substitutes (repeated): Hayley Johnson (Runwell Sports), Georgia Holdaway (Brentwood Town), Sophie Vale (Writtle), Niamh Gamble (Writtle), Chloe Bassett (Harlow Town).
Kent: Cara Davies (Gillingham), Faith Cullen-Cooper (Aylesford), Millie Waud (Gillingham), Olivia Jestin (Aylesford), Natasha Moloney (Meridian), Skye McNally (Parkwood), Niamh Jestin (Aylesford), Sophie Brown (Aylesford), Amy Russ (Meridian), Charlie Myhill (Parkwood), Aileen Williams (Gillingham). Substitutes (repeated): Jess Oldfield (Phoenix Sports), Fiona Constable (Aylesford).
C & K Basildon sit on top of the Southern Division table for the first time in their history after their 3-1 win away to Queen's Park Rangers.
Angela Addison bagged herself another brace and Jay Blackie was also on target for C & K, with Rangers' reply coming from Cherrelle Albert.
Gillingham and Cardiff City Ladies remain where they are after their meeting culminated in a 1-1 draw, meaning that Cardiff still have a one point lead over the Gills. Zoe Atkins gave Cardiff a lead which they held until injury time, when Kallie Balfour grabbed a late goal to earn her side a point.
Huddersfield Town have closed to within three points of Northern Division leaders Middlesbrough after they defeated Nottingham Forest 4-0.
All of the goals came during the first half, Kate Mallin giving Town the lead with six minutes on the clock and Emily Heckler added a quickfire double, before Lucy Sowerby netted the fourth just after the half hour. The win greatly boosts Huddersfield's chances of a top three place although they are running out of matches with regards to a title challenge.
Guiseley Vixens picked up a valuable point when holding mid-table Derby County to a 2-2 draw. However, it was nearly even better for Guiseley as, after Andi Bell had given Derby a first half lead, they hit back after the break and led through goals from Fiona Worts and Debbie Hastings until Bell salvaged a point for her side in injury time when she netted her second on the day.
Fylde Ladies safely negotiated their trip to Birmingham & West Midlands Ladies and booked their semi final place in the Premier League Plate with a 5-1 victory.
Sophie Charlton and Olivia Fuller each netted twice for the Coasters along with Laura Merrin, whilst the home side's consolation came from Shannie Jennings.
West Ham Utd produced a strong performance to beat Keynsham Town 7-0. The Hammers never looked back after Kelly Weathall put them in front in the fifth minute and Amber Stobbs went on to score a hat-trick, with Leanne Mabey adding a brace and Molly Peters netting the other.
Hull City are the third team through into the last four after they defeated Chorley 4-0. Rebecca Beech, Ellie Tanser, Hope Knight and Joanne Symington all scored a goal apiece as Hull continued their impressive season to date.
Cardiff Met Ladies maintained their lead of eleven points at the top of the Orchard Welsh Premier Women's League with a 2-0 victory over Port Talbot Town on Sunday.
The Archers took the lead in the sixth minute when Kitty Wells converted a cross from Sophie Scherschel and Naomi Clipson put the seal on their eleventh straight win when she scored the second, early in the second half.
Swansea City continue to head the chasing teams after scoring six times without reply away to Caldicot Town. Emma Beynon put the Swans in front early on and Katy Hosford netted a quickfire double to ensure they were three goals ahead at half time. Stacey John-Davies added the fourth early in the second half and after Ellie Lake had extended their lead via a long range strike, Jodie Passmore rounded off the scoring with the final goal late on.
Cyncoed Ladies climbed into the top three, their highest position of the season to date, by beating Caernarfon Town 7-0. Robyn Pinder marked her debut for the Mighty Oaks by scoring a hat-trick, Kirstie Pervin-Davies weighed in with a brace and there was one apiece from Kerry Moore and Rosina Hill.
The other two scheduled matches in the league both fell victim to the weather.
Doncaster Rovers Belles came from behind to beat Durham Women 2-1 and keep hold of the leadership of WSL 2.
The Wildcats took the lead through a header from captain Sarah Wilson, before Emily Simpkins broke through to score the equaliser. Beth Hepple and Nicki Gears both hit the woodwork for the home side and it was the Belles who were to take the points when, just after the hour, Jess Sigsworth scored with an excellent shot on the turn to keep up her tremendous run of form.
Millwall Lionesses stay one point behind the Belles and maintained their own unbeaten record by winning 2-0 at Aston Villa. The home side, looking for their second victory of the season, matched their opponents for much of the game and it remained in the balance until twenty minutes from time, when Ashlee Hincks set up Charlotte Devlin to give Millwall the lead. Devlin then went on to score her second late on to finally end Villa's resistance and sew up the Lionesses' eighth win in nine matches.
Brighton & Hove Albion climbed back into the top three after they defeated London Bees 3-1, with all of the goals coming in the first half. In an action packed start to the game, Paula Howells fired the Bees in front but just two minutes later, Danielle Buet levelled the scores when she curled home a free kick. Midway through the first half, Ini Umotong burst through to put Brighton ahead for the first time and Aileen Whelan netted the third from a corner, shortly before half time.
Tottenham Hotspur became the third team in WSL 2 to come from behind to win when they beat Oxford Utd 2-1. Chloe Chivers headed Oxford in front from an Ellis Hillman cross but after the break, Tottenham began to get on top and Coral-Jade Haines equalised from the penalty spot after Hannah Short had been penalised for handball. Ryah Vyse then netted the winner with ten minutes remaining and brought her side's seven match losing run in all competitions to an end.
The other match between Watford and Sheffield FC was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch and a new date will be arranged.
Photo - Durham Women's Kathryn Hill under pressure from Sam Tierney of Doncaster Rovers Belles
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