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Women's FA Cup - Road to the Final
Huddersfield Town staged a superb second half comeback from two goals behind to beat Loughborough Foxes 3-2 and book their place in the last 32. Lucy Sowerby, Ellie White and Kate Mallin scored the goals to take Huddersfield through to a meeting with Ipswich Town, one of two ties which guarantees a FAWNL side in the Fifth Round. Ipswich reached this stage by beating Portsmouth, from the level above, 1-0 with a goal from Paige Peake.
After being initially formed as Ipswich Town Ladies in the early 2000's, the club were rebranded as Ipswich Town FC Women in the summer of 2018 after becoming increasingly integrated into Ipswich Town FC. Manager, Joe Sheehan, has been in charge since February 2019 after combining his role with his other position as Lead Coach of Ipswich Town's elite U21 academy setup, who currently ply their trade in the WSL Academy League. Club captain, Amanda Crump, has been with the Tractor Girls since the age of ten and not long ago celebrated a double century of appearances for the Suffolk side.
Natasha Thomas currently tops the goalscoring charts with 22 goals in all competitions, taking her overall tally to 87 goals in 105 appearances for Ipswich. Young quartet Anna Grey, Eloise King, Paige Peake and Blue Wilson are among 11 capped England youth internationals in the Ipswich Town ranks.
Ipswich have having an excellent season in FAWNL DIvision One South East and will go into the match as league leaders.
Huddersfield Town (from): Laura Carter, Beth Stanfield, Shauna Legge, Kate Mallin, Vicky Abbott, Lauren Griffiths, Katie Nutter, Charley Evans, Sarah Danby, Laura Elford, Brittany Sanderson, Ella Harris, Lauren Joyce, Lucy Sowerby, Georgia Marshall, Leah Embley, Lois Scholefield, Olivia Clark, Olivia Taylor, Ellie White.
Ipswich Town (from): Nikita Runnacles, Nicole Pannifer, Eva Hubbard, Blue Wilson, Lucy Egan, Natasha Thomas, Amanda Crump, Maddie Biggs, Eloise King, Zoe Cossey, Ellie Rossiter, Lindsey Cooper, Paige Wakefield, Abbie Lafayette, Amy-Leigh Abrehart, Anna Grey, Paige Peake, Sophie Peskett, Molly Sutherland, Lucy Williamson.
Women's FA Cup - Road to the Final
Southampton FC claimed another higher division scalp in the last round when goals from Ella Pusey and Kirsty Whitton gave them a hard fought 2-1 win away to Cardiff City Ladies. They have been rewarded with a home tie against Championship opposition in the form of Coventry United, who enter the competition at this stage. The match will be played at the St Mary's Stadium.
Founded in 1991, the club began life in the West Midlands Regional League. In 1997, as Coventry City, they were promoted into the FA Women's Premier League Northern Division, where they stayed until relegation in 2002.
In 2002-03 the club developed closer relations with Coventry City F.C. while revamping and expanding the youth centre of excellence. In 2004 the club were promoted back to the FA Women's Premier League Northern Division, but lasted only a season at the higher level. After three consecutive runners-up finishes, Coventry won the Midland Combination again in 2010 - scoring 66 goals in 22 league games.
The club played at Coventry University Sports and Conference Centre, Westwood Heath and at Coventry Sphinx FC, before moving to the Oval, Bedworth. In August 2014 the club announced a move to the Ricoh Arena in Coventry for the 2014-15 season. Midway through the 2014-15 season, Coventry Ladies were forced out of the Ricoh Arena after the arrival of Wasps RFC to the Ricoh. They found themselves playing at the Bedworth Oval once again.
In July 2015 they merged with Coventry United and moved into the Butts Park Arena, home of Coventry R.F.C. where Coventry United play. April 2019 saw the side win the FA Women's National League Southern Premier Division, the third tier in the women's game, and with it promption to the FA Women's Championship. However they were beaten by Blackburn Rovers in the FAWNL Championship play-off match.
The team is managed by Jay Bradford with Sue Wood as captain and Amber Hughes is the current leading scorer with five league goals to her name.
Southampton FC (from): Kayla Rendell, Sara Luce, Ella Morris, Shelly Provan, Kirsty Whitton, Kelly Fripp, Georgie Freeland, Phoebe Williams, Ella Pusey, Shannon Sievwright, Ellie Chaffe, Sophia Pharoah, Tiffany Taylor, Caitlin Morris, Alisha Ware, Chloe Newton, Rachel Panting, Sam Burt, Rachel Woods, Charley Evans, Chloe Gilroy, Shannon Albuery.
Coventry United (from): Sue Wood, Sian Johnson, Nikki Miles, Jodie Bartle, Rosie Axten, Shannon O'Brien, Amy Wathan, Amber Hughes, Hayley Crackle, Dayna Chong, Helen Dermody, Beth Merrick, Fiona Worts, Chelsea Weston, Katy Morris, Becky Anderson, Ffion Morgan, Caitlin Stephenson, Jenna Roberts, Yasmine Klucis, Maz Gauntlett.
Cyncoed Ladies' 2-0 victory over Abergavenny Women in the Orchard Welsh Premier Women's League on Sunday saw young striker Millie Jones make a great start to her career in senior women's football.
15-year-old Millie scored the opening goal on her debut and as well as helping the Mighty Oaks to victory, she was the winner of the league's Player of the Week award.
In a special edition of our weekly feature, we talked to Millie about her big day and her hopes for the future as she steps out into the women's game:
WSS: Well done on a great start to your career on Sunday, how much did you enjoy your debut in senior women's football?
MJ: As it was my first seniors game, I was both nervous and excited of what to expect.
WSS: How long did it take you to adjust to the game, was the pace quicker than you expected?
MJ: In the first 15 to 20 minutes I was surprised at the pace of the game, but soon adjusted to it and I really enjoyed the rest of the game.
WSS: What do you remember about the goal that you scored?
MJ: I can remember getting a through ball and being one-on-one with the goalkeeper and taking the ball around her and scoring.
WSS: The 2-0 result was a good one for Cyncoed, how well did the team play on the day?
MJ: I believe the whole team put 110% effort into the game and stepped up to any challenge on the day.
WSS: What is your background before moving up to senior football, which girls team did you play for and how did you get the chance to join Cyncoed?
MJ: I started playing football at eight years of age for Aber Aces girls football team (Abertwssog) until we merged with Tredegar Girls FC at age 14. Throughout this time I was also playing for Gwent development squad (player pathway) for seven years and also the Welsh regional squad for two years. I also played county football for one season and also my school at Cwm Rhymni and won the semi finals up Oswestry, North Wales. My position is a striker, I have played up front for eight years. I got offered an opportunity to train with Cyncoed last February when I was just turning 15, and have stayed training with them in the hope to sign for them, as I have really enjoyed being with them as a team. I said yes as soon as I was asked! I would also like to give a special mention to my twin sister Maisie, who is a goalkeeper, who gave me the love of football - we have been together all these years, through all the football training until now that I have signed for Cyncoed.
WSS: What is the standard of the girls game there right now, can you see a lot of other young players making the breakthrough to the senior game?
MJ: I feel the standards are very high and we are expected to give 110% in each training session and games. After playing with Tredegar and against other teams in our league, I feel that the quality of players could go through and make it to the senior game - there are a lot of talented players.
WSS: Do you have any personal ambitions in the women's game in the future, and do you have any favourites or heroes amongst the women players?
MJ: Firstly, I would like to play football for as long as I can, and hopefully have a career in football playing or other avenues in football. Alex Morgan, as she inspires me, and amongst others from our own country, Natasha Harding, Jess Fishlock, Sophie Ingle, Millie Bright and loads of other very talented players.
WSS: This week you have the chance to play Abergavenny again in your return meeting, how much are you looking forward to this game?
MJ: Nervous and excited again, and hope I can perform as well as I did in the first game with the seniors.
The New Saints are having a very good season in FAWNL Division One Midlands and their 2-0 victory over Leafield Athletic on Sunday took them into second place in the table, as well as stretching their unbeaten run to six matches.
We talked to TNS captain Phoebe Davies, who was delighted with keeping a clean sheet in the win over Leafield and is looking forward to being one of a number of title challengers in the division for the rest of the season:
WSS: Well done on a good result against Leafield, did you think that the 2-0 scoreline reflected the game overall?
PD: We played some great football in sections of this game and it was pleasing to come away with a 2-0 win. We are always aiming to improve and there was aspects that we want to work on but overall, we dominated the game and the 2-0 was fully deserved.
WSS: After draws in both of your previous league matches, how pleasing was it to get back on the winning trail again?
PD: It was great to get back to winning ways. The team played excellent in the two games against Doncaster and BWM but the winning goal didn't quite come for us. We went away, worked on this and the win came which took us to second in the league.
WSS: That was actually your first clean sheet in the league this season and, amazingly, the first time that one of the teams failed to score in one of your league games. Was it pleasing to get that clean sheet or more of a relief?
PD: We've been working hard as a team over the last couple of months to improve our clean sheet record, so we were very pleased that all the coaching and hard work had paid off. Hopefully, we can keep this going during the second half of the season.
WSS: The win does take you up into second place in the table and you are now six games unbeaten in the league, are you doing better than you anticipated at the start of the season or were you always confident that you could be up amongst the leaders?
PD: We were always confident we could be amongst the leaders, especially with talent of the players we have within the team now. We had a lot of changes in the team last season with new coaches and new players coming in but it's great to see everything coming together this season and the results coming in. We were disappointed not to progress further in the FA Cup, we will be looking to improve on this next season.
WSS: This week it is the County Cup for you and a midweek meeting with Bishops Castle, before you return to the league and a home game against Sporting Khalsa next week. Are you satisfied with taking a break from the league for a week, given your recent good form?
PD: We are fully focused on our league games coming up but we are looking forward welcoming Bishops Castle to Park Hall for a midweek game (TNS won the match 18-0).
WSS: As things stand, Wolves Women have matters in their hands in the title race, but can you see them being challenged by someone before the end of the season?
PD: Definitely, we've come up against some quality teams this season and I'm sure they will give Wolves a good game. We have a game against Wolves in a few weeks time and I'm sure it will be a good one after we beat them at our place earlier in the season.
WSS: The five teams immediately below Wolves are closely matched in terms of points, are you confident that you can keep things going and take a top three place at least?
PD: Yes for sure, we will remain focused on ourselves to keep pushing to finish as high as we can in the league. We're all looking forward to the games ahead and building on our performances each week.
WSS: TNS have established themselves well in the division since you were promoted four years ago. Whatever happens in the remainder of this season, do you feel that the club is ready to step up to a higher level in the future?
PD: The team are definitely ready to step up to a higher level and compete with the teams in the league above. We will keep pushing to make it happen this season but if not, it will be top of our to-do list next season. We have some very talented young players in the squad with the introduction of the development team this season also so the future looks good for TNS.
Our thanks to Phoebe!
Kerry Bartlett has re-signed for Keynsham Town after a short spell away from the club.
The prolific goalscorer, who was the club's record all time top scorer last season with a total of 63 goals that saw Keynsham promoted to tier three of the pyramid - the FA Women's National League Southern Premier Division - has rejoined Keynsham after a brief spell at Cheltenham Town, where she scored ten times in eight games.
Keynsham manager, Barrie Newton, said: "Barts coming back is the best news we have had all season. We have found the step up to the Premier a big one, but we are determined to retain our status and our main problem has been scoring goals.
"We will now have a proven goalscorer up front, which will make so much difference. All the players were excited by the news and it has given everyone a boost, as so many of them know exactly how Kerry wants the ball.
"It will be great to watch the [Justine] Lorton - Bartlett interplay again. They were almost telepathic last season."
On signing, Kerry commented: "It feels great to be back. I know it won't be easy in the Premier, but I'm looking forward to the challenge and playing with this group of girls again."
Aston Villa Football Club is delighted to announce the appointment of Eniola Aluko as the club's first ever Sporting Director for Women's Football.
Aluko recently announced her retirement from playing following a career that saw her represent the likes of Birmingham City, Chelsea and Juventus as well as clubs in the United States. She was also capped 102 times by England and represented Great Britain at the 2012 London Olympics.
Aston Villa CEO, Christian Purslow, told the club's official website: "Eniola enjoyed a fabulous playing career and took her first steps in the game in this city, the city where she grew up.
"She is an inspiration and inspiring role model to young girls and women in Birmingham and will help Aston Villa to be an exemplar of women's and girl's football in the region."
Aluko said: "I'm very excited to transition into a Sporting Director role. I feel it's something that I'm ready for at this point in my career. I've always been passionate about the women's game, its development and setting cultures that drive excellence.
"I'll be helping to create a successful club in Aston Villa Women, and obviously I'm back home in Birmingham where it all started for me. I'm excited for this next step."
"The team have done fantastically well this season, being unbeaten in the league and clear at the top of the table," she added. "Hopefully they'll secure promotion to the Women's Super League at the end of the season and then it's about saying, ‘where do we want to go?'.
"We want to establish a culture of excellence and high standards so that the players come in every day and are excited about being elite footballers."
Aluko has recently completed a two-year UEFA Masters for International Players, focusing on football administration and the business side of the game, in preparation for her career after playing.
Having experienced elite environments at Juventus and Chelsea as a player, Aluko will be setting the same high standards as Aston Villa Women look to become one of the leading clubs in the country.
She said: "For Aston Villa Women, it's about setting our objectives high and establishing ourselves as the best club in the Midlands.
"From my point of view, it's also about establishing a culture of excellence that I've experienced as a player.
"The owners are very serious about and committed to making sure that Aston Villa Women are in the best position to be the dominant side in the Midlands and an established side in the Women's Super League.
"It's really important that you have an ownership group that understands what it takes to establish a Women's side in that ilk."
Bringing through homegrown players has been a major source of pride for the club over recent years, producing a steady stream of players that are plying their trade in the top two divisions of women's football.
Having grown up in Birmingham herself, Aluko is keen to maintain and expand the club's focus on giving opportunities to local players.
"The DNA for the Women's team is bringing through young players, bringing through Brummie players," she said.
"We see Jack Grealish leading the Villa side for the men - he's one of our own, he's a Brummie. We want to make sure that's part of the development for the Women, bringing through young players who are local to the club.
"We want to inspire young girls to say, ‘I want to play for the Aston Villa first team one day'."
After three and a half successful years in charge of Harrogate Town Ladies, Jon Maloney has decided to step down as Ladies first team Manager.
The decision comes as the original four-year plan for Ladies football at Town nears its conclusion as Jon and his partner await the birth of their child within the next month.
Martin Powell will take charge until the end of the season, with the search for a permanent successor now underway.
Former Wetherby Athletic Manager and Harrogate Railway Assistant Manager, Powell has a wealth of managerial experience and has been working closely with the Ladies throughout the season.
Maloney's Assistant Manager Ben Sadler will also be stepping down from his role. Jon and Ben have played an integral part in the development of women/girls football at Town, with two teams competing at their highest ever level and a thriving Player Development Centre programme which caters for girls football development from 6 years upwards.
"It has been an honour and a privilege to manage HTAFC Ladies 1st team for the last four years," said Jon Maloney.
"To see the growth of women's football in the Harrogate area has been nothing short of amazing. To think four years ago there was no women's team at Harrogate Town and now, with two open age sides, and a thriving player development centre, the future looks incredibly bright.
"I would like to put on record my thanks to the players and staff that I have worked with over the last four years. A special thanks has to go to my partner in crime Ben Sadler - his support and commitment has been top class, and without that support, the women's set up at HTAFC wouldn't be where it is today. Martin Powell has also been an invaluable figure and I wish him and the team all the best for the rest of the season.
"A final thanks has to go to the players who have worked incredibly hard to get the club to where it is today. With their hard work and dedication to the cause, Town have become a force to be reckoned with throughout the North of England.
"I have many happy memories of the last four years, not least this year's glorious FA Cup run, and the support, at The CNG, of over 160 loyal HTAFC fans - a quite unforgettable day.
"Thanks for the memories!"
During their time in charge, Maloney and Sadler have overseen two promotions, and leave with their team at the top of the table, and well placed to challenge for promotion to the FA Women's National League.
Last season's maiden NERWFL Premier League campaign coincided with a memorable run to the West Riding County Cup semi finals, where Maloney's side were edged out in a five-goal thriller by a strong Brighouse team in a classic encounter at Fleet Lane. There was also a memorable FA Cup run this season, which included a 6-0 defeat of Fleetwood in front of 160 exuberant fans at the CNG Stadium.
Maloney's tenure has also seen the development of many players, with former stars Jade Pennock and Leah Galton going on to play in the Championship for Sheffield United and the WSL for Manchester United. Jon will continue in his role as a senior coach at the Girls PDC / Academy.
As a club, Harrogate Town would like to thank both Jon Maloney and Ben Sadler for the outstanding contribution they have made to the development of Ladies football in the Harrogate and District area over the past three and a half years. We would also like to wish every success to the new team of Martin Powell.
Hibernian Ladies are delighted to announce the appointment of Dean Gibson as the new first team Head Coach.
Dean makes the move up from the Under-23 squad with his backroom staff to be announced in the coming days.
His appointment brings a vast amount of experience in the women's game, including holding previous coaching roles within our academy.
In 2017, he led the Under-15 squad to a league and cup double. This success was rewarded with a promotion to the Under-23 development squad and results soon followed. In 2018, Dean's side became the first Hibernian development squad to win the SWF1 Division title.
Dean spoke of his delight to have earned a promotion to coach the first team. He told the club's website: "I've been around the girls academy for three years now. To be given the opportunity to now go onto the first team is a proud moment for me.
"What appeals to me about Hibernian is how the club operates and what we try to achieve. We always identify young players with talent.
"Although it is the first team, it still is a very young squad and I still think all of those players can be developed further to take their career to the next stage."
As well as winning trophies with the academy, Dean developed a reputation of rebuilding the squads he worked with.
Making changes to an ageing squad was one of his top priorities with the Under-23 squad. Dean said: "Putting an age cap was one of the biggest decisions I had to make.
"It was successful in the first year, we went and recruited some of the best players in the country to add to the talent we already had there. The average age then dropped to about 17.
"We went on to win the SWF Division 1, which Hibernian had never done before."
Taking up the reigns this week, Dean will get the chance to evaluate his squad up close for the first time.
However, he already knows what kind of players he has at the club. He added: "I'm happy with the squad. I believe we've still got some of the best players in the country. There's also good players that have came up through the academy."
"However, we could consider bringing in one or two players to help strengthen the depth of the squad.
"The strength of the squad is good, there's still a team there that can go and compete. But if we want to do that we need to have depth to cope with any injuries."
The new Head Coach also recognised the tradition that the club has of bringing in young players and helping them to develop: "They need to have the attributes of a Hibernian player, young, hungry, technically strong, for us to bring them in. We won't be bringing anyone in for the sake of it."
With just over a month until the Scottish Building Society SWPL season gets underway, Dean wanted to pass on a message to the supporters: "The fans coming along and supporting us is only going to make us stronger.
"The club is strengthened by its fanbase. There's very good players in this team, some of the best in the country.
"It will be a young team, an exciting team. I've been a fan of this club all my life and I want the same for the fans. My team to be attacking and on the front foot."
Hibernian get their 2020 season underway with a home league match up against Spartans. The game takes place at Ainslie Park, in the north side of Edinburgh, on February 23rd.
Wycombe Wanderers 1 Maidenhead Utd 2
Maidenhead United battled their way into the Final of the Berks & Bucks FA Senior Women's Cup after edging out Wycombe Wanderers by two goals to one.
The Magpies' third away win en route to the prestige final tie was a tight affair with the FAWNL Division One South West visitors claiming victory with a superb Megan Halfacree free kick after the sides had exchanged goals midway through the first half. The Southern Region Premier Division team, backed by the majority of a large crowd, put the pressure on for much of the second half, but could not find a second equaliser.
The Chairgirls had the first effort on goal through Samantha Jackson but the Magpies were soon threatening with Kate La Cumbre drawing a fine save from Wycombe keeper Hannah Cox, turning away a powerful effort on 17 minutes. However, La Cumbre was not be denied and, taking a low cross on the half turn on the edge of the area, the Magpies striker fired low and hard into the bottom right corner on 23 minutes.
It only took three minutes for Wycombe to level the score. The hosts forced a left side corner and then a second from which Tara Woodward was on hand to drive past Ellie Parker at the far post.
Wycombe continued to test the Maidenhead back line with early through passes to their lively attackers but it was the visitors who went ahead on 40 minutes.
Halfacree had already shown passing skills with her left foot, but the free kick from wide right was perfect, delivered with pace and bend to drop right in the top left corner of Cox's goal. Wycombe nearly equalised again with the last kick of the half but Parker reacted well to tip over Lindsey Pinker's 30-yard shot.
The hosts continued to press on the resumption, Chante Inness sending a half chance over then Woodward doing the same from a similar position. Jackson was a constant threat for the Chairgirls down the right with her best effort clipping the bar after a good run into the area on 67 minutes.
Both teams made changes but it was Maidenhead who managed to exert a greater measure of control as the match entered the final twenty minutes. La Cumbre saw another low effort well held by Cox while Halfacree sent a right side corner curling into the near post before having a follow up effort blocked.
Wycombe gave it their all with a penalty shootout the potential reward for a late equaliser but the Maidenhead defence was well organised and strong and with skipper Alex Dover leading by example in midfield, the visitors saw out the match with some comfort. The Magpies, in their first Final outing, will take on the winners of the postponed match between Chesham United and holders MK Dons.
Wycombe Wanderers: Hannah Cox, Amy Leach, Katie Hudson, Tara Woodward, Samantha Jackson, Natalie Barette, Charlotte Bagshaw, Emma Dean, Chante Inniss, Bobby Lynch, Lindsey Pinker. Subs: Christina O'Connor, Alicia Povey.
Maidenhead Utd: Ellie Parker, Sarah Thompson, Megan Halfacree, Alex Dover, Gemma Bloor, Sophie Modak, Shylla Carty Duhaney, Annika Striepecke, Stephanie Nelson, Kate La Cumbre, Simone O'Brien. Subs: Amy Saunders, Amber Langston-Lloyd, Vicki Carvill, Kat Mace, Sarah Reid.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Alex Dover takes on Chante Inniss
(middle) Tara Woodward in a chase for the ball with Gemma Bloor
(bottom) Charlotte Bagshaw is challenged by Alex Dover
East Midlands League
No matches were played in the Premier Division on Sunday due to clubs being involved in County Cups, but there was action in Division One North where Chesterfield defeated Arnold Town 4-1 to move to within six points of the lead. Bethany Smyth, Robyn Henton, Amy Townsend and Kelly Fidler all scored a goal apiece to take Chesterfield up into second place, with Jodie Ellis replying. Leaders Hykeham Town had scored nine times without reply past Lincoln Moorlands Railway in midweek to record a seventh straight victory, Olivia Smith netting twice along with Millie Seaton, Lauren Churcher, Tracey Duxbury-Mead, Demi Barai, Kirsty Dalzell, Amie Barnes-Ford and Elise Keyworth. Worksop Town leapt up into fourth place after running out 12-1 winners away to Grimsby Borough, spearheaded by a hat-trick apiece from Kirsty Hadley and Ellie Chandler. Hannah McWilliams and Jasmine Saxton each bagged braces and the total was completed by Sky Hughes and Leah Hardy.
One match took place in Division One South, Thrapston Town continuing their climb towards mid-table by beating Ilkeston Town 4-1. Ilkeston had gone into the game unbeaten and sporting a 100% record, but an Emma Robinson double, Chloe Jeffs and Sophie Warren gave Thrapston their best result of the season to date, with Jade Eaglefield grabbing a consolation for the visitors.
Eastern Region League
Bedford Ladies have moved into the top four in the Premier Division following a 3-1 victory away to Royston Town in the solitary match to be played in the league on the weekend. Natasha Fensome, Maya Sidhu and Shianne Swarres scored the goals as Bedford leapfrogged Royston in the table, the home side replying through Charlotte South.
London & South East League
The top three in the table were not in league action on Sunday and they are now followed by Ashford Town (Middlesex) after they won 3-1 away to Eastbourne Town. Ruby Linton, Ashley Cheatley and Phoebe Head were the scorers for Ashford, whilst the home side's consolation came from Felicity Webster. In the other game, Rae Roberts led the scoring with a hat-trick as Denham Utd triumphed 5-2 at Saltdean Utd. Rachel Keightley and Lauren Cox accounted for their other goals, whilst Jessica Mead and Charlotte Young were on target for Saltdean.
North East League
Sunderland West End are continuing to blaze a trail at the top of the Northern Division, stretching their winning run to ten matches when they defeated Norton & Stockton Ancients Res 4-1. Kristen Whitfield netted twice to help take her team thirteen points clear and she was joined on the scoresheet by Allison Ferris and Alexandra Ross, with Sian Williams replying. Lumley Ladies hold on to second place after edging out Chester-le-Street Town Development by the odd goal in seven. Abbie Gibson scored a second half winner for Lumley to add to a Sarah Hutchieson double and Daisy Campbell. Victoria Curtis, Sophie Farrugia and Karrie Gippert netted the goals for the Cestrians. Alnwick Town are looking to be the biggest threat to Sunderland West End though and they made it five wins on the trot as Michelle Stewart and Georgia Thompson were on target in their 2-0 victory over Blyth Town.
The only match to take place in the Southern Division was the top of the table clash between Sheffield Wednesday and Wakefield Trinity and the honours were even as the match finished 1-1, meaning that Wakefield hold on to the leadership on goal difference. Sophie Eyre was on target for Wednesday, with Wakefield replying through Julia Hogan.
North West League
One match was played in the Premier Division on Sunday but it produced a significant result as FC United of Manchester won 2-0 against Merseyrail Ladies and this saw them replace Tranmere Rovers at the top of the table.
The rest of the play on Sunday was confined to the First Round of the Argyle Sports Cup, where Mossley Hill edged past Fleetwood Town Wrens 2-1 in their all-Premier Division clash. West Didsbury & Chorlton meanwhile progressed against a lower division opponent when they scored seven times without reply past Morecambe Res. Division One South table toppers were narrow 2-1 victors against Division One North high fliers Penrith AFC, whilst Penwortham Town defeated Wythenshawe Amateurs 3-1 and Blackpool scored five times without reply past Workington Reds in the other ties.
South West League
In the only Premier Division match to survive the weather on Sunday, Bideford moved into mid-table by scoring eight times without reply past Torquay Utd. Beth Ellis led the scoring for the Robins with a hat-trick, Tracey Cross weighed in with a double and Poppy Cloke was also on target along with two own goals.
Cheltenham Town Development have taken over the leadership of an increasingly congested Northern Division title race although the teams below them have a number of games in hand. They went top of the table with a 6-2 win away to Downend Flyers in which Sophie Griffiths netted twice along with Rebecca Donnelly, Hannah Galpin, Jessica Wadey and Caitlin Marron, with Annabel Bean and Chloe Avent replying. Previous leaders Frampton Rangers are back in third place, with Bristol Ladies Union moving above them after winning their meeting 4-0. Ellie Preece spearheaded a fine performance from her side by hitting a hat-trick and Sophie Price added the other goal. Almondsbury meanwhile stepped up their challenge by winning 1-0 against previously unbeaten Oldland Abbotonians, Georgia Adams settling a closely contested match with a fine solo goal in the first half. Amy Clark scored a hat-trick and Sherise Ninns was also on target as Weston Mendip won 4-1 over AEK Boco, whose consolation came from Leanne Burge.
In the Eastern Division, Swindon Town Development bounced back from defeat seven days earlier to beat second placed Frome Town 5-1 and move to within one point of them. A point would have taken Frome top but Abby Picton netted a hat-trick along with Natalie Goodright and Vicky Taylor, with Enna Christmas replying. Lani Dickinson was another hat-trick scorer for Swindon Supermarine as they won their mid-table clash 4-3 at Laverstock & Ford, Emma Wilson adding the other goal whilst the home side responded through Rachel Adkin, Abbie Vernon and Amy Sanger.
Southern Region League
Moneyfields moved to the top of the Premier Division after winning 6-2 away to Warsash Wasps. Sheree Bell-Jack scored a hat-trick, Nicole Matthews contributed a brace and Paige Seeley was also on target as the Moneys made it eight wins on the trot. Winchester City Flyers meanwhile picked up a point from a 2-2 draw with Newbury Ladies, who scored through Rebecca Chitolle and Joanne Walsh-Perks. Rosie Page-Smith was Woodley Utd's markswoman as they finished level at 1-1 with Ascot Utd, who had taken a first half lead with a goal from Hannah Evans.
Division One leaders Abingdon Town preserved their advantage of five points after running out 6-0 winners away to Tilehurst Panthers. Charlotte Comley netted twice along with Elisha Cox, Hayley Clements, Sara Comley and an own goal. Second placed Abbey Rangers meanwhile got back to winning ways when beating Alton Ladies 3-0, courtesy of a goal apiece from Rebecca Burtenshaw, Laura Hobbs and Isobel Saunders. Paris Payne (2), Jennifer King and Charlotte Webb accounted for the goals as Southampton Women Res won 4-1 at AFC Bournemouth CS T Development, whose consolation came from Sian Tilly.
West Midlands League
In the only match to be played in the Premier Division on Sunday, Crusaders moved themselves into a mid-table position with a 4-0 victory away to Knowle.
Sandwell Ladies stepped up their challenge in Division One North by climbing up into third place after beating Port Vale 2-1, Rachael Neal and Rachel Green scoring their goals and Vale's consolation coming from Kim Cartlidge. Shifnal Town follow on in fourth as they won 3-2 against Solihull Sporting. Savannah Howes, Dannielle Jones and Jessica Wood were all on target for Shifnal, with Naomi Melbourne netting a brace in reply.
Solihull Ladies Utd are through to the semi finals of the Premier Division Cup following a fifteen-goal blast against Worcester City. Hayley Wilford led the spree with a four-goal blast and there were hat-tricks from Anna Robinson and Saddiqa Shan, whilst Melissa Pugh (2), Demi Walker (2) and Laura Smith also got on the scoresheet.
Northern Premier Division
Sunderland returned to league action for the first time since 10th November but were able to extend their lead at the top to six points with a 4-0 victory over Fylde Women. Bridget Galloway put them ahead with just three minutes on the clock and Maria Farrugia quickly adding a second. Keira Ramshaw and Neve Herron went on to score further goals as Sunderland repeated their Women's FA Cup win against Fylde seven days earlier.
Derby County continued their fine form of recent weeks and made it four victories on the trot when beating Hull City 6-1, a result which takes them up into second place, their highest position of the season to date. Callan Barber opened the scoring midway through the first half, with Ellie Gilliatt and Jodie Michalska adding further goals before Harley Skinner pulled one back for Hull. Gilliatt netted her second on the stroke of half time, before Hannah Keryakoplis rounded off the scoring after the break with two goals in a three minute spell.
Division One Midlands
The New Saints jumped up three places and into second after winning 2-0 against Leafield Athletic in the only match in the division to be played on Sunday. Katie Doster scored a goal in each half to help TNS extend their unbeaten run to six matches and reduce the gap on leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers to six points.
Nottingham Forest are through to the semi finals of the Reserve League Cup, after they won 6-1 away to Stoke City. Helena Constantinou led the scoring with a hat-trick, with Aimee Hickingbotham, Charlotte Steggles and Julia Tamasay adding the others while Stoke's consolation came from Nuala Miszkiel.
North Division One leaders Chorley did not play on Sunday and saw their lead trimmed to four points by Blackburn Rovers after they defeated Middlesbrough 3-2. Megan Dykes netted twice for Blackburn and Isabel Pacitto the other, with Eve Gatens and Megan Shaw replying. The win takes Rovers above Brighouse Town who were beaten 4-3 by Durham Women, for whom Rebecca Henderson bagged a hat-trick and Mia Lawrence-Kay the other, Brighouse responding with a Danielle Brown brace and Cara Mahoney. Huddersfield Town still sport the division's last remaining unbeaten record, which they preserved with a 5-0 victory away to Bradford City. Tara Duce and Sian Gibrill-Keating were each on target twice for Town, along with Lois Scholefield.
In North Division Two, leaders Leeds Utd U23 received a setback as they were beaten for the first time, 2-1 by Sheffield FC. Stephanie Smith and Shannon Coughlan scored the goals, with Stacey Buxton replying, as Sheffield recorded their first victory of the season.
Lincoln City are the new leaders of Midland Division Two, following their 4-2 win against Cardiff City Ladies. Ella Tuplin, Jodie Steadman, Toni McHamilton and Jessica Rousseau scored the goals for Lincoln, with Monet Legall and Daisy Watkins. Crewe Alexandra had started the day on top of the table but were beaten 5-3 by Wolverhampton Wanderers, for whom Jennifer Higgs (2), Phoebe Hobbs (2) and Nyah Edwards were on target.
The only match to be played in the South Division was the mid-table clash between Charlton Athletic U21 and Southampton FC. It was the Addicks who were to claim a 2-1 victory, courtesy of Olga Ocran and an own goal, to bring the teams level on points in the table.
Milton Keynes Dons kept themselves in the running in the South East Division, thanks to a 5-2 success away to Cambridge Utd. Amy McLean was on target twice for the Dons along with Amy Gooderham, Dominika Netschova and Aurora Ryan, whilst the U's replies came from Chloe Smith and Nicole Madell.
Orchard Welsh Premier Women's League leaders Swansea City were not in action on Sunday, giving an opportunity for the teams below them to catch up ground.
Cardiff Met Women hold on to second place and narrowed the gap on Swansea to six points with a 4-1 victory over Port Talbot Town. Sophie Hancocks gave Met the lead with four minutes on the clock, with Port Talbot hitting back to get on level terms at the break thanks to Bethan McGowan. Aimee Dagnall and Lucy Finch then struck in quick succession, early in the second half, before Erin Murray rounded off the win for the Archers late on.
Cardiff City FC stay level on points with Met after they also won 4-1 against Aberystwyth Town. Kate Jeremiah's early goal for City was cancelled out before half time by Emily Thomas, but goals in the second half from Kanisha Underdown, Catherine Walsh and Alana Murphy sealed the result for City and got them back to winning ways.
Cyncoed Ladies made it two victories on the trot with a 2-0 success away to Abergavenny Women. After a goalless first half, Millie Jones opened the scoring on her debut for the Mighty Oaks within four minutes of the restart and Lauren Lyons wrapped up the win with the second goal.
Championship leaders Aston Villa did not play on Sunday and second placed Sheffield Utd took the chance to halve the gap on them to three points with a 5-0 victory away to Coventry Utd.
The damage was inflicted in a seventeen minute spell either side of half time, when all five goals were scored. Katie Wilkinson opened the scoring, with Mollie Green adding a second just before half time. After the break, Jade Pennock scored twice in four minutes and leading scorer Wilkinson rounded off the win as she completed her own double.
The Blades are now two points ahead of Durham Women, who were held to a 1-1 draw by London City Lionesses. An unfortunate own goal from Ylenia Priest put Durham in front during the first half, a lead they held until fifteen minutes from time when Kallie Balfour fired home the equaliser shortly after coming on as a substitute. Both sides had chances but neither could conjure up a winner, meaning that the Lionesses recorded their first draw in thirteen matches.
Lewes put a difficult week behind them to pick up an Important point from a goalless draw with London Bees. After the departure of manager Fran Alonso to Celtic, Lewes, now under the charge of Simon Parker, produced a good display and hit the woodwork twice, whilst the Bees dug in for another point which consolidates their fifth position.
Leicester City meanwhile won 3-1 away to Crystal Palace and lift themselves out of the bottom three, into sixth place. Leicester took a first half lead through Annabel Blanchard, which they held until early in the second half when Amber Stobbs grabbed an equaliser. The scores were level for seven minutes, before Ella Rutherford put the visitors back in front again and Paige Bailey-Gayle sealed an important result for her side with the third goal on the hour.
Blackburn Rovers picked up a valuable win in the clash between the teams occupying the bottom two positions at the start of play, with a 2-1 success away to Charlton Athletic. The Addicks got off to a great start and were given an early lead by Charlie Estcourt, but their hopes of a first league win of the season were dashed during the second half as Natasha Flint brought the scores level and with three minutes left, Flint netted her second to condemn Charlton to another narrow defeat and give Blackburn a result which takes them up three places.
Chelsea produced one of the results of the season so far in the Barclays FA WSL when they won 4-1 away to Arsenal.
In a stunning opening twenty minutes, Chelsea inflicted the majority of the damage with a three-goal blast against the reigning Champions. Beth England opened the scoring with ten minutes on the clock and Sam Kerr bagged her first goal for the club, with Sophie Ingle making it three shortly afterwards. Guro Reiten rounded off a great day when she further increased their lead midway through the second half, before Beth Mead grabbed what proved to be a consolation for the Gunners.
The result means that Manchester City are back on top of the table after their 2-0 success at Birmingham City. It took a minute for Ellen White to haunt her former club on her return to their home ground, the England striker giving the Cityzens the lead and Keira Walsh made the game safe with the second goal, twenty five minutes from time.
Manchester Utd are back in the top four after a week away, following their 3-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur. After a goalless first half, United broke the deadlock just before the hour mark when Katie Zelem scored from the penalty spot. Jess Sigsworth made it two, seven minutes later, and Zelem wrapped up the win for her side with her second goal late on.
Everton also returned to the top half of the table after they defeated Reading FC Women 3-1. Chloe Kelly gave Everton an eleventh minute lead which was cancelled out by a Fara Williams penalty, but the day belonged to Kelly and she netted twice more in a six minute spell during the second to complete a hat-trick.
West Ham Utd meanwhile staged a late rally to beat Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 and put a gap of four points between the two teams. Danique Kerkdijk scored her first goal for the Seagulls, midway through the first half, and it looked as though it would send Brighton on their way to a second successive win until the last ten minutes, when Alisha Lehmann scored twice in quick succession to turn the match around in the Hammers' favour.
The two teams at the foot of the table faced each other and the honours went to Liverpool who claimed their first victory of the season, 1-0 at Bristol City. Rachel Furness scored the only goal of the game in the fourteenth minute but Reds goalkeeper Anke Preuss saved a second half penalty from Charlie Wellings to help secure three precious points for her team.
Derby County have been in fine form in recent weeks and on Sunday, they beat Burnley FC Women 1-0 for a third straight win which lifts them into the top three in the Northern Premier Division.
We talked to Derby midfielder Callan Barber, who was pleased with the result in beating Burnley and insisted they could yet have a say in the title race, as long as they can keep on winning:
WSS: Well done on a good win on Sunday, how pleased were you with the result against the team which started the day in second place?
CB: We knew going into the game that three points would be massive for us in terms of pushing up the table, and thankfully we were able to do that. We knew that Burnley would be a test, we faced them on the opening day of the season and were disappointed to come away with nothing, so to get the three points this time round was really pleasing.
WSS: The goal came early in the game but did you always feel confident from that point that you would win?
CB: We always set out to get an early goal and help settle the nerves. After that, I think we were comfortable for a long period of the game, but the longer the game goes on and you don't get that second goal to give you a cushion, you can start to get a bit nervy. Thankfully we managed to hold on take all three points.
WSS: That makes it three wins on the trot now in the league, the last two being against teams which had been above you in the table, do you think that the team is now finding its best form?
CB: I think we've never doubted that with the players we have in the squad, we can beat anyone in this league on our day. We probably didn't start the season as well as we'd wanted, and I think that was probably a combination of a few injuries, a bit of bad luck, and really us not being clinical enough as a team. The past few weeks have definitely felt like things are starting to click, and we're looking forward to building on this good form now.
WSS: Is that improved form mainly down to confidence or have a few alterations been made?
CB: I think it's just really a case of things starting to click. We have some brilliant players in our squad and wouldn't say we are ever short of confidence, but earlier in the season we weren't clinical enough and didn't take our chances. We've worked on that over the past couple of months, and have also added a few players to the squad, both of which are starting to pay off for us now.
WSS: This week you play host to Hull City in the league and a win would take you into second place. You beat Hull earlier in the season when you met, what kind of match are you expecting this time?
CB: We always know that facing Hull won't be easy. They'll provide a test for you physically, so we need to make sure we are switched on and ready to match them from the first minute. If we go into the game with the right mindset and start well, we'll be confident that with the quality we have we can take another three points and keep climbing the table.
WSS: Over the next few weeks, you have a run of away games including the quarter finals of the League Cup, when you go to Sunderland. Although a tough tie, do you see this as realistically your best chance of silverware?
CB: In this league, it probably doesn't get tougher than Sunderland away from home. We know it will be a tough game, but we'll approach it the same as we do any other game, with the added incentive of a place in the semi finals. If we can do that, it puts us in a great position to push for some silverware this season. We know that Sunderland have a pretty big lead in the league as it stands, but that doesn't mean we'll give up, and we'll keep giving everything to finish as high as we can in the league too.
WSS: Do you think you can still catch Sunderland and have a big say in the title race, as long as you can keep on winning?
CB: I don't think we can rule it out. The more we keep winning, we put pressure on Sunderland, and if they have one or two bad results we can be right back in it. There are a number of clubs in and around us at the moment who are all looking to do the same.
WSS: Derby County is a very ambitious club with aims on playing at a higher level, do you feel that the club is right on track to achieve that in the future?
Everything is in place behind the scenes at the club to step up to the next level. The professionalism of the club, the board and the staff means that all the hard work has been put in to ensure we're in a position to make that step up. It's up to us on the pitch now to go and make that happen!
Our thanks to Callan!
Doncaster Rovers Belles announced on Tuesday this week that head coach Zoey Shaw had left by mutual consent.
Shaw assumed the managerial reins at the start of last season when Belles, the 2018 WSL 2 champions, but unable to meet the FA licensing criteria to compete in the top two tiers, had to drop into the FAWNL Northern Premier Division.
Shaw had been in charge of Belles' team in the FAWSL Development League prior to last season and several of her charges formed part of a squad with minimal first team experience representing Belles in the third tier last season. Indeed, but for several RTC players stepping up and being plunged straight into adult football (without the benefit of Reserve/Youth football), Belles would not have had a team competing in the FAWNL last term.
A nightmare first half of the season, which included several heavy defeats as an inexperienced team fought valiantly but unsuccessfully, left Belles staring at almost certain relegation. However, a much healthier second half saw them narrowly fail to avoid the drop.
Life this season has again been tough. The geography of the four divisions in the fourth tier saw the Belles placed in Midlands Division One and this was a significant factor in several key players, who live north of Doncaster, leaving (due to much increased travel for away games).
Consequently, the close season saw another influx of several inexperienced players which necessitated more rebuilding, while the current campaign had barely begun before several more of last season's squad decided to seek their football elsewhere amid talk of differences of opinion with Shaw.
Five straight League defeats saw the Belles go into December looking very anxiously over their shoulders as just one Sunday with the wrong results would have seen them slip into the higher of the two relegation places.
A last minute equaliser denied Belles victory on their visit to The New Saints where the game ended 3-3 to give Belles a much welcome point, while 2019 ended with a narrow 1-0 home win over AFC Doncaster in the County Cup, the visitors spared a heavier defeat by the woodwork on several occasions.
Belles are currently third bottom, five points adrift of two teams on 12 points, but four points clear of Solihull Moors (the pair meet on February 2nd) and seven clear of bottom club Burton Albion who have lost all their games to date and still to play Belles this season. Those three games will be crucial in Belles' fate this season.
While historical results will show that Belles' record under Shaw was far removed from the club's glory days, what they will not show is how difficult a task she had and in terms of player development, her record is much to be admired. Two notable examples follow: Goalkeeper Emily Batty is currently at Sheffield United where is understudy to Northern Ireland international Becky Flaherty. Defender Liv Cook, another of last season's plusses, is excelling at Nottingham Forest who are second in the Northern Premier Division side, their squad including several other players who have played for Belles.
The FA has this week announced that the City Ground, home of Nottingham Forest, will host the FA Women's Continental Tyres League Cup Final on Saturday 29th February.
The Final will kick off at 5.30pm and will be broadcast live on BT Sport 1 and 4k UHD. Fans can purchase early bird tickets from 10am on Thursday morning at www.thefa.com/tickets.
The semi final draw will take place live on BT Sport this Saturday [18th January], with the fixtures to decide the Finalists being played on the 29th or 30th January.
Kelly Simmons, the FA's Director of Women's Professional Game, said: "We are delighted to confirm The City Ground as the host of the FA Women's Continental Tyres League Cup Final.
"It is an iconic venue in the heart of the country and fitting for the conclusion of the competition.
"The Final will be one of the showpiece fixtures in the women's football calendar and we hope fans across the country will join us and take advantage of the early bird ticket offer on sale."
Early bird tickets will be available from 10am tomorrow at £7.50 for an adult until Friday 7th February. Thereafter, tickets will be £10.00 for an adult, and £1 for a concession. Full ticket details can be found at www.thefa.com/tickets.
The competition has been held eight times since its conception in 2011, with Arsenal the winners on five occasions and Manchester City the other three. Both teams reached the semi finals this time around this week along with Chelsea and Manchester United, meaning that the line up for the last four is exactly the same as last season.
The City Ground has been used regularly in the past for major women's matches, having hosted four FA Women's Cup Finals in the first decade of this century.
Eniola Aluko has decided to call it a day on her career at the age of 32, making her announcement this week.
After making her debut for Birmingham City at just fifteen years old, Aluko established herself as a regular in the team and made her senior debut for England three years later. She played in all three matches as England hosted the Euro 2005 Finals as an 18-year-old and even took one of her A Level exams on the morning of their match against Denmark.
In the same year, she scored the winning goal in the FA Women's Cup Final for Charlton Athletic against Everton at Upton Park, and a year later gave a dazzling performance and netted both as the Addicks beat Arsenal 2-1 in the Premier League Cup Final.
Eni was a member of the England team which reached the Final at Euro 2009, the only major Final they have reached since 1984, and scored a fantastic individual goal to seal a 3-2 win in the quarter finals against hosts Finland. She also played a major part when her countrry won bronze at the 2015 World Cup, winning the penalty, scored by Fara Williams, which won the third place play-off against Germany.
After coming close to winning major honours on her return to Birmingham, Eni moved on to Chelsea where she won two FA WSL titles as well as the FA Women's Cup. She then took the decision to play the last two seasons of her career at Juventus, where she won the Serie A title.
In all, Eni won 102 caps for England and scored 33 times, and lifted every major honour in the domestic game. She is the third centurion to call time on her career in the last 18 months, following Alex Scott and Karen Carney.
The quarter finals of the FA Women's Continental League Cup took place this week and there were no surprises in any of the four ties, meaning that the semi final line up will be the same as last season.
Cup holders Manchester City faced an awkward tie away to Championship high fliers Sheffield Utd but booked their place in the last four with a 4-0 victory. Pauline Bremer made the breakthrough seven minutes before half time when she gave City the lead and the striker netted a second ahead of the break. Laura Coombs made it three during the second half, before Bremer completed her hat-trick in the dying minutes.
Arsenal have never failed to reach at least the semi final stage of the competition in its history and they kept up this proud record with a 1-0 win against Reading FC Women. The Gunners had the better of the chances, although Fara Williams did strike the post for Reading early in the second half. Rachael Laws made a string of good saves at the other end but with extra time looming, Kim Little was on hand to slot home a Lisa Evans cross for the only goal of the game.
Chelsea ended the hopes of Championship leaders Aston Villa with a 3-1 victory. The Blues attacked solidly throughout the first half but were frustrated by stubborn Villa resistance until ten minutes after the break, when Magdalena Eriksson headed them in front. Ji So-Yun added a second with nine minutes remaining and although Kerri Welsh gave Villa hope when she reduced the arrears, Emily Murphy sealed the win for Chelsea in injury time. Remarkably, Chelsea have never reached the Final of the Cup but are in the last four for the third time in four years.
Manchester Utd have reached the semi finals for the second successive season after they defeated Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1. In an entertaining game, Abbie McManus gave United a lead which they held until half time despite both teams exchanging chances. The Seagulls then ought to have levelled after the break when Ini Umotong hit the bar from the penalty spot and the miss was compounded when Jane Ross doubled United's advantage with fifteen minutes remaining. Brighton were awarded another penalty and this time, Kayleigh Green successfully converted to pull a goal back. United were able to close the game out to take themselves one step away from a first major Final.
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