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It has been a great few days for Cambridge United as they followed up an impressive 5-1 win over Actonians in the league on Sunday, by winning the County Cup in midweek.
We talked to Cambridge captain Kelley Blanchflower, who lifted her first trophy for the club following the 2-1 win over Cambridge City, and she believes that this run of good form can stand the club in good stead for the rest of the season and beyond:
WSS: What a few days it has been for your club, following up good results in the league with a County Cup win. What was the feeling like when you received the cup?
KB: It felt brilliant of course, with it being my first season as a captain too! To have won silverware with such a great bunch of people has really topped off how hard I think we have worked this season and shows the direction we are moving in. We have worked hard to find our identity with so many new faces in the squad and to know we have gelled so well so quickly is fantastic. We came into these last few weeks optimistic with the number of games in a short period of time so to win this cup was just a feeling of achievement and growth as squad.
WSS: This followed a great result in the league on Sunday, beating high riding Actonians 5-1. Was that as good as the team has played in the league this season?
KB: I believe it was yes, we had a very good game against Stevenage away, however came away with a draw and since then we have felt this extra togetherness and determination as a team to not want to come away from a game feeling like we deserved more, considering the ball is in our court with games in hand in the league. Everything came together against Actonians, our desire and belief in one another, we was clinical and know we can adapt to every situation thrown at us.
WSS: How big a boost to the team's confidence was it, becoming the first team to take points off Crawley Wasps when you held them to a goalless draw?
KB: I don't think I could put it into words how big, it's probably the next best thing to winning silverware! The girls worked extremely hard against a quality side, plus with the added barrier of the weather. As a team we are fearless and we went into the game like it was any other opponent in the league. The standard of defending has certainly been improved to last season and the girls should pat themselves on the back for such a great record of clean sheets, the pressing from the front and desire to throw bodies in the way. I do believe its a credit to the management, Kevin and Sean, for believing in us and getting us to play the style of football we have been. This has only added to the momentum we are building towards such a crucial stage in the season.
WSS: The County Cup was sealed with a win in the Final over Cambridge City, who are having a great season themselves. After your matches with them in the FA Cup earlier in the season, was the team extra determined going into this match?
KB: I felt like this was the best time to play them and we were the most relaxed we have been. Of course we were determined but we just wanted to go out and enjoy playing our football at the Abbey Stadium and working hard for one another like we have been. The last two games we had against them seemed to have much more stigma around them which wasn't necessary. We knew we had overcome much bigger hurdles in the previous weeks and confidence was flowing through our veins, but of course it's always sweet to win silverware over your main rivals!!
WSS: Has there been one main reason for the team's upsurge in form or is it down to confidence?
KB: I would say it's mainly confidence, we have such a variety of players in our squad this season it's taken us time to really gel and find our feet. I think seeing ourselves at the bottom end of the table was hard because we knew we was better than that and now with the team performing how we are, making steps in the right direction and seeing yourself higher in the table, it has only breathed confidence into one another as we realise more each game, that we do deserve to be winning games.
WSS: This Sunday will be another tough match against second placed Billericay, presumably the team will be looking forward to the challenge though?
KB: We couldn't be more ready for it if I'm honest, we are feeling at the top of our game as a squad and there's no challenge we don't feel up to right now. We have seen their latest results and know for sure we have every ability to test them.
WSS: With six games left to play, you are just four points behind third place. Is this something that the team will be targeting in the remainder of the season?
KB: We are just enjoying the ride we are on right now and we try not to look too far ahead. However after recent weeks with the results that have happened, it is something we have one eye on. We don't want to get too ahead of ourselves and I think this Sunday against Billericay could be one of the biggest deciding factors in reaching that target of third.
WSS: Wherever you end up this time, no doubt the aim will be to build on this run of form and make a serious challenge next season?
KB: Absolutely, we are hoping that this is the start of something new to come for Cambridge United Ladies. If we are able to sustain these results and carry on fighting then there's no reason as to why next season we can't challenge for the title.
Our thanks to Kelley!
Reading's Rachel Furness would be lying if she said she wasn't already dreaming of Wembley after being named the SSE Women's FA Cup Player of the Round for her performance against Manchester United.
A dramatic 3-2 victory in extra-time put Reading into the semi finals of the competition for the first time in the club's history, but it was by the skin of their teeth that they made it there.
Having played out a goalless 90 minutes, Kelly Chambers' side twice came from behind after Furness first crossed for Remi Allen to loop a header home, before scoring herself to level things up.
With seconds left on the clock, substitute Rakel Honnudottir turned in a winner to send the Reading fans wild and dump Casey Stoney's side out of the competition.
Furness' contribution over the 120 mins was vital in teeing up an April semi final against West Ham United and enough to bag her the Player of the Round mantle.
"I think it was just relief at the final whistle really," revealed the Northern Ireland international.
"To win a game in the last 10 seconds is massive and I wouldn't say we had very much luck this season but for that to go our way at the end of the game - it was just relief.
"You can't lie and say you haven't thought about the final. It is always in your mind and it is the first time we have got to the semi finals as a club, so we will be putting in the preparations to make sure we make it to Wembley.
"It would be an amazing achievement to get there. We set goals at the beginning of the season and one of them was to make it to a cup final so that would tick that off."
The semi final will bring with it a milestone for Reading but for Furness it will also a chance to realise childhood dreams.
"As soon as the whistle went I was overjoyed and now we are in the semi finals of the FA Cup and that is something you dream of as a little kid," said the 30-year-old.
"It is a great achievement for me personally, but it is the whole team and squad that got us there.
"Winning the award feels great but it is for the team and the club - I am very happy with it."
As the energy behind women's football, SSE's ambition is to support girls of all ages in England, helping them join in football from grassroots to the elite level. For more information on SSE's sponsorships and activities visit sse.co.uk.
by Tom Dean, Sportsbeat
Chelsea are in a strong position at the midway point of their UEFA Women's Champions League quarter final tie against Paris Saint Germain, taking a 2-0 lead into the second leg thanks to two late goals.
The first half was largely a cagey affair and chances were scarce at either end as a result. Chelsea were looking the more adventurous of the two sides with Erin Cuthbert in lively form up front, the Scottish international going closest when she seized possession and broke down the right before her shot brought out a good block from PSG captain Irene Paredes.
The introduction of Fran Kirby as a half time substitute gave Chelsea extra impetus going forward and the striker almost made an immediate impact, bursting through on goal but her side was inches wide of the post. Paris hit back straight away and Ann-Katrin Berger did well to turn away a curling shot from Ashley Lawrence.
With seventeen minutes remaining, Chelsea broke the deadlock through a 20-yard left foot strike from Hannah Blundell which dipped over Christiane Endler and into the far corner of the net. Invigorated by the goal, the Blues almost went two ahead when Sophie Ingle thumped a header against the post from a corner. Three minutes later though, Cuthbert exchanged passes with Kirby before drilling home a low shot to double Chelsea's lead.
The second leg takes place next Wednesday at the Stade Jean Bouin (6.30pm).
Elsewhere, Toni Duggan became the all-time English goalscorer in the competition when she netted twice for Barcelona in their 3-0 victory over LSK Skvinner. The tie of the round is nicely balanced with Olympique Lyonnais leading VfL Wolfsburg 2-1, whilst Slavia Prague and Bayern Munich are level at 1-1.
The Football Association of Wales Awards 2019 were held at Hensol Castle in the Vale Resort.
Hosted by Gabby Logan, the event celebrated Welsh International Football, looking back on the journey of the National teams over the past 18 months.
The prestigious FAW Player of the Year Awards went to Jessica Fishlock and David Brooks for their performances in the famous red shirt, as voted by members of The Red Wall.
This was Brooks' second award of the evening. He also won Young Player of the Year, reflecting his successful transition from the U21's into the Senior side over the past 12 months.
Elise Hughes, whose performances have been pivotal at intermediate and senior level, also earned the accolade of Young Player of the Year.
The women's captain, Sophie Ingle and Gareth Bale both won Players' Player of The Year, a sign of the utmost respect from their team mates.
The Media Choice Award this year went to Ben Davies and John Toshack was handed the Special Award for his lifetime achievement in Welsh football.
Scotland head coach Shelley Kerr has named her squad for her side's upcoming friendly matches in Pinatar, which will see her side take on Chile and Brazil at the start of April.
The squad shows two changes from that which impressed at the Algarve Cup earlier this month, with Arsenal winger Lisa Evans returning to the fold following an injury lay-off.
Sophie Howard is also included in the 23-strong playing group, the Reading defender having last appeared for her country in the 2-1 victory over Albania that secured qualification for this summer's FIFA Women's World Cup. Rachel Corsie will once again captain the SWNT, whilst Kim Little continues as vice captain.
Should she appear in both matches, Joelle Murray could become the latest SWNT player to reach the 50-cap milestone - the Hibernian defender has made 48 appearances to date since her debut against Belgium in 2007.
Like Scotland, Chile will make their debut at the FIFA Women's World Cup in France this summer, whilst Kerr's side will come up against Brazilian opposition for the first time since 2013.
The first match of the double header will be against Chile on Friday 5th April (6pm), with the Brazil match on Monday 8th April (7pm). Both games will be played at the Pinatar Arena.
Reading FC Women 3 Manchester Utd 2 (aet)
An SSE Women's FA Cup quarter final of ever increasing drama saw Reading defeat Manchester United 3-2 after extra time to take a place in the last four for the first time.
A cagey first half was followed by a lively and competitive second period but the match really burst into life with five goals in extra time. United led twice but were immediately pegged back both times before sub Rakel Honnudottir grabbed the winner in the 120th minute.
The opening 45 minutes provided little to excite the crowd of 951 at Adams Park. Defences dominated and only a 25th minute Siobhan Chamberlain save from a Rachel Furness header, then a 37th minute headed chance for United's Millie Turner from a corner had stirred the pulses as the wind, rain and then hail made accurate passing tricky.
The introduction of Lauren James by United at half time made a big difference to their attacking potential but Reading started the better in improved weather conditions, a Jade Moore header rebounding off the bar and Chamberlain saving well at her near post from Brooke Chaplen on 50 minutes.
James broke clear on United's right, her cross just evading Leah Galton in front of goal. Galton then forced a fine save from Grace Moloney as United dominated around the hour mark.
Allen missed a great chance for Reading on 84 minutes as it looked as if one goal might settle the match. Both sides had late free kick efforts well saved, Alex Greenwood for United and Fara Williams for Reading so the tie went into extra time.
James won a penalty for United on 97 minutes with a driving run halted by a foul, Greenwood converting. Reading levelled within two minutes through Remi Allen, whose looping far post header back across goal evaded all attempts to clear.
A Jess Sigsworth cross from United's left was headed in by the covering Reading defender Natasha Harding to restore the visitors' lead early in the second period of extra time, but the home side levelled within a minute when Williams' left wing cross was met first by Allen then fired home by Furness.
United went very close to regaining the lead late on, the ball fizzing through the area without a final touch being applied. However, it was the hosts who clinched the win in the final minute. Williams, who had seen an earlier goal direct from a corner ruled out, fired in an awkward free kick from 20 yards which Chamberlain could not gather as it bounced just in front of her. Icelandic international Honnudottir was on hand to fire home the loose ball from close in.
Defeat was probably a bit harsh on United who had matched their higher league opponents for the first 90 minutes and twice led in extra time but Reading showed their fighting spirit by battling to the very end.
Reading FC Women:
Grace Moloney, Maz Pacheco, Natasha Harding, Jade Moore, Molly Bartrip, Jo Potter, Remi Allen, Rachel Furness, Brooke Chaplen, Fara Williams, Lauren Bruton. Subs: Rakel Honnudottir, Jade Bailey, Rachael Laws, Kirsty Pearce, Millie Farrow, Charlie Estcourt, Sophie Howard.
Siobhan Chamberlain, Alex Greenwood, Millie Turner, Amy Turner, Martha Harris, Ella Toone, Katie Zelem, Mollie Green, Leah Galton, Jess Sigsworth, Kirsty Hanson. Subs: Lauren James, Kirsty Smith, Emily Ramsey, Aimee Palmer, Charlie Devlin, Lizzie Arnot.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Martha Harris clears away from Maz Pacheco
(middle) Leah Galton gets in a cross past Molly Bartrip
(bottom) Remi Allen crunches into a tackle on Mollie Green
England cruised to a resounding 8-0 win over Georgia in their opening UEFA Women's Under-17 Elite Round qualifier.
Gemma Grainger's side sauntered through the first stage of qualifying, defeating Moldova, Azerbaijan and Iceland last September and they picked up where they left off with Emma Harries's first half double setting the tone for another comfortable victory.
A Gvantsa Kadagishvili own goal extended the Young Lionesses' advantage before a Melisa Filis penalty made it 4-0 at half time and goals from Fran Stables, Alisha Ware, Eleanor Dale and Rebecca May after the break completed an emphatic result.
England next face elite round hosts Hungary and then Greece next Wednesday. The seven elite round group winners will qualify to join hosts Bulgaria in the finals between 5-7 May.
England Under-17: Emily Orman (sub Emma Bradley 45mins), Sophie Quirk, Gracie Pearse, Maya Le Tissier, Mia Cruickshank, Charlotte Fleming (sub Ellen Jones 45mins), Ruby Grant, Melisa Filis, Alisha Ware, Fran Stables (sub Katie Robinson 68mins), Emma Harries (sub Eleanor Dale 76mins). Subs not used: Ella Morris, Ellie Hack, Keri Matthews, Lucy Johnson.
The Football Association [The FA] and Barclays have this week announced a landmark partnership, the biggest ever investment in UK women's sport by a brand, with Barclays unveiled as the title sponsor of The FA Women's Super League with effect from the 2019-20 season.
The multi million-pound partnership - running until July 2022 - will see the top tier of women's football renamed as the ‘Barclays FA Women's Super League' and the introduction of record levels of investment into the women's game in England.
The new partnership includes The FA and Barclays working together to drive the growth of the women's game at a grassroots level, with Barclays becoming the lead partner of the FA Girls' Football School Partnerships, a nationwide scheme to help develop girls' access to football at school. The initiative will see a network of hubs delivering bespoke FA programmes for their local network of schools, which will engage, excite and encourage girls to make football a part of their life. Barclays will collaborate with The FA and The Youth Sport Trust to support the development and delivery of 100 Girls' Football School Partnerships.
Kelly Simmons, The FA's Director of Women's Professional Game said: "We are delighted to announce our landmark partnership with Barclays and are looking forward to them joining us on a journey to transform the future of women's football. Their record, multimillion-pound commitment will impact all levels of the game and will support our ambition to make the Barclays FA Women's Super League the world's most successful league, on and off the pitch.
"Of equal importance is the support this provides to The FA Girls' Football School Partnerships, a cornerstone to our ambition to double participation within The FA's Gameplan for Growth strategy and will see girls across the country given the opportunity to begin a relationship with football, which we hope will last a lifetime."
Jes Staley, Group CEO of Barclays, said: "Football has the power to transform young people's lives, boosting their confidence, being part of a team and providing more opportunities to grow. The grassroots work through The FA Girls' Football School Partnerships will help thousands more girls in England to take up sport and we look forward to partnering with The FA to deliver that. Barclays' multi-year investment is also our salute to the professionalism of The FA Women's Super League players, and we hope it will help take the game to new heights, making England's domestic league a world leader. Our commitment to women's and girls' football, at a crucial time in its development, goes beyond pure sponsorship - we believe it can be a key to increasing participation, development and the wider visibility of the female game."
The FA Women's Super League is Europe's only fully professional domestic female football league and this new partnership will help The FA and the clubs transform the women's game in England, driving increased awareness via significant allocated marketing spend, celebrating the league's players and clubs and changing perceptions. The partnership will also see the introduction of an annual £500,000 prize fund for the league, active as of the 2019-20 season and distributed based on final league position.
The announcement is a significant landmark within The FA's Gameplan for Growth strategy, an ambitious four-year strategy announced in 2017 that aims to double participation, double the fan base and create a high-performance system for England teams.
Barclays now supports both women's and men's football at the top tier as it has also renewed its official Banking Partner agreement with the Premier League for a further three years. It will draw on this experience and its previous experience of delivering grassroots sport through its Barclays Spaces for Sports programme to deliver on its commitment to women's and girls' football.
The weather claimed one of the scheduled FAW Women's Cup semi finals on Sunday but Cardiff Met Women were able to book their place in another major Final as they continued their pursuit of a trophy treble.
However, the Archers' passage was far from an easy one as they were pushed all the way by Briton Ferry Llansawel before emerging as 3-2 winners at the Leckwith Stadium.
Briton Ferry went ahead through Laura Braithwaite with twenty minutes on the clock but Met's reply was a swift one, Chloe Tiley bringing the scores level again just two minutes later. This remained the scoreline at the interval and Met were go to in front for the first time, early in the second half, with a goal from Madison Schlupbach. Naomi Clipston extended the Archers' lead ten minutes later but this time it was Briton Ferry's turn to reply quickly, Lucy Powell bringing them back into the game. They could not get back on level terms though and after having been crowned as WPWL Champions the previous Sunday, Cardiff Met have now added a FAW Women's Cup appearance as well their forthcoming Premier League Cup Final, both to be played next month.
The other semi final between Abergavenny Women and Cardiff City Women at Goytre was postponed and a new date will be announced in due course.
East Midlands League
Leicester City Women Development held onto the leadership of the Premier Division after winning 4-2 away to Ollerton Town. They remain one point ahead of second placed Peterborough Utd, who defeated Oughtibridge WMSC 3-1. All of the goals came during the second half with Laura Patrick, Megan Parrett and Jessica Driscoll all on target for the Posh Ladies whilst Oughtibridge, who received a blow to their own title chances, grabbed a late consolation through Kathryn Mudge. Laura Beckett (2), Stephanie Gale, Michelle Smith and an own goal ensured that Kettering Town won 5-3 against Eastwood Community.
Oadby & Wigston have gone three points clear at the top of Division One South after they defeated Loughborough Foxes Vixens 2-0, Samantha Hargrave and Emily Miles scoring their goals. Thrapston Town meanwhile celebrated their first league victory of the season when Chloe Jeffs netted the only goal of the game as they won against Corby Town.
Eastern Region League
Cambridge City moved themselves closer towards the Premier Division title by winning 3-1 away to Brentwood Town. Shannon Shaw was on target twice along with Carla Penny, with the home side's consolation coming from Georgia Holdaway. Wymondham Town leapt up into second place after they defeated Peterborough Northern Star 3-0 with goals from Laura Nicholls, Mollie O'Callaghan and Hannah Waters. Royston Town had started the day in second but they went down to a 2-0 defeat at Harlow Town who scored through Beth Chambers and Olivia Steele.
The top two were not in action in Division One but third placed Newmarket Town were unable to make up much ground as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Hatfield Peveral, for whom Jasmine Cox netted a double. Hutton follow on in fourth despite being beaten 5-2 by Hoddesdon Town Owls. Rosy Woodhams was on target twice for Hoddesdon along with Becky Scola, Kristina O'Connell and Chloe Makepeace, with Hayley Piggott and Patrizia Leo replying for the home side. Lucy Julian and Alison Wright scored the goals as Histon won 2-0 against Bishop's Stortford and King's Lynn Town were 3-2 victors away to Hertford Town thanks to a Tiffany Forshaw brace and an own goal.
London & South East League
The top two met in a vital clash on Sunday and it was Kent Football Utd who were 2-1 winners against AFC Phoenix to leave things firmly in their hands in the title race. Shannon Burden and Amy Russ netted their goals, with Phoenix' reply coming from Roisin Stone. The result means that Kent need to win two of their remaining three games in order to pip Phoenix and be crowned as Champions. Queen's Park Rangers Development meanwhile kept themselves in with a chance of finishing in the top three as they won 2-0 away to Fulham FC Foundation, Chloe Sampson scoring both of their goals during the last ten minutes.
North East League
After having dominated the Premier Division throughout the campaign, Durham Cestria have clinched the title following their 3-0 victory over Farsley Celtic over the weekend. The first half was goalless but Lauren Robson opened the scoring for Durham just after the hour mark and they went on to seal the win they required with goals in the last six minutes from Gabrielle McConnell and Molly Holder.
In the Northern Division, Norton & Stockton Ancients Res are up into fifth place after winning 4-2 away to Washington Association. Louise Atkinson (2), Taylor Hebb and Libby Waller netted the goals for Norton to take them into the top half of the table. Prudhoe Town completed their campaign with their second league win, both at the expense of Cramlington Utd, Samantha Garcia scoring both goals as they came from behind to record a 2-1 victory on this occasion.
Altofts Ladies have claimed the runners-up position in the Southern Division, thanks to a 3-2 success away to Harrogate Railway. Sophie Allen, Hollie Betts and Elizabeth Hare were all on target for Altofts, with Emma Lansdall and Fiona Salter replying. Sheffield Wednesday will have to settle for a third place finish following their 3-0 victory at Barnsley Development, which was given to them by an Emily Higgins double and Chantelle Rymer.
Ossett Utd won the Southern Division title earlier in the season and they are now in the running for a second trophy as they are through to the League Cup Final after beating York City 3-0 in their semi final on Sunday. Danielle Sidebottom, Emily Starkie and Chelsea Schofield scored the goals for Ossett. Hartlepool Utd meanwhile won their delayed quarter final tie 5-0 away to Boro Rangers. Caitlin Bates and Justine Robinson each bagged braces, with Emily Stuart adding the other goal for Hartlepool who take on newly crowned Champions Durham Cestria in the semi finals this week.
North West League
The weather once again had the biggest say in the area with the fixtures being greatly affected. This included the Premier Division where only one match managed to go ahead, with Merseyrail Ladies claiming a third victory in a row in all competitions when beating Sir Tom Finney 5-3. Shelley James led the scoring for Merseyrail with a hat-trick and the others came from Shauna Corrigan and Sheree Thompson.
In Division One North, Blackburn Community kept their title chances alive by running out 6-0 winners over Penwortham Town. The result takes Blackburn up into second place, four points behind leaders Blackpool and above both Bury FC Women and Carlisle Utd on goal difference.
South West League
Exeter City moved to within one point of Premier Division leaders Keynsham Town Development, who did not play on Sunday, after they won 6-1 away to Torquay Utd. Sian Chapman and Sophie Gillies each scored twice along with Danielle Skinner and an own goal, with Charlotte Dymond replying. Marine Academy Plymouth meanwhile made a much needed return to winning form after three straight defeats, beating Ilminster Town 4-2. Anthea Kaptein bagged a hat-trick and Sam Drewery added the other goal, with Colette Martin and Maisie Parker on target for the home side. Nicole Bell, Chelsea Day and Devon Rich were the markswomen for Middlezoy Rovers in their 3-0 victory away to Downend Flyers and Portishead Town defeated Forest Green Rovers 6-0.
Only one match took place in the Eastern Division over the weekend, Swindon Town Development and AEK Boco battling out a 1-1 draw. Sophie Barrett was on target for Swindon, with Boco replying through Shania Powell.
In the Western Division, Plympton Ladies kept their slim hopes of the title alive with a 6-1 victory over Alphington. Sam Metters had a great day in goal, scoring five times in total whilst Shannon Workman was also on target, with the Alphas' consolation coming from Helen Kukor. Weston Mendip meanwhile bounced back from defeat seven days earlier and they are up into fourth after scoring eleven times without reply past Exeter & Tedburn Rangers. Sherise Binns was another player to bag herself a five-goal haul whilst Natasha Crew contributed a double, while Hayley Bosley, Jess Chappell, Ellie Oritt and Katie Sharkey also got on the scoresheet.
Southern Region League
Moneyfields set up a fascinating Chairman's Cup Final against AFC Bournemouth CST after they defeated Warsash Wasps 2-1 in the semi finals. First half goals from Kim Whitcombe and Sheree Bell-Jack gave Moneyfields the win, despite Megan Fox pulling one back for Warsash after the break, meaning that the current leaders of the Premier Division and Division One are set to meet.
In the meantime, AFC Bournemouth restored their lead of three points in the Premier Division with a 3-1 victory over one of their main rivals, Oxford City. All of the Cherries' goals came during the first half, Maisy Smith giving them an early lead before Hannah Bennett and Rosie Eden also got on the scoresheet, with Sian Riley-Philips. The bottom two teams in the table met each other and neither was likely to be too satisfied with the outcome as they shared four goals. Lucy Slater and Olivia Watts were on target for New Milton Town, whilst Barton Rovers scored through Rachel Allwright and Victoria Carvill.
Abingdon Utd have moved into second place in Division One, three points behind leaders Moneyfields, following their 8-1 win against Wargrave Ladies. Beth Hawtin, Molly Lygo-Jackson and Abbie Smith all scored twice along with Charlotte Deeley and Nell Boxall. Eastleigh returned to winning ways with a 3-1 success against Shanklin, given to them by a Samantha Hide hat-trick. Not so long ago, Basingstoke Town were struggling near the foot of the table but are now in mid-table after winning 3-1 at Wokingham & Emmbrook. Lindsey Beverley netted two of the goals and Emma Lawrence was also on target.
West Midlands League
Premier Division leaders Leafield Athletic are through to the semi finals of the Premier Division Cup after a 3-1 extra time victory over Stockingford AA Pavilion. Redditch Utd also booked their place in the last four, thanks to an 8-2 win against Goldenhill Wanderers.
Shifnal Town meanwhile reached the Final of the Division One North Cup following a narrow 2-1 win over Stoke City Development. This sets up a meeting with Leek Town, between the two sides who currently occupy the top two positions in the league.
Wyrley Ladies did their chances of finishing outside of the bottom two in Division One North a power of good, as they defeated mid-table Sandwell Ladies by the odd goal in seven.
Solihull Utd require seven points from their final four games in order to clinch the Division One South title, moving themselves closer by scoring seven times without reply past Kingfisher.
The draw for the semi finals took place live on BBC Breakfast (BBC One) and BBC (iPlayer) on Monday morning.
The ties are due to be played on Sunday 14th April and are as follows:
Reading FC Women v West Ham United
Manchester City v Chelsea
Both semi finals will be broadcast live on BBC channels. The tie between Reading FC Women and West Ham Utd kicks off at 12.30pm and will be live on the BBC Red Button and Iplayer, whilst the clash between Manchester City and Chelsea will be shown live on BBC Two, kick off is at 3.30pm.
The SSE Women's FA Cup Final will take place on Saturday 4th May at Wembley Stadium connected by EE [5.30pm] live on BBC One. Tickets are on sale now, priced £15 for adults while kids go free: www.thefa.com/tickets.
Northern Premier Division
Blackburn Rovers' seemingly unstoppable title charge was brought to a juddering halt on Sunday as they were beaten 3-0 by second placed Sunderland. The result is highly unlikely to affect the runaway leaders in the long term but it ended their impressive run of 22 straight league victories (excluding the Championship play-off match) stretching back to last April, when they drew with Wolverhampton Wanderers, and a 24-match unbeaten run since their last defeat to Leicester City. For Sunderland though, it was their best result of the season to date, and a huge boost as they challenge for the runners-up spot. Maria Farrugia, Niamh McLaughlin and Keira Ramshaw scored the goals for Sunderland.
Derby County are up into third place after running out 4-1 winners away to Guiseley Vixens. Cara Newton scored in the opening minute with Hannah James adding a second, and after Kirstie Hunt had pulled a goal back for Guiseley, Amy Sims netted either side of half time to seal a fine result for her side.
Hull City virtually banished any lingering fears of finishing in the bottom two with a 3-1 victory over Bradford City. For the second week running, Bradford led at half time through a goal from Falone Sumaili but Hull hit back after the break to take the points thanks to Becky Beech, Amy Kay and Misty Russell.
Southern Premier Division
Sunday saw a full programme of fixtures in the division and Coventry Utd continued their march at the top of the table with a nine goal victory over Gillingham. The Gills went into the match in good form but Coventry produced an excellent display to keep themselves four points clear. Lois Jefferies, Amber Hughes, Amy Wathan and Maz Gauntlett were all on target twice, with Beth Merrick completing the scoring.
Second placed Chichester City meanwhile ended their run of three straight defeats by beating C & K Basildon 8-0. Molly Clark led the scoring with a four-goal haul, taking her into double figures for the season, Sara Tubby weighed in with a double and also on the scoresheet were Jess Lewry and Kim Stenning.
Cardiff City Ladies continue to go well and they remain in the top three after winning 2-1 against Milton Keynes Dons. Leah Cudone gave the Dons the lead on the half hour but after the break, goals in an eight minute spell from Chloe Lloyd and Grace Horrell turned the match in Cardiff's favour.
Oxford Utd follow on in fourth after they won 4-2 away to Watford. The U's went into a two-goal lead at half time thanks to Emily Allen and Lauren Haynes, with Katherine Huggins pulling one back early in the second half. Gemma Sims restored the advantage and an own goal completed the scoring for Oxford, before Danielle Scanlon grabbed a late consolation.
Oxford's win takes them above Loughborough Foxes who were pegged back to a 2-2 draw by Queen's Park Rangers. Tiana Hicks gave Loughborough the lead just before half time and Eva Rogers added a second midway through the second half, but Rangers battled back strongly and after Courtnay Ward-Chambers had pulled one back, Jo Wilson earned them a share of the spoils when she equalised with twelve minutes remaining.
Plymouth Argyle and Portsmouth met at Home Park and provided an entertaining 2-2 draw for the 846 spectators present. Pompey twice took the lead during the first half through Katie James and Jade Widdows, with Plymouth hitting back on each occasion with equalisers from Kayley Lane and Natasha Knapman, who marked her return after missing six months through injury by getting on the scoresheet.
Division One North
Chester-le-Street Town took advantage of their rivals not having a game by winning 2-1 away to Crewe Alexandra and this has lifted them back into second place. The Cestrians led at half time with a goal from Nichole Havery and Laura Hockaday added a decisive second on the hour, before Laura Garner netted a consolation for Crewe.
Newcastle Utd meanwhile put a gap of five points between themselves and Bolton Wanderers, whose hopes of making a late challenge for a top two place took a knock. Jayden Maxwell and Abbey Joice scored the goals for Newcastle, with Safron Newhouse replying.
Division One Midlands
County Cup duties and postponements meant that only one match was played in the division over the weekend.
Wolverhampton Wanderers boosted their chances of finishing in the top two with a 1-0 victory away to mid-table Long Eaton Utd. Jade Cross scored the only goal of the game, five minutes into the second half, to help Wolves narrow the gap on leaders West Bromwich Albion to six points although they have played a game more.
Division One South East
Crawley Wasps now have a lead of ten points after running out 8-0 winners against Norwich City. Megan Stow gave Crawley an eighth minute lead which was doubled by Rachel Palmer, before they added further goals through Kemina Webber, Naomi Cole and Darcey James before half time. Jenny Drury made it six, early in the second half, before Stow netted twice late on to complete her hat-trick.
The other game to be played saw in-form Cambridge Utd win 5-1 against Actonians Ladies. Mollie Coupar and Becky Shephard each bagged doubles for the U's and Kelley Blanchflower netted the other goal, with Actonians' consolation coming from Alessandra Barreca.
Division One South West
Keynsham Town have opened up a lead of three points at the top after they defeated Larkhall Athletic 4-0. Kerry Bartlett netted twice more during the first half, to take her tally for the club to 99 in only her second season since rejoining. Cristina Vega Leandro increased her side's lead after the break and Justine Lorton rounded off the scoring, ten minutes from time.
Buckland Athletic moved themselves to within two points of third placed Chesham Utd after winning a bizarre match 8-4 between the two teams. Jaqueline Hanson gave Chesham a fifth minute lead, with three goals coming just before half time to leave the scores level; Laura Gough and Sarah Stacey netting for Buckland, with Livvi Harris replying. After the break, Kirsty Caunter put Buckland in front and they added further goals through Jana Richards, Sarah Smith and Stacey again. Gemma Fraser then rekindled hopes for Chesham by scoring twice but Stacey ended any chances of a comeback by completing her hat-trick with three minutes remaining and Richards netted the final goal in injury time.
It was a case of lucky thirteen for Maidenhead Utd as they notched up their first league victory of the season, 3-0 against Southampton Saints. Tina Brett netted two of the goals and Aine McKeever was also on target.
Blackburn Rovers have extended their lead at the top of Northern Division One with a 1-0 win away to third placed Newcastle Utd. Carra Jones scored the only goal of the game for Blackburn, midway through the second half.
Things remain close in Northern Division Two with leaders Chorley defeating Burnley FC Women 4-2 to maintain their lead of three points. Katie King led the scoring for Chorley with a hat-trick and Ellie Mills was also on target, with Charlotte Banner and Kathryn Halligan replying. Brighouse Town made sure of keeping on Chorley's heels by winning 3-0 away to Leeds Utd, Murron Alldread netting twice along with Holly Sornat.
Stoke City stay eleven points clear at the top of the Midland Division following their 2-1 victory away to West Bromwich Albion. Nuala Miszkiel and Roisin Kivel netted their goals, while Grace Harris replied for Albion. Beth Naqwi and Danielle Oxley scored the goals as Derby County won 2-0 at Crewe Alexandra to stay in second place, ahead of Leicester City who defeated Long Eaton Utd 5-1. Imogen Hunt was on target twice along with Jade Benford, Grace Lowe and Gracie-Mai Williams. Nottingham Forest were 3-1 victors over Sporting Khalsa thanks to Georgia Gladwin (2) and Caitlin Hughes, while Lauren Da Casto and Nina Warrington were the markswomen for Burton Albion in their 2-2 draw with Loughborough Foxes, who scored through Simran Singh and Nicola Russell.
Crystal Palace continue to close in on the South/South West Division title after they beat Southampton Women 6-3. Charmaine True was on target four times, with Charli-Mae Goad and Jade Keogh adding the others, as Palace extended their lead at the top to five points.
England women's senior international against Canada on Friday 5th April has sold out.
The match, which is at Manchester City's Academy Stadium at kicks off at 7.15pm, is the first in the Lionesses' ‘Road to France Series' as they step up their preparations for this summer's World Cup.
All available tickets have now been sold but please note seats will be released if/when they become available. The match will be shown live on BBC 4.
There is still time to purchase tickets for the 2019 SheBelieves Cup winners' three other upcoming fixtures.
After Canada, an emerging Spain side head to Swindon on Tuesday 9th April [kick off 7pm] while UEFA EURO 2017 runners-up Denmark travel to Walsall on Saturday 25th May [kick off 1pm] and New Zealand - another World Cup-bound opponent - will ensure a tricky finale in Brighton a week later [Saturday 1st June, kick off 1pm].
One match went ahead in the Championship over the weekend, Lewes continuing their resurgence in form with a 2-0 victory over Millwall Lionesses.
Millwall almost went ahead early on when a Beth Lumsden corner was tipped onto the post by Faye Baker, but the Rookettes did take the lead a minute later when Jess King dispossessed Millwall keeper Rhiannon Stewart before slotting the ball home. Lewes continued to press but could not add to their lead before half time and the Lionesses went very close to equalising soon after the restart, Riva Casley heading a Lia Cataldo free kick against the post. Casley was to test Baker with an acrobatic volley but Lewes always looked dangerous going forward and they wrapped up the points in spectacular style with three minutes remaining, Charlotte Owen firing in a shot from 25 yards to make it two wins in a row for Fran Alonso's side.
The line up for the semi finals of the SSE Women's FA Cup are all from the FA WSL, but all of the three remaining Championship teams in the quarter finals ensured that none of their higher division opponents had a smooth passage into the last four.
The first teams in action on the day were Durham Women and holders Chelsea, the home side hoping to claim another top flight scalp after victory over Bristol City in the last sixteen.
In blustery conditions and in front of the Wildcats' record attendance, the home side almost made a dream start when Sarah Wilson's free kick was tipped onto the bar by Carly Telford. Durham had the wind at their backs during the first half and pressed hard to take advantage but it was Chelsea who took the lead on the half hour with their first attempt on goal, Erin Cuthbert crossing for Ji So-Yun to score from close range. The conditions did not make it easy for either side to fashion chances with Millie Bright going close for Chelsea from a corner. Ramona Bachmann hit the post late on as Chelsea sought the comfort of a second goal and although that did not come, they were able to keep things tight at the back themselves. Durham go out of the competition with heads held high but Chelsea it is who progress with a 1-0 victory.
There was late, late drama at Reading FC Women where the home side progressed at the expense of Manchester Utd with a 3-2 win.
The game was goalless at the end of ninety minutes, before exploding into life in extra time. Alex Greenwood opened the scoring for United from the penalty spot, with Reading getting back on level terms two minutes later through Remi Allen. United went back in front via an own goal by Natasha Harding but once again, Reading equalised straight away when Rachel Furness swept in from close range and after a Fara Williams ‘goal', direct from a corner, was disallowed for foul, Reading were to have the final say and substitute Rakel Honnudottir scored the winner - the first time her side had led all game - with seconds left on the clock (see match report).
West Ham Utd meanwhile reached the semi finals for the first time in their history as they won 1-0 away to Aston Villa. The home side almost got off to the perfect start as in-form striker Jodie Hutton struck the post early on, but the Hammers settled down and took the lead on 26 minutes through an opportunist finish from Jane Ross. Villa again hit the woodwork, this time and inswinging corner from Amy West clipping the bar, and Nadine Hanssen shot wide when well placed but the Hammers held on to their lead going into the interval and were to hit the woodwork twice themselves during the second half, Alisha Lehmann and Ross were the players going close. Leanne Kiernan twice went close late on for the visitors and Jade Richards almost forced extra time when her header was just off target, but West Ham managed to close the game out for a hard earned victory.
The only all-WSL tie on the day was actually the only one to be settled by a margin of more than one goal, as Manchester City defeated Liverpool 3-0. After a bright start, Janine Beckie fired City in front at the midpoint of the the first half but Liverpool were looking lively themselves going forward and twice Rinsola Babajide was denied by well timed tackles from Jennifer Beattie. After the break, Steph Houghton curled a free kick narrowly over the bar but the introduction of Georgia Stanway as a substitute proved to be a telling point in the game. Stanway doubled City's lead from Nikita Parris' pass and two minutes remaining, the striker produced what is now a trademark 25-yard finish to wrap up the win for her side.
Hibernian maintain the early leadership of SWPL 1 after running out 4-0 winners over Rangers.
Both teams went into the game sporting unbeaten records but it was Hibs who went on to take the points, thanks to a Lia Tweedie hat-trick and Siobhan Hunter.
Glasgow City are now the division's only other unbeaten team and they continue to sit second, one point behind and with a game in hand, after scoring seven times without reply past Forfar Farmington. City took the lead shortly before half time through Kirsty Howat and after the break, Clare Shine hit a hat-trick to crown her recent return to the club and other goals came from Jordan McLintock, Joanne Love and Carly Girasoli.
Third placed Celtic were left frustrated following a goalless draw with Motherwell. The Women of Steel produced a fine defensive display with goalkeeper Morgan Hunter in good form to earn themselves a result which keeps up their promising start after promotion.
Spartans picked up their first victory of the season, a 3-0 success away to Stirling University who are still searching for their first points. Kaela McDonald-Nguah gave Spartans an early lead and Tegan Reynolds added the second, before an own goal rounded off the scoring.
SWPL 2 leaders Hearts were held to a 1-1 draw by St Johnstone.
Both goals came late in the game, Hearts taking the lead through Lauren Evans but they were denied a third win in four games by an equaliser from Fern Newbigging.
FC Kilmarnock therefore join Hearts on seven points after beating Glasgow Girls 2-0. A win would have taken Glasgow top of the table but strikes from Sammy Hare and Clare Docherty take Killie into second on goal difference.
The next four teams in the table all have five points, headed by Hamilton Academical who produced a twelve goal blast against Hutchison Vale. Nichola Sturrock led the scoring with a hat-trick whilst Amy Anderson, Amy Bulloch and Dionne Brown each contributed a double, with one apiece from Jade Lindsay, Chloe Muir and MT Gardiner.
The two newcomers to the league this season met each other and produced an entertaining affair, with Partick Thistle narrowly beating Dundee Utd 2-1. First half goals from Emma Lawton and Cheryl Rigden gave Thistle their first ever SWPL victory and inflicted a first defeat on United, despite Katie Caine pulling a goal back for them late on.
SSE Women's FA Cup - Road to the Final
The SSE Women's FA Cup reaches the quarter final stage this week, with the eight competing clubs just two matches from Wembley.
The draw has actually paired the two clubs carrying our Road to the Final banner together, with Aston Villa playing host to West Ham Utd.
Villa reached this stage with a dramatic penalty shootout victory over Sheffield Utd, spearheaded by a Jodie Hutton hat-trick, whilst the Hammers ran out 8-1 winners over Huddersfield Town.
The match will be played at Boldmere St Michaels FC, with a 2pm kick off.
Aston Villa (from): Sian Rogers, Hayley Crackle, Asmita Ale, Ria Elsmore, Elisha N'Dow, Jade Richards, Alice Hassall, Aoife Hurley, Alison Hall, Kerri Welsh, Amy West, Jodie Hutton, Hollie Gibson, Tanisha Smith, Sophie Haywood, Aja Aguirre, Natasha Baptiste, Phoebe Warner, Nadine Hanssen, Ashlee Brown.
West Ham Utd (from): Becky Spencer, Ria Percival, Erin Simon, Brooke Hendrix, Gilly Flaherty, Tessel Middag, Alisha Lehmann, Leanne Kiernan, Jane Ross, Julia Simic, Claire Rafferty, Kate Longhurst, Anna Moorhouse, Vyan Sampson, Brianna Visalli, Rosie Kmita, Esmee de Graaf, Lucienne Reichardt, Adriana Leon, So-hyun Cho.
Manchester United forward Jess Sigsworth is relishing the chance to test herself against top-tier opposition in the SSE Women's FA Cup.
The Red Devils travel to Reading on Sunday with a place in the final four up for grabs and the chance to avenge an early season defeat in what was United's first ever home game.
With the reformed team clicking and promotion from the Championship in sight, Sigsworth is looking to lay down a marker ahead of next season.
"We love playing top-tier opponents," she said. "It's always a good challenge for us and it gives us a good baseline of where we need to be next year.
"We have done well against them [in the past] so it's exciting and we're looking forward to hopefully being there next year.
"We've beaten quite a few top-tier teams now so we're full of confidence.
"We don't fear anyone that gets put in front of us, we always think we've got a good chance of winning.
"We'll give it our best shot."
Despite enjoying a prolific campaign last season, Sigsworth had to endure a chastening defeat in the FA Cup as former club Doncaster Rovers Belles were thrashed 6-0 by eventual winners Chelsea.
Now she is relishing the chance to put a run together with United - and she knows the hallowed turf of Wembley may only be two games away.
"I love the FA Cup, I love playing in any FA Cup game," she said. "In recent years I've been with Doncaster Belles and we hadn't been able to progress that far through.
"But this year with Manchester United, we're in the quarters going down to Reading and we're really excited because it is such a big cup. We're really looking forward to it.
"Hopefully we'll beat Reading, then we're into the semi finals. With the magic of the cup, who knows what could happen?"
With League Cup victories over Brighton & Hove Albion, West Ham United, and Everton already under their belts, United will fancy their chances of causing another upset.
Manager Casey Stoney won four FA Cups during her own glittering career and Sigsworth thinks her tactical expertise could be the difference in the latter rounds of the competition.
"Casey is really experienced in the game," she said. "She knows exactly how to beat teams.
"She always puts a good game plan out and when we execute it and get it right, we win."
Sigsworth was speaking on International Women's Day at an event with SSE Wildcats, an initiative with the FA to inspire girls to get involved with football.
"I think it's really important to get them involved because we're trying to inspire the next generation," she said.
"We went them to grow up seeing that there's a first team to get involved in - not just United, but other girls' football teams where they can progress as they get older."
As the energy behind women's football, SSE's ambition is to support girls of all ages in England, helping them join in football from grassroots to the elite level. For more information on SSE's sponsorships and activities visit sse.co.uk.
by Tom Harle, Sportsbeat
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