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Swansea City go into the holiday break in second place in the Orchard Welsh Premier Women's League following their 2-0 win against Cardiff City Women on Sunday.
We talked to Swansea midfielder Sophie Hancocks, who was delighted with the team's performance in the victory over Cardiff, and looked ahead to the challenge of chasing after league leaders Cardiff Met Women when the league resumes in January:
WSS: That was a fine result for you on Sunday, is that one of your best wins of the season to date?
SH: I definitely think it was one of the best football we have played this season, the effort from all the girls was amazing and the hard work we put in got a us a fantastic win for our last game of 2018.
WSS: Your early goal would have helped of course, but were there any nervy moments before Emma Beynon scored the second late on?
SH: I don't think there were any nervy moments when it was still only 1-0, we knew if kept the high intensity of play up and continued to work hard then a second goal wasn't desperate, however I think it just showed our persistence and quality to score more.
WSS: The win takes you back up into second place going into the break, are you satisfied with that overall?
SH: I think second at Christmas is fantastic, we still have another half of the season to go which is always interesting because the league can be won and lost in this end of the season so we are confident and very happy with our position for the Christmas break.
WSS: Is it a little frustrating though that you now have a month without a game, having picked up some momentum with three straight wins?
SH: It's always frustrating not playing games and having time off but it is a perfect opportunity for us to recover after a tough first half of the season. We will still be training over the Christmas break and putting in the extra work to ensure that our winning momentum continues in the new year.
WSS: When you do return to action in the New Year you will be up against Cardiff City again, a tough return but presumably an occasion you will be looking forward to?
SH: Yes definitely, a derby day game is always expected to be a good occasion and especially from our win over them last weekend. I think the game will be good and well contested from both teams.
WSS: With half of the season gone, are you confident you can still catch Cardiff Met, but do you think it means you may have to win practically every single game from now?
SH: Like I said, the second half of the season is always interesting and of course we will continue to focus on ourselves, winning games but most importantly providing good performances which is our way of playing and we will continue with that mentality in every game we go into in the new year.
WSS: Last week you reached the semi finals of the League Cup and will be up against Rhyl at the end of next month. You have a good record in cup competitions in recent years, how big an incentive for the team is the opportunity of getting to another Final?
SH: Yes it was a great win and we are extremely happy to be in the semi final of the league cup. Of course for any team in any league, competing in a cup final is a fantastic occasion and something that as a team we will be working hard towards.
WSS: Overall, is the WPWL getting tougher season by season, as the results seem to be suggesting?
SH: I have been playing for Swansea for six years and every year the league does get a lot more competitive and tougher. I think in the last two years more so than ever, every team in the league from the bottom of the table to the top of the table always provides a tough test but I think it's fantastic as it shows the quality of women football in Wales.
Our thanks to Sophie!
Photo - NJD Photography
Seven of the eight quarter final berths in the FA Continental Tyres Cup have been confirmed following the last full round of matches and the last one will be decided on Sunday.
Manchester Utd will be the only team from the Championship to make it through to the last eight and they have booked their place, as winners of Group Two North, with a 3-0 victory away to Everton. All of the goals were scored during the first half, Lauren James heading United in front with ten minutes on the clock, then Leah Galton added the second shortly afterwards and Katie Zelem rounded off the scoring via a free kick. The other group game, between Reading FC Women and Liverpool, finished in a 1-1 draw with Rachel Furness having given Reading a second half lead and Courtney Sweetman-Kirk equalising a minute later. Liverpool won the resulting shootout which means they can still qualify but need a large margin of victory in their re-arranged tie with Everton on Sunday.
Manchester City finished off their Group One North matches by winning 4-0 at Aston Villa. Gemma Bonner headed them in front midway through the first half and Janine Beckie ensured they were two goals ahead at half time. Villa worked hard and competed well throughout the game but were further undone by two late goals from youngsters Jess Park and Lauren Hemp. Birmingham City safely negotiated their final match against Bristol City to go through, although they were beaten on penalties on the night, the teams sharing a goalless draw before the Vixens won 3-1 from the spot. Sheffield Utd finished off on a winning note, beating Leicester City 3-1 with goals from Sophie Jones, Chloe Dixon and Danielle Cox, before Ella Franklin-Fraiture scored a consolation for Leicester.
Group One South winners Chelsea made it five wins out of five when running out 5-0 winners away to Tottenham Hotspur, whose qualification chances were brought to an end. Deanna Cooper and Ali Riley put Chelsea two ahead inside the opening twenty minutes and after half time, Karen Carney made it three before Beth England added a second half double. Brighton & Hove Albion take the second spot following their 4-1 victory away to Yeovil Town. Ellie Brazil gave the Seagulls a first half lead which was cancelled out by Emily Syme, but Danielle Buet put Brighton back in front on the stroke of half time and they added further goals after the break through Kayleigh Green and Bethan Roe. Crystal Palace end up in third after beating London Bees 7-2, spearheaded by a four-goal haul from Ashlee Hincks. Chloe Burr added two and Charmaine True was also on target, with Lauren Pickett and Anna-Laure Davy replying.
Holders Arsenal are the third team through with a 100% record, which they confirmed with a 3-1 success away to Millwall Lionesses. However, Millwall did lead at half time through a goal from Gabby Ravenscroft but hopes of a shock were extinguished after the break when Vivianne Miedema, Ruby Grant and Leah Williamson all scored for the Gunners. West Ham Utd needed a point to make sure of second place and qualification, which they duly achieved with a 2-0 victory at Charlton Athletic. The first half was goalless but Rosie Kmita put the Hammers ahead within a minute of the restart and in-form striker Alisha Lehmann added the second goal ten minutes later.
Photo - Izzy Ford of Sheffield Utd is challenged by Freya Thomas of Leicester City (Julian Barker).
She has already bagged 37 goals this season, meaning her tally is greater than the returns of Harry Kane and Lionel Messi but it's her latest off-field gong that has left Kerry Bartlett beaming.
Bartlett may have been terrorising defenders for years, but never has the goalscoring ace been prouder to win an award after scooping the SSE Women's FA Cup player of the round trophy.
She scored four against C & K Basildon in an 8-3 win to ensure Keynsham Town recorded a second major SSE FA Cup scalp of the season against higher league opposition.
Despite playing just 60 minutes in the tie, the forward notched her tally up to an impressive 37 goals for the campaign - a figure Bartlett is keen to add to against Fylde in the next round.
"I am really proud, I've never won anything like this before and the SSE Women's FA Cup is such a big thing in our game, so I am very proud," said the 35-year-old former Bristol Academy star.
"We have got this nasty habit of beginning games slowly, but when we play better teams we tend to start really well, and we did that.
"We played really well on the day and raised our game. To be honest I think we could compete in that league anyway, and hopefully we can get promoted this season.
"Strikers never lose count of how many they've scored, I am on 37 and counting this season. I keep thinking do I retire yet, and then I keep bettering my record number of goals. I can't retire just yet.
"I can't do it on my own, I'm not the sort of player that can take on ten players and score. I need people to help me and assist me and they've done a great job."
Linking up with former Arsenal and England striker Justine Lorton, the pair have formed a formidable partnership that has sent Keynsham right to the top of Division One South West.
With a combined age of 79 between the pair, the Quedgeley-born player insists retirement is the last thing on her mind and her immediate concern is masterminding Keynsham past high-flying Fylde.
"Fylde will be a difficult one because it's just after Christmas, so hopefully people aren't going to eat too much food and come back out of shape," she said.
"On the day anything can happen, but we know they are a decent team.
"I think we can beat them as long as our attitude is right. We have got another nasty habit of thinking we can turn up and roll teams over, but against better teams you have got to be prepared.
"At some point it is going to come to an end, but for now I have got no immediate plans to retire. I'm probably not a good trainer but Sundays are what I live for."
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 Max Chesterton, Sportsbeat
Over the next few months, the Football Association of Wales will be involved in a series of workshops designed for women working in or playing sport, launched by the University of South Wales.
The first workshop, which was held on Monday of this week, looked at developing robust confidence in female athletes with Professor Brendan Cropley and Hannah Wixcey.
The FAW and FAW Trust will work alongside USW, Hockey Wales and Welsh Netball to drive women's sport forward in Wales, in all areas from grassroots through to elite level.
Workshop organiser and USW course leader for MSc Sports Coaching Melanie Tuckwell says the session will also explore areas outside of sport. "Delegates to our first workshop will gain an understanding of how to build confidence in their female athletes, enabling them to utilise these skills on the field of play and in everyday life."
The second workshop held by USW will look at women breaking barriers in sport and sport media and will feature several familar faces to the women's game.
Held on Wednesday 16th January 2019, Wales manager Jayne Ludlow will be the keynote speaker and Wales' record goalscorer Helen Ward will also be a keynote speaker at the event. The workshop takes place between 10am - 4pm and refreshments will be available on the day.
Places for the second workshop can be booked by visiting the FAW website and clicking on the relevant article.
The workshops are being held at the University of South Wales, at Sport Park in Pontypridd.
Kelly Chambers has been named as the FA WSL Manager of the Month for November.
Chambers led Reading FC Women to victories over Bristol City, Brighton and Hove Albion and Everton in November to earn her first Manager of the Month award of the season.
On receiving her trophy from Thomas Lyte, Chambers said: "It is a real honour to receive this award. It's definitely not credit just to myself, my team, the players and staff have had a massive input into our achievements over November."
Chair of the League Managers Association panel Marieanne Spacey-Cale said: "In the FA Women's Super League, Kelly's Reading side put some clear daylight between the teams below them with a perfect month in November.
"Taking nine points from three games meant they jumped two places into fourth and Kelly will be challenging her team to maintain this form into the second half of the WSL season."
Meanwhile, the manager's award in the FA Women's Championship went to Casey Stoney, who led Manchester United to a 100% record during the month of November, culminating with a victory over Tottenham Hotspur which took them back to the top of the table.
Casey's award caps a double success for United in the month of November, with striker Mollie Green being the recipient of the Player of the Month award.
Danielle van de Donk, of Arsenal, has been named as the FA Women's Super League Player of the Month for November.
The Netherlands midfielder was in fine form last month, scoring three goals in three fixtures, including a stunning strike during their victory against Everton.
Crawley Wasps 2 Chichester City 0
Crawley Wasps maintained their perfect record in all competitions this season with an SSE Women's FA Cup Second Round victory over higher division Chichester City at Worthing FC.
Two headed goals from corners gave Wasps a deserved half time advantage and they contained an improved Chichester second half display to record a historic win and secure a Third Round away tie with FAWNL Southern Division leaders Coventry United in the new year.
After early defensive uncertainty nearly presented Jade Widdows with a Chichester opener on 10 minutes, Crawley started to show their sting. Corners proved a constant threat to the Chichester goal with Rachel Palmer and Naomi Cole equally adept at delivering inswinging balls right at the point of maximum danger. Chichester managed to scramble away the first two with last ditch defending but this was to prove only temporary relief.
Chichester's Cherelle Khassal found the top of the bar with a dangerous cross on a breakaway but Cole set up a Crawley chance with a perfect through pass for Faye Rabson, only for the advancing Lauren Dolbear to make a fine save from her shot on 25 minutes.
It was Palmer's left foot corner which brought the opener on 37 minutes with Kemina Webber rising high to flick home with defenders unable to clear this time.
Five minutes later the advantage was doubled with Cole delivering from the opposite flank and Darcey James thumping home a header from close range.
Inbetween the two Crawley goals, Molly Clark fired a free kick just over from 20 yards but the away team had been second best for much of the half.
On the restart Crawley seemed more content to sit back and contain in a tight first quarter hour but even so, Sian Heather created the best effort on goal. well saved by Dolbear.
Chichester made personnel changes and found another gear in the final quarter of the match, spurred on by sub Gemma Simmonds' calm authority in midfield. The Southern Division side nearly found joy from Molly Clark corners, Frankie Gibbs making a fine save from one under her bar and a second leading to a header against a post by another sub Laura Ingram on 74 minutes. Khassal then tested Gibbs with a fine run and shot on 83 minutes as Chi fought hard to claw their way back.
However, Wasps always looked equally capable of adding to their lead, going close from another Palmer corner but the winners were not just about set pieces. The defence was very solid throughout, the midfield won most of the important battles, especially in the first hour of the match and the attackers never gave Chichester time and space to play comfortably from the back.
Crawley Wasps thus were able to celebrate reaching the Third Round of the FA Cup for the first time, with all to play for in a variety of competitions as a superb twelve months' achievement comes to a close.
Frankie Gibbs, Naomi Cole, Rachel Palmer, Niamh Stephenson, Darcey James, Charlotte Young, Jenny Drury, Megan Stow, Kemina Webber, Sian Heather, Faye Rabson. Subs: Lauren Graves, Ariana Fleischman, Ellie Russell, Suzanne Davies, Abbie Measures.
Lauren Dolbear, Lauren Cheshire, Tiff Taylor, Jade Widdows, Hollie Wride, Molly Clark, Cherelle Khassal, Tammy Waine, Lauren Clark, Jade Simmons, Becca Bell. Subs: Laura Ingram, Natasha Stephens, Sara Tubby, Becky Barron, Gemma Simmonds.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Naomi Cole battles with Jade Widdows
(middle) Hollie Wride slides in to tackle Faye Rabson
(bottom) Sian Heather in a chase with Laura Ingram
Birmingham City goalkeeper Hannah Hampton has penned professional terms with the club. She has signed a contract to the end of the 2019-20 season.
The England Under-19 international is considered one the game's brightest prospects and she has appeared in the first team this season, including last Sunday's WSL match against Manchester City.
"I'm really delighted to have signed," she said. "Since I came here at Under-16 it has been one of my dreams to sign professionally with the club."
The move by Blues has been in the pipeline for some time but came to fruition recently. "It was after the West Ham United game, after my birthday really. Marc Skinner said he was looking to give me a contract because I had earned it.
"So it was a really nice birthday present."
Hampton, who turned 18 last month, said she believed the application she has shown helped her secure the contract.
"I have just had to train the best I can (to get to this point). You are not going to train perfectly every single day. It's about your attitude and reaction to disappointment and stuff.
"And that was a problem for me to begin with, but I feel like I am improving, and the Club can see that.
"Training with Ann has improved me so much that I have become a better player and I feel that has also helped me to get to where I am."
The influence of Ann-Katrin Berger has undoubtedly aided Hampton's development. "She is a world class ‘keeper and to train with her day in, day out, you learn so much. And you see how she does her training and how you can take some of what she does and use it. Even the smallest details she picks up on and helps me."
Hampton said she still has ‘a lot to improve on' and by listening to and being helped and coached by Skinner and Tony Elliott, Blues Women Goalkeeper Coach, ‘they will help me be the best I can'.
"This level is the level I want to play at week in, week out," said Hampton, who began playing for Villarreal after the family moved to Spain and returned to join Stoke City Ladies, where Skinner drafted her in from. "I do feel comfortable in the WSL, once I had a few games.
"If Marc puts his faith in me I can't be scared to perform. I have to take the opportunity.
"He has been amazing. He has always said from day I joined the Club that if you train better you will play. He has always put his faith in youngsters; Connie Scofield when she was coming through, Shania Hayles and myself.
"He is not afraid to play the people who deserve a spot."
Hampton said her immediate aims were: "This season, getting more game time and experience and improving week in, week out. The consistency of performances.
"It would be nice if we could win some cups, win a league or progress into the Champions League. That would be amazing.
"The whole team are really dedicated to win something. Especially with Marc as Manager; we have not wanted anything as much as this season.
"In the long run I'd like to get myself as a number one ‘keeper in the WSL and to progress through the England age groups."
East Midlands League
Despite not having a game, Leicester City Women Development stay five points clear at the top of the Premier Division after second placed Oughtibridge WMSC were beaten 3-1 by Peterborough Utd. Donna McGuigan netted twice and Stacey McConville the other for Peterborough, who move to within two points of their opponents, whilst Kathryn Mudge scored a consolation for the home side. Ollerton Town have moved into the top five after late goals from Rachael Bell and Emma White gave them a 2-0 success away to Mansfield Town and Jemma Meakin and Jessica Waplington were on target for improving Rise Park in their 2-2 draw with Woodlands Ladies, who replied through Imogen Fowler and Jody Scott.
The top three were not in action in Division One North and Hykeham Town were unable to take advantage of this as they were beaten 2-0 by Ilkeston Town. Jade Eaglefield gave Ilkeston an eighth minute lead and Emily Edmonds wrapped up the win in the second half. Sleaford Town could also have gone third if they had avoided defeat but they went down to a 2-1 reverse at the hands of Retford Utd, Georgia Lewis scoring both goals to hand Retford their first win of the season. Arnold Town also won for the first time, 3-2 against Calverton MW thanks to a Kelly Clayton double and Abbey Hawkins.
Northampton Town extended their lead in Division One South to six points with a 4-0 victory away to Loughborough Foxes Vixens. All of the goals came during the second half, Emma Dunmore was on target twice along with Leah Stacey and Alex Bartlett. Bella Reed hit a hat-trick for Notts County as they beat Lutterworth Athletic 5-1, Nya Chambers and Leshea Francis accounting for the other goals.
Eastern Region League
Leaders Acle Utd went down to their third defeat of the season, 2-1 to third placed Cambridge City who made it eight league wins on the trot. Isabella Simmons and Lauren Tomlinson netted the goals for Cambridge, with Grace Birchall replying. Peterborough Northern Star moved to within three points of the leadership by beating AFC Sudbury 6-1, Emma Pollard leading the scoring with a hat-trick whilst Katie Steward (2) and Cassie Steward were also on target. Laura Nicholls netted twice and Hannah Waters the other as Wymondham Town won 3-2 away to Harlow Town and they stay one point ahead of Bedford Ladies who scored five without reply past AFC Dunstable, courtesy of a goal apiece from Priya Bhatti, Michelle Byrne, Gemma Franklin, Sophie Mulvihill and Maya Sidhu.
There was a change of leadership in Division One with Bowers & Pitsea taking over at the top for the first time, following their 3-2 victory away to Lawford which was secured by Taylor Parrish, Danielle Styles and an own goal. Previous leaders Stevenage Ladies Res were held to a 2-2 draw by Newmarket Town, Emily Schofield and Cara Breckenridge netting their goals and Brooke Wickens hitting a brace in reply. St Ives Town moved into third and are just two points off the pace after beating Histon 3-0 thanks to a Katie Stancombe double and Tierney Coulson. King's Lynn Town meanwhile scored five without reply past Hertford Town, Tiffany Forshaw netting twice along with Olivia Baker, Jodie Hopkins-Duckhouse and Oskana Imanalijeva.
London & South East League
Kent Football Utd continue to stretch the pace at the top after recording their seventh straight win, crushing Fulham FC Foundation 9-1. Rachel Stevens led the rout with a six-goal haul and she was joined on the scoresheet by Elizabeth Waldie, Amy Russ and Lucy Cockerill, with Chelcee Grimes netting the home side's consolation. Whyteleafe stay two points behind in second place, they won 4-0 against Aylesford with goals from Sacha Brinkley, Levi Chambers-Cook, Stephanie Mann and Abigail Igbavboa. Parkwood Rangers are off the bottom after winning for the first time this season, beating Eastbourne Town 2-0 thanks to Corrie Goodhew and Katie Jeffries.
North East League
Durham Cestria head the Premier Division by fifteen points after winning 2-0 away to Harrogate Town, Lauren Robson giving them a first half lead and Hannah Greenwood adding the second. Hartlepool Utd netted eleven times without reply past Castleford White Rose and this has taken them into second place. Lucy Hammond-Garrington bagged a hat-trick whilst Caitlin Bates, Jade Pye and Justine Robinson all contributed doubles and Lottie Portas and Alisha Smith were also on target. Tynedale defeated South Shields 2-1 and climbed above them into third, Rachel Maddison and Victoria Jayne were their markswomen. Rotherham Utd continued the revival by beating Wallsend Boys Club 1-0, Lucy Ridley scoring the only goal of the game.
Northern Division leaders Redcar Town did not have a game but stay three points clear at the top, Consett Ladies going second after defeating Boro Rangers 4-1 with goals from Amy Wharton (2), Nicola Price and Beth Wilson. Sunderland West End would have gone level on points with Redcar with a win away to Norton & Stockton Ancients Res but they were beaten 1-0, Victoria Burton netting the only goal. Washington Association follow on after their 4-2 success at St Cuthbert's Ladies in which Courtney Clark, Brittany James and Beth White all scored along with an own goal. Alnwick Town ran out 5-0 winners away to Cramlington Utd, Steph Stafford hitting a hat-trick and Brogan Dougal adding the other two.
Although we have not yet reached Christmas, Ossett Utd have already become the first women's team to win their respective league title this season, confirming themselves as Champions of the Southern Division after beating second placed Barnsley Development 5-0. Yasmin Ayub netted two of the goals with Chloe Denton, Debbie Hastings and Jenna Wraith also on target. Altofts Ladies kept themselves in the race for second place with a 3-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday. Sophie Allen, Laura Maskrey and Laura Pylypiuk netted the goals for Altofts, with Emma Otley replying.
North West League
Only one game managed to beat the weather on the weekend in the Premier Division, Shelley James hitting a hat-trick as Merseyrail Ladies picked up their second league victory of the season, 3-0 against fifth placed Wigan Athletic.
Blackpool strengthened their position at the top of Division One North, courtesy of a 4-0 victory over Burscough Dynamo. This result has stretched their lead to six points after two of their main rivals, Blackburn Community and Bury FC Women, battled out a 2-2 draw. Workington Reds meanwhile leapt out of the bottom three on the back of a 5-2 win against Leigh RMI.
One match also started in Division One South but unfortunately did not finish; injuries forcing the game between Chester FC Women and City of Liverpool to be abandoned with Chester ten goals in front at the time.
South West League
Keynsham Town Development took full advantage of their rivals not being action by beating Torquay Utd 8-2 to open up a lead of five points in the Premier Division. In the only match to be played, Libby Sims led the scoring for Keynsham with a four-goal haul and Rhianna Ben-Carew weighed in with a hat-trick, whilst Hannah Thompson rounded off the scoring. Niamh Farrell replied for Torquay along with an own goal.
The top of the table clash in the Eastern Division went the way of Wootton Bassett Town, who defeated Frampton Rangers 2-1 to replace them as leaders. All of the goals came during the first half, with Emily Arrell and Hayley Huckin netting for last season's runners-up to inflict a first defeat on Frampton, whose consolation came from Chloe Timbrell. Cheltenham Town Development have pushed inbetween them into second place after winning 2-0 against Almondsbury, Diana Toth and Emma Levett were on target. Swindon Town Development meanwhile lifted themselves into mid-table with a 3-0 victory over Oldland Abbotonians, which came courtesy of a Gipsy Viveash hat-trick.
Bideford have stepped up their challenge in the Western Division by winning 3-1 against Bude Town. Anna Beer, Leanne Cording and Rohana Little scored the goals for Bideford to take them to within four points of leaders Plymouth Argyle Development, with a game in hand. Clare Badham grabbed a consolation for Bude. The other game to beat the weather saw Feniton score five times without reply away to Weston-super-Mare to consolidate themselves in fifth. Brittany Harris and Cindy Johnson netted two goals apiece for the Devon side, with Megan Stone also on the scoresheet.
Southern Region League
AFC Bournemouth CST have returned to the top of the Premier Division after winning 3-0 away to Newbury Ladies. Kathryn Grall, Rosie Eden and Hannah Bennett scored the goals for the Cherries who lead the way on goal difference from Oxford City, who defeated Ascot Utd 4-2 thanks to Lauren May (2), Leah McConnell and Edie Stilwell-Garrett. Southampton FC Ladies, who did not play, follow on in third and now have a game in hand.
Kim Stenning and Paige Seeley scored the goals as Division One leaders Moneyfields won 2-0 away to Shanklin to maintain their lead of three points over second placed Wycombe Wanderers, who scored ten without reply past Basingstoke Town. Tara Woodward led the scoring for Wycombe with a hat-trick whilst Chloe Ball, Charlotte Bagshaw and Christina O'Connor all bagged braces, Olivia Hall adding the other goal. Eastleigh have continued their unbeaten start by winning 3-1 at Alton Ladies, Samantha Hide (2) and Emily Moore were on target. Hannah Holt netted twice, with Hannah Sheehan, Sian Blissett, Olivia Shaw and Millie Bilcliff accounting for the others as Wargrave Ladies notched up a 6-1 victory over Wokingham & Emmbrook.
New Milton Town are through to the quarter finals of the League Cup after narrowly beating Barton Rovers 3-2, courtesy of a goal apiece from Lucy Slater, Jasmin Tuck and Olivia Watts.
West Midlands League
Sutton Coldfield Town restored their lead of three points in the Premier Division on Sunday as they won 2-1 against Knowle and Coundon Court were beaten 4-2 by Crusaders. Redditch Utd moved up into fifth following their 1-0 victory over Lye Town.
Division One North leaders Leek Town did not play but they stay six points clear, with Shifnal Town moving into second after winning 7-0 away to Wyrley Ladies. They move above Stoke City Development who were unable to take an opportunity to halve the gap to three points when they were beaten 2-1 by Shrewsbury Town.
Sedgley & Gornal Utd were held to a 1-1 draw by Kingfisher and their lead at the top of Division One South has been trimmed to four points by Solihull Utd, who continued to narrow the gap with a 7-3 victory over Leamington Lions. Third placed Kidderminster Harriers got back to winning ways, edging out Stourbridge by the odd goal in five. Coventry City Women and Droitwich Spa met for the second week running and this time the spoils were shared as they finished level at 2-2, extending Droitwich's unbeaten run to six matches.
The remaining three Second Round ties were played over the weekend and a fourth team was knocked out by a lower division opponent.
Division One South East leaders Crawley Wasps won 2-0 against Southern Premier Division high fliers Chichester City, first half goals from Kemina Webber and Darcey James taking Crawley through to the Third Round for the first time, where they will travel to face Coventry Utd (see match report).
Watford were pushed all the way by Buckland Athletic but were able to book themselves a trip to Middlesbrough with a 1-0 victory against their plucky opponents from Devon. Katie O'Leary settled matters for Watford with the only goal of the game, with twenty minutes remaining.
The other tie went all the way to a penalty shootout, where Bolton Wanderers defeated West Bromwich Albion after the teams had battled out a 2-2 draw. Albion took the lead through Hattie James but two Safron Newhouse goals then turned the match around in Bolton's favour, until Laura Davies equalised to take the game into extra time. A winner could not be decided and it was Nicole Johnston who slotted home the winning penalty for Bolton, who now go to Cardiff City Ladies in the Third Round.
Blackburn Rovers are through to the quarter finals once again after beating former winners Sunderland 3-1.
Two late goals from Natasha Flint sealed the win for Rovers, adding to Saffron Jordan's earlier strike, with Emily Hutchinson replying for Sunderland.
Cardiff City Ladies' hopes of reaching the Final once again were brought to an end after they were beaten 4-3 after extra time by form team Loughborough Foxes. However, Cardiff had raced into a three-goal lead during the first half thanks to Grace Horrell, Kylie Nolan and Cori Williams, but after the break, Becky Matlock and Shauna Chambers brought the Foxes back into the game before Laura Dexter sent the game into extra time when she equalised two minutes from time. Rebecca Knight completed the comeback when she put Loughborough ahead for the first time and they held on to book their quarter final place.
Huddersfield Town powered into the last eight by running out 4-1 winners over Nottingham Forest. Lucy Sowerby gave Town a first half lead which was cancelled out on the stroke of half time by Katie Middleton. Brittany Sanderson put Huddersfield back in front early in the second half and Kate Mallin extended their lead on the hour, before Sowerby wrapped up the win with her second goal in injury time.
Stoke City got the better of Leeds Utd in a high scoring affair, beating their Division One North opponents 6-3. Katie Thompson gave Leeds a fifth minute lead, with Cassie Hyde equalising shortly afterwards, and Natasha Tezgel put Stoke in front for the first time in first half injury time. Faye McCoy and Hannah Keryakoplis extended that lead after the break and although Bethanie Davies bagged a brace to give Leeds renewed hope, Ashleigh Hayes and Amy Hughes added further goals to round off a good win for Stoke.
AFC Wimbledon are the only team from outside the top two divisions to reach the quarter finals so far after they defeated Cambridge Utd 2-1. Two goals in a three minute spell during the first half from Jenny Nagle and Caroline Bisson proved to be enough to take Wimbledon through, despite Emma Jenkins replying for Cambridge during the second half.
Middlesbrough were pushed all the way by Morecambe before eventually going through with a 3-2 victory after extra time.
Eleanor Dale grabbed the winning goal during the extra period for 'Boro to add to earlier strikes from Emma Foster and Tyler Dodds, whilst Morecambe replied through Melissa Brown and Emily Hutton.
Milton Keynes Dons were another team taken beyond 90 minutes by a lower division opponent, before eventually progressing with a 2-1 win against Bedworth Utd. Leah Cudone scored both goals for the Dons, whilst Jessica Lundie was on target for Bedworth.
Barnsley have been in excellent form in recent weeks and they swept into the quarter finals by scoring nine times without reply past The New Saints. Melissa Woodhouse and Darcie Green put them two ahead inside the opening ten minutes, with Annie Ward and Rebecca Hornsey adding further goals before half time. After the break, Woodhouse added two more to complete her hat-trick and Amy Woodruff contributed a brace, with Sophie Bell also getting on the scoresheet.
Keynsham Town continued their free scoring form as they defeated Maidenhead Utd 7-1. The Berkshire side did go ahead through Natalie Barnes but Keynsham hit back strongly, Justine Lorton netting twice and being joined on the scoresheet by Kerry Bartlett, Cristina Vega Leandro, Kirsten Rendall, Katie Jones and Laura Williams.
Liverpool Feds have done well in this competition in recent seasons and have reached the last eight again, thanks to a 1-0 victory over Chester-le-Street Town. The only goal of the game came early on; Demi Devereaux settled matters in the Feds' favour when she scored with just three minutes on the clock.
Gillingham booked their place in the quarter finals with a 5-0 win against Chesham Utd. Samantha Booker led the scoring for the Gills with a hat-trick and Breon Grant was also on target, with an own goal completing their tally.
One game went ahead in the division on Sunday, Doncaster Rovers Belles and Sheffield FC met each other in the old WSL 2 last season but have been forced to go down a level for this season and both are in the bottom three as they adjust to this level.
It was the Belles who triumphed 2-0, to take themselves level on points with Sheffield although they remain behind on goal difference. Belles captain Izzy Whittle has been having a very good season in front of goal and she spearheaded the win for her side by netting both, taking her league tally for the campaign to eight in the process.
Wolverhampton Wanderers have narrowed the gap on leaders West Bromwich Albion to three points with a 7-0 victory over Long Eaton Utd.
Jade Cross put them ahead in the opening minute with what turned out to be the only goal of the first half. Anna Morphet made it two from the penalty spot, early in the second half, Chloe Williams netted the third and Billie Haynes added a brace in quick succession. Cross then netted her second and Charlotte Criddle rounded off the scoring with seven minutes remaining.
Birmingham & West Midlands Ladies lifted themselves up to fourth by running out 4-0 winners away to Nettleham. Maimee Morris, Emily Painter and Steph Weston ensured that they were three goals up at half time, with Evangeline Gallop adding the fourth after the break.
Norwich City are in mid-table following their 4-1 victory against Luton Town, who remain at the foot of the table.
Aimee Durrant, Kathryn Stanley, Abbigail Tate and Rosie George were all on target for Norwich, with Luton's consolation coming from Amy Summerfield.
Southampton Women ran out 3-0 winners over Larkhall Athletic and this has taken them level on points with leaders Keynsham Town, ahead of their meeting this Sunday.
Emma Pinner netted two of the goals for Southampton, with Kellie Warren adding the other.
Cheltenham Town are four points behind the top two after battling out a 2-2 draw with fifth placed Brislington. All of the goals came during the first half, Anusia Rourke's early strike for Brislington being cancelled out by Sally Butterfield and after Georgia Brown had put Cheltenham ahead for the first time, Polly Wardle earned Brislington a share of the spoils when she equalised on the stroke of half time.
Sheffield Utd have gone to the top of Northern Division One after they defeated Bradford City 8-1 in the only match to be played in the division.
Chorley opened up a three point lead in Northern Division Two following their 5-1 victory away to Burnley FC Women. Michelle Saunders bagged a hat-trick with Abigail Fenton and Kadie Morrison adding the others, whilst Lynette Craig netted a consolation for the home side. Stacey Buxton was another hat-trick scorer, with Murron Alldread and Emma Pilling also on target as Brighouse Town edged out Leeds Utd 5-4 to replace them in third place.
Stoke City maintained their lead at the top of the Midland Division by beating Sporting Khalsa 4-1, Nuala Miszkiel netting twice along with Roisin Kivel and Jodie Foxhall. Leicester City Women remain hard on their heels in second place after they also won 4-1 against Burton Albion, courtesy of a goal apiece from Jade Benford, Shannon Henson, Imogen Hunt and Grace Lowe. Jessica Davies (2) and Seanna McCann-Lloyd were on the scoresheet as West Bromwich Albion defeated Loughborough Foxes 3-1, meanwhile Sarah Voce and Jasmine Keyworth were on target for Nottingham Forest in their 2-2 draw with Crewe Alexandra, who replied through Keane Harrison and Beth Coppin.
One match went ahead in the South/South East Division, Gillingham winning 3-1 away to third placed Millwall Lionesses thanks to Scarlett Kelly, Esmee Sword and Aileen Williams.
South/South West Division leaders Crystal Palace have opened up a lead of three points after a Charmaine True hat-trick, Mia Lockett and Beau Parker gave them a 5-0 victory at Southampton Women. Hayley Bridge led the scoring with a hat-trick as Lewes defeated Denham Utd 8-0, Ella Newman adding a brace along with Sienna Howell, Kellie Larkin and Skye Bacon. Lauren Jordinson scored for Queen's Park Rangers in their 1-1 draw with Chichester City, whose goal came from Francesca Webster.
League leaders Arsenal were the odd team out on Sunday and without a game, giving Manchester City a chance to go level on points with them with a win.
That opportunity was against third placed Birmingham but was never going to be an easy one, although they took the lead after 12 minutes when Georgia Stanway dispossessed Blues goalkeeper Hannah Hampton and rolled into the empty net from an acute angle. City were on top for the rest of the half and Hampton redeemed herself with a fine save from an Abbie McManus volley but as the game wore on, Birmingham became more of an attacking force as they sought an equaliser. Lucy Staniforth hit the bar and Lucy Quinn brought out a good save from Ellie Roebuck but City saw the game out for a 1-0 win to catch Arsenal going into the break, having played one more match, and Birmingham are five points behind.
Defeat for Birmingham means that Chelsea have moved up to third, thanks to a 4-0 victory away to Brighton & Hove Albion. Despite Ji So-Yun hitting the woodwork early on, Brighton started the game well in what turned out to be a goalless first half. Ellie Brazil almost put the Seagulls in front when her shot struck the post but midway through the second half, Chelsea did take the lead when Magdalena Eriksson scored from a Karen Carney free kick. Beth England headed in a second minutes later and Ji drilled home a low shot to put them further ahead. England completed the scoring with her second, to put the seal on a fifth straight win and ninth clean sheet in a row in all competitions.
Reading FC Women and Liverpool fought out an entertaining 2-2 draw in which the Royals twice had to come from behind for a share of the spoils. Courtney Sweetman-Kirk gave the Reds a tenth minute lead with a neat finish and they stayed in front until just after the hour, when Fara Williams equalised via a free kick. Six minutes later, Sweetman-Kirk headed in her second from a Jess Clarke cross to restore Liverpool's advantage but Williams was to have the final say, salvaging a point for her side by curling home a delightful 30-yard strike.
West Ham Utd may well be disappointed at having to take a break after keeping up their fine run of form by beating Yeovil Town 5-0. Alisha Lehmann netted twice during the first half, with Julia Simic adding a third ahead of the interval. Brianna Visalli increased the Hammers' lead early in the second half and Simic rounded off a great performance from her side when she fired home the final goal.
Bristol City claimed their third away win of the campaign, a 2-0 success against Everton. The first half was goalless but midway through the second, City took the lead in spectacular fashion when Lucy Graham's deep cross was met by a superb volley from Ella Rutherford. Everton pressed hard late on for an equaliser but a fine individual effort in injury time from Katie Rood sealed a very good result for her side.
Durham Women have opened up the title race in the FA Women's Championship after winning 3-1 against leaders Manchester Utd on Sunday.
The teams had met a few days earlier in the Continental Tyres Cup, with United 1-0 victors on that occasion, but this time it was Durham who got off to a good start with Becky Salicki putting them in front at the midpoint of the first half. United hit back from going behind in the league for the first time this season and their efforts were rewarded three minutes before half time when Ella Toone hooked in the equaliser. On the hour mark, the Wildcats regained their lead from the penalty spot, Beth Hepple slotting home after Mollie Green had been penalised for handball. They went on to seal the win three minutes from time, a counter attack being finished off by Zoe Ness for a result which takes them to within one point of Casey Stoney's side.
United stay on top on goal difference but they have been caught by Charlton Athletic, who were 2-0 winners away to Lewes. Both teams had opportunities in the first half but five minutes before the break, the Addicks went in front when Lily Agg crossed for Elizabeta Ejupi to score from close range. Ellie Balies hit the post after the break as Charlton continued to look the likelier side to find the net and they did so with just over twenty minutes remaining via a powerful strike from Agg.
Just a single point now covers the top four teams in the table and this includes Tottenham Hotspur, who got back to winning ways with a 1-0 success against Crystal Palace. Leading scorer Rianna Dean netted the only goal after being set up by Ashleigh Neville to get Spurs' challenge back on track after two straight defeats.
London Bees go into the break in great form, clinching their fourth straight win when coming from behind to beat Leicester City 2-1. Libby Smith hit the bar for Leicester early on but they took the lead when Melissa Johnson scored from Sophie Domingo's through ball. After the break, the Bees came into the game and levelled the scores, thanks to a brilliant long range strike from Emma Beckett. Katie Wilkinson completed the comeback by putting them in front with twenty minutes remaining and the Bees held on for a win which takes them above Leicester and into fifth place.
Aston Villa notched up their best result of the season so far, winning 5-1 against Sheffield Utd. Two goals in the five minute period leading up to half time from Jodie Hutton and Sophie Haywood put Villa in command and after Sophie Jones had reduced the arrears from the penalty spot early in the second half, Hutton quickly restored the two-goal advantage and she went on to complete her hat-trick with seventeen minutes remaining. Tanisha Smith rounded off the win for Villa late on when she headed in her first senior goal.
The last round of matches before the Christmas and New Year break were played on Sunday, and have left Cardiff Met Women in a strong position at the top of the Orchard Welsh Premier Women's League.
Met travelled north to take on Rhyl Ladies and won 5-2 to extend their lead at the top of the table to six points. Madison Schupbach gave them the lead after three minutes and Olivia Thompson quickly added a second, before Caroline Gardner pulled one back for the home side just after the half hour. Robyn Pinder made it three for the Archers, early in the second half, with Rhyl hitting back once again five minutes later through Laura Williams. Schupbach increased the lead from the penalty spot and she completed her hat-trick with ten minutes remaining, to leave Met in a very strong position before the league resumes again next month.
With Abergavenny Women not having a game, second place was on offer for the winners of the match between Cardiff City Women and Swansea City, and it was the Swans who triumphed 2-0. Sophie Hancocks put them in front in the ninth minute and Emma Beynon clinched the points with the second goal, six minutes from time.
Port Talbot Town go into the break in fourth place after running out 5-0 winners over Briton Ferry Llansawel. Laura May Walkley opened the scoring midway throuhg the first half, with Lauren Amor adding a second five minutes later. Walkley netted her second after the hour and two late goals from Courtney Thomas and Jessica Denscombe crowned the win for Port Talbot.
There were plenty of goals on offer at Cyncoed Ladies and it was visitors Llandudno Ladies who went home with the points and a 5-3 victory. Fflur Williams netted twice inside the opening fourteen minutes to give Llandudno a flying start, with Caitlin Bevan pulling one back for the home side. Mari Gibbard then made it three and although Bevan scored a second just before half time, Gibbard restored the two-goal advantage going into the interval. Hayley Hoare renewed hopes for the Mighty Oaks early in the second half but with ten minutes to go, Kelsey Davies netted a decisive fifth to sew up a third win in four league matches for Llandudno.
For the second major Finals in a row, England and Scotland will meet after they were drawn in the same group for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup Finals in France.
Japan, runners-up last time around, and Argentina complete the line up in a tough looking group for both nations as England will look to improve on finishing in third place in 2015, whilst Scotland take part in the Finals for the very first time.
As in the Euro 2017 Finals in the Netherlands, the Auld Enemy will come face to face in their opening match in Nice on Sunday 9th June, with their next matches coming five days later as England play Argentina in Le Havre and Scotland take on Japan in Rennes. The final group matches take place on Wednesday 19th June, England facing Japan in a repeat of the semi finals four years earlier, again in Nice, whilst Scotland will play Argentina at the same time at the Parc des Princes in Paris.
The tournament kicks off on 7th June, with the Final being played exactly one month later on Sunday 7th July in Nyon.
England Head Coach Phil Neville told TheFA.com: "It's a fine looking group we've got. We've got three teams that will compete against each other in a fabulous way.
"I think the Scotland game will get the most interest - and rightly so - because of the rivalry, which I think is something we all should enjoy and embrace. It shows how far the women's game has come."
Scotland Head Coach Shelley Kerr told www.scottishfa.co,uk: "The one thing we can't afford to do is get caught up in the England game. We can't allow that to distract ourselves because we need to make sure we prepare for all three games.
"I don't think it favours anyone because when you're involved all you want to do is concentrate and prepare as best you can. But it is what it is and unfortunately it probably will be a circus.
"I think there were other groups in there I would have favoured. But I think we should be aiming to get out the group even though we know it's going to be tough.
"England have come out and said they want to win the World Cup so getting Scotland in their first game, they wouldn't have liked that either. As the higher ranked team, they're going to be under pressure.
"As a coach I'll be looking forward to the Japan game. Over the years Japan have been a formidable force and technically and tactically are a phenomenal side.
"We will have to be at our best in all three games if we're going to have a chance of getting out of the group. I'm not going to predict anything but we will set a target and stick to it. We will have to be at our best in all three games."
Alex Scott, who appeared for England at three World Cups, conducted the draw alongside former France international Louis Saha. USA legend Carli Lloyd and Didier Deschamps, who led France to men's World Cup glory in the summer, were also in attendance.
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