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Brentford 2 Comets 3
Comets edged out Brentford in their Capital Intermediate Cup Quarter Final with a fine second half display at Bedfont Sports Club.
Twice trailing to the hosts, Comets turned the tie with two late strikes to win by three goals to two. After a momentous few weeks throughout Brentford Football Club, this was a disappointing end to the season but Comets showed great resilience and clinical finishing to progress to the semi finals.
The teams cancelled each other out for the opening third of the match with defences dominating and efforts on goal at a premium. Bees keeper Emily Boycott was twice quick off her line to save from Diede Fennema and Brentford's Rebekah Wiltshire twice went close from Shannon Read's corners on 32 minutes.
It was Kaitlyn Spencer-Dempsey who opened the scoring on 39 minutes finishing coolly after Comets keeper Siobhan Lavelle had blocked an initial effort.
The hosts nearly added to their lead early in the second half as they frequently threatened down the left. However, Comets adopted a more direct approach on the hour with three attackers and this was to pay big dividends.
The warning signs were there as Christina Stewart, Michelle Keating and Fennema all went close before the latter broke clear to equalize on 69 minutes. Brentford struck back straight away with a penalty converted by Spencer-Dempsey and it seemed that they had the match in hand.
However, on 83 minutes, a Courtney Bell corner led to a scramble and Jennifer Stuart reacted well to fire home through a crowded goalmouth. Worse was to follow for the Bees as skipper Bell added Comets' third via a long range free kick two minutes later.
Comets saw out the match with no real alarms to reach the semi finals. Long time Greater London League members with several honours to their name, Comets have a chance to add Capital Cup glory in the coming weeks. Brentford will move up to Regional League competition in season 2021-22 after having their promotion confirmed.
Brentford: Emily Boycott, Nicole Goolab, Regan Graver, Amber Langston-Lloyd, Chloe Webb, Mollie Holmes, Sophie Troth, Jodie Reid, Nadia Peters, Jessica Stickley, Kaitlyn Spencer-Dempsey. Subs: Daisy Baranowski, Shannon Read, Gemma Goodwin, Rebekah Wiltshire, Caitlin Furniss-Roe.
Comets: Siobhan Lavelle, Janine L'Heureux, Ellie Crossley, Christina Sofianos, Kariel Parian, Molly Hrudka, Jennifer Stuart, Courtney Bell, Rachel Soares, Christina Stuart, Michelle Keating. Subs: Diede Fennema, Whitney Duvall, Joanna Rota.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Molly Hrudka battles with Jodie Reid;
(middle) Jennifer Stuart tries to win the ball from Sophie Troth;
(bottom) Ellie Crossley clears away from Kaitlyn Spencer Dempsey;
Sheffield United are delighted to announce the signing of former England forward Jess Clarke from Liverpool.
The 32-year-old spent four years on Merseyside where she continued what has been a glittering career to date, now committing herself to the Blades for the new season.
A tricky winger with the ability to both score and create, Clarke has found the net 31 times during her years in the FA Women's Super League, and played and scored in the FA Cup final for Leeds United as a youngster back in 2008.
Clarke spent seven seasons with Lincoln City and Notts County where became one of the league's best wingers and her England career also took off, with Clarke going on to make 52 appearances for the senior national team, scoring 11 goals, including a strike against the USA and a goal at the 2011 World Cup against New Zealand.
With an array of top level experience and talent, Clarke comes to the Blades from FA Women's Championship rivals and is looking forward to embarking on a new chapter in her career:
"I'm really excited, I'm really positive, but more importantly I'm feeling grateful too. I think initially from having the conversation with Redders I knew this is the right environment from me and I'm just really excited to join the journey.
"If you look at the team from a distance, they've always competed and that for me was very desirable. The way they play through the third, they were always scoring goals and it's credit to Redders how he's implemented his way of playing on the pitch."
Head coach Neil Redfearn is also delighted to add yet another player with international experience to his ranks after the signing of defender Sophie Bradley-Auckland.
"It's a great signing for us. Jess has got great pedigree if you look at the level she's played at. An international footballer, scored goals at the highest level, we're trying to evolve as a group and add players who give us a little bit of an edge on what we had and Jess is one of those without a doubt."
The team is managed by Mark Dugan and Lynsey Crewe is captain, whilst Laura Streeter is leading scorer with 11 goals to her name, whilst young star Ella Wilson has added a further ten.
In terms of the season, it's been a whirlwind time for the ladies with some great preseason signings and games having just reformed!" Manager Mark Dugan explained to Women's Soccer Scene, "and then like all of us, Covid-19 hit us.
"From a difficult start, with a tight 1-0 victory over Basingstoke Town, we'd progressed well with a massive 5-0 away win at a very good Liphook United side. Then covid hit again and we had to reset and again managed to beat second placed AFC Varsity 3-1 at The Crest Stadium.
"The title was won without us playing after Basingstoke went to Varsity and won... meaning our celebrations have been muted until now!! but we sure celebrated after Sunday."
The match on Sunday, the return meeting with Basingstoke, ended in a 2-2 draw, which meant that AFC Portchester were unable to finish the season with a 100% record, but with a comfortable seven point margin over their nearest rivals, AFC Varsity and Liphook United.
"Within the squad we have ladies of all ages, some reaching the end of the careers and some just starting," added Dugan. "This season we've had four of our U18s featuring regularly, which is great for the pathway I've tried to create within the club this last 3/4 seasons.
"In terms of people behind the scenes, we need to thank people such as the chairman Paul Kelly at the club for backing us, providing us with first class facilities and matchday pitch. Great coaching staff such as Gemma Stollery who was with me for four seasons before going to sea with the Royal Navy, assistant manager Steve Weston for all the hard work off field, session planning and of course Match day.
"In terms of the future and measuring ourselves to date, we reached the semi final of the PDFA Cup before being heavily defeated by Portsmouth, some six divisions above us. So plenty of work to be done and to aspire to, but with nearly 400 people watching the match, which was a great experience for the group."
AFC Portchester squad: Ellen Arthur, Freya Bowie, Ava Colbourne, Lynsey Crewe, Tara-Jayne Hewitt, Samantha Jennings, Zoe Jessey, Sarah Kelsall, Bella Longyear, Kayleigh Merrett, Lysette Merrett, Michelle Niven, Amy Piper, Roxy Roberts, Chantelle Robinson, Laura Streeter, Anna Thomson, Kate Wilby, Ella Wilson, Shannon Woods.
A female-only coaching course run by the Irish FA Foundation and the association's coach education department has attracted 25 participants from 15 clubs in the Belfast area.
The theory elements of the National Coaching Certificate course had to be delivered online earlier this year due to Covid restrictions.
But the coaches leading the course - Irish FA Foundation Girls' Participation Officer Clare Carson and Irish FA Foundation Education Officers Diarmuid McNeice and Gareth Allen - have now managed to complete the practical elements of the course on the pitch.
Pitch-based sessions and assessments have been taking place over the past few weekends at Brook Leisure Centre in Dunmurry.
Clare Carson explained: "Having the opportunity to deliver courses, in partnership with SCBI (Stadium Community Benefits Initiative) and Belfast City Council, for females/coaches that work specifically within women's/girls' clubs is fantastic.
"A lot of female coaches find it more relaxing and it is a great opportunity to create a learning environment where they can grow their confidence.
"We see so many starting out and needing the hands-on support and help to just believe in themselves and by the end of the course they feel so much more comfortable and competent in facilitating coaching sessions."
Last year the National Coaching Certificate replaced what was the Irish FA Level 1 course.
It aims to develop coaches within the grassroots game, focusing on facilitating and organising coaching sessions and learning the key fundamentals of coaching in football as well as about health and safety, safeguarding, first aid and nutrition.
The coaching award is split into two modules: coaching children and young people (5-12) under the supervision of a more qualified coach in the grassroots game in Northern Ireland; facilitating coaching sessions and supporting a more qualified coach within the coaching of adults in the grassroots game. And it's aimed at anyone aged over 16.
Clare Carson added: "The NCC provides the female coaches with the tools to be able to deal with situations that occur when coaching.
"We try to guide and support them throughout the learning environment of the NCC, while after care is also important and we provide support for the new coaches if and when it is needed. Within my role it is important to help coaches' development and to improve our women's and girls' clubs, and we see the value in providing courses that are specifically delivered for coaches in the female game."
The Irish FA Foundation is hoping to run more female-only NCC courses this summer, while a female-only C Diploma course is being held in November. The UEFA-accredited C Diploma course prepares coaches for small sided games, looking at principles of play in 5v5, 7v7 and 9v9 formats.
Weston Mendip FC are recruiting new players for both their Under-16s and Senior Women's First and Reserve teams.
The largest independent Women's only club in the South West of England are looking to bolster their squads with goals set on promotion for both senior teams and a strong finish to youth football in preparation for the transition to senior football.
The first team currently play in the Northern Division of the South West Women's Regional League, whilst the reserves compete in the Somerset County Women's League.
Trials will be held at St Johns Park, Weston-super-Mare, the home of Weston Mendip, on Thursday 16th June at 7pm and all interested parties are welcome to register by contacting (07779) 970901.
The National Lottery will host a send off game for the GB Women's Football squad against Zambia at Stoke City's stadium on Thursday 1st July [kick off: 7.15pm].
A limited number of tickets for the match will go on sale to fans from 11am this Friday 11th June [tickets.stokecityfc.com]. This will be fans' only chance to watch the GB Football squad compete on home soil before they head out to Tokyo to represent Team GB.
Zambia qualified for their first Women's Olympic Football Tournament following a 4-4 draw with Cameroon, which saw them earn qualification on the away goals rule. The continent's only qualifying team for Tokyo 2020, Zambia have been drawn in Group F and will face Sarina Wiegman's Netherlands on 21st July in their first match of the Games.
This is only the second time that Team GB have entered a women's football team since the introduction of the event to the Olympic schedule in 1996.
Team GB fielded a football squad for the first time in the London 2012 Olympic Games. The team reached the quarter finals, with the United States the eventual winners after beating this summer's hosts Japan 2-1 to win gold for a third consecutive time.
Olympic champion Hege Riise will lead the squad at this summer's Games. During her illustrious playing career, Riise won gold with Norway at the 2000 Games.
Great Britain, who have been drawn in Group E, will face Chile in the opening game of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Sapporo on 21st July, followed by hosts Japan on 24th July before travelling to Kashima to take on Canada on 27th July.
The National Lottery is backing GB women's football at Tokyo 2020 by providing crucial support as players from across the four home nations come together with the ambition of striking gold. As well as ensuring the British public get a rare chance to see a GB team compete on home soil by making this international possible, The National Lottery is also providing for training camps and the squad's travel and logistics needs.
Speaking of the send-off fixture, head coach Hege Riise said: "I'm delighted that we have secured a match on home soil which allows fans to watch us play before we depart for Tokyo.
"It has been a long time since supporters have had the opportunity to watch any of the home nations play, and the chance to see our GB squad compete before the Games is a rare occasion indeed.
"We are so excited to see what we can achieve out in Tokyo and we'll go out there aiming to win. But we also aim to inspire young female footballers from across Great Britain to take up the support and further grow the game.
"We are honoured to welcome Zambia to Great Britain for this match. They have excelled in securing qualification for the Olympics and their achievement and the legacy they will provide will also help grow the women's game in Zambia.
"On behalf of our entire squad I'd like to thank National Lottery players for making it possible not only for us to host this match but to prepare us in the best possible way to compete for gold in Tokyo."
Fans can purchase tickets for the send-off game from 11am on Friday 11th June by visiting:
tickets.stokecityfc.com. Adults: £15, Children (17 and under): £2.50, Concessions: £5. The match will also be broadcast on BBC Four.
The club was founded in 2019 by manager Sammy Watson and enjoyed a short first season in the Dorset Women's League that was eventually cut short due to Covid, before moving to Holt United in June 2020, where they have since gone from strength to strength.
"We opened the season with an extremely difficult tie against early favourites Weymouth Women FC," manager Sammy Watson told Women's Soccer Scene, "however our spirit and class shone through as we recorded the league result of the year, beating them 10-2.
"This gave us a huge platform upon which to progress, ending the season as Champions and with a 100% faultless record, as well as boasting three of the league's top goal scorers in Baines, Maidment and Mountain."
Holt followed up the Weymouth result with a 6-0 win against Merley Cobham Sports in their second game, and then beating Broadstone before play was halted.
When the league resumed, a vital 2-1 victory over Poole Town Res put them in the driving seat in the title race. The following week they won 3-0 at third placed Redlands Rebels and went on to win all of their remaining games.
The team's founder, Sammy Watson, continues to manage the side with Sophie Parsons as captain and Gemma Mountain as top goalscorer, with 125 league goals to her name.
"A special mention to Kayleigh Whiting who has been an absolute rock at centre back and has had an exceptional season, leading by example," added Watson.
"Alongside our league success, we have reached the final of the Dorset Women's Cup for the first time, beating current holders and South West side Sherborne Town in a giant killing along the way. We are due to play Poole Town Ladies of the National League who are three divisions above us in the final in June."
Holt United squad: Katie Baines, Charlie Benefer, Alex Brown, Kirby Clift, Alisha Hemming-Stevens, Stephanie Herbert, Katie Hooper, Lisa King, Nicola Maidment, Gemma Mountain, Danielle Ormesher, Sophie Parsons, Katie Paul, Chloe Pudney, Rebecca Robson, Emily Salusbury, Samantha Shingler, Verity Spencer, Sarah Watson, Kayleigh Whiting.
The SWPL2 season made a welcome return to action on Sunday, and runaway leaders Aberdeen picked up where they had left off with a 7-0 victory over Stirling University.
An own goal opened up the scoring with four minutes on the clock and Aberdeen were in rampant form ahead of half time, as an Eva Thomson double, Bailley Collins, Bayley Hutchison and Francesca Qgilvie put them six ahead at the break. Jenna Penman completed the tally during the second half to take her side eight points clear at the top of the table.
Hamilton Academical have moved up to second place on goal difference after beating Queens Park 5-0. Megan Quigley and Josephine Giard put the Accies two ahead at half time, before they added further goals after the interval from Kathleen McGovern, Giard and Ellie Kane.
A 3-1 win against Boroughmuir Thistle has taken Partick Thistle into third, level on points with Hamilton. Clare Docherty, Cheryl McCulloch and Colette Fleming were all on target for Partick, before Boroughmuir grabbed a late consolation through Beth MacLeod.
Dundee Utd had started the day in the top two but have slipped back a couple of place following their 2-2 draw against Kilmarnock. All of the goals were scored during the first half, Killie twice taking the lead through goals from Alex Middleton, with United hitting back on each occasion with equalisers from Danni McGinley and Robyn Smith.
Glasgow Women have leapfrogged St Johnstone in the table and into the top half after winning their meeting 3-1. Rachel Todd gave St Johnstone the lead midway through the first half but after the break, Glasgow hit back to take the points thanks to a hat-trick from Rosie McQuillan.
Glasgow City are celebrating their fourteenth title in a row after they defeated Rangers 2-0 to make sure of winning the Scottish Women's Premier League.
Scott Booth's side went into the last game of the season needing to avoid defeat in order to be crowned as Champions once again and got off to the start they wanted when Hayley Lauder drilled home an angled shot to give them a thirteenth minute lead. Niamh Farrelly then headed in the second from a free kick just after the half hour to set City on their way to a strong win on the day and seal what may well be their most impressive title success to date.
Celtic did all they could as they scored eight times without reply against Motherwell but had to settle for the runners-up, which brings the prize of a place in next season's UEFA Women's Champions League. Chloe Craig and Sarah Ewens put the Hoops two ahead inside the opening ten minutes, Craig having fired home a spectacular strike from 30 yards, and after Anna Filbey had made it three, Craig netted her second and London Pollard also got on the scoresheet before half time. Celtic did not let up after the break and Filbey completed her double, before Kelly Clark and Lisa Robertson rounded off the scoring.
Hibernian meanwhile ran out 7-0 winners over Forfar Farmington and this was enough to see them end the season with a top half finish. Amy Gallacher and Eilidh Adams put two goals ahead at the interval and in the second half, Ellis Notley and Siobhan Hunter scored in quick succession just ahead of the hour, before Hibs went on to add further goals through Carla Boyce, Rosie Livingstone and Kirsty Morrison.
The victory means that Hibernian finish on goal difference above Spartans who shared a 1-1 draw with Hearts. Both goals came late on in the game, Murron Cunningham giving Hearts the lead from the penalty spot but they were denied their third win of the campaign when Rebecca Galbraith equalised with an injury time header.
Although they weren't confirmed as Champions until winning their penultimate league game of the season, they head the table by a huge fifteen point margin having been beaten only once in their sixteen matches.
Alder opened up the season with a 6-1 victory over MSB Woolton, before two narrow wins in high scoring matches. The next two games were drawn but three victories put them in a strong position when the league took an enforced break for nearly four months.
When play resumed, Alder suffered what was to be their only defeat to Tranmere Rovers Res, but they bounced back strongly from the setback. Alder went on a six match winning run which took them to the title, which included their return meeting with Tranmere and a 2-1 victory against Southport FC Women which confirmed them as Champions.
The last match of the season saw Alder draw 2-2 with Ashton Town, endign the run of six straight wins, but left them well ahead of BRNESC Ladies and Tranmere Rovers Res, who are second and third respectively.
Alder are managed by Jolene Murray, with Ellie Moss as club captain and Lauren Barrett and Olivia Eillison in the role of vice captains. Laura Loftus is the team's top goalscorer.
"A big win was away vs Tranmere, where winning the match 2-1 meant we only have to win another game to clinch the title, " manager Jolene Murray told Women's Soccer Scene.
"We were unfortunate last season when Covid prevented us from winning the league so it was all the better to clinch it this season. Most of the girls have never won a league before so it was a really great experience for women at grassroots level.
"We are just awaiting a decision on whether we are able to go up into the North West Women's Regional League and hoping for the south division."
Alder FC Women squad: Lauren Barrett, Megan Brodie, Lauren Brown, Megan Cureton, Kayleigh Davies, Madison Donovan, Olivia Ellison, Megan Franks, Amy Friel, Amy Horne, Lydia Jones, Laura Loftus, Lynsey Longhurst, Kaitlin Lysaght, Beth McHale, Georgia Mills, Ellie Moss, Jolene Murray, Libbie-Mae Nelson, Jennifer Noone, Millie Slater, Emily Swindells, Nadia Trampnow, Paige Whitehead.
After another interrupted season, Bob Wilkinson has decided to step down as Ladies First Team Manager at Harrogate Town.
Wilkinson had led Harrogate to the Premier Division of the North East Regional League and they had started the season well before it was halted, having picked up seven points from their opening four games.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with Harrogate Town and whilst it has certainly been an unprecedented and strange season it has been an absolute pleasure to watch the players continue to develop and achieve on the pitch" Wilkinson stated.
Harrogate issued a statement saying: "As a club we would like to thank Bob Wilkinson for the contribution he has made over a difficult season with the ladies first team. We wish him every success in the future."
Swansea City Women have had a magnificent week and on Sunday, they picked up the point they needed to seal the Orchard Welsh Premier Women's League title to add to their League Cup success four days earlier.
We talked to Swansea defender Ria Hughes, who spoke of her pride at lifting the league title and is relishing the chance to play in the UEFA Women's Champions League once again next season:
WSS: Many congratulations on winning the league title, how does it feel to be Champions of Wales once again?
RH: I am extremely proud to be apart of Swansea City Ladies and to be champions of Wales. It has been a tough season for us but we are a strong team and always power through until the end.
WSS: To win the league with an unbeaten record and conceding just one goal all season is a phenomenal achievement, one which the team is really proud of?
RH: We work hard in our units and as a whole. To only concede one goal all season is amazing, we strive to concede as little as possible.
WSS: That said, it must have been frustrating game against Abergavenny on Sunday, coming up against a determined side and an inspired goalkeeper, were you always confident it would be your day though?
RH: We have played a lot of games in a short period of time and we knew Abergavenny were going to come at us and give us a good game. As a team you have to be confident going into any game and games like Sunday are what we play for!
WSS: This success comes on the back of your League Cup win last week, when you needed to come from behind against Cardiff, how pleased were you on the night with a really strong second half display?
RH: Going one nil down can knock a team's confidence and they can become defeated easily, but our second half performance showed what a team we are and what we can do. We rolled up our sleeves and played the Swansea way.
WSS: Have there been any players, or people off the pitch, who have played an important but unsung part in the team's success this season?
RH: I believe everyone in the club has played an important part this season. The background staff have been working tirelessly and us as players knew what we had to do to win the league cup and the season.
WSS: Winning the title will of course mean you qualify for the UEFA Women's Champions League next season. How much are you looking forward to having another crack at European football?
RH: It's always exciting to be able to play in the UEFA Women's Champions League. Getting the opportunity to experience and play against women in Europe is something girls dream of doing and we are fortunate to be able to be able to do it again.
Our thanks to Ria!
Photo - Will Cheshire
Northern Ireland senior women's team manager Kenny Shiels has named a 22-strong squad for next week's friendly against Scotland.
His panel is the usual blend of youth and experience and features one newcomer, young Cliftonville Ladies midfielder Fi Morgan, who makes the step up from the U19s having played for the U17s previously.
Returning to the panel after not featuring in the last squad are Lisburn Rangers defender Ella Haughey, Glentoran Women forwards Casey Howe and Lauren Wade plus Glentoran Women midfielder Joely Andrews.
Experienced defender Ashley Hutton is not available for the camp after rupturing an anterior cruciate ligament in her knee while playing for Linfield Ladies last week, while Everton striker Simone Magill is also unavailable.
Shiels is still without a handful of players who are recovering from long term injuries, including Rachel Furness, Demi Vance, Megan Bell, Caragh Hamilton and Abbie Magee.
The challenge match against Scotland is being staged at Seaview next Thursday (10 June) with a 7pm kick off. The game will be played in front of supporters.
The camp and game marks the start of preparations for Northern Ireland's FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 qualification campaign, which begins with two home games in September.
Scotland are currently ranked 23rd in the world, while Northern Ireland are 48th, although they are expected to rise up the FIFA listings given their Women's Euro 2022 play-off success against Ukraine in April.
Northern Ireland's opening encounter in six-team Group D in the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 qualifiers will be a home game against Luxembourg on 17 September, followed by another home match against Latvia on 21 September.
Northern Ireland squad:
Stockwood were involved in a two-horse race throughout the campaign with Bishop's Lydeard Development, with both of their meetings finishing in draws. They started the season with big victories against Pen Mill Res and Porlock and after sharing four goals with Bishop's Lydeard, two more wins took them into pole position when the season was halted.
When play was due to restart, it was decided that Divisions Two and Three in the Somerset League would continue playing and conclude their seasons, but Division One would finish without being completed.
On resumption, Stockwood played their return match with Bishop's Lydeard in the first game and the resulting 1-1 draw left them needing to win their last two games in order to secure the title. They duly achieved this with emphatic victories over Pen Mill Res and Wellington, to see them finish on top by a margin of two points.
Stockwood Wanderers are managed by Ricky Brumpton, with Declan Long and Chris Gannon as his assistants. The team is captained by Emily Stephens and Grace Phillips as their leading scorer with 15 goals.
"Aleana Brumpton has been the core of Stockwood Women," manager Ricky Brumpton told Women's Soccer Scene. "Off the pitch, Aleana has been instrumental throughout the season, taking on all the paperwork side of the game, making sure players are signed on, kits are ready and all the bits inbetween. Without her, games simply don't happen. Thank you Aleana for your time and dedication.
"Mel Wilkinson is not only a player but a great assist to Stockwood this year. On and off the field, Mel puts in time to volunteer to help with the youth teams, being a great role model for the younger teams to look up to and has been integral in getting them involved within the women's team, which has seen three debutantes aged 16 from the youth team play along the women. This is vital to a growing women's team."
Stockwood Wanderers squad: Shantiye Baldwin, Karla Belsten, Christie Betts, Rosie Bostock, Sammy Cheeseman, Kelly Dadds, Rebecca Dando, Chloe Fuller, Supryia Kaur, Daisy Pearce-Lyons, Grace Phillips, Louise Robbins, Jasmine Rogers, Anita Sandhu, Emily Stephens, Ashley Taylor, Leah Taylor, Mel Wilkinson, Makenzie Wotton.
Sheffield United are delighted to confirm that Maddy Cusack and Rhema Lord-Mears have signed new deals at the club and will remain Blades for the 2021-22 season.
Cusack (pictured) is embarking on her fourth season at the club after joining halfway through the 2018-19 campaign and celebrated making her 50th appearance as a Blade towards the end of the current season.
The midfielder has been a constant presence during her two-and-a-half years at the club and ended the latest campaign as the team's joint most creative player with six assists alongside January addition Bex Rayner.
A tireless work ethic in her box-to-box midfield role, Cusack has become a pivotal member of Neil Redfearn's starting eleven and the Blades head coach is delighted another member of his squad has committed their future to the club.
"Maddy's consistency is unbelievable, the amount of quality she gives week in, week out. She's a great trainer, a real asset of the club and she's someone who wants to get better and wants to drive on.
"For me, she's improved maybe 20 or 30%, her game understanding is far better now. She's a strong character, she's been outstanding and she drives the team forward."
Cusack added: "I'm really happy to be signing again for Sheffield United. It's my fourth season now and I've really enjoyed my time here, I'm excited and I'm really looking forward to next season.
"I work for the club with the Community Foundation, I really like Sheffield as a whole and it made sense to commit my future here as I've really enjoyed my time here."
Rhema Lord-Mears has committed her future to the club after signing a new two-year deal.
Lord-Mears has been a constant presence in the United team this past season, playing a part in 19 of the side's 20 league games, impressing with her skill, vision and passing ability and has quickly grown into a key player under head coach Neil Redfearn.
The 25-year-old scored a hat-trick in the team's Vitality FA Women's Cup tie against Middlesbrough and has played a key role linking midfield and attack throughout the campaign.
Formerly of Sheffield FC, Anderlecht and Blackburn Rovers, Lord-Mears joined United from the latter halfway through the 2019-20 campaign, only to see her first season with the club curtailed when the FA Women's Championship was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently crowned the manager's player of the year, Redfearn is delighted to have tied down one of his key players to a two-year deal.
"Rhema's been fantastic this season. I've watched her really develop and flourish, a massive, massive talent. She's got the ability to be a real game changer. She's a lovely character to work with and when you see people like that develop and do well, it gives you a good feeling.
"I think she will be a strong player for us next season, I've got really high hopes for Rhema."
Lord-Mears added: "I'm really settled at Sheffield United now and I've enjoyed working with Redders. It's a good club with good foundations and the progression we've made is definitely there to see.
"To win the award was sentimental to me personally, but overall I'm just really happy to be developing my game."
Both clubs overcame the disappointment of not being selected for promotion for next season to provide a fine spectacle to end this highly disrupted campaign. Katie James wore the captain's armband for Portsmouth on her last appearance for the club.
Portsmouth were relentless in their attacking intent over the 90 minutes but were frustrated by a brave, resilient display by Moneys who operate two tiers below their opponents.
In truth, Portsmouth did everything but score, hitting the woodwork five times, having a goal disallowed and a strong penalty claim rejected. Moneys keeper Lauren Sayler had caused two of the woodwork strikes with excellent fingertip saves and had an inspired evening backed up by great work from her back four.
Pompey skipper Katie James nearly marked her final appearance for the club with a goal, twice hitting the bar. Jade Widdows and Ava Rowbotham hit bar and post in the same first half attack. Hayley Bridge went close with a second half effort and sub Eilidh Currie forced a good save by Sayler late on.
At the other end Kayleigh Tonks got into a couple of good positions in the first half and Sheree Bell-Jack tested Hannah Haughton in the second with a powerful effort but the majority of the action saw every Moneyfields player giving their all to block, challenge and contain the quick movement and clever interplay of the Pompey midfield and attack.
Haughton and Sayler had both recently made decisive saves to help their teams win penalty shoot outs and both stopped a penalty in this one. The difference on this occasion was that Portsmouth converted three spot kicks and Moneys missed two so the honours went to Jay Sadler's team in front of a crowd of 475 at Westleigh Park.
Portsmouth thus completed a Cup double after their 2019-20 Hampshire FA Cup triumph over Southampton two weeks ago.
Portsmouth: Hannah Haughton, Rebekah Tonks, Jazz Younger, Laura Ingram, Hayley Bridge, Katie James, Danielle Rowe, Ava Rowbotham, Mia Adaway, Shannon Albuery, Jade Widdows. Subs: Kat Cunningham, Abi Mason, Eilidh Currie, Freya Jones, Grace Laidlaw.
Moneyfields: Lauren Sayler, Emma Eldridge, Sokhora Goodhall, Roxy Lee-Stewart, Meghan McKeag, Kayleigh Tonks, Kira Vallely, Carla Nicholson, Ciara Boylan, Kim Whitcombe, Sheree Bell-Jack. Subs: Melissa Lawrence, Paige Seeley, Ellie Bloomfield, Frankie Webster, Olivia Pinhorne.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
(Photo by www.jamesprickett.co.uk)
Chichester and Selsey Ladies (formally Chichester City Ladies) Director and Secretary Caz Evans has stepped down from her roles after 13 years at the club.
It has been a long journey and a lot of history involved over the years.
In her first year, she was the first team goalkeeper being coached by Matt Wright, at the end of the season Matt took over as First Team manager and asked Caz to join the coaching staff. She did and the rest is history.
Caz immediately became the secretary and worked on the paperwork behind the scenes and at the same time was player/manager of the ladies' reserves side. The years progressed and so did gaining volunteers at the club including her assistant Rhys Griffiths and Malcolm Ellis, two people who worked with Caz closely for many years with the reserves. Chichester City Ladies then became their own company and Caz was appointed the Director.
The senior teams were progressing well within the women's football pyramid and the beginning of the youth setup began in 2021. Several youth girls teams were created and Caz also became the youth secretary. After Matt left the club, she then became the Chair in his place. Caz has had roles at the club from kit person, painting football pitches, even dressed as the club mascot (big blue falcon) and Santa for different football events to help raise money for the club.
Running football tournaments to bring in money for the club has also been part of her role and she would throw her hand at anything to ensure the club had what it needed and the teams could continue to play the game they love.
After Caz stepped down from the manager of the reserves. she ended up becoming the coach of the U10s and has continued to work with them as they are now the current U16s.
A couple of years ago was the toughest time for the club when financially they were struggling and a move to Selsey was needed. The club have embraced the ladies team and they are now in a better place as Chichester & Selsey Ladies.
Caz has been involved in many special moments that the club has been involved in over the years and she gives us her top 10 moments below:
* Reserves winning the league and being promoted to South East Counties Premier Division
* First team winning the league and being promoted to the FA Women's National League Southern Premier Division
* Sussex Cup - many different joys from the Sussex Cup but two are beating Brighton in the Semi Final at Oaklands on Penalties when Hannah McNamara saved the winning penalty and beating Brighton 3-0 in the fog in the final in another year with a world class goal from Abbey Shrubb.
* Watching players like Loulou Robson and Alice Walford play for the first team after being the clubs first ever youth side at U12s and growing into the senior setup
* U13s winning the league
* U15s winning the Hampshire cup
* U16s winning the Hampshire plate
* FA Cup - the club has always had a good run in the FA Cup but the game against Liverpool - preparing and working with volunteers to be able to have such a massive game at Oaklands Park with over 1300 fans at the game is a stand out. Also however facing West Ham away this season as well.
* This season watching the U16s turn old enough to train and play with the senior setup is a proud moment especially when some have been working with Caz since they were 8 years old.
* Moving club to Selsey to ensure its existence carried on and ‘we were at a place that wanted us and wanted to help us progress further'.
Caz told us: "There are so many memories I hold for this club and too many to write down or even remember at times. I have given everything to this club as a volunteer for a long time and enjoyed working with so many amazing players, staff, volunteers and opponents. I have made some great friends and too many to mention them all.
"I would like to thank Matt Wright for being my football partner for many years and a special thank you to Rhys Griffiths and Malcolm Ellis who without we wouldn't have been able to have a reserves side so many years ago. I could spend all day thanking people who I have worked with but you all know who you are and I do truly appreciate you all for your help over the years.
"One thing I would like people to know is that the current Manager Sadie Blakely has been a breath of fresh air at the club. To be able to build a team like she has since being appointed is nothing short of a miracle and for that team to improve in times such as Covid-19 is a credit to her, her staff team and the players and I know she will go on to great things at the helm. An appointment in manager that I have never regretted and never will!
"Handing over the directorship of the club and stepping away completely has been hard for me but it is now time for me to walk away and let others take things forward. It will be nice to have my evenings and weekends back after so long and I am likely to be completely lost for a while but I am sure I will be attending games to watch the team from a distance and will keep an eye on their progress.
"One final word goes to new Chair Sam Ashton who has been instrumental in keeping this club going over the last couple of years including a successful move to Selsey. I know the club is in good hands going forward and will only be able to go from strength to strength with her and the other volunteers involved.
"Thank you to everyone I have met along the way, you are all amazing and continue to do the great work in getting women's football to become as big as it can."
Cliftonville Ladies power on at the top of the table and extended their winning run to six matches with a 4-1 success away to Linfield, who had started the day in third.
The Reds got off to a great start in the derby match as Caitlin McGuinness gave them the lead in the tenth minute an sister Kirsty McGuiness made it two, midway through the first half. Alison Smyth gave Linfield hope on the hour when she reduced the arrears from the penalty spot but two minutes later, the two-goal margin was restored by Louise McDaniel and Yasmith White rounded off the scoring with seven minutes remaining.
Cliftonville therefore remain five points ahead of Glentoran who kept up the chase in second place by also winning 4-1 against Sion Swifts. Kerry Beattie has been in superb form since the season began and the striker netted a first half brace, with Leontia McVarnock pulling one back for Sion on the stroke of half time. Glentoran were not to be denied after the break and Beattie in particular as she netted two penalties to round off a four-goal haul on the night.
Crusaders Strikers are back in third place following their 1-0 victory away to Derry City. The game looked to be heading for a draw until the fifth minute of injury time, when a long range strike from Emily Wilson gave Crusaders the points.
Mortimer Ladies 10 Newbury Ladies Development 0
Mortimer Ladies celebrated winning the Thames Valley Counties League Division Three South title with a sparkling performance in their final match of the season to overtake S4K Berks County and finish in top spot.
Opponents Newbury Ladies Development worked hard throughout but were hit by a series of excellent moves by the Villagers who notched double figures in front of a sizeable crowd at the Alfred Palmer Memorial Recreation Ground.
Paige Stead opened the scoring with a super lofted cross shot on 13 minutes. Louise Delaney doubled the advantage with a powerful header from a corner on 18 minutes.
Beth Millican added two more goals in two minutes with long range shots as Mortimer threatened every time they approached the Newbury goal. However, having scored four times in eight minutes, the rest of the half was scoreless, a post denying Millican a hat-trick then Newbury keeper Carly Passfield saving well from Becky Walker.
Mortimer went on another scoring spree early in the second half. Louise Delaney added a fifth on 48 minutes, Walker got the sixth a minute later then Mel Saunders converted another corner with a powerful header on 57 minutes. When Saunders added another on the hour, Mortimer had scored four in twelve minutes.
Newbury never gave up hope and very nearly got a consolation on 75 minutes with a shot which was cleared off the line. However the hosts were equally determined to finish in style.
Another dangerous corner led to an own goal on 83 minutes then a penalty was awarded on 88 minutes which Louise Delaney converted for a hat-trick and Mortimer's tenth.
On the final whistle, the team celebrated winning the league in some style after a long and disrupted campaign ended in final day success.
Mortimer Ladies: Mikala Kurz, Emily Williams, Sasha Herridge, Jade Beaumont, Amy Rook, Becky Walker, Beth Millican, Paige Stead, Louise Delaney, Mel Saunders, Alex Rooney. Subs: Tammy Robinson, Karleen Hellard, Sam Nice, Claire Delaney.
Newbury Ladies Development: Carly Passfield, Leanne Saunders, Megan Kirby, Sam Atkins, Maria Rodrigues, Sam McConnon, Sophie Papworth, Saide Gulliver, Nicole Pearce, Natasha Carroll, Claire Turley. Subs: Samantha Richards, Lauren Sheldon.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Samantha Richards is taken on by Mel Saunders;
(middle) Nicole Pearce under pressure from Sasha Herridge;
(bottom) Mortimer Ladies celebrate with the trophy;
Lincoln Utd lifted the Trevor Clifton Plate in the East Midlands League on Sunday following a 1-0 victory over Chesterfield in the Final at Arnold Town F.C.
Both teams started the season in Division One North but came through some tough ties to get as far as the Final, and this was their first meeting as they had occupied the top two positions in the table with 100% records with the league season was abandoned.
The Final was as close a match as expected and a winner could not be determined in ninety minutes, but things were settled when substitute Olivia Smith scored the only goal of the game for Lincoln with ten minutes of extra time remaining.
The Trevor Clifton Plate Final also turned out to be a close one with Oughtibridge WMSC winning 3-2 against Loughborough Students. Jennie Selman, Millie Kenyon and Emily Fowler were all on target for Oughtibridge, whilst the Students replied through Hollie Congrave and Elizabeth White.
London & South East League
Ashford Town (Middlesex) completed their Group A fixtures with an 8-1 victory against Queen's Park Rangers in midweek. Nicole Douglas led the scoring with a hat-trick and Ashley Cheatley added a further two, with one apiece from Jade Johnson, Kalani Peart and Hannah Pearson, while Ellie Searle replied for Rangers. The match, though, had been QPR's second in successive days, having been beaten 5-2 by Saltdean Utd 24 hours before. Georgia Bridges hit a hat-trick for Saltdean along with Niamh Stephenson and Ruby Atkins, whilst Harriet Stiles-Winfield netted a brace in reply.
Aylesford and Herne Bay meanwhile battled out a 3-3 draw in their final matches in Group C. Beth Hulme netted twice for Aylesford, with Fiona Constable adding the other, whilst Bay responded with a goal each from Abigail Duff, Gemma Shepherd and Abbie Potter.
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