Cardiff Met Ladies 4 (Sargent 24, Pinder 64, Todd 76,88) NSA Sofia 0
Cardiff Met Ladies got their UEFA Women's Champions League campaign off to the best possible start with a thumping 4-0 victory over NSA Sofia at Cyncoed Stadium.
The Welsh Premier Women's League Champions are hosting their qualifying group this season, meaning that the tournament will start and end in Cardiff, with the Final being played at Cardiff City Stadium next June.
In blazing sunshine in the Welsh capital and with both the men's and women's trophies on display beside the pitch, it was NSA Sofia who settled the quicker of the sides but Cardiff Met almost took the lead in the tenth minute when captain Emily Allen crashed a long range shot against the bar.
Midway through the first half though, the hosts took the lead to delight of the large crowd. Lily Agg slid a neat pass into the path of Ellie Sargent who took a touch before calmly placing her shot past Nikoleta Kaniaka and into the far corner.
The goal was the only strike in a tightly contested and competitive first half although, four minutes before half time, there was a scare for Cardiff Met as Lili Zhekova looked to be through on goal but Sara Moreira was quickly off her line to make a vital challenge and avert the danger.
The two sides exchanged chances at the start of the second half, Agg heading just wide from a Chloe O'Connor corner whilst at the other end, Valentina Gospodinova drove past the post from the edge of the area.
Agg was pulling the strings in midfield for Cardiff Met, well supported by Allen, and a strong run into the area took her past three opponents before Sofia could finally clear.
The strong running Erin Murray up front was also a constant threat to the Bulgarian side and she was directly involved as Cardiff Met doubled their lead. Picking the ball up halfway inside the Sofia half, Murray drove towards goal and into the area, drawing three defenders before cutting the ball across goal for Robyn Pinder to tuck home from six yards.
Sofia had a great chance to pull a goal back barely a minute later as Gospodinova headed wide from Silvia Radoyska's floated cross to the far post. Tija Richardson also made a fine headed clearance from a Velina Koshuleva free kick as the Bulgarian side was forced to press forward.
The heat was also starting to take its toll with Cardiff Met somewhat bizzarely having four different players suffering with cramp at the same time, during break in play.
Far from wilting though, the Welsh side took over matters again and the introduction of Aimee Todd as substitute gave them fresh impetus. The winger almost scored with her first touch as Pinder dinked a cross to the far post but it bounced awkwardly for Todd and she could only direct her header over.
Just three minutes later, after Sargent whipped the ball into the area, the Sofia defence were unable to clear and Todd did well to trick her way past Viktoriya Mitova on the edge of the area before firing a left foot shot past Kaniaka to put her side three ahead.
Agg drove a free kick over the bar and had another effort blocked before Cardiff Met crowned their day with two minutes remaining. Allen threaded a delightful through ball into the path of Todd who finished confidently for her second goal on the day.
Cardiff Met are next in action on Thursday (6pm), again at the Cyncoed Stadium when they take on Spartak Subotica of Serbia, who drew 1-1 with Breidablik in the other group game.
Cardiff Met Ladies: Sara Moreira, Sophie Scherschel, Lois Regan (sub Aimee Todd 70mins), Tija Richardson (sub Rebecca Mathias 78mins), Stephanie Turner, Emily Allen, Ellie Sargent, Lily Agg, Robyn Pinder, Erin Murray, Chloe O'Connor. Subs not used: Yzabelle Taylor, Hannah Bluck, Emma Tustin, Josiane Vasconcelos, Stacey Ayling.
NSA Sofia: Nikoleta Kaniaka, Nelly Atanasova, Monika Razhgeva (sub Kristin Krasteva 68mins), Stanislava Tsekova, Viktoriya Mitova, Yoana Papazova, Valentina Asenova, Silvia Radoyska (sub Lora Petrova 80mins), Valentina Gospodinova, Lili Zhekova (sub Inna Dimova 77mins), Velina Koshuleva. Subs not used: Mariya Keleva, Teya Penkova, Nikoleta Karakoleva, Viktoriya Mihaylova.
(top) Sophie Scherschel gets in a challenge on Silvia Radoyska
(middle) Erin Murray takes on Yoana Papazova
(bottom) Aimee Todd fires in the first of her two goals
Glasgow City continue to power away at the top of SWPL 1 following an impressive 7-0 victory over Rangers, which maintains their lead of five points.
The game was also a momentous occasion for City captain Leanne Ross as she equalled Suzanne Lappin's all time scoring record for the club when she netted her 231st goal in City colours just after the hour mark. Julie Fleeting was on target twice, with one apiece from Cheryl McCulloch, Clare Shine, Erin Cuthbert and Hayley Lauder.
Hibernian won 6-1 against local rivals Spartans to get their title bid back on track. Lizzie Arnot and Abigail Harrison each scored twice for Hibs, whose other goals came from Sarah Ewens and Lucy Graham, while Michelle Russell netted Spartans' consolation.
Celtic strengthened their position in third by running out 5-0 winners over Aberdeen, who remain worryingly in the bottom two. Five different players were on the scoresheet for Celtic, Alex Middleton giving them the lead before adding further goals through Suzanne Mulvey, Kirsty Howat, Natalie Ross and Abbi Grant.
Stirling University made it two wins in successive weeks and their 1-0 success over Forfar Farmington sees them make up ground on the top half of the table. Rachel Donaldson scored the only goal of the game to take her side closer to safety whilst Forfar remain four points adrift.
Glasgow Girls are back on top of SWPL 2 after winning 2-0 away to Jeanfield Swifts. Lauren Evans settled matters in Glasgow's favour by scoring twice, either side of half time.
Previous leaders Hearts are back in second place following a narrow 1-0 defeat at the hands of Hutchison Vale in their local derby. Ashley Fish scored the only goal of the game to dent Hearts' promotion challenge and keep Hutchie's own hopes alive.
Hamilton Academicals narrowed the gap on Hearts to two points after goals from Katherine Jaycock and Deborah McLeod earned them a 2-1 victory away to Buchan Ladies.
The two teams at the foot of the table met each other and it was Inverness City who ran out 5-1 winners over Queen's Park, lifting themselves above the Spiders and closer towards the safety zone.
AFC Wimbledon 4 Ipswich Town 3
AFC Wimbledon marked their first match in the FAWPL South East Division One with an exciting 4-3 home victory over Ipswich Town.
Behind in the second minute, the Dons drew level before the break before easing into a 4-2 lead. A late third from the Tractor Girls, who played a full part in a very good contest, made for a nervous last few minutes but the league newcomers saw the match out effectively.
Ipswich started really brightly with a good run and finish from Natasha Thomas and created several other chances to build on their second minute lead. Molly Hall went close after breaking clear and later was denied by good work from Dons keeper Shanell Salgado and defender Sami Bock. Zoe Cossey fired wide after another good build up by Hall and a dummy by Thomas left her free.
An unfortunate injury to Ipswich's Nicole Pannifer led to a lengthy break and a reshuffle. Wimbledon came more into the contest and Laura Low had their first real chance on 27 minutes, firing just wide, Ipswich keeper Leanne Smith taking a nasty knock as she closed down the Dons attacker, leading to another long delay. The same two players were in direct confrontation for the equaliser on 40 minutes, Low again breaking clear, being initially denied by a good save, but latching on to the rebound to finish neatly.
Salgado made a fine save from Hall, leaping to her left to turn away a shot a minute after the equaliser but Dons finished the half strongly in the eight added minutes.
The second half started in amazing fashion. Dons took the lead on 47 minutes when Caroline Bisson's free kick was tipped away by Smith only for Sian Wylie to get the final touch in a scramble to turn the ball home. Ipswich were level within a minute with a delightful run and powerful shot on the turn by Hollie Clement.
Just two minutes later, Lotti Klatt delivered a right wing corner which was met by a firm downward header from Dons skipper Jess Trimnell to restore the lead for the hosts.
Play was still evenly balanced, with both teams threatening at times to add to their tally. The crucial moment came on 78 minutes when, with Dons attacking, a bouncing ball struck Ipswich's Thomas on the arm and a spot kick was awarded. Trimnell converted for her second and a two-goal cushion.
Low nearly added a fifth from sub Emma Keady's cross but it was the visitors who reduced the arrears on 87 minutes when sub Samantha Walker turned home from a tight angle after Salgado had saved the initial free kick delivery from the right.
AFC Wimbledon were able to safeguard their lead with good hold up play by Bisson and others deep in the Ipswich half and were able to celebrate a hard earned victory against a good established team at this level.
AFC Wimbledon: Shanell Salgado, Jess Trimnell, Kelly-Jade Whelan, Rebecca Sargent, Caroline Bisson, Laura Low, Sami Bock, Lotti Klatt, Sian Wylie, Georgia O'Halloran, Hannah Billingham. Subs: Hannah Searle, Abi Feaver, Emma Keady, Emma Marlow.
Ipswich Town: Leanne Smith, Sian Fagg, Nicole Pannifer, Sophie Welton, Aimee Harrison, Grace Bowman, Hollie Clement, Lindsey Cooper, Natasha Thomas, Molly Hall, Zoe Cossey. Subs: Sian Cottrell, Samantha Walker.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Jess Trimnell under pressure from Hollie Clement
(middle) Shanell Salgado and Hannah Billingham keep Sian Cottrell at bay
(bottom) Sian Fagg gets in a challenge on Kelly-Jade Whelan
Northern Division One
Chorley made it an uncomfortable first day back in the Premier League for Crewe Alexandra as they won 4-0 against the newly promoted side. A brace from Charlotte Higginson put Chorley two ahead at the interval and they wrapped up the win in the second half thanks to Vicky Coope and Rachel Hindle.
Chester-le-Street Town have also got off to a good start, running out 4-1 winners over Blackpool Wren Rovers. Laura Hockaday, Amy Kelly, Rae Taylor and Nyci Thorns all scored a goal apiece for the Cestrians.
Brighouse Town also made an unfortunate start in their first match following promotion, going down to a 3-0 defeat at home to Morecambe. Substitute Megan Doherty netted two second half goals for the Lancashire side, to add to Becky Whittingham's earlier strike.
Leeds Ladies meanwhile won an entertaining affair 5-3 at Tranmere Rovers. Arianne Parnham netted two of the goals and there was one apiece from Hannah Poulter, Jodie Hunter and Jasmine Saxton, with the home side replying via a Rachel Rigby brace and Charlotte Cloy.
Guiseley Vixens emerged as 3-1 winners in their clash with last season's runners-up Liverpool Marshalls Feds. Guiseley, looking to regain their Northern Division status at the first attempt, scored through Olivia Thackray, Chantelle O'Hara and Sarah Danby, whilst the home side's consolation came from Levi Wensley.
Midlands Division One
Loughborough Foxes are back in the division following relegation at the end of last season but they appear to making up for lost time after beating Sporting Khalsa 5-1 in their opener. Emma Pilling was on target twice for the Foxes along with Audrey Moore, Charlotte Cooper and Millie Seaton.
Rotherham Utd sit jointly at the head of the opening day table as they also won 5-1 against Birmingham & West Midlands Ladies. Nat Shaw and Amy Pollock each bagged doubles for Rotherham and they were joined on the scoresheet by Bianca Ross, with Jade Lang replying late on.
The two league newcomers met each other in their first games and it was TNS Ladies who were 5-2 victors against Long Eaton Utd. Charlotte Budd netted twice for TNS with the others coming from Laura Morris, Lia Lewis and Louisa Anderson, while Long Eaton responded through Cara Newton and an own goal.
Radcliffe Olympic picked up the points with a 1-0 success over Steel City Wanderers.
South East Division One
Ellen Swift led the scoring with a brace as Norwich City defeated East Anglian rivals Lowestoft Town to record the division's largest win. Chelsea Garrett, Ebony Wiseman and Millie Bales added the other goals for the Canaries, while the home side's consolation came from Hannah Waters.
Milton Keynes Dons are hoping to be among the challengers once again and they also started well, recording a 3-0 victory away to Denham Utd courtesy of a goal apiece from Leah Cudone, Kerry Newman and Charly Wright.
AFC Wimbledon made their return to Premier League football after a number of years away and it ended on a winning note, edging out Ipswich Town by the odd goal in seven. Jess Trimnell netted twice along with Laura Low and Sian Wylie for the Dons, while Ipswich replied through Hollie Clement, Natasha Thomas and Samantha Walker (see match report).
Actonians Ladies meanwhile claimed a fine 2-1 win away to Cambridge Utd. Jessica Byrne and Carla Williams scored their goals, while Cambridge found the net through Becky Taylor.
Enfield Town gave new manager Marc Nurse a winning start as they defeated newly promoted Stevenage Ladies 2-1. Lizzie Kent and Ellie Taladiana were on target for Enfield, before Becky Scola grabbed a late consolation for Stevenage.
Luton Town and Gillingham had to settle for a share of the spoils after battling out a 1-1 draw. Both goals came during the first half, Dionne Manning netting Luton's goal with the Gills replying through Fliss Gibbons.
South West Division One
Plymouth Argyle enjoyed their trip to the Isle of Wight to play Shanklin, opening the campaign with a 6-1 victory which sees them as the opening day leaders. Ezme Wells scored two of the goals along with Lucy Olde, Rebecca Atkins, Amber Guy-Kemp and Darcey Hepworth while the home side's consolation was netted by Kim Arnold.
Larkhall Athletic meanwhile started their season impressively by winning 5-1 away to Keynsham Town. Lizzie Barratt netted a goal in each half for the Larks along with two long range free kicks from Michelle Munro and a debut goal from Stacey Pearson. Justine Lorton-Radburn finished off a good move for Keynsham's solitary strike.
Last season's runners-up Chichester City opened up with a 4-0 victory over Cheltenham Town, thanks to a goal apiece from Lauren Cheshire, Chloe Dowdell, Cherelle Khassal and Jade Widdows.
Brislington made their first ever appearance in the league following promotion and a late goal saw them take a point away from a 2-2 draw against Southampton Saints. After Becki Bath had fired them in front during the first half, Brislington quickly equalised through Kim Maggs but Leanne Lapham ensured that Saints regained their lead before the interval. The visitors held their lead until injury time when substitute Leigha Milkins levelled the scores once again.
Lewes recovered from a bad start to record the biggest win on the opening day in the Southern Division when they ran out 7-2 winners over West Ham Utd.
Danielle Lane, Rachel Palmer and Kim Stenning all netted doubles for the Rookettes with Kelly Newton also getting on the scoresheet, despite the Hammers having taken a two-goal lead in the opening fifteen minutes through Katie Bottom and Whitney Locke.
Last season's runners-up Charlton Athletic have begun the season strongly, notching a 4-0 victory over newly promoted Swindon Town. Katie Flack and Gemma Shepherd put the Addicks two ahead early on and they went on to crown the win with further strikes after the break from Kit Graham and Charley Clifford.
The other promoted side, Crystal Palace, fared better as they battled out a 2-2 draw with Coventry Utd. Gemma Bryan twice gave Palace the lead, with Coventry hitting back on each occasion with two equalisers from Stephanie Smith to earn a share of the spoils.
C & K Basildon ensured they got off to a good start when goals from Lily Mellors and Zoe Rushen took them to a 2-0 win against Portsmouth.
If you want to make an impression as a newly promoted team, a 6-0 victory over the reigning Champions is not a bad way to start.
Middlesbrough began life back in the Northern Division by scoring six times without reply past West Bromwich Albion, recording the biggest win of the day in the process. Sammie Leigh and Millie Bell ensured that 'Boro led by two goals at half time and after the break, both Leigh and Bell completed their doubles with Bianca Owens and Emily Scarr also getting on the scoresheet.
It was not such a good day for the other promoted side though as Leicester City Women went down to a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Fylde Ladies, the first time they have been beaten in a league match since April 2015. Fylde, so close to winning the title last season under their former name of Preston North End, made sure of a strong start as Natasha Flint bagged a brace alongside Lagan Makin and Charlotte Farrell.
Two of last season's leading sides met each other and it was visitors Blackburn Rovers who emerged as 2-0 winners away to Stoke City. Both of the goals came during the first half, Lynda Shepherd giving the Rovers the lead and Saffron Jordan crowning the win with the second.
Derby County have also got off to a good start with a 2-0 success at Bradford City. Samantha Griffiths and Nicole Dale were on target to secure the points for Derby.
Nottingham Forest made the long trip to Newcastle Utd a happy one as they returned with a 1-0 win under their belts. The only goal of the game came midway through the first half when Georgia Gladwin converted a cross from Annabel McKechnie at the far post.
Actonians Ladies had a good first season overall in the Premier League and are ready to start all over again with a trip to Cambridge Utd in their opening game on Sunday, with one or two notable changes.
"The biggest change over the summer for us was that we, in line with the rest of the club, dropped the "Old" and are now called Actonians LFC," says secretary Linda Fox. "This is due to the club no longer having the school association it used to have back in the day.
"In terms of personnel, we were delighted that manager Daniel Chitty is staying on with James Jack assisting, Phil Carroll is coaching the goalkeepers as well as the reserves while Craig Brown has taken charge of the Development team (formerly the 3rds).
"We also teamed up with Alex Fitness, a state of the art gym in Chelsea where former Bristol Academy strength and conditioning coach Shannon Jewell has been putting the team through the paces every Tuesday.
"We're delighted to have re-signed most of the squad from last season which gives us a great base to start from while adding a few new players into the mix. Paige Horsnell is a young and very promising goalkeeper who joins us from Hampton & Richmond, Claire Hollingsworth is an experienced centre back that has moved from MK Dons while Katrina Duncan-Marshalleck is another experienced player, the speedy striker having played for Colchester and West Ham in the past.
"Rhena Eames is another talented centre back previously with QPR, as well as Melissa Orme who is a combative player that can play in various positions. Two further players, Anais Escalona and Emilia Hubka joined towards the end of last season and finished the season with the reserves, have also been moved up to the first team squad. Both are technically gifted and hard working attacking players. We are still hopeful of adding one or two more as well.
"So with a bigger squad size and more strength in depth we are feeling very positive about the coming season, the aim is to improve on last season's tenth place finish when a huge backlog of fixtures towards the end coincided with serious injuries to key players and perhaps saw us not get as many points as we could otherwise have.
"The team will be playing home games at North Greenford Utd where we have really been made to feel welcome and part of the club and we are really looking forward to the new season!"
New Larkhall Athletic manager Paul Blenkinsopp is aiming to build on last season as they embark on another campaign in the FA Women's Premier League.
The Larks finished in fourth place in South West Division One, their highest position to date, and the former Bristol Ladies Union manager is relishing the challenge of taking over from Jack Edgar. He told Women's Soccer Scene: "Larkhall Ladies have a good squad of players and are well established in the Premier League.
"I am excited to be able to build on the progress they have made over the last 2-3 seasons. It is a great opportunity for me to work with a talented squad of players, some of which I have coached at previous clubs.
"With a few players having left at the end of last season, I have been able to add and increase the size of the squad with five new players joining the club for the start of the new season.
"We have also added Ben Merry, who has taken a more prominent role at the club as assistant manager and goalkeeping coach. He has been a great asset for the coaching and development of the squad during pre-season."
It's been a very busy but very exciting summer for Loughborough Foxes who return to league action on Sunday.
Last season's relegation from the FAWPL Northern Division sees them back in the Midland section, 18 months after winning the Championship. Foxes will start the season as one of the favourites for promotion again and after losing several key players have been rebuilding over the summer. They start with a 2pm kick off, at Loughborough University Stadium, on Sunday at home to Sporting Khalsa before travelling to Solihull on the bank holiday weekend.
The loss of captain Vicky Brackenbury will be a huge void to replace after eight years with the club and leading them to three promotions in that time. Shauna Chambers will take over as captain while recruitment during the summer has been focused on young players. Charlotte Cooper has arrived from AFC Leicester while Harriet Simes returning to the club after a year at university. Elsewhere, Siobhan Eastman has moved from Loughborough Students while Chloe Young, Becky Matlock and Kathryn Hollier have all moved from Ellistown.
Foxes are running three adult teams next year and are still looking for new players at both adult and junior level. Foxes will have teams in the East Midlands Southern section this season after the Vixens team won promotion. They have also created a development team that will play in the FAWPL Reserve midland section. Both teams have also recruited new coaches to support the clubs coach development policy. Please contact the club via the website if you're interested in coming along to training on a Tuesday evening, at www.loughboroughfoxeswomensandgirlsfc.co.uk.
Foxes' pre-season has gone well with some tough games against higher ranked opposition while Sunday's final game saw them beat Coventry Reserves 7-2 and the clubs junior section has just started training again ahead of here season starting on 4th September. Foxes are running teams at U16, U15, U14, U13 and U12 next year, while they have also received SSE funding for a new Under 9/10 squad and this is running at Loughborough College on a Tuesday from 5pm-6pm and new players are welcome to turn up and play. This programme will run till October before feeding into the regular club sessions. Charnwood Borough Council are also supporting the club in recruiting players with a coaching programme that starts at Woodbrook Vale School in late September.
After winning the Southern Region League title last season, Basingstoke Town are looking forward to the challenge of Premier League football.
The Hampshire side will have to wait until next Sunday before playing their first match against Southampton Saints and manager Rob Quilter told Women's Soccer Scene: "After a great season last year, the players made the most of the break and came back re-motivated, ready to get back into it.
"We have lost several players due to other commitments but have strengthened with several new players signing in recent weeks.
"To meet the stipulations of the new league, we have a new home ground at the Ark Cancer Stadium and have gained a committed sponsor in Steve Hart of 1Space who has helped us with a new kit, physio, training facilities amongst other things.
"Our pre-season games have gone well after a tough defeat to Crystal Palace at the start. Since then we have won 4-0 and 8-2 which were strong performances while integrating new players. Recently we drew with QPR in a very competitive game but were dominant through several stages of the match.
"Our players are excited to start the season and be tested against new opponents."
Lewes manager John Donoghue and his staff have been working hard with the players, setting up a series of challenging matches.
"I'm very happy with the quality of the opposition we've seen in pre-season," said Donoghue, after matches against WSL's Millwall Lionesses and Southampton Saints WFC. "The players have hit the ground running. I'm pleased with the way it's gone. There's a bit more depth to the squad now and we're looking to build on a successful second half of last season."
There are some new faces as well as some old friends coming to the Pan Siro. Lightning quick striker Georgia Bridges returns after three seasons with Cardiff Met Ladies, Kim Stenning joins from Brighton and Tammy Waine is back after a highly successful spell as player-coach at Chichester. Rebecca 'Chewie' Carter and Fliss Love join the squad, from Crawley Wasps and BHAWFC respectively. Defender Bex Thompson is back in full training after missing most of last season with injury.
Veteran captain Kelly Newton follows up her testimonial season by re-signing this term. "I'm as keen as ever to play," she said. "I love the game and I love this team. I can't wait for the season to start."
Donoghue has strengthened his back room team, too. In come Adam Wolecki (First Team Assistant Manager) and Julian Killner (Goalkeeping coach).
This season promises to be more competitive than ever. A resurgent, well backed Crystal Palace join fellow London sides Tottenham Hotspurs, Charlton Athletic, C & K Basildon and West Ham. Cardiff, Coventry and Portsmouth offer similarly stern tests, with all teams reporting strengthened squads and lofty ambitions.
Lewes kick off the 2016-17 season against West Ham Ladies on Sunday 21st August at the Dripping Pan. This promises to be a cracker, with both sides looking to put down a marker for the new FAWPL season. West Ham arrive for the curtain-raiser under their new manager, James Marrs. The Lewes faithful may well recognise one or two new players from recent encounters with his former club.
The match starts at 2pm and admission for adults is £3, kids (under 16) go free. Entry includes our match day programme.
Photo - Lewes new signings Georgia Bridges and Rebecca Carter.
St Nicholas are approaching the new season with greater confidence after re-structuring during the summer.
Kevin Cooper has now left the first team after over ten years as physio, to take charge of the ladies reserves team. "This is a club strategy as we look to develop the reserve team to feed the first team," says secretary Iain Prior.
"A few players have left the first team, three have moved to newly promoted Brislington, one is playing only Uni football and one has moved to the reserves. Two players who have recently left the Army and are relocating back to Yate, have joined the first team. Both of them represented the Army and their local regional team.
"Two ex-St Nicholas youth players, Jodie Arkell and Anna Denning, who were on the Filton SGS football programme, have rejoined the club and the first team squad.
"Abby Evans joins the squad as goalkeeper. She is another ex-St Nicholas youth player who played college and development football for Bristol Academy before going to uUniversity in America on a football scholarship for three years. Chloe Brown meanwhile has signed from Bristol Ladies Union.
"Our squad is definitely stronger this season and we can't wait to get the league campaign underway."
It has been a very busy close season for Plymouth Argyle Ladies Football Club.
Many changes have happened on the playing front with two moving to new clubs and eight new faces coming into the football club. There are further ongoing discussions to bring in more players to strengthen both squads.
Pre-season has been tough off the field in recruitment and especially on the field for the girls. They were all emailed in mid-June a schedule to which they had to be prepared for. It consisted of a six week programme, training twice a week and as a result of their application and effort, the fitness of the girls has improved dramatically. A high level of professionalism has been brought to the club on and off the field and this has improved the mindset of all the players, in which has seen a massive improvement in the players application to training and team play. This has been demonstrated in the performances in the friendlies they have had.
"As we all know, you win nothing in friendlies and we all know it's about fitness, team shape and the girls getting to know their new team mates," says manager Dave Leonard. "Whilst the friendlies have been favourable in regards results, the most pleasing aspect for a manager is that they are now playing with a team shape and showing high levels of fitness and being able to work at a high tempo for 90 minutes."
Three of the new signings - Jessie Boston, Nicola Brown and Amber Guy-Kemp - have joined from Yeovil Town whilst Dani Barr arrives from local rivals Exeter City. Darcy Hepworth and Jess Fox join the squad from the Under-16 Advanced Development Centre whilst Amarnie Crabtree and Nicky Vincent have signed from Lakeside and Stoke Kolts respectively.
Dave Leonard is First Team manager, assisted by Travis Rowland, with Jason Haswell as Goalkeeping Coach and Joe Roach as Physio.
The club has started a Reserve side to support the first team with players coming back from injuries, loss of form and the transition from the Plymouth Argyle Girls Advanced Development Centre. The reserves, managed by Gary Harris and assisted by Lee Bargery, will be playing in the Devon County Women's League Premier Division. With the ambitions of the football club we felt it was important we supported the first team and have strength in depth.
Having brought in a new management and coaching team in January last season, they are excited to get their first full FAWPL season underway at Birmingham & West Midlands Ladies.
Paul Jayes, Manager and Head Coach, assistant manager Connor Dwyer and assistant coach Jason Steed will work alongside Helen Carver as General Manager to raise the profile of the club both on and off the pitch.
"We have started off brilliantly with several announcements of new partners to help us develop and achieve further," Helen Carver told Women's Soccer Scene. "We have Cre8 fitness in Solihull as our new fitness partners, sporting touch and Nike as our new playing, training and match day kit suppliers!
"We have added to our squad by signing some key individuals in key areas. Louise Price, who has experience at Wolves Women, Shannie Jennings from Aston Villa, Annabel Fitzgerald from Blackpool Wren Rovers as well as Leah Seivwright, Jodie MacDonagh and Emily Gough who all have a wealth of experience from local clubs. We have also brought in Sharelle Hunt and we welcome the return of 2014-15 golden boot winner for us, Gemma Horne.
"We have also developed a fantastic relationship with a local college and have brought Jade Lang into the set up from this. Jade has a wealth of college sport experience as well as experience of playing with the East Midlands."
Pre-season results have included victories over Loughborough Foxes, Coventry Utd and Crusaders along with a defeat against Leicester City Women. BWMLFC kick off their league season on Sunday with a trip to Rotherham Utd.
"We have developed already in terms of resilience, commitment and drive from our players and the bond between both young and old and new and seasoned players has been excellent and has already been a hugely important aspect in training, bootcamps and friendlies," added Helen. "Our club motto is Simul Nos Firmiores - Together We Are Stronger - and that is at the forefront of everything this club stands for."
The club has announced that Amy Eastwood is club captain for this season, with Lucy Gimson undertaking the role of team captain. "Both players ooze determination and leaderships skills both on and off the pitch," said Helen. "They have welcomed the new players with open arms and ensured that our togetherness attitude and mentality is driven throughout the club and they have a nurturing mentality towards all players."
Wales 0 Republic of Ireland 0
Wales and Republic of Ireland drew a blank in their friendly international match at Rodney Parade on Friday night.
It was the visitors who enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges and tested the Wales defence with an early free kick on the edge of the area and a corner as they looked to gain the early advantage.
Wales quickly settled into the match, and with both sides looking to play the ball on the floor, it made for an entertaining affair. Kayleigh Green had Wales' best opportunity on 16 minutes, but couldn't direct her effort on target after finding herself in space on the edge of the area. Wales visibly grew in confidence as the half progressed, with Natasha Harding and Melissa Fletcher regularly switching flanks to cause problems for the Irish defence.
The visitors pushed forward in numbers with Leanne Kiernan leading the front line, but she was well marshalled by Kylie Davies in the centre of the Wales defence, and the duo became a bit too close on 27 minutes when an accidental clash of heads left both players needing treatment, and eventually forced Kiernan to leave the field.
Stephanie Roche showed her quality from the resulting free kick that forced Wales goalkeeper Claire Skinner to be at her best to turn the ball around the post.
Without Kiernan leading their attack, the Republic of Ireland lacked the attacking edge that had caused Wales early problems, and Wales finished the half as the stronger of the two teams but could not find a way past Grace Moloney in the visitors goal as the two sides went into the break level at 0-0.
Kylie Davies and Melissa Fletcher were both replaced at the break, with Hayley Ladd slotting into the centre of defence and Helen Ward taking up an attacking role on the left, and it proved to be an inspired change as Wales dominated the early part of the second half.
Jessica Fishlock had the best chance of the match after 55 minutes but her superbly struck free kick rebounded off the post having beaten Grace Moloney in the Irish goal as Wales looked to make their superiority count.
On 66 minutes, the ball was in the back of the Irish net, but Kayleigh Green was denied her moment of glory as the assistant signalled for offside.
Both sides made changes as the half progressed, but as the scoreline remained blank, Wales were becoming increasingly frustrated and were left to reflect on what might have been as referee Gavin Townsend eventually brought the match to a close.
Wales: Claire Skinner, Rhiannon Roberts, Gemma Evans, Angharad James, Sophie Ingle, Kylie Davies, Natasha Harding, Rachel Rowe, Kayleigh Green, Jessica Fishlock, Melissa Fletcher. Subs: Lauren O'Sullivan, Nia Jones, Hayley Ladd, Loren Dykes, Nadia Lawrence, Helen Ward, Charlie Estcourt, Chloe Lloyd.
Republic of Ireland: Grace Moloney, Sophie Perry, Karen Duggan, Jetta Berrill, Leanne Kiernan, Julie-Ann Russell, Stephanie Roche, Katie McCabe, Meabh De Burca, Tiegan Ruddy, Emma Beckett. Subs: Alex Kavanagh, Amber Barrett, Shauna Fox, Roma McLaughlin, Sadbh Doyle, Saoirse Noonan, Niamh Reid-Burke, Niamh Prior, Noelle Murray, Chloe Moloney.
(Report by www.faw.cymru)
At this time of the year there is much newspaper coverage and talk about the next £100 million transfer and who will boss who, but in the wilds of Essex the revolution in ladies football continues in the guise of C & K Basildon Ladies FC.
Just over ten years ago the club started at level 7 in the Essex County Women's League. Now, eleven years on, they proudly ply their admirable footballing skills as a step 2 club in the FA Women's Premier League (South) siting proudly under the Women's Super League.
Last season was their first at this level. The season's aims as set by former Southend United player and manager Steve Tilson and his assistant Danny Greaves were league survival (they finished mid-table and above West Ham and QPR) and retention of the Essex County Cup (achieved with a 3-0 win over Writtle). Now season 2016-17 looms with new targets, hopes and aspirations.
Managing Director Peter King states: "Last season was an excellent one, although it was the first time in 9 years that we had not been challenging for a league title. The girls were magnificent, excelling in matches against top class opposition on a weekly basis. Everyone enjoyed playing against the top teams in the FAWPL with the likes of Tottenham, West Ham, QPR, Charlton and Portsmouth being entertained at the excellent facilities of Canvey Island FC together with other top female football clubs. Despite losing our top striker (to motherhood) one of our top central defenders to a freak training accident and a couple of top players to USA teams, we finished level 7th with Lewes on 25 points."
As is known, C & K expressed publicly a few weeks ago the problem in attracting top class players to the club, when there were the likes of Charlton, Millwall, West Ham, Arsenal and Spurs all vying for top players from the same catchment area. "We are a very friendly club and we have top quality managers and coaches in Steve Tilson, Danny Greaves and Lee Harrison. Four 'A' and one Pro licenses between them shows how committed the club is to looking after their players," says King. "We have asked the leading players in the club to suggest a revised structure for next season which includes mentoring the younger players, more social gatherings, team bonding and incentives for all."
Steve Tilson and Danny Greaves add that: "...we want to press on next season and improve our league position with a top half finish, as well as again retaining the County Cup. The ladies were magnificent last season and trained so well in our pre-season trip to Malta in what where testing weather conditions. We have attracted some great players and are re-introducing a reserve/development side that will play in the FA Women's Premier League South East development division against the likes of Spurs, West Ham, Charlton, QPR, Crystal Palace and Portsmouth."
"Over the years we have attracted many great players and many have remained with us. We are a friendly club with some of the best coaching staff around," adds King. "But we are not as sexy a club as some of the league brand names and thus miss out on some players who then spend so much time sitting on the bench not developing as players with these league clubs. We say to the great female players of Essex and the borders come and support your County club, for one day we will sit with the elite in the Women's Super League."
C & K Basildon play in the FA Women's Premier League (South) - all of their home games are played at Canvey Island FC's ground, Park Lane, Canvey Island and generally kick off on Sunday afternoons at 2pm - they start their league season with a home game on 21st August 2016 against Portsmouth.
C & K Basildon Reserves play their football in the FA Women's Reserve Premier League (South East) and play their games at Basildon Sport & Leisure Club, Gardiners Way, Basildon SS14 3AP - they start their league campaign on 11th September 2016 with a home game against Lewes.
Anyone interested in playing or assisting Essex's premier ladies football club then please contact the Managing Director, Peter King on email@example.com.
Jeremy Parsons is delighted with the Charlton Athletic team's strength in depth, as his side bids to go one better than the second place they managed in the FA Women's Premier League (FAWPL) South last season.
The Addicks have been improving season-on-season since finishing fifth in the 2013-14 season - Parsons' first campaign with the club as assistant manager. As manager the year after he guided them to third place, before being pipped to the title by two points by Brighton & Hove Albion last term.
Since then, Brighton secured promotion to the FA Women's Super League, leaving Charlton as the top club on previous finishing position, and Parsons has strengthened his hand by bringing in the Seagulls captain Jay Blackie.
Further reinforcements came in the shape of Avilla Bergin, a Northern Ireland winger who scored 18 goals in 39 FAWPL South matches in for Tottenham Hotspur.
Speaking about his new additions, Parsons said: "The new signings have added more competition for places in the starting XI, which is good for the team. They're all going to be competing in training even more so now because they know only 11 can start.
"I think that will breed confidence throughout the team. When people get their opportunities I hope they take them and we can work from there."
On the new players individually, Parsons was delighted to have brought both in, having seen Bergin turn down the chance to join halfway through last season, adding: "We targeted [Avilla] early on last year and she was adamant that she wanted to finish the season off with Spurs, which I totally understand.
"It's a great addition, it gives us different options and it will keep Kit and Gemma on their toes as well because she can play up top. Attacking-wise, for me, it's another part of the jigsaw.
"I'm happy that she's here; I'm also happy with the other girls that have been with me for the last three years. I'm looking forward to it, it should be good.
"With the experience Jay's got it might possibly give us what we need [to push on and win the league]. It's having those kind of players to mix with ours and hopefully that should give us the edge this year.
"I think you need people like that to give you that extra push to maybe guide a few of the younger players and if she can bring her experience to the table as well we can only benefit as a team."
It's advantage Glasgow City in the SWPL 1 title race after they won 4-0 against nearest rivals Hibernian on Sunday.
City got off to the best possible start when Lauren McMurchie fired them ahead with less than a minute on the clock and Julie Fleeting converted a cross from Fiona Brown for the second, midway through the first half. Fleeting scored her second after the break when she headed home a Hayley Lauder cross and Brown rounded off the scoring for a neat lob, completing a win which puts City five points clear at the top.
Celtic are back in third place following their 2-0 victory away to Spartans. Heather Richards gave Celtic the lead during the first half and Kirsty Howat wrapped up the points with the second goal.
Rangers made up ground on the top half, thanks to a 2-0 win against Forfar Farmington. Both of the goals came during the second half, Katey Turner putting Rangers in front on the hour mark and Sarah Robertson joining her on the scoresheet.
Stirling University are out of the bottom two after a crucial 1-0 success at Aberdeen. The only goal of the game came during the second half, Nicole Pullar's strike earning her side a result which lifts them above their opponents.
The top of the table clash in SWPL 2 went the way of Hearts, who regained the leadership from Glasgow Girls after beating them 2-0. Ashley Carse opened the scoring on the quarter hour and Hearts completed the win after the break when Michelle Stewart netted the second.
Hamilton Academical follow in third after they defeated Hutchison Vale 5-2. Lori Gardner and Gillian Inglis each bagged braces for the Accies, with the other goal coming from MT McGuiness.
Jeanfield Swifts boosted their chances of a top half place with a 6-1 victory over Inverness City. Danni McGinley led the scoring for Jeanfield with a hat-trick and also on target were Jade McDonald, Kirsty Scobbie and Alex Fox.
Queen's Park meanwhile climbed off the bottom of the table by beating Buchan Ladies 4-2.
Photo: Hibernian captain Joelle Murray challenges Fiona Brown of Glasgow City (Tommy Hughes).
Luton Town have had a promising pre-season so far, ahead of the new campaign which starts this Sunday when they take on Gillingham.
After drawing 1-1 with Nottingham Forest and beating Nuneaton Town 6-1, a younger and less experienced side then travelled to Charlton Athletic last weekend, where they were beaten 4-1.
Striker Jo Rutherford has scored in all three games so far, netting four times, and has had a good start to the season after suffering an injury hit campaign last year. She joined the Hatters at the beginning of last season but suffered a serious injury in the second game of the season and was absent for a long period. She then suffered other injury problems and only really came back into form right at the end of the season, so she has started how she finished and hopefully that will continue.
There have been some new additions to the squad, some from other clubs and some progressing their way through from the Development and U16/U18 squads. Dionne Manning made her debut against Charlton Athletic after signing from Spurs during the close season. An attacking midfielder/striker, Dionne will be a welcome addition to the squad.
Youngsters Lucy Webster and Jodie Southby have been ever present throughout pre-season so far and have joined Luton from local clubs. Versatile and technically good, they add youth, pace and composure on the ball. The club has also added another goalkeeper to the squad in Jess Devoti. Jess is vastly experienced and has played at a high level for several clubs. She gives us an extra option between the sticks and adds that bit of experience to the very young squad that they have. Mollie Robinson is another player who has recently joined the first team. A young, pacey defender with enormous strength and desire, who adds something going forward as well.
On pre-season so far and the upcoming season, first team manager Nikki Baker said: "It has been a strong pre-season so far. The first two games against Notts Forest and Nuneaton, I was really happy with. We kept our shape well and moved the ball well. Against Charlton I wasn't as happy, but we made lots of changes to the squad, had players making debuts and lots of youngsters in the team. I still saw a lot of positives and was happy with a lot of things.
"I deliberately chose three games against teams in the league above us to try and push us physically and mentally, as well as football wise, and I am pleased overall with the outcome so far. I have especially been impressed with the younger players coming into the first team. 16-year-old Lucy Webster and Jodie Southby have settled into the squad well and are so composed on the ball. Also, Mollie Robinson has improved so much and after only making two first team appearances last season, will be a much more regular player in the side. Jess Devoti coming into the squad has been really encouraging with her experience behind the back four. There have been debuts also for Dionne Manning against Charlton, and one or two others also.
"Going forward, especially in the first two games we have looked really good on the ball and the goals have come from all over the pitch. We look fitter and better than last season. I don't think Nottingham Forest or Nuneaton, who both play in the Northern Premier League above us, expected us to play as well as we did, especially Nuneaton. I think we were unlucky not to beat Forest to be honest and we fully deserved the battering we gave to Nuneaton. We had 13 shots on target and three off target just in the first half and a clean sheet. The second half was more even but we still drew the half 1-1 and contained them easily. Against Forest we played on a much bigger pitch and we were able to stretch them and get in behind and fully deserved the result, if not more.
"Even against Charlton, where we did get pulled apart in the second half a bit, as well as gift them a penalty, we still had 12 attempts on goal over the 90 minutes and missed two very good chances. We now have one friendly left against local side Offley & Stopsley and the season starts on the 21st August where we kick off against Gillingham."
Pre-season is in full swing for Chichester City as they have been working hard on building two squads capable of competing well in their leagues.
The First Team have brought in some new faces to help give their squad strength in depth as well as some more attacking threat. The players who have joined so far are full back Megan Oliver and midfielder Keavy Price from Brighton C of Ex, Cherelle Khassal, a striker from Lewes and midfielder Jess Lewry from Southampton Saints.
Jade Widdows, who left halfway through last season for Brighton & Hove Albion, has returned to the club and Chichester also have the added bonus of midfielder Jade Widdowson returning from long term injury as well as Kally Ambler, who also had a lengthy layout towards the end of the campaign.
The First Team start the season in the FAWPL South West Division One and will be looking for promotion at the end of the season. Manager Liam Greenfield has worked hard to bring in some attacking players as this was where they needed to improve on from last season. The defence remains the same as they were the best defence in the league last season, but with the addition of Megan Oliver.
Liam said: "We now have the right balance between defence and attack, with several players capable of scoring goals for the team. We have a great work ethic and the ladies know that this season is an important one for them and the club.
"We are focused on our objective and want to make sure we don't make any silly mistakes this year. Our aim is promotion and we will be doing everything together to try and achieve this."
With Liam's assistant Clive Stubbs taking the step into management with the Under-16s this season, Development Squad coach Rhys Griffiths makes the step up to be Liam's assistant and First Team coach.
During pre-season the ladies have played five friendlies so far, scoring 20 goals and conceding five with several different goalscorers within those games, many of them being the new players. The first league game of the new season will be at home to Cheltenham Town at Oaklands Park on Sunday.
The club has also joined partnership with Core Results in Chichester to help give the ladies the opportunity to work on their health and fitness outside of training sessions. This opportunity has been well received by the players and many of them have been in the gym in their spare time to improve.
The Development Squad have moved away from the FAWPL Reserve section and back to the SECWFL Premier Division (where they came from). The club felt that with the amount of young players starting to come through the club we wanted to give them competitive football with the possibility of promotion and relegation, giving them something more to fight for throughout the season. They will continue to be managed by Richard Semark with the help of Mal Ellis but have a new coach in place for training and games called Rob Semark as Rhys Griffiths makes the step up to First Team.
The Development Squad have signed Teri Foster, a young 16-year-old with great promise who has previously played youth football and can play either up front or in midfield. The majority of DS players have also returned and many Under-16s will be turning 16 throughout the season and will be taking some part in the new campaign.
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