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Bristol City are delighted to announce the signing of Danique Kerkdijk from FC Twente as Willie Kirk's squad takes shape for the 2017-18 season.
The 21-year-old Dutch international will join the club after the conclusion of the UEFA Women's Euro Championships in July.
Kerkdijk began her career at amateur club sv Overwetering, joining the FC Twente academy for the 2009-10 season on a part time basis.
She joined the FC Twente academy on a full time basis for the 2010-11 season.
Danique was then promoted into the first team squad for the 2013-14 season and she has gone on to make 88 appearances to date, scoring five goals.
During her time at FC Twente, Kerkdijk has won the BeNe league title in 2013-14, the National Cup during the 2014-15 season, and the Eredivisie Women the season after in 2015-16.
The young defender has represented Holland at age grade level, winning the UEFA U19 Championship in 2014 and she has made seven appearances for the national side, with her debut coming in September 2015.
Upon joining the Vixens, the Dutch international says she is excited to test herself at WSL 1 level.
"I am delighted to be joining City Women and testing myself against some of the best players in the world in WSL 1," she said.
"I am a very ambitious person, and when I met Willie and viewed the facilities around the club I was really impressed at the clubs vision for the future and I believe this is the best place for me to grow and develop as a player. I am eternally grateful to FC Twente for everything they have done for me and I wish the club the best for the future."
The Vixens manager is delighted with the capture of the young defender: "Danique first came to my attention when I watched her play at the 2014 U19 EURO's. I then watched her play again a year later for FC Twente in a top of the table clash against Standard Liege. Both times I was very impressed with her, and have followed her progress with interest since.
"I am building a squad that I believe can be competitive in WSL 1, but equally I am wanting to work with people who believe what we are trying to achieve here and Danique buys into that. I am looking forward to seeing her in action next season."
Sweden 1 Scotland 0
Up against the sixth best team in the world, Scotland put in an impressive defensive performance against Sweden but ultimately lost 1-0.
Shots on the Swedish goal were a rarity but at the other end Gemma Fay and her defence were kept busy and they put in countless blocks, tackles and saves, keeping the Swedes at bay.
It took until the 83rd minute for Sweden to break the deadlock in a performance that will give Anna Signeul hope that her team can deal with the best nations ahead of the Euro 2017 opener against England on 19th July.
Sweden started the brighter and had an early chance with a header bouncing inches wide of Gemma Fay's goal.
The Scotland goalkeeper, who made her 199th appearance for her country, was busy in the first twenty minutes, having to guide her defence through an onslaught and palm away a number of crosses and shots.
For the second game in a row, Vaila Barsley was a standout in the heart of the Scottish defence, snuffing out constant attacks, using her height to nod away any signs of danger.
Frankie Brown proved to be Scotland's saviour after 43 minutes when a shot looked destined for the back of the net amidst a stramash but the right back stood firm and provided a crucial block.
Scotland put in a gargantuan defensive effort throughout the 90 minutes under constant pressure and Lisa Evans put her body on the line to clear away a goalbound shot after 73 minutes.
Two minutes later, Sweden hit the crossbar but Scotland managed to promptly clear the rebound.
The visitors' resistance was finally broken after 83 minutes when a Hanna Glas cross ball was met the head of Caroline Seger who powered the ball beyond Gemma Fay to seal the win.
Anna Signeul told www.scottishfa.co.uk: "It was a shame we couldn't hold on for the whole game but the players did themselves proud with their efforts.
"We knew we were going to have to defend for long periods as we've had problems against Sweden previously.
"We stood up physically and although we didn't have much attacking pressure, the players put their bodies on the line to prevent the ball hitting the back of the net.
"It was a great team effort and it gives us a lot of hope going into the Euros that we can hold our own against the top teams.
"We've still got plenty to improve on but we can be proud of how we performed."
Scotland's final match before their Euro 2017 opener against England is on Friday 7th July against Republic of Ireland at Stark's Park, kick off 7pm.
Scotland; Gemma Fay, Frankie Brown, Joelle Murray (sub Sophie Howard 60mins), Vaila Barsley, Hayley Lauder, Rachel Corsie (sub Joanne Love 45mins), Lisa Evans, Leanne Crichton, Caroline Weir, Fiona Brown (sub Chloe Arthur 82mins), Jane Ross. Subs not used: Shannon Lynn, Megan Alexander, Rachel McLauchlan, Ifeoma Dieke, Leanne Ross, Christie Murray, Erin Cuthbert, Lana Clelland, Kirsty Smith.
Hannah Blundell and Beth Mead scored a goal apiece as England Under-23s defeated Norway 2-0 to win the annual Nordic Tournament.
Blundell halted a Norwegian attack, played a one-two with Mead and calmly slotted the ball home to give the Young Lionesses a 13th minute lead.
Mead then sealed the victory by finishing off a patient England move just before the half hour mark.
It might have got even better after the break, only for Marieanne Spacey's side to hit the bar three times in five second half minutes.
It mattered not, though, and the result ensured a third England team collected silverware in as many days, following the Young Lions' Toulon Tournament and World Cup triumphs at the weekend.
England: Sophie Baggaley, Hannah Blundell, Jess Carter, Leah Williamson, Aoife Mannion, Gabby George, Melissa Lawley (sub Beth England 65mins), Keira Walsh, Beth Mead, Millie Turner, Abbey Leigh Stringer (sub Molly Bartrip 82mins). Subs not used: Megan Walsh, Sarah Mayling, Claudia Walker, Paige Williams, Jodie Brett, Meaghan Sargeant, Freda Ayisi.
As part of a restructure of the Senior Team Management ahead of the 2017-2018 season, Nottingham Forest Ladies FC are pleased to announce the appointment of Nigel Hudson as Reserve Team Manager.
Nigel, a current UEFA B candidate, joined Forest Ladies in the 2012-13 season and has gone on to manage the U13's, U15's, U16's and at U18's where he has guided the side to the treble in the last two seasons, going unbeaten this season.
With vast experience in installing the core values that Forest Ladies look for in its players at a young age, Nigel has seen many players make the transition from Juniors to Seniors over the last few seasons, progression which he will be looking to continue in the forthcoming season.
Nigel is joined by Coach Steve Ganley who has proven to be an excellent member of the U18's management team this season. He is always willing to meet any challenges head on and is excited at the opportunity to improve and progress as a coach.
Nigel commented: "I'm delighted to have been appointed Reserve Team Manager for the 2017-18 season and I'm relishing the challenge that lies ahead.
"The club has ambitious plans and has set the bar high in terms of vision and what it wants to achieve, I'm very excited to be part of that vision, there's a lot of hard work to be done and I can't wait to get started!"
Club Chairperson David Shelton added: "Nigel has already proven himself a highly successful and charismatic manager and coach at Forest Ladies. He and Steve will be tremendous assets to our new look senior set up, more detail of which will be announced in due course."
Portugal 1 Wales 0
Wales suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat in their second international friendly at Stadium Municipal after having beat the same opponents 2-1 in their first meeting.
Jayne Ludlow made three changes to the team that started against Portugal on Thursday. Hannah Miles, Charlie Estcourt, Nadia Lawrence made way for Bronwen Thomas, Chloe Chivers and Rhiannon Roberts.
Portugal opened the scoring on the 68th minute with a goal from Portuguese captain, ClŠudia Neto resulting in a 1-0 win to Portugal.
But Wales were the real winners during the week long camp in preparation for their upcoming Women's World Cup Qualification campaign. Jayne Ludlow provided a platform for youngsters such as Bronwen Thomas, Peyton Vincze, Ffion Morgan, Chloe Chivers and Emma Beynon to gain experience amongst the regulars whilst improving her strength and depth within her young squad.
Peyton Vincze also notably won her first Wales cap, while Melissa Fletcher achieved her first goal for Wales during the 2-1 win on Thursday.
Switzerland 0 England 4
Jodie Taylor struck two second half goals as England brushed aside Switzerland to step up their preparations for Euro 2017.
The Lionesses were in control throughout and it was little surprise to see them move ahead through Jordan Nobbs after half an hour.
Fran Kirby made it ahead of the interval before Taylor scored her eighth and ninth international goals after the break in Biel.
England should have opened the scoring after 27 minutes following some lax Swiss defending. Lia Walti dallied in possession and her back pass was chased down by Taylor. Though keeper Gaelle Thalmann was first to the ball, she could only clear it in the direction of Fran Kirby, whose first time shot came back off the crossbar.
Nobbs spared her blushes though with the opening goal three minutes later. After exchanging passes with Demi Stokes on the left flank, the Arsenal midfielder swerved a spectacular right footed shot across goal and into the top corner from the edge of the box.
Kirby was on the scoresheet by half time after latching onto a clearance from skipper Steph Houghton, she held off defender Jana Brunner, skipped around Thalmann and tapped into an empty net.
Toni Duggan crashed a shot against the post within 60 seconds of the restart. The Manchester City forward timed her run perfectly to dash beyond the defence and meet Nobbs' lofted pass, but her low shot hit the upright.
Taylor, a constant thorn in the side of the Swiss defence, made it three on 50 minutes, driving a low left foot shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
She got her second from a similar position on 62 minutes, sweeping in first time, this time with her right foot, after good work from Nobbs on the flank.
The Lionesses are back in action against Denmark in Copenhagen on 1st July.
England: Karen Bardsley (sub Mary Earps 75mins), Lucy Bronze, Demi Stokes, Jade Moore (sub Fara Williams 63mins), Steph Houghton (sub Laura Bassett 63mins), Millie Bright (sub Jo Potter 63mins), Jordan Nobbs, Jill Scott, Jodie Taylor (sub Nikita Parris 75mins), Fran Kirby (sub Karen Carney 63mins), Toni Duggan. Subs not used: Siobhan Chamberlain, Casey Stoney, Isobel Christiansen, Carly Telford.
(Report by www.TheFA.com)
Scotland 2 Romania 0
Scotland's Euro preparations continued with a comfortable victory over Romania with Lisa Evans and Jane Ross scoring the goals.
Evans opened the scoring early on and at the start of the second half, Jane Ross was able to head into the net, giving Scotland a comfortable win in front 1,877 fans.
In what was Scotland's penultimate home match before they jet off to the Netherlands this summer, Jenny Beattie was ruled out through injury and she will be replaced by Sophie Howard in the squad for Tuesday's away game against Sweden which will be broadcast live on BBC ALBA, kick off 5pm UK time.
Scotland looked dangerous from the outset and Lisa Evans opened the scoring after just three minutes when she nodded a Fiona Brown cross into the net.
The home side were dominant throughout and caused Romania a lot of defensive worries, with Caroline Weir going close with a rasping drive.
Romania's best chance came after 35 minutes when Gemma Fay was called into action for the first time, pulling off an excellent stop from a header just a few yards from goal.
At the break, Scotland were ahead 1-0 and it wasn't long into the second half before they were two goals to the good. A neat ball in from Fiona Brown was met by a deft header from Jane Ross who notched her 50th goal for her country.
Fiona Brown impressed and flashed a shot over the bar as Scotland began to further assert their dominance.
As the game drew to a close, Anna Signeul made a raft of changes. One player who was a standout throughout was Vaila Barsley, making her home debut for Scotland, and she was very close to scoring her first for Scotland.
From a corner, the towering defender rose above the defenders but directed her header just over the bar in what was a dominant performance from SWNT.
Scotland: Gemma Fay, Frankie Brown, Ifeoma Dieke (sub Joelle Murray), Vaila Bardsley, Hayley Lauder (sub Kirsty Smith), Lisa Evans (sub Leanne Ross), Caroline Weir (sub Christie Murray), Joanne Love (sub Erin Cuthbert), Leanne Crichton, Fiona Brown (sub Lana Clelland), Jane Ross. Subs not used: Shannon Lynn, Megan Alexander, Rachel McLauchlan, Chloe Arthur, Rachel Corsie.
Bristol City Women are delighted to announce the signing of Belgian striker Yana DaniŽls from Anderlecht.
The Belgian star will arrive at the club after the conclusion of the UEFA Women's Euro 2017 tournament.
DaniŽls began her career at Oud-Heverlee Leuven in 2008, before joining Lierse SK in 2012.
She joined FC Twente in 2014, scoring seven goals in 18 appearances, whilst also playing in the Champions League. She returned to Belgium, to play for Anderlecht during the 2016-17 season.
The 25-year-old has represented Belgium at U17, U19 and now is a member of the full international squad, scoring four goals in 26 appearances in her career.
On joining City Women, DaniŽls said: "I am really looking forward to moving to Bristol and playing in WSL 1, it has been an aspiration of mine for some time to play in England and test myself against some of the best players in the world.
"I'd like to thank Anderlecht for everything they have done for me and I wish the club all the best for the future."
Willie Kirk is delighted with the capture of the Belgian international. "Yana was brought to my attention after recently playing against Scotland in an International Challenge Match," he said.
"Her performance that night impressed me and following further analysis of her games, she was a player that I was really keen to bring to Bristol.
"Her style of play suits us and she is a big personality that will enhance the culture we already have at the club."
Photo - Bristol City Women FC
The FA Women's Football Board has today confirmed that Everton have been successful in their application to take the vacant FA WSL 1 slot for the 2017-18 season, following the recent liquidation of Notts County.
One other club applied, which was Doncaster Rovers Belles. They have the right to appeal the decision, within seven days.
The teams playing in the FA WSL 1 for the 2017-18 season will be ratified at the AGM on Wednesday 28 June 2017.
Manchester City Women FC is delighted to announce that Danish defender Mie Jans will join the club on 1st July 2017.
Jans joins Manchester City Women from Brondby IF, who the club faced during last season's UEFA Women's Champions' League campaign. Jans began her footballing career at DragÝr Boldklub before playing for Ballerup-Skovlunde Fodbold and then Brondby IF.
Following numerous caps at youth level, Jans made her debut with the senior Danish national team in November 2013.
Over the last year, Manchester City Women have celebrated historic success winning the Women's Super League Title, the FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup and the Women's FA Cup. The team also competed in the UEFA Women's Champions League for the first time this season making it to the semi finals against title holders Olympique Lyonnais.
Jans will join Manchester City as they look to build on the success of the 2016-17 season.
Commenting on her signing with the club, Jans said: "The set up at Manchester City Women is unparalleled and I am looking forward to growing as a player and taking advantage of the facilities and resources available at the City Football Academy when I join them.
"I really enjoyed playing at the Academy Stadium last year and I'm excited to step onto the pitch next season wearing a Manchester City shirt alongside my new team mates who have already achieved so much as a squad."
Nick Cushing, Head Coach of Manchester City Women, added: "Mie is a talented defender and her passion and drive to keep on improving is exactly what we want from a player at Manchester City.
"We are confident Mie will be a great addition to the team for next season when we will be looking to retain our Women's Super League title and challenge for even more success on and off the pitch."
Portugal 1 Wales 2
Jayne Ludlow's side secured a 2-1 victory over UEFA Women's Euro 2017 finalists, Portugal at Stadium Fontelo, Visue in the first of two Friendly International Fixtures in preparation for the Women's World Cup Qualifiers.
Wales' first goal came from Bristol City defender, Hayley Ladd with a superb shot at goal from a distance, sending the ball past the keeper and into the top left corner.
Reading FC Women striker Melissa Fletcher added to the scoreline with her first goal for Wales.
Jayne Ludlow was pleased with the performance, telling www.faw.cymru: "We're playing against a team who are on the up, who have qualified for a major competition for the first time in their history and for us to come out here and compete as well as we did, I'm really happy.
"We need to adjust structurally to ensure we get a little bit more of the ball but it could have been a 2-0 result against one the top teams. It's a great result for us, two goals and a win.
"The really nice thing about the game and all the games we've been playing recently, we can make changes whether they are 16-17 year olds or whether they are 29 year olds, the girls are coming in and their doing the job that they need to do for us. As a squad, as a team it's developing us and we're growing.
"I'm sure Portugal come a few days time will give us a different type of test. I'm sure Portugal wouldn't have been happy with the result today but they have a great squad, maybe there will be different type of competition next game."
Wales face Portugal in their second International Friendly on Sunday 11th June, kick off 11am.
Manchester City Women FC is delighted to announce that skipper Steph Houghton has extended her professional contract with the club.
Houghton first joined the club in January 2014 and has been a part of the set up since their inaugural season in the FA Women's Super League, in which she led the squad to victory in the FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup competition.
The club's achievements have continued since then and over the last year, Manchester City Women have celebrated historic success winning the Women's Super League Title, the FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup and the Women's FA Cup. The team also competed in the UEFA Women's Champions League for the very first time during the 2016-17 season making it to the semi finals against title holders Olympique Lyonnais.
Since signing for Manchester City Women in 2014, Houghton, a role model for young female players across the country, has also earned a place as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours for her services to football.
Speaking about her contract extension, Steph Houghton said: "The last three years with Manchester City Women have been unbelievable and I am delighted to commit my long term future to the club.
"Manchester City's vision for growing the women's game is what first attracted me to the club and the support and professionalism I have experienced from everyone at the club since joining the team in 2014 has shown their commitment to taking women's football to the next level.
"The last twelve months have been incredible winning the FA Women's Super League, the Women's FA Cup and the FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup and I am looking forward to working with the team next season to challenge for even more titles and hopefully make it even further in the UEFA Women's Champions League."
Nick Cushing, Head Coach of Manchester City Women, added: "Steph is an exceptional player and leader and over the last three seasons we have seen her grow from strength to strength. She embodies the values of our football club and her hard work and dedication, on and off the pitch, have made her a role model for young players everywhere.
"Steph has made an important contribution to the success of the squad since her first season with us and we are delighted she will remain a part of the team as we look to build on the success of 16-17 season."
Nottingham Forest Ladies FC are thrilled to announce a new major sponsorship deal with Inc. for the 2017-18 season which includes sponsorship of the First and Reserves team shirts.
The new deal is the one of the largest in the club's history and has enabled the committee to put together ambitious plans for the new season during which it will be competing in the FA Women's Premier League Northern Division.
Both parties hope that this will develop into a long term relationship and also act as a springboard for further engagement with the business community and the wider Forest family.
Greg Nugent, Co-Founder of Inc. London and a lifelong Reds fan, said: "We are really proud to be backing Nottingham Forest Ladies and women's football in the Nottingham area. We have been impressed by the work the club has done over many years in developing players through its extensive youth structure and competing for trophies at senior level.
"Most of all I hope that our sponsorship will encourage others to join us in supporting the Forest Ladies as they seek to push to the next level."
Steve Wright, Forest Ladies Treasurer, said: "We are currently looking to make a step change at Nottingham Forest Ladies to build a successful and sustainable future for this historic club and this commitment from Inc. allows us to plan for the future with confidence. We are delighted to welcome Inc. to the Forest Ladies family and thank them for investing in our proud track record of football for women and girls in Nottingham.
"There is more exciting news to come as we seek to build a competitive team for the new season and will also be releasing details of new ways for individuals and businesses to engage and support the team."
Chelsea are the FA WSL 1 Spring Series winners after picking up the win they needed in their final game, beating Birmingham City 2-0.
Due to a vastly superior goal difference, a victory was always going to be enough for Emma Hayes' side and midway through the first half, they were given a great chance to open the scoring when Fran Kirby was baulked in the area by Ann-Katrin Berger and a penalty was awarded. Karen Carney duly stepped up to beat Berger from the spot and give her side the lead against her former club.
Kirby herself wrapped up the points when she scored the second goal just before the hour mark and, as well as picking up a winners medal, the England striker finishes on top of the scoring charts with six goals to her name.
Manchester City did all they could but their 3-1 win away to Liverpool means they will finish in second place. Jill Scott headed them in front from a corner on the half hour and Melissa Lawley curled home the second on the stroke of half time. Megan Campbell made it three from a free kick during the second half, before Caroline Weir grabbed a consolation for Liverpool late on.
Arsenal are the only team to go through the eight matches unbeaten as they rounded off their campaign with a 5-0 victory away to Bristol City. A youthful home side started the game well but Arsenal - who themselves had four teenagers in their starting line up - took the lead when Louise Quinn headed in an Anna Patten cross. After the break, Jordan Nobbs finished off a good move with a powerful strike for the second goal and Chloe Kelly made it three from close range following a good run and cross from Heather O'Reilly. Danielle van de Donk fired home the fourth before turning provider for Beth Mead to drill in the final goal.
Sunderland and Reading FC Women battled out a 1-1 draw on a day when the Wearsiders said farewell to long serving captain Steph Bannon, who was playing her final game for the club. Reading had the better of the first half and were rewarded when Melissa Fletcher broke through to score but Sunderland battled back after the break and substitute Beverley Leon scored her second goal in three games to earn her side a share of the spoils.
Wolves needed to do it the hard way, spending most of the season chasing after the teams above them and did not lead the table at any stage until their penultimate match of the campaign.
Tim Dudding took over in October from Manager Steve Cullis, who made way to take on the role of Player Development Manager at the club's new Regional Talent Centre. He joined with Wolves in second place in the table behind Loughborough Foxes, and then spent the entire season chasing the elusive top spot.
With Wolves also doing well in the SSE Women's FA Cup, the League Cup and the Birmingham County Cup, they fell behind in fulfilling their league fixtures, while Foxes continued their impressive run, maintaining the top spot. In fact Foxes only lost four league games all season, including both of their league games against Wolves (as well as the FA Cup game).
As the end of the season approached, Wolves were playing catch-up with their games in hand and, having beaten Foxes on 26th April and Radcliffe Olympic on 30th, they headed into May four points behind Foxes with one game in hand. At this point the title was in Foxes' hands, but on 4th May they were beaten by Radcliffe Olympic, handing Wolves the opportunity to take the title if they could win all three of their remaining games - which were all away.
The first of these on 7th May was a convincing 5-1 win against Steel City Wanderers. Then they played their game in hand on 11th May against Loughborough Students, winning 3-0 and finally taking the top spot, but at the expense of captain Anna Perks who broke her collarbone during the game. With Dudding having made all of his substitutions, the team had to play the last fifteen minutes with only ten players - and did so with grit and determination, maintaining their clean sheet. In fact they were already feeling the effects of injury with influential midfielder Dom Luke out for the final five games of the season, and defender Vicky Brackenbury breaking her nose against Steel City Wanderers.
This set up a nervy final day of the season with Wolves two points clear at the top of the table, knowing that a win would guarantee promotion, while Foxes were hoping that Wanderers would slip up. Foxes did all they could, winning their game against Sporting Khalsa, while Wolves had a tense game against Leicester City, who were themselves fighting for survival, but Wolves made their one goal count and sealed all three points and promotion.
It hasn't been an easy first season for Dudding, with injuries and a fixture backlog to contend with, but throughout his mantra has been "one game at a time", which he was still saying as his team went into the final decisive game.
Jade Cross was the team's leading scorer with 26 goals to her name, whilst her twin sister Emma - not the first twins that Wolves Women have been noted for - was voted as Player of the Season and scored the title clinching goal.
"A season full of excitement and unpredictability would summarise our road to the title," says captain Anna Perks. "Beating Loughborough Foxes, away from home both in the FA Cup followed by in the league early on in the season, were fantastic results and ones that kept our belief going throughout the season that we could potentially win the league.
"With a couple of unfortunate results against Solihull and Long Eaton away, where we struggled to make the most of our possession and take our chances, set the league up for an exciting ending final four weeks.
"The highlight for me was the 3-2 win at home to Loughborough Foxes which closed the gap on their lead. This set us up nicely for our final four games - Steel City away in the closing week of the season, was where we played our best football, with an Amber Quick hat-trick within the first half. This took us into Loughborough Students away with the pressure on, as winning there would put us top for the first time this season with one game to go. It was a tough game playing on a narrow pitch, and the pressure on to get the win. Eventually we broke them down with a terrific strike from Jen Anslow and the game ended 3-0, setting us up nicely for the final game of the season with Leicester to clinch the title.
"Nerves were high and Leceister had a lot to play for with the risk of relegation if they lost and results didn't go their way. Both teams battled in a game that was overall dominated by us but Leicester did threaten and initially we found it hard to create any clear cut chances. The second half, however, great play down the right saw Emma Cross pull the ball back to Laura McQuilken who struck from distance, hitting underneath the bar and potentially over the line, however Emma Cross made sure slotting the rebound past the keeper to crown us champions!"
"It's been a phenomenal season, but we took one game and did what looked like being impossible," added manager Tim Dudding. "For me the standout results were TNS away on 29th January in tremendously difficult conditions, but we battled hard for a 1-0 win, and Radcliffe at home on 2nd April when we knew only a win would do to keep us on track, and it took grit and determination to secure a 3-2 victory.
"The girls showed commitment, ability and a fantastic attitude and I'm proud and elated to have led them to success in my first season at Wolves."
Photo - Simon Faulkner
The major success was in finishing North East League Premier Division Champions and so gaining promotion to the FA Women's Premier League Northern Division One.
They also reached the League Cup final where a 3-2 win over Wallsend completed the double. It was almost a treble on the silverware front, but Barnsley narrowly failed to successfully defend the Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA Women's Challenge Cup, losing 2-1 in the final to higher ranked Huddersfield Town whom they had beaten 4-2 in the 2016 final.
Barnsley's Development team (aka Reserves) finished runners-up in the Sheffield & Hallamshire County League Division Two, while their girls teams enjoyed much success in the lower spread of age groups in the County Girls League.
The season started with League Cup progress at the expense of Altofts and then Oughtibridge, while the first league fixture pitted Barnsley at home to Norton & Stockton Ancients who were returning to the League after a two-season spell in the FAWPL.
Barnsley lost 2-1 and for much of the season it looked as if that would be as significant a result as the 2-1 home defeat Barnsley suffered against eventual champions Brighouse Town in 2015-16.
Barnsley then reeled off four straight wins, culminating in a 6-0 home victory over York, but then lost 3-2 when the return fixture was played a week later. York had done their homework. Maximum points from the next four games was followed by a third defeat, at home to Wallsend, a result which firmly swayed the odds in favour of Norton who then dropped their first points of the season when beaten 2-1 by York just before Christmas.
With Scunthorpe & Bottesford (who also started the season strongly) fading several weeks in, the title was a two-horse race, just as it had been a season earlier.
So, at the turn of the year, Barnsley were top having been beaten three times while Norton, with games in hand, had suffered just the one defeat. So, even if Barnsley won in the return meeting with Norton, which they did handsomely by a 4-1 margin in April, their title hopes rested upon Norton losing at least one other game as well as Barnsley not dropping any further points.
Barnsley kept their side of the bargain, but Norton were also in near unbeatable form. Norton, who only needed a point from their final game at Castleford, crashed 3-0 in a fixture played a week before Barnsley concluded their own league programme with a short trip to Oughtibridge where a ninth straight maximum secured the title.
In almost surreal circumstances, partly caused by cycling's Tour of Yorkshire and potential traffic issues, the Barnsley players were at Oughtibridge over 90 minutes before kick off. It had been the club's annual presentation the previous night, but with stakes high, the players had had to refrain from celebrations (since "rectified").
Oughtibridge did their best to upset their neighbours, keeping the scores level until shortly before the interval, but a 3-0 win saw Barnsley reach a century of league goals in securing the title.
Manager Ian Clark was confident Barnsley could beat Oughtibridge, and he admitted that the crucial result was Castleford's victory of a week earlier.
As for the future, Barnsley are looking onwards and upwards, greatly encouraged by the showing of Brighouse and with greater support from the men's side of operations at Oakwell further progress is certainly possible, especially if Barnsley can keep hold of their star players. However, they showed that they can cope as they overcame the loss of Charley Evans (to Huddersfield) last season.
So, having finished runners up twice, third three times and fourth twice in the previous eight seasons, Barnsley at last finished top of the tree. They have previously played at the "same" level with two seasons in the former Northern Combination in the mid-2000s.
Barnsley recorded double figure victories on three occasions, including the division's top score of 13-0 at home to East Yorkshire Carnegie whom they also beat 11-2 away.
Barnsley, who scored in every game (apart from an "awarded" fixture), boasted the division's top scorer in Brittany Sanderson and the teenager was one of several Barnsley players who also enjoyed a trophy laden season with the Barnsley College team which also included Amy Woodruff who scored 15 league goals plus three more in the cup, including the winner in the final against Wallsend.
Also reaching double figures were Holly Findlay and Drew Greene, while Lucy Turner was a key performer defensively.
Report and photo by Julian Barker
The season got off to a good start for the newly promoted side as they ran out 9-3 winners over Ascot in their opening match but this was to be the only league game they played before November, due to their involvement in cup competitions. In the SSE Women's FA Cup, they took FA Women's Premier League side Exeter City into extra time before eventually going down to a 2-1 defeat.
Despite a run in which they were beaten three times in six matches, New Milton rallied with two important victories against Oxford City Nomads and this sparked off a seven match winning run to complete the season, finishing off with a 2-1 title clinching success away to third placed Barton Rovers, who had won the Chairman's Cup the week before.
The team is captained by Nicole Power whilst Olivia Jones was the top goalscorer both for her club and in the league, where she scored 20 times. Charlie Pitkin, Nicole Power, Lucy Slater and Caitlin Steele have also been regulars on the scoresheet throughout the campaign.
"It has been an impressive season, winning the First Division at the first attempt after gaining promotion from the Hampshire County Women's League last year, where we were Division One and League Cup winners," manager Lou Fern told Women's Soccer Scene.
"Notable performances for us include beating Barton Rovers 5-1 in December to remain as the only team unbeaten in the league and a 'must win' game against Oxford City Nomads in March, which we won 2-0. The season was a real club effort, everyone pulling together at New Milton Town.
"Our goalkeeper, Erin Leonard, has secured a four-year scholarship to play in America, so we are searching for a replacement, not an easy task as she's 6'1"!"
It is an exciting time for the club, who were known as AFC Boscombe before the start of this season, with the reserve team also having done well in Division Three of the Hampshire County Women's League. The Linnets will also be running an Under-16 side for the first time next season.
They entered the Gloucestershire County Women's League Division Two and were involved in one of the closest two-horse races in any league during the course of the season as they and rivals Chipping Sodbury Town racked up victory after victory, both teams maintaining their 100% records as the campaign progressed.
The pivotal moments of the season came as they two title contenders met each other on successive Sundays in March, with both matches living up to their billing. Frampton hosted the first meeting but it was Chipping Sodbury's day and they took the initial advantage with a 2-0 victory.
Seven days later and the teams came face to face again at Chipping Sodbury, but this time a determined Frampton side were to gain revenge and - because of a superior goal difference - put matters firmly back in their hands with a 5-0 victory. This left them needing to win their remaining two games in order to secure the title, which they did with two convincing victories.
Frampton went on to pick up a second trophy when they defeated Stoke Lane in the Gloucestershire County Cup Final.
The team is captained by Shelby Kendall and top goalscorer for the season was Abi Todd, closely followed by Maddy Brown.
"I have managed the team since Under-12 level and this has been our first season in women's football," said manager Tony Michael.
"All of the squad have done brilliantly this year and every player has made a great contribution."
Whilst the playing staff and management remained the same from the previous season, everything else was about to change. United had finished fifth in the North East Premier Division the previous season and with long away day trips to the north a consideration, a regional relocation was approved to take United back to their old stomping grounds in the East Midland Premier. United had been here before since the team's conception in 2002, culminating in a fantastic league and cup double in 2006 winning every single match! After two seasons at Combination level, United were relegated back to the level below but in the North East region. A second league and cup double was achieved in 2012 taking them back to Combination level but relegation brought the team back down again in 2015.
The next change was a historic one as the Ladies were officially partnered with the United men's team for the first time, this being announced in September 2016. The old club name of Sheffield United Community Ladies was shortened to simply Sheffield United Ladies to reflect this. The immediate changes for the players were an increase in training and access to the United Academy facilities whilst on the pitch the team moved home venues, saying goodbye to the Swallownest Miners Welfare ground and moving to the United Academy. United, having started the season well, actually lost their last league game at the old ground to Bedworth, which would prove to be the only league defeat of the season. Leaving the grass pitch behind for the artificial surface at the Academy certainly suited United's on-the-floor passing game and their first game on the new pitch saw a record team victory of 14-1 against bottom of the league Ruddington Village. That marked the start of a tremendous 12 consecutive league wins to take United top. Having already taken four points off early leaders Mansfield Town, United played the role of tortoise to Mansfield's hare as a succession of cup games proved a pleasant distraction from the main objective of promotion. The SSE Women's FA Cup run was a season highlight with a historic first home game granted at Bramall Lane for the day for the First Round tie with Leicester City Development in December. A new team record crowd of 429 saw United win 2-0, with a spectacular opening goal from Kim Brown the highlight. For many of the United players, this was a personal ambition to play on the Bramall Lane turf achieved as they are genuine supporters anyway. The cup run finally ended after five games with a narrow 3-2 defeat at Derby County from two leagues higher after taking a shock early lead and defending superbly thereafter until the eventually Rams pulled it back - United being the lowest ranked team still in the competition at that stage.
Whilst it wasn't to be in the cups, the 12 league wins on the trot saw United haul in Mansfield's big lead and the crucial game was the return game at the other tortoise team chasing, Bedworth. The artificial pitch there probably helped United as the first half performance in particular was the best the team played all season, winning 5-0 in the end. At the end of the game the United players, for the first time, allowed themselves to start believing the title could be theirs. This became nearer reality with a vital 2-1 win at the only other contenders left in Peterborough, gaining revenge on their cup defeat a week before.
It's hard to quantify how much the tie up with the men's has boosted the Ladies team. The recognition gained with pitch walkabouts at men's games, in the media and the Bramall Lane game promoted a new focus and professionalism through the squad and it showed in the results. The continuity of Manager Dan O'Hearne's close knit squad was a factor too and when the squad were on the verge of a mid-season injury crisis, everyone stepped up. The passionate and committed Manager gained his UEFA-B coaching licence during the season.
The loss of captain Rosa Neary before Christmas could have been very costly but the re-signing of Nat Froggatt after a break from of the game was a vital one. United's solid defence, only conceding three away goals in the league all season, is remarkable. At the sharp end, four players had reached the 20-goal mark and three were midfielders with Jen Pearson (overall top scorer with 25), Kim Brown, captain Sophie Bell and experienced striker Tania Marsden accounting for 90 of the 151 goals scored. Only one regular outfield player in the squad had not scored. United completed their long season with a 13th unbeaten league game to take into next season.
"Stats don't lie, we have been the best team by far in the league this season," said a proud O'Hearne. "The Ladies fully deserve all the credit in clinching the league trophy with two games left to go. Personally it's been a rollercoaster since I arrived at the club three seasons ago but we have turned it around by bringing in not just good players, but good people as well and now we are reaping the rewards."
It has been a memorable season all round as both the Ladies and men's teams won their respective leagues culminating on May bank holiday weekend. The Ladies were recognised the Monday evening afterwards by being part of the men's presentation night when Players' Player of the Season Jodie Hartley gained her award as one of the hard working unsung heroes of the team. Also present were injured captain Rosa Neary, current captain Sophie Bell, the club's inspirational veteran player Rachel Ruddach - the only survivor from the team's first season in 2002 - and the extremely dedicated club secretary Tony Santoro. The future at United Ladies is very bright.
Although a lot of hard work was needed in order to win the league, even more needed to be put in last summer as the newly formed club faced a race against time ahead of the start of the season.
"Last pre-season, I was asked to come in and coach at St Johns Lions," explains manager Ian Hemingway. "All was going okay until the manager decided he didn't want me coaching anymore.
"Unfortunately for him, what followed was a mass exodus of the better players from the team, asking if we could start a new side under me! It was tough with three weeks to go but Mel Hall and myself managed to get everything done and approved, including finding a pitch and training venue with just a a couple weeks to go till the start of the season.
"We couldn't have got off to a better start this season, going on a quite incredible 19-game winning streak, scoring 123 goals, conceding just seven and keeping 13 clean sheets in the process. Jade Lapthorne, who is the club captain, was also our leading goalscorer.
"Our confidence dipped after a 1-0 defeat in the League Cup semi final, a 1-0 loss away to title rivals Sandwell and a 1-1 draw away to Gornal left our title hopes on the rocks. We regrouped to go on and win all our remaining games to win the league on goal difference on the final day of the season.
"Standout games include a 9-0 win over Lichfield in a midweek friendly where everything just clicked, also beating Stourbridge - who were top of the league at that point - 9-1 after going 1-0 down for the first time! Last minute winners against Birmingham Blaze and Rubery at home kept our title bid on the road. It's just been a crazy season and we're looking to build and go again next year.
"People at the club who deserve a special mention are Mark Brooks, Ryan Nash, Emma Bonner for videoing and taking photographs of our games this season (Mark has even done 3 songs for us). All in all, we have played a massive 31 games this season scoring 158 goals, conceding just 16 times with a crazy 17 clean sheets - not bad for a team only formed three weeks before the start of the season!
"A massive thank you has to go to all my players, they have been an absolute credit this season and deserved their success!"
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