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Milton Keynes Dons have embarked on a fantastic run of wins which has taken them to the brink of the South East Division One title.
We talked to MK Dons captain Leanna Doyle, who admitted that she is "immensely proud" of the team for winning so many important matches in a short space of time and insisted they can compete well in the division above next season, should they get there:
WSS: It has been a very busy time for your team in the last couple of weeks, how tough has it been playing so many games?
LD: It has been incredibly busy playing both midweek and weekend games for the last month. But with the title and chance of promotion in sight, everyone at the club was willing to work hard and put the extra hours and effort in to get us to top of the league, which is where we currently sit.
WSS: Those five games in fifteen days have resulted in five wins, surely you must be proud of how things have turned out?
LD: I am immensely proud of the whole team and coaching staff. We set out a goal to win the remainder of our games and we are still on track to do so. Having so many games in a short space of time, the odds were against us but what has given us the edge this season is the determination, commitment and togetherness the team holds and I have been extremely proud to have captained such a fantastic group of ladies.
WSS: In total, that is nine wins on the trot in the league and you have hit top spot for the first time, has it meant extra pressure having to reel in AFC Wimbledon's big lead at the top?
LD: When you looked at the league 9 games ago and saw the massive gap between us and AFC Wimbledon a lot of people had written us off. So the pressure only came from ourselves because we knew how well we can play and what we can achieve as a team. What is fantastic is that James, our manager, said to us simply win your last 11 games and you win the league. So far we have won the first nine and now the tables have turned and we are favourites to win the league.
WSS: Your final two games are scheduled for this week [at the time of the interview], at home to Stevenage and then the return meeting with Haringey Borough, how confident are you of finishing off the job?
LD: Without getting carried away, I firmly believe we can finish the season as Champions and this is due to the incredible run we are currently on and just how well I know the ladies can play.
WSS: Last year you finished up as runners-up behind Gillingham and third the season before, were you always confident at the start of the season that you could go all the way this time?
LD: We have been in around the top three for the last three seasons and we really wanted to make a serious challenge this year. So we had a great preseason and with some great additions to the squad we were confident that we had the capabilities of finally winning the league.
WSS: Were you concerned at any time though that you wouldn't be able to make a challenge, as you were a long way behind at one stage and with a lot of games to play?
LD: Apart from the first two games when we only gained one point and were yet to really get started, I knew we could definitely make a big challenge. Although we were a lot of points behind this was largely due to the amount of games we had in hand, so the top spot was always in reach, it just took this long for us to catch up with matches.
WSS: If you can secure the title this week, what would it meant to the club and are you confident you can flourish at a higher level?
LD: It would mean everything to the club! We have had promotion in sight for the last couple of years and to finally do that is a great achievement and one that us players and the fantastic coaching staff should be proud of. I also believe that we have enough quality in team already to be competitive in the league above and I speak for all the girls when I say we would relish the challenge.
Our thanks to Leanna!
The team, based in Yeovil in Somerset, are part of Pen Mill FC which was founded in 1986 and in 2008 the ladies section of the club was created, which has continue to grow and go from strength to strength.
This season, the first team won the Somerset County Women's League for the first time in the club's history with a seven point margin over second placed Weston-super-Mare. They followed this up by landing their first County Cup, the Somerset County Junior Women's Cup with a 2-1 victory in the Final over Bishop's Lydeard - who play two levels higher - and will be up against Weston in the League Cup Final next week.
"We have gone the entire league campaign unbeaten, winning sixteen and drawing the other two," captain Cath Pinkawa told Women's Soccer Scene. "Standout performances include a 7-1 away win to third placed Ash Rangers, a 5-0 away win against Berrow to secure the league with one game remaining and taking all three points in a top of the table clash with Weston-super-Mare."
Pen Mill ended the season scoring 49 times and conceding just fifteen, with standout performances from striker and leading goalscorer Megan Gratton who has scored 14 goals in the league this season whilst former Welsh international goalkeeper Lauren Wells has helped keep things tight at the other end.
"Without the hard work of our coaches, secretary and volunteers off the pitch, then we wouldn't be in this fantastic position," added Cath Pinkawa.
"'I couldn't be prouder of my team this season. Every player has shown such commitment, dedication and a positive attitude and thoroughly deserve our success. We've played great pass and move attacking football whilst having a solid back four working together. We can't wait for next season."
Manager Neil Hayward added: "I'm delighted with our league title and our unbeaten campaign."
Pen Mill added a reserve team at the start of the 2016-17 season to supplement their first team and to ensure more grassroots football was available to to female footballers in the Yeovil area. In particular, Grace Channing, Ladies Secretary and centre back, works hard on and off the pitch to continue to grow the club and providing opportunities for girls and ladies of all ages to play the beautiful game. She works closely alongside Neil Hayward, first team manager, who both show great commitment, passion and dedication to developing the club.
They have also worked closely alongside the Somerset FA in gaining SSE Wildcats accreditation, which aims to provide fun football sessions for 5-11 year old girls as they aim to increase participation amongst females in the local area.
The opening league game in the Greater London Premier Division came at home against a very strong and experienced Hackney Women's side. Whyteleafe were winning 1-0 until a brilliant late equaliser from Hackney left them trying to desperately win the game with only minutes to go. In the dying embers of the game, Whyteleafe had a corner and Mercedes Bromfield rose highest to claim her team all three points in their opening league fixture.
Whyteleafe went into the home game against QPR Development needing a win after dropping two points to Tottenham Development in their previous game. QPR were also having a great season and were one point above Whyteleafe Ladies, so it seemed we were in for a great game and it certainly didn't disappoint. Whyteleafe went one down in the opening ten minutes with a very well worked counter attacking goal from QPR. The girls dug deep and not only equalised but then went 2-1 up with a cracking shot from outside the box from Giorgia Dunne. After half time, Whyteleafe extended their lead to 3-1 as they began the second half with real authority. QPR then struck again in the second half making the score 3-2 but that wasn't the end of the scoring. Whyteleafe once again extended their two goal lead when the onrushing Steph Mann prodded one past the goalkeeper. With ten minutes left, QPR weren't giving up and they reduced the scoreline to 4-3, setting up a nervous end to what had been a highly entertaining game.
Since the two dropped points at Tottenham Development earlier in the season, Whyteleafe had won every league game, but so had QPR Development, so every game was looking more and more important in the race for the title. They travelled to Regents Park Rangers in very difficult weather conditions and on a very difficult pitch, Whyteleafe ran out 2-1 winners with goals from Steph Mann and a wonder strike from centre back Levi Chambers-Cook.
A home game against a much improved Tottenham Development team proved to be a challenging one for Whyteleafe Ladies, but a Danielle Johnson penalty proved to be the decisive kick off the match as they claimed another three points to stay one point above QPR Development at the top of the table.
"With three games of the league season to go we knew that nothing but nine points would be acceptable," manager Charlie Bickell told Women's Soccer Scene. "We headed to Hampstead for what we knew was going to be a very tough game but we were prepared and knew exactly what we had to do. The weather was awful and the pitch wasn't much better and as if things couldn't get worse, some slack defending allowed Hampstead to go 1-0 up. We went in at half time still trailing, knowing we had 45 minutes to turn this game around. The second half started in the way the second ended with Whyteleafe Ladies pressuring the Hampstead goal but no breakthrough early on.
"Then approaching the 70th minute the breakthrough came, an equaliser arrived and it gave us 20 minutes to take all three points home. A debut goal from Hayley Halford was greeted by wild celebration from players and fans, and gave the girls those very valuable three points."
A home game followed against Hemel Hempstead and it bought about the first chance for Whyteleafe to win the Greater London Premier Division. "It was a comprehensive 3-0 win and we were left waiting to see if Tottenham Development had beaten QPR to clinch us the title. The news filtered in that QPR had lost and that Whyteleafe had been crowned champions, a moment we had worked for all season and it couldn't have felt better."
All that was left now was to complete the season unbeaten in our last match away to QPR and we did so with an emphatic 4-1 win.
"It's been a fantastic season, winning the league and doing it unbeaten is a testament to the hard work of all the players and coaching staff and we are certainly ready for what the 2018-19 season has in store for us," added Charlie Bickell, who is assisted by Harry Martin with Louise Johnson as captain and Danielle Johnson as leading goalscorer.
However, the season did not get off to the best of starts, losing heavily in the opening game of the season in the SSE FA Women's FA Cup at Oxford City followed by a league draw at Oxford City's Reserve team, The Nomads, the following week.
As the new signings began to settle in, fortunes improved with three successive wins including a SSE FA Women's FA Cup Second Round Qualifying home win against Alton as the team was reinstated into the competition following Oxford City's removal for playing an unregistered player. This saw the team into the Third Round Qualifying for the first time in its history, but the journey stopped at FAWPL members AFC Wimbledon in October.
This defeat was quickly put behind the team as they were to lose only once in the league and that was in November, at home to local promotion rivals Barton Rovers. This was particularly impressive as United mounted a challenge on four fronts, the league, League Cup, Berks & Berks FA Senior Cup and the league's Jubilee Cup, competed for by all Division One teams on a group stage format to determine the quarter finalists who would then play on a knockout basis.
Both the League Cup and County Cup saw the team knocked out at the semi final stage. Premier Division champions Chesham United were the League Cup victors while FAWPL Maidenhead United scored the decisive goal in second half stoppage time to progress to the Final.
The divisional title was won on the back of an outstanding defensive record, led by captain and centre back Ellen Surtees and outfield player turned goalkeeper Nicole Haines keeping five clean sheets in the final five league games of the season. In total, Nicole kept ten sheets in all games in what was her first season as a shot stopper.
Leading the goalscoring was the division's leading scorer Rosie Page-Smith, with 23 goals in 22 games and May Hamblin scoring 14 in 19 games. In addition to these two, eight other players scored throughout the season to provide good support.
The team is managed by Marc Surtees, whose contribution to the local community and ladies football has been recognised by Woodley Town Council in presenting him with a Woodley Citizens Award and their 2018 annual awards evening. Marc is supported by coach Nuno Antunes.
Reading FC Women's Remi Allen has been named the FA WSL 1 player of the month for April.
The Royals enjoyed a fine month and Allen led the charge with a flurry of goals. The midfielder started the month in style, scoring against Manchester City as her side came away with a 2-0 win. She then scored twice against Yeovil Town in a convincing 4-0 victory away from home and she topped off a fine month by finding the net against Everton to take her goal tally to nine for the season.
Allen said: "I've scored important goals at important times for the team. It's something I've worked on and tried hard to improve on this season so it's nice that the hard work is paying off.
"The team's aspiration for the rest of the season is to finish as high as possible. We know that third place is still a possibility so we're working really hard to achieve that."
Allen fought off some tough competition from a competitive shortlist including Birmingham City duo Kerys Harrop and last month's FA WSL 1 player of the month Ellen White.
Meanwhile, Katie Wilkinson is the player of the month in FA WSL 2. Wilkinson has hardly put a foot wrong since her move to London Bees at the start of the year.
The striker found the net in every Bees game in April including an early strike against former side Aston Villa. She grabbed a brace against Watford and added further goals against Brighton, Durham and Doncaster Rovers Belles.
Wilkinson said: "My most memorable moment in April has to be scoring against Villa and winning the game.
"I grew up at Villa and scoring the type of goal that I did at The Hive filled me with a lot of emotion after working so hard to come back from a serious injury.
"It's thanks to Luke [Swindlehurst, London Bees manager] and the team that have shown an amazing amount of belief in me that has helped me start to play with confidence again."
Arsenal will travel to France in August to take part in the Toulouse International Ladies Cup (TILC) as part of a pre-season tour.
The Gunners will compete against Europe's top clubs, including Montpellier and Bayern Munich and one other as yet unconfirmed club, on August 10, 11 and 12, at the Ernest Wallon Stadium in Toulouse, France.
This elite pre-season tournament will see Joe Montemurro's squad compete at the highest level in preparation for the 2018-19 season, and leading up to the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup in France.
Tickets for the tournament will be on sale from Monday 21st May, available directly online on the TILC's website: www.international-ladies-cup.fr/billetterie.
Last season, Manchester City and Liverpool both competed in the competition alongside Olympique Lyonnais and Montpellier.
England have qualified for the UEFA Women's Under-17 Championship semi finals for the third time after finishing second in their group in Lithuania.
England slipped to a 2-1 defeat by Spain in their second group match after having drawn 2-2 with Poland in their opener last Wednesday.
They fell behind after just four minutes through Paula Arana Montes' strike. Ebony Salmon levelled matters but Eva Maria Navarro nabbed the winner for Spain, ten minutes from time.
This meant that John Griffiths' side went into their final group match against Italy needing nothing less than a victory to stand any chance of going through, but they also had to hope that Poland failed to beat Spain at the same time.
England were made to wait until the second half before their goal blitz arrived. Aston Villa striker Salmon broke the deadlock seven minutes after the restart and she registered two more goals by the 65th minute, to take her tournament tally to four. Annabel Blanchard completing the scoring on 72 minutes to round off a 4-0 victory and with the news that Spain had beaten Poland 5-0 in the other match, England take their place in the last four by virtue of being group runners-up.
England now face holders Germany in the semi finals on Friday 18th May in Alytus (2.30pm BST). The other semi final will be between Spain and Finland.
The Blues had gone into Saturday morning three points ahead of Manchester City but things were pushed irreversibly their way as City went down to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Arsenal. It looked as though Nick Cushing's side were on their way to another important win when Nadia Nadim gave them an early lead but after the break, Danielle van de Donk levelled matters for the Gunners and Beth Mead scored the winner with twenty minutes remaining.
Chelsea then took full advantage to beat Sunderland 2-1. Fran Kirby and Eniola Aluko scored either side of half time and although Keira Ramshaw pulled one back for the Wearsiders late on, the win meant that Chelsea needed to avoid defeat on Tuesday night away to Bristol City to sew up the title.
After an early scare when Millie Farrow shot wide when through on goal, Chelsea took the lead when Drew Spence scored with a glancing header from Ji So-Yun's cross. Willie Kirk's improving City side did well to match Chelsea for long periods of the game but with just over a minute remaining, Gemma Davison's low cross was turned home by Jonna Andersson and Chelsea celebrations began. It could have been three but for a magnificent save by Sophie Baggaley from Ji's powerful strike but Chelsea are now in an unassailable position and were presented with the trophy after the game.
This leaves the runners-up spot and the second qualifying place for Europe to be decided; Manchester City will go into the final game in the driving seat after defeating Yeovil Town 5-0 on Wednesday. Claire Emslie opened the scoring on the brink of half time and after the break, Nikita Parris hit a hat-trick to take her into double figures for the season, before Izzy Christiansen added the final goal from the penalty spot.
Arsenal meanwhile stay one point behind following their 2-0 success at Sunderland on the same night. Both goals came in the opening half hour, Kim Little giving them the lead with a deflected effort and Beth Mead netted the second against her former club.
Reading FC Women are certain to finish in the top half and are on course for fourth after they beat Liverpool 3-0. A firm strike from Brooke Chaplen gave them a fourth minute lead and the striker netted her second midway through the second half, with Lauren Bruton rounded off the win with nine minutes remaining.
Birmingham City meanwhile returned into the top half as they also won 3-0, away to Everton. Charlie Wellings netted a goal in each half, both of which were strikes from outside the area, and Ellen White added the third late on.
Bristol City had earlier taken their good run to three wins in four games on the weekend, with a 2-0 success away to West Country rivals Yeovil Town. After a goalless first half in which the Vixens hit the woodwork three times, they took the lead in more fortuitous circumstances when Lauren Hemp scored direct from a corner on the hour. Yana Daniels sealed the win for City with a firm left foot shot just over ten minutes later.
Doncaster Rovers Belles were confirmed as FA WSL 2 Champions before the start of their match with Millwall Lionesses on Sunday, after second placed Brighton & Hove Albion were beaten 4-0 by Durham Women.
Zoe Ness and Nicki Gears put the Wildcats two goals ahead, before Emily Roberts added a second half brace.
This meant that the Belles were out of reach going into their game at Millwall, landing their first league title for 24 years, and the resulting 1-0 victory means they have a seven point lead at the top of the table. Jade Pennock scored the only goal of the game with a deflected effort to inflict a first home defeat on Millwall since February 2017.
Two of the division's form teams met each other in a mid-table clash with London Bees and Sheffield FC battling out a goalless draw. Both teams went close during the course of the match, the Bees coming closest of all with a Katie Wilkinson header which was brilliantly saved by Danielle Gibbons.
Sheffield followed this up in midweek with a 5-0 win away to Watford, which practically guarantees them a top half finish. The first half was goalless but Hannah Cain broke the deadlock early in the second half and Melissa Johnson added a second with just over twenty minutes remaining. In the final six minutes, Ellie Gilliatt hit a hat-trick to crown the victory.
Aston Villa enhanced their chances of climbing out of the bottom two with a 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur. Jenna Schillaci scored direct from a corner to give Tottenham the lead just before half time but Villa hit back in the second half and earned themselves a point when Elisha N'Dow headed in from close range.
Prior to their game with Sheffield, Watford had celebrated their first league victory of the season when they came from behind to win 2-1 at Oxford Utd. An own goal from the unfortunate Frances Kitching gave Oxford a lead on the quarter hour but Watford quickly hit back to equalise through Helen Ward and Simona Petkova netted the winning goal, midway through the second half.
Southampton Women 2 Plymouth Argyle 2
The top two teams in the FAWPL South West Division One met for the second successive week and this time it was honours even at Alton FC as Southampton Women and Plymouth Argyle shared four goals.
After Argyle's crushing win in Devon, Southampton restored pride with a strong, committed display and were ahead with fifteen minutes to go, only to be pegged back by a superb Zoe Cunningham equaliser.
Argyle started with the confidence which their excellent season creates, moving the ball with pace and penning the hosts in their own half. Natasha Knapman hit the bar with an early effort then Cunningham was denied by fine defending from Natasha Angel. It was 11 minutes before Southampton had an effort on goal by Manu Naprta, held by Michaela Phillips. Argyle defender Mollie Taylor then had to be alert to clear a fine cross from Paris Payne but the visitors were always dangerous.
Cunningham missed a good opportunity to open the scoring, blazing over from ten yards but Argyle took the lead with a low shot from Becky Dandridge which beat Emily Paines at her near post midway through the half.
Cunningham was soon foiled by a fine save from Paines and shortly after Southampton were level on 36 minutes, Laura Vokes hitting a perfect cross-shot from a tight angle wide on the left which flew over Phillips before dropping in at the far post.
Plymouth upped the tempo on the restart and Paines was forced into good saves from Kayley Lane and then Dandridge. Southampton were always competitive however and took the lead with a fine Payne through ball beautifully finished by Philippa Holden past the advancing keeper.
Faced with a possible first league defeat, Plymouth responded with urgency. Becky Atkins fired a shot just over, then Paines was alert to grab a loose ball in a goalmouth scramble.
The equaliser was a moment of real quality from Cunningham, weaving her way through two challenges before curling a low shot home from ten yards on 75 minutes.
The outstanding Cunningham crashed another effort against the angle of post and bar whilst Southampton sub Sheree Bell-Jack turned well in the area before firing just wide as both teams went for the vital winner. In the end, a match of high quality and commitment finished level. with every player having contributed to a fine spectacle.
Southampton Women, in their first season at this level have had an outstanding campaign. However, Plymouth have two games in hand and a superior goal difference so will feel confident of making up the three point gap which currently separates the two title challengers.
Emily Paines, Manuela Naprta, Sophie Solloway, Kirsty Whitton, Natasha Angel, Kellie Warren, Philippa Holden, Natalie Bavister, Lavinia Nkomo, Paris Payne, Laura Vokes. Subs: Sheree Bell-Jack, Amie Barnett, Cassie Thorpe, Millie Peake.
Michaela Phillips, Darcey Hepworth, Mollie Taylor, Ebony Dover, Katie Middleton, Dani Barr, Becky Atkins, Kayley Lane, Natasha Knapman, Becky Dandridge, Zoe Cunningham. Subs: Tamsin Medd-Gill, Kayleigh Brown, Phoebe Baker.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Emily Paines clears under pressure from Natasha Knapman
(middle) Paris Payne tries to get in a cross past Ebony Dover
(bottom) Kirsty Whitton clears away from Zoe Cunningham
East Midlands League
A 3-1 victory away to Peterborough Northern Star was enough to confirm Nettleham as Premier Division Champions. Nettleham went into the game needing a point to move above Oughtibridge and end the hopes of Northern Star and goals from Abbie Murrell (2) and Annie Ward secured the title whilst Northern Star will have to settle for third. Kettering Town were 2-0 winners away to Mansfield Hosiery Mills thanks to second half goals from Steph Gale and Mikaela Welford.
Division One North title winners Woodlands Ladies completed their successful campaign with a 2-1 victory over Lincoln Moorlands Railway, ending their opponents' chances of taking the runners-up spot. Megan Herbstritt and Jody Scott netted the goals for Woodlands, with Lauren Churcher replying. Scarlet Woods netted twice and Lisa Cromey added the other as Grimsby Borough defeated Sleaford Town 3-1.
The chase is still on for second place in Division One South and Northampton Town must wait and see if they will stay there after completing their fixtures by scoring twelve times without reply past Corby Town. Emma Dunmore was on target five times, Georgina Powell weighed in with a hat-trick and there were doubles from Francesca Speck and Leah Stacey. Lucy Phillips-Poole and Hannah Webster scored the goals as Oadby & Wigston Dynamo won 2-1 away to Corby S & L and they need a point from their final match to finish runners-up.
Eastern Region League
Acle Utd narrowly missed out on the title for the second successive season but they will end the campaign with a trophy after beating AFC Dunstable 6-1 in the League Cup Final. Laura Holden and Megan Todd each netted twice for Acle along with Grace Birchall and Kirstie Kindred.
Meanwhile the League Plate went the way of Hutton, who won 1-0 against Stevenage Ladies Res to deny the Division One South title winners the chance of winning the double. Katie Lowen scored the only goal of the game for Hutton.
London & South East League
AFC Phoenix have a great first season in the league, finishing in the runners-up spot, and they rounded off their campaign with a 7-1 victory over third placed London Kent Football Utd. Saskia Philp bagged herself a four-goal haul and she was joined on the scoresheet by Marie Louis, Natalia Mann and Michaella Williams.
North East League
Durham Cestria appear to be narrowly losing out to Norton & Stockton Ancients in the Premier Division title race but they were victorious when the two sides met in the League Cup Final on Sunday, Molly Holder and Caroline Dixon scoring the goals as Durham won 2-0.
In the Premier Division, Farsley Celtic are finishing the season in good form and can still grab themselves a top three place, moving closer with an 8-1 victory away to Wallsend Boys Club. Shirley Murphy hit a hat-trick along with doubles from Aaliyah Allen and Chelsea Schofield, Louise McCreadie completing the scoring.
Boldon CA Villa will end up in at least third place in the Northern Division following their 2-1 win against Consett Ladies, Allison Ferris and Robyn Foster netting their goals with Carolanne Hughes replying. Abbie Bonner, Ellie Frank and Ellie Smith were on the scoresheet as York RI drew 3-3 with Guisborough Ladies, who replied through Laura Wallace (2) and Holly Smith.
North West League
Burnley Girls & Ladies have won the Premier Division title following their 4-0 victory over CMB Ladies on Sunday. Stockport County's midweek win against Blackpool means they will finish as runners-up, with Wigan Athletic in third.
FC United of Manchester completed the League and Cup double and retained the Argyle Sports Cup with a 3-2 victory over Stockport County in the Final. Kirsty Chambers scored a late winner for her side to add to earlier strikes from Fran Sullivan and Jess Battle.
Warrington Wolverines carried off the Argyle Sports Plate after running out 3-0 winners over Liverpool Marshalls Feds Res with Nicola Chatterley, Wendy Booth and Claudia Hutton scoring their goals.
South West League
Marine Academy Plymouth remain on course to finish as runners-up in the Premier Division after sharing a 5-5 draw with Exeter City. Sam Drewery hit a hat-trick for Marine, with Emily Eaton and Louisa Stentiford-Crook adding the others, whilst Exeter replied via an Abbie Britton hat-trick, Hana Bennett and Emily Toogood. Torquay Utd look like they will end up in third despite a 2-0 success away to Ilminster Town in which Sarah Smith netted both goals. Annie Martin, Kayla Garland, Sian Towler and Marika Niekuwal were on the scoresheet as Forest Green Rovers ended their campaign in sixth place after winning 4-1 against Keynsham Town Development, whose consolation came from Libby Sims. Bishop's Lydeard came away from Downend Flyers with a 6-2 victory under their belts, Emily Syme bagging a four-goal haul along with Nicola Brown and Willow Dyke.
Wootton Bassett Town went level on points with Eastern Division leaders Portishead Town after second half goals from Laura Gammon and Michelle Rich gave them a 2-0 win away to Oldland Abbotonians. Almondsbury remain in the hunt for a top four place as they won 5-0 at Frome Town, which leaves them one point ahead of Team Mendip who picked up a win and a draw from a double header with FC Chippenham. The first meeting ended 2-2, Ellie Oritt and Ellison Roberts netting for Team Mendip while Kathryn Kilgour and Lily Withers replied, before Team Mendip won 3-1 in the second game. Swindon Spitfires edged out Cheltenham Town Development by the odd goal in nine, courtesy of a Katie Wadey hat-trick, Claire Moreton and Debbie Rose.
Plymouth Argyle Development kept their title hopes alive in the Western Division by inflicting a first defeat of the season on leaders Callington Town, Gabi Alphous scoring the only goal of the game to move her team to within two points of the leaders. Laura Burwood and Mary Murphy were on target as third placed Alphington won 2-1 against Plympton Ladies and Exeter & Tedburn Rangers drew 2-2 with Newquay Celtic, for whom Lisa Hegarty netted both goals.
Southern Region League
AFC Bournemouth secured the Division One South title with a victory over Winchester City Flyers Res. Emma Davis was on target five times and Meg Vella contributed a further four, with Rosie Eden, Emily Phillips and Chloe Spencer adding the others. Megan Fox (2), Keeley Fitzgerald and Heather Lewis were on the scoresheet as runners-up Warsash Wasps defeated Southampton Women Res 4-2 and Eastleigh ran out 5-1 winners over Alton Ladies, Lucie Agombar netting twice along with Natasha Konczak, Samantha Hide and Hollie Agombar.
In Division One North, Wycombe Wanderers completed the season as they defeated Wokingham & Emmbrook 6-0. Tara Woodward was on target four times along with Emma Dean and Amy Johnston.
West Midlands League
The Premier Division title race will go to the wire after the top of the table clash between Leafield Athletic and Bedworth Utd finished in a 3-3 draw. Amy Andrews, Weronika Jagielska and Nieve Newman netted the goals for Leafield, with Bedworth replying through a Sarah Rowles brace and Kirsty Farnsworth, meaning Leafield remain two points ahead but having played one game more. The bottom two teams in the table also met on Sunday and will finish level on points after Leamington Lions and Worcester Utd ended goalless.
Goldenhill Wanderers won 1-0 against Shrewsbury Town in Division One North, meaning that Sutton Coldfield Town will have to wait until they have a chance to claim the title. A defeat for Goldenhill would have confirmed Sutton Coldfield as Champions but Holly Ellison's goal means that they can still mathematically catch them. Second placed Leek Town completed their fixtures by scoring ten times without reply past Brereton Town. Rehanne Mellor led the scoring with a hat-trick, Kim Sheldon and Lacey Smith each added a double and there was one apiece from Emily Boon, Kayleigh Sheldon and Elise Skelding.
Things are still in Coventry Sphinx' hands in Division One South, their 2-2 draw with Redditch Utd means they will land the title by winning their last two games whilst Redditch, who take over at the top from Gornal Ladies on goal difference, will need to be victorious when the two teams meet again at the end of the month.
Newcastle Utd have taken a third place finish in the Northern Division after winning 5-2 away to Bradford City. Beth Gardener led the scoring with a hat-trick and there was one apiece from Christina Deverdics and Jessica Ellison. They finish above Huddersfield Town who beat Hull City 7-2 thanks to Beth Allen (2), Isobel Boothroyd, Amy Broomhead, Sarah Dobby, Lucy Sowerby and Ella McCamon. Kate Donnan, Laura Porritt and an own goal earned Leeds Utd a 3-3 draw with Sheffield Utd, who replied through a Brooke Marsden brace and Paige Wainwright.
Stoke City require two points from their final three games in order to secure the Midland Division title, following their 5-2 win away to Loughborough Foxes. Rebecca Arnold, Abbie Iddenden, Harriett Wellings, Emily Curteis and Roisin Kivel all scored a goal apiece for Stoke. Derby County meanwhile scored six times without reply past TNS Ladies in the other game.
The final match of the season was played in the Southern Division with West Ham Utd winning 4-2 at Denham Utd. Whitney Locke scored all four goals as the Hammers beat their opponents for the second successive week.
FA WSL Development League Northern Division title winners Manchester City rounded off their successful season by winning 4-0 away to Durham Women. Sunderland were 2-1 victors over Everton thanks to Bethany Guy and Faye Mullen.
Arsenal have returned to the top of the Southern Division after scoring six times without reply past Brighton & Hove Albion. Lauren James netted twice for the Gunners and there was one apiece from Beth Lumsden, Jessica Ngunga, Lachante Paul and Gabriella Ravenscroft. Kara Fordjour scored the only goal of the game as Millwall Lionesses won 1-0 against Reading FC Women and Oxford Utd were also 1-0 winners over Yeovil Town, courtesy of a solitary strike from Jessica Graham.
Northern Division One
Hull City picked up the result they needed to confirm themselves as Champions and promoted to the Northern Division next season. Hope Knight netted twice, with Rachael Ackroyd and Liberty Bott adding the others, as Hull ran out 4-0 winners over Mossley Hill to secure the title.
Brighouse Town moved into second place with a 3-1 victory against Crewe Alexandra. Charlotte Proud netted twice and Jodie Redgrave added the other, with Georgina Stebbings replying.
Brighouse have gone on to clinch the runners-up spot by winning 3-0 away to Chorley in midweek. Annabelle Cass gave them the lead and they went on to net further goals through Emma Dobson and Jodie Redgrave.
Bolton Wanderers will end their first season in the league in a very creditable fourth place following their 3-2 success away to Newcastle Utd. Ruby Howard, Emma Pilling and Safron Newhouse were on target for Bolton, with the home side replying through Megan McKenzie and Steph Ord.
Leeds Utd made sure they will finish outside of the bottom two after they won 2-1 at Barnsley. Shelby Morris netted both goals for Leeds, with Barnsley's consolation coming from Amy Woodruff.
Midlands Division One
Loughborough Foxes are one game away from finishing the season unbeaten, following their 6-0 victory over Sporting Khalsa. Vicky Brackenbury, Eva Rogers, Tiana Hicks, Chloe Young, Charlotte Cooper and Laura Steele all scored for Loughborough as they recorded their 20th win of the season.
A win in their final match would confirm Burton Albion as runners-up in their first season in the league after they defeated Solihull Moors 4-1 to go second. After looking out of the running at one stage, Jordan Atkin netted a brace along with Hayleigh Sutton and Charlotte Cresswell, after Samantha White had given Solihull an early lead.
TNS Ladies and Sheffield Utd battled out a 2-2 draw, denting the Blades' chances of finishing in second place. Louisa Anderson and Laura Morris netted the goals for TNS, with United responding through Natalie Froggatt and Tania Marsden.
South East Division One
Milton Keynes Dons have hit top spot for the first time this season following their victory over Haringey Borough on Sunday. Louise Naylor and Heather McDonnell each bagged hat-tricks, Leah Cudone and Leanna Doyle both weighed in with doubles and the tally was completed by Kim Farrow, Alice Hughes, Anna Loftus, Dawn Mallett, Laura Mills and Zoe Boote.
The win took MK above long time leaders AFC Wimbledon on goal difference and three days later, they opened up a lead of three points with one match to play. A late goal from Leah Cudone sealed a 1-0 victory against Stevenage Ladies at Stadium mk, their ninth win in just 35 days.
Ipswich Town will have to settle for third place despite winning 2-1 at Luton Town. The Suffolk side have had a fine season and goals from Natasha Thomas and Miagh Downey gave them another victory, with Luton's consolation coming from Jess McKay.
Leyton Orient's first season in the league has resulted in a top four finish, which they secured with a 2-2 draw against Stevenage Ladies. Sarka Stryhalova and Hannah Porter netted the goals for the O's, with Stevenage scoring through Amy Makewell and Becky Scola.
Norwich City picked up their fourth win of the season when beating Cambridge Utd 3-2. Chelsea Garrett (2) and Aimee Durrant were on target for the Canaries, with Amy Howlett and Mollie Coupar replying.
South West Division One
Plymouth Argyle returned to the top of the table on Wednesday night after scoring nine times without reply past Cheltenham Town. Zoe Cunningham and Becky Dandridge each netted twice along with Natasha Knapman, Katie Middleton, Dani Barr, Darcey Hepworth and Ebony Dover.
On the weekend, the top two met in their return match and this time the points were shared as Southampton Women and Plymouth Argyle finished level at 2-2. Zoe Cunningham scored a second half equaliser for Argyle to add to Becky Dandridge's earlier strike, whilst Philippa Holden and Laura Vokes were on target for Southampton (see match report).
Keynsham Town sealed a third place finish for themselves after beating Southampton Saints 4-1. Kerry Bartlett's first half strike was cancelled out by Catherine Browning but after the break, a stunning 25-yard strike from Cristina Vega Leandro restored Keynsham's lead and the Spanish midfielder netted her second from the penalty spot, before Bartlett also completed her double late on.
Brislington and Larkhall Athletic met for the second time in a matter of days, the teams battling out a 1-1 draw. Polly Wardle was on target for Brislington, with the Larks' goal coming from Kate German.
Blackburn Rovers have retained the Northern Division title following their 4-1 victory away to Nottingham Forest on Sunday.
Needing a win to make sure of being Champions again, Rovers trailed at the break to a Hazzana Parnell goal but in the second half, Lagan Makin levelled the scores before Jess Holbrook, Natasha Flint and Saffron Jordan also got on the scoresheet.
Blackburn followed this up on Tuesday night with a 3-0 win against Stoke City to take themselves to the 50-point mark for the season. Natasha Flint gave them the lead midway through the first half and they added further goals after the break through Saffron Jordan and Jess Holbrook.
Leicester City Women are in the driving seat for second place and require one more win for runners-up, after having beaten Middlesbrough 6-3 to move above them. Rosie Axten led the scoring with a hat-trick for Leicester while Sophie Domingo, Charlotte Greengrass and Nicole Nymoen were also on target. Bianca Owens, Emily Scarr and Ellie Dobson replied for 'Boro who need to win their final game to stand any chance of reaching the top two.
Guiseley Vixens are out of the top two after they shared a 2-2 draw with Fylde Ladies. Charlotte Blythe and Emily Heckler twice gave Guiseley the lead, with the Coasters equalising on each occasion through Sophie Charlton and Emily Hollinshead.
Fylde followed this up two days later by winning 1-0 against Nottingham Forest, a result which guarantees them a top half place. Danielle Young scored the only goal of the game for Fylde who can still finish as high as fifth if they win their final match.
After a number of near misses in recent seasons, Charlton Athletic clinched the Southern Division title on Sunday in style, with a 4-0 victory away to Crystal Palace.
The home side went into the game still having an outside chance of the title but a superb four-goal blast from in-form striker Kim Graham gave the Addicks the win they needed to be the Champions.
Charlton followed this up on Wednesday night with their nineteenth victory of the season, 8-1 against Gillingham. This time it was Georgia Griffin who led the scoring with a hat-trick whilst Kit Graham, on as a second half substitute, netted a brace to take her league tally for the season to 30. Kim Dixson, Charlotte Gurr and Charley Clifford added the other goals, with Jade Keogh grabbing the Gills' consolation.
C & K Basildon meanwhile took the runners-up spot by winning 1-0 at Chichester City. Zoe Rushen netted the only goal of the game to give C & K a result which takes them above Crystal Palace and secure the highest finishing position in their history.
Lewes look virtually certain to finish fourth following their 4-0 victory over Cardiff City Ladies. Danielle Lane scored a goal in each half for the Rookettes, whose others came from Rebecca Carter and Georgia Bridges.
Coventry Utd are finishing the season in fine goalscoring form and kept this up on Sunday by beating Gillingham 5-0. Stephanie Smith, Jade Brook, Lois Jefferies, Keeley Davies and Maz Gauntlett were all on the scoresheet for Coventry.
On Tuesday night, Coventry followed this up by scoring seven times without reply past Swindon Town. Lois Jefferies hit a hat-trick with Helen Dermody (2), Amber Hughes and Alison Hall added the other goals.
Portsmouth meanwhile ended their season on a winning note, beating Queen's Park Rangers 6-1. Samantha Quayle was on target twice for Pompey along with Charley Boswell, Daisy McLachlan, Rachel Panting and Emma-Jane May.
Honours were even once again as Glasgow City and Hibernian shared their second draw of the season, keeping them level on points at the top of the SWPL 1 table.
It was Hibernian who took the lead during the first half, Lizzie Arnot bursting through to score with a low finish, but after the break, City battled back strongly and Hayley Lauder equalised five minutes into the second half. Both teams had opportunities to win the game but had to settle for a point apiece with City remaining top on goal difference.
There are in fact three teams level on points at the top with Celtic climbing into second place after beating Hamilton Academical 4-0. The first half was goalless but before the hour mark, Celtic were two ahead thanks to a brace of goals from Josephine Giard. Nicole Cairney made it three with ten minutes remaining and Colette Cavanagh rounded off the scoring late on.
Forfar Farmington are up into the top half of the table as they recorded their third straight win, 3-1 away to Spartans. Nicola Davidson and Cheryl Kilcoyne ensured that Forfar were two goals ahead at the interval and Danni McGinley sealed the points with the third, before the home side grabbed a late consolation through Rachel McDonald-Nguah.
Stirling University returned to form with a 2-0 victory over Rangers. Lauren Dolan-Barr gave them the lead on the half hour and Beth McKay wrapped up the win with ten minutes left.
A late goal gave Motherwell an eighth straight win and took them eight points clear at the top of SWPL 2 as they beat Hearts 2-1.
Hayley Cunningham gave Motherwell a first half lead which was cancelled out just before the break by Jennifer Smith and with seven minutes remaining, Lesley Condie grabbed the winning goal to further strengthen the Women of Steel's position in the title race.
FC Kilmarnock lost ground in second place as they went down 1-0 to the division's other form team, Glasgow Girls. After having been beaten in their opening three games, Lucy McEwan scored the only goal to hand Glasgow their fifth win in six matches and they are up into third, one point behind Kilmarnock.
St Johnstone staged a fightback to salvage a 3-3 draw against Edinburgh University Hutchison Vale and keep themselves in the top half of the table. After Rebecca McGowan had opened the scoring, Anna Hume and a Beth MacLeod double looked to have given EUHV the points until goals in the last ten minutes from Ellie Cowie and Rachel Todd earned St Johnstone a share of the spoils.
Aberdeen and Central Girls Academy each picked up an important point when they battled out a 2-2 draw. Aberdeen twice went ahead through Chloe Gover and Lauren Gordon, with Kim McAlpine and Ellie Kane equalising for Central on each occasion.
A run of three wins in four matches, including victories over Poole Town and Larkhall Athletic in the space of three days, has taken Brislington from the bottom of FAWPL South West Division One into mid-table, and they now have a top half place in their sights.
We talked to Brislington captain Sophie Whelan, who admitted that their upsurge in form had boosted the team's confidence and she is more optimistic for the future:
WSS: It's been a very good few days for your team, presumably confidence is very high at the moment?
SW: The last couple of games have built the team confidence up again for definite, it is always easier going into a game off of a win. I think everyone is enjoying it at the moment and it is showing in the way we play as individuals and as a team which always helps boost the confidence on the pitch.
WSS: That makes it three wins in four games, has there been any particular reason for this good run of results?
SW: We had a tough start to the season with some of the big names in the league back to back and it has been a bit of an mixture of a season but recently I think we have got back to the way Bris like to act and play and that has really helped everyone believe we can do well and just play with confidence on the pitch which is always the first hurdle.
WSS: How nervous were the last ten minutes against Poole, when they staged their late comeback in the heat?
SW: It was a bit nerve wracking, we had a few players away that game so always knew that they would be able to bring on fresh legs later on when we had some tired legs and know they are a team who can score goals but I think us taking our chances earlier on in the game, setting us up made all the difference. Even with the comeback I was confident we could hold on and grind out the result and it is a credit to all the girls that game as they gave a shift in and in long run deserved the three points from the game.
WSS: Would you say that the win at Larkhall was one of the team's best performances of the season?
SW: The Larkhall game was a good team performance from us but I do think we have had good performances throughout the season, sometimes even in games we have lost. The difference in the last few games and the Larkhall game is we saw it out to the end and took our chances which, of course, is what wins games. The first half of the Larkhall game wasn't our best as we were a bit panicky and not playing our passing football as much as we would like and looking for the long ball but in the second half everyone stepped up their game, put in the shift and won their individual battles which resulted in us as a whole team playing well across the pitch.
WSS: This Sunday you are up against Larkhall again, this time at home, are you expecting the same kind of game again?
SW: We know what is possible and will definitely be going into the game for the win of course. If we play how we can on the day, then yes we will expect to come away with three points but we know Larkhall have also got a good performance in their locker so we shall see on the day.
WSS: You were bottom of the table a few weeks ago but two more wins could well see you finish fifth, how pleasing an achievement would that be?
SW: Finishing mid-table will definitely be pleasing for us after looking back a few weeks ago, it has been a tough season and at one point we probably didn't think it would be possible. Looking back at some of the games we have lost, we feel we could have done better but the pick up towards the end of the season has definitely done us wonders as a team and also in the table standings.
WSS: Are you confident that your good run of form should stand you in good stead for next season?
SW: We are definitely ending it on a positive note so hopefully yes, we have had a few weeks towards the end where players have been away due to other commitments so it will good for everyone to have the break and recover before pre-season and hopefully we can have a good season next year.
Our thanks to Sophie!
Newhaven carried off the Sussex County Women's League title at the first attempt, having won all 18 matches, and finished with a comfortable margin of eight points despite a spirited challenge from runners-up Saltdean Utd.
They also won the Sussex FA Women's Challenge Trophy, beating Burgess Hill Ladies 5-3 in the Final, and crowned their successful season as they completed the ‘treble' with a 3-2 victory over Saltdean in the League Cup Final.
The first match of the season ended in an 18-0 victory over Pagham, the first of three occasions in which they hit double figures. In March and April they went on a run of five successive clean sheets which was only broken in the last match of the season, a 2-1 win against Saltdean.
"We are a new team only formed last summer and are made up of ladies from a team named Seahaven Ladies from a few years ago, and the girls who have moved up from Newhaven Girls Under-16s and Under-18s from last season," says Andy Cook, who is joint manager along with Alex Ladd.
"We have picked up a few other signings along the way who have given us a bit of experience.
"Every player has been absolutely fantastic but there must be special mention to our striker Chloe Winchester, who scored 52 goals this season in all competitions.
"Our captain Ellie Coade has been absolutely brilliant in centre midfield and with the likes of Georgia Ungoed, Lauren Smith and Paige Ripley playing behind Winchester, we have created and scored over 130 goals. Defensively, we have also been fantastic with Charlotte Lloyd at the heart of the defence.
"Our matches against Saltdean have stood out as the closest and toughest and have been a great spectacle for ladies football in Sussex."
Manager Joe Montgomery takes up the story behind their success, saying: "I have been coaching for eighteen years and got into women's football about six years ago with Kempston FC but moved on from there and coached at a few other clubs but in 2017, was without a club. This was my own decision but had five ladies who wanted to play football and wanted me as their coach, including my wife Maria who was the one who mentioned contacting Wheathampstead.
"I soon set up a meeting with the chairman Andy Ellis, who welcomed the idea of a women's football team in Wheathampstead so myself and my wife started the recruiting stage for a new team and whilst this was going on, we entered the London Colney women's five-a-side league and won it.
"Wheathampstead as a club are fantastic - they purchased us new kits (home and away), training equipment and training facilities. We started building the team before our season started in September and with the months passing by, I was getting worried as I had a few players that were new to football but getting better, although I was missing a striker. I had an email from a girl called Sophie Adams who said she was looking for a new team and that she played county football years ago, but just wanted to play football to enjoy the game now, and she also had some other players - a midfield and a defender - well I just won the lottery! They came down for a training session and the rest is history. I had it a full team ready for the season, the first ever ladies football team in Wheathampstead's village history. We started slowly in the beginning for our first season but ended in mid-table, so a good first season.
"We recruited some new players for our second season and my wife Maria, who plays on the right wing and is the fastest player in the team, had to change her position to centre back for most of the season but was so quick and strong, she was unstoppable until November when she broke her collar bone in a game against Welwyn Pegasus but only six weeks later, was back playing.
"Sophie Adams, our striker, got 40 goals this season, not only is she the top goalscorer in our division but the whole league. Another key player, Annya Lindsay who plays at the back with Maria, Naomi, Jess and Luisa and they play so well together, in midfield Maria, also Charlotte who is very versatile and will play anywhere, playing some key roles. Jenna, Muss, Sam, Mary and Libby have been key to the success in midfield, getting the ball to Sophie and also scoring a few themselves.
"We started the season as we finished the last and Bedford were the team to beat we had them at home first and won 2-1. It was very close all season and we had two games to go, playing a team near the bottom of the table. We lost the game, so it meant we were level on points with Bedford and we were trailing on goal difference by three, so we had a plan to score as many as possible in our last game against Bedwell Rangers. We were 3-0 up, all going well, then I got word Bedford had scored and we then conceded a penalty. Half time, our striker Sophie came off injured so my wife Maria went up front with Libby. Then we heard that Bedford were drawing, then it was goals goals goals! Libby got a hat-trick, the game ended 9-2 and Bedford lost 3-2. The celebrations started and we had won the league.
"We are still looking for a sponsor but have been rejected by local companies. The ladies need tracksuits and jacket for the winter months but we will keep trying, We are also recruiting for our new season as we are losing some players to university. But we are a great team and things are looking up."
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