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Oxford City 3 Milton Keynes City 1
Oxford City consolidated their position at the head of the Southern Region Premier Division with a 3-1 home win over Milton Keynes City.
On a day when the weather claimed most of the League and County Cup fixtures all over the country, Oxford came from a goal down to lead 3-1 at the interval at their impressive Marsh Lane base and. though the visitors competed well throughout, the home side had the majority of chances in a goalless second period.
Oxford started at an express pace and ran the MK defence ragged in the opening minutes. April England and Molly Lygo put good chances wide in the first five minutes then visiting keeper Amy Butler made the first of several fine saves to deny England on ten minutes. The same player then hit the post and a follow up shot went over.
MK scored with their first effort on goal and it was a superb shot from 25 yards by Kelly Crompton from wide right which flew in over home keeper Laura Allsop on 16 minutes. Oxford were level within four minutes with a sweeping counter attack which left England clear on the left to drive home a powerful cross shot.
Oxford then took the lead on 24 minutes with another impressive move up the left with three first time passes sending Lygo clear of the defence to finish confidently past Butler. The MK keeper then denied Rosie McCabe with a fine reaction save low to her left on 34 minutes. Kiera Isaac had an outstanding match on the right wing for Oxford and she set up England for the third goal close to the break with a tricky run and measured cross for a close range headed finish.
MK returned with determination, with skipper Danielle Metcalfe leading by example and Lynsey Patmore and fellow defender Bianca Luttman covering and blocking in central defence whilst Laura Geyton and Natalie Keefe fought hard to create further forward. Oxford could not find a way to carve out chances as easily as before. although MK were equally well contained in attack by a strong Oxford back line.
It was only in the final ten minutes that Oxford really threatened to extend their lead. McCabe sent in a 25-yard drive which smacked the bar, then she hit a volley from a Marisa Chamberlain cross which Butler saved. Several Oxford corners were well defended and both teams had come out of the match with credit for a committed and skilful effort on the day.
Oxford City and Marlow lead the way in a very competitive league, but with Southampton Women and Chesham United having games in hand, the destination of the title is still anyone's guess. MK City showed enough against the league leaders to suggest that they can finish the season strongly in their final six matches.
Laura Allsop, Dara Austin, Marisa Chamberlain, Nicole Miles, Rebecca Bostick, Steph Mobbs, Kiera Isaac, Rosie McCabe, April England, Jane Younger, Molly Lygo. Subs: Mollie Avery, Becca Howard, Rachel Mariam.
Milton Keynes City:
Amy Butler, Bianca Luttman, Laura Geyton, Lynsey Patmore, Nicola Walterman, Kelly Crompton, Jaqueline King, Katie Crawley, Mia Skaarup, Natalie Keefe, Danielle Metcalfe. Subs: Elle Harris, Danielle Rolph, Natalie McGonigle.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Jane Younger challenges Mia Skaarup
(middle) Molly Lygo is pursued by Elle Harris
(bottom) Kiera Isaac gets in a cross past Nicola Walterman
Anna Signeul will step down as Scotland national coach after the UEFA Euro 2017 finals in Netherlands this summer to become head coach of the Finland national team.
Leading Scotland to their first ever major tournament will be one facet of the Swede's legacy after 12 years with the Scottish FA.
Anna will leave her post after the Euros and return closer to home to take charge of the Finnish national team.
Since joining in 2005, she has revolutionised the women's game in Scotland, making the quantum leap of leading Scotland to the Finals of a major tournament for the first time.
She has also played a key role in introducing an academy system to support the development of the most talented players in the country.
The academy structure made a significant impact on both the national teams and the club game.
The work Anna led on behalf of the Scottish FA has made a huge impact on the growth of the game, supporting the development of strong sustainable clubs and supporting the development of volunteers and coaches working in the girls/women's game.
With Anna's support and guidance, 14 coaches made the transition from volunteers to working in a professional capacity in the game.
Anna arrived in Cyprus yesterday for the start of preparations for the European Championships - a double header against Denmark - and informed the squad of her future plans at the team headquarters.
She emphasised that speaking to the players about her intentions now will ensure it has no detrimental impact as preparations intensify.
"Firstly, I would like to say that after 12 great years in Scotland I am proud that this squad have made the journey to their first-ever European Championships," she said.
"This was a wonderful achievement and one that has been thoroughly deserved.
"These players are dedicated, professional and have overcome adversity to become the formidable players they are, individually and collectively.
"The support of the clubs in ensuring we continue to develop an elite environment for the players has been a really humbling experience for me.
"The volume of work undertaken by the volunteers in the clubs is immense. I would like to thank the players, clubs and parents for their support.
"Scotland and its people will always have a very special place in my heart.
"I felt it was important to clarify my future now so that we can prepare without any distractions. We have an intensive programme of fixtures and while it has been a terrific achievement to reach the finals, we are determined to go there and make an impact.
"The focus for the players and staff is on the Euro's and we know there is a lot of work to be done to prepare the team for the tournament in the Netherlands.
"Now that I have explained to the players the reasons for leaving and taking up an offer to coach Finland, we will concentrate on making sure we are in the best condition possible for the finals.
"I would like to thank our Chief Executive, Stewart Regan and our President, Alan McRae, for their support for girls' and women's football in Scotland. I will leave Scotland with fond memories but I am convinced the greatest memories lie ahead in the coming months."
Stewart Regan, the Scottish FA's Chief Executive, paid tribute to Anna's indefatigability in striving for the best over more than a decade at the helm.
"Anna will rightly be lauded for taking the first Scotland women's national team to a major finals and that legacy is richly deserved. More than that, though, she has worked tirelessly and to raise standards at all levels of the women's game and to increase opportunities for girls and women across the country.
"She has been an inspiration and I have no doubt she will burnish that legacy during the UEFA Euro finals in Netherlands."
Malky Mackay, the recently appointed Performance Director, will begin the process of recruiting Anna's successor, with a view to a new national coach being appointed in time to take over immediately after the finals.
"I have only been here for a few weeks but I know that Anna is highly respected within the association, among her squad of players and throughout the women's game in general. That was apparent in my very first meeting as Performance Director, with the women's national team at Oriam, and she will be a hard act to follow.
"That is the challenge for any potential successor but the most important aspect at the moment is to ensure Anna and her squad can focus on their preparations for what will be an exciting and, I'm sure, a successful summer ahead."
Midlands Division One
Leaders Loughborough Foxes were stunned by a 5-1 defeat at the hands of Long Eaton Utd, who have climbed back up to fifth in the table. Cara Newton led the scoring for Long Eaton with a hat-trick and Precious Hamilton weighed in with the other two, while the Foxes' consolation came from Chloe Young.
Rotherham Utd meanwhile ran out 6-1 winners away to Leicester City Ladies, who remain in the bottom two. An own goal gave Rotherham an early lead and Nat Shaw went on to score her fourth hat-trick of the season, with Bradie Wild contributing a brace.
Northern Division One
Blackpool Wren Rovers' run of wins was brought to a halt by Leeds Ladies, who moved back into fourth place with a 5-1 victory. Wren Rovers did take the lead through Nikki Berko but two goals by Veatriki Sarri turned matters around in Leeds' favour by half time. Arianne Parnham and Helen Wagstaff put them further ahead after the break, before Sarri completed her hat-trick with three minutes remaining.
The two teams at the foot of the table met each other in a vital clash and it was Mossley Hill who ran out 4-0 winners, to lift themselves off the bottom at the expense of Tranmere Rovers. Megan Brodie was on target twice for Mossley, along with Erin Slade and Paige Whitehead.
All scheduled matches in South East Division One and South West Division One were postponed.
Blackburn Rovers are back on top of the Northern Division on goal difference after putting an end to Leicester City Women's excellent home record.
Leicester had been unbeaten at home since the league adopted its new format in 2014, a total of 25 matches, but Blackburn brought the run to a crashing end with a 4-0 victory. Saffron Jordan was Rovers' destroyer-in-chief as she bagged a hat-trick, after Lynda Shepherd had put them in front on the half hour. Blackburn therefore move back above Middlesbrough and have four games in hand on their Teesside rivals.
Bradford City meanwhile ascended into third place on the back of a 5-1 success away to Newcastle Utd. Hannah Campbell put Bradford in front with two minutes on the clock with Nicole Dack scoring a spectacular equaliser for the Magpies, before Charlotte Stuart restored City's lead on the stroke of half time. Jessica Graham netted a third before Stuart added two more in the last fifteen minutes to seal her hat-trick.
These were the only two Northern Division matches to beat the weather and all games in the Southern Division were postponed.
Swansea City have opened up a lead of four points at the top of the Orchard Welsh Premier Women's League following their 3-0 victory away to Briton Ferry Llansawel.
The first half ended goalless but seven minutes after the restart, Emma Beynon opened the scoring for the Swans and Jodie Passmore quickly added a second, before Passmore netted the final goal during injury time.
Second placed Abergavenny Women lost a little ground when going down 1-0 to Cardiff City FC. Shannon Evans scored the only goal of the game with four minutes remaining to keep City's title hopes alive and put a dent in the home side's challenge.
Cardiff Met Ladies meanwhile ensured they remained on track by beating Llandudno Ladies 3-1. Jassie Vasconcelos gave Met the lead just after the quarter hour but early in the second half, an own goal by Steph Turner brought Llandudno back on terms. Carys Hill restored Met's advantage with eighteen minutes remaining and Erin Murray wrapped up the win shortly afterwards, to bring Met to within two points of Abergavenny.
Cyncoed Ladies continue to have a good season and strengthened their position in the top half with a hard fought 4-3 victory over Rhyl Ladies. Grace Horrell gave Cyncoed a first half lead which was cancelled out by Ashley Mills, before Laura Williams sent Rhyl ahead for the first time on the half hour. Alice Griffiths then scored to put Cyncoed back on level terms before half time. The home side went back in front through Horrell midway through the second half and Fern Burrage scored what proved to be a decisive fourth, before Rebecca Bannister reduced the arrears late on.
Port Talbot Town claimed their first home league victory of the season when defeating Aberystwyth Town 3-0. Jesci Hare opened the scoring after five minutes and Samantha Morgan added a second midway through the first half, with Wenna Albury also getting on the scoresheet early in the second half.
Brighouse Town booked their place in the Third Round of the SSE Women's FA Cup for the first time on Sunday with a thrilling 4-3 victory over Long Eaton Utd, before landing a plum home draw against former Cup winners Everton.
We talked to Brighouse defender Kayleigh Bamforth who was understandably delighed with the win and the prospect of playing Everton, whilst also setting her sights on improving the club's league position:
WSS: 4-3 sounds like a very exciting cup tie, what was it like to play in?
KB: It certainly was an exciting game, especially the last couple of minutes with both sides going for the win. At 2-0 up we looked comfortable and probably should have added to our lead but we took our foot off the gas and credit to Long Eaton, they came back at us and went in at half time level. The manager gave us confidence at half time to go on and win the game, we just needed to play at a higher tempo and be aware of our opponents' pace which I think we dealt with quite well on a whole.
WSS: Was it nerve wracking after you had scored what turned out to be the winner?
KB: Jodie (Redgrave) showed nerves of steel and an incredible amount of composure to round the keeper and grab the winner with what was almost the last kick of the game, so I think we only had to hold out for thirty seconds or so. I can just remember the celebrations and having to sprint the full length of the pitch to join in, I was feeling it at that point so thankful we didn't have to endure extra time!
WSS: What a day Jodie Redgrave had by scoring all four goals, was her performance the difference between the teams on the day?
KB: Jodie is an unbelievable player and can influence the game at any point, she was pretty unplayable against Long Eaton but the whole team put a massive amount of effort in to ensure we progressed to the next round!
WSS: Now you will be playing Everton at home in the next round, surely the draw could not have been better for you?
KB: On the coach on the way home, we were talking about the draw and who we'd like to get in the next round, Everton were top of our list, just purely because of how big a club they are and the fact we get a chance to play a WSL side at home. They've finished third a couple of times now and have just missed out on promotion which I'm sure they'll get this time round, It will be a tough game and a few of the girls have mentioned the need for oxygen masks on the sideline!
WSS: How big an occasion is that likely to be for the club and the players?
KB: It's massive, I think just the prestige of the competition and the opponents we are playing has ensured there is a real buzz around the ground, the men's section have congratulated us and are really looking forward to being part of a great day. I'm sure we will get a bit of extra support on the day and hopefully we can play well enough to compete with much higher opposition. It's the furthest we've ever been in the FA Cup and the fact we managed to gain promotion to the FA Women's Premier League has given not just me but the whole group an opportunity to play at a really good standard.
WSS: This week you are back in league action with a trip to Crewe Alexandra, how important a game is this one?
KB: It's just nice to get back to league action, it feels like we haven't played for months given the cup and the Christmas break but we are just looking forward to the game and hopefully we can take our cup form in to the league and start picking up some points. Crewe will be a really difficult game as I'm sure they will be up for it given our similar league position in a very competitive league, I've heard a couple of supporters mention it's a real six pointer and a must win but we will just prepare as well as we can and see what we can pick up from it.
WSS: Has it been difficult stepping up to the Premier League this season after promotion?
KB: I think because we have had quite a few changes and a couple of absentees through work and injuries we haven't been able to build momentum, we have played well in a lot of games and just not picked up the points we feel we've deserved. The big difference is just how close it can be between winning and losing games and a lot of teams will punish mistakes whereas last season we got away with it a bit. We are working really hard to make sure we stay in the division and believe in our ability as a team.
WSS: If you can consolidate in the league this season, are you confident that the club can push on from there in the future?
KB: That's the plan, consolidate this season and look to finish higher up the table next season. It could potentially be my last season so I want to make sure I finish on a high, the group of players we have is more than capable and with a couple of experienced and quality additions we wouldn't be far off turning those 1-0 defeats in to wins!
Our thanks to Kayleigh!
East Midlands League
Bedworth Utd have gone second in the table following a 3-0 victory away to fellow challengers Nettleham. Kirsty Farnsworth, Jodi Hunter and Jodie McGuckin scored the goals to move their side to within three points of leaders Mansfield Town. Charley Norman and Chrystal Smiley were on target for Arnold Town as they won 2-0 at Ruddington Village.
Ollerton Town remain four points clear at the top of Division One North after they defeated Sleaford Town 4-2. Rachel Murray (2), Rachael Bell and Natalie Gibson scored their goals with Jade Welch and Amy Kilgannon replying. Second placed Woodlands Ladies also won, 3-2 at Calverton MW thanks to a Lily Lymn brace and Lauren Turner. Lincoln Moorlands Railway are back in the top half after scoring seven times without reply past Arnold Town Development. Tara Capon, Lauren Churcher and Chloe Winchester all scored twice and Naomi Johnson was also on target.
In Division One South, Leicester City Women Development climbed back into second place on the back of a 6-1 victory over Loughborough Foxes Vixens. Corby S & L were 3-2 winners away to Oadby & Wigston Dynamo, courtesy of a Joanne Ross brace and Leanne Lowden. At the other end of the table, AFC Leicester won for the first time, 3-1 against Heather LFC thanks to Jade Lang (2) and Georgia Wells.
Eastern Region League
AFC Dunstable defeated Royston Town 3-1 to ensure that the top three teams in the Premier Division are all level on points, with Haringey Borough remaining in front of Bedford Ladies. Danielle Carty netted twice for Dunstable and Amber Pearson was also on target. Writtle now head the chasing teams after Amy Simmons and Sophie Vale gave them a 2-1 success at Acle Utd and AFC Sudbury were 4-1 winners over Histon thanks to doubles from Mia Etheridge and Stacey Teager. Leah Cowan netted twice along with Angela Arnold, Marie Barker and Georgia Holdaway for Brentwood Town in their 5-2 victory over Colchester Town.
Offley & Stopsley stay on top of Division One despite going down to a 1-0 defeat against Stevenage Ladies Res, Hannah Marshall scoring the only goal. They lead on goals scored from Cambridge City, 4-0 winners over Little Thurrock Dynamos thanks to Sarah Mosley, Lauren Tomlinson, Bronte Rapley and Philippa Witherspoon. A win would have taken Wymondham Town top of the table but they were beaten 4-1 by Silver End who scored through a Rebecca Hollocks hat-trick and Lynsey Bowman. Kristie Turner (2), Jade Horne and Tarnya McKew earned Ipswich Wanderers a 4-3 success away to Hertford Town and goals from Charlotte Grogan and Hanna Kelly handed Hoddesdon Town Owls their first point of the season, a 2-2 draw with Hutton who replied through Hayley Critchell and Kaitlin Sugg.
London & South East League
League leaders Crawley Wasps were held to a 1-1 draw by Aylesford. Zara McAlney netted for Aylesford. while Holly Turbill was on target for Crawley whose advantage has been trimmed to five points by Leyton Orient, 4-0 winners away to Eastbourne Town. Sophie Le Marchand, Ella Meadowcroft, Egle Trezzi and Naomi Stirling netted the goals for the O's. Elizabeth Adams and Alicia Gibbs scored for London Corinthians as they won 2-1 at Carshalton Athletic to go third, just ahead of Watford Development who beat Fulham FC Foundation 5-1 thanks to doubles from Emma Bebbington and Anaisa Harney, with Sacha Brinkley adding the other.
North East League
League leaders Barnsley made a flying start to the new year, winning 10-0 against Scunthorpe & Bottesford. Kathryn Smith hit a hat-trick, Brittany Sanderson and Amy Woodruff added two apiece, while Holly Findlay, Drew Greene and Laura Shepherd were also on target. Second placed Norton & Stockton Ancients remain three points behind following their 4-0 victory over Oughtibridge, secured by goals from Heather Johnson, Anna Mawston, Nyci Thorns and Sian Williams. Wakefield meanwhile climbed out of the bottom two by beating York City 4-2 thanks to Katie Hawkshaw (2), Grace McConnell and Tara Nolan.
Durham Cestria's ten match winning run in the Northern Division came to a halt as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Hartlepool Utd. Jenni Duffy-Smith gave Hartlepool a first half lead, with Anna Young equalising after the break to preserve Durham's unbeaten record and they have inched a further point clear after York City Res were beaten 3-1 by South Shields. After trailing at the break to a Sophie Tinson goal, Sophie Halliday, Paige Lester and Natalie May struck in the second half for a result which takes South Shields level on points with their opponents. Meanwhile, the meeting between the two teams at the foot of the table, Redcar Town and Lowick Utd, ended in a goalless draw.
Farsley Celtic stay seven points clear at the top of the Southern Division after they defeated Courts City 5-0. Chelsea Schofield scored twice for Farsley along with Olivia Auker, Katie Platts and Dee Swales. Jess Andrew (2) and Lauren Earle netted for second placed Doncaster Belles (Women) in their 3-0 win at Malet Lambert YC whilst Westella & Willerby also won, 4-0 against Harrogate Railway. Jenna Holloway gave Sheffield Wednesday an interval lead in their 1-1 draw at Altofts Ladies, for whom Rachel Henderson equalised during the second half.
North West League
Bolton Wanderers ensured that they maintained their advantage of seven points in the Premier Division with a 6-1 victory over Blackburn Community. Blackpool beat Accrington Girls & Ladies 3-0 to continue to head the chasing teams with Wigan Athletic a further point adrift after they won 4-2 at CMB Ladies. Burnley Girls & Ladies defeated City of Manchester 5-2 to follow on and Stockport County were also 5-2 winners over MSB Woolton. Manchester Stingers cemented themselves in mid-table, courtesy of a 2-0 success away to Birkenhead,
Division One North is now becoming a two horse race, still headed by Sir Tom Finney who ran out 7-1 victors against Kendal Town. Penrith AFC won 2-1 at third placed Bury Girls & Ladies to keep themselves three points off the pace. Workington Reds and Carlisle Utd battled out a 1-1 draw in their all-Cumbria clash and Preston North End claimed their third victory of the season when they edged out Leigh RMI by the odd goal in five.
Things remain tight at the top of Division One South with Merseyrail Bootle beating Liverpool Marshalls Feds Res 6-2 to stay ahead on goal difference from FC United of Manchester, 1-0 winners over Altrincham. Ellesmere Port Town defeated Chorltonians 2-0 to go fourth while Egerton and Curzon Ashton finished level at 1-1.
South West League
A 1-1 draw with Torquay Utd has taken Bishop's Lydeard back to the top of the Premier Division. Kitty Wells netted the goal for Lydeard, with Torquay replying through Jana Richards. Third placed Yeovil Town Intermediate also drew, 2-2 against Poole Town whose scorers were Faye Hawkins and Tiffany House. Middlezoy Rovers meanwhile registered their second victory of the season, 3-0 against Charlestown thanks to Anusia Rourke, Chloe Stringer and Hannah Thompson.
Forest Green Rovers made it eight wins out of nine and they have gone ten points clear in the Eastern Division after beating Oldland Abbotonians 2-1. Forest Green led through a Rhian Robbins goal, before Oldland looked to have picked up a share of the spoils when Beth Dale levelled the scores. However, deep into injury time, Robbins scored her second to put her side in a strong position. Second placed AEK Boco were beaten 3-1 by Cheltenham Civil Service who scored through a Gemma Riley brace and Kelly Churchley. FC Chippenham are in third following their 2-2 draw with Ilminster Town. Megan Purchase and Amy North were on target for Chippenham, with Ilminster replying via goals from Caitlin Brooks and Ann-Marie Hervey. Lauren Cable and Abigail Jones netted two apiece, with Yasmin Francis and Rebecca Mansfield adding the others as Cheltenham Town Development won 6-0 against Team Mendip.
It's a perfect ten for Western Division leaders Buckland Athletic who were 14-1 winners over Activate. Laura Gough was on target four times, Hayley Chamberlain and Helen Kukor contributed hat-tricks, with doubles from Kirsty Caunter and Abigail Meyer completing the tally. Alphington are six points behind after beating Exeter & Tedburn Rangers 5-0 with goals from Laura Burwood (2), Jodie Millett (2) and Kirsty Brown.
Southern Region League
Chesham Utd made up ground on the leading sides in the Premier Division when they defeated Bracknell Town 7-1. Gemma Fraser led the scoring with a four-goal haul, Michelle Bailey added two and Sarah Jackson was also on target. Ruby Oliver was on target for Newbury Ladies in their 1-1 draw against Milton Keynes City, who replied through Catalina Costas.
The top of the table clash in Division One ended with honours even after Oxford City Nomads and Barton Rovers shared a 1-1 draw. Amy Pipe netted for Oxford, who stay two points ahead, with Barton's strike coming from Megan Halfacre. Hannah Evans bagged a hat-trick with Lucy Holzman-Clarke (2) and Amy Woollard also getting on the scoresheet for Ascot Utd as they ran out 6-1 winners over Wargrave Ladies.
West Midlands League
Kingshurst Sporting Club stay on top of the Premier Division despite going down to a 4-2 defeat at home to third placed Crusaders. Wrockwardine Wood moved away from Lye Town in the table after beating them 4-1. Coundon Court edged out Leamington Lions by the odd goal in nine whilst Wolverhampton Sporting and Knowle finished level at 2-2.
In Division One North, the top three were not in action whilst Leek Town replaced Wyrley Ladies in fourth after beating them 3-1. Brereton Town ran out 5-1 winners over Bilbrook and also move above Wyrley in the table. Just four points cover the middle seven teams and these now include Atherstone Ladies, 4-3 victors over Florence, and Shrewsbury Juniors who beat Tamworth 3-1.
Top met second in Division One South and the resulting 1-1 draw means that Redditch Utd preserve their lead of eight points over Worcester Utd, who conceded points for the first time this season. Third placed Droitwich Spa lost ground when they were beaten 3-1 by Solihull Utd but Coventry Development fared better, winning 3-0 at Marston Green. Stourbridge came away from Rubery Ladies with a 4-2 win under their belts.
Fylde Ladies have gone level on points with the top two in the Northern Division after they won 4-2 away to Brighouse Town. Olivia Hooper, Olivia Rees, Jess Battle and Shaunna Jein scored the goals for Fylde with Faith Forde and Chelsea Morton replying.
Leicester City Women have a lead of five points at the top of the Midland Division following their 4-1 success at Loughborough Foxes, given to them by a Summer Pratt brace, Lauren Cartwright and Alex Madden. Leanne Mitchell (2), Shannon Stamps and Emily Woolvin were on target for West Bromwich Albion as they beat Coventry Utd 4-1 and they are up into second place. Zoe Atkins, Jemma Heath and Jasmine Turner each hit doubles with Chantelle Chapman, Hannah Mills, Emily Poole and Georgia Roberts-Powell also getting on the scoresheet as Cardiff City Ladies netted ten times without reply past TNS Ladies, a result which takes them into the top half.
Tottenham Hotspur strengthened their position as leaders of the Southern Division, going seven points clear after beating C & K Basildon 8-1. Abbie Benstead and Shakira Waithe both hit hat-tricks and Shona Samuriwo added the other two. Second placed Charlton Athletic went down to a 3-2 defeat at home to Crystal Palace for whom Kshaela Waldron, Freya Holdaway and Olivia Woolacott all scored. Ellie Smith, Eleanor Ramsauer, Gabby Baldock, Hayley Bridge and Mia Hyland were the markswomen for Lewes in their 5-1 victory over Denham Utd and Milton Keynes Dons defeated Southampton Saints 3-1 thanks to Tayla Duffy, Sarah Harrison and Charlotte Matthews.
England will play France in their opening fixture of the SheBelieves Cup in March.
The Lionesses will travel to the USA to take part in the annual tournament, now in its second year.
They will face Les Bleues at the Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania on Wednesday 1st March (4pm ET KO).
Mark Sampson's side will then travel to New Jersey where they will face the tournament hosts, ranked the best team in the world by FIFA, at the Red Bull Arena on Saturday 4th March (5pm ET KO).
England will then play European champions Germany, in their final game of the tournament, at the RFK Stadium in Washington on Tuesday 7th March (4pm ET KO).
The matches form part of England's preparation for this summer's Euros, which take place in Netherlands.
England took part in the inaugural SheBelieves Cup last year, narrowly losing to USA after a 20-yard strike from new Chelsea recruit Crystal Dunn. They lost 2-1 to Germany in their second game, after taking the lead through a Toni Duggan goal, and they then drew 0-0 with France in a tight final match.
Sampson said: "The SheBelieves Cup is a key opportunity for us to continue our learning on what it takes to win against the best teams in the world in tournament conditions.
"We are grateful to US Soccer for the invitation and look forward to contributing to what promises to be a great event for women's football."
Lionesses captain Steph Houghton said: "The SheBelieves Cup was a great tournament to play in last year with big crowds and tough opposition.
"It's important we test ourselves against the best teams and players in the world and we'll certainly do so there.
"I know we can compete with these teams, we've developed a lot in the last few years and hopefully will continue to do so ahead of the Euros."
Arsenal and England legend Kelly Smith has announced her retirement from football.
Kelly, who scored 46 goals for England and is her country's all time leading goalscorer, is widely considered to be one of England's greatest-ever players, if not the best of all time.
She retired from international football in February 2015 after a 20-year career, winning 117 caps.
Kelly made her England debut against Italy in 1995 and scored her first goal against Croatia in the same year.
She appeared in two World Cups and four European Championships and also represented Team GB at London 2012.
Smith also enjoyed a glittering domestic career, winning the league on six occasions and the Women's FA Cup five times, including last season in a 1-0 win against Chelsea at Wembley Stadium, during her spells at Arsenal where she won more than 20 trophies.
She also spent some of her career playing in America for Philadelphia Charge, New Jersey Wildcats and Boston Breakers. She was awarded an MBE in 2008 for services to football.
England head coach Mark Sampson said: "I was privileged to have the honour of coaching Kelly.
"She will be remembered as one of the greatest players to have played the game.
"The creativity and excitement she brought to the pitch will stay as treasured memories for every supporter who had the pleasure to watch her play.
"Combining that with her insatiable work ethic and will to win made Kelly a dream to play with and nightmare to play against.
"Off the field she is a humble and honest person who graced every changing room she was a part of.
"The many thousands of young people who took up the game after being inspired by Kelly will never forget the inspiration and joy she brought just from watching her play.
"It will absolutely be a loss to the game on the field. I hope she will now go on to enjoy a wonderful career off the field. I wish her all the very best for the future. The game has lost a great."
Lionesses captain Steph Houghton, who played with Smith for England and Arsenal, said: "Kelly is simply one of the best players in the world and I think the greatest-ever England player.
"As a team-mate for club and country she was fantastic. She was a real leader, she was passionate, inspiring and women's football won't be the same without her.
"I am honoured to have played in the same team as her."
Photo by SSE
Champions Manchester City will face last season's runners-up Chelsea in the opening weekend of the FA Women's Super League (FA WSL) 1 Spring Series.
The Spring Series is a one-off competition which has been created to bridge the gap between seasons, while the FA WSL transitions from a summer league to a more traditional football calendar.
Each club will play each other once with a trophy awarded to each division's winners. The Spring Series will finish before this summer's Euros.
FA WSL 1 fixtures start on 22nd April, with newly promoted Bristol City facing Reading FC Women in a match which will be played at Ashton Gate, as a double header with the men's team. Last season's FA WSL 2 title winners Yeovil Town will host Liverpool the following day, while Sunderland travel to Birmingham City.
FA WSL 2 clubs will return to action two months earlier, on Saturday 11th February. League newcomers Brighton & Hove Albion, who won promotion from the FA Women's Premier League, will open their account away to London Bees.
The next day, Doncaster Rovers Belles, who were relegated from FA WSL 1 last season, will travel to Sheffield FC while Durham will host Millwall Lionesses. In the remaining fixtures, Aston Villa will play Watford and Oxford United take on Everton.
FA director of football participation and development Kelly Simmons said: "When it was decided to move the FA WSL to traditional football calendar, we knew it was crucial to find a way to give clubs, players and supporters a competition that provided quality matches.
"The clubs have worked hard to build their squads and establish fanbases and the Spring Series will allow them to keep developing on and off the pitch.
"It will also provide our international players with the competitive game time that they need before heading to the Euros in July.
"It's set to be an exciting few months for the domestic women's game with clubs competing for this one-off trophy and the SSE Women's FA Cup Final back at Wembley Stadium in May. It's important that we keep building this momentum ahead of the Euros and for the return of the FA WSL in September."
FA WSL 1
Saturday 22nd April
Bristol City v Reading (6pm)
Sunday 23rd April
Birmingham City v Sunderland (2pm)
Manchester City v Chelsea (2pm)
Yeovil Town v Liverpool (2pm)
TBC (22 or 23 April)
Arsenal v Notts County
FA WSL 2
Saturday 11th February
London Bees v Brighton & Hove Albion (2pm)
Sunday 12th February
Durham Women v Millwall Lionesses (12pm)
Aston Villa v Watford (2pm)
Oxford United v Everton (2pm)
Sheffield FC v Doncaster Rover Belles (2pm)
Tottenham Hotspur 3 Gillingham 0
FAWPL Southern Division leaders Tottenham Hotspur, unbeaten so far this season, progressed into the Third Round of the SSE Women's FA Cup with a 3-0 home win over Gillingham.
The final score, however, does not tell the story of a well contested match. The lower ranked visitors, whose only defeat had come against Spurs in the Premier League Cup, created and missed a string of chances in the first two thirds of the match and then were made to pay when Spurs took advantage of two defensive errors to establish a lead and seal the win with a late third.
The early play was end-to-end with Gills' Fliss Gibbons testing Toni-Anne Wayne from distance and Bianca Baptiste seeing a low cross scrambled away. Kelley Blanchflower had a 20-yard effort which flew over Gillingham keeper Katie Startup's bar but it was the visitors who went very close on 16 minutes. Charlotte Gurr had a shot which hit the post and Wayne, at full stretch, tipped Gibbons' follow up shot over the bar.
Gibbons was through on goal on 19 minutes but shot straight at Wayne as the visitors moved ball quickly and fluently in the final third. Back came Spurs as Baptiste fired narrowly wide after good work from Nikita Whinett and Lucia Leon. Startup saved confidently from Sophie McLean on the half hour but Gills were denied by a fine Wayne save low to her right as Gibbons again outpaced the Spurs defence.
Another excellent build up between Jade Keogh, Jay Blackie and Gurr saw Gibbons shoot wide from a tight angle and the visitors went into the break having created the better chances and having defended soundly.
Startup produced a superb save in the 46th minute reaching high into the top left corner to tip over Baptiste's powerful 15-yard shot on the turn. Blanchflower shot wide under pressure as Spurs started the second half well but Gillingham were soon threatening again. A long throw found Gurr who beat her marker before setting Gibbons for a shot inches wide. Keogh then had an excellent chance to give the visitors the lead when a left wing cross found her ten yards out but she volleyed wide on 69 minutes.
Spurs took the lead when pressure on a short goal kick forced a loose pass across the Gills area and sub Maya Vio took advantage to rob a defender and score on 73 minutes. Worse was to follow for the Gills as Startup could only help a lofted Baptiste shot into the net on 76 minutes and Spurs were suddenly two goals to the good.
Baptiste, who had a fine match, notched the third when she outpaced the defence late on. Denied at first by a fine save by Startup. the Spurs forward calmly rolled home the rebound to complete a final score which was very harsh on Gillingham, who had played well for so long and had troubled a strong Spurs defence which had only conceded three goals in ten FAWPL Southern Division matches before Christmas.
Toni-Anne Wayne, Lucia Leon, Leah Rawle, Sophie McLean, Rhianna Soobadoo, Josie Green, Bianca Baptiste, Nikita Whinnett, Jenna Schillaci, Renee Hector, Kelley Blanchflower. Subs: Megen Lynch, Eartha Pond Wendy Martin, Maya Vio.
Katie Startup, Millie Waud, Emily Symonds, Ellie Manning, Jay Blackie, Vanisha Patel, April Bowers, Fliss Gibbons, Jade Keogh, Charlotte Gurr, Grace Seeley. Subs: Lauren Davis, Bethany Nugent.
Report by Patrick Higgins
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Kelley Blanchflower is tackled by Millie Waud
(middle) Eartha Pond slides in to challenge Lauren Davis
(bottom) Josie Green battles with Fliss Gibbons
Northern Division One
Chorley have taken over as the new leaders of Northern Division One following their 4-1 victory over Crewe Alexandra. Sam Cadwallader, Rachel Wood and Scarlet Smith gave Chorley a three-goal lead going into half time and Wood netted her second early after the restart, before Meg Booth replied for Crewe on the hour.
Leeds Ladies are back up to fifth after winning 5-2 away to Mossley Hill. Veatriki Sarri and Harriet Jakeman each scored twice for Leeds along with Simona Petkova, while Amy Hughes and Nikki James were on target for the home side.
Morecambe meanwhile came away from Tranmere Rovers with a 1-0 win under their belts. Melissa Brown scored the only goal of the game whilst goalkeeper Natalie Saunders also saved a penalty for the Lancashire side.
Midlands Division One
Loughborough Foxes have opened up a lead of eight points at the top but only after winning a bizarre game 10-4 away to Steel City Wanderers. Charlotte Cooper netted a hat-trick for the Foxes, who were seven goals ahead at half time, while Becky Matlock, Laura Steele and Emma Pilling each weighed in with braces and Chloe Young completed their tally. The Steels replied with a hat-trick from Cheryl Mawhood and Lauren Brown was also on target.
Sporting Khalsa are back in second place following their 4-2 victory over Rotherham Utd. Jodie Lewis netted twice for Khalsa along with Lyndsey Glover and Lauren Walker, while Rotherham responded through Bradie Wild and Libby Hallam.
TNS Ladies made sure of keeping pace with the leading sides, thanks to an 8-2 win against Leicester City Ladies. Chloe Wilkinson and Madison Jones each netted twice for TNS along with Emily Ridge, Laura Morris, Emma Roden and an own goal. Sarah Burbidge and Aleksander Janicka replied with goals for Leicester.
Birmingham & West Midlands Ladies continue to climb the table and are up to fifth after scoring five times without reply past Loughborough Students, bringing the total of goals on the day in the division to 35 in four games. Leah Seivwright hit a hat-trick, with Justine Buckmire and Jodie McDonagh adding the others to seal their team's sixth league win on the trot.
South East Division One
Actonians Ladies are only three points off the pace following their 1-0 success away to Ipswich Town. Melissa Jung scored the only goal of the game for Actonians who are still in fourth place.
Luton Town returned to the top five places after they defeated Denham Utd 3-2. Jodie Bellinger, Erica Byron and Lucy Webster were all on target for Luton, with Denham replying through Alissa Down and Aimee Durn.
Stevenage Ladies celebrated their first Premier League victory at the 12th attempt when they won 1-0 against Norwich City. A solitary strike from Kristina O'Connell was enough to give Stevenage the points and move them out of the bottom two at the expense of their opponents.
South West Division One
Chichester City have powered four points clear at the top of the table after scoring fourteen times without reply against Shanklin. Charley Wilson-Blakely led the spree with a six-goal haul and Chloe Dowdell weighed in with a further five, with a Becky Barron brace and an own goal rounding off the scoring for the leaders.
Southampton Saints replaced Larkhall Athletic in third place after triumphing 6-2 in their meeting at Sholing. Nicole Matthews bagged a hat-trick, Krystal Whyte added a brace and Alisha Buckingham was also on target for the Saints, who remain unbeaten, while the Larks scored through Lizzie Barratt and Kate German.
Cheltenham Town are up into mid-table following their 2-1 victory over Basingstoke Town. Ella Hitchcox and Ria Salleh scored the goals for Cheltenham, with Charlie Powell replying.
The draw for the third round of the SSE Women's FA Cup was made by two school girls in Birmingham today.
Sana Kazi, 14, and Leya Hussain, 16, from Broadway Academy conducted the draw and decided the 12 ties.
There are two all-FA WSL 2 ties with six-time Cup winners Doncaster Rovers Belles hosting Watford and London Bees travelling to Millwall.
FA WSL newcomers Brighton were handed an away tie against AFC Wimbledon while Derby County will take on local rivals Nottingham Forest.
Aston Villa winger Beth Merrick attended the draw, with her side due to face Cambridge United, met the pupils and took part in a football session with them.
This season, from the third round onwards, each draw will take place at a school and be made by pupils as part of SSE's new partnership with education charity Teach First.
By involving pupils in the draws and bringing female footballers to speak to young people in the classroom, the activity aims to encourage more girls to get involved with grassroots football projects and provide inspirational role models to schools in low-income communities.
Merrick said: "I was great to come down today, meet the girls and do a Q&A.
"It's good to see how many girls enjoy playing football here and how much opportunity there is for them to play the sport.
"We are really pleased to get a home draw and the chance to play a side we haven't played before in Cambridge, it definitely presents a different challenge.
"I love the SSE Women's FA Cup and we're determined to do well in the competition."
John Stewart, SSE's director of human resources, said: "We are extremely proud to sponsor the SSE Women's FA Cup and to see the number of people attending The Final growing year on year.
"We're working closely with The FA to give more girls the chance to play the beautiful game in what is an exciting year for women's football. In addition, through our partnership with Teach First, we are raising the aspirations of girls from low-income communities, particularly in the areas of STEM science and sport, by holding the draws for the SSE Women's FA Cup at Teach First schools around the country.
"We hope to see another record breaking crowd at The Final later this year and we'll again be giving our customers access to special offers and the chance to win money-can't-buy experiences at this fantastic family day out."
The third round ties will be played on Sunday 5th February and each winning club will receive £1,000 from the FA prize fund.
The Final will be played at Wembley Stadium connected by EE for the third year running. Last season Arsenal beat Chelsea 1-0 thanks to a goal from England forward Danielle Carter, in front of a record crowd of more than 32,000 supporters.
Third Round draw:
Blackburn Rovers v Tottenham Hotspur
Charlton Athletic v Sheffield FC
Aston Villa v Cambridge United
Millwall Lionesses v London Bees
Leicester City Women v Liverpool Marshall Feds
Keynsham Town v Durham Women
Coventry United v Oxford United
West Bromwich Albion v Lewes
Doncaster Rovers Belles v Watford
Derby County v Nottingham Forest
Brighouse Town v Everton
AFC Wimbledon v Brighton & Hove Albion
Photo - The FA/Getty Images
Swansea City maintained their lead at the top of the Orchard Welsh Premier Women's League with a 5-0 victory over Port Talbot Town.
Jodie Passmore opened the scoring for the Swans who added further goals through Alicia Powe and Stacey John ahead of half time. Sophie Hancocks and Ria Hughes rounded off the scoring to complete a result which keeps Ian Owen's side one point ahead.
Abergavenny Women got back to winning ways and their 4-0 success away to Aberystwyth Town means they stay hard on the heels of leaders Swansea. Kate Jeremiah netted a goal in each half and she was joined on the scoresheet by Gabi Hughes and Lyndsey Davies.
Cardiff City FC remain in fourth after being pegged back to a 2-2 draw by Cyncoed Ladies in their local derby. Lauren Lyons gave City a first half lead which was cancelled out by Gwen Davies, before Lyons put them back in front going into half time. With fifteen minutes remaining, Nicola Cousins equalised once again to earn Cyncoed a share of the spoils and preserve their unbeaten away record in the league this season.
Llandudno are a single point behind Cyncoed in sixth place after they defeated Briton Ferry Llansawel 3-1. Katie Bowe and Kelsey Davies ensured that Llandudno led by two goals at the break and although Renee Day reduced the arrears for Briton Ferry, Bowe netted her second midway through the second half to seal victory for her side.
Liverpool Marshalls Feds and Keynsham Town led the surprises in the Second Round of the SSE Women's FA Cup with victories over Premier League top flight opponents.
Liverpool Marshalls Feds played host to Northern Division side Newcastle Utd and a solitary strike from Lynsey Longhurst gave them a 1-0 victory and their second success in a row against higher division opponents.
Keynsham Town meanwhile made the long trip to Canvey Island to play C & K Basildon but returned with a surprise 3-1 win under their belts. Cristina Vega Leandro, Geovana Alves and Justine Lorton-Radburn scored the goals to take Keynsham through at the expense of the Southern Division side.
Derby County were pushed all the way by Sheffield Utd before eventually getting past the East Midlands League side with a 3-2 win after extra time. The Blades twice took the lead through Tania Marsden and Sophie Bell with Derby hitting back on each occasion with goals from Molly Johnson and Ellie May, before Camilla Newton scored what proved to the decisive third, eight minutes into extra time.
Cambridge Utd ended the hopes of Southampton Women by defeating the Southern Region League side 4-0, courtesy of a goal apiece from Mollie Kmita, Nicole Perschky, Danielle Puddefoot and Becky Taylor. Defeats for Sheffield Utd and Southampton Women means that Regional League clubs' interest in the competition is over for another year.
Lewes inflicted a first defeat of the season in any competition for Cardiff City Ladies when beating them 2-0. Both of the Rookettes' goals came during the first half, Rebecca Carter giving them the lead and Leeta Rutherford scoring the second nine minutes ahead of the break.
Leicester City Women emerged as 2-1 winners after extra time from a closely fought tie with Middlesbrough. After missing an early penalty, Leicester took the lead through Kim Farrow but a late equaliser from Jessica Havelock took the game into the extra period. Both teams went close during extra time but with two minutes remaining, Kayleigh Hillier grabbed the winner for Leicester.
Charlton Athletic made sure their date at the The Valley would be a memorable one for themselves as they defeated Portsmouth 5-0. Kit Graham led the scoring for the Addicks with a hat-trick and she was joined on the scoresheet by Kim Dixson and Katie Bottom.
Blackburn Rovers came through a potentially tricky tie against Hull City with a 5-0 victory. Rovers took the lead on the stroke of half time through Jess Holbrook and after the break, Ella Toone added a brace and there was one apiece from Natasha Fenton and Faye McCoy.
Tottenham Hotspur saw off the challenge of Gillingham by beating them 3-0. Bianca Baptiste continued her good season in front of goal by scoring twice and Maya Vio also got on the scoresheet (see match report).
Long Eaton Utd had a superb Cup run last season but they bow at the Second Round stage this time around after going down to a 4-3 defeat at home to Brighouse Town in one of the games of the day. Jodie Redgrave was the heroine for Brighouse as she scored all four goals including an injury time winner to settle a thrilling tie.
Three first half goals helped Nottingham Forest on their way to a 4-0 win against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Charlotte Broad gave Forest a third minute lead which was quickly doubled when Andi Bell slotted home the second from the penalty spot. Katie Lowder fired home a well taken third to put Forest in control of matters and they completed the scoring just after the hour mark when Bell scored her second penalty.
West Bromwich Albion swept into the Third Round as they were also 4-0 winners over Radcliffe Olympic. Hazzana Parnell and Abi Cottam ensured that Albion were two goals ahead at the interval, before Parnell netted her second and Phoebe Warner wrapped up the result.
Coventry Utd were a third team to record a 4-0 victory, at the expense of Milton Keynes Dons. Maz Gauntlett put Coventry in front early on and in-form striker Alison Hall added a second soon afterwards. In the second half, Amber Hughes increased the home side's lead and Gauntlett completed her double late on.
AFC Wimbledon have had two extremely long journeys in opposite directions in successive rounds but this is not preventing them from having a good cup run! After a trip to Norfolk in the previous round, this time the Dons went to Devon to play Plymouth Argyle but were once again victorious, Sami Bock giving them the lead from a free kick and two second half strikes from Laura Low sealing a 3-0 win.
Photo - Plymouth Argyle striker Natasha Knapman takes on Georgie O'Halloran of AFC Wimbledon (David Potham).
Swansea City gave their Orchard Welsh Premier Women's League title hopes a huge shot in the arm just before Christmas when they beat Abergavenny Women 1-0 to replace them at the top of the table.
We talked to Swansea striker and winning goalscorer Jodie Passmore, who was full of praise for the team's performance on the day and underlined their determination to finish on top of what is shaping up to be a very interesting title race:
WSS: Well done on an important win, how hard did the team need to work on the day in order to pick up the points?
JP: During the first half, I feel we dominated play and we were unlucky not to score three goals in quick succession, however we held onto a great lead and the team showed excellent resilience, especially towards the end of the game, to keep Abergavenny at bay.
WSS: After narrowly losing to Abergavenny on the opening day, were the team extra determined to make up for that this time around?
JP: It was always in the back of our minds that a win against them would take us top of the table and after dropping vital points to them at the start of the season, we knew we had to turn up and win.
WSS: How pleasing was it to keep a clean sheet on the day against such prolific scorers as Abergavenny?
JP: After a ropey start to the season and conceding more goals than we would liked, I feel now more than ever that our team has a strong defensive mentality.
WSS: You had an extra reward of course by going top of the league, how satisfying is it to be there at this stage of the season?
JP: It's brilliant! To be top of the league at any point of the season is a great achievement. Behind the scenes there's a lot of time and effort put in by numerous members of staff and as a squad we're dedicated to working hard. Smiles all around in the Swansea camp!
WSS: This Sunday you are at home to Port Talbot Town, what sort of game are you anticipating?
JP: As a squad, we never underestimate our opponents and the importance of every game and getting three points is crucial, especially now the way the league stands.
WSS: The title race in the WPWL is shaping up to be a very close one this season, can you see it staying that way?
JP: The top four teams all have to play each other again, so it will be a challenge, but we feel confident enough that we can remain at the top of the table.
WSS: How much do you think it would mean to the club if you can win the league title once again?
JP: It would be great for the club to win the title and play Champions League football again. The current squad we have is really determined and has a great work ethic, it would be great if we could win the title.
Our thanks to Jodie!
SSE Women's FA Cup - Road to the Final
Hull City proved to be a little too strong for Norton & Stockton Ancients in the First Round, ending the North East League side's Cup run with a 6-1 victory.
Misty Russell led the scoring with a hat-trick and there was one apiece from Elisha Robinson, Katie Thompson and Sophie Stamp. Hull will be on their travels again in the next round, with a very tough tie away to Northern Division high fliers Blackburn Rovers.
Formed in 1991, Blackburn Rovers Ladies have enjoyed a glorious rise to the pinnacle of women's football. Under the supervision of the club's Community Department and the watchful eye of BRFC, the Ladies team needed only seven seasons to reach the Northern Combination League.
Following a move to the club's magnificent £20m Brockhall training complex in 2003, Rovers went on to lift the Lancashire Cup and become the first team to win the Northern Combination title with a 100% league record. An undefeated Rovers set a Northern Division record in 2005-06, winning 20 of their 22 league games and lifting the Lancashire Cup for the third year running, whilst Andy McNally became the first coach from outside the top flight to be named Nationwide Manager of the Year.
Adam Lakeland replaced McNally at the helm in January 2007 and guided the team to a fourth successive Lancashire Cup, the historic achievement of two successive FA Women's Cup ?Team of the Round' awards, en route to the semi final stage, and a top half finish in the National Division table. Rovers then endured a disappointing season in 2008-09, losing the Lancashire Cup final on penalties to Rochdale and ending their Premier League campaign in ninth place, but they bounced back in 2009-10, winning the Lancashire Cup for the sixth time in seven seasons and ending the league season strongly, which included an historic 1-1 draw against Arsenal at Ewood Park, in seventh place.
Rovers enjoyed a superb start to the 2010-11 season, losing just one of their opening seven league games, which saw them sitting pretty at the top of the table by the end of October. However, they failed to win any of their remaining league fixtures and were relegated to the Northern Division on goal difference following a final day draw away to Barnet. Former Reserve team manager Scott Rogers guided the team to the latter stages of all three domestic cup competitions in 2011-12, lifting the Lancashire Cup, and made a late promotion push in the Northern Division, only to eventually finish fourth.
A new era dawned in the summer of 2013 as highly qualified FA coaches John Prince and Matt Craddock became the newly appointed management team. However, after winning just two of their opening eight league games, the duo departed in early November. Gemma Donnelly took temporary charge for the remainder of the season, securing Rovers' Premier League status.
With Donnelly now in full control, Rovers assembled a new look squad for the 2014-15 campaign and it would prove to be a successful one, finishing third in the FA Women's Premier League Northern Division and securing silverware by lifting the Lancashire Challenge Cup for the first time in three years, courtesy of a 3-1 victory over Morecambe in the Final.
2015-16 saw Rovers towards the top of the table, finishing third in the Northern Division with an increased points tally. Rovers were able to retain the county cup after winning it previously with a 2-1 win over Preston in the final. This season would see the return of a Blackburn Rovers Ladies reserve team who would go on to win the Reserve League Cup. This year would prove to be a milestone for the club as the highly reputable Centre of Excellence was granted a tier 1 status as a Regional Talent Club, the highest level available.
Gemma Donnelly is still First Team manager and captain is Lynda Shepherd, who was recently named as FAWPL Players' Player of the Year. Lynda has made a total of 175 appearances for the club, which is just ten behind record holder Katie Anderton. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Danielle Hill has kept 18 clean sheets, one away from Kay Hawke's record which was set in 2004-05.
Blackburn will be looking to build on a superb record in 2016, during the calendar year they played 37 league and cup ties, winning 30, drawing three and losing just four - a win ratio of 86%.
Blackburn Rovers (from):
Danielle Hill, Danielle Whitham, Alex Taylor, Lynda Shepherd, Kelsey Pearson, Jess Holbrook, Hannah Fryer, Natasha Fenton, Saffron Jordan, Ainsley Strickland, Emma Rankin, Kayleigh McDonald, Katie Maher, Ellie Cook, Cara Bickett, Faye McCoy, Ria Montgomery, Ella Toone.
Hull City (from):
Amy Halloran, Emma Bentley, Ellice Jackman, Natasha Cooke, Katie Thompson, Rachael Cooke, Jo Symington, Sophie Stamp, Rebecca Beech, Ellie Harding, Sarah Walters, Emily Smith, Sarah Owen, Emma Westmorland, Elisha Robinson, Jazz Whitwell, Misty Russell, Amy Wilson, Cassie Milestone, Cauren Webb, Evie Hepworth.
SSE Women's FA Cup - Road to the Final
Keynsham Town safely negotiated a potential 'banana skin' of a tie in the last round when they defeated Regents Park Rangers 6-1, courtesy of hat-tricks from Yasmin Pratt and Katie Cook.
Barrie Newton's side face another long trip in the Second Round to play C & K Basildon who enter the competition at this stage.
Originally formed in 2002 as part of Basildon United Ladies FC, the club split in 2004 to become Basildon Town Ladies FC, re-naming themselves as C & K Basildon Ladies FC in 2007. This has led to a run of League and Cup success throughout the club. After twice finishing as runners-up in their division in the Essex County Women's League, they won the league title in 2009-10 and promotion to the Eastern Region League, where they finished as Division One South Champions at the first attempt, as well as winning the League Plate.
C & K were runners-up in the Premier Division the following season but in 2012-13, they were crowned League Champions and also won the Essex County Cup for the first time. They were to finish second in the South East Combination a year later, whilst also winning the Fgura (Malta) triangular tournament, and a re-organisation of the leagues that summer saw them placed in South East Division One of the new look FA Women's Premier League.
They made a successful start by lifting the South East Division One title, as well as winning the Mgarr (Malta) triangular tournament and the Essex County Cup for the second time. Last season was one of consolidation in the Southern Division but the county cup was successfully retained.
C & K Basildon pride themselves on being a friendly, family club, where they feel hard work and dedication can be matched with fun and enjoyment. In their ranks, they have players who have played at the top level, including full internationals. These are supplemented by many players who have played at a senior level and many players who have represented their County.
Manager is Steve Tilson, the former Southend United and Lincoln City manager, who is assisted by Danny Greaves, the former Southend United player whilst Alan Richards, a Level 2 coach and Level 3 F A Physio, is Therapist. They are further supported by a goalkeeping coach in Lee Harrison (a seasoned League player with over 450 appearances in the Football League and the current Southend United first team goalkeeper coach). The team is captain by Zoe Rushen, who is also leading goalscorer.
C & K Basildon (from):
Nikita Runnacles, Angela Addison, Aysha Bentick, Paige Bradley, Mollie de Bell, Charlotte Kellett, Victoria King, Stacey Little, Stephanie Loraine, Lily Mellors, Amy Nash, Hannah Porter, Karissa Rodney, Zoe Rushen, Sara Sinclair, Karen Stephanou, Kerry Stimson, Paige Wakefield, Kayleigh Xidhas.
Keynsham Town (from):
Colette Bell, Andreea Alexandru, Jessie Osborne, Jade Lorton-Radburn, Nadine Grogan, Katie Cook, Justine Lorton-Radburn, Geovana Alves, Yasmin Pratt, Rachel Cullen, Stacey Pearson, Cristina Vega Leandro (Keka), Hannah Davies, Danielle Beazer, Hannah Christer, Hari Sabic, Hannah Sims, Angnieszka Ziolek.
Wolves Women are looking forward to Sunday's SSE Women's FA Cup encounter with Nottingham Forest after their Christmas break.
They have already had a busy time in cup competitions so far this season with three stints of extra time, and are still in both the Birmingham County Cup and the FA Cup. All the cup games have left them a bit behind with league fixtures, but they are still in second place behind league leaders Loughborough Foxes, six points adrift and with two games in hand.
It has been an eventful season for the club so far, with manager Steve Cullis moving upwards within the club to oversee the Regional Talent Centre, while Tim Dudding has taken over as First Team Manager.
The link between the Youth and Senior squads is extremely strong, with the majority of the squad having come through the ranks at Wolves Women. The Under-18s work closely with the senior side, and Ruby Meeson and Nikki Lal have both made their first team debuts this season and impressed.
Defender Claire Hakeman (pictured) told Women's Soccer Scene: "We've had a few tricky draws in the FA Cup so far; now we are looking forward to pitting ourselves against a good Nottingham Forest side from the league above.
"We're on a good run in the League....it'll be nice to have a break from that and should be a decent test for us post Christmas!"
Manager Tim Dudding added: "We as a club are excited to take part in the next round of the FA Cup, and can't wait to meet our counterparts this weekend. The FA Cup brings back fond memories for a number of players and staff, and it's a competition we all look forward to.
"We've worked hard to get where we are with the competition and look to progress as far as we can playing our football in the way that we like to. Bring on the weekend!"
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