Crawley Wasps 2 Maidstone Utd 0
Crawley Wasps gave their own promotion hopes a boost and dented those of their visitors Maidstone United with a 2-0 victory at Three Bridges FC.
A highly impressive display by the Wasps gave them a deserved win which might well have been far more emphatic, given the host of chances their pacey and inventive attacking play created over the ninety minutes. Maidstone had their moments and were competitive throughout but never found a goal to get them back in the match.
Maidstone started the day on top of the London & South East Regional League Premier Division table but were knocked out of their stride almost from the whistle. Wasps forced a corner within ten seconds and were ahead in the fifth minute after a left side run from Faye Rabson. Stones keeper Emma Hogben did well to block her close range effort but the ball was swept home by Aston Worsfold.
Wasps skipper Natalie Stephenson had a 25-yard free kick held by Hogben before Claire Williams went close for Maidstone, firing inches wide when played in by Aimee Churchill on 16 minutes.
Toni Smith was close to adding a second from a cross and had two more efforts blocked before finding the net just after the half hour. Jade Simmons sent Smith clear on the right and she finished emphatically for Wasps' second. Rabson nearly added a third but was foiled by a good save from Hogben, followed by excellent defending by Rachel Brewer to clear her follow up effort off the line.
Stephenson hit a 40-yard free kick which was heading for the top left corner till Hogben reached high to save but it was Maidstone who nearly reduced the deficit right on the break when a weak clearance was returned just wide of goal from 15 yards out by Gemma Relph.
Crawley started the second half with the same high tempo pressing game which had characterised their opening period, often winning the ball back in good positions. One such move played in Rabson who sliced wide when well placed on 55 minutes. Wasps were nearly pegged back when keeper Coleen Donovan hit a clearance straight to Chelsea Wallace 20 yards out but she recovered well to hold an attempted lobbed finish.
Wasps took control after this scare and upped their work rate even more with Worsfold and Rabson busy on the wings to keep Maidstone penned back for most of the final half hour. Hogben made two more fine saves, Rabson went close twice from close range, whilst Holly Walker headed just over from a corner.
Maidstone were rarely able to trouble a very solid Wasps defence and the hosts saw out the final minutes comfortably to claim a well earned three points.
The L&SERL is highly competitive and both teams are in the mix at the top of the table. Crystal Palace's Cup exploits have left them with several matches in hand and London Corinthians, with whom Wasps have shared two draws in the previous two weeks, are also competing for the title.
Crawley Wasps: Coleen Donovan, Alexandra Lebrato, Alex Tibble, Aston Worsfold, Suzy Davies, Natalie Stephenson, Toni Smith, Faye Rabson, Jade Simmons, Holly Walker, Kelly Poynton. Subs: Adrianna Pou Garcia, Michelle Ward, Rachel Halliday.
Maidstone United: Emma Hogben, Emma Harrington, Abi Spragg, Rachel Brewer, Gemma Relph, Chelsea Wallace, Nicola Morris, Laura Lepetzidis, Danielle Ford, Aimee Churchill, Claire Williams. Subs: Lucy Harrington, Kayleigh Lecomber, Annie Ruler.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Claire Williams battles for the ball with Holly Walker
(middle) Chelsea Wallace takes on Aston Worsfold
(bottom) Faye Rabson shoots fractionally wide past Abi Spragg and keeper Emma Hogben
The FA Girls' Football Festival in association with Continental Tyres, visited Nottingham Trent University, on Sunday 9th March.
Over 240 girls from Nottingham took part in the free programme, aimed at increasing and retaining participation in the game. The event was organised through the support of Nottinghamshire County FA, and Nottingham Trent University, Clifton Campus, who provided the venue.
The participants, aged from 5-16 years old, were accompanied by Notts County Ladies player Katie Holtham, who delighted the youngsters by taking part in the batak board and target shooting activities. She also signed autographs for the girls and gave them advice about their game, and how to progress in women's football.
Youngsters had the chance to ask their burning questions to the Notts County midfielder. A Q&A was held to give an insight into the life of a FA WSL player and questions from the girls' ranged from when Katie started playing football, to who was her favourite male and female player. FA Female Referee Ambassador, Lisa Rashid, discussed her experience and how she became a referee, revealing to the girls that she wasn't a very good footballer, so refereeing was her way into the game.
The format of the day was fun and active, combining football, lifestyle and music. The festival was led by FA approved coaches and activities included skills and drills, interactive games (target shots, speed cage, batak boards) and mini matches inside an inflatable pitch. Teams combined this with fixtures in the Notts Girls' and Ladies Football League.
Lisa Rashid and Brittany Smith also delivered a refereeing workshop and girls had the chance to pose with the FA WSL trophy, the Cyprus Cup and The FA WSL Continental Cup. In addition, the FA WSL mascot Berry the bear was in attendance, along with Notts County's Mr and Mrs Magpie, and there was hair braiding and face painting to add to the festival atmosphere.
Speaking about the day, Katie Holtham said: "Today's event is massive for the future of women's and girls' football. I think it's important that local girls can have events like this, to enjoy and learn. Obviously if Continental can help support that then it's massive to have their involvement with such big events to give girls that opportunity."
Wales 0 Romania 0
The second game in the friendly double header between Wales and Romania was played at Stebonheath Park, Llanelli and once again the match ended all square, this time a goalless draw.
Following on from the 1-1 draw at Port Talbot on Friday evening, this was another chance for players to impress ahead of their World Cup qualifiers in April.
The weather was sunny and the pitch was firm for the encounter. Wales made one change from the side that played in the opening match, Nadia Lawrence coming in to replace Nicola Cousins.
A chance fell to Natasha Harding after 17 minutes, but her shot went just wide of the left hand post, with Romanian keeper Andreea Paraluta struggling.
Romania also looked bright in their early moves and Nicola Davies was called upon to get Wales out of trouble after a poor back pass on 24 minutes meant a great dive on the edge of the area to thwart Alexandra Lunca as she tried to shoot.
A header from Harding was tipped over on 28 minutes from a cross by Jessica Fishlock, the closest Wales had come so far. Romania took the ball straight down to the Wales end and forced a corner of their own. Though nothing came of it, the Romanians were looking more dangerous than they did in the first game.
The Wales midfield was working hard once more with Fishlock and Angharad James contesting everything. On 33 minutes Wales beat the offside trap but again, no-one could take advantage and Romania cleared for a corner.
Romania had a let off when Fishlock got in on 44 minutes but the keeper smothered the ball before she could get a shot in.
Romania made one substitution at the start of the second half, Alexandra Iusan replacing Ioana Bortan, whilst Wales stayed with the same eleven. The visitors were forced to make a second change when Andreea Voicu hurt her ankle in a clash with Loren Dykes on 50 minutes.
Both sides were cancelling each other out in the centre of the park and clean cut chances were at a premium. Romania made a third substitution on 55 minutes with Minika Sinka replacing Alexandra Lunca.
Jarmo Matikainen sent on Helen Ward for Nadia Lawrence just short of the hour mark. It had been a frustrating game for Lawrence who had failed to make the most of the opportunity. Michelle Green was the second Wales substitutes when she replaced Hayley Ladd on 72 minutes and she almost saw Romania score with a shot from Monika Sinka that was well saved by Nicola Davies.
Wales then brought Hannah Keryakoplis on for Natasha Harding a few minutes later. Alexandra Iusan was booked on 76 min for pulling back Jess Fishlock. Romania brought on their fifth substitute on 77 minutes when Loredana Nica replaced Nicoleta Barbos.
Fishlock met the ball with a great header on 81 minutes that went just over the bar from a corner. Both sides continued to go forward looking for the all-important goal, but it had been a day when the defences were on top.
Wales: Nicola Davies, Loren Dykes, Helen Bleazard, Kylie Davies, Sophie Ingle, Jessica Fishlock, Angharad James (sub Nicola Cousins 80mins), Hayley Ladd (sub Michelle Green 72mins), Natasha Harding (sub Hannah Keryakoplis 75mins), Sarah Wiltshire, Nadia Lawrence (sub Helen Ward 59mins). Subs not used: Alice Evans, Rhian Cleverley, Carys Hawkins, Sam Quayle, Georgia Evans.
Romania: 12.Andreea Paraluta, Corina Corniciuc (sub Adina Giurgiu 68mins), Ane-Marie Banuta, Ioana Bortan (sub Alexandra Iusan 45mins), Andreea Corduneanu, Maria Ficzay, Nicoleta Barbos (sub Loredana Nica 77mins), Stefania Vatafu, Alexandra Lunca (sub Minika Sinca 55mins), Andreea Voicu (sub Mara Batea 51mins), Florentina Spānu-Olar.
(Report by www.faw.org.uk)
Cardiff Met Ladies got back to winning ways and extended their lead at the top of the Shared Access Welsh Premier Women's League to ten points by scoring five times without reply away to Caernarfon Town.
Emily Brown opened the scoring for the university side midway through the first half and Steph Turner added a second shortly before half time. Within five minutes of the restart, Ellie Sargent and Laura Walkley had netted further goals and Emily Allen completed the tally just ahead of the hour mark.
Cardiff Met's two nearest rivals in the table met each other and the points were shared as Swansea City and Cardiff City FC battled out a 1-1 draw. Cardiff, who hold on to second place, took a first half lead through Alicia Davies and the Swans hit back with fifteen minutes remaining and grabbed an equaliser from Jodie Passmore.
PILCS are back up into the top three following their 2-1 victory away to Wrexham. The home side had become the first team to take points off Cardiff Met Ladies this season just seven days earlier and they threatened to cause another upset when Ash Hayes gave them the lead with three minutes on the clock. However it was not to be for Wrexham on this occasion as the scores were levelled by Katie Fryatt and with just four minutes remaining, Lyndsey Davies scored a crucial decisive goal for PILCS.
League Cup finalists Llanidloes also climbed back up the table with a 3-1 victory over Newcastle Emlyn. Jemma Lloyd put them ahead after six minutes and she added a second early in the second half. Naomi Evans scored a game clinching goal midway through the second half, before Marie Tilley grabbed a late consolation for the visitors.
Llandudno Junction meanwhile picked up an important point from a 1-1 draw against Port Talbot Town. Sofie Owen gave Llandudno the lead in the eighth minute, with Gemma Evans on target for Port Talbot before the interval.
Chichester College and Chichester City Ladies FC have combined forces this season to bring girls football to the masses with a series of Girls Football Festivals.
Two years ago there were no opportunities for girls to play football in the city so a team of dedicated senior female players from Chichester City Ladies set about establishing girls only after school clubs which subsequently led to a regular club at a central location.
With three sides established and playing in leagues/tournaments this season, the Club and College decided to bolster numbers through providing opportunities for local Primary Schools to come to the College and take part in a Girls Football Festival. The project has been headed up by Chichester City Ladies first team manager Matt Wright although the lion share of the work, including lead coaching, has been done by Chichester's award winning coach Lizzy Ogden.
Lizzy has invited the local schools along where she and a team of female students lead fun based sessions to help encourage girls to take up the sport. Several local schools have got involved in the project and the feedback from both girls and PE staff has been fantastic. James Atkins from March School said: "The event was a great success and owes much thanks to all the excellent leaders who helped encourage and support the children throughout the afternoon."
Lizzy Ogden has been overwhelmed with the interest, adding: "The uptake from the schools has been phenomenal, we were booked up very quickly and have had to provide additional dates. In total we will be coaching over 600 girls this season with the aim of getting girls along to our Saturday Club."
The impact on the Girls Saturday sessions has been tremendous to the extent that the club has now been moved to Chichester University as the previous site could not cope with the numbers. Head Coach and first team goalkeeper Hannah McNamara said: "We are now seeing close to 50 girls turn up every Saturday due to the impact of the festivals, it is exciting times for our girls set up."
According to Matt Wright none of this could have been possible without the support of the partners of the project. "The College and University have been fantastic in supporting the festivals but none of this could have been possible without the female coaches within the Chichester Female football system, the time and effort they put in reflects their dedication to the game and their passion to giving local girls playing opportunities," he said.
The Saturday Club runs at the University from 10am - 11.30am every week. For more information in how to get involved, contact Matt at email@example.com.
Photo - coaches Jodie Greenway, Lizzy Ogden and Lauren Ellis.
Penzance Ladies FC have announced plans for a summer festival of football to be held on Sunday 13th July.
With the emphasis on new player development, local businesses will be asked to enter all-female work teams to offer their employees a chance to give football a try.
Existing Penzance Ladies players will act as team managers/coaches and mentors for the duration of the tournament. Matches will be played at 5, 6 or 7 a side as appropriate.
As many local school teams as possible will also be encouraged to participate and depending upon the level of interest, there is also a possibility of a separate competition for existing women's and girls' teams, and maybe a friendly match involving Penzance Ladies to end the day.
To express your interest, please call Scott on (07708) 292347.
Penzance Ladies are next in action against Newquay Celtic on Sunday 23rd March, kick off 2.30pm, at Penlee Park.
Hayley Ladd admitted that Wales had shown signs of rustiness during their 1-1 draw with Romania in the first match of double header of friendlies at Port Talbot on Friday.
The Coventry City midfielder netted her first goal for her country to give them a first half lead but in an honest assessment afterwards, she told Women's Soccer Scene that the team's performance could have been better on the night. "To be honest I'm not too pleased with it," she said. "We were slow to start, made a few errors and then our heads went down and it took us a while to get into the game.
"It's good that we got a goal before half time and went into the break with confidence but then we let it slip when we let in a poor goal.
"We had chances but we're not too disheartened by the result, we've got them again on Sunday and I am confident that we can put in a much better performance. We know what we need to correct and we'll go from there."
The match with Romania was the first for several months for a number of the Wales players and Hayley admitted that this may have been an important factor. "We haven't had an international for a while and the Super League is yet to start and that was evident," she said. "People were a bit off the mark and picked up in places, but it wasn't quite there for us tonight."
The night was a bittersweet one for Hayley after her strike just before half time but she insisted that Wales can get back to their best form very soon.
"It was good to get my first goal for Wales but while it was nice for me, I'm disappointed that it didn't bring a better result for us.
"I'm still really confident as we've got a good squad building - we haven't just got ten or eleven players but a good squad environment. If we can correct what happened today and get a good result on Sunday then that will propel us towards the World Cup qualifiers next month."
Wales 1 (Ladd 44) Romania 1 (Lunca 47)
Wales had to settle for a draw in the opening of their double header of friendly matches with Romania at the GenQuip Stadium.
The two teams are separated by only one position in the FIFA Women's World Rankings and this was evident throughout the match in what turned out to be a very even contest with few clear cut chances at either end.
Wales started the better of the two sides and kept possession well. Natasha Harding was looking particularly lively up front and Wales were looking solid in midfield but without being able to get behind a strong tackling Romanian defence and threaten Mirela Ganea's goal.
Sarah Wiltshire fired a shot wide and Jessica Fishlock was just off target with a looping header but Wales were to open the scoring a minute ahead of half time.
The goal initially owed much to the persistence of Harding and Loren Dykes, who shut down the Romanian defence when in possession and forced an error. Wales won possession and Harding drove in a low cross from the right and into the area where Hayley Ladd stole in and thumped a powerful shot past Ganea to record her first goal for her country in her 20th cap.
However within two minutes of the restart, Romania were back on level terms and the home side were left particularly disappointed with the equaliser. Wales had sloppily given away possession and were ruthlessly punished for this, Florentina Spanu-Olar sliding a pass into the path of half time substitute Alexandra Lunca who took one touch before drilling a shot which arrowed into the far corner of the net, giving Nicola Davies no chance.
The goal clearly knocked Wales out of their stride and Romania began to press for a second goal. They won a series of corners, one of which almost led to them going in front as the home defence were unable to clear and Stefania Vatafu's strike brought out an excellent save from Davies.
Wales rode out the storm and began to fashion some half chances of their own. Wiltshire hooked a shot over the bar and Ladd lost her footing whilst trying to convert a Dykes cross, but the teams were starting to cancel each other out now and a series of substitutions were not helping matters.
Nicola Cousins drove in an excellent cross which flashed across the face of goal and narrowly evaded three of her team mates, then Harding was just over with a powerful header from a Helen Bleazard corner. Wales were finishing the game well but Romania continued to look neat and tidy in possession, alongside some fierce tackling with Fishlock on the receiving end on more than one occasion.
However Romania could well have snatched victory as the game entered injury time. Lunca had looked impressive after coming on and she tricked her way past a challenge from Cousins and pulled the ball back from the goal line for the oncoming Ioana Bortan who miscued her shot at goal and the final chance of the match had gone.
The two teams will meet again on Sunday at Stebonheath Park, Llanelli (3pm) and on this evidence, another closely fought match is in prospect.
Wales: Nicola Davies, Helen Bleazard, Nicola Cousins, Kylie Davies, Sophie Ingle, Angharad James, Loren Dykes (sub Helen Ward 72mins), Hayley Ladd, Sarah Wiltshire (sub Hannah Keryakoplis 64mins (sub Nadia Lawrence 89mins)), Jessica Fishlock, Natasha Harding (sub Michelle Green 85mins). Subs not used: Alice Evans, Rhian Cleverly, Carys Hawkins, Sam Quayle, Georgia Evans.
Romania: Mirela Ganea, Corina Corniciuc, Adina Giurgiu (sub Andreea Corduneanu 72mins), Ioana Bortan, Maria Ficzay, Stefania Vatafu, Georgiana Birtoiu, Florentina Spanu-Olar, Alexandra Iusan (sub Alexandra Lunca 45mins), Monika Sinka (sub Nicoleta Barbos 60mins), Ane-Marie Banuta (sub Andreea Voicu 87mins).
(top) Natasha Harding closes down Maria Ficzay
(middle) Helen Ward is faced by Florentina Spanu-Olar
(bottom) Jessica Fishlock takes on Maria Ficzay
Scotland 4 (Evans 15,17,33, Beattie 54) Holland 3 (Slegers 42, Martens 44, Melis 69)
Scotland hung on for a third successive Cyprus Women's Cup win over Holland, thanks to a sparkling first half display by Lisa Evans, which netted the Potsdam player a hat-trick.
Giving the new adidas away strip its first airing, Anna Signeul's side looked to be on course for a big win against the higher ranked Dutch. But they lost two goals just before half time and needed Jennifer Beattie's second half goal to ensure the victory.
Signeul made adjustments to the team that drew 1-1 with France, resting Ifeoma Dieke. Nicola Docherty was brought into the side for a starting debut at left back - which meant Hayley Lauder moving to left midfield and - hugely significantly - Evans going up front to partner Jane Ross. Rachel Corsie dropped back from midfield to replace Dieke in a 4-4-2 line up.
Leanne Ross missed a good chance to emulate her early goal against France but this time she was further out and sent her shot past the far post. The Glasgow City midfielder atoned by enabling Evans to run through the middle of the Dutch defence in the 15th minute before unleashing a fierce right foot shot from 20 yards to put Scotland ahead.
The afternoon got better for Evans, and Scotland, when the striker rose to meet a cross from Hayley Lauder. Her header hit the bar but she was alert enough to fire the rebound home.
The hat-trick arrived courtesy of a blunder by Dutch defensive midfielder Tessel Middag. She allowed Evans to dispossess her just outside the box and the Scots were three ahead after just 33 minutes.
Scotland then came very close to adding two more. Beattie forced Angela Christ to make a great save from a header and the keeper made another great block, this time from Jane Ross. Both chances were set up by Evans.
The Scots were in complete command but let Holland back into the game with two goals just before half time. The first followed a searing run down the right by Gabriella Melis, whose cut back was met by Renee Slegers.
Poor Scottish defending led to the second, with Lieke Martens allowed to run through on Gemma Fay. The goalkeeper got her hands on the ball but couldn't hold it and the striker followed up to score.
Docherty saved Scotland from losing their lead entirely when she cleared off the line from Melis after the interval. A minute later, Scotland gave themselves some much needed breathing space when Beattie scored from five yards following a corner.
A dramatic game swung in the other direction again when Holland scored a third. Their best player, Martens, was the provider and Melis provided a cool finish.
The last 20 minutes were fraught as the Dutch probled for an equaliser and Dieke's late introduction proved crucial as she blocked Holland's best effort with a few minutes remaining.
Scotland coach Signeul said: "We had a fantastic start and Lisa's goals were brilliantly taken. Then I think the French game on Wednesday night showed in our legs and in our minds.
To keep Holland to 1-1 in the second half when we were really tired was very encouraging. It showed we could stand up to them and that was a great achievement."
(Report by www.scottishfa,co.uk)
Finland 0 England 3 (Asante 30, Bonner 67, Aluko 72)
England eased to a 3-0 win over Finland in their second Cyprus Cup group match.
Mark Sampson's much changed side took the momentum from their opening day victory over Italy and blew the Finns away with an assured display full of attacking intent.
Keen to give minutes to as many of his squad as possible, Sampson changed his entire starting XI from Wednesday. Everton defender Alex Greenwood was handed her full debut, following a ten minute cameo against the Italians, while goalkeeper Lizzie Durack was involved in a senior match day squad for the very first time and Gemma Davison made her first start, almost five years after making her bow as a substitute against Iceland.
Just as they did against Italy, England enjoyed more possession and territory in a scrappy opening period, with attacking quartet Jill Scott, Natasha Dowie, Davison and Eniola Aluko showing plenty of confidence in and around the box, while just lacking a killer final ball.
The first three decent opportunities all fell to Jill Scott, but the Manchester City midfielder hit each shot over the top of Minna Meriluoto's goal. Aluko then tried her luck from 15 yards out as the Three Lions gradually began to take full control of proceedings, and they eventually took a deserved lead on 30 minutes.
Greenwood delivered an inswinging free kick from the left, Gemma Bonner flicked the ball onto the back post and Anita Asante cushioned a volley beyond Meriluoto. It was only the Malmo midfielder's second international goal, on her 68th appearance, and her first since scoring against Norway back in May 2005.
England left back Greenwood was showing no sign of nerves on her first senior start and almost marked her special day with a spectacular goal, but her left foot drive from 25 yards crashed back off the bar.
Things might have got even better before half time when Davison drove a shot goalwards from just inside the area, only for the overworked Meriluoto to palm the ball to safety.
The Liverpool winger almost turned provider shortly after the restart as she slipped a through ball into Birmingham City's Jade Moore, and the right back's near post effort brought the best out of Finland's keeper.
Though they tried to press the England back line, Andree Segiertz' side had been outplayed and offered little in the attacking third. However, Finnish right back Susanna Lehtinen sent a rare cross into the box which Sanna Talonen headed back across goal and only Telford's left hand upright prevented the equaliser.
That miss was to prove costly as England hit them with two quickfire sucker punches. After Dowie and Jill Scott again peppered their opponent's goal, Greenwood capped an assured performance by delivering a delightful free kick, this time from the right, which Bonner stooped low to head home her maiden England goal.
The result was put beyond doubt five minutes later as Aluko dinked a close range shot past Meriluoto following some great build up play and a through ball by substitute Karen Carney.
Sampson shuffled his pack late on to see the game out. Established right back Alex Scott came on for Asante which allowed Moore to move into a more familiar central midfield role. There was also a moment to savour for young University of Harvard goalkeeper Durack, who came on with six minutes remaining for her senior team debut.
Carney came close to adding a fourth in added time, but Meriluoto produced one final save to keep the scoreline fairly respectable from a Finnish perspective.
England, current holders of the Cyprus Cup, now head into Monday's last Group A match against Canada eyeing a place in next Wednesday's final.
Finland: Minna Meriluoto, Susanna Lehtinen, Katarina Naumanen (sub Jenna Korhonen 63mins), Annika Kukkonen, Katri Nokso-Koivisto, Emmi Alanen, Nora Heroum (sub Sanna Saarinen 63mins), Sanna Talonen (sub Sanna Ylianttila 76mins), Juliette Kemppi, Anna Westerlund, Adelina Engman (sub Ella Vanhanen 76mins). Subs not used: Tuija Hyyrynen, Laura Kivisto, Vera Varis, Heidi Kivela, Linda Ruutu, Tinja-Riikka Korpela.
England: Carly Telford (sub Lizzie Durack 84mins), Jade Moore, Sophie Bradley, Gemma Bonner, Alex Greenwood, Anita Asante (sub Alex Scott 62mins), Laura Bassett, Gemma Davison (sub Toni Duggan 70mins), Jill Scott (sub Karen Carney 70mins), Eniola Aluko (sub Ellen White 76mins), Natasha Dowie. Subs not used: Siobhan Chamberlain, Demi Stokes.
In one of the tightest Northern Combination title battles for years, Huddersfield Town stepped up their challenge with a 5-1 victory over Liverpool Feds on Sunday.
Huddersfield captain Kate Mallin, who has been with the club since she was 10 years old and is still only 24, spoke to us about the title race as well as the main reason behind the club's improvement this season:
Firstly, how good was it just to be playing a league game again?
We have been playing games, we had two very good FA Cup games first against Chorley from our division and then going out to Coventry City Ladies from FA Women's Premier league South in an entertaining game. We've also played three County Cup games, eventually going out to Sheffield FC Ladies who lead the Premier League North but yes, it has been three months since our last league game and we were happy and excited to get back to league action.
5-1 against one of your rivals was a great result, just how good was the team performance?
To be honest we did not play well in the first half. We created a number of half chances but didn't pass well as a team. In the second half we were much better and really started to cut through. Our star striker Emily Heckler scored a fantastic solo goal to put us ahead and then a second one shortly after that really settled us down.
Can you really believe how wide open the title race is this season?
Not really, but this is our third season in this division since gaining promotion from the North East Regional League and it's always been the case that anyone can beat anyone on any given day. We have 6 or 7 strong teams in the division this season and they are all capable of putting in some very good performances.
As things stand, you have dropped less points than any other team in the league right now, do you think that is significant?
Obviously we have games in hand and would really prefer to have the points in the bag. We have dropped fewer points than the others and have been reasonably consistent but we have to keep our focus for the remaining games.
Can you see the title race going all the way to the final match(es)?
Let's hope not! When we gained promotion three years ago it came down to the final game and having to win it. My mum spent the second half of that game in the car as she couldn't bear to watch!
In each of the last two seasons you have finished sixth, is there any particular reason for the improvement in results this season?
We gained a couple of new players in the summer and have also seen some of our juniors progress through to the first team. The major change though is really the new young coaching team that took over last summer. We advertised for coaches as our manager of 12 seasons, Mickey Booth wanted to take a more relaxed role within the club. Fortunately we gained Glen Preston as manager, together with his assistants Fraser Green and Ashley Vickers and they have done a fantastic job in motivating us and changing our tactics as required.
This week you take on another of the challengers in Middlesbrough, can you see another tough game this week?
Yes, Middlesbrough are a very tough team to beat. We lost on three occasions to them last season and although we are playing better football now, it will definitely be a difficult game to win. We also play them away in two weeks and therefore nothing will be easy.
If Huddersfield can pull it off and win the league, how big an achievement would it be for the club?
If we could gain promotion it would be a great achievement for everyone who works so hard within the club. We have a great committee and a fantastic playing surface and facilities at Shelley FC. It's a long time since the first team were at that level and we feel that we have the players and coaching staff to hold our own if we can make it, fingers crossed.
The title race intensified further on Sunday as Huddersfield Town stepped up their challenge with a 5-1 victory over Liverpool Feds. Emily Heckler scored twice for Huddersfield and she was joined on the scoresheet by Alice Linsell, Debbie Hastings and Kate Mallin.
Tranmere Rovers made it four wins on the trot when beating Wakefield 2-1. Beth Woolley netted both goals for Tranmere who are now on the coat tails of the leading pack.
Rotherham Utd kept themselves in the running for the runners-up position after they defeated Solihull Ladies 2-0. Amy Pollock netted both goals for Rotherham, in the opening fifteen minutes of the second half, to lift her side into third place.
Leicester City Ladies moved up just behind Rotherham and into fourth, thanks to a 4-2 victory away to Loughborough Foxes. Sam Clarke, Kayleigh Hillier, Linda Scott and Rebekah Preston were on target for Leicester with Nancy Miles and Lindsey Tugby replying.
South East Combination
The top two in the league met each other on Sunday and things remain the same in the title race after Queen's Park Rangers and C & K Basildon shared a 1-1 draw. Stacey Sowden had given Rangers the lead with C & K equalising late on through Zoe Rushen (see match report).
The result did allow third placed Milton Keynes Dons to make up ground on the teams above them, courtesy of a 1-0 success away to Cambridge Women. Emily Mann grabbed the only goal of the game for the Dons who still have an outside chance if they can keep winning their remaining matches,
Norwich City suffered a setback to their hopes as they went down to a 1-0 defeat at home to Enfield Town. The Canaries were playing their first league match since December and have several games in hand on the top side but it was improving Enfield who recorded a fine victory, courtesy of a strike from Regan Coleman.
Denham Utd occupy the mid-table position following their 3-0 victory away to Luton Town. Alissa Down, Elishia Allen and Sian McCrindle scored the goals for Denham who are having a good first season in the league.
Ipswich Town moved above Ebbsfleet Utd in the table after beating them 2-0. Danielle Bitten opened the scoring for Ipswich and Michelle Allum wrapped up the win with the second goal.
South West Combination
League leaders Swindon Town received a huge blow to their title hopes as they were beaten 2-1 at home by Exeter City. Catherine Wright and Helen Kukor scored the goals for Exeter who have moved themselves into the title race, having dropped the fewest number of points of any team in the league at present.
Larkhall Athletic are just one point off second place after running out 9-1 winners over University of Portsmouth. Saphri Lines marked her debut for the club by bagging a hat-trick and there was one apiece from Michelle Munro, Emily Harrington, Ali Davis, Nicki O'Connell, Kate German and Carly Symons.
East Midlands League
Steel City Wanderers further stretched the pace in the Premier Division by scoring five without reply away to Rise Park. Hollie Barker ensured the Steels led at the break and they went on to add further goals through Beth Gingell, Cheryl Mawhood, Zoe Beresford and Laura Naylor. Nettleham kept up the chase with a 7-0 victory over Rise Park which keeps them six points behind. Sarah Jones scored the only goal as Peterborough Northern Star defeated Ellistown 1-0 and they are starting to pull away in third from Arnold Town who lost 2-1 to Long Eaton Utd. Lucy Ferris hit a hat-trick for Sandiacre Town in their 4-1 win against AFC Trinity, Kerry Keeling joining her on the scoresheet.
Sleaford Town have taken over the running for the runners-up spot in Division One North, Lauren Flint scoring twice and Carla Scowcroft the other as they won 3-1 at West Bridgford. Ruddington Village meanwhile ran out 4-0 winners over Mansfield Hosiery Mills thanks to Georgina Shaw (2), Kelly Clayton and Faye Brown.
Eastern Region League
Barking are the latest team to progress to the League Cup semi finals after they won 2-1 away to Leighton Utd Vixens. Carly Copplestone and Vicky Kinsman netted their goals with Shanice Sanderson replying.
A week after losing the leadership of Division One North, AFC Sudbury made a swift return to the top with a 4-1 victory over Ipswich Wanderers. Rachel Gwilliam was on target twice along with Rebekah Henderson and Charlene Roach. Haverhill Rovers meanwhile claimed their fourth win on the bounce, Ceri Harris hitting a hat-trick as they edged out Norwich City Res by the odd goal in five.
Division One South leaders C & K Basildon Res saw their advantage trimmed to a single point following their 1-1 draw with Hoddesdon Owls. Claire Campbell scored their goal before Laura Newby grabbed a late equaliser for Hoddesdon. AFC Dunstable closed the gap by beating Baldock Town 2-0 with goals from Holly Skinner and Dionne Manning. West Billericay kept their outside chance alive with a 4-1 victory over Hutton in which Aimee Pooley netted twice along with Michelle Stoneman and Kerri Thomas.
London & South East League
Maidstone Utd have returned to the top of the Premier Division after picking up maximum points from a double header with Hemel Hempstead. The Stones now head the table by five points from London Corinthians who drew for the second successive week, this time sharing four goals with third placed Crawley Wasps. Crystal Palace returned to action with a 2-0 victory over Kikk Utd and are handily placed in fourth with several matches in hand. Westfield follow on after they defeated Old Actonians by the only goal of the game.
The top two teams in Division One (London) did not play in the league and this allowed Queen's Park Rangers Development to catch up ground in third by beating Colne Valley 1-0. Tottenham Hotspur Development also won against Battersea & Wandsworth with the game's only goal whilst Camden Town had a much smoother victory against Chertsey Town, scoring eight times without reply.
North East League
Norton & Stockton Ancients were held to a goalless draw by Whitley Bay and their lead has been cut to a single point by York City, who defeated Peterlee St Francis 6-1 thanks to Lisa Bjornstad (2), Jasmine Whitwell (2), Nicola Brown and Ellie Harding. Hull City got back to winning ways with a 4-1 success against Scunthorpe & Bottesford in which Jo Symington netted twice along with Molly Storey and an own goal. Caroline Hulme bagged a brace and Nadine Bates the other as Guiseley defeated Hessle Town 3-1 and Castleford White Rose were 1-0 winners over Barnsley courtesy of a first half strike from Aimi Beresford.
Lowick Utd have opened up a three point lead at the top of Division One North after a Michelle Stewart hat-trick spearheaded their 6-1 win away to Prudhoe Town. Jenny Patterson weighed in with a brace and Mel Darling was also on target. Tynedale made sure of staying well in the running as they beat Kader FC 3-2 with goals from Joanne Dixon (2) and Alice Stroyan. Elizabeth Campbell hit a hat-trick for Whickham Fellside in their 5-2 victory over Birtley Town, Sarah McMahon and Emily Tate were their other markswomen.
Brighouse Town narrowed the gap on Division One South leaders Wetherby Athletic to three points by beating Rovers Foundation Ladies 4-0, Sarah Dobby scoring twice along with Sonya Sweeney and Rachael White. Westella & Willerby meanwhile kept up their climb away from danger with their third win in a row, 4-2 against Sheffield Wednesday with goals from Amy Ward (2), Amy Thompson and Natasha Linford.
Malet Lambert are through to the last four in the Southern League Cup after they defeated Ossett Albion 5-1. Natalie Gray was on target twice along with Ellie Tanser, Georgie Warvill and Samantha Warvill.
North West League
League Cup holders Blackpool Wren Rovers swept into the last eight on the back of a huge victory over Bury Girls & Ladies. To complete a good day for Premier Division high fliers, Morecambe won 2-0 against Chester City and Crewe Alexandra edged out Blackpool with the game's only goal. Blackburn Community eased past Ellesmere Port Town with a 5-0 victory whilst Padiham defeated AFC Liverpool 3-1 after extra time and Macclesfield Town also needed an extra period in their 3-1 success away to Liverpool Feds Res.
Birkenhead caused a surprise in the League Plate, winning 3-2 against Premier Division Bolton Wanderers. Leigh RMI also went through, thanks to a 4-2 extra time triumph away to Carlisle Utd.
In the Premier Division, Burnley Girls & Ladies are back up into mid-table following their 5-2 victory away to Wigan Athletic.
Stockport County Res suffered a huge blow to their Division One North title hopes as they were beaten 2-1 by Accrington Girls & Ladies. Woolton meanwhile broke their duck for the season with their first victory, 4-0 against Penrith AFC.
Manchester Stingers upped their challenge for a second place finish in Division One South with a 2-1 victory over Manchester University. Meanwhile the two teams at the foot of the table met each other and Mossley Hill Res lifted themselves off the bottom by beating Winsford 4-1.
South West League
St Nicholas gave their title hopes a huge boost with a 2-1 victory over second placed Cheltenham Town. Jade Gamlin and Sophie Sweet scored their goals and although Catherine Reilly replied for Cheltenham, they stretch their lead to eight points as well as avenging their defeat two weeks earlier. Swindon Spitfires kept up their good run as Debbie Rose, Ria Salleh, Carla-Marie Compton and an own goal gave them a 4-2 win against Downend Flyers, who scored through Kate Michael and Faye Slade. Bristol Ladies Union defeated Weymouth Town 6-1 thanks to a Sarah Gregory brace, Elodie Fechino, Toni Blenkinsopp, Sophie Morgan and Vicky Symes. Georgia Coles and Anusia Rourke scored the goals as Bridgwater Town won 2-1 against Stoke Lane Athletic, whose consolation came from Adele Brown.
The top of the table clash in the Eastern Division ended with honours even as Bishop's Lydeard drew 2-2 with Brislington. Emily Crook and Sophie Hart were on target for Lydeard with Emily Plummer bagging a brace for Brislington who stay four points ahead. Bitton ran out 8-2 winners over Cirencester Town, led by a four-goal haul from Megan Bloomer. Amber Coates added a brace and there was a goal apiece from Kylie Allen and Laura Tugwell. Rebecca Miles and Chloe Newton each hit hat-tricks as Poole Town scored ten without reply past Forest of Dean, the tally being completed by Bev Symes (2), Stacey Ayling and Shelley Towers.
Southern Region League
Woodley Utd went through to the semi finals of the League Cup with a 2-1 victory over Maidenhead Utd, given to them by early strikes from Lauren Hosking and Deanna Peters.
Andover New Street came through a tricky tie away to Marlow in the Chairman's Cup, Jenna Patterson scoring the only goal of the game. Mansfield Road join them in the semi finals after beating Bracknell Town on penalties following a 1-1 draw. Holly Bridge scored their goal with Caroline Paterson replying, before Lucie Bowden, Kimberley Kilmartin, Rachel Mariam, Amy Pipe and Hannah Stanley all scored from the spot.
In Division One, Southampton Women moved out of the bottom two after Marie Clarke and Louise Newstead gave them a 2-1 win against Banbury Utd.
West Midlands League
League leaders B & WM Police were held to a 1-1 draw by TNS Ladies who move into third place as a result. Leamington Lions scored five without reply against Wednesfield Town and Allscott ran out 5-2 winners away to Kingshurst Sporting.
It was a good day for West Mercia in Division One North as they extended their lead to nine points with a 5-0 victory over Cottage Farm Rangers. Bilbrook lost ground as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Shrewsbury Ladies and Pelsall Villa also drew, 1-1 against Florence. Cresswell Wanderers pulled further away from the bottom two by beating Coseley Town 1-0.
Division One South leaders Crusaders defeated Studley 8-0 to stay one point ahead of Knowle, who were 4-0 winners over Redditch Utd. Marston Green meanwhile maintained their challenge in third with a 2-0 victory away to Lye Town. Kenilworth Town's hopes took a knock as they were beaten 6-3 by Wyre Forest Phoenix and in the other games, Solihull Ladies Res edged out Malvern Town by the odd goal in five.
Bradford City held on to the leadership of the Northern Division after beating Derby County 3-2. Derby twice took the lead through Georgina Williams and Dayna Randall but Bradford went on to pick up the points, thanks to Kathryn Connell, Abigail Barker and Jodie Litherland. Sheffield FC meanwhile completed their fixtures by scoring eight without reply past Sheffield Utd Community. Ashton Crouch hit a hat-trick, Rachel Charles weighed in with a brace and there was one apiece from Jess Heald, Millie Kenyon and Magan Hill. Nottingham Forest are the only remaining team who can catch Bradford and they kept their hopes alive with a 4-0 success at Huddersfield Town, thanks to a Taylor Thompson brace, Lucy Webster and Ciara Albas-Martin. Newcastle Utd and Leeds Utd battled out a 1-1 draw, Rachel Stuart was on target for Leeds.
One match was played in the Midland Division, Stoke City running out 9-0 winners over Leicester City Ladies to cement themselves in fifth place.
The leadership changed hands in the Southern Division, Brighton & Hove Albion replacing Charlton Athletic at the top after beating them 2-1.
FA WSL Development League Northern Division leaders Manchester City went down to a 2-0 defeat at home to Liverpool, who scored through Ashley Hodson and Katie Zelem. This allowed Aston Villa the chance to draw level on points with them at the top and they duly took it with a 2-0 success, given to them by Carly Davies and Chloe Jones. Doncaster Rovers Belles and Sunderland fought out a goalless draw in the other game.
Arsenal have replaced Chelsea at the top of the Southern Division after beating them 6-1. Carla Humphrey led the scoring for the Gunners with a hat-trick and she was joined on the scoresheet by Amber Gaylor, Leah Williamson and Molly Bartrip. London Bees meanwhile came from behind to win 3-2 against Bristol Academy, goals coming from Chantele Lawrence, Emily Clements and Lucy Loomes, who netted the late winner.
Spartans edged out Rangers to reach the quarter finals of the Scottish Women's Premier League Cup on Sunday.
The Edinburgh side, who have a good record in the competition in recent seasons, came away with a 1-0 victory under their belts, given to them by a second half penalty from Lana Clelland.
Hibernian had a much more comfortable passage as they scored twelve without reply against Hutchison Vale. Lizzie Arnot and Lucy Graham each bagged hat-tricks and Hibs' other markswomen were Caroline Heron, Elliss Jenkins, Kirsty Smith, Siobhan Hunter, Katey Turner and Clare Williamson.
Aberdeen are also through to the last eight following a 3-2 success away to Inverness City, who are making their return to the top flight after a year away. Rachael Small gave them the lead from the penalty spot before further strikes from Chloe Fitzpatrick and Cassie Cowper proved to be enough to give them victory.
Yeovil Town have announced the signing of former Cardiff City Ladies midfielder Paige Stewart.
This comes as the Glovers continue to build on their squad in preparation for the 2014 FA Women's Super League, with three new signings in as many months.
Stewart, at just 21, has previous playing experience under strong clubs and managers such as Bristol Academy and Cardiff City Ladies. First Team manager Sarah Lawler commented: "One of our ambitions for the club is to offer the South West's most talented players the chance to compete within the FA Women's Super League.
"We have been tracking Paige's progress since her early days of senior football at Forest Green Rovers and we are very pleased to welcome her to the club.
"She is a forward thinking player who wants to make things happen in the final third of the pitch and I have no doubt that she has the ability to make an impact in the FA WSL 2."
Expressing her excitement at joining the club, Paige commented: "I am looking forward to playing and being part of Yeovil Town Ladies FC. I feel really excited to be part of the team and for the new challenge of playing in the FA WSL 2."
The Glovers' opening home game is on Easter Sunday, 20th April at Sherborne Town FC, Raleigh Grove. Early bird season tickets are on offer at just £25 adults/£10 children & concessions. Get yours at www.yeoviltownladies.com but hurry, offer ends soon! Single tickets are priced at £4.00 for adults and £2.50 for children & concessions.
England under-19 international Hannah Blundell and Brighton & Hove Albion defender Cally Beaumont promoted the upcoming World Cup qualifier v Montenegro at an Albion in the Community development centre this week.
The pair visited the girls' development centre, which opened last summer, at Blatchington Mill School, Hove, on Tuesday night.
The centre is part of a wider girls football programme run by AITC aimed at increasing female participation in the game across Sussex, and runs weekly sessions for girls between the ages of 6 and 14, some of who progress to Brighton & Hove Albion's women's academy.
Cally and Hannah answered questions from the keen young footballers before taking part in a small-sided match.
Hannah believes the evening was a great success and was pleased to see so many young girls playing football. She said: "It's good to see so many young girl footballers nowadays compared to how it was when I started playing.
"I'm always happy to promote anything to do with women's football. At my age, I never had anyone down to coach us, so the event taking place tonight is brilliant.
"My advice to these girls would be to practice as much as you can. I'll admit I was a terrible footballer but practice as much as you can and you'll get better.
"It just shows how much women's football has grown to have the national team playing at a stadium like the Amex. Hopefully it will attract a large crowd to the match."
Cally also thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the session and is now looking forward to the big match against Montenegro on 5th April. "It was really fun and a great opportunity to promote women's football to the youngsters," she said. "There was so much talent on show and the players had some good skills.
"It's great for Brighton and women's football in general to have a fixture being held at the Amex. Everyone knows how spectacular the ground is and I'm looking forward to the game and will definitely go and watch the match.
"Obviously there's a lot of talent in the England squad and I want to see us do well."
Luke Tyler, the girls' participation officer responsible for running the session, believed having a footballing role model present was a real inspiration to the young footballers: "The buzz the visit created among the girls and the parents was fantastic. It is really important for young girls who play football to have role models to look up to, so to have had Hannah and Cally there talking about her experience of being a young female footballer will be a huge inspiration to all the girls that took part."
Tickets are still available for the England vs. Montenegro, FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 Qualifier, on Saturday 5th April at the American Express Community Stadium.
Scotland 1 (L.Ross 6) France 1 (Beattie og 67)
Scotland produced one of their best ever results when they forced France to come from behind to earn a 1-1 draw in the Cyprus Cup.
Leanne Ross put Anna Signeul's side ahead in only the sixth minute and it was over an hour later when an own goal from Jenny Beattie brought a reprieve for the side who are fifth in the FIFA rankings.
Signeul sprang a surprise before kick off with Ifeoma Dieke, who was expected to be on the bench, selected for her first Scotland game since rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament in the 2012 London Olympics. She partnered Beattie in central defence - which meant a change of role for Rachel Corsie, who moved forward into a holding midfield position in a 4-1-4-1 formation.
Camille Abily went close with a low shot for France before Scotland shook the tournament favourites with a well taken goal in the sixth minute.
Kim Little wrongfooted the French defence with a great turn in the area and the ball eventually fell to Lisa Evans on the left. She beat her marker and sent in a low cross which was met by the unmarked Leanne Ross and the Glasgow City midfielder scored easily.
The lead was almost wiped out within two minutes. Abily was again the danger but Gemma Fay made a great stop with her foot to deny the French playmaker. Abily missed another chance in the 19th minute, heading over the bar but although France, as expected, continued to enjoy most of the possession the Scottish goal wasn't seriously threatened again until six minutes before the interval. This time it was a long range shot from Elise Bussaglia which Fay again did well to keep out.
Scotland got behind the French defence just before the interval when Evans released Jane Ross, but the striker's cross was too deep for Little to have any chance of reaching.
New French coach Philippe Bergeroo sent his players out early for the second half but it was Scotland who came closest to adding to their lead through Jane Ross. The striker was isolated as she chased a through ball but held it up brilliantly and then turned between the two central defenders before sending the ball just over the bar in the 57th minute.
France made a triple substitution in an effort to get back into the game and they eventually got back on level terms after 67 minutes. Gaetane Thiney cut the ball back from the byline and the unfortunate Beattie directed the ball past Fay for the equaliser.
Despite France doing most of the pressing, Scotland nearly regained the lead ten minutes from time. Evans sent over a cross from the right and Jane Ross's flashing header went just past the post.
Giant French defender Wendie Renard had the last chance of the game with a downward header from a corner, but it slipped past the post on a memorable night for the Scots.
Scotland: Gemma Fay, Frankie Brown, Ifeoma Dieke (sub Emma Mitchell 74mins), Jennifer Beattie, Hayley Lauder, Rachel Corsie, Leanne Ross, Kim Little, Joanne Love, Lisa Evans, Jane Ross.
(report by www.scottishfa.co.uk)
Chesterfield complete their Sheffield & Hallamshire County League Division One fixtures this Sunday when they host Anston at Chesterfield's Proact Stadium.
The match kicks off at 3.00pm and admission is £2, while it is free for Under-12s.
Chesterfield go into the game as league leaders, though any one of four teams are still mathematically able to finish top, but Barnsley Development can only do so if all the others drop points (in addition to Barnsley winning their own last two games).
A massive 6-0 home victory over previous leaders Dearne & District in their last home game saw Chesterfield move three points clear and also significantly change the goal difference picture. That victory also avenged Chesterfield's only league defeat to date, 3-0 at Dearne.
Chesterfield are unbeaten at home, while visitors Anston's only points on their travels have come at bottom club Shaw Lane Aquaforce. If the result follows the form book and Chesterfield win, it would give them 25 points, a total Dearne can equal, but they would need two high scoring wins to overtake Chesterfield on goal difference.
Barnsley would then be out of the equation, which leaves Sheffield Wednesday Res, who have four games left with a goal difference of 18. If Wednesday won all four, they would finish champions regardless of other results, while ten points would most likely be enough for top spot on goal difference.
The Proact Stadium hosted four games, including the Final and one of the semi finals, in the 2013 UEFA Women's Under-17 Championship final tournament. The quartet of games included England coming from behind to beat Austria 2-1 in the group stages and Germany, who trailed for much of the final against Spain, equalising a few minutes before the final whistle and then lifting the trophy after a penalty shootout.
Players from both Chesterfield and neighbours Staveley were presented to the crowd by Toby Perkins MP (whose constituency includes both teams) at half time during the Final.
England 2 (Carney pen 45, Duggan 62) Italy 0
A goal apiece from Karen Carney and Toni Duggan allowed England to begin their Cyprus Cup defence with a deserved 2-0 victory over Italy.
Birmingham City forward Carney smashed home a penalty on the stroke of half time after Duggan had been felled inside the box. Manchester City's new signing then sealed the win on 62 minutes with a surging run and unerring finish to give new head coach Mark Sampson his maiden international victory in just his second match at the helm.
It was a completely dominant performance from his side, who could have won by an even greater margin. Steph Houghton, captain Fara Williams, Ellen White, Karen Carney and Jordan Nobbs all had decent efforts repelled by Italian goalkeeper Laura Giuliani in the opening exchanges, while Lianne Sanderson hit the post in the second half.
This was a game England never looked like losing and they will now head into the second group match on Friday, against Finland, in confident mood.
Sampson made two changes from his first match in charge, a 1-1 draw with Norway in La Manga in January. Injured Manchester City goalkeeper Karen Bardsley was replaced by new Arsenal stopper Siobhan Chamberlain and Notts County forward White came in for Chelsea striker Eniola Aluko.
Just as they did against Norway, England started the game on the front foot. They were in total control for the opening quarter of an hour, as White, her former Gunners team mate Nobbs and Carney all called Giuliani into action early on.
With her palms now warm, the Azzurri keeper then excelled herself, tipping Williams' 35-yard free kick behind for a corner. Carney delivered it, Manchester City's Houghton nodded the ball goalwards but Giuliani again came out on top, flicking the header over the bar from close range.
The reigning champions had set a furious pace and they refused to relent. On 22 minutes, Duggan scampered down the left and cut the ball back to Sanderson. The Boston Breakers striker had time to pick her spot but could only hook a shot narrowly past the post.
The Italians had offered very little in the way of an attacking threat before the half hour mark, but Chamberlain was still alert enough to hold on comfortably to Cristiana Girelli's long ranger after 34 minutes.
That chance aside, it had long looked like it would only be a matter of time before England took the lead - and Giulia Domenichetti played a large part in her country's downfall, as she brought down Duggan inside the box, forcing the referee to award a penalty.
After a long wait, Carney stepped up and planted the spot kick into Guiliani's bottom right hand corner to ensure the Three Lions had the minimum of leads their first half dominance merited.
An Ilaria Mauro header could have given Italy an equaliser straight from the restart, but Chamberlain was once more alert to the danger, as she was when tipping Elisa Camporese's cross-cum-shot over the bar shortly after.
With Antonio Cabrini's side threatening to level matters, which had hitherto looked highly unlikely, Sanderson attempted to give England some breathing space, but her shot on the turn following Carney's corner bounced back off the far post.
A second goal did arrive shortly after the hour mark, though. Duggan picked up a loose ball 25 yards from goal and White and Sanderson provided decoy runs which opened up a huge gap in the centre of the Italian defence. The 22-year-old exploited the space, burst into the box and planted an unstoppable shot into the back of the net.
That goal effectively ended the match as a contest and Sampson saw the two-goal cushion as an ample opportunity to hand Everton youngster Alex Greenwood her senior team debut as she replaced the impressive Demi Stokes at left back for the final ten minutes.
Aluko came on for Nobbs late on and she had two half-chances to put a gloss on a fine England display, but two goals were more than enough to provide an opening day win in Cyprus.
England: Siobhan Chamberlain, Alex Scott, Demi Stokes (sub Alex Greenwood 80mins), Fara Williams, Lucy Bronze, Steph Houghton, Karen Carney, Jordan Nobbs (sub Eniola Aluko 85mins), Lianne Sanderson (sub Jill Scott 76mins), Ellen White (sub Laura Bassett 86mins), Toni Duggan. Subs not used: Jade Moore, Carly Telford, Natasha Dowie.
Italy: Laura Giuliani, Elisa Bartoli, Rafaella Manieri (sub Sandy Iannella 55mins), Elena Linari, Martina Rossucci, Elisa Camporese, Federica Di Criscio, Ilaria Mauro (sub Melania Gabbiadini 64mins (sub Patrizia Panico 75mins)), Paola Brumana (sub Marta Carissimi 64mins), Giulia Domenichetti (sub Giulia Nasuti 87mins), Cristiana Girelli. Subs not used: Sara Penzo, Roberta D'adda, Alessio Tuttino, Nene Bissoli Nhaga, Arianna Criscione, Cecilia Salvai.
Please Link To Us
|Total page reads:|