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England Women's head coach Phil Neville has named his first squad with the selection for the SheBelieves Cup in the United States next month.
The 23-player squad, led by captain Steph Houghton, will meet up this weekend in London before travelling to the USA for the prestigious four-team tournament involving the host nation, France and Germany in early March. All three matches will be broadcast live on the BBC.
England's third participation in the annual competition will be important preparation for the resumption of 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying with the visit of Wales to Southampton on Friday 6th April before a trip to Bosnia & Herzegovina four days later.
There is a recall for Chelsea's Anita Asante for the first time since 2015 while club mate Hannah Blundell has the chance of her first cap. Everton's Gabby George, another uncapped player, is also included having previously been in the squad for last November's qualifiers.
The group will be joined by Arsenal's Leah Williamson who will travel to the US as part of her continued development around the England set up but will not be able to play in the three fixtures.
Neville said: "I have been really impressed by what I have seen in the past few weeks.
"Some exciting young players have caught my eye, and not just those that have been picked for this squad. They will get an opportunity in the coming months to challenge the established players who, of course, deserve big respect for what they have done to take this team to third in the world.
"I also hope this squad shows that the door is not closed to anyone, and that those in form will always have a strong chance of being picked.
"To those that have just missed out this time, I hope they use that disappointment in the right way to force their way into contention.
"We want to go to the SheBelieves Cup with a positive approach and then kick on into the World Cup qualifiers."
Neville will be assisted on an interim basis for this tournament by Mo Marley with a permanent No2 unlikely to be appointed before the summer.
Marley will continue to help the transition after her temporary spell in charge from last September through to the La Manga training camp in January.
Former England captain Casey Stoney, having retired from playing this week after making 130 appearances for the Lionesses, will also be part of the backroom staff via the new player-to-coach scheme, with Mark Mason as goalkeeping coach.
Neville added: "I am really happy Mo has agreed to join this trip, especially given the great work she did in La Manga.
"Her input will be invaluable to me and to Casey, who is embarking on the first steps of her new career after retiring as a player.
"Mo's role across our development teams and producing players for the seniors means we will always have a close working relationship but I know she is also thinking ahead to the U20 World Cup later this year."
The first match will be against France [Thursday 1st March] in Columbus, Ohio, before games against Germany [Sunday 4th March] and the USA [Wednesday 7th March] in Harrison, New Jersey and Orlando, Florida respectively.
Northern Division One
Things are now even tighter at the top of the table with Liverpool Marshalls Feds leading the way on goals scored following their 1-0 success against Chorley. The Feds left it late before coming up with the decisive goal, Sasha Rowe scoring with five minutes remaining to keep her team's noses ahead at the top.
Hull City meanwhile won 2-0 against Bolton Wanderers but it was not quite enough to see them take over the leadership. Eden Pedersen and Hope Knight scored the goals for Hull who, although they stay in second, have a game in hand over the leaders.
Mossley Hill picked up a useful point from a 2-2 draw against Barnsley. Lynn Goodman and Darcie Greene were on target for Barnsley, with Mossley replying through Kirstie Pickin and Amy Hughes.
Midlands Division One
Loughborough Foxes continue to stretch the pace as leaders after scoring nine times without reply past Steel City Wanderers. Charlotte Cooper hit a hat-trick for the second successive week, Rebecca Knight and Olivia Bramley each contributed a double and the tally was completed by Laura Dexter and Tiana Hicks.
Sheffield Utd are still chasing hard in second place, boosting their challenge with a 4-1 victory over Long Eaton Utd. Nat Shaw and Natalie Froggatt ensured that United were two up at the interval and in the second half, Shaw and Georgia Stevens contributed further goals, with Viki Adam grabbing a consolation for Long Eaton.
Burton Albion returned to winning ways by beating Rotherham Utd 6-0. Jordan Atkin led the scoring with a hat-trick, Jemma Grimadell weighed in with a brace and Lily Cocking was also on target.
South East Division One
AFC Wimbledon are still pulling away at the top of the table and have an eleven point lead following their 8-2 victory against Norwich City. Georgia Heasman and Katie Stanley each netted twice and there was one apiece from Laura Quinn-Low, Rebecca Sargent and Caroline Bisson along with an own goal, Aimee Durrant and Jodie Drake replying.
Actonians Ladies brought their winless run of six matches to a halt by defeating Enfield Town 4-2. Alessandra Barreca and Carla Williams both scored twice for Actonians, while Enfield found the net through Nuala McKevitt and Lisa Kline.
Stevenage Ladies meanwhile scored ten times without reply against Haringey Borough, whose search for a first point goes on. Paige Logie, Nicole Emmings and Amy Makewell each bagged hat-tricks for Stevenage, whose other markswoman was Ellie Searle.
South West Division One
No matches were played in the league over the weekend but the table has altered since then due to the withdrawal of Basingstoke Town, whose record has been expunged.
The top three lose three points apiece and this has brought them closer to fourth placed Southampton Saints. At the other end, St Nicholas - who were the only team in the division to have beaten Basingstoke twice - drop to the foot of the table as a result whilst Brislington and Maidenhead Utd also found themselves greatly affected.
It was a 'perfect dozen' for Cardiff Met Ladies on Sunday as their twelfth win in twelve games took them twelve points clear at the top of the Orchard Welsh Premier Women's League.
Erin Murray and Jasmine Simpson scored the goals as Met won 2-0 against Caldicot Town and three wins from their last six matches should now be enough to see them regain the title.
Cyncoed Ladies now head the chasing teams and their season continues to go from strength to strength. The Mighty Oaks moved up to second place - the highest position in their history - after they ran out 4-0 winners away to Llandudno Ladies. Shauna Jenkins netted twice inside the opening half hour and Robyn Pinder added a third before the break to take her tally to four in two games. Rosina Hill rounded off the scoring for Cyncoed early in the second half.
Cyncoed were further assisted by the news that the meeting between Swansea City and Abergavenny Women finished in a 1-1 draw and this leaves the teams in third and fifth respectively. Swansea took an early lead through Sophie Hancocks but the reigning Champions were unable to add a second, going closest when Jodie Passmore hit the post from the penalty spot. Abergavenny kept themselves in the game and had chances of their own before, with five minutes remaining, Lyndsey Davies scored to give her side a share of the spoils.
Cardiff City FC are up to fourth as they matched Cyncoed's achievement of a 4-0 victory, at the expense of Rhyl Ladies. Alana Murphy and Siobhan Walsh ensured that Cardiff were two ahead at the break, and they went on to crown the win with second half strikes from Shannon Evans and Lucy McDonough.
Port Talbot Town are in mid-table after winning a high scoring affair 7-3 against Caernarfon Town. Vicky Stratton led the scoring for Port Talbot with a hat-trick and there was one apiece from Courtney Thomas, Chelsey Harris, Laura May Walkley and Terri Beddows. Ceri Slaney, Ffion Owen and Kim Broadbent were all on the scoresheet for Caernarfon.
Blackburn Rovers are the latest team through to the semi finals of the Premier League Cup - for the third time in four years - after they came through a tricky last eight tie with a 2-1 win away to Brighouse Town.
Rovers took a first half lead through Natasha Fenton and after Lauren Doyle had equalised for Brighouse with seven minutes remaining, Ria Montgomery grabbed a late winner to take Blackburn through.
Bradford City produced one of the most amazing results of the season to date with an astonishing 9-2 victory over Northern Division leaders Middlesbrough.
Laura Elford spearheaded the win with a six-goal haul, with other strikes coming from Hannah Campbell, Arianne Parnham and Ellie White for a result which takes Bradford up into mid-table. Jessica Havelock and Holly Manders produced consolation goals for 'Boro.
Middlesbrough hang on to their lead of three points though as second placed Huddersfield Town were also beaten, 3-2 by Stoke City. Faye McCoy and Kate Asher sent Stoke into a two-goal lead at half time and after Lucy Sowerby pulled one back for Town, Hannah Keryakoplis restored the advantage ten minutes into the second half. Kate Mallin reduced the arrears for Huddersfield late on but Stoke held out for a result which lifts them up to third.
Derby County narrowly had the edge over Fylde Ladies and the 1-0 win keeps them in sixth place. Hannah Ward settled matters with the only goal of the game, midway through the second half.
No matches were played in the Southern Division on Sunday.
Glasgow City held onto the leadership of SWPL 1 with a hard fought 1-0 victory over Hamilton Academical.
Abbi Grant marked her first call up for the senior Scotland squad by scoring the only goal of the game in the thirteenth minute, City going on to extend their remarkable run of clean sheets which stretches back to last May.
The table already has a familiar look about it with just two games played, Hibernian occupying second place after winning 2-0 away to newly promoted Forfar Farmington. The home side had opened up with a win in their previous game but this time, after a goalless first half, it was Hibs who took the points with goals from Amy Gallacher and Katey Turner, both of whom scored against their former club.
Celtic stay unbeaten but are in third after being held to a 1-1 draw by Stirling University, who registered their first point of the season. The two goals came in the opening five minutes of the match, Katy Morris giving Stirling an early lead which was cancelled out shortly afterwards by Heather Richards.
Rangers meanwhile bounced back from an opening day defeat to win 2-1 against Spartans, who are still looking for their first points. Carla Boyce put Rangers in front just before half time, with Michelle Russell equalising for Spartans midway through the second half. The game looked to be heading towards a draw but in the dying minutes, Rangers were awarded a penalty which Chelsie Watson converted to secure her side's first win.
Motherwell are the only team left on maximum points in SWPL 2 following the opening two matches, taking over the leadership of the table with an eight-goal victory over Edinburgh University Hutchison Vale.
Former Scotland striker Suzanne Mulvey was the destroyer in chief as she netted four first half goals, with Samantha Hare and Kerry Montgomery also getting on the scoresheet. Mulvey went on to add two more after the break and complete a double hat-trick on the day.
Hearts are in second place in the fledgling table after they defeated Glasgow Girls 2-0. Danielle Pagliarulo gave them the lead from the penalty spot and Sharon Lee wrapped up the win with the second for Hearts, who are one of only two remaining unbeaten teams in the division.
Aberdeen had recorded the biggest victory of the opening day but they went down to their first defeat, beaten 2-0 by St Johnstone. Hannah Clark gave St Johnstone a first half lead, with Ellie-May Cowie securing the points after the break.
The two newly promoted teams came face to face and it was visitors FC Kilmarnock who triumphed 2-1 over Central Girls Academy. Laura Neil headed Kilmarnock into a first half lead from a Chloe Ponton free kick and after Abby Callaghan had levelled the scores early in the second half, Ponton then turned goalscorer as she drilled home another free kick late on to hand her side their first victory.
Former England captain Casey Stoney has announced her retirement from football, bringing to an end a glittering career with club and country.
The news coincides with Liverpool defender Stoney joining the England Women's backroom staff as part of the FA's new player-to-coach scheme.
She will work alongside new head coach Phil Neville for next month's SheBelieves Cup in the United States and the remaining FIFA Women's World Cup qualifiers.
England will take on France, Germany and the host nation in March before heading home for a vital World Cup qualifier against Wales to be played in Southampton on Friday 6th April.
Stoney, who was made an MBE for services to football in June 2015, said: "Although I am sad to be hanging up my boots, I do so proud of what I have achieved and with great optimism about what the future holds for the women's game.
"With that in mind, I am hugely excited about starting my next chapter as part of Phil Neville's Lionesses backroom team.
"I am thoroughly looking forward to working with Phil, who is an excellent choice to take the women's game forward.
"I talked to him at length before accepting the job and was hugely impressed with his vision, passion and eagerness to learn. I will be doing everything possible to support him alongside finishing my coaching badges."
Stoney won 130 caps for the Lionesses, scoring six times, and played an integral part in England's rise to become the third ranked team in the world, including being part of the squad that took the bronze medal at the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup.
Having spent two years as England skipper, she captained Team GB in five matches at the 2012 Olympics in London, scoring in the 3-0 defeat of Cameroon in Cardiff before leading the team to a memorable 1-0 win over Brazil at Wembley Stadium.
The 35-year-old began at Chelsea before heading to Arsenal and then Charlton Athletic. A return to Chelsea followed before spells at Lincoln and Arsenal, where she won her third FA Women's Cup with a 1-0 defeat of Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in 2016, before moving on to Liverpool.
Notably, from an international perspective, Stoney played in the UEFA Women's Euro 2009 Final before that 2015 World Cup third place and was named in the squad that reached the Euro 2017 semi finals.
Neville said: "Casey has been a wonderful player for England and I am delighted she will continue to help the team with her new position.
"She has tremendous knowledge of the game and will be invaluable in helping us to take the team up another level.
"From working with her already and seeing at first hand the hunger she has to pass on her experience, I am sure Casey will go on to have a coaching career that rivals what she did on the pitch."
Sue Campbell, FA director of women's football, added: "I would like to thank Casey for the immense contribution she has made to women's sport in this country.
"What she has achieved in nearly two decades in the game is remarkable and she has certainly helped pave the way for future generations, particularly in terms of her professionalism and passion. She has simply been the example for others to follow.
"Her new role means she will continue to be such a positive influence on the England team going forward, and it is great to have her leading the way on our new player-to-coach programme. This is such an important area for us as we look to increase coaching opportunities for all."
As part of recent changes made at St. George's Park and the new England Women's coaching structure, The FA is rolling out a new player-to-coach programme.
The programme aims to give elite women's players the opportunity to develop as coaches and prepare them for UEFA A and Pro Licence courses.
They will receive individual development plans, mentoring and the chance to work with England women's teams across all age groups along with FA WSL clubs.
The draw for the quarter finals of the SSE Women's FA Cup has been made.
Charlton Athletic, the last remaining Premier League team in the competition, will make the short trip across London to play Arsenal, a game which will rekindle memories of their previous meetings in the Final in the early 2000's.
Holders Manchester City will take on Sunderland in the north east, where the final WSL 2 side in the Cup, Durham Women, will also be at home to Everton. The other tie will be a fascinating clash between Liverpool and Chelsea at the Select Security Stadium .
Ties will be played on Sunday 18th March with £4,000 being awarded to the winners.
Sixth round draw:
Holders Manchester City were taken to extra time before booking their place in the quarter finals of the SSE Women's FA Cup with a 3-1 victory away to Birmingham City.
In a repeat of last season's Final, Nadia Nadim gave Man City the lead early on with Ellen White levelling the scores shortly before half time. Despite opportunities at either end, neither side could make a breakthrough in normal time but seven minutes into the extra period, Georgia Stanway put her side back in front when she drilled home a low shot. The Blues went close to equalising once again when Charlie Wellings' shot was tipped onto the post by Ellie Roebuck and with seconds left on the clock, Claire Emslie finally made the game safe for her side with the third goal.
Arsenal are into the last eight once again but were made to work hard for their 1-0 win over Millwall Lionesses. The only goal of the game came just after the half hour, a well taken effort from Beth Mead, and this proved to be enough to end the hopes of the WSL 2 title chasers. However the most significant moment in Arsenal's season so far may well have come with fifteen minutes remaining, when Kim Little made her return as a substitute after almost a year out with a knee injury.
Charlton Athletic will carry the flag for the Premier League in the last eight following their 3-1 success away to Cardiff City Ladies. The Addicks raced into a three-goal lead during the first half, Kit Graham opening the scoring with a shot on the turn and the striker netted her second from a low cross by Olivia Lukasewich. Charlotte Gurr then latched onto a Charley Clifford pass to make it three going into the interval but in the second half, Cardiff made a spirited effort to get back into the game. They pulled a goal back when Laura Williams scored direct from a corner and were unlucky not to get another when a 35-yard strike from Ffion Price crashed against the bar. Price produced another good effort which was well saved by Katie Startup but Cardiff's efforts could not bring another goal and a determined Charlton side saw the game out.
Sunderland survived a scare as they came from behind to win 3-2 against Aston Villa. The Wearsiders got off to a good start with Victoria Williams giving them a sixth minute lead but young Villa striker Ebony Salmon added to her growing reputation by scoring a goal in each half to put the WSL 2 side in front. Rachel Pitman brought the scores level once more before Keira Ramshaw broke Villa's hearts with a neat finish late on to seal the win for her side.
Chelsea had a much smoother passage into the last eight as five second half goals took them to a 6-0 victory over Doncaster Rovers Belles. Emma Hayes' side led at the break through a goal from Ji So-Yun and Fran Kirby doubled their advantage, four minutes into the second half. Drew Spence added the third before Erin Cuthbert contributed a brace and Ramona Bachmann was also on target.
Everton brought Lewes' Cup run to an end by beating them 6-0 at the Dripping Pan. Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah led the scoring for the Toffees with a hat-trick and she was joined on the scoresheet by Chloe Kelly, Danielle Turner and Megan Finnigan.
It was a similar story at Chichester City where the home side put up a brace display in going down 3-0 to Liverpool. Rinsola Babajide marked her first start for the Reds by giving them the lead before Ashley Hodson and Beth England added further goals (see match report).
Durham Women are into the quarter finals for the first time in their history after they defeated Leicester City Women 5-2. Zoe Ness gave Durham the lead with Ellie Christon adding a second, before Leigh Dugmore reduced the arrears for her side on the stroke of half time. There was still time for Abi Cottam to restore the Wildcats' two-goal advantage before the interval with a superbly struck volley. Sophie Domingo renewed hopes for a spirited Leicester side as she pulled one back early in the second half but their chances were brought to an end as Cottam scored her second and Emily Roberts completed the scoring for Durham late on.
Photo - Cardiff City Ladies defender Hannah Mills slides in to tackle Georgia Griffin of Charlton Athletic.
Sheffield United are having a fantastic first season in the FA Women's Premier League following promotion and their 2-1 win over Radcliffe Olympic on Sunday stretched their unbeaten run in the league to 14 games and put them firmly in the Midlands Division One title race.
We talked to United defender Evie Robinson who praised the team's resilience in coming from behind to beat one of their fellow high fliers in the table and insisted that the future is very bright at the club:
WSS: That was a great result for your team on Sunday, how tough a game was it against a team that was in good form?
ER: It was a tough game for the team and Radcliffe put up a good fight throughout to battle for second place in the league. It felt as though we were stuck in second gear during the first half but the girls persevered and stepped it up in the second half showing our good form. It was a hard game to watch from the bench injured.
WSS: It was the best possible time to score a winning goal though, with Sophie Bell keeping her cool from the penalty spot. How good a feeling was it when her kick hit the back of the net?
ER: It was a great feeling with a massive sigh of relief from everyone. Sophie was very composed and handled the pressure very well!
WSS: Just how resilient did the team have to be after going a goal behind in the first half?
ER: It is easy to put your head down when you are in a losing position, especially when it is a frustrating and tough game. Nevertheless, the girls did a good job at pulling together in the second half, showing our resilience and how we work well as a team.
WSS: That result takes you up to second place in the table, and fourteen league games unbeaten, are the team doing better than you would have anticipated at the start of the season?
ER: I think we entered the season a little into the unknown as we were into a new league and had new players in the squad, myself being one of them. With this in mind, from the start of pre-season training, the whole team had the same goal to win the league and we have pushed together to try and achieve this.
WSS: Your manager Carla Ward has achieved a lot in the game during her playing career, has it been a big boost to the team to have someone of her experience in charge?
ER: Wardy's experience with coaching and as a player in women's football has been a great asset to helping our team grow stronger. She is passionate about helping players improve and the club progressing.
WSS: This week you take on Long Eaton United, who you have not played so far, what kind of game are you expecting against them?
ER: Although Long Eaton are lower in the league than us, we try not to go into any games with set expectations of teams. We will approach the game with a winning mindset and hopefully play our game.
WSS: You are in what is starting to look like a three horse race for the title and still have to play TNS and Loughborough before the end of the season, is the belief growing that you can still win the league?
ER: We are in good form and winning ways, so I think we can be confident.
WSS: Sheffield United have made great progress in the last few years and you have adapted well to a new league this season, just how far do you believe that the club can potentially go?
ER: Hopefully with growing support, the club can continue to progress onwards and upwards. Progressing to Super League level would be great and help to promote SUFC and women's football in Sheffield.
Our thanks to Evie!
It has been nothing short of a dream start to life at Charlton Athletic for SSE Women's FA Cup player of the round Charlotte Gurr.
Gurr was the star of the show in the Addicks' 3-2 extra time fourth round win against Blackburn Rovers last time out, chipping the keeper and setting up the winner to earn the well deserved Fourth Round gong.
The 28-year-old summer signing has scored in every round of the competition - with six goals in four games - and feels she's in the form of her life.
"It's a massive honour to win the award with some of the top players in the world being involved in the fourth round," she said. "I'm having a good season and haven't been this confident for a while.
"I've felt the warmth of the welcome since coming here and that's helped me hit the ground running.
"The group of girls have been great and I feel like I've fitted in really well."
The left sided player has taken a liking to the SSE Women's FA Cup since her move from Gillingham.
She bagged a hat-trick in the 5-0 Second Round win over QPR, netted a late winner to down AFC Wimbledon in the first round and also notched against Ipswich Town at the third stage.
Gurr started as a youth team player at Arsenal Ladies and, beyond the hurdle of Cardiff City in the Fifth Round, is targeting a quarter final tie with her former side.
She said: "The FA Cup is a really great competition to play in and you want to do your best playing against the best.
"We beat Cardiff earlier in the season in the league so they will be well up for beating us this time round.
"I'm hoping we can push on, beat Cardiff and get a big, big team.
"I started at Arsenal so playing against my first team would be nice. I did it with Gillingham a few years ago and it was a good occasion."
Gurr is helping continue Charlton's proud record in the cup, lifting the trophy in 2005 when Eniola Aluko's winner helped beat Everton in the Final.
But Riteesh Mishra's side have their eyes set on promotion to the FA Women's Super League, a point off the top of Women's Premier League South with a game in hand.
Gurr gained WSL experience with Millwall and, despite the romance of the SSE Women's FA Cup, admitted that is not the only priority for the season.
"Charlton are a massive club and it would be great to get them back into the top leagues," she continued. "I'll do whatever I can, use whatever experience I can, to help them do that.
"You want to do well in both but I'd say our main priority is to win the league.
"Hopefully we can push our way into the WSL but the FA Cup is the biggest competition around so we want to get as far as we can in that, as well."
Tickets are now on sale for the SSE Women's FA Cup Final on Saturday 5th May at Wembley Stadium connected by EE. For more information about tickets and SSE's involvement in women's football visit www.sponsorship.sse.com.
by Tom Harle, Sportsbeat
Leicester City Women captain Holly Morgan is confident that her team can acquit themselves well against Durham Women in the SSE Women's FA Cup Fifth Round on Sunday.
The FAWPL Northern Division side travel north east to take on their WSL opponents and Holly admits it is a challenge they are looking forward to. "As a squad we relish the chances of playing WSL sides as this is the level that we want to be playing at," she said. "We believe that we are capable of playing at such a level and every time we have played a WSL team we have competed and matched technically and physically with those oppositions not looking out of place or depth.
"We have been working very hard in training and we have a game plan which we plan to execute to the best of our ability. It's extremely important to keep our heads and to remain focused on our game and what makes us special. We must play the game and not the occasion.
"I think we'll enjoy being the underdogs on this occasion as the pressure lies with Durham. We can go into the game knowing that we are more than capable of competing with WSL Teams, but it is in fact Durham who need to prove that they are the team playing in a higher league. We are excited and raring to go!"
Leicester reached this stage of the competition with a 3-2 win against in-form South West Division One side Plymouth Argyle and Holly insists that this result should not be underestimated: "Plymouth were a tough opposition to face on Sunday and we knew it was going to be a difficult task. To get the win was a wonderful feeling and we now set our sights on progressing even further within the Cup."
As well as reaching the last sixteen of the SSE Women's FA Cup, Leicester are also in the quarter finals of the Premier League Cup and their County Cup Final. They are also doing well in the league but, accordingly to Holly, the increasing number of games will not be a problem.
"It's great that we remain in a high number of competitions this year," she replied. "Of course this has an impact on the number of games which we are getting through however with our fantastic squad depth we are able to effectively manage the workload in a way which allows us to competitively compete in all competitions and league games.
"This Club is all about growth, development and ambition. By reaching the last sixteen of the FA Cup for only the second time in the Club's history is a massive feat. You could therefore argue that this Sunday's game is historic for the Club as it highlights where we have come from and where we set our sights on going."
She bamboozles Women's Super League defences on a weekly basis, but Chelsea's Fran Kirby is expecting a few bumps and bruises from Sunday's SSE Women's FA Cup Fifth Round clash with Doncaster Rovers Belles.
The striker is in typically red hot form this season, leading the scoring charts with 14 goals in 20 matches in all competitions for Emma Hayes' Londoners.
While Chelsea are currently going toe-to-toe with Manchester City at the top end of FA WSL 1 in the league, Doncaster are powering clear at the summit of FA WSL 2.
This momentum, Kirby says, means the South Yorkshire side are a dangerous prospect and Chelsea will have to remain professional and expect a tough and frustrating ride in their Fifth Round clash as they look to unpick the Belles backline.
"Doncaster have got a really good squad of players down there and they always have done," said 24-year-old Kirby, who has nine goals in 26 England appearances.
"When I was at Reading playing against them, it was always a difficult game - they're a physical side and I think they're going to look to frustrate us as much as they can.
"They're only a few teams out there who would come out and press us, so I think it will be a frustrating game for us and one we have to be patient with and try and build a goal rather than it be end-to-end.
"Every time I play Doncaster I leave the pitch with a few bruises. It should be an exciting game - they've got quality in their team and they pose a threat going forward.
"It will probably be about physicality and them leaving a boot in here and there, but they have players who can play and we have to respect them."
Kirby, along with teammate and fellow England star Karen Carney, took questions from fans and held a signing and picture session at the Chelsea FC Megastore at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, with the trophy in full view for fans to admire.
Striker Kirby joined Chelsea in July 2015, with the Blues having won the FA Cup two months previously. She was also part of the side which lost the 2016 final to Arsenal.
The mercurial forward wants 2018 to be Chelsea's year as she eyes a Wembley triumph for her and her team mates.
"The SSE Women's FA Cup is always top of people's lists of the ones they want to win," added Reading-born Kirby.
"It's such an historic trophy to win and one that's probably one of the most important in the women's game. It's one that we've won before and one we can taste what it feels like to win.
"We want to put everything into this tournament so we can hopefully get that trophy at the end.
"It would just be such a magical moment - all you want to do is win trophies, whether it's the FA Cup, whether it's the FA WSL, it always has a big meaning when you win something.
"It's a bit of a relief when you do win it and we lost to Arsenal in the final last time - it's one that we really want to push to win."
Tickets are now on sale for the SSE Women's FA Cup Final on Saturday 5th May at Wembley Stadium connected by EE. For more information about tickets and SSE's involvement in women's football visit www.sponsorship.sse.com.
by Jimmy Booker, Sportsbeat
Tottenham Hotspur's Sarah Wiltshire is eyeing up one aim and one aim only for the new London Leopards coaching campaign - finding the next Karen Hills.
A new girls football schemed launched by the London FA, London Leopards is aiming to get 100 new female coaches into the game, keen to maximise the significance of female role models on girls in the sport.
Those coaches will then deliver sessions to 1,000 7-11-year-old girls, with an increase in female participation the optimum aim in a sport that is still predominantly seen as boys-only.
But for Wiltshire, this is far from the case. The 26-year-old first got into the sport after pestering her mum to take her to a club as late as 13 after her primary school had not allowed girls into their team.
With free coaching courses now on the horizon and women's football on the rise, the Spurs midfielder is adamant those barriers to the sport are finally coming down - hopeful women can follow in the footsteps of her club manager Hills.
"It's really important to get women more involved in coaching. Karen's our manager, she was a player and she's a good role model for anyone who wants to coach in the women's game," she said.
"I think it's important not just to get more female coaches in the women's game but into coaching in general, it's definitely growing so the fact that London Leopards are doing this is really, really good.
"I did my Level 1 and 2 coaching when I was at Arsenal academy, I got my qualifications while I was playing football so it is something I have thought about. I love coaching the young girls and seeing them develop.
"I'd really like to see more female coaches in the game, young girls would definitely like that and they can aspire to that so it's important, but having good coaches is the main thing.
"London Leopards is going to be a really good step to bringing in more coaches, it's a great start to get your Level 1 and hopefully we can see a new Karen Hills or Emma Hayes in the game in the future."
Backed by significant investment from the Wembley National Stadium Trust, the London FA will provide these 100 new female coaches with the tools to complete their Level 1 qualifications.
That will be delivered by eight Professional Club Community Trusts around the capital, notably Wiltshere and Hills' Tottenham side, as well as top-flight outfits Arsenal Women and the Chelsea Foundation.
Delivering eight-week introductions to football programmes, the clubs have also been tasked with identifying pathways beyond the initial bedding-in period into the new venture and with sustainability the name of the game, manager Hills is confident change will come to the fore - at least providing others with a different journey than the one she experienced.
"Spurs are excited to be a part of this, it's not an unrealistic target to get 100 coaches, it's more than doable and I'm excited to be in this process," she said.
"My coaching journey started when I was working in a leisure centre as a lifeguard, I got asked to look after a session and got straight involved, from there the coach said I might have an eye for this.
"I went on a course, I was the only female there but that was the start. I went to Spurs and worked within soccer schools, not many females were on these schools so it was my aspiration to boost the women's game.
"Over the past five or six years I've had that opportunity to get my A licence, work alongside some fantastic coaches and gain some invaluable experience, which has really helped me shape and mould my career until now."
For more information about the London Leopards initiative and how to apply for the coaching courses, please visit: www.londonfa.com. Applications open Monday 12th February 2018.
by Ross Lawson, Sportsbeat
Scotland captain Rachel Corsie will return from injury and be available to play two matches against New Zealand in a double header next month.
She will be joined by uncapped Abbi Grant who has been named in the squad.
The 22-year-old striker has been in impressive form for Glasgow City of late and has been rewarded by Shelley Kerr. Grant has represented Scotland at under-15s, under-17s and under-19s level.
Lucy Graham also returns to the squad, with Rachael Small and Lana Clelland both missing out through injury.
The two matches against New Zealand will act as preparation for Scotland as they aim to reach their first ever World Cup, having won their opening two fixtures.
This will be the second time this year the national team has visited Spain after the team lost to Norway and drew with Russia in another double header of friendles in January in La Manga.
The first match against New Zealand will take place on Saturday 3rd March, kick off 4pm and the teams will then meet again on Tuesday 6th March at 10am (both kick off times are GMT). Both matches will be played at the Pinatar Football Arena in San Pedro del Pinatar.
The Scottish FA have announced that the crucial match against Poland will take place at the Paisley 2021 Stadium on Tuesday 10th April, kick-off TBC. The match will be the second of Scotland's next competitive double header, where they will play Switzerland away from home on Thursday, 5th April in Schaffhausen.
This will be the second consecutive match Scotland have played in Paisley, following the 5-1 win over Albania in October last year.
Jayne Ludlow has named a strong Wales Women's squad for the upcoming Cyprus Cup tournament.
Wales have been placed in Group A alongside Finland, Italy and Switzerland, and will be keen to improve on last years 6th place finish.
Captain Sophie Ingle will again lead a squad that includes centurion Jessica Fishlock, whilst the Orchard Welsh Premier Women's League is represented by Swansea City's Ellie Lake together with Cyncoed Ladies duo Laura O'Sullivan and Gwen Davies.
Lake and Davies are two of three uncapped players named along with Elise Hughes of Everton, while Amina Vine, Alice Griffiths and Nadia Lawrence will represent the Wales Performance Squad.
Helen Ward and Charlie Estcourt both scored Wales in each of the last two Cyprus Cup tournaments, and are also included in Ludlow's squad of 24 players.
The competition starts for Wales against Finland on 28th February, and will end on 7th March when the final places will be decided.
This will be the third year in succession that Wales have competed at the tournament, and the four fixtures will form a crucial part of Ludlow's preparation for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifier away to England in April.
Wales conceded just once in four games during the Cyprus Cup tournament last year, and the defensive improvement has continued into the current World Cup qualifying campaign.
Twelve nations will once again compete for the Cyprus Cup this year, and once the three groups of four have been completed, a further round of games will take place on the final day to decide the overall standings.
Last year Wales were denied a fifth place finish through a penalty shootout defeat to Scotland. For more information on the tournament visit www.cypruswomenscup.net. (faw.cymru)
East Midlands League
Kathryn Mudge scored a hat-trick and Jenny Selman added the other as Premier Division leaders Oughtibridge won 4-0 away to Loughborough Students to stay one point ahead from Leicester City Women Development, who beat Eastwood Ladies 6-4 thanks to a Mai Muncaster treble, Gabriella Reid brace and Natalie Hurst. Peterborough Northern Star stayed in touch with the leaders by beating Mansfield Town 4-0, Vicky Gallagher netting twice along with Jess Evans and Paige Jones. Ollerton Town meanwhile ran out 5-0 winners over Rise Park with strikes from Megan Howard (2), Rachael Bell (2) and Natalie Gibson.
One game took place in Division One North, Calverton MW lifting themselves into third place with a 4-2 victory over Sleaford Town, Hayley Brown scoring all four goals.
Peterborough Utd are now just three points off the pace in Division One South after scoring eight times without reply past Desford. Keir Perkins, Jessica Driscoll and Amy Challis all netted twice along with Emily Smith and Tash Applegate.
Eastern Region League
AFC Sudbury and Bedford Ladies battled out a 1-1 draw in the solitary Premier Division match to go ahead on Sunday, Stacey Teager scoring to give Sudbury an important point.
Wymondham Town are continuing to close in on the leaders in Division One North as they go on winning their games in hand, this time triumphing 3-1 away to Ipswich Town Development thanks to a goal apiece from Alice Ladbrooke, Laura Nicholls and Chelsea Clarke.
In Division One South, Little Thurrock Dynamos bounced back from their first defeat of the season the previous week to beat Bishop's Stortford 6-3 and narrow the gap on leaders Stevenage Ladies Res to nine points. Georgia Fraser was on target twice for Little Thurrock along with Ebony Moore, Abbie Simmonds, Danielle Styles and Kerri Thomas. Harlow Town lost ground as they suffered a surprise 2-1 defeat at the hands of Hertford Town, whose markswomen were Bilge Taspinar and Donna Watts.
London & South East League
Parkwood Rangers enhanced their chances of finishing in the top four as they won 2-0 away to the team immediately below them, Carshalton Athletic. Jamie Hawkey and Chelsey Mayhew were both on target for Parkwood.
AFC Phoenix booked their place in the semi finals of the League Cup with a 6-0 victory over Eastbourne Town, which meant they took top spot in Group B. Kasey Kelm netted two of the goals for Phoenix and she was joined on the scoresheet by Zoe Bergeal, Natalia Mann, Lucy Monkman and Saskia Philp.
North East League
League leaders Durham Cestria continue to stretch the pace and preserved their lead of nine points by winning 3-2 away to Castleford White Rose. Sophie Hodgson, Molly Holder and Nisha Mistry all scored for Durham, with Castleford replying through Lauren Breen and Rachel Sherrard. Nyci Thorns hit a hat-trick along with others from Sian Williams and Shannon Reed as Norton & Stockton Ancients defeated Tynedale 5-1 to keep up the chase in second. Laura Midgley was on target for York City as they fought out a 1-1 draw with Farsley Celtic, whose reply came from Danielle Sidebottom.
The top three were not in action in the Northern Division and this allowed Boldon CA Villa to move in amongst them and go third after beating Cramlington Utd 6-0. Allison Ferris and Elizabeth Thompson-Clarke each netted twice along with Claire Pitt and Jade Murray to take Boldon to within two points of the leadership. Blyth Lions also won 6-0 in the other game played, against Guisborough Ladies, thanks mainly to a five-goal haul from Lauren Robson, Terri Nielsen adding the other.
In the Southern Division, Altofts Ladies lifted themselves into second place with a 6-0 victory over Doncaster Belles (Women's). Rachel Pritchard bagged a brace and she was joined on the scoresheet by Hollie Betts, Laura Pylypiuk, Natalie Riley and Grace Wilkinson.
North West League
Tranmere Rovers moved to within two points of Premier Division leaders Stockport County, thanks to a 7-1 victory over Sir Tom Finney. Merseyrail Bootle meanwhile won 3-1 at MSB Woolton to move up to third, ahead of Fleetwood Town Wrens who were beaten 4-0 by Burnley Girls & Ladies.
It was a good day for Burscough Dynamo in Division One North, as they won 7-3 away to Bolton Wanderers Res to lift themselves off the foot of the table and out of the bottom two.
One match was also played in Division One South, which produced a number of goals as second placed Curzon Ashton battled out a 3-3 draw with Liverpool Marshalls Feds Res, who remain two positions below them.
In the Argyle Sports Cup, CMB Ladies put their league form behind them to win 4-2 away to Northwich Vixens and book their place in the quarter finals.
Stockport County Blues are through to the last eight of the Argyle Sports Plate after they defeated Preston North End 2-0, the tie being played at the third attempt following two postponements.
South West League
Torquay Utd were held to a 1-1 draw by Charlestown but this was enough to return them to the top of the Premier Division as previous leaders Buckland Athletic did not play. Vicki Fannon scored a first half goal for Torquay. Marine Academy Plymouth meanwhile moved themselves closer to the leaders by beating Ilminster Town 2-1 with goals from Ellie Bishop and Jaydee Seaman, with Megan Purchase replying. Jana Richards hit a hat-trick and Hope Suominen added the other two for Exeter City as they won 5-3 against Forest Green Rovers, whose goals came from Marika Niekuwal (2) and Holly Thomas. Nicole Bell netted twice and Anusia Rourke the other for Middlezoy Rovers in their 3-1 success away to Keynsham Town Development, whose consolation came from Rhianna Ben-Carew.
In the only match to beat the weather on Sunday, Swindon Town Development climbed up into second place in the Eastern Division following their 7-0 victory away to FC Chippenham. Sophie Roberts led the scoring with a five-goal haul, while the others came from Natalie Goodright and Alice Telling.
There was a change of leadership in the Western Division, where Callington Town took over at the top with a 3-1 win against Alphington. Lucy Bounsall, Amy Hemingway and Jodie Shipton scored the goals to give Callington their ninth straight win in the league, with Mary Murphy replying.
Southern Region League
Oxford City have gone into second place in the Premier Division with a 2-1 victory over Ascot Utd in the only match to survive the weather.
The only other action took place in the Jubilee Cup and in Group A, second placed Barton Rovers battled out a 1-1 draw with Eastleigh. Rachel Allwright was on target for Barton, with Eastleigh replying through Rebecca Gooch. Meanwhile in Group B, Woodley Utd kept up their winning start with a 3-0 success against Oxford City Nomads. Natasha Masters gave Woodley the lead shortly before half time and they went on to seal the win with strikes after the break from Rosie Page-Smith and Mollie Haines. Wargrave Ladies replace Alton Ladies in second place after beating them 3-0, Millie Bilcliff was on target twice along with Hannah Sheehan.
West Midlands League
Bedworth Utd have powered further clear at the top of the Premier Division, their 6-1 victory over Wolverhampton Sporting has given them a lead of ten points. It had been an incredible 70 days since Stockingford AA Pavilion had played a game, however their fitness regime during the interim helped them overcome a determined Coundon Court side. Stockingford took the lead after 27 minutes with a goal from Ria Scarr and after Coundon equalised through a penalty before half time, Scarr scored her second on 55 minutes and Sharni Turnbull secured the three points for the home side with five minutes left. Worcester Utd meanwhile claimed their first league victory of the season when they won 3-2 away to Lye Town.
One match did manage to go ahead in Division One North, at Atherstone Rangers where visitors Tamworth went home with the points and a 3-2 victory which strengthens their mid-table position.
Redditch Utd have extended their Division One South lead to seven points following their 5-0 victory over Solihull Sporting, taking their unbeaten run to twelve matches in the process.
Blackburn Rovers stay twelve points clear at the top of the Northern Division after defeating Bolton Wanderers 7-0. Lagan Makin and Natasha Flint each netted twice along with Sarah Agger, Isabel Pacitto and Hannah Walsh. Bianca Owens (2), Harriet Dryden and Chloe Ryan were all on the scoresheet as second placed Middlesbrough won 4-2 away to Hull City. Robyn Hartley bagged a hat-trick as Huddersfield Town beat Newcastle Utd 5-1, Kathryn Halligan and Liuli Dyson adding the others to help take their team above Newcastle and into third. Leeds Utd meanwhile won for the second time this season, 2-1 against Guiseley Vixens thanks to Rachel McDonald and Chelsea Sandford.
In the Midland Division, Loughborough Foxes went second with a 4-2 victory over Nottingham Forest, Nicola Russell hitting a hat-trick with Paige Gunn also on target. West Bromwich Albion defeated Sporting Khalsa 6-0, Justine Buckmire netting twice along with Kathryn Pagan, Lily Eustace, Shannon Kelly and Seanna McCann-Lloyd. Stoke City maintained their unbeaten record and stepped up their challenge by beating Cardiff City Ladies 6-0. Abbie Iddenden led the scoring with a hat-trick, Roisin Kivel weighed in with a brace and Shannon Garner added the other. Emily Gillott (2) and Amber-Leigh Denny were on the scoresheet as Derby County won 3-0 away to Long Eaton Utd.
Florence Jackson and Emma Sherwood scored the goals as Charlton Athletic won 2-0 at Queen's Park Rangers to extend their lead at the top of the Southern Division to three points from Portsmouth who drew 1-1 with AFC Wimbledon, goals coming from Kayleigh Tonks and Sophie Manzi respectively. Crystal Palace defeated West Ham Utd 4-0 thanks to Isha Kamara (2), Sandra Martin and an own goal, meanwhile Lewes leapt up to fourth by winning 2-0 away to Denham Utd with strikes from Shantelle Gray and Mia Hyland.
Manchester City have gone seven points clear in the FA WSL Development League Northern Division following their 2-1 victory over Aston Villa. Sheffield FC remain in second despite going down to a 5-1 defeat at the hands of Birmingham City, who scored through a Heidi Logan hat-trick, Shania Hayles and Maddy Cusack. Annabel Blanchard had a great day, netting all of the goals as Liverpool beat Doncaster Rovers Belles 5-0.
Arsenal made a swift return to the top of the Southern Division with a 10-1 win against Tottenham Hotspur. Jessica Ngunga, Lachante Paul and Gabriella Ravenscroft all scored hat-tricks and Paige Bailey-Gayle was also on target. Ellie Strippel and Holly Chandler netted the goals as Bristol City beat Watford 2-0 to go third, just ahead of Reading FC Women who netted seven times without reply past Brighton & Hove Albion. London Bees meanwhile won 3-0 against Oxford Utd, courtesy of a Jo Wilson brace and Lisa Milliken.
Charlton Athletic 1 Lewes 2 (aet)
Lewes became the first team to reach the semi final stage of the 2017-18 FA Women's Premier League Cup after a fine away victory over 2014-15 winners and last season's finalists Charlton Athletic.
Two Sarah Kempson strikes saw the Rookettes claim victory after a hard fought, intense contest, the winning goal coming in the second period of extra time.
The opening twenty minutes saw Kylie McCarthy head over from a Katie McIntyre corner for Lewes on four minutes but the two sides generally cancelled each other out until Kempson struck the opener on 21 minutes, a superb left foot effort beyond keeper Katie Startup from 20 yards as she cut inside from the wing.
Charlton had their best spell in the last third of the opening 45 minutes. Charley Clifford sent a powerful effort just over the bar, then Lewes keeper Faye Baker turned away another shot from Graham on 36 minutes. Claire Johnson cleared a shot off the line for Lewes as the pressure mounted.
It was Graham found the equaliser with a sharp finish when Grace Coombs headed down a Nicole Pepper corner on 38 minutes, but Kempson nearly restored the visitors' lead before the break with another long range shot which took a deflection before being tipped acrobatically on to the bar by Startup at full stretch.
The Charlton keeper also had to be alert to turn over a powerful effort from Amy Taylor on 54 minutes as Lewes started the second half with good possession, restricting Charlton to more isolated breaks which were well contained by a resolute defence. Neither team could find a clear opening as the match moved towards the final quarter with both teams bringing on fresh legs and extra time was the inevitable outcome from an even encounter of good quality.
A moment of magic from Graham on 92 minutes saw her wriggle clear of challenges to go through on Baker's goal but the Lewes keeper was equal to her attempted lobbed finish, catching impressively at full stretch. Ex-Addick Avilla Bergin went close twice for Lewes early in the second period but it was Kempson who struck the crucial goal on 110 minutes, firing in a low shot from a similar distance to her first, the ball bouncing awkwardly in front of the diving keeper.
Lewes saw out the match with few alarms and had been impressive throughout the 120 minutes in both work rate and organisation to largely stifle Charlton, whilst offering pace and threat in attack at times. Ultimately, though, Kempson's opportunist strikes were the difference between two strong sides who both now turn their attention to the Fifth Round of the SSE FA Women's Cup next weekend.
Katie Startup, Kim Dixson, Olivia Lukasewich, Grace Coombs, Charley Clifford, Charlotte Gurr, Hannah Churchill, Sam Pittuck, Nicole Pepper, Charlotte Lee, Kit Graham. Subs: Chloe Brunton-Wilde, Georgia Griffin, Kerry Walklett.
Faye Baker, Claire Johnson, Rebecca Thompson, Kylie McCarthy, Natasha Wells, Katie McIntyre, Leeta Rutherford, Sarah Kempson, Avilla Bergin, Danni Lane, Amy Taylor. Subs: Rebecca Carter, Vicky Carleton, Darcey James, Georgia Bridges, Charlotte Owen.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Nicole Pepper tries to prevent Avilla Bergin from getting in a shot
(middle) Charlotte Gurr is challenged by Kylie McCarthy
(bottom) Charlotte Gurr under pressure from Rebecca Thompson
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