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Women's Football News
F.A.Women's Cup - Road to the Final
Blackburn Rovers went through to the Third Round with a 1-0 victory away to Whitley Bay of the North East League. Nichol Forster scored the only goal of the game during the first half to earn Gemma Donnelly's side a home tie with Middlesbrough, who reached this stage by beating Tranmere Rovers 4-0 with goals from Emily Scott, Sarah Manning, Jenny Duffy and Kenzie Parkes.
Middlesbrough Ladies FC have been around since the late seventies but it wasn't until recent times that Middlesbrough FC gave the side their full support to the ladies side.
In 2001-02, Middlesbrough carried off the Northern Combination title for the first time and were promoted to the Northern Division of the Premier League, where they remained for four seasons. Since being back at Combination level, their best season came in 2010-11 when they finished third, but this time around they are placed amongst the front runners in a very close and open title race.
Manager Sammie Leigh is currently a football coach and sport science lecturer at Middlesbrough College. She has over ten years experience in the women's game including playing at Leeds. Sammie has her UEFA B coaching badge and is in her first season in charge of MFC Ladies as previous manager Gemma Grainger left due to national England commitments.
Captain is Jenni Duffy who is a sports coach and plays left back/centre midfield and Sarah Manning is the longest serving member of the current team who has been at the club since joining as a youngster back in 1997. Sarah is a determined, strong and tall player with a fantastic ability to control midfield.
Sarah first joined Middlesbrough Ladies FC at age 13 but wasn't allowed to play until reaching 14 years old due to the FA rules that were in place. Marrie Wieczorek - Boro Ladies' long serving manager - saw her play at Boldon Girls FC and invited her to go training. Sarah made her debut for the first team just before her 16th birthday and once completing her undergraduate degree at Liverpool John Moores University, Sarah returned home and rejoined in 2008. A year later she was made captain!
The newest player is Amy Simpson who joined in December from local side South Park Rangers and provides Sammie with additional options on the bench.
The good news for 'Boro is that leading goalscorer Nicky Duckling, with 15 in all competitions, is available for selection after recent injury. Dani Scarr (12 goals), Emily Scott (10) and Sarah Manning (10) should also start.
MFC Ladies have definitely benefitted from new sponsors this season including current Middlesbrough goalkeeper Jason Steele, comedian Patrick Monahan and former British tennis number one doubles player Sarah Borwell who is from the town. Sarah's "Tennis Smart" was developed to maintain education while pursuing pro development. Wells Solutions are home shirt sponsors and their support to the team overall has been welcomed.
Blackburn Rovers (from): Jo Hutcheson, Gail Pennington, Helen Seed, Steph Hardy, Amie Fleming, Lindsay Savage, Vicky Westerman, Hannah Forster, Rio Hardy, Nichol Forster, Evie Manning, Sara Noori, Hayley O'Donnell, Chloe Adams, Kelly Bourne, Sophie Flynn, Amy Bland, Zara Musker.
Middlesbrough (from): Becky Lillystone, Jasmine McNaught, Claire Helm, Sarah Manning, Holly Wells, Kenzie Parkes, Sam McGovern, Lindsey Stevenson, Emily Scott, Dani Scarr, Steph Turnbull, Jenni Duffy. Ebony Housam, Nicky Duckling, Amy Simpson.
* The other Third Round match in our Road to the Final feature is yet to be determined with Bradford City and Blackpool Wren Rovers still waiting to meet for the right to play Cardiff City Ladies.
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