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C & K Basildon v Sheffield FC
 Women's Football News 7 Feb 2015
 
F.A.Women's Cup - Road to the Final
C & K Basildon produced one of the best results of the Second Round when Zoe Rushen netted twice and Karissa Rodney the other as they beat Plymouth Argyle 3-2. The Essex side have landed a tough draw in the next stage against Sheffield FC who stormed through by winning 8-0 against Leicester City Women, Amy Beanland and Nikki Hogg each scoring twice along with Suzanne Davies, Billie Murphy, Jodie Michalska and Emma Johnson.
 
Sheffield FC Ladies was formed in 2003 when previous team Norton Ladies affiliated with the oldest football club in the world, Sheffield FC. The affiliation was proposed and facilitated by Helen Mitchell who had arrived at Norton LFC as a player in 2001-02. When the previous manager left at the end of that season, Mitchell was approached by the players to take on the role which she reluctantly agreed to do.
 
After a very difficult first season, it was apparent that significant changes were needed if the team was to have a future, and the new player/manager recognised that a secure foundation was needed from which to build. A five-year plan was put together and presented to the chairman of Sheffield FC who acknowledged the rising status of the women's game and saw an opportunity to invest in something the Club had been without for 146 years…and so Sheffield FC Ladies was born.
 
Sheffield started life in Division One East of the Yorkshire & Humberside Regional WFL, the bottom level of the women's pyramid of football at the time until the formation of the County Leagues. 2003-04 was a tough season on the pitch as the team adjusted to life as part of a new Club, and the main focus of the management team was in improving the administrative side of the Club and building up a new structure and identity to move forward. With the new plan in place, 2004-05 was the start of Sheffield FC Ladies' transformation. Former men's first team captain, Nigel Hughes, joined Mitchell on the coaching side and several new players arrived at the Club, attracted by the set up and ambition to progress. The team finished the season in third place, narrowly missing out on the title by just two points.
 
The Y&HRWFL merged with the Northern Regional WFL for the start of 2005-06 to form a brand new regional league for the north of England: the North East Regional WFL. Sheffield were placed in Division One South and proceeded to enjoy another very good season, improving on the previous season by one place to finish as runners up to runaway champions, York City. 2006-07 was another improved season although the team once again finished as runners-up, this time to Guiseley, but Sheffield were gaining a reputation for playing attractive, free flowing football and were winning admirers from within the league and beyond. The team also entered the FA Women's Cup for the first time this season, winning on their debut before losing in extra time in the next round.
 
Having finished runners-up for two successive seasons, the team began 2007-08 with one aim: to win the league title and gain promotion to the Premier Division. Once again, the team was strengthened with three or four new players and Sheffield hit some of their best form ever to eventually win a very tight three-team title race on the final day of the season. It was just reward for the huge amount of hard work behind the scenes, and also the catalyst Sheffield needed to attract better players and start to make their mark at a higher level. Free of the self-imposed pressure to win the league that had dominated the previous season, Sheffield had one of their most enjoyable seasons in 2008-09 as debutants in the Premier Division. The team played some superb football, way beyond expectations, and ended up going into the final match of the season in second place against league leaders Darlington RA, knowing that a win would secure them a second successive league title, whilst a draw would be enough for Darlington. Despite leading 2-0 at half time, Sheffield ended up conceding two goals in the second half and thus handing the title to Darlington. It was arguably the most disappointing day of Sheffield's short history, but one from which they would learn and come back stronger and wiser.
 
In 2009-10, Sheffield lived up to their pre-season billing as title contenders and ultimately won the league thanks to a 3-2 victory in a title deciding night match against runners up Barnsley at home in front of 150 supporters, one of the most thrilling matches of Sheffield's short history. The experience of losing a similar contest the season before proved invaluable as the team showed great experience to get the result they needed to lift their second League trophy.The team also reached the semi finals of the Sheffield & Hallamshire Women's Challenge Cup for the first time, losing in extra time to Rotherham United. And so onto the Northern Combination WFL for the 2010-11 season which proved to be Sheffield's finest yet as they recorded 18 wins and just two defeats on their way to winning the league title at the first attempt, finishing 11 points clear of runners-up Sheffield Wednesday. A third league title in four years meant Sheffield FC Ladies were promoted to the FA Women's Premier League for 2011-12, a milestone that few could have predicted given the team's humble beginnings.
 
Sheffield's debut season at FAWPL level could hardly have gone much better as they finished the year as runners-up, five points behind champions Manchester City. The team picked up silverware for the third season running, this time courtesy of a very first win in the Sheffield & Hallamshire Women's Challenge Cup, and also enjoyed their best run in the FA Women's Cup, reaching the Fourth Round before losing to Keynsham Town.
 
The first team went one better in 2012-13 as they lifted the Northern Division title for the very first time, crowning an incredible rise through the ranks of the women's game. Sheffield were front runners from the start of the season, losing just one league match in total, and finishing nine points clear of Nottingham Forest. They also repeated their success in the Sheffield & Hallamshire Women's Challenge Cup, beating Rotherham United 6-0 in the Final.
 
With promotion to the next level, the FA Women's Super League, not possible, Sheffield were forced to defend their Northern Division crown in 2013-14, which they managed to do with five matches to go, ultimately finishing 15 points clear of runners-up Preston North End. They also added a third successive Sheffield & Hallamshire Women's Challenge Cup, and equalled their best FA Women's Cup run, but the highlight of the season was undoubtedly the winning of the FA Women's Premier League Cup for the very first time, beating Cardiff City 6-2 in the final played at Burton Albion's Pirelli Stadium, crowning off an historic treble trophy winning season.
 
Helen Mitchell is still at the helm as manager with Letitia Price as S&C Coach and Neil Snelson as Sports Therapist. Carla Ward captains the first team and Lisa Giampalma is longest serving player, having joined in 2007-08, whilst the prolific Jodie Michalska is all time leading scorer with an impressive 180 goals to her name.
 
This should be a fascinating tie with C & K Basildon eager to test themselves against opponents who have been widely regarded as the best team in the country in the winter season. The tie will take place at Selex Sports & Leisure Club with a 2pm kick off. 
 
C & K Basildon (from): Nicola Carty, Carly Copplestone, Carly Eagles, Nicole Farmer, Chelsea Hinz, Charlotte Hopwood, Melanie Kinsalla, Claire Lacey, Megan Lawler, Amy Nash, Hannah Porter, Layla Prior, Karissa Rodney, Cherie Rowlands, Zoe Rushen, Roseanne Shafier, Sara Sinclair, Karen Stephanou, Merrick Will, Lucy Wyatt.

Sheffield FC (from): Claire Wallhead, Kirsty Richardson, Sophie Crosby, Becky Lee, Danielle Cox, Billie Murphy, Ellie Gilliatt, Aimee Johnson, Lisa Giampalma, Carla Ward, Kerry Parkin, Kim Turner, Jess Horsley, Leanne de Silva, Lynn Goodman, Suzanne Davies, Amy Beanland, Abbie McIver, Jodie Michalska, Emma Johnson.


 
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