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Women's Football News
SSE Women's FA Cup - Road to the Final
Hull City proved to be a little too strong for Norton & Stockton Ancients in the First Round, ending the North East League side's Cup run with a 6-1 victory.
Misty Russell led the scoring with a hat-trick and there was one apiece from Elisha Robinson, Katie Thompson and Sophie Stamp. Hull will be on their travels again in the next round, with a very tough tie away to Northern Division high fliers Blackburn Rovers.
Formed in 1991, Blackburn Rovers Ladies have enjoyed a glorious rise to the pinnacle of women's football. Under the supervision of the club's Community Department and the watchful eye of BRFC, the Ladies team needed only seven seasons to reach the Northern Combination League.
Following a move to the club's magnificent £20m Brockhall training complex in 2003, Rovers went on to lift the Lancashire Cup and become the first team to win the Northern Combination title with a 100% league record. An undefeated Rovers set a Northern Division record in 2005-06, winning 20 of their 22 league games and lifting the Lancashire Cup for the third year running, whilst Andy McNally became the first coach from outside the top flight to be named Nationwide Manager of the Year.
Adam Lakeland replaced McNally at the helm in January 2007 and guided the team to a fourth successive Lancashire Cup, the historic achievement of two successive FA Women's Cup ‘Team of the Round' awards, en route to the semi final stage, and a top half finish in the National Division table. Rovers then endured a disappointing season in 2008-09, losing the Lancashire Cup final on penalties to Rochdale and ending their Premier League campaign in ninth place, but they bounced back in 2009-10, winning the Lancashire Cup for the sixth time in seven seasons and ending the league season strongly, which included an historic 1-1 draw against Arsenal at Ewood Park, in seventh place.
Rovers enjoyed a superb start to the 2010-11 season, losing just one of their opening seven league games, which saw them sitting pretty at the top of the table by the end of October. However, they failed to win any of their remaining league fixtures and were relegated to the Northern Division on goal difference following a final day draw away to Barnet. Former Reserve team manager Scott Rogers guided the team to the latter stages of all three domestic cup competitions in 2011-12, lifting the Lancashire Cup, and made a late promotion push in the Northern Division, only to eventually finish fourth.
A new era dawned in the summer of 2013 as highly qualified FA coaches John Prince and Matt Craddock became the newly appointed management team. However, after winning just two of their opening eight league games, the duo departed in early November. Gemma Donnelly took temporary charge for the remainder of the season, securing Rovers' Premier League status.
With Donnelly now in full control, Rovers assembled a new look squad for the 2014-15 campaign and it would prove to be a successful one, finishing third in the FA Women's Premier League Northern Division and securing silverware by lifting the Lancashire Challenge Cup for the first time in three years, courtesy of a 3-1 victory over Morecambe in the Final.
2015-16 saw Rovers towards the top of the table, finishing third in the Northern Division with an increased points tally. Rovers were able to retain the county cup after winning it previously with a 2-1 win over Preston in the final. This season would see the return of a Blackburn Rovers Ladies reserve team who would go on to win the Reserve League Cup. This year would prove to be a milestone for the club as the highly reputable Centre of Excellence was granted a tier 1 status as a Regional Talent Club, the highest level available.
Gemma Donnelly is still First Team manager and captain is Lynda Shepherd, who was recently named as FAWPL Players' Player of the Year. Lynda has made a total of 175 appearances for the club, which is just ten behind record holder Katie Anderton. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Danielle Hill has kept 18 clean sheets, one away from Kay Hawke's record which was set in 2004-05.
Blackburn will be looking to build on a superb record in 2016, during the calendar year they played 37 league and cup ties, winning 30, drawing three and losing just four - a win ratio of 86%.
Blackburn Rovers (from):
Danielle Hill, Danielle Whitham, Alex Taylor, Lynda Shepherd, Kelsey Pearson, Jess Holbrook, Hannah Fryer, Natasha Fenton, Saffron Jordan, Ainsley Strickland, Emma Rankin, Kayleigh McDonald, Katie Maher, Ellie Cook, Cara Bickett, Faye McCoy, Ria Montgomery, Ella Toone.
Hull City (from):
Amy Halloran, Emma Bentley, Ellice Jackman, Natasha Cooke, Katie Thompson, Rachael Cooke, Jo Symington, Sophie Stamp, Rebecca Beech, Ellie Harding, Sarah Walters, Emily Smith, Sarah Owen, Emma Westmorland, Elisha Robinson, Jazz Whitwell, Misty Russell, Amy Wilson, Cassie Milestone, Cauren Webb, Evie Hepworth.
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