Sunday 18th August
Here we are again the start of another new football season, another exciting few month ahead across the East and beyond in the case of the FAWNL where Women’s Football East will once again be covering the Southern Premier Division and South East Division One. The quality of both leagues increasing year upon year. Plenty of transfers made over the close season several catching the eye and a good number making their mark on the opening Sunday of the season as you shall read below.
Feeling far from prepared for the season ahead behind with the website updates but had my reasons as most of you will have seen if not refer to the post further down the page for more details. Will get there just a little later than I’d like to be. Got to plough on however.
FAWNL Southern Premier Division
A 12 strong Southern Premier Division once again, and hope that will remain the case a postponement on the opening day seeing Keynsham Town Ladies newly promoted to the league unable to play Oxford United Women. Crawley Wasps Ladies the other side promoted to the league storming to the South East Division One table following promotion last season and see no reason why they will not be amongst those at the top end of the Southern Premier Division this time around. A name change as QPR Women move to join forces with Hounslow Women to create a new side. Not a total split from QPR itself as the team and name are retained within the regional set-up below.
Another newcomer to the league albeit not by their choice former FAWSL 1 side Yeovil Town Women. Often punching above their weight a popular club amongst many a neutral were unable to obtain a license for the Championship. That saw the club appeal for new investment and since then a new owner has come in whilst the commitment to women’s football within Somerset and beyond remains as strong and committed as it ever was.
It was to Hounslow that Yeovil travelled on the opening day of the season and hit the ground running back in the 3rd tier of women’s football. Anne-Marie Heatherson getting Yeovil off to a flying start with an early opening goal. Meesha Dudley-Jones on target to make it 2-0 to the visitors with Heatherson finding the top corner to make it 3-0. Kelly Aldridge scoring her first of the season too to see Yeovil leading 4-0 at half-time. Aldridge quickly adding to the scoreline with her 2nd of the match after the restart. Sarah Wiltshire returning to Yeovil after playing for Tottenham Hotspur Women will be a strong addition at this level struck the post before opening her account from a free-kick to make it 6-0. Aldridge completing an opening day hat-trick to see Yeovil in 7th heaven. The goals kept coming as Wiltshire matched Aldridge with 2 more goals to also claim a hat-trick on the opening day to see Yeovil top the Southern Premier Division table.
Moving into 2nd spot in the Southern Premier Division table after the opening Sunday results are Milton Keynes Dons Women. Promoted to this level for the first time in their history last season took a little time to settle but were comfortable in the finish securing a 9th placed finish. Have made a number of additions to their squad this time around as they look to push on. Were away on the opening day playing last season’s 3rd placed finishers Chichester City Ladies who for a good portion of the season were up their with eventual champions Coventry United Ladies. A tough start to the season this time around as Milton Keynes made a fine start. Rebecca McShane, Vicky Neal, Dominika Netschova and Jessica Driscoll amongst those joining the squad. Two of those scoring the winning goals. McShane joining from Watford putting Milton Keynes it the lead inside the opening quarter hour. Netschova scoring on her competitive debut too making it 2-0 in the 35th minute. The 3 points secured 2nd half as Netschova found the back of the net in the 65th minute to seal a 3-0 away win.
Crawley Wasps Ladies have once again added to their squad as they prepare to take another step up the women’s football pyramid this just their 2nd season in the FAWNL. Just one league defeat last time around started this season with a 2-0 home win over Plymouth Argyle Ladies. Samantha Pittuck joining Crawley after a season with their South East Division One rivals Billericay Town Ladies that saw her score 18 goals in 19 appearances. Was quickly off the mark with her new side putting Crawley into the lead midway through the 1st half. The hosts doubling the lead with 10 minutes gone in the 2nd half sending a looping ball in from the top of the box. Megan Stow shown a straight red card saw Crawley down to 10 with 25 minutes left to play, held onto a clean sheet however to begin the season with a home victory.
Watford FC Ladies began their Southern Premier Division campaign with a trip to the South Coast to play Portsmouth FC Women. A number of new additions to the Golden Girls squad over the summer. Two starting on Sunday midfielder Megan Chandler and goalkeeper Nina Wilson with Ocean Rolandsen making the move form London Bees and Emma Beckett who was at Tottenham Hotspur Women last season named on the bench. It was a familiar name however that got the first goal of the season, Helen Ward netting 18 goals last time around, getting her account opened in the 15th minute to fire Watford into the lead, another coming for Ward in the closing moments of the first half as she struck to make it 2-0. A clean sheet kept intact in the 2nd period seeing Watford journey home with 3 points on the back.
Cardiff City Ladies announcing before their opening fixture that the rules had changed to allow them to compete within the FAWSL/Championship should they win promotion. A runners-up finish last time around the Welsh side often amongst those challenging at the top of the Southern Premier Division were hosting Kent side, Gillingham Ladies. 9 new signings made by Gillingham manager Jack Wheeler over the summer including the return of former captain Jade Keogh, she along with Hannah Wheeler who spent last season with Championship side London Bee and ex-Charlton player Jess Carpinini all starting Sunday’s game with two further additions both ex-Charlton, Ellie Jeffkins and Georgia Pearch named on the bench. Gillingham enjoying their long trip to Wales as they opened the scoring with a fantastic goal finished by Grace Harrison. A slender lead Cardiff had an opportunity to level on 58 minutes awarded a penalty Cori Williams seeing her shot saved by Gillingham goalkeeper Cara Davies as she helped them to secure and opening day victory.
FAWNL South East Division One
Crawley Wasps Ladies and Billericay Town Ladies were the two sides gaining promotion to the FAWNL last season both making their debut at this level and taking the league by storm both strengthening their squads were neck and neck for a time at the top before Crawley losing just one game all season that against Billericay going on to finish champions and gain promotion. Will Billericay be as strong again this season or will the others catch up? Has been alot of player movement in the league and several sides have made notable additions was very competitive below the top two and expect that to be the case this time around. Cambridge City Ladies and Kent Football United the promoted sides this time around both again making their bow at this level a tough act for the newly promoted pair to follow. A new era begins for AFC Basildon Women formerly C&K Basildon relegated from the Southern Premier Division. Amongst those making several new additions to their squad are buoyant going into the new season with renewed optimism.
The FAWNL South East Division One is where the season begins for Women’s Football East, the first of many match reports that shall be produced over the season across all 15 leagues under the umbrella. A new era too for Cambridge United WFC as they move to a new home after spending 3 seasons playing at Mildenhall Town FC. St Neots Town FC’s Premier Plus Stadium their new base for home games and training closer to Cambridge. Their opponents familiar as they took on Enfield Town Ladies. A great season for the visitors last time around finishing 3rd. Ex-Cambridge player Laura Baker amongst their new signings as they started the game strongly taking the game to Cambridge creating much of the early chances opened the scoring in the 20th minute, new signing Beth Lumsden with a brilliant flick in the middle to release striker Katherine Long in behind the Cambridge defence caught high, goalkeeper Savannah Smith well off her line Long struck early sending the ball angling past the keeper and one into the empty net to open the scoring. Cambridge gaining in little momentum late in the first half won a corner in the final minute the ball cleared out to midfielder Charlotte Crisp her touch and shot were excellent from range as she sent the ball in towards goal dipping in front of the diving keeper to sneak in inside the post to see the sides drawing at the break.
A better start to the 2nd half saw Cambridge apply pressure to Enfield higher up the pitch and chances were fashioned. Enfield making changes to counter the home side coped with the threat a physical and competitive game as it always is between the pair the game could have gone either way 2nd half, Enfield finding a bit more late on as Cambridge tired breaking in the closing moments a cross from the left deep kept alive by Anna Re sent back in across the six yard box the Cambridge defence stretched, Laura Baker was well positioned central to apply the touch and score the winning goal. The full report from the game can be found in the post below.
Tough away trips for both the newly promoted sides on the opening day of the season with Cambridge City Ladies, ERWFL Champions last season travelling to London to play last season’s 5th placed finishers Leyton Orient WFC. An early goal for the hosts with Hayley Barton setting Leyton Orient on their way in the 3rd minute. Cambridge City coming back to level in the 15th minute with a goal for Karly Tolentino on her debut. Leyton Orient were back in front 10 minutes later with Egle Trezzi opening her account to see the hosts 2-1 up at the break. Leyton Orient having the better of the 2nd half with captain Danielle Griffiths putting them 3-0 up on the hour. Sophie Le Marchand adding a 4th goal with 15 minutes to go, 2nd half substitute Belen Ripoll Douton making it 5-1 to Leyton Orient with 2 minutes left on the clock, enough to see them top the league after the opening day results.
A short trip up into Essex for Kent Football United as they made their FAWNL bow taking on last season’s runners-up, Billericay Town Ladies. Plenty of experience within the Billericay squad the host opened the scoring on 20 minutes, 15 goals to her name last season Jay Blackie getting the Essex sides opening goal of the season. Danica Dougal scoring with 5 minutes left of the first half to see Billericay leading 2-0 at half-time. 32 goals for Zoe Rushen last season she got her account up and running 12 minutes into the 2nd half lobbing the keeper to make it 3-0. Billericay’s captain Lindsey Morgan scoring soon after to bring up the Essex sides 4th. Kent Football United had chances themselves were awarded a penalty with 20 minutes left on the clock Amy Russ coolly sending the ball into the bottom corner to score their first goal in the FAWNL. Blackie on target with her 2nd of the game restoring Billericay’s 4 goal cushion. Kent Football United capitalising scoring a scrambled goal in the 88th minute with Shannon Burke the scorer.
Greg Dimsey the new manager in charge of Norwich City Women’s (newly renamed) first team this season as they started the season with a trip down to Essex to take on AFC Basildon Women. A new era beginning for both looking to make their mark on the league. Basildon bringing in a host of new players, with experience at this level and young emerging talent alike. Ex-Ipswich players Cassie Craddock and Harriet Petley along with Cerys Adams and Poppy Binding making their Basildon debuts. The visitors from Norfolk opening the scoring with Aimee Durrant heading in to make it 1-0 within the opening minute. Chelsea Garrett top scoring with 14 goals last season on target to see Norwich go 2 nil in front. Sophie Spencer-Webb pulling a goal back for Basildon before half-time. The hosts then getting back on level terms at the start of the 2nd period with Binding scoring. Norwich added to their attacking threat late last season bringing in Megan Todd and she has the potential to make a huge impact in South East Division One, scoring twice she helped Norwich secure a 4-2 win to go 3rd in the table.
Two more sides that will be expecting good campaigns this time around too met on the opening day with Stevenage Women (also newly renamed) taking on Actonians Ladies, both making new additions to their squads, both featured an ex-AFC Wimbledon attacker. Jenny Nagle amongst the starters for Stevenage, Caroline Bisson was a starter for Actonians. Amy Makewell captaining Stevenage getting the hosts opening goal of the season to see them leading at the break. Bisson scoring for Actonians drawing them back on level terms 15 minutes into the 2nd half, then just as it was between Cambridge and Enfield it was late heartbreak for the hosts too as Bisson struck again in the closing moments to win the game 2-1 for Actonians.
A dominant display at home for Ipswich Town Women however they had to settle for a point n the opening day as they took on AFC Wimbledon Ladies. A number of their talented U21s featuring in their starting line-up they found themselves trailing inside the opening quarter hour as new signing Helen Ogle fired Wimbledon into the lead with her first competitive goal for the club. Ipswich pressing hard for a reply before the break finding the back of the net to make it 1-1 with Abbie Lafayette scoring. Ipswich creating chances in the 2nd period as Wimbledon worked hard to keep them out to earn themselves a point.