Sunday 19th August
The new football season began this Sunday and with it comes the first edition of The Round-Up. Women’s Football East will continue to cover the same leagues as last season which are much changed at the top end following the FA’s restructuring of the women’s football pyramid. The FAWSL remains the countries top tier featuring 11 fully professional clubs with FAWSL 2 being renamed the FA Championship again featuring 11 clubs most being semi-professional. The FAWPL below is where The Round-Up coverage begins, renamed this season now known as the FAWNL (Women’s National League).
The two leagues covered by Women’s Football East being the Southern Premier Division and South East Division One below. 12 teams on each at the start of the season several new names feature in the Southern Premier Division as 4 teams from last season were successful in applying for a licence to play in the revamped FAWSL. West Ham United Ladies the most ambitious being the only club outside the FAWSL to apply for a tier one licence. Southern Premier Division Champions, Charlton Athletic Women were victorious in the FAWPL Play-off match to earn promotion whilst Lewes FC Women and after appeal Crystal Palace Ladies also secured a place in the Championship.
There were casualties too with founder clubs from FAWSL 2 opting not to apply for a licence initially in what is an incredibly expensive league. That see’s Watford FC Ladies and Oxford United Women drop down into the FAWNL Southern Premier Division. Three promoted sides join the league after the restructure Milton Keynes Dons Ladies, Plymouth Argyle Ladies and Loughborough Foxes Women winners of the FAWPL South East, South West and Midlands Division One’s respectfully.
Onto to the weekend’s football.
FAWNL Southern Premier Division
We begin with Loughborough Foxes Women, who were runaway winners of the Midland’s Division One last season, undefeated winning all but one of their 22 league games. Started the new season at home against Queens Park Rangers Women who finished 2nd bottom in the Southern Premier last season. An excellent start for the newly promoted sides, early woes for QPR. Rebecca Mcgrother getting Loughborough off to the perfect start scoring in the 3rd minute of the match. Charlotte Cooper the clubs top scorer last campaign opened her account this season on the 12th minute to put Loughborough 2-0 up, with further goals from Shauna Chambers and Kate Lowder seeing Loughborough leading 4-0 at the break. Mcgrother added her 2nd of the game 2 minutes after the restart with Cooper making it 6-0 with her 2nd of the game with 15 minutes left, QPR going down 7-0 in the finish conceding an own goal in stoppage time. Loughborough the early leaders.
Just a goal less scored for Portsmouth FC Women sees them into 2nd in the Southern Premier Division after the opening round of fixtures. Were away to last season’s runners-up, C&K Basildon Ladies. The Essex side seeing a lot of changes over the close season with the retirement of Peter King who had invested heavily into the club to make it one of the leading forces in women’s football in the County taking them to the brink of the FAWSL. Now C&K Basildon entering a new era have seen the lost of much of the first team squad along with manager Steve Tilson. A new management team an new look (young) side came up against a strong Portsmouth side. Hannah Greer giving the away side the lead on 12 minutes made it a brace before Daisy McLachlan made it 3-0 on the stroke of half-time. McLachlan an emerging talent last season went on to score twice more in the 2nd half to bag herself an opening day hat-trick with Shannon Albuery on target for a goal in a 6-0 win.
Watford FC Ladies made the decision early not to apply for an FAWSL licence this naturally saw some upheaval at the club costing them their coach and several key players. Also gave them a longer time to prepare for a new era and maybe out of all the former FAWSL sides who drop out of league they are in the best position to mount an immediate promotion push. Got off the the perfect start with an opening day victory at home to Cardiff City Ladies. Welsh international striker Helen Ward opening her account to put the hosts 1-0 up within 7 minutes. Kylie Nolan got it back to 1-1 for Cardiff City midway through the 1st half. Ward restoring Watford’s lead just before half-time from the penalty spot. Andrea Carid Coa came on to make her debut in the 2nd half for Watford and celebrated the occasion by scoring a brace on 64 and 72 minutes. Ward going on to complete a hat-trick in the final 10 minutes. Nolan adding a 2nd goal for Cardiff City late on. Watford clinching a 5-2 win.
Chichester City Ladies began the season at home entertaining the other side dropping out of the FAWSL, Oxford United Women. The debutants doing the damage for Chichester City, Sara Tubby finding the back of the net with 10 minutes left to play in the 1st half to hands the hosts a 1-0 half-time lead. Molly Clark too scoring on her debut for Chichester City on 65 minutes to make it 2-0. Oxford pulling a goal back through Ellie Noble to make it 2-1 and set up a tense last 10 minutes Chichester City going on to claim the 3 points.
A 7 goal thriller between the other two sides promoted to the Southern Premier Division this season with Milton Keynes Dons Ladies playing their home games at Stadium MK itself this season entertaining Plymouth Argyle Ladies who finished South West Division One Champions unbeaten with 16 wins from 18 played. Largely due to the incredible 61 goal haul by top scorer Natasha Knapman, and she wasn’t hanging around at the start of this season either, scoring a 1st half hat-trick to put Plymouth 3-0 up. Milton Keynes Dons fought back to reduce the deficit with Kim Farrow and Zoe Boote both scoring to make it 3-2 in the final 5 minutes of the 1st half. Milton Keynes Dons pulled it around to make it 3-3 with 15 minutes played in the 2nd half, Farrow in target for her 2nd goal of the game. Knapman wasn’t finished however as she put the ball home for her 4th of the match 8 minutes later to see the visitors open the season with a 4-3 win.
In the other game played in the Southern Premier Division at the weekend Coventry United Ladies travelled to Kent to play Gillingham FC Ladies, the two sides battling out a 0-0 to claim a share of the points.
FAWNL South East Division One
Crawley Wasps Ladies join the FAWNL South East Division One this season and made a positive start to life at a higher level by securing a home win against Ipswich Town Women who were pushing for promotion for a large spell last season. At home it was Ariana Fleischman who claimed Crawley Wasps first goal in the FAWNL netting in the 6th minute. Faye Rabson doubling the advantage for Crawley Wasps on the half hour. Ipswich Town changing their name to Women were to pull it back to 2-1 with 6 minutes left in the 1st half captain Amanda Crump scoring from outside the box. Crawley Wasps were to go it with a 2 goal cushion at half-time with Sian Heather newly joined from Lewes FC Women scoring on her debut. Crawley Wasps going on to made victory comfortable in the 2nd half with both Rabson and Heather getting on the scoresheet once more to seal a 5-1.
5-1 was also the winning score for Enfield Town Ladies as they go joint top with Crawley Wasps in South East Division One after the opening weekend. Began their campaign at home to Norfolk side Norwich City Ladies. Got off the the worst possible start however as Norwich took an early lead in the game Sasha Diston finding the back of the net with just 7 minutes played. Enfield turning the game right around to lead 2-1 at half-time with new signing Jodie Bellinger scoring a brace. 10 minutes into the 2nd half Bellinger had her hat-trick before Danielle Smith scored to make it 4-1 to Enfield. Norwich saw a penalty saved with 20 minutes left before Isabella Agus wrapped up the 5-1 result with 8 minutes left to play.
Also scoring 5 goal on in their opening game of the season were Stevenage Ladies at home to Actonians Ladies on Sunday. Nicole Emmings getting a brace for Stevenage there were opening day goals too for Amy Josland, Amy Makewell and Ellie Searle in a 5-2 victory. Alessandra Barreca top scorer for Actonians last season netting both the visitors goals one in each half.
The other debutant in South East Division One were Essex side, Billericay Town Ladies Champions for the ERWFL Premier Division at last after narrowly missing out on promotion for a number of seasons. Manager Kim Coster has recruited strongly over the close season experience and presence in Zoe Rushen and Jay Blackie from C&K Basildon Ladies along with striker Karissa Rodney, with exciting young talents like Megan Jiggins and Broghan Kelly also coming in amongst others. Started the season perfectly to with an away victory over Denham United Ladies. Lucy Jones, captain Lindsey Morgan and Samantha Puttock all on target in the 1st half in a 3-0 win.
A late winner saw Leyton Orient WFC claim an opening day victory against Luton Town Ladies on Sunday. Chanel Richards with the all important goal to clinch a 1-0 win for the visitors in the 81st minute of the match.
Cambridge United Women began the season with an away trip to the capital to play last season’s South East Division One runners-up, AFC Wimbledon Ladies. Cambridge are another side who have make several new additions over the close season. AFC Wimbledon were holding the advantage at half-time with Katie Stanley putting them 1-0 up inside the final 10 minutes of the half. 10 minutes into the 2nd half Cambridge United were back on level terms new club captain, Kayleigh-Anne Burt rising inside the box to head the ball home from a corner kick. An opening day draw to begin the season the game ending 1-1.