England Sparks Second Half Revival To Leave City Feeling Blue

Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City

Impetus editor Ben Gilby was at Kingsmeadow for this top of the table Barclays FA Women’s Super League clash.

Above: Ramona Bachmann and Steph Houghton challenge for the ball at Kingsmeadow. Photo: Ben Gilby

Chelsea showed real determination to come from behind to see off fellow title challengers Manchester City yesterday afternoon.

Two goals in three second half minutes, with Bethany England prominent in both moves were rewarded by the three points after a City side, who were strangely subdued for much of the first half, had taken an earlier lead.

The first half had few chances as the two sides sparred with each other without wanting to take too many risks; not surprising given how much was riding on the game.

Whilst City had marginally more opportunities, largely with Canadian star Janine Beckie and Norfolk’s Lauren Hemp playing a key creative role, Chelsea defended comfortably to the extent that Ellen White was largely anonymous for much of the game, particularly after the break. For their part, the home side, cheered on by another boisterous home crowd, the tigerish Erin Cuthbert once more proved exceptionally difficult to stop on her forays forward.

Above: Lauren Hemp had a good afternoon for Manchester City. Photo: Ben Gilby

The first main opportunity in the second half fell to Chelsea’s South Korean international Ji So-yun who hit a powerful shot which came cannoning back off the post with Ellie Roebuck beaten.

Above: Ji So-yun smashes a shot which came back off the post. Photo: Ben Gilby

The two teams then came out of their shells more, and it was City who hit the mark first. Keira Walsh robbed Romona Bachmann and played a lovely lofted pass which was met on the volley by Caroline Weir for 1-0.

With City, Arsenal and Chelsea starting to move clear of the chasing pack, it has become increasingly evident that the eventual champions will come from the side with the best record in the three team mini league at the top. Emma Hayes’ side knew they had to up the ante. They did so in style.

Above: City and England keeper Ellie Roebuck was increasingly busy in the second half. Photo: Ben Gilby

Bethany England’s creativity came to the fore and, with Drew Spence coming on from the bench, the presence and pressure grew.

Bachmann fired in a powerful shot which brought an outstanding save from Roebuck. Shortly after, Roebuck was out of luck as she could only push Ji So-Yun’s effort into the path of Bethany England who couldn’t miss.

Above: Bethany England looks to beat City’s Janine Beckie. Photo: Ben Gilby

After several efforts fired towards goal that City struggled to clear until Steph Houghton booted it none too elegantly up field, Chelsea got the reward their efforts deserved. A teasing cross was punched out by Roebuck, but it fell to England whose effort was slammed into the net by Maren Mjelde to joyous scenes around Kingsmeadow.

Chelsea have now come from behind to beat both Arsenal and Manchester City at home. How they get on against their fellow title contenders on the road will go a long way to deciding whether or not the Super League trophy will return to South-West London in May.

Our full set of over photos from the match is available to view here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=155003289238134&set=pcb.155006779237785&type=3&theater

Above: Ramona Bachmann drives forward for Chelsea. Photo: Ben Gilby

Teams:

CHELSEA: Berger, Mjelde, Bright, Eriksson, Andersson, Cuthbert, Ingle, Ji, Reiten, Bachmann, England. Subs: Spence, Carter, Blundell, Cooper, Telford (GK), Fleming, Murphy.

Scorers: England 79, Mjelde 81.

MANCHESTER CITY: Roebuck, Beckie, Houghton, Bonner, Stokes, Walsh, Weir, Scott, Hemp, White, Wullaert. Subs: Coombs, Lee, Benameur (GK), Fidalgo, Stanway, Campbell.

Scorer: Weir 58.

Referee: Amy Fearn.

Attendance: 3,498

Whyteleafe Women: Playing The Game The Right Way

Impetus editor Ben Gilby spoke to Whyteleafe Women manager Charlie Bickell about the rise of the side from the border of Croydon and Surrey to the fifth tier London & South-East Regional Premier – all achieved by playing the game the right way.

Bickell began the piece by outlining the rapid rise of Whyteleafe Women since they formed in 2016. “Our journey so far has of course had its ups and downs but we have achieved so much within a relatively short space of time. It feels like we have been around a lot longer than three and a half seasons! Since the formation of Whyteleafe Women we have seen a new U12 girls’ team formed, the first in the history of the club. We have also seen rises in numbers of girls attending our soccer camps and other foundation projects.”

The establishment of a women’s side at Whyteleafe was one centred on a clear aim – one which the club were public about from the start: “When we started the women’s team we wanted to create a level of professionalism that you wouldn’t find at the bottom level of the women’s game”, explains Bickell,  “We tried to make a big noise on social media which also helped us gain some really good players. We have risen through the divisions quickly and that’s all down to the work of the players and my coaches. We have been very fortunate to work with some really good players whose dedication and quality have gotten us to where we are today. Some of those girls are still with us now some have moved on to play at a higher level and we are extremely proud of those girls and we continue to follow their development.”

Above: Whyteleafe (green shirts) battle against Dartford in the London & SE Regional Premier. Photo: Ollie Chamberlain

It was the staff at the East Surrey club that have formed an important part of the club’s growth. Bickell admits: “As a manager I’ve been very fortunate to have really good coaches to work with. Harry Martin was my assistant in the first two seasons and the work he did on and off the pitch was vital to our success. Now I have a new assistant Fred Wright who’s also been great to work with and he’s bought different qualities to the group. We have a tremendous spirit at Whyteleafe and I think that has had a huge impact on what we have done. Every player who’s worn the shirt has been as important as anyone else and it’s been a privilege to work with all of them.”

There may well have been a lot of success coming Whyteleafe’s way so far, but their ethos is a long way from success at all costs. For Bickell and his coaching team, it’s all about playing the beautiful game the right way: “Our aim is to play our football. If we win by playing our football then we are really happy. If we don’t then we try to perfect our style and improve. I don’t believe any other team in our league (London and South-East Regional Women’s Premier – tier five) plays like we do. We have set principals and we don’t deviate from these. We face a lot of teams who are direct and there’s nothing wrong with that but that way of playing isn’t for us. If our football can help us challenge for honours then that is success for us.”

The huge growth in the profile of women’s football since the World Cup has led to growth in the numbers of young girls attracted to learning the game and honing their skills at Whyteleafe as Bickell explains: “There’s definitely been more interest in young girls through tournaments like the World Cup. Through the work the club does in the community that’s really clear as the number of girls participating has increased which is fantastic to see. We do get some supporters at our games obviously it would be great to get more, but I feel that still people have this idea of women’s football that’s not really correct if they just went to see a game I think they would be surprised. As for sponsors we do have a few and we are so grateful for those otherwise Whyteleafe Women wouldn’t be here now. We depend on the kindness of local companies to keep us going, we hope we can add more sponsors because financially that would really allow us to push to the next level.”   

With the club now just one division away from the FA Women’s National League, the challenges that Whyteleafe are facing both on and off the pitch are getting on and off the pitch are growing. “We have to compete with teams like QPR and Dulwich Hamlet who have brilliant backing from their clubs and that’s so vital at our level of football because those are the teams who will probably get promoted. Off the pitch every season trying to keep the team going financially is a problem. The players pay to play and we also encourage them to get an individual sponsor. Our outgoing are expensive and with no financial support it makes things very difficult. Our biggest challenge on the pitch is to keep improving our style of football. To keep pushing the players to improve individually. At the present time, there is no relationship to speak of between the men’s first team and ourselves.”

Above: Determination to succeed by playing the game the right way is the watchword at Whyteleafe. Photo: Ollie Chamberlain

The balancing act that Whyteleafe have is to continue to push to improve their status whilst ensuring there is a sustainable future for women’s football in their particular part of South-East Surrey. “To be sustainable you need a reputation at the level of football you compete at. The work we have done has given us that so players know who we are and that’s why we have managed to sign some really very good players and players continue to be interested in signing for us. I think you also need huge commitment form the players you have and I think that if you set the right environment then you get that in return. Certainly with the situation we are in you have to be financially stable without any support so defiantly off the pitch that’s our biggest challenge in being sustainable”, points out Bickell.

In terms of where the Whyteleafe manager sees the game going over the next five years, he says: “I hope the women’s game continues to grow. To work with these girls has been something I have enjoyed tremendously and I want other coaches to be open to coaching within the women’s game. I’m not sure if the Women’s game will ever be on par with the men’s game but I want to see sold out stadiums in the Women’s Super League and in the Championship. I want to see boys and girls having female players on the back of their shirts. As for us, I think for Whyteleafe our aim is to play in the national league, its only one promotion away but it would mean a lot to us. We also want to continue to improve the players we have and perfect our style of football.”

Finally, the conversation turned to the increase in money and support from the Premier League and Championship clubs going towards their women’s sides. I asked Charlie Bickell if he thought that would make it impossible for clubs like Whyteleafe to progress further up the women’s football pyramid: “I think that there will be interest from the people who organise football at the top to make it elitist, the prime example of that is what happened to Yeovil Town. We can’t allow money to be a road block for coaches and players to achieve. Football is a working class sport and I think when you only make it work for people who have money this is completely wrong. I think all Premier League clubs should have a women’s team and give them the same support as they do the men, but more than that, they should have a responsibility to invest in women’s football in their local area.”

Whyteleafe’s rise, in a town with a population of less than 4,000 is impressive and one which, if Charlie Bickell has anything to do with it, is not over yet. They are a club who want success playing the beautiful game the beautiful way. They are a club well worth keeping an eye on.  

Above: There’s been plenty for Whyteleafe to celebrate since their formation. Photo: Ollie Chamberlain

Follow us on Twitter – @impetus49255112 and on Instagram at https://instagram.com/impetuswomensfootball.

Ben Gilby is the editor of Impetus and has over fifteen years experience in voluntary media officer roles within the sports of Football and Rugby Union, has appeared on BBC Radio Cornwall and BBC Radio Norfolk sports shows several times and published the book ‘The Game: Tales From A Season Travelling Around The Rugby Union Grounds of South-East England’.

W League Round-Up

Impetus editor Ben Gilby rounds up all the action from the third round of matches from the Westfield W League in Australia.

New South Wales has kept its stranglehold on the W League with Sydney FC and cross city rivals Western Sydney Wanderers still holding one hundred percent win rates at the top of the table.

Sydney FC stay top on goal difference after a comfortable 3-1 win away to Perth Glory in a repeat of last season’s Grand Final. Whilst the Sky Blues have started 2019/20 the way they finished the previous campaign, for the Western Australians it is a season of transition with new, younger players finding their feet in the league. It hasn’t helped that their start to the season has been slightly disjointed as, following their opening day defeat at Canberra United, they had the bye last weekend, and therefore lay bottom with two matches played.

Sydney came out of the blocks like a sprinter and built a 2-0 lead after just six minutes. Remy Siemson cooly chipped the ball over the advancing Perth keeper Eliza Campbell after three minutes. Siemson doubled the score shortly after when she capitalised on some defensive malfunctions. Her shot was partially blocked by Campbell, but the ball rebounded from both posts and rolled in. Despite Perth rallying and creating some opportunities, any hope the home side had of rescuing the game went after 39 minutes when Princess Ibini was fouled in the area and Caitlin Foord stepped up to hit home the penalty.

Caitlin Doeglas got a goal back for Perth after the break, but Sydney still created the better chances with both Foord and fellow Australian international Chloe Logarzo going close. It was a comprehensive victory for the Sky Blues in front of a crowd of 797 at Dorrien Gardens.

Western Sydney Wanderers recorded their third straight win with a sensational 3-1 success at Brisbane Roar.

If anyone thought that Wanderers’ start to the campaign, which has seen them amass more points than in the whole of last season already, was a flash in the pan, then this success in Queensland will surely put them right.

Kristen Hamilton’s superb hat-trick was the difference between the two sides in front of a decent Thursday night crowd of 2,535 at Lions Park. However, it could have been so very different as the Roar started strongly and it took two super saves from Wanderers’ keeper Abby Smith in the opening ten minutes to keep Brisbane out. First, Smith turned away Carson Pickett’s long range strike and later Tameka Yallop’s header was pushed round the post.

Wanderers survived the early scare and began to dominate themselves. American star Lydia Williams, who has been a vital part in everything good the Parramatta based side have done so far, sprinted past the Brisbane defence to play in countrywoman Hamilton for her first after ten minutes. The second goal arrived just before the break, and this time it was three Americans involved in the build up. Sam Staab’s throw was flicked on by Williams and Hamilton couldn’t miss.

Ten minutes into the second half, Brisbane were given a lifeline when Western Sydney’s Erica Halloway made an error in defence which was gobble up by Pickett. She in turn squared the ball to Rylee Baisden who hit home. Any hopes that the Queenslanders had soon vanished as the Wanderers laid siege to the home goal. Williams’ fierce shot cannoned back off of the bar. But it was all over when Williams completed her hat-trick with a sensational goal. Kyra Cooney-Cross backheeled the ball into Williams’ stride. The American turned the defender and fired a scorcher in to complete a superb win.

Melbourne City are third and remain unbeaten, but are two points adrift of the Sydney sides after they narrowly saw off an Adelaide United side who will feel desperately unlucky to still be looking for their first win of the season.

The only goal of the game at John McEwan Reserve came after just eight minutes when Ellie Carpenter crossed for Kyah Simon to slide the ball home. Australian international Aivi Luik could have doubled the home side’s lead, but her long range shot was well saved by Sarah Willacy. City had three further excellent chances before the break to wrap up victory. Scottish international Claire Emslie had a shot saved by Willacy, and Simon hit two shots over the bar.

The second half saw Adelaide create a number of excellent chances, but an inability to convert them, combined with ill-luck – Brooks’ effort ruled to be offside. Melbourne City had further opportunities through Emily van Egmond, Claire Emslie and Ellie Carpenter, but in the end the crowd of 500 had to settle for the one goal.

The final game of the round saw Canberra United move up to fourth with an impressive win at Newcastle Jets in front of an equally impressive crowd of 3,446 at the McDonald Jones Stadium.

The side from the capital city built up a 2-0 lead around the half-hour mark. Ashlie Crofts opened the scoring on 29 minutes, when she followed up Karly Roestbakken’s shot which came crashing off the bar. Simone Charley doubling the advantage just three minutes later when she calmly placed the ball underneath the onrushing Jets keeper Claire Coelho.

Incredibly, there were still two further goals to come before the break – both from the spot by Tara Andrews and both after fouls on Nikki Flannery within five minutes of each other!

The outcome of the game was in doubt to the very end, and with nine minutes left, United grabbed a winner thanks to Elise Thorsnes who finished off a counter-attacking move with a shot into the bottom corner.

Melbourne Victory had the bye, and subsequently drop to fifth place with one win and one loss from their two games so far. Newcastle Jets are now sixth with Brisbane Roar, Adelaide United and Perth Glory still looking for their first points of the season.

Round Four sees a mouth-watering clash between defending champions Sydney FC and many people’s favourites Melbourne City. Elsewhere, Western Sydney Wanderers face a stern test of their credentials with a trip to Melbourne Victory. Brisbane Roar travel to a Canberra United side who have started very well. Either Perth Glory or Newcastle Jets will look to chalk up their first win of the campaign when they face off in Western Australia.

Impressive Tangerines Send Fulham Crashing To Defeat

Fulham 0-5 Ashford Town

Impetus editor Ben Gilby was at Motspur Park to see this Tier Five clash in the London & South-East Regional Premier League Cup.

These two sides came into yesterday’s match separated by just a single point, albeit slightly in arrears from the leading two in the division, Queen’s Park Rangers and Dulwich Hamlet.

The home side came into the match weakened slightly by injuries on the back of a dramatic 4-3 loss to Dulwich Hamlet at Motspur Park the previous weekend in front of a huge crowd for this level of 450. The crowd this time round braved exceptionally low temperatures and rain in the early stages of the game but they were rewarded by some excellent, skilful football.

From the start, it was apparent that Ashford, based near Heathrow Airport rather than Kent, would offer a far more cohesive attacking approach. Whilst Fulham’s passing was generally crisper, and was occasionally dangerous, notably on the overlap down the right wing, the quality of the Cottager’s crossing was not up to standard, and they often appeared to be so much slower in their approach play.

Above: Ashford Town fire in an early chance at Fulham yesterday. Photo: Ben Gilby

Conversely Ashford were quicker in passing and in terms of speed of thought. After sixteen minutes, they took the lead when Alissa Down’s cross was nodded home by Hannah Pearson. Shortly afterwards, it was 2-0 when Ashley Cheatley received the ball in the box and she dispatched a low shot into the corner.

Fulham simply could not cope with Cheatley who produced a performance of such quality that marks her out as a serious threat at this level. She had a number of chances to add to her tally before the break, with great skill taking her past would be tacklers at will, but only the final shot let her down – although this would improve as the game went on.

Above: Lilly Lambird fires in a shot for Fulham. Photo: Ben Gilby

Fulham came into the game incrementally as the half wore on, but a lack of pace in their build up and disappointing balls into the area let them down badly.

The score remained 2-0 to the visitors at the break – but if they had taken a greater percentage of the chances that had come their way, Ashford could have been out of sight at half-time.

Into the second half, Fulham started with intent with more pep into their play, but any chance of a meaningful comeback was erased just three minutes into the period. It was Cheatley again involved as she gained possession in the home side’s area and beautifully took the ball round the keeper and rolled it into the empty net.

Above: Ashford Town’s hat-trick hero Ashley Cheatley who put in a hugely impressive performance. Photo: Ben Gilby

Ashford remained on top and they deservedly added a fourth just before the seventy minute mark when Alissa Down’s cross was met with a stunning power header from Laura Huse.

Ashley Cheatley broke through once more, and with just the goalkeeper to beat, went for a chip which flew over the bar. She didn’t have long to wait to complete her hat-trick though and it was an exquisite goal. Receiving the ball on the left hand side, she tied the Fulham defence in knots, leaving would-be tacklers on the ground before cutting inside and firing home to complete the rout.

Fulham are a far better team than this showing, and they will come back from this. Ashford Town though were hugely impressive and the hosts will be grateful that they didn’t take more of their chances in the first half or else the score-line could have been worse from their perspective.

Above: Ashford Town celebrate another goal at Motspur Park. Photo: Ben Gilby

Don’t miss our full photo file of fifty pictures from the game, which can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=151465452925251&set=pcb.151470442924752&type=3&theater

Teams: FULHAM: Marlow, Mendes, Allen, Woodland, Southgate, Meehan, Thomas, Jefferies, Lambird, Taylor, Foster. Subs: Brady, Cole, Goode, Underhill.

ASHFORD TOWN: Perkis, Peters, Potter, Huse, Baker, Johnson, Head, Down, Pearson, Neufville, Cheatley. Subs: Harte, James, Symons.

Goals: Pearson 16. Cheatley 22, 48, 84. Huse 68.

Attendance: 37.

Actonians: A Community Club Growing Year On Year

Impetus editor Ben Gilby spoke to Actonians Ladies FC Chairperson Linda Fox about the FA Women’s National League Division One South-East club, who from humble beginnings have now grown to run three senior sides and a large number of junior girl’s and mini football sides with ambitions to play in tier three of women’s football in England.

Fox began by taking us through the development of the club from its formation in 1998: “We started out as Chiswick United with one team playing in a local park in Chiswick. We added a reserve team a couple of years later and ran with that for about ten or so years before we set up junior girl’s football and also added another senior side in 2012. We moved from Chiswick to Acton in 2003 in search of better facilities and became Acton Sports Club (ASC), we had five successful years as ASC and won 3 promotions before we suddenly found ourselves homeless. We approached Actonians who were based just up the road and have remained there ever since, now running ten teams and growing the club every season. It’s amazing to see where we are now, from park football to the National League and with over 200 players at the club.”

The development of the club and where they now stand, particularly in the Acton community is an inspirational story. I asked Fox about just how the club have done it. “The key to achieving our current league status has been the loyalty of some of our players, several of them joined us in lower divisions and stayed and progressed with us, allowing us to have a solid base to build from which has attracted other talented players to the club. Also of course our coaches and volunteers who have always given their all to the club. As we are completely self-funded we have to work together, this creates a family feeling that people seem to enjoy being a part of which is amazing to see. I do believe that we now have the coaching team and players in place to start thinking about pushing on towards the top of the table and a place in the FA Women’s Southern Premier. With our new coaching team joining us in the summer and many new players it has taken us a little while to settle and the task is now to find some consistency and push on from there. We have also just moved to a new training ground with lovely brand new facilities which will also help us prepare better. But we are heading in the right direction for sure.” 

Above: The West London side celebrate another goal. Photo: Chris Benn.

Actonians had an excellent season in Division One South-East of the FA Women’s National League, finishing fourth. In terms of aims for this season, Fox reveals: “We were hoping for the first team to finish slightly better than last season though a patchy start might make that difficult, though if we hit a run of form it could still be possible. For our other two teams (Reserves and Development) we are looking for a solid season, working on closing the gap between the reserves and first team and bringing players through our development team. We wanted to increase our player numbers in general which we have done with aplomb!” 

The huge public profile boost provided to women’s football by the summer’s World Cup has seen large numbers of girls new to the game turning up at Actonians. Fox told me all about how the club have tried to meet demand: “The number of queries resulted in us putting on some beginners sessions so that we can cater for everyone that wants to play. Some of these girls have since progressed into our development team so that have worked out very well! We have 200 registered players at the club from U9’s-Seniors plus twenty or so joining the beginners sessions and also ten to fifteen young girls in our Wildcats mini football centre. So it’s looking very healthy and the interest is definitely there.”

With the club running so many teams and the demand from girls in the area so high, I asked Fox how a self-funded club like Actonians handle the challenge: “It is not easy. We try to improve on something every season, this year new training facilities took priority but it does come with additional costs which we have to fund somehow. We have seen a slight increase in sponsorship on the senior side though this season which is such a big help. Finding the time to work on this and other areas is also a challenge since we are all volunteers with full time jobs and families. On the pitch we are largely happy with how things are going, all three teams are moving in the right direction, player numbers are up this season and we have attracted new players of great quality as well as the fantastic coaching team we have in place giving us a great platform to push on from.”

Fox is more than aware the difficulties that stand alone clubs have in the present environment of women’s football: “As an independent team with no backing at all, financial or promotional, it’s a constant battle just to stay afloat. Bigger name clubs attracts players just by their name whereas we have to work hard and show players why they should come and play for us, nothing comes for free as such. Though it can be done even at semi-pro level which clubs such as Durham have shown. Having said that it can also be a risky thing to rely to on a club that could suddenly withdraw their support, the amount of times we have seen that happen to teams certainly seem to show that being in total control of our club is not all bad!”

Above: Actonians’ development squad prepare for a match. Photo: Rina Haria.

The development of players through Actonians’ system is absolutely vital in Fox’s view to the club being sustainable in the long term: “Increasing the player numbers from a young age so that the pool of players is there to sustain more teams. The competition will in turn get better and the quality increase. This will in turn fuel interest from potential supporters which will help normalising the female game and in time, I hope, help put bums on seats and bring some more money into the game. We are all impatient and wanting things to happen quickly but even though it might take longer than we want to establish women’s football completely in the mainstream, we are seeing the signs now and every season the interest seem to increase on the whole, as recent attendance records show.”

In terms of how the women’s club relate to the men’s side of Actonians, Fox said: “We don’t tend to interact a huge amount but we are looking to develop the links further and they are very supportive of us, some of our former coaches both coach and play in the men’s section so we have great friends there.”

I asked Linda what her aims were for Actonians in the future: “I think we’ll see more teams and bigger crowds. We aim to keep growing the club and to have the first team promoted to the next level within the next few years and also have a more competitive reserve team backing them up. We have some very talented youngsters in our junior teams and I’m really looking forward to seeing them progress and step up to the senior teams in the years to come. I also want to set up a vets team at the club to encourage players to carry on playing for longer, and I hope that there will be a competitive vets league to play in within the next few years. We can’t be the only team with plenty of players over 35 that don’t feel like stopping but ideally don’t want to play against 18 years olds anymore.”

Above: Actonians Ladies – a successful club at all age group levels. Photo: @sniperpose

The development of Actonians Ladies over the years is one which has seen gradual improvement lead to real growth. The club’s position in their community of West London and huge interest from youngsters there can only bode well for an even brighter future in Acton.

Follow us on Twitter – @impetus49255112 and on Instagram at https://instagram.com/impetuswomensfootball.

Ben Gilby is the editor of Impetus and has over fifteen years experience in voluntary media officer roles within the sports of Football and Rugby Union, has appeared on BBC Radio Cornwall and BBC Radio Norfolk sports shows several times and published the book ‘The Game: Tales From A Season Travelling Around The Rugby Union Grounds of South-East England’.

Last Gasp Shine Stunner Settles Dramatic Cup Final

Impetus editor Ben Gilby reports on a quite magnificent SSE Scottish Women’s Cup Final at Tynecastle.

Glasgow City 4-3 Hibernian

Glasgow City ended a memorable season by clinching the Scottish domestic double with a dramatic victory over Hibernian in a fantastic SSE Women’s Scottish Cup Final at Tynecastle, the home of Heart of Midlothian.

Above: The cover from Sunday’s SSE Scottish Women’s Cup Final. Photo: Ben Gilby

The opening fifteen minutes was all Hibernian, who were particularly threatening down the left hand side, with Jamie-Lee Napier prominent in everything good that the Edinburgh side were involved in.

The first chance fell the Hi-Bees way after six minutes when Shannon McGregor was threw on goal, but City keeper Lee Alexander raced out of her area to clear the ball. Shortly afterwards, the dangerous Napier was ruled offside after being played through by Amy Muir. Television replays showed that the call was far from accurate.

It took the thirteen time league champions twenty minutes to gain their first meaningful attack of the game. An incredible effort from Kirsty Howat, who let fly from close to the left hand touchline outside the eighteen yard box was narrowly over the bar.

Two minutes later, Sam Kerr’s effort was saved by Jenna Fife in the Hibs goal, but came straight out to Clare Shine. Her powerful effort was narrowly wide. Just two minutes later, the same player was even closer when her fierce drive was centimetres wide.

Hibernian heeded the warning signs and they upped the ante once more. Colette Cavanagh put in a tempting cross and Amy Gallagher obliged by hitting the Hi-bees ahead on 31 minutes.

The lead lasted a mere three minutes. Glasgow City were awarded a free kick. Leanne Ross’ effort should have been dealt with easily by Hibs, but a poor clearance found its way to Eilish McSorley who fired home for 1-1.

Five minutes before the break, City went ahead after Hayley Lauder’s cross was hooked in by Leanne Crichton. For all Hibs early dominance, they went in at the break 2-1 down.

Above: Leanne Crichton, scorer of Glasgow City’s second goal.
Photo courtesy: Scottish Women’s Football.

Hibernian returned to the field of their cross city rivals full of determination as they, again dominated the early periods. Indeed it took just three minutes of the second half for them to conjure up an equaliser. Shannon McGregor played in a lovely ball and Jamie-Lee Napier skilfully side footed the ball past Alexander, albeit with a slight deflection.

Four minutes later, Hibs could have gone in front as Colette Cavanagh’s dramatic diving header was superbly saved by Lee Alexander. The pressure on City continued to mount and Hibernian’s third goal arrived after 53 minutes when the unfortunate Leanne Ross got her feet tied up and her attempted clearance ended up rolling past her own goalkeeper.

Above: Jamie-Lee Napier, scorer of Hibernian’s second goal and a player who had an outstanding final.
Photo courtesy: Scottish Women’s Football.

Glasgow City though, are made of stern stuff – you don’t win thirteen consecutive league championships and make the Quarter-Finals of the Champions League without knowing when to up your game.

With twenty-two minutes left, Rachel McLauchlin was fouled just outside the box. Hayley Lauder’s effort was narrowly over the Hibs crossbar. Just a minute later, Glasgow City were level. Lauder’s cross was met by Clare Shine who slid in, but the ball was cleared for a corner. From the resulting set piece, Shine was given the freedom of the penalty area to head home unmarked. 3-3 – game on once more, and the destination of the Scottish Cup was once more in question.

It was now all Glasgow City, but as the game entered stoppage time at the end of 90 minutes, it was looking odds on that the final was going into extra time. However, Clare Shine had other ideas. The 24 year-old City star went on a quite magnificent mazy run, leaving attempted Hibs tackles in her wake to fire home the sort of last gasp winning goal that dreams are made of.

It was a really harsh way for Hibernian to lose after such a magnificent effort from the Edinburgh side – but Glasgow City again showed their class when it really mattered.

Teams:

GLASGOW CITY: Lee Alexander, Rachel McLauchlan, Hayley Lauder, Jo Love, Leanne Crichton, Kirsty Howat, Clare Shine, Nicola Docherty, Leanne Ross, Sam Kerr, Eilish McSorley. Subs: Erin Clachers (GK), Jenna Clark, Hayley Sinclair, Nicola Reid, Carly Grasoli, Jordan McLintock, Megan Foley.

Scorers: McSorley 32, Crichton 40, Shine 70, 90.

HIBERNIAN: Jenna Fife, Joelle Murray, Amy Muir, Siobhan Hunter, Jamie-Lee Napier, Caitlin Michie, Shannon McGregor, Colette Cavanagh, Amy Gallacher, Chelsea Cornet, Rachel Boyle. Subs: Jennifer Currie, Lia Tweedie, Laura Davidson, Shannon Leishman, Ellis Notley, Siobhan Higgins, Eilish Adams.

Scorers: Gallagher 32, Napier 49, Ross OG 53.

Attendance: 3,123.

W League Round-Up

Defending champions Sydney FC moved top of the W League ladder after two rounds after a 1-0 win at an Adelaide United side who are yet to win this season.

Despite this, it was the South Australians who had the best of the early chances after Isabel Hodgson’s effort came back off the cross bar and also forced the Sky Blues keeper Aubrey Bledsoe into several smart saves. Adelaide were left to rue these missed chances when Australian international Caitlin Foord slotted home after fellow Matilda Chloe Logarzo played her in. Adelaide had their chances to level – notably through sixteen year-old striker Mary Fowler – but Sydney held on to gain the win in front of 786 at the Marden Sports Complex.

Cross city rivals Western Sydney Wanderers are in second place on goal difference, being the only other team to win both matches so far. The Black and Reds defeated Newcastle Jets 1-0 in Parramatta.

The match was under threat from a severe thunder storm which saw the players taken off the pitch for half an hour, but when it did, it was the hosts who offered the most threat. Wanderers hit the post and bar more times than was believable. In addition, several great saves from Claire Coelho and poor finishing served to keep the Jets in the game for longer than they really should have been. In the end, the only goal came from the spot after United States international Lynn Williams’ shot was handled by Newcastle’s Clare Wheeler. Wanderers’ second straight win means that after just two rounds this season, they have won more games than in the whole of the last campaign when they finished rock bottom. The game also saw the biggest attendance of the round with 2,992 at Parramatta’s Bankwest Stadium.

Melbourne City are third after they followed up a draw last week with a last gasp win over an improving Canberra United outfit.

The Lime Green’s followed up their win last week over Perth Glory by taking the lead against the side that many believe are potential champions this season. Katy Stengel’s strike just before the hour was just reward for a gritty and determined performance by Canberra. However, try as they might, they just could not hold on against a City side rammed full of international talent. Their lead lasted just seven minutes before Serbia’s Milica Mijatovic fired home the equaliser. Canberra were then cruelly denied even point at the very death. The referee controversially ruled that Yukari Kinga was brought down in the box by United’s Jessie Rasschaertin despite the Canberra player clearly winning the ball. Up stepped Matildas’ international Emily van Egmond to fire home the winner four minutes into stoppage time. The vast majority of the 1,293 at McKellar Park went home frustrated at their side’s cruel defeat.

Brisbane Roar played their first game of the campaign after a bye in round one, when they hosted Melbourne Victory at Dolphin Oval.

The Victorians had a fast start when an own goal from Kaitlyn Torpey put them ahead after ten minutes. Natasha Dowie doubled the advantage just four minutes later from the spot. Brisbane rallied and created countless opportunities. Therefore it was no surprise when Tameka Yallop got a goal back after 24 minutes. Things could have got even better for the Roar when they were awarded a penalty, but Yallop was denied by Casey Dumont, who made eight stunning saves throughout the game. With fourteen minutes left, Dowie’s second strike of the evening looked to have sealed the win. The drama was not over though as Indiah-Paige Riley’s effort reduced the deficit to a single goal once more with only ten minutes left. Casey Dumont sealed Victory’s win thanks to several further great saves. It was a fine spectacle for the crowd of 2,139.

Perth Glory received the bye in Round Two, but they will return to action this coming weekend when they host Sydney FC in a repeat of last season’s Grand Final.  

Rovers Rollercoaster Ride Takes Upward Curve – Part II

In Part Two of his exclusive interview with Gemma Donnelly, Head of Blackburn Rovers Women and Girls Football, Impetus editor Ben Gilby examines the status of the FA Women’s Championship, the growth of the game and where what her aims are for the future at the Ewood Park outfit.

(For the first part of the interview, click on this link: https://impetus885775742.wordpress.com/2019/11/07/rovers-rollercoaster-ride-takes-upward-curve/ )

Looking at the FA Women’s Championship, Donnelly observed: “With the money that has been injected, there is now a wide hybrid range of clubs in the division. You’ve got some clubs offering full-time contracts with part-time players as well, so their players train all week at their parent club and use their facilities. The part-time players come in during the evening for training two or three times a week. To the other extreme, there are clubs in the division with no players on contracts and just some expenses paid, some not paid at all, so there’s a huge difference between the top end and the bottom end. Money can attract the right type of player in terms of playing quality, but it can also attract the wrong type of person too – the type of person who is only in it for the money. That’s football, isn’t it!”

The Rovers manager also pointed out the emergence of a new phenomenon in the women’s game: “There’s been an influx of interest from agents to promote their players to us this season, which has been a new experience! Millwall of last season are now London City Lionesses and have had a huge injection of cash, the players are all full-time and salaried, so it’s completely different from where we’re currently at, training eight hours a week over three evenings and we’re expected to compete in the same league, so it’s going to be tough. There’s pros and cons of that. We’re learning because of that and we’re experiencing adversity but we’ll learn from these experiences and the positives from that are it will help us moving forwards. The negatives are that it’s hard work. None of us hide from that, it’s the mental toughness that probably was a little bit unexpected, particularly after having so much success in recent times.”

Blackburn Rovers’ Blackburn Rovers Ladies v Coventry United Ladies Sunday 27/10/19 Ewood Park Photographer/ Copyright Rachel Holborn

In terms of whether or not there has been a noticeable increase in interest from potential players, sponsors and supporters since the World Cup, Donnelly is under no doubt at all: “There’s been a huge change and shift in the exposure for the women’s game and that has kicked on even more since the Women’s World Cup in the summer. In terms of Blackburn, we have over a hundred and twenty girls playing in seven teams, nearly forty staff, two of which are full time, the rest are part time. We’re involved with the seven teams all week, playing on a Saturday or Sunday up and down the country, so there’s huge investment in resources, both time and money ensuring the girls have the best opportunities. The game itself has kicked on. I do believe that there’s been a heightened interest in terms of sponsorship; businesses and companies want to get involved with the women’s game now and that’s fantastic to see because that funding allows players to have better resources.”

In all of this though, there is the conundrum of clubs throwing large sums of money at short term success or building slowly on a more sustainable model. At Blackburn Rovers, the belief it that a consistent, long term approach is vital. “It stems down to support from the football club – not just token gesture support, it’s got to be support across the board. If its facilities, it’s got to be top class facilities, if it’s expertise and staffing, having them on hand all the time; it’s got to be consistent – not just dropping in and out”, Donnelly says. “It needs to be a combined effort from everyone involved. Pushing all the time. The right people have to be in place – both staff and players. The sustainability of that for both semi-pro or pro clubs comes down to money. You have people moving around just for the money. At the moment at Blackburn I believe we have the right players in place because they are here for the club and for their own aspirations and as a team. When we’re in a better position to be able to offer more rewarding financial contracts you can attract potentially better players, but I don’t know if they will be able to offer us the same commitment and determination that the players we currently have are showing. Sustainability is a joint effort for sure for everyone involved, but ultimately having the right people involved.”

Donnelly believes that the future is exciting, as long as the game can maintain and keep up with increased interest: “The game is taking huge leaps. Currently, I think we’re all trying to keep up with the snowball effect of the exposure of women’s football. It’s now about ensuring we don’t allow it to slip away from us and keeping in touch with how much exposure and coverage and interest there is. We’re in quite a fortunate position at Rovers because we have a Regional Talent Club that is Tier One. Even that is having to keep monitoring whether it is keeping up with the surge in women’s football. I’m glad we’ve finally been promoted because, although there is a huge gulf between Tier Three and the Championship, there’s an even bigger gulf between the Championship and Super League. But at least we’re somewhere around there. I feel that if we hadn’t been promoted again, we would have lost staff and players. We would have been miles away. At least we’re now in touching distance. From a football club perspective, like the men, we’d say we’d like more investment in order to kick us on. The clear message from the club is that we’re trying to be sustainable, so we’ll look to start slowly and build over time to move forward. That’s the aim, that’s the target, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Above: Blackburn Rovers Ladies 2019/20. Photo Courtesy: Blackburn Rovers Ladies FC.

In order for the women’s game to stand the best chance of continuing an upward trajectory, Donnelly believes that, overall the model of parent professional men’s clubs is the way forward: “Whilst there’s advantages and disadvantages for being aligned or non-aligned as a women’s club, having been embedded in the game for ten years or more, the pros and cons are that you are able to have on hand the expertise from across departments, facilities, exposure – everything that the parent professional club can offer, you are able to experience. A real togetherness is definitely a positive. I’d suggest that the downside of it is that we’re probably not a priority because, in a business world, women’s football is not a money making area, so you are around the bottom of priority because they need to keep the wider business afloat.”

“When you are working independently, like I know many clubs are, the positives of that are that you are your own priority, you can market your own product. You are your own USP, but I guess the negatives of that are that you don’t have the security of a professional club and the expertise and professionalism operating alongside you; the ability of being able to seek help and advice and support you on your journey, so I think if I was given a choice, I would probably stay with a parent club because there are so many benefits to it.”

“We’ve seen lots of success with parent clubs and their female clubs at the highest end – Chelsea and Arsenal. There isn’t anyone in Super League who isn’t attached to a parent club – although I would also say that Chelsea and Arsenal are money rich clubs who are able to subsidise heavily their female teams. In the Championship, there’s two non-aligned clubs – London City Lionesses and Durham. When it becomes a semi-pro/pro league, I think it proves that you need your parent club there to help support them.”

If Gemma Donnolly has anything to do with it, Blackburn Rovers will continue to battle with passion and determination to, first ensure they keep their Championship place, and then push on. It’s a story worth following.

Follow us on Twitter – @impetus49255112 and on Instagram at https://instagram.com/impetuswomensfootball.

Ben Gilby is the editor of Impetus and has over fifteen years experience in voluntary media officer roles within the sports of Football and Rugby Union, has appeared on BBC Radio Cornwall and BBC Radio Norfolk sports shows several times and published the book ‘The Game: Tales From A Season Travelling Around The Rugby Union Grounds of South-East England’.

W League Round-Up

Impetus editor Ben Gilby rounds up all the action from the opening weekend of the 2019/20 W League season Down Under.

The 2019/20 W League season opened on Thursday 14th November when Western Sydney Wanderers hosted Adelaide United at Sydney’s Marconi Stadium.

It was the South Australians who opened the scoring six minutes before the break when 16 year-old Mary Fowler who caught the eye all evening, scored from the spot after she herself was brought down. On the cusp of half-time, Wanderers levelled thanks to United States international Kirsten Hamilton. It looked as if the points would be shared, but deep into stoppage time at the end of the game, up popped Kyra Cooney-Cross who hit her free kick straight into the net. This was a significant result for Western Sydney Wanderers who, in winning this opening clash, equalled their total number of wins for the whole of the 2018/19 season. Adelaide will be no pushovers this season, so the Black and Red fans in the attendance of 787 went home in buoyant fashion.

Reigning champions Sydney FC top the fledgling league table after an ominously impressive 3-0 win over last season’s Minor Premiers Melbourne Victory at Jubilee Oval.

It only took the Harbour City side four minutes to open their account for 2019/20 when Remy Siemsen did something she failed to do in the whole of the previous campaign – put the ball in the net! In form Australian international Caitlin Foord played in the women who won the New South Wales state player of the year at the age of just sixteen in 2015, and Siemsen hit a low shot into the bottom corner. Victory had chances to hit back, with Melina Ayres denied on two occasions. They were left to rue these missed chances when the Sky Blues doubled their lead after Foord’s cross was hit home by Siemsen for her second. Dowie failed to take several further chances that came her way, and Sydney completed their fine win with a third when Shadeene Evans headed in Angelique Hristodoulou’s cross. 3,219 were in attendance.

Last year’s beaten grand finalists Perth Glory, who are without Western Australian superstar Sam Kerr this season after her move to WSL side Chelsea, suffered a disappointing 2-0 loss at Canberra United.

The Lime Greens only won three games in the whole of last season, and this result will raise hopes in the capital that their team can push much further up the table this time round. They started powerfully, scoring both of their goals in the opening eleven minutes. American Simone Charley hit home from close range after six minutes before she doubled up with a sensational curler into the top corner. Whilst Perth had their chances, it was Canberra who came closest to adding further goals as Charley combined brilliantly with countrywoman Katie Stengel and the Brazilian Camila. The 1,482 at McKellar Park saw so many encouraging signs for their team. As for Perth, they will need to use their bye next weekend to prepare themselves up for a repeat of last year’s Grand Final when an impressive looking Sydney visit on 1st December.

The final game of the round saw Newcastle Jets gain an excellent 1-1 draw against a strong Melbourne City squad.

Matildas star Emily van Egmond gave the visiting Victorians the lead on 22 minutes, scoring against the side she represented in 2018/19. Steph Catley laid off the ball to Claire Emslie, and the Scot’s pass was driven into the bottom left corner from outside the area as City led. Both teams hit the woodwork before the Jets gained their equaliser. Melbourne City’s attempt to clear a Newcastle attack only fell at the feet of Teigan Collister who instantly controlled the ball and fired home a stunning half volley to the delight of 1,523 at the Newcastle International Sports Centre.

Brisbane Roar received a bye in the opening round, and play their first game of their campaign next week at home to Melbourne Victory.

Mjelde Makes United Pay The Price

Impetus editor Ben Gilby spent #WomensFootballWeekend at Kingsmeadow where Barclays FA Women’s Super League leaders hosted newly promoted Manchester United. Here’s his story of the match in words and photos.

Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United

Chelsea stayed top of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League with a hard fought victory over a stubborn Manchester United side at a sold out Kingsmeadow, which recorded the highest ever crowd for a women’s match not played at a parent men’s club stadium.

The match, settled by a penalty from Maren Mjelde, twenty minutes into the second half, proved to be a lesson for United on what happens if you don’t convert the chances you make. Failure to do so makes it nigh on impossible to compete with the very best in the WSL.

On a sunny afternoon which was slightly milder than recent days, it was Chelsea who earned the first opportunity which saw Magdalena Eriksson fire a shot high wide and not so handsome. Despite this, it was United who had much of the possession and territory. Lauren James was particularly prominent in this period with her speed and strength on the ball proving a read headache for the Chelsea defence. The fact that James only turned eighteen in September is absolutely frightening. She has a huge future ahead of her, and should be a Lioness regular before long.

Above: Lauren James about to create another United chance in the first half as Millie Bright prepares to block. Photo: Ben Gilby

Also impressive for United was Leah Galton who also did her international hopes no harm. She was put in by Jackie Groenen but Eriksson blocked the chance. Groenen was denied by Ann-Katrin Berger shortly afterwards. Another opportunity for the Red Devils went begging when James closed in on goal, but Berger came out bravely to dive at the United star’s feet, receiving a knock to the head in the process. This was the key part of the game which would come back to haunt Casey Stoney’s side. Had they converted just one of these chances, the game could well have run a different course. As it was, the teams went in at half-time goalless.

Above: Ann-Katrin Berger dives at the feet of Lauren James, earning a headache in the process. Photo: Ben Gilby

After the break, Chelsea slowly forced their way into the game. The first opportunity fell to Erin Cuthbert, who was unusually quiet. The Scottish star hit a half-volley which failed to bother Mary Earps in the United goal.

The introduction of Fran Kirby sparked the home side further. Played through, her attempt to reach the ball was curtailed by Millie Turner’s tackle. The large body of travelling supporters felt that Turner took the ball before the player and, indeed a number of officials would have signalled a corner, but referee Jack Packman had other ideas and pointed to the spot. Up stepped Maren Mjelde and she fired her effort to Earps’ right. The England international goalkeeper managed to get a hand to it, but Mjelde’s shot had sufficient power to creep in.

Above: Maren Mjelde fires home the winning goal from the penalty spot. Photo: Ben Gilby.

Kirby’s influence saw Beth England become more prominent, and the striker, who scored the Lionesses’ first goal in snow bound Ceske Budejovice the previous Tuesday will consider herself unlucky not to have added to Chelsea’s lead on two occasions when her efforts were blocked.

The visitors conjured up one final chance, and how they contrived to miss it must still haunt them over twenty-four hours later. Jess Sigsworth’s cross found Abi Toone, and her volley looked destined to go in, only for Berger to tip it onto the bar. The drama wasn’t over though – as the ball rebounded off of the bar, it hit Berger and had to be desperately cleared by Millie Bright when it could so easily have gone in.

Chelsea held on in the closing period with a thoroughly professional run of play. Emma Hayes’ team showed determination and that bit of extra quality when it was needed. Manchester United will learn lessons from this game and, long term will be all the better for it.

Above: Chelsea celebrate the win which keeps them top of the WSL. Photo: Ben Gilby

TEAMS:

CHELSEA: Ann-Katrin Berger, Maren Mjelde, Millie Bright, Magdalena Eriksson, Jonna Andersson, Erin Cuthbert, Sophie Ingle, Ji So-Yun, Ramona Bachmann, Beth England, Guro Reiten. Subs: Carly Telford (GK), Hannah Blundell, Deanna Cooper, Jess Carter (for Ji), Drew Spence (for Bachmann), Fran Kirby (for Reiten).
Scorer Mjelde (pen) 65


MANCHESTER UNITED: Mary Earps, Amy Turner, Abbie McManus, Millie Turner, Martha Harris, Hayley Ladd, Katie Zelem Jackie Groenen, Kirsty Hanson, Lauren James, Leah Galton. Substitutes: Mikalsen, Okvist, Arnot, Smith, Ella Toone (for Zelem), Jane Ross (for James), Jess Sigsworth (for Galton).

Referee: Jack Packman
Attendance: 4,790