Conti Cup group 1 gameday 2 preview

The round robin stage for Group 1 is going to be interesting with all 6 games played between Tuesday the 2nd and Sunday the 19th of May with 8 League games played in the middile of those cup ties.

The first batch of game is planned on Thursday the 2nd of May with Bristol v Birmingham, the corresponding game last year was a superb technico-tactical contest that I rated number 1 in my games attended in 2012. I expect more of the same this year with both side trying to attack and score goals with their different tactics and weapons. It should be an enthraliing contest.

The second game played in the same evening will be Lincoln v Arsenal.  The corresponding game last season was won by Lincoln with a spectacular overhead kick by Megan Harris. It should be a very tight one again this year with Lincoln coming back from their FA Cup defeat at Bristol and looking for a repeat from last season.

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FA WSL games postponed so far ( updated)

Despite being a Summer League the FA WSL is struggling with many games moved/ postponed. At the moment the count is 7

Luckily enough, there are 3 to 5 dates set aside to catch up with those postponed games  :

Sat the 1st and Sunday the 2nd of June

Tues 20th to Sunday 25th of August

Sat 7th to Thursday the 12th of September

Here is the list of the games postponed so far :

1. Arsenal v Birmingham 24/03 FA WSL Conti Cup  RR 1 planned 11th of May

2. Bristol v Lincoln 23/03 FA WSL Conti Cup  RR 1 planned 5th of May

3.  Arsenal v Bristol 14/04 FA WSL Day 1 no date set

4. Liverpool v Arsenal 20/04   FA WSL Day 2 planned  03/04 August

5. Everton v Doncaster 14/04  FA WSL Day 1 no date set planned 30th of May

6. Arsenal v Birmingham 12/05 FA WSL Day 3 no date set

7. Doncaster v Everton 30/05 FA WSL Day 5 no date set

FA WSL 2014 Division 2 teams

Well the FA has now revealed the 10 teams selected for Division 2 in 2014.

Let’s start with Doncaster Belles who are de facto relegated at the end of the season regardless of their result. The timing of the announcement is simply horrendous. They have played 1 league game out of 14 and they already know they are going down. Someone mentioned a few weeks ago that the Belles actually applied for a division 2 status only. I have no idea if it is true or just a rumour but in term of budget there is a big difference between those 2 divisions.

Sunderland Women Mick Mulhern’s team has been the best of the WPL since the WSL was formed, it is only justice that they end up in the WSL. Shame they did not get WSL 1 and get all their homegrown players back, that would have been very interesting. Top of the national Division

Watford Ladies have a pathway to the first team well established despite loosing their CoE status in the Coe reform or debacle depending on your point of view. Spectacular tournaround in term of results last season with John Salomon getting them from bottom of the League and relegation certainty to top of the league a couple of weeks ago. All this achieved by promotiing young players from the reserves and youth teams. 2nd in the National Division

Aston Villa Ladies  is another team with a clear pathway to the first team. They have produced many England U15, U17 and U19 internationals through the years. 4th in the National Division.

London Bees (  Barnet FC)  not the best season in the WPL provides a pathway via Middlesex and has used it well this season. Good backing by the men’s team that has just been relegated from the football league. Bottom of the National Division

Durham Women’s FC is South Durham and Cestria Galaxy FC  a team coached by Andy Cook (previously at the Arsenal Academy reserves and U17) currently in Northern Combination (4th Level of women football))

Millwall Lionesses a club with a rich history a CoE link and currently leading the Women’s Premier League Southern Division (3rd level  )

Oxford United Women’s FC  made the news recently with their superb cup run that ended against Everton and beating teams placed 1 and 2 divisions above them. They currently play in the South West combination ( level 4)  and are 2nd in the table

Reading Women’s FC  another team that a clear pathway to the first team although not a CoE but a FDP as they lost their status when the Centre of Excellence reduction was organised. Currently 2nd in in the WPL Southern behind Millwall.

Yeovil Town Ladies FC another team with a recent run in the FA Cup that ended against Leeds. They have a  very good marketing and local promotion scheme, check their website. They play some very good football and are currently in 4th position in the WPL Southern Division.

If we recap the teams selected from their level in the pyramid and what it means in term of division jump

1 WSL Division 1 team : Doncaster Belles  (-1)

4 WPL National Division : Sunderland, Watford, Aston Villa, Barnet (stay level)

3 WPL Southern Division : Millwall, Reading, Yeovil (+1)

2 Combinations team : Oxford and Durham Women. (+2)

WPL National Division update

National Division results Villa 1 – Leeds  1, Cardiff 0 Sunderland 4,   Portsmouth 2 Barnet 1, Watford 3 Charlton 0

The League season is now over for Barnet who finish bottom with  0 point in 18 games. They are therefore “relegated” to the FA WSL Division 2.

The following teams will play in the WSL Division 2 next year with their current table position in bracket : Sunderland (1), Watford (2), Aston Villa (4), Barnet (10)

Cardiff (8) was not allowed to apply for WSL as they are not English, Leeds (3), Charlton (6), Coventry (7)and Portsmouth (9) applications were rejected.

Man City (5) are promoted to the FA WSL Division 1

Conti Cup group 2 results

Liverpool 1 Everton 1

Today Doncaster 1 Chelsea 1

A good and deserved ‘spoint for Doncaster after Friday news that they would be relegated in Division 2 next season.

The group table is simple :

Chelsea, Doncaster Everton and Liverpool all on 1 point in 1 game goal scored 1 goal against 1 and goal difference 0

Next games :

Liverpool v Doncaster 04/05

Everton v Chelsea 05/05

FA Cup semi-final results

Liverpool 1 Arsenal 2 ( Dowie, White Little)

Bristol 2 Lincoln 0 ( Natalia, Del Rio)

Liverpool gave a good game to Arsenal and have obviously improved from the 2 previous seasons with those new signings and extra training sessions. They will certainly be thereabout for the top 2 places at the end of the season. Next league game will be a rematch at the Emirates Stadium on the 7th of May.

In the other semi-final Bristol defeated Lincoln thanks to their Spanish deadly duo grabbing the headline once again. Credit to the Bristol scouting team for bringing the female Michu and making her an instant success.

The final will be played on Sunday the 26th of May at the Keepmoat stadium and will be a repeat of the 2011 final.

Bristol v Lincoln preview

The second semi-final is played at Ashton Gate this afternoon between Bristol Academy and Lincoln Ladies ( Notts County Ladies for future reference from 2014).

It will be a good opposition of style between an attacking team that likes to create and a team that like to defend well and have a physical side.

Both side have fast and creative forwards and will use that pace to go behind the opposition defence. Lincoln are really good at winning the ball early and create opportunities from those balls with Clarke, Cantrell and Hamilton.

Bristol will use the Spanish connection ( Natalia, Del Rio) to create opening and hope their midfield pairing James and former Ladyimps player Staniforth will be strong enough against Lincoln midfield pressure.

We will see also see 2 England goalies in action with current number 1 Bardsley and number 3 Chamberlain.
Sophie Bradley was missing last week and might be available so the starting 11 could look like this today

Chamberlain, Dykes Rose Matthews Yorston, James Staniforth, Harding Del Rio Heatherson or Watts, Natalia

Bardsley, Walton Bradley or Turner Stoney Ma Harris, Allen Me Harris Roberts, Clarke Cantrell Hamilton

FA WSL 2014 teams revealed

The FA was supposed to announce the selected teams around June but the decision came early. I will review the 8 division 1 teams in this post and the 10 division 2 teams in another one.
Remember the FA has NOT communicated any reasons for the choices so all my comments come from rumour and speculations heard for the last few months. So the 8 teams are :

Arsenal : one of the most succesful team in English women’s football. Backed by a budget of £500 000 according to a recent article.

Birmingham : a founder member very succesful on the pitch. Backed by the men’s team but not at the same level as Arsenal. Will play in the champions league for the 2nd year running in September.

Everton : finished 3rd in the in the first two seasons clear pathway from youth teams to first team. Backed by men’s team at a small level apparently.

Bristol : an independant team that has success off the pitch. Makes a good job promoting the team in the area. Another team that has clear pathway from CoE to first team with 5 youngsters signed this year to add to previous seasons.

Chelsea : making big strides this year well backed by the men’s team. Signed a lot of foreign players. Training at Cobham is a plus of course.

Liverpool : the set-up has changed and fully integrated to the club. Rumoured to be the biggest FA WSL budget. First team that made the move to professional football in England.

Notts County Ladies : NEW well not new as the team behind Lincoln Ladies made the winning bid. It looks like a franchise move like the Wimbledon to MK Dons. Quite unnatural in England. Bid well backed money wise, team on the pitch full of England and England youth players.

Man City : NEW BBC had them favorite in one of their article so it is not a big surprise that they come straight to Division 1. Fully integrated to the club set-up. The club is backed by Qatar money so should be funded without problem. The only question mark is playing squad. Will they do a Liverpool and go through a whole change or keep the current squad that plays in the National division ? The main problem is there may be not many players available on the market next winter although it seems many top players only signed for a year in 2013.

So overall 6 teams stay in WSL division 1, 1 is relegated Doncaster Belles and 1 is newly formed as a franchise transfer. Well it was always clear that criteria were money and marketing first so, it is only a half suprise to see those changes. Still a shame achievements on the pitch are not rewarded as they should be.

Doncaster v Chelsea preview

Well they are back at the Keepmoat on Sunday. I  think one of the downside of having 8 teams only is you end up playing the same teams in the League and in the cups. So 8 days after that 4-0 league win for Chelsea, the teams are back for an encore in the Conti cup group stage.

So what can we expect ? Another big win from Chelsea or can the Belles get a point of the League leaders ? Hopefully Sue Smith will be back on the pitch because her experience is really needed alongside all those young and talented players.  Last week threw some surprises in the Belles line-up with Victoria Williams aka Trev playing up front apparently.

There is no doubt there is a huge gap between the international squad that Emma Hayes picked ( 6 different nations) and the Belles less experienced squad. But the Belles did create a few chance last week and if they can manage to keep it tight at the back and contain the pace of the 3 Chelsea forwards (Aluko, Ward and Jakobsson), they might get something out of the game.

This will be the 2nd  game from group 2 and the winner will take a good option following the 1-1 draw between Liverpool and Everton.

Birmingham v Lincoln

Sunday’s game at the DCS Stadium offered a different spectacle from the game on Thursday. Both teams worked very hard and were superbly organised My previous game was 2 teams who tried first and foremost to score goals, while this one was clearly one of those were defending properly is number one and attacking comes second once defending is settled.

Both philosophies are valid and variety makes football interesting. So we had a constant battle in midfield with both side trying to win the ball back as high as possible and create a danger from a counter attack. Be it from a second ball, interception or a mistake from the opposition.

Both side have quick forwards who can run behind the opposition defences ( Williams, Cantrell, Hamilton, Clarke) and really tried to find the elusive through ball towards one of those players.

Birmingham plan A was disrupted by injury to Christiansen and an half time substitution with Linnett for Westwood mean the 4-5-1 with trapezoidal shape was abandoned for a 4-3-3 with 2 wingers. It even changed to 4-4-2 towards the end with the introduction of Wilkinson.

Lincoln played a kind of asymetrical system that was slightly altered when Bowden came on with 20 minutes to go.

So that game was a very interesting lesson on how to defend as a team, keep the shape, make sure everyone knows where to go when the ball is lost. Birmingham did offer more threat and variations once the 2 young wingers were on, attacking the full backs on each wings. Lincoln’s pressing was quality and did not allow Birmingham an easy build up play from the defence.

One goal each, from a set piece from Lincoln after a great piece of skill by Clarke was well saved by Hourihan. The resulting corner was headed by Hamilton towards goal and flicked in by Clarke. The equaliser coming from a run down the win by Lawley and finished at the far post by Linnett with the help of Stoney.

Overall not the most entertaining game but certainly extremely interesting on the tactical side and players problems solving ability.