The FA has disclosed the draw for the Preliminary round of the competiton. There are four games in this round prior to the first round with 8 games and 16 teams.
The preliminary round games are scheduled for the 09th of October, the day after after the last group stage games of the FIFA U17 WWC. I certainly expect some postponements as 14 out of 21 players in the squad would ne eligible to play in those cup games.
The draw is as follows :
Manchester City v Everton
Durham v Liverpool
Arsenal v Millwall
Reading v Chelsea
The remaining 12 teams will enter the competition in the first round.
The draw for the FA Girls Youth cup is available on the FA Website. Following the chance from the CoE to the RTC system, the competition is now a U16 rather than a U17 tournament.
The 16 games are scheduled to be played on the 15th of October
Durham v Leeds
Sunderland v Doncaster
Teeside v Sheffield
Blackburn v Man United
Boston v York
Man City v Liverpool
WBA v Birmingham
Nottingham Forest v Aston Villa
MK Dons v Everton
Stoke v Shrewsbury
Leicester v Derby
Millwall v Southampton
Brighton v Essex
Oxford v Gillingham
Reading v Chelsea
Arsenal v Bristol
Following Manchester City’s triumph on Sunday, we now have seven FA WSL triple winners. This is quite a feat to be able to claim half of the trophies that have been handed since the competition creation in 2011.
The seven players are :
Gemma Davison Arsenal 2012, Liverpool 2014, Chelsea 2015. She is the only player to have won three titles with three different teams.
Gilly Flaherty, Katie Chapman and Niamh Fahey have won the trophy with Arsenal in 2011, 2012 and Chelsea in 2015.
Lucy Bronze has won the title with Liverpool in 2013 and 2014 and with Manchester City in 2016.
Jennifer Beattie and Stephanie Houghton have won the title with Arsenal in 2011, 2012 and Manchester City in 2016
I have counted 31 players who have won the title twice, many of them doing the double either with Arsenal or Liverpool in consecutive seasons. That count might be wrong as teamsheets from previous seasons are missing on the FA WSL website.
Two players have won the title with different teams :
Laura Coombs Arsenal 2011 and Chelsea 2015, Marie Hourihan Chelsea 2015 and Manchester City 2016.
This week-end the top four teams played each other and the top two teams prevailed and are looking good for promotion now.
Bristol 1 Durham 0
Yeovil 1 Everton 0
1 Yeovil 33 pts + 20 pl 16
2 Bristol 33 pts + 15 pl 16
3 Everton 28 pts +15 pl 15
4 Durham 27 pts +7 pl 15
The remaining games are :
Durham v Everton 09/10
Everton v Bristol 29/10
London Bees v Yeovil 30/10
Watford v Durham 30/10
Durham v Millwall 06/11
London Bees v Everton 06/11
Oxford v Bristol 06/11
Yeovil v Sheffield 06/11
Durham v Everton will be crucial as the loser will be 99% out of the promotion race. While the winner will be back into it, being two or three points behind the leaders and ready to pounce on any of their mistakes.
There is every chance that the promotion race will go to the final day.
Things are going bad to worse for Doncaster while Reading can start breathing again and Sunderland have to look behind their back again.
Doncaster 1 Reading 4 leaves us with the following situation :
7. Reading 9 pts – 9 played 14
8. Sunderland 9 pts -18 played 14
9. Doncaster 0 pt -31 played 11
Sunderland are back into the relegation race following their defeat away to Notts County by two goals to one. They are nine points ahead of the Belles and virtually safe but football is a strange game.
The remaining games are :
Doncaster v Arsenal 06/10
Doncaster v Liverpool 09/10
Doncaster v Notts County 16/10
Sunderland v Notts County 29/10
Arsenal v Doncaster 30/10
Chelsea v Reading 30/10
Reading v Doncaster 06/11
Sunderland v Birmingham 06/11
Doncaster have three consecutive home games and need to collect at least six points out of nine to keep the pressure on Sunderland and Reading.
Can they keep it tight at the back and finally score against an Arsenal side with virtually nothing to play for except maybe a new contract or a chance to stay next season for certain players.
Then with a short turnaround, they will face Liverpool, who are still fighting for the third place and finally Notts County who made sure of their presence next season in WSL 1 by beating Sunderland.
Congratulations to Manchester City they really deserve to win the title. Unbeaten in 15 games with one to go to finish the season unbeaten.
Now the other teams will have to regroup and think of the way to challenge the citizens.
First, there is no doubt that having a huge budget and infrastructure is the way forward and other clubs should try to follow suit if they want to compete… or not.
The City model should not the single business model to follow to be succesful. I mean not every team can have the same level of resources offered to them.
Hopefully the FA do not want all WSL1 teams to be funded by their parent men’s club with millions of pounds spent.
Alternative business model should be allowed and able to flourish, although finding money via sponsorship and else is certainly difficult.
I would hope that FA WSL teams would follow Leicester City’s Premier League lead and build up a squad through clever recruitement with players that complement each other.
Then it is just a question of developing the team’s football via a solid gameplan and stick to it.
And for those who think City bought the title simply by spending money and nothing else. I can only say this another side had quite a bit of money and were nowhere near winning the title.
They actually were out of it by matchday 3. Money does not buy titles but it certainly contributes in a positive way. It’s up to the other sides to find a way to compete either with more money or better ideas.
Reading Women won the 6 six pointer last night by four goal to one which means Doncaster Belles are now close to relegation to FA WSL 2.
Goals by Emma Follis x2, Nia Jones and Rachel Rowe for Reading while Emily Simpkins scored for the Belles.
Considering she has been the leading attacking player for Reading I would expect Emma Follis to get a call up for England seniors soon. Good to see Nia Jones who has worked hard this for not game time or not enough for her talent score a goal and also get a start.
Mathematically the Belles are far from down, with five games to play they can collect 15 points and that would probably be enough to save them.
I have not managed to see them this season, so have no idea and cannot comment on their play. The highlights on FA tv are not conclusive on the quality of football played. They do show a huge number of individual and team errors in the goals conceded.
After all letting 36 goals in from eleven games tells a story as well as scoring only five in eleven. We know that the main center forwards were either injured or left the club and it did not help on the scoring front.
On the defending side, if there were some repetitive patterns of errors on the team defending and also from individual players, you would have expected them to be dropped. Although I know a WSL1 club where players gets dropped after making mistakes but it has not brought much results that way either.
So the Belles have not been clinical enough in front of the goal and have the following games to win to save their bacon : Arsenal H, Liverpool H, Notts County H, Arsenal A and Reading A.
If the Belles avoid relegation, it will be the greatest escape ever IMO, but you do wonder what if Glenn Harris had not been sacked mid-season after three games were played.