FA WSL 2 Winter transfer window 2017

Here is the recap for this winter’s transfer window that has closed on the 6th of April

This week’s transfers

Confirmed transfers

Extended contracts

Expected deals to go through 

Doncaster Belles

In : Emily Simpkins, Kirsty Hanson ( Liverpool), Sophie Barker, Mayumi Pacheco ( Liverpool- transfer), Rachel Newborough, Sophie Walton ( Notts County), Leandra Little, Nicky Davies, Bethan Davies ( Leeds)

Out : Rachel Newborough ( Bradford City – loan), Carla Humphrey ( Arsenal – end of loan), Katrin Omarsdottir, Mayumi Pacheco ( Liverpool – end of loan), Sue Smith, Anna Moorhouse ( Arsenal)

Everton Ladies

In : Amber-Keegan Stobbs ( Reading), Olivia Chance ( Breidablik), Georgia Brougham, Lauren Davies, Megan Finnigan, Michelle Hinnigan, Emily Hollinshead, Kelly Jones, Vicky Jones, Kirsty Levell, Simone Magill, Claudia Walker, Mollie Green ( Liverpool)

Out : Rosella Ayane ( Chelsea – end of loan), Jenna Dear, Ellie Stewart ( Blackburn Rovers), Millie Turner ( Bristol City)

Durham WFC

In : Sarah McFadden, Rebecca Salicki, Nat Gutteridge, Emily Roberts, Ellie Christon,  Nicola Gibson, Annabel Johnson. Sarah Wilson, Jen Jennings, Nicki Gears, Grace McCatty ( Bristol City), Helen Alderson, Jordan Atkinson, Rachel Lee, Mercy Dakoah, Caroline Dixon, Zoe Ness (Mallbackens IF), Rachel Laws ( Sunderland ), Beth Hepple

Out :

Sheffield FC

In : Carla Ward, Juliana Draycott, Danielle Cox, Rhema Lord-Mears, Natasha Flint (AFC Fylde), Hannah Dale ( Liverpool – loan), Sarah Jackson, Emma Johnson, Billie Murphy, Chloe Dixon, Sherry McCue, Ellie Gilliat, Kenedy Owen, Suzanne Davies, Sophie Jones, Emma Lipman, Hanna Cain, Jenna Dear

Out : Olivia Wild ( AFC Fylde), Kirsty Hanson ( end of loan – Liverpool)

London Bees

In : Sophie Harris, Jo Wilson, Sophie Fogarty, Emma Beckett, Ashleigh Goddard, Rebecca Anderson, Paula Howells, Aoife Hurley, Lucy Loomes ( Millwall), Laura May-Walkley ( Reading), Amber Tullett ( Watford), Mollie Burgess ( Watford), Jordan Littleboy ( Watford), Anne Meiwald ( Chelsea), Evie Clarke, Ocean Rolandsen ( Millwall)

Out : Andria Georgiou ( Spurs Ladies) , Deanna Cooper, Danielle Scanlon ( Spurs Ladies), Nikki Watts, Meghan McKeag ( Watford), Merrick Will ( Watford), Laura May-Walkley, Jordan Littleboy ( Arsenal), Aoife Hurley ( Aston Villa), David Edmondson ( manager)

Aston Villa

In : Beth Merrick, Amy West, Chloe Jones, Hannah George, Elisha N’Dow, Kerri Welsh, Maddy Cuscak, Chloe Beattie, Kathy Moran, Tash Baptiste, Lucy Porter, Lucy Shepherd, Jade Richards, Mollie Rouse, Alice Hassall ( Notts County), Nicola Potts, Grace Smith, Alys Hincliffe, Aoife Hurley ( London Bees)

Out : Sarah Mayling ( Birmingham City)

Millwall Lionesses

In : Ashley Hincks, Jordan Butler, Sarah Quantrill, Amber Gaylor, Megan Wynne, Billie Brooks, Leighanne Robe, Georgina Giddings, Leigh Nicol, Ellie Mason ( Watford), Phoebe Read ( Watford), Sarah Kempson ( Portsmouth), Ashley Cheatley ( Ashford Town), Bonnie Horwood

Out : Lucy Loomes ( London Bees), Rinsola Babajide ( Watford), Ocean Rolandsen ( London Bees)

Oxford United

In : Sophie Baker, Jessica Frampton, Lauren Haynes, Holly Pickett, Madi Lee, Riva Casley, Ini Umotong, Karl Milgate ( first -team caoch), Emily Donovan (Yeovil), Andy Cook ( manager), Taome Oliver ( Notts County), Ella Franklin-Fraiture

Out : Hannah Cox ( Oxford City), Les Taylor ( manager), Katherine Nutman

Watford Ladies

In : Keith Boanas ( manager), Rinsola Babjide ( Millwall), Cherelle Albert, Lili Maple ( Crystal Palace), Meghan McKeag ( London Bees), Vicky Neal,  Leah Cudone, Ruby Baxter, Adekite Fatuga-Dada, Lucy Gillett, Lauren Jordinson, Charlotte Kerr, Anneka Nuttall ,Chloe Bassett, Kerry Walklett, Caoimhe O’Reilly, Danielle Puddefoot ( Cambridge United), Merrick Will ( London Bees), Jo Fletcher, Simona Petkova ( Leeds Ladies)

Out : Anne-Laure Davy ( ASJ Soyaux), Amber Tullett ( London Bees), Mollie Burgess ( London Bees), Jordan Littleboy ( london Bees), Ellie Mason ( Millwall), Phoebe Read ( Millwall)

Brighton Women

In : George Parris ( interim manager), Alessia Russo ( Chelsea), Emma Byrne ( Arsenal), Laura Rafferty (Chelsea), Jenna Legg ( Chelsea), Vicky Ashton-Jones, Faye Baker,Kirsty Barton, Charley Boswell, Ellie Dorey, Lisa Fulgence, Kate Natkiel, Sophie Perry, Amelia Ritchie, Lucy Somes, Amy Taylor, Bronwen Thomas, Charlotte Young

Out : Lily Agg (Bristol)

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FA WSL 1 Spring Series prediction

With the WSL 1 Spring Series starting soon, I thought I would do my usual prediction for the upcoming 2 months league.

With nine games in eight weeks, the scheduling should be clean and you would expect teams to play  a game per week every week-end, making in a very much balanced competition.

As we all know this is not the case at all, due to Cup games and postponement. So the Spring Series might actually have a kind of survival of the fittest feel, something we are used to have in the FA WSL anyway with a fixture list as bad as they have been in the last six seasons.

Anyway, as there are nine games to play for each team, some of them will play more away than home games with five teams having a 4H and 5A, four teams having a 5H and 4A and one team with 6H and 3A ( Yeovil). Yeovil were 5-4, but Arsenal switched the tie around due to their home ground situation ( they have a new landlord in London Bees for three out of their four games) .

So I have set up my predictions with an expected range of final position at the end of the season as well as an expected range of finishing points. Here are the teams in reverse order of the final table last year.

Bristol City 5H 4A expected position 6 to 8 expected points : 7-14

They have kept the core of their team that finished runner-up in the WSL 2 last season. They also added players to have more strength in-depth.  With the quality they have at their disposal, they could finish close to mid-table.

Yeovil Town  6H 3A  expected position 8 to 10 expected points 4-11

The FA WSL 2 winners have six home games and should get at least four points from those and could even get a lot more points overall. It will be a learning process for the Glovers and good preparation for the 2017/18 season.

Reading Women 5H 4A expected position 7 to 9 expected points 5-12

A squad short in numbers reinforced on the final day by a young French playmaker. I expect them to keep the same tactics as last year. They should be hard to beat home and away. If they can score goals they will be close to the maximum expected points, if not I would expect a lot of draws again.

Sunderland Ladies 5H 4A  expected position 6 to 8 expected points 7-14

Another team with a small squad, the first 11 has a lot of quality but the bench in all the games played so far looked quite light in-depth with many youngsters. We will see if the return to semi-professional status will affect their performances.

Notts County Ladies 4H 5A expected position 7 to 9 expected points 5-12

A little bit of a turnover with four new signings and eight players leaving during the transfer window. Key players have been retained. The big question is can the players perform as their final table position never matched their potential throughout all the years.  The HMRC case is also like a sword of  Damocles above their head as well.

Liverpool Ladies  4H 5A expected position 3 to 5 expected points 15 -23

A good transfer window bringing in Clarke and Stoney and Coombs back as well. They will have a solid defense and a dynamic frontline. The only team to take points off City in the League last year, I expect them to be a third place contender.

Birmingham City  5H 4A expected position 3 to 5 expected points 15 -23

A change in the management team as well as a shrewd recruitment campaign. They should keep their defensive strength and add more creativity in attack. Another team that I expect to compete for the third place.

Arsenal Ladies 4H 5A expected position 3 to 5 expected points 15 -23

A huge player turnover during the winter with some quality signings in Little and O’Reilly. FA Cup games showed a clear imbalance between attack and defense due to multiple injuries in that position. If all the injured players are quickly back, they might challenge for a top 2 place otherwise, they should fight for the third place again.

Chelsea Ladies 4H 5A expected position 1-3 expected points 18-25

An excellent recruitment campaign with Cuthbert, Mjelde, Bachmann Dunn and Cooper to add more competition for places for a squad that did not achieve as much as they could last season. They are my favourites to win the Spring Series or will run very close to City.

Manchester City 4H 5A  expected position 1-3 expected points 20-27

Can they finish the Spring Series unbeaten like they did in the League last year? Yes they might, although the FA has actually tried very hard to prevent them to do so with one of the worse schedule ever.

Teams that are succesful in the Champions League are always at a disadvantage as seen with Arsenal, Bristol, Birmingham, Chelsea and now City.

They have a very stable squad and added Melissa Lawley and Carli Lloyd, they are well stacked in most positions and will be the team to beat.

 

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The FA WSL2 Spring Series, what’s up with those postponements ?

Considering the Spring Series are a nine games League and we have already seen six games postponed, is the situation due to bad planning or bad luck ?

Let’s remember that the FA WSL 2 schedule was actually well prepared. All games played at week-end. It looked a lot better than the previous seasons. So how did we end up with so many problems ?

There is a both of bad luck and planning elements, plus some FA gambling that has backfired. If we look game by game.

1. Sheffield v Doncaster :  bad luck as the weather was bad and pitch waterlogged. Could the pitch quality be better ? They fit the current regulations, so it is fine.

2. and 3. Doncaster v Villa & Everton v Durham : those two games were planned during an FA Cup week-end and a week before the rest of the matchday schedule.

It makes no sense at all . Either the FA gambled on the fact that all four teams would be eliminated in the FA Cup Round 3 for those two games to go through. And of course, the miracle did not happen. Or you do wonder if the clubs rather than the FA pushed for an original alternative date ?

4.5 and.6 Brighton v Doncaster, Everton v Watford, Watford v Doncaster :  Quite a simple explanation to those games being called off.

The FA put a couple of match days inside an international week. To be fair to them the English Football League does not stop during men’s internationals either, so there is consistency in the process.

They gambled that the FA WSL 2 teams would not have enough players on international duty to request postponement. Another fail and now three more games gone. Again there is a clear logic behind this, it is better to have one or two postponed games than having to schedule five or ten games in a busy calendar.

In the end, the fans are frustrated, the table means nothing, but it is a friendly tournament anyway. To me it seems difficult to attract fans when the schedule is so hit and miss.

Seriously speaking, Doncaster will have five games in hand over London Bees in a nine games series. If Chelsea had 17 games in hand over Arsenal in the Premier League a scandal would erupt. Also Doncaster will have to play seven games in five weeks, once they have managed to reschedule all those games.  It is groundhog day for the Belles

The big question is will the FA do better for the winter 2017/18 ? Answer on a postcard…

 

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The FA Women’s Cup Round 5 draw

Those schoolkids in Hornsey decided that Round 5 would be derby day with a Merseyside, Brummie and North London derby. Hopefully games will be competitive on the 19th of March.

The draw in full :

FA WSL 1 v FA WSL 1

  • Notts County v Yeovil     Notts County will be huge favourite against promotd team Yeovil as they have an excellent head to head record.  It will be the first game for both teams so it will be interesting to see who will hit the ground running first.
  • Man City v Reading   City will also be a huge favourite against Reading. It will be interesting to see if the away team park the bus as usual or will play a more expansive game concisedring they got rid of nearly all their forward during the transfer window. There will be a question mark on City’s line-up with the Champions League quater-final away to Brondby four days later.

FA WSL 1* v FA WSL 2

  • Liverpool* v Everton  The Mersyside derby with both side playing in their home ground. First competitive game for Liverpool so obviously Everton will try to take advantage of the reds relative lack of sharpness if there is any.
  • Sunderland* v Aston Villa  A clear potential banana skin for Sunderland and their new semi-professional regime that puts them on par with the FA WSL 2 teams. So no competitive advantage and first competitive game against a Villa side with three wins out three in all competions.
  • Bristol* v Millwall the home side will be favourite and will come again a fighting side with an in form and experienced striker in Ashley Hincks. Again the lack of competitive action so far for the FA WSL 1 makes it an interesting game.
  • Chelsea* v Doncaster Chelsea will be huge favourite after beating Doncaster 4-0, 4-1 and 4-1 last season. Their pre-seasons eem to have gone well while Doncaster scheduled has been derailed by the weather and the bad planning by the FA.

FA WSL 1* v FA WPL

  • Arsenal* v Tottenham  The North London derby should be interesting with a flying Spurs team in the FA WPL Southern and getting big results in the cups as well. A first competitive game for the Arsenal who had a bad pre-season in term or results until the Kelly Smith celebration game.

There will be probably be a lot of entertainment in the stand as it is a North London Derby and        the  FA ‘s respect campaign will go out of the window in the stand.

Couple of seasons ago I witness a Spurs v Arsenal reserves game at 10am and the young Arsenal girls were subjected to abuse from a minority of idiots.  If you consider that it will be the first NLD in the women’s side for nearly six or seven years, there might be some work to do for the stewards and police on the day.

All you need is a couple of idiots on both side abusing the players and insulting the opposition fans for things can kick-off. If you go to Borehamwood, you know who will be there and up for anything. Hopefully, there will be fans’ segregation on the day.

  • Birmingham* v West Brom West Brom are the only team that can really compete with Leicester for the FA WPL Northern Division title and could reach the promotion play-off again if they can win all their games in hand. The quality gap between the two teams might be too much for the away side. It will Mark Skinner’s first game as the Blues manager.

As someone mentioned, FA WSL 1 teams are all at home except for the two teams that are away to FA WSL 1 teams. What were the odds of this to happen ?

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March 2017 FA WSL/FA WPL international call-ups

For those who are not familiar with the FIFA Women’s International match calendar, there is an international window for teams where they can play up to four games from the 27th of February to the 8th of March.

The following tournaments involve players from the FA WSL 1&2  and FA WPL. The club have to release the players to their national team as per the FIFA regulations and FA WSL clubs with games during the tournament can request a postponement.

Of course, the FA have blocked the dates so that no FA WSL 1 games are being played but they put the FA WSL 2 Matchday 4 in that period of time , for some unknown reason.

The FA WSL Spring Series rules say :

“A Club having three (3) or more Qualifying Players or one (1) goal keeper selected for international duty in accordance with Annexe 1 of The FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (this does not include Players on standby) by their National Association for senior representative, under 21, under 20 or under 19 national representative matches (or any combination thereof) may request a postponement of any Competition Matches that takes place during the period of time in which the Players are called up by their National Association team or within 2 days of their return from international duty provided that at least 10 days’ notice in writing has been given to the Competition Secretary. The Management Committee shall decide in its absolute discretion whether the postponement shall be granted.    ”

So the FA can actually refuse a postponement and penalize a team that is forced to send their player on international duty by FIFA to field a weaker team. Make what you want of this rule, but if half of your team is on international duty and you have to play a game, the integrity of that competition is simply compromised.

The FA WPL rules say :

“Clubs shall support The Football Association in relation to International Matches in
accordance with the provisions of The Football Association Rules.
A Club having 2 players or more selected for International Duty for their National
Association may request a postponement of its League fixture provided that at least
10 days notice is given to the League Secretary in writing.
If 1 player is selected and that player is the goalkeeper a Club could make a similar
request for the postponement of its League fixture. This will only apply to Senior
and Under 19 matches which are played within the FIFA Women’s International
match calendar.”

Those are the actual tournaments played in the international window :

SheBelieves Cup, Algarve Cup, Cyprus Cup, Istria Cup, La Manga U23, La Manga U19 and players from FA WSL 1&2 and FA WPL will take part is those tournaments. You would certainly expect some games to be postponed or at least requested to be postponed in that period.

The following players from the top two Leagues have been called up so far, file will be updated as soon country relase their news.

international

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FA W2 Spring Series Matchday 1

An interesting Matchday 1 with wins for Everton, Durham and Aston Villa and a draw between London Bees and Brighton. Doncaster and Sheffield’s game did not make it and hopefully the FA Cup game on Sunday will go through.

London Bees 1 Brighton 1

Durham 1  Millwall 0

Villa 3 Watford 2

Oxford 1 Everton 2

Sheffield v Doncaster P-P

Goalscorers table

1 Russo ( Brighton); Goddard (Bees); Mc Fadden ( Durham);  Baptiste, Merrick, Richards ( Aston Villa); Nutall, Kerr (Watford); Magill, K Jones ( Everton), Umotong (Oxford)

 

Matchday 2

Doncaster v Villa P-P

Everton v Durham P-P

Brighton v Oxford

Millwall v Sheffield

Watford v London Bees

 

So Doncaster Belles are already unlucky with the fixtures list. First game in the cup H-W, second game yesterday P-P and third game also P-P due to the FA CUp Round 4. It looks like we will end up with the same mess as last season for the poor Belles.

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Millwall Lionesses 1 London Bees 0

It was a very competitive game  as it is always the case between those two teams with a Megan Wynne goal on the 12th minute the difference between the two sides.

 

Here is the goal courtesy to Millwall’s superfan Dion Farnes :

 

Now for the tactical set-up as it was a surprising one from Millwall. Considering they played with a back four for the whole of last season, to see them turn up with a back three was a surprise.

capture

To me there is no doubt that the Lionesses set-up surprised the Bees.

London Bees were on top for the first ten minutes and then things started to change after the initial goal. I am not sure the Bees managed to get behind the Lionesses defence more than twice in the whole game.

This was due to a very good defensive organisation by Millwall and lack of quality passing and clinical finishing from Bees in the final third.

Millwall got a couple of chances to finish off the game, but did not get the second goal that would have put the tie beyond the Bees reach, which meant a tense second half with a lot of foul play, kicking and bookings.

The referee actually could have given a bit more bookings as he was lenient and let things get out of control a bit too much in my opinion. When wild sliding tackles start to appear, especially on a 3G, that’s were you must come in and calm things down.

So tactically, as seen on the diagram Millwall took control of the central area by the virtue of having seven players in a tight space and left the wings free for Bees to control.

Bees therefore should have had full reign on both wings with regular 2 v 1 situations, full-back and winger v wing-back, but that did not happen very often  actually. It was something that puzzled me greatly. The full-backs did not overlap often, probably to protect the defense from waves of Millwall players coming from the central area.

Clearly there was congestion in the middle and Bees did not manage to put their striker Wilson in shooting positions, while Millwall used their lone striker Hincks as a link-up player to bring in all the midfielders making their runs as well as the wing-backs.

Another interesting fact in that game in both side had many left-footed players with three for Bees and two for Millwall. It actually helped on ball distribution  and build up play. The goal coming from an excellent Gaylor cross from the left-wing.

The key to the game was the Lionesses ability to smother the Bees attacking threats, cutting all the passing lines and defending well the 1v1 situations that happened. On the other side, Bees did not use much the diagonal long balls,  to move it away from the congested area and find the pocket of spaces where their wingers could have done some damages.

So a deserved win over 90 minutes for Millwall Lioness who will at home to Nottingham Forest Ladies in Round 4 on the 19th of February.

 

 

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