After the success of the Womens World Cup, the Womens Super League restarted last weekend after a break, and the early signs seem to be, encouragingly, that the summer tournament in Germany might have piqued the interest of quite a few in the domestic game in this country. Womens football in Britain has benefitted significantly over the last couple of years from a £3m investment from the Football Association, which led to the founding of the Womens Super League. The league isn’t fully professional yet – it is hoped that it will become so in years to come if it is successful – and the players that have signed semi-professional contracts with clubs are some way from earning full-time money, but it is hoped that this new league will encourage an improvement in standards, and England’s reasonable performance in Germany this summer, where they were just a penalty shoot-out away from a semi-final appearance, seems to give plenty of grounds for confidence in the future of the womens game in this country.
Birmingham City lead the table, four points ahead of second-placed Arsenal and with Chelsea in third place. Meanwhile, at the bottom of the league, Liverpool have just three points all season. A crowd of over 900 was present at Boreham Wood FC’s Meadow Park to see Arsenal beat Liverpool by three goals to nil, thanks to goals from Julie Fleeting, Rachel Tankey and Kim Little, a result which leaves keeps the twelve-time Premier League and eleven-time FA Womens Cup winners in touch with the leaders at the top of the table. Regardless of whatever happens at the end of this season (the end of the WSL season comes at the end of August), Arsenal, along with Bristol Academy, will play in the coming season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League as the finalists in this years Womens FA Cup, with the top two for this season qualifying for next year’s competition.
Birmingham City maintained their four point lead at the top thanks to a three goal win of their own, against Doncaster Rovers Belles on Saturday afternoon. Dunia Susi gave them an early lead, and two goals from Rachel Williams guaranteed them all three points from their match, which was played at Stratford Town FC. Birmingham remain unbeaten in the league this season with six wins and two draws from their eight matches, so far. Arsenal may be four points behind Birmingham, but they have a game in hand and the two sides meet each other again in Stratford on the seventh of August, in a match which may yet determine the eventual destination of the inaugural Women’s Super League trophy. With this match presumably in the back of their minds, Bormingham need to keep winning and they travel to Stoke Gifford to play Bristol Academy Ladies on Wednesday night. Doncaster Rovers Belles, meanwhile, stay in second from bottom place in the table, although they are four points ahead of Liverpool.
Third-placed Chelsea, meanwhile, can probably kiss goodbye to their chances of winning the league for this season at least, after a long trip to Merseyside at the weekend ended in a two goal defeat at the hands of Everton, who are now just two points behind them, with a game in hand. Goals in each half, from Toni Duggan and Michelle Hinnigan, were enough to win Everton three points from their match, which was played at Marine FC’s Rossett Park. It would seem obvious to say that Everton will leapfrog Chelsea with a win from their game in hand, but there will be a little extra bite to their next match, which will be a Merseyside derby against bottom of the table Liverpool on Wednesday night, which will also be played at Marine FC.
The WSL season resumed on Friday night, with a match between Bristol Academy and Lincoln Ladies at Stoke Gifford. Lincoln won this match by three goals to two, with two goals from Rachel Daly and an own goal from Grace McCatty being enough to win all three points for the visitors, while McCatty atoned for own goal by scoring one at the right end for Bristol Academy, but this and a penalty from Corinne Yarston were not enough to prevent Lincoln jumping up from the second from bottom place in the league to fifth place, moving above Academy in the process. Academy will, in spite of having had an arguably underwhelming season in this augural WSL, at least have the consolation of a place in the Champions League to play for this winter, along with Arsenal, whilst Glasgow City will represent Scotland, Swansea City will represent Wales and Newtownabbey Strikers will represent Northern Ireland in the same competition this winter. With the Womens Premier League – now the de facto second and third tiers of womens football in England – starting again next month, the game in this country feels healthier than ever.
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