All posts by martintownley27

Leicester City Win Promotion to FA WSL

Leicester City Women secured promotion to the WSL with a 2-0 win over London City Lioness on Sunday 4th April. Goals in the second half from Samantha Tierney and Natasha Flint ensured them of a historic win. It means the club will play in the WSL for the first time in their history.

With two games to go the Foxes have run away with the league having lost just one of their 18 games. They have been on a run of 12 straight wins as they secured the title at the weekend.

Leicester City Manager Jonathan Morgan, told LCFC TV after Sundays game:

“To say we are officially WSL, it’s awesome really. We’ve got to the pinnacle of the women’s game in England and we just want to keep pushing ourselves and getting further and further with it and getting better and better.

“It’s been a long journey. It’s been seven years, where we were playing, in all honesty, off parks and out of tin sheds for changing rooms. I remember when I first started, I didn’t have even a squad. I think we only had 12 players, so to see that growth, it’s been a fantastic achievement.”

The club turned professional in August 2020 after being taken over by King Power (parent company of Leicester City). Leicester City will now be able to look forward to playing the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal in the WSL next season.

Morgan hopes this will inspire more local girls to take up football saying:

“I think, for me, with the women’s game, it’s still about growing it,” he explained. “It’s still about encouraging the next generation of young female athletes and now the girls of Leicester have got a top team in the best league to look up to and to aspire to.

“I think that does more wonders than anything that we can ever think about really.”

Leicester born defender Ashleigh Plumptre admitted to becoming emotional as they closed in on the victory against London City telling LCFC TV:

“I literally looked at the badge before I walked out and then, with five minutes to go, I looked at it again and I ended up tearing up when I was on the pitch with five minutes left!

 “I don’t just play football just because I want to do well in it. I like to represent something that’s bigger than me and I’ve grown up here.

“I had to go away and then to America and then I’ve come back I’ve been able to come back to the only team that I wanted to come to. I’ve managed to do it with literally my hometown team. I have shirts [from] when I was like four years-old, going to games when the men were in the Championship.

“Now to think I’m representing my club, where I’m from, and to win… like I said, I play for something bigger than me and I play to win and to think that I’ve done that here, I literally cannot ask for anything better.”

Being the only fully professional side in the league gave Leicester added pressure, but Plumptre stated that just made the squad come together:

“Nobody wanted us to win really because we’re the only team that are fully professional. We’re provided with everything. So people want to get a one up on us and we’ve just got through all of it and now we’ve come out winners.

“Everybody’s in there celebrating together, and rightly so. It’s a season to be celebrated because I definitely think we deserve it. We’ve worked so hard and there were times where you can see it in the way that we play and the way that we talk to each other on the pitch.

“We gear each other up because we know that we can’t just win with 10, we just can’t win with 11, we have to win with everybody and, I put it out to all the girls, within the first five minutes, we were doing headers and clearances and I could hear the subs from the off.

“I really think, for me personally, it’s hard to get through a season with everything we’ve been through without things like that, without people being there when you need them. It’s not just the players, it’s the staff, too. It’s just been a huge collective effort and it’s finally come to fruition.”

Leicester can look towards next season and playing in England’s top flight as they test themselves against some of the best players in the world.

CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW: Cardiff City v Nottingham Forest

Cardiff City will welcome Nottingham Forest to Cardiff City Stadium this Good Friday. The Bluebirds are looking to push their way into a play-off spot while Forest are looking to put more room between them and the relegation places.

The Bluebirds returned to winning ways in their game as they beat bitter rivals Swansea thanks to an Aden Flint header. It was the Bluebirds fist win after a run of three without one, however, Cardiff have only lost once since the arrival of Mick McCarthy. Forest are without a win in six with three draws and three defeats.

The sides have met twice this season with City winning in the reverse league meeting and Forest winning in an FA Cup third round tie. Cardiff have won eight out of the last ten league meetings between the sides.

Curtis Nelson and Perry Ng have recovered from injuries and could feature on Friday. Lee Tomlin, meanwhile, suffered a setback prior to a under 23’s games this week which will delay his return. Jordi Osei-Tutu is back in training, but will not play a part at the weekend.

For Forest defender Joe Worrall is still suffering from a rib injury and is a doubt for the trip to Cardiff. Former Cardiff man Harry Arter is still out with a calf injury. Joe Lolley is also likely out for the season, and Gaeten Bong is another who is a doubt for the trip to Wales.

Ahead of the game, Cardiff Manager Mick McCarthy said:

“I would prefer to be top and they are all chasing me! But considering when we played Bristol, we could have gone fourth or fifth bottom.

“You could sense the change around the place, the confidence. We are now nipping at those in front of us.

“If you’re in the top six, all you worry about is falling out of it.

“Even if you’re in the bottom three, you’re chasing to get out. Fourth or fifth bottom, you don’t want to drop in now.”

Forest Manager Chris Hughton told Nottinghamforest.co.uk:

“The only points in my mind at the moment are in the next game and trying to win that. It is such an unpredictable league this season, with performances and those teams that can beat any team on any given day.

“So many of the results show that and it is very difficult, you don’t know how that run in will be. You look at the teams towards the bottom of the table and any team is capable of putting together a decent run.

“We want to finish the season as well as we can and, at any stage of the season, there are always influences that can affect your thinking. There are players that over a short period of time put some better thoughts into your mind or change your mind about them.

“Also, we would rather go into the start of next season after a decent end to the season. Although there is a gap in between, you can psychologically have that little bit of momentum.”

Prediction: Cardiff City 2 – 0 Nottingham Forest

FA WSL Round up: The Blues remain top of Women Super league

Champions Chelsea remain top of the WSL after two goals from Sam Kerr earned them a win over struggling Aston Villa.

Manchester City kept the gap at the top to two points with a 87 minute winner from Chloe Kelly helped them to a one nil win over Reading.

Manchester United, meanwhile, remain in third spot as Lauren James and Cristen Press scored in a two nil win over West Ham.

Arsenal also won the North London derby by three goals over Tottenham with goals from Caitlin Foord, Vivianne Miedema and Katie McCabe.

Elsewhere, Everton hit Brighton for five, Hayley Raso getting a hat trick, while Birmingham and Bristol City drew 1-1, with Bristol moving into tenth place.

Manchester United 2 – 0 West Ham United

It was a historic day for Manchester United as they played at Old Trafford for the first time.

United had an early chance as Lauren James turned on the edge of the box and looked to put the ball into the top corner. Her effort however was comfortable for West Ham keeper Courtney Brosnan.

West Ham’s Martha Thomas made a decent run at the home side defence but put her shot wide of the goal.

United took the lead not long after half time with James scoring. West Ham failed to clear a United corner, and Maria Thorisdottir headed back across the six yard box towards James who’s flicked header from close range found the net.

It was 2-0 just six minutes later with Press getting onto Jackie Groenen’s though ball. Groenen ran at the West Ham defence and despite having her shirt tugged was able to slide the ball into the box finding the run of Press who finished with the inside of her left foot.

The home side were in control of the second half were helped as Laura Vetterlein was shown a second yellow for cynical foul.

A good win for United on their first appearance at old Trafford, midfielder Ella Tonne living the dream told BBC Sport:

“As a Manchester United fan it was a dream come true to play on such an amazing pitch so it was a special occasion and I’m glad we went out there and got the three points.”

Manager Casey Stoney was more concerned with her side performance than the venue:

“We weren’t good in the first half – that was probably the worst I’ve seen us in a long, long time, so I think there was definitely a case of the occasion. That’s done now. They know what it’s like.

“Players know when they are not good enough. I said [at half-time] if you want to qualify for Champions League football, you have to play at a Champions League standard and we weren’t.

“When we started playing collectively in the second half we were better.”

Tottenham Hotspur 0 – 3 Arsenal

Arsenal secured 3-0 win over Tottenham in the North London Derby, which was played at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Caitlin Foord linked with Noelle Martiz down the Tottenham right to give The Gunners the lead after 25 minutes.

Arsenal were on top as the first half went on with Jordan Nobbs twice trying from outside the box forcing Rebecca Spencer into action. Spencer making two good saves to keep her side in the game.

The visitors pressure did tell as Vivianne Miedema made it two nil. Katie McCabe’s whipped in a corner which was met on the volley by Miedema and riffled into the top corner.

McCabe made sure of the win with Arsenals third just after the hour. A poor pass from Abbie McManus allowed McCabe into the box and she put the ball past Spencer.

Tottenham had the chance to pull a goal back but were denied by a triple save from Manuela Zinsberger.

The win keeps Arsenal in fourth just three points of Manchester United with a game in hand.

Chelsea 2- 0 Aston Villa

Chelsea cruised to victory over Aston Villa with two goals from Sam Kerr.

Kerr’s first came after 24 minutes after Fran Kirby lifted the ball into the box and Kerr looped her header over Villa keeper Lisa Weiss.

It was Kirby and Kerr who combined for the second after 57 minutes. Kirby finding Kerr in space in the box and Kerr lifted her shot over the keeper.

Kerr had the chance of a hat trick after being played in by Harder but she sent her shot just wide.

Chelsea were always in control of this game but were unable to get a third goal.

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes praised the duo of Kirby and Kerr:

“Both of them are in the form of their lives and that combination is dynamite, it’s telepathic. It’s rare in football to find those things. I know that they are going to get chances in every game and it’s about capitalising on those chances.”

Manchester City 1 – 0 Reading

City left it late to clam victory at home to Reading with Kelly scoring the winner in the 87th minute.

Rose Lavelle forced Grace Moloney into a good save as City looked to gain the advantage. Moloney had to sharpe again turning away Caroline Weir’s low effort.

Reading almost took the lead as Fishlock played Eikeland in and the Norwegian International forced a good save from Ellie Roebuck.

Kelly put a good low cross across the Reading six yard line, but Stanway subsequently put it wide. A real chance to give City the lead.

Lauren Hemp saw her effort come back off the post, again coming from a Chole Kelly cross across the Reading Box.

The second half started like the first as Moloney again denied Lavelle. The American shooting from the edge of the area only to see Moloney turn it away.

It was looking like a frustrating night for City as Weir then shot over the bar.

City did get their breakthrough in the 87th minute with Chole Kelly finishing. After a mesmerizing run from Lauren Hemp, who made her way past four Reading players. She squared the ball to give Kelly a tap in.

A vital win for City in their chase for the title but heart breaking for Reading who battled and defended so well for this game.

Brighton 0 – 5 Everton

Everton put in a dominant performance as they put five past Brighton.

A mix up in the Brighton defence saw Raso fouled and Everton win a penalty. Izzy Christiansen put the penalty into the bottom left corner, Megan Walsh went the right way but unable to stop it.

Hayley Raso made it two after running past several Brighton players into the box to poke the ball into the net.

Raso had her second just after the restart. Claire Emslie taking advantage of an error by Maya Le Tissier to give Raso a easy header on the line.

Simone Magill added a fourth after more sloppy defending from the home side. Raso then got her hat trick shooting though a crowd of players to wrap up a good away day for Everton.

Birmingham City 1 – 1 Bristol City

In a relegation battle Birmingham and Bristol hap to share the points. Ruesha Littlejohn tested City keeper Sophie Baggaley early on, the Bristol keeper pushing the long range effort over the bar.

Bristol took the lead on 13 minutes, Carla Humphrey’s initial effort blocked the ball fell to Charlie Wellings who turned the ball home.

Birmingham levelled on 58 minutes thanks to Christie Murray, firing a shot into the top corner from inside the box.

Theatre Of Dreams for United Women

Manchester United Women are set to play their first ever match at Old Trafford. United’s match against West Ham will be moved to The Theatre of Dreams instead of their usual home venue of Leigh Sports Village.

A gap in the Old Trafford schedule has allowed the switch to take place. The match is scheduled to take place on Saturday 27th March with a 11.30 am kick off.

United are third in the FA WSL and are currently chasing a Champions League place. The Red Devils still have an outside chance of catching league leaders Chelsea.

The match will be played behind closed doors so United will be unable to welcome their supporters but the move shows the club’s commitment to their women’s side.

United Manager Casey Stoney told manutd.com:

“Playing at Old Trafford will obviously be a special moment in the history of this team and it’s a fantastic opportunity to showcase the women’s game, which has seen huge growth over the last few years.

“We, of course, will miss our fans. They are such an important part of this club and we have felt their amazing support from afar throughout the season.

“We are all eager to get them back in the stands as soon as possible and hope that there will be many more opportunities to play at Old Trafford in the future.”

Chief Operating Officer, Collette Roche added:

We are thrilled to be hosting our women’s team at Old Trafford. The international break this month created a gap in this season’s relentless programme at the stadium and we all agreed that this was the right time to welcome Casey and her squad to Old Trafford.

“We would have loved for fans to able to be there to witness this moment, but that time will come. For now, our preparations are in full swing as we set the stage to host our match with West Ham United next week”.

United to will travel to play fourth placed Arsenal on Friday 19th March before heading to Old Trafford the following week.

Championship Preview: Cardiff City v Watford

Two of the in-form teams clash in the Championship this weekend as Cardiff welcome Watford to Welsh Capital. Cardiff are on an eleven game unbeaten run, while Watford have won six of their last seven.

The Bluebirds stunned Watford in December when 1,973 fans were allowed in Vicarage Road, winning 1-0 from a Kieffer Moore goal. Watford sit second in the table with eyes on automatic promotion. Cardiff have emerged as play-off contenders following an upturn in form.

Recent Form

Having won their last two home games against Derby and Preston both by four goals to nil, Cardiff City Stadium has been a happy hunting ground again for Cardiff. Another impressive 3-1 win against Coventry making it three straight home wins.

Watford lost their last game on the road 1-0 at Bournemouth. The Hornets, however, have picked up previous wins against Blackburn and Preston.

Team News

Lee Tomlin and Jordi Osei-Tutu will not be a part of this match squad for Cardiff but Perry Ng, who missed Cardiff’s trip to Huddersfield is possible for a return. Tom Sang came in for that game and performed well so could get another start. Joel Bagan suffered a dislocated shoulder will also miss out. With Joe Bennett out as well it means a possible start for Ciaran Brown.

Dan Gosling and Achfraf Lazaar will have fitness tests ahead of the trip to Cardiff. Troy Deeney and Tom Cleverley will both miss out with Cleverley possibly returning following the international break. Nathanial Chalobah is available after suspension.

Managers Thoughts

Mick McCarthy was glad of an extra break this week having played on Friday last weekend.

Speaking to Cardiffcity.co.uk:

“It’s been unusual actually but it’s been good for the players and for us as well because we had the weekend without a game.

“It was a real intense schedule, certainly as we ended up playing Wednesday-Saturday, Tuesday-Friday. It was good for them all to get a bit of a break and they’re all feeling a bit fresher and a bit sharper. Hopefully that will benefit us on Saturday.

“They are second in the table, playing well and have the ability to grind out one-nillers as they don’t give much away. Yet they’ve got some flair players too.

“So, if we can win this game, that would put us in a great position and give us a whole lot more confidence if we beat second in the league – but there’s a lot of ifs there!”

Speaking to WatfordFC.com, Xisco Munoz said:

“We know we need to go there like gladiators, play very hard and give our best, with power, intensity and ambition.

“We know what we need, it’s not easy the numbers they have. It’s excellent work from their coach, we have big respect for him. It’s important everybody knows this next game is an amazing challenge for us because we want to break this situation for them.

“Our team now has more time on the ball, creates more chances to score. We know we need to stay alert and pay attention with set pieces and we need to give them more problems. We have our style and our players and we’re hungry every game to take the points”.

Prediction: Cardiff 1-0 Watford

This a game for Cardiff’s style of play. Having had an extra rest Cardiff’s attacking three should have the fresh legs for the high intensity press that has seen the Bluebirds rack up three home wins and score eleven goals.