Saturday, 27 April 2013

My personal statment regarding Lincoln Ladies.

First of all i would like to start by saying i wouldn't normally write this kind of article. Normally this kind of stuff is for important people and not muppets like myself. However i have received quite a few texts, emails, and messages on various social media sites regarding the news at the club yesterday, and the plans for this blog/my writing work for this season and beyond. I would like to start of by saying that this statement is my own personal view and not the view of the Lincoln Ladies supporters club or any other website that i do free lance writing for. I would also like to thank everybody for the supportive messages about the announcement yesterday. Your kind words of support were very much appreciated.

As i am sure you are all aware of now, Lincoln Ladies will be "Re-branded" as Notts County Ladies for the 2014 FAWSL season, and will play in the first division. As of the time of writing that is all that we know. The club says it will be releasing more information in due course. It goes without saying that this is a huge blow for women's football in Lincolnshire and you only have to check various social media sites to see the anger, hurt, and disappointment people are feeling at this point in time. Many people have said they will not be attending Lady Imp games for the rest of the season and while i wont be doing that myself, i fully respect their reason for doing so and can completely understand their actions.

Yesterday's news is still sinking in and it will take a while to fully digest. I wont go into my views on the reasons for it until the club gives us some 'meat on the bones'. As regards to this blog i will be carrying on doing the games and also the previews till the end of the season. As long as people are still reading and enjoying them i will keep producing them. I get huge enjoyment from writing them and helping in my own small way to promote both the club and women's football in general.

As for 2014, without wanting to sound like a politician, i really don't know what i will be doing. One thing i can definitely tell you is that i fully intend to be covering Ladies football; of that i am 100% sure. Quite simply i have had a fantastic journey over the last 18 months or so i have been writing about the women's game, and i have met some truly wonderful people along the route. I have developed some great friendships and look forward to creating more. Your support for this blog has been nothing short of fantastic and it really means a lot when i get great feedback about it. I owe Lincoln Ladies a huge thank you for giving me the opportunity to write for them and for helping get my name out there. For this i will be eternally grateful. 

For those who don't know i live in Nottinghamshire, and i also spend quite a lot of time in Nottingham watching/writing about the Ice Hockey and also various trips to Non league football. It's a city i really like and one that i could see myself living in at some point. I also have no axe to grind with Notts County as a club or their fans. From my humble abode its not that much further that Lincoln, however i have a very very strong bond with the City of Lincoln footballing wise and its one that would be very tough to break.

At the moment i have three options for next season and thankfully i have plenty of time to mull them over. At the moment i don't have a clear idea of what i will be doing but since its less than 24 hours since the news broke i am not to concerned about that. I would like to thank those who have got in touch about next year. Its very much appreciated and its great when the football family comes together at times like this.

I would just like to end with a bit of an appeal. On Sunday we have the small matter of an FA Cup semi final. Lets try and enjoy the day and give the players our full support. None of this mess is their fault, so lets get behind them not only for tomorrow, but also for the rest of the season. It's been a tough journey in getting the fan base together and as this will be the last time we get the chance to win the FA Cup as Lincoln so lets not throw it away. Also lets not ask the players for their view on the "Re-branding" its not in their remit. Let them concentrate on matters on the pitch.

If anybody wants to chat about this season, or next, or anything really, then please get in touch my email is

Thank you for reading this


Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Birmingham City Ladies 1-1 Lincoln Ladies

Today saw not only saw Lincoln Ladies take to the road for this first time this season but it was also the first away day outing for the Lincoln Ladies supporters club. A mini bus had been booked, names taken, and in the end we filled 16 out of the 17 seats on board; which is a great effort for the first journey of the season and a great start for this fledgling group. We assembled at the Birchwood leisure centre and by 11.00am we were on our merry way; down to Stratford Town FC in Warwickshire, home to the current women's FA cup holder's Birmingham City ladies.

For all you out there that aren't non league football geeks/saddos like me, Stratford Town play in the Midland Alliance which is the 5th tier down in non league football, the same level at which Lincoln Moorlands currently ply their trade. They are however top of that division by some considerable distance and so will be promoted to step 4 which is the same as Lincoln United. At this level football is organised to save transport costs so there is a chance they could well be in United's division next year. Whichever division they go up into however, this will still be the lowest level ground used for FAWSL matches. There's a nice little piece of football trivia to bore/impress your mates with.

On our way to the ground and after the game it was obvious that Stratford Upon Avon is a very quaint, scenic, little town that looks like the perfect place to spend a weekend away. However none of this charm has rubbed off on the football ground, as it is in the middle of a residential area with nothing else around it. Just outside of Lincoln we had hit some traffic which had made us a good 20 minutes or so late meaning that we parked up at about 1.20pm and headed over to the one turnstile block that was open and joined the queue. No need to ask the all important question"To drink or not to drink?" as there is nowhere to drink. The great bard wouldn't be impressed that his home town club doesn't serve ale to the great unwashed.

After an amusing moment of watching the "Mr Jumbo" Ice cream van get into the stadium, we made our way to the front of the queue and parted with our £6 entry fee. In return we were handed a smart match ticket with a map of St Andrews stadium on the back. For this stadium a map isn't really necessary or required. As you enter the ground their is a smart seated stand to your right and next to that the boardroom and hospitality area. The rest of the ground is uncovered with hard standing all the way round. For some strange reason i quite like it. Although i think its a ground that is better suited to summer football, due to the lack of cover. To the right of the turnstile you will find a little hut that sells both Blues merchandise (flags,shirts etc) and also Stratford Town stuff as well. It is here that I bagged today's matchday programme for £2.50. Its a very smart production although there isn't a huge amount to read in it. I did like the letter Lincoln manager Rick Passmoor had written, and its something i haven't seen in a match programme before so extra points for that.

One pleasing thing that struck me as we walked around the ground was the following that the Lady Imps had here today. There is no way of exactly putting a figure on it but i would hazard a guess at about 40 or so were in the Imps corner today.
As we watched the warm up you couldn't fail to be impressed with manager Rick Passmoor's passion and positive vibes he gave off as he put the players through a tough warm up. A lot of head coaches/managers tend to stand back and watch when their side warms up, but Rick is always right in the middle of it leading from the front and its great to see. The gaffer had made three changes to the side that had lost 0-1 to Liverpool the previous week with Sophie Walton (complete with pink headband) coming in for Bonnie Horwood at right back, Emily Roberts replacing Hayley Bowen on the right wing, and also a début for Amy Turner coming in for Sophie Bradley at centre back (she had picked up a knock). So with two changes to the back four it was very interesting to watch Rick take the back four to one side and put them through a tough warm up with the emphasis on quick, decisive decision making. If in doubt get rid seemed to be the key.

Speaking of débuts, this was also the first outing for the now famous Lincoln Ladies pink away kit. I am the proud owner of one of these, but alas my other half had forgotten to wash it so i was unable to wear it today. Words have been had however, and it wont happen again i assure you.

Lincoln Line up

Karen Bardlsey

Martha Harris
Casey Stoney
Amy Turner
Sophie Walton

Emilly Roberts
Remi Allen
Megan Harris
Jess Clarke

Precious Hamilton
Carla Cantrell

Hayley Bowden
Bonnie Horwood
Sophie Bradley
Amy Kay

Lincoln started the game kicking from right to left and towards the end where most of their fans had gathered. I think that its fair to say that the first half wasn't really a classic. Both sides struggled to keep hold of the ball, and neither really hit a string of passes together. Lincoln did however, look a lot more lively than the previous week, and Hamilton and Clarke's pace both caused the blues' defence problems from time to time. At the other end Lincoln looked strong as Casey lead the Lincoln line superbly. Birmingham did have the first real chance when they won a free kick after about 10 minutes, or so but Karen Bardsley gathered it at the second attempt. At the other end the Imps were nearly in when Remi Allen knocked a great through ball through for Precious Hamilton to chase down, but Hourihan in the Birmingham goal just beat her to it. The game was getting a bit scrappy with both sides cancelling each other out so i judged this to be a great time to get something to eat.

Having not eaten since a couple of slices of toast in the morning i was a tad peckish so i opted for a cheeseburger and chips, oh and a can of diet coke with it came in at a reasonable £5.20. It was a fairly decent effort that was both tasty and filling. A respectable 7/10.

Back on the pitch and the tackles were flying in, but both defences were standing firm. Just before half time Birmingham had a great chance to take the lead, but thankfully from a Lincoln angle, Rachel Williams fired just wide from close range. There was just time before the whistle for Birmingham to waste another good chance when Jade Moore hit a curling shot over the bar. Following that our referee Lisa Rashid brought the first half to a close.

At halftime we took a stroll around the ground and took a few pictures of the ground. For the second half myself and my sidekick took up a position behind the goal that Lincoln were attacking. We had a brief chat with a teacher from Telford who had brought a group of school children to the game. Its great when you hear of clubs reaching out to schools like this and getting fans interested in the women's game at an early age.

Back on the pitch Lincoln came out for the second half in a determined mood and had the better of the early exchanges. As the game had wore on the wind had picked up and it was behind Lincoln making life tough for  the hosts. Lincoln won a corner that was swung in by Cantrell, it was cleared as far as Hamilton who sent it back into the box, and Jess Clarke flicked the ball past the on rushing keeper to give Lincoln the lead in the 61st minute.
Birmingham were clearly rattled by the goal and were lucky not to go 2-0 down when Hamilton raced down the wing, cut inside the fullback, and forced a smart save from Hourihan when she got down low to her right to send the ball out for a corner. Birmingham started to look a little ragged and were quick to blame each other when a move broke down or a player made a mistake. Lincoln seemed to feed on this and created several half chances but just couldn't find the final touch. Then just as it looked like The Imps would see the game out..Birmingham equalised in the 85th minute.
A cross found its way to Kirsty Linnett who fired in a shot which took a huge deflection and went in. I am sorry for the vague description of the goal but it was at the far end to us and we were stood at pitch level which didnt give us a great view of the other end. All of a sudden from looking fairly comfortable, Lincoln looked a little wobbly, and they nearly lost it in the last minute when Lawley missed a fantastic chance. It was real heart-in-mouth stuff for Lincoln but they held out for a much deserved point.

Although it's always a bit of a sickener to conceded a late goal, i left the ground feeling that there were plenty of positives from this performance from Lincoln. If we start at the back it was a very impressive début from Amy Turner at centre back. Birmingham always give you a tough battle upfront, but Amy wasn't fazed at all. Sophie Walton was also her usual solid self and looked like she had never been away. As an attacking force, Lincoln looked alot more composed and I was very impressed with the way that we pressed Birmingham high up the pitch and hunted them down in packs when they had the ball. A great example of this was late in the second half, when Birmingham tried to play the ball out short from a goal kick and pass their way out up the pitch. Lincoln pounced on them straight away with Megan and Precious closing the Blues' defenders down and forcing them to hit the ball out of play about 20 metres from their own goal line.

The general view on the bus was that the Imps had gained a great point here, and that this was a much improved performance on that of last week. Onwards and upwards we go. I have never turned my nose up at a point away from home so i wont start now. We left leafy Stratford upon Avon at just gone 4 and arrived back in Lincoln at 6.30pm.
This was our first outing together as a supporters club and it was a great success. Tom has done a fantastic job over the last few months putting all this together, and i am sure that everybody on the bus will join me in thanking him for making this possible. A shout out must also go to Andy for driving us there. The next trip is to the big FA Cup semi final clash at Bristol City's Ashton Gate stadium. There are still a small number of seats left so email Tom if you want more information.

See you all their folks.
Thanks to my sidekick for putting up with me, and Happy Birthday for Friday!!!

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Magdala 2-1 Bilborough Town

This weekend I have three games lined up. On Sunday it's Birmingham City Ladies v the Lady Imps. Saturday (today as i write this) We travel to Hyde to watch Lincoln City's last game of the Blue Square Bet Premier season, and Friday night we made the trip down to Nottingham to watch the first match of this season's NSL Groundhop.
Normally the local groundhop is one of the high points of the season for us but due to the second day of it clashing with the Imps last game of the season, sadly it meant we were unable to do the four games on the Saturday. In recent years the hop has covered CML league sides but as most of the sides have now been visited it has moved on to the Nottingham Senior league (NLS) And first up was a trip to leafy West Bridgford to watch Magdala take on Bilborough Town.

As Felice's passion wagon is knackered again, Lee made a rare appearance at football and drove. Baz was unable to make it as he was psyching himself up for the Imps showdown with Hyde. Yet again Felice's phantom sat-nav failed to appear, so yet again it was down to myself to save the day and get us to the ground. Honestly this whole operation would fall to bits without me. Sometimes I feel like the shepherd guiding his flock of sheep to the promise land. There were a couple of moments when we thought we could be lost, but we made it to the ground ten minutes before kick off (or so we thought) passing the Nottingham Forest training academy on the way. When we rocked up at the car park however we found that the game had already kicked off and we had missed the first five minutes, which is no huge deal to us. But I can imagine plenty of hard core hoppers being irate about this and furiously writing about it in their little books. Books eh? I mean who brings a book to write in to football I ask you?

Entrance to this heavyweight footballing clash was a mere £3, the ground can be described in a single word; basic. There is a pitch which is surrounded by a metal railing and that is it. Next to it is the rather upmarket looking ROKO Health Centre and that's your lot. But seeing how the weather was rather nice that is all we needed.
I believe that most clubs in this League don't issue programmes for every game, but all clubs on the hop had to. Magdala had a club stall selling tonight's programme along with club shirts. Unfortunately though, they had sold out of badges so I was unable to get either myself one or one of the old boys at work who had asked me to get him one.

Events like this do attract lots of football memorabilia sellers, which was music to Lee's ears as there were football programme stalls aplenty. I myself stopped buying random shit none Lincoln City programmes from e-bay/programme shops a while ago, but Lee will merrily collect any old crap he can get his mitts on. He is still a bit wet behind the ears bless him and i gave him his first lesson in how to haggle for programmes and he managed to pick up a couple for a very decent price under my guidance.
 For my part I  managed to pick up a couple of badges from Terry's Badge stall that I needed. A Maltby Main one and a rare Nottinghamshire Police FA badge. We saw Notts' Police play one of their last few games on last years hop so its nice to be able to pick up one of their badges for a mere £3.

The match was decent enough for the level that is at and a good crowd of over 240 were in attendance; which is high considering that this kind of game normally gets a crowd of about 20 or so. It was very pleasing to see a decent number of non league WAGs in the crowd which is always a plus. I must admit that i didn't watch all the game like a hawk as i normally do, as Josh had brought his football so we had a little bit of a kick about on the pitch next to the one that the game was on. As we showed off our silky skills a few things became apparent.

1) My silky skills remain intact.
2) Josh has definitely got his uncles football skills and not his dads.
3) Lee has the goal keeping skills of a haddock (MEGGED!!!!!!)
4) Felice in stature is very similar to Diego Maradona in the late 90's.

For the record Magdala won the game 2-1. This may not have been the most serious or detailed blog or  i have written, but like the game itself, it was a bit of fun really with two big games for me on Saturday and Sunday i wanted to have a bit of fun with this. I just need to do a couple of shout outs before i go.

Firstly Rob Hornby is the mastermind behind these hops and once again he has done a fantastic job. Events like this take a lot of planning and i know he has been working on this for over a year. It was nice to grab a quick word with him at the game and i am sure the rest of the hop will be a huge success. Magdala only had 6 weeks notice due to Attenborough having to pull out due to work on their ground running behind schedule but they proved to be excellent hosts.

Lastly to Mr Delcolle for getting us lost on they way back. He claimed his knew a short cut but alas it seemed a longer journey on the way back to the one going. However on the plus side we did end up at MacDonald's in Newark so it wasn't a total disaster.

Ok that's enough from me. I have a football match in Hyde to get ready for. Over and out chaps.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Lincoln Ladies 0-1 Liverpool Ladies

This weekend has been quite a surreal one for fans of Ladies football. For the first time that i can remember the start of the women's league has received quite a bit of coverage; both locally and nationally. On the national stage, the BBC has done a cracking job; firstly on the airwaves with Radio One's newsbeat getting in on the act on Friday with an on-line video featuring our own Karen Bardsley. It made a refreshing change to actually hear something good on the station that is seen as the flagship music station in the UK. However as with all things there are downsides to counter the good. And in this case i give you the new "song" by DJ Snake whose new track has had the honour of being the song of the week on the breakfast show. If you haven't heard it yet then you are lucky, but if you really want to hear it i have attached a link to it at the end of this blog. However i take no responsibly for what may happen to your hearing or any effects it may have on your long term health.

Elsewhere the FAWSL received great coverage in national papers such as the Daily Star (with an appearance from Megan Harris no less) and even Football Focus got in the act with Casey Stoney being a studio guest, making the show actually watchable for a change, and she made more interesting points than Mark Lawrenson has managed to for the last few seasons. Locally the Lincolnshire Echo did a cracking job of previewing the season and giving the low down on the club and the league as a whole. I quite enjoyed reading the player profiles which were interesting and well written. Anyway today was the day when all the talking, interviews, features, tweets etc about who was going to do what to who, who were the ones to watch, who will prevail  and who will perish, stopped and the action on the pitch finally began.

The big news for the Imps this week was the signing of New Zealand international Hayley Bowden; who was signed up on transfer deadline day and trained with the squad on Thursday night. Hayley has gained a record number of caps for New Zealand and has played in the WSL having played for Chelsea back in 2011. Given all her experience i think its pretty safe to say that we have a decent player on our hands. Welcome to Lincoln Hayley. This gave the gaffer a nice little selection dilemma. Its is often said that you should never change a winning side but on the other side can you really leave out a player with 90 plus international appearances. In the end Hayley did start the game in midfield.

Given the size of Matt Beard's Liverpool squad he is going to face selection problems week after week, given how many players he has brought in. Given that the league campaign only lasts for 14 games its going to be a real challenge for him to keep all the players happy and it will be an interesting story to follow as the season develops. He is certainly going to need to be a good man manager as well as a good football manager. He popped into the bar before the game and took the time to say hello to the members of the supporters club and was very approachable.

Today we had the best weather so far of the season (yes i know that isn't hard) but it made a nice change to be walking down to the ground with the sun out. First up we had a supporters club meeting in the VIP lounge at Sincil Bank (very posh it is to) which was well attended. Just a quick point on that; supporters club members are now allowed access to the lounge pre game, post game, and at halftime, so its yet another reason to join the club and for only £5 for an adult member, it really is a bargain that you can't afford to miss out on. You even get a pink Lincoln Ladies cap. Can't say fairer than that.

After the supporters meeting i headed out to the stadium as both sides were going through their warm ups. Lincoln made one change from the side that had won the previous two games with Hayley Bowden given the number two shirt and replacing Emilly Roberts on the right hand side of midfield, otherwise it was as you were. Again Lincoln only fielded three subs to Liverpool's seven.
Although the sun was out it there was a strong wind blowing around the stadium (and no i didn't have a curry the previous night before you say anything) And it was blowing in Liverpool's favour in the first half. 
It was the visitors that were first on to the attack; hitting the ball long and looking to get behind the Lincoln back four. Although Liverpool had the early pressure, it was Lincoln who created the first chance when a ball over the top found Hamilton in the box, but her first touch wasnt quite right and the ball ran out for a goal kick. Liverpool were looking dangerous and on 7 minutes they took the lead when the Imps conceded a free kick on the right hand side which was whipped into the box and unfortunately for Lincoln, nobody took responsibility for for it and Natasha Dowie met it with a glancing header and sent the ball into the far corner of the goal just beyond the dive of Karen Bardsley. Lincoln almost hit back when Jess Clarke went on one of her trademark runs skipping past three defenders, but her shot went harmlessly wide.
The goal however seemed to have rattled Lincoln and we looked nervous every time the ball was launched forward. Granted, the conditions weren't helping us, but it just felt like the communication that has been so good in the first two games of the season wasn't quite there in the first half. Karen Bardsley then came to Lincoln's rescue when she got a hand to a 20 yard effort from a Liverpool player (sorry i didn't quite see which one) Liverpool were looking very dangerous from set pieces and they nearly doubled their lead when Bardsley couldn't quite collect a corner, spilt it, but then gathered it at the second attempt.
Moments later Lincoln were almost in, when following a foul on Precious Hamilton, Casey Stoney sent in a dangerous free kick that evaded the Liverpool defence but unfortunately Jess Clarke couldn't quite connect and the chance went begging. Soon after this however Lincoln survived a huge scare when Liverpool really should have made it 0-2. Natasha Dowie's effort from just outside the box on the righthanded side, cannoned off the underside of the bar with Bardsley beaten. The rebound came out to Katin Omarsdottir who fired in a low shot that was hacked off the line by Sophie Bradley and eventually cleared to safety. Liverpool finished the half with a couple of corners but thankfully Lincoln held out. Fara Williams's deliveries had been first class in the first half and the main difference between the sides. Although Lincoln had been under pressure for much of the first half we were only 1 down and would have the advantage of the wind in the second half so all wasn't lost by any means.

The second half was far more even and Lincoln did look alot more organised and decisive at the back. They forced their first corner of the game just after the break and looked to take the fight to Liverpool. The game had however turned very scrappy with most of the play being bogged down in the middle of the park, with both sides struggling to put more than two passes together, Lincoln did however put together a really good move when Precious Hamilton flicked over a great first time ball that Carla Cantrell hit first time and it flew inches wide of the post. It was by far Lincoln's best moment of the game. Carla did test the keeper with a long range free kick but it was well held. The Imps did try to change the game; bringing on Roberts for Bowden, but the final ball wasn't quite there. The game finished with Lincoln on the attack and they were inches away from an equaliser deep into stoppage time when Stoney just failed to connect with a free kick that was floated in at the back post.

On the plus side the second half had been far more even and Lincoln can take heart from the way that they put a poor first half behind them. This wasn't a great game overall, with both sides creating very few clear cut chances however given their first half showing, Liverpool just about deserved to take the points. 

 As promised.. Take it away DJ Snake!!


After there 6-0 kicking at the hands of Arsenal in the FA cup on Tuesday night, Birmingham City faced a tough away game at Chelsea and regained a little pride when they collected a point. Chelsea took the lead on 16 minutes with a goal from Jakobsson, but the vistors drew level when Williams 30 yard screamer hit the back of the net in the 28th minute. Birmingham pushed for a winner but Chelsea held out.

In the FA Cup Bristol reached the semi finals for the 3rd year running with a 3-2 win over Everton in a game that had everything. Bristol took the lead inside the first minute and after 61 minutes looked to be home and dry leading 3-1 with the vistors down to ten players. Toni Duggen pulled one back for Everton but it was too little too late for the Blues, and Bristol now go on to face Lincoln in the semi final with Liverpool and Arsenal contesting the other one. 

Friday, 12 April 2013

Lincoln Ladies v Liverpool Ladies

Well ladies and gentlemen its finally here. After several weeks of cup games
and postponements, this weekend sees the first round of league matches of the 2013 FAWSL season. Alas due to the weather playing havoc with the cup fixtures, two of the opening scheduled  matches have had to be postponed so that Bristol and Everton can play their FA Cup 1/4 final. That only leaves us with two games. Chelsea v Birmingham and Lincoln v Liverpool. To help me look ahead to the Lincoln v Liverpool game i am joined by Heather Carroll who runs the Liverpool Ladies fans twitter account (@LFCLadiesfans)  and runs the Liverpool Ladies fans blog which can be found here  and is well worth a read.

The last time we met.
Highlighs of last season game between the sides at Lincoln.

Last season the sides met each other three times and they were three very entertaining matches which featured a total of 16 goals. The league result at Lincoln ended 3-3. Lincoln sped into a 2-0 lead but Liverpool fought back to level it before the break. Lincoln then went ahead thanks to a Remi Allen penalty and looked to be heading for the points until a penalty late into stoppage time gave Liverpool a share of the points.

2012 results

CC cup group stage 
Lincoln 3-2 Liverpool

Lincoln 3-3 Liverpool
Liverpool 2-3 Lincoln

The story of the season so far.

The two sides that will lock horns took very different approaches over the winter in the transfer market. Lincoln only brought in Karen Bardsley in goal and on Thursday New Zealand international midfielder Hayley Bowden. For Lincoln Sophie Barker and Meaghan Seargent are both injured, and Sophie Walton sits out the last game of her three match ban she picked up on the last day of the 2012 season away at Chelsea.
Liverpool manager Matt Beard however was the busiest man in the WSL bringing in 12 players and showing the door to another 12. One thing both clubs did have in common was that they both changed home venues. Lincoln moved to Sincil Bank, and Liverpool switched to the Halton Stadium in Widnes; home to Widnes Rugby League club.

Both Lincoln and Liverpool have been reasonably lucky so far this season in the respect that they have got most of their games played. Both sides have made the FA cup semi finals and Liverpool's home game with Everton was the only match to survive the weather on the opening round of the Continental Cup. Liverpool started the season in style with a 5-0 away win at National premier division side Aston Villa in the FA cup. This was followed up by a hard fought 1-1 home draw with Everton in the Continental Cup when they succumbed to a late equaliser in front of the ESPN cameras. They were made to sweat in the 6th round of the FA cup away at Premier League leaders Sunderland before an 88th minute winner  sent them through to the semi finals where they will face Arsenal. A couple of days ago it was announced that the semi final is to be played at Anfield and in doing so it will become the first women's game to be played at the famous old ground.

Liverpool Ladies results in 2013

FA Cup 5th round Aston Villa 0-5 Liverpool
Cont. Cup group game Liverpool 1-1 Everton
FA Cup 6th Round Sunderland 1-2 Liverpool

Top scorer Fara Williams- 3 goals

Lincoln Ladies results in 2013

FA Cup 5th round Lincoln 1-0 Chelsea
FA cup 6th round Lincoln 4-0 Leeds United

Top scorer Precious Hamilton - 2 goals

Now that we have had a little background on the match, lets look at Liverpool in detail with Heather and get her views on the side and the shape of the club at the moment. Again many thanks to her for taking the time to give us this interview.

 AB: Liverpool have played three games so far and have won two and drawn one. How do you rate the performance of the side so far in this early stage of the season?

 HC: Liverpool are in good form going into the season, a convincing 5-0 win at Aston Villa and a 2-1 victory away at Sunderland. However the game we drew at home against Everton is probably a more realistic view of where we are at the moment. We started well against Everton and if it were not for a couple of great saves from Rachel Brown we could have been 2-0 up going in at half time! We were a bit unlucky with the dubious decision that led to their goal and without that I think we could have gone on and got a hard earned victory.

 AB: You have been by far the busiest club in the transfer market over the winter months. Which signing has most excited the fans?

 HC: To be honest all the new signings have stirred excitement amongst supporters. They are a real statement of intent from the club alongside the integrating of the Women’s team into a bigger part of Liverpool Football Club as a whole.
The signings from Everton are huge for us, in particular Fara Williams who is a proven goal scoring midfielder in the WSL. Williams got a hat trick in her competitive debut for us which is great to see.
Whitney Engen is the biggest signing for us in my opinion; a fantastic centre back who I believe will be first choice for the USA in the coming years. If Engen and Gemma Bonner can form a successful partnership in the heart of our defence it will bring the stability that we have craved in the last couple of seasons.

 AB: How has the move to a new stadium gone down with the supporters? The ground at Widnes is certainly a huge improvement from last season and you had a very good crowd in for the Everton match.

 HC:Halton Stadium is a vast improvement from last season, a lot more accessible and appealing than being in Skelmersdale! The buzz around the new signings and the media coverage we seem to be getting should mean that the numbers through the gate will go up. Given that the game against Everton last month had such a good crowd despite the terrible weather conditions is a great indicator for the season ahead.

 AB:Where do you expect Liverpool to finish this season in the league? And do you think there is added pressure on the club given all the signings made in the winter?

 HC: Matt Beard has said the minimum target this season is a top four finish and while I feel this is a more realistic expectation if the team can settle quickly and get a good run of results together to get some momentum going I see no reason why we can’t at least challenge at the top of the table. Not saying I expect us to be winning the league straight away but to be up there and challenging for honours would be great for both the club and supporters after the last couple of seasons.
The pressure is on the players to perform especially with the aforementioned media coverage, it kind of feels as though everyone is watching us to see what happens. Hopefully that pressure is something the girls can thrive on.

AB:And finally could we have a prediction for this weekend’s game from you please

 HC: The fixture has given us a lot of goals over the last two seasons however with both teams having strengthened at the back – Karen Bardsley being a great signing for you and our new centre back pairing of Engen and Bonner I can see this game being a tighter affair. I’m going to sit on the fence and go for a 1-1 draw!

Thanks for reading, feel free to follow @LFCLadiesfans on twitter, aiming to bring you news from our season from a fans perspective!

My views game on the game.

Out of the eight sides in the League this season Liverpool have probably attracted  the most attention due to their complete overhaul of the squad. With this in mind i am quite looking forward to seeing them in action, and how they gel over the course of the season will be one of the most interesting stories of the FAWSL season. Given that the League season only lasts 14 games they will have to gel sooner rather than later. The fact that they have had three games this season and were the first side to start playing pre season games should help them. For Lincoln early points are vital as given that our squad is quite small and more injuries or suspensions could really hit us hard later on into the season. I will go for a 2-0 home win, but it is very hard to predict because if Liverpool do click they really could be a handful and easily turn us over.

Will Liverpool click and put on a show? Will Lincoln keep another clean sheet? Will i have a pie, cheeseburger or both before halftime? All the answers to these questions will hopefully be found out Sunday at the 2.00pm kick off 

Friday, 5 April 2013

England Ladies v Canada Ladies Preview.

England v Canada Preview

The WSL takes a break this weekend as it's time for international duty and it gives most England fans their first chance of 2013 to see the England team live. In one of those strange twists of fate England face Canada; the side that they faced only a few weeks ago in the final of the Cyprus Cup. Not only we did lock horns a few weeks ago but the two sides sit in 6th and 7th place in the current world rankings. So on the face of it it all looks set for a close game.

To help me with this preview and tell us all about the Canadian side I would like to welcome a very special guest to the blog. Melissa Tan is one of the top writers about the Canadian Women’s national team in Canada. She covers them on several websites including and Not only does she do comprehensive match reports, but she has also done some great one to one interviews with the Candian head coach, the head of the Canadian FA, as well as several player interviews. Quite simply I couldn’t have got anybody better to give us the run down on Canada and I am very humbled that she has agreed to come on here and share her thoughts. She can be followed on twitter at @page1of1 go follow her now guys.

I also need to thank Max Bell the head of media communications at the Canadian FA for providing me with some of the statistical information I have analysed and presented for you. Our very own FA were far less helpful but I get the impression that this is the norm.

All in all England and Canada have locked horns 7 times. I am sure that many of you remember back to the Olympics last year and seeing The GB women’s sides progress stopped dead in its tracks by Canada in the quarter finals, and although it was basically England in a different colour shirt I haven’t included it in the stats because it will go down in the record books as GB V Canada and not England v Canada. On a similar theme the sides met in the 2002 in the under 20s World Cup, but as it was not a full international, again I have discounted it. For the record Canada won 6-2. This is the first time an England v Canada game has taken place in England so we are seeing history of a sort being made.

England v Canada wins

The scorers for the sides

Record of games between the sides.

Attendance and venue
Cyprus Cup
England 1-0 Canada
GPS Stadium
Att 200
England 0-2 Canada
GPS Stadium
Att 30
England 0-1 Canada
Alpha sports Stadium
Att 150
England 3-1 Canada
GPS Stadium
Att 50
FIFA World Cup
England 3-2 Canada
Olympia Stadium Sweden Att 655
International Friendly Matches
Canada 4-0 England
Frank Sinclair Stadium (Ontario) Att 19000
Canada 4-0 England
Soccerplex (Quebec)
Att 2500

Frank Sinclair Stadium. The scene of the record attendance for a Canada v England match.

Ok so that's all the stats and facts out of the way so lets get the lowdown on the side that England will be up against this Sunday afternoon from Melissa.

1) AB    It seems as if this is a really exciting time for women’s soccer in Canada. They captured the bronze medal at the 2012 olympic games in London. A large amount of the squad are about to join up with various clubs in the newly formed NSWL in America and in 2015 Canada plays host to the 2015 women’s world cup. Have all these factors lead to a rise of intrest in the women’s game in Canada?

 MT. For those of us keeping up-to-date on the CanWNT, or women’s soccer in general, via social media, live in a bit of a bubble that might overestimate the rise in interest. For instance, I’m not sure if Canadians in general are aware of the new league. Still, it’s really exciting to be watching the growth unfold and there’s definitely evidence that people beyond the soccer community are paying attention.
While at work, I was reading a digital news board that displays headlines, the weather, ads, etc, and saw updates about the team’s Cyprus Cup results. It’s a small tournament with no video coverage here, yet it was somehow “important” enough news.
The best thing that’s happened recently is that tickets at BMO Field (Toronto) for Canada vs USA (the first rematch between the two sides since the Olympic semi-finals) sold out within a couple of hours. I think we all anticipated good sales, but not to that extent. In comparison to other CanWNT friendlies at BMO Field, 2008 vs Brazil drew 13,554 fans, 2009 vs the USA was 10,225 and then 5,427 vs China in 2010 (marketing and scheduling were factors for the dwindling numbers). It’s going to be great seeing over 20,000 fans supporting the team in June!

2) AB    Last year Canada comfortably beat Great Britain (which was basically England in a different colour shirt) 2-0 in the Olympics. Has the coach kept faith with much of that squad or have new faces come in?

 MT. John Herdman is still using his core group of players from the Olympics. Those who were on the outside looking in are now having to compete with about 5 young players who he seems to really believe in. Tiffany Cameron, Ashley Lawrence, Kadeisha Buchanan, Adriana Leon, and Jodi-Ann Robinson have gotten consistent call-ups recently.
At the 2011 Women’s World Cup and the 2012 London Olympics, Canada had squads with one of the oldest average ages. Herdman’s preparing for potential exodus and it makes sense not to be overly dependent on the veterans or else the next generation of players won’t have a chance to develop.

3) AB    What did you make of the team’s performance over the four games they played at the recent Cyprus Cup?  

 MT. The Cyprus Cup might not offer the strongest competition, but it’s a good place to integrate newer players into the team. Like Herdman said last month, you have to be strategic in the processes: if you throw them into the lion’s den before they’re ready, the hit to their confidence can be brutal and at times irreversible.
It sucked that Christine Sinclair missed the Four Nations Tournament in China and the first match of the Cyprus Cup due to her suspension, but it was a blessing in that it provided opportunities for younger forwards and it helped to wean the team off it's scoring dependency on Sinclair.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of Cyprus Cup video available aside from a few highlights, so it’s difficult to really assess things. Canada won all three group games, including a comeback against Finland, but struggled to build attacks against England in the final. 

4) AB.   For England fans who are maybe not familiar with the Canadian team, who are the players that they should look out for?

 MT. Sinclair, without a doubt. 
I’d venture to say that Canada’s biggest strength is its midfield. Desiree Scott has really made a name for herself as a solid defensive mid. Sophie Schmidt is a quiet and steady winger. She currently holds the national record for consecutive senior appearances at 58 and counting.
For the youngsters, 18 year-old defender Kadeisha Buchanan started every Cyprus Cup match, as did 21 year-old forward Adriana Leon.
Christine Sinclair highlights. 

5) AB.   How do you expect the side to line up today formation wise? Do you think it will be similar to the one they fielded a few weeks ago in the Cyprus cup or do you think we will see a more experimental line up? 

 MT. Herdman played a 4-4-2 in the first two Olympic matches against Japan and South Africa, but switched to a 4-3-3 to face Sweden, Great Britain, USA and France. Based on the Cyprus Cup it seems that he favours the latter formation. With Melissa Tancredi taking a break from the national team to pursue her studies, Herdman’s found a great tandem in Sinclair, Leon and Jonelle Filigno.
Unless Herdman uses a different starting line-up against France and England, I think he’ll go with:
(Goalkeeper) Erin McLeod
(Defenders) Rhian Wilkinson, Carmelina Moscato, Kadeisha Buchanan and Lauren Sesselmann
(Midfielders) Desiree Scott, Diana Matheson and Sophie Schmidt
(Forwards) Christine Sinclair, Jonelle Filigno and Adriana Leon

6) AB.   A couple of fun questions to finish with. Could you please tell us a fun or unusual fact about the Canadian women’s national team?

 MT. The team’s go-to song is “The Power of Love” by Celine Dion, who’s a legend. They’ll sing it together after winning big matches, like when they won the bronze medal. Right before last year’s Olympics, Celine (ahem... or her marketing team) gave the CanWNT a shout out on her social media. The girls were really stoked and it was pretty special for them.

7)  AB  And finally could we have a score prediction from you please? 

 MT. Let’s say a 2-2 draw. Canada and England are tied for 7th in the FIFA rankings and both teams have beaten one another in recent matches, so anything is possible.

So that's it i hope that you enjoyed this insight in to Canada and thanks once again to Melissa for being a fantastic guest. To end with i thought i would play a track from my favourite Canadian artist. See you all in Rotherham on Sunday.