FAWNL: Five talking points from this weekend’s action

Photos: Colin Lock

We take a look at some of the talking points from this weekend’s action.

Things continued to heat up in another exciting round of fixtures as a new league leader emerged, while another club continued its valiant fight for survival.

Double top for Lady Mags and Barker

For the first time in 84 days, the FAWNL Division One North has new leaders as Becky Langley’s side made it seven league wins in a row to oust Liverpool Feds from the much-coveted promotion place.

Indeed, Newcastle have played a game more than their nearest rivals, Liverpool Feds. But it’s a significant moment because, for the first time since the end of October, the hunters have become the hunted, indicating the race is well and truly on in what is shaping up to be a nail-biting promotion battle.

Sunday’s result marked a second milestone for the club as Katie Barker strengthened her position in the Golden Boot race with a hat-trick to take her total for the season to 15 goals from 10 appearances. Barker, whose exploits have already helped the Lady Mags become the second-fastest WNL club to reach 50 league goals this term, is in scintillating form and certain to have a pivotal role to play in Newcastle’s title bid.

Operation: Survival is a go for Green Army

You wait more than four months since your last league win and then three come along in as many weeks.

At least, that’s how the story goes for the Green Army, who rallied late to beat Cardiff City 2-1 and maintained their perfect start to the new year. A goal in the 86th minute from Kayley Lane and another deep into stoppage time from Mari Ward helped Argyle clinch three crucial points.

As things stand, Argyle currently find themselves on the wrong side of the line in their bid for survival, but after taking maximum points from three games this year – putting them on level-pegging with Cardiff City with a game advantage – Ryan Perks couldn’t have imagined a better start to 2022 which seems to have breathed new life and a sense of belief into his side.

A table that Parks will enjoy the sight of is the form table.

Rock-solid Robins

One of the greatest managers of all time once said, “attack wins you games, defence wins you titles” – which, if Sir Alex’s words hold true, will be music to Tom Davies’ ears as his side continues their push towards the third tier on the back of a series of strong defensive performances.

Boasting a run of five consecutive clean sheets – which includes a goalless draw against title rivals AFC Bournemouth and two narrow 1-nil victories – Town’s ascent to the top of the division has been built on a strong work ethic and a stubborn backline.

A backline that last conceded a league goal in September, boasts the longest active run in the entire Women’s National League and marks the club’s best record since joining the Women’s National League in 2014.

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Plate Quarter-Final confirmed

The magic of cup football was alive and thriving as Alnwick Town stunned Leeds United to book their place in the quarter-finals of the FAWNL Plate competition on Sunday.

Currently rock bottom of FAWNL Division One North, Alnwick went into the game as underdogs but threw labels and league form out of the window to produce their best performance this season which saw Michelle Stewart and Lucy McConnell bag a goal apiece on either side of the break to secure The Wick a date with Nottingham Forest in the next round.

In the round’s other ties, Cheltenham Town host league and title rivals Exeter City, Leafield Athletic face familiar opposition in Sporting Khalsa, and AFC Wimbledon travel to Pompey to complete the line-up, with games scheduled to be played on Sunday 6th February.

QPR’s continue strong start to ’22

Three victories in as many games with an aggregate scoreline of 7-1 since the turn of the year saw Steve Quashie’s side move up to fifth-place in FAWNL Division One South East – the R’s highest league position since the 22nd of August and the club’s strongest run of results this season.

It’s been a fantastic start to the new year for the R’s, in a season that is otherwise difficult to dissect. For months, the divisional newcomers hovered above the relegation zone through no fault of their own. While others fought for points, they competed in the FA Cup, FAWNL Plate, and the Capital Women’s Cup.

However, with R’s sole focus now on league competition, it will be fascinating to see more questions get answered as the season unfolds. Will Quashie’s side benefit from playing league fixtures more regularly? Will the potential of his very talented squad be realised? Maintaining fifth-place would be a highly respectable finish indeed. A finish that, if the opening three fixtures of the year are anything to go by, is well within their capabilities.