FAWNL: Four talking points as Bebbington bags first and Pompey shine

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

With the much-awaited return of domestic football finally upon us and the new season underway, we chew over some of the talking points from the opening day of the 2022/23 campaign.

Bebbington bags first

Kim Bebbington narrowly edged out Chloe Lloyd, Sarah Stacey, and Tizzy Russell-Cartwright by a matter of seconds to claim the distinction of being the first player to find the net in the 2022/23 season.

It took a mere 80 seconds for the Wem Town captain to make her mark on the scoresheet, converting at the near post from a Davis corner, setting the tone in a 1-4 win over newcomers Northampton Town.

Commenting on goal, she said: “I’m delighted to get my goal-scoring account off the mark so early on this season. The team have worked extremely hard during pre-season and to score when we did is a true reflection of that and nothing more than the team deserve.”

Scoring the first goal of the 22/23 national league campaign is a great achievement and I’m glad that it’s Wem Town Ladies that can hold that title.”

When asked to talk us through the moment, the Wem Town captain gave a decidedly modest response. She said: “The goal came straight from kick off as we won the toss and went directly towards goal. Taylor Davis worked hard to win us the corner she then delivered a teasing a ball in and all that was left for me to do was put my head on it.”

Portsmouth shine

Portsmouth began the new season how they finished the last: beating Ipswich Town.

But not even the most optimistic Pompey fan would have predicted a 0-3 victory. If you had offered them that result before kick-off, they wouldn’t have just ripped your hand off, they would have feasted on it and licked the bones clean.

This was a new Portsmouth side. A young Portsmouth side, without the goalscoring talents of Cherelle Khassal and Shannon Albuery, and yet, they travelled to the AGL Arena and beat Ipswich Town – who are notoriously fast starters having recorded eleven consecutive wins at the beginning of the 2021/22 season – in style.

It was a stunning team performance from Jay Sadler’s side to begin the new season and a warning sign to the rest of the division that Pompey are capable of beating anyone on their day.

The first glimpse of the Lionesses’ legacy?

Sunday may have provided the first glimpse of how the Lionesses’ Euro 2022 triumph and the record-breaking crowds throughout the European Championships will translate into audiences at a domestic level as several clubs drew stellar crowds across the third and fourth tiers of the pyramid.

Over 1,000 fans were in attendance at the LNER Stadium to cheer on the Imps in a 7-goal thriller against promotion rivals Doncaster Rovers Belles. Ultimately Lincoln fell short on the pitch, losing 3-4 in a back-and-forth contest, but the bigger picture was one of prosperity, now and in the future, of the women’s game.

Elsewhere, there were also big turnouts and marked increases compared to last season’s attendances for several clubs, including Cambridge United, Derby County, and Ipswich Town who attracted gates of 648, 544, and 520 respectively.

How did the WNL newcomers fare on opening day?

The opening day of the season proved to be a tricky first hurdle for the Women’s National League newcomers as none of the teams promoted from the fifth tier last season were able to secure maximum points in their first WNL outing.

York City came the closest of the six debutant teams, coming from behind to earn a 1-1 draw against Norton & Stockton Ancients, while the rest experienced the unfamiliar taste of defeat.

But despite that, many of their losses were respectable defeats against well-established Tier 4 sides, which will give them confidence in their ability to compete and grow as the season progresses.

How they fared:

Merseyrail 1-4 Newcastle United
Norton & Stockton Ancients 1-1 York City
Northampton Town 1-4 Wem Town
Sheffield FC 2-0 Stourbridge FC
Wymondham Town 1-2 London Seaward
AFC Bournemouth 3-0 AFC St Austell