FAWNL Plate Round-up: 2nd Round takes shape


The First Round of the FAWNL was due to have been completed weeks ago, with teams confirmed, the Second Round drawn, and the final 16 sides dreaming of glory.

But it was a case of another weekend, another Sunday where clubs found themselves battling the elements to ensure they, and the tournament, could finally progress to the next stage. Thankfully, all three scheduled games were successfully played, leaving just one place in the last 16 to be confirmed when Leafield Athletic travel to Leicester United next weekend.

After bowing out at the first hurdle of the FAWNL Cup, all six teams were given a bye in the Preliminary Round of the FAWNL Plate competition setting up the weekend’s ties. AFC wimbledon travelled to Brislington, Oxford welcomed Norwich to Court Place Farm, and Leeds faced local rivals Bradford City.

Dons make it six on the bounce

With potential weather disruptions looking likely, Brislington made arrangements for the game to be played at The AJN Stadium, home of Keynsham Town Ladies.

It has been a tough season to date for the Bristol side who are still without a win in the league, however they’d enjoyed their two most positives results of the season in recent weeks, first beating Bishops Lydeard Ladies in the County Cup, followed by a 1-1 draw with Buckland Athletic to earn their first point of the season.

Their opposition, AFC Wimbledon, travelled to Keynsham with their tails up having enjoyed a rich vein of form that sees them currently sitting third in the table after winning their last three league games to make it five on the bounce in all competitions.

Kick-Off

Charlotte Flood almost opened the scoring for the visitors after 25 minutes when she connected with an O’Callaghan cross, but her headed effort was well saved by Vicky Powell.

The Dons came closer still shortly after, this time through Sian Wylie, before making the breakthrough five minutes before the interval. Wylie, involved once again, played Georgia Heasman through to score a tap-in and give Wimbledon the lead heading into the break.

After a more purposeful start to the second half, the hosts restored parity after 56 minutes through Paige Sawyer. The Brislington striker netting for the seventh time this season.

The score remained all square until Katie Stanley started and finished a move from midfield to regain the lead, and eventual winner, for the visitors just over 10 minutes from time.

Full-time: Brislington 1-2 AFC Wimbledon

The victory sees Wimbledon extend their winning run to six games in all competitions. And with recent results of 1-2, 1-2, 3-1, and 1-0, while they aren’t necessarily big wins in terms of numbers, a solid backline that has only conceded more than one goal on two occasions this season (out of 12 games) ensured they don’t have to be. They have developed a winning habit that should serve them well going forward.

AFC Wimbledon’s reward for progressing to the next round of the FAWNL Plate is a trip to Devon where they will face one of the favourites of the competition, Plymouth Argyle.

Clinical U’s progress to Second Round


The U’s welcomed Division One South East side Norwich to Court Place Farm in a game that provided both sides with the opportunity to bounce back following losses last time out.

Oxford has enjoyed a mostly positive campaign that sees them three points and 12 goals better off than the same state last season in the league. However, in their most recent outing against Gillingham, the clinical U’s that had scored 27 times in their previous three games were nowhere to be found, failing to take chances against a Gillingham side who applied their game plan effectively to secure the points.

Currently ninth, with two wins from a possible nine, Norwich’s season has largely mirrored that of last season which saw them finish in tenth place. With a divisional gap and several absentees that included current top scorer Aimee Durrant, the young canaries side travelled to Oxfordshire with nothing to lose; experience and a potential cupset to gain.

Kick-Off

After an initial effort for the visitors, Oxford opened the scoring within the opening seven minutes, Sophie Baker’s effort somehow evading Hope Armstrong’s grasp to find the back of the net.

United struck again less than ten minutes later to double their lead when Carly Johns worked space down the right and crossed to provide a perfect opportunity for Cheryl Williams, Williams making no mistake from close range to score her fifth goal of the season.

Captain Millie Daviss halved the deficit for the visitors after 20 minutes, showing great vision and technique to lob Paris Sercombe from distance.

Unphased by the setback, the U’s restored their 2-goal lead shortly after from 12 yards. Johns committed and wrong-footed a defender who brought the Oxford winger down in the area, prompting the referee to point to the spot. Williams stepped up and converted the opportunity to make it 3-1.

Provider turned goalscorer when lively winger Carly Johns found herself in acres of space and the composure to finish, slotting home to extend the U’s lead to 4-1 heading into the break.

The visitors experienced a good few moments during the opening 45 minutes, finding space in promising areas, but were unable to create anything clear cut for the likes of Chelsea Garrett to really test the United goal.

Second-half underway, and it was the home side who struck again when Williams completed her hat-trick in the 56th minute an audacious finish. Through on goal, Oxford’s number ten opted to scoop the ball over an on-rushing Armstrong to give the U’s their fifth goal of the afternoon.

Hope Armstrong performed several very good saves to deny Williams and Allen, before Sims uncharacteristically missed a header from close range.

United grabbed their sixth through Moore following a flowing move, before substitute Georgia Timms added a seventh for the home side within minutes of her introduction to the game. Armstrong pulled off a spectacular save to deny McLachlan, but was unable to prevent Immy Lancaster from adding an eighth following a corner.

Full-time: Oxford United 8-1 Norwich City

Coming off the back of a disappointing performance, the U’s were back to their clinical best and must now look to take that forward with them into their next games, knowing that complacency and inconsistency in a competitive league will mean they fail to match their ambitions. United now face a familiar opposition, Watford, in the next round.

Norwich showed good spirit, never gave up and never let their heads drop. They applied themselves fully and conducted themselves well throughout the entire 90 minutes. Some teams may have become visibly frustrated, but to their credit, that didn’t happen. It was always going to be a tough task for the Tier 4 side, and injuries coupled with the divisional gap proved to be too much for the Canaries on this occasion.

Hunt brace sinks rivals Bradford City

Currently fifth, with a game in hand that could potentially lift them as high as third, The Whites welcomed local rivals Bradford City Thorp Arch looking to bounce back from recent league and cup defeats against Barnsley.

It has been a difficult season for Bradford, with their solitary win coming on the opening day of the season against Durham Cestria, and the weather wreaking havoc on their schedule, it had been 3 weeks since City last played a competitive fixture heading into Sunday’s game.

Kick-Off

After a series of chances that saw Leeds hit the woodwork and Bradford’s Aimee Routledge produce a good save to deny the home side, the breakthrough finally came after half an hour when a superb Cath Hamill cross was met by Abbie Brown at the back post to slot home.

Ten minutes later and Bradford were on level terms through an unfortunate Jodie Hunter own goal.

Two quickfire goals gave Leeds a 2-goal cushion less than ten minutes after the restart. The first courtesy of top scorer Rebecca Hunt from close range after 53 minutes, before Cassidy struck an effort low from 25 yards two minutes after the restart to make it 3-1 to the home side.

Brown was fouled in the area in the 63rd minute prompting the referee to point to the spot. Up stepped Hunt who fired past Routledge to score her eighth of the season, and Leeds’ fourth of the game, to effectively put the tie to bed.

There were further efforts on goal for the Whites and the introduction of Bradford’s top scorer Falone Sumaili added some impetus going forward for the visitors, but the scores remained unchanged, finishing 4-1.

Full-Time: Leeds United 4-1 Bradford City

A pleasing win for the Whites sees them rebound after back-to-back defeats against Barnsley. Leeds have been drawn against Northern Premier side Nottingham Forest in the Second Round of the FAWNL Plate. But before that, they travel to Stockport County in the league next weekend, followed by another meeting with Sunday’s opponents, and an exciting game in prospect against inform Durham Cestria.

Bradford must down themselves down as they head to Bolton on Sunday, before welcoming Leeds to Eccleshill United Sports Club in league action.

FAWNL Plate Second Round

Portsmouth Women vs Oxford United Women Match Preview


Pompey look to make it four on the bounce.

Pompey go into the game in good form having not lost since the opening day of the season.

Since then they have beaten Watford, Hounslow and Gillingham scoring 13 goals in the process.

Pompey have no long term injury concerns going into the match and manager Jay Sadler has a competitive squad to pick from. Competition for places has been intense and all eyes will be on social media as the fans wait to see what his starting 11 will be.

Goals have come throughout the team this year but Tamsin de Bunsen, Becki Bath and Charmaine True currently lead the scoring charts with 3 each.

Pompey will not underestimate Oxford though and it’s expected to be hard fought game at the PMC. The sides shared two very close games last season but Oxford came out on top on both occasions.

Credit: @PompeyChiv | Pompey Women Vlogs


The U’s head south.

Oxford United head to the south coast to face Portsmouth in what will be only their third competitive game of the season.

After a delayed start to the season, Oxford kicked things off against Crawley Wasps in the FAWNL Cup. It was a hard fought contest between two sides likely to be pushing for the top places in the table come next May, with Crawley coming out on top thanks to a late Naomi Cole goal.

The following game saw manager Liam Gilbert ring several changes with Allen, Sims, Watson, McLachlan, and Williams all coming into the starting eleven. The result was a dominant display that saw the U’s comfortably dispatch of a young Chichester side.

While the players and management have dealt with the frustration of the stop-start-stop nature of the season very privately, it inevitably exists. How could it not? Players want to play, and the management will know there’s no way to replicate the benefits of competitive matches; it puts Oxford at a disadvantage in that regard, so it’ll be interesting to see whether it’s a factor on Sunday.

There are no new injury concerns that we’re aware of, while Evie Gane continues to near full fitness.

Last time out.

After multiple postponements both home and away games took place within weeks of one another, and on both occasions they were close, hard fought matches with goals from Timms and Allen earning the U’s all six points.

How things stand.

Oxford United Women vs Crawley Wasps Match Report

Naomi Cole was once again the U’s tormentor as she scored another late FAWNL Cup goal.

In blistering heat at Court Place Farm Wasps kicked-off to get the game underway.

In a game that started with a surprisingly high tempo, with both teams keen to impose their will early, it was the home side who settled quicker and began to find a little rhythm; Haynes shooting from distance and then Hines attempting the same minutes later, both failing to test Frankie Gibbs.

A matter of minutes into the game and the players were already visually showing the effects of the intense heat.

Locked in a closely contested midfield battle, neither side had created any genuine chances, but their application was good, with Wasps attempting to play out from back through the thirds, and Oxford applying an exhausting high press.

Crawley’s best chance to create an opportunity came after 15 minutes when Cole pressured Haynes, who took the Row-Z approach and smashed the ball from danger.

After around 20 minutes both teams were forced into making changes: Searle replaced Kirby for Oxford, while Young replaced Pittuck for Wasps.

After a short water break the game resumed.

Around 25 minutes into the game and Wasps forced their first corner, Sercombe climbing above Russell to gather the ball well.

The game was largely contested in the middle of the park, and while there was nothing too penetrating from either side, it was developing into an intriguing contest.

Nearing the end of the half, Oxford won several corners: Stephenson coming off the front post well to win a commanding header, Gibbs climbing high and opting to punch. Crawley dealt with the pressure well, the U’s unable to take advantage.

Crawley’s best chance of the half came just before half-time. A through ball found the feet of Cole, met by a scrambling Sercombe, the U’s keeper did just enough to distract the forward who put the ball wide.

Oxford had one final chance of the half when good work down the right from Roberts saw her find Johns in space, whose cross struck a Crawley defender, almost finding her own net as a result.

The referee blew his whistle to conclude the first-half that saw neither Gibbs or Sercombe really tested. 45 minutes with very few genuine chances.

Half-time: Oxford United Women 0 – 0 Crawley Wasps

The second-half recommenced and familiarity along with it, a half-chance from Lancaster from distance comfortably held by Gibbs, Crawley playing out from the back: Palmer, to Young, to Stephens.

As the match wore on and legs began to tire it became a game of attrition: the players versus the unbelievable heat, the 3G pitch doing the players no favours.

Oxford had rarely looked troubled, and other than a few routine catches, Sercombe had little to do, but as the game entered the last 20 minutes, Crawley began to find more space; Beaver showing good strength to see off any danger, Ellie Searle making a well-timed challenge to deny substitute Ledezma-Viso, Nash finding space to make bursting runs. Crawley benefiting from fresh legs and were now enjoying their best period of the game.

Wasps almost made the breakthrough with 18 minutes to go when a concise pass from Nash found a forward in the box, who dragged her shot wide of Sercombe’s right post.

Oxford also began making use of some of the gaps appearing down the left-hand side, Seale and Bent combining well before Bent’s dangerous cross was headed out by Russell.

With five minutes to go extra-time looked likely, but a defensive mistake saw Naomi Cole through on goal and finish smartly past Sercombe. Cole -who scored late against the U’s in the FAWNL Cup last season to rescue the game and deny Oxford the win – was once again Wasps’ hero.


Oxford United 0 – 1 Crawley Wasps

Late into the game and Oxford tried to mount pressure, attempting a number of shots from range, but with time against them Crawley managed to see the game out as the referee blew the final whistle on a very closely contested fixture.

Wasps progress to the first round of the FAWNL Cup, while Oxford enter the FAWNL Plate competition.

Both teams return to league action at the weekend as Oxford hope to bounce back when they travel to Watford, while Crawley host bottom side Hounslow.

Teams

Oxford: Sercombe, Roberts, Clifford, Beaver, Kirby (Searle), Hines, Haynes (c), Johns, Lancaster (Baker), Bent, Timms (Moore).

Wasps: Gibbs, Russell, Palmer, Pittuck (Young), James, Rabson, Owen, Stephens (Ledezma-Viso), Stevenson (Nash), Cole (c), Flieschman.

Oxford United Women vs Crawley Wasps Match Preview

Oxford United finally get their season underway when they welcome fellow Southern Premier side, and last season’s FAWNL Cup finalists, Crawley Wasps, to Court Place Farm this Sunday in the FAWNL Cup.

After an opening weekend of contrasting emotions – Wasps experienced the elation of winning their first fixture after gaining promotion, while Oxford had to manage the disappointment of a late postponement – the two sides meet in a repeat of last season’s FAWNL Cup competition, and although much has changed for both participants, it is expected to be another closely contested fixture.


The U’s enjoyed a near-perfect pre-season, drawing with London Bees before beating Southampton Women’s FC, Wolves, Abingdon United, and Championship side, Lewes. Goals and positives aplenty, preparations have been a stark contrast to the turbulent pre-season the club experienced a year ago, with Liam Gilbert’s side set to begin the season in a very good place as a club.

Bolstered by the re-signing of last season’s Southern Premier Golden Boot winner, Emily Allen, who is available for selection at the weekend, Oxford have recruited very well during the close season, bringing in Ellie Kirby, Georgia Clifford, Ellie Searle, Brogan Moore, Daisy McLachlan, and Aimee Watson, while Kayleigh Hines returns from a long-term injury, and U16s standout, Carly Johns, makes the step up to the senior squad.

Oxford have experienced a few departures, the most notable being Ellie Noble (Lewes), Lucy Thomas and Flo Fyfe (both London City Lionesses) but overall, the squad is much stronger than at the same time last season, with genuine competition for places across the pitch.

Having been forced to wait an additional week, Oxford will be keen to avenge the loss, and more importantly, start the 2019/20 campaign off strongly.


After a successful promotion campaign that saw Crawley reach the final of the FAWNL Cup and win the league by an impressive 11 points, the West Sussex based side have managed to maintain the momentum that carried them through last season, beating several teams during pre-season, including Championship side London Bees, though their most important victory to date came last weekend, at the expense of Plymouth. A positive introduction to life in the Southern Premier Division.

Paul Walker was understandably busy during the summer as he prepared for life in Tier 3, making a number of signings including winger Tash Stephens, Maria Ledezma-Viso, Sam Pittuck, Hope Nash, Charlotte Owen, Rebecca Carter, and ex-Northern Ireland defender Alex Newman, who returned to football after 3 years out due to injury.

As expected, there was also a number of departures with Amy Green, Millie Carter, Abbie Measures, Amy Woollard, and long-serving Suzanne Davies departing the club.

Wasps travel to Oxfordshire hoping to build on a good result last weekend while knowing a victory against league contenders Oxford United would make a real statement.


Several narratives could be applied to this game: a rematch of last season, a head-to-head of two sides likely to be fighting for the very top places in the division, an early litmus test of sorts, but above all else, it should be a footballing spectacle between to very good teams.

The winners progress to the next round, while the losers are entered into the FAWNL Plate competition.