Three most improved FAWNL teams in 2022-23

Photo: Ian Stevens

Which FAWNL teams improved the most in the 2022-23 season? We crunched the numbers and compared them to last season to identify the top three.

The curtain has fallen on the 2022-23 season, and the efforts of thousands of Women’s National League players are reflected in the final league standings for everyone to see – but which teams improved the most compared to last season? Something that may not be immediately obvious, so we dug a little deeper to find out.

Factoring only teams that competed in the same division as last term, we calculated how much each team in the Women’s National League has improved since last season by measuring the difference in points per game averages for both the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons.

This was our chosen method because not every team played the same number of games in 2022-23 as last season. Therefore, it allowed us to judge teams more consistently across the entire FAWNL.

3. Stockport County – 37.04%

After achieving the club’s highest-ever finish, with the most points, wins, goals scored, and clean sheets recorded, it’s no surprise that the Hatters rank among the most-improved sides of 2022-23. Third highest, in fact.

Now 15 months into his tenure as County boss, Steve O’Hara’s side emerged as one of the success stories of the 2022-23 season, exceeding all expectations to smash club records and achieve an increased return of 37.04 percent across the 22-game league campaign – with the Hatters’ points per game average rising to 1.68 from 1.23 last season, collecting ten additional points and sitting three places higher in the FAWNL Division One North table.

Their longest unbeaten run of the campaign started in September thanks to a 2-0 away win against Hull City with Levi Rathburn and Kenzie Bentley on the scoresheet and lasted for seven matches – a spell that earned a sizeable 17 of Stockport County’s 37 points during the 2022-23 season.

All factors considered, an exceptional campaign for O’Hara, his players, and his staff.

2. Norwich City – 53.85%

Occupying the runners-up spot, after showing a dramatic improvement in performances throughout the 2022-23 campaign, is Norwich City.

The Canaries accumulated 30 points in 18 matches – a gain of 4 points compared to last term despite playing four games fewer than the 2021-22 season.

This considerable rise in form saw soon-to-be departed manager Shaun Howes guide his Canaries side to a fourth-place finish in the FAWNL Division One South East table – four places higher than the previous season and the club’s highest placement since 2014.

Statistically, City’s rise up the league table represents a boost of 53.85% compared to last term – with the Norfolk outfit’s points per game average increasing to 1.67.

The unquestioned highlight of the season came in the penultimate game of the season when a record-breaking 7,585 fans were treated to a thrilling 8-goal spectacle between the Canaries and Ashford Town at Carrow Road.

1. Barnsley – 60.87%

Barnsley endured a turbulent 2021-22 season, narrowly avoiding relegation from the Women’s National League.

This season, however, saw a reversal in fortunes for Barnsley as Lois Daniels’ side rebounded superbly to deliver an improved performance of 60.87 percent compared to last term – making the Reds statistically the most-improved team across all six FAWNL divisions for the 2022-23 season.

After 22 league matches, the Reds amassed a total of 37 points en route to a fourth-place finish in the FAWNL Division One North – a significant uptick of 14 points and five league places compared to last season.

Their longest winning run came at the beginning of the season, extending to four matches, and included notable victories against eventual runners-up Durham Cestria and Yorkshire rivals Leeds United.

Emily Pierrepont was the side’s top scorer with seven goals, while, at the other end of the pitch, Serena Clarke averaged a clean sheet every two games to jointly claim the division’s Golden Glove.

Reflecting on a successful 2022-23 campaign, manager Lois Daniels said: “Couldn’t be prouder of this group. Escaping relegation last year to us securing 4th place this year, achieving our aims for the season and better than that, creating a proper team, who give absolutely everything for each other week in, week out… Some team.”