WOMEN’S FOOTBALL

Eight pages de­voted to the latest news, views, re­sults and fix­tures

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Pippa Field

IT PROM­ISES to be a day for cal­cu­la­tors with plenty of spots in the FA WSL Con­ti­nen­tal Tyres Cup quar­ter-fi­nals still up for grabs from the fi­nal round of group games.

The top two teams from each of the three groups are as­sured of qual­i­fi­ca­tion to the knock-out stages, as are the two best-placed third-placed teams.

It means that Group One’s Ar­se­nal and Manch­ester City, Liver­pool of Group Two as well as Group Three’s Notts County are al­ready plan­ning for the next round re­gard­less of to­day’s re­sults.

How­ever there is still plenty to be de­cided, not least in Group Two where Don­caster Rovers Belles and Sun­der­land go head-to-head in search of the best run­ners-up spot.

Goals

There is noth­ing to sep­a­rate the two sides ahead of kick-off, both tied on six points while they have both con­ceded and scored ex­actly the same amount of goals – eight each.

Goal dif­fer­ence is cer­tainly go­ing to play a part in de­cid­ing the out­come of the quar­ter-fi­nals with fel­low con­tenders Read­ing, Mill­wall andYeovil all sat with bet­ter ad­van­tages of three or four goals. But if it is goals you are look­ing for, then you couldn’t have asked for two bet­ter sides than Don­caster Rovers Belles and Sun­der­land. The lat­ter boast WSL 1’s sharpest shooter in Beth Mead while the Belles’ Court­ney Sweet­man-Kirk

tops the goal-scor­ing charts across both leagues.

And while the odds may be stacked against the Belles both win­ning and build­ing up enough of a pos­i­tive goal dif­fer­ence, the striker won’t be giv­ing up with­out a fight.

“I’m hop­ing for a good per­for­mance but the re­al­ity is that we’re in a tough group,” said Sweet­man-Kirk,who has scored eight goals in her last four games.

“The north group is very hard; the south­ern teams and mid­land teams fromWSL 1 are prob­a­bly go­ing to get lots of goals in there.

“So the re­al­ity is that the chances of us get­ting through to the quar­ter-fi­nals are slim, but it is still there, so we’ve got to go out there and win the game against Sun­der­land.That’s the pri­or­ity for us now.”

Mill­wall are another team with a faint chance of qual­i­fi­ca­tion, although they face a stiff chal­lenge at home to Ar­se­nal.

Also in Group One, Chelsea are in pole po­si­tion to ce­ment sec­ond spot with a home match against win­less Lon­don Bees.

Read­ing, cur­rently three points be­hind FA Cup win­ners Chelsea, will also be hop­ing to slip through as a best run­ner-up with an away trip to Wat­ford.

How­ever striker Emma Fol­lis sounded a word of cau­tion about get­ting too far ahead of them­selves. “Wat­ford are strug­gling but we can’t ex­pect to go and win, we’re go­ing to have to play the way we nor­mally play and not be com­pla­cent,” she said.

“We have been ex­pected to win most of our games this sea­son but we have to do our thing which we have been do­ing so far.” Aside from the show­down at Sun­der­land, it is just pride to be played for in Group Two with al­ready qual­i­fied Manch­ester City and Liver­pool go­ing head to head while Ever­ton and Durham will both bat­tle it out in search of their first win.

In Group Three, it is a sim­i­lar tale for Ox­ford United and As­ton Villa at FC Abing­don United while al­ready qual­i­fied Notts County play host to Yeovil Town.

PIC­TURE: The FA

ON TAR­GET: Pro­lific Beth Mead shoots for Sun­der­land while fel­low for­ward Court­ney Sweet­manKirk of Don­caster cel­e­brates a goal, inset

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