Eight pages devoted to the latest news, views, results and fixtures
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.
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.
ON TARGET: Prolific Beth Mead shoots for Sunderland while fellow forward Courtney SweetmanKirk of Doncaster celebrates a goal, inset