CITY’S RADTKE OF­FERS HOPE ‘Malmo ti­tle win sets prece­dent’

The Football League Paper - - WOMEN'S FOOTBALL WEEKLY - By Emily Hooper By Jamie Holt By Ben Lewis

PAIGE Cross­man’s 40-yard strike helped Sport­ing Club Al­bion shake up the top of the ta­ble once again, down­ing pre­vi­ously un­beaten lead­ers Stoke City 3-1 on Wed­nes­day and cut­ting the gap down to one point.

Cross­man struck in the 24th minute to set Stoke back early on, but it was all square just be­fore half-time when Jamilla Palmer found the top right-hand cor­ner.

Then for­mer As­ton Villa for­ward Abi­gail Cot­tam put Al­bion back in front and Kelly Darby sealed the points ten min­utes from time to com­plete a great week for the hosts.

Al­bion thrashed Nuneaton Town 5-1 last Sun­day – main­tain­ing their 100 per cent record at home this sea­son – in a win that saw a Leigh Dug­more brace, which took her goal tally up to seven for the cam­paign.

Derby County also cap­i­talised on Stoke’s slip-up and went level with Al­bion in sec­ond af­ter Lau­ren Ni­cholls and Melissa John­son goals downed Not­ting­ham For­est 2-0.

The two sides started the game with just one point sep­a­rat­ing them in the ta­ble and it showed as the score­line re­mained level at the break. But, af­ter bed­lam in the box, Ni­cholls poked home to hand Derby the lead – be­fore John­son found the net from a cor­ner late on to leave For­est with no time to re­spond.

Derby had started the week in top spot, but suf­fered a shock last Sun­day af­ter Emily Heck­ler’s penalty se­cured a 1-0 away vic­tory for Hud­der­s­field Town.

John­son was tripped in the box just be­fore half-time, but cap­tain Sa­man­tha Grif­fiths saw her penalty saved by Laura Carter.

Hud­der­s­field then went down the other end al­most im­me­di­ately af­ter and Me­gan Clark­son gave away the sec­ond penalty of the match, which Heck­ler slot­ted home with im­pres­sive con­fi­dence.

The away side could have made it two – hit­ting the post late on – but Hud­der­s­field kept the clean sheet, hav­ing con­ceded 11 goals in their pre­vi­ous four league games.

New­cas­tle United and Lough­bor­ough Foxes shared six goals in the North East, but it was the home side who came out on top.

Goals from Dan­nika Pur­d­ham and Emma Hewett gave New­cas­tle a 2-0 ad­van­tage go­ing into half-time.

Lough­bor­ough grabbed two back af­ter the break, but Ellen Turnbull and Jess Have­lock both scored to en­sure a 4-2 win and sent the Foxes south empty-handed.

Else­where last Sun­day, Annabel McKech­nie’s dou­ble for For­est piled the mis­ery on Guise­ley Vix­ens as they fell to their sixth straight de­feat of the sea­son.

McKech­nie gave For­est an early lead but, af­ter a Guise­ley cor­ner was cleared off the line, Na­dine Bates re­acted fastest to beat goal­keeper Vanessa Kin­ner­ley to it and make it 1-1.

How­ever, a fine cross from Demi Greenan found McKech­nie un­marked in the area and she headed home to clinch a 2-1 vic­tory. MANCH­ESTER City need lit­tle in­spi­ra­tion when it comes to late ti­tle charges, but de­fender Paula Radtke has pointed her team-mates in the di­rec­tion of her old club in Swe­den.

Back in 2013, Radtke was a key cog in the FC Malmo side that were at­tempt­ing to re­gain the ti­tle from de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Tyreso – a team filled with Amer­i­can su­per­stars and ar­guably the great­est fe­male player of all time, Marta.

And things were look­ing pretty bleak for Malmo, be­fore a dra­matic 32 vic­tory away to Tyreso in Au­gust 2013 swung the pen­du­lum back in their favour.

Malmo, now re­named Rosen­gard, went on to win the Da­mallsven­skan by seven points, and Radtke hopes to use that mem­ory as a cat­a­lyst for an equally un­likely re­ver­sal in the Women’s Su­per League this term.

Manch­ester City – whose men’s team have also made a habit of leav­ing things to the last minute – trail WSL 1 lead­ers Chelsea by two points with just two games to go. But the 30-year-old Radtke has not given up hope.

“A cou­ple of years ago in Swe­den we won the league un­ex­pect­edly; we over­took the lead­ers af­ter com­ing from be­hind from 2-1 down with ten play­ers. No one ex­pected it and it’s some­thing that shows me any­thing is pos­si­ble,” said the Ger­man, who joined City at the start of the 2014 sea­son.

“They had a team of Amer­i­can su­per­stars, and they made it to the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal in 2014, but we still man­aged to win the league from nowhere.

“It’s been a re­ally great two years at City and I do love the fi­nal games the most in Eng­land. They are very ex­cit­ing and I am very happy we have made it to the end of the sea­son in the po­si­tion to have a chance.

Pos­si­ble

“Ev­ery­one in the team has made a mas­sive step up this sea­son, in­clud­ing me per­son­ally.

“It’s a very strong team, but we are all work­ing well to­gether. I en­joy play­ing with these qual­ity play­ers.

“It is a hard team to break into, but no one goes through the sea­son with­out get­ting in­jured or miss­ing a game here or there, so you have to be ready to step in when you are called upon, and you need to try and find your own role.”

Radtke has been ready and able since a very early age.

At just five years old she joined FC Grobzig and was sent to two foot- ball board­ing schools – Halle and Pots­dam.

The for­mer Loko­mo­tive Leipzig cen­tre-back also has a master’s de­gree in sports psy­chol­ogy, which she com­pleted last week, so she should be to­tally pre­pared for the men­tal chal­lenge that the sea­son run-in may pose – start­ing with to­day’s clash against strug­gling Bristol Academy.

“It’s im­por­tant you are ready in your mind for the chal­lenge, but win­ning the league would be a bonus – at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son we didn’t say we had to win the league,” added Radtke.

“Both games are must-wins if we are to go and win the league. On pa­per Bristol seems to be an easy game, but for them it is also the last chance – they will put ev­ery­thing they can into the game.

“We are both fight­ing un­til the end, but we will need to make sure we stay calm and let our football abil­ity shine through.

“Football is very im­por­tant to me. I was al­ways play­ing with my brother and dad. I was al­ways kick­ing a ball around with them and I went to two football board­ing schools.

“I ded­i­cated my life to football and I have my whole fam­ily to thank. There was lots of trav­el­ling, but it was worth it.” LEAD­ERS Brighton racked up their sixth win on the bounce as Deanna Cooper’s early header paved the way for a com­fort­able 2-0 vic­tory over Lewes on Wed­nes­day.

The Seag­ulls took the lead in the sev­enth minute when Lewes goal­keeper Lau­ren Dol­bear par­ried straight into Cooper’s path.

Cherelle Khas­sal went close to an im­me­di­ate re­ply, but Kate Natkiel and Char­lotte Gurr then put Dol­bear’s goal un­der pres­sure.

And the match was ef­fec­tively put to bed a minute be­fore half-time when Gurr slot­ted home from Natkiel’s cross.

Cardiff City re­main hot on their heels af­ter Kerry Bartlett grabbed a hat-trick in an 8-2 thrash­ing of For­est Green Rovers.

There were four goals in the open­ing 15 min­utes: Bartlett first play­ing through Michelle Green to fire in and Naomi Clip­son belt­ing home al­most straight from the restart. Kayanne Cas­tro-Alen­car’s lob gave For­est Green hope, but Bartlett made it 3-1.

Bartlett would be back for more, grab­bing her sec­ond from the spot, be­fore pok­ing in to com­plete her hat-trick.

Laura Wil­liams and a Kelly Isaac screamer brought up seven Cardiff goals be­fore half­time, though For­est Green dug in af­ter the break and only con­ceded one more.

Else­where in mid­week, West Ham edged a feisty match against C&K Basil­don, 3-2, as both fin­ished the game with nine play­ers.

Basil­don’s Char­lotte Long was sent off in the game’s first mean­ing­ful ac­tion, be­fore the Ham­mers’ new Ital­ian sign­ing, Gi­u­lia Fer­randi, made her mark with a su­perb long-range strike. Amy Nash hit an equally im­pres­sive shot to level the scores, and Basil­don took the lead through Mae­gen Doyle’s header shortly af­ter half-time.

Fer­randi then ru­ined her de­but when she was shown a straight red for lash­ing out, but Emma Sher­wood went on to net a brace for the Ham­mers.

And a thrilling game was fur­ther marred when Doyle and West Ham’s Kayleigh Xid­has were shown reds for an on-field al­ter­ca­tion.

In Sun­day’s fix­tures, Brighton had thrashed C&K Basil­don 6-1 – though not be­fore the visi­tors had taken a shock lead.

Zoe Rushen net­ted early on to end a run of six con­sec­u­tive Brighton clean sheets, but Gurr and Natkiel strikes turned the game.

Charl­ton Ath­letic kept up with the pace­set­ters by be­com­ing the first side to beat Portsmouth, run­ning out 4-1 win­ners.

Gemma Shep­herd fired home from 25 yards, be­fore Kit Graham and Jenny New­man scored ei­ther side of half-time.

Nikita Whin­nett added to Charl­ton’s tally, but Portsmouth grabbed a bril­liant con­so­la­tion – Lucy Quinn scor­ing from the touch­line.

Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur bounced back from their de­feat to Charl­ton by beat­ing For­est Green 5-0, though it took them 56 min­utes for Leah Rawle to open the scor­ing.

At the bot­tom Mol­lie Tay­lor scored twice in a cru­cial 2-1 vic­tory for Ply­mouth Ar­gyle over win­less Queens Park Rangers.

And He­len Der­mody net­tled two as Coven­try United romped to a 5-0 win over Lewes.

PIC­TURE: The FA

TI­TLE DREAMS: Paula Radtke, left, pro­duced a shock win with Malmo and wants to do so again with City

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