CITY’S RADTKE OFFERS HOPE ‘Malmo title win sets precedent’
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.
“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.
TITLE DREAMS: Paula Radtke, left, produced a shock win with Malmo and wants to do so again with City