Match Day Nine kicked off the New Year in the Orchard WPWL and marked the halfway point for the league, so what better time to reflect on some of the action since the first KO back in September.
It’s fair to say that the Swans are flying; so far unbeaten in the league (and Cups) they also boast a 100% record for clean sheets. Consistency appears to be the key word for those in white, with six players, including GK Deanna Lewis, starting every game and another five having missed just one fixture. The majority of the squad was retained from last year, with a notable addition of Tija Richardson who re-joined the team in November from WPWL rivals Cardiff Met and her experience of lifting silverware could come in handy at the end of the season.
Cardiff City Women have also had a positive start to the season, currently sitting second in the league, having only lost one game. With the highest ‘goals for’ record with 21 so far, so it’s not surprising that the top goalscorer in the league is Bluebird Alana Murphy (7 in seven games). The player’s performances have also been recognised by the fan’s in the Player of the Week polls, which have been won four times by Cardiff FCW players, including twice for goalie Ceryn Chamberlain, reflecting that it’s not just the attackers who have shone.
Last seasons’ WPWL winners, Cardiff Met, are the third club with an almost perfect record; their only two losses have been against Swansea, who are also the only team to have scored against them. Met came into the season off the back of a record-breaking UEFA Champions League campaign, which saw them finish second in the group qualifying stage to Hibs of Scotland. Currently lying in third, with a game in hand, their fixtures against Cardiff City (the first of which is this weekend, 12th Jan) could prove pivotal should Swansea slip.
Port Talbot fans will no doubt have that familiar feeling, being in fourth place in the league, picking up where they left off last season. They also took the last semi-final spot in the WPWL Cup, the first time they’ve reached this round of the competition since 2016/17. With a mix of youth and experience in the team, including Wales international players Jessie Taylor and Bethan Mcgowen alongside WPWL stalwarts such as Laura May Walkley and Courtney Thomas, the games they have lost points have been on a knife-edge, so there’s much to be positive about in Hayley Williams’ side.
Top of the bottom half of the table is Briton Ferry Llansawel, who have a handful of games in hand, which if they win could see them in second as things stand. The Reds will be pleased to be three places higher than where they finished 2018/19 and if they can continue to pick up results from those around them their progression will be evident to all.
Abergavenny, Cyncoed and Aberystwyth complete the set. Abergavenny had a lot of change in the summer and have had a tough run of games to open, including playing the top two five times across the WPWL and League Cup programme. Their single win came against Port Talbot proving that they can take points from those above them and with games in hand there should be confidence in the squad that they could move up the table. Cyncoed have had a bumpy start, while they managed some draws early on and could have got through to the Cup semi-finals, it wasn’t too be and performances have dropped in recent games. A win could change the complexion of the table and an extra three points could be the inspiration for the team to push on. Newcomers Aberystwyth are also in need of points, having managed no more than a draw in the League Cup so far, but with some potential starlets involved they could become one’s to watch as they find their feet in the top tier.
Sadly along the way we lost Llandudno, who at the time were mixing it up in mid-table and could themselves have put in a run of results to better their sixth place finish last season.
With 32 games still to be played and 96 points to be won, there’s plenty of action on offer in the last four months of the Orchard WPWL and every team has the opportunity to either continue their good form or to turn things around and move up the table. We can’t wait to see what’s going to happen!
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