The FA Women’s National League kicked off with a bang on Sunday afternoon. 34 matches took place across all six divisions with goals, red cards and comebacks galore. Catch up on the action:
FAWNL Northern Premier
Boldmere St. Michaels 1-7 Huddersfield Town
It was an emphatic start from Huddersfield Town who swept away league newcomers, Boldmere St. Michaels.
Kate Mallin opened the scoring in style, turning home a direct corner within three minutes. Laura Elford added a second before setting up Mallin to make it three.
Nyah Edwards pulled a goal back for the hosts early in the second half before Huddersfield resumed their scoring spree.
They did lose a player, Beth Ibbotson, to a second yellow card but it did not impede them. Mallin and Elford completed their hat-tricks, while the seventh came from Brittany Sanderson.
Derby County 2-3 Burnley
Jonathan Morgan would have enjoyed his first game in charge at Burnley as his side came through a five-goal thriller against Derby County. Dom Cooper’s injury-time winner saw the three points head home with the visitors.
It was Derby who had taken the lead within half an hour when Amy Sims spotted Lauren Bracewell off her line.
Burnley rallied after the break, however, with Ellie May equalising on her debut against her former club. May restored the hosts’ lead shortly after before Evie Priestley volleyed home another equaliser.
Just as it looked like both sides would have to settle for a draw, Cooper popped up in the 96th minute to hand her side the victory.
AFC Fylde 0-0 Brighouse Town
It ended all square at Kellamergh Park as Fylde hosted Brighouse Town.
The first half was a competitive and even affair with neither side managing to take the upper hand.
Fylde upped the pressure in the second with Laura Merrin and Sasha Rowe going close, but Brighouse stayed resolute to take home a point.
Liverpool Feds 1-1 Wolves
The points were also shared as Liverpool Feds took on the current title holders at Jericho Lane.
Wolves took the lead when Amber Hughes tapped home Jade Cross’ delivery. The visitors then thought they had a second only for it to be ruled out for offside.
Feds rallied and found an equaliser with 20 minutes left to play. Abby Pope got herself on the scoresheet, her team’s first goal in the Northern Premier Division.
West Brom 0-6 Nottingham Forest
There is a lot of excitement around Nottingham Forest currently and the women’s side made sure they were part of the conversation with an emphatic opening day victory. Six goals with six different goalscorers saw them dominate across the 90 minutes.
The pressure was on West Brom from the first whistle and the visitors thought they should have had an early penalty for a challenge on Sophie Domingo. The opener eventually came when Charlotte Steggles headed home Lyndsey Harkin’s corner just before the break.
Forest continued the pressure in the second. Rebecca Anderson and Steggles both hit the woodwork before Charlotte Greengrass doubled the score. The bar and offside flag denied Forest once more before Gianna Mitchell turned home Anderson’s cross.
Anderson hit a rocket of her own while Mai Moncaster added to the score with 15 minutes to play. Yasmin Mosby found a sixth as the game drew to a close.
Loughborough Lightning 0-3 Stoke City
An exciting double-header at Loughborough University saw Lightning open their season against Stoke, with West Ham and Liverpool providing the warm-up act.
It was a tight start at the University Stadium with early chances at both ends. Stoke’s Carra Jones was denied by some last-ditch defending before a Lightning free kick hit the bar.
The visitors finally took the lead as Jones finished from inside the box with half an hour played. Beth Roberts added a second in the 57th minute with a sublime left-footed volley from distance.
The hosts had an opportunity to pull themselves back into it when they were awarded a penalty for handball. However, Stoke’s Liz Craven was equal to the subsequent spot kick. Stoke also had a penalty but Ella Powell’s effort was also saved by Kiya Webb.
The visitors made sure of the victory with the goal of the game. With just over ten minutes to play, Rosie Axten fired home into the top corner.
FAWNL Southern Premier
Billericay Town 1-2 London Bees
Billericay Town suffered a narrow defeat at the hands of London Bees in their first ever Premier Division match.
The warning signs preceded the opener when the visitors had a goal ruled out for offside. Three minutes later, they had the opener as Courtnay Ward-Chambers hit the back of the net.
The hosts found their equaliser in a similar fashion. New signing, Jess King, saw her effort denied by the assistant’s flag before Holly Turner levelled the score on her debut appearance.
Bees re-took the lead in the 69th minute through Nikita Whinnett. Billericay rallied once more and thought they had stolen a point when Zoe Rushen was tripped in the box. Danica Dougal’s subsequent spot kick, however, was saved.
Cheltenham Town 3-1 Plymouth Argyle
Cheltenham are another debutant in the Premier Division and immediately looked right at home in their league opener.
Despite early chances falling to the hosts, it was Plymouth who took the lead shortly before half-time through Charlotte Whitmore’s strike from distance.
Cheltenham found their equaliser immediately after the break when Jade Grove turned home Izzy Cook’s assist. Cook turned goalscorer with a fine finish to put her side ahead.
Cook capped off a brilliant afternoon with a brace, turning home a rebound from Emily Owen’s free kick.
Crawley Wasps 1-6 MK Dons
A blistering first half performance saw MK Dons sweep Crawley Wasps aside in their league opener.
Mollie Coupar fired Nicola Puddick’s cross home after ten minutes before intercepting a back pass and doubling the score. Gemma Biggadike added a third from distance while Nicole Pepper scored a penalty.
Pepper converted from the spot again immediately after the break before Lucy Wood dispatched under Chrissie Wiggins for Dons’ sixth of the afternoon.
Wasps pulled one back as captain Tash Stephens lobbed Chloe Sansom after a great ball through from Melanie Espinosa.
Ipswich Town 0-3 Portsmouth FC
It was a successful first away trip of the season for Portsmouth in front of 520 at the AGL Arena In Felixstowe.
Ipswich were handed two early blows, losing both Zoe Barratt and Kyra Robertson to injury in the first half. Portsmouth capitalised before the break when Dani Lane turned home Danielle Rowe’s corner at the back post.
Natasha Thomas came close to an equaliser early in the second but turned her effort wide of the post. Shortly after, Sophie Quirk made it count at the other end, scoring with a cool finish after a mazy run.
Quirk made sure of a victory with a delightful heel-flick off a corner to send Portsmouth home with a 3-0 victory.
Oxford United 2-0 Bridgwater United
One of the favourites for the title, Oxford United opened their 2022/23 season with a dominant victory in front of 259 at Court Place Farm.
Oxford controlled possession from the first whistle as Bridgwater United found their chances limited. New recruit, Naomi Cole made her mark on her debut, turning a volley into the top corner.
Oxford doubled their lead immediately after the break when Riva Casley headed home Shelley Provan’s corner.
Watford 3-2 Gillingham
Watford edge past Gillingham on their return to the Southern Premier.
Captain Helen Ward opened the scoring after 18 minutes, sending home a lob. Gillingham responded immediately, Georgia Griffin equalising with powerful strike just three minutes later.
A flurry of goals followed before the break. Gillingham once more took the lead when Maddison Chamney-Farrand fired home. It was Watford’s turn to find an instant response as Bianca Baptiste equalised on her debut.
The winner came for The Hornets in the 75th minute when Georgiou turned home a header.
FAWNL Division 1 North
Bradford City 1-2 Middlesbrough
There was an opening day victory for Middlesbrough as they edged past Bradford in the Division 1 North.
The visitors took the lead in the first half when Eve Marshall turned home a 20-yard free kick.
Bradford responded and pulled one back after the break through Chynna Harris. However, it was Middlesbrough who found the winner with Abbey Harland getting her name on the scoresheet.
Chorley 0-4 Barnsley
Barnsley earned a dominant opening day win as they travelled to Chorley.
After Amy Beck missed from close range, Brooke Marsden turned home at the far post to open the score. A thunderous Jodie Michalska header doubled their lead after half an hour.
Both teams were reduced to ten when Barnsley’s Tavia Myles reacted to Ellie Cleary’s swinging arm. Unperturbed, Beck added another for the visitors before the break.
Their fourth came in the latter stages of the game as Alayna Millard notched a debut goal in the 92nd minute.
Leeds United 1-0 Hull City
A new season has seen new managers for both these teams as Rick Passmoor and Chris Hames took charge of Leeds and Hull respectively for the first time.
It was the hosts that took an early lead when Olivia Smart produced a good turn and finish.
Hull responded well and Rachael Ackroyd was denied an equaliser when Carrie Simpson turned her effort over the bar. Hope Knight was also denied by the Leeds United keeper.
Both sides finished the game with 10 players. Hull’s Amy Pollock and Leeds’ Paige Williams were both given their marching orders.
Merseyrail 1-4 Newcastle United
Newcastle came from behind to earn a solid victory away to the league’s newcomers.
It was Merseyrail who took the lead through Leah Collins. Newcastle, however, produced continuous chances with Lauren Robson getting their equaliser. They took the lead just before half-time when Georgia Gibson turned home Keira Skelton’s cut-back.
The hosts thought they had found a way back into the match but were denied by a brilliant sliding tackle from Skelton. Newcastle pushed on with Ellie Dobson scoring a late brace to confirm the victory.
Norton + Stockton Ancients 1-1 York City
York City thought they had completed the dream start only for Elisha Hardcastle’s header to be cancelled out for offside.
In fact, it was the hosts who took the lead. The ever-dangerous Bianca Owens had threatened throughout and beat three to find the opener early in the second half.
York displayed their resilience, however, levelling the score just three minutes later. Felicity Jones produced a calm finish to ensure her side took home their first ever FAWNL point.
Stockport County 0-0 Durham Cestria
It ended all square at Stockport Sports Village as both sides cancelled each other out.
There were chances at both ends throughout. Ella Wilson and goalkeeper Megan Borthwick made superb stops to deny Stockport. Down the other end, Jordan Atkinson hooked a good chance over the bar while Poppy Pritchard saw an effort saved.
FAWNL Division 1 Midlands
Leafield Athletic 4-2 Leek Town
Leafield Athletic earned an opening day victory against a resilient Leek Town. They took the lead after a series of early chances. Chantelle Gallagher popped up after 15 minutes to turn a corner home.
Leek battled hard and found an equaliser when Neive Fallon finished a cut-back from inside the box.
The hosts once more took the lead, this time through Daisy-Mai Clements before Samantha Baker struck immediately after the break.
Gallagher pulled another back for the visitors with a fine header before they had a goal disallowed. Kathryn Pagan made sure of the result for Leafield in the 80th minute.
Lincoln City 3-4 Doncaster Belles
Doncaster Belles performed a superb comeback to edge past Lincoln City in front of 1,003 at Sincil Bank.
The hosts appeared in control of proceedings. Within seven minutes, Chantelle Robinson had sent them ahead with a chip over Ellie Sharpe. Jessica Rousseau then doubled their tally with a shot from the edge of the box.
As the half wore on, however, Doncaster grew into the game with Sophie Brown fashioning a series of chances. It was third time lucky as she pulled a goal back for the visitors just before the break.
The visitors were right back in the contest in the 73rd minute when Jessica Andrew dispatched a penalty after Nadia Khan was tugged back in the box. Parity did not last long, however, as a Leah Hardy 30-yard free kick restored the hosts’ lead.
The game headed towards a fascinating conclusion. Doncaster were awarded another penalty on 90 minutes as Poppy Irvine brought down Khan. Andrew stepped up once more to convert. And there was still time for a winner from the visitors when Halima Essa popped up deep into injury time to secure the three points.
Northampton Town 1-4 Wem Town
Wem Town opened their 2022/23 campaign with a solid victory away to Northampton Town.
Kim Bebbington fired them into an early lead when she headed home a corner within two minutes. Northampton responded well but it was Wem Town who doubled their score through Alise Gindra’s looping effort.
Bianca Luttman did pull one back immediately for the hosts from a free kick, but Wem Town restored their lead just before the break. A 40-yard free kick rebounded into the path of Kirstie Hunt to turn home.
Shortly after the break, Bebbington scored with another header to ensure the victory for her side.
Sheffield FC 2-0 Stourbridge
Sheffield FC kicked off their season with a solid 2-0 victory at The Home of Football.
A goal in each half by Matilda Hallas-Potts, both off a corner, was enough to earn Sheffield the three points.
Solihull Moors 9-0 Long Eaton United
Solihull Moors charged to the top of the table with an emphatic victory against Long Eaton United.
Tiana Russell-Cartwright scored her first of four, rounding the keeper to put the hosts ahead within two minutes. Lyndsey Ross-Barker saw a goal disallowed for offside before converting a lob. Eva Rodgers marked her debut in style from 25 yards before Russell-Cartwright and Ross-Barker sealed their braces before the break.
Russell-Cartwright added two more within ten minutes of the second half before Becky Knight was set up by a Ross-Barker pass. Jodie Price rounded off the scoring with Solihull’s ninth in the 86th minute.
Sporting Khalsa 2-0 Peterborough United
Two second half goals saw Sporting Khalsa overcome Peterborough at home.
A tight first period saw them go in all square at the break.
The opening goal came in the 68th minute through Lucy Taylor before an own goal off a Rebecca Hall corner sealed the victory.
FAWNL Division 1 South East
AFC Wimbledon 0-0 Hashtag United
AFC Wimbledon and Hashtag played out a highly competitive goalless draw in their season opener at Carshalton Athletic.
Wimbledon were denied by the woodwork early on as Amy Taylor and Becki Bath hit the bar before Jamie-Lee Bamford made a big series of saves. Hashtag grew into the half but were forced into two early substitutions before Amy-Leigh Abrehart was denied by Faye Baker just before the break.
A few chances fell Wimbledon’s way in the second half. Ashlee Hincks’ effort skimmed the bar before the hosts had a goal disallowed for offside.
Actonians A-A Chesham United
Cambridge City 4-2 QPR
Cambridge City saw off the visiting QPR at Ely City FC. Grace Stanley picked up where she left off last season with a hat-trick while Bella Simmons scored a fourth.
QPR scored two thanks to Alice Curr and Emilia Parsons.
Cambridge United 1-4 Norwich City
Norwich City came from behind to earn an opening day victory.
Cambridge United took a first half lead through Francesca Partridge from distance.
But a hat-trick from Natasha Snelling and goal from Ellie Smith saw Norwich return home with all three points.
Wymondham Town 1-2 London Seaward
London Seaward displayed their resilient side as they edged past league newcomers Wymondham Town.
The hosts took an early lead through Brooklyn Cheal-Ferris. But Seaward equalised just before the break when Maisie Cannon rose high to send home Kaleigh Xidhas’ corner.
The winner for the visitors came in the 72nd minute. Substitute Ashleigh Marchant was brought down in the box and Katherine Long stepped up to convert the penalty.
Hounslow P–P Ashford Town (Middlesex)
FAWNL Division 1 South West
Cardiff City 7-1 Portishead
Cardiff hit the ground running with a seven-star victory over Portishead. They took the lead after two minutes through a Chloe Lloyd penalty after Ellie Sargent was brought down.
The visitors fought back and equalised through a looping effort from Tamzin Hayward. However, Cardiff’s lead was restored within minutes when Ingrid Ådland hit the back of the net.
Ellie Sargent completed a seven-minute hat-trick before the break to put the hosts in cruise control before captain Cori Williams added two more in the second half.
Exeter City 7-0 Keynsham Town
Exeter City enjoyed an equally fruitful afternoon as they put seven past visitors, Keynsham Town.
Sarah Stacey kicked off her hat-trick, heading home Emily Toogood’s corner inside two minutes. The prolific scorer added another, heading home Rebecca Dandridge’s delivery.
Zoe Watkins added a third minutes later with a delicate chip before another Toogood corner was tapped home by Jess Sandland. Exeter had another as Toogood hit the post and Stacey turned the rebound home for her third.
There was still time for another before the break when Beck flicked Toogood’s corner home. A quieter second period followed with the hosts adding just one more. Watkins sealed her brace as she beat the keeper in the 55th minute.
Larkhall Athletic 0-1 Southampton Women
A late Sian Wylie winner saw Southampton return home with all three points.
It was a competitive fixture throughout. After a tight opening, both sides traded chances. Lauren Cheshire hit the side-netting for the visitors before Larkhall’s Hannah Price clipped the crossbar.
Southampton turned up the pressure and found the vital goal in the 88th minute. Wylie popped up in the box to head Kiera Heslam’s cross in off the bar.
Maidenhead United P-P Moneyfields
Selsey 3-1 Swindon Town
Selsey began life in the FAWNL in sparkling fashion.
They earned an early lead as Natasha Wild met Skye Bacon’s cross with a bullet header in the 12th minute. Amber Howden’s lob then doubled the score.
Helena Diaz-Butcher gave Swindon a lifeline as she pulled a goal back. However, the deficit was restored when Gemma Simmonds’ shot was deflected home to wrap up the tie in the 40th minute.
AFC Bournemouth 3-0 AFC St. Austell
One of the title favourites, AFC Bournemouth earned a solid opening day victory at home to AFC St. Austell.
Bournemouth had the tie wrapped up by half-time. Shannon Albuery gave them the lead before Molly Clark doubled the score after half an hour. Helen Bleazard made sure of the three points with a strike in the 45th minute.