The Lionesses are on the road for the first time since March 2020. Tonight, they travel to Caen to take on a notoriously tough, if depleted, French side. It will be a first chance for interim head coach, Hege Riise, to see her new charges take on a tier one opposition. Her squad announcement included a couple of surprises, with Karen Bardsley and Carly Telford returning to the fold. Niamh Charles was also called up, while Esme Morgan and Nikita Parris joined late. Captain Steph Houghton misses out through injury.
Riise spoke to the press before the game on a number of key areas:
“It’s been a whirlwind, but it’s been a really positive whirlwind.”
This was how Gemma Grainger described the three weeks since she was revealed as the new Welsh Women’s National Team Manager. It is hardly an understatement as the new coach attempts to hit the ground running, getting used to new surroundings, building relationships with a new set of players and even learning a new national anthem.
Just under two years ago, Ella Toone was preparing to travel out to Sweden with the England U21s. The latest Nordic tournament awaited a squad who, under the watchful eye of Mo Marley, were trying to gain all the experience they could as they attempted to make the step up to senior international football.
This was supposed to be Jess Fishlock’s farewell to Reading. Having joined the club on loan for 8 months, she was finishing up and heading back stateside to re-join OL Reign ahead of the NWSL season. In her pre-match video, she touched on her team’s frustrating inconsistencies, stating it made the wins more difficult to enjoy. The match that was to follow was the perfect example of this and if Reading were hoping to give her something to celebrate in her final fixture, it wasn’t to be.
“I’ve faced that opponent so many times and felt humiliated and lost. And I always thought they were the benchmark for women’s football alongside Lyon. So, it’s a really, really proud day for English football.”
Emma Hayes was full of praise for her side following their emphatic performance in the second leg of their Champions League quarter final against Wolfsburg. The enormity of this win is not lost on us. Having travelled to see Chelsea play in each of their last meetings with the She Wolves in this competition, it seemed like it was never going to happen for them. They had become Chelsea’s bogey team, and it felt like a cruel joke that they were drawn against them again this year.
A lot has changed for Charlton Athletic since their last excursion in the FA Championship. Two days after that 1-0 loss at the hands of Sheffield, Karen Hills came on board as head coach. It continues a strange trend of demotion in the women’s game, like with Aston Villa, with Riteesh Mishra remaining at the club but no longer as their leader.
Today is a ground-breaking day in the history of the women’s game in England. The announcement of a three-year rights agreement with Sky Sports and the BBC to broadcast the Barclays FAWSL from next season is another huge WOW moment in its progress.
Brighton’s impressive season continued on Wednesday night as they battled past a resilient Aston Villa. They may fly under the radar at times but the Hope Powell project, built on the steady foundations of a club that is committed to the women’s’ game and some astute recruitment, has been gathering steam.
To say it has been a long time since a competitive England fixture is somewhat of an understatement. 349 days (502,560 minutes or 5,584 games in case you were wondering!) since they faced Spain in the SheBelieves Cup, they will finally line up tomorrow lunch time to face Northern Ireland.