WSL 2 Week 3 and 4 Review: Durham rise to the top

Even in the whirlwind of the Spring Series, teams are already at different points of their season with the Belles registering a win in their first game, Brighton and third draw and Everton and second win.

Week 3 - London Bees 3-1 Oxford

The Bees made it seven points from their first three after a dominant first-half at home to the U’s that saw Hana Lalani open the scoring less than ten minutes in before Emma Beckett added a second – the effort resulting in a cash between both Beckett and Lucy Thomas that saw both replaced after. Ashleigh Goddard’s rocket from 25 yards all but wrapping the match up inside of half and hour, although Oxford improved after the break and deserved their late conciliation goal from Ini Umotong it was too much of an ask for the U’s as they suffered their second defeat of the year.

Durham 1-0 Sheffield

Having contested three tight matches last year, both Durham and Sheffield were ready for a toe-to-toe at New Ferens Park last week. With blows exchanged neither could advance on each other and looked to be heading to a scoreless draw before Nat Gutteridge scored the only goal of the game, rising well to nod Zoe Ness’ cross beyond Juliana Draycott.

Aston Villa 1-1 Millwall

Elisha N’Dow’s goal 40 seconds into the match swung the tie in the host’s favour at the Lamb Ground but Millwall did well to rally do what they could to work Chloe Beattie, with Villa always threatening a second. Ten minutes from time when it looked like Villa would be claiming a second win on the bounce, former Golden Girl Ellie Mason struck the back of the net from point blank range by way of the upright to earn Millwall their first point on the year.

Week 4 - Doncaster Belles 4-1 London Bees

Finally, up and running in the league after a number of postponements, the Belles hit the ground running and sent a clear message out to the rest of the league, the team a class above on paper. After close to a year out, Belles favourite, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk opened the scoring five minutes in with a casual backheel to beat Sophie Harris, the visitors tightening up their defence for the rest of the half only to sag after the hour as the Belles turned the heat up, as another ball from the left gifted Christie Murray the chance to tap home.

A stunner from distance from Emily Simpkins sealed the tie three minutes from time before Sweetman-Kirk added a fourth moments later, scrambling the ball over the line for her brace. A thunderbolt of a free kick from Emma Beckett was little more than a consolation for the Bees that robbed Nicky Davies of her clean sheet.

Watford 1-1 Durham

Despite a number of healthy chances, Watford failed to convert and unexpectedly went behind ten minutes after the restart when Emily Roberts fired a low one past Lucy Gillett. The lead however, lasted less than two minutes as Rinsola Babajide cheekily lobbed Rachael Laws from 30 yards to restore parity and weathered a late storm to claim their first point of the season.

Millwall 0-0 Brighton and Hove

Despite the scoreless draw there was plenty of action to keep the fans entertained in south London with Sarah Quantrill and Emma Byrne the heroes for their respective sides, the pair alert and resolute throughout to thwart everything the opposition could throw at them. The draw marks Brighton’s third [out of three] and Millwall’s second on the bounce.

Oxford 0-0 Aston Villa

Just like further south, there was plenty of entertainment as Oxford hosted Villa. The U’s, arguably could have taken all three points, with a number of fine chances but remained unable to capitalise throughout. Likewise, Joe Hunt could be left frustrated after his side appeared as goal-shy, the Villainesses with a number of fine chances in both halves.

Sheffield 1-2 Everton

After a lively first-half, Everton took the lead after the hour when Claudia Walker swivelled outside of the box after picking up a throw-in before letting fly into the bottom corner. Having already proved themselves to be a stubborn opponent, the hosts restored parity ten minutes later when Sherry McCue capitalised on a defensive error to rush in and send the ball beyond Kirstie Levell. Still looking to make a statement in the league and affirm their promotion hopes for next season, Everton took the set-back in stride and regained the lead two minutes later when they next mounted an attack, with the ball whipped into the danger-zone, attacking full back Ellie Gilliatt was left red-faced after beating her own keeper with her attempted clearance.

WSL 2 table as it stands (Credit: The FA)
WSL 2 table as it stands (Credit: The FA)