Ahead of the start of the FA Women’s Super League 2 (FA WSL 2) Spring Series, Richard Laverty previews each team.
Sheffield FC couldn’t have asked for more when they arrived in the world of the FA WSL last year. A slow start put them back a bit but once they hit form they were a formidable opponent for anyone. Bristol lost twice at Dronfield in both the league and the cup while Everton were also put to the sword by Zoe Johnson’s side.
Eventual champions Yeovil only walked away with a point but Sheffield’s away form for most of the year cost them a real shot at promotion. But a 5-0 win at London Bees showed their potential and with new signings in place, Sheffield FC could certainly be one of the sides to watch during 2017.
Where to Sheffield
The Home of Football, Dronfield
At 26, Zoe Johnson is one of the youngest managers in the FA WSL but last year she showed her ability to get her team playing as she wanted pretty quickly given the circumstances. A coach under Helen Mitchell in the FA WPL, Johnson was promoted to assistant manager when Mick Mulhern took over the reins but soon found herself in top spot after Mulhern’s swift departure.
The bombarding left back is very much Miss Sheffield FC herself. Gilliatt has been with the club for some time now and never fails to get up and down the left flank on a regular basis, putting penetrating balls into the opposition penalty area. At her peak, Gilliatt is capable of giving any right back cause for concern and it will be a big relief to the club to see her sign on for 2017.
It was seen as quite a coup last year when Sheffield announced Hannah Dale was joining them from Liverpool. During a difficult season in Widnes, Dale had established herself as a first team player but a raft of new signings opened up the opportunity for Sheffield to guarantee her first team football. Dale didn’t disappoint; her ability to pass, cross and chip in with the occasional goal saw her become a regular member of Sheffield’s midfield when fit.
If Flint can get anywhere near the ability she showed at Manchester City she’ll be a frightening player in FA WSL 2. Already announcing her intentions with a screamer in Sunday’s cup tie at Charlton, we all remember some of Flint’s goals while at City and she could be one of the players of the season if she builds on that ability this year.
One to Watch
The England U-17 winger was one of the surprise packages at Sheffield last season. With manager Johnson not afraid to throw in a whole host of youngsters, Cain was one who benefited greatly after taking the step to leave hometown club Doncaster Rovers Belles despite promotion. The talented winger wanted first-team football and she made the most of it when it came, regularly being able to beat her marker and pose opposition defenses endless problems. All Cain needs is consistency and that will come with age and experience.
It’s been relatively quiet at Dronfield over the winter months. Johnson has managed to hold on to the key core of the squad and the first bit of big business was to keep hold of Liverpool’s Dale for at least the next 18 months. Soon following were Fylde duo Flint and teammate Lagan Makin, both whom have pace and skill to burn as Flint showed during her early years with Nick Cushing at Manchester City.
Spring Series Prediction: 3rd
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