With the first team season now over, we now look at the development team and the Centre Of Excellence u17 teams who play in the traditional winter season September to May unlike the WSL 1 and 2.
The first team players will travel to meet up with their respective national teams and will be back for the FA WSL Continental Cup final to be played against Notts County Ladies. It is hoped that the club will organise a supporters coach as it has in the past for the FA Women’s Cup final games.
The u17 team beat Chelsea Ladies 1-0 away on Saturday in a tight game and it leaves the girls at the top of the table, three points ahead of Chelsea Ladies.
The development team were away to London Bees and came back with a 4-0 win and they are also top of the table with nine points ahead of Chelsea Ladies and Reading women on goal difference.
The starting 11 was Rogers, Sampson, Parker, Ritchie, Williams, Cowley, G Allen, Fyfe Humphrey, Clarke (c) Dean, and Kelly playing in a 4-3-3 system, although it has to be said that all three midfield players were attack-minded. It looked like a 4-0-3-3 merging into a 4-0-6 at time will an attacking line-up. Driscoll, Devlin and sub goalkeeper Shona Allen came on as subs while Stojko-Down and Brunton Wilde were unused subs.
The goals were scored by birthday girl and captain Clarke who got a brace, while Dean opened the score and Kelly closed it.
The development league is a league in place to bridge the gap between the u17 and senior football. The biggest problem is some of the players have outgrown it, but are still not totally ready for first team football as there is a huge gap between development and first team football.
In terms of pace and intensity, there is no doubt that certain players in the side would probably improve at a quicker rate by going on loan in the FA Women’s Premier League as they would compete against experienced 25 to 30 year old who are stronger physically than most Development team players.
The downside is that those who are training on a daily basis with the first team might not see the same training quality and intensity in the WPL and probably train only twice a week. Some players might end up moving to the FA WSL2 in January as first team football at that level is interesting and there are many sides around London.
It should be an interesting season for the development team and they will be looking to do the League and Cup double.