SEASON PREVIEW: Welsh Women’s Premier League

The Welsh Women Premier League begins on Sunday and we have caught up with the sides ahead of the opening round of matches for the low down and thoughts on the season ahead.

Can Swansea City retain the league title? Can Cardiff Met do the cup double? Can newcomers Caldicot or Caernarfon surprise other teams?

Abergavenny Women
Abergavenny were previously PILCS but moved to Abergavenny last season as they looked to grow and progress. Last season they were League cup runners up after defeat to Cardiff Met and despite a strong start they finished the season in 4th. Last season defender Katrina French was named the league player of season and striker Lyndsey Davies won the golden boot as well as becoming the first player to score 100 goals in the Welsh Premier Women’s League.

Home Ground: Pen-Y-Pound Stadium, Abergavenny, NP7 7RN
Twitter: @AbergavennyWFC
First 2 matches: Llandudno (h) and Rhyl (a)

We asked Manager Richie Jeremiah his thoughts ahead of the season.

How has pre season been?
Pre season has been excellent, we had a tough schedule of fixtures along with some intense training sessions. The group have set a high standard throughout, which we will be looking to push higher every week once the season kicks off.

What are your feelings ahead of the new season?
We as a club are excited, last season was a settling in period at our new surroundings. Everyone is now much more comfortable at our new home, this has made the feeling around the club a much more positive one! The ladies are raring to go.

Aims and expectations for the new season ahead?
Our aims will be to compete with the best and the expectations are always to give the best account of ourselves and keep the club moving forward.

How well do you think the club will do this season and where do you think they will finish?
We will be a competitive side who will want to do well on all 3 fronts. I’m not one for predicting results, so I’ll leave that and just see where our hard work takes us.

What can teams expect from your club this season?
You’ll get a side which is willing to work extremely hard to reach their potential

Which team are you most looking forward to playing and why?
Llandudno is our first match and is the only game I’ve thought about

Who will be your most important or key player?
We have a strong all round squad but I expect our captain Ceri Hudson to have another successful season, leading this club by setting a great example on how players should apply themselves.

Who is the Player to look out for
We have a few players to look out for this season, a couple of surprises and a few who have performed in the WPWL for a number of seasons. Naming names would be giving too much away!

Who is the unsung hero in your squad?
Unsung hero is a tough one as this pre season has shown everyone is valued at our club and they are all working hard to achieve the same goal. Something we probably didn’t have last season!

Who do you think will be champions and runners up?
Again, I’m not one for predicting but the usual suspects will be up there as always!

Surprise team?
I’ve seen Port Talbot have had a successful preseason with some great wins so that looks promising for them!

If a stranger has never seen the team play or watched a Welsh women premier game how would you sell or promote the Welsh women premier league or your club to them? If you were to come and watch Abergavenny your sure to be in for a warm welcome, an exciting competitive game of football played in the right way & spirit.

Caernarfon Town
Caernarfon return to the Premier League after 3 seasons away. The won the North Wales women league last season, winning 18 matches and only losing 2. Top goalscorer Catrin Thomas will be hoping to carry on scoring after bagging 38 last season and winning the Daily Post North Wales Women’s Player of the Year award.

Stadium: The Oval, Caernarfon, LL55 2HT
Twitter: @CaernarfonTLFC
First 2 matches: Cardiff City (a) and Cyncoed (h)

 

Caldicot Town
Caldicot join the Premier league for the first time after winning the South Wales Women League with only one defeat all season. They also won the South Wales FA Cup.

Stadium: Jubilee Way, Caldicot, NP26 4XB
Twitter: @CaldicotLadyFC
First 2 matches: Rhyl (h) and Swansea City (a)

We asked Manager Luke Harris his thoughts ahead of the season

How has pre season been?
Pre season has gone very well for us. We have made some real good signings over the summer who will strengthen our squad and the whole team are looking really fit.

What are your feelings ahead of the new season?
It’s excitement and a bit of nerves. We’ve only been going 2 seasons so it’s a jump up into the top level but I think we will be more than ok in the Welsh premier league.

Aims and expectations for the new season ahead?
The aim for us is to stay in the league and avoid relegation seeing as it’s our first season at Welsh premier level.

How well do you think the club will do this season and where do you think they will finish?
I think we will definitely surprise a few people and I think we will finish mid table or above.

What can teams expect from your club this season?
Other teams can expect from us a good footballing side who will work hard and don’t stop until the final whistle.

Which team are you most looking forward to playing and why?
Looking forward to playing Abergavenny as it’s the most local side this season.

Who will be your most important or key player?
Key players we have a whole squad of them but I think Shauna Pentney will be the rock at the back for us.

Who is the Player to look out for?
I think Alana Murphy with her pace! Can beat a player and has a mean strike!

Who is the unsung hero in your squad?
Difficult one but I would say Emily Bayliss, works hard and can turn defenders inside out with both feet.

Who do you think will be champions and runners up?
The usual two. Swansea to win and Cardiff Met runners up

Surprise team?
Surprise team i would like to say us. I think we will cause a few upsets.

If a stranger has never seen the team play or watched a Welsh women premier game how would you sell or promote the Welsh women premier league or your club to them?
I would promote it in how good the standard is and I think the ball is moved around a lot nicer and prettier to watch than the men’s game.

Cardiff City
After finishing third last season City will be aiming to push into the top 2 this season

Stadium: Leckwith Stadium, Leckwith Road, Cardiff, CF11 8SX
Twitter: @CardiffCityFC
First 2 matches: Caernarfon Town (h) and  Llandudno (a)

We asked Manager Joel Hutton for his thoughts ahead of the season

How has pre season been?
We have had a productive preseason, off the field, is the strongest we have been for many years. We have recruited students from University of South Wales, who are studying BSc in Football Coaching & Performance, to strengthen the coaching staff, this is important as it gives us more resource to invest in the team. We have been able to add to our squad from last season, to help strengthen in certain areas. Fixture wise it has been good to play teams that we normally wouldn’t play, such as Wolves Ladies FC and Exeter City Ladies FC, so we have traveled quite a bit during preseason, but they have been good tests.

What are your feelings ahead of the new season?
Really looking forward to it, there comes a point at the end of each season when you can’t wait to have a break, but when you’re on that break, you can’t wait to get back involved, that’s where I am now, looking forward to Sunday.

Aims and expectations for the new season ahead?
To challenge for the league title, have a good Welsh Cup run, which is something that we have been lucky enough to achieve in recently years, and a better run in the league cup, this is something that we haven’t achieved in recent years.

How well do you think the club will do this season and where do you think they will finish?
Difficult to say at the moment, without the season having kicked off. I would hope we can improve on our 3rd place finish last season.

What can teams expect from your club this season?
Without trying to give too much away, we’ve added quality in areas of the pitch we have needed too, so hopefully a stronger squad will mean seeing out games we were unable to last season.

Which team are you most looking forward to playing and why?
There are few teams I enjoy playing, obviously, Swansea, Cardiff MET and Abergavenny are always eventful games, but if I had to pick one it would have to be Port Talbot. I really enjoy going there every season, I like their ground and they have a good bunch of people there.

Who will be your most important or key player?
Hard to pick one out, there’s a few. Our captain Siobhan Walsh has been a very important player for a number of seasons, along with Shannon Evans, who has scored a number of important goals over the past couple of seasons. Chelsea Cochrane, who has recently been called up to Northern Ireland’s U19’s squad.

Who is the Player to look out for?
A couple of returning players, Alesha McGlynn, Amy Wathan and Kelly Bourne, who have gained some valuable experience playing in the English system over the past few years, will hopefully add to our squad.

Who do you think will be champions and runners up?
I would like to say that we can be up there come the end of the season, but again without a ball being kicked yet it’s difficult to say. Cardiff MET, Swansea City and Abergavenny have all have a pretty good chance I would say.

Surprise team?
I would say Cyncoed Ladies, I like them. They have been a surprise package over the past few years for me. I may be wrong, but possibly only one of the teams to be promoted and not to be relegated in the same year? They are doing things the correct way, developing young players.

If a stranger has never seen the team play or watched a Welsh women premier game how would you sell or promote the Welsh women premier league or your club to them?
It’s the most elite league in Wales for Women’s football. I’d say the league is developing at a fast rate, attracting quality players, with coaches working hard within their individual set ups to ultimately strengthen the league. A Champions League Qualification tournament is up for grabs for the winner, which not many leagues can offer.

Cardiff Metropolitan
After missing out on league to Swansea City last year, Met will be looking at retaining the league this season and hopefully retaining the domestic double after winning the league and FA cup last season.

Stadium: Cardiff Met Cyncoed Campus, Cyncoed Road, Cardiff, CF23 6XD
Twitter: @CardiffMetLFC
First 2 matches: Swansea City (h) and Port Talbot Town (a)

 

Cyncoed Ladies
After finishing fifth last season Cyncoed will be looking to push on and try finishing higher up the table

Stadium: Cardiff University Playing Fields, Llanrumney, Cardiff, CF3 4JN
Twitter: @CyncoedLadiesFC
First 2 matches:  Port Talbot Town (h) and Caernarfon Town (a)

We asked coach James Fishlock for his thoughts ahead of the season

How has pre season been?
Pre-Season can be frustrating at times. It can be difficult with staff & players on holiday, but it’s gone well overall and as the season has gotten closer, so has the excitement within the group.

What are your feelings ahead of the new season?
As usual, nervous but excited to see this group perform. We have recruited well and go into the season full of confidence.

Aims and expectations for the new season ahead?
We will aim to play a good brand of football and continue to develop the group of players that we have. The expectations we have of ourselves are always high and if we meet those then we’ll have a good season.

How well do you think the club will do this season and where do you think they will finish?
Following on from last season’s 5th place finish will be tough, teams now know all about Cyncoed Ladies but that presents us with a new and exciting challenge. I’m always confident about our chances against anyone, so I see no reason why we can’t perform as well as we did last season.

What can teams expect from your club this season?
We like to play attacking football, but that’s all you’re getting from me. If you want to know more, you’ll have to come and watch the girls perform

Which team are you most looking forward to playing and why?
The local derbies with Cardiff Met and Cardiff City Ladies are always good competitive games. However, it’s the new sides in the league I always look forward to playing against. They offer a freshness to the league and it’s great to see.

Who will be your most important or key player?
For us to be successful then every member of our squad, staff included will need to be at the top of their game. We’ve very good players, but if we play as individuals, then we will not be successful.

Who is the Player to look out for?
For me, I think this season will see Caitlin Bevan and Gwen Davies break out and be up there for the end of year awards. They’re tremendous young players and we’re all excited to see how they develop over the season.

Who is the unsung hero in your squad?
Lisha Northmore, she get’s a lot of grief at training but it’s all good natured and she keeps morale high at all times. She’ll always go the extra mile for the club and it’s hugely appreciated by all the staff.

Who do you think will be champions and runners up?
I can’t say ourselves as we’re a modest bunch at Cyncoed. So I’ll say Cardiff City Ladies as Champions and Swansea City Runners-up.

Surprise team?
Caldicot Town have recruited well and seem to have a lot of backing, so I’ll be keeping my eye on them as the season goes on.

If a stranger has never seen the team play or watched a Welsh women premier game how would you sell or promote the Welsh women premier league or your club to them?
Firstly I’d ask them “why not?” The Welsh Women’s Premier League is the breeding ground for the next phase of Welsh Female International Footballers. The standard is always improving and the girls score plenty of goals, get involved in some grass roots football and help grow the game in Wales.

Llandudno
Llandudno finished 6th last season hope to push into the top 4 this season. They were previously known as Llandudno Junction Ladies, but were renamed in June 2014, when the club moved their home ground to Maes Du, the home of Llandudno Town.

Stadium: Maesdu Park, Builder Street West, Llandudno, LL30 1HH
Twitter: @LlandudnoLadies
First 2 matches: Abergavenny (a) and Cardiff City (h)

We asked Manager Sarah Colville for her thoughts ahead of the season

How has pre season been?
Preseason has been really good, we pushed ourselves even more and worked really hard to get ready for the season.

What are your feelings ahead of the new season?
I am excited about the new season and hoping that we get our deserved output in the pitch with the level of input we have put into getting better this preseason.

Aims and expectations for the new season ahead?
We have always improved every season that we have been in this league and we hope to continue with this impressive trend this season. I expect us to push into the top 4 this season .

How well do you think the club will do this season and where do you think they will finish?
I expect us to do well, give our very best and we can only do that by continuing with our hardwork, motivation and dedication throughout the season and hopefully we push into the top 4 .

What can teams expect from your club this season?
I think it is more of what do we expect from other teams in the league this coming season and we have to stay focused regardless of who we play. We can only promise to give a hundred percent in every game.

Which team are you most looking forward to playing and why?
Obviously some games may have heightened significance because it might be a local derby or playing the previous champions but it all comes down to the fact that you are going to have to play every team to get to the top. The best mindset I tell the players to have is to be as excited for the first of the season as they will be for the last.

Who will be your most important or key player?
We have a very good group of girls who understand that we are all as important as each other in attaining our goal this season. We can only do that together and embracing the required sacrifices we all have to make along the way to achieving that.

Who is the Player to look out for?
We have quite a few players to watch out for this season but I will say Keren Allen is one to watch out for this season.

Who is the unsung hero in your squad?
I think this may sound odd but I think all our Coaches, Club Secretary Geoff Davies, Players, supporters and sponsors

Who do you think will be champions and runners up?
I think the team that stays consistent throughout the season and wins the most games does and the team that wins one less than them becomes runner up. I can only wish all teams the very best of luck this season till they play us I guess.

Surprise team?
I think the meaning of the word says it all it is something unexpected and unpredictable so we can only wait to find out.

If a stranger has never seen the team play or watched a Welsh women premier game how would you sell or promote the Welsh women premier league or your club to them?
A team that is very hospitable, passionate doing it’s best to improve the women’s game in our community located in the North of Wales. Who play in a league that consist of a representation of quality teams from other parts of the country doing their bit to improve the women’s game in their own Communities and ultimately Wales as a whole.

Port Talbot Town
Port Talbot will be looking to push on from finishing seventh last season and emulate previous season where they have finished higher in the table.

Stadium: The Genquip Stadium, Victoria Road, Port Talbot, SA12 6AD
Twitter: @PTTownLadiesFC
First 2 matches: Cyncoed (a) and Cardiff Met (h)

We asked Hayley Williams, Port Talbot’s commercial, media and fundraising officer for her thoughts ahead of the season

How has pre season been?
We have played 4 and won 4 during pre season scoring 13 goals. We played Barry, Yeovil development, Cwmbran and Torquay. We have had good numbers at training and seen younger players moving up.

What are your feelings ahead of the new season?
We are feeling positive, looking good tactically and confidence is high

Aims and expectations for the new season ahead?
The aim is to push the top 4 and to try break into it. Also win a cup

How well do you think the club will do this season and where do you think they will finish?
I think we will finish 5th and we will be strong at home

What can teams expect from your club this season?
A well organised and tactically sound unit

Which team are you most looking forward to playing and why?
We are looking forward to playing Llandundo as it’s always a fiercely contested and close fixture

Who will be your most important or key player?
Carys Davies, our new signing from Newcastle Emlyn. A tremendous centre half.

Who is the Player to look out for?
Lauren Amor, her set piece delivery will tear many defences this season

Who is the unsung hero in your squad?
Jess Hammett, a quiet girl who goes about her business consitently. A tough tackling midfield with great vision. Her performances are always admired by her team mates and she does all the simple things on the pitch so effectively.

Who do you think will be champions and runners up?
Swansea City 1st and Cardiff Met 2nd

Surprise team?
Caldicot Town, they seem to have a good set up there

If a stranger has never seen the team play or watched a Welsh women premier game how would you sell or promote the Welsh women premier league or your club to them?
A high level of football, where Welsh players get the chance to play in their countries national league. Port Talbot are probably the friendliest team in the league with top banter!

Rhyl
Rhyl avoided relegation on goal difference with Aberystwyth going down instead. This season Rhyl will be again looking at survival but also be hoping to push on and finish outside of the danger area. The club changed its name from Prestatyn Ladies & Girls following promotion to the WPWL in 2014/15 season, which saw them relocate to Rhyl’s Belle Vue Stadium.

Stadium: Corbett Sports Stadium, Grange Road, Rhyl, LL18 4BY
Twitter: @FootyRhyl
First 2 matches: Caldicot (a) and Abergavenny (h)

We asked Manager Tom Jamieson for his thoughts ahead of the season

How has pre season been?
Gone well , chance to try new ideas against good teams

What are your feelings ahead of the new season?
Looking forward to see how players adapt to the challenge ahead

Aims and expectations for the new season ahead?
Simple remain in the league

How well do you think the club will do this season and where do you think they will finish?
As long as we compete and perform like I know we can we will upset a few teams this season, as before remain in the league .

What can teams expect from your club this season?
Let’s see ,you keep your tactics close to you .. haha

Which team are you most looking forward to playing and why?
Has to be the north Wales derby v Llandudno, both sets of players enjoy this game

Who will be your most important or key player?
Our skipper Rachael Nattrass  is crucial as she is highly experienced and can gel the team

Who is the Player to look out for
Keep an eye on Paige Williams this year after a great first season

Who is the unsung hero in your squad?
Have to say our secretary Ruth!!

Who do you think will be champions and runners up?
Between Met and Swansea for me

Surprise team?
Rhyl!!

If a stranger has never seen the team play or watched a Welsh women premier game how would you sell or promote the Welsh women premier league or your club to them?
Come and watch the beautiful game and you will be surprised how competitive our league is

Swansea City
Swansea won the league last season and missed out on the Welsh Cup after losing on penalties to Cardiff Met. Following the recent champions league adventures City will be fresh and ready for a title defending season.

Stadium: Llandarcy Park, Neath, SA10 6JD
Twitter: @SwansLadies
First 2 matches: Cardiff Met (a) and Caldicot Town (h)

We asked Manager Ian Owen for his thoughts ahead of the season

How has pre season been?
Pre season has been really testing. The three champions league games provided us with everything we needed to prepare for the start of the upcoming season.

What are your feelings ahead of the new season?
We are looking forward to playing regular games again

Aims and expectations for the new season ahead?
To win as many games as possible

Which team are you most looking forward to playing and why?
All teams

Who will be your most important or key player?
All of our players are important.

Who is the unsung hero in your squad?
All of the backroom staff

Leave a Reply