Women’s Sports Column 21-27 May

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This week’s stories come from football, tennis, athletics, boxing, horse racing and hockey. There are also not one, but two “and finally” snippets for your delectation – couldn’t decide which one was worse so I thought I’d feature both.

 

The last FAWSL fixtures before the mid-season break took place this week. Manchester City have had their lead cut to four points.

Saturday 21 May

The game between Doncaster Belles and Arsenal was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. No date has been announced for the re-arranged fixture.

Wednesday 25 May

Liverpool 0-0 Manchester City

Liverpool had the better of the game, with their best chance coming 12 minutes from the end of the match with Rosie White heading against the bar from a Laura Coombs corner.

These are the first points dropped by City this season.

Chelsea 2-1 Sunderland

Chelsea kept the heat on City with a 2-1 triumph against Sunderland, who are still looking for their first win of the season.

Steph Roche gave the Lady Black Cats the lead after just six minutes, but Chelsea captain Katie Chapman equalised with a fine header from Karen Carney’s free-kick just 90 seconds later.

In truth, Chelsea could have had six if they hadn’t been so profligate in front of goal. As it was, Fran Kirby scored in the 21st minute to seal the three points. She perhaps deserved another in the second half, for sheer audacity if nothing else, when she bicycle-kicked just over the bar.

Sunderland remain second from bottom.

 

Kim Little has been voted BBC World Service Women’s Footballer of the Year 2016. The 25-year old Scotland midfielder beat Gaell Gaelle Enganamouit (FC Rosengard, Sweden), Amandine Henry (Olympique Lyonnais), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash) and Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City) to win the award.

This is not the Seattle Reign’s first award. She was named the FA’s Women’s Player of the Year in 2010 and was the first winner of the PFA Women’s Players’ Player of the Year award in 2013.

 

Thursday 26 May

Women’s Champions League final

Wolfsburg 1-1 Lyon
Lyon win 4-3 on penalties

Lyon won their third Champions League title on penalties after keeper Sarah Bouhaddi saved two spot kicks to seal the win.

Lyon took the lead in just the 12th minute through the competition’s top scorer, Ada Hegerberg. It looked as though this could be the winner until Alex Popp equalised with a fine header two minutes from time.

The teams couldn’t be separated in extra time, and the tie went to penalties. Although Hegerberg missed hers, the Lyon keeper saved from Nilla Fischer and Bussaglia. The winning penalty was converted by player of the match, Saki Kumagai.

 

Not much to be cheery about if you’re a British tennis fan. As I suggested last week, all four British women had tough first round draws at the French Open at Roland Garros. The only one of the four to get through to the second round was British number two, Heather Watson.

Most disappointing was the performance of British number one, Johanna Konta, who lost in straight sets by Julia Goerges, 6-2 6-3.

Laura Robson, who faced the hardest task, was ousted by 28th seed, Andrea Petkovic, 6-2 6-2.

Naomi Broady also perished in the first round, although she did manage to take it to three sets against American Coco Candeweghe, before losing 4-6 6-3 3-6.

Heather Watson beat her doubles partner, Nicole Gibbs, 5-7 6-2 6-2 in the first round, but couldn’t cope with 13th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second, 6-1 6-3. She tried hard, especially in the second set, but was outclassed by the 13th seed.

 

In other tennis news, Maria Sharapova, who is currently serving a suspension for doping, has been named in the Russian Olympic team for Rio in August. Sharapova is only provisionally suspended at the moment, and is waiting for the result of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) investigation.

If she is given a confirmed ban she will be replaced in the team by Ekaterina Makaraova.

 

Jockey Michelle Payne suffered a serious fall this week which will put her out of action until at least August. She is currently in hospital recovering from abdominal surgery. It means she will not be able to compete in the Shergar Cup team event at Ascot on 6 August.

 

The race to Rio is hotting up with athletes of all disciplines still working on qualifying. However, one athlete this week has expressed a doubt as to whether she wants to compete in the Games if Russia are allowed to take part. Russian athletes are currently banned due to allegations of widespread state-organised doping.

Goldie Sayers, British javelin record holder has said that she would think long and hard about competing if Russia were re-admitted for Rio. But she admits,

“But if they are reinstated and I didn’t compete I’d be cheating myself out of another opportunity at the Olympics.”

Let’s hope she doesn’t have to make the choice.

 

Brilliant news from boxing on 27 May. Nicola Adams has claimed gold in the flyweight division at the AIBA World Championships in Kazakhstan.

She beat Thailand’s Peamwilai Laopeam by a split decision.

Surprisingly this is Adams’ first World Championships gold, with three previous silvers in the bag. It now completes her set; Olympic, Commonwealth, European and World titles.

She has already qualified for Rio and who would bet against her taking gold again?

 

One event of which I have been made aware (thanks Martin) is the Euro Hockey Club Champions Cup (EHCCC). This is the hockey equivalent of the football Champions’ League. This year’s was won by Den Bosch in an all-Dutch final against SCHC – a replay of the 2015 final.

16 May
Bilthoven
Den Bosch 1-1 SCHC
Den Bosch win on penalties

Den Bosch opened the scoring through a penalty corner converted by Pauman. They held the lead until the 40th minute, when SCHC were awarded a penalty stroke, which was taken and scored by van Massakker.

Den Bosch took the title in a shoot out.

The teams for next year’s tournament have already been announced. England’s representation will be from Canterbury and Surbiton, who also took part in this year’s competition, finishing fifth and sixth respectively. The countries are allotted a number of places as a result of their ranking.

Currently the Netherlands are top of the tree and will have two places, as will England. Germany, Spain, Ireland and Russia have one place each. This is the position at the moment, but Belarus and Belgium are closing fast in the rankings and could yet take one of the spots for next year’s contest.

 

Take your pick of “and finally” stories this week. The first is all too familiar and possibly a bit too predictable, but the second is something special – and no, I’m not providing photos.

Chris Gayle has struck again this week with another embarrassing interview with a female journalist. He bragged to Charlotte Edwardes from The Times that he has a

“very, very big bat….You think you could lift it? You’d need two hands.”

He asked Edwardes “how many black men I’ve had” and whether she had ever been in a threesome.

Don’t think I need to say anymore about that.

 

And finally (2), Ayr United plumbed the depths this week in launching their new kit for next season. They have done it by having a topless model with the “shirt” painted on in body paint, posing in several provocative situations. They have form. They have done it before regardless of the criticism faced, which shows a complete lack of sensibility. And of course, in reporting the story – yes you Daily Mail and Independent, the pictures had to be reprinted. This gives more publicity to a grimy idea – which is exactly what they want.

So Ayr United, who do you want at your games. Is it women? Is it children? Er no, probably not. I would suggest that they probably don’t matter to you.

This time they could be fined by the Scottish FA. Hit them in the pocket, I say.

Women’s Sports Column 14-20 May

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Welcome to the column. This week’s stories from football, cricket, swimming, canoeing, tennis and netball, with the only possible “And finally” that there can be.

The SSE Women’s FA Cup Final took place at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 14 May. It was the second year that the BBC had televised it live. A crowd of 32,912 saw Arsenal defeat the holders, Chelsea with a stunning goal from Dan Carter. I wrote a report for Women’s Sports UK. You can read it here: http://www.womenssportsuk.com/football/match-report/arsenal-win-sse-fa-cup-with-spectacular-carter-goal

There were also some league matches this week:

13 May

Chelsea Ladies 0-2 Manchester City Women
Staines

Manchester City remain unbeaten in the FAWSL after completing an impressive away win over Chelsea. Demi Stokes scored the first in the first half with Jennifer Beattie doubling the score in the second. It capped a miserable week for Chelsea who lost out to Arsenal in the FA Cup on Saturday.

Sunderland Ladies 0-4 Liverpool Ladies
Hetton Centre

A comprehensive win for Liverpool saw them move up to third in the table. Rosie White scored the first with Alex Greenwood putting away a penalty for the second. An unfortunate own goal from Steph Bannon made it three and Katie Zelem got the fourth. Sunderland are still looking for their first win of the season.

Birmingham City Ladies 0-0 Reading Ladies
Solihull Moors

Reading were also looking for their first win of the season, and although they couldn’t secure all three points, they were happy to leave with the draw. In a disappointing televised game, chances were few and far between and the close control was poor. Birmingham are now unbeaten in four games, but were left rueing the few chances they had.

Did you know the women’s under 17 European Championships have been happening over the last couple of weeks? Not if you only look in the mainstream media. England’s women finished third after winning the play-off for bronze against Norway.

They had been beaten in the semi-final by, yes you guessed it, Germany, 3-4, but came back well to triumph against the Norwegians to claim a place at the Under 17s World Cup in Jordan later this year.

Eventual winners, Germany, and runners-up, Spain, also qualified.

Niamh Charles scored both goals to take the win.

In a turn of amazing news, FIFA has appointed Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura from Senegal as its new Secretary General. She has plenty of high-level experience, having spent 21 years at the United Nations. She replaces Jerome Valke, who was banned from football for 12 years after his conviction for corruption.

“She has a proven ability to build and lead teams, and improve the way organisations perform. Importantly for Fifa, she also understands that transparency and accountability are at the heart of any well-run and responsible organisation,” said FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino.

Unhappy news from cricket this week as Sarah Taylor has announced an indefinite break from cricket for “personal reasons”. Hot on the heels of Charlotte Edwards’ forced retirement last week, this is a blow for Head of Women’s Cricket Clare Connor and coach Mark Robinson. It is not known whether she will be back for the visit of Pakistan in June or Sri Lanka later in the summer. She is also due to be an essential part of Lancashire Thunder’s quest to win the inaugural Kia Super League.

In better news, the ECB awards were held this week. Women’s Cricketer of the Year Award went to Anya Shrubsole. Last season she took 32 wickets for England and has put herself forward to replace Charlotte Edwards as Captain. And talking of Edwards, she was voted fans’ Women’s Player of the Year.

There were some interesting league fixtures last weekend. Kent continue to set the pace:

Berkshire v Warwickshire
Wokingham

Berkshire 186 all out (48.1 overs)
Warwickshire 200/9
Warwickshire win by 14 runs

Warwickshire won the toss and elected to bat. They put on an impressive 200/9 with Anna Lanning the pick of the batters with 54. Best bowling came from putative England captain, Heather Knight, who took two for 13 off her 10 overs, bowling seven maidens in the process.

Berkshire’s reply started well as the first wicket didn’t fall until 97 was on the board, when Linsey Smith was bowled by Georgia Davis for 40. However the next five wickets fell for just 39 runs with only Knight holding the fort. They were lucky to get as close to their target as they did with Hennessey pick of the bowlers taking four for 32 off her 10 overs.

Kent v Middlesex
Canterbury

Kent 94/4 (20.2 overs)
Middlesex 92 all out (38.5 overs)
Kent win by 6 wickets

Easy win for Kent at Canterbury as they dismissed Middlesex for just 92 and went on to reach their target in just over 20 overs.

The top five batters only scored 21 between them with a lethal spell from Tash Farrant doing the damage as she got Sophia Dunkley (2), Natasha Miles (4) and Catherine Dalton (0) with Alice Davidson- Richards taking Anna Nicholls’ (9) wicket in between the latter two.

Kent are a class outfit with superstars at every turn. It seemed inevitable, after the horror show of a week for Charlotte Edwards, that she should play a decisive innings. She was 30 not out at the end and Kent won at a canter.

Somerset v Sussex
Bath

Somerset 126 all out (38.5 overs)
Sussex 127/3 (28.1 overs)
Sussex win by 7 wickets

Somerset opener Gwenan Davies went for a four-ball duck, bowled all ends up by Izi Noakes. There was a semblance of a recovery from Georgina Adcock (28), Sophie Luff (26) and Anya Shrubsole (14) as they took the score to 94/4, but after that the lower order collapsed with only Kate Randall, coming in at nine, getting into double figures. The destroyer of the innings was Georgia Elwiss who took a stunning six for 17 off eight overs.

Elwiss, who is becoming a useful all-rounder, then did her bit with the bat. She opened the innings and scored 45 before she was caught by Sophie Luff off the bowling of Nicole Richards. But Sussex never looked in trouble, seeing it home in just over 28 overs.

I published my interview with Salliann Briggs, Head Coach of Loughborough Lightning cricket, this week.  Here’s the link if you would like to read it:

http://www.womenssportsuk.com/cricket/news/loughborough-lightning-not-just-a-flash-in-the-pan

There were some good performances by British swimmers at the European Swimming Championships in London this week.

Among the best were:

Great Britain’s mixed relay team gold in the 4 x 100m

Fran Halsall grabbing bronze in the 50m butterfly

Jazz Carlin’s silver in the 800m freestyle

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor and Hannah Miley – silver and bronze respectively in the 200m individual medley

Chloe Tutton’s bronze in the 100m breaststroke behind Lithuania’s amazing Ruta Meilutyte.

 

Canoeing doesn’t get featured much in this column, but I’m always looking to expand the number of sports covered.

It was the European Championships in Liptovsky, Slovakia this week. The women’s K1 trio of Fiona Pennie, Lizzie Neave and Kimberley Woods took gold, beating Germany by more than four seconds. Mallory Franklin also took gold in the C1. She originally finished in second to Australia’s Jess Fox, but Fox was later penalised 50 points and Franklin moved up into the gold position.

 

Serena Williams beat Madison Keys in straight sets, 76 63, to win the Italian Open this week. It was her first WTA title for nine months. It was her 70th career title.

The French Open begins next week and the British players have tough draws:

Johanna Konta v Julia Goerges

Heather Watston v Nicole Gibbs

Laura Robson v Andrea Petkovic (very tough)

Naomi Broady v Coco Vandeweghe

 

There was a feast of netball at Northumbria University this week as Netball Europe’s Open Championship took place. The tournament winners were the England Roses.

The Championship was contested by England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

England started the action against Northern Ireland and put in a dazzling display to take the game 83-32. England then beat Scotland Thistles 70-26. The deciding game came against Wales, who were also unbeaten up to this point, beating Scotland 49-36 and Northern Ireland 54-38.

After the first quarter England were just 17-14 up, but by half-time England were beginning to pull away, stretching their lead to 38-23. In the latter two quarters England began to put on the style, eventually coming out victorious by 81-42 and taking the title of Netball Europe Open Champions.

 

And finally, this week Muirfield Golf Club, in its wisdom, failed to secure the two-thirds majority vote it needed to allow it to begin to admit women members. Consequently the R&A stripped it of the right to host The Open. Just about everyone has seen the sense of this sanction. Of course, Peter Alliss suggested that if women wanted to use the facilities of members, they should marry one of the current members….. Must give a mention to a tweet I saw, can’t remember who it was, but it was excellent, who said that the decision would also include a change of name for the club….. to Jurassic Park.

Introducing the Fleckney Rogues – AKA Back to Netball after 30 years part 7

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I’m well aware that my netball blogging has been seriously lax of late. I plead mitigation – life has just got in the way yet again. Added to which I’ve had several interesting assignments writing-wise, which hopefully you’ve been keeping up with.

So I’ve decided to merge the highlights of the last five sessions together and give you a flavour of just what has been going on.

As you may have guessed we now have a new name – the Fleckney Rogues. And indeed we are getting more roguish by the session!

Good turnout for the first session gave us encouragement. We discussed roughly how we thought it would work, noted who was there and likely to turn up in future weeks. We had enough people to pay up front for 10 weeks. Armed with only Val’s notes and the ridiculous diagrams from my previous posts, we attempted to run a session. Did it work? Yes it did.

We found a bag of balls and two sets of bibs waiting for us. Apparently they had been found at the back of the cupboard! Unfortunately only two of the balls were fully pumped up, but still.

We did a warm-up and worked on a few of the drills we had done before. This worked relatively well. Admittedly, it took up to five minutes each time to decide if we were doing each drill correctly, but once we were sorted there was no stopping us!

One of our favourite drills is going up the court in pairs. You’ll have seen this before, but it looks something like this:

Drill2

 

It’s really good for passing, footwork and you get to shoot at the end. When there are enough players for two pairs we turn it into a contest and you get one point for hitting the hoop and two for getting it in. First to ten points wins.

For the first three weeks it all went well. I missed one week because I was “sunning myself” (tee hee) in the Peak District.

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Fourth week was hard as there weren’t many of us.

I have to say, at this point, that I’m writing the second half of this blog after five weeks in. And now I’m quite worried. Fourth week, as I say, there weren’t many of us, but we made sure we did a good session and worked hard.

Fifth week Val was due to visit us to see how we were getting on. Naturally we wanted a good turnout for Val to be impressed. We were three. Val was brilliant, as always, even though she’d come out of the goodness of her heart to see us and we were so few. We had a great session, full of fun and laughter, and Val actually said how much we’d improved. As she wasn’t getting paid for this, I think she meant it! She was impressed with our footwork and our shooting.

Val also gave us a couple of new drills to try. At this point I was going to add a new picture, but confused myself so you’ll have to imagine us in a triangle with Val in the middle, pass turn left pass turn left run (I think). And then we turned the other way – if I tried to draw it it would look like spaghetti!

And joy of joys, I got to do a bit of defending! Val said she always puts the defending in place last, but now it was time we got into it. If you get the ball skills, footwork and passing in place first, then defending should fall into place.

I practiced marking Val! Great fun. She was showing how you have to move to outsmart a defender (she didn’t) and how you can get in front of your marker rather than stay behind (she didn’t). She also said that instead of moving in straight lines, the attacker should be prepared to go on a diagonal to get past the defender (she didn’t). Gosh, I enjoyed that.

Something like this:

defending2

We thanked her profusely and went home happy, but there is a niggle in my mind now; will the Fleckney Rogues keep going without new blood? Will the usual suspects still turn up or will it drop off? At this moment, I don’t think I can plump either way, but I just hope we can carry on.

I’ll try not to leave it another five weeks before the next instalment. And I hope I have something positive to report next time.

 

 

 

Women’s Sports Column 7-13 May

Charlotte-Edwards-award-300x197Plenty more interesting stuff this week, and although we’d love to see it in the mainstream press emblazoned all over the back pages, it’s not, so I’m happy to say you can read it all here  instead.

This week’s stories come from cricket, judo, netball, tennis, football, rowing and diving, plus another groaner from tennis in “And finally”.

Only one story for me this week (don’t worry, I will cover more).

England cricket captain Charlotte Edwards retired from international cricket on Wednesday. Needless to say I immediately put finger to keyboard to add my contribution to the thousands of words produced on that day in tribute to this brilliant cricketer:

http://www.womenssportsuk.com/cricket/news/end-of-an-era-as-england-captain-charlotte-edwards-retires-from-internation.

At the time there was some debate about why she had made the announcement – I said, “Did she fall or was she pushed?” Unfortunately it became clear later in the day that it was the latter. She admitted that it was “a complete shock” as she revealed that Head of Women’s Cricket at the ECB and new Head Coach Mark Robinson informed her that they wished to take the captaincy away from her. Apparently she thought she would be able to continue in the team, but then was further stunned to find that she was not to be part of Robinson’s plans in any way.

I have real doubts as to the wisdom of this move, as I outline in my piece above. This round-up is not the forum for this discussion, but I would just say that Edwards still has plenty to offer. Her England career, in my view, has been brought to a premature end. Please read my piece for a list of Edwards’ biggest achievements.

My favourite Twitter tribute comes from cricket writer Vithushan;

“She fought to play, she fought to win, then fought again & won even more. Charlotte Edwards fought so those after her wouldn’t have to.”

In better cricket news, the ECB announced this week that the England team will travel to Jamaica in October to play five one-day matches against T20 World Champions, West Indies.

The first two games will be at the Trelawny Stadium and the other three at Sabina Park in Kingston. If anyone would like to pay me to go out to Jamaica to cover this series, I am happy to do it (seriously).

 

News, good and bad, from judo this week. Terrible news emerged today that Scottish Commonwealth silver medallist judoka, Stephanie Inglis, is in a coma after a motorbike accident in Vietnam. She had been teaching English there and was on her way to the school in Ha Long in NE Vietnam, when it is thought her dress caught in the wheel of the bike and she was dragged off the machine. She suffered extensive head injuries in the accident.

In competition news British judoka Alice Schlesinger won her first Grand Slam event since 2012 when she beat Marijana Miskovic Hasanbegovic from Croatia in Baku this week in the -63kg category just 27 seconds into the final.

There was also a silver medal for Nekoda Davis in the -57kg category.

In a fitting finale for the netball Superleague season on Saturday, defending champions, Surrey Storm, retained their title in a pulsating victory over Manchester Thunder 55-53 at the Copper Box in London.

It looked to be all over by half-time with Storm’s 32-19 lead, but Thunder mounted an incredible comeback which nearly led to the win, but they fell just short, leaving Storm hanging on to take the title.

In the third place play-off Team Bath beat Hertfordshire Mavericks in another tight game 49-48.

I don’t say this often, but at this point I would like to congratulate Sky Sports on their coverage of the netball this season. It has been committed and regular and of an excellent standard. No wonder netball is one of the fastest growing sports for women in Britain.

 

The Madrid Open last weekend was claimed by world number seven, Simona Halep, as she beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-2 6-4.

Some good signs for British women’s tennis at the Italian Open in Rome this week. British number one, Johanna Konta reached the third round with some impressive tennis, but ultimately she will be disappointed with her exit at the hands of Misaki Doi of Japan 4-6 7-5 6-2. Doi is 22 places below Konta in the world rankings. However, her recent form has secured her a seeding for the French Open.

Heather Watson had to come through qualifying to get into the main draw. In the first round she recorded an excellent win against world number 18 and home favourite, Sara Errani, 6-4 3-6 6-0. Unfortunately she couldn’t repeat this form in round two and lost to world number 36 Barbora Strycova, 6-4 6-2.

In other tennis news it was announced that Andy Murray has split with his coach Amélie Mauresmo. Since giving birth to her first child last year, Mauresmo has struggled to combine her coaching commitments with being French Fed Cup captain and commitments to her family.

Needless to say the announcement was the cue for those with a sexist agenda to cry out that he should never have appointed a woman in the first place. But Murray has been vigorous in his defence of Mauresmo, pointing out that such issues do not only affect women, citing the case of Stefan Edberg who gave up coaching Roger Federer to spend more time with his family. He also insisted that the two years spent with Mauresmo have developed both his physical game and mental approach.

Two games to catch-up on in the FAWSL.

Sunday 8 May

Chelsea 6-3 Liverpool

A goal-fest at Wheatsheaf Park saw Chelsea Ladies put six past Liverpool Ladies take the points to maintain their winning start to the season.

Liverpool went ahead in the match through a goal from Zelem, but the Blues came back to be 4-1 up at half-time with goals from Carney, Kirby, Spence and Aluko.

Liverpool were better in the second half but couldn’t convert their chances. Chelsea showed them how to do it as Kirby and Spence each got their second to take them to a convincing win.

Notts County Ladies 0-1 Birmingham City Ladies

Notts County couldn’t follow up on their good win against Liverpool last week as a single goal from Emily Westwood gave Birmingham City the win at Meadow Lane.

The teams couldn’t be separated at half-time, but some sloppy defending from County saw Westwood head in from Jo Potter’s free kick.

 

At the European Rowing Championships in Germany over the weekend, Britain took seven medals in total (men and women).

Helen Glover and Heather Stanning retained their women’s pairs title and there was also gold for the women’s eight who beat the Netherlands by 0.37 to take the title.

Katherine Grainger and her new partner Vicky Thornley could only finish fourth in the women’s double sculls.

Kat Copeland and Charlotte Taylor missed out on the A final of the lightweight women’s sculls but finished second in the B final on Sunday.

 

It was also the 2016 European Aquatics Championships this week, held at the Olympic Park Aquatics Centre in London.

This year is the first that mixed competition has been included.

Britain’s Georgia Ward and Matty Lee won team bronze alternating 10m platform and 3m springboard to score 353.85 from their six dives. Gold was taken by Russia’s Nadezhda Bazhina and Viktor Minibaev with 413.30 points with the Ukrainian pair of Iuliia Prokopchuk and Oleksandr Gorshkovozov in silver position with 396.40.

Grace Reid and Tom Daley won gold in the mixed 3m synchronised event with a score of 321.06. Silver went to the Italian pairing of Tania Cagnotto and Maicol Verzotto and bronze to Nadezhda Bazhina and Nikita Shleikher of Russia.

 

And finally, I was listening to BBC 5 Live Sports Extra’s coverage of the men’s final between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray when a discussion ensued about scheduling. Barry Flatman, the “expert” summariser was bemoaning the fact that the men’s final was at a strange time on the Sunday, while the women’s was at a better time on the Saturday. His comment was, “perhaps the women’s final could be moved to the morning and it can be played as a preamble to the men’s”. Yes. Really. He really said that.

 

Women’s Sports Column 30 April – 6 May

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Welcome to this week’s column.  Plenty of news again this week and I’m afraid it’s back to the age of the dinosaurs again for my “And finally”.  Sorry about that, but necessary, I’m afraid.

This week’s stories come from football, cricket, tennis, squash, cycling, sailing and netball.

 

This Bank Holiday weekend’s FA Women’s Superleague 1 matches saw Manchester City stride on, a thriller at Meadow Lane and a couple of draws that suited no-one!

Sunday 1 May

Arsenal Ladies 0-0 Birmingham City Ladies

Chances were few and far between in this match.  Birmingham could have taken the lead through Remi Allen, but she hit the bar from six yards.  Arsenal had only two chances; Dan Carter’s volley was saved by Birmingham goalie Sophie Baggaley and with the last kick of the game Dominique Janssen’s free-kick hit the bar.  Stalemate.

Monday 2 May

Reading Ladies 1 -1 Sunderland Ladies

Both Reading and Sunderland are still looking for their first wins of the season after their Bank Holiday Monday match ended in a draw.  The away side took the lead through Beth Mead.  She pounced on the rebound after her penalty had been saved by Mary Earps in the Reading goal.  It was a game of two penalties, with the Reading equaliser coming through a Helen Ward spot-kick in the second half.  Stephanie Bannon was sent off for the handball that gave away the penalty.

Manchester City Women 6-0 Doncaster Rovers Belles

High-flying Manchester City went six points clear in the table after demolishing bottom of the table Belles.

They were 5-0 up at half-time with goals from Lucy Bronze, Jill Scott, Jane Ross, Jen Beattie and Kosovare Asllani.  The relatively quiet second half saw only one addition to the scoring from Toni Duggan.

Notts County Ladies 3-2 Liverpool Ladies

A cracking match at Meadow Lane which nearly saw County throw it away with only 10 minutes to go.  I was there and reported on it for Women’s Sports UK.  Catch up with my report here:

http://www.womenssportsuk.com/football/match-report/notts-county-ladies-3-2-liverpool-ladies

FA Women’s Super League 1 table as it stands:

1 Manchester City Women 5 5 0 0 13 0 13 15
2 Chelsea Ladies 3 3 0 0 8 2 6 9
3 Arsenal Ladies 5 2 1 2 5 6 -1 7
4 Notts County Ladies 3 1 1 1 5 5 0 4
5 Liverpool Ladies 4 1 1 2 6 7 -1 4
6 Birmingham City Ladies 4 1 1 2 2 4 -2 4
7 Sunderland Ladies 4 0 3 1 4 6 -2 3
8 Reading Women 5 0 3 2 6 9 -3 3
9 Doncaster Rovers Belles 3 0 0 3 2 12 -10 0

 

Hurrah!  It’s the cricket season.  Do go and support your local team if you get the chance.  It’s going to be a big summer for English women’s cricket so now’s the chance to watch the women in action.  If you can’t get to the county games, please try to get to the Super League in August.  I will be profiling the Super League and covering it in detail.  It’s a big innovation in the women’s game so give it a go!

The Royal London One-Day County Championship got underway last weekend. 

Division one scores:

Sunday 1 May

Somerset 58 all out
Kent 279-4
Kent won by 221 runs.

Kent Captain Charlotte Edwards and fellow opener Tammy Beaumont continued the good form they showed in the T20 World Cup as they scored 79 and 72 respectively, as Kent posted an excellent 279 from their 50 overs.  Newly-promoted Somerset were never at the races – at one point they were 31-6.

Warwickshire 130-4 (28.4 overs)
Sussex 126 all out
Warwickshire won by 6 wickets

Warwickshire put Sussex into bat and were ruthless in their pursuit of wickets.  Sussex lost their first three batters for 13, including debutant Danni Wyatt for a duck and Georgia Elwiss for just two.  They never quite recovered from this poor start and were bowled out for just 126.  In contrast, Warwickshire needed just 28.4 overs to complete their six wicket victory.

Staffordshire 130-9 (reduced to 38 overs)
Berkshire 131-2 off 29.5 overs
Berkshire won by 8 wickets

Although the other newly-promoted side, Staffordshire, posted a decent total in difficult conditions, Berkshire made light work of their reply with captain Heather Knight hitting 56 off 64 balls.  Amanda Potgieter was excellent with both bat and ball.  She took 3-12 in 8 overs and scored 19 not out to see Berkshire home.

Middlesex 165 all out (41.2 overs)
Surrey 99 all out
Middlesex won by 66 runs

Surrey won the toss and put Middlesex in to bat.  It looked good for Surrey as they bowled the hosts out for 165.  Fran Wilson top scored with 63 from 60 balls and best bowling came from Cecily Scutt with 5-30.  However, the Surrey reply never got going and they were all out in 36.4 overs.  Holly Huddleston took 3-9 and Alex Hartley 3-27.

Monday 2 May

The typical Bank Holiday weather struck on Monday with Staffordshire v Somerset called off after just two overs and Yorkshire against Warwickshire abandoned without a ball being bowled.  Consequently only two games went ahead.

Sussex 173 all out (29.4 overs)
Kent 131 all out (27.2 overs)
Sussex won by 42 runs

Kent won the toss and put Sussex in.  They posted a poor score of 173 all out with Elwiss 20 and Georgia Adams, 53 getting them off to a good start.  This was as good as it got though and it took an Izy Noakes 38 to get them to 173.  Charlotte Pape continued her good start to the season, taking 3-20 off 3.4 overs.  It should have been if not quite a formality, a fairly easy chase for Kent, but as soon as Charlotte Edwards was dismissed for just one, Kent looked fragile.  Beaumont, Greenway and Marsh all contributed to  the score, but Kent subsided to 131 all out in 27.2 overs.  Danni Wyatt took 3-23.

Surrey 153 all out
Berkshire 154-6 (40.1 overs)
Berkshire won by 4 wickets

Two wins in two days for Berkshire as they put Surrey in to bat on Monday.  They bowled Surrey out for 153.  Opener Kirstie White made 69 with Bryony Smith and Amy Jenkins 13 each, but no-one else reached double figures.   Heather Knight took 3-17 from 10 overs and Amanda Potgieter 3-31 from nine.  Surrey didn’t give it away easily with Holly Knight taking 2-26 but Berkshire wicketkeeper Carla Rudd scored 34 and Alex Rogers 20 to take Berkshire to 154-6 in 40.1 overs.

 

It’s been all rather bizarre at the Madrid Open tennis this week.  Before the tournament started Serena Williams pulled out with flu and since then world number 13 Lucie Safarova withdrew with food poisoning and British number one Johanna Konta with a  respiratory problem.  Added to this, Radwanska, Kerber, Kvitova and Muguruza all went out in the early rounds.  Latest to withdraw is fourth seed Victoria Azarenka, who has a back injury.

British number two, Heather Watson, also succumbed in the first round, losing in straight sets to Gavrilova 7-5 6-4.

So the somewhat surprising semi-final line-up is:

Halep (6) v Stosur
Cibulkova v Chirico

The doubles semis will be contested by:

Garcia & Mladenovic v Makarova & Vesnina
Hingis & Mirza (top seeds) v King & Kudryavtseva

Laura Robson is trying to continue on the comeback trail, but lost in the second round this week at the Rabat Open in Morocco.  She lost 6-1 6-2 to the fifth seed Timea Babos of Hungary.

 

On Saturday 30 April Britain’s number one squash player, Laura Massaro, lost in the final of the World Championship to Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini in Malaysia.  This defeat means that El Sherbini will also take Massaro’s world number one ranking.  The 20-year old Egyptian took the title 6-11 4-11 11-3 11-5 11-8.  The first two games belonged overwhelmingly to Massaro, but El Sherbini came back to take the third and fourth equally convincingly.  The decider was tight – at one stage 8-8, but El Sherbini was just too strong, taking the following three points without reply.

Also in squash, it was announced that next year’s women’s World Champion will take home equal prize money with the men’s for the first time.

 

It was brilliant to see the women’s Tour de Yorkshire covered in such depth last weekend.  It would have been even better to see some live coverage, as promised by ITV, but a technical problem with the plane sending the relay signal meant that no live feed was available.

Anyway, the race was a stunning one with a close sprint finish.  World Champion, Lizzie Armitstead was part of an early breakaway, but the pack eventually caught up, giving Dutch rider Kirsten Wild the chance to claim victory in a sprint finish.

Britain’s Lucy Garner was second with Floortje Mackaij third.

It was a proud day for Armistead as the race began from her home town of Otley.

“The start was brilliant.  I had a couple of bike problems to begin with which was difficult but it was a goose pimple moment for me at the beginning to be supported by my community,” she said.

Armistead finished in a big bunch behind the winners, eventually being placed 26th.

 

After Alison Young’s brilliant sailing gold last week, the British women were at it again this week at the Hyeres World Cup regatta.  Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark won gold in the 470 women’s race on the final day of the event.  The pair began in second place, a point behind the French team of Lecointre and Defrance and one point ahead of the Brazilians Oliviera and Barbachan.

The Brazilians took the early lead, while the Britons were fighting it out with the French favourites.  But the Brazilian team were overtaken by New Zealanders Aleh and Powrie.

Bryony Shaw took silver in the women’s windsurfing and Alison Young continued her good form, taking bronze in the Laser Radial event.

 

It will be Manchester Thunder v Surrey Storm in the Vitality Netball Superleague final this weekend.

The semi finals, played on 30 April, went as follows:

Manchester Thunder 53-46 Team Bath

Thunder were looking to obliterate the memory of last year’s shock semi-final defeat to Hertfordshire Mavericks and Team Bath were the unlucky side to come up against them.

By the end of the first quarter Thunder were 17-6 up, mainly due to good shooting from Helen Housby.  In truth, Bath never troubled the Thunder and were well beaten by the time the final hooter sounded.

Hertfordshire Mavericks 51-53 Surrey Storm

Surrey will take on Manchester after they came out on top in a much tighter game against the Mavericks.  At one point Storm were seven goals down, but came back to take the victory and seal their final place.

Mavericks were up 13-11 after the first quarter, extending the lead to seven after the half.  But former England captain, Pamela Cookey and Rachel Dunn were not to be defeated, combining to take the storm 40-39 up with one quarter to go.  In the end it went to the wire, but now the Storm will play in their fourth final in five seasons on Saturday 7 May at the Copper Box Arena.

The match begins at 5pm and will be live on Sky Sports.

In a shameless plug for my own writing, I would like to say this week I had the pleasure of interviewing Salliann Briggs, Head Coach of the new KSL Loughborough Lightning team and also Matthew Alexander, CEO of Notts County Ladies.  They were both great to talk to; committed, knowledgeable and not afraid to answer my questions!  I will be writing both up for publication in the near future, so watch out for them!

 

And finally, which I may rename “read it and weep corner”, we have yet another middle-aged white male telling women what they’re no good at.  Actually, he’s telling his other male readership, but you see what I mean.  This gem comes from Rod Liddle in the Spectator.  There are two things about this piece; firstly he’s totally missing the point (surprise) in that he’s comparing the men’s and women’s game and secondly please go on to read the comments if you can stomach it.  It quickly degenerates into a general anti-women rant and includes comments on their ability (or otherwise) to serve on a military front line and to throw a grenade, or anything for that matter.

It is, thankfully, a short piece!

http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/04/why-pretend-that-female-footballers-are-as-good-as-male-ones/