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:
FA Women’s Super League 1 table as it stands:
|1||Manchester City Women||5||5||0||0||13||0||13||15|
|4||Notts County Ladies||3||1||1||1||5||5||0||4|
|6||Birmingham City Ladies||4||1||1||2||2||4||-2||4|
|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 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!