We’re now only a couple of weeks away from the second round of this year’s SSE Women’s FA Cup and the excitement is palpable as we begin to reach the business end of one of the greatest tournaments in women’s club football. We’re just one round away from the WSL2 teams joining the competition and the draw becoming national, rather than being split into northern and southern regions. The prize money too is starting to look more and more appealing (although the £800 each club received for winning in the first round is little more than half the £1500 men’s teams get for winning in the Extra Preliminary round, but that’s an argument for another day).
Over the next two weeks we’re going to look at each and every one of the fourteen second round matches due to played on the 8th of January in the order that they were drawn out of the hat, so we begin with the first pairing: Long Eaton United v Brighouse Town.
On the face of it you could say that Long Eaton United’s progress to the second round for the second consecutive season shows some consistency, but their path to this point each time couldn’t have been more different. Last year they joined in the action all the way back in the first qualifying round, and had to win five games (three of which were against higher level opposition) to get here. To say they did it the hard way would be an understatement!
I’m loath to say that they’ve had an easy ride this time around, but they entered two rounds later this year, courtesy of their East Midlands Regional League title and promotion to the WPL, and then enjoyed two comfortable wins over teams ranked much lower than themselves, before being awarded a walkover against the now-defunct Nuneaton Town in the first round.
Brighouse Town were also promoted to the WPL in the summer, having won the North East Regional League without losing a single match. Unfortunately for them they haven’t carried that form through to the current season, only managing two wins in Northern Division One so far and sitting tenth in the table. They have won all three of their FA Cup games though, two of which were single-goal victories over Regional League opposition in Stockport County and Peterborough Northern Star. These two games sandwiched a 5-0 thumping of divisional rivals Blackpool Wren Rovers – a result which Brighouse will be hoping they can repeat when they meet in the league later in the season.
Looking at the recent form of these teams, both have played twice since the first round matches took place in early December. Long Eaton have beaten Sporting Khalsa 3-0 and drawn 2-2 with The New Saints, both in Midlands Division One of the WPL. Brighouse Town meanwhile have lost 2-1 to Hull City in the league and beaten Lower Hopton 13-0 in the West Riding County Cup. If you’re not familiar with Lower Hopton, they play six divisions below Brighouse Town in the West Riding County League Third Division.
My prediction: This game will be Long Eaton’s first real test in this year’s FA Cup, but they’ve had a solid first half of the league season while Brighouse Town have struggled to find a run of form. Brighouse will be keen to show what they’re capable of in the Cup, but I feel that Long Eaton will be too strong, so I’m predicting a home win.
Long Eaton United (@LEUFCLadies)
WPL, Midland Division One (level 4)
League form: w5 d3 l5 gd+9 = 6th place out of 12
2016/17 FA Cup
3Q – Boldmere St Michael’s (level 7) 2-8 Long Eaton United
4Q – Long Eaton United 7-1 Coventry Ladies Development (6)
1R – Long Eaton United W-O Nuneaton Town (3)
2015/16 FA Cup
1Q – Oadby & Wigston (7) 1-7 Long Eaton United
2Q – Long Eaton United 5-0 Rise Park (5)
3Q – Rotherham United (4) 4-5 Long Eaton United
4Q – Long Eaton United 4-1 Leicester City LFC (4)
1R – Long Eaton United 3-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers (4)
2R – Sporting Club Albion (3) 3-0 Long Eaton United
Brighouse Town (@BrighouseTLFC)
WPL, Northern Division One (level 4)
League form: w2 d3 l6 gd-6 = 10th place out of 12
2016/17 FA Cup
3Q – Stockport County (level 5) 1-2 Brighouse Town
4Q – Brighouse Town 5-0 Blackpool Wren Rovers (4)
1R – Brighouse Town 3-2 Peterborough Northern Star (5)
2015/16 FA Cup
2Q – Brighouse Town 4-0 Brighouse Athletic (7)
3Q – Brighouse Town 6-1 Winterton Rangers (6)
4Q – Chester-le-Street Town (4) 3-1 Brighouse Town