SSE Women’s FA Cup preview: 5. Middlesbrough v Leicester City Women

Match number 5 of the Women’s FA Cup second round is a mouthwatering clash between first and third in the WPL Northern Division. Middlesbrough are currently sitting at the top of the table, but the second- and third-placed teams each have five games in hand over them, so Boro will be looking over their shoulders with some concern as the season progresses.

Their opponents for this game are Leicester City Women (not to be confused with Leicester City Ladies, who are an entirely different organisation). Leicester are performing remarkably well in the league considering they were only promoted to this level last summer, their 16 points from the first nine games putting them in third place. They are some way short of the 28 points Boro currently have in the bank, but those five games in hand should see the gap narrow considerably over the coming months.

Both teams entered this year’s FA Cup at the first round stage. Middlesbrough scraped a narrow 1-0 victory over North East Regional League side Hartlepool United, while Leicester recorded a more comfortable 3-0 scoreline away to Birmingham & West Midlands of WPL Midlands Division One.

Both teams have played twice since their FA Cup first round victories. Boro have taken one win and one defeat from two high-scoring WPL matches – an 8-3 victory over Nottingham Forest and a 5-1 defeat to Stoke City. Emily Scarr has been in tremendous form in those games, scoring an impressive six goals: five against Forest and one against Stoke. Both of Leicester’s games were cup quarter-final victories, 3-2 after extra time against Keynsham Town in the WPL Plate, and 5-2 versus Cosby United Women of the Leicestershire Women’s Senior League in the Leicestershire & Rutland County Cup.

These teams have already met once this season, when Boro hosted Leicester in the WPL on 11 September. Leicester City were 3-0 victors on that day, thanks to goals from Chan Robinson, Kim Farrow and Sophie Domingo.

My prediction: This one is too close to call with any certainty. Leicester were big winners last time these sides met, but I don’t see a repeat of that this time around. I think I’m going to pick Middlesbrough to win, but in reality both sides have every chance to make it to the next round.

The stats

Middlesbrough (@MFCLadiesUK)

WPL, Northern Division (level 3)
League form: w9 d1 l4 gd+20 = 1st place out of 11

2016/17 FA Cup
1R – Middlesbrough 1-0 Hartlepool United (level 6)

2015/16 FA Cup
3Q – Middlesbrough 11-0 Lowick United (6)
4Q – Middlesbrough 1-3 Liverpool Marshall Feds (4)

Leicester City WFC (@LCWFC_Official)

WPL, Northern Division (level 3)
League form: w5 d1 l3 gd+4 = 3rd place out of 11

2016/17 FA Cup
1R – Birmingham & West Midlands (level 4) 0-3 Leicester City WFC

2015/16 FA Cup
3Q – Leicester City WFC 3-2 Loughborough Students (level 4)
4Q – Nettleham (5) w/o Leicester City WFC
1R – Leicester City WFC 8-0 Stone Dominoes (6)
2R – Leicester City WFC 2-1 Radcliffe Olympic (4)
3R – Sheffield (2) 5-1 Leicester City WFC

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