John Donoghue takes his Lewes players to Thamesmead this Sunday for the opening fixture of the 2017-18 FA WPL season. He couldn’t have wished for a tougher test; Charlton away is one of the fixtures that all teams in this division will be looking out for this term.
JD has added several key players to his squad in the summer. Amy Taylor, Lisa Fulgence and Charlotte Owen arrive from Brighton & Hove Albion with recent experience of winning the FA WPL, the play-off final and a playing in a WSL2 spring series. They are joined by defender Darcey James and Northern Ireland international Vicky Carleton, signed from UNOS and Pompey respectively.
Charlton have also added quality to their line-up. Former Oxford captain Kat Nutman and prolific ex-Albion striker Charlotte Gurr are the headline additions, while former Brighton and West Ham manager James Marrs has joined as first team coach.
With arch-rivals Spurs (the two sides had an enthralling series of league and cup matches last season) safely out of the way, Head Coach Riteesh Mishra will be looking to improve on his side’s 4th place finish.
Nutman has been playing FA Women’s Super League (FAWSL) 2 football for the past three seasons, while Marrs and Gurr won the FAWPL South two years ago, alongside some of the new Lewes players, so there’s plenty of quality and experience on show.
Prolific striker Kit Graham is all signed up and raring to go. 37 goals in 32 appearances tells you all you need to know about Graham’s strike-rate. She changed the game when she came on last season at the Dripping Pan and was voted Opposition Player of the Match on no less than twelve occasions in 2016-17.
Last season’s form is no real guide to this one as both squads make adjustments and players find their feet. For the record, Charlton edged the two league encounters, 2-1 at home and 2-0 at the Dripping Pan scoring twice in the last fifteen minutes of a fiercely contested encounter. Lewes finished their season well; knocking high-flying Cardiff out of the FA Cup and claiming the FA WPL Plate in a 4-0 final win against Huddersfield.
Both managers will be looking to improve on their league positions.
This one could well lay down a marker for the season ahead.
Kick off at Sporting Club Thamesmead is 2pm
Admission: £4 for adults/ £2 Concessions