Crawley Wasps 2017/18 Season Preview

Following a third place finish in the London & South East Regional Women’s Football League, as well as reaching two cup finals, Crawley Wasps search for promotion during their 2017/18 campaign. Last season, Leyton Orient topped the table with an impressive forty nine points; the side boasted sixteen wins, taking one draw and only suffering one league defeat throughout the whole season. London Kent Football United claimed second place, trailing behind the winners by eight points. Crawley Wasps were only two points adrift of the runners up, drawing one additional game and winning one less.  

Ahead of the new season, BOTN spoke to Paul Walker- manager of Crawley Wasps- to discuss the club’s pre-season and their aims for 2017/18.

Q. Firstly, can you talk us through your pre-season campaign? 

We played five pre-season games, all against Women’s Premier League opposition. It tested us against our goal of playing higher level football in the near future. It gave us a benchmark of the quality of the squad that we are assembling, being able to compete at that level.

We selected three WPL South teams, including Gillingham, Portsmouth and West Ham United. The other two were WPL South East teams, including Maidenhead and Southampton. We won three of the five games, losing two, which was a good benchmark for us. In one of those games, we were chasing the game and our ladies were quite disappointed to lose. The other three games, however, were very convincing wins.

Q. How have you strengthened your squad over the summer? 

The squad is probably as strong as it has ever been, with four or five new players coming in and retaining some of the players that we really wanted to retain. Another significant thing for the team is that we have started training two nights per week. The second training session is for strength and conditioning; we have hired a new coach to support these sessions. In addition, we have secured a brilliant partnership with Cottesmore Hotel Golf Country Club. In return, they have given us access to their gym on a Thursday evening for the ladies first team.

Q. By adding in those extra sessions and securing a new sponsor, have you seen a significant difference in the team’s performance over the summer? 

Since we started the sessions about five weeks ago, it is still early days, but we have started to see early benefits of our work at the Cottesmore facilities. We decided to move to this because, when competing against teams at a higher level, we sometimes struggled to compete physically. As part of preparing ourselves for higher football, we have created this arrangement. We expect to see significant benefits of our training this season.
Q. Your aim is to compete at a higher level of football- which clubs do you think will pose a threat to your ambition this season? 
The obvious one would be London Corinthians, who have had a very strong side for the last three or four years. For the past two years, they have finished as runners-up in our league. They are always a good, competitive side and we expect them to be strong in the league this year. There are two newly promoted sides that we do not know too much about. Carshalton are another side that have been very strong in previous seasons. Although, like ourselves, they face competition for players in their area due to higher level clubs.

Q. Ahead of these matches against promotion rivals, what will you say to your players? 
We will certainly do our homework in advance of the fixtures against these clubs, especially London Corinthians. We do know a fair bit about them and their squad at the moment, but what we will do is refresh our intelligence on them.
Q. What are your thoughts ahead of your first fixture? 

We encounter AFC Phoenix this Sunday, one of the newly promoted sides. We do not know a huge amount about them, but we expect them to be a strong, physical side and will prepare accordingly. I am hoping that, with the squad that we have assembled and our home advantage, we should have a competitive edge going into the game.

Full reaction of the game to follow. Dara Wilson.




BOTN Radio: Live from Tooting & Mitcham United (12-08-2017)

BOTN kicked off the new season broadcasting from The Imperial Fields, ahead of a tasty encounter between the champions of the Ryman South D1 (Tooting & Mitcham), and the champions of the Ryman North D1 (Brightlingsea Regent). Terrors manager, assistant manager and star player all joined the studio, alongside Mick Sullivan, Ben Eltham, James Cummins and Nick Robinson.



Crystal Palace Ladies 2017/18 Season Preview

Following a successful season in the Women’s Premier League South, finishing fifth in the league, Palace Ladies aim to embark on a cup run and further improve their league position. Manager, Dean Davenport commented, “our aims do not change. Every team, regardless of what league they’re in, aim to progress from the previous season”, stating: “the progression has already started”.

Davenport highlighted some key attributes of the side, praising their “work rate and desire to succeed”.  After securing a state of the art 3G pitch at Bromley Football Club, Palace can build these qualities even further. A major sponsorship, as well as a new physio, Jacqueline Bornman, will support the club during their 2017/18 campaign. Working alongside Paudie Horgan (strength and conditioning specialist), there will be a lower risk of injury for next season.  

The manager has acquired several new players to strengthen his side, although he stated that “we didn’t think we had to change much.” He commented, “I’m really pleased with the players that have come in; they have hit the ground running and have integrated into the squad fantastically.”

 Crystal Palace host QPR in their opening league game of the season, on Sunday 20th August.



The Jacob Sylvester Trophy scheduled to make its debut at The Beveree in a high-profile head-to-head

Hampton & Richmond Borough and Salford City are going head-to-head in their annual pre-season friendly for the third year running on Saturday 29th July.

It is the second time the Beavers are hosting at The Beveree, and to add to the Sky Sports rivalry between Martin Tyler (also a first team coach at HRBFC) and Gary Neville (one of the owners of SCFC), the two will be playing for The Jacob Sylvester Trophy, in which all proceeds will be donated to Bliss.

The day will also include fun for all the family, including a raffle, bake sale, bouncy castle and much more.

Both teams have already made plenty of announcements and changes over the summer, which have sparked excitement for next season.

Following promotion in 2015/16, Hampton & Richmond reached the National League South playoffs in April, awarding manager Alan Dowson a full-time contract. With new directors in place, the club are looking to build on the success of last year, and start their season with some silverware.

As for Salford City, having already made 11 signings this summer, they too will be looking to begin their campaign showcasing new talent. The newly promoted Ammies reached the playoffs of the National League North, however narrowly missed out on a place in the Conference, after their penalty shootout defeat to Halifax Town.

What is the Jacob Sylvester Trophy?

Founder of Back Of The Net, Remy Sylvester, sadly lost her brother Jacob in 2002. After a really successful charity game last season, which raised £2,970.98 BOTN and our Non-League family have joined forces to debut a competition in his memory.

Jacob was born at 27 weeks by emergency C-section, because of a placenta praevia. Despite being severely premature, and only weighing 2.7 lbs, he pulled through, thanks to the staff at East Surrey Hospital.

At just 10 months old, a tragic incident saw Jacob fight for his life for a second time, but sadly after 7 days, his battle was lost.

If it wasn’t for the doctors, nurses and heath care Jake received as he entered the world, we might not have even been lucky enough to spend the 10 months that we did with him.

Bliss are a charity organisation who work together with healthcare professionals and families to ensure care for premature and sick babies is of the highest possible standard.

To read more or to make a donation, please click here.



Woking v Merstham

Woking joined the Specsavers Surrey Senior Cup, in round two, in November 2016. The Cards got off to a great start, with a 4-0 home win over Walton Casuals. Fabio Saraiva (Former Merstham player, who played for the Moatsiders in the SSC final last year) found the net 3 times, and Delano Sam-Yorke scored too, to make it four.

A 2-0 win over Leatherhead in January, saw The Cards progress to the next round. In the quarter-final, goals from Connor Hall and Charlie Carter, gave Woking a comfortable 3-1 win over local-rivals Knaphill, who play in the Combined Counties Premier Division.

In their first away game of the competition, Woking went behind on twenty-three at Spectrum Football Ground. Charlie Carter, however once more found the back of the net for his team, to score his fifth of the competition. It was a devastating blow for the Combined County underdogs, who hadn’t beaten Woking since 1965 (6-0 in the FA Cup), when Sam-Yorke netted a ninetieth minute winner, to secure The Cards a place in the 2017 Surrey County Cup final.

As for Merstham, their second round 1-0 victory over Godalming Town also got them off to a good start. In round three, they upped their game, scoring five passed Walton & Hersham. Four different Merstham players signed their names of the score-sheet; Bennett, McDonald (Two converted penalties), Henriques and Hall. Two goals for Walton, one in their own net and one in the oppositions, saw the game finish 5-1.

Goals from McDonald and Kavanagh ensured Merstham’s 2-1 win over Whyteleafe in the quarter-final, on Valentine’s Day.

It was an entertaining and exciting game at Westhumble in the semi-final. Ryman South promotion-chasing Dorking Wanderers (now promoted), were on good form, having only lost 1 in 10 across all competitions prior to this encounter. Within the opening five minute, it was a goal-a-piece, as Dan Bennett and Giuseppe Sole both found the net. Merstham however, proved to be the better team on the day, and their 3-2 victory secured their place in the final.

This year is Merstham’s third consecutive final, in the Specsavers Surrey Senior Cup. Last year the Moatsider’s lifted the trophy, after a 4-1 win over Godalming Town. In the year previous, they were runners up to Metropolitan Police after a 2-0 defeat. In 2007/08, Merstham lifted the trophy for the first time, following their 3-2 win against Whyteleafe.

As for Woking, the National League side are 12 times winners and 16 times runners up of the Surrey Cup, and last won the competition in 2013/14 after beating Metropolitan Police, 6-0. In 2011/12, The Cards also lifted the trophy, after beating Sutton United 3-1.

Despite being separated by 50 league positions, and having an inferior cup record, Merstham will fancy their chances, because in the 2015/16 semi-final, they defeated Woking at the Laithwaite Community Stadium to progress to the final.

Woking | Brandon Hall, Jake Caprice, Fabio Saraiva, Terell Thomas, Joey Jones, Nathan Ralph, Kieron Murtagh [C], Kane Ferdinand, Chigozie Ugwu, Delano Sam-Yorke, Max Kretzschmar. Michael Poke, Charlie Carter, Connor Hall, Luke Kandi, Declan Appau.

Merstham | Josh Smith, Simon Cooper, Anton Douglas, Kershaney Samuels, Marc Okoye, Tutu Henriques, Alex Addai, Tom Kavanagh [C], Dean McDonald, Dan Bennett, Reece Hall. Omar Folkes, Kristian Campbell, Zavier Vidal, Michael Abnett, Yannick Makiese.




Bognor Regis Town v Dulwich Hamlet

In the season encounters, it was a win 3-1 for Bognor at Champion Hill (8th October), and a point-a-piece after a 1-1 draw at Nyewood Lane (11th February). As for the season, Bognor Regis finished the in-form side, winning seven of their final 10 games, in which they scored 25 and only conceded 6. Dulwich finished the season with the 6th best form in the league, after winning 6 of their final ten fixtures. However, losses against Billericay Town (3-0), Havant & Waterlooville (2-1) and Grays Athletic (1-0), saw them collect 19 out of a possible 30 points, and finish 12 points below Bognor Regis.

For both Bognor and Dulwich, it is their third playoff campaign in the past four seasons. Last year these two sides met at the semi-final stage of the playoffs, after Bognor finished in second place and Dulwich in fifth, and it was Dulwich who won the game 1-0. They went on to lose to East Thurrock United in the final. Dulwich also lost in the playoffs during the 2014/15 campaign, when they lost at the semi-final stage to Margate. Bognor also lost in the playoffs at the semi-final stage during the 2013/14 season when they were beaten 2-1 by Lowestoft Town. This will be Dulwich’s fourth play-off visit to Nyewood Lane since 2011.

With both sides hoping for a ‘third time (year) lucky’, who will come out on top?

Bognor Regis Town | Dan Lincoln, Harvey Whyte, Dylan Barnett, Doug Tuck, Sami El-Abd, Gary Charman, James Fraser, Dan Beck [C], Jimmy Muitt, Ollie Pearce, James Crane. Darren Budd, Alex Parsons, Jimmy Wild, Ed Sanders, Calvin Davies.

Dulwich Hamlet | Preston Edwards, Mark Weatherstone, Nathan Green Ibrahim Kargbo, Matt Drage, Michael Chambers, Nyren Clunis, Kenny Beaney [C], Gavin Tomlin, Ashley Carew, Ibra Sekajja. Panutche Camara, Dibo Akinuemi, Sanchez Ming, Dunebi Dumaka, Jacob Erskine. 


Video Highlights include post-match interviews with Jamie Howell, Sami El-Abd and Gavin Rose.



Dorking Wanderers v Corinthian-Casuals

After both teams came out on top in Tuesdays play-off semi-finals, Westhumble opened its doors one final time, to see Dorking Wanderers host Corinthian-Casuals for a place in the Ryman Premier Division.

Dorking Wanderers finished the 2016/17 Ryman South campaign with 105 points, level with crowned champions, Tooting & Mitcham United. However, their disadvantageous goal difference was what let automatic promotion slip from their grasp.

As for the Casuals, they finished the campaign in 4th position, with 93 points; two points short of 3rd place Greenwich Borough, and 11 points clear of 5th placed Hastings United. 10-man Corinthian’s resiliently fought for their place in the final at Badgers Sports Ground, and despite being 1-nil down in the fourth minute, and one man down in the twentieth minute (Coskun Ekim), were 4-3 winners by FT (v Greenwich Borough).

Dorking Wanderers achieved the same score line, however their encounter with Hastings went to penalties, after neither side could find a goal in extra time (AET: 1-1). Click here to see those match highlights.

Despite being unable to find the back of the net more than once during ninety minutes on Tuesday, Wanderers have plenty of goal-threat. James McShane (24), Tom Tolfrey (16) and Matt Briggs (15), all occupy a position in the Top 20 Ryman South Goalscorers Table. However, at the top of the table, Shaun Okojie has scored thirty goals for Corinthian-Casuals.

In the season encounters, it was a win-a-piece, as Dorking won 1-0 at Westhumble (12th November) and Corinthian won 2-0 at King George’s Field (4th March). After winning in front of their home crowds, does this tip Dorking as favourites?

Dorking Wanderers | Slavomir Huk, Robb Sheridian, Chris Boulter [C], Dean Hamlin, Ben Dyett, Jake Beecroft, Jerome Beckles, Matt Briggs, Thomas Summerfield, Tom Tolfrey, James McShane. Dan Pearse, Alex Wells, Dean Gunner, Sam Beard, Gareth Chendlik.

Corinthian-Casuals | Danny Bracken [C], Juevan Spencer, Dave Hodges, Danny Dudley, Jack Strange, Josh Gallagher, Reyon Dillon, Mahrez Bettache, Shaun Okojjie, Mu Maan, Jordan Clarke. Ben Cheklit, Jamie Byatt, Josh Uzun. Max Oldham, Warren Morgan.