Leading clubs in early season showdowns

Sent Her Forward brings you the highlights of the weekend’s women’s football fixtures in the South East

Fliss Gibbons is congratulated on one of her goals for Brighton against Copsewood Coventry (Photo: Geoff Penn/BHAFC)

Brighton currently top the Premier League Southern (Photo: Geoff Penn/BHAFC)

Barely a month into the Premier League season and it’s already tight at the top of the Southern Division.

Three teams are currently locked at the summit, with two more only a win away with games in hand.

Four of the top five meet in Sunday’s fifth round of fixtures – but they all know that the fifth team in that group, Tottenham Hotspur – the only club left with a 100% record – are currently the team to beat.

Portsmouth v Charlton Athletic
Two of the league’s in-form teams meet at Pompey’s new home ground of Cams Alders for a match that has goals written all over it.

Charlton are the league’s top scorers, with 19 from their three league games – 12 of which came on the opening day when they beat Keynsham Town. But despite progress in the League Cup as well as the league, their fine early-season run was brought to an abrupt halt earlier this month, when they were beaten 5-2 at Spurs.

Pompey also suffered a heavy defeat, crashing 7-3 at home to Cardiff City in their first game of the season. But since then, they have won four in a row, including three in the league, scoring 13 goals in the process, to sit right on the shoulder of current leaders Brighton.

Prediction: Two of the division’s three highest scorers meet, so a 0-0 draw is surely on the cards.

Gillingham v Copsewood Coventry
Both clubs endured tough starts to the season, Gillingham coming to terms with the loss of most of their first-team players to Brighton, Copsewood facing a step up in standard minus some of their key players.

But the fortunes of both clubs have changed in recent weeks following their first league victories of the season.

Gillingham beat Keynsham at their new Priestfield Stadium home on September 7, and a week later, Copsewood recorded their maiden Premier League win – 1-0 at West Ham United.

Both need the points to maintain the momentum – and to help pull them clear of the lower reaches of the table.

Prediction: Another draw is on the cards – which might not satisfy either team.

Queens Park Rangers v Keynsham Town
It’s sad to see Keynsham struggling so much. They played their part in an entertaining encounter at Lewes last season, when they looked particularly dangerous down the flanks.

But having just escaped the drop last time, they are really struggling this season. Their 6-0 defeat at Portsmouth last Sunday was their fourth in four games, during which they have conceded 26 goals.

QPR lost their opening two league games but chalked up their first success since their return to the Premier League when they beat Copsewood 3-0.

Prediction: Rangers look likely to build momentum at Keynsham’s expense.

Tottenham Hotspur v Lewes
Lewes’s form has fallen away after a bright start, following an opening-day victory over Plymouth Argyle with defeats to Portsmouth and West Ham.

They will need to be at their best to take anything from Spurs, who boast the league’s only remaining 100% record.

Even without a league game last weekend, they remain joint-top, courtesy of fine victories over Gillingham, West Ham and Charlton. They’ve also won both their matches in the League Cup for good measure.

Prediction: Lewes have the wherewithal to get something from their visit, but they will have to be at their best to deny Spurs all three points.

West Ham United v Plymouth Argyle
It’s been a funny old start for new West Ham manager Julian Dicks, earning a commendable victory at Queens Park Rangers in his first league match in charge and another at Lewes two weeks ago.

In-between, though, they lost at home to front-runners Spurs – and more worryingly, 3-1 at strugglers Keynsham in the League Cup.

They also became Copsewood’s first league victims last week.

Newly promoted Plymouth are still getting used to life at a higher level, and although their position (second-to-bottom) tells a story of struggle, it was interrupted by a magnificent 2-1 victory over Cardiff City a couple of weeks ago.

Prediction: West Ham to break their home duck and pile the pressure on Argyle.

Sent Her Forward match to watch: Cardiff City v Brighton
Cardiff can draw level with table-topping Brighton if they beat them – and still have a game in hand.

The Welsh side, who ran Coventry City and Gillingham so close for the league title last season, began the season with a bang, exploiting Portsmouth’s subsequently rescinded red card to win 7-3 and notching up another six against St Nicholas in the League Cup before their shock defeat at Plymouth.

They returned to winning ways with a 6-0 victory over Keynsham just over a week ago, and will relish the chance to measure their progress against Brighton, one of the division’s outstanding teams.

James Marrs’ side began the campaign with successive 3-1 victories over Copsewood and Gillingham before suffering a shock reverse to Portsmouth at Culver Road.

But their resounding 5-0 victory at Plymouth last week should have ensured no loss of confidence for the talented side.

And in Lucy Somes and Fliss Gibbons they boast two in-form goalscorers.

Prediction: Even Marrs seemed happy with his team’s performance last week, suggesting they are moving through the gears. Cardiff had better watch out.

FAW Premier League Division One South West

Action from Gosport Borough v Chichester City Sep 14 2014

Gosport’s first league game at Privett Park ended in a 3-0 defeat to Chichester City

Gosport Borough get an early opportunity to measure their progress after a month in the Premier League pyramid when they host unbeaten leaders Forest Green Rovers in the reverse fixture of their maiden game in the division.

Dave Pickering’s side are still finding their feet following their promotion last term – and their opening month has been an awesome challenge, facing two of the league’s strongest sides – and suffering a heavy League Cup defeat in-between.

Gosport lost that opening game at Forest Green 6-2, although Pickering reckoned Chichester City, who beat them 3-0 at Privett Park last week, looked the stronger side.

The West Country club, buoyed by the confidence of that big first-day win, have continued to set the league alight, winning every league and cup match they’ve played so far.

Chichester have delighted and frustrated in equal measure after a stop-start first month of the season. Last Sunday’s victory at Gosport was their first since their opening-day success at Cheltenham Town.

In-between, they’ve lost twice at home in the league and also bowed out of the League Cup, losing to Queens Park Rangers on penalties.

Chichester host Shanklin on Sunday, looking for their first win at Oaklands Park this season.

Fixtures:

Chichester City v Shanklin
Gosport Borough v Forest Green Rovers
Larkhall Athletic v Cheltenham Town
St Nicholas v Southampton Saints
Swindon Town v Exeter City

FAW Premier Reserves League

Lewes‘s new young development side meet table-topping local neighbours Brighton in the second round of reserves fixtures, while Chichester City, who have taken a big leap from a mid-ranking regional league to compete at this level, test what they learnt from last week’s defeat to Bedford when they visit Queens Park Rangers.

Fixtures:

Bedford v Tottenham Hotspur
Crystal Palace v C&K Basildon
Lewes v Brighton
Portsmouth v Gillingham
Queens Park Rangers v Chichester City
West Ham United v Charlton Athletic

 

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