Some of the highlights of this weekend’s women’s football programme in the South East
Queens Park Rangers and KIKK United try for the fourth time to play their Capital Cup quarter-final on Sunday as the mid-winter fixture congestion threatens to take its toll.
With cup games generally taking precedence, the Premier League Southern and London & South East Regional League sides have been unable to rearrange league games in the meantime, leaving both kicking their heels (so to speak) for the past month.
Rangers have not played since being knocked out of the FAW Cup by KIKK’s league rivals Eastbourne Town, who have since been knocked out of the competition themselves, while KIKK’s last game was also a defeat on January 11 – to Old Actonians.
After the first two attempts to play the tie were called off, the fixture was switched to KIKK’s Mile End home, but that, too, postponed last Sunday, and they try for a fourth time to play the game this Sunday for the right to play West Ham United in the semis.
One thing that has changed since the clubs last tried to play is that Rangers have become the FAWPL’s Respect Club of the Month.
They won the January award for their efforts on and off the field to promote respect, and especially the club’s diversity work.
Rangers chief executive Philip Beard says the award – which went to Charlton Athletic in November and Nottingham Forest in December – reflects the big part played by the women’s team in supporting campaigns the whole club has been involved in, such as the Rainbow Laces campaign against homophobia.
The ladies’ manager, Martino Chevannes, said: “Campaigns such as Rainbow Laces and Football v Homophobia make a big difference and show that women’s football is open and inclusive for all. The FA Women’s Premier League can be proud of how all the clubs promote the game and respect.”
While QPR have been out of league action, they have slipped to ninth and now have a backlog of fixtures to fulfil.
They could even fall to 10th in the 12-club league if Gillingham triumph at Lewes on Sunday.
Most of the title contenders are not in action on Sunday, although Tottenham Hotspur could climb above Charlton Athletic into fourth if they beat Keynsham Town.
Charlton are due to play their postponed FAW Cup tie against Wolverhampton Wanderers for the chance of a fourth-round home tie against Crystal Palace or Reading.
West Ham United travel to Exeter City to play in the Premier League Plate, while Portsmouth, who are third despite playing only one league match since mid-December, are again in knockout action, visiting Northern Division Nottingham Forest in the quarter-finals of the Premier League Cup.
While QPR watch their league rivals picking up points, their opponents, KIKK United, have had to do the same in the L&SEWR League – although in their case, clubs have been catching up on their games in hand of the east London side.
This weekend’s standout fixture in the division is the local derby between Bexhill United and Eastbourne Town.
Eastbourne have suffered indirectly from their impressive cup form, which saw them knock QPR out of the FAW Cup before taking another Premier League team, Derby County, to extra-time before finally succumbing 4-2 last Sunday.
They are now second-to-bottom of the L&SERWL, with just seven points from 10 games, and face a battle to pull away from the foot of the table, although player-manager Emma Parslow has no doubts they will do it.
They visit a Bexhill side who will no doubt relish the opportunity to take points off not only a local rival but a club who have represented their division with such distinction in their brilliant FAW Cup run.
But Bexhill need the points for more practical reasons, too. They are only five points above Eastbourne, in ninth place, having played more games than most of their rivals.
The other two sides below them, Aylesford and Hassocks, both have tough fixtures, at promotion-chasing Carshalton Athletic and Old Actonians respectively.
Despite the catalogue of postponements that continue to disrupt most leagues, four of their rivals are due to be in league cup action this weekend.
Crawley Wasps and Fulham Foundation, whose league encounter was called off last weekend, meet instead in the London & South East Regional Women’s League Cup at Three Bridges. Maidstone United and London Corinthians also play in the competition.
Premier Reserves rivals do battle
Pick of the games in the FAWPL Division One South West is Forest Green Rovers‘ visit to Shanklin. Forest Green moved to within three points of leaders Swindon Town last Sunday with a 5-1 win at Cheltenham Town.
And with Swindon again not in action, they could draw level with their West Country rivals if they triumph on the Isle of Wight.
Chichester City host Larkhall Athletic and Southampton Saints are at home to Cheltenham Town.
The top two clash in the FAW Premier Reserves League, when leaders and current champions Brighton visit Charlton Athletic.
The pair finished in the same order in last season’s campaign, in what was then a much smaller division.
Promotion contenders clash
In the South East Counties Women’s League, leaders Meridian are not in action, giving Dartford Royals, Long Lane and Herne Bay the opportunity to gain ground.
Second-placed Dartford are at home to Herne Bay in what could prove to be one of the division’s games of the season.
Long Lane are also at home – to fifth-placed Anchorians.
All-conquering Worthing Minors face one of their toughest challenges of the season to date when they play in-form Wivelsfield Green in Division One West.
Minors have won all 15 matches they’ve played this season – including League Cup victories over Premier Division Crockenhill and Anchorians.
They face a Wivelsfield side in scintillating form since crashing to Seahaven Harriers in September, winning all five league matches they have played since then after losing three of their first four fixtures of the season.
One of those was a 13-0 drubbing at Minors in September, but the Wivi side have been transformed since then, and recorded their own big win last Sunday – 9-1 at Burgess Hill Town 2nds.
However, Worthing will be confident of continuing their remarkable run, having disposed of bottom side Dorking 6-1 last Sunday, despite fielding only eight players.
In Division One East, second-placed Ashford bid to overtake leaders Prince of Wales. Ashford are at home to Anchorians 2nds, while Prince of Wales host Castle Colts.
Margate look to pull away
In the Kent County Division, Margate meet Sheerness East in what is essentially a battle to avoid finishing second-to-bottom.
The home side currently hold that position and are four points behind their opponents with two games in hand.
University of Kent are adrift at the bottom, having lost all 11 of their league games. They will hope that a change of competition will bring a different outcome when they visit second-placed Barming on Sunday in the Kent Divisional Cup.
Neither of the top two is in action in the Sussex County Women’s League, but fourth-placed Rottingdean Village visit Hurstpierpoint, who are fifth. And Lewes, still third, but running out of games, are at home to Worthing Town (seventh).
Two clubs with among the worst records in the region come together in the Surrey County Under-18 Division, when Fleet Town, who have only one point from 10 games, host Horsham Sparrows, who are still looking for their first point.
This is a selection of Sunday’s scheduled fixtures. The games are subject to postponement or change. For more details, contact the clubs or check the FA Full-Time website.