New Sussex FA Women’s manager Kim Stenning has selected an exciting blend of youth and experience for the county representative team’s first match since re-forming.
Stenning, who was appointed in the summer following a season without a representative team when the county FA could not recruit a manager, has selected seven players from her current club, Brighton, who are top of the Premier League.
She has also chosen five each from Lewes – for whom she has also played – and Chichester City for the match against Middlesex FA at Uxbridge next week.
|Faye Baker (Brighton)||Charlotte Young (Brighton)||Danni Lane (Lewes)|
|Lauren Cheshire (Chichester C)||Kelly McCullock (Lewes)||Cherelle Khassal (Lewes)|
|Lucie Challen (Chichester C)||Katie McIntyre (Lewes)||Kate Natkiel (Brighton)|
|Emma Alexandre (Chichester C)||Kirsty Barton (Brighton)||Jade Widdows (Chichester C)|
|Deanna Cooper (Brighton)||Charley Boswell (Brighton)||Shannon Albuery (Chichester C)|
|Rachel Palmer (Lewes)||Charlotte Gurr (Brighton)|
The squad is vastly different from those that featured in the South East Counties Cup two seasons ago, although some of Stenning’s selections represented Kent FA when they were at Gillingham.
Only four players who were selected for Sussex’s last game, in February 2014, feature in Stenning’s first pick: Charley Boswell, Lauren Cheshire, Katie McIntyre and Kelly McCullock.
Her 17 also includes four Chichester players who have not previously featured at representative level – including two of the club’s exciting youngsters, signed during the close season – and reunites two players who just a year ago were playing together in the fifth tier of the winter game, with Worthing Minors.
Shannon Albuery, 16, has already made an impression at Oaklands Park this season, featuring in each of Chichester’s eight games and scoring three goals, while Jade Widdows, 21, is top scorer with eight goals.
Danni Lane, 22, whom Widdows played alongside last season for South East Counties League side Worthing Minors, is also in the squad after impressing with Premier League Lewes this season.
Their inclusion in Stenning’s first squad gives encouragement to other players who may not yet have broken into top-level football in the county, and also indicates that age is no barrier.
Widdows, who joined Chichester after deciding to cut short her college career in the United States, attributes her fine early-season form to strength and conditioning work she has been doing, aided by her club sponsor, Core Results.
She told Sent Her Forward: “I think it’s really helped me be so much stronger on the ball and keeping free from injury.”
Chichester City secretary Caroline Henry-Evans said the club were delighted for the pair, and also for Emma Alexandre and Lucie Challen – who have not previously figured for the representative squad – as well as Cheshire, who has.
She said: “Emma, in our opinion, should have been called up before now as she is a superb centre-half. She commands her back line and is fantastic with the ball at her feet or in the air. We think she could be one of the Sussex centre-backs for many years to come.
“Lucie has learnt the role of left-back over the course of the last few seasons and made it her own, and she is now one of the first names on the team sheet. But she is also brilliant at left-wing and striker – her original position.”
Henry-Evans said the club were pleased for Widdows and Albuery. “Jade has been a great addition to our squad this season and is getting fitter by the week. She is full of enthusiasm and has a willingness to learn as well as a willingness to work with and for her team-mates.
“Shannon is excited and nervous at the same time but very proud to be part of a squad she feels is full of very talented players. We have total faith in her and… believe she will become one of the future stars at the club, and hopefully, for Sussex.”
Lane has moved from being a big fish in the mid-echelons of the South East Counties Women’s League, in the fifth tier of women’s winter football, to a rapidly rising young talent in the top level.
She scored her first goal for Lewes last Sunday, when she was also voted their most valuable player, but while she would be the first to admit she still has a lot to learn, her performances have improved almost by the game.
She told Sent Her Forward she had never come across the representative squad before. “I wasn’t really 100% sure what it was all about, as you don’t really hear about it when you play in a lower division. But it’s an honour. I was very surprised to be called up.”
There is a welcome return for midfielder Charlotte Young, who rejoined Brighton this season after a season away, and a call-up for Cherelle Khassal, who has impressed at Lewes following spells at Brighton and – briefly – Portsmouth.
The squad also features Kelly McCullock, who is no longer registered with Lewes and has not appeared for them this season.
The game at Uxbridge FC next Wednesday, October 14, is the first of three for Sussex in the South East Counties Cup, which also features Kent and the Army. Kick-offs: 7.30pm.