Sent Her Forward honours 2016/17 – part three: the Dream Teams

Sent Her Forward’s end-of-season awards conclude with those long-awaited dream teams – and there’s a twist this year.

Collage of Roseanne Fine, Danni Cutler and Laura Rafferty (Photos: Crawley Wasps LFC/Beckie Kirkham/Geoff Penn/BHAFC)

Roseanne Fine, Danni Cutler and Laura Rafferty make their respective Dream Team starting XIs (Photos: Crawley Wasps LFC/Beckie Kirkham/Geoff Penn/BHAFC)

Welcome to the third and final part of this year’s honours – surely the most comprehensive in women’s football.

I have already recognised the outstanding contributions of more than 100 participants (teams and individuals) in the women’s game, in parts one and two.

Now it is time for the one where I concede how difficult team selection is for all those hard-pressed managers out there.

And this year, arguably, I’ve made it even more challenging for myself by selecting not two but three teams, reflecting my introduction to college football and continued support of the youth game, as well as the adults.

Yes, three giant squads, representing Premier and Super League players, grassroots footballers, college and youth participants, from which I’ve had to pick starting XIs and benches of seven.

Here goes…

Premier/Super League

Shortlist:

Kirsty Barton, Kate Natkiel, Sophie Perry, Laura Rafferty, Danielle Rowe, Alessia Russo, Lucy Somes (all Brighton).

Avilla Bergin, Kit Graham (Charlton Athletic)

Emma Alexandre, Becky Barron, Lucie Challen, Lauren Cheshire, Molly Clark, Chloe Dowdell, Laura Ingram, Cherelle Khassal, Kerrie Ryan, Charley Wilson-Blakely, Sadie Wilson-Blakely (all Chichester City).

Lauren Dolbear, Katie McIntyre, Rachel Palmer, Leeta Rutherford, Tammy Waine (all Lewes)

Sarah Kempson (Portsmouth)

For the first time, one club provides an entire XI for my shortlist. Chichester City really did have top quality in every position on the pitch last season.

The squad members listed above were basically their starting XI for much of a very successful season.

But there are plenty of representatives from Sussex’s other participants at the top end of the women’s game.

Tammy Waine in action for Lewes against Portsmouth, October 5 2016 (Photo: james Boyes)

Tammy Waine finished third in the Premier League player-of-the-season awards to team-mate Leeta Rutherford (Photo: James Boyes)

Goalkeeper Lauren Dolbear continues to earn plaudits for her feats at Lewes, while her team-mates, Leeta Rutherford and Tammy Waine, came first and third respectively in my player-of-the-season award.

Brighton’s quick burst of Super League action in the spring series, ahead of the formal start of the league season in September, brought a few players to prominence – not least Alessia Russo and Laura Rafferty, formerly team-mates at Chelsea – while Kate Natkiel, Sophie Perry and Kirsty Barton feature regularly in my dream-team thinking.

Outside Sussex, Sarah Kempson’s fine start to the campaign with Portsmouth, which earned her a move to Millwall Lionesses, is recognised, while Charlton Athletic have two representatives – Kit Graham, who scored 21 league goals in the campaign (unfortunately, league top scorer Gemma Bryan was not playing when I watched Crystal Palace), and Avilla Bergin, who gave Portsmouth’s defenders a hard time when I saw her – and by all accounts, plenty of other defences during the season following her move from Spurs.

Cherelle Khassal in action for Chichester City v Plymouth Argyle (Photo: John Holden)

Chichester City’s Cherelle Khassal was one of the club’s many stars in their successful campaign (Photo: John Holden)

I toyed with formations in an attempt to squeeze in what I believe were the season’s star performers, but alas, 10-10-10 is not permissible in 11-a-side.

So I opted for 3-5-2 and selected a record number of starters from Chichester City and Lewes (four each).

Lucie Challen – another Chichester player – and Russo were especially unlucky to dip out in my final selection, while Bergin would at least have made the bench if I had selected a different formation.

And I’m sure Southampton Saints goalkeeper Hannah Haughton would have walked into the squad if I had caught her team in action this season. She continues to earn generous plaudits from opponents.

Sent Her Forward Premier/Super League Dream Team

(3-5-2)

Lauren Dolbear (Lewes)

Laura Rafferty (Brighton)
Tammy Waine (Lewes, capt)
Leeta Rutherford (Lewes)

Lauren Cheshire (Chichester City)
Molly Clark (Chichester City)
Kirsty Barton (Brighton)
Sarah Kempson (Portsmouth)
Rachel Palmer (Lewes)

Charley Wilson-Blakely (Chichester City)
Cherelle Khassal (Chichester City)

Subs: Sadie Wilson-Blakely (Chichester City); Kerrie Ryan (Chichester City); Laura Ingram (Chichester City), Lucie Challen (Chichester City); Alessia Russo (Brighton), Chloe Dowdell (Chichester City) and Kit Graham (Charlton Athletic).

Grassroots

Shortlist:

Jen Weller (Cowfold)

Lauren Callaghan, Roseanne Fine, Eleanor Keegan, Faye Rabson, Holly Walker, Michelle Ward (Crawley Wasps)

Andrea Barnard (Haywards Heath & Wivelsfield)

Billie-Jo Cobb, Claire Katoroz (Lancing)

Emma Green, Sarah Killick-Bird, Abi Knight, Jade Page (Oakwood)

Katie Burling, Megan Cave, Hannah Hewlett, Angharad Hills, Abi Mason, Naomi Robinson, Gemma Worsfold (Worthing)

Billie-Jo Cobb in action for Lancing v Oakwood, Jan 29 2017 (Photo: Sent Her Forward)

Billie-Jo Cobb continues to flourish in adult football, starring in Lancing’s Sussex County League campaign

The number of players from Crawley Wasps, Oakwood and Worthing reflects the teams’ respective success this season – the latter two winning their leagues and Wasps raising their game by a level or two thanks to some sparkling performances by a variety of players.

My last-minute change of formation cost left-back Michelle Ward her place in the side in favour of her ultra-consistent Wasps team-mate, Holly Walker, who sneaks in as one or three centre-backs after a campaign replete with top-class performances by central defenders.

I’m sticking to the conventional rules of age eligibility, which unfortunately prevents Eleanor Keegan, from Wasps’ under-15 side, becoming my youngest ever grassroots dream-team competitor. She would have made the bench, but I don’t think it will be too long before she is rubbing shoulders with the élite of the female game at adult level.

But there are plenty of young representatives – Andrea Barnard, of the now defunct Haywards Heath & Wivelsfield, Lancing’s Billie-Jo Cobb and half the Oakwood side who swept to success in the Sussex County League and League Cup.

Here is the final starting XI and subs.

Sent Her Forward grassroots Dream Team

(3-1-4-2)

Angharad Hills (Worthing)

Megan Cave (Worthing)
Sarah Killick-Bird (Oakwood)
Holly Walker (Crawley Wasps)

Jen Weller (Cowfold)

Abi Mason (Worthing)
Andrea Barnard (Haywards Heath & Wivelsfield)
Naomi Robinson (Worthing, capt)
Emma Green (Oakwood)

Billie–Jo Cobb (Lancing)
Roseanne Fine (Crawley Wasps)

Subs: Hope Laker (Crawley Wasps Reserves), Michelle Ward (Crawley Wasps), Claire Katoroz (Lancing), Abi Knight (Oakwood), Gemma Worsfold (Worthing), Jade Page (Oakwood) and Faye Rabson (Crawley Wasps).

Young

Shortlist:

Emily Towner (BHASVIC)

Nina Wilson (Brighton Dev)

Alex Collighan, Holly Heffron, Gracie White (Chichester City U16)

Abbie Sandle (Collyer’s College)

Lauren Graves, Eleanor Keegan, Hope Laker (Crawley Wasps Reserves/U15)

Andrea Barnard (Haywards Heath & Wivelsfield)

Henna Butcher, Millie Carter, Ellie Ramsauer (Lewes Dev/Foundation)

Danni Cutler, Chloe Higham, Sarah Killick-Bird, Abi Knight, Lauren Tyler (Oakwood)

Emily Syme (Richard Huish College)

Libby Ferguson, Emily Salusbury (Withdean Youth U16)

Abi Mason (Worthing)

Sara Tubby (Worthing College)

Eleanor Keegan in action for Crawley Wasps (Photo: Dave Burt)

Crawley Wasps U15 captain Eleanor Keegan would have made the grassroots dream team as well as the young one if she had been old enough (Photo: Dave Burt)

And so to my first ever young dream team. As with the young player award, I impose no specific age limit on this category – and there is nothing to stop players in this squad also featuring in one of the other two.

Indeed, five – young and grassroots players of the season Eleanor Keegan and Sarah Killick-Bird, Andrea Barnard, Abi Knight and Abi Mason – make both this and the grassroots squads.

The number of goalkeepers and central defenders making the squad reflect what I witnessed throughout most of the campaign – resources are almost overflowing in those areas.

And Keegan’s Crawley Wasps Under-15 team-mate Lauren Graves joins her captain as the youngest players in this already very young squad.

There’s a place, too, for Emily Syme, who was on the losing side in a tremendous national colleges semi-final against BHASVIC, but who illustrated in that exhausting 80+ minutes just why she is one of the finest young talents in England.

Here’s the team and subs in a formation that would scare the life out of any opponent – young or older.

Sent Her Forward young Dream Team

(3-1-3-2-1)

Danni Cutler (Oakwood)

Eleanor Keegan (Crawley Wasps U15)
Sarah Killick-Bird (Oakwood)
Abbie Sandle (Collyer’s)

Ellie Ramsauer (Lewes Dev/BHASVIC, capt)

Abi Knight (Oakwood)
Emily Towner (BHASVIC)
Chloe Higham (Oakwood)

Henna Butcher (Lewes/BHASVIC)
Emily Syme (Richard Huish College)

Sara Tubby (Worthing College)

Subs: Nina Wilson (Brighton Dev/BHASVIC), Abi Mason (Worthing), Libby Ferguson (Withdean Youth U16), Gracie White (Chichester City U16), Andrea Barnard (Haywards Heath & Wivelsfield), Millie Carter (Lewes/Worthing College), Alex Collighan (Chichester City U16).

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