Women’s Football Weekend

Emily Laycock
Emily Laycock

International break across the men’s football leagues in the UK leaves the perfect opportunity for Women’s Football Weekend. Fans of the sport were encouraged to celebrate the women’s game last weekend by attending fixtures across the women’s pyramid whilst their men’s team took a break to allow their players to represent their countries.

Manchester City clinched the win in the Manchester derby on Saturday at the Etihad Stadium whilst Blackburn Rovers broke their attendance record at Ewood Park and Arsenal maintained their position in third of the Women’s Super League table.

The opening match of Women’s Football Weekend was the Manchester derby and it was a walk in the Park for Gareth Taylor’s side as they beat the Red Devils by three goals to one in front of an incredible attendance of 40,086 fans. They completed the hat-trick of wins this season with two first-half goals from England international Jess Park with Khadija Shaw furthering the lead less than a minute after the break as she became City’s record goalscorer. With 68 goals scored, Shaw overtook Georgia Stanway’s record in just 82 appearances and her 17 goals this season alone means she is well on course to win the WSL’s Golden Boot award.

Marc Skinner’s side managed to claw one back with increased offensive pressure leading to a Kerstin Casparij own goal. The three points saw the Cityzens temporarily rise above Emma Hayes’ Chelsea at the top of the Women’s Super League table, until the Blues travelled to West Ham for the East London derby on Sunday.

Sunday in the WSL saw the points shared in the Merseyside derby in a goalless draw followed by a Tottenham victory at Ashton Gate. Leicester City hosted Brighton at the King Power Stadium, but the Seagulls took the three points in a 3-2 victory and leapfrogged the Foxes to take 8th position. Chelsea were victorious in the East London derby and regained their position at the helm of the table with goals from Aggie Beever-Jones and and Erin Cuthbert, and Arsenal beat Aston Villa at Villa Park with goals from Victoria Pelova, Lotte Wubben-Moy and Stina Blackstenius cancelling out Ebony Salmon’s first-half strike.

It was a special weekend for Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park in the Barclays Women’s Championship as they broke the record number of points and reached a record-breaking attendance - all in one weekend. It was a 2-1 victory over Southampton with Meg Hornby the double goal scorer and player of the match.

Sheffield United secured the win at Bramall Lane with a 5-1 victory over Reading that sees them tied on points with Blackburn Rovers, ahead on goal difference. League leaders Sunderland beat Durham in an eight-goal thriller that saw Emily Scarr, Jenna Dear, Katy Evelyn Watson and Marcy Grace McAteer (x2) get themselves on the scoresheet. Watford were defeated by Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park with Charlton also fell to defeat at the hands of London City.

There are only three weekends left in the Women’s Championship and five in the Women’s Super League and neither table is decided yet.

The opportunity to play in the big stadiums this weekend has been incredible for women’s teams. Not only is the increased number of fans depicting the growth of support for the women’s games, but the coverage of games is significantly growing also with Sky currently showing 35 WSL matches per season and the BBC covering 22.

Here’s to the continued growth of women’s football and the ever-present dream that one day the game will be as supported as the men’s game is, there won’t be a need for a Women’s Football Weekend with fixtures in big stadiums a given.

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