2014 FASWL Season Review
Release Date : 05-Jan-2016 | Name : | Category : Football/Soccer
Author : Adam Barlow
The race for the FAWSL title was one of the most exciting on record. If anybody was in doubt about how the game is growing here in England then this season showed how far standards have risen with the league being ultra competitive right to the end. With 45 minutes of the season to go three sides could have won the title. In the end Liverpool defended their title pipping Chelsea to the championship by virtue of having a better goal difference.
Birmingham City defied all expectations this season and off the back of a fantastic Champions League campaign which saw them reach the semi finals, they led the table for the first two thirds of the season only suffering their first league defeat at Chelsea in early August. After a busy off season and some great player signings like striker Rachel Williams, Chelsea were also serious contenders throughout. Last season’s champions Liverpool had a slow start to the season with injuries to key players hitting them hard. Although as the season went on they started to show the qualities that made them champions in 2013. On the penultimate weekend of the season Chelsea were 10 minutes away from the championship. However late goals for Liverpool and Birmingham meant that all 3 could have won the league with one game to play. So on the last game of the season, Chelsea knew that if they won at Manchester City they would become Champions.
Chelsea were certainly in the driving seat going into the final round of games but found themselves 2-0 down at HT as it looked like the occasion was starting to get to them.
The pressure was also telling on second placed Birmingham who trailed Notts County 2-1 at HT and also had a penalty saved by Notts Keeper Carly Telford. Liverpool meanwhile were drawing 0-0 with Bristol. In the second half Liverpool stepped up and rode to a comfortable 3-0 win which with both Birmingham and Chelsea failing to win sent them top of the table.
Elsewhere Chelsea got a goal back and Birmingham drew level but neither could find the elusive goal that would have seen them winthe championship. In the end Liverpool held their nerve to collect their second championship in a row. A feat that had looked so improbable when they were 3-1 down at Arsenal with 20 minutes to play a week before. Chelsea claimed the second champions league spot for the first time in their history but it will be of little consolation to the Blues.
Apart from the title race the big story of the season was Arsenal. For so long the dominant force in Women’s football, the club found itself rock bottom of the league at the midseason break without a league win to its name; a position that would be almost unthinkable in times gone by. This led to manager Shelly Kerr leaving the club, but not before she guided them to a second successive FA Cup final win. John Bayer was appointed interim head coach and got off to a great start with a 1-0 win at Liverpool. Slowly but surely the club moved towards mid-table. With safety assured and a place in the Continental cup final achieved the club named Pedro MartinezLosa as permanent first team manager. It was a happy end to one of the strangest seasons in the club’s history.
After coming so close to winning the title in 2013 Bristol had a much quieter time of it in 2014; never really being in the relegation fight but not involved in the scrap for honours either. Given that the club appointed a new manager so close to the start of the season this transition has to be viewed as some kind of success and a good platform on which to build on going forward.
During the pre-season two newcomers were making waves. Manchester City really signalled their intent by signing England internationals such as Jill Scott, Steph Houghton, Karen Bardsley and Toni Duggan. Despite all this the club got off to a slow start and sat bottom of the table early on in the season. However a great 1-0 win at Arsenal kick started their season and they finished comfortably safe of the relegation scrap. Add in the fact the club reached the ContinentalCup final and some of the great work going off behind the scenes, it all adds up for a successful first season at this level; definitely a club to watch going into 2015.
This was also Notts County’s first season in the FAWSL since their rebrand from Lincoln at the end of 2013. Like Manchester City they too made major moves in the transfer market with striker Ellen White being the most eye-catching. However, White suffered an injury in pre-season which kept her out for the entire season. Notts were defensively one of the best in the league, but goals were hard to come by and the club hovered just above the relegation zone all year. The Magpies saved themselves in September though when they defeated Chelsea 1-0 and fellow strugglers Everton 2-0 as they finished the season strongly. There is a lot of great work going at Meadow Lane and the club enjoyed some healthy attendances. If they had had better luck with injuries their league position would have been much better.
2014 also saw the introduction of relegation and it was one of the longest serving top flight clubs that ended up in that dreaded bottom spot. Everton have a proud history in women’s football but 2014 was one of the worst in the club’s history as they failed to win a league game and gaining only four points all season. The club has lost a series of quality players to sides like Liverpool and Manchester City in recent times and relied on bringing through young players from the academy. Reaching the FA Cup final was a highpoint but a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal was a damaging experience for this young team and they never really recovered from it and were relegated with two matches still to play.