Women’s Super League Preview: Notts County Ladies FC

By Neil Evans. Notts County Ladies..? Er hang on don't you mean Lincoln Ladies (The Lady Imps)? Well..yes..and no. Yes, for those that don't know, because Lincoln Ladies played their last game losing the Continental Cup Final to Arsenal at the end of the 2013 season...and, now, no because the decision had already been made to transfer the WSL franchise lock, stock and barrel to Nottingham. Thus, The Imps have become the Magpies for the coming season. A decision, it is fair to say, not exactly welcomed in Lincoln!

New Era, New Club, New City

So, the joint newest women’s WSL club slots in alongside the oldest men’s Football League club – ironic I guess.

So much for the background, who are these guys?

Lincoln Ladies had little to celebrate last year finishing sixth in the 2013 season

Lincoln Ladies had little to celebrate last year finishing sixth in the 2013 season

Well, Notts County Ladies chairman Ray Trew was already involved in helping to bankroll the Lincoln side and the Notts County website goes into great detail to explain the changes (how they meet WSL criteria and things like that).

On the pitch Rick Passmoor retains the reigns as manager and the one thing he will want to continue from Lincoln is their stingy defence – just 15 conceded in 14 league games (second best in the WSL in 2013).

They may have finished fifth in the table but the Imps were highly disciplined, FA Cup Semi Finalists, Continental Cup finalists and competitive in almost every game. Scoring goals was a real issue though with just 10 strikes – only Doncaster scored fewer goals and they knew they would be demoted to the new WSL2 from this season.

The team posed for a photo ahead of the eagerly anticipated 2014 campaign

The team posed for a photo ahead of the eagerly anticipated 2014 campaign

Can the Lady “Pies” enjoy a WSL feast or will it be famine?

So it’s clear where Rick Passmoor needed to strengthen, and he has. Former Gunner and current England International striker Ellen White has signed. Jess Clarke has always been a pacey wide player and Carla Cantrell did a sterling job last season leading the line – often a demanding and lonely job. Katie Holtham is a capable midfielder and former ‘Belle. Katie Hoyle is one of a few New Zealand players that has joined the expanding WSL. Keeping Nottingham-born Sophie Bradley was an important coup and with the addition of the experienced Rachel Unitt and signing Dunia Susi from Chelsea means that the gaffer intends to keep that famed defence as tight as ever. Losing goalkeeper Karen Bardsley meant that a capable replacement was a priority, and Passmore has addressed this by raiding Chelsea for Carly Telford. No Casey Stoney (who has joined Arsenal Ladies) is a big miss but overall these Magpies have added more balance to their squad.

They should score more goals but may also ship a few more. It would not surprise me to see them improve on last season’s fifth but, with all the other teams strengthening, they could just as easily move in the other direction.

These ‘Pies’ have all the ingredients, it appears, but the proof of the pudding (as ever) will be in the eating.

Prediction: Fifth or thereabouts (again)

Key Player: Ellen White

County’s first WSL game is at Meadow Lane v Arsenal on April 16.

Check out Neil’s other previews:

Birmingham City Ladies

Bristol Academy WFC

Follow @swinfan69

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