FA WSL 2 club-by-club season preview: Sheffield FC
Sheffield captain and midfielder Carla Ward looks ahead to the upcoming 2017-18 season
Following an impressive first season in the FA Women’s Super League 2 in 2016, it was an inconsistent 2017 Spring Series campaign for a Sheffield FC side who are hoping to make amends this time around.
Sheffield became the first team to earn promotion to FA WSL 2 in 2015 when they beat Portsmouth in a play-off and have enjoyed mixed results since then.
And ahead of their new season in FA WSL 2, captain Carla Ward talks us through how her side are shaping up for the new season.
2016-17 in a nutshell
After winning promotion two years ago Sheffield burst onto the FA WSL scene, finishing in a comfortable fifth place, collecting 26 points from 18 games.
Yet the Spring Series was not as successful for the Dronfield based outfit as they collected just two wins from their nine matches.
And Ward believes her side underestimated the opposition during the Spring Series competition.
She said: “We’re certainly excited especially after the disappointment of the Spring Series we’ve come back in and a lot of things have changed, I think they needed to.
“Everyone has got their heads down, worked hard and I think it will be good, we’ve won six and lost one and we just want to finish on a high going into the new season and hopefully we’ll start well.
“It was interesting because we had a good first season in the WSL in our debut season I thought we started well, finished fifth, only three points off second.
“So to then go into the Spring Series and have a disappointing one was tough.
“We did lose Jodie Michalska who did score a lot of goals and we didn’t replace her and that punished us a bit but the biggest thing for me was that our fitness levels weren’t quite there and we maybe underestimated a lot of the teams.
“I think we went into it a little relaxed and a little complacent but we know now that we need to work hard and that every game will be a tough one.
Sheffield are keen to right the wrongs of the Spring Series and re-establish themselves in FA WSL 2 and the captain is pragmatic about their chances this campaign.
Ward explained: “Mid-table would be a success, we finished seventh in the Spring Series and that’s not good enough.
“We’ve looked around to see how much everyone has strengthened and obviously the resources the manager’s got we have to be realistic and I think midtable would be a good season.
“We’re used to playing in winter and I think the switch is especially good for the women’s game because.
“I know people used to like playing in the summer but in terms of the progression of the leagues I think it’s a good move.”
Ins and Outs
It has been a quiet transfer window for Sheffield FC so far with the addition of Melissa Johnson their major piece of business.
The forward has spent five seasons at Derby County before making the switch to Sheffield.
Ward cannot wait to link up with the 25-year-old and is hopeful of a few more signings coming through the dor.
“We’ve signed Mel Johnson from Derby, she’s come in and settled in well,” she said.
“We haven’t strengthened as much as we would’ve liked but hopefully we can bring in one or two more.”
Zoe Johnson took on the role of Sheffield FC Ladies' Reserve team manager at the start of the 2013/14 season having previously had a very successful year as manager of Blackburn Rovers Reserves.
In December 2015, Zoe stepped up to the first team coaching staff in preparation for the team's new challenge in the FA Women's Super League, and is now manager of the team.
A young and knowledgeable coach, Johnson has so far impressed in her role as head coach and is hoping to lead her side up the table.
Bright young thing
Rhema Lord-Mears is one of Sheffield’s brightest stars having joined the club in summer 2015 from Manchester City WFC Development.
The 22-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough season in the FA WSL 2, playing 18 times as Sheffield finished fifth.
To add to her glowing reputation, the attacker was selected this summer to represent Great Britain at the World University Games in Chinese Taipei.
“I think the mindset had to change I think we had a lot of players who thought it was going to be a little bit easier than it was and I think people underestimate the WSL,” said Ward.
“Every single team now is strong and as you saw with the Spring Series, everybody can beat everybody and that is something that we have to take now and realise that every single game is like a cup final.”
Sheffield kick off the new season away to Oxford United on Sunday, September 24.
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