Goals from top scorer Shannon Evans and a brace from Amy Wathan eased City to victory in the only WPWL fixture of last weekend, and Joel Hutton's side now find themselves just two points off second place as they prepare to host Cyncoed on Sunday. However, while only a defeat for Swansea City against Port Talbot Town would enable Cardiff City to swap places with them, manager Hutton believes his side are more than ready for the remainder of the campaign.
“The season so far has been a little disjointed with us having been hit with quite a few injuries,” Hutton explained to reporter Rob Clement after the match. “But we're starting to get players back, so hopefully we can now kick-on in the second part of the season. It was a little bit scrappy in the first half from both teams, but we settled down in the second half and that was when we scored the majority of our goals. Everything is well now following a series of injuries before the Christmas break, but with players now returning I have a few more to select from, and that showed today.”
Despite putting pressure on the teams at the top of the table, Cardiff City have played more games than their rivals this season, but the 2013 champions will be confident of at least emulating last seasons third place finish. However, champions Swansea City and city rivals Cardiff Met remain the teams to beat in the WPWL once again this season, and they will both be looking to start 2018 on the best possible way.
“We are in a good position going into the second half of the season,” Swansea City manager Ian Owen explained. “The squad has trained well over the Christmas break and we are looking forward to the remaining games. Obviously, our aim is to retain our league title and qualify for Europe again.” A 4-0 win over Port Talbot Town before Christmas was a welcome tonic for Owen after his side had suffered defeats to Cardiff Met in the WPWL and Cyncoed in the League Cup, and the same scoreline at Llandarcy on Sunday would offer a timely statement of intent in the title race.
Meanwhile, former champions Cardiff Met didn't have everything their own way in the League Cup last weekend as Abergavenny took the cup holders to extra-time, but the students from the capital eventually edged a 4-3 victory. Steph Turner and a brace from Naomi Clipston provided the goals for Met in normal time, and the side booked their place in the final thanks to Monique Fischer's winner in extra-time. Dr Kerry Harris and her side will now look to defend the trophy against Cyncoed in the final.
Met defeated Abergavenny in the League Cup final last season, and there would be no revenge for manager Richie Jeremiah at the final whistle of last weeks semi-final. “Obviously, to lose in extra-time hurts,” Jeremiah explained. “But the effort we put in when we were 3-1 down with a few minutes to go, to take it to extra-time just shows the spirit we have in this squad. It's tough to take, but it happens.” The side now return to WPWL action on Sunday when they host struggling newcomers Caernarfon at their Pen-y-Pound stadium. “We don't know too much about them,” Jeremiah added. “Their league position says a lot and we will be expected to win, but they will come down with a game plan and try to make it difficult for us.”
Elsewhere on Sunday, Cardiff Met will look to extend their lead at the top when they welcome defeated League Cup semi-finalists Rhyl to their Cyncoed Campus. Meanwhile, Llandudno make the long journey to newcomers Caldicot Town who won two of their last three WPWL games of 2017, the most notable being a 6-2 victory at Llandudno before Christmas. All of Sunday's WPWL fixtures kick-off at 2.00pm.