The month kicked off with game day five of the WPWL Cup: Cardiff City Women took on Abergavenny in Group One, the Bluebirds coming out on top following a strong second half display to win 5-1, goals coming from Kate Jeremiah (14, 72), Catherine Walsh (67, 70) and Danielle Broadhurst (61) and an own goal giving Abergavenny a consolation. In Group Two, Cyncoed and Aberystwyth shared the spoils drawing 2-2 (Athina Varnava 46; Alison Witts 66 for Cyncoed and Tania Wlyde 41 and an own goal for Aberystwyth); while Cardiff Met put three early goals past Port Talbot, two from Maddie Schupbach (4,18) and Robyn Pinder (7) to win 3-0.
These results secured three of the four semi-final spots, with Swansea and Cardiff City Women from Group One and Cardiff Met from Group Two. The final slot and mini-table positions still to be decided by the postponed fixtures - Cyncoed had the chance to grab the last space if they could overcome Met and Swansea verses Cardiff City Women would see who topped their group.
In the first mid-week game of the season Met kept their 100% Cup record to win 2-0, Pinder again in the scoresheet (75) alongside Erin Murray (87), meaning that Port Talbot retained second place and the semi-final spot. The last game of the year saw the Swans take on the Bluebirdsand it was the home team who dominated putting five away with only one in response (Chloe Chivers 14; Emma Benyon 30; Tija Richardson 47; Lauren Smith 67 and Ellie Lake 87 for Swansea, Kate Jeremiah 64 for Cardiff) . Also in Group Two, Briton Ferry Llansawel travelled to Aberystwyth, in which the visitors ran out 2-4 winners, with goals from Nia Davies (15), Sophie Topper (65,72) and Lowri Baker (85) for the reds and Wylde (46) and Libby Isaac (86) for the green and whites.
The start of month saw Llandudno’s resignation from the WPWL following difficulties in player recruitment. The loss of the club was lamented by all from the Women’s game and the work of the staff and players in supporting the team was recognised and praised. Their bid to join the North Wales League was turned down due to the timing of the request, however a core staff and players have committed to rebuilding for next season. The withdrawal had an impact on the league table, with Aberystwyth losing the point from their draw they found themselves back at the foot of the table, while Cardiff City Women dropped behind Cardiff Met into third on goal difference, adding extra impetus to the following fixtures.
Game Day Seven saw Met travel to Abergavenny, Cyncoed made the short trip to Cardiff City Women; both Cardiff’s needed the win and goals to keep them in second place and both succeeded. The Bluebirds put three away without reply (Jeremiah 25; Zoe Atkins 40, 52) and Met won 2-0 with Murray (54) getting her second that week, before Amy Long (72) secured the result. Briton Ferry Llansawel hosted Aberystwyth with both teams chasing the three points to help them try to move away from the foot of the table, with Briton Ferry Llansawel scoring the only goal of the game via sub Renee Day (70).
The last Orchard WPWL games of the year were played on 15th December, Cyncoed hosting Swansea and Port Talbot facing Cardiff Women. Once again, the Swans put in a dominant display, winning 7-0 (Shauna Jenkins 14; Beynon 35; Stacey John-Davies 45+2, 53; Chivers 46 and Smith 61, 68), not only securing another three points, but keeping their 100% record of wins and clean sheets. In Port Talbot, Cardiff looked set to have the win after Alana Murphy put them ahead midway through the second half (70), but Port Talbot didn’t give up and pulled it level on the 88th minute, only for Danielle Broadhurst to snatch the victory a minute later.
As the year ended, the first half of the season belonged to Swansea, unbeaten in all competitions and just two goals put past them, they have certainly laid some impressive foundations. Cardiff City Women and Cardiff Met are also flying high, with just one team having beaten them (Swansea), both are in prime spot should the Swans falter. Port Talbot are also performing well, currently fourth in the league and alongside the top three into the WPWL semi-finals and FAW Women’s Cup quarterfinals. Briton Ferry Llansawel and Abergavenny are also within touching distance of the top half of the table, due to their games in hand, with the latter receiving a bye into the FAW Cup semi-finals with Llandudno’s withdrawal from the competition, there is a chance for them to be in the final for the second year running. Propping up the table are Cyncoed and Aberystwyth, but with plenty of games and points available between now and April anything can happen – and probably will!