Concern over growing number of walkovers in opening weeks of Gloucestershire County Women's League season – Gloucestershire Live

  • September 28, 2022

Women’s football by Keith Watson
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Chairman Alan Wakefield admits he is concerned at the number of Gloucestershire County Women's League matches that have been conceded as walkovers in the first few weeks of the new season.
Longwell Green and City of Gloucester were unable to fulfil fixtures against Gloucester City and Longlevens respectively on Sunday, following on from six incidents of Division Three clubs being unable to raise a team for games during the opening month of the campaign. In all, of 36 matches so far this season, eight have been awarded as walkovers.
Newly-formed Ashton Keynes have conceded all three of their scheduled games so far, while Mitcheldean, SGS Olveston Reserves and Stoke Lane have also given walkovers to their opponents. Consequently, Southmead sit second in the table with six points despite not having kicked a ball.
"Without going into the specifics, it is concerning that we have already had these games called off due to teams not being able to raise a side," admitted Wakefield. "Clubs are supposed to play if they have at least seven players, but realistically they cancel if they don't have 11, although some teams have played with fewer than 11 in the past.
"Team sports in general, I think, are suffering at the moment, the men's game at grassroots level definitely is, and to some degree so is the women's even after England's Euros win. There will always be an issue with some clubs having a lot of players, some not getting a game but being happy to stay, and other clubs not having enough players.
"We understand it could be damaging to the league if a club wins a division due to a walkover, so we have brought in some extra penalties for sides defaulting, points deductions and fines on an increasing scale, but awarding the game is something we may need to look at."
Longlevens boss Rob McGeever, having seen his team's game at the weekend called off, said he could see both sides of the coin.
He said: "Everyone was really buzzing to play, it was a derby game, and we had built up some momentum in training and with the Gloucester City win, so when I put the message out to say it was cancelled there were a lot of unhappy players, but that's grassroots football.
"Every team has their own problems, though. I don't think there's a club that doesn't have to scrape around for a team at least once a season. Sometimes it's work patterns, sometimes it's family life or injuries."
Plenty of games did go ahead in the County League, although Bishop's Cleeve, Cheltenham Saracens and Tuffley were all heavily beaten in Division One.
Saracens crashed 4-1 at Bristol Rovers Development with Kelly Adams scoring the consolation and Sophie Vincent being sent off. Helena Costa (2), Shannon Francis and Gift Ihejieto netted for the Gas Girls.
Aimee Clarke scored a hat-trick and Lucy Sharp a brace as Bristol & West thumped Bishop's Cleeve 5-0, while Tuffley lost 5-0 at home to Bitton with Abbie Woodley-Marshall (2), Edie Hopton, Anna Munday and Leanne Passaway on target for the visitors.
In Division Two, Cheltenham Civil Service beat Cirencester 4-0 courtesy of a Gemma Riley hat-trick and another from Jasmine Hart.
Gloucester City Development fell 4-2 at home to Red Falcon despite goals from Freya Warwick and Kate Ambrey, while high-flying AEK Boco Reserves beat Whitchurch 4-2, and Downend Reserves edged Bradley Stoke in a 5-4 thriller.
Ellwood made it three wins out of three in Division Three with a 6-0 home success against Andoversford as Tia Watts, Amy Tandy and Michaela Dowle each struck twice for the Forest of Dean side.
Elsewhere, Kingswood beat Mitcheldean 2-1, while Winchcombe earned a 1-1 draw at Bristol Union thanks to Katy Bradshaw, and Stoke Lane were 2-1 victors at SGS Olveston Reserves.
In the South West Premier, Forest Green went down 2-1 at home to Torquay United despite an early opener from in-form Charlie Rowlands, while Cheltenham Town were beaten 4-2 by visiting AFC Wimbledon in the FA National League Cup determining round with Emma Congrave and Maisy Collins netting for the Robins.
Cheltenham visit London Bees in the league this weekend, while in the second qualifying round of the Women's FA Cup Bishop's Cleeve travel to AEK Boco, Forest Green host Weston-super-Mare, and Tuffley welcome Paulton Rovers.

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