ARGYLE Ladies are on the road again on Sunday when they make the 460-mile round trip to play Milton Keynes in the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division.
The Pilgrims go into the game on the back of an impressive four-match winning run, scoring 21 goals and conceding just two, with the squad travelling up on Saturday afternoon to give them the best possible chance to perform. The other good news is that, as with last season, they will be playing on the impressive Stadium:MK pitch.
Argyle beat the Dons 4-3 in the opening game of last season with top striker Natasha Knapman scoring all her sides goals. Two weeks later, she opened the scoring in the 4-2 win against MK in the National League Cup but sadly then left the field with a serious foot injury.
The Pilgrims missed her goals for the remainder of the season until she resurfaced to come off the substitutes bench 28 weeks later to score within five minutes in the 2-2 draw at Home Park in the Portsmouth Dockyard derby.
Knapman still managed to score 12 goals from her 11 matches played last season and she has already
knocked in 11 goals from just five games this term, including a five-goal haul at Hounslow last week and leads the National League Southern Premier Division goalscorers.
It would be easy to say that Argyle depend on Knapman’s strike-rate but she has been ably backed up by goals from Becky Dandridge (4), Jessica Jones (3) and Amber Pollock (2). The squad has also been strengthened by the inclusion of recent new signings Bow Jackson and Lydia Huntley. Also available this weekend is all-action midfielder Jessica Jones.
This has given manager Dave Leonard the added headache of putting on the field his best possible starting eleven, as the added competition for starting positions has increased dramatically.
Milton Keynes started the season with impressive wins at Chichester City (3-0) and Keynsham Town (2-1), as well as beating Swindon Town (4-0) in the league cup. Since then, they lost 4-2 at Gillingham, drew 1-1 with Hounslow before going down narrowly last week 1-0 at Cardiff City. The latter result a warning that Sunday’s match will not be an easy ride.
Leonard said: “There is a healthy place for competition, I've got to check out a couple of girls for injuries , so I cannot name a squad yet but it will be from at least 16 players.
“We go into the weekend confident, training was good and was in a good tempo, we worked on what I felt we were weak on last Sunday. The good think about going to Milton Keynes is we know we are going to be playing on a good pitch. I've probably got a strong fully fit squad to choose from.
“I've been yearning this headache for months it's something that has given me some sleepless nights. I sensed it in training that the competition for places has meant they don't know who is travelling, who is playing and that's a good thing to have healthy competition. It will be a strong squad, whichever one we go with.”
Likely Argyle squad: Becky Kyle, Leah Burridge, Kate Middleton, Leah Burridge, Bow Jackson, Mollie Taylor, Lydia Huntley, Faye Ivall, Kayley Lane, Zoe Cunningham, Steph Beck, Becky Dandridge, Amber Pollock, Natasha Knapman, Ebony Dover, Jessica Jones.
Argyle Development will once again try to get their season up and running when they entertain Alphington at the changed venue of Plymstock School for a 2pm kick-off in the FA Women’s South-West League Western Division.
The Greens narrowly lost their opening game at Alphington 3-2, which was followed by defeats against Plympton (2-1) and St Agnes (3-1). They feel they have not had the rub of the Green and will be up against in-form striker Helen Kukor, who has knocked in nine goals in just two games.
Argyle manager Rob Bonney commented: “If we can keep everyone fit and players are available, there will be tough competition for places within the squad. This is how we want it by keeping players on their toes and looking over their shoulders.”
Squad from: Maddie Walsh, Rachel Javan, Rachel Heron, Jodie Randall, Sally Salter, Scarlett Williams, Leah Johnson, Steph Beck, Maisie Williams, Ellie Bishop, Kiara Robins, Hannah Brock, Lucy Solloway, Nicola Champion, Dani Wyatt, Chardonnay James, Maddy Leppard, Beth Cowd, Dee Newman, Milan Barros and Beth Everson.