This weekend Moneyfields FC Women welcome Crawley Wasps to the PMC Stadium in the Vitality Women’s FA Cup first round. This is already an historic achievement as this is the furthest that the club have ever reached in the competition.
After increased investment from the Football Association, Moneyfields picked up a £4,000 winners bonus for their 2-0 success over Hastings United in the third qualifying round. This is an increase compared to last year’s £600.
Since the team was launched in 2017, Moneyfields have climbed the women’s football pyramid with successive promotions through the Hampshire FA Women’s leagues and the Southern Region Women’s Leagues. In May, after two seasons lost to COVID, they finally secured a much-deserved promotion into the FA Women’s National League South West Division One, the fourth tier of women’s football.
For context, that is three divisions below the Women’s Super League, two below the Women’s Championship one league below local rivals Portsmouth and the likes of Watford, Oxford United and Wolverhampton Wanderers. All of whom can call upon wealthy male counterparts to supplement funding and provide first-class resources and facilities.
To those men’s teams, £4,000 is small change, while to Moneyfields that represents approximately half of the club’s annual revenue. Outside of the obvious incentive to win on Sunday, Manager Karl Watson and this team stand to pick up £6,000 if they can overcome the Crawley Wasps.
Sussex-based Crawley Wasps are no stranger to an FA Cup run. In February 2019 they played host to fourteen-time competition winners Arsenal in the fourth round, going down to a credible 4-0 defeat. Not one of those players named in the match-day squad is still at Wasps and this much-changed side has struggled so far this season with no wins and three draws in their opening ten games.
Quite the opposite league fortunes for Moneyfields, they have only just recorded their first league defeat of the season, going down 2-0 away to Southampton Women. Their task made more difficult after losing Jade Widdows to a straight red, one that sees her as suspended for the weekend. Prior to that Moneyfields had been disappointed to only take a point from promotion hopefuls AFC Bournemouth and Exeter City. Secure their first win in the National League 5-0 against Larkhill Athletic. Wins against Portishead and Selsey followed.
After increased investment from the FA, Moneyfields picked up a £4,000 win bonus for their 2-0 success over Hastings United in the third qualifying round. Compared to last year’s £600.
Portsmouth’s second-highest-ranked female team will go into the game full of confidence knowing that they have the talent and experience within their squad to record a victory.
While the first team’s successful start to the season is something to be enjoyed by those within the club, manager Karl Watson will be most proud of the expanded women’s and girl’s section of the club that he has overseen over the summer. Prior to this season, outside of the first team, there was only one girls’ youth team within the club but now there are seven from U9s to U18s. Not to forget a reserve team that sit top of Hampshire League Division Two with five wins from five matches.
Crawley’s FA Cup form has been a welcomed distraction for Charlie McCarthy’s side. In the last round, they overcame Norwich City 4-1 thanks to a brace from Amelia Ajao and one each from Selin Buyukgiray and Holly Talbut-Smith. In the run-up to the game, Talbut-Smith said, “It gave us belief that we are capable of scoring and winning games. It showed us that as a new squad under Charlie we are starting to gel together as a team.”
By virtue of being playing in the league below Crawley Wasps, Moneyfields will go into the game as underdogs, however, Portsmouth’s second-highest-ranked female team will go into the game full of confidence knowing that they have the talent and experience within their squad to record a victory.
Watson was able to retain many of the side that earned promotion but also added a number of experienced National League players, including, Sophie Phelps (Selsey FC), Lavinia Nkomo (AFC Fylde), Tamsin de Bunsen, Bekah Tonks and Jade Widdows (Portsmouth), as well as Beth Burgess (Loughborough Lightning) returning after completing her studies.
This is set to be a captivating encounter and one that any fan of football is likely to enjoy. Get yourself down to Baffins Milton Rovers’ PMC Stadium off Eastern Road from midday this Sunday, with kick-off at 1 pm. Tickets are available on the door priced at £5 for adults and free for concessions. The bar and cafe will be open. #UpTheMoneys