FA Women’s National League North vs South All Star Match19 May, 2022
While some publications like to share their team of the season, we thought we’d do something a bit different. Inspired by the East and West conference NBA All-Star Match, I thought that we’d do something similar but compile an FA Women’s National League North and South All-Star team.
As someone based on the south coast, I haven’t been able to watch as much football from the northern half of the country as I would have liked and becoming a father for the first time and suffering the pandemic have made that even more difficult. While I know my stuff about teams in the South, I have enlisted Nick Andrews of the Wolves Women Podcast and Chris Gadsby the host of Women’s Football Chat to help out and take care of the Team North.
The only stipulation in collating our line ups is that we can only include a maximum of two players per club. This is partly to keep it interesting and to prevent Nick from just selecting eleven Wolves players!
I think I speak for all of us when I say that this was not an easy task! We had to consider how much creative licence we were going to use with our formations. For example, could we select four centre backs in defence or should we make it match realistic? We went for the latter and tried to make it as realistic as possible.
With all the in-depth scouting that goes on nowadays, many teams set up to mirror their opposition and can cancel the other out. Not us! Well, perhaps we might have if it wasn’t completed in secret. Our selection has thrown up a fascinating contrast of styles. Could Team North’s five player midfield overpower Team South’s midfield three? Even if they could, would they be able to get through Team South’s strong defence and would they be vulnerable to the pace on the break?
I thought the idea was a bit of fun but seeing these teams on paper, I think so many of us would pay top dollar to see these teams go into battle for real.
“When it came to picking our defence I headed straight for the sides that conceded the fewest goals this season, Wolves and Forest.” said Chris.
“I suggested to Nick that we each picked the player from our own sides, and one name came instantly to mind. Lyndsey Harkin, the Forest captain who has played in more games than anyone else in the side this season, is solid at the back and often starts moves with pinpoint balls over the top for the wingers to run on to.”
She has a cool head under pressure and able to control things at the back even during spells when the team was under the cosh, Lyndsey was one of the easiest choices for me in this XI.
Chris Gadsby on the inclusion of Lynsey Harkin
For Nick, his first pick was unsurprisingly a Wolves player but a pick that no one would argue with. “Tammi George is Wolves Women Player of The Season this year and has been a standout player in this Wolves first season back in Tier 3.
“Having coming through the youth ranks Tammi spent time with Spurs U23’s before returning to Wolves for the 20/21 season having had Covid end the 19/20 season. Whilst the 2020/21 season was again curtailed by Covid, Tammi was becoming a fixture within the team so that in 2021/22 with Summer Holmes and Helen Dermody she formed a successful partnership in central midfield.
“As injuries/suspensions have limited Dermody/Holmes season Tammi has grown and developed both in her personal development but how she contributes to the team. This has led to her chipping in with both assists & goals – talking of which… She only scores worldies – with probably the favourite being the one away against W*A in the league!!”
While Team South’s forward trio has combined to score a massive seventy-two goals in all competitions, their counterparts have an admirable forty-six between the pair. Although as they took great pride in reminding me that their overall goal contribution for their team were one hundred and forty-two to Team South’s eighty-nine.
However, I stand by what I said on the podcast, with Laura Rafferty, Paige Peake, Amy Goddard and Ella Morris in front of Rose Kite, the likes of Amber Hughes and Faye McCoy will have to be at their absolute best to get anything out of that brick wall of a defence.
We do have to discuss the omissions as there are plenty who we’d love to have included, but like when you’re picking your Fantasy Football team, selecting one player can often lead to another having to be removed. There are many other different combinations and we’d love to hear yours, including who you think would come out on top?
Would you like to know more about how we selected this team and listen to our Championship Play-Off final then you can listen below or click here to download and subscribe to the podcast.
Don’t forget, the match will be streamed live online globally by the BBC on the BBC Sport website and BBC iPlayer, bringing wider exposure for the third tier of women’s football in England. Plus, tickets for the game are available to buy online now for just £5 for adults, £2.50 for under 16s and concessions, whilst kids under 10 go free.