Bolton Wanderers Ladies kick off their debut campaign in the Women’s Premier League on Sunday, having won promotion to this level - the fourth tier of the women’s game - for the first time in their history last season.
To meet the demands of a higher standard of football the club has strengthened both on the pitch and off it, beginning with the appointment of new first team coach Chris Knights, the former Accrington Stanley academy and Atherton Collieries coach.
This move was followed by the news that the club will now play its home games at Kensite Stadium, the home of Atherton Colls, having previously hosted matches at the Eddie Davies Academy.
Player-wise the club has looked to flood the team with youth with a raft of exciting summer signings, including snapping up the talents of midfield maestro Gemma Yeldrem, who we here at LOV Towers will be sponsoring this season.
Gemma scored an absolute belter of a goal as the side rounded off pre-season with a 9-1 victory, in which all four (yes, FOUR forwards) scored and both top scorer Michelle Kirkman-Ryan and new signing Safron Newhouse scored hat-tricks. Check out Gemma’s finish from 1:00 in the below clip:
Some great goals on Sunday with all 4 of our forwards Michelle Kirkman-Ryan (3) Shell Saunders (1) Emma Pilling (1) & Safron Newhouse (3) getting on the score sheet along with Gemma Yeldrem (1)Posted by Chris Knights on Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Bolton Ladies have also made six additional signings, of which 25-year-old striker and Loughborough Foxes’ top scorer last season Emma Pilling is the eldest. She joins 21-year-old Newhouse, alongside Millie Critchley, Olivia Hooper, Nicole Malpus and Amily Hockenhull in arriving at the club this summer.
Bolton Ladies kick-off their season at home to Leeds United with a 2pm kick off this Sunday (20 August), followed by an away day at Brighouse a week later, then a cup clash with Leicester on 3 September. Two more away games follow, with trips to Newcastle United and Crewe Alexandra, before the second home league game of the season with the visit of Chorley on 1 October - almost two months after the opening home game. Full details on the season opener this weekend are below, so get yourself down to the game to cheer them on!
We had a chat with Chris to get the lowdown on the team ahead of the season, and first up asked him about their pre-season additions to the squad.
“The first few weeks with the team have certainly been busy with players coming and going,” Chris said. “We want the girls to play attractive, exciting football and we have brought the players in to fit that. The signings add pace and good technical ability to an already solid squad, they have settled very quickly and one of the reasons for this is the willingness and effort the existing team have shown to change and welcome new players with open arms.
Chris also told us he’s switched things up a bit on the training ground to get the squad up to pace for the challenge ahead. He said: “I have brought in a more demanding training regime over pre-season, which builds on fitness levels along with ball work, getting the players comfortable and confident on the ball.
“The girls are expected to train twice per week, and I have brought in goalkeeping coach Billy Stewart, who is also Accrington Stanley’s first team goalkeeper coach. Refitt, who are a local Bolton company, will be supporting our players with injury prevention and rehabilitation along with match day services again from a professional background. Match analysis has also been introduced for both team and individual players with all games being recorded.”
In terms of the team’s approach, we can also expect this to evolve to meet the higher standard of football and, as you can see from the above clip, the team is encouraged to play an attractive passing game.
Chris explained: “The players are also being asked to play a system they are not used to, which involves more demanding player responsibility, something they are slowly getting used to. Playing at a new ground, using Evostick team Atherton Collieries Kensite stadium next season, will also be a challenge, one the girls are very excited about and one I hope they can use to their advantage.
“We are trying to create a sustainable base for Bolton Wanderers Ladies, putting foundations in place so we can build. We need to secure our position in the league and then push on again.”
It promises to be an exciting season for Bolton Ladies, their first in the Women’s Premier League against a higher calibre of opponent but one they’re very much looking forward to. They’ll also be playing an attractive brand of football, and have a talented young team, so do your bit and support them this season.
To keep up to date with their fortunes get yourself down to the Kensite Stadium on Sunday to cheer the side on, follow their Twitter and Facebook pages and keep an eye on the Women's Premier League website.
Bolton Ladies’ Women’s Premier League fixtures in full are as follows:
20th Aug: H - Leeds
27th Aug: A - Brighouse
3rd Sept: A - Leicester Ladies (Cup)
10th Sept: H - Morecambe
17th Sept: A - Newcastle
20th Sept: A - Crewe
1st Oct: H - Chorley
8th Oct: A - Mossley Hill
11th Oct: H - Crewe
15th Oct: A - Liverpool Feds
22nd Oct: H - Barnsley
29th Oct: H - Chester le Street
12th Nov: A - Leeds
19th Nov: H - Liverpool Feds
26th Nov: A - Chester le Street
10th Dec: A - Morecambe
14th Jan: H - Hull
21st Jan: A - Barnsley
28th Jan: H - Mossley Hill
11th Feb: H - Brighouse
18th Feb: H - Newcastle
25th Feb: A - Hull
13th May: A - Chorley