Harlow Town Ladies will return to the pitch for the first time since they were defeated in the FA Women’s Cup First Round Proper by Ipswich Town Ladies on Sunday.
The Hawks played 5-games in the league and 6-games in the FA Women’s Cup during the 2020/21 season before it was curtailed by the FA. After the 5-games, the Lady Hawks sat 5th in the league, with a record of won 3, drew 1 and lost 1, putting them 8-points behind Peterborough Northern Star and Wymondham Town but with 3-games in-hand.
With no more league football and the FA Cup run at an end, attention of the club now turns to the Eastern Region Women’s Football League Challenge Cup, an invitational cup competition set up by the league to get clubs back playing since organised sport was given the go-ahead in line with the Government’s guidelines. The visit of Wodson Park to the Harlow Arena will kick-start Harlow’s group stage as they look to deliver in the off-season.
Wodson Park play in the ERWFL Division One South division and found themselves 5th out of the 7-sides, having won 2 and lost 2 during the 2020/21 season. Wodson picked up wins in their opening two league games as they beat AFC Sudbury Women and East Bergholt United but struggled as they entered October and retuned to action in December, facing two defeats on the spins against Leigh Ramblers Ladies and Hutton Women.
Both sides come into the game, having not played for 3-months, making it possibly the most open game of the competition, with match-fitness set to build throughout the games.
Speaking after training, manager Dean Perrett discussed the return of football as well as the upcoming games throughout April and May.
“It’s great to be back and preparing for this cup competition. The girls are keen to be back out on the pitch and in training, they have looked sharp. Although everyone kept themselves fit in lockdown, they are looking forward to getting back to playing competitive matches.”
“The lockdown has been tough for everyone, especially me, because I just want to be out there managing and coaching. It’s another season of disappointment as we’re not playing league games and going for the promotion we set out to challenge for. That’s the goal we want and throughout the lockdown, we’ve been scouting around to see who we can bring in and replace those who have departed, so it’s always on your mind, even in lockdown. We still needed to do bits and pieces to tick over.”
“I’m pleased with how the girls have returned to training, bringing the right attitude. They just want to play football and they’re looking forward to this competition because there are four games for them to play, allowing them to get back mentally and physically fit. Some of the new players will also get to see how we play. The approach from my side since we’ve returned is getting the girls back and putting the smiles back on their faces. They’ve come back to training raring to go, so we want to go as far as we can but also treat these games as a mini pre-season. We’ll look at giving the players some good minutes and if we manage to get beyond the group stage, that’s a bonus because it’ll give an extra few games.”
“We don’t know much about Wodson other than they are in the league below. I believe they still have a couple of ex-Harlow players in there, but a cup-games can go either way. We still need to work hard, focus on playing our football and getting the result. It could be a damaging result if we were to lose to a side in the league below, so although we will probably be favourites to win, with it being the first game back, we need to concentrate and do what we do to get the desired result.”
The game at the Harlow Arena will be played behind closed doors but you can keep up to date with the action by following our twitter (@HarlowLadies) and Instagram (@HarlowTownLadiesOfficial).