It’s been a summer of change in the FA Women’s National League, both in the individual leagues, and with their respective, member clubs, the same of which can be said of Andy Cook’s Nottingham Forest Women.
In finishing fifth last season, four points off third, and fifteen off champions, Wolverhampton Wanders Women (they lost their play-off final for promotion, 1-0 against Southampton), Forest, who have seen a tough, pre-season put in-place, have made wholesale changes on the pitch as well.
Several players have departed for pastures new, and, in recent weeks, a number of new ones have joined, Cook bringing in a defender, a midfielder, and two strikers, so far; and, with one pre-season friendly left, it’s all hands to the pump.
There may have been some disappointment in pre-season, but, when facing the likes of Liverpool, it’s often expected; one bright point however, avenging last summers’ drubbing on Tyneside, when opposing Becky Langley’s Newcastle United Women.
Langley brought her Lady Magpies to Nottingham, and were soundly beaten last-time out for the Reds, they putting aside the Liverpool loss by collecting a 4-0 win.
Two goals in each half, and a clean sheet, it makes for a good outing any day of the week, and with four different scorers, Gianna Mitchell and Hayley James in the first, Mai Moncaster and Becky Anderson wrapping things up, Cook will have certainly been a happy boss come full-time.
Next up, in the last pre-season before the season begins later month, it’s a trip to the north-east, and Wearside, Andy Cook taking his charges to Sunderland, where he’ll have four, new faces, in which to blood.
Two of the new additions to the squad, so far, are on dual-signing, one of which was the first through the door, midfielder Mackenzie Smith, an England U17 international, who is dually registered with Leicester City Ladies.
Two strikers then put-to-paper with the Garibaldi, Dutch-born Iris Achterhof the first, she being an experienced player who can count spells in the north-east with both Sunderland, and Durham, on her resume, whilst Yasmin Mosby has also joined from Concord University (USA), she having also had a spell with the Doncaster Belles.
The fourth, and most signing, sees Cook add a defender to his squad in Lauren Purchase, the Welsh Youth international arriving on a dual signing with Aston Villa.
Of each of the four signings to date (full interviews can be found on the Forest Website HERE), Andy Cook said:
MACKENZIE SMITH “Mackenzie is a hugely exciting prospect and a player that I’m very much looking forward to working with.”
IRIS ACHTERHOF “Iris is a player with a fantastic level of experience having played in America and for Durham and Sunderland in the Women’s Championship so we’re delighted to welcome her here.
“Her arrival gives us more options and adds quality to our forward line. I’m delighted she’s joining Forest and we look forward to working with her this season.”
YASMIN MOSBY “She’s an attacking threat, her movement is the final third is good and we believe in her ability to find the back of the net.”
LAUREN PURCHASE “She’s determined and wants to challenge herself. She had other offers from clubs but she’s decided that coming here is the best place for her.”
Two new clubs have joined the National League North for the coming season, Boldmere St. Michaels and Liverpool Feds, alongside Forest, and that of AFC Fylde, Brighouse Town, Burnley, Derby County, Huddersfield Town, Loughborough Lightning, Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion, and rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers, making up a twelve-team division.
With the season kicking off in a matter of weeks, Forest’s first two matches see them travel to West Bromwich Albion on the opening day (21 August), before welcoming AFC Fylde a week later (28 August); the games with Wolves (always a tasty affair) will take place at home on 18 September, and away on 12 February (all fixtures are subject to change).
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @NFFCWomen Forest have been training at the Nigel Doughty Academy.