PLYMOUTH Argyle Ladies face a tough pre-season test on Sunday when they entertain Super League side Bristol City at the club’s new base the Manadon Sports Hub (2pm).
A good sized crowd is expected for the match, which should offer the Pilgrims their most difficult challenge ahead of the start of their National League Southern Premier Division season.
Bristol do not begin their Super League season until September 8 when they entertain Brighton so it is unclear what sort of team City will put out on Sunday as they have only just recently returned to training.
Possible inclusions in their line-up could be summer signings Charlie Wellings, Meaghan Sargeant, Jas Matthews, Yana Daniëls and Vita van der Linden. Cornish defender Matthews has returned to the Robins after leaving Liverpool.
Also expected in the City squad is goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley, whose superb season between the sticks saw her voted player-of-the-year by the fans. Bristol will also expect to blood some of their quality youngsters.
Argyle manager Dave Leonard has selected a squad of 13 players for the match, with recent signing Becky Kyle, who has returned to the club, in goal.
The Pilgrims will be missing Leah Burridge and Jessica Jones, who are away, but Becky Dandridge, Ebony Dover and Kayley Lane return after missing the 8-0 win at Bishops Lydeard.
Leonard said: “It is frustrating having people away but it is what it is. I decided not to include Zoe Cunningham as she is still a week away from full fitness.”
Leonard has also shown faith in 16-year-old Beth Everson, who has impressed in pre-season games to date.
He added: “We have had a good week with the Bishops Lydeard game and training has gone well. It will be a Bristol City XI, I think they will have a splattering of senior players, so it will be good. It will also be nice to showcase Manadon. I am proud to take the team there this season – this is now our home. I want to make it a fortress and it will be nice to introduce the girls to it this week.”
The new roll-on, roll-off substitute rule does not affect Argyle at their level, but the new sin-bin rule will. A player will be sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes as a sanction for dissent. The FA successfully piloted sin-bins during the 2017-18 season, and then extended this to a total of 31 leagues throughout the 2018-19 season as part of its commitment to improve the match day experience for all. After gathering positive feedback from players, referees and coaches, sin-bins will now be rolled out across all leagues up to step five of the national league system and tier three and below in women’s football.
Argyle squad to face Bristol City: Becky Kyle, Faye Ivall, Katie Middleton, Mollie Taylor, Helen Bleazard, Amber Pollock, Natasha Knapman, Darcey Hepworth, Ellie Bishop, Beth Everson, Ebony Dover, Becky Dandridge, Kayley Lane.
Meanwhile, Argyle’s development squad head off to AFC Bournemouth on Sunday for their latest pre-season game.
The young development side travel with a depleted squad due to injuries, unavailability and first team call-ups. But manager Rob Bonney is relishing the challenge.
He said: “It would be nice to go up there with a full squad, but it gives the other players a chance to grab my attention.”
Once more the team has a youthful look about it with another 16-year-old, Chardonnay James being given her debut.