Cardiff City Women celebrate scoring against Barry Town

Cardiff City FC Women | Phase One in Review

As City have reached the end of Phase One of the Adran Premier season, we take a look back at a positive campaign for the Bluebirds.

Iain Darbyshire’s side came into this season looking to build on a remarkable campaign in 2022/23. An unbeaten record in the entirety of the league season resulted in claiming the Adran Premier title for the second time in the Club’s history, as well as winning the FAW Women’s Cup for a second consecutive year.

City’s form of last season continued into this campaign, claiming early wins over Cardiff Met, The New Saints and Wrexham. Summer recruit Molly Kehoe adapted brilliantly to the Adran Premier and made an impressive start to life as a Bluebird, scoring her first goal for the Club against the Saints, before following up with a fine brace in a 3-0 win over the Red Dragons. Another huge highlight for the side came at Cardiff City Stadium, where a fine performance resulted in a 6-1 win over Barry Town United in front 1,092 fans.

Molly Kehoe in action for Cardiff City Women

The following game saw another big moment from Kehoe, playing in her first South Wales derby. With the fixture taking place at Llandarcy Academy of Sport, a ground that the Bluebirds have typically struggled in in past years, City claimed a crucial 1-0 win, with Kehoe netting a second half winner. Having ended 2023 with a fine 5-0 victory at Aberystwyth Town, Darbyshire’s side made a brilliant start to the new year. One of the performances of the campaign came at The New Saints, where there were six different goalscorers in a 6-0 win.

The continued growth of the Women’s programme at the Club was highlighted by a 3-0 win over Wrexham at Cardiff City Stadium, with the fantastic support of 1,312 fans. The three points continued the Bluebirds’ momentum, following with victories over Pontypridd United and Barry Town United. With City’s Phase One campaign ending with a narrow defeat to Swansea City, a 693-day unbeaten run in the league was brought to an end. However, the Bluebirds head into the final six games of the season in a promising position, currently sitting five points clear at the top of the table, with two Semi-Finals in the Adran Trophy and the Bute Energy Welsh Cup to look forward to.

Reflecting on the campaign so far, the influential Kehoe said: “I think coming in as a new player from across the world, it’s been a great start for me. We’ve only lost one game this season, so we can look back positively. It was hard for me to come from a different environment and adapt quickly, but I think I’ve adapted quickly and it’s been good for me.

“Scoring goals lifted my confidence a lot. With me scoring against Wrexham and Swansea, those big games, it was really good for my confidence. The whole team is really talented and that made it easier for me to come into, because there was so much positivity and still is. That’s helped me a lot.”

Eliza Collie celebrates scoring for Cardiff City

It’s been an impressive season for Bluebirds striker Eliza Collie. A product of the U19s team, Collie has netted a fine tally of 11 league goals this campaign. Her record sees her currently rank third in the top scorers chart, behind Rosie Hughes of Wrexham (13) and Swansea City’s Katy Hosford (12).

Eliza’s goalscoring campaign began with a brace against The New Saints on Matchday Three, which saw her grow in confidence and net in back-to-back games in October, coming against Pontypridd United and Barry Town United. The striker had a stellar end to 2023, netting a brilliant hat-trick against Aberystwyth Town.

Her form continued into 2024, as she found the net against The New Saints, before taking centre stage at Cardiff City Stadium, scoring a fine brace against Wrexham. The 19-year-old has made a habit of popping up with some big moments this year, with another one coming against Pontypridd United last month, as she found a late winner for City. A slight injury saw Eliza miss out in the Bluebirds’ last two games of Phase One, but she is set to return to full fitness ahead of the last six league matches of the season.

Olivia Basham

Another huge positive for City this season has been the player pathway from the U19s side to the Senior Team. The U19s have had also had a successful campaign so far, currently sitting at the top of the Adran South U19 table. With Noah Bushby’s side making an impression, many of the squad have earned opportunities at senior level. No less than eight players who began the campaign as part of the U19s squad have featured for Darbyshire’s team. Marnie Gingell, Grace Evans, Grace Phillips, Brooke Arthur, Demi Parry, Mali Ackerman, Olivia Basham and Madison Lloyd have all gained invaluable senior team experience this season and have made an impression.

The performances of Basham and Lloyd have been particularly impressive, with both regularly featuring in a positive season so far for the Bluebirds, who have high targets for Phase Two.