Magpies hoping it’s lucky 13th

Harleston Magpies Ladies kick off their East Conference season, their 13th at national level, with a difficult fixture at Chelmsford tomorrow (2pm).

Most of the team will remember that they played this same opening fixture last season and lost 5-0, so Magpies have much to prove as they try to make a good start.

The team, sponsored by, have been able to experiment and blood new players during their pre-season matches. Two useful matches against men's teams were followed by a 2-0 away win against Old Loughtonians, a 1-1 and 0-0 draw against Ipswich and a 4-3 win against Staines.

There have been a number of changes to the squad with Louisa Greenacre stepping down as captain after four years of hard work to be replaced by joint captains Frances Sumner and Charlotte Harrison. Becky Baker and Naomi Hull return to the club, while Hannah Palmer has joined from Dereham.

Lauren Mickleburgh has forced her way into the squad while Angie Wheelhouse returns after missing last season after having a baby. For the same reason Debbie Francis is unavailable. Artemis Clark is also unavailable having moved away.

Younger players like Jess Howland, Lizzie Jones and Holly Baker are waiting for their chance after impressing in pre-season.

The East Conference League looks considerably stronger this season so Magpies will be hoping to make a strong start. Last season Magpies had a very tough start to the season but made a strong finish, moving from the relegation zone to finish fifth.

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Squad: Frances Sumner and Charlotte Harrison Joint Captains, Charlotte Lee-Smith, Katrina Warnes, Louisa Greenacre, Lucy Miller,Becky Baker, Lauren Mickleburgh, Bryony Lund, Naomi Hull, Emma Lee-Smith, Hannah Palmer, Angie Wheelhouse,Sarah Brook and Verity Blyth.

Magpies men start their game on Sunday (2.15pm) with a home fixture against Holcombe. The visitors are likely to pose a severe test for the home side as they are already being spoken of as this season's favourites for promotion.

Magpies show eight changes to their squad from last season. Sebastion Knights joins from Stourport, Mark Stackpoole joins after a period out and Will Blythe, Elliot Smith, Tom Graham, and Alex Slater have all made the progression from the lower teams within the club. Whilst this group lacks experience they certainly do not lack enthusiasm and have been impressive in pre-season. The hard core of last season's team remains with Andy Bedwell and Stuart Leate looking fitter and stronger than last season.

Squad: Marc LLoyd, David Ling, Mark Wheelhouse (Capt), Richard Gill, Tristan Baynes, Stuart Leate, Andy Bedwell, Pete Bale, Robbie Kinsella, Will Blythe, Elliot Smith, George Payne, Tom Graham, Alex Slater,Richard Ling, Sebastion Knights, Mark Stackpoole, Dann Legg, Ben Wright.