Ellie Sargent (Right) and Thierry-Jo Gauvin (Left). Image Credit: Shannon McGuigan

Promotion hopes for Cardiff City Ladies as they make epic comeback

Cardiff City Ladies continue their trailblazing return after being relegated last season, but it’s the league promotion that is key to their future success

PROMOTION is crucial for Cardiff City Ladies’ future progress as they face off with second in the league, Exeter City, on Sunday, February 5.

The women’s side has made a huge comeback after being relegated last season. They shook women’s football with their recent FA Cup upset against Burnley.

But despite their recent championship success, their number one goal remains a promotion from the FA National League Division One South West. 

The league promotion is essential for Cardiff City Ladies. With teams in the league, such as Swindon Town, improving in quality each season and getting more backing than before from their men’s side with coaches and finances, it will only get harder for the Cardiff side to progress in the future.

Jamie Phillip, Cardiff City Ladies manager said: “The priority is to win the league. There are five or six teams now who will have that backing next year. It’s only going to get harder. We have to win.

Cardiff City Ladies training at Ocean Park. Image Credit: Shannon McGuigan

“After the Burnley win, the girls were buzzing, but now we are focused on getting back to business.”

Wales’ oldest women’s football team sit at top of their league, leading the pack on 30 points. 

The Dragons have also had a strong league run – winning 10 of the 11 matches they have played so far. They feel confident about the possibility of promotion this season.

Midfielder Ellie Sargent said: “Promotion is a realistic goal. I am confident we are going to win the league and that’s not arrogance.”

On Feb 5, they face their nearest challengers’ Exeter City, a team currently behind them in the league by two points.

Keeping up the momentum

This potential promotion decider comes shortly after their FA Cup win against Burnley – who are in the league above.

On January 29, Cardiff City Ladies bagged a comfortable 4-1 win against the Clarets. Now they will progress to the fifth round of the cup, where they will face championship side Lewes. 

Although they went into the match as the lowest-ranked club – they didn’t let it deter them from a win.

Defender Thierry-Jo Gauvain said: “There was always the thought about them being in the league above, but we went in with the mindset of winning.”

Their ambition to win the match drove them forward to victory with goals from Cori Williams, Ingrid Aadland and Laura Williams.

Cardiff City Ladies training at Ocean Park. Image Credit: Shannon McGuigan

“You could tell everyone wanted it and that was shown in our tackles, passes and gameplay overall,” said Gauvain.

The next round will see the ladies face Lewes – who are four tiers above them. It’s a game for which they are feeling hopeful.

Sargent said: “They say everyone has their day in the cup and if Sunday was our day, then that’s fine but who’s to say we can’t do the same against Lewes.”

The win isn’t just a morale boost – it also benefits the club financially and it means even more for the women’s squad which has no financial backing from a men’s side.

A place in the fifth round brings £15,000 back to the club. If they can produce a more shocking win in the sixth round against a Women’s Super League side, there’s the potential to cash in £20,000.

Inspiring a new generation of footballers

The wins are not only a financial benefit. The growth of Cardiff City Ladies and their string of wins has inspired a new generation of young female footballers in the city.

As the wins continue to roll in, more young fans and mascots flock to support the squad. One young superfan framed Ellie Sargent’s shirt and has even told the squad that when she grows up, she wants to play for the team.

“She’s our super fan. She comes to every game and wants to play for Cardiff City when she is older. She’s so good she will probably play for a super league team,” said Sargent.

“When mascots come after the games asking for autographs and pictures. It’s in those moments where you realise there are little girls looking up to you – it feels surreal”

It’s not only young women being inspired by the successful side – it’s also their family and friends.

Gauvain’s grandfather is a dedicated supporter of the squad, driving to all their matches – including the most recent 429-mile round trip from Cardiff to Burnley.

Sargent said: “We love him. He drives to all our games and brings his flag every time.”

Often referred to as “Wales’ best kept secret” by their chair, Michelle Adams MBE, Cardiff City Ladies are ambitious and ready for the upcoming league challenge against Exeter City.