Wales striker back to add more goal potential to Academy squad
MARK Sampson is delighted to be bringing Wales international striker Gwennan Harries back to Bristol Academy from Everton – and the manager says his bid to boost the squad's firepower isn't finished yet.
Sampson would like to bring in one more forward before the start of the new FA Women's Super League campaign to give him further options.
Harries, from Bridgend, joined Bristol from Cardiff City in 2007 and spent two seasons with the club before moving to Everton. She scored nine goals in 21 appearances for the Welsh Under-19 side before graduating to her country's senior ranks, netting 18 times in 56 matches.
She scored two goals in 16 outings for Everton last season and twice in 15 appearances during the Merseysiders' first campaign in the WSL.
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"We had been trying to get Gwennan back here for a long time, so I'm delighted it's finally happening," said Sampson. "She has a bit of a knee injury at the moment, but is working hard to get herself fit.
"Gwennan has previous connections with the club and her record in her earlier spell with us was good.
"Since then she has gone on to win an FA Cup-winners medal and two league runners-up medals with Everton, as well as gaining Champions League experience. That sort of experience will be an asset for us."
Sampson had originally been targeting a defender for what is likely to be his final pre-season signing. But with Harries, 25, expected to miss the start and former Spain international Laura Del Rio back in her homeland, Sampson is intent on boosting the Vixens' striking options.
"We have a balance in the squad now, but I think one more forward player would put the cap on it," said Sampson. "Laura is still sorting some things out in Spain, so she won't be back with us until later this month.
"She has turned into a bit of a Swansea fan since she joined us – it's all the Spanish connections there. She even has a Swansea shirt with her name on the back and I know she wants to be back for the League Cup final on February 24."
Bad weather wiped out most of last weekend's programme, but Keynsham Town fought back from 3-1 down at the interval to beat Swindon Town 4-3 and maintain their push in the SW Women's Combination.
It was a vital win for the Somerset club as main title rivals Oxford United also won, against Newquay.
Leanne Lapham gave Keynsham an early lead and then missed a penalty after Swindon had stormed back to take a two-goal advantage.
Kat Ruseck pulled one back and Ashley Reinecke levelled from long range before Rusek netted Keynsham's winner in spectacular style with a diving header from 12 yards.
"We defended poorly in the first half, but the players stood up to be counted in the second," said manager Barrie Newton. "We need to be at our best every week, starting with this weekend's tough game at Exeter City."