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Women's Football News
It has been a fantastic season of football in Rochdale - the men's team have been promoted for the first time in 34 years and, not to be outdone, the ladies carried off the Northern Combination title and will play in the Premier League for the first time in their history.
In their two previous seasons in the Combination, they had finished third and second, and their success is more impressive when noted that they started the season without a recognised goalkeeper and played the first half of the campaign with volunteers in goal.
The season began with victories over Wakefield and Stockport County but the third game ended in defeat, beaten 3-1 by South Durham Royals. However this was to be the only defeat that Dale were to suffer and a run of five straight victories, including a crucial 3-2 win against Middlesbrough, saw them lead the table for the rest of the season.
The title was finally clinched with a game to spare, ironically with a 3-1 victory away to South Durham Royals as they came from behind to take the points with goals from Lizzie Paul, Chantelle Parry and Susie Wells.
Six of the players have been with the club for over eight years and the squad includes Jo Cartwright, who travelled from Newcastle most weeks to be with the team whilst Susie Wells travelled up from London to play.
Everybody in the squad chipped in with goals, with the likes of Anna Renken, Lizzie Paul and Steph Bell regularly on the scoresheet. Wingers Holly Newman and Rachel Wood also made valuable contributions and two mid-season signings, Clare Sykes and Chantelle Parry - who are described as "sheer class acts" - both made an impact and helped pushed Rochdale over the line.
Every team is built on a sound defence and Rochdale's is no exception. Goalkeeper Becky Brown and captain Claire Pearson kept the players on their toes while Jenny Cummins, Wendy Andrews, Siobhan McElhinney and Lynsey Burtonwood helped keep opposition forwards at bay. Sarah Buffel was another key performer for Dale with some great displays in the centre of midfield.
"I am very proud of all the girls - with only one defeat and two draws, the table does not lie," secretary Jane Pearson told Women's Soccer Scene. "We don't have a top goalscorer award as I think it is unfair to pick out a single player who is in a position to score more than others, as everybody makes a contribution.
"As for next season, it is a bit early to say what might happen, but the signs are good. Our Head Coach, Steve Warmsley informs us that there is a lot of interest from new players wanting to join next season.
"We will have to see when we resume our training in June, but the management team of Steve Warmsley, Dave Yates and Phil Pearson will welcome the challenge."
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