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Women's Football News
Daventry Town gained their second promotion in successive seasons to advance from the East Midlands League to the Midland Combination.
Under the management of Ben Jones, assistants Luke Aubrey and Andrew Humphries, they lost just two games in sixteen, winning 13, drawing 1, scoring 53 goals and conceding 32.
Kerry Luckett was again top scorer with 35+ goals in all competitions, winning the Golden boot for the third successive season. Captain Erika Mole lead from the back and just missed out on league player of the season by one vote but goalkeeper Sally Simpkin, along with Mole and the rest of the Daventry defence, picked up the Goalkeeping award for the second successive season.
The season started better than expected, with solid performances to narrowly win the first two league matches and sit second in the table with confidence high. However September and October proved to be a tough couple of months, Although they progressed in the County Cup, they were knocked out of the FA Women's Cup and only picked up four out of a possible twelve points in the league. Life in the Premier Division was hitting home and spirits were beginning to dampen.
Entering into November and with the next league match approaching, Ben Jones and the rest of the management team decided to take the team back to basics, restore the "fun" and to rebuild confidence a game at a time, starting with a visit to fellow league newbies Rise Park who had made a flying start to the season. Travelling with only eleven players, many of whom were not 100%, Daventry dug in and pulled off one of the performances of the season, eventually running out 3-2 victors. The result was the catalyst for the season and from that match Daventry took the league by the scruff of the neck, going unbeaten from November to March, taking maximum points and setting up a top of the table clash with Mansfield Town.
Mansfield visited Communications Park looking untouchable at the top of the league having not dropped a point and Daventry knew they would have to again put in a solid performance to get anything from the match. Mansfield started the stronger team and had chances to take the lead, but for a towering display by the Daventry back line. New signing Laura Shaw stepped into the defence with ease and alongside Erika Mole, Laura Coulson and Emily Taylor; Mansfield were shut out and went into the break at 0-0. Daventry took heart from the first half performance and started to believe, and within ten minutes of the restart Nicole Evans had broken loose on the wing and after a mazy run, fired low into the back of the Mansfield net. A second soon followed - Lauren Roberts fired home after some great passing play with Kerry Luckett. Nerves again took over and Daventry soon found themselves pegged back at 2-2 with Mansfield growing stronger. However Jess Holley released Luckett, who ran down the left flank and cut in at the goal line to offer a pinpoint pass for Evans to fire home. With time running out Mansfield pressed hard and broke down the right, the ball was played across the face of the box and into the path of the Mansfield striker who only had to tap the ball home from three yards but from nowhere, Laura Coulson made up the ground to produce a fantastic last ditch tackle sliding in to steal the ball off the striker's boot and put it safely wide, effectively sealing the match for her side.
Daventry surged on with their impressive form and at the start of April they had stretched their 100% unbeaten run to eleven matches, giving them a very real shot at the title with three games to play! But before they could continue on in the league there was a small matter of a Cup Final to attend to.
For the first time in their history, Daventry had made the Northamptonshire County Cup Final and faced a Peterborough Sports team who earlier in the season had knocked the Daventry out of the FA Cup. The cup run had proved to be a welcome distraction from the league exploits and Daventry were determined to enjoy every second of the day.
The game was very topsy turvy with both sides looking to hit early. Daventry took the lead in the first half with an Erika Mole 30-yard free kick finding the top corner, Daventry held firm but on the stroke of half time a Peterborough free kick was converted at the far post and the sides went in level at 1-1. The second half started much the same as the first with both sides going close, however it was Peterborough who took the lead. Daventry pushed hard and went close on a number of occasions, Claudia Trotman, Kerry Luckett and Kelly Worthington all had chances. Daventry finally found the equaliser after some nice play down the wing from Charlotte Copeland led to a great cross followed by a well taken first time strike by Kerry Luckett. In the dying minutes Lauren Roberts found herself in space but her shot was superbly saved by the Peterborough keeper taking the game into extra time. Thirty minutes of hard graft followed but neither team could find a winning goal and the final was to be decided on penalties.
Daventry elected to go first and Worthington calmly fired home her penalty. Sally Simpkin produced a fine save with her legs to shut out Peterborough's first and give Daventry the edge. Jen Johnston and Loren Graham both steeped up and converted their penalties with ease. With the tie poised at 3-1, Simpkin again produced a superb diving save to deny Peterborough the goal. Knowing that one more would do it, Lauren Roberts placed the ball on the spot and rifled it past the keeper into the net to spark the celebrations.
With the Cup firmly in the bag, it was back to the league. Starting with a hard fought three points at third placed Sandiacre where Daventry clawed out a 2-1 victory after being a goal down for the majority of the match to set up a winner-takes-all title deciding match against Mansfield the following week. Mansfield had been top of the table for the entire season and were firm favourites to take the title on their home turf.
As he had done all season, Manager Ben Jones did his homework on the opposition, prepared the ladies hard and drilled in Mansfield's strengths and weaknesses. This proved to be the masterstroke as although Daventry went a goal down early on, they took on board everything that they were told and grew as the game went on. With the defence again holding strong, Sarah Muttitt and Jess Holley took control of the midfield and were soon bossing the match. The equaliser came from a Mansfield attack down the left, after being caught up the field, left back Laura Shaw tracked back superbly to win the ball and produce a stunning pass into the feet of Kerry Luckett who wasted no time in curling the ball into the top corner claiming her 19th goal of the season. From that point on Daventry never looked back and soon after it was 2-1. The second half was one way traffic and Luckett was soon celebrating her hat-trick after calmly lobbing the onrushing keeper following some fine play with strike partner Claudia Trotman. Kelly Worthington made it 4-1 converting from the spot. Mansfield thought they had grabbed a lifeline but from the restart Sarah Muttitt broke through from midfield to slot the ball home and to put the game beyond any doubt at 5-2.
The final whistle sparked the celebrations and Daventry Town ladies were crowned champions with one game to spare.
The challenge of playing in the Midland Combination for the first time has really set Communications Park alight with tough local derbies against Northampton Town and Copsewood (Coventry) while Stoke City and Leicester City will also prove to be mouth watering ties. Daventry will be aiming for a healthy league position and to retain the Northants County Cup
Daventry are looking for experienced Regional and Combination players to join their thriving and friendly club and will be holding trials at Communications Park on Tuesday 15th and Thursday 17th May starting at 7pm.
Anybody interested in playing for or sponsoring Daventry Town Ladies, please contact manager Ben Jones on (07771) 366459 or e-mail email@example.com. Or alternatively e-mail Sally.firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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