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Women's Football News
Leamington Lions have made rapid strides up the women's football pyramid in a short space of time and will look forward to Combination football next season after winning the West Midlands League.
Leamington won the Premier Division title at the first attempt, having only finished top of Division One South the previous season. They eventually confirmed themselves as Champions after having been locked in a very tight title race with Hereford Pegasus and Solihull Ladies throughout the campaign.
Club secretary Russell Davis told Women's Soccer Scene that the club's success is reward for hard work, on and off the pitch. "Coming into the season we were very focused on ensuring that we had a good sense of teamwork, a positive environment for players and that we focused on our own performances and development throughout the season," he said. "We were aware of the talent that our side possessed and began our friendlies and first few games with the attitude to fear nobody, but respect everyone!
"We had a positive opening to the season but a few frustrating results midway through left us with a lot to do for the rest of the season. Midway through the season the first team manager stepped down and a new coaching (Joe Graham - Manager and Steve Duffy - First Team Coach) team stepped in, and we had a really positive reaction from both players and all involved in the club. Despite having a lot of injuries, the players battled on and kept grinding out some well earned results.
"All the players wanted the opportunity to gain promotion so badly that we were training for an extra half an hour each session to ensure that we stopped conceding from set pieces and had more of a threat ourselves, alongside having a game plan that we knew played to our strengths and that we could hurt teams with. This also helped to increase our players fitness levels and made a massive impact throughout in the second half of matches!"
Leamington moved themselves into the title race and still had matters in their own hands. "In the closing stage of the season, we could see an extremely intense and difficult finish, with all of the top sides to play including Hereford, Solihull and Allscott," recalled Russell.
"This meant we had to perform to our best every game and take every game as it came. As we did this, the playing squad stayed calm and defeated Solihull away, a massive feat considering they were two places in front in the league table, and far more experienced in the current division.
"An astonishing performance led to us defeating them 2-0 on a neutral pitch (Cryfield Pavilion, Warwick University) as our home facility at The Windmill Ground, Leamington Brakes FC was otherwise occupied. The excellent facilities at the ground has been a part of our success and continues to attract some fantastic players to the club.
"This left us with two massive games left and a closely fought (1-0 win) encounter with Allscott showed the spirit and level of charisma in the side and helped us to believe that we could go on to win the league."
Faced with Hereford, who were top of the table, Lions needed nothing but a win to ensure they could win the league and promotion. With Hereford having a large amount of possession, the Lions were under the cosh for most of the first half but went in 3-2 up. The second half saw some tense fans as Hereford came out with all guns blazing but Leamington scored a penalty early on to make it 4-2.
"Through hard work and clinical finishing, we ended the game 7-3 winners with just Kidderminster to defeat to clinch the title," said Russell. "We beat them 6-0 and the League was ours!"
Samantha Morris had a great season in front of goal for Leamington, scoring 32 times including four in the decisive victory over Hereford. Strike partner Steph Jones also weighed in with a number of goals whilst defender Katie Hague was named as Manager's Player of the Year.
Now Leamington can set their sights on a new challenge in the Midland Combination next season and Russell is hopeful that they can acquit themselves well: "Our ambitions for next season are to survive in the new league but to play with positivity and enjoy our experience in a league that some of our players have never performed in until now."
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