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Women's Football News
The East Midlands League Premier Division title race was one of the tightest and closely contested in the country during the season and it was perhaps fitting that the destiny of the Championship was settled by the closest of margins.
In the end it was Mansfield Town who emerged triumphant after a nervy last day in which Steel City Wanderers needed to beat Rise Park by six clear goals in order to overtake them. The Steels managed four, which meant that Mansfield could celebrate winning the title on goal difference by a superior margin of just one goal.
The season started well for Mansfield with a 6-0 win against Gedling Town but their second match ended in defeat to the team which would be their nearest challengers, Steel City Wanderers. A five-match winning run was temporarily halted by draws against Peterborough Northern Star and Steel City but Mansfield were always major contenders in a division where the leadership seemed to change by the week.
A surprise home defeat to Nettleham, followed by a draw against Ellistown, appeared to knock Mansfield's chances but they bounced back to win all of their five remaining games and finished up by beating Sandiacre Town 5-0, a margin of victory which proved to be highly significant.
"It's been a very long, hard season through which we were chased hard by Steel City," says Mansfield secretary Gary Braithwaite. "We have had some fantastic performances throughout the season but in my opinion the best was the 4-1 home win over Long Eaton United.
"It was a very emotional game for many reasons but the main one was that it was only a few days after Linda Braithwaite, club treasurer and matriarch and by far the most vocal supporter, had passed away. The football played in that game was a credit to women's football and would have graced any TV screen.
The squad is managed by Dean Cuthbert and Stacey Bridge is the club captain while Gemma Hodgkinson had a great season in front of goal, netting 17 times. However by far the biggest influence on the club has been Linda Braithwaite who, even though battling a terminal illness, was at every game possible.
Mansfield Town squad: Hannah Bodle, Rebecca Braithwaite, Stacey Bridge, Kelly Clayton, Rebecca Davis, Suzanne Gelson, Jhodie Hard, Abbey Hawkins, Gemma Hodgkinson, Emma Horsnall, Poppy Millar, Charlotte Montgomery, Emma Potter, Kirsty Walton, Donna Watts, Lucy Webster, Amy Bacon, Paige Batey, Lauren Beebe, Catherine Davis, Georgina Herring, Abby White.
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