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Women's Football News
Cheltenham Civil Service have just completed a perfect season in the Gloucestershire County Women's League with a 100% record, which has seen them win the title by twelve clear points.
From finishing runners-up in both the League and League Cup to Bitton the previous season, they embarked on the new season with a lot of expectations of doing well. Five new additions to the previous squad saw Amy and Beth Tovey come in from local rivals Quedgeley Wanderers, Laura Donnelly and Debra Harris move in from further afield and 16-year-old Harmony Wheeler (Podge to all who know her) from just over the road, all very good additions to an already established squad.
The season started on a bit of a negative note as Civil Service lost their first game, an FA Women's Cup tie away to Wootton Bassett 1-0. The league campaign started in earnest the following week with an away game against Dursley, a convincing 8-0 win was followed by further victories against Longlevens Greyhounds and Cheltenham Spa without conceding a goal.
A trip to Longwell Green followed and a 6-1 win pushed the team's confidence even higher and everybody wanted to play every week. The squad developed into a solid 16 players and with the roll on roll off substitution being allowed, everyone was getting to play a part.
Further wins against AEK Boco and Bristol & West saw the team's confidence rocket before the next game, which was very memorable as they were selected by the league to play a home fixture against Wootton Bassett under the floodlights on the opening night of the 3G pitch at the GFA headquarters in Bristol. They went on to win that game 3-0.
After having gone out in the prelims of the FA Cup, it was thought that they would fare better in the County Cup by after a First Round win against AEK Boco, an away trip to play Forest Green Rovers took the wind out of their sails. The game, played at Slimbridge, saw Civil Service humbled by an 8-0 scoreline, a footballing lesson had been dealt out.
Not being downhearted by this, they bounced back with an 18-0 triumph over Quedgeley and three further wins against Oldland Abbotonians, Dursley and Longwell Green respectively.
The toughest game of the season came with an away trip to second placed Oldland Abbotonians. 2-0 down at half time, the Civvy Ladies had not experienced this all season so the possibility of losing a game seemed very realistic. The pitch played an important part as the rain had made it very heavy and boggy in places.
The manager listened to the arguments raised at the break and made several changes, reverting the team formation back to the recognised 4-4-2 that they all knew so well and it paid immediate dividends with two goals in very quick succession from Kelly Churchley. This set the game up as a very tough test and was a very close affair with only an exceptional strike from midfielder Laura Donnelly from a free kick separating the teams at the final whistle.
Still undefeated, and the possibility of becoming League Champions, inspired the team on to finish the season unbeaten in the league with 3 more wins. This meant they had only conceded four goals all season and had kept twelve clean sheets.
The stars of the show are always the players that score the goals and Civil Service had a superb strike force of Gemma Riley, last season's Golden Boot winner, notching up another 25 goals, Kelly Churchley coming close with 22 and Debra Harris signing off with 13. In all there were twelve different goalscorers throughout the season.
Stalwart of the team Jan Wheeler, a founder member of the club, had said at the start this would be her last season - so what a wonderful way to finish! Hopefully her daughter Harmony has as many years football in her as her mum. Kelly Patterson, centre back last season, filled in as a goalkeeper, not doing a bad job by only letting in four goals and inspirational team captain Terrie Lockett enjoyed her proudest moment by lifting the League Shield after the win against Cheltenham Spa to clinch the Championship. Roxanne George, Sammy Gifford, Leanne Painter, Shez Donnelly, Harmony Wheeler and Becky Lodge making up the rest of this outstanding team.
Team manager Ian Churchley congratulated the girls on their success and thanked them all, plus Coach Josh Goodall, for all their hard work and commitment throughout the season.
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