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After a few barren seasons, Oldland Abbotonians are on the up again and are celebrating lifting the Gloucestershire County Women's League title following a rollercoaster of a campaign.
The Bristol-based side made a good start but looked to be out of the running after hitting a sticky patch midway through the season. However a superb end to the season, in which they won all of their last six games, saw them edge past Almondsbury UWE on the final day, the only time during the season that they had led the table.
"As the season started, I looked at the squad and thought we are definitely capable of a top three finish as we had finished last season with five straight wins and had recruited well during the summer," Oldland manager Steve Lavis told Women's Soccer Scene. "After a narrow victory over Almondsbury UWE on the opening day, we clicked and some of the football we were playing was an absolute pleasure to watch.
"Most notable was the 7-3 victory at home to Forest Of Dean, that was probably our best footballing performance of the season. As the pitches deteriorated towards Christmas, our football suffered a bit and we went on a run of five matches without a win which allowed the top teams to pull away from us, most notably Cirencester and Forest Of Dean.
"With matches being called off to bad weather as well, we had slipped to mid-table and the top three - let alone the title - looked a long way off. After good wins against AEK Boco and Dursley Town we lost 4-1 away to Almondsbury. It was undoubtedly the worst performance from an Oldland team in the last few seasons and the team looked like being at rock bottom afterwards.
"Yet after a couple of clear the air meetings, things took a turn for the better with performances starting to approach their early season levels. With four games to go we were maybe playing for the runners-up spot but after a 3-1 victory away to Forest Of Dean the news came through that Cirencester, who we all expected to win the league, suffered a shock 1-0 loss at AEK Boco which meant that if we won our last three games we would win the league.
It is an absolute credit to the players that they did just that, winning their last six games in total, with the pressure mounting more and more each game. At any level that is an achievement and they held their nerve so well with only fourteen available players for the run in and playing three of the six games with only eleven players and some of those players being played out of position."
Oldland's squad contains several players who have been with the club for a number of years and it was appropriate that long serving striker Jess Cole scored the title winning goal as they beat Cheltenham Town Development 4-3 in their last match of the season.
"The team was superbly marshalled by our captain Vicky Mundy," added Steve, "and with striker Jess Morgan scoring 13 goals in our last six games, the team really pulled it out of the fire and our promotion to the South West Women's League will help the experience of our younger members of the squad such as Amy Nicholson and Lidiya Myckalechko."
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