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After losing out in the championship race for the South East Combination in 2013-14 to QPR by a single point, C & K Basildon were determined to make their mark this time around in South East Division One.
They led the league for most of the campaign, making up games in hand due to their progress in the FA Women's Cup, in which they reached the Third Round, the Premier League Cup, where they got to the quarter finals, and the Essex County Cup (they were the eventual winners). However their two main rivals, Milton Keynes Dons and Crystal Palace, were always hot on their heels and at this level there is no such thing as an easy game.
"All away games at this level are extra tough," secretary Peter King told Women's Soccer Scene. "There is much travelling to be done and coupled with often inclement British weather, these are tough games. Of note were notable victories at Denham, who are always a tough team to beat, Luton, Bedford and Cambridge, always a difficult team on their ground. Early on we fell 3-2 to Crystal Palace at their ground and until late in the season it was our only league defeat.
"At the run-in we dropped points away to Norwich, drawing 3-3 after we were 3-0 up at half time, at Enfield (2-2 when we were 2-1 up with five minutes left) and another 2-2 draw at home to Cambridge, but the spirit and belief that we could get over that line was always there.
"On 26th April, we faced MK Dons at home and what a performance that was as we beat them 5-0. Surely the title was ours. But there is always a twist in these matters and after a wonderful tour to Malta, where we beat the full Malta international team 5-1 and two local teams 4-0 and 1-0, we faced MK Dons again at the MK Arena in what would surely be the title decider. For us it was a bad day at the office as we went down 2-1, so it was all down to the last day at home to Crystal Palace."
A draw would be enough to secure the title on goal difference but defeat would probably mean that C & K would finish third, with Palace still having a chance of winning the league.
"After 10 minutes we went 1-0 down and we looked nervous and tense, but a penalty from Zoe Rushen just before half time settled us down," recalled Peter. "The second half was all ours as we went into a well deserved 3-1 lead with further goals from Merrick Will and Sara Sinclair. (our leading scorer with 23 goals in 27 starts). Even a late goal from Palace didn't spoil the day and the title was ours by two points."
The team is managed by John Hinz and he is assisted by coach Steve Tilson as well as Lee Harrison (Goalkeeper coach), Alan Richards (Therapist) and Paul Smith (physiotherapist). Claire Lacey is captain and leading goalscorers were Sara Sinclair and Zoe Rushen with 23 and 20 goals respectively, both from 27 starts.
"We are determined as a non-brand name club to break the mould and make it to the top," added Peter. "Five Championships in seven years, with two runners-up spots in the other seasons, attests to the progress the club has made. Add this to two Essex County Cups, an Essex County League Cup and a Plate win, and it has been a fantastic seven years. Now we are to ply our trade in the Southern Division and we are looking forward to it."
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