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Middlesbrough have gone five points clear at the top of Northern Division One following their 3-2 win over Morecambe on Sunday.
The result stretched their unbeaten run to five games and 'Boro defender Simone Laverick told Women's Soccer Scene that they had to dig deep for the three points. "It wasn't a great technical performance but we showed grit and determination to come back from behind to win," she said.
"Despite not playing the pretty football we pride ourselves with, we turned it into a battle, which fortunately we won. I think this shows the depth of our team and desire to work hard for each other."
It was the second time that the two teams had met in successive weeks, with 'Boro winning the previous meeting 4-1, but Simone insists that it made no difference to the game. "I wouldn't say it was tougher, or should have been tougher," she said. "I don't believe Morecambe went into the game knowing our strengths and stopped them, likewise us them as they had different players. I think more that we just didn't turn up on the day which gave them more opportunity to get into the game, making it more of a contest.
"I think maybe beating them the week before, comfortably, meant some players may have become complacent and that could have cost us. It was individual brilliance by Sarah Manning and our work ethic that won us the game this week."
The result ensured that Middlesbrough opened up a small gap over nearest rivals Liverpool Marshalls Feds, whilst Hull City and Chorley can still have a big say by winning their games in hand.
"At this point in the season, anything can happen," said Simone. "Obviously we are hoping it goes right down to the wire, in this league anyone can take points off any other team. Our focus is just to relax, enjoy playing and put the pressure on Liverpool Feds to keep winning."
Middlesbrough take a break from league action this week but their next two games will be particularly important ones against Chorley and Liverpool Feds. "Every game is crucial for us, we know if we are to be title contenders we need to maximising all available points," admitted Simone. "We can't afford any more slip ups.
"Chorley are a great team with a brilliant home record but technically we have the ability to beat anyone in our league and when we play well, we look comfortable against most teams. We just need to relax and play our game. Feds have beaten us twice already this season so we have a point to prove to them, it will be a battle.
"Although winning is important, we have came along way in the last two years from not being able to even field a team, to being second in the table. This is massive steps in the right direction. If promotion is right for us it will happen, if not we will continue to develop together and build for next year.
"The club and managers continue to remind us that they don't want short term success and want to build something sustainable for the future of the football club and girls football in the area."
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