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Women's Football News
Whilst Leicester City's men's team have captured the imagination of the country with their Premier League title challenge this campaign, the season has been a fantastic one for all involved with Leicester City Women Football Club.
Not only have they achieved their aim of getting back into the FAWPL Northern Division for the first time in three years, they have managed it unbeaten, winning 19 out of 19 games so far and are hoping to win the remaining three fixtures to complete a perfect season.
The run hasn't been all plain sailing though, matches home and away against Radcliffe Olympic were both tight affairs; with a 94th minute free kick winning the away fixture and a dramatic comeback from 2-1 down inside the final ten minutes saw them win 3-2 at home.
Whilst the 2-1 win against Radcliffe away came early on, Leicester's biggest threat to their unbeaten run came against Birmingham & West Midlands in October. Having raced into a 3-0 lead at half time, Birmingham came out strong in the second half and took just 25 minutes to peg them back to 3-3. A close fought final 20 minutes eventually saw Leicester win 5-3, after two well taken goals from Lauren Bartle. Two other notable games this season include a trip to Solihull away in December where Leicester again found themselves level at 2-2 in the dying minutes until a 90th minute winner from substitute Tara Guyler secured all three points.
Finally, LCWFC's 3-2 win over Wolves at home was the victory which left Leicester on the brink of promotion, twice they trailed to the only side who could mathematically catch them at the time, and twice they battled back to level the game before taking the lead early in the second half.
Arguably, Leicester's best performance would have to be the first half of their last game, the 10-0 demolition of Rotherham was only a contest for the first 20 minutes. Having taken the lead in the second minute, Leicester had a goal ruled out for offside in the fifth, scored their second in the eighth minute and scored again in the 16th, 20th, 26th and 27th minutes before adding an eighth in the 41st minute.
The girls had been excited in the build up to the game with the coverage around the game about the promotion, the pressure however was lifted just 90 seconds into the game when Helen Busby opened the scoring and from then on, Leicester's free flowing attacking football was evident to see.
Other notable performances could include an 8-0 win away to Steel City on the opening day, a 7-1 victory over Loughborough Students the week after and two 5-1 wins over Leafield Athletic.
The success that Leicester have seen this season isn't just limited to the first team, Leicester's reserves, managed by Andrew Leith, have completely transformed their fortunes - finishing last season bottom with just one win and one draw to their name, they currently sit top of the Reserves division awaiting Stoke City's final two games to learn if they will finish the league first or second.
Whilst LCWFC's Development team has had a phenomenal first season, winning the Leicestershire Women's Senior League at the first attempt with two games to spare, they also progressed to the County Cup semi final where they were beaten by team four leagues above them. They are also into their league cup semi final and they will be hoping to finish the season with a league and cup double. The team is managed by Natalie Hurst, assisted by Danny Cole.
"It's been an amazing season, to get 19 out of 19 and win the league is amazing," said manager Jonathan Morgan, who is assisted by Michael Makoni. "It was a great relief that we've got the league tied up, with three games to go and now we go looking for that unbeaten season.
"We start planning for next year, we start thinking about who we want to bring into the club, who we look at bringing up from the reserves into the first team. What we look at for training and development, the work doesn't stop."
"It feels amazing," added midfielder Lauren Impey, "It's a surreal moment, because yes we've won the league, we have our sights on remaining unbeaten. I hope our feet are still firmly on the ground to go unbeaten for the season.
"When I left in 2010-11 it was a completely different team, it's changed, the foundations have changed. [The Chairman] Rohan and Jonathan [the Manager] have both come in and changed absolutely everything, and the girls are finally starting to see the results. We're building the foundations, solid foundations, nothing is being built on sand.
"We're not just going into the league to aim for mid-table, that's not what Leicester's about and it's never what Leicester's been about. Now that the foundations are there, there's no reason why we can't push on, especially with the season we've had, and attract the sort of players to help us."
First team captain Holly Morgan said: "I'm over the moon, it's a lot of hard work but today, to say we're the champions of the league is amazing.
"One of our great strengths is our fantastic team spirit, we never give up. We never stop and we play at 100% for the whole 90 minutes. We're united, we're together, we're one - and that's what gives us the extra 10% that makes all the difference."
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