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Women's Football News
Brislington's rise up the women's football pyramid will continue next season after they won the South West League Premier Division title last week.
This will earn the Bristol-based side a fourth promotion in five years and manager Jason Kirby told Women's Soccer Scene that this had been their aim from the start. "Last season we set ourselves a goal for the season to test the water and see what it would take to win this league," he said. "We were not consistent enough and would let games slip in the last 10 or 15 minutes after dominating games, which was disappointing to players and management. We ended up fourth in the league, although I thought we were up there with the best. It proved that nobody deserves the right to win you have to earn the right to win.
"So this season we strengthened a couple of positions and trained hard. We knew that we had the quality but had to up the work rate and compete for 90 minutes, not 70 minutes.
"We started the season with a great performance but disappointing result. After dominating the game with some great football against Downend Flyers, we gave away two cheap goals and ended up drawing 2-2.
"From there we pushed on with quality performances and convincing wins against some good sides. One of the big games of the season that sticks in my mind was away to Marine Academy Plymouth in October, a very well organised side that had just been promoted and we were struggling with injuries and illness. After 20 minutes we found ourselves a goal down and were struggling to make any impact. Second half, we were forced into a change of formation with an injury to centre midfielder Jade Hatton and this changed the game. Captain Sophie Whelan's pace on the right and Kim Maggs in midfield were taking them apart but it was two quality finishes from centre forward and top goalscorer Georgie Vandries that won the game and grabbed us three vital points towards our goal.
"We went into Christmas unbeaten - then came the big break with the wet winter, only playing two league games in seven weeks and in that time found ourselves losing two semi finals to Yeovil and Keynsham Town.
"On the back of these defeats, our next league game was against Marine Academy Plymouth at home, We knew three points here would put Plymouth pretty much out of the race but instead it was Plymouth who came out the winners with a 3-2 result and meant the race was back on with them now taking top spot and also Bishop's Lydeard in second, leaving us in third.
"We had to get ourselves back on track and what better way to do it than the semi final of the League Cup away to Marine Academy Plymouth. We found ourselves being dragged into extra time with two late goals from Plymouth and extra time could have gone either way with both teams hitting the woodwork. But as we were preparing for penalties, up popped Georgie Vandries with a great strike from outside the box to send us all crazy.
"The next big game for us was a night game at home to Bishop's Lydeard, a very well organised side that like to play football. It was an evenly matched game but the second half saw us up the tempo a bit and grab two goals in quick time from Georgie Vandries and Kim Maggs.
"This now made it a two horse race and with Marine Academy Plymouth now sat on top of the league having played all their games, we knew exactly what we had to do with three games remaining. A trip to Torquay saw us come away comfortable 2-0 winners, then the return game with Bishop's Lydeard ended in a 3-1 victory and it all went to the final game with us only needing a point to be crowned champions - against Downend Flyers a team we hadn't managed to beat in the last five attempts.
"As half time arrived and the score still 0-0, we had to settle a few nerves. On 75 minutes we won a corner, the ball was whipped in by captain Sophie Whelan and headed home by Georgie Vandries to send everyone crazy and settle the nerves for the remaining minutes.
"I would like to thank the whole squad who have shown so much commitment and hard work on the pitch and at training sessions all season. You have to earn the right to win and you get out of it whatever you put in.
"We are a very young side with a lot more to learn and offer and it has been pleasure working with you all and I am really looking forward to the next chapter. This season has shown us all it's not a winning team but a winning squad, because some time or another each and every one of the 20 girls signed on this season has more than played their part.
"Lou Wheeler in goal - only letting 12 in all season, and to the defenders Chloe Rogers, Leigha Milkins, Jazz Faiers, Carly Bray and Vicky Powell in her first season at full back, who were solid and made it very tough for teams to break us down. To the midfield, Holly Hodgeson-Heatherson, Zoe Gunter, Jade Hatton and Abbie Southway who have all worked tirelessly and given 110% and more and to the girls up front who have scored some wonder goals, and kept us on the edge of our seats all season, Kim Maggs, Emily Plummer, Georgie Vandries, Abbie Kirby and Sophie Allen. Finally, captain Sophie Whelan who has stepped up and led by example, running her socks off all season, especially in those big games.
"A lot of work has been put in on and off the field this season to move this club forward, so a special thank you to my assistant and physio Dean Gunter, James Wheeler (goalkeeper coach), secretary Sharon Whelan, chairman Phil Rex, Trevor Lewis and Kev Garland."
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