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Oughtibridge continued their climb up the women's football pyramid by winning the North East League Southern Division title at the first attempt.
"Having been promoted from the Sheffield & Hallamshire County League we were hoping for a season of consolidation at this level," manager Andrew Cain told Women's Soccer Scene, "but it became pretty clear we would be up there as we beat Farsley Celtic and Sheffield Wednesday in the SSE Women's FA Cup, two of the best teams in the division.
"We won our first game 5-4 at Malet Lambert with left wing back Holly Towns amongst the scorers and we went on to win our first four league games quite comfortably but then slipped up at home to Wednesday, so it knocked our confidence and it coincided with our veteran long standing goalkeeper Liz Dickens retiring - but not until she produced her best ever display away at Radcliffe Olympic in the FA Cup, in a game which we lost with the last kick in the 123rd minute!
"But we managed to bring in young keeper Milly Tissington from Pogmoor FC and Coran Wright from Staveley to cover the role and it did save our season, as they were both excellent.
"Prolific forwards Codi Melia and Lauren Turner continued to produce and by Christmas we were second behind Farsley, with games in hand. We were behind to Rovers Foundation at home but Anna Goulding popped up with an important equaliser and we went on to win 3-1, Annie Longmore scored a goal of the season contender against Doncaster Belles in another 3-1 win.
"We lost a crunch game at Farsley but it actually gave us confidence as we played well, but were undone by a couple of great goals. Again, we trailed at home to Westella & Willerby on a mud bath day but Emma Softley arrowed a free kick home and Laura Cain smashed home the winner in a great comeback for us and her, as she had been out for 18 months with a ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament.
"Becky Shaw returned from a round the world trip to give us more options in midfield, where Jenny Selman and Milly Wilson were outstanding all season, Wilson's goals came a bit like buses, in two's. The best win of the season came away at main local rivals Sheffield Wednesday Ladies by 4-1 where Melia and Turner ran riot but it was the defenders who shone in a tough first half - the Rodgers sisters, Grace and Chloe against their old club and Adele McCrory.
"We were left with some tough away games but won 4-1 at Rovers Foundation, veteran Kelly Biney firing in a long range effort, and 5-2 away at Westella after being 2-0 down. There was a blip with a 3-3 draw at Courts City but skipper Abigail Towns gathered the group for one last push and after a comprehensive 8-1 win against Ossett, it came down to winning at Doncaster to clinch the league title and in a tight, physical game it was Melia and Turner who did the damage again with goals in the last fifteen minutes to win it."
Photo - Julian Barker
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