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Women's Football News
One of the most remarkable stories in the women's game this season has been the transformation of Shaldon Villa in the Westward Developments Devon League.
Last season, Shaldon finished at the bottom of Division One without picking up a single point but after opening up this campaign with a 10-0 victory, they won all of their opening five games and presently sit proudly on top of the table with a lead of seven points.
Not only that, Shaldon have also reached the semi finals of the League Cup and will be chasing an opportunity to reach the same stage in the County Cup this week when they play Tavistock in their quarter final tie.
"Things have gone extremely well so far this season and there is no doubt we have exceeded our expectations to date," Shaldon midfielder Yasmyn Paz told Women's Soccer Scene. "Our aim was always to improve on last season's results, however we seem to have done that with interest.
"Surprisingly, there have only been a few additions to the squad from last year and sadly one of them has been long term injured, so the vast majority of improvement has come from the existing players. The manager and coach have also remained unchanged.
"The approach has been much the same, however we did not take a break from training during the summer. The intensity was certainly raised with emphasis on fitness, technical work and the mental approach to the game.
"The Tavistock game will give us an opportunity to see just how far we have come. We have already beaten two Premier Division sides this season, so we will not be overawed by the prospect of challenging an excellent Tavistock team."
As for the league, Yasmyn singles out one team as being likely to carry the biggest threat to their title chances. "Ilfracombe will clearly be our main opposition," she said. " We have played them once this season and narrowly lost. However on another day with more clinical finishing, we feel confident we can reverse the result of the first game."
Shaldon Villa have experienced the complete opposite of emotions over the past season and a half, so how difficult was it for the club during the bad times? "Strangely enough, it wasn't as difficult as you may think when we were losing last season," Yasmyn replies. "Never did the desire to improve diminish, the attitude and willingness to learn was always there.
"One particular reason for this is the squad of girls are genuinely friends off the pitch, enjoying a lot of social time together. I think all good sides have to be happy both on and off the pitch.
"We can't deny it is a fantastic feeling to be top of the league, we knew we were improving but would be lying if we said we expected it to go this well only just into our second year. It is now vitally important we don't relax one bit and keep pushing ourselves with everything we've got until the end of the season."
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