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Hard work pays off for happy Wanderers
 Women's Football Regional Premier North West News - 16 Apr 2017
Regional Premier North West News - Hard work pays off for happy Wanderers - 16 Apr 2017 - Women's Football News
Last week, Bolton Wanderers became the first team this season to finish Champions of a Regional League when they captured the North West League Premier Division title, having gone unbeaten in the league all season with one game still to play.
The first game of the season set the standard with a 4-1 away victory against Stockport County, who had been playing Women's Premier League the year before. However that game showed that despite the result, no games were going to be easy.
As with all Regional Leagues, every game is a local derby and competitive. Even though unbeaten, due to cup games the team did not initially hit the top spot. During home games in November the girls showed their spirit, coming back from 2-0 down against Stockport and 3-1 against MSB Woolton to draw both games 3-3. At the time, they were disappointed to drop points but it kept the unbeaten run going and generated confidence in getting results.
Games away at nearest rivals Wigan and Burnley in December proved pivotal as Bolton won both games and hit the top spot. From there, it was in their own hands but once again they had to show their never-say-die attitude when coming back from 2-0 down at home to Burnley to level the game in the closing stages.
Local clubs Wigan, Burnley and Blackpool have pushed them close for top spot and provided stiff opposition but the Championship was decided with a 3-0 away victory at Blackpool. Some of the girls played in a 10-1 defeat at Blackpool some five years earlier, so were overwhelmed at their change in fortunes.
"Previous manager Chris Stokes (now a coach at Crewe Ladies) started the upturn in form last season and current manager John Oliver has kept that momentum going," secretary Darren Butler told Women's Soccer Scene. "The girls themselves deserve every credit as they have pushed themselves by requesting increased training days, sometimes in horrendous conditions, but enabled by the support of local Little Lever school and leisure facilities.
"Deserving of special mention is club captain and central defender Kate 'Scouse' Miller who has been with the club for 14 years and is well known to all the local Premier and Regional teams. She has invested a lot of time, effort and dedication during a lot of very lean years in respect of results but never felt like moving away from a club she calls home. In a true fairytale ending, Scouse scored the third and final goal in the 3-0 win over Blackpool that sealed the Championship."
Top scorer has been Michelle Kirkman-Ryan with over 30 to her name, supported in the goal stakes by attacking midfielder Shel Saunders. However the team also have the meanest defence with only 18 conceded and goalkeeper Brit Jackson helping to hold the back line in check.
There has been a huge amount of social and local media interest in the club's achievements with the girls being presented to the crowd at the Macron as well as regular mentions from the men's club chairman in his programme notes. Prior to the Blackpool game, a number of first team men's players sent video messages of support to the girls which was well received and appreciated.
Ladies club chair Katie Bent, from the Bolton Wanderers Community Trust, has worked tirelessly behind the scenes in getting an improved relationship with the men's club. The ladies have an invitational match at the Macron arranged for 6.45pm on Wednesday 24th May against Wigan Athletic to celebrate the women's game in both towns. It is hoped that the ladies may get to play a few cup and league matches at the main stadium next season.
The club realises that the next level is a huge challenge, which is why there is no official post/pre-season break this year so preparations start now and any players out there looking for a new challenge are most welcome with the club looking at running four open age teams next year. This year, the Under-17s have won their league unbeaten and have a cup final in May to look forward to before going open age next season. The Under-18s have two cup semi finals to negotiate and the reserves are challenging for second spot in the Lancashire County Women's League.

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