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Women's Football News
Since those early days in what was then the Cornwall County League (Division Two), the team moved to nearby Callington Town ten years ago and never looked back, following numerous league and cup successes along the way.
However, this season is the first time they've ever managed to clinch the Western Division title of the SWWFL since gaining promotion into it seven years ago. The signs looked good for them at the start of the campaign having finished the previous two seasons as runners-up. They were clearly becoming a side with ambitions to take the extra steps needed to lift the title.
Some of those extra steps involved signing a handful of new players to strengthen and add more depth. New arrivals, including the likes of Adele Brown from Brislington, Lucy Bounsall from Newquay and striker Chloe Williams from Launceston, all helped to add competition for places in an already competitive squad. There were however some concerns about the goalscoring department before the start of the campaign, as the previous season's highest scorers - Kate Nicholls, Kat Marment and Stacey Derrick - were all going to be unavailable for the majority of the season. This meant the onus would fall heavily on the shoulders of the incoming Williams, as well as up-and-coming youngster Eleri Griffiths who'd managed seven goals in her opening season in the women's game in the 2016-17 season.
The concerns about scoring goals were short-lived once the opening game of the season resulted in a 7-1 win at Newquay Celtic with long term midfielder Jodie Shipton, scoring a hat-trick on the opening day. The next few games saw Callington put away emphatic scorelines against Activate, Bideford and Exeter & Tedburn. Despite the good opening start, Williams and Griffiths still hadn't managed to find the net up to that point and it was midfield contributions from Amy Hemingway, Gemma Farley and Grace O'Leary that were mainly seeing the ball hit the net.
The turning point came for 17-year-old Griffiths when Callington hosted newly promoted Bude Ladies at Ginsters Marshfield Park at the end of October. The forward bagged herself a resounding hat-trick and a player of the match performance. The confidence then flowed through the ever-busy striker in the following games up to Christmas, with her scoring a further six goals in three matches, including a crucial goal in narrow 3-2 victory over early pacesetters Plymouth Argyle Development.
The start of the New Year seemed to indicate a top three of Argyle, Alphington and Callington as the most likely challengers for the title. Callington kept up their winning form with a somewhat unconvincing 2-1 win away Bude in early January, Griffiths with a brace to keep her run going. As with many sides at that time of year, rustiness was a problem having not played many games due to the wet conditions and impacts upon match postponements.
Callington Town manager Adam McPherson said: "After a blistering start to the season, our post-Christmas performance at Bude was slightly worrying. We didn't look sharp, but thankfully Eleri came up with two great finishes on the day to ensure we got the points. We knew we needed to step up our efforts in training with us not being able to get games played throughout the whole of January."
Callington's next game arrived in early February and saw them beat Alphington at home with goals from Shipton, Hemingway and Bounsall. More league game postponements followed, alongside a winning Cornwall County Cup run which sent them into a semi final tie away at Helston in late March. That month also saw a huge league win over visiting Bideford. The North Devon side, having lost to Callington 6-0 in the previous fixture, had improved dramatically and forced the home side into a nervous 3-2 win in the dying seconds of the match thanks to a late winner from Chynna Evans.
"Bideford at home, but on 3G, was a real turning point because that was the first time a side other than Argyle had really pushed us for a result," added McPherson. "They deserved a point that day but we found a way to win, which became a theme later on in the season as well."
In the County Cup, Callington had secured a place in the Final against Charlestown after beating Helston 7-3 in a snow-laden semi final. The semi saw the emergence of Williams who'd had a difficult start to life in the red and black of Callington. The striker grabbed two goals in an excellent display. Griffiths also scored twice, so both strikers were playing with confidence. At the other end, Town's stalwart keeper of ten years, Sara Rowe, was marshalling fairly solid and consistent backline containing skipper Marie Wilson, Tyler Matthews, Sam Veal and Siobhan Ellyatt, who was also in the form of her young playing career.
April saw yet more impressive wins for Callington as their 100% record remained intact. They beat Plympton 3-1 and Alphington 4-3 away, before taking part in the most dramatic County Cup Final in the competition's history.
Callington played Charlestown in the Final, with both sides wanting to claim superiorty within Cornwall. It was an epic encounter as the game was 2-2 after 90 minutes, before Callington came back in unbelievable fashion from 4-2 down in extra time with five minutes remaining on the clock. With the game at 4-4 it went to a dreaded shootout with Callington coming out on top under the floodlights at Launceston FC.
With the County Cup in the bag, the month of May saw mixed fortunes for Callington and their impressive 17 game winning streak. Despite beating Tedburn at home 5-1 in the first week of May, they then lost at home to Plymouth Argyle Development (1-0), which gave the Pilgrims a chance at the league title. Had Callington managed to win, they would have sealed the title with a couple of games to spare. However, a good first half display from Argyle and a host of missed chances from Callington in the second half, meant they went down 1-0 with Gabi Alphous netting Argyle's winner.
The end of their winning run meant that Callington had to ensure they got wins in their final two games against Newquay and Plympton, in order to keep the title race in their own hands. Wins in both those matches and Argyle would not be able to catch them due to them having drawn a game with Plympton a few weeks earlier. Newquay failed to raise a side in the final weeks of the season, handing Callington the three points, which left just Plympton stood in their way in their last game of the season. In a slightly nervy display, Callington had to come back twice in the game to eventually win 3-2 and be crowned Western Division Champions. Goal scorers for Callington on the day were Hemingway, Bounsall and Farley.
After an outstanding double winning season at Callington Town, manager Adam McPherson concluded: "I could not be more proud of this team and this group of players. So many times during the season, they've just kept going when things went against us. They never let conceding goals impact their mentality and just found ways to come back when it really counted. For me personally, it's over fifteen years of investment in this team and to see us achieve what we have makes it all worthwhile. We will enjoy it for now and then look forward to our presentation night and the challenges that promotion brings for next season."
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