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In what shaped up to be a well contested division, Sutton started the season well and what was expected to be their first major test came in early October, when they took on Shrewsbury Town. "Going into this game, we fully expected Shrewsbury to be the team to beat this season after a busy summer of player recruitment from higher levels," explained secretary James Green. "The fact they had won 10-1 in their first league game just a few weeks earlier only emphasised this. However a very organised and disciplined display provided the platform for a key victory. With terrific character also being shown to twice come from behind to win 3-2 against such a strong team."
Later that month, they travelled to Wyrley Ladies for an important 2-1 win. "Wyrley had finished runners-up in the division last season and were unbeaten going into this game so we knew this would be a tough test. This was proved when Wyrley took the lead midway through the first-half. However a battling performance saw us able to turn things around with a goal in each half from striker Kerri Lovegrove.
"We always knew the return game with Wyrley was going to be just as tough as the first game, but having only played once in the previous nine weeks made it even tougher! However a disciplined and patient performance provided the platform for another important victory. A goal in each half was enough to take the three points, but again Wyrley proved tough and the result never felt comfortable right up until the final minutes."
Sutton's winning run came to a halt when they met one of their main title rivals, Leek Town, and drew 2-2. "This game was marred by a serious injury to striker Jodie Mason who had to be stretchered off and taken to hospital. The game itself saw all goals scored in the first half, with the Ladies turning around an early Leek goal before conceding an equaliser just prior to half time. In reality it was a relief to hear the final whistle as for the last 10 minutes we were hanging on for dear life!
"Ever since our draw away to Leek a month earlier, there had been a sense of anticipation of the return fixture and its importance. In what felt like a chess match, the opening goal took an hour to arrive when striker Tiara Hemans put us ahead. However a strong response from Leek produced an equaliser a few minutes later. With another draw seeming the likely outcome, it was Tiara again who produced a moment of magic to win us the game."
There were still two important obstacles to overcome though, against Goldenhill Wanderers, another of their main challengers. However it was advantage Sutton after they ran out 3-0 winners in their first meeting on 22nd April.
"There is no doubt that the performance we produced in this game was far and away our best of the season! Going into this game, Goldenhill had won all but one of their league games and knew a victory would put them back in pole position for the title. However a hugely dominant display saw us create numerous chances converting three of them, including a sublime free kick from Hayley Chatwin. Goldenhill did hit the bar late on but in reality, our goalkeeper Chad Kerr was rarely troubled.
"In what felt like the longest season ever, the day finally came where we could confirm the league title at last! A bright start saw us hit the woodwork twice in the opening 60 seconds! However in fairness, Goldenhill had the better of the opening ten minutes. Fortunately though, a corner was bundled home by centre half Liz Smart to give us an early lead. This lead was doubled five minutes before the break from captain Ruth Graham. 10 minutes from time striker Tiara Hemans fired in from distance to make it 3-0. The final whistle saw mass celebrations which lasted long into the night...and even the next morning!"
To crown a memorable season for Sutton Coldfield, they completed the league and cup 'double' with a 1-0 win against Leek Town in the Division One North Cup Final. "Our third meeting with Leek this season proved just as close as the previous encounters. The only goal of a very competitive Cup Final played in the right spirit was scored midway through the first half by Hayley Chatwin.
"As in both prior meetings though this could easily have gone the other way and Leek made us work extremely hard for the victory. Another aspect of such a special day was the support for both teams, it was simply outstanding!"
Sutton Coldfield Town are managed by Andy Burman with Kevin Thomas as Coach and Chelsea Mulheir as player coach. Ruth Graham, who was also leading scorer, captained the side with Chantai Ahmed as vice captain. Off the field, James Green handled the secretary's role with Nick Court as physiotherapist, whilst Mike Huckfield is the club's photographer with Steve Reilly as his assistant.
Photo by M Huckfield Photography
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