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"We have the small matter of a cup final against AFC Bournemouth still to come but the league was always our priority," manager Karl Watson told Women's Soccer Scene. "We have an ambitious project here and work is already underway to grow again next season and push for promotion again.
"We have been blessed in this squad with a mixture of good young players that have been with me for some years, plus the top class more experienced players that have bought into our project. With huge players such as Kim Stenning and Becky Bath moving onto dual signings with Chichester and Portsmouth, both in the National League, it shows the calibre of players we've had in. Happily it also shows the quality of player we still have as even with those losses, we've managed to complete the perfect league season. Kim Whitcombe has really picked up the mantle since those girls left with top performances, showing why she's been at top clubs for many years including Brighton and Southampton. Sheree Bell-Jack came in as we started to look thin up top and scored 15 goals in 10 games which made such an impact.
"Katie Shorter has probably - and I know she'll be embarrassed by this - but for me, been the standout midfielder in the league all season and thank goodness she is in the Navy, or we'd never have seen her at this club. Player wise I could go on all night as we've been so lucky and really have quality all the way through.
"It's great the season finished the way it did, with tough games against Wycombe Wanderers and Abingdon Utd at the end to keep it exciting. Our two games with Abingdon were absolute wars but wars played out correctly by both sides. Fortunately for us we edged both results but certainly can't take them for granted next season. I do however believe our most important result and probably the most nerve racking was away to Wycombe, where we battled out a 1-0 win. We travelled light that day with several players missing but the girls were superb to earn those three points.
"Staff wise, things have grown this year which has helped massively to keep things running smoothly. Ben Grist has established a great bond with Sally Ann-Thompson, our keeper who has been outstanding especially when called upon in the cup games against bigger clubs. Tom Lynn and Young Harry Houston have been a huge help assisting our first team coach Luciana Jonson (Lil), who is hugely important to what we are doing and I believe having a strong female coach is so important in the women's game. Lil is certainly strong and a fiery character who really gets the players to buy in which is evident in each session she leads.
"Behind the scenes, secretary Brandon Parker is always on hand when I'm badgering him on the phone (which is quite often), his amazing mum Sue is always busy at 72 years young, cleaning changing rooms, making teas and many other things, plus the club has really got behind this infant of a new and exciting project. Whether it's men's, women's or youth football, this club is striving forwards and we're certainly enjoying being part of it so keep your eyes on things because we're only going to grow!"
Photo - www.jamesprickett.co.uk
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