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Trent University rise to challenge
 Women's Football English County and other Leagues News - 22 May 2021
English County and other Leagues News - Trent University rise to challenge - 22 May 2021 - Women's Football News
Nottingham Trent University are celebrating winning the Nottingham Ladies League title having won six and drawn the other of their seven league matches in the top division.
Daniel Corlett is Head Coach of Women's Football at the university and he has given us the following account of what has been a successful season:
"Though the Women's Football club at NTU has existed for three decades, playing in the BUCS university leagues this is only the second season the club has entered a team into the main FA Pyramid, playing in Step 7 in the Nottinghamshire Girls and Ladies Football League.
"The team was set up to provide greater playing opportunities year round for the players already engaged with the clubs three BUCS sides and their non-BUCS development squad, and as such is comprised solely of current students from within the NTUWFC program along with alumni members of the club who want to continue to represent us following graduation. In their first season, which was always viewed as a proving year to check the need for the squad to exist, they were sitting in a high creditable sixth (with a strong chance of finishing 4th) when the season was curtailed by Covid.
"Following the success of the first season (and the knowledge that the main BUCS leagues were not taking place in 2020-21) the program was pushed ahead with this year, with the club entering the FA Women's Cup for the first time (being the only university team to do so this year). After receiving a bye in the Extra Preliminary Round, they received an extremely tough draw in the Preliminary Round, hosting a Lincoln United side who had (in their previous guise at Hykeham Town) finished in the top two in the East Midland Women's Regional Football League Division One North (the Tier above NTU) for each of the last three years (a feat they were on course to repeat again this season). Though the game finished in a 2-1 defeat, the performance in pushing a higher level opponent throughout, off the back of only returning as a squad two weeks before and it being their first game of any kind in the season, provided further confidence in there being a strong year ahead.
"Their league campaign began impressively with a 10-1 home victory against Mansfield Town Development, with Americans Madison LaPole and Kathryn Laughlin both scoring braces on debut and with a hat-trick for the teams goalscoring talisman Julia Kings (who had scored 25 goals in their debut season and had also scored the goal in our FA Cup debut).
"The following week saw the first of the key games of the season as they travelled to face Nottingham Forest Development, but without both Julia Kings and the squad's goalkeeper Beth Marshall. In what was possibly the standout performance from the team they came away with a 6-1 win, despite also losing stand-in goalkeeper Jessica Phillips to a dislocated shoulder midway through the 2nd half, with Emily Maslen scoring her first two competitive goals in four years (following a string of knee injuries beginning at aged 15) and Madison LaPole notching another pair of goals.
"The last fixture prior to the five-month Covid enforced league break brought a hard fought 2-1 win against Keyworth United, with midfielder LaPole getting her fifth goal in three games along with one for the returning Kings.
"The league resumed in April with a tough home return fixture against Nottingham Forest Development. The squad had also seen some changes, most notable the unfortunate losses of Madison LaPole and fellow American Kathryn Laughlin, who had been unable to return from America due to Covid restrictions. Despite this, the team put together a hugely spirited performance to win 4-1, thanks in large part to a hat-trick player of the match performance from left back Amy Colledge. The win provided the team with real hope of winning the league title, with this being reinforced the following weekend as they won away 6-2 against Mansfield Town Development with Julia Kings scoring her second hat-trick (both against Mansfield) of the season.
"At this point the biggest threat to the team's title hopes were the previous season's league leaders Mansfield Hosiery Mills and both teams met in the last week of April knowing that a win would go a long way to securing their title hopes. As it was the game played out as a hugely entertaining 3-3 draw, with NTU showing great resolve to come back from behind twice, with the goals coming from a duo by Kirsty Matthews and a long range thunderbolt by alumni player and midfielder Victoria Reid.
"In their latest game, NTU visited Keyworth United, knowing that a win would leave Mansfield Hosiery Mills the only side that could mathematically catch them and only if the Hosiery won all of their remaining games. As it was the team achieved this with a 5-2 win, with a pair from Julia Kings being matched by Georgia Gladwin and added to by a long range volley from a now fit again Jessica Phillips.
"Wins in their next two matches would have guaranteed a league title, but unfortunately the opponent in each of these, Clifton All Whites, was forced to withdraw from the league due to player availability issues. This did mean however that with Mansfield Hosiery Mills' remaining games also being reduced NTU were mathematically confirmed as league winners earlier this week.
"With one game still to play, away against Mansfield Hosiery Mills, the players are now chasing the completion of an unbeaten league season to round off what has been a fantastically successful year for the squad. Julia Kings lead the team's scoring charts with nine league goals to add to her FA Cup strike while other regular standout performers were Americans Madison LaPole and Kathryn Laughlin (prior to Covid preventing their return), goalkeeper Beth Marshall, centre back Tessa O'Connor and midfield duo Victoria Reid and Amy Seymour-Shove.
"Huge credit has to also go to the squad's leadership team, the two player-managers Jessica Phillips (captain) and Grace Miller (vice-captain) and coach Jonny Dench, for leading the squad so effectively on match days throughout the season and working alongside myself (as I oversee the program/club as a whole here, but leave match day provision and delivery outside the BUCS first team to each squad's coaches) to organise the squad and the selection process on a week to week basis."

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