2019/20: The achievements that never were – Pt. I

Credit: Yeovil Town Ladies

Due to the severe conditions and global knock-on effects of COVID-19, the FA recently announced the indefinite suspension of several women’s football leagues.

The 2019/20 season in tiers 3-7 of the pyramid have had results expunged and seasons ended prematurely.

Because of this decision, season-defining moments have been chalked from history. No one will be promoted nor relegated and historic goals, results and achievements will be wiped.

Here is just a handful of memories we want to keep alive amid the tragic nature of current events.

Watford’s title chase – Audrey Corminboeuf

One of the clubs most affected by this decision will probably be Watford Ladies. Clinton Lancaster’s side were second in the league, and would have took part in the final of the FAWNL Plate.

Before the cancellation of the leagues, the Hornets were nine points behind Crawley Wasps with three games in hand. Undefeated since the 2-0 loss against Cardiff City on September 8, Watford had since won eight games and drew just once. 

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“Of course it is frustrating, but we respect the situation and want to ensure everyone’s health is a priority,” said the Watford boss.

The Hornets would have hosted Crawley on April 26, just one week after having played Gillingham, Hounslow and Chichester City in seven days. In their first meeting, Watford won 3-1 at Crawley’s ground. It would have been a very exciting end of the season to watch. 

“We will move on from this, we all stick together, and this does not mean our hard work will stop,” Lancaster said. “I’m confident, with the attitude we have amongst the team, we can work together to put in even more work and come out stronger from this news.”

Peterborough’s unbeaten season – Drew Diamond

Peterborough Ladies must feel aggrieved. One of their most successful seasons to date written off like it never happened.

Let’s pay some homage and never forget the season that would’ve been. Twelve points clear at the top of the league with the title in clear sight. An undefeated domestic season, the final of the County Cup approaching with a real chance for a historic double.

However, Peterborough do have a silver lining. Whilst most clubs at this level are worried about future funding and resources, co-owner Jason Neale has ensured the team they will receive continued backing going into the future.

Yeovil’s back-to-back 9-0 wins – Georgia Goulding

Yeovil Town are a remarkable team. The club were infamously relegated from the Women’s Super League in the 2018/19 season due to a points deduction. As such, they plummeted down two leagues, where they currently play in the FAWNL Southern Division.

Despite intense hardships in their relegation, the Glovers haven’t stopped fighting. Yeovil were sitting in a very respectable fifth place in the table on 26 points, just one behind third place Oxford.

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But it’s the journey that took them to a spot high up the table – back-to-back 9-0 victories over Hounslow. Two matches, one team, 18 goals. An outstanding performance and piece of history they should have been able to look back on.

Not to mention the stunning displays from young players and new arrivals including Meesha Dudley-Jones and Kelly Aldridge. A comeback of dreams for Sarah Wiltshire as well made the victories even sweeter.

Yeovil will certainly be a team to watch when football resumes.

10-0 Ipswich comeback – Ryan Gregory

On February 16 when Ipswich Town travelled to face holders Manchester City in the FA Cup, they were the lowest ranked side remaining in the competition.

Not many were expecting a giant-killing but Ipswich had played some glittering football in their run up to that point so some fans allowed themselves to dream about the South-East Division 1 side causing an upset. However, it was not to be as the gulf in class proved just too great and City ran away 10-0 victors. 

Seven of Ipswich’s starting 11 were still teenagers when they received their battering from City. It would’ve been completely understandable if their confidence had been knocked. Even manager Joe Sheehan was uncertain of whether they would have the fortitude to recover from such a crushing defeat.

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However, he needn’t have worried. His inexperienced players responded in the best possible way. With a 10-0 victory of their own just three days later over their local rivals Norwich.

A hat-trick from 18-year-old Eloise King, braces from Lucy Egan and Natasha Thomas, and a goal apiece for Zoe Cossey, Anna Grey and substitute Sophie Peskett were enough to put to bed any concerns about the mental strength of the Tractor Girls.

Sheehan has always emphasised that this team is a long-term project. Like any project there will be growing pains. But through grit and determination, the players have demonstrated their faith and commitment to the manager’s vision.

Be sure to look out for Part II…

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