After promotion the previous season, Wolves Women have completed their campaign in the Northern Premier League. Matt Sacco reviews their season.
Coming into the season as a newly promoted side, it was difficult to know what to expect. Last season saw Wolves Women win the League and the League Cup double, losing just three times all season, so confidence was at a high.
Stepping up to the second tier of Women’s football was always going to be a challenge; but losing their first three games was a real eye opener for the girls, who were coming to terms with the harsh realities of the Northern Premier League. Every mistake was being punished - teams are bigger, stronger and fitter, better technically and are better organised than the sides faced the previous season.
The next game saw another defeat, this time at title-chasing Sheffield FC, however Wolves really stepped up their game and pushed them all the way, narrowly losing out 3-2 to a late goal.
A trip to Derby followed, and Wolves showed their battling qualities to come from behind and take all three points. This restored confidence to the team, as they next took on the challenge of Premier League side Manchester City in the League Cup. Despite playing one division below, Wolves produced some incredible football and scored a couple of stunning goals, but couldn’t hold City off, the game ending as a 4-4 draw.
Back to back defeats against Preston and Albion halted that progress, and the threat of relegation back to the Midlands Combination was becoming a real concern.
A cup win over Preston once again boosted confidence, and the next league games saw Wolves take a point off high-flying Nottingham Forest, before star striker Dani Selmes scored a 90th minute winner to overcome bottom of the league Leicester and prompt a move away from the relegation zone.
The first game of the New Year saw the girls travel down to Millwall for an FA Cup tie. Superb support from the London Wolves Supporters Club unfortunately wasn’t enough to inspire the team to victory.
A flurry of Cup games and waterlogged pitches meant that the girls didn’t play another league game until the first week of March, although during that time they did reach the semi final of the County Cup, losing
out to fierce rivals Albion 2-0.
As the team stepped back to league action, it was felt that a few more wins would secure a place in the league for next season, and Wolves set about doing just that against Preston. The girls felt aggrieved after conceding two late goals to let the win slip through their fingers earlier in the season, so two goals in the last three minutes felt like justice had been done as three more vital points were added to the tally.
Another series of waterlogged pitches halted any chance of momentum and one whole month passed before the next game at home to Newcastle, where a combination of bad luck and poor decisions proved costly in a 1-0 defeat.
The girls quickly put that disappointment behind them, with a convincing 3-0 win over Leicester City to all but guarantee survival for the season.
What followed was a succession of three difficult away defeats, which took the shine off what had already been achieved. However, the final game of the season saw Wolves beat Derby in a closely-fought contest to end the season on a high, and do justice to the efforts put in over a long, hard campaign.
It has been a tough season for the squad, with some bad injuries along the way, but the girls feel that they have learnt a lot, and are confident of pushing on next season.