Cambridge City Ladies clinch Eastern Region Women's Football League, Premier Division title
Tim Rapley has expressed his pride after Cambridge City Ladies sealed the Eastern Region Women’s Football League, Premier Division title.
The Lilywhites earned a 4-0 win over Peterborough Northern Star to take the crown with three games remaining.
Goals from Erin Davies, Anna Goggin, Bella Simmons and Amy Reed secured the victory and, with three games remaining, it gave them an unassailable 14-point lead over second-placed Royston Town.
It means a third promotion in four years, and the underlying statistics to their success are impressive.
From 19 league games, they have scored 88 goals and only conceded 18, so fewer than a goal a game.
“It has been a brilliant,” said City manager Rapley. “We’re all very proud and very pleased.
“It’s been a long season and there are still a few games to go but you couldn’t ask for more, really.
“It’s 18 wins and one draw so it’s not quite the perfect set of cards, but very close to it.
“It’s not what I expected, no. We only missed out last year by a point, although we had a few more defeats and teams were beating each other so it was a bit closer.
“I was always hopeful that we could perhaps go one better, but I didn’t ever think that we would be at this stage of the season having clinched it.
“It’s our third promotion in four years so we’ve gone quite rapidly. I remember taking the under-17s that I managed into the under-18 league at the S-Tech level, so it’s been quite a rapid rise.
“We’ve been quite lucky to pick up players as we’ve gone up.”
City only conceded 19 goals last season, so will be aiming for shut-outs in their final three games, which are against Royston Town, AFC Dunstable and Bedford.
But there has been a big turnaround in their goals scored, with 37 last season and 88 so far this, and maybe they will break the century.
“We’ve brought in a couple of players this year so we’ve had a few more attacking options,” said Rapley.
“We’ve changed our formation sometimes as well so we are quite quick in the attacking areas, and have some quite skilful players.
“They have certainly done the business this year. One of them, Erin Davies, is off to America on a football scholarship and she’s our top scorer.
“We will need to find a replacement for her next year because going up to the next level will be much tougher and a big step up for us.”
The season is not over yet as they look to add cup success to their league title.
They were beaten 2-1 by Cambridge United in the Cambs Invitation Cup final, but have an Eastern Region Women’s Football League Cup, semi-final to play against Harlow Town on April 14.
“It would be lovely to get into the final for sure,” said Rapley.
“We got into one a couple of years ago but lost that quite heavily, so it would be nice to get into a cup final. And to get a double would be fantastic.”
It is not just about the first team though. Sixteen-year-olds Ceri Flye and Freya Standing have made the step up this year from the development team, which means that it is bearing fruit.
They are currently top of the S-Tech Women’s League, Premiership and so are on course to replace their seniors in the East Region Women’s Football League.
“They are doing really well and should hopefully get promoted into the Eastern Region and that would be good because it should be a better level of football,” said Rapley.
“Therefore you do need a development team and the youngsters coming through to try to help you with that.
“The better standard we can play with our development team that bodes well stepping up into the first team as and when required.
“The progression is exactly as we would like it – they go from under-16s to the development and then into the first team.
“There are some very good players below that, at under-15s and under-14s.
“Hopefully, if we can keep them at the club, they will have an opportunity to play for the ladies in due course.”