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Womens Football News Archive - 7th May 2003
Aston Villa Almost Secure
Northern Division Title
Aston Villa manager Duncan Riddle has saluted his players after they all-but secured the Northern Division Championship when beating Lincoln City 1-0 at Sutton Coldfield on Sunday. Photo: The Villa players celebrate after the final whistle against Lincoln City.
Villa won thanks to a 75th minute goal from midfielder Lisa Sharred and only an enormous defeat at the hands of Garswood Saints would wrest the title, and promotion, away from them and hand it to Sunderland.
"Barring a miracle, we're there," Riddle told Women's Soccer Scene after the game. "It's been really nervy recently as we've tried to get across the line.
"We've beaten Sunderland twice this season, Oldham Curzon twice and Bangor City three times, they have been our nearest rivals so overall we do deserve to win the title. In fact we have beaten every other team in the division except for Garswood and we have a chance to do that in our last game."
Villa's leading scorer over the season is their highly promising young striker Hannah Smith with eight league goals, whilst Carly Davies has contributed seven. Riddle in fact is very reluctant to point out individual names. "Every player in the squad has made a big contribution at some stage during the season. It's been a whole squad effort but the back four in particular have been superb during the last six games which have all been tight matches. It would be impossible to single out individuals - teams win cups, but squads win leagues."
Now the Villa boss can turn his attention to life in the National Division, which will also contain two derby matches against Birmingham City - already being eagerly anticipated. How does he feel his side can make the big step up to the top flight?
"We will need to improve the quality of our football, and also need to be quicker and fitter. We have played Arsenal, Fulham and Charlton this season and that has given myself and the players a few clues as to what we need to do. I only took over just before the start of this season, so I will have a full pre-season with the girls this year. I'm looking forward to it!"
Congratulations, Duncan Riddle and Aston Villa.
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