Ladies aim high ahead of new campaign
Thursday 30 August 2018 - by Stuart Smedley (Updated on 02 September 2018 at 17:25)
After a hugely successful first season in the South West Women's League Eastern Division, Royal Wootton Bassett Town Ladies - under new management - are aiming high again this year.
Having finished as South West Women's League Eastern Division and Wiltshire County Cup runners-up last time out, there's little margin of error for Royal Wootton Bassett Town Ladies if they are to match or better their 2017-18 campaign.
For Jonny House and James Goddard, who this season replace Becky Gammon in charge of the team, the bar has certainly been set high.
But Bassett's new joint-managers do not lack confidence, setting promotion as the primary aim for their team this season.
The pair have certainly hit the ground running since their appointment too, overseeing a successful pre-season campaign.
The majority of last year's squad have been retained, and it also has been strengthened.
Experience has been added in the form of 'keeper Abi Footner from league rivals FC Chippenham and forward Zoe Shellard, who arrives from Melksham Town. Meanwhile, the side has received an infusion of youth, most notably in the form of forward Lauren Kayll, who has been prolific in friendly action.
Bassett's series of warm-up matches have tested the squad, pitting them against higher level opposition on a couple of occasions.
After defeating former league rivals St Nicholas Reserves 9-0, Bassett travelled to Southern Women's League Premier Division outfit Winchester City Flyers and gave a good account of themselves in a 3-1 loss.
They followed that with an impressive 3-2 triumph against Forest Green Rovers, who ply their trade a league above Bassett in the South West Women's League Premier Division.
Pre-season then continued with a 7-0 victory against the Development team of Cardiff Met (whose senior side qualified for the UEFA Women's Champions League). In their final game Bassett fell to a 1-0 defeat against Woodley United.
Commenting prior to the Cardiff Met fixture, House and Goddard were effusive about their squad's efforts.
"We have made some great additions and they have all gelled very nicely with the quality players that are re-signing with the club for this season," House said. "Each member of the squad has applied themselves very well and there is competition for places throughout."
Goddard noted: "The quality and level of attitude from the players so far has been outstanding. The intensity levels we have demanded have been surpassed by all the ladies, including the new signings that have been made. We would both like to thank all the players for how well they have adapted to our new ideas."
Pre-season has also sharpened the duo's belief that the team can improve on their debut season in the South West Women's League.
The division will now feature eleven sides, with six, including Bassett, based in Wiltshire. And the number of local derbies is set to add an extra edge to what should be another exciting campaign.
But the management team are bullish about their chances.
"The season will be long and testing," House admitted. "But hopefully we will have reason to celebrate once we play our final game."
Goddard added: "We are hoping for another season of success for the club and your support, as always, would be much appreciated!"
The start to Bassett's league campaign will be delayed by cup commitments.
They will visit either Warsash Wasps or Bournemouth Sports in the SSE Women's FA Cup first qualifying round on Sunday 9th September before hosting Salisbury in the opening round of the Wiltshire County Cup a week later.
The Ladies are then due to host newly promoted Laverstock and Ford in the league, though that game will need to be re-arranged should Bassett advance in the Women's FA Cup.