Celebrating Success: SWRWFL Division One Eastern Runners-Up

Wednesday 15th May 2024

After the disappointment of relegation, Royal Wootton Bassett Town quickly got back to winning ways in 2023-24. And after a successful campaign, they finished as runners-up in the South West Regional Women's Football League Division One Eastern.

Just two points ultimately separated Bassett from the title and an immediate return to the Premier Division – though their second place finish still represented a season to remember.

Combined with a record-equalling run in the Women's FA Cup, Bassett got off to a bright start in the league, recording maximum points from their opening three games.

The season began with a hard-fought 3-0 derby win away at newly promoted Purton thanks to Libby Davies' first half opener and a second half Emma Sykes double.

The home opener against Frome Town saw Bassett fall behind. But five unanswered goals earned a convincing 5-1 victory as Maddy Elliott (2), Holly Baker, Lucia Green and Hannah Gulliver all found the net. Gulliver then led the way with a hat trick, with Baker bagging a brace as Adam Wood's side romped to a 7-0 triumph away at Ridgeway.

However, two consecutive defeats followed – both of which in the end proved critical to Bassett's title hopes. Away at Bath City, Laura Jefferies equalised ten minutes from time only for the hosts to grab a late winner to prevail by the odd goal in three. Then at home against fellow relegated side Poole Town, a Caily Morse goal was not enough as Bassett were well beaten 5-1.

That left Bassett trailing Poole by nine points, albeit with two games in hand. The teams met again a week later and despite being so early in the season, the contest was a must-win for Bassett. Adam Wood's side responded to that pressure, coming from behind to win 2-1 courtesy of a Jefferies equaliser and Natalie Goodright winner.

Confidence was restored courtesy of that result as it kicked off a lengthy winning streak. Purton were beaten 3-1 as Goodright was again on target with Rosie Burridge adding a brace. Six different scorers netted as Ridgeway were seen off 6-0. Five scorers then were on target as Frome were again beaten 5-1.

A visit to Shaftesbury almost brought that winning run to a halt. However, Elliott snatched all three points late on after Sykes had earlier brought Bassett level.

Fellow high-flyers Stockwood Wanderers then were swatted aside as Davies scored twice, with Baker, Elliott, Gulliver and Morse also netting in an emphatic 6-1 away win.

That left Bassett nine points behind Poole with three games in hand – and a large goal difference deficit to make up. There was therefore still little margin for error if Bassett's hopes of the title were to remain alive. Yet a 1-1 home draw against Weymouth virtually ended those.

Although the title was gone, Bassett bounced back with a 4-2 home triumph against Stockwood as a Davies hat trick brought her team within touching distance of guaranteeing second place. Goodright's stoppage time leveller then secured runners-up in the return fixture with Bath.

Two league games remained – and Bassett were victorious in both. Morse scored what proved to be the only goal of the game early on away at Weymouth. A stylish home display against Shaftesbury then saw Bassett triumph 4-1. Elliott scored twice to secure her place as Bassett's top league scorer on nine goals, with Gulliver grabbing her eighth of the league campaign (thus matching Davies' tally) and Sykes also on target.

Bassett had been impressive at both ends across the league season. Their defensive strength was shown by the fact they conceded two or more goals in just three of their sixteen league fixtures.

Fine margins thus ultimately proved the difference between lifting the title (and securing promotion) and having to settle for runners-up.

Women's First Team Team Photo

Last modified on Wednesday 15th May 2024 at 13:53.