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Rising Dons secure title

19 March 2015

Bright future beckons after Ladies Development squad glory

Manager Roland Harding has saluted a “fantastic” effort from the AFC Wimbledon Ladies Development squad after they sealed title glory with two games to spare.

The Dons Ladies did it in style too with an 8-1 win at Wealdstone crowning them as Champions of Greater London Women’s Premier Division One.

With seven different names on the score sheet and another solid performance at the back, the victory summed up a tremendous team effort and a squad of 18 players have all made contributions throughout 2014/15.

Roland Harding said: The players have been fantastic all season. They deserve all the plaudits they are getting and have been terrific ambassadors for AFC Wimbledon. The aim at the start of this season was to focus on player development with the majority of the squad taking their first steps into adult ladies football.

“Despite a fantastic run in the first half of the season, we never talked about winning the league. The turning point was our one defeat and once we focussed on the title, there was no turning back. This success was unexpected, but nevertheless very well deserved as our record proves. We retain our priority on player development and our ambition for this group of young ladies to progress to the AFC Wimbledon Ladies first-team.”

Congratulations for the achievement of AFC Wimbledon Ladies came from many quarters on social media after the title was sealed on Sunday. Former England international Marieanne Spacey was quick to pay tribute, along with Dons first-team captain Barry Fuller.

Roland Harding wished to single out coaches John Parker and Gavin Ford for their significant contributions, along with Lewis Carter, who recently joined the coaching staff.

The AFC Wimbledon development squad were new entrants into the GLWFL Division One, having played last season in the SCGL Premier Division. This move represented a step-up and with a new team made up largely of Under-18s. It promised to be a very challenging season. However, raw talent flourished with a few more experienced players providing an ideal blend.

During the whole season, only one defeat followed – at Northwood on 5 January – and the Dons only lost out in the FA Cup to Crystal Palace Ladies (three divisions above them) in extra-time.

In her first season as team captain, Jodie Weller, led by example and with top scorer Georgia Heasman (21 goals so far) hitting good form the Dons were unstoppable.

It has already been a glorious season so far for the AFC Wimbledon development squad, but it could get even better with the John Greenacre Memorial Trophy (League Cup) still up for grabs following victory over Watford Development in December.

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