WOMEN’S FOOTBALL: From celebration to consolidation as St Ives Town Ladies prepare for their toughest challenge

St Ives Town Ladies lift the Eastern Region Women's League Division One title last season. Picture:

St Ives Town Ladies lift the Eastern Region Women's League Division One title last season. Picture: GARY REED PHOTOGRAPHY - Credit: Archant

It’s been all about celebration for St Ives Town Ladies during their short and sweet history.

The local club have enjoyed promotions in three of their four seasons - the latter two of those being achieved courtesy of title triumphs.

It's a rapid rise which has seen Darren Marjoram side's climb from the second tier of the Cambridgeshire Women's League to the top-flight of the Eastern Region Women's League.

But now the focus shifts to consolidation for the 2019/20 campaign which kicks off with a trip to Bowers & Pitsea Ladies this Sunday.

"Simply staying in the division is the minimum target for this season," said Marjoram. "Anything more than that is a bonus.

"It's crucial that we don't allow the hard work of winning three promotions in four years be undone.

"Our performances in pre-season have been good, but myself and the players are under no illusions about the size of the task that lies ahead.

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"But I am also certain that we have the right people to embrace that challenge."

Attacking talent Abbi Griffin, who is dual registered with Tottenham Hotspur Women, is a notable new signing for Saints.

Former Peterborough Northern Star Ladies midfielder Paige Jones also arrives along with Sarah Mosley (a former Cambridge City full-back), Ella Burnley (an ex-St Ives Rangers striker) and Molly Orr-Love (a forward from Glinton & Northborough).

Megan Stow is the only member of last season's Division One title-winning team to depart.

"We've reached a very tough level of football and it was important to strengthen the squad this summer with some new players," added Marjoram, whose side will again play their home games at Westwood Road, the home of the St Ives Town men's team.

"But, with only one player leaving, we also have stability which is hugely important.

"It's great to see people want to join us and also stay with us."

The club's Development team are expected to perform well in the Cambridgeshire Women's Premiership after earning promotion from the Championship South last season.

They are now under the tutelage of new manager James Seymour, who has replaced Lisa Trigg in the hotseat.