Bur­ton’s girls de­ter­mined to keep up with Pirelli stars

The Football League Paper - - WOMEN'S FOOTBALL WEEKLY -

LIKE Bur­ton Al­bion’s high-fly­ers in the Foot­ball League, the Brew­ers women’s team have stepped into 2016 with pro­mo­tion a real pos­si­bil­ity.

The women’s side have not only matched their male coun­ter­parts by top­ping the ta­ble, they have also main­tained a 100 per cent record to make them­selves clear favourites to win the West Mid­land League’s Divi­sion One North.

That would give Adam Small­man’s team a se­cond pro­mo­tion in three sea­sons and con­tinue a tra­jec­tory that ev­ery­one at the Pirelli Sta­dium hopes will even­tu­ally land the Brew­ers in the FA Women’s Su­per League. Man­ager Small­man, who joined

the club at the

By Tony Leighton

start of the 2013-14 cam­paign af­ter run­ning the women’s sides at Sh­effield Wed­nes­day and Le­ices­ter City, said:“We are three years into an am­bi­tious ten-year pro­ject.

“The club has built solid foun­da­tions, with some great be­hind-thescenes work as well as on the play­ing side. If we can con­tinue the im­pe­tus we’ve now got go­ing, then I be­lieve we can even­tu­ally work our way up to the WSL.”

Pyra­mid

Pro­mo­tion this sea­son would put Bur­ton three steps below that level in the women’s pyra­mid, and Small­man’s side can to­day take a big stride to­wards clinch­ing a place in the West Mid­land League top flight.

A home win against sec­ond­placed Stock­ing­ford would take the Brew­ers eight points clear, with

only eight games re­main­ing. The road to the ti­tle would be clear.

Not that Small­man is tak­ing any­thing for granted.

“Stock­ing­ford are a good side,” he said. “I’ve seen them play a cou­ple of times this sea­son and we’ve had them watched in other matches as well.

“But, if we are at our best, then we should be good enough to win the game and keep our 100 per cent record go­ing. The aim now is to win ev­ery match we play, but I’ll be happy if we fin­ish top.”

That’s well within the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of a side that has taken its fine league form into both the League Cup – in which they reached the semi-fi­nals with a 4-0 win against Stone Domi­noes last week – and the FA Cup. In the FA Cup, they beat three teams higher in the pyra­mid be­fore los­ing on penal­ties to Rad

cliffe Olympic, who are

se­cond in the Premier League Mid­lands Divi­sion One.

Bur­ton’s grow­ing promi­nence has been part-fu­elled by their move from play­ing on a parks pitch to hav­ing their home base at St Ge­orge’s Park, the FA’s train­ing base for the na­tion’s 24 male, fe­male, age group and dis­abil­ity teams.

“Play­ing at St Ge­orge’s Park is a mas­sive sell for us,” said Small­man.

“If I want to talk to a po­ten­tial re­cruit, we’ll in­vite her here so she can see the fa­cil­i­ties.

“Al­most with­out fail, they think the place is un­be­liev­able.

Fan­tas­tic

“Mind you, play­ing here can also work as a bit of a neg­a­tive be­cause, when op­po­si­tion teams come here, it’s their cup fi­nal and they re­ally raise their game.

“You see them tak­ing self­ies, as of­ten as not next to the David Beck­ham pitch sign.

“Ev­ery­one thinks it’s fan­tas­tic that a small club like ours can be shar­ing a fa­cil­ity like this with the very top Eng­land play­ers at ev­ery in­ter­na­tional level.”

The ‘sell­ing’ power of the now world-renowned FA fa­cil­ity has helped Small­man bring in sev­eral play­ers who were pre­vi­ously at­tached to big­ger clubs, such as Birm­ing­ham City, As­ton Villa, Le­ices

ter City and Stoke City.

Winger Laura Sears, a for­mer Derby County player, who joined the Brew­ers at the start of the sea­son, said: “I’d never been to St Ge­orge’s Park be­fore, but the place is amaz­ing and it’s fan­tas­tic to be able to train and play matches there.

“I set­tled into the club very quickly and I’m re­ally en­joy­ing my foot­ball here. We’ve got a re­ally good squad of play­ers, a great bunch of girls, and I’m 100 per cent con­fi­dent that we’ll win pro­mo­tion this sea­son.”

Key sign­ings such as Sears apart, the Brew­ers team is made up of tal­ented lo­cal girls who have come through the club’s ranks of youth and de­vel­op­ment teams.

Reg­is­tered

The club has come a long way since it re-formed in 2000 af­ter be­ing dis­banded.

Sec­re­tary Gill Ban­ton, a ma­jor driv­ing force from day one, said: “We started with an Un­der-12 team and had only ten play­ers in our first sea­son.

“But we’ve now got more than 120 play­ers reg­is­tered in our youth and se­nior teams and it’s been great to see the club grow so suc­cess­fully.

“Hope­fully, we can keep pro­gress­ing to put our­selves on the map na­tion­ally, as well as lo­cally.”

SELFIE TER­RI­TORY: The David Beck­ham pitch at St Ge­orges Park MY WATCH: Adam Small­man is the man charged with lead­ing Bur­ton to pro­mo­tion

PIC­TURE: Bur­ton Al­bion

SELL­ING POINT: Laura Sears loves St Ge­orge’s

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