With the end of 2022 upon us, reflections can now be made on the impressive progress made by South Shields FC Women over the last 12 months.
It has been a year of great strides on and off the pitch for the team, with a strong end to 2021-22 followed up with an eye-catching opening to 2022-23 for Ben Garrity’s side.
In between those on-field displays, a rebrand from SSFC Ladies to SSFC Women took place in the summer as greater support was dedicated to the team ahead of their latest challenge in the North East Regional Women’s Football League.
The Mariners finished fifth in the 2021-22 campaign, with 10 victories and 33 points, and they were just five points from a place in the top three.
Caitlin Bates’ impressive record of 14 goals in 18 games earned her the title of top scorer, and she was one of a number of standout performers.
Shields were unbeaten in their final seven matches of the campaign – winning six of those – and took that momentum into 2022-23.
In league action, they have been beaten just once so far, and that was by leaders Chester-le-Street Town, who have taken the league by storm with eight straight victories and a thumping goal difference as they bid for an immediate return to the tier above.
The Mariners have the same record as second-placed Wallsend, with six victories from their seven league games, and hopes are high heading into 2023.
Garrity’s side also performed well in the Vitality Women’s FA Cup, progressing to the final qualifying round before losing to Leeds United.
Eve Gatens has been among the goals this season with a record of 11 in 11 in all competitions, and she is one of those well-set to hit the ground running when the action gets back underway in the new year.
Chester-le-Street have established themselves as title favourites, but Shields head coach Garrity is adamant his team is capable of toppling the leaders.
He said: “I think the lasses have already shown that they have what it takes to win the league, but it's up to them to keep working hard, stay grounded and keep taking it game by game.”
With 11 league games to play to complete the 2022-23 season, a strong start to 2023 will be vital.
Weekend matches are played on Sunday afternoons and all support is always greatly welcomed.
Please monitor the club’s social media pages and website for details on upcoming fixtures, venues and kick-off times, which can vary on a week-to-week basis.