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Brighouse Ladies clinch North East Regional Southern Division title
Brighouse Town have won the North East Regional Women's League Southern Division.
They travelled to struggling Sheffield Wednesday knowing a point would secure the title but, despite their standing as cellar dwellers, Town boss Rob Mitchell described Wednesday as no pushovers, and he would be proved right.
The game started well for Town, who made good use of the quality surface to put together a couple of good moves but seemed to force the ball in the final third, leaving everyone a little frustrated.
At times the play seemed a little rushed as both sides looked to take the initiative but neither could make the breakthrough in the early exchanges.
Sonni Sweeney, Town's top scorer, was, however, looking in fine form.
Her movement was causing all kinds of problems, and she managed to give her side the lead when Yasmin Ayub played a superb ball between two defenders, Sweeney drawing the keeper before expertly slotting in at the near post to take her tally to 34 competitive goals this season.
Brighouse failed to add to their lead, despite controlling long periods of the game.
Wednesday struggled to find a way past the visitors' defence, who were looking organised and gave keeper Erin Boswell very little to do.
Town nearly added a second when Sweeney’s initial shot was spilled by the keeper but the in-form forward was unable to direct the rebound in to a team-mates' path with the goal gaping.
Jayne Smith came close but miscued her shot from close range and, although youthful Wednesday cranked up the pressure with a couple of corners in quick succession, they were well dealt with by Town's defence.
The second half was more of the same - plenty of good passing football without an end product and a lack of quality in the final third.
Sheffield were now starting to counter really well but a change in system seemed to nullify the threat and give Town more attacking options themselves as Sue Elrington moved up front to support Sweeney.
The change also seemed to spring Kayleigh Bamforth into life down the right, with a couple of darting runs which caused problems.
In the first, Bamforth beat her marker in a race before rounding the keeper, only to be foiled at the last second by a recovering defender. Later she crossed to Sweeney, who narrowly fired wide from close range.
Wednesday nearly got back in the game but with plenty of Town bodies behind the ball, a couple of close-range efforts were blocked.
Wednesday then had their first real opportunity of the game, and perhaps should have done better when a cross from the right was met by Danielle Harrison, but the substitute smashed her powerful effort just over the bar.
Town then began to run the clock down and keep possession until the final whistle sounded, and they could then celebrate winning the title.
Manager Mitchell said: "We got the job done against a very good Wednesday side who we knew would be no mugs. They play a good brand of football and were determined to get a result.
"I felt we forced the ball at times and looked very rushed, especially in the early stages, but our experience and quality ensured we came away with the win and ultimately claim the title.
"Massive congratulations to the team who have been superb all season and deserve all the credit. It’s a very proud moment for me to be able to see all the hard we’ve done rewarded, and I’m sure the girls will now no doubt look to complete the season on a high and remain unbeaten."
Brighouse, who have won 16 and drawn one of their matches, play their last league match at Handsworth, who are curenltly third from bottom, on Sunday, April 6 (2pm).
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