Bowers Blues

During the shortened 2019/20 season, Bowers & Pitsea Ladies finished 9th. Although their position saw them 3-places off the bottom, they found themselves 13-points clear of St Ives Town but having played four-games more. They also found themselves 6-points behind fourth-place Bedford with two-games in-hand. Although they were looking to improve this season, manager John Levy didn’t want to make comparisons between the two-seasons.

“I think comparing last season to this one is irrelevant in all honesty. We only want to look forward and not dwell on the past. This season has been hard for everyone with the stop-start of COVID plus for us, we have had a lot of new players and getting used to a new way of playing and systems don’t happen over night.”

Like many squads in the Eastern Region Women’s Football League, Bowers strengthened ahead of the new season as they looked to compete as high as they could. Once they got their players on board with the tactics, Levy was keen to compete in a very competitive league. “Ambitions at the start of the season were to get the new players and squad to gel. We wanted them to understand and buy into our ethos, systems and ideas and most importantly, compete.”

The 2020/21 season had been tough for the Pitsea Ladies. After 9-games, they had found themselves rock bottom by a -11 goal-difference to Bedford who had played 2-games less and a -15 goal-difference to Royston Town who had only played 4-games. They had begun the season with two-losses to Wroxham and Peterborough Northern Star before they got their first point of the season in a goalless draw to Haringey Borough at Coles Park. They built strongly on their first point as they shocked Wymondham Town with a 1-0 win that saw Bowers beat the then-leaders but struggled from the end of October to December. A 5-0 loss to St Ives Town was followed a further four-losses as they were beaten by Bedford, Harlow Town, Peterborough Northern Star and Luton Town. Although they had found themselves bottom, they remained positive. “We have found the season so very frustrating. It feels like its been one step forward and two back – But, we are still trying to stay as positive as we can.”

The season had been far from all doom and gloom for Levy and his ladies with plenty of positives to give them a hope for the remained of the season. “Highlights of the season so far for me personally was being given the opportunity to join the Bowers set-up – as I’m very grateful for this – beating Wymondham and keeping a clean sheet on the back of them scoring 17-goals in 4-games and winning in the FA Cup, where there was a hattrick the game too” he said before continuing. “Top of the list of struggles has to be injuries. It’s fair to say that we have had our fair share of bad injuries to key players including our goalkeepers and it hasn’t been easy and something out of our control which hurts me more. We have also had a number of frontline keyworkers from Paramedics to teachers so we have had a number of players week after week being placed into isolation as a precautionary measure which again upset the balance and flow.”

Although they were bottom of the table, John didn’t feel it represented them as a club. He agreed they had lost more games than they had hoped but it was all about learning and improving as the season went on. “We are bottom of the table but we’ve had our fair share of injuries to key players which has affected continuity or lack of it within  the team and the systems we are trying to achieve. We have also been very unlucky with games like Wroxham and Luton which is all part of learning and is something myself and Adam are addressing in training. Honestly, no I don’t I think the table represents where we are as a club.”

The lockdowns had hindered a lot of teams seasons, causing a stop-start season which then affected results and form. For Bowers, it was no different. A new team that needed to be out on the pitch in order to gel. “Lockdown has been tough for everyone both physically and mentally” he said. “For a new squad, we are all very close and draw down on each others positive energy so being in lockdown has hindered this and the stop-start trend is hurting us as we can’t get into a flow or gel on the pitch.”

The hope was to return to action sooner rather than later and be given the chance to complete the season. With that in mind amongst the majority of teams, Levy had his targets and goals in mind for what he wanted from the return. “The hopes are that we get back into the swing of things as soon as possible and get back to the task in-hand.”

“Our target for 2021 is to get higher up the table and show everyone just how much talent and potential this squad has got.”

Any potential return would require the players keeping fit over the halted period, ready for a return at a moments notice. The Bowers boss knew this was key but certainly trusted the girls to keep themselves in the right frame of mind and fit enough for a return. “Keeping everyone fit is always going to be hard as trying to keep everyone’s chin up and stay positive in this current climate is really difficult. Both myself and Adam trust the girls 110% and are in regular contact with them all. We know they are doing bits and pieces to help keep themselves ticking over – its the match sharpness which will be the challenge once we return but I’m sure all will be in the same boat – but our girls are chomping at the bit!”

He also knew where he stood with the ambitions for the club. “Short term has to be to climb the table and show the bags of quality the girls possess not just as individuals but as a unit. Long term, for me, there is just one target and that is to progress out of this league and into the National League. That would be the icing on the cake.”