At the start of the season, Peterborough Northern Star Ladies had ambitions to reach the National League by finishing first in a competitive league. After 8-games and going into the New Year, they found themselves top-of-the league by a +4 goal-difference, level on points with Wymondham Town and 2-points ahead of St Ives Town.
“Our ambitions [this season] were to gain promotion and we were expected to achieve this by finishing first” said Assistant manager James Horner.
Although they sat top, teams below them had games in-hand and wins in those games would put Peterborough within touching distance or even knocking them off their perch. Harlow had three games in-hand and three wins would send them top by a point while Luton Town had 5-games in-hand and 5-wins would see them top by 4-points. “It’s an interesting and very competitive season. The league and women’s football in general has improved massively year on year. The standard of the league this year is particularly high and a number of teams could compete in the league. Ipswich aside, it’s a fairly even league.”
Last season, Star sat 3rd after 13-games. They sat four-points off Luton Town in second with a game in-hand and 10-points off Harlow Town in first with 2-games in-hand but they needed to ensure they would close the gap ahead of the new season. “We signed some real quality during pre-season, identified a handful of players we wanted and were lucky enough to get all our targets. During the course of the season, we have trained hard and all the ladies are pushing hard for the same goal.”
The start to the season meant Peterborough were on course to go one better with their record, having won 10, drew 1 and lost 2 during the 2019/20 season compared to their record of won 6 and lost 2 during the current season but without playing the same amount of games, it was difficult to see if they had closed the gap. Still, they were hopefully the new atmosphere with the club and the performances would be enough. “Highlights of the season have been some of the performances and the dressing room atmosphere. We have the youngest side in the league so to be doing so well is fantastic. With that comes struggles and finding a suitable training venue due to COVID and the loss at Wymondham [Town] when we completely outplayed them and came away with nothing.”
The season had began with a 3-2 loss to Harlow Town despite finding themselves 2-0 ahead before they won 3-games on the spin but faced their second defeat against Wymondham. From that second defeat, Peterborough remained on a winning run as they beat Colney Heath, Bowers & Pitsea and AFC Dunstable, giving them something to build on upon the return of football. James felt the club were where they deserved to be in the table. “I think we are [where we should be],” he said. “We would have loved to have played Luton just before Christmas and Wymondham just after as we fancied our chances of two victories. During the season, we had only lost twice but we 2-0 in one of them [against Harlow] and completely dominated the other [against Wymondham].”
The enforced break did not help their cause for promotion. While it gave most clubs the chances to be refreshed, for James, he would have rather carried on. He was also hoping to push on if they were given the chance. “I think they [the lockdowns] hinder everyone’s preparations. They are tough to take as it effects momentum. Some teams find that favourable but not us.”
“We certainly want to remain at the top, completion of sorts of the season and to gain promotion. In regards to keeping the girls fit, we hope and rely on the fact that personal pride will motivate the ladies to continue to keep themselves fit. We have used the app Strava as a tool last season.”
As the Assistant manager of the Ladies, Horner was always looking towards the future of the club. “Short term, our goal is promotion this season. Long term though, we want to consolidate our place in the league above for a couple of seasons and then look to push for promotion.”