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Runners up . . . The Meadowbank women's football team (back, from left) Karl Burke (coach), Aynsley Martin, Tessa Boys, Lilly Graham, Rea Wiebus, Meagan Bell, Reece Curle (assistant coach); (front) Juliana Picoli, Jessie Pendergrast, Mallory Clarke, Maddy Poole, Kayleigh Holmes, Rebecca Whittet, Caitlan Lee, Allyson Colgan. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Meadowbank United could easily be celebrating winning the South Canterbury football league women’s division title.

Sadly, that is not the case.

The talented Oamaru side had to be content with second place behind champion Thistle-Roncalli, which finished the season with a three-point advantage over Meadowbank.

After 18 games, Meadowbank finished with a record of 11 wins, two losses and five draws, scoring an impressive 89 goals and letting through 27.

Coach Karl Burke said a runner-up finish was a “good result” for the club, considering several players aged 15 and 16 were used throughout the season in key roles.

However, not being able to close out two games against Thistle-Roncalli was probably what cost Meadowbank the league title.

“The two draws we had with Thistle-Roncalli were very frustrating,” Burke said.

“At halftime in both of those games, we were 3-0 ahead, and ended up drawing 3-3 in both of those games.

“It was perhaps just a little bit of a lack of fitness and a lack of focus in the second half of those particular games that have ended up costing us four points overall.”

Football can be a cruel game, and while those results stifled Meadowbank’s title aspirations, Burke believed plenty of positives could be taken from the 2017 campaign.

Those included the goal-scoring prowess of Caitlan Lee, who banged in an astonishing 38 goals for her club, and Aynsley Martin, who grabbed 20 goals, and the performance of defender and captain Kayleigh Holmes.

Burke said Holmes showed inspirational leadership throughout the season.

“She’s certainly been a standout captain. She’s been able to gee up the troops when it’s needed.

“In terms of an on-field leader, she’s kind of a do-as-I-do person. She puts in the work rate and makes sure others do the same.”

Burke hoped to retain as many players as he could from this year’s squad for 2018 and said blooding several younger players this season would prove beneficial.

“I’d like to be able to keep the bulk of the squad. If we can keep just over half of the squad that we’ve got now and bring up three or four under-16 girls that have been playing for us, they’ll be ready for the step up to senior women’s football next year.”