With James Lally promoted to First-Team Manager, there was an opportunity for a new leading role within our Development setup.
Having secured second spot in South West Regional League Tier Six, the side moved into the FA Women’s National League Reserve Division.
This would provide them with a more challenging competition to learn their trade and prepare them for the important step up to first-team football.
We drafted in Ethan Thomas and Adam Wood as a coaching duo to drive the team forward, with Ethan having already been in and around the setup and Adam the previous manager of our Under-16s.
They were to be supported by Gary Clarke, who was previously in charge of the Swindon Town Boys’ Academy, and holds a UEFA B licence.
With a number of development players following Lally up to the senior side, including Ella Harries, Nat Goodright and Kat Bach, there were places up for grabs for several new players.
There was also a return for top goal scorer Amelia Dudding, as well as Charlie Cowper and Olivia Sanders.
A number of Under-16s, some of whom had already appeared for the Development side, were now main stays in the shape of Darcy Cox, Erin Hemsley, Maddie Hines and Mads Sheppard to name a few.
A few made the transition from tier four football too, like the Brooke Casey-Batley and Alisha Lowry.
A tough start to the new campaign away to Bridgwater United Reserves proved a steep learning curve for the girls as they went down 9-1, and this was then followed by a 6-0 reverse to Oxford United in the League Cup Determining Round.
However, a much improved performance against Portsmouth would come next, despite suffering a narrow 1-0 loss.
Some personnel changes mid-season saw coach Wood step down and Ethan take the sole managers, and he moved quickly to strengthen the his squad by bringing in forward Emison Evans from Melksham Town Ladies.
The reshuffle had an instant impact, as the young Robins were able to overturn their Bridgewater humbling by earning a goalless draw in the reverse.
They then built on that result with their second league win, beating Southampton Women Reserves 1-0 and drawing 3-3 with Plymouth Argyle, despite being three down at the break.
Now well in to 2023, there is lots to build on within the development setup, with a tighter knitted squad with six months together that have adjusted well to playing in a much harder division.