AFC WimbledonSport

Women’s football: Kevin Foster close to achieving dream promotion for AFC Wimbledon


Kevin Foster is closing in on his dream of taking AFC Wimbledon Women to the Southern Premier Division.

The Dons are seven points clear of Norwich at the top of the National League Division One South East heading into the final three games of the season.

Despite Norwich being unbeaten this season and having a game in hand over Foster’s side, Wimbledon’s promotion hopes are very much in their own hands.

Wimbledon have been in their current league for the past eight seasons, finishing second on three occasions and just missing out on promotion.

“We have spent five years trying to get this club promoted – it would mean the world to me,” Foster told the South London Press. “We have been building up the bricks slowly but surely to make sure that, fingers crossed, when we do get promoted, we are in a place where we’re not just going up, we’re staying up and competing.

“It’s been a great season. There is a lot of hard work that has gone into it to get us to this point now.

“It’s about ensuring that we keep doing what we have done for the last months and making sure we continue to believe in ourselves and finish the job off.

“It’s exciting. You don’t get many times in your football career – as a player or manager – where you can hopefully get promoted. You have to try and enjoy it.”

Foster’s side have netted 84 times in the league this season – 29 more than their closest goalscoring rivals Norwich – and also have the second-best defence in the division this season.

“The club and everybody has just progressed year on, year out,” said Foster. “I always say that as long as the club is progressing, I continue to do what I do.

“The backroom staff have been together for a couple of seasons and we know each other. It’s really working.

“The players, with every signing, get better and better. That’s because we have built up such a good reputation on and off the pitch – people want to be a part of it.”

Foster picked up the Women’s National League Division 1 Manager of the Month award in February for the first time in his five-year stint in the league as Dons boss.

“It’s nice to get that,” he said. “It’s another way for people to look at the club and build up our reputation at AFC Wimbledon.”

Ashlee Hincks surpassed the 100-goal milestone for Wimbledon after she netted in the 7-2 win over QPR at the start of 2024.

The ex-Charlton and Crystal Palace striker has hit more than 30 goals in three separate campaigns for the Dons since joining in the summer of 2021 and is leading the charge for Foster’s side in their promotion bid this season.

“She is an absolute legend,” said Foster.

“To score the goals she has in the number of games played and bring what she does, is just fantastic.

“She’s probably one of the best ball strikers that I have seen in the women’s game – she hits it so clean. Where she has played at the higher levels, she understands the game and reads it well. She brings that experience and knowledge and brings it to other people.

“She’s not just a goalscorer – she’s a leader. She will go down as one of the top-ever players for AFC Wimbledon.

“When you strike a ball like Ashlee Hincks, all you need is half a yard to create something.

“When things are tough and not going well, she can pull something out of nowhere for you.

“That’s one of the biggest differences between us and others at times.”

While promotion would see the Dons reach their highest league status since 2005-06, and be just two promotions away from the Super League, it would also be a culmination of Foster’s journey from supporting the Dons in the stands during their Selhurst Park days to becoming the first women’s manager to stand on the touchline at the new Plough Lane.

The Dons have turned out numerous times this season at their spiritual home in SW19 and the attendances continue to grow.

Foster, who balances his day job of being a teacher at a prep school with masterminding three points on a Sunday, said: “Everywhere you look around the club, there are people with stories or parents and grandparents who have got them involved and have never have left because of that family feel.

“I never envisaged it or thought about it growing up – that feeling of being a manager of an AFC Wimbledon side who are playing at Plough Lane.”

The Dons have the chance to move closer to the league title on Sunday when they head to mid-table London Seaward.

Crystal Palace have the chance to move to top of the Women’s Championship when they face Birmingham away this weekend.

Table-toppers Sunderland, who have played one more game and are a point above Palace, host Charlton.

The Addicks are three points behind second-place Palace but also have a game in hand alongside their South London rivals.

Chelsea will be looking to keep up their chances of a treble trophy win when they head to Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday.


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