Dons Women are closing the gap between themselves and the second tier

Leyla O'Brien battles for the ball with a Birmingham City defender. Pic: CTF PhotographyLeyla O'Brien battles for the ball with a Birmingham City defender. Pic: CTF Photography
Leyla O'Brien battles for the ball with a Birmingham City defender. Pic: CTF Photography
Sunday’s FA Cup defeat showed MK Dons Women are not far away from the Championship standard

The gap between MK Dons Women and some of the top clubs in the country is closing every season, according to manager Charlie Bill.

Involved in the fold for five years, Bill has overseen a dramatic change in the way the team has developed and the worldwide revolution of the women’s game.

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Dons currently ply their trade in the third tier, but have twice run Championship sides to the wire in consecutive seasons in the FA Cup third round.

Currently sat fifth in the Southern Premier Division, and part-time, Sunday’s FA Cup third round clash with Birmingham City saw Dons come within five minutes of a well-deserved replay.

With a crowd of 600+ at Stadium MK for the game, and a marked difference in the way women’s football is treated by society and indeed MK Dons as a whole, Bill believes his side are not far away from being a Championship outfit.

“If fans would have come and watched us four or five years ago, the levels we've got to now compared to where we were is phenomenal,” he said.

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"The gap between tier two and three is closing. You can get shocks now, and we don't feel like we're too far away.

“We're not far from the top two or three in our division. If we can go and get results against Hashtag and Ipswich, you never know. We'll take it one game at a time, but that should be used as real motivation for the rest of the season.

“Being involved in this set up over the last five seasons, it's so pleasing to see where it was and I think it will only get better and better.

“We just need to get a few things right, and this FA Cup run too will give us a little bit more money, so we have to use our resources to get better.

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“If we can add just a little bit more quality and depth, I don't think we're too far away from that step up.”

And though their cup campaign ended in a 2-0 defeat to Birmingham – the in-form team in the Championship – Bill said the team made a positive impression to all the right people on Sunday with their performance.

He said: “Liam Sweeting was watching, Bobby Winkelman too, and I think they were surprised at the levels we hit. In showcase events like this is to make sure you don't leave anything out. You don't want to walk off thinking you had more to give.”