BARNSLEY FC Women are targeting a promotion push next year after a transformative 2023 finished with a massive away victory.

The Reds won 10-0 at bottom club Harrogate Town on Sunday.

They are now second in the North East Premier with 22 points from ten games, two off the one promotion place although all the teams around them have at least one game in hand.

Coach Jess Horsley said: “We have taken 16 points from the last 18.

“In the first few months of the season, when we had some bad results, I would never have thought that we would be second at Christmas.

“We always want to finish top.

“We had to be realistic at the start with a brand new team in a new league and only one team going up.

“Girls are starting to believe they can do it this season.

“If we keep doing what we’re doing, there is no reason we can’t push for it.

“We have attracted a lot of good new players.

“There are not a lot of players in the starting 11 who played last season.

“Everyone in the league has lost a game. We have to face Sunderland (the leaders) twice. I imagine they are looking at us and thinking ‘they are on a great run.’ We have still got to play a lot of games against the top five so we’re in control.”

Barnsley’s men’s team are also hoping for a promotion push in 2024.

Horsley said: “It would be fantastic for the town and the people who go and watch the games.

“If the men’s team get promoted, it gives attention to us as well.

“When the men are not doing well, it sometimes takes the interest off the women. Both teams are doing well now and hopefully we both have a really good year next year.”

Horsley’s team have won all five away games this season.

The Harrogate win was a 17th successive away victory for the side who, under the name Barnsley Ladies last season, won all 11 on the road as they got promoted. The last time they lost an away game was at Altofts in February 2022.

Horsley said: “I didn’t even realise how good our away form was until this week. It’s fantastic.

“Some players are young and, when there’s a crowd, they maybe play a bit under pressure. When we’re away, they are so relaxed and carefree.”

2023 has been a big year for the team who won promotion then were incorporated officially into Barnsley FC with extra training and access to facilities.

Horsley said: “It’s been a whirlwind. Some of it doesn’t seem real. Sometimes you feel you need pinching.

“It’s hard work and tiring but, when you see the smiles on the girls’ faces, it makes it all worth it.

“Julie Anne (Quay, director) is fantastic, always in touch and positive.

“It’s so professional. The older ones are saying they wish they were five or ten years younger.

“The girls have drastically changed fitness wise. The whole physique of some has changed completely.

“They have bonded really well as a team. We are still in training this week and between Christmas and New Year. The girls all want to keep working.

“That has never happened before. Two years ago we were lucky to get five girls there.

“They all just want to be successful.

“It makes the two years before, playing on Carlton Park and trying to fundraise, wondering what you were doing it for, all worth it.

“We’re putting in the hours for where the club will be in five years time when maybe we are not involved. We want to play a part in the town having a team in a much higher league in the future.

“Some of our players can play at a much higher level as well.”

At Harrogate, there were hat-tricks for Amy Dawson and Jodie Gregory with Nicole Shaw adding two.

The other scorers were Eliza Holland and Georgina Wilson-Roberts.

Horsley said: “It was brilliant. Especially after we only beat them 1-0 at Oakwell right at the start of the season. To win 10-0 was fantastic. Looking at the goals, nine out of ten were really good. We were so clinical and confident. It was a really small pitch and still 0-0 after half an hour. We had to adapt and went in 3-0 at half-time then we were fantastic in the second half.

“There are still parts of the game we can improve but it’s a great result.”

They are next due to play at home to Hartlepool United on January 7.