Vicky Ashton-Jones and Amy Merricks give response to 4-0 win over Aylesford in Kent Cup 1st round.

Vicky Ashton-Jones talks tactics with her players before kick off

Vicky Ashton-Jones talks tactics with her players before kick off

After Gillingham Ladies Reserve team’s 4-0 win over Aylesford in the Kent Cup first round, manager Vicky Ashton-Jones and coach Amy Merricks spoke of their thoughts on the game.

Vicky said: “Baring in mind it was just our second in game in charge we were very solid, the girls have implemented what has been worked on in training and we are very happy with that progression. It’s not perfect yet and it’s not going to be. They are doing things we are asking them too, overall we are very happy.”

Amy added: “For the first time since we have been around they’ve kept going the full 90 minutes, we were popping the ball around so confidently, all the girls wanted to be on the ball. We even had our goalkeeper out of the box wanting the ball so she could play the ball out to the other side, which is exactly what we are asking for so it’s a brilliant performance and really positive.”

The Kent Cup gives the chance for the management and team to work of aspects of the game that may not be so easy to do in League competition, Vicky said that the game was key to put training improvement into practice on the pitch;

“There were things that we looked to focus on, things that needed to be improved, fitness was a big, big factor. It’s something we are looking to improve on for the foreseeable future. Yes the Kent Cup is an opportunity to work on those things and you expect the girls to get through 90 minutes and still play how we want them too play and they did that today.”

Amy spoke of the improvement in the training regime, the effect it has during the game and what it does to first team and reserve team links: “We’ve been working on getting the girls a lot sharper on the ball, the main idea is that we want them to be prepared so that if they are called up to the first team, straight away they know exactly their style of play.”

“We are completely mirroring their style of play, we want to play as quick as them, we want to get good results like them as well. The whole game today we dominated the play and last week against Charlton, we played well in the first half and second half our fitness lacked, but today we could of gone an extra half an hour I would of said.”

“The idea is that they are confident on the ball, the way the first team play is that they have short sharp passes and they completely dominate the play the whole time, that sets the pace of the game. We want our girls to have the ball and want to switch it out, if they weren’t playing that way then they wouldn’t be ready if they got called up and during the week. We had a couple of the girls go to Eastbourne with the first team and they got on the pitch and were understanding what was needed. Even our warm up is similar in style to the first team.”

Vicky added “It was one of the things that James Marrs asked me to come down to do the work with the reserves, it was one of the benefits and points of doing it as I’ve been round the firsts and it was installing how the first team play with the reserves. Like Amy said, if they are called up they need to know what to expect, they need to know what they should be doing if they get that opportunity on the pitch.”

Megan Carroll lead the line upfront for the Reserves against Aylesford, a determined display of hard work and pressure finally paid off with a goal in the second half, Vicky was pleased with the forwards display;

“Megan did very well today, it’s something again we are installing in her when she does and doesn’t need to press, when she can save her legs a little bit and when she does need to be working, its all developing her game. Regards to that, she is showing that as the weeks go on in training, we’ve been telling her to work the line and the ball and show feet.”

“The way we are starting to play she cant get hidden behind defenders and expect balls to be played over the top, because running on to the ball isn’t a strength of hers, she is much better with the ball at her feet and she showed that against Aylesford, the finish for the goal was fantastic, and the build up play from the team for that goal was brilliant.”

The Reserves line up has changed slightly and a more structured midfield has seen Rhea Vale act in a defensive role backing the two centre-backs which gives freedom for Emily Lyons and Emily Laker to have a more advanced role pushing forward, Vicky was complimentary of Rhea’s progression to the role;

“It’s to reflect what Jay Blackie does in the first team, it’s something I trusted the team and the girls in the midfield areas to go out and do that, and again its something that is a work in progress. Rhea’s picked that up very very quickly in what she needs to be doing in that role, when the ball does come to her switching the play out to the left and the right.”

“She took a few training sessions and the game against Charlton but today it looked natural that she would get the ball on the back foot and play out the other way. It gives the defence some cover, it gives Emily Laker and Emily Lyons the licence to go and join in with the attacks when they can.”

Finally we asked Amy what it was like swapping playing for the reserves to coaching them and she said; “Im really enjoying it, its completely different from playing. I’m not saying I don’t want to be playing -I love playing as well! But at the moment coaching is my pride and joy and being able to come in to work with Crouchy [James Marrs] and work with the reserves set up is a pleasure really.”

“I hope it can carry on and hope the effectiveness of me coming in, changing the structure and enforcing a lot of sharpness and quick play in training will bring them a lot of positives. I think they are enjoying having me and I am definitely enjoying it with them, they are young and they are so hard workers, their attitude has changed so much they are completely grafting day in day out. Im really impressed and enjoying it.”

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