Gills keeper Baker marks a special day against West Ham with another clean sheet

"To keep a clean sheet against West Ham is something I wanted to do this season and to have done that - I'm really, really happy!"

“To keep a clean sheet against West Ham is something I wanted to do this season and to have done that – I’m really, really happy!”

It’s common knowledge around the Gillingham Ladies camp that whilst she may have the skills between the sticks, goalkeeper Faye Baker does have a slightly questionable taste in football teams. A West Ham united season ticket holder, Faye’s blood runs claret and blue – except, of course on a Sunday afternoon.

We caught up with Faye after Gills Ladies’ accomplished 3-0 victory over The Hammers on Sunday afternoon. Faye told us, ” I always think it’s special any time we play West Ham as I used to play for them as well, but having watched them play rubbish yesterday, my Mum and I joked that we hoped the women’s team would play just as bad today!”

“Luckily for us today, we were all over them and we got the result we wanted. It’s always special to play against West Ham but when I’m on the pitch I don’t really think about the opposition, I’m focused on our team and how we’re doing.”

And what Faye and her team-mates are doing on the pitch is something incredibly special. Sunday’s win sees the first team’s unbeaten run extend into December and their place top of the league retained for another week. Faye admitted it was a welcome return to league life: “I much prefer the league to the cup as I feel the opponents are much more challenging and it gives me a bit more to do.”

“In the past two games I haven’t really had much to do. Today it was nice to get back in the league, continue our unbeaten streak and just get another win under our belt. For me it didn’t look like we’d been away from the league really, it felt like another game and we played the way we knew we could play.”

Faye added: “I think in the past two games, we’ve not really played too well. We’ve managed to get wins which is the sign of a great team but the leagues gives us a bit of a kick up the bottom as you know the teams will be tougher and everybody’s going to be up for the challenge.”

“Right now, we’re the team everyone wants to beat, so that spurs us on in ourselves and the management have obviously said we need to work a little bit harder and go from the off as we’ve been a bit sloppy in the first half of the past two games and we needed to put that right. We knew West Ham would defend well and work hard as a unit.”

Whilst the Gills reduced West Ham’s game, there were moments that called upon Faye to protect her clean sheet: “I think I did my bit,” Faye said, “Sometimes I come away from games and don’t feel I’ve contributed much because I might not have made a save or anything, but the girls always tell me my presence is a contribution in itself and that’s nice and to keep a clean sheet against West Ham is something I wanted to do this season and to have done that – I’m really, really happy!”

It’s being a great season for Faye so far, having already beaten the club’s record for number of clean sheets in a season, the best keeper in the league (although she’ll accept no such compliment) is fully focused on improving herself at Gillingham Ladies: “All I want to do is improve. Having beaten the record, I just want to keep going and top it.”

“Every week I want another clean sheet and it spurs me on and I’ll work hard in training to get better. If I can improve upon my own little weaknesses then I’ll be happy.”

Faye applauded the coaching she’s received at Gills, as a key to her success since joining the club: “I take my hat off to the manager James, as when he asked to sign me he told me I was good enough for this level and I point blank said to him I’m not.”

“But he’s given me more than anyone’s given me and that’s belief and all I have to do is believe in myself. It’s hard but in training and the little things off the pitch – the phonecalls to say well done – and the constant communication is great, it makes you want to improve.”

“He’s really helped me along with all the girls, they’ve been so good to me. Every time I make a save, they make a point of coming over to me and giving me high fives and stuff and we are really a little family.”

Whilst life at Gills Ladies is fantastic at the moment, focus is sustained of keeping that momentum going into the festive period with a home league game against Brighton next for Faye and her team-mates.

Another big game during this big season for Kent’s best women’s team, Faye called upon local football fans to come along to Chatham Town to cheer the girls on, adding that recent form should be an incentive enough. “The results speak for themselves – how many other teams do you know are still unbeaten this season, men or womens.”

“We’re doing it week in, week out at the moment so there can’t be a better time to watch us than at present. We’re playing well and we just need the support of the fans around us to give us a little bit back. We’re working hard as a club and it would be great if people could get down to watch us and cheer us on!”

Fans can watch the Gills on Sunday 1st December at Chatham FC. Adults £3, U16 Free


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