Nikita Whinnet: “The win was for Amy Taylor”

"I love it at Gills. I have never come to a club and felt so welcome in all my life."

“I love it at Gills. I have never come to a club and felt so welcome in all my life.”

The magic of the FA Cup was there for all spectators at the Gills Ladies trip to QPR this Sunday. At the heart of the Gills fight back, Nikita Whinnet. The Gills winger caused the home side all sorts of problems and helped her team mates open up several opportunities to force the game into extra time and eventually seal a place in the FA Cup Third Round.

“It was hard out there” said Nikita, “the ground was tough, the QPR girls made it difficult. I think if we hadn’t of dug deep we would have got beat but we got there and got the result.”

The Gills hadn’t played a match since the Kent Cup fixture in early December, and despite a positive start, struggled to get their foot in the game in the first 45: “We started quick but seemed to step off the gas when QPR came at us and we didn’t quite know what to do. We  went for it in the end and came out on top thankfully.”

Nikita revealed there was no panicking at half time as  the Gills fought to give a true account of themselves in the tie: “The manager told us to carry on, crack on and go for it. We had nothing to lose, it’s the FA Cup so you’ve got to give it your all. If you don’t go for it you don’t get your rewards.”

“The fight in us and the way we pass the ball and our movement off the ball eventually helped us. Our passing game and fitness out runs everybody. You can see the difference in the final stages of games and that helps you get the edge over your opponents.”

And what a moment it was when Danielle Carlton’s spectacular free kick and Emma Tune’s last-gasp goal hit the back of the net: “It’s epic” Nikita revealed, “the adrenaline rush you get inside your belly is amazing – I love it.”

And it was a great performance from the Gills winger too: “I never rate myself but I don’t think I did too bad today. We had the Kent FA game on Wednesday too and I got to play 90 minutes there too and I think I’ve done alright.”

“I can always do better – I could have tracked back a bit more to help my teammates out but everyone can always do a bit better.  Second half we really went for it down my side. In the first half I felt I struggled to get in the game.”

The Gills winger was also at the centre of two strong penalty calls in the game: “To me it’s a penalty but I’m a known striker so of course I will shout for it. The second penalty call was a definite, she’s come in on the side and put her foot up and got nowhere near. You can’t put your foot up and not touch the ball, so I thought it would be called but it’s the ref’s call at the end of the day.”

Regardless, it’s been a positive start to the New Year, and Nikita was full of praise for her club: “It’s brilliant,there’s no cliques in our team so it doesn’t matter who you’re talking to, there’s that buzzing attitude and everyone is happy. Even when we make mistakes, everyone’s behind one another which is great.”

“It starts from the manager and then goes to the player and spreads throughout to the youngsters. ”

It comes as no surprise therefore that the girl’s performance was dedicated to Gills defender Amy Taylor, who was sat in the stands living every ball with her team-mates, following a nasty injury in the mid-week game for the Kent FA.

Nikita revealed: “Before the game we all said we’d do this for Aims, as I came out the tunnel she told me I had to score today so no pressure Aims! But it’s what it’s about, having your players behind you, even if they can’t play they want to be on that pitch with you and are still supporting you.”

Overall, Nikita and her team-mates are focused on performing well and carrying on the great work this season: “We just want to win. We battle and win and that’s all that matters. The manager wants to see us compete in each game and as long as we do that; win, lose or draw, he’s happy.”

“I love it at Gills. I have never come to a club and felt so welcome in all my life. I’ve played for 15 years now so to come here and for the girls to be the way they are – even if they do take the mick out ‘me’ accent”

“It’s been brilliant. It’s been hard getting my fitness levels up because of the demands of training but it’s an unreal set up and it’s so worth it when you’re on the pitch getting the results we’re getting and getting the minutes in too.”

Gills next challenge comes on Tuesday evening as they travel to Hearne Bay in the Ryman League Cup semi-final: “The girls are so buzzing about all the Cup games and all the semi-finals we’ve got coming up.”

“It’s an extra thing to be excited for. Obviously, we all focused on the league but if we can get all these little extras and a bit of money for the club, that’s what it is about.”

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