Waking up on a Monday after a win is so much easier and puts you in such a better mood to start the week!
Having got to the 4th round of the FA cup, we knew that as much as the result meant getting to the 5th round, we had already done well to get this far having faced tough opponents in the previous rounds against QPR and Nottingham Forest. Playing in the FA cup is always a memorable experience and every team wants to put in a good performance and progress as far as they can. There is a chance to play against some of the biggest teams in the country and prove yourself against them.
Right from the start, the manager said to us there is no pressure on us today, no one has expected us to get to the 5th round and if we do fantastic but if we don’t it really doesnt matter. Our targets were to concentrate on our performance, our quality as individuals and our style of play as a team.
The pitch was rock solid and full of divets which made flowing football at times quite difficult to play but was the same for both sides. Both teams had to adjust to the bobbles and the bounce of the ball and once both teams did the game was end to end.
We seemed to start a bit nervy, not always making the best decisions on the ball, or our quality of our first touch or pass wasnt good enough which did lead to Preston having a few half chances. But our determination and work rate was second to none and our continuous pressure also created some really good chances.
After a decent run down the left side by Fliss Gibbons, a cut back to DC inside the penalty box caused the Preston keeper to make a really good save from a shot that looked like it could have broken the deadlock in the first 2 minutes of the game. The resulting corner was then also saved by quick reactions from their goalkeeper after a whipped first time effort from Fliss.
The chances kept coming from Lisa, Tune and Gurrsy but frustratingly they either missed the target or the Preston goal keeper made some good saves.
The first half was end to end and could have gone to either team but in we went at half time 0-0 and all to play for.
Our half time team talk consisted of James and Jack just reiterating the things we know we should be doing but wasnt getting out in the game as much as we could have and we were asked to raise our intensity and to show how much we wanted that win.
I think in the second half we did just that, not always playing the passing game that we like to, but in spells got out some really good combos and continued to have attempt after attempt at the Preston goal. Preston also had their chances but some really good defending from the back and Faye at times came to our rescue. We certainly raised our intensity to press them at every opportunity and looked to be getting stronger as the game went on.
Finally 75mins in and Jade Keogh steps up with a worldy of a strike from a free kick from not the easiest of angles, bends the ball in at the near post, with only the goalies finger tips pushing it in to the back of the net!! Now it was ours to play for. Did we want it and could we show our character and step up a gear again to see out the game? That’s exactly what we did.
As much as we probably didnt have our best performance, I think you can call it a very mature performance. We showed character in knowing what we had to do, getting behind each other, showing we can battle hard when we need to and that we are 100% behind eachother every step of the way, even when the going was tough no one got on each others case and we kept fighting for the players around us.
When the final whistle went, it was a massive relief and such a great feeling, making history at a great club, what more could you want to do?
The win was not only important for us being a cup match, but was important for us to move forward as a team and reinstall some confidence in ourselves after two on the bounce losses in the league cup and in the league. Last week’s defeat was very hard to take but it shows we can pick ourselves up and play against the best teams and continue to win games.
We really are a good side when we put our minds to it and believe in ourselves, which is what we have done from the start of the season and after a small blip I know we will continue to do so.
With the win under our belts, I am really excited for the draw this afternoon and I know the girls are too.
Moving forwards now and looking how tight the league is, three points seperate the top five teams shows that it is anyone’s title to take and with all the top teams still having to play each other, it makes for a very exciting end of the season. We are ready to put everything we got in staking a claim but the most important thing for us to concentrate on our performances and continue to show improvement.
History is being made all the time for us and this is reflection of everyone’s hard work, including the management and the players and from behind the scenes. The points we have already achieved in the league, sitting top for so long, reaching the FA cup 5th round, the number of clean sheets kept, the number of goals scored etc it all adds up and to add two cup finals already to that list, we have already achieved so much and I believe we will continue to achieve as hard work brings rewards.
I would just like to thank all the supporters who came to our game and really hope you enjoyed the experience and plan to come again. We really appreciate all your support and really does help bring us through. Also a big thank you to all of our mascots, the U11s from Gillingham Centre of Excellence for mascotting and being ball girls, and to our three Pro Kickers players. I hope that you all had a really good day and that we will see you soon.
Come on the Giillllllssssss 🙂