Footballers from across the country, and across the international game have endured the test of marking England superstar Rachel Yankey for two decades. On Sunday it was the turn of Gills Ladies youngster Lauren Davis to keep one of the women’s game’s most recognizable faces, quiet all afternoon.
At 17 years old and enjoying her first full season of senior football having graduated from the Gillingham Centre of Excellence, Lauren proved to be a difficult obstacle for Yankey to over come as the Gills played the Gunners at Boreham Wood on Sunday. We spoke to the young Gills star after the game.
When asked how the past 90 minutes felt, it was clear the experience was one Lauren thrived upon.
“Words can’t really describe what just happened, I’m actually a bit speechless. It’s quite emotional in the fact that I’ve just played against RachelYankey, have tackled Rachel Yankey, won the ball off Rachel Yankey, who can dream of doing that? And winning the ball of her, you want to well up and cry – I’ve done it!”
And having played a similar role as Yankey in the Gills team this season, Lauren performed effectively in a more defensive role.
“I was a winger, and today when we needed to be more defensive Crouch has put me at the back so I can be their to defend but when we’re breaking forward I can support as my recovery run will be quite quick, so I can get in, get back, get settled and go again. But when I was at the Centre Of Excellence I was playing in centre midfield and that’s a different role again, it’s been a bit chop and change!”
Lauren and her team mates put on a fantastic show case of how far the club has developed in a short amount of time under the guidance of Gillingham Ladies management team.
“Crouch and Jack wanted us to show a bit of heart, desire and commit to everything and the girls did that today. We worked really hard for one another. Every single bit we had we gave and we worked hard for everyone on and off the pitch. It really showed today as they weren’t going to come through us, it was a penalty and a goal from 35 yards out that broke us down.”
The magical cup run comes to an end but the way the Gills bowed out of the competition has put women’s football in Kent on the map. The Gills now focus on continuing this by bringing the league title back to the county with important remaining fixtures. Lauren believes the cup occasion and lessons learnt will give the girls a major boost in the crucial upcoming weeks.
“It will give us a lot of confidence as the girls can now see what they’re up against in the future, they can say I did this before and I can do this again against the girls in our league. We can push ourselves further after being able to compare ourselves and work hard and show what we can do.”
“We’ve got the league in our sights and that’s what we want to go out and do. We’re at the top of the league now but we want to stay there and prove we’re the best in the league.”
The Gills welcome Cardiff City Ladies to Chatham Town FC this Sunday, a top of the table clash which will have a huge bearing on how the league title race is decided. Lauren encouraged fans to come along and support the girls.
“Come down to the game on Sunday as you’re never going to see two teams battle harder, two top teams who try hard. We’re going to play our football and people should come down as you won’t get an experience like it!”
Gillingham Ladies vs Cardiff City Ladies, Chatham Town FC, ko 2pm – this Sunday