Ratcliffe reflects on season opener

Gillingham Ladies manager Simon Ratcliffe felt their were plenty of positives to take from his team’s first outing of the new FA Women’s Premier League season on Sunday afternoon.

The visitors came away from Tottenham Hotspur empty handed as their opponents demonstrated clinical finishing and strengh to beat Gills Ladies 3-0.

Gills new boss Ratcliffe gave an honest assessment of his side’s performance over the 90 minutes: “Overall, I’m disappointed to have lost. For the first 30/35 minutes I thought we competed well, we had plenty of chances and could have scored and for me we were the best team.”

“But we gave away a poor goal from our goal kick and went in 1-0 down at half time. We started the second half poorly and had a mad six or seven minutes after half time where we conceded two goals – both of which were poor and it’s something we’re going to work on.”

Despite the result however, Ratcliffe was pleased to see a decent foundation to build on after a strong opening to the match.

“The thing I stressed to the players is that when you’re playing well you have to score which is what we didn’t do and as the game went on, the more they got on top of it and were far more physically stronger and that was the telling factor.”

Ratcliffe conceded that had his side managed to make the most of their chances and drawn ahead, it would have given his players a huge lift after a less than ideal pre-season and could have altered the tempo of the game. “Certainly with most games the team that takes the lead goes on to end up winning but some of our girls are beginning to realise that what we are making in essence is a fresh start. For some of the girls who were here last year that may be hard to understand and to take but we’ve got to build again and we will do.”

And with the club honest about its pre-season limitations due to cancellations and the appointment of a new manager to lead them forward, the season’s opener provided Ratcliffe with one of only a handful of opportunities to really take account of where the team is at.

Ratcliffe admitted: “For some players that was their first full 90 minutes in pre-season which isn’t good enough and that’s something we’re aware of. When teams cancel their fixtures against you it sometimes makes it difficult, players with injuries and having international clearance does make it hard”

Despite difficulties however, what had the Gills manager learnt about his side from the game? “The amount of football we played in the first 35 minutes showed me something we can build on and showed me that if we can stop giving the ball away in silly areas we can be a force to be reckoned with.”

“It’s a re-building exercise and yes we have to get certain players in in certain areas and strengthen up but there’s a lot of players here who can do a sterling job for me and I see no reason why we shouldn’t push ahead from here.”

The Gills have a week off from the Women’s Premier League with a Cup fixture scheduled for next Sunday, giving Ratcliffe and his team further time to work together ahead of a highly anticpated trip to Brighton and Hove Albion.

“I look forward to every game.” Ractliffe said and certainly they’ll be plenty of interest when Gills Ladies visit their former team-mates and manager in just over a weeks time.

Could you be part of Gills re-builing process? Gillingham Ladies are currently looking to add to their playing squad. If you’d like to know more email sratcliffe@priestfield.com

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