As one of the few faces to elect to stay at Gillingham Ladies over the summer, Lauren Williams was given the duty by new manager Simon Ratcliffe to lead the side out as Captain against Tottenham Hotspur Ladies on Sunday.
A dedicated player at Gills Ladies for several seasons, Williams expressed her delight at being given the honour as Gills Ladies look to re-build after the loss of first team players to league rivals Brighton and Hove Albion.
“It’s a bit of a shock to the system” Williams confessed, “I didn’t expect it to be me and it may well change from game to game but if I do continue to have the opportunity to lead the team out I will try to lead by example and help the girls out as much as possible.”
The Gills captain gave an honest assessment of the team’s first FA Women’s Premier League performance: “The result didn’t really reflect the game and there were several positives to take. We played some good football at times and tried to play football in and around the right areas.”
“It was three mistakes that led to their goals but we have got positives to take forward and it’s important now to make sure we respond and we get together again on Tuesday, put a good week’s training in and then start again next Sunday in the Cup.”
Gills manager Simon Ratcliffe felt had his side taken the league against Spurs the momentum of the game could have swayed. After an impressive opening 35 minutes to the game, Williams revealed: “We went into the changing rooms at half time and were disappointed not to have scored and we gutted not to be going in with a lead or even a draw to reflect our performance.”
“Taking your chances is the part that wins and loses you games and if we don’t we will suffer. We were still pleased with our first half performance and we were ready and raring to go second half to be back in the game but unfortunately those mistakes happened early on and a 3-0 deficit is hard to get back from.”
With a limited pre-season and the loss of the bulk of first team players from last year, Williams admitted it’s going to take hard work and commitment from the girls to repair and re-grow: “I don’t think anyone can really explain what has happened at the club this summer, it’s been a huge difference for the players who are already here but also for the players who’ve come in, they’ve arrived to a group of players who are quite deflated and disappointed.”
“Fair play to the girls who’ve moved on but it has been huge and we’ve got to get used to it. This season is going to be one of transition. We’re not expecting to go out and win the league and win loads of trophies but we are expecting good performances and start gelling as a team.”
“We have players still to come in and of course we’re always looking for new players and people with experience. It’s something we need to keep working hard on and sticking together as a team.”
And with the uncertainty of a new manager coming in, Williams praised the philosophy Ratcliffe has immediately introduced: “With most of the players going in the summer it was a little bit touch and go with what we were going to do, how we were going to set up are we going to have. Simon’s come in and set his own style on what he wants to do and the girls are pretty keen on playing the way he wants us too which is really good.”
“We want to get the ball down, we want to play and pop the ball around in the right areas which is important. As long as people keep working hard and help him out as much as he is helping us then I think we’re going to have a good season.”
Despite a the loss at Spurs however Williams told us the message was an uplifting one from the manager at full time. “Simon told us it was all about getting together now, staying tight knit as a team and showing the commitment to come to training and seek to correct our mistakes. There are areas we need to work on and we’ve got to work together as a squad and do a lot with him to hone in on our mistakes and make sure they don’t happen again and put things in place ready for next Sunday.”
“We stood there at the end of the game and noted how that was some player’s first 90 minutes of football which is crazy when you think about it. We’ve not had the minutes under our belt but that’s something we have to deal with and can’t change. The season is upon us now so we need to make the most of our training and preparations to ensure we put out performances each week.”
Williams concluded, “There’s not long until the Brighton and Keynsham double header but I think the Cup game against Ebbsfleet will be good for us, it’s another 90 minutes for us to get under our belts, an opportunity to express ourselves and practice things from training.”