Gillingham Ladies Reserve Team Manager Jason Wright saw plenty of positives to build on as his side reacted to a disappointing defeat last weekend to beat Bedford 4-1 on Sunday afternoon.
Gillingham Ladies Reserves took the lead against Brighton last weekend and whilst with a firm foothold on the game, after 60 minutes the team were reduced to nine players due to injury. Wright commended his side’s work-rate but admitted the team had re-grouped and assessed their performance to ensure improvement for their Cup tie.
“We’ve worked a little bit on our stamina and fitness because last week the girls burnt themselves out too early and going down to to nine players wasn’t the best for us, so we didn’t do so well in the end. Last week we could have pulled it off if it hadn’t been for that. We suffered with the heat last week but today we managed ourselves better and we lasted the full 90.”
Wright couldn’t have been more delighted with the way his side committed themselves and took plenty of positives away from the match against Bedford: “Today’s game was extremely encouraging especially for the “Centre Girls” as I call them, because they’ve got a great opportunity this year coming up to ladies football.”
Wright revealed: “They probably wouldn’t have got the opportunity in previous seasons but because things have changed at the club we’ve been able to call them up to play and it’s a wonderful opportunity for them to make the places their own.”
Wright explained how impressed he has been with his team’s attitude and aptitude to step up to the challenges of women’s football and learn lessons each week: “Today, like last week they gave 100%. All of the girls did well especially the 17s. It’s a lot harder, there were a few negatives last week, a few positives but certainly this week I think we ironed out a lot of things.”
“It’s something I spoke to them about before the game. It was a journey for Bedford getting here, it’s always difficult when you’re coming away so it’s something I spoke to them about beforehand to get at them. I discussed it with the side at training, we want to be an attacking team, we want to take the game to sides. We’ve got some fast, wide players and right from the off we had to manage ourselves but it was our aim to get at them, get a couple of goals and see if we could play out the game.”
Gills certainly stuck to the game plan and were able to demonstrate great technical ability throughout as well as be gritty in the physical battle too. “They’re very young” admitted Writght – “I had three 16s out there and the rest are all 17/18 and it’s a big step up for them to play in ladies football but they’re strong.”
“We had a strong season in the Under 17s and we played the likes of Arsenal etc and those players go on to the Women’s Super League, so our players have had it tough before. I’ve no doubts about putting them in the team.”
Besides the Centre of Excellence players Wright has coached before, the game against Bedford also saw some new faces and players from the first team slot into the side. The Gills coach was bold in his formation changes throughout the match and was pleased to use the opportunity to learn more about the squad at his disposal.
“I bought in a couple of players from the first team who needed minutes. Being new into the side myself, I have a lot of knowledge about the 17s in the squad but not a lot of knowledge about the older players. So it was a bit of trial and error with those about where I was putting them and whether they’d respond to how I’d like us to play.”
“I had to change it a little bit on occasions to benefit our side and it worked out. All in all, think I figured out a lot about other players in the side which going forward will help the team.”
A positive afternoon overall for the new Reserve Team Manager who looks optimistically to the season ahead as the club undergo a transitional season.
“We’ve got a good squad, we’re a bit light on players but gradually we’ve got people coming in. I’ve got a player whose played with me before. She’s doing a bit of recovery work at the moment but she should be in by the next game. ”
“It’s very encouraging – we’ve got a good, young side – mostly centre players which is every side’s dream and going forward I think we’ll do very well. Even this year, I think we’ll do well, especially with the mentality and attitudes today and last week.”