With a considerably smaller squad at the club’s disposal this season, the loss of midfielder Charlotte Long due to suspension hit Gillingham Ladies hard with a series of fixtures in short succession.
Poised to make her return on Sunday against Queens Park Rangers, the Gills Ladies midfielder revealed how she and her team-mates were disappointed the fixture was cancelled as they looked to bounce back from a very difficult seven days.
“It’s been very tough” admitted Long, “Firstly, with Jade’s injury, she is a key player for the club. The injury that jade sustained against Plymouth was a freak accident that I’ll probably never see again in my career playing football. I think that because there was such a big break in play, with our girls obviously being the most effected by the situation, that on our day and under different circumstances we could have got a result.”
“But it’s nice to see that all the girls and management staff can pull together to help support her, which just shows how much of a close club we are.”
“Regarding the Brighton game, I think that the players that played showed great determination and worked hard against a strong Brighton side. Considering we had a lot of young players that had to step up I thought that we done okay. And having Sunday’s game cancelled is frustrating not being able to play on a Sunday and give us a chance to come back stronger from a defeat.”
Long was able to use the missed opportunity of a cancelled game to get a run out for the Reserves who beat Bedford 2-0. “I got 90 mins for the reserves so in that sense I still got to play but I think just missing out playing for the first team for another week just makes the fire in my belly bigger and makes me more eager to get going again.”
“Playing Coventry in my first game back should be a test, considering that they were the last game I played last season where we got beat.”
Despite her frustrations on the sideline, Long said: “It’s been good to watch how we play, and where we could improve because you can’t always see them sort of things when your playing. I’d like to add that it’s been frustrating at times and it’s been a big eye opener and an experience I’d not like to be repeating any time soon.”
Suffering two defeats in a row, Long believes she and her team-mates will produce a performance to get back on track. “I think whenever you suffer defeat it always makes you want to win more, just to prove to everyone that we can win and the girls definitely fee; ready for the tough challenge and battle we will face against a strong Coventry side on Sunday.”
Long went onto add the important role fans have played in supporting the girls for the big home games at MEMS Priesfield Stadium. “It’s quite surreal knowing that we are getting that many people to watch our games, it gives the girls such a buzz walking out in front of a large crowd, and gives us that extra lift and desire to win.”
“Having that many people turn up each week also shows us that people do want us to do well and do believe in us when others have deserted us and left us to fend for ourselves. And all I can say to the fans is please keep coming your support, it really does spur us girls on!”
Long continued: “I think that becoming a part of the men’s club was one of the best things that we could have done. We now have the best facilities to train on, and the best pitch in the league to play on. We have the best coaching staff that anyone could ask for, and the best fans. What more could a girl want”
“The support from the club has been amazing considering that at the beginning of pre-season we didn’t have enough first team players to make a five a-side team and we had no manager, coach or anything. The club have really helped a great deal in supporting us and supplying what we needed to be a football club.”
You can watch Gillingham Ladies play Coventry at Chatham Town FC this Sunday. Kick off 2pm. Adults £3, U16s free.
Gillingham Ladies are also offering free entry to the game for students upon entry as part of the Women’s Football Week.