Gillingham Ladies manager Simon Ratcliffe spoke of his pride in his side’s second half performance as they fell to a 4-2 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday afternoon but stated his team needs to start believing in themselves to get valuable league points.
The Gills were well beaten by their opponents in the first half and Ratcliffe expressed his disappointment to his team’s reaction to the game’s opening goal after a very positive start: “We did start very well, without a shadow of a doubt. I actually think it was the best we started a game so far this season. Unfortunately, the goal was a poor one to concede, although I do have to question whether it was a foul on the goalkeeper as she did seem to be in the back of the net at the same time as the ball.”
Ratcliffe added; “I’m not one to criticise referees but I do think he got it wrong. Our girls, as they have all this season, lost a bit of confidence and we went of the back foot and it took us a long time to get back from that.”
After the break, Gillingham Ladies looked a different side and rewarded the 275 fans who came to support them with a heart felt, entertaining display. But what did the manager say to the girls to propel such a response?
“Just basically they needed to shape up and start believing in themselves. When they conceded the goal, heads dropped and they need to start realising in football sometimes things go against you and when they do, that’s the time to roll your sleeves up and work harder. I think one or two of their players did overstep the mark in terms of their tackles and when that happened, maybe that was the catalyst for our increased effort but I would expect us to do that from the start, not to wait for it to happen.”
Ratcliffe made changes to his starting eleven including placing Lauren Phillips up front with Ashlee Hincks who netted a brace to add to her season tally. The Gills boss was pleased with their efforts: “I thought they did ok, I’d like them to be a bit closer together and have a little bit more interplay but we do have to retain possession. We’ve given the ball away too cheaply and that doesn’t help them when they’re making their runs and trying to get on the ball.”
There was also praise for Gillingham’s Centre of Excellence graduate and Academy player Georgia Reece who made her senior debut for the club coming on as a second half substitue following a strong performance in the Ryman League Cup on Wednesday. “She did very well and deserves a chance.” Simon said.
Despite the loss, there was a key learning point for Ratcliffe and his team to take away, thanks to the support they received at Priestfield Stadium. “The learning point for me and the girls is that we have a crowd who turn up, who have turned up for three or four games now and they expect us to put in a performance.”
“The performance we put in in the second half is what I expect from the start. We get the crowd going and then the crowd get us going. It’s no different in the women’s game to the men’s game – is it the crowd’s job to get the players going or is it the players’ job to get the crowd going?”
“To be fair to the girls for 10 to 12 minutes we started very strongly and it was only up to the point we conceded when we dropped. That’s what we’ve got to work on, not to let our heads drop.”
Looking ahead to next Sunday’s crucial game at home to Lewes Ladies, the Gills manager has one key objective: “We need to start how we finished today’s game – that’s all I’m going to say.”
Come and support the girls as they face Lewes Ladies in a six pointer at Priestfield Stadium next Sunday. Kick off is at 2pm. Adults £3, U16s FREE.