Gillingham Ladies are set to get 2015 underway as they welcome fellow FA Women’s Premier League side Portsmouth Ladies to Chatham Town FC on Sunday afternoon.
The FA Cup tie will be the first game for Gills since 14th December. We caught up with Gills defender Ellie Manning to see how the girls are feeling at the prospect of getting back on the pitch, training during the festive period and the challenge Pompey will present at the weekend.
The Christmas break came at a good time for Gills who are still in the process of re-building a team following the exit of over 11 players to rivals Brighton and Hove Albion in the summer. Ellie revealed how the squad are hoping to use the start of 2015 to add fresh impetuous into their season of transition.
“It has been a while since we’ve played. I think we needed the Christmas break just after the Cardiff game. So now we can start the New Year with a clean slate. I think these are the same thoughts for all of the girls and we know we know there’s a fair amount of games we need to pick up some points from. We are excited.”
And whilst many Gills fans were enjoying the Christmas festivities, Ellie revealed the Gills players were grafting hard on the training pitch and have made changes to their regime in a bid to get 2015 off to a winning start.
“We got together a few times over the Christmas break, but it’s always hard with people being tied up with family celebrations and work etc. We have now just started training three times a week, which could be promising.”
“Training three times a week gives us more time to work on the things we need to work on. A few of the girls have been mentioning that they’ve been going out for runs or hitting the gym in their own time, which is also good.”
Focusing on this Sunday’s FA Cup tie, it’s a special competition which The Gills have excelled in over recent seasons. Ellie is hoping this will continue and she’ll be able to create some magical moments with her team-mates.
“I’ve played in the FA cup before for my previous team which was Millwall. We travelled all the way to Preston North end and played in horrendous weather and travelled home disappointed. I have a good feeling about Sunday and I am very excited to play Portsmouth. I’m hoping we do well in the competition.”
Whilst Ellie is optimistic about the Gills chances as they welcome Pompey to Chatham Town, she’s fully aware of the threat the visitors will pose.
“Portsmouth are a hard team to face in the first game of the competition, if we can beat them, we can do well.”
“I expect them to be good. I’ve heard many things about players that they have in their squad. They are up there with the likes of Cardiff and the top teams in our league, so it will be tough, but if we prepare well and want to win, anything can be achieved on the day.”
Ellie was one of the new faces to join Gillingham FC over the summer. After a frustrating wait for international clearance, the Gills left back has flourished with game time under manager Simon Ratcliffe. A firm favourite with the fans, Ellie thanked the Gills supporters for getting behind the team during a tough opening few months.
“It will be very important to keep the fans with us. We are hoping we get just as many fans behind us if not more than what we did in the first half of the season. Once we show them what we can do this half, I’m sure we will get plenty more who fancy coming to watch.”
“I’d like to say thank you to all those who have watched week in week out so far. Also to everyone who supports us on social media; we’ve got a great following on Facebook and Twitter and sometimes we get to read the messages people send in which is great. It’s always nice to meet fans, like Lauren Williams and I did at the Gills Megastore signing before Christmas. Being part of Gillingham FC, such a family orientated and community club is brilliant and fingers crossed we’ll be able to go out and contribute even more in 2015”
Ellie’s final words were saved to encourage fans to get their Gills fix this weekend, with the men’s side travelling to Crewe on Sunday, at Chatham Town FC. In one of the most special domestic competitions in the women’s game, Gills made history last season and look to do the same again.
Ellie said, “What better day to watch us play, than in the first round of the FA Cup. Get yourselves down to Chatham town for a great game of football that you won’t want to miss!”
We couldn’t agree more, Ellie.
Gillingham Ladies kick off against Portsmouth Ladies at 1pm this Sunday.