With the absence of first team captain Lauren Williams to illness, Manager Simon Ratcliffe handed the captain’s armband to Ellie Manning for the trip to Lewes this weekend.
Manning, a new recruit to Gills this season led the team as they went to battle with Lewes Ladies at The Dripping Pan on Sunday afternoon. A determined performance saw the Gills return to Kent with three valuable points, and the stand in skipper was delighted.
“We couldn’t of been happier at the end of the game with the win, it had been a long time coming and I think that’s why it meant so much to us. We all feel like we fully deserved the win too, so it wasn’t an even better feeling knowing we had given it out all to get those massive three points.”
An Emma Tune strike was enough to seal the game for Gills and Manning explained the importance of getting the first goal was for building the team’s confidence.
“I think we started really bright. We didn’t concede in the first ten or so minutes which we have done in previous games, which is what was asked of us. We battled really hard from the minute the ref started the game, right until the very last second.”
“Getting the first goal was a massive positive for us and it kept our momentum going throughout the game. We knew they would come out strong in the second half, and to say that everybody put their bodies on the line would be an understatement with Sophie Brown taking balls to the face, to Courtney then making some crucial saves. The last 15 minutes, you could see we really did not want to concede and we did everything to stop that.”
Resilience will be required for the Gills as they face teams in and around them in the FA WPL. Leading the team for that victory meant a lot to Manning who used Williams’ example.
“It was a great feeling to be given the captain’s armband due to Loz being ill. However, it was very nerve racking for me at the same time. Loz has been a great captain for all of the season so far, so her efforts were always going to be hard to live up to!”
“I feel like having the arm band gave me the incentive to want to have a really good game and show that to the rest of the team. There was 11+ captains out at the pitch on Sunday, and that’s what got us the win. I felt really proud after the game!”
Manning praised team-mate Tune as her wonder-strike sealed three points. “Well, I know she kept us waiting a little while…. but she pulled a worldy out of her pocket for this game! It really was worth the wait. I wasn’t standing too far behind her and I knew she had the ability to score from that range, so I shouted in her earholes ‘have a dig!!!’ and that she did. I couldn’t of been happier for her when celebrating!”
The girls have taken confidence from a recent run of performances and Manning revealed the atmosphere within the dressing room after the game was brilliant.
“We were all just so happy, laughing and joking but also feeling like our bodies had been put through a lot!! Simon said one of the best things about getting the win was to see us how we were after the game, which was really nice to hear from him.”
Manning added, “Lewes are a very strong team and I think they expected to have an easy game ahead of them when we went to the Dripping Pan. Having beaten them, I think we have the potential get many more wins from the games that are ahead. It’s onwards and upwards from here! Things seem to be coming together.”
“The next few games are really important for us. We need to not lose, and pick up points from all of them. This weekend was massive win considering Copeswood who are just below us in the table had also won against Plymouth. I have faith in us!”
The result topped off a great weekend for the club as a whole with the men’s team winning 2-0 at Priestfield and the Girls Centre of Excellence enjoying some brilliant performances and results. Manning and some of her team-mates watched the men’s team as they too battled for three points and she credits their example to inspiring such a performance from the team.
“A few of us actually attended the men’s game on Saturday and watched them battle hard to the end to get the win. It just reiterated how much of a hard working club we are by doing the same on the Sunday. I’m really pleased for the CoE as well. They seem to be a great bunch of girls with a lot of bright futures. It’s been a great weekend for the Gills. ROAR US ON!”
Ellie Manning is sponsored by Britelite.