Sophie Ledger was the Gillingham Ladies Reserves hero on Sunday afternoon as her penalty save helped the team grab a draw away at Chichester.
The Gills goalkeeper revealed her delight after the game, especially as the team were short of options against a strong FA WPL outfit.
“We only had 11 players, two of which were goalkeepers which meant we had no subs. We had a few players out due to injury and illness at the moment that will hopefully be back in the squad soon.”
“That meant overall I think we worked really well as a team; we all helped each other out and worked for each other. It was a very difficult game, I think it was definitely a game that we had to grind out, the pitch was a bit bobbly and very hard on our legs and it was a very tiring game.”
“We had a few chances to take the lead, which maybe we could have done better with and few defensive slip ups but we learnt from them and prevented them from reoccurring. Unfortunately it wasn’t the result we wanted but a draw was still good and meant we came away with a point.”
Ledger explained that despite being short on numbers, the team felt it was two points dropped.
“All the girls were disappointed that we did not come away with three points. We knew that we all worked hard for each other and although it didn’t turn out they way we wanted, we were pleased that we managed to come away with a draw and a point under our belts.”
“We know that when we come to play Chichester again at home with more than 11 players that it will hopefully be a different story and we can work well as a team again to try and get three points.”
With an average age of 17, it’s been a fantastic season for Gillingham Ladies youngsters to develop and Ledger reiterated what many of her team-mates have said this season about the step up to senior football.
“It’s always a good experience for us playing against different teams in this league. I think that we have all learnt a lot this season already, most of us have come up from Centre of Excellence football to senior football this season, so it’s a completely different type of game from u17’s football; it’s quicker and a lot more physical.”
Ledger added, “So I think being a very young squad we have had to learn and adapt to senior football. Its all about experience, the more teams we play they more we will learn and develop individually as players and together as a team.”
Reflecting on her own game, Ledger was pleased to secure a clean sheet; “As a goalkeeper it’s always nice to keep a clean sheet especially in hard and intense games like Sundays. A clean sheet tells a goalkeeper that you have done your job; you have kept the opposition from scoring and you have helped your team.”
“I had a strong defensive line in front of me and together we worked well. Every Gills player communicated and listened to each other, which is key to playing as a unit. So yeah, it was very nice to be able to keep a clean sheet, a real confidence booster for the team and myself.”
Ledger talked us through her heroics and the importance of her penalty save.
“About 60 minutes into the game the ball struck the hand of a Gills player, whether or not it was a penalty I am not sure – it was controversial decision made by the ref. We were still struggling to produce a goal even though there were some good efforts from our attacking line up. So I just thought to myself I’ve got to go for it. It’s hard being a goalkeeper in a penalty situation, it’s pure luck and judgment as to which way the ball will go. I just stood on the line and reacted to the strike at the top right of the goal and managed to tip the ball over the bar. It’s always a great feeling saving a penalty, with it being 50/50 chance it’s great when a keeper can pull of a good save that prevents a goal.”
“I’m really pleased for everyone involved this weekend, firstly for the Reserves for really working well together and as a team even with only 11 players and battling to the end to come away with a point. Also the first team for getting a win over Lewes and cheeky shout out to Tuney for the goal. I heard it was a really good game and everyone played really well. The Men also getting a 2-0 win over Sheffield. Both Gillingham Ladies teams had a really good weekend and hopefully we can all carry on over the rest of the season and we can get more points and wins under our belts.”