Manager Jack Wheeler oversaw Gillingham Ladies pick up a fourth consecutive win in the FA Women’s Premier League, beating Luton Town 4-2 on Sunday afternoon, but was less than satisfied with the manner his side gained victory.
“It was a sub-standard performance from the girls who know themselves they can perform a lot better than they did. We started off brightly, controlled the tempo of the game and enjoyed a good first half.”
“We then conceded a sloppy goal to give Luton a way back into the game and when the equaliser went in, we did not really have anyone else to blame but ourselves.”
Gills Ladies secured victory after a nervy period but Wheeler was pleased to see maturity from his young side.
“Although we let the game run away from us a bit, I was pleased with the maturity and leadership from certain sections which ensured we didn’t bury our heads once the equaliser went in. The girls were patient, got their goals and importantly ensured we did not concede again.”
Wheeler added, “I can’t say I’m happy with today but I’m happy that despite not playing our best we were still able to get three important points against one of the teams who will be in and around the top of our league.”
“The girls have made good progress over the last few months, we’re a relatively new group but the amount they’ve taken on board, the way they’re working hard for each other and on occasions like today when you need to grind out the result, they stuck together. If we can build upon that and add the performance level like we did for the opening 20 minutes of the Luton game, then I’ll be happy.”
Goals from the in-form pair of Shannon Redhouse and Kallie Balfour were joined by a fantastic strike by Girls Academy player Maddison North who earned praise from her manager.
“We’ve got good strength and depth in our squad, plus competition for places which is always an encouraging sign. The fact I can call on players from my bench to make an impact like Maddie did is fantastic. Her goal was of great quality and sealed the game. All our young players are showing their qualities and with several cup games coming up, they’ll be plenty of things for me to think about selection wise.”
It’s another away trip for Gillingham Ladies this Sunday as they travel to Southampton Saints in the FA WPL Plate. With just two home games at Chatham Town so far this season, Wheeler admitted the team are some what homesick but positives can be taken.
“We’ve had two strong performances at Chatham Town, I make no secret of the fact we want to make that place a fortress for us and an enjoyable place for supporters. That said, the trips away are important as we’re all still getting to know each other as a squad. That time together is crucial and we will all be travelling to Southampton together so it’s another chance to focus, get the girls prepared and motivated to put on a good account of ourselves.”
It will be a busy weekend for the Gillingham Ladies squad who have a packed Saturday schedule too. Wheeler said:
“A number of the players will be visiting our Centre of Excellence on Saturday morning. The CoE players, coaches and families have shown us a lot of support already this season. Considering we’ve only had two games at home, we’ve felt the support. We’re looking forward to going to support the teams and encourage them to enjoy themselves and play with a smile!”
“The squad will then be heading out to Priestfield Stadium for the men’s game, as they’ve been invited to support the Chairman who is dedicating the game to White Ribbon, a charity he is an ambassador for. We’re of course delighted to support him, the club and the charity itself. It’s also an opportunity for the girls to interact with fans and tell them all about our season so far. Hopefully one or two may then be persuaded to watch us against AFC Wimbledon in a few weeks.”
Wheeler added; “I think this weekend will prove to be an important one for us. The Saturday and Sunday combined gives us a real chance to spend time together as a club and the girls are already focused on putting on a performance against what will be a tough Southampton Saints team.”