Alex - The pressure's off & we're playing better
Report by David Brenchley
Page last updated at 8:09PM GMT, Friday, 03 March 2017
The Charlton women’s team hope to spring a few surprises throughout the course of the rest of the season, as they gear up for a big March.
Charlton are currently preparing to host Blackburn Rovers in the FA Women’s Premier League (FAWPL) Cup semi final at Sporting Club Thamesmead this Sunday 5 March (2pm kick off).
A victory against the current runaway FAWPL Northern Division leaders would register their place in a third cup final of the season, having already reached the same stage of the Ryman Cup and Capital Cup, where they will face unbeaten Tottenham Hotspur both times.
They also face Spurs in the FAWPL South in Thamesmead next Sunday (12 March), in what will be a crunch tie for both sides, with Spurs sitting just one point behind the Addicks but having three games in hand.
And goalkeeper Alex Baker says the pressure is off her ever-improving side, who have lost just once – against FA Women’s Super League side Sheffield - in eight attempts so far in 2017.
“No one expects us to go and win the league now,” she said. “No one expects us to go out and beat Tottenham in all these cup finals because they’ve not lost a game; but I think they’re going to be in for a shock. We know on our day we can beat anyone – we’re not scared of anyone.
“We’ve really taken a big step forward in 2017. I think the turning point for us was [the 2-0 Women’s FA Cup loss to] Sheffield – we deserved more from that game and we knew if we could then start performing like that we could beat anyone and that’s been proven so far.
“Every game we seem to be getting a lot better – you look the time before when we played Cardiff we lost 4-1 [just before Christmas] and now we’re winning 2-0 at their ground [two months later], which is difficult because they’re one of the best teams in this league.
“If we just keep taking every step as it comes, don’t get ahead of ourselves I’m sure we can do something this season. I still believe that and that’s the atmosphere around the club at the moment. The pressure is slightly off us and we’re playing better because of it.”
Baker, who is yet to concede a goal in four the FAWPL South matches in 2017, says Blackburn are the form side and therefore will be favourites this weekend, which will take additional pressure off her side.
Rovers have dropped just two points in the league all season and have a six point cushion over second-placed Middlesbrough with three games in hand. In fact, the only game they have lost all season has been to Spurs in the FA Cup.
Baker expects a “tough, physical” test, but says she is confident her side can compete, as they try to regain a trophy they won back in 2014/15.
She added: “Blackburn we know are going to be tough, physical – that’s what the Northern [Division] sides are like – but I’m confident that we can go out and put a performance in and get a result.
“The girls are really looking forward to it; it’s another chance to get into a cup final and try to [replicate] when they won three trophies [two seasons ago].
“I wasn’t involved [with the first team] that much but last year it was a loss to not get to the final being holders the season before and this is the perfect opportunity – these are the games that we all come here to play for.
“We have played big games this season, not necessarily the teams but pressured occasions like Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. We’ve had good runs in the cups and we’ve had difficult games and Sheffield we deserved a bit more.”