Clarke reflects on the Kent Cup Final
Report by David Brenchley
Page last updated at 9:44AM BST, Wednesday, 16 April 2014
After the Charlton womenís reserve teamís 3-0 Kent Cup final defeat to Gillingham Ladiesí first team, manager Warren Clarke spoke of his, and the clubís, pride at his sideís performance.
ďThe girls should be proud of themselves because I am proud of them and Iím sure the club is proud of them.
Despite the loss, the Addicks’ second string gave a good account of themselves against the leaders of the FA Women’s Premier League (FAWPL) South – the division Charlton’s first team play in.
Speaking after the game last Thursday, he said: “I was massively proud of the girls. The season as a whole has been an over-achievement with regards to the youth that we have in the squad.
“The girls should be proud of themselves because I am proud of them and I’m sure the club is proud of them.
“We all knew, myself and the girls included, that it was going to be tough. We felt as though if we could be organised and resilient we may have a chance or two and it was about making them count.
“We had one in the 31st minute where we hit the target but were unable to convert it – that may have changed the complexion of the game because it would have made it 2-1, as opposed to 2-0.
“Gillingham move the ball quickly, work hard for each other and they’re so comfortable on the ball so they are difficult opposition to beat.”
Gills, who have now lifted the trophy four times, once more than Charlton, took a 2-0 lead within the first 15 minutes of the tie, and it would have been all too easy for Charlton to cave in.
However, it took Gillingham more than 30 more minutes to break a resilient Charlton defence down and get their third, which is how the game ended.
That resilience pleased Clarke, as they made it difficult for a side who went on the following weekend to lose just 2-0 to women’s football heavyweights Arsenal Ladies.
“There were positives to take out of the game: the fact that we didn’t capitulate when we conceded the second goal,” he added.
“It took us five minutes to steady ourselves and it was disappointing to concede in quick succession but after that we steadied the ship and were able to hold out to the half. Then they couldn’t break us until midway through the second half.”
As he pointed out, though, one player played a bigger hand than most in the respectability of the scoreline – goalkeeper Alex Baker, who “was definitely our player of the match”.
The young stopper made a number of eye-catching stops, coming off her line quickly and decisively to save at the feet of clinical finisher Charlotte Gurr and two-goal striker Lisa Fulgence. The most impressive save of the game came in the second period, though, as she pushed away an Emma Tune long-range effort.
“She kept us in it,” Clarke explained, “and made some vital saves in the first and second halves.
“At the stage in the first half, they kept it from being a cricket score in a sense. With regards to the second half saves she pulled out, they kept the hope alive.”
Overall, it was a beneficial experience for a side whose average age was 20.8 and provided an insight into the attributes needed to make it as a first-team footballer.
With the reserves narrowly missing out on retaining the FAWPL South reserve title they won last year, Clarke believes the squad should be knocking on first team manager Stuart Weston’s door in the not too distance future.
“They should be aspiring to play first team football, so coming up against first-team opposition is a challenge they should be relishing really and they can use it as a litmus test to see where they are at.
“Exposure at a higher level should encourage them to focus on elements that need to be improved within their game, and just help them understand the task at hand to reach that level and beyond.”