Report by David Brenchley
Page last updated at 12:37AM UTC, Wednesday, 03 October 2012
After a disappointing start to the season, the last two weeks have been encouraging for the Charlton women’s team, with their new G-strikeforce ready to terrorise defences.
Gemmas Bryan and Shepherd started what could be a fruitful partnership last weekend in the Addicks’ reserve side that thrashed Arsenal 6-0, with Bryan netting a hat-trick and Shepherd grabbing two goals.
And that continued this weekend when Charlton eased their way past Portsmouth 7-2 at Bayliss Avenue thanks to Bryan’s second successive treble and another from Shepherd.
Shepherd has been in sensational form since her summer move from West Ham and currently has seven goals in six games, with five of those coming in five league matches.
That form culminated in her being named PHSC plc Player of the Month for August/September, with Bryan claiming Player of the Match against Pompey.
Shepherd said: “I think I have settled in well and all the girls and the management have made me feel unbelievably welcome.
“It’s nice to be somewhere where you feel wanted and part of something and I think that has helped me to play with a bit of freedom.
“I think it’s the first time in a long time have been able to play in the role I enjoy the most, the number ten – although I don’t get the number because someone is selfish on that front!
“It’s somewhere I am comfortable playing and I can do my best work there. [Goals] are secondary to what I try to do, as long as I’m setting goals up that is my main role but it’s nice to get a few and long may that continue.”
That number 10, Bryan, is currently returning from an injury that kept her out of the Addicks’ first three games of the season – but she has come back with a bang.
After winning a penalty against Aston Villa that led to what was a consolation goal, Bryan then went on to bag the aforementioned hat-tricks and will be hoping to continue that form on Sunday in Cardiff.
She said: “One goal [against Portsmouth] would have been good but to get three is nice but the most important thing is the three points. Every player put in a shift and it’s good to get that first win.
“I’ve always had confidence that this squad can score goals and we have created so many chances but been unlucky in the other games.
“We scored seven goals today, and however many more in the league, and whoever we are playing I am always confident we will score goals.
“We just need to find that balance with the defence and there is no reason why we can’t go to Cardiff confident of taking three points.”
Before the Pompey match Charlton had just one point to show for their first four games despite having scored seven goals.
But they doubled that tally at the weekend and Shepherd is hopeful the win will breed confidence for the rest of the season.
“I think it’s relief more than anything else,” she added, “and I think it will mean that people aren’t as nervous in possession.
“Hopefully now the things we have been good at in pre-season, like playing out from the back and general passing the ball to feet, it’ll mean that people aren’t panicking.”