Luke - the Reserves have been superb & deserve runners-up spot
Report by David Brenchley
Page last updated at 11:11PM BST, Thursday, 25 May 2017
Luke Brown hailed the mentality of the Charlton women’s reserve team as he saw his side secure second place in the FA Women’s Premier League (FAWPL) Southern Division amidst a season of upheaval.
The Addicks eventually edged out South East London rivals Crystal Palace on goal difference to finish runners up to an experienced Tottenham side blessed with plenty of experience and depth to their squad.
Charlton, by contrast, have a young roster made up mostly of 16-21 year olds many of whom began playing South East Counties Division One football in the soon-to-be-disbanded Development team.
With the Development side being scrapped halfway through the campaign and Development boss Brown replacing Kris Korsachki as reserve team manager, it’s not been easy to find consistency, something Brown acknowledges.
However, his side has remained resilient throughout, becoming the first FAWPL South team to defeat Spurs – just seven days after a heartbreaking last-minute FAWPL Reserve Cup semi final defeat to the North Londoners.
“The girls have been superb, especially the ones coming up,” Brown reflected after the season. “And obviously the reserves that were already there have had to put up with all the changes. Their reaction was superb and you can see that week in, week out in our performances.
“We’ve still had consistency issues but in terms of development, you saw that when we played Tottenham. Throughout the season we’ve gone from strength to strength.
“I think QPR away was probably the first time you saw us connect with each other and since then we lifted off. In both Tottenham games, even though we lost one of them, you could really see how far we’ve come.
“The semi final we lost with the final kick of the game and that was gutting because we didn’t deserved that and for them to pick themselves up in a short amount of time and go again at the same place, go 1-0 down and score two goals in the last 10 minutes is superb.
“But that’s not just the girls in those two games, that’s the whole squad and it’s what we’ve been building towards since Christmas. All the credit has to go to the girls.”
And the second place finish, with a fragmented squad and season in general, bodes well for the next campaign, Brown added – “and getting one over Crystal Palace was great – we know what the rivalry’s like with the men’s and the [women’s] first team”.
He is now looking forward to getting a full pre-season under his and his side’s belt and attempting to go one better. “Finishing second for these girls is a massive achievement,” he continued.
“With the development, we weren’t playing teams anywhere near the standard of Tottenham, Portsmouth, Crystal Palace.
“To come from that level, settle in and finish second, the first of only two teams to beat Tottenham in the league is a fantastic achievement and hopefully there’ll be bigger and better things next year.”
Something else to look forward to for the youngsters is the chance to push on and secure themselves a place in the first team matchday squad, with plenty of chances afforded already.
The likes of Hope Nash and Daisy Monaghan impressed in the starting line up towards the end of the season, whilst three awards winners Flo Jackson (Manager’s Player of the Year), Emily Ashcroft (Most Improved Player of the Year) and Ellie Jeffkins (Players’ Player of the Year) have appeared on the bench.
“That was always the aim. It’s a great opportunity with Riteesh in charge and his new set up to push reserve team players through and the people who have gone through have all deserved it.
“And it’s a great incentive for all the people who haven’t got there yet to think ‘she’s in the same team, I can push on and get selected for the first team’.
“And when they do it’s a great experience for them because then it gives them more of an indication of what senior football’s like, what first team life would be like and it adds to the buzz of playing at Charlton and trying to progress in the club.”