Report by David Brenchley
Page last updated at 9:31PM UTC, Sunday, 15 April 2012
Manager Bill Long believes all the pressure will be on Gillingham in the Kent Cup final at Sevenoaks Town as the Charlton women’s reserve team try to retain their title.
The Addicks’ second string will take on Gills’ first team and manager Long has taken the pressure off his side ahead of the tie, although admitted he will look to add experience to his young team.
The reserves have faced their opponents’ reserve team three times, drawing two and winning one, in a season which looks likely to end up with Charlton finishing in a strong third or fourth place in the league.
Long said: “We have realised we are playing a first team and it is going to be a really tough game for the girls so they have to roll their sleeves up, dig in and see where it takes us. Hopefully we can get a result.
“No-one will really expect us to get too much of a result because we are mainly a reserve team playing a first team so we can enjoy it and play our game whereas the pressure will be on Gillingham and everyone will be looking at them to get a result on the night.”
There may be a few more experienced girls brought into the side on the day, plus the likes of Ellie Stenning, who has played for the reserves to regain fitness after a couple of injuries, but Long also believes it will be a good chance for his younger girls to experience playing a Premier League first team.
“I think it can only hold the younger players in good stead,” he added. “If they want to move up the ladder, be it at Charlton or another team, to have that experience and know what that level is will be very important.
“For the younger players they have to be seen to be trying to push themselves on and giving Paul [Mortimer] a bit of a problem and showing him what they can do and these are the games they can do that in because it proves you can step up to the plate in the big games.
“I have spoken to Paul over the last day or two and expect to bring in a couple of experienced players to help the youngsters through but it is still a very young side.
“The pressure will be there for a while and you need some experienced heads to talk some of the youngsters through it.”
Charlton Athletic Reserves v Gillingham Ladies
FA Kent Women’s Cup Final
Location: Sevenoaks Town FC, Greatness Recreation Ground, Mill Lane (off Seal Road), TN14 5BX
When: Thursday 19 April 2012
Kick Off: 1930
Admission: Adults - £4, Concessions - £2