Riteesh - Our focus is firmly on the next challenge
Report by David Brenchley
Page last updated at 9:24PM UTC, Thursday, 09 March 2017
The Charlton women’s team are in good spirit as they prepare to welcome unbeaten Tottenham Hotspur to Sporting Club Thamesmead on Sunday (2pm).
"If we approach the game right, we have the talent to beat anyone at this level.”
First team coach Riteesh Mishra says his side, despite being top of the FA Women’s Premier League South, will be underdogs, but insists they will not be fazed by their task.
The women’s team sit just one point ahead of the three chasing sides, Spurs, Coventry and Cardiff – but that trio all have at least two games in hand.
And Mishra says the Addicks must continue their fine form in 2017 and keep winning in order to put pressure on those teams behind them and give them the best chance of mounting a title challenge.
He said: “Our focus is now firmly on the next challenge. We feel in good spirit going into Sunday. It is a game that I'm excited for. Given the season they are having, they will come to Thamesmead as favourites but that won't faze us and our game plan.
“We've been good since the turn of the year, and improving game by game. We know to get a result against Spurs we will have to be at our best, but I have full belief in the players and the work we are doing with them.
“The situation we are in is simple - we have to get results. We have a special bunch of players and it's my job to get them in the right frame of mind and mentality to get a result on Sunday. If we approach the game right, we have the talent to beat anyone at this level.”
Charlton and Tottenham will be well acquainted by the end of the season – Sunday is the first of five meetings between the pair between now and the end of the season, including the return fixture at Cheshunt FC in April.
Victories for both sides last weekend set up an FAWPL Cup final between them, to be played on Sunday 7 May; and they also face each other in both the Ryman and Capital Cup showpieces.
Charlton’s 4-3 win against FAWPL Northern Division leaders Blackburn Rovers extended their record this calendar year to seven wins in eight games – their only defeat coming against FA Women’s Super League side Sheffield FC in the SSE Women’s FA Cup.
Mishra admits his side should have had the match wrapped up well before the end of 90 minutes, having been 2-0 up before missing a penalty to make it three and seeing Rovers hit back to take it into extra time.
However, he says he was proud of his players’ application and ‘desire to get across the line’. “It was a great spectacle for the fans and a fantastic advert for women's football,” he added.
“Both teams deserve credit - Blackburn showed why they are soon to be Northern champions in the second half by getting back in to the game, but the desire and strength we showed to get across the line was great to see.
“The game was full of emotion and to be on the right side at the end was a reward for the players’ work ethic for each other on the day. The really pleasing thing for me was seeing things we worked on in training, being delivered by the players on the pitch.”
He also reserved praise for match winner Stef Simmons, whose extra time double put daylight between the sides. The left back has endured a frustrating start to the campaign, with injury reducing her to mainly sub appearances.
He said: “It was a real squad effort. I had to make changes as some players were flat out in their feet with the effort they put in, and the girls who came on didn't let our standards slip and they added energy at the end when we really needed it.
“Stef in particular has had a tough season with injury and getting back to fitness. She's been working hard and has been desperate to show how good she is, and grabbing the final two goals I'm sure has given her confidence and is just reward to her recent work ethic.”