Marker is set by Cambridge City Ladies in opening win over Southgate
Head coach happy with assured start to new campaign
Ross Hayward was delighted to see Cambridge City deliver on expectations by beating Southgate 5-0 in their opening Investec Women’s League, Conference East game of the new season.
City have aspirations to go better than their fourth spot in 2017/18, and so their first fixture of the new campaign was a good opener and gauge of their potential as Southgate had struggled last year.
The North London side had set their stall out early on, and were difficult to break down given their tenacity and endeavour, however, once the first goal went in from Helen Richardson-Walsh, it settled any nerves from City.
Richardson-Walsh went on to complete a hat-trick and Megan Crowson, a Great Britain under-23 player, added the other two on her return from Exeter University.
“After the first few minutes you could see where they were at in terms of their ability, or the level they were offering and we were a bit more dominant in that first period,” said City head coach Hayward.
“There was consistency there, they were still a bit of a threat when they got in and around our cycle but I thought in the second half they didn’t have that at all.
“I think we scored after 20 minutes and a bit of anxiety had started to creep in because we probably thought we should have scored by then.
“That was a bit of a relief and it was nice to get that goal, and we scored a couple quite quickly afterwards.
“We talked through a few little details at half time but nothing major to try to improve and that actually probably helped us to generate a few more goal-scoring opportunities.
“We have ambitions to be quite high up in the league. We will find out how the league will pan out in the next few weeks, so we certainly want to repeat, and then try to be in a position to better last year’s fourth place.
“If you were to look at last year and where Southgate came, I think ninth out of 10, you would have liked to favour that we would get a positive result. You always hope but then you need to do it.”
There have been a number of changes to the City squad this season, with Crowson joined by Hannah Bloy, an arrival from Loughborough University, among others.
And while they have lost some youngsters to university, they have been replaced by more experienced players, with the next wave of juniors knocking on the door to make the step up.
Against Southgate though, Emily Thorpe and Emma Shinkin particularly caught the eye.
Shinkin offered an assured leadership presence in defence, while Thorpe helped get things ticking over in midfield.
“Emily joined us last year and is playing in a slightly different position this season which seems to get the best out of her,” said Hayward.
“We’re trying to get the best out of her, she played a bit further forward last year so hopefully it will get a good balance. She has been in great form in pre-season.
“Emma is hugely experienced and been to the Commonwealth Games with Wales, and previously played with Clifton in the Premier League.
“We’ve had her expertise for three years so we’re trying to share the responsibility within the senior group as much as possible so she’s taken to that in great fashion.”