Cheltenham Town Ladies beat Southampton Women 1-0 on Sunday, closing the gap between 3rd placed Robins and 2nd placed Saints to seven points in the Women’s National League Division One South West
A second half own goal was enough to give Alex Cheal’s side all three points in a tough fixture.
the win rounds off a busy week as it was announced that the Robins Ladies will be playing at Whaddon Road after the men’s fixture against Swindon Town on April 27.
Manager Alex Cheal discussed his side’s win, playing at Whaddon Road and the current state of women’s football.
What are your thoughts on yesterday’s game?
I’m still a little bit shocked to be honest, the lead up to the game was similar to the Keynsham game where we struggled when we finally got round to it. I’m a little bit surprised but we knew we could do it, we’ve already beaten them once this season. In the first half the pattern of the game was that they were very much on top, we were lucky to get in at half time at 0-0. We changed a few things and we were the better side in the second half and fully deserved to get the result.
How important was it for the players to put in a performance like that?
It was really important to put in a performance like that, we’ve come off the mark a little bit in our last few games. We’d just about done enough so we’ve said that every game now is a cup final, by beating Southampton we’ve opened the door to potentially get second which is beyond our wildest dreams. The girls were so happy after the game and it brings a renewed energy going into a really tough period for us, we have to keep going and hope results go our way.
How pleased are you with the way the team is playing at the moment?
I’m really pleased with the team at the moment, it was important that the players went in with no shackles to enjoy the match it was important to get back to winning ways. It’s a really important phase of the season, it’s where the cup finals come and it’ll determine where we finish in the league this year. It’s important we take things a game at a time, and put in our best possible performance. I’m confident we can win every game we have until the end of the season and do the best we can to finish in second place.
Isn’t second place your ambition now?
I set an aim for top three, which is leaps and bounds from where we have been, to finish second we’re still relying on Southampton to drop points, but they’ve got a run of tough fixtures, I believe second is still on, that’s our golden aim from now until the end of the season.
What do you put your success this season down to?
The group of players and ultimately how well they’ve performed and gelled together as a group, there’s a nice camp within the whole club at the moment. We changed a few things at the start of the season and that’s really worked for us and that momentum has carried on throughout the season.
How important is playing at Whaddon Road after the men’s team for CTFC Ladies?
Its huge, we appreciate the offer from the men, this brings the two clubs closer together, its fantastic exposure especially with us doing well in the league and the cup at the moment. It gives a great opportunity to look forward to something else in our season, it’s really important. Hopefully we can catch some of the men’s’ fans attention and hopefully we can perform so they stay around for the rest of the season so it’s really important.
What do you think of the success of the women’s game at the moment?
Juventus sold out their stadium, its massively growing, the new deal with Barclays is great and will only filter down to us, any exposure is good exposure we think so, the work people do for us is fantastic, its brilliant for the women’s game, the more its advertised and shown on the big stage the more people will buy into it and watch and that’ll lead to more people coming and watching their local club because that’s where it starts.
What are your ambitions for next season?
I took over just over a year ago and said within two years we’d get promoted, we’re ahead of that and competing with the top sides, we need to consolidate and see what we need to do to keep pushing on. It’s about adding to the group, and improving our own set up and move forward as a club, that’s all we can ask of our players and that’s all they can ask of me.