This weekend London City travel to the north west to face Blackburn Rovers, currently sitting two places below the Lionesses in the table. After last Sunday’s win against London Bees the squad, now under the direction of Interim Head Coach Melissa Phillips, will be keen to duplicate a winning formula and put three more important points on the board.
At this week’s press conference Phillips explained how they are ensuring that momentum is maintained, “You know momentum is a process of building belief through our preparation and training. So that's exactly what we’re doing. We had a recovery session on Monday and we'll have a full team training session through to Friday and really just focus on challenging ourselves, training hard and preparing for the next match."
“I think preparation is what builds belief and ultimately that trickles into motivation and momentum definitely following on from that.”
So, what message was given to the players ahead of the London Bee’s game which brought the first win of the season?
“Our message was a lot about our identity and we said that we measure ourselves by a few things being effort, attitude, communication and response. How you respond to anything is how you respond to everything and that's a real test of resilience. And I think the players did an excellent job in responding to various situations that presented throughout the game."
“So, we just focus on ourselves and our performance and bringing good energy to the game, which I think was felt by everyone.”
And reflecting on the win after a few days, what are her thoughts now?
“I'm really happy for the players. I think we deserved a bit more in our opening few matches. So, I think Sunday's performance was really about executing the game plan and being disciplined to that. You don't always get rewarded for executing the game plan, but I think that we did on Sunday, but that was a really a testament to our resilience on top of that.”
Phillips was joined by Alli Murphy, Sunday’s penalty scorer. Knowing that getting the win was so critical, what was going through her mind as she had the chance to put the Lionesses ahead?
“First, I was just like, I want this, walked up and thought okay focus on you. What are you going to do? How are you going to approach this?” said Murphy.
She continued “And then think afterwards, after it happened, after you make it, then you think wow that was a lot of pressure. Good thing I made that! You know I was excited to contribute to the team, honestly, that was the main thing.”
So, this week’s Lancashire opponents are a young squad with only 7 of Gemma Donnelly’s fold over 23. With arguably more experience within their number, the Lionesses will have to draw on that to contend with a Rovers side also hungry to add to their points. They’ve earning just 3 so far from a win over Crystal Palace at the end of September.
What sort of test will it be?
Phillips’ view is “Every game will be a test for us and I think Blackburn will be no different. So, we're going to focus on challenging ourselves to really get out a new level, a new height to our game and our preparation this week."
“Blackburn is going to be a good match for us. They'll be dangerous. But for us it is going to be about getting the mentality right, getting the performance great and making sure that we're as prepared as possible.”
After signing for the Lionesses in the summer it will be a first encounter with Blackburn for Murphy, what is she expecting?
“I'm new to the league, so I don't know as much as some of my other teammates. But so far what I've seen is that every game’s a competition, every game is a test. Everyone wants it just as bad. So, I think we really need to focus on who we are and still building our identity. Take that into the game and take what we've done against London Bees this past weekend and build on that and grow. I think it'll be a good match.”
Having settled into the club and life in England well, what are her personal goals for the season. Does she have any?
“Yeah, I think every player sets herself personal goals coming into the season and for me, I just want to personally grow my game and become a more rounded player. What can I do, you know, in every situation, how can I get better?"
“And then for the team and what I can bring to the team, can I help with my effort, my attitude, you know, my communication, my response. Can I help bring the team to the next level and reach the goals that we set as a team and how can I contribute the most in that.”
The Lionesses will be playing Blackburn at Bamber Bridge at 2pm on Sunday 18th October.
As ever live match updates will be provided via Twitter and the full 90 minutes will be available on the FA Player after the final whistle.