The Lionesses are back in action this weekend, as they prepare to take on Charlton Athletic at Princes Park
Due to a Covid outbreak in the Lewes camp, last weekend’s game was postponed, but for manager Melissa Phillips, it’s important to see that every cloud has a silver lining.
“It was a good opportunity to look at our own habits and where we can be a bit more disciplined than where we can be a bit sharper,” said Phillips.
“Looking ahead to the Charlton game we caught them at the end of a six match stretch last time, and we'll catch them at the end of the six match stretch this time; so when it comes to freshness, both physically and mentally, that’s definitely a slight advantage we can take into Sunday.”
But whilst the first team’s plans were scuppered, it was a memorable weekend for the under-18’s, as their 3-0 win to Wimbledon saw them crowned League champions for the first time.
“It’s been great having the academy fully integrated this year, and they’ve done a fantastic job,” said Phillips, “they’ve been fantastic out at Princes Park for the games, be it Conti Cup games in the week or league fixtures on the weekend, we’ve felt their support.”
“A lot of credit for the work with both the academy and development teams this year has to go to our Sporting Director, Edward Gallagher, whose efforts have massively improved pathways for young players into the club.”
“It’s a great achievement for the players, coaching staff and everyone behind the scenes who’s worked so hard over the year,” said centre-back Hayley Nolan, “everyone at City puts 100% into what they're doing and you can see that throughout, so it's great to see that the under-18s come away with a league title.”
Looking ahead to this Sunday’s clash with Charlton, the Lionesses will be looking to learn from the tough battle against them back in December, when the home side came out with a 2-0 win.
“Last time out it was a goal from a set piece that cost us,” said Phillips, “but we still had large runs of possession, and unfortunately that’s been the case in a lot of games this season.”
“If you look at our games against Sheffield or Watford, or others where we’ve dropped points, and they’ve been games of fine margins; so, we know that it’s going to take real grit and determination to get the three points on Sunday.”
For Nolan, the Lionesses last clash with Charlton saw her side-lined with injury, but since the start of the new year she’s been a regular fixture for the Pride.
“I’m happy to be back,” said Nolan, “it was disappointing to be out for five months, and no athlete wants to be sat on the side-lines.
“So, it’s great to be back playing and it’s been a good season so far, so I’m looking forward to helping the team more over the coming weeks.”
Sunday will undoubtedly be a tough test for the Lionesses though, with Charlton looking to bounce back from a difficult run of form.
“Arguably we’re both in a similar situation,” said Phillips, “we’ve both had a tough run of games, both including Liverpool, and momentum is a delicate thing, it’s not easy to keep it when you have it and you have to work twice as hard to get it back, which is where we’re at currently.
“I’m sure they’ll be disappointed with their result against Crystal Palace on the weekend, as were we with our last game, and both of us will be looking to finish as high as possible in the league.
“But we’ll be focusing on ourselves and preparing for this game as we have done for all of ours this season, alongside seeing it as a good chance to bounce back.”
And of course, being a derby, Sunday’s game will be bring with it an extra edge, which will only add to the already electric atmosphere of Princes Park
“We’re all looking forward to seeing the fans back at Princes Park once again,” said Nolan, “I know family and friends are definitely going to be making the trip as it's such a huge game every time we play them; so I’m looking forward to seeing some familiar faces in the crowd.”
“The derby games have been brilliant,” said Phillips, “whether it's been with us and Palace, or us and Charlton on the road, these games always bring a great atmosphere, so we’re looking to have everyone back down at Princes Park on Sunday.”
The London City Lionesses take on Charlton Athletic on Sunday the 3rd of April! Click the link to get your tickets now!