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Remi Allen on Paige Culver, securing survival, hosting Lewes in season finale

Speaking after training on Friday [26 April], London City Lionesses head coach Remi Allen was determined to underline her core message – Sunday’s meeting is important and her players will act accordingly. 

It has been a busy week behind the scenes at K Sports, with the team’s place in the Barclays Women’s Championship secured, Paige Culver announcing her retirement from professional football for medical reasons, and a record number of tickets sold for our season finale.

Here is every word Allen said in her last media availability of the season. 

It’s difficult to know where to start – what do you want to say following Paige Culver’s retirement?

I just want to reiterate that she has been the ultimate professional during my time with her. She made sacrifices to play for the team, played through pain, and always had the right mentality in training…

She was a starter throughout our run of three straight wins, how important was she during that streak?

She was massive on and off the field. I didn’t know her before coming in and the biggest thing I’ve learned about her is that she is incredibly professional. It struck me from day one – she always wanted to learn and receive information in training and turned up on the pitch despite playing through pain.

Paige didn’t have to do that, she did it for the team and made sacrifices in the process. She was a huge factor in us winning those games.

And there’s no doubt that she’ll do great things after football…

For sure – she’s a wonderful human. She’s the type of character that I’d have in my dressing room at any point as a player or member of staff. She’s got an infectious personality and has the mentality to constantly work and ask questions. She was a joy to work with.

We lost to Southampton last weekend – what are your takeaways from that game?

Ultimately, we’re where we are and they’re where they are for a reason. I think we had a really bad first half-hour, we looked panicky in and out of possession. They had great rotations and it was possibly one of their best performances of the season. 

After we went two behind, we realised that we could break their press and had some decent moments as a result. I told the team that we’d be back in it if we could get a goal – that’s just our mentality and I’m proud of how the girls performed in the second half. 

I’ve asked them to play through the thirds and the third goal [for Southampton] came as a result of how I want to play. I was disappointed with the first thirty minutes, but I’m proud of how we responded after that.

How impactful were your half-time substitutes, Izzy Groves and Grace Neville?

Massively – it was great to have Grace back. I thought she was brilliant when she came on and the fact that she won our Player of the Match Award says it all. Izzy also made a huge impact, playing off limited touches and being involved in our goal.

I also wanted to mention Leanne Cowan, who played the full match and scored our goal…

Leanne’s performance was resilient – she had a really tough opening thirty minutes, but she grew into the game. It was always going to be a difficult task for her, coming into the team and playing in a formation that she hadn’t played in with me before. She gave her all and I’m happy with that.

Results elsewhere secured our league position for next season, how did it feel to get over the line on Sunday?

There were obviously mixed feelings at the end of the game because we don’t like losing. However, looking at the bigger picture, if you told me when I came in that there would be a chance to get twelve points from six games [which we can achieve with a win on Sunday], I would have snapped your hands off. I’m really proud of the staff and the players – it’s been a collective effort to get where we are and I’m really happy for the Club.

Are you looking forward to finishing the season at Princes Park this weekend?

Yeah, I think it’ll be great because everyone wants to finish the season at home and hopefully on a high. I’ve told the girls that this isn’t a nothing game – this means something to the fans and we want to put on a performance to make them proud of us.

Lewes have already given two really tough games this season, I take it you’re expecting a third given that they’re playing for pride…

For sure – I told the girls that it’s possibly the worst time to play them because they are hurt and wounded. Lewes will want to bounce back. We’ve profiled them, I think they’re a good side and that they do things well. We’ve done everything right in terms of our preparation this week and we’re going to give them the respect that they deserve. Ultimately, we’re going out to showcase ourselves.

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