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We talk to...Samantha Griffiths (Derby County)
 Women's Football News 3 May 2014
We talk to...Samantha Griffiths (Derby County) - 3 May 2014 - Women's Football NewsDerby County have been tough opponents for whichever team they have come up against this season and they proved this again on Sunday by sharing a 4-4 draw with high riding Stoke City. 
Derby captain Samantha Griffiths talked to us about the draw and their season as well as enthusing over the club's future, which she says is very bright indeed: 
A draw against the team in third place looks a good result, do you think it was a fair scoreline?
I think a point away to Stoke is a great result and particularly with being 4-2 down with 10 minutes to go, it shows a never say die attitude from all the girls. Stoke have been a tough opposition to play this year and have adapted well in their first season in the Premier League, so a point away from home and with the way we played I would definitely say is a fair well earned result.

You have picked up some good results against the teams near the top, does that show the potential of your team?
Yes, I've always known the team has had potential and this has been shown with our draws at Stoke and Bradford, away win at Forest and doing the double over Preston. We started the season well but unfortunately then lost three key players to injuries which has had an impact. We are a young team, I think I pull the average age up five years lol, but the younger players have been thrown in at the deep end and played an integral part in our season, they have done really well

Is it a case of finding more consistency next year for the team to do well?
Yes definitely, I refer back to being able to keep the same eleven players injury free would be a bonus. Players have had to be versatile and play what wouldn't normally be their strongest position on the pitch, but the girls have embraced this and if anything it has increased team morale, supporting each other on and off the pitch. We also have a new manager coming in next season who will hopefully drive us forward and bring a couple of fresh faces for the challenges of the new season.

This week is an important game, particularly for opponents Blackburn Rovers. Does the fact that they are battling against relegation make them dangerous opponents?
Blackburn have always been a dangerous team for us, I am really surprised they are in the position they are, they are a good side that we certainly won't be underestimating.

Melissa Johnson, Natalie Reay and Hannah Ward have all had good seasons in front of goal, how big a boost to the team is it to have such firepower up front?
Obviously it's good when your front line are scoring, what makes them different is that they all have different attributes and not the same types of player, this really varies and mixes things up for us on the pitch. When they are all in their natural positions we know we have a great chance of scoring in any game, again they have had to be versatile with their starting positions due to injuries and to find our consistency we need to keep them where they play best.

You are a club that likes to bring through younger players, can you see a bright future for the club in that respect?
Absolutely, huge strides have been gained behind the scenes this season. We have an official link with the Derby Centre of Excellence which is paying dividends for both parties. I am really excited to have two England internationals from the COE involved with the first team squad next year. The girls will be straddling across both DCLFC and the COE, showing the positive nature of our relationship. However, it is just as important to have the experienced players as well as the youth, with the competitive nature of the WPL we need the blend of both.

Overall, what are your thoughts as to how the season has gone?
The season has been two separate stories really. I am a little disappointed with our on the pitch performance across the season, as to start with we had real high hopes and realistically were aiming for a top four finish, but on the positive of that, the young players coming in have done a fantastic job for us and can certainly see they will be playing WPL football regularly in the next few years. Off the pitch, the season has been a massive success story, the club has taken giant strides forward in all areas. The ultimate aim is to achieve WSL status when the next set of applications come round and we are most certainly on the right path for this. We have appointed a new General Manager, Director of Football, gained links with the Centre of Excellence and many other partners, run schools festivals, the list goes on and on, the future is very bright for Derby County Ladies!

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