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Gillingham are looking to rebuild after a disappointing end to last season which ended in relegation to South East Division One, but the signs are promising so far in the new campaign.
The Gills have won five of their opening six games, the latest of which was a 4-2 victory over previously unbeaten Luton Town. We talked to captain Lauren Williams who was pleased with Sunday's result and insisted that the team can be serious promotion contenders:
WSS: How pleased were you with the way the team played on Sunday?
LW: I think the whole team would agree that we could have played a lot better. The first half we played some really good football, combining well with the midfield and front three, however in the second half we struggled to continue this. We let Luton back into the game through our own mistakes which made it difficult for us to perform well. Although not a pretty performance, we were delighted with three points to take home back to Kent.
WSS: Luton have had a great start to the season, would you say that this has been your best result so far?
LW: 100% our best result of the season so far! Going to Luton, who were second in the league having not lost one league game, was very daunting and a game we had to win to prove ourselves in the league. Again not our best performance, but the result was key and points absolutely vital.
WSS: Has it taken the players a little time to adjust to South East Division One, and do you think the team is gathering momentum now?
LW: I think the team is certainly gathering momentum now and we have worked a lot in pre-season and the start of the season on team building and being together as a group. We have done lots of things inside and outside of training and all of this has had a huge impact and brought us closer together. Adjusting to the South East Division One was definitely something we wanted to happen quite quickly. We have a very young squad and I think they have all excelled at this standard of women's football and although some may have found it very different and difficult at the start, they now are pushing for starting places in the squad, which is fantastic.
WSS: Is it therefore a bit frustrating that you don't have a league game scheduled for a few weeks?
LW: Of course, it's nice to play for points in the league and with the way the team is at the moment, we would very much like to continue this run to get as many points as we possibly can. Saying that, we take each week as it comes and every game is important in terms of putting in a performance. We are looking forward to some cup fixtures and hopefully taking the club as far as we possibly can within the competitions.
WSS: Much was said when Pauline Cope-Boanas joined your coaching staff, has she made an impact since her arrival?
LW: Pauline has had a massive impact since joining the club staff. If you speak to our goalkeepers, they are absolutely buzzing that they are now getting coached by England's number one. She is a complete team player and a great role model for all the girls to aspire to. She sends us good luck messages if she cannot make a fixture and it's really nice to have a female face as part of the coaching staff who can be in the changing rooms before games, to motivate us further.
WSS: Crystal Palace have opened up a gap at the top already, do you see them as the main rivals this season?
LW: Crystal Palace are a very good side; they are organised and well drilled. They will definitely be a tough rival this season. We had a difficult result against them a few weeks back and didn't deserve to win with the performance we put in. We knew we could play a lot better and let ourselves down in the game. We are taking it week by week at the moment and I'm sure when the time comes to play Palace again we will be very organised and ready for what promises to be a good game.
WSS: Do you feel that it is important that the team regains its Southern Division status this year?
LW: It is our main aim to be promoted back up into the Southern Division for next season. We have a long way to go before this is achieved and we also have a lot of hard work to put in to deserve to go back up. The past two seasons at Gillingham FC have been a complete rollercoaster and one that I wouldn't want to go through again. We owe it to club, the fans, the management but most importantly to ourselves to go back to where we belong. We are all determined and ready to fight for promotion this season. UTG!
Our thanks to Lauren!
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