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An interview with... Ria Elsmore (West Bromwich Albion)
 Women's Football FA Women's Cup News - 12 Apr 2021
 
FA Women's Cup News - An interview with... Ria Elsmore (West Bromwich Albion) - 12 Apr 2021 - Women's Football NewsWest Bromwich Albion strode into the Third Round of the Vitality Women's FA Cup on Sunday with a 5-2 victory against Lincoln City.
 
We talked to defender Ria Elsmore who, as well as being delighted just to be back playing again, was very pleased with the team's performance on the day and is anticipating a tough tie against Derby County in the next round this Sunday:
 
WSS: Well played on Sunday, how pleasing was a 5-2 win overall?
RE: Thank you! It was great to hit the ground running and win our first competitive game since before Christmas. It was an important game to us, with our league being cancelled we want to try and go as far in the FA Cup as possible. We worked hard in training and produced a great team performance with five different goalscorers, which is always good. Also, it was a bit crazy to completely match WBA men's winning score [against Chelsea] the day before!
 
WSS: More than anything, what was it like just to be out playing again?
RE: It was amazing - we have all been missing game day so much, it's what you look forward to at the end of your week! No matter how long we've had to spend apart as a team, it's always like no time has passed when we get back on the pitch. There were many tired legs but also a lot of smiles and a lot of encouragement. It feels amazing to have the team back together again and games to look forward to.
 
WSS: How tough a game was it, given that it was your first match of any kind for nearly four months?
RE: Yes it was pretty tough, particularly in the second half when players started to get tired after a strong, high-pressing first half. But we worked very hard in training and we knew what to expect, because no matter how much work you do outside of football, ‘match fitness' is always a bit different and hard to achieve without actual games. But I think for the majority of the game we looked sharp and was on top, winning first balls and tackles.
 
WSS: It was not an easy task up against a team which had been doing well before the season was halted, but did you always feel comfortable in front during the match?
RE: We went into the game knowing that Lincoln were going to be a strong side and neither team had played in so long so we had to keep our composure and let the ball do the work. It was important for us to try and get an early goal, to take the pressure of the team and allow us to relax and get back to playing our football. So we started with a high press and Jade got the first goal within two minutes, which was a great start for us. From then on I think we controlled the game really well and just enjoyed it, practicing different patterns of play and working on our match fitness. A couple of debuts were made as well with Millie and Emma, two girls who always work hard in training and show their ability and I'm proud that they got this opportunity.
 
WSS: Five different players got on the scoresheet for you, were there any particularly good performances amongst the team on the day?
RE: I think Shannon had a great game, starting slightly out of position at right back she still managed to get up the pitch to support Nat and become a threat in the opposition half. Moving up the pitch second half, she bagged a goal and was replaced by Jess - a player who hasn't had very good luck with injuries this season - but likewise Jess put in a great shift and towards the end smoothly took the ball around the goalkeeper to ensure our 5-2 win. Evie deservingly made the starting eleven and assisted Jade's goal, working extremely hard up the top of the pitch with Jade to ensure our high press was effective. I could name the whole team if I wanted to!
 
WSS: This means you will play Derby County in the next round this week. What kind of match are you expecting against them?
RE: Derby are a strong side who have finished with the same points as us. We know this will be a challenging game and are preparing well in training - identifying the best way to defend against them and equally to penetrate their back line. We are expecting a high tempo and aggressive game, but we are confident that we have the ability to match them in all areas of the pitch and produce a good performance.
 
WSS: Derby won 4-2 when you met them in the league back in October, will that game have any bearing or significance at all when you meet this week?
RE: Yes I think we always have to take previous games into consideration. We lost 4-2 and Derby were the better team in that game. However, reviewing the game to identify where our weaknesses were massively helps us to improve and prepare for our next meet.
 
WSS: If you can get past Derby, you would then be away to either Huddersfield or Brighouse. Is that going to give you an extra incentive, knowing that you would avoid the teams in the top two levels?
RE: Definitely, knowing that we have drawn teams in the same league as us who we have been competing with for the last two seasons definitely gives us an incentive to believe that we can potentially go far in this competition. We would back ourselves and push ourselves against any team, but equally we are confident that when we are performing at our best we could beat any team in this league.
 
Our thanks to Ria!
 
Photo courtesy of Ashleigh Davies

 
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