West Ham United Ladies General Manager Karen Ray is confident that her team can end what has been a ground-breaking season on a high later this month, despite losing a 13-game unbeaten run at home to Lewes last weekend.
The Hammers play host to Queens Park Rangers in their season finale at the club’s Rush Green Stadium on Sunday 20 May, where they will hope to set the record straight from the unfortunate most recent loss to the Sussex side.
Ray’s girls headed into the fixture with Lewes off the back of 13 matches without tasting defeat, that’s the whole of 2018, but couldn’t keep it going in a narrow 1-2 defeat.
The boss, who has been nominated for several awards over the last few months for her efforts, including the WPL Manager of the Month which she won for March, spoke to the club’s Official Website WHUFC.com after the match, reflecting on the rare loss and looking ahead to the visit of the Rs in a couple of weeks.
“Sometimes the better team doesn’t win, and we have to learn a hard lesson,” stated the former club captain, “Lewes’ goalkeeper was deservedly player of the match and that says how busy we kept her.
“We have to regroup and focus on the next game. The thing I love most about coaching this team is that we will undoubtedly dust off and get ready for our next battle. Our strongest armour is our togetherness.
“One loss doesn’t define our season, not many teams have done what we have and I remain extremely proud of this group of players. It is now my job to pick them up and add some fuel to their fire.”
As conveyed by the up and coming Ray, one unexpected defeat for the Ladies won’t tarnish the remarkable achievements that they have managed over the last few months, which have seen them lift two cup trophies.
The girls defeated the reputable Charlton Athletic to triumph in the Isthmian Women’s Cup and then thrashed Luton Town to lift the WPL Plate, within the space of two April weeks.
The recent form has been a stark contrast from the first half of the season when they could only win five from 19 matches in all competitions under Greg de Carnys.
Carnys’ departure around the turn of the year saw the aforementioned Ray take full charge on an interim basis and no one has looked back since, their successes attracting attention and earning them credit from throughout the footballing world.
From the early January draw with Kent outfit Gillingham at Rush Green the youthful team have thrashed Brislington, Cardiff City and Whyteleafe, drawn Crystal Palace, sailed to comfortable wins over Keynsham Town, Hull City, Chichester City, Swindon Town, Charlton, QPR, Luton, and Portsmouth to the tune of 7-1 and then narrowly lost to Lewes.
The stretch has been the best they’ve played since being brought in-house by the club under two years ago and has seen them climb the Women’s Premier Division South table.
The team have propelled themselves comfortably clear of danger at the bottom and into seventh position, in contrast to David Moyes’ mens’ first-team, with just QPR left to play at home, who are down the bottom in 11th place.
But, this isn’t the only fact that will give them confidence ahead of the matchup, they will only need to remember the 0-10 thrashing they recorded over the West London club in April for that.
On the scoresheet that day at the Honeycroft Stadium for the Irons was senior figure and skipper Amber Stobbs, Chantelle Mackie, Kelly Wealthall with a hat-trick, vice-captain Rosie Kmita, Andria Georgiou and American forward Ellie Zoepf at the double.
The latter of those names was the winner of the inaugural West Ham United Ladies Players’ Player of the Year Award at the recent West Ham United Player Awards brought to you by Betway in aid of the Academy.
The prize was significant in being the first ever time that the side have been recognised at the annual ceremony and served testament to what Zoepf and the team as a whole have achieved this season.
Recent reports of the team applying for a place in the Women’s Super League, the equivalent of the Premier League in the men’s game, have also emerged but the club are unlikely to hear if they have been successful in the application unto the end of May.
But, for now, the future will be put on the backburner by Ray and her successful side as their primary focus will be the next match and trying to give the 2017/2018 season a fitting end with a trademark victory against the strugglers QPR.