Football in Berkshire caught up with Caversham United manager, Georgia Graham, after their 4-0 defeat to Division One South East, of the National League, side Queens Park Rangers in the Vitality Women’s FA Cup, Third Round Qualifying.
There was a quick turn around between the rounds for Caversham but manager, Georgia thought they faired well during the game, “Considering we only had three sessions to learn a new tactic, I think the ladies did really well to put what they had learnt into the game. Of course there are things to learn and improve on, there always will be in football.”
They knew from the offset Queens Park Rangers were going to be a difficult team, but gave a fierce performance nonetheless, “Playing against a team three leagues above us was always going to be difficult, however I am proud of the ladies performance. One thing I wanted us to maintain throughout the game from everyone was to never give up and we really didn’t. Some players I know kept fighting through injuries and didn’t let on how bad they really were.”
Georgia was keen to highlight that everyone showed “fight and determination”, but that their stand out player was goalkeeper Nina Merritt, “not only did she make some amazing saves but she amazes me every week with how brave she is. Flying out in 1v1s, corners, free kicks whatever it may be, Nina will do whatever it takes to get that ball.”
She also gave honourable mention to Steph Nelson, “for her composure and footwork on the ball. She glides past opponents for fun and showed this even against a tough opposition.”
Despite a real fight from the side, they ultimately ended up being defeated and Georgia reflected on what she thought could go better in the game, “Arguably Steph Nelson hit the inside of the crossbar and was adamant the ball crossed the line. We will never know the truth and I honestly couldn’t see from where I was, but to of scored against QPR away would have been a huge highlight of the game. That would have made the game 1-1, now I’m not saying that we would have gone on to win the game, however I do believe it would have changed the mindset of both teams.”
But they’re not too disheartened by the result, “I think we have had a brilliant cup run being the first Women’s team at Caversham United. We couldn’t have done it without the support from our Chairman, Paul, and the men’s team support, we really are a football family. The ladies have also worked so hard to get as far as we did, and I can’t wait for next year’s FA Cup already.”
Whilst they’re out of the FA Cup, there’s still plenty of league action and they will face Holyport Ladies in the Berks and Bucks Women’s Trophy, “The focus has to now be on the league along with the Berks & Bucks Cup. We had a fairly slow start to the league and lost a game or two that I believe we shouldn’t have. We need to make sure we get the points in games that we deserve to. If we can start believing in ourselves and put as much effort into every game now like we did against QPR then I think we will have a fair chance in the league and Cup.”
We also spoke to the club’s chairman for his thoughts on the Goats performance in the FA Cup, here’s what he had to say.
“As Caversham United chairman, I am so proud of what the women’s team achieved in the Women’s FA Cup. Whilst ultimately we didn’t get the result on Sunday against QPR, the fight was so good and they did amazingly to even get to that round and play against a really good side! Admittedly, I didn’t truly know what to expect taking on a women’s team this season, despite my research last season. However, it’s safe to say that our brilliant squad, and management team, have way surpassed any expectations I had! When club captain Emma Hopkins approached me to ask about entering the FA Cup this season, I was delighted to support the request. Overall, I throughly enjoyed being part of the campaign and I’m thrilled the club could help with the journey and support The Goats along the way.”Paul Gutteridge
Caversham are set to play in the Berks & Bucks Women’s Trophy in November and will be in Thames Valley Counties Women’s Football League action throughout the month.