Gateshead Ladies manager Simon Johnson discusses his side’s unbeaten start to the season as well as their opening Vitality Women’s FA Cup tie at Guisborough Town Ladies this Sunday.
The Heed have got their Durham County FA Women’s League One season off to the perfect start with four wins from four seeing them sit top of the league table as things stand.
Manager Simon Johnson feels it’s a been a positive opening to his first season in charge of the side, saying: “It’s still a work in progress in terms of how I see us playing and in terms of with the girls and themselves developing but there a lot of positives.
“The girls understand they’re in for more of a challenge and are playing against teams and players who are going to give them more of a workout and cause them more issues than they’re used to.
“That was evident on Sunday [against Chester-le Street Amazons] where we had to battle for the win, which is something we’ve done well when we’ve had to.
“When we’ve been able to play football we’ve created a lot of chances so it’s about tweaking things in final third and getting the quality right.”
The results haven’t come easily for the ladies so far with two games seeing Johnson’s side reduced to 10 players, while defender Jade Halliday swapped roles to play as a goalkeeper against Hebburn Involve due to Carly Salmon’s suspension.
“It’s been a real test of character,” Johnson added.
“Not only for the players, but for myself as well in terms of making tactical changes and adjustment.
“Jade Halliday went in goal and towards the end of the game she was out claiming crosses pretty much like a seasoned goalkeeper.
“She came in and helped us in not having to go out and find a new goalkeeper, as well as knowing how we want to play.
“She conceded one, which was a bit of worldie, so she was unlucky not to keep clean sheet.”
Sunday sees Gateshead Ladies enter the Vitality FA Women’s Cup for the first time in their existence, travelling to face North East Regional Womens Football League side Guisborough Town Ladies at King George V Stadium.
“We go into it as underdogs in terms of being a league below,” said Johnson.
“On any day I’d fancy our chances and we are going to get chances in the game, no doubt about that, so it’s down to our individual quality offensively and defensively.
“We need to make sure we’re at the races, winning our first and second balls and defending well.
“We had a good Durham FA County Cup run last year when we played teams from a league or two above so there’s no reason why we can’t go and cause an upset.
“We’ll have a big squad of players available, and we’ve got the three Americans back in the fold now as well which is positive.
“We had a discussion the other week and for some it’ll be their first opportunity to play in this competition, which is always great.
“From the club’s point of view this season we’ll have a men’s senior team and a women’s senior team playing in the FA Cup which is massive and it shows our progression as a club.”
Gateshead Ladies play Guisborough Town Ladies at King George V Stadium in the Vitality Women’s FA Cup first round qualifying on Sunday, September 12 (2pm kick off).
Tickets are priced at £3 for adults and £1 for concessions and can be purchased on the gate at King George V Stadium.