It will be special to play at Priestfield Stadium, says Emma Tune

Wednesday 03rd September 2014

GILLINGHAM are delighted to announce that Gillingham Ladies historic first home game at Priestfield Stadium will be free entry for all fans on Sunday.

Gills fans are invited to come along and watch the Ladies kick off against Keynsham Town in the FA Women’s Southern Premier League, kicking off at 2pm.

Chairman, Paul Scally, is encouraging Gillingham fans to be part of this very special occasion, which will be momentous for the club, the players and the women’s game in Kent.

Mr Scally told the club’s website: “Those who have followed developments at the club over the summer will be fully aware that we have struck up a partnership with the Gillingham Ladies team and they have been busy preparing for their new season which will see matches played at MEMS Priestfield Stadium for the first time.

“I’m pleased to announce that the Ladies will be playing their first match at MEMS Priestfield on Sunday against Keynsham Town. What’s more, we’re offering free entry to all supporters so be sure to put that date in your diary and offer as much encouragement as you can to our team.”

The chairman added his delight at welcoming former Gills player Simon Ratcliffe, who made 124 appearances for Gills between 1995 and 1998, as manager of team.

“It’s great to see Simon Ratcliffe return to the club as Gills Ladies manager. He is a really positive addition to our fantastic coaching team.

“I am very excited by this new partnership and look forward to watching a few games myself in the near future.”

It was an outstanding victory for Gillingham in the FA Women’s Premier League Cup last Sunday, after seeing off their Kent rivals Ebbsfleet United 15-0, which was the club’s record victory.

Ratcliffe said: “I’m satisfied we’ve got another 90 minutes under our belt.”

Asked whether he was pleased with his side’s performance, Ratcliffe replied: “Second half yes, first half I thought we were really disappointing. We moved the ball around slowly and we were a bit ponderous so at half time I asked the girls to quicken the pace up which they did and scored a lot more goals.”

A good win for the Gills but more importantly for their manager another opportunity to accumulate crucial play time ahead of a busy schedule of League fixtures:

Ratcliffe said: “It was important as we’ve had so few games pre-season to get minutes under the belt; it was a warm day and the girls needed to push and get that fitness in. They did that and kept going until the very end.”

With an injury to Louise Lorton early on, Ratcliffe was forced to change his formation which proved very rewarding, as Lauren Phillips reverted back to her more natural role up front claiming four goals as a result.

Ratcliffe revealed: “It was something I was thinking of doing anyway (playing Lauren upfront) as that is her normal position and I’ve not had the opportunity to do that yet and I wanted Athena to have a run at right back as well with the games we’ve got coming up.”

And with those games coming up thick and fast, the Gills manager is positive his new side will continue to produce good performances.

“It’s a natural progression; the more games we play the better we will be. We need to get fitter and become sharper on the ball and take fewer touches and we will do that the more games we get to play.”

With the Gills next home game to be played at Priestfield Stadium, there’s much excitement from fans of Gillingham Ladies and the women’s game more generally at the momentous moment for the club.

Ratcliffe however remained firmly focused on Gills next league fixture on Thursday evening. A long mid-week trip to Brighton & Hove Albion.

The hosts are managed by former Gillingham manager James Marrs, who guided the club to runners-up last season, as well as winning the Kent and Ryman Cups.

Ratcliffe said: “I’m very much looking forward to leading the girls at Priestfield but we’ll think about that on Friday morning after the mid-week game.”

“I’m not sure about the night games, the wisdom of them with girls working it’s going to be difficult to get there – as it will be for Brighton when they play at our place on the Thursday night as well. But we’ll do our best.”

Ratcliffe concluded: “I’m satisfied we’ve got another 90 minutes under our belt. It’s hard to gage how good the performance was as Ebbsfleet were stretched at times but we’ll take it and move forward.”

Emma Tune, meanwhile, says she’s excited to grace the Priestfield Stadium pitch on Sunday.

Tune watched Peter Taylor’s side beat Crewe Alexandra 2-0 in League One last Saturday, before scoring two goals against the Fleet the following day.

“It was really good, really positive,” she said of watching the League One fixture.

“We got lots of feedback and lots of the fans are looking to come down against Keynsham so hopefully we can get a good crowd down there.

“I can’t wait. For a lot of us, it’s going to be the biggest stadium we’ve played at and it will be special.

“I think it will be a tough game but we’re going to battle so if we can get some support behind us it will be a good watch.”

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