West Ham United Ladies are determined to mark International Women’s Day with victory at Plymouth Argyle on Sunday.
The Ladies will hope to bounce back from the disappointment of their FA Women’s Premier League Plate semi-final defeat at Preston North End by pulling off a win in Devon.
This time around, the game is for FA Women’s Premier League Southern Division points, with Julian Dicks’ side sitting fifth in the table, but with matches in hand on those above them.
“The girls have done well and just got through to the final of the London FA County Cup by beating QPR 2-0 in the semi-finals, but unfortunately we lost out at Preston last weekend,” the manager began.
“We haven’t got a big squad, but the girls have worked incredibly hard, especially considering how things went last season. When I went in there, the girls found it like a holiday camp until I strolled up and let them know what it is all about! They have responded well.
“I have had a few players leave because they can’t get in the side but, as I’ve said to them, if the team are winning then they aren’t going to get in until someone is injured. They just have to wait their turn and prove to me what they have got, but some left before getting that opportunity.
“It has been hard, but I’ve got 14 players, including two goalkeepers, so it’s like the old days! You just have to get on with what you have got.”
One player who has impressed Dicks since the very start was the one whose approach on Twitter led to his appointment – captain Stacey Little.
The skipper broke her hand in the semi-final win at QPR, ruling her out of the defeat at Preston, but the manager is hoping to welcome her back before the season is out.
“She was closing down the ‘keeper and put her hand across her stomach, the ball has hit her and it has bust her hand in two places,” Dicks explained. “She has a little cast on, but I’m sure she’ll be OK!
“Stacey typifies what I want from my players – she works hard, puts a tackle in and gets onto the players when they’re not doing their jobs.
“She dragged me into this place and it’s been good. When you have people like Stacey and one or two others, it makes it an enjoyable place to work.”
Little herself may be unable to play at present, but she remains upbeat about how the Ladies have been performing this season.
“We’re enjoying a really good season compared to the last one,” she agreed. “It could only get better, and Julian has come on board and changed the way we play and the way we work.
“It has been a good season and we’re through to a final already and came close to making a second one.
“Julian treats us as he would a men’s team. All he wants from us is hard work. If we play for 90 minutes and make it tough for the other team, we’ve always got a chance of getting a result, and I think the girls needed a shake-up, me included.
“I think the girls respect him and know what he wants from us. We also know he will give us a right ticking off if we don’t work hard.”
Having been denied the chance to defend the Essex FA County Cup for administrative reasons, the London FA Capital Cup offers the Hammers their best chance of silverware, with Charlton Athletic providing the opposition at Haringey Borough FC on 6 May.
“We wanted to defend the Essex Cup, but these things happen,” Little continued. “We can go for the London Cup, even though it won’t be an easy game against Charlton because they’re a decent side.
“If you want to win cups, you’ve got to beat the best teams around and that’s what we’ll be trying to do.”
Before then, the Ladies head to Devon to face Plymouth at Elburton Villa FC on Sunday, with kick-off at 2pm.