Gilly Flaherty: We need to start on the front foot

Gilly Flaherty


West Ham United travel to one of the country's largest grounds, Old Trafford, to take on Manchester United on Saturday morning.

Last time out, Olli Harder’s side came close to picking up a vital three points in their relegation fight, but a last-gasp equaliser from Birmingham City’s Ruby Mace meant that the points were shared. 

The match at Old Trafford promises to be a fantastic occasion, with captain Gilly Flaherty saying that it’s always great to see Women’s matches being played at grand venues. 

“I think it’s always special for any women’s player to play at a men’s stadium," she began. “Old Trafford is one of the most recognisable stadiums in the world and I’ve never had the opportunity to play there before. 

“I’ve played at the Emirates and Wembley before, but never there, so I’m really looking forward to the challenge of going there and trying to pick up three points.

“You can see the progression of the sport when you see games being moved into these massive stadiums. There have been games where crowds at these big stadiums are hitting 30,000-plus people, so there is a want for games to be played at these stadiums - the demand is there from supporters.”

You’re going up against Manchester United at Old Trafford - what more motivation do you need to try and take points off one of the best teams in the division?

Gilly Flaherty

This is Manchester United Women’s first time playing at the prodigious Old Trafford, but they will do so without supporters present due to the current restrictions, which is something that disappoints Flaherty.  

“It’s a shame that we’re playing there in the middle of a pandemic and nobody is able to come and watch us in person, but being able to walk out onto the pitch and say you’ve played there will be a big moment for everyone.

"I hope it’s not a one-off and it’s something that we see happen regularly throughout the season.”

A tough test awaits Flaherty and her team-mates on Saturday morning, with the hosts currently occupying third position in the WSL.

But the Red Devils' defeat to Arsenal in their most recent fixture and losing three of their last five will give the Hammers some confidence. 

“We’re going to give everything to try and get a win, but you have to be realistic with the expectations and quality we will be going up against," Flaherty explained. 

"They’ve got some top-quality players and it’s going to be a great challenge for the squad to try and get something out of the game, but it’s one that we will enjoy.

“I think you can see the progression that we’re making as a team, especially in the second half against Birmingham, and now we need to make sure we start on the front foot against United and try our best to come away with something.

“Everyone understands the position that we find ourselves in at the moment. We need to focus on ourselves and take each game as it comes. We can’t look too far ahead - it’s about going game-by-game and trying to pick up as many points as we possibly can. 

“You’re going up against Manchester United at Old Trafford - what more motivation do you need to try and take points off one of the best teams in the division? We need to make sure we aren’t overwhelmed by the occasion and that we give our best for the whole 90 minutes."