West Ham United Women had a number of positives to take from their opening game of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League season, despite being on the wrong end of a 2-0 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion.
One of those positives was 19-year-old midfielder Mel Filis, who made her first ever WSL start on what was also her debut for the east Londoners.
Filis is one of Olli Harder’s summer signings and arrived having spent last season with London Bees in the FA Women’s Championship. Before that, the energetic midfielder spent her youth career at Arsenal, making two first team substitute appearances whilst playing for the Gunners.
And the young midfielder was delighted to make her West Ham United debut and grab her first WSL start on Sunday afternoon.
“It felt really good to be out there and in the Starting XI,” Filis told whufc.com. “I’ve been working really hard towards achieving it [first WSL start] over the last couple of years.
“It’s something along with signing your first professional contract that might not happen exactly when you want it to, but as long as you always keep doing the right things and you’re working hard enough and improving then it will happen. I was absolutely buzzing to be honest and hopefully I can go on and start more matches throughout the season.
“My mum and brother were also there to watch the game. Your family are there with you from the very beginning and they’re with you right the way through your journey so it’s nice to have worked hard and have been rewarded for that.”
Filis was one of the first arrivals during the summer as Olli Harder looked to reshape his
And she did enough to make it into the starting XI and is pleased that her work during the off-season was rewarded.
“When I came in at the start of pre-season, I had a number of chats with the manager and the coaching staff - I knew where I was at but also what I needed to do to give myself the chance of being in the starting XI for the first league game.
“I wasn’t necessarily set to start the first league game because we have so many talented players in our squad and in my position. I’m really grateful that the manager trusted me to start the opening game.”
The Hammers were largely unfortunate to not come away with anything from the Amex Stadium on Sunday afternoon – having been on top during the opening stages of the fixture on the South Coast.
Filis, like her team-mates was frustrated with how the game panned out, but believes that there are still plenty of positives to take into next weekend’s match against Aston Villa.
“The game was frustrating because I felt like we started really well – even when we went down to 10 players I still felt as though we were the dominant team in large spells in the second half which obviously is credit to the team for putting in a double shift.
“The game started so well for us, we were putting in some good patterns of play and had some really good chances to go in front. When the red card and penalty decision came along, we had to change things up and be a little bit more disciplined to get to half time and regroup.
“It’s a hard one to take, but I know that at the end of the game everyone was really proud of each other and the effort that we put in.”
Your family are there with you from the very beginning and they’re with you right the way through your journey so it’s nice to have worked hard and have been rewarded for that
Finally, Filis reflected on playing at the Amex Stadium and also the coverage that the WSL has received on Sky Sports and BBC – with the Hammers live on Sky Sports Main Event this weekend against Aston Villa.
“To kick-off our season at the Amex was a great occasion, and I feel like it’s somewhere that the women’s game is heading now, we’re playing at these big stadiums more regularly. It’s really nice to think about what can happen in the future and where else I might end up having the privilege to have played.
“The game is definitely on the up – you could see at the weekend how the new shows on Sky Sports and BBC were presented in such a professional way,” she concluded.
The Hammers are back at Victoria Road on Saturday, taking on Aston Villa at 11:30. Click on the graphic below to purchase your ticket ahead of the match.