Ladies 10/10/2019

Lancaster: “We Want To Finish Top”

The Golden Girls climbed to second in the Women’s National League last night (Wednesday October 10) and made it five games unbeaten, but Head Coach Clinton Lancaster is aiming even higher after a convincing 3-1 win against MK Dons Women.

“Second isn’t where we want to finish, we want to finish top, but of course we’re making the right steps,” Lancaster told “It’s amazing for us, our aim is to finish as high as we can and we’re going from position to position. The more games we win, depending on how others get on, we’re just going to push on and on in the league.”

Centre-half Emily Hill was captain for the day and gave the hosts the perfect start with a tidy finish from the edge of the box in the second minute. But, despite the Hornets creating chance after chance to further their lead, MK Dons equalised just before the break.

“In the first half we were frustrated because they sat off us, which we expected them to do and we dominated possession, but we just couldn’t find the second goal in the first half,” said Lancaster. “We moved the ball really well, but they got the equaliser late in the first half which was frustrating.

“At half-time we said just keep moving the ball, be patient and it will open up, and in the second half it did and we got the two goals which we thoroughly deserved and I think we thoroughly deserved to win the game.”

Lancaster’s side lined up in a 3-4-3 formation but, when it became clear the visitors were playing with a lone striker, the Head Coach gave his defenders licence to get forward.

“When teams sit off you, you have to change the picture,” said the Head Coach. “I think in the first half we realised our three at the back were up against a one and we could get another one forward. Whether it was Anne [Meiwald], Emily or Becks [Emma Beckett], we were encouraging them at half-time to get forwards more because we didn’t need to keep three against the one.

“Although they were looking to break, we were confident we could deal with whatever they would hit us with on the break.”

The second breakthrough for the Golden Girls came through super sub Andrea Carid. The creative Spaniard made an instant impact and scored two goals – the first via a fortunate deflection, but the second with a beautifully taken first-time finish.

“One thing Andrea does when she comes on is her work rate is outstanding,” said Lancaster. “She will work really hard, she’ll shut the game down and when she’s got the ball she’s got great feet and looks after the ball really well and moves it really quickly.

“She played really well when she came on and she made a massive difference, and she obviously helped us get over the line in the end. It was a great finish, she took her goals really well.”

Another second-half substitution was club captain Helen Ward, who had only recently flown into the country from Belarus, where she was on international duty with Wales.

Ward was an unused substitute for her national team and, itching to get back on the pitch, messaged Lancaster late last night saying she wanted to be involved if possible.

“It sums up her character really,” said Lancater. “She’s a top professional and she loves playing her football. Her football and her family are the most important things for her, and she wants to play all the time.

“That for us is great, someone with her experience, with her knowledge, with her goals. Any opportunity to include Helen, we will. She’s a great leader, a great captain, so it came as no surprise.”

First Team 10/10/2019

Internationals: Sarr On Brazil Clash

Ismaïla Sarr said he has no fear going into a glamour international friendly with Brazil on Thursday.

The 21-year-old forward was named in a 23-man squad by coach Alio Cissé in what will be the Lions of Teranga's first game since the heartbreaking African Cup of Nations final defeat to Algeria in July.

Sarr, who is joined in the squad by Sadio Mané, Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly and Idrissa Gueye, is bidding to make his 18th start (his 24th appearance in total) for his country and is relishing the chance to go up against Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino at the Singapore National Stadium.

“No, [I'm not worried]. Why should I be?” he said. “We have a great team, too. We are strong, too. We have great players. We have Mané and we have Cheikhou Kouyaté. I'm not going to predict the score of the game. I don't like to.”

Sarr has only made one Premier League start for the Hornets since his club-record move from Rennes, but Abdoulaye Doucouré, who knows a thing or two about moving from France to Watford in your early twenties, has seen enough to know the 21-year-old will be a hit in the Premier League.

“He can be very successful here,” the French midfielder told Sky Sports. “He needs more time to adapt in the Premier League, in the country and everything. But he is so happy to be here, now he’s more settled, and we will see the best of Ismaïla soon.

“He doesn’t speak English, so it is very hard for him. He came in a bad moment for us when we don’t win one game [in the league]. So for him it’s very hard but I think he has the quality to adapt in the Premier League and we are here to help him.”

Quique Sánchez Flores gave Sarr his full debut against Wolves and has brought him on as a substitute in the other three games he has overseen since returning to the club as Head Coach.

“We need to protect this player, we need to care about him,” said Sánchez Flores. “He is really young, it is really different the characteristics of this player, it is very different to the Premier League characteristics.

“Here they want to take the player, the defenders, to have contact. He wants space, so it’s completely different but he is a very good player. He understands very well, even though he doesn’t speak English, but he has Capoue like a dad in the training ground.

“He understands everything, he is potentially a starter because he has a lot of skills, physically he is very good. So we need to care about him. When he does play it is because we want these characteristics, even if he is really young, but when he doesn’t play, we need to say, ‘You don’t play, but you are still good’.”

Click here to see who else is in action for their country this international break.