Teenager Jess Parlane has praised the work of West Ham Ladies goalkeeping coach Julian Roberts in helping her start to fill the void left by experienced shot stopper Toni-Anne Wayne.
The 19 year old joined the Hammers from Chelsea in October and was enjoying training with and watching Toni-Anne play before she quit the club to join Women’s Super League hopefuls Brighton and Hove Albion at the end of last year. Now the former Colchester United Academy player is hoping to cement her place in the starting line up and help the Ladies push up the FA Womens’ Premier League Southern Division.
“When joining, I honestly didn’t expect to be starting for the first team,” she told Blowing Bubbles. “Toni-Anne is a great ‘keeper with much more experience than me. She really helped me with my technique and I learnt a lot from just watching her play. There are other ‘keepers here as well so it was a bit of a shock to have been given a chance to start a few games. “I was training hard and was doing well in training but I have learnt a lot in the games I’ve played and the more experience players in the team have helped me immensely.
“What has also helped me is the fact I knew Julian (Roberts) quite well because my sister used to play for West Ham Ladies and he has really helped build my confidence and I feel like my technique has really improved with Julian.” One of Jess’ best moments playing for West Ham was in the FA Cup 2nd round clash away at C&K Basildon on February 9 when she made a brilliant one handed save in the penalty shootout which sent the Hammers through to round three.
“When it came to my first game for West Ham, I was quite nervous but now I get really excited about playing,” Jess continued. “I was really excited for the Basildon game. It was our first game of 2014 and we had waited a long time to play a game because of the weather. I saved one of the penalties which took us through which I was delighted with. “We played Watford in the next round a few weeks later but I was too ill to play. We lost 5-1 and I was disappointed we didn’t win but we are all focused on making sure we start winning games again.”
The Hammers have only played five games in 2014 so far and only returned to league action against Charlton Athletic last Sunday. “It has been really frustrating that we have only played a handful of games this year but the girls have all kept positive and if anyone looks a bit down, the rest of the girls will pick them up,” Jess continued. “I have, however, loved the training. I feel I have progressed loads with Julian since joining. It has also been great to work with the back four during training because it has helped me to get to know how each player likes to play and what they are comfortable doing which has helped me in games.”
She added: “I know we have lost a couple of experienced players in Toni-Anne and Becky Merritt but we still have quite a few players who have a lot of experience and we are still growing as a team.
“This season didn’t start how we would have liked but we have got the chance now to continue to work hard in training and start getting the results we deserve.” The Ladies have, however, got an Essex County Cup Final to look forward to after another penalty shootout against C&K Basildon on March 9 – a game Jess is desperate to play in.