The West Ham Ladies may have only kept three clean sheets in their first 13 games this season but goalkeeper Nikita Runnacles admits she won’t be losing any sleep.
Why? Because the Hammers have enjoyed an impressive first half of the season and currently sit in the top half of the FA Women’s Premier League South having accumulated 18 points from their nine league games. ‘We’re not a team who will set up to sit back and defend,’ she told Blowing Bubbles. ‘We’re going to go out there and attack the opposition in every game. Of course, when you do look to take the game to the opposition, there will be times when you leave yourself open to a counter attack and you will concede goals.
We are, however, working hard to keep the back solid and I hope we can get a run of clean sheets going in January. Having said that, we don’t want to lose the attacking part of our game because we’re brilliant going forward and always look like scoring, which gives you great confidence that we can get something out of every game.
‘This isn’t an excuse but we’ve also had a couple of injuries at the back so we’ve had to change things about and not really had a settled defence for a long period which doesn’t help.” The only frustration from the former Millwall shot stopper was the lack of fixtures over November and December because of the wet weather but she hopes the Ladies can resume their positive campaign once their season restarts in January. ‘It’s been tough for us recently because we had so many games called off in November,’ she continued.
‘It’s difficult because you work so hard in pre-season to build up your fitness and then you get two or three games called off but we’ve been working hard in training to make sure we keep up our fitness. ‘With our last game of 2014 played, we’ve now got a few weeks before our next game in January but we are all committed to pushing ourselves hard to make sure we are ready to kick on come 2015.
Her performances between the posts so far this season have been hailed by senior members of the squad but Runnacles believes she still has a lot more to give to the team. ‘I’m really enjoying my football at the moment and having Julian Roberts as my goalkeeping coach has been great because he is really keeping my on my toes,’ she said.
‘I believe it’s a really good set up at the club and there is a really good feel about the place at the moment.’ As for her hopes for the second half of the season, Runnacles added: ‘We haven’t been very consistent this season and there have been teams we should have beaten and we didn’t or we struggled to get a win so I’m hoping in the second half of the season, we can get a few games in a row and get on a bit of a run. There have been some incredible individual performances this season and it has been these performances which have helped us get as many points as we have but across the board, I don’t think we can all say we’ve been 100 per cent consistent with our performances.
‘We’ve all had good days and bad days but we have got quality all over the pitch with Sarah [McCrea] and Kelley [Blanchflower] down the wings, Stacey [Little] in the middle and Vicky [Kinsman] and Emma [Sherwood] up top. ‘Danica [Revell] at the back too – she wins everything in the air so there is plenty of talent and individually, on paper, we are strong and when we are all clicking, we are capable of beating anyone.’