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Barnsley have been in good form in recent weeks and showed this on Sunday when they won 3-1 against FAWNL Northern Division One high fliers Chorley, inflicting a first defeat of the season on the Lancashire side.
We talked to Barnsley midfielder Kathryn Smith, who praised her team for the Chorley win and their recent form, and revealed that the club is being set up for bigger things in the future, and they are heading in the right direction:
WSS: Congratulations on a fantastic result for your club on Sunday, from your point of view, did you feel that the 3-1 scoreline was an accurate reflection on the game?
KS: Thank you, I don't actually, it should have been more! I think we had 5/6 chances in the first half and realistically we should have put the game to bed then. It was only 1-0 at half time which didn't reflect our chances or dominance. We were in total control of the game throughout and it was pleasing to win comfortably as we tend to make it hard for ourselves.
WSS: Chorley went into the game unbeaten and in good form, but how big a boost was the early goal from Melissa Woodhouse?
KS: Yeah, we knew they were unbeaten but in this league, everyone is going to beat each other so we went in quite optimistically, knowing our strengths and that we had a good chance of beating them. It's always nice to score first and you hope to settle after that and take charge of the game, which i think we did nicely. We score quite early on in a lot of our games and we have been focusing a lot in training on our game management and keeping control when we are in the lead, which i think we did excellently and as I said, it could have and should have been more going into half time.
WSS: This result makes it four wins in a row in all competitions, do you feel that the team is now hitting its best form?
KS: It's really nice to get a few wins under our belt. I think we started the season quite nervously; I also think we had to play some of the stronger teams in the league at the start of the season when we were still finding our feet, with new players and new management coming in which takes some getting used to. Even now the squad is still changing and people are earning their shirts, especially some of the younger ones which is really nice to see, so it obviously takes a while to get used to playing with everyone, against different teams and seeing how people react which influences the whole team's performance. I definitely think we are finding our best form now but we won't get too carried away, we take each game as it comes and let the results speak for us.
WSS: The club brought in a new manager, Chris Hamilton, during the summer, has he made many changes since his arrival?
KS: Yeah, Chris has been fantastic, as have the rest of the coaching team he brought in with him. The team has changed a lot and so has the attitude and professionalism within the club. Chris likes to set standards before we even get out onto the training pitch which helps get you into that professional mindset and then when you actually do get on the ball and on the pitch the quality, the intensity and the overall desire to do better is instantly there because you are conditioned to want to be the best. There are a lot of behind the scenes stuff that they do that I don't think they get credit for, which has a massive impact on the team. The team will change throughout the season, with injuries or people being away for whatever reason, but Chris has made sure we have strength in depth within the squad and people wanting to fight for shirts to go out and represent Barnsley on a Sunday.
WSS: This week you have no game but return to action next Sunday at home to Morecambe, presumably you will approach that match with a lot of confidence?
KS: A week off this week, but we have still been putting in the effort on the training pitch to make sure we are fully prepared. We will be going in with a lot of confidence but we always do. We know the level of quality and talent we have within the squad - not only the starting eleven but the girls on the bench who are getting on and making an impact in the games, asking questions of the manager and staff - making the decisions hard for them, which is how it should be. Chris tells us every single week that every team in this league is beatable and you can see it with the results coming in. We will definitely go into the game with a positive mindset but also not underestimating Morecambe, we are positive that we can build on our four wins and hopefully have a just as successful November.
WSS: What are the aims overall for Barnsley this season, what would you consider to be a good campaign?
KS: I think pre-season ,a few people outside of our squad got a bit carried away thinking we could win the league. More realistically I think a strong finish at the top end of the table is our target and really gelling together as a team and being known as a team where you will come to Oakwell and it will be a big fight to get one point, never mind three. I think that there is real progress looking at where the team were last season (avoiding relegation by goal difference) and how Chris, Andy, Ash and Steve (Director) have rebuilt us to be a force to be reckoned with. Finishing at the top end of the table and with the growth of our club will draw players to us which will then enable us to strengthen our squad and improve us ready for next season which, then, we hope to be title contenders. Barnsley Ladies is now a fantastic place to play your football.
WSS: The league is shaping up to be a close one judging by the early results, how tough a division is it to play in?
KS: Yeah like I said, the results are all over the place, we are near the bottom currently and have just beaten third placed, unbeaten Chorley, more than comfortably so it shows us that you can't rely on the results to inform you of anything about the team you are going to play. We know every team will be tough and we have been conditioned and prepared for that but as I said we also know we can beat every single team in the league and if we put all our effort in and concentrate on beating the team we are playing that particular Sunday, week in week out, I'm sure the results will speak for themselves. Then we will start to progress up through the league which will reflect the effort and hard work every single person involved with the club puts in every day.
Our thanks to Kathryn!
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