Ladies team manager Andy McIntosh says his side’s development during 2018 has earned them the right to contend for promotion from the First Southern Division, ahead of a top-of-the-table clash with Moneyfields on Sunday.
The Chairgirls head south to Portsmouth (k.o. 2pm) looking for a seventh successive victory in all competitions, having recorded back-to-back cup victories in the past fortnight, and place their 100% winning record in the league on the line against a Moneyfields outfit who have also won four from four.
But McIntosh says Wanderers’ form is no surprise to him, having witnessed an upturn in application and performances at the start of the calendar year, which came after a transition period following the team’s formal affiliation to Wycombe Wanderers, his appointment as coach and the merging of two different sides:
“It’s not just been this season but this form started at the turn of the year,” Andy explained. “It took me three or four months to get my ideas over, sort the players out and get them playing a different way. But now they’re showing the benefits of their hard work and commitment, and we’ve only added three new players this summer, so it shows the amount of development that has gone on with the players we already had.
“Defensively we’ve been much tighter – we changed formation and now try to win the ball higher up the pitch, which seems to have worked for us and the players have bought into it. Playing and training on the 3G pitch at Amersham & Wycombe College (in Flackwell Heath) certainly seems to have helped us play a more possession based game and their hard work is paying off.”
In a division of diverse abilities, which has seen scorelines of 10-0, 14-0 and 11-0 in recent weeks, Wanderers find themselves immersed in a battle at the summit with Moneyfields – who they face on Sunday – with Abingdon and Alton close behind, but McIntosh says his side’s team spirit and belief can help carry them to the end goal of promotion.
“That has to be the target for us,” he said. “The cup games are nice for us to have a run in, and it keeps the games coming instead of having free weekends, but the league is our priority.
“We’ve got an excellent team spirit now. We merged the Marlow and Wycombe teams last year which was difficult and coming to terms with that, for me as a male coach, was a steep learning curve, but the psychological and social side of the game is working for us now and performances have helped too. We added three new players which has played a part, because they’ve watered down that divide and come in as neutrals, and overall it’s been a really positive start to the season.”
And having launched two under-18 sides this summer, McIntosh says their affiliation with Wycombe Wanderers is bearing fruit, with the players proud to wear the badge:
“Being part of the club has been a real draw for the players and it acts as an adhesive which pulls them all together. That feeds into the under-18 teams where we have two sides who are all learning, working hard for each other and showing some really good signs.”
The game at Moneyfields is free to attend and will be played at Moneyfield FC, Portsmouth, PO3 6LA.