Spurs Ladies keeper: Unbeaten pre-season record means nothing ahead of opening fixture against Swindon
Goalkeeper Toni-Anne Wayne says confidence is high after Spurs Ladies completed their pre-season schedule with an unbeaten record - but she says that will count for nothing when they kick off their FA Women’s Premier League campaign on Sunday.
Tottenham wrapped up a successful set of friendlies with a 2-0 victory over Reading’s development squad at the weekend, thanks to goals from Kelley Blanchflower and Wendy Martin.
But, as they prepare to face newly-promoted Swindon Town at Brimsdown Rovers FC, Wayne said: “I don’t think we can read too much into that. I think we’ve got to go into our next game positively, but we can’t be resting on our laurels thinking that we’ve stayed undefeated this pre-season.
“The girls have worked very hard to be where we’re at, but to be honest the run of results will be insignificant if we don’t do something [against Swindon]. It’s great that we’ve got the confidence but we need to kick on now.
“I command the best from people. I think people must work to their full potential and it’s very pleasing when you see that in each and every game.
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“Obviously I’ve played for a fair few more years than most of these girls, so it’s my responsibility to try and help them through the game and make it go as well as possible from the point of view of defending and trying to keep as many clean sheets as we can.
“There are many other experienced players in the squad, but I do take it on my shoulders because I have played at a higher level [for Arsenal] so I think that should be what’s expected of me.”
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Wayne will be buoyed by her clean sheet in the victory over Reading, having blocked Georgia Clifford’s strike at her near post late on – but she accepts she faces competition for her place, along with her senior team-mates.
“There was a really good tempo to the game,” said the 33-year-old. “I think we started a little bit sloppily, a little bit nervous. It’s our first time playing on a grass pitch for a while so I think we were just getting used to that a little bit - but we grew into the game and then there were some really good performances from senior players, but also from the younger girls coming on who are fighting for a place.
“We’ve got some fantastic additions to the team. We’re not just a 12 or 13-player team, we’re a 20 to 25-player squad so there’ll be people coming in and there’ll be people working harder because they want to be playing week in, week out – myself included.
“We’ve got some fantastic goalkeepers and every one of these players can push each other hard. The way that some of the reserve players have come in [against Reading], I’m sure Karen [Hills] will be thinking whether they should be in the squad on Sunday because they put on a performance.”
Spurs start their campaign determined to improve on last season’s sixth-place position in the FA Women’s Premier League, and to better their best ever finish of fifth.
Meanwhile Swindon, who were crowned South West Division One winners and were promoted last term, will be aiming to bounce back after suffering a 4-0 defeat to Charlton Athletic in their season opener.
“We’re expecting a hard game, there’s no game in this league that isn’t hard,” said Wayne. “We’d like to impose ourselves on them as quickly as possible so we don’t allow them to play.
“We know a little about how they play as we played them in the FA Cup [second round] last season, and they pushed us (Spurs went onto win 4-1).
“Regardless of whether they’re a team that were fighting for the Premiership last year or whether they’ve come up from a lower league, they’re still going to be a very good outfit and we’ll need to be at our best to make sure that we do well.”