Tottenham Ladies’ Baptiste focused on Blackburn
- Credit: Archant
Play-off final has been goal says striker
Bianca Baptiste says Tottenham Ladies’ focus has always been on the FA Women’s Premier League Championship Play-Off final against Blackburn Rovers on May 28 – and is adamant the seven goals they hammered past West Ham, which ended their league campaign in emphatic fashion, shows how motivated they are.
Baptiste and Wendy Martin bagged braces, with Katie O’Leary, Riana Soobadoo and Lucia Leon also on target against the Hammers and Baptiste pointed to the squad’s togetherness – especially in front of goal, with her and Martin on 23 goals going into the game.
She said: “We had to show a lot of motivation – we know when it comes to playing West Ham there will be opportunities. They played well, they battled throughout especially in the first-half. Our fitness came through in the end, we kept going and going at them.
“It was a nice feeling, especially as before the game Wendy and I realised we were joint top goalscorers in the league, so it was literally a battle to see who can score more goals!
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“At the same time when Wendy scored her two, she literally turned around and said to me ‘come on B, yours is up next’. I set her up, she set me up so it’s just nice that we’ve got that togetherness and we’re all there for each other working as a team – and the main thing, which is finishing on a high.
“They were good goals but if I didn’t have my team around me them goals wouldn’t have happened. I can guarantee you as long as we work together as a team, goals will be coming from all different angles. Not just me – Wendy, Lu (Leon), Leggy (O’Leary), Kelley (Blanchflower), Ri (Soobadoo) – everyone put a foot in and we got what we deserved.
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“It was a great feeling, the girls worked well and everyone put in a shift. We tried a different formation out – it worked pretty well to be fair winning 7-0. Now we’ll just focus on training together as team for the play-off.”
A major influence on Spurs’ treble has been the work of strength and conditioning coach Anton Blackwood – who is departing for new ventures – and the long-serving striker says the impact all the coaching staff have had, with special recognition to Blackwood, goes beyond a win or loss record.
She added: “Anton has made a massive impact on Spurs Ladies, not only as a strength and conditioning coach, but also as a good leader, motivator and a good friend.
“He will be missed dearly as he has committed his time to the club with passion. He’s helped the girls improve physically and mentally, as well as the players that were injured. They have made a speedy recovery because of the time and effort Anton and Sarah (Budd, physio) have put in.
“Anton has played a huge part in helping us achieve the success we had this year along with all the coaching staff – and for that I am truly grateful. He has pushed every single one of us to our limit, and that’s been the mentality we’ve gone into every game with.”
The biggest game in the club’s history awaits at the end of this month, as the Northern and Southern Division Champions battle it out for promotion to the Women’s Super League 2.
Baptiste was at the double the last time the two sides met in the Women’s FA Cup back in February, with Karen Hills’ high-flyers scoring deep into injury time to hand Blackburn their first defeat, and she sees the game being played in similar fashion and is calling on everyone to be focused.
She added: “We know that we can’t step off the gas, we’ve got to work well, go hard in training and go into that game never giving up. It’s a great opportunity for Spurs Ladies and I think the way we’ve played this season, we definitely do deserve it. We’ve got to show everyone why we won this league and why we deserve to be up there.
“Anything can happen – Blackburn are a good team – they battled through, we just had that extra bit of quality on the day. We’ll train hard and as a team we’ll look to turn up on the day, as it will be a really hard battle against them.”