Exeter City Women return to league action this weekend as they visit Selsey, the Grecians hoping to keep their good form going and complete a fourth successive victory.
It has been a difficult start to the season for Selsey, conceding forty-six goals in their five games and currently sitting bottom of the division. With a complete overhaul of club personnel over the summer,
Manager Rhys Griffiths is keen to build a new foundation. “Last season I was the manager of the club's development squad, having managed another team in the area, Pagham Ladies. Along with my duties as women's first team manager, I also assist with the men's side as a goalkeeping coach, and work with the youth section supporting their younger goalkeepers and running their youth camps over the holidays.”
Rhys’ role, like so many in Women’s football, is a demanding one and made even more so with the departures faced over the summer. “It’s been a really tough one. Following the departure of Sadie Blakely, a large number of the playing staff departed with her. We retained a few of the younger players who had broken into the first team last season and have managed to recruit a few players that wanted to make the step up to tier four football but struggled to bring in players with experience for various reasons. We also promoted a large number of last season's development squad to push into the first team.”
Whilst the start to the season has been tough, Rhys is confident in what his players can become with more experience. “The players we have, I truly believe, are excellent, technical footballers. The average age of the players that are regularly featuring in the first team this year is 19.3 years old, which is possibly one of the youngest in the league. We are ultimately hoping to develop these young players into both strong footballers, but also into strong people.
"We have created a support network for players, with each player being assigned a mentor member of staff within the club. We are also hoping to create an environment where the women can come and enjoy their football, at a good standard, along with being around the club itself. Despite the results, and a very difficult start to our season, we are seeing little bits of progression in each game which has been a positive for myself and the coaching team.”
Such is the ruthless and competitive nature of a league campaign, Abbie Britton and Aaron Wakley’s side will travel in the hope of taking full advantage of the home side’s inexperience at tier four level. With AFC Bournemouth and Moneyfields hitting big numbers against The Seals, the Grecians will be looking to follow suit.
However, leagues are nothing without teams to play, and there will be a respect for what Rhys and his coaching team are trying to build as City travel to Sussex. The hope that a more positive set of results will begin to be achieved for the hosts as the season progresses should be the wish of everyone in the division.