Gillingham Ladies manager Jack Wheeler could not contain his excitement after forward Fliss Gibbons was named the SSE Women’s FA Cup player of the first round.
His forward found the back of the net four times as the Gills beat Southampton Saints 7-1 in their first round tie, sealing a second-round trip to Tottenham Hotspur Ladies.
Wheeler, like Gibbons, is in his second spell at the club and enjoying a strong run in knockout competitions, with his side also in the semi-finals of the Kent County Cup.
The FA Women’s Premier League South East Division 1 side also racked up seven goals in their SSE Women’s FA Cup fourth round qualifying win over Aylesford Ladies, and Wheeler said the cup is a real target for his side.
“I’m very proud,” he said. “It’s a great achievement for Fliss and the team. She shares her individual accolades across the team and the club.
“So for me, personally, and as a club, it’s a great achievement because there were a number of teams in the round, and a number that went on to win heavily, and I’m sure there were some other strong individual performances in that round, too.
“The women’s game is not as lucrative as the men’s, it’s not a free-flowing money situation, so any additional money we can get, goes back into the pot.
“It means we can train these girls and get them new kit, and all the other stuff that most men’s professional teams take for granted.
“So yeah, the Cup is one of our priorities, and something that keeps the girls striving to get better and go as far as we can.”
The final of the competition, proudly sponsored by SSE, will once again take place at Wembley Stadium, on Saturday, May 13, with children going for free.
With Spurs Ladies flying high at the top of the FA Women’s Premier League Southern Division, Gills go into their second round clash as underdogs, but Wheeler is confident his side have the talent to take on the higher ranked side.
“For us to win it, it might be a little bit far off, but we’ll definitely give it a go, that’s one thing I can tell from the group of players we have,” added the Sidcup native.
“Any targets, anything that we do as a team, I cannot fault their attitude. They are all for the cause, and what we are doing.
“And that will be exactly the same when we move onto the next round against Tottenham.
“We might be classed as underdogs, but I know that anything is capable with this group of girls, so it’s going to be an exciting fixture.”
Women’s FA Cup sponsors SSE will be running a money-can’t-buy experience for their customers at the Wembley showpiece, and while Wheeler hopes his players can book their spot there as of right, he also wants his side to keep focus on their league campaign.
“Each individual girl within the team, and the team itself, will set their own goals and targets. I’m not here to sit here and say ‘this is what we’re going to do’,” he added.
“We’ll get out of this league what we put into it. You don’t win any league campaign with an individual weekend’s set of fixtures, or an individual performance.
“It comes down to the squad of 22, to make sure they are all happy, and all on the same ship and all going in the right direction, and making sure there is a good feel and they’re all enjoying themselves.”
Tickets are now on sale for the SSE Women’s FA Cup Final on Saturday 13th May at Wembley Stadium connected by EE. For the second consecutive year, kids go free to the final, tickets can be purchased here: https://ticketing.thefa.com/