Coventry City Ladies Assistant Manager Stuart Ryder claimed the team ‘’should be proud of their efforts’’ after an opening day victory over Charlton Athletic at the Bedworth Oval.
However, Ryder – taking over duties in place of manager Paul Cudby, who was away completing his UEFA A Coaching Licence – insisted that there was room for improvement, despite a comfortable 2-0 victory over a Charlton Athletic side that finished one place above the Sky Blues last season.
‘’The team performance was very good. Our defensive shape was good and we used the ball well at times to create some good opportunities. We've had some tough matches during pre-season and the ladies should be proud of their achievements today’’ Ryder said. ‘’However, it’s essential they keep pushing themselves to raise their performance so they become better players and a better team.’’
Courtney Sweetman-Kirk lobbed Addicks goalkeeper Kelly Cooper to give Coventry a 25th minute lead, and despite having another ruled out for offside in the second-half, Danni Saulter set up Sweetman-Kirk to fire in a second goal with five minutes remaining. The performance of the goalscorer drew immediate praise from Ryder, but he was adamant that any successes that the Sky Blues achieve this season will be down to a team effort.
‘’Courtney is a very important member of the squad. She leads the line very well as a lone striker and took her goals well today. However, it is the squad that will bring us success and not an individual. It's great she's scored two goals today but I want to see goals from the other players too, as it’s risky to rely on one player. ‘’
Leeds United host the Sky Blues next Sunday at the Throstle Nest, and Ryder has warned the team that they must improve on keeping hold of the ball, if they are to cause problems to last season’s Premier League and League Cup runners-up.
‘’We particularly need to improve on retaining possession once we've won the ball. Today we worked hard on our defensive shape and pressing the ball but did not take enough care with our distribution in the second half’’ Ryder admitted. ‘’We defended well but I'd expect better teams in this league to punish us.’’
A home triumph against Charlton early last season proved to be the catalyst for a further five game unbeaten run, and the ladies will be hoping they can replicate this in upcoming matches over the next few weeks. Despite the victory, Ryder has kept his feet firmly on the ground regarding his personal expectations for the season ahead.
‘’The result has not changed my hopes and expectations. I hope to help Coventry City Ladies reach their full potential and be the best team they can possibly be. My expectation is for the players to show the same commitment, attitude and application that I showed when I was a player. If my hopes and expectations are achieved than we'll have a great season.’’