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Women's Team defender Francesca Davies delighted with Reds' "good form" in early weeks of season

FCUMW vice-captain Francesca Davies has started the new season as she finished the last, with a string of strong performances at the centre of United’s defence. The defender has been paramount in the Reds’ perfect start to the season, helping the side to pick up three wins and three clean sheets from their opening three fixtures. Davies has been wholly impressed with a number of things in the opening few weeks, but none-more-so than the squad’s togetherness in the opening games.

"I think we have really jelled as a team, the new players have slotted in and adapted to our style of play. We’re in the same good form as last season shown by us stretching our run to 27 consecutive wins from competitive matches, across the two seasons", Davies said.

The Reds may be in a similar vein of form, to last season, but Davies admits that there is plenty of new and exciting challenges that lie ahead for the side over the coming months. "A major change for us is that our home games are now in the stadium. It’s a great opportunity for us as players to have that privilege throughout the season."

One thing that was new for Davies over the course of pre-season was regularly wearing the captain’s armband in the absence of regular skipper Kirsty Chambers. Davies insists that it was an honour but she believes in playing as a leader with or without the armband. "It’s always an amazing feeling to represent the club as captain. But I strive to play like a captain whether I’m actually wearing the armband or not."

The centre-back has perhaps had to play as more of a leader than usual, particularly in last weekend’s FA Cup win at Oughtibridge. Despite frequently lining up alongside teammates Chelsea Patient and Abbie Carrington throughout last season, Davies played in a back three with new signings Nicole Malpus and Shaunna Jein in the Reds’ most recent outing. The defender admits that her role is slightly different in these situations but has no doubt that the Reds’ will be successful no matter who lines up in the defence. "Playing without Abs [Carrington] and Chels [Patient] does feel a little different. I know their style of play and how they like to position themselves in a game, there’s a comfortable feeling there knowing that they will cover me. That being said Shaunna [Jein] and Nic [Malpus] are very good players so I don’t doubt that we will be successful. I think the main differences in my role is more talking and being a little more assertive than usual."

Davies may have put in yet another high quality defensive performance on the day but it was teammate Rebecca Foster who narrowly pipped her to the weekly Player of the Match award. Davies is one of many who have been hugely impressed by our no.8 this season. "I couldn’t have been happier with last weekend’s game. I thought Becks [Foster] had a fantastic game and thoroughly deserved to be Player of the Match. When she joined FC, she was already a superb player but the development of her game and the partnership with Liv [Greenhalgh] has been amazing to see. For me personally, I couldn’t ask for more with Becks. She’s always available as an option on the pitch and is well aware of everything around her during a game. She’s been a top quality addition as has Cara [Fields], her touch is ridiculous and she’s excellent at holding the ball up so Cara’s also a great player to have in our midfield."

Last weekend’s win sent the Reds through to the Third Qualifying Round of this season’s SSE Women’s FA Cup, where they will face Bridlington Rovers LFC in just over a week’s time, at Broadhurst Park. Davies admits that the win was a relief after last season’s events and is now massively looking forward to the challenges that await United in the competition. "We were very unfortunate to lose last season [vs Wigan Athletic], the fact that it was only 1-0 after playing 80 minutes with ten players was quite hard to take. Therefore, we were delighted to have won at the weekend, especially having kept Oughtibridge to just one shot on target! I feel confident that we can progress to the 1st Round proper. I’m definitely looking forward to the potential FA Cup games that will test both myself and ourselves as a team."

Before then, FCUMW will come up against old rivals in Merseyrail Bootle, in tomorrow’s league fixture at Broadhurst. The Merseyside-based club edged United to the Division 1 South title back in 2016/17 before the Reds hit back, winning the Argyle Cup quarter-final tie between the two, last season. Davies insists that FC are determined to keep their early season momentum rolling, with another positive result tomorrow. "It would be fantastic to keep the competitive win streak going. They are a strong physical team that will certainly give us a good test. Although they haven’t had the best start to the season, we do have fierce rivalry with them so we will go out all guns blazing to get the three points!"

You can see Davies and her teammates take on Merseyrail Bootle LFC, in the league tomorrow, at Broadhurst Park - 2pm KO. We hope to see you there!

By Mikey Partington

First Posted ~ 20:14 Sat 29 Sep 2018
News ID ~ 8067
Last Updated ~ 23:45 Thu 4 Feb 2021