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Women's Team goalkeeper Gemma Jackson delighted with "exceptionally successful" first season at FC

Ten months on from joining the club, it’s fair to say that goalkeeper Gemma Jackson has enjoyed a superb first season at Broadhurst Park. Jackson’s consistently high-standard showings and her ability to make crucial saves when called upon has made the goalkeeper an integral part of the Reds’ fight on three fronts, this campaign. The goalkeeper admits that her debut season with United has even surpassed her own expectations. "My first season at F.C. has been so much better than I thought it would be. I quickly settled in really well with both the girls and the staff - overall, it has been an exceptionally successful season. I remember when I first joined, Luke [Podmore] and Mark [Partington] discussing with me their aims and targets for the season ahead, and I remember thinking at that point ’wow, that’s ambitious’. But with one game to play we have achieved all of the targets we initially set. It has been a fantastic season!"

With one game left to play this season, Jackson has already picked up 13 competitive clean sheets across all competitions (in games started) and has praised the defence in-front of her, for helping to achieve the defensive targets set out at the start of the season. "I think it is important to set targets for yourself. I go into every game not wanting to concede any goals. At the start of the season our target was to concede less than six goals at home and nine away, based on last year. We have finished the season conceding four at home and six away which I think is a fantastic achievement and shows the strength of our defence."

Despite the consistent showings from Jackson and fellow goalkeeper Chloe Ainsworth, Jackson has continued to attribute a large amount of the praise to United’s defensive line. Having only conceded ten goals across all competitions this season, the goalkeeper has been more than impressed with the defensive unit, this season. "Without a doubt we have a very strong defence. I think the two most pivotal factors to this is that firstly, we understand how each other play and work well alongside each other and secondly, one of the best attributes of the defenders in front of me, is that they are willing to put their bodies on the line every single week which makes mine or Chloe’s job a million times easier. I personally feel that at times, I have not been tested this season, and this is completely down to the players in front of me."

With the Argyle Cup final offering the chance to complete an illustrious treble tomorrow afternoon, Jackson has been overjoyed with the silverware that the Reds have already picked up, this season. Having won the County Cup just under a month ago, F.C. wrapped up the North West Women’s Regional League Division 1 South title last month, with a 10-0 win over Crewe Alexandra LFC Development Squad. Jackson insists that her first season at Broadhurst Park has been the pinnacle of her career so far. "This has definitely been the most successful season I have experienced in my footballing career. It is always nice winning games and league titles but to win two, possibly three trophies, in one season is outstanding. I couldn’t have wished for a better first season at a new club."

Having won the title a few weeks ago, United earned promotion to the Premier division of the North West Women’s Regional League. Jackson believes that the side’s growing style of football will be key to take from this season, into the next campaign. "Next season will be a tougher test for us, however, I think a significant advantage we have gained from this season is that a lot of new players joined the squad at the start of the year which has the potential to unsettle a team. However, I feel for us, this year has allowed us to get to know how each other play and develop a real dominant style of football. Some of the patterns of play the girls have played this year is up with the best I have experienced in my career. We have so many creative players in our squad who love to have the ball at their feet and play football."

With two trophies already secured this season and a Cup final to come tomorrow, the good news kept on coming for the Reds earlier this week as it was announced that the side will play all of their home games inside the Broadhurst Park stadium from the start of next season. Jackson admits that the move will continue to suit United’s ever-developing brand of football. "Personally, I am delighted that we have secured the stadium for next season. I think the way we play, playing in the stadium suits us down to the ground. We play nice football, exploit the space and teams struggle against us on such a big pitch as we have shown in the games we have played in there [the stadium], this season. I hope this will contribute to us having another successful season next year."

Sunday’s Argyle Cup final sees United attempt to defend the trophy that they won for the first time in the club’s history, last season. Having finished the league season unbeaten, with a 10-1 win at Curzon Ashton LFC on Wednesday night, Jackson insists that there is plenty of motivation in the camp to add to the silverware collection, going into tomorrow’s final. "The mood in the camp ahead of Sunday is a good one. The girls are fired up and ready for the game. We have already had an outstanding season, picking up two trophies and being unbeaten in the league all year but we are still eager and determined to win a third trophy. We have already played numerous teams in the leagues above us, throughout pre-season and in cup run-ins, which we have overcome so Sunday is no different for us. We are confident in our own abilities and as a squad, that we have enough about us to win the game on Sunday.

You can see Gemma Jackson and her teammates go for back-to-back Argyle Cup titles at Millbank Linnets Stadium, Stockham Lane (WA7 6GJ), tomorrow afternoon (13th May) - 4pm kick-off!

We hope to see you there!

By Mikey Partington

First Posted ~ 20:36 Sat 12 May 2018
News ID ~ 7897
Last Updated ~ 22:49 Thu 18 Feb 2021