Friday 9 March 2018

Mid Season Review with Lee Burch

Manager Lee Burch gives his review of the season as we cross the half way point.

Manager Lee Burch gives his review of the season so far.

  • 10 games gone, still unbeaten
  • Currently sit 2nd in the league
  • Unbeaten record and Lionesses history made
  • Cup experiences including ties with Arsenal and Reading

The half way mark in the Women’s Super League 2 season has been passed and for Millwall Lionesses, the only way to look is up.

With ten games played, the Lionesses currently sit in second, three points off of Doncaster Belles in pole position and on a league record run of unbeaten games after last year’s Spring Series.

“It’s great to have continued the momentum from the Spring Series and bring this forward into the current campaign,” manager Lee Burch says. “As well as continuing the flow forward, we’ve got better and shown everyone in the league that we’re no fluke.”

And with this run comes an added benefit to all of the players and coaching staff within the team, a new found confidence to break records. Within the current run, the Lionesses have picked up a best ever points haul for a Millwall side and are on track for the highest ever league position.

“The motivation is there for everyone to see and thrive off of. The psychological effect is positive for everyone and we can only use this as a benefit to improve further,” Burch added.

The 2017-18 season got off to a flying start when the Lionesses defeated Watford 3-1 on the opening day but a week into the current campaign were struck with a blow. The FA changed the rules of the league and the Lionesses as well as all the other clubs in the division were told that they would not be playing for promotion this season.

“It was a huge blow at the time especially straight after the start of the season and the hard work we had put in in pre-season but if I’m honest promotion was never in our thoughts back then. We had ambition of course to better records and continue where we left off but some belief was taken away a little.”

Although a blow, manager Lee Burch and the Lionesses were to be hit with a bigger and possibly more significant one, weeks later when due to an admin error, a three point deduction was sent their away. After a few games the Lionesses sat top of the WSL2 table but the point deduction sent them to second, a positioned they have remained in for the rest of the season so far.

“The point deduction was most definitely a bigger blow. The hard work we had put in against Watford and to be in the position at the top seemed to just unravel. It seemed very unfair on all the players and staffs hard efforts,” Burch stated.

When asked for a highlight of the season, the majority of anyone associated with the Lionesses will state is the game that marked the fact that 365 days, a whole calendar year had passed without suffering a league defeat. An unassuming Wednesday night at Rotherhithe in bad weather and a 1-1 result meant that this run had done just that.

“Obviously a year unbeaten is a great achievement; the game against London Bees was one of mixed emotions. We went in knowing that we could have and should have got three points but in the end were lucky to come away with one and the relief that a year had passed.”

Burch also looks at performances that have impressed with “the superb attitude” shown by his players of the course of the run which included impressive victory over the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Hope Powell’s Brighton and Hove Albion.

Away from the league, the Lionesses have taken part in both the Continental Cup and FA Cup this season. In the Continental Cup, opposition included London Bees and Watford as well as ties with WSL1 sides Reading and Arsenal.

“I really liked the Continental Cup group format; it gave us chances to use squad rotation for ties with Watford and London Bees. I could see how the fringe players worked in the style of play and give minutes to those that needed it most. When it came to ties with Reading and Arsenal, it was a great experience and opportunity to see how we could fair against the top teams in English football,” Burch stated.

When it came to the FA Cup, the Lionesses defeated Women’s Premier League side, Coventry United before being drawn away to Arsenal in the fifth round, a tie that produced a memorable performance from the Lionesses eventually falling 1-0 to the professional side.

“The Arsenal FA Cup tie summed up how far we have come. We came away from that tie thinking ‘what if’. What if we scored a sole goal and took it on to extra time, what if we managed to keep a clean sheet all game, what if. It’s a different mentality that has developed with the form we have and the forward movement that this side has had.”

With the season run in fast approaching, the manager continues to praise and encourage the team to improve even further and thanks all the fans for the continued support shown both at home and on the road this season.

“It’s great to see the support we’re getting, people are taking notice and I thank every single person who shows support whether it’s on a matchday down at Rotherhithe, at an away game or even just over social media, thank you all!”

Read what Lee Burch has to say as the Lionesses look towards the run in, in a similar article next week!

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