Darke pleased with Ladies’ progress

Rotherham United Ladies boss Simon Darke insists he is pleased with the progress his side are making after the club underwent an almost total transformation over the summer.

Following mass changes in the RULFC setup during the close season and a couple of tough opening fixtures, Darke believes his team are beginning to find their feet in the FAWPL and has seen clear signs of his Ladies making the step up in more recent outings.

“There have been huge improvements from the girls over the last three matches,” he told the official matchday programme.

“It’s been a busy schedule and there are some tired legs but that’s to be expected as we look to build our fitness at the start of the season.

“We suffered a heavy loss against Sheffield United who were just too organised and effective for us in just our third game as a group. However, we then travelled to Radcliffe for a midweek game and delivered a much improved performance despite losing 5-1.

“The intensity was much higher and closer to the level that is needed to be effective in this division. We managed to create more threat and caused them a few problems.”

The Ladies were then cruelly defeated in the cup despite running their opposition much closer with just a last gasp spot kick denying them the chance to progress and Darke is confident that the confidence will continue to breed in the camp, despite admitting there are still areas to work on.

“The positives from the match against Sheffield United were taken into our cup game against Chorley Ladies in the FA Women’s Premier League Plate competition,” he continued.

“We were unfortunate to lose 2-1 after a late penalty saw our hosts progress to the next round. This game saw us become tough to break down and we forced the opposition to take weak attempts.

“Our loss against Chorley was tough to take but we felt much more positive about the future as we were competitive throughout. We still need to make big improvements in our ability to work the ball forwards with control but that will come as the players continue to understand how each other play.

“There is a really good atmosphere in the group and we have managed to bring together a great group of people who have given huge amounts of effort in difficult games. This makes our task of improving easier and also enjoyable along the way.”

This weekend’s fixture list has conjured up a clash with local rivals and Darke and his side are keen to find their feet and secure bragging rights, in what will be another difficult outing for RULFC.

“This Sunday sees us play against local rivals, Steel City Wanderers. They will prove another tough challenge but one we are hopeful of gaining a result in given how quickly we have managed to become a more resolute side,” he explained.

“We are still making changes to the line-up and formation but we should soon see some consistency with everyone contributing to our performances.