Interview: Paul Cudby (Coventry City Ladies manager)
With promotion secured for Coventry City Ladies, Manager Paul Cudby was able to take stock of the club's achievement and look towards next season.
“To effectively finish the season winning the title at Sporting Club Albion was very pleasing, as I felt that the second-half performance especially was very good and professional. We were the better team on the day and deserved the win, I have to mention Albion, who pushed us all the way in a very strong league and were very gracious after the game too, all credit to them and I’m sure they’ll be there or thereabouts next season, as they continue to improve.
“The last couple of games were disappointing”, continued Cudby, referring to the team’s dip in form after clinching the title. “Taking 1 point from 6, and not remaining unbeaten all season, it just highlights that we'll need to continue to improve as a team and a squad, which will mean a lot of work over the summer and into pre-season.
"Next season is going to be a huge challenge for everyone at the club, we should take a huge amount of pride in what's been achieved by so many people at the club this year, yet be mindful that we're going to have to step up in a big way in everything we do and how we do it.
Looking back to the start of the season, promotion looked a long way off for a City side that were held goalless in four of six pre-season fixtures, that included a 3-1 defeat by a Stratford Town side they’d beaten 10-1 the previous season.
“Pre-season was tough, and a real low point came in that loss to Stratford, we were outplayed and outfought. It actually proved to be a real turning point though, as one or two things were done differently from that moment and the following week we really came together as a group and put on a great display against an Everton side, who only lost the Premier League on goal difference last season.
Whilst goals were a problem at the beginning of the year, one area that wasn’t an issue was defence, where Captain Natasha Lynch led the way, as City kept 14 clean sheets.
“Going into the season, we knew we had to focus on keeping things tight defensively and as the season went on, our confidence grew in our ability to score goals and take chances”.
Robyn James top-scored with 17 goals as the Sky Blues racked up an impressive strike rate of 66 goals in 22 league games.?
“We can count ourselves lucky to have so many highlights in such a memorable season,” reminisced Cudby. “Beating Sporting Club Albion at home in the second game of the season really galvanised the team and gave us huge belief to go on and win the league.
"Cherelle Archibald’s 94th minute winner away to Rotherham was a wonderful result but my personal highlight came at home when we played Stoke. We were missing Natasha Lynch, as well as our midfield general, Leanne McKenna. A 19 year-old Helen Dermody stepped up to lead the side to a 2-1 victory, where she scored the winning goal from a free-kick in the 85th minute, in very similar circumstances to David Beckham’s goal against Greece at Old Trafford.
“I’m personally really looking forward to next season, with all the support we have in terms of the staff, everyone off the pitch and the players' desire, we'll have a very good chance of taking this club forward to becoming a really great place to come to play and watch women's football”.
Pictured: Paul Cudby gets mobbed by Helen Dermody and Natasha Lynch. (David Singleton)