West Bromwich Albion’s Women head coach Jenny Sugarman is aiming for a strong league finish and county cup glory as she approaches the end of her first year in charge of the Baggies.
Albion have experienced successful cup runs in both the FA Cup and Birmingham FA Women’s County Cup this season. Sugarman’s side progressed to the FA Cup fifth round for just the second time in the club’s history, just missing out on a trip to Arsenal following a 4-2 defeat to Coventry United.
The women’s team are still in the running for the Women’s County Cup, however, taking on local rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers before the season draws to a close. This comes after convincing victories against the likes of Sutton Coldfield, Leafield Athletic and Stourbridge Ladies in the semi-finals.
Such runs have prevented Albion from a consistent run of league action, with the former Aston Villa coach focused on climbing the Northern Premier Division as soon as possible.
She said: “Cup games are different, there’s a different edge to them and obviously you have to win on the day to progress.
“The challenge for us is that it has really interrupted our league and we’ve only played a handful of league games in the last three months and that’s difficult to then gain any momentum so we’ve sat in eighth place in the table pretty much for three, four months now.
“We are looking forward to getting a good run of league games under our belts now and really trying to make some progress there.”
Albion have enjoyed their longest run of league matches since October, with back-to-back wins against Derby County and Hull City in recent weeks.
This season has been full of positives for the Baggies amid a season of transition on and off the field. Sugarman’s first season in management has overseen a mass squad overhaul since arrival, and she highlights how her job isn’t just on a football pitch.
The head coach added: “In this role there’s so many challenges and so many different challenges and particularly where we are in our journey is that I coach a football team and work with the players but the role entails a lot more than that.
“Whether that’s been developing the social side of the team because the dynamic’s changed significantly with the young players coming up, new players coming in, older players leaving, players that have been at the club for a while having to adjust to the changes so we’ve been working particularly hard over the last couple of months on the social side.”
Sugarman has praised the attitude and performances of the new, young talent being brought into the fold. The likes of England U18s goalkeeper Poppy Bastock has been a mainstay in the Albion XI this campaign and one of several high-performers in the side’s historic first outing at the Hawthorns.
Sugarman believes this is an opportunity for several youngsters within the Albion squad to take their game to the next level.
Sugarman said: “Some of our young players who we’ve put the trust in, for them to go out and perform at seventeen years of age on that stage and to handle that pressure because we believe in them and they absolutely rose to that occasion.
“I think they have seen their own potential in those moments and that’s an experience that will stay with them for the rest of their careers and hopefully stand them in good stead for their next steps, hopefully with us and if not with us, with someone else because we’ve got players with the potential to play at a high level for sure.”
Jenny Sugarman’s team now face AFC Fylde Women next time out at Coles Lane. The Baggies will take on the promotion contenders on Sunday 20th March at 2:00PM.