Chatham Town Women showed their fighting spirit last weekend.
Keith Boanas’ side were two goals down against Haywards Heath after 23 minutes but fought back to win their Women’s FA Cup match 4-2.
Breon Grant netted twice, either side of goals from Nicole Pepper and Ellie Jeffkins, sending Chats into the Second Round where they have been drawn to face AFC Wimbledon on Sunday, November 26.
Boanas’ side could have been three down in the match but the manager pointed to a pivotal moment that kept them in the tie and showed that he had the kind of players he wants to be working with.
He said: “I have been in the game a long time and [I received] lots of messages saying ‘that’s typical Keith Boanas, instilling a spirit in his teams’. You can’t afford to give up.
“We had a defining moment in the first half and I cited that after the game where we were 2-0 down but Lenny Priest has blocked for me what would have been a certain goal by literally flinging herself across the edge of the six-hard box and blocking it, with her stomach I think.
“Had that have gone in and we had gone 3-0 down it could have been a whole different ball game but for me that was the type of player and character that I love in my teams.
“It was a brilliant win in the end, we went there anticipating an underdog-type game and with what’s been going on in the men’s FA Cup you can’t afford to take anything for granted, also playing on a wet grass pitch, whereas we play on 3G.
“My first question to my players was ‘have you a pair of studs in your kit bag?’. They all wear these flashy boots these days and don’t always carry the boots that are suitable for that kind of pitch and I think one or two of them had to admit that was the case.
“We went 2-0 behind, disappointingly, but showed great character to come back.”
Chatham are at home this Sunday when they host Ebbsfleet in the Kent Women’s Cup Quarter-Final.
The club are keen to attract new supporters and are offering free under-18 tickets to any of their remaining league and cup fixtures to grassroots teams, youth clubs and schools - including this weekend’s cup match.
“Our mission is a simple one,” said a club statement. “We want to provide opportunities for all female players, supporters or the casual football fan to have a first-hand opportunity to experience a senior women’s match live and for free.
“We also have free team mascot opportunities available.”
The manager has seen similar offers work at one of his previous clubs and sees plenty of benefits.
He said: “The women’s game has peaked in the last few years with the success the national teams have had.
“At a previous club I worked with before this we did that with local schools in the Welling area and we boosted the crowd from 50 to 600.
“Chatham Men have got great support on a Saturday and we would like to increase ours but we also need to give them a reason to come, not just because it is free, but because there is something for them to enjoy, some entertainment and they realise the women’s game can be just as enjoyable to watch and as competitive as the men’s game.
“It’s not new anymore, it’s here and it’s not going away, I think it is an ideal opportunity to certainly bring in the young girls from local schools and hopefully that will encourage them to join the club as players which is another positive factor to stem from that.”
Kick-off on Sunday at the Bauvill Stadium is at 2.30pm.