The Nottingham Forest Development side got their 2019-20 season underway with a convincing 6-0 win last Sunday over the Mansfield Town Development team.
Four different players etched their names on the scoresheet to make it an opening day to remember for the club. The side also enjoyed a successful pre-season campaign after they brought in several new faces over the summer and manager Sefton Garner shared his views on how he thought his side faired over pre-season.
He said: “Pre-season went really well. We played plenty of games, at least one a week and it was fantastic and great for the girls and was great to see what was happening on the training pitch happen in games.
“You can put all the hard work in at training but if you don’t go and do it in games then you’re not going to feel the full benefit and the results were really positive.
“We played plenty of teams that are ranked in divisions higher than us and it was great to pick up positive results against them.”
Pre-season was an important time for Garner’s side to get their fitness back up to match level and for his new players to meet and connect with their new teammates and he believes that he’s got a perfect balance of players heading into the new season.
“The side is feeling really good ahead of the season. They’re feeling confident and all getting to know each other again,” he explained.
“I managed to keep pretty much the core of my squad last season and was able to add some more face.
“We have a couple of good characters in the group that help gel all the players together.
“It’s absolutely crucial the side mix well together, if the side’s not gelling you’re not going to get the performances on the pitch.
“But the girls are 100% behind each other and its fantastic.”
One of the development side’s new faces is Alana Crawford who made the switch from the reserve team during the summer as she looks to regain her form and match fitness following an injury. Crawford expressed her gratitude to the development as she looks to get back to her original playing level.
She said: “I’ve been at the club for five years and last year was the first season of the development team and knowing when I left the reserve side I could still play for Forest and still be able to progress back up is good for me.
“Personally, for me coming back from an injury and still being able to play and get my fitness up is great and there’s a lot of enjoyment in the development side.
“I’m enjoying it a lot playing with this side. When you’re enjoying playing the game you play and train better and when the girls are around you are putting in the work it helps so much more.”
Crawford may have been amongst the new faces in the side but one of the team’s retained players, Delaney Slater, is looking forward to getting her second season with the side underway. At only 17 years old, Slater is impressed with the club's structure as she explains it’s great to have the first team to look up to.
She said: “It’s great to have the different teams in the clubs as we’re seeing our teammates move up into the reserve team and it proves to us we can get somewhere.
“We’re not just destined to stay in the development side every season and can work our way up.
“We all want to play in the first team one day and it’s great to be able to have sides to look up to.
“The first team are full of great players, such as Lionesses, and it motivates us to work hard and push ourselves to get to that stage,” she continued.
“It’s extremely important to have that one club mentality, we haven’t see it as much in recent seasons with changes always happening but now we can see it happening.
“The new head coach for the first team has brought a good vibe to the club and we now know we can make that progression.
“It makes everyone train 10 times harder. It’s just great to have this one club mentality we can all move up or move down and we can all just help each other out.”
Looking ahead to the new season Garner shares his goals for the new season and how he is excited for the new campaign.
He said: “I absolutely cannot wait for the new season and to get in there and get some points on the board.
“I‘m not going to lie I’m aiming for promotion and that’s what we’re going for.
“So, it’s going to be a great season.”