Eni Aluko looks back on a wonderful March and hopes for more of the same in April.
In my previous columns I wrote about the importance of March and how crucial it would be to do well both for Charlton and England.
Well I am delighted to say so far so good!
On the first Sunday of the month, Charlton beat our rivals Arsenal in a hard fought game in the League Cup final, winning 2-1, continuing our unbeaten record so far this season.
Thankfully, I was able to contribute to the win by scoring the two goals for Charlton and winning the player of the match, which I am really pleased with.
Having four first team regular starters out through injury and illness, the team saw substantial changes to the line-up, with Maria Bertelli moving from midfield to centre half, Amanda Barr from up front to right midfield, and Eartha Pond coming in and playing in centre midfield from left back.
I think it is safe to say, a newcomer coming to the match and not knowing the changes to the team would’ve thought these were their normal positions. The team pulled together fantastically, showing the belief we all have in each other.
In my opinion, our defence deserves special credit as they defended so well, throwing their bodies in front of shots, regularly clearing our lines and making last ditch tackles.
One that springs immediately to mind was Michelle Hickmott’s last-ditch tackle in the second half. Well done Michelle! Not to mention Pauline Cope’s fantastic safe to prevent Lianne Sanderson's brilliant volley in the first half.
Players on both sides both met up on the same night for the friendly international against Iceland. One thing that is great between Charlton and Arsenal is the mutual respect between the players and the professionalism to play a hard fought game and then join as a team to play for England.
The banter was kept to a minimum on the first night, yet gradually increased as the week went on!
The week with England was a successful one as we won 1-0 against Iceland at Carrow Road last Thursday. On the night we had vast amounts of possession but struggled to convert that into goals.
Yet Karen Carney popped up with a surprising header to give us victory and continue our unbeaten run on the international front.
Ironically, Karen scored exactly the same day last year in the International friendly against Italy at Milton Keynes, which is also her Mum's birthday. So that added something extra to her brilliant match winner.
It was great to see a record attendance for a women’s International friendly with 9,000-plus turning up to get behind the girls. Whilst singing the National anthem in the line up, I could feel the brilliant atmosphere with everyone singing each word loud and proud.
It further demonstrates the amount of fans women’s football has won after the European Championships.
I feel positive and excited that the same fantastic support will be repeated at Ewood Park against France next Sunday. Although we lost both games last year against Denmark and Sweden, the support we received at Ewood Park is something I will never forget. Hopefully we can give the supporters a win to cheer about this time round.
After watching France v USA in the Algarve Cup in Portugal this week, I envisage it to be a tough game but a game where the challenge will be relished.
Each individual in the England team has an 'I can do' attitude that helped up us rise to the challenge at last year’s Euros, and I am sure it will exude out of every one of us against France. I am excited and I am sure all of you that have tickets are too.
If you don’t have a ticket yet, call the booking line and get one. It will be a great game!
Talking of big games, this weekend sees another big game for me as Charlton face Arsenal in the FA Cup Semi-Final.
Jose Mourinho recently said that revenge and football should not mix after being asked about the recent Chelsea v Barcelona Champions League game. However, I think that our game this weekend will have a revenge-filled twist to it with Arsenal wanting to put last weekend’s defeat straight and Charlton wanting to retain our FA Cup trophy by getting to the final.
Phew! I have to take a deep breath just thinking about the next two weeks.
Look out for Sunday’s result on the website and get yourself to the France game on 26 March at Ewood Park! It’s a big one!
Catch you later,
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