Brighton & Hove Albion women’s goalkeeper Faye Baker is getting ready to face the club she supports, West Ham United, for the second time in three weeks on Sunday.
Baker was between the sticks a fortnight ago when Albion beat the Hammers 6-2 in an FA Cup tie at Withdean, and admits it is a strange feeling facing the team she played for as a youngster.
She told seagulls.co.uk, “I’m a massive West Ham fan and have got a season ticket there. I spent a lot of time at the club as a youngster; I joined when I was nine and left when I was 16.
“When you go out and play the team you support it is difficult, but once the game starts I don’t think about it or treat them differently to any other team. I forget what badge they’re wearing on their shirts and I just want to win.
“There are a few familiar faces still at the club like some of the younger ones who have come through who were in the lower age group when I was in the centre of excellence. They’re now coming through to the development squad or even the first team now, so it’s nice to see they’ve progressed but the majority of my former teammates have now moved on.”
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The shot-stopper then looked ahead to this afternoon’s match and believes that lessons can be learned from the previous match against the Hammers.
“Obviously it’s going to be a much tougher test for us having played them just a couple of weeks ago and we know how each other plays, who the key players are and the ones to watch, so that always makes it a bit more difficult.
“But I’d like to think we’ve got enough about us to go out there and provide them with a big test and show what we’re made of, because I don’t think we did that in the first half, whereas in the second half we blew them away with how we played.
“If you start the game slowly and allow the other team to get the upper hand then it’s always a big ask to come back from that. We’re a really close bunch, fight for each other and we all work hard for the team. We’ll learn not to start so slowly this time round and we’re very much capable of putting in a very good performance.”
Finally, Baker says the team are currently in a brilliant position, sitting top of the league and still competing in three cup competitions and feels her decision to join the club in the summer has been vindicated.
“I’m really enjoying myself. I knew it would be a tough task leaving Gillingham and then having to travel a long way to play for Brighton, but I genuinely could not ask for anything more.
“The facilities we’ve got and the standard of coaching we get week-in week-out is great with James [Marrs] and Jules [Julian Kilner goalkeeping coach].
“All of the girls are like one big family and I didn’t think I would feel like that so early in the season, but that has been the case from day one.
“Being top of the table and still being in within a shout for all the cups we’ve entered means we can’t really complain.”