Written by Mark Gordon
They may be sitting in third place over the summer break but when Inverness City return to Scottish Women’s Football League One action, they’ve got their sights set on top spot.
East Fife and Dundee United currently occupy first and second position in the league but City captain, Jana Brady, believes her side are still in the title race. “The two games we played against East Fife and Dundee United were both very close games” she said. “We’ve got them both to play at home in the run-in and if we can beat them we can certainly still get first place”.
Inverness face table-toppers East Fife in their first game back after the summer break and Brady is keen to avenge the 2-1 loss her side suffered against them earlier in the campaign. “They scored two in the last few minutes last time around and we really felt we deserved to win it”. The central-midfielder feels her side can use that game as a motivation, saying, “We felt things went against us in that game, we’re not happy about the way we lost it and we want to get it back”.
Despite those early season losses to East Fife and United, Brady feels the club are in a good place at the moment. “The season has been really good so far. We’ve got better as the season has went on and we’ve just went in with the mind-set to play good football and enjoy it”.
The 23-year-old believes the credit for the team’s good form should go to her manger, Karen Mason. “Karen has done so much for the team and she really deserves more credit for the job she has done. The team has the best vibe it has had in the four years that I’ve been here and Karen is responsible for a lot of that”.
Jana believes that the young players that Mason has brought into the side have had a big say in the teams improved fortunes. “The younger players have done really well, whether they’ve been starting games or coming off the bench, they’ve really made an impact”.
The captain singled out young right-back Rachael Gillies for special praise. “Rachael has been fantastic this season. She played a few games last season but she has been in the team every week this season and her performances have been really impressive”.
Although Brady speaks about the ‘young’ players in the team, she is hardly a veteran at 23. After being given the captaincy by Mason at the start on the season, the skipper feels it is part of her duties to help the young players. “We’ve got a lot more younger players than in recent years. I feel it’s important to help with their confidence as well as make sure they are enjoying their time here”.
She is clearly proud of her role as captain but it is also a role which Jana enjoys. “I love it. When Karen said she was making me captain at the start of the season she said she felt I had all the things needed to be a good captain, that gave me the confidence that I could do the job well”.
As City prepare to make a run at the title in the second part of the season, a look ahead at their fixtures sees them play the two teams ahead of them in race in the first and last games. Should Inverness gain retribution against East Fife in the first match back, they will have a run of four games against teams below them in the standings, before ending the campaign against Dundee United at home.
Jana believes that the spirit at the club will help in the run-in, whether it goes their way or not. “We’re a really close team with a real family vibe, it helps us on the pitch that we are so close off-the-field. We’re confident that we can get promotion this season but if it doesn’t go our way for some reason, then we’ll be confident we can get it next year”.
Whichever league Inverness City are playing in next term, their captain believes they will be in good shape thanks to their commitment to youth. “The young players in the team have been so good and I believe they will get better. We’ve also got a great youth system, so we’ve got a very clear pathway for players coming in from the age of twelve right through to the first team”.
With the future looking bright for Inverness, Brady reflected on her four years at City and believes it has never been better. “I had a difficult start, we went through two relegations and a lot of our older players left the team. I’ve seen the club at its worst so I feel I’m in a position to say that we are in a really good place and I’m looking forward to where we can take things”.