Skelton thrilled to be handed first start in cup win
Written by Joseph Nelson
Newcastle United Women got their Northumberland FA County Cup defence off to the best possible start with a resounding 8-0 away victory at Cramlington Town Ladies last weekend.
Youngster Keira Skelton was handed her first start of the season for the Lady Magpies on Sunday and was thrilled to help her team to "make a statement" as they look to retain their title.
However, despite the 8-0 scoreline, the 16-year-old revealed that there are some areas that the squad feel they need to improve on for their next fixture, at Norton & Stockton Ancients Ladies in FA Women's National League Division One North on Sunday (kick-off 2pm BST).
She said: "We had some good spells in the game, but we were poor at times. We know that we need to regroup after this match and go again next week. As a collective, we know that we are capable of better."
Skelton's determination to improve is something that has become synonymous with United's women under the management of Becky Langley.
And the Lady Magpies' manager again showed her dedication to giving opportunities to youth by naming Skelton among the starters for the first time this season.
"It was absolutely incredible to find out that I would be starting the match," said Skelton. "I have always been a fan of this club and having the opportunity to pull on that black and white shirt and represent Newcastle is something I dreamed of as a kid."
Starting at centre-back, Skelton was a part of a United Women defence that kept yet another clean sheet and she reiterated the importance of remaining resolute in every fixture.
"Our back five always look to keep a clean sheet, no matter who the opponent is," she added. "For us, keeping a clean sheet is as good as scoring a goal, and gives us the same buzz."
Newcastle United Women's County Cup triumph last year ended their season - one largely disrupted by Covid-19 - on a high so lifting the trophy again, and competing in other cup competitions, is something that Skelton feels is an important aim for the Lady Magpies this term.
"Our target is to win as many cups as possible," Skelton declared. "We will give everything we can as a squad to win cup competitions and finish as high as possible in the league."
Sunday's fixture was the first for the Lady Magpies since Newcastle United's takeover by PIF, PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media was announced last week and Skelton highlighted that the new ownership had already had a positive effect on the squad.
She said: "Everyone was thrilled by the takeover announcement on Thursday and going into this fixture the girls were in good spirits.
"I'm going to keep pushing to be in the squad of 16 every week. I want to become fitter, quicker, and stronger, and I want to get as many minutes as I can to help the girls get to where we want to be."
Photograph courtesy of Colin Lock/@Tyneside_NUWFC
"It was absolutely incredible to find out that I would be starting the match. I have always been a fan of this club and having the opportunity to pull on that black and white shirt and represent Newcastle is something I dreamed of as a kid."