Former Melton footballer Ashleigh Plumptre felt privileged to be named LCFC Women Players’ Player of the Season as part of Leicester City’s Annual End of Season Awards ceremony.
The 2020/21 winner, a Leicestershire born defender, who re-joined the Club midway through last season after studying and playing in America, was a mainstay in the title-winning side.
And to be recognised by her team-mates, she feels, makes it even more special to receive this award.
She said: “When I found out and got the call, I was honestly in total shock. I feel like I play each game and I go about my business, but I’m not a goalscorer or anything.
“I could say this for everybody on the backline, that we just do our defensive duties and then try to help an attack when we can. I wouldn’t be able to do it without the rest of the team.
“But also, I put it down to the cohesion we have as a back four. If one person isn’t doing their job, that affects everyone else, so I’m really thankful for the back five, including Kirstie [Levell], for a lot of that. She gives a lot of information.
Ashleigh Plumptre with Leicester City Chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha. Photo: LCFC.
“It was really, really nice. There’s a lot of girls on our team who deserve it because of the performances they’ve put in, but I guess it’s nice for a defender to get some recognition too.”
The 23-year-old’s partnership with Sam Tierney at the heart of the defence has been a major factor behind City’s strong defensive displays throughout the campaign, conceding just 16 goals across the 20 league matches.
Goalkeeper Kirstie Levell also earned a share of the FA Women’s Championship Golden Glove, keeping 10 clean sheets across the season, highlighting the often unnoticed work within the backline.
“We talk in training as a unit,” she continued. “And we start the attacks, and we also help the rest of the team out, just with dictation of play, our tempo and hopefully with the calm and composed nature that our backline has.
“I think we’ve done really well, and we stick together a lot. In games we’ll take accountability for ourselves and tell each other when something needs to be better, and we’ll have short conversations.
“Everybody’s very open to hearing, it’s not even criticism, but just listening to instruction and we’ve all been really good at that. Especially with Sam [Tierney], as a centre-back, it’s important to have a good partnership and I’ve really enjoyed playing next to her.
“We both play quite similar in the sense that we like the ball in front of us and in that sense we communicate a lot in training and on the pitch and now we’ve been in a rhythm, we know what one another’s going to do.
“And I think she knows the game very well as well, so it’s good to have good tactical conversations with her, because she gets it.”
After such a memorable season, securing promotion to the Barclays FA Women’s Super League as second tier champions, Plumptre believes the team’s mentality and unity has played a key role in maintaining a consistent and high level of performance even when there has been significant pressure on their shoulders.
She explained: “In training, we’ll ask a lot of questions to make sure we know the tactics going into every game. Sometimes it takes us a few days to work out exactly what the plan is.
“But when it comes to the game and we actually get out onto the pitch, everybody knows their role, and everybody gives everything in what they’ve been asked to do for that game.
“We’ve always had a few subs that have come in as well and Jonathan [Morgan] uses the phrase: ‘starters, finishers and supporters’ and I think that was integral for us going through that whole season.
“We couldn’t show any complacency in any game with the teams we were put up against and we knew that going out onto the pitch, we had to prepare for every game the same no matter the opponent. I guess it’s just consistency with each and every one of us coming out and doing their jobs.”