Jade Pennock: Birmingham star ready to take on WSL giants

Jade Pennock of Birmingham City runs with the ball at her feet.

Birmingham City have had a difficult season so far. The Blues have picked up just four points in 15 games and are currently bottom of the WSL table.

Despite this, the team remain in high spirits, determined to pull themselves out of the danger zone.

Speaking to Her Football Hub, Birmingham forward Jade Pennock discusses her first WSL season and the club’s fight to avoid relegation.

A “really special” first season for Pennock

Pennock made the jump from the Championship to the WSL when she signed for Birmingham last summer. 

In July, she told Her Football Hub, “I’ve just been waiting for that opportunity [to play in England’s top flight].”

It is an opportunity that she has seized with both hands, quickly becoming one of the club’s key attacking players. The talented winger has featured in 14 of Birmingham’s 15 matches played so far this season, starting in 13 of them. She is also second only to skipper Louise Quinn in number of goals scored.

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Reflecting on her inaugural season in the WSL, Pennock is as honest as she is positive. 

“It is a challenge but it’s a challenge I’m enjoying,” she said. “I’m loving coming up against the big teams to challenge myself. It’s just something I’ve always dreamed of. To be able to play in the WSL, it’s just really special.”

And Pennock has certainly had some special moments. The 29-year-old cites her first WSL goal, a stunning strike against Everton, as a personal highlight. She also mentions Birmingham’s 2-0 victory over league leaders Arsenal as a major achievement, saying that the win felt “unbelievable.”

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When asked who she has enjoyed playing with the most this season, the winger was quick to mention fellow forward Libby Smith. 

“I think we link very well together. We’re both creative players and attacking-minded players. The goal I scored against Reading came from a combination between us two.”

As for who she enjoys playing against, Pennock didnt’ name an individual player. Instead, she mentioned the ‘big three’ of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City.

“I enjoy playing against the big teams because it is a challenge. Just to be able to play in those games is a big occasion.”

Pennock up for the challenge

Birmingham face something of an uphill battle now to avoid relegation into the Championship.

With only seven games left in the season, it is essential they start picking up points. This may be harder than it seems, as two of their remaining fixtures are against title contenders Arsenal and Chelsea. 

However, it wouldn’t be the first time this season that the Blues have caused an upset. In January, they picked up a massive three points against Arsenal when they defeated the Gunners 2-0 at St. Andrew’s.

Pennock put the victory down to hard work and a positive attitude on the pitch.

“We trained hard and prepared well that week. We were all positive and our mentality was right. On the day, I just felt like we gave everything and I think we wanted it that little bit more.”

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When asked about upcoming games against the ‘big three’, Pennock’s answer was a confident one. Birmingham can do it again.

“We’ve done it once so I don’t know why we can’t do it again. We go into every game positive and we go in hoping that we can win or get points. I think we’ll definitely give them a run for their money.”

The fight to avoid relegation

With time running out to avoid relegation, Birmingham must start winning matches to close the gap between themselves and second from bottom Leicester City. Pennock is sure that this can be achieved. 

“In the second half of the season we’ve had good performances, we just haven’t had the results. I think from now on we just need to pick up points wherever and however we can. I think we’ve been unlucky with some decisions so a little bit of luck would be nice.

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One theme that stands out when speaking to Pennock is positivity. Despite Birmingham’s position in the table, the Blues star is brimming with it. According to the winger, the rest of the team is too.

“You honestly wouldn’t know where we were in the table if you were to come into the training ground. From day one, it’s been a positive and nice environment to be in. It’s great, especially as a new player coming into the team and into the WSL. Ultimately, I think that’ll be the reason we’ll turn it around, just because of the positive environment we’ve got here.”

As for the rest of the season, Pennock is clear that maintaining the positive attitude within the team is essential. 

“Staying positive is massive. We just have to focus on each game as it comes and not look at the results that have happened in the past. We just need to keep performing the way we are are hopefully the results will come our way.”

Arsenal vs. Birmingham

Birmingham’s next game is away against league leaders Arsenal on Sunday, March 6. Fans can watch the Blues take on the Gunners on BBC Two with coverage starting at 11:45 GMT.

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