Thoughts on: Molly Bartrip
4 June 2022
Molly Bartrip: An Evolution to Note
Girls on the Ball
Tottenham Hotspur enjoyed a fruitful season, becoming early contenders for a spot in the top three, as well as churning out impressive performances across the board. Spurs eventually finished in fifth place with a respectable 32 points, achieving their highest ever billing in the top-flight.
Boss Rehanne Skinner, came in midway through the 2020-21 season replacing longstanding coaches Karen Hills and Juan Amoros and immediately set to in overhauling the struggling Lilywhites, releasing and signing a total of 11 players’ last term. Nesting amongst Skinner’s new troops lies a player that has made a wealth of difference; centre back Molly Bartrip.
A WSL original, Bartrip joined Tottenham Hotspur last summer, departing from Reading where she had been since the inception of the rejuvenated league. Bartrip made over 100 appearances for Reading and was evidently an essential figure in her final season with the Royals, featuring in 21 out of 22 league games.
Bartrip’s form has only improved since her arrival at Spurs, noted, not exclusively, by the fact she has played every single minute of this campaign. Pairing up with captain Shelina Zadorsky, the duo have forged an on-field partnership that saw the Lilywhites keep eight clean sheets, as well as a positive goal difference for the first time in the top division.
Morphing into a more progressive centre-back, Bartrip is the ying to Zadorsky’s yang, each contributing equal weight to the decision making of the backline. When one steps forward, the other inherently remains put to cover, and vice versa. Although both defenders offer plenty in terms build-up play, it is Bartrip who is taking up this role slightly more regularly.
Registering, not only as one of the top two players in the squad to attempt the most passes, but the player with the highest passing accuracy rate, one can begin to understand Bartrip’s evolution.
Graphic - Charlotte Stacey / Photos: Girls on the Ball & Tottenham Hotspur Women
Central defenders are, more so nowadays, becoming auxiliary playmakers during preliminary attacking phases. They are expected to spur positive passages of play from the back and to offer support as players situated higher afield flood forward. However, of course, they must also fulfil their defensive duties and ensure that the goalkeeper has adequate protection should play swing the other way. This is where Bartrip is emerging as a standout performer.
Bartrip is already well known for her defensive qualities. She is well versed in applying pressure in one-on-one situations, winning over possession and positioning herself readily enough to make numerous blocks and interceptions. These attributes have not dwindled one iota in her first season in North London, they have, in actuality, enhanced.
This is seen in several of Bartrip’s statistics, namely in individual challenges. Although her number of players tackled has dropped somewhat from her time at Reading, the quality of these pressures has improved greatly. An example can be seen in the number of dribblers challenged, in which Bartrip had a 61.5% success rate, up from 21.7% last year.
Being able to get the balance right between pushing forward and retaining a stout defensive disposition is a difficult skill to perfect and Bartrip does have a little way to go in getting this consistently right. However, with her recognised development refining further year after year, the foundations are quite obviously stable enough to build upon.
It is no coincidence that Tottenham’s rise to the top coincided with Bartrip’s arrival and she will almost certainly continue to be a core component in the next phase of Spurs' development.