FA Cup is back for the Second Round Qualifying with five Berkshire teams in action. Football in Berkshire’s Women’s Football Correspondent Abi spoke to the management teams ahead of the fixtures.
How have preparations gone for the upcoming fixture?
Darrel Evans (DE): Preparations for the game are going well, Alix has been doing a great job with the squad at training and the group are keen to learn and improve and are pushing each other on with every session. We have seen the results of this in our start to the season. We have two training sessions this week and the levels are going to go through the roof as everyone will be trying to make that starting 11 for Sunday’s game. Apart from the two injuries the rest of the squad are available for selection.
Georgia Graham (GG): Since the last FA Cup win our attention has been firmly on the league. We have had two tough fixtures against strong sides, with mixed results.
Martin Elcox (ME): Preparations haven’t been great as we have had an unprecedented number of injuries to contend with over the last few weeks, with 8 players unavailable for our last league game through injury. One of which is a player now out for the whole season having ruptured her ACL in the first game of the season away at Milton, another is a player who broke her foot in our last pre-season friendly. So luck has certainly not been on our side in that respect.
Andy Vettesse (AV): In terms of league form, preparation has been good. Three wins and a defeat (due to multiple missed chances) is not a bad start to the campaign. As a squad, we are constantly adapting to change due to the fact that 8 players from last years Thames Valley Div 1 runner’s up team have left for university over the past month. When you consider the squad was only 13 players to start with, that is a massive loss.
Marc Surtees (MS): Preparations could be better, we have not had the best start to the league but the performances have improved, we have a few injuries and lost players and new players have joined so it is taking time for the team to gel and the new players to settle in.
How are the team feeling ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup game?
DE: Buzzing! It’s the Women’s FA Cup, you really can sense the excitement in the group that the FA Cup always brings.
GG: The FA Cup is a nice distraction, the team are excited but remaining focused. We have to treat it like any other game and not let the pressure of it being the FA Cup get the better of us.
ME: I think the team are quietly determined to get the result that they want. They all want to succeed and play for each other in order to achieve this, which is a fantastic attitude to have.
AV: The players are looking forward to the game, but expectations are realistic given the draw with Ascot and the fact mentioned above with the players lost. New girls have come in from youth football and this will no doubt be a challenge for them that they will enjoy.
MS: It’s always great playing in the FA Cup because it gives you the opportunity to play teams that are not in the same league as you. The players are looking forward to it.
Expectations for where you might reach?
DE: Realistically we are not going to get to the final, for me my goal in the Cup is to try and progress the team further than we have achieved in the past. Normally, we have to play in the Extra Preliminary and Preliminary Round’s just to get to the qualifying stages so the furthest we have been is the 2nd Qualifying Round, so this season to come into the cup at the 2nd Qualifying Round we have been given a great opportunity if we can get past a very talented Tilehurst Panthers team to reach the 3rd qualifying stage for the first time and if we do that then, of course, wouldn’t it be amazing to reach the First Round Proper.
GG: We are fully focused on Sunday’s game against Eversley & California. I like to take it one game at a time and not get caught up in looking too far ahead.
ME: I don’t really have any set expectations with regards to the Women’s FA Cup, or the League for that matter, I just want the team to do their best and achieve their potential. If they can do that then my expectations will be met.
AV: Our expectations go no further than this round.
MS: We would to good progress at least as far as last year and even further but we know the further you go the bigger the teams are that you play, but the experience is always good.
Who would you most like to be drawn against should you progress through this round?
DS: If we progress to the next round It doesn’t matter who we get there will be no easy games, should we progress all we would hope for is a home draw.
GG: In all honesty, I don’t have a preference but it has been nice playing teams that aren’t in our league or that we haven’t played before.
ME: As the next round will be the First Round Proper, any team that we can beat would be the honest answer! However, the further you go, the less likely that would be, but you can only play the team that is in front of you on any given day. Look at last season when we narrowly lost to Wycombe Wanderers, nobody expected that…
AV: Caversham… would like to avenge our recent league defeat.
Anything else you’d like to add ahead of this game?
GG: Come down and show your support for the goats this Sunday.
ME: I just hope it is a good game of football, it should be a good atmosphere in any case, and the players can do themselves justice and earn a well-deserved place in the next round.
AV: Regardless of the result, the opportunity for the team/ladies to play in the FA Cup is what this is all about. We will enjoy the day.
Woman’s FA Cup Second Qualifying Round fixtures for our Berkshire sides are:
- Ascot United Ladies v Tilehurst Panthers
- Eversley & California Ladies v Caversham United Women
- Milton United v Woodley United Ladies
Second Round Qualifying will take place on Sunday 3rd of October. The draw for Third Round Qualifying is yet to be revealed, but fixtures will take place on Sunday 24th of October. Second Round Qualifying winners will receive £450 whilst losers are given £115.
We’d like to wish all the teams competing the very best of luck on Sunday. In other FA Cup news, Maidenhead United Women see themselves exempt to second round qualifying, whilst Reading FC Women will make their first appearance in the competition when they enter at the 4th round qualifying.