Preview: Tilehurst Panthers in TVCWF League Cup final

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Tilehurst Panthers have plied their trade in Division One of the Thames Valley Counties Women’s Football League once again this season and found themselves finishing a respectable fifth come the end of the year. But it’s not over for them just yet as they face division winners Badshot Lea in the TVCWF League Cup final.

The match is set to to take place at Arbour Park, the home of Slough Town FC, on Sunday 8th of May at 4pm. The TVCWF Plate Cup will take place at 1:30pm.

Journey to the final

Charlbury Town Youth West Oxfordshire Women 1-8 Tilehurst Panthers Women
Tilehurst Panthers Women 10-0 Easington Sports Ladies
Tilehurst Panthers Women 4-0 Wargrave Women & Girls FC
Tilehurst Panthers Women 2-0 Mortimer Ladies

Thoughts from the coach

We caught up with Andy Vettese, the Panthers coach and father of the sides top goalscorer Lydia.

How do you feel the season went for the Panthers? A fifth place finish, are you happy with the team’s overall performance?

Considering we lost 8 first team players to University at the start of the season we have been pleased how the year went overall.  We have brought a few new players in from our youth sides and they have responded to the challenge superbly in what is quite a physical league.  Reflecting on the results we can pick two or three of our defeats and wonder how on earth we did not convert the chances to turn them into comprehensive wins that would have pushed us up a place or two higher in the league.

A very convincing journey to the final for the squad, how do you feel the cup run went? As planned, any surprises?

No surprises.  24 goals scored and only one conceded says it all and you can’t complain about a cup run like that.  In fairness we have probably saved our best performances for this competition, particularly in the latter rounds.

Any particular highlights from the campaign?

The first half of the Wargrave QF was exceptional.  A hat-trick from Lydia within 20 mins ended the game as a competition early on and some of the goals involved great moves through the team.  The semi-final was a tough match against Mortimer, with some pretty poor behaviour from a few of the travelling support creating a sour atmosphere.  Given the team had to play with 10 players for the majority of the second half, we did well to control the game overall.  However at 1-0 it always felt tense so the late second goal was a great relief.

How are you preparing the team for the final?

No different to any other game.  There has not been a lot of match time since the semi final as the season came to a close, however that can probably be said for both sides.  We have kept training throughout Easter and we will be ready to put a performance in come Final day.

Having won the division, Badshot Lea will be keen to do the double, what are you expecting from your opponents?

We know what Badshot are all about and we generally have good, competitive games when we play.  Over the past couple of seasons we have enjoyed good results against them and with the exception of the away game this year, where we had a few players crocked or with self-inflicted hindrance from the night before, we have proven we are a match for them on any given day.  That said, they have romped home in the league and we offer our congratulations to them on a great season.  We will be underdogs on the day and that’s a fair reflection looking at league standings but our recent home draw against the champions will provide the team with a little bit of belief.

Are you looking forward to it being a big occasion at the brilliant facilities of Arbour Park? 

Personally I am not a great fan of the 3G/4G surfaces for football matches and would rather the game was played on grass.  That said, I have been to Arbour Park a number of times and it really is a great venue.  The team will look forward to the occasion and the hospitality we will no doubt receive on arrival and through the afternoon.

How are the team feeling about playing in a cup final, what’s morale like amongst the squad?

Morale is always pretty good with this bunch.  The team get on well and there is a good mix of youth and experience through the side.  As part of a fantastic youth side at Tilehurst, many of this team have been involved in multiple cup finals over the past 8 years so the occasion will not be new to them.  That said, every cup final is a special day, it’s the reason we all play the game to enjoy moments like this, so we are all upbeat and looking forward to the match.

One other thing, Lydia Vettese doing Lydia Vettese things and scoring 11 of your 24 goals in the competition!

Yeh, proud Dad moment here. She has had a good season, only just turned 18 and finished comfortably top scorer in the league’s top division.  Of course she needs the team behind her and when you have the quality of players like Deanna Cane, Rhianna Langham and Leah Why the chances will always come to allow her to do what she does best. 

Getting there and facilities

Arbour Park Community Stadium, Stoke Road, Slough SL2 5AY

Nearest Station: Slough
Parking: Approx 300 available on home matchdays 
Bus Company: Approx 300 available on home matchdays 
Taxi Company: Various including 711 Cars
Payment Types: Cash and cards
Facilities: Fully licensed bar with BT Sport; hot food and drinks available; separate tea bars

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