SSE FA Women's Cup: Spurs Will Need Belief To Beat Brighton
We check in with another 'underdog' looking to acquit themselves well against higher opposition...
Unbeaten Tottenham Hotspur proudly sit at the top of the Southern Division of the FAWPL, but all thoughts of league success will be pushed to one side this weekend, WRITES PAUL NICHOLSON.
Spurs take on WSL 2 newcomers Brighton & Hove Albion in one of the best match-ups of the fourth round of the Women’s FA Cup.
Brighton, who won the FAWPL Southern Division last season, will be hoping to avoid what looks – on paper at least – like a potential ‘cupset’ in the making.
However, it will provide a good test for Spurs, who strive to be where Brighton are and Manager Karen Hills (below) says that belief will be the key ingredient to victory on Sunday.
Speaking to She Kicks about the game, Hills said: “We go into each game with the belief and confidence that we can win.
“The girls are working really hard and are very focused with putting in a performance we can all be proud of.”
Tottenham and Brighton were league rivals last season, and with the WSL Spring Series just getting underway, and Hills’ Spurs side unbeaten in 23 games this season, it is doubtful just how big a shock it would be, were the Premier League team to prevail.
However, Brighton did beat the London outfit in both league meetings last season, and have further strengthened their side with some substantial additions.
Their two most recent acquisitions are England U19 midfielder Jenna Legg and Northern Ireland international Laura Rafferty, both of whom will be eligible to play on Sunday.
Hills, however, considers the potential added pressure of being a WSL 2 team to be only a small factor for her opponents, along with her side’s home advantage but says it is more about how her side perform.
“Being a WSL 2 team, I guess there will be a bit more pressure on them winning the game.
“However, we are on a fantastic run and we will be doing everything we can to also win.
“Home advantage is important to us as we have some excellent supporters who have been with us on this fantastic journey over the past couple of seasons, and it’s always nice to welcome a WSL team to our home ground.”
Hills – who won the FA Cup with Charlton as a player – doesn’t want to get carried away by looking too far ahead in the competition, but admits it would be nice to progress further than their previous best run.
“The furthest we have been is when we played Notts County a few years ago in the fifth round, so to get beyond that round would be amazing for the girls and the club.
“We take each game as it comes and we will always do our best to win it.
“We are on a great run and the girls are enjoying their football and putting good performances in consistently.”
With one Cup winning player in their squad – Eartha Pond – Hills admits that she, along with a few of the other veteran players can help some of the newer players.
“Her [Eartha Pond] experience is very valuable to the team.
“We’ve had a solid squad of players that have been with me for a number of years and they have gained valuable experience of playing in big games, and their experiences will also be key to the newer ones.”
It promises to be a fascinating encounter at Cheshunt FC this Sunday, and kick-off is at 2.00pm. Tickets are available priced at £3 for Adults (Non-Members), £1 for under-16s and Seniors with a family package available (2 Adults & 2 Children) for just £5. U-5s are free.
Neither are workable or likely at present but hypothetically, would you prefer a more strict salary cap in the FA WSL OR should centrally contracted England players (that receive salaries from The FA) be allocated more evenly around WSL1 clubs?