Huddersfield Town Women FC’s chair Alison Bamforth is excited for the team ahead of Sunday’s League Cup final against Southampton. She says win or lose she’s proud of what the players have achieved this season.
The Town Women will play in their first ever FA Women’s National League Cup final on Sunday (April 24) as they face the Southern League champions Southampton at Solihull Moors’ Stadium, the ARMCO Arena.
Alison said ahead of the final: “I’m so proud of the whole team. They have done fantastic to get to the final. It’s an historic moment but I’ve told the girls to just enjoy the occasion. Whatever happens in the final we are proud of them.
“We know if we play like we can, we can beat anyone on our day. Southampton are a good side and so we know it will be a tough test.
“There is no pressure on the girls. I want them to be as prepared for the final as possible and so we are stopping over the night before. Whilst it’s a big outlay in cost we feel it’s the right thing to do with the occasion it is.”
The Terriers’ journey to the final started back in September when the Town Women featured in the competition’s preliminary qualification round against Boldmere St Michaels. This round determined which tournament either team would feature in with the winner progressing into the FAWNL Cup competition and the loser competing in the FAWNL Plate.
Town Women have been runners up in the Plate tournament twice previously.
A convincing 7-2 victory saw the Terriers move into the FAWNL Cup tournament where they faced fellow league and North Yorkshire rivals Middlesbrough at the Stafflex Arena. Then manager Steve Appleton saw his side victorious 3-2.
The next round saw Town Women travel to face Loughborough Lightning just a week after knocking the Midlands team out of the competition.
The Terriers remained dominant progressing into the quarter-finals with a 3-1 win, which set up a fierce West Yorkshire derby between Huddersfield and Brighouse for a place in the semi-final.
After three failed attempts to play the fixture, the game finally took place on February 23. A Laura Elford hat-trick alongside top scorer Britt Sanderson’s strike (4-1) saw the Terriers progress further than they had ever achieved in the tournament before.
Their semi-final opponent was the then tier four toppers Liverpool Feds. A Katie Stanley header just after half-time proved to be enough for the Terriers as they progressed into the FAWNL Final for the first ever time.
Town boss Glen Preston is ready for a tough fixture ahead, saying: “It’s a momentous occasion for the club and another sign of how the club has grown over the years that we in a position to be able to compete for honours as big as this.
“We have made one or two finals in the past in other competitions and just fallen short, and so we have to want this one more this time around. We can’t allow ourselves to have the mind set of just being happy to be a part of the occasion. Everyone has to do all they can to find a way to win.
“Southampton are now a massive club within the women’s game. They have resources that we can’t match and so, no doubt, we will go into this game as underdogs but everyone loves the challenge of trying to out-perform a big dog! Cup games like this make this even more possible.
“We don’t know much about our opposition, which limits our preparation, and they will know everything about us so they hold a minor advantage there. Our preparation just needs to be about what we do well as a team and ensuring we leave everything on the pitch on the day. Mentality will be key.”
Southampton FC have been a dominant team within the Southern Premier Division this season as they have already secured the league title. They have scored 22 goals in their last four games which reflects their overall season form in front of goal. The South Coast side have won their last nine games during a run of 24 unbeaten matches.
Founded in 2016, Southampton are affiliated to the Premier League men’s side and have progressed up the Women’s football pyramid in quick succession. The club are preparing themselves for professional status with promotion to the second tier only being one play-off victory away.
Looking at Southampton’s form, they are hot favourites and long-serving player Kate Mallin said: “I’m sure that they’ll be tough. They’ve scored an awful lot of goals this season and have conceded very few.
“We need to start quickly and play sensibly and not concede early. If we play to our strengths, we have a chance of an upset.”
.HOW TO WATCH
The game will take place at the ARMCO Arena, B92 9EJ on Sunday April 24 (3.30ko).
Huddersfield fans can buy tickets on the gate at £5 adults and £2.50 concessions.
Can’t make the game? As always, online coverage of the match will be available across all HTWFC channels including minute-by-minute updates on Twitter @HTAFCWomen plus match build up on Instagram. Highlights will also be released following the game.