Huddersfield Town Women FC will be in a second cup final this season – but will it be the first team or the development squad which gets the chance to lift the trophy?
The Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA Women’s Challenge Cup has thrown up one of the most bizarre and intriguing scenarios for one of its semi-final clashes. Huddersfield Town Women’s first team will go up against their own development squad for a place in the final.
Town Women chair Alison Bamforth can’t remember a similar thing happening in either the women’s or men’s game.
It does mean Town will have a chance to win two cups this season having already made it to the FA Women’s National League, League Cup final where they will take on Southampton on April 24 at Solihull Moors.
On the fixture Bamforth said: “It’s a strange situation but one we are excited about and it means we’ll have a team in the final. The only other time I can remember is Southampton playing themselves in a round in their County Cup.
“It doesn’t happen in any league games as, like the men, we can only have one club team in a division. There couldn’t be our first team and reserve team in the same league. It’s rare, though, that a team plays each other in this competition.”
Bamforth is expecting a competitive edge to the fixture on Thursday night and said: “The development side will want to prove something to the first team and it gives those players a chance to stake a claim to move up to the first team. Our first team is determined to make it to two finals so, yes, I think there will be an edge with plenty of challenges.
“The two teams sometimes play each other in training and, to be honest, they end up being quite close. So I know both sets of players will give their all.”
The development squad is at home for the fixture and would usually play 100ft away from the main pitch at the Stafflex Arena at Storthes Hall. However due to it being an evening kick-off they will have to give up home advantage and play on the main pitch under the floodlights.
The development squad also have the choice in whether they play in the traditional blue and white stripes or not, which means the first team will be playing in their away kit.
First team coach Kamran Hussain said: “The approach, mentality and training is the same as any other opposition we come up against. An opportunity for silverware is the end goal but there are still a few hurdles and challenges in our way.
“The Devs team are full of young, talented players who will definitely be up for the occasion, and to show what they are made of. There is no complacency on our part. It’s our goal to achieve silverware, and if that means beating the Devs for it, then that is the next challenge we must overcome.”
Whoever gets through to the final they will face either Oughtibridge WM Women FC or Barnsley Women’s FC at Doncaster Rovers on April 30.
Town’s first team are going into the game on Thursday night on the back of a 2-1 defeat to league leaders Wolves. Kate Mallin returned from injury for a landmark 500th appearance for the club. Meanwhile, the development team smashed their opponents Hull City 7-0 last weekend.
The Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA Women’s Challenge Cup semi-final is at the Stafflex Arena HD8 0WA on Thursday April 7 (7.45). Tickets can be purchased on the day. Adults £5, concessions £3 and U18s free.