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Stockport County captain Linda Shepherd feels that her side can learn from teams like Bristol Rovers following their meeting in the F.A.Women's Cup last week. Speaking to Women's Soccer Scene after their 4-0 defeat at the hands of the National Division high riders, Linda was more than happy with the way her team competed during the match. "We put in a big effort and we are proud of every single player who played today," she said. "We did actually match them but they are obviously fitter and physically better than us.
"It was a big test for us - we tried hard and did try and take the game to them. Their early goal did seem to knock us but we carried on through to the end. We can learn from them (Bristol Rovers) and learn how big that step up is, we are aiming to get up there but at the moment we're concentrating on each game because there is a big gap for us to reach."
Stockport currently lie in third place in the Northern Division after having made a slow start to the season. "At the beginning of the season we had a few injuries," says Linda, "four of our key players were out at the same time. We seem to be pulling together now and getting back up there."
But can they possibly catch leaders Sunderland? "I think they (Sunderland) are a bit out of sight now," admits Linda, "but we need to concentrate on winning our games and doing what we can do as a team, and let Sunderland do their own thing."
Although Sunderland lead the table by nine points, Linda is expecting the title battle between them and Wolves to go the distance. "I think Wolves can still push them. They still have to play them, and so do we, and I think Wolves can challenge them right to the end."
As for her own team, Linda feels that progression is the main aim. "It's different from last season as we've had new players come in and had to gel as a squad," she says. "But we seem to be getting along and getting wins now, especially with everyone back from injury. We're just learning year by year really."
Mel Garside is Stockport's leading scorer with 11 goals this term but Linda is keen to point out that it has been a team effort. "Credit to all the girls really, because they are the ones who get the wins. Mel and Katie (Brusell) do score the goals but the likes of Charlotte Higginson and Lucy Lutton also find the net.
"They're a great group of girls and I am proud to be the captain of Stockport."
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