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Kelly McDougall will be playing in her first F.A.Women's Cup Final on Monday when Everton make their first appearance in the match for 16 years against Charlton Athletic. The England midfielder told Women's Soccer Scene that she is really looking forward to the occasion. "I can't wait, in fact I just want to get it over with!" she laughs. "I am looking forward to the whole experience, not just the match. I played in the League Cup Final against Arsenal when I was 14 but people tell me that it's the best feeling ever to play in an F.A.Cup Final."
After a number of big name signings during the summer, Everton have had a good season under the managership of Mo Marley, and Kelly has impressed greatly as the team led the Premier League during the first half of the campaign, earning her the Player of the Month award for August - the first ever recipient of the award. "We're pleased with finishing third in what is basically our first year together," she says. "I think we gelled together quicker than we expected but the team spirit is really good and we have fitted together well.
"Fara Williams and I grew up in football together, even with different teams, technically she is really fantastic and great to play alongside. Jody (Handley) and Becky (Easton) have been really good, I played with Rachel Unitt when she was previously at Everton and the return of Sammy Britton from injury has been like a new signing."
Although still only 21, Kelly is actually Everton's longest serving player and is a true Evertonian. As well as the arrival of several England players, a number of very talented youngsters have broken into the first team and Kelly is excited about their development. "I've been with Everton since I was a kid and it's my club, I don't want to go anyehere else," she says. "We've got a great youth policy with some brilliant youngsters - Chantelle Parry is probably the best young player coming through technically but there are others such as Jayne Eadie and Danielle Hill."
Everton's Cup run has been impressive - they are yet to concede a goal - ending with a superb 3-0 victory over holders Arsenal in the semi finals. "I still can't believe it!" laughs Kelly. "Arsenal are the best team in the league and it was one of those days when the game could have gone either way. Fortunately we played well, we had a certain game plan that day amd we took our chances, everything worked. Playing Chelsea away in the quarter finals was also hard as they are a good young side and have done well to win their league."
As for the Final itself, Kelly is anticipating a good match. "We had two very close games in the league and the Final should also be a close one. To be honest, we weren't bothered who we would play after the semi finals as all games at this stage will be very hard, but Charlton are a good team who play a different style to ourselves - they are strong and aggressive and we need to compete with that.
"Charlton have a number of players who have played in a few Cup Finals but we have Rachel Unitt, who has won the Cup, and Becky Easton has played in a number of finals but is yet to win one, so she will be looking to go one better.
"Playing for England is the highest you can aim for in football but a Cup Final is so special, especially with all the razzmatazz around it. I just want to enjoy the game, and the whole occasion, and hopefully the day will give the right result for us."
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