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Whitley Bay will be looking to continue their fantastic F.A.Women's Cup run when they take on Premier League side Tranmere Rovers in the Fourth Round this Sunday.
The North East League side, who were only formed at the start of last season, are the sole remaining Regional League club left in the competition and Whitley captain Kirsty Hunter told Women's Soccer Scene that they can't wait for the game. "We are all really looking forward to it," says Kirsty. "We're all excited and a bit nervous as well."
The Whitley Bay squad does contain players with experience from a higher level but. as Kirsty admits, Tranmere will be largely unknown opposition. "I don't know much about Tranmere as I have never seen them play," she says. "However that might work to our advantage as they will know nothing about us either. We'll just have to go out, do our best and play to our strengths."
Whitley made it through to the Fourth Round with a surprise 2-1 victory over Midland Combination leaders Rotherham Utd after extra time. "Determination got us through that match," says Kirsty. "The weather was atrocious - it was windy and pouring with rain. We had to come from behind, I equalised and Laura Darmody scored the winner in extra time."
Scottish-born Kirsty and strike partner Laura Darmody have been prolific up front but she is quick to pay tribute to the more unsung members of the team. "Laura and I have scored a few of the goals on the way through," she says, "but the defence has done really well and so has our goalkeeper Julie McDonnell - especially in the win against Rotherham.
"Julie broke her finger the week before but she saved us a few times, particulary in the last ten minutes of extra time when Rotherham were camped in our penalty area.
"The belief in our squad has grown with every win and we are just trying to go out and enjoy ourselves. We have a nice blend of youth and experience in our squad. and our manager Colin Phillips makes it fun as well as more serious, he is a good coach who gets on well with everybody.
"Whatever happens on Sunday, promotion is still our number one goal. Darlington RA are our main rivals but we have beaten them in the cup this year. This club can go a long way in the future and the further we go, the more players we can attract. Newcastle are probably the top team in our area and our aim is to be as good as them one day."
After a lot of publicity in the area, the club is keeping its fingers crossed for a good attendance for the Tranmere match. "We're hoping to get a good crowd on Sunday - over 100 turned up at the Rotherham match in terrible weather so we are aiming to beat that," says Kirsty. "We have put up posters and have appeared in the local papers as well as local television this week to help publicise the game.
"It's all about what happens on the day. I don't know why we can't beat Tranmere and, if we do so, maybe we can get an away draw!"
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