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Women's Football News
Leeds United are preparing for their second F.A.Women's Cup Final appearance in three years, and two of their England internationals are getting ready for their first taste of the biggest game in the women's football calendar when they take on Arsenal at the City Ground, Nottingham, on Bank Holiday Monday.
Steph Houghton and Carly Telford both joined Leeds from Sunderland last summer and both are determined to make their first season with the club a successful one. "Everyone's looking forward to it," Steph told Women's Soccer Scene. "We've got our training plan, so everybody is really excited.
"I hope it is a big crowd, I have heard what it's like from a few of the girls and I just can't wait to be there - I'm so excited."
"I never expected to reach the Final (when I joined)," says Carly. "It's the goal of the club but sometimes, when you come to a club, fitting in is the main thing and trying to do as well as you can. Being in a cup final is amazing and it's what you dream of, playing in front of thousands of people, so it is a brilliant experience and it should be good."
"Definitely, you don't think of reaching and FA Cup Final in your first season at a new club," adds Steph, for whom the match will be a memorable end to a season which got off to a nightmare when a broken leg forced her to miss the World Cup in China.
Leeds have made it to the Final the hard way, having played tough matches against National Division teams in every round. Bristol Academy, Chelsea and Everton were all beaten on penalties and only one win came in normal time, the quarter final victory over Cardiff City in which Steph scored a hat-trick.
"We've probably had the toughest of runs," admits Carly. "Three games were penalty shootouts, so we've done well - who knows, we might get another penalty shootout and hopefully we might win that as well!
"But hopefully we can play well and give ourselves a good chance, we're all looking forward to playing in such a big arena and doing well for ourselves."
"We've come across a lot of challenges in the shape of Premier League teams," says Steph. "It's been quite a hard run to get to the Final but as it has gone on, we've started to believe a lot more. I think the team is gelling well together, there are a lot of young up and coming players in the team - we're lacking a bit of experience but we've got stronger and we always believed we could actually get there."
Leeds' last F.A.Women's Cup Final appearance turned out to be a nightmare as they were demolished 5-0 by Arsenal at the New Den two years ago. The Leeds squad has undergone a number of changes since then, although several members of the squad remain from that day, and Carly is adamant that that result will have absolutely no bearing this time around. "It's all about us this year and what happens on the day not two years ago," she says. "It's a new team with new players and fresh faces and everyone wants to try and prove a point . We don't want to go there and get hammered, but we want to prove to other people that we're up there with the likes of Arsenal and Everton.
"We're going to give ourselves the best chance possible to play well and hopefully do ourselves proud."
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