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Women's Football News
Cheryl Baber is looking forward to another chance of taking on Premier League opposition when Larkhall Athletic play Tottenham Hotspur in the Third Round of the F.A.Women's Cup on Sunday.
The Larks have reached this stage for the first time in their history and Cheryl admitted to Women's Soccer Scene: "It's a massive game for the whole club, we've all been buzzing since the draw was made. It's a massive chance for us to test ourselves against Premier League opposition."
Larkhall have embarked on a fine Cup run which has seen them get past two Combination teams in Gloucester City and Newquay, as well as Shanklin in the last round. "We've already caused two upsets against Combination sides," says Cheryl. "We know it's going to be tough but I wouldn't have thought they know a whole lot about us so I think we have every chance of shocking a few people - it is the FA Cup after all."
The Larkhall squad is an experienced one with several players who have played in the National Division in the past, including Cheryl herself. "I think it definitely helps to have the amount of experience that we do," she says. "Kelly [Cripps] has played in the semi finals with Bristol Rovers and we have plenty of Premier League experience - that can only help. We have a great squad this year with some really good players and it feels well balanced."
Cheryl spent a part of her career at the Arsenal Academy and the Spurs squad includes some names familiar to her: "I recognise a few names, I was at Langford for a short time with Jenna [Schillaci] and know of Miranda [Hall] from her Watford days. We know they are going to have a decent set up and be well organised."
The recent announcement that the Final is to be played at Ashton Gate has been a big boost to Cheryl, one of a number of Bristol City fans in the Larkhall squad. "It's great for Bristol to have the Cup Final at Ashton Gate this year," she enthuses. "It would be very special to be part of that but I think we need to be realistic. This is the furthest Larkhall have ever been in the Cup and we are just looking to the Spurs game."
One thing Cheryl does insist on is that the Cup run will not take away their focus on winning the South West League, for which they are battling with Exeter City. "Not at all," she replies. "If anything, it's given us a massive boost after each round. We are having a great season in the league, FA Cup and County Cup and we want to do as well as possible in every competition. The league is obviously a priority but the FA Cup gives us a chance to test ourselves against teams in higher leagues and the excitement caused by the Cup can only be a good thing."
The chance of playing Tottenham Hotspur also brings back a special memory for Cheryl, who made her senior women's football debut against them in an F.A.Women's Cup tie for Bristol City, as a 14-year-old in 1999. Her current Larkhall team mates Carly Bryant and Michelle Munro were also playing in that match. "That was a long time ago," she laughs. "I do remember that game and still have the programme. I started on the bench and got a bit of playing time - I was probably taller back then!"
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