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Women's Football News
This week sees East Midlands League side Long Eaton Utd attempt to continue their historic run in the SSE Womens FA Cup against Wolverhampton Wanderers from the FAWPL Midlands Division One.
However, in what is set to be a tough home fixture for the Blues, they will go into the match with real optimism, having already knocked out higher opposition in the form of Rotherham United and Leicester City Ladies in the previous rounds.
So what has driven this success in the team, this year? We spoke to Long Eaton's assistant nanager, Alex Sammut, to find out more:
Long Eaton United face perhaps their toughest match of the season so far, how are you feeling ahead of the First Round proper tie?
Excited! The squad, and management team, go into this match with a real sense of ambition and desire to prove that we can go head to head with teams from higher leagues. Having already played, and beaten, higher opposition (Rotherham United and Leicester City Ladies) in the previous rounds, we are looking to maintain what has been an unbeaten start for us this season. Regardless of the opposition we are always excited to have a home game, at Grange Park, in front of our loyal fans particularly on such a grand stage.
What do you think has been the driving force behind the team's success this year?
By far and away the commitment levels from everyone involved at the club. From Chairman, Jim Fairley, down to every single player in the squad have all put 110% into making this an exciting year for us, full of huge potential. Charlotte (Healy), First Team Manager and Coach, is the perfect example of this. Dedicating so much of her time to the team, both behind the scenes and on the training ground despite currently living in the North West of the country with strong commitments to the likes of Liverpool Ladies Academy and the Manchester FA.
When I joined in the middle of last year I saw, and admired, the work ethic of the club hierarchy and saw their vision for the forthcoming years and was immediately impressed. Charlotte, and the club, have worked tirelessly during the back end of last year and during the close season to bring in some high calibre players into this current squad. In addition, we are privileged to train on the first team pitch and have access to great facilities throughout the club, being treated equally to the first team men's side.
As the Assistant Manager, and fairly new to the club, what is your main role?
On a personal level, the club has enabled me to develop my own coaching skills alongside two quality coaches in the form of Charlotte and Will (Brown - Assistant Coach). Collectively between the three of us we decide upon the best available squad for the weekend ahead and ultimately the starting eleven. We've grown as a group from last year and this year are starting to feel that we are getting the balance right, in terms of decision making at crucial times during the game.
My personal playing career was actually in rugby rather than football, having international caps for Malta RFU and playing within the Leicester Tigers and Bristol Youth set ups at an early age. As such, I try to bring transferable skills across, particularly towards the goal keepers in the squad given the nature of their roles. Also, being the oldest (by a long way!) in our management trio, I try to use my experience of being in similar situations previously in tight matches. So far, so good!
You mentioned new signings to the squad. Any particular players to look out for at the weekend?
People will always focus on players that score goals. In the form of new signings we have Precious Hamilton, Shell Kilmartin and Cara Newton in our squad this season. Collectively they have helped the entire squad score a total of 68 goals in 11 matches. However, our existing and other new signings have been equally as important. In midfield Portia Badach, Chloe Dixon, Leah Kellogg, Alena Moulton and Amy White have all worked tirelessly whenever involved and defensively (and in goal) regardless of the selection made for the weekend the players have always given everything they have got and we could not ask for much more. "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts," as they say!
Back to Sunday's match, what do you think your chances will be of causing another upset?
We will of course try our absolute hardest on the day and so long as the team and management give a good account of themselves, I believe that we stand an excellent chance of winning the match! Having the home draw is always an advantage in a tie like this and I imagine that Wolves Women will be approaching this game cautiously given the fact that we've already knocked out two of the other teams in their league in earlier rounds. Whatever the result though, you can be sure that it will be a match to get down and watch. We are looking for as many supporters to come down as possible and there is no excuse as entry is FREE!!
The match kicks off at 1pm at Grange Park.
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