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Stoke City are still in with a chance of finishing in the top three in the Northern Division following their 2-0 victory over Huddersfield Town on Sunday.
We talked to Stoke goalkeeper Natalie Hall who was pleased with the way the team played in beating Huddersfield whilst admitting that changes on and off the pitch have not helped with consistency this season:
WSS: Was it a pleasing result and performance on Sunday against a team which has been in good form recently?
NH: Definitely! Huddersfield were always a threat coming forward and that's why they are always a difficult side to play against. Overall, it was a very even game and it was vital that we got the first goal.
WSS: Was it extra important to win the game after what had happened against Derby?
NH: The Derby games is one of the most bizarre games I've played in! We were unbelievable in the first half and then threw it away in the second - very Jekyll and Hyde! To come back from that was important, so to follow it with a County Cup win and a league victory shows that it was a freak incident at Derby.
WSS: From your point of view, how pleased were you to keep a clean sheet?
NH: That for me was the most pleasing. We've kept nowhere near as many clean sheets as I would have liked this season. Huddersfield put us under a lot of pressure so to shut them out was a real team effort.
WSS: You have no game this week but make the long trip to Newcastle next Sunday, what kind of game are you expecting there?
NH: It's always difficult when you go all the way to Newcastle. They haven't had an easy season and I'm sure they'll be fighting with all they have got to take points off us; we'll have to give a good showing if we are to come away with anything. It was a close game when we played them at home, so we'll be taking nothing for granted.
WSS: You can still finish in third place, would that be a good season for the club?
NH: I think so. If I'm honest, I hoped for more based on last season but there have been changes this year, which take time to bed in. It's always a very competitive league from top to bottom so third place would be a pleasing conclusion if we can make it happen.
WSS: With a slow start and changing managers midway through, would you say that overall it has been a season of transition?
NH: It has, yes, and we've been inconsistent too. We changed grounds this season and put a lot of work prior to the season starting into that. It's now our home and it's a place we enjoy playing at so next season we hope to make it a fortress. The managerial change has been quite smooth. Andy Frost has taken Stoke City Ladies into another league in terms in how the club is viewed and everyone is so thankful for all he has done. Steve Swanwick, who has managed the first team at Stoke before and more recently the reserves, has been able to carry on the good work as well as putting his own identity on how we do things too. He's someone the girls know well and have respect for. We also have some very good young players coming through, so the future is bright.
WSS: With one defeat in your last five games, do you think this will stand the club in good stead to aim higher next season?
NH: I think so. I said previously about being inconsistent but we're starting to put little runs together and hopefully we'll carry that forward. A strong end to the season is what we are aiming for to build for the next.
Our thanks to Natalie!
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