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Women's Football News
Plymouth Argyle are having a good season so far and, in addition to leading the way in the FAWPL South West Division One table, are through to the Second Round of the SSE Women's FA Cup after beating Basingstoke Town 3-1 on Sunday.
We talked to Plymouth vice captain Becky Atkins, who scored in the win over Basingstoke, and whilst delighed with their Cup run so far, admitted that the main goal for the club is to regain the Southern Division status they lost at the end of last season:
WSS: How pleased were you with the team's performance in beating Basingstoke on Sunday?
BA: Sunday's result was great for the team and the club. The first team hadn't played for a few weeks so it was good to be back playing in such a great competition.
WSS: Was it a case of staying patient after the scoreline was goalless at half time?
BA: Yes it was. At half time, Lens emphasised to us that if we stay patient and keep pressing then our regards will come and he was proven right. We recently played Maidenhead in the league and had a similar first half where we had the majority of possession but we were unable to convert our chances and we went in at half time goalless. We ended up winning 8-0 in that game. On Sunday we all knew that the goals would come but we needed to stay positive and confident.
WSS: Does it feel a bit strange knowing you are already through to the next round, as you have received a bye?
BA: The management team didn't actually tell us that we had received a bye in the next round before the game as they felt we needed to focus on the game in hand. To learn we had got a bye to the Second Round Proper is a good feeling and we are all looking forward to seeing who we are playing in the next round. We are only one game away now from potentially facing a WSL2 team. It is an exciting time for the club.
WSS: This week it is the turn of the County Cup and a trip to Alphington, presumably this is a trophy you are targeting this season?
BA: The County cup is always a trophy that we aim to win at the beginning of the season. It is a great competition and one that we are proud to be part of. I am sure Alphington will be looking to cause an upset but we are a confident squad at the moment and are relishing the challenge.
WSS: What changes were made at the club during the summer after relegation, and how good is it to see them paying off so far?
BA: During the summer a lot of things changed at the club, not only on the pitch but also off the pitch, all of which were very positive. Firstly, Dave Leonard agreed to take over permanently which, to attract a manager of his quality and experience, is great for the club. He put us through a very well organised and hard pre-season programme but it has paid off and set us up to start the season strongly. Lens has also brought in some very good players which has added great strength in depth to our squad. We are top of the league at the moment and are working hard to stay there. The confidence within the squad is high and we are all enjoying being part of the club this season. Off the pitch, he insisted we re-introduce a reserves side so we can nurture the talent within Plymouth Argyle Advance Girls Development Centre to enable them to progress to the first team in years to come, instead of losing these talented players. Also, we were able to attract two shirt sponsors, the Royal Air Force for the first team and Plymouth Citybus for the reserves. The RAF one is the biggest sponsorship deal is the biggest in the club's history and is testament to the strides we have made to attract sponsors of this calibre.
WSS: There are some strong teams near the top of the table in your division, can you see it staying close at the top throughout the season?
BA: In the league at the moment there are a number of very good, strong teams who have got years of experience in the league. We go into every game believing that no game is easy. I think that it will be a long, hard season and will be close at the top. We aim to stay at the top of the pack.
WSS: How important is it for Plymouth Argyle to regain Southern Division status as quickly as possible?
BA: At the beginning of the season, as a club, the aim was to go straight back up. I believe that with the players, coaching staff and committee we have everything we need to go back into the Southern Division. We want to test ourselves against the teams we played last season to see just how far we have come in such a short period of time. We are ready for the challenge and hope that this season will be the start of great things for the club.
Our thanks to Becky!
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