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Stevenage Ladies produced arguably the result of the round in the Premier League Cup on Sunday with a 1-0 victory against Southern Division side Gillingham.
We talked to Stevenage captain Donna McGuigan who was thrilled with the result against a side which had won the division they were in last season and insisted that the team can kick on from here and have a good season:
WSS: Congratulations on a brilliant result against Gillingham, how big a boost to the team's confidence will this be?
DM: Thank you! Yes it was a massive result for us and the exact boost we needed! We had a brilliant pre-season, but unfortunately the first two games of the season didn't go to plan, so it was as important as ever to go out Sunday and get a good performance under our belt. We had a game plan going into the Gills match and we showed true courage to stick it for 90 minutes. The first boost came when we went 1-0 up to a team in the league above, but to hold out till 90 minutes and continue to take the game to them was the exact lift we needed! We now go into Sunday's league game high in confidence and looking forward to getting our league campaign back on track.
WSS: Was it a nervous second half as you held on to your lead or did you always feel confident of winning?
DM: Yes of course! Going in 1-0 up at half time, we knew that Gills would come out stronger and would throw everything they had at us, so we were prepared for a fight. Chances fell to both sides, but we continued to give as good as we got. Holding on for 45 minutes against a team in the league above was always going to be tough, but the girls dug in deep and I can't fault any one of the girls!
WSS: You've played away each week so far and after two narrow league defeats, can this result kick start your season?
DM: Most definitely! To get a win away from home in the cup, to a team of Gills' standard, will only help spur us on in the league. This Sunday we play our first home game of the campaign and we go into it in high spirits and tighter than ever. Losing is difficult to take, but facing into each loss as a team has and will only make us a stronger as a squad.
WSS: You finally get to play your first home game this week against Norwich City, do you see this as a particularly important match?
DM: Very important - every game in the WPL is! Norwich will be a tough opposition for us, as we both have a lot to prove after last season. It's important for Stevenage as it's our first home game and it's on the back of an impressive performance. Winning in the cup is great, but our priority is the league and so we want to get three points on the table and prove where our ambitions lie for this season.
WSS: Do you feel that the team has learnt from last season's experiences after moving up to a higher level?
DM: Yes massively! Last season was tough for us all, both management and players. The step up into the WPL is huge and it took us a while to find our feet, gel together and really compete. The fight and performances we showed towards the end of last season gave us real spirit and desire as a club! We've taken that into this season and I think we are every bit worthy of our WPL status.
WSS: What do you think would be a good season for Stevenage this time around?
DM: A good season for Stevenage would see us have a great league campaign, our aim is to finish in the top four! We'd also expect to have a great cup run and to retain the title of Hertfordshire County Champions.
WSS: South East Division One looks to be very strong this season, who do you think will be among the main contenders?
DM: I 100% agree and it always is. I think the main contenders this season look to be AFC Wimbledon and MK Dons! They both had really strong campaigns last season and by the looks of it they've added to and strengthened their squads over the summer. MK Dons have always been a strong set up and opposition and I can see them going far if the performances go their way.
Our thanks to Donna!
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