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Buckland Athletic have been coping well with life in their first season in the FA Women's National League, after a tough start, and on Sunday they reached the Second Round of the SSE Women's FA Cup for the first time with a 2-0 win over Cheltenham Town.
We talked to Buckland defender Taylor Beales, who was delighted with the club's progress in the competition as well as in the league, and looked forward to the challenge of taking on Watford in the next round:
WSS: Congratulations on reaching the Second Round of the Cup on Sunday, how pleasing is it to get this far in the competition?
TB: Thank you very much, everyone at the club after the game was buzzing. The atmosphere at the club at the moment is at an all time high, especially since this is the furthest Buckland have got within the competition before. This is the first time I've been part of the FA Cup before, I personally feel overwhelmed by it all - it's such an exciting experience to share with all the girls and this club.
WSS: Cheltenham are having a very good season in the league this year, were you pleased with the team's performance on the day and did you always feel comfortable after going two goals ahead?
TB: Cheltenham are a very good side, you know we can't take that away from them. They are strong and physical, however we drew to them away 2-2 so we knew they were beatable. At half time it was only 1-0 so of course we didn't feel comfortable, the game was still all to play for. We had a lot of good attacks and opportunities, getting that second goal really boosted the team but we knew we had to keep it like that for the remainder of the game. We kept fighting and fighting, I thought the team played really well especially taking the pitch conditions into consideration, everyone did their jobs and we did what we needed to do to make the second round.
WSS: The draw has given you a long trip to Watford in the next round, are the players relishing the chance to take on a higher division team who were in the WSL last season?
TB: Yeah, I mean Watford are another great side, they've had that experience of playing in the WSL so this is an amazing opportunity for us to show the fight within us and what we can really do. We definitely will not be going down without a fight and we are all preparing ourselves correctly for this important game.
WSS: This week sees the first of two home games, first you play Alphington in the County Cup and then Larkhall Athletic the following week in the league. After five straight wins in all competitions, presumably the team will approach both macthes full of confidence?
TB: Of course we are on a huge high at the moment after winning, so of course we are confident but we will never be over confident and too comfortable. We have to stay well grounded and stick to what we have been doing for the past few games, it's important for us to keep up our work rate and go into these sorts of game fiery. Every week, all of us are buzzing to get back out there and I think our results are showing our desire to win and our love for the club.
WSS: This is the club's first season in the league following promotion, how have you been finding it in the National League so far?
TB: I only joined Buckland this season but I know the difference between the leagues is a big step, last season we were on the bounce, constantly unbeatable where as this season we have had more challenges, coming across a range of different sides who do challenge us. It's making us stronger finding who we are as a team and what we need to continue doing to win. We don't fear teams, we won't stop fighting - we are loving this league for sure.
WSS: It was a nightmare start in the first game against Keynsham, but you are unbeaten in the league since then and are nicely placed in the table. Where, realistically, do you think Buckland can finish this season?
TB: Our first game was difficult, it was the first game in the league against personally one of the best sides within our league but since then, they've worked on stuff to prevent goals that we conceded happening again. I think we have definitely found our feet a bit more and will keep pushing - we don't settle for anything less than 110% work rate by the whole team. Realistically I feel we can be in the top three if we keep this intensity up, there is nothing stopping us right now and it's still early in the season. Grant believes in all of us players and we all believe in each other and I think that is a very special thing.
WSS: Buckland have come a long way in a short space of time and are an ambitious club, how far is the club capable of going in future years?
TB: Buckland have just been climbing the leagues since they first started and the club will continue to keep pushing to succeed. Nothing is impossible or out of reach and of course, we have to be realistic but bit by bit we are improving, building as a squad and getting to where we want to be. I know Grant won't stop pushing this club, his determination to improve us as individuals and the team is on another level. I think this club has a very very bright future and I feel so proud and honoured to be a part of it.
Our thanks to Taylor!
(Photo by PPAUK)
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