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It has been a great few days for Cambridge United as they followed up an impressive 5-1 win over Actonians in the league on Sunday, by winning the County Cup in midweek.
We talked to Cambridge captain Kelley Blanchflower, who lifted her first trophy for the club following the 2-1 win over Cambridge City, and she believes that this run of good form can stand the club in good stead for the rest of the season and beyond:
WSS: What a few days it has been for your club, following up good results in the league with a County Cup win. What was the feeling like when you received the cup?
KB: It felt brilliant of course, with it being my first season as a captain too! To have won silverware with such a great bunch of people has really topped off how hard I think we have worked this season and shows the direction we are moving in. We have worked hard to find our identity with so many new faces in the squad and to know we have gelled so well so quickly is fantastic. We came into these last few weeks optimistic with the number of games in a short period of time so to win this cup was just a feeling of achievement and growth as squad.
WSS: This followed a great result in the league on Sunday, beating high riding Actonians 5-1. Was that as good as the team has played in the league this season?
KB: I believe it was yes, we had a very good game against Stevenage away, however came away with a draw and since then we have felt this extra togetherness and determination as a team to not want to come away from a game feeling like we deserved more, considering the ball is in our court with games in hand in the league. Everything came together against Actonians, our desire and belief in one another, we was clinical and know we can adapt to every situation thrown at us.
WSS: How big a boost to the team's confidence was it, becoming the first team to take points off Crawley Wasps when you held them to a goalless draw?
KB: I don't think I could put it into words how big, it's probably the next best thing to winning silverware! The girls worked extremely hard against a quality side, plus with the added barrier of the weather. As a team we are fearless and we went into the game like it was any other opponent in the league. The standard of defending has certainly been improved to last season and the girls should pat themselves on the back for such a great record of clean sheets, the pressing from the front and desire to throw bodies in the way. I do believe its a credit to the management, Kevin and Sean, for believing in us and getting us to play the style of football we have been. This has only added to the momentum we are building towards such a crucial stage in the season.
WSS: The County Cup was sealed with a win in the Final over Cambridge City, who are having a great season themselves. After your matches with them in the FA Cup earlier in the season, was the team extra determined going into this match?
KB: I felt like this was the best time to play them and we were the most relaxed we have been. Of course we were determined but we just wanted to go out and enjoy playing our football at the Abbey Stadium and working hard for one another like we have been. The last two games we had against them seemed to have much more stigma around them which wasn't necessary. We knew we had overcome much bigger hurdles in the previous weeks and confidence was flowing through our veins, but of course it's always sweet to win silverware over your main rivals!!
WSS: Has there been one main reason for the team's upsurge in form or is it down to confidence?
KB: I would say it's mainly confidence, we have such a variety of players in our squad this season it's taken us time to really gel and find our feet. I think seeing ourselves at the bottom end of the table was hard because we knew we was better than that and now with the team performing how we are, making steps in the right direction and seeing yourself higher in the table, it has only breathed confidence into one another as we realise more each game, that we do deserve to be winning games.
WSS: This Sunday will be another tough match against second placed Billericay, presumably the team will be looking forward to the challenge though?
KB: We couldn't be more ready for it if I'm honest, we are feeling at the top of our game as a squad and there's no challenge we don't feel up to right now. We have seen their latest results and know for sure we have every ability to test them.
WSS: With six games left to play, you are just four points behind third place. Is this something that the team will be targeting in the remainder of the season?
KB: We are just enjoying the ride we are on right now and we try not to look too far ahead. However after recent weeks with the results that have happened, it is something we have one eye on. We don't want to get too ahead of ourselves and I think this Sunday against Billericay could be one of the biggest deciding factors in reaching that target of third.
WSS: Wherever you end up this time, no doubt the aim will be to build on this run of form and make a serious challenge next season?
KB: Absolutely, we are hoping that this is the start of something new to come for Cambridge United Ladies. If we are able to sustain these results and carry on fighting then there's no reason as to why next season we can't challenge for the title.
Our thanks to Kelley!
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