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Last Sunday, Milton Keynes Dons went through to the semi finals of the FAWNL League Cup with a 2-0 victory against Chesham Utd.
We talked to MK Dons defender Louise Naylor, who was pleased with the team's recent upsurge in form, including the win at Chesham, and looked ahead to meeting Stoke City in the semi finals this week:
WSS: Well done on a good win on Sunday and reaching the semi finals of the League Cup, was it a tough game away to lower division opponents who you had met in another cup tie seven days earlier?
LN: Chesham are in our county, so we regularly get drawn against them in the County Cup. We know they are always a tough team to play and can cause a threat. Despite the result against them seven days earlier, that was at the back of our mind and we were solely focused on getting to the semi final in the League Cup.
WSS: Do you think it was important that the two goals came in quick succession, making it really difficult for Chesham from that point?
LN: Obviously the goals in quick succession were important but I felt we started to cause more of a threat in the second half, so was confident we would get the goals and the win regardless.
WSS: You did well in the Plate last season, what is it about the cups that brings the best out of you?
LN: Last year was us being able to enjoy our football without the pressures of survival in our first year in the third tier. We got to express our style of play more and take more risks in the cup ties. This year was all about achieving the same if not better. We know the league is tough, so having good cup runs allow you to refocus to spur us on into the league.
WSS: That makes it three wins on the trot - all in different competitions - has there been any factor behind your good form since the turn of the year?
LN: I can think of a few factors that may have played a part. The team spirit is definitely one factor but also we have a young squad and it sometimes takes time to find that consistency in performances. Before the Christmas break, we had a chance to reflect as players and management on our targets for the season, I think this has changed our approach slightly going into each game and we hope it continues.
WSS: The draw for the semi finals gave you a home tie with Stoke City, who you are due to meet this week. What are your thoughts on being paired with them?
LN: We are excited for the draw and especially being at home at the stadium. We don't know too much about Stoke City other than they have been doing well in the Northern Premier, but we are looking forward to the game.
WSS: You started the season really well but a run of narrow defeats meant you dropped down the table, do you feel the team is starting to hit its best form again now?
LN: I think we were inconsistent in many areas of our game in the first half of the season, despite getting some early good results. Our performances of late have been much improved and we now know where our strengths are and how to apply them to the game more often. We are learning from every game but I feel we are heading in the right direction.
WSS: All in all though, you are establishing yourselves at this level and play at a fantastic home ground, do you feel that the club is pushing in the right direction and can kick on in the future?
LN: Certainly, I have been here six seasons now and the support we get compared to when I joined is fantastic. We know we still have areas to improve on to be competing higher but this league is very competitive. I think the quality of players coming through from our RTC and the fact we do share our home ground with the men's team also speaks volumes in the club's future ambitions.
Our thanks to Louise!
Photo - Simon Gooderham
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