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Southampton FC Women provided the result of the Fourth Round in the Vitality Women's FA Cup when they beat FA Women's Championship side Lewes 2-1 to reach the last sixteen for the first time.
We talked to Saints midfielder Shelly Provan, who is one of the experienced members of what is largely a young squad. She described the win against Lewes as the "proudest moment for the club to date" and savoured the prospect of taking on Barclays FA WSL side Birmingham City in the Fifth Round this coming Sunday:
WSS: Congratulations on a tremendous win against Lewes, would you say it is the best result the team have achieved to date?
SP: I would say this is the proudest moment for the club to date. Everyone involved have worked tirelessly over the last four years to get to a point where we can compete at that level and show what we can do. The FA Cup is our only opportunity to do this, due to the league that we are in. Also the fact that we had only had three weeks training together leading into the game is testament to how ridiculously hard the girls worked over lockdown. We are at a point where we have so much togetherness as a group and this is showing on the pitch and in our results.
WSS: Were you always confident of getting a good result going into the game, even though Lewes play two levels above you?
SP: I don't feel that you can go into any game without being confident you can win. Personally I have a huge amount of faith in both the team around me and the staff who prepare meticulously for each opposition we face. We knew we were capable but we had to be able to produce on the pitch on the day. We didn't have lots of possession which we were prepared for so being clinical when we had chances was key.
WSS: How big a help was it that you played against teams from the division above in the previous two games?
SP: It definitely helped in terms of us building on previous performances. Each team has given us a different challenge and we have had to respond to that positively each time. We played two well organised and physical teams in Plymouth and Yeovil, which helped us to deal with the scenarios we did in the Lewes game.
WSS: How big a moment though was the penalty save from Kayla Rendell, especially as it came just five minutes before you took the lead?
SP: Kayla was tremendous against Lewes. Her all round game has improved so much. She has worked so hard on different aspects of her game that is adding to the quality of the team and our performances. She absolutely deserved that moment.
WSS: Both of your goals on the day were good strikes, but Rachel Panting's winner from 30 yards was a moment to savour?
SP: Both Georgie and Rachel's strikes were fantastic, something they are all capable of along with a few other players in the team. Being that confident to finish like that in a game where we didn't get as many chances as we would have liked was fantastic.
WSS: Were there any worrying moments late on as Lewes threw everything forward, or did you always feel confident of holding on?
SP: We work so hard during the training week on defensive shape, not just in preparation for the Lewes game but for every game. We are clear on our roles and responsibilities across the whole pitch, so I always felt confident in the team to see the game out and manage the last few minutes professionally.
WSS: Now you will travel to Birmingham City in the last sixteen, how do you feel about the prospect of taking on a WSL side?
SP: It is most definitely our biggest challenge yet, but one we are really excited about. Training intensity has increased and will do each week leading into the game, to make sure we give the best account of ourselves. We will be prepared and hope it will be a great advert for the women's game.
WSS: The team received another big boost during the game with Ella Morris making her comeback from a long term injury, how good is it to have her back?
SP: Ella, along with a few other players, have been out long term and their recovery has been slowed down slightly because of the lockdowns over the last year, but they have worked extremely hard to get back on the pitch. It has been great to have them back in training and games, increasing competition for places.
Our thanks to Shelly!
Photo - Isabelle Field/Southampton FC
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