FAWNL Cup Final PREVIEW: Southampton FC vs Huddersfield Town Women

HTAFC Women chance at silverware against Southampton

  • Town Women feature in their first ever FAWNL Cup Final
  • Tough challenge against on-form Southampton
  • How fans can support Terriers.

Huddersfield Town Women will play in their first ever FA Women’s National League Cup final this Sunday 24 April as they face the Southern League leaders Southampton at the ARMCO Arena, home of Solihull Moors FC.

Huddersfield Town Women versus Burnley FC
IMAGE: Oliver Eaton

Their journey to the final started back in September when Town Women featured in the competition’s preliminary qualification round against Boldmere St. Michael’s FC from Sutton Coldfield. This round determined which tournament each team would feature in, with the winner progressing into the FAWNL Cup competition and the loser competing in the FAWNL Plate. Town Women have been runners up in the Plate tournament twice previously.

A convincing 7-2 win saw the Terriers move into the FAWNL Cup tournament where they faced fellow league and North Yorkshire rivals Middlesbrough at the Stafflex Arena. Then manager Steve Appleton saw his side victorious 3-2.

The next round saw Town Women travel to face Loughborough Lightning just a week after knocking the Midlands team out of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup. The Terriers remained dominant, progressing into the quarter-finals with a 3-1 win, the same scoreline as the previous week.

This win set up a fierce quarter-final West Yorkshire derby between Huddersfield Town Women and Brighouse Town Ladies. After three failed attempts to play the fixture, the game finally took place on February 23. A Laura Elford hat-trick alongside top scorer Britt Sanderson’s strike (4-1) saw the Terriers progress further than they had ever achieved in the tournament to date.

Town Women’s semi-final opponent was then tier four league toppers’ Liverpool Feds. A Katie Stanley header just after half time proved to be enough for the Terriers as a 1-0 victory saw them progress into the FAWNL Final for the first ever time.

Katie Stanley looking forward to playing Southampton Women
IMAGE: Richard Asquith

Captain Stanley feels no pressure going into the match on Sunday 24 April:

“No pressure just more excitement. It’s games like these you want to be a part of. The thought of lifting the trophy on behalf of the club is the best way, and only way to round the season off.”

Huddersfield Town Women face Southampton who sit top of the Southern Premier Division and are set to face Northern Champions Wolverhampton Wanderers in the promotion play-off for a place in the FA Championship.

Manager Glen Preston is excited for the occasion:

“It’s a momentous occasion for the club and another sign of how the club has grown over the years that we are in a position to be able to compete for honours as big as this.”

“We have made 1 or 2 finals in the past in other competitions and just fallen short, and so we have to want this one more this time around, we can’t allow ourselves to have the mind set of just being happy to be a part of the occasion, everyone has to do all they can to find a way to win.”

WHAT TO EXPECT

Southampton FC have been a dominant team within the Southern Premier Division securing the league title in their previous fixture against Portsmouth. Netting 22 times in their last four games reflects their overall season form in front of goal. The South Coast side have won their last nine consecutive games during a streak of 24 games unbeaten.

Founded in 2016, Southampton FC are affiliated to Premier League Southampton and have progressed up the Women’s football pyramid in quick succession. The club are preparing themselves for professional status with promotion to the second tier only being one play-off victory away.

Their route to the final started in the qualifying round against Cheltenham Town where they won 3-2 away from home. They then travelled to league rivals Ipswich Town (who knocked Southampton out of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup on penalties) and beat the East Anglian team 1-0. A succession of home ties saw Southampton knock out MK Dons 2-1, Hashtag United 1-0 and finally a semi-final win against Crawley Wasps 2-0. Their next stop, Huddersfield Town Women in the final.

On paper Southampton will likely be the favourite based on form and momentum however the Terriers are well aware of the threat of their southern opposition as Town’s number 4 Kate Mallin explains:

“I’m sure that they’ll be tough. They’ve scored an awful lot of goals this season and have conceded very few. We need to start quickly and play sensibly and not concede early. If we play to our strengths, we have a chance of an upset against Southampton who will be heavy favourites.”

Huddersfield Manager Glen Preston
IMAGE: Oliver Eaton

Manager Glen Preston is also cautious of the opposition:

“Southampton are now a massive club within the women’s game, they have resources that we can’t match and so no doubt we will go into this game as underdogs, but everyone loves the challenge of trying to out-perform a big-dog, cup games like this make this even more possible.”

“We don’t know much about our opposition, which limits our preparation, and they will know everything about us so they hold a minor advantage there, so our preparation just needs to be about what we do well as a team and ensuring we leave everything on the pitch on the day; mentality will be key.”

HOW TO WATCH HTAFC WOMEN

The game will take place at the ARMCO Arena, B92 9EJ on Sunday 24 April, Kicking off at 3:30pm. Huddersfield fans will be able to purchase tickets on the gate with prices listed as £5 Adults and £2.50 Concessions.

Can’t make the game? As always, online coverage of the match will be available across all HTWFC channels including minute-by-minute updates on our Twitter @HTAFCWomen plus match build up on our Instagram. Highlights will also be released following the game for fans to catch up on the action.

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