After the draw of the Women’s FA Cup that has now seen MK Dons move into the northern section, as a result of this change it sees the Dons travel to Worcester City in an historic moment for the host as they look to mark their first-ever occasion in the 2nd Round of the Women’s FA Cup with a win.
Worcester City made history only a few weeks ago by winning their first-ever first-round match with a fine 5-0 away win over Rotherham United. This result was one of the biggest cup upsets in recent times and a huge shock, and as a result of their hard work, they have been drawn against the FAWNL Southern Premiership Side MK Dons.
Dons are currently three divisions higher than their opponents, who currently play in the West Midlands Regional Women’s Football League. The Dons will be regarded as heavy favourites to advance to the third round. But as we know in cup football anything is possible and could another historic upset be on the card.
Going into the game on Sunday Worcester City will be full of confidence as they look to once again cause a massive cup to upset in arguably what could be the club’s biggest game for a very long time, and ahead of the game we spoke with Worcester City Captain Jess Fassnidge
What does it mean to you to play/manage in the second round of the Women’s FA Cup?
It’s an exciting opportunity to play in the Second Round of the FA Cup, a historic day for the club and one we will certainly relish. The club has worked hard both on and off the pitch to be able to put us in this unique position. We’re really excited for the challenge and on a personal note, I can’t wait to lead the team out at Sixways. The entire squad has been working extremely hard this season fighting for places and buying into a bigger-picture narrative. It’s set to be a great game, after all, it is the magic of the FA Cup.
Are you looking forward to challenging yourself vs higher opposition, and how will you approach this game?
Very much so. For this very reason, the FA Cup is one of the greatest English competitions to be a part of. We always want to challenge ourselves and see how far we’ve come in a short space of time. Playing teams such as MK Dons is a great chance to embrace a unique challenge but equally, showcase what we are about at City, and promote a great day of women’s football. We are approaching this game as we have treated every other cup game thus far, respectful of the opposition but focused on our game and what we can control.
What has been your favourite FA Cup memory? Playing or watching?
The last round was a pretty special moment. Going on an away day to Rotherham and seeing the incredible fan base that followed us was a moment that really makes you reflect on how far we have come. Not only this, but a dominant performance saw us move into the FA Women’s Cup Second Round Proper, which is an historic moment in itself.
How much are you looking forward to playing in front of a large crowd at Sixways? Will this support help spur you on in creating an upset?
We have a great family atmosphere and die-hard fans that really do make a difference. As is the case at any club, it can’t or won’t be successful without the fans, and the same applies to us. We have the privilege of playing at a phenomenal stadium, but this game is unusual territory for us, playing against a side competing in the FA Women’s National League, Southern Premier Division. It will likely be the hardest game we have to play this season, we know MK Dons will be experienced and out to prove exactly why they play at the standard they play at. From our perspective, we’re just excited for the challenge and to display hopefully, an entertaining game of football.
The game itself will be played at Sixways stadium, and the Dons will not fear the pressure in what could turn out to be a fantastic occasion for the hosts, and the Dons will look to feed off energy and atmosphere that could be created this weekend.
Sixways itself is a fantastic stadium, but the Dons will not fear travelling to a state-of-the-art stadium. In fact, it could help to provide them home comforts away from home. Many of the squad have played at Stadium MK and know what it feels like to play in a large crowd and will not be fazed by the pressures of the opposition fans.
Yes, the pitch itself is artificial, but once again this will not bother the Dons. With the higher technical skilled players they have. Hopefully, they will be able to showcase the reason why they currently play 3 divisions higher than the opposition and will suit Charlie Bill’s attacking style as they know they can trust the surface and play at a higher tempo.
Going into this weekend’s fixture, the Dons were due to Play Milton United in the Berks & Bucks County Cup. But the game itself got called off due to an unplayable pitch. Itself has not been the best of preparations ahead of another big Fa Cup tie. But it has allowed time for Charlie Bills side to rest and recover over what has been a busy few months for the squad, and ahead of this weekend’s game we sat down with MK Dons Legend and now Assistant Coach Laura Bright to see her view on the season so far.
How do you rate this season so far? Do you feel like the squad is on the right path to achieving the goals and objectives you set out at the start of the season?
We’ve made a strong start to the season, laying the foundations for what we hope to be another step forward for the club. We’ve already matched the number of clean sheets we achieved across the whole of last season, showing the improvement in our defensive resilience and ability to consistently be hard to beat. It’s this improvement, which has given us the platform to compete against, and beat, teams sitting above us in the league.
A pleasing thing has been the return to fitness of a few players coming back from long-term injuries, with Lucy Wood, T Addison and Leyla O’Brien all now available for selection. We’ll need the creativity these three bring, along with the rest of our attacking unit, to build on and complement the solid out-of-possession performances we have consistently been showing so far this season.
What has been your favourite FA Cup memory? Playing or Watching?
My favourite FA Cup memory as a player is hard to pick, as I’ve been lucky enough to have experienced a fair few great moments across my career. One that always stands out though is playing against a midfield pair of Jill Scott and Fara Williams – two legends of the game – back in my centre midfield days. My claim to fame is that I beat Jill Scott in the air!
As a fan, the moment that stands out most is being at Wembley as Robbie Di Matteo scored within 42 seconds in the final against Middlesborough. I’m a big Chelsea fan and being there as a young kid and experiencing the atmosphere was special. The only thing better than the FA Cup is winning the FA Cup!
What does the FA Cup mean to you?
The FA Cup is magical – there is no other competition in sport that quite captures the same feelings and emotions. It’s a special thing to be part of, whether that is as a player, staff member, or fan, and will give all of us some of our most cherished memories. As mentioned, I’ve had a fair few as a player, including the run with MK Dons a few years back where we played against WSL opposition in Liverpool, and I hope the current group of players get to experience some of that magic this season too!
Last time out in the FA Cup, the Dons travelled to Cambridge United on the 12th of November saw the Dons overcome a slow start and win 2-1 thanks to a well-taken goal from Lucy Wood. Marking her first goal back after a substantial injury that saw her miss most of last season.
The game itself was full of drama, as Don’s vice-captain Gemma Biggadike had a penalty kick saved just before half time. Cambridge frustrated the Dons for most of the game, but the U’s were eventually beaten by a cross-shot from Nicola Puddick who found the top corner from a wide angle on the left-hand side. After the goal the Dons started to dominate the game, itself creating several chances.
Eventually, Lucy Wood popped up ten minutes before the end of the game and tapped the ball home a cross from Puddick and the game was seen out by the Dons booking their place in the hat for round 2.
After the last round impressive performance, we sat down with Nicola Puddick ahead of this weekend’s game. She said, “There’s always a real buzz of excitement around cup games, especially the FA Cup as the games are really competitive. So, to be involved in both goals and get my name on the scoresheet is a great feeling!
“My favourite memory of playing in the FA Cup would have to be last week against Cambridge. I set myself a target before each game and that’s to contribute towards helping the team get a positive result, and it’s really pleasing to have been able to do that and progress into the second round.
“The FA Cup is brilliant as it provides loads of opportunities for teams playing at different levels to compete against each other. The possibility of playing against players you’ve always been inspired by is really motivating and would be an incredible experience if we progress far enough!”
Currently Worcester sits top of West Midlands Regional Women’s Football League. After 8 games played the currently have 18 points. Wining 5 and drawing 3. They are currently unbeaten so far this season and yet to taste defeat and have only conceded once this month. So, will this come to an end this weekend?
Match Information –
Worcester City Women vs Milton Keynes Dons Women
Vitality Women’s FA Cup 2nd Round
Worcester, Warriors Way, Worcester WR3 8ZE, UK
Kick Off 14:00
Tickets – £1 Under 16’s, Students & Over 65’s £3, Adults – £5
More information: www.wcwfc.co.uk/event-details/worcester-city-women-vs-MK-Dons-women
Live Commentary – CW Sports Radio from 13:45 pm (GMT) – For more information please visit www.cwsportradio.com.
Podcast: Game On ! MK DONS FC WOMEN Podcast | Podcast on Spotify or Via – Anchor.fm/mkdonsfcwomen (New Episodes every Friday)
Images: Christopher Foxwell – For more information please visit www.ctfphotography.co.uk
Special Thanks to Sam Dawson – For more information please visit Sam Dawson Photography – www.samdawsonphotography.co.uk