Spence Warns Against Complacency In Cup Tie

Everton Ladies head coach Andy Spence insists his side cannot be complacent when they take on Durham Women in the FA Cup quarter-final on Sunday at New Ferens Park (2pm kick-off).

After a break in action for almost a month, the Blue Girls bid to make the last four of the competition for the first time since they reached the final in 2014 against a Durham side which sits third in WSL 2, four points off the promotion spot.

Everton have proven they are a match for anyone since moving back up to WSL 1 this campaign. But despite the gap in divisions, Spence has been quick to ensure his side do not underestimate this weekend's opponents.

“Durham are very good opposition, we have played them over the past couple of years and we have been to see them in their past two games to do our homework," said Spence. "They certainly have a couple of ways of playing so both games have given us an opportunity to see where they have made improvements, and they have done.

“They are a good, strong WSL 2 team who have progressed every year with good individuals, but a big thing for them is a strong team. It will be tough but you don’t expect an easy opponent in the quarter-finals.

“Everyone from the outside will go, ‘It is WSL 1 v WSL 2 so it will be a win for Everton’. We expect to win games so that won’t be an additional pressure or worry because it doesn’t matter if it is Durham or Chelsea, we want to win the game.

“People expect us to win and we have to take the responsibility on, that is no slight on where Durham are at because, judging by their past two games, we are in for a tough fixture.

"We want to be in the semi-final but if you start thinking too far ahead too quickly then that is where you stumble with what is in front of you so I think this week, as every other game week, it will be about how we can win at the weekend.”

The last time the Blue Girls set foot on the pitch was in the 1-0 defeat to Arsenal on 23 February after a Beth Mead goal was enough to separate the sides, yet Spence is hopeful the break will benefit his team in their preparations for Sunday.

He added that the time off was useful in ensuring those players out injured were able to battle back to full fitness, with the manager confirming striker Simone Magill was "only a few weeks away from returning".

“When you give players a break you hope you have given them the right time," said Spence. "If it is too long it can become a complete switch off but you don’t want it to be too little where they haven’t benefitted from it, I think we have it right but the proof will be in the pudding come Sunday.

“We feel we have played really good football this year and should be in a better place in terms of points in relation to the performances we have put in. We are building good momentum because recently we have been turning those performances into results. The Arsenal game was disappointing not get a point but before that we had a good run - the confidence is high within the girls."

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