Everton Ladies boss Andy Spence believes Monday’s SSE FA Cup semi-final draw will provide “extra motivation” for his players ahead of their rearranged last-eight clash at Durham Women this weekend.
The Blues Girls will play Arsenal or Charlton in the semi-finals, provided they can get past Durham on Sunday (12.30pm kick-off).
The Toffees were scheduled to play their tie in the north east last weekend but the game was postponed after heavy snow made the pitch unplayable.
Spence says preparations for the rearranged clash began immediately after the original tie was called off, with the players undergoing a rigorous training session to compensate for the postponement.
“We made sure we didn’t have a waste of a day by getting that session in,” he said. “We’ll make sure we prepare as well as we did last week so we’re ready to go and win the game.
“With the cup draw happening today, that’s just an extra motivation because you see your name up there – Durham or Everton v Arsenal or Charlton. I think from that point of view it won’t be difficult [to motivate the players].”
Everton Ladies – currently eighth in WSL 1 – will go into the last-eight tie as strong favourites, given that Durham ply their trade in the division below.
Andy Thorpe’s side are flying high in WSL 2, however, sitting in third place after winning their past three games on the spin.
Spence is under no illusions that his side will be in for a stern examination on Sunday. He says it’s vital his players approach the tie with the right attitude.
“Our mindset is very important,” he said. “Everyone from the outside will expect us to win. But we’ve got a determined opponent in Durham who’ll try to stop us.
“We want to be in an FA Cup semi-final and you don’t get many opportunities to do that, so if we can take this chance it’ll be brilliant. But we’ve got to make sure we’re focused this week and prepare properly.”
If the Blue Girls do make it through to the semi-finals they will be expected to face Arsenal, who saw their quarter-final with part-timers Charlton Athletic Ladies also fall foul of the weather on Sunday.
Spence, however, has first-hand experience of how tough a proposition the Addicks can be and believes Arsenal will not be able to take a last-four spot for granted.
“We have to do our job against Durham and Arsenal haven’t beaten Charlton,” he said.
“The form book might say you’d expect Arsenal to get through, but we played Charlton a couple of years ago in the cup and they ran us really close. I wouldn’t underestimate them, that’s for sure.”