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Football in Berkshire’s Women’s Football Correspondent, Abi Ticehurst, takes you through everything you need to know ahead of this weekend’s Vitality Women’s FA Cup Fourth Round Proper fixture as Reading FC Women are set to play Brighton and Hove Albion Women at 2pm on Sunday 30th of January. The game is due to take place at The People’s Pension Stadium, home of the Seagulls.
The Vitality Women’s FA Cup was founded in 1970, originally named the Mitre Challenge Trophy and created by the Women’s Football Association. The competition was named the ‘Mitre Challenge Trophy’ due to the sponsorship of world renowned sport equipment brand Mitre, they were the competition sponsors until 1976. There has been seven sponsors since the original Mitre and the competition is currently sponsored by VitalityHealth having announced them in September 2020.
The inaugural competition had 71 entrants, including teams from Scotland and Wales. Arsenal currently hold the record for most titles, having won the competition an impressive fourteen times, followed by Southampton Women’s with eight and Doncaster Belles with six.
Berkshire has played host to the FA Cup. On Sunday 30th April, 1978, the 7th FA Cup final took place at Wexham Park, the then home of Slough Town FC. A fixture between Southampton and Queens Park Rangers, which saw no less than ten goals scored, 6 of which were netted by Pat Chapman. It ended with Southampton winning 8-2 making them champions for a sixth time.
Fun fact: The original Mitre Challenge Trophy has “disappeared”, according to records, it is believed to be “tucked away somewhere in a player’s trophy cabinet”.
Reading have made a rather unfortunate habit of holding teams to a draw before getting knocked out of the competition in extra time in previous years. Their track record against Brighton in the league is rather more positive, having won six and drawn one in their last seven games.
2018/19 – The Royals best run in the competition having made it to the semi-final where they faced West Ham United. West Ham won 4-3 on penalties. The Fourth Round Proper saw them win 13-0 over Keysham Town Ladies, before beating Birmingham 2-1 in the Fifth Round and seeing off Manchester United in a 3-2 win in the Quarter Final
Semifinal goalscorer: Rachel Furness
2019/20 – Reading entered at the Fourth Round Proper and beat Championship side, London City Lionesses with a convincing 5-0 away from home. But were knocked out by Leicester in extra time in the Fifth Round Proper after a 1 all draw at full time.
Fifth Round Proper goalscorer: Brooke Chaplen
2020/21 – Knocked out at the first attempt in the Fourth Round Proper by Tottenham Hotspur. The game finished 2-2 at full time before Spurs added another to make it 2-3 in extra time.
Goalscorers: Fara Williams, Rachel Rowe
Brighton have had somewhat more success in the Cup in previous years making it to the semi-final in the last competition.
2018/19 – Brighton were knocked out in the Fourth Round Proper by Manchester United having lost 2-0.
2019/20 – Brighton made it to the quarter final before being knocking out by Birmingham after a 2-2 draw at full time.
2020/21 – The Seagulls made it as far as the semi-finals before they were knocked out by Arsenal, losing 3-0 to the eventual runners up.
We caught up with Robert Dugmore, Freelance Sports Reporter and Sports Media & Partnerships Manager at Ticketpass and the stadium announcer at Brighton and Hove Albion Women.
What are your thoughts on their current league form?
RD: It’s always hard to continue the progress I mentioned above in the manner Brighton have done it to date. And the team have now reached a stage where they seem just to hover in amongst a ‘chasing pack’ for the past couple of seasons after what was the highest finish in the WSL last season – 6th. There were an excellent couple of games to open up this season with 7 goals scored and back to back clean sheets. There was then a belief that an out-of-season FA Cup final could beckon but Arsenal proved too strong in the semi-final back in October. That led to a couple of decent 1-0 wins which included a last gasp screamer of a free-kick from Maisie Symonds to win against Leicester in November. What followed was a really dismal run of form. Hope Powell’s side haven’t won since and, what’s worse, haven’t troubled the scoresheet either including a 2-0 defeat against Reading. That’s 7 games in all competitions without a goal BUT last weekend’s goalless result against reigning champs Chelsea will surely provide some confidence before the Royals visit the People’s Pension Stadium on Sunday.
They’ve got a good track record in the FA Cup but not so much against Reading, what are your expectations for their FA Cup fixture this weekend?
RD: Of course the run to the semi-final last season/this season was a good mark of what this club can achieve and I think the huge disappointment in the display against Arsenal on Halloween illustrates just how much belief there is that they should be making it to the FA Cup final.
Looking to Sunday then. In a fixture like this the home advantage may be just enough to get the Albion into the hat for the 5th round. Despite a few peculiar big defeats, Hope Powell’s side are always well drilled and hard to break down, especially at home. If the roles were reversed and this tie were taking place on Berkshire soil then I think it would be much trickier for Brighton to make it through. That by no means suggests that Reading can’t make it through, especially as it’s the FA Cup and following on from the thrilling win for the Royal’s last weekend but I would imagine this tie could be decided by 1 goal. We could even be in for extra time and the dreaded P word.
Tickets are on sale now and available to purchase before the game, the link is available here. Prices are as follows:
Adult: £5.00, Seniors (65+) / Under 18: £2.50
Adult: £4.00, Seniors (65+) / Under 18: £2.00
Family Ticket (2 Adults + 2 Under 18s): £10.00
Address: Broadfield Stadium, Winfield Way, Broadfield, Crawley, West Sussex, RH11 9RX
Nearest Station: Crawley
Parking: There are free parking options close to the stadium.
Bus Company: There are Plusbus and Metrobus options.
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