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Liverpool captain Gayle Formston is expecting a close game when her team meets Watford in the Fifth Round of the F.A.Women's Cup on Sunday.
The match is one of three ties being played, with a place in the quarter finals at stake, and the defender is looking forward to the challenge of taking on the runaway Southern Division leaders. "It's going to be a tough game for both sides," Gayle told Women's Soccer Scene. "It should be a good game of football and it gives us a chance to pit our wits against a Southern Division team, which doesn't happen very often."
Gayle admits that Watford will be relatively unknown opposition but the Reds will be well prepared for the match. "We don't know too much about Watford but we have been given some information," she says. "I have got experience of playing against Ellen Maggs and know about her qualities, and we are fully aware that Helen Lander is a very good goalscorer. They are top of their league by a long way so we know it will be a tough challenge."
Last season, Gayle led Liverpool to the semi finals and is hoping to repeat the experience once again. "Last year's Cup run really lifted everyone," she says. "People thought we were going to run away with the league and playing in the Cup was a release for us. We are looking to reach the same stage again if we can."
That determination may have been shown in the Fourth Round, where Liverpool came from two goals behind to beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-2 after extra time. "It was a very similar game to one we played against Barnet last year," recalls Gayle. "We didn't panic when we went two goals down, we had belief in ourselves that we could turn it round."
Gayle herself scored one of the goals in the comeback. "It always nice to get on the scoresheet," she laughs. "It came from a corner which Wolves half cleared, Tammy (Byrne) volleyed the ball back into the area, I deflected it goalwards and it went in.
"It was a tremendous feeling when we scored the winner, and brought back the same feelings as last year. The goal was also a great moment for Shelley James as it was her first time with the first team this season after doing well in the reserves."
After starting their season late, Liverpool are starting to hit their best form. "Things are going well," says Gayle. "We have won our last seven matches in a row and are unbeaten in the league since October. We had a funny start - after everybody else because some our players had been called up to play for Wales - and there were a few freak results, but that has been the way in the whole division this season.
"We beat Crewe 4-0 on Sunday which was a really good result as it was a potential banana skin for us. We won 5-0 against them earlier in the season and they were ready for us this time, so we knew it wasn't going to be easy."
Chantelle Parry scored a hat-trick in that victory and Gayle is delighted with the signing of the England under-19 winger: "Chantelle has brought something extra to the team, she is a flair player who can turn a game our way. She is a player of Premiership quality playing at a lower level but we also have others who can do the same. Tammy Byrne is coming back to her best in midfield and Kelly Davies has been pushed up front and scored in four games in a row, and you can't ask for more than that.
"Natalie Holt is a really important player for us at left back and Gill Hart is having an excellent season, she has been scoring goals which was probably the only thing missing from her game."
If Liverpool can get past Watford, Gayle is taking a realistic view of who their potential quarter finals opponents could be. "To be honest, we would be happy to avoid the likes of Arsenal, Charlton, Leeds or Everton as we'd like to pit our wits against someone we have more of a chance against," she says. "A local derby (against Everton) would be nice and a few of us would like the chance, but if we could get a lesser team we would be pleased."
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