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Women's Football News
Lincoln City will be drawing inspiration from Barnsley when they take on Arsenal in the F.A.Women's Cup semi finals this coming Sunday.
The Yorkshire club have caught the imagination of football followers with their F.A.Cup run and Lincoln full back Nicola Stray told Women's Soccer Scene that this has proved to them that anything is possible. "We spoke about it at training," she said. "We watched a video of the last ten minutes of the Barnsley-Chelsea match and saw how determined they were to hold on to their lead.
"Barnsley never gave up and we can learn from that - we are going to go out and give Arsenal a run for their money on Sunday."
The Lady Imps are in the semi finals for the first time in their history and are relishing the chance to play the Cup holders. "To be honest, everyone is expecting Arsenal to win it so hopefully it will help the team relax," says Nicola. "We beat Blackburn in the last round and that has really boosted us, so we think we have a chance."
The Lincoln squad includes two players - Mel Cook and Kay Hawke - who played in the semi finals last season and Nicola points out that their experience has been valuable. "Mel and Kay always contribute advice and it boosts us along with them talking to us a lot," she says. "Kay in particular helps you with your positioning and it boosts your confidence."
That win over Blackburn was earned after extra time and Nicola admitted that the team had played really well on the day. "It was amazing, one of our best performances of the season," she smiled. "It was the biggest crowd that I have played in front of so far, and the atmosphere really spurred us on."
The attendance for the Blackburn is set to be eclipsed when the team meet for the semi final. which is being played at Sincil Bank. "I have played there once," says Nicola, "against Liverpool last season, we drew 1-1 and it was a good experience.
"We're expecting a big crowd on Sunday and a lot of my family and friends will be going to the game. In fact, I get people asking me about the game when I am out and about and there is a lot of interest."
This season is Nicola's first full one at Lincoln after joining the club from Sheffield United and she admitted that it was a little bit difficult to adjust at first. "From leaving friends at my old club and going to Lincoln, it was a bit scary as I didn't know anyone apart from Jodie (Snelson)," she recalls. "But after that, everyone welcomed me and they are a good bunch of girls. It was hard to adapt to playing at a higher level at first and I had to put everything into it. I started to doubt if I could make it but everyone spurred me on and helped me through - the players and the coaching staff were really good to me and I owe them a lot, and now it's all been worth it."
Now Nicola faces the biggest game of her career against the Gunners. "I'm overwhelmed that I am in the side," she says. "I can't believe that I will be playing against one of the best women's teams in the world in such a big game and will be up against the likes of Karen Carney and Rachel Yankey. I am a big follower of the women's game and I watch them on TV and at some of their games, and I love to watch them play. Nerves will probably kick in over the next few days but adrenaline will take over and I can't wait to start.
"It would be amazing for the club and for the area if we were to reach the Final, I couldn't describe it. We want as many people as possible to turn up and cheer us on as that would give us a great boost. It's been a good year for the Northern Division in the Cup, so you never know."
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