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Women's Football News
Middlesbrough will be approaching this Sunday's F.A.Women's Cup Third Round tie against Tranmere Rovers full of confidence.
That is the view of 'Boro's sharp shooting striker Nicky Duckling as her side attempts to take the scalp of Premier League opponents. "Tranmere are not doing too well in the league at the moment, so we have a chance," she told Women's Soccer Scene. "If things go our way on the day, hopefully we can win."
Middlesbrough will go into the game on the back of a good run which has taken them near to the top places in the Northern Combination. "We struggled in our first two games but have picked up things since then," says Nicky. "A couple of young players have come through and joined the squad - the reserve team players are all trying to force their way into the first team so there is plenty of competition and everyone is fighting hard to keep their place.
"Sarah Manning has rejoined us from Tranmere this season after having been away at university, so it will be a big game for her. Tranmere will be a bit faster than the teams we play against in our league, so we will need to be a bit quicker on the ball and use it well."
Nicky has been in great form for 'Boro this season, particularly in the last round when her hat-trick gave them a 3-2 win against Darlington RA. "It was a close game and quite hard," she recalls. "Darlington are in the league below us but were a good side and could well get promoted this year. We will be the underdogs against Tranmere this Sunday and that could well suit us.
"This season, I seem to either score three times in a game or none at all, so if I can score on Sunday I might get a hat-trick!"
'Boro will be seeking to emulate their feat at the same stage last season, when they knocked out Sheffield Wednesday before going on to play Chelsea. "It was a great experience to play Chelsea, the kind that makes us want to go higher," says Nicky. "We were 1-0 up at one stage and level at half time but they were a lot fitter than us and that proved to be a major difference in the end."
Whatever the result on Sunday, there is no doubt as to Middlesbrough's main ambitions. "The league is still the main priority and that is what matters," she says. "Leeds City Vixens have opened up a lead but we still have to play them twice - we should have played them last Sunday but it was called off, which was a shame as we wanted to play them as we have been in good form."
Nicky was a member of the Middlesbrough squad when they were relegated from the Premier League three years ago and she is keen to help them return. "It would mean that much more to me if we got back," she admits. "It would be a great achievement to do so, if we got promoted it would raise the club's profile.
"Last year Curzon Ashton ran away with the league from the start so we are hopeful of challenging Leeds this time, while Rochdale are likely to be up there and Salford are a good team on their day.
"Our spirits are high, the team have been playing with each other for a few years and are comfortable with each other and younger players are emerging all the time so it would be good to show what we can do.
"It won't be easy against Tranmere but if we can get through, I wouldn't mind playing Arsenal! But we would like any of the big teams really, as they are the ones you want to play."
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