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Nottingham Forest face a tough challenge in the F.A.Women's Cup on Sunday when they travel to take on last season's runners-up Everton.
In her first season of Premier League football, Natalie Clarke has been setting the goalscoring charts alight and the 12-goal striker is relishing the chance of playing against the likes of Lindsay Johnson and Rachel Unitt. "I'm quite excited," Natalie admitted to Women's Soccer Scene. "We've got a good spirit at the club and if we gel together on the day and play well, we can beat anybody. The game will be a huge test for our team and we will know how far we have come.
"The task is quite daunting as Everton are a very strong side with a number of internationals, but we have got a couple of young players who have played for the England youth teams this season and we are looking forward to the challenge."
Natalie joined Forest from Grantham three years ago and, in that time, the club has been promoted twice and entered the Northern Division this season after winning the Midland Combination title. They briefly led the division earlier in the season and currently lie in third place and Natalie admits that they are exceeding their expectations. "We've done better than we anticipated and are impressed with what we have done so far," she says. "If we have been offered a mid-table position at the start of the season, we would have grabbed it with both hands, so to be in third place is a great achievement and we want to keep it going.
"All of the team have done well since our promotion, it has been a real team effort. Jo Ballard has done very well for us in goal, Leeanne Woodford has been a good signing while Sophie Bradley and Carla Tomkins have been capped for England, but everybody deserves praise really."
Natalie herself has made a fine impact and lies in second place in the division's goalscoring charts, one behind Tranmere Rovers striker Vicky Abbott. "It's gone very well," she modestly replies. "I don't set myself any targets at the start of a season but I was averaging a goal a game at one stage and I was chuffed with that! But a striker can only convert chances which are created by her team mates and they take a lot of credit."
Looking beyond Sunday's match, Natalie reveals that Forest are setting their sights on at least retaining their position in the table. "We've played everyone in the league and know what to expect now," she says. "We realise that we are a good team and are aiming to finish in the top three.
"We still have a chance of making the play-offs but, realistically, we are relying on Liverpool or Blackburn Rovers to slip up - but who knows what can happen between now and the end of the season."
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