Cheltenham Town Ladies duo Sammy Hallsworth and Morgan Hallett are excited for the challenge that lies ahead in the Women's FA Cup against Portsmouth Women on Sunday.
The Robinesses return to Vitality Women’s FA Cup action for the first time since their exhilarating win on penalties against Exeter City Women on December 13.
Since then, the league (FA WNL South West) has been voided due to covid-19 disruptions which means that not all fixtures can be fulfilled. As a result, no team will be promoted or relegated.
All attention now turns to the last competition, and Tom Davies’ side go into this game as underdogs against a team who are flying high in a tier above in the FA WNL Premier Division (South).
Portsmouth Women were sat third in their division before the decision was made to void all leagues from tiers three to six of the women’s football pyramid.
Consequently, the team that is defeated on Easter Sunday will not be playing any more games this season.
This is the last chance for both teams to elongate what has been a stop-start season due to coronavirus, and despite Cheltenham going into this game as underdogs, this hasn’t stopped full back Sammy Hallsworth feeling ‘excited’ for the challenge ahead.
The 26-year-old said: “I cannot wait. I’m just excited to get in that car and head down the motorway to Portsmouth for the big game.
“My boots are very clean and are in the bag ready to go. My towels are already in my bag and we are just counting down the days now.
“We know it’s going to be a big test for us, but we have the capability to pull off an upset. The team spirit is so strong from the last round, and it’s been strengthened with how close we have been during this lockdown.”
First team coach Morgan Hallett is also excited for the challenge ahead but has admitted that the Robinesses will work hard in training to ‘nullify’ the threats of the opposition going into Sunday’s battle.
The 20-year-old said: “I think It’s exciting to have a date to work back towards and I think that increases the motivation.
“We know that Portsmouth are a dangerous opponent, and we will be training as hard as we can to try and nullify their threats."
If Sunday is to be CTLFC’s swansong appearance to the season, then they will look back on this development season in a positive manner.
The FA Cup run will be remembered by the club in how proceeding onwards in the competition has massively helped out financially during these difficult covid-19 times.
Wins against Brislington, Portishead Town and most recently Exeter City has been the route taken by the Robinesses to make it to the second-round proper stage of this year’s competitions.
And only one game is remembered as the favourite memory amongst the team and coaching set-up.
“It would have to be the penalty shoot-out win in round one against Exeter. It was such a mad and tense game,” Hallett revealed. “The goal that we scored, that was a contentious offside decision and the way the game was up and down- it was all crazy.
“The unity and resilience in the team was something special, and that celebration after was just out of this world.”
The winner of this tie will play one of Crawley Wasps or Gillingham in the third round, and the winner of that tie will face the mighty Arsenal Women in the fourth round.
A mouth-watering prospect which splits emotion among Hallett and Hallsworth, with the latter looking at this tie in more of an optimistic view.
Hallsworth said: “It would be an absolutely phenomenal feeling. We have to be level-headed and just take it one step at a time.
“But it would just be surreal to come up against some of the best players in the world. The experience of it all even just thinking about it is overwhelming.
“If we got to the stage, we would battle and give it our all out there.”
Coach Hallett summed up his feelings in one word at this potential clash against the 14 times winners of this competition: “Terrified.”
The 20-year-old went on to add: “What an opportunity it will be for a club in tier four to play a team who have the record for the most FA Cup title wins.
“It would just be a surreal experience for everyone in the club. We all worked hard for prospects like this becoming a reality.”
Follow update of the Pompey clash on socials @CTLadies to see if the Robinesses can move one step closer to securing the dream tie against the Gunners.
Kick-off on the South Coast is at 2pm and you can watch the match live on the Portsmouth FC YouTube channel.