After a good performance from his side against Brighton in the last round, Watford Ladies manager John Salomon will be looking for more of the same against Keynsham in the FA Women’s Cup this weekend.
With the way the competition falls in the calendar, it meant some challenges had to be overcome last time out, which were done so in a professional manner.
The squad has had an extra month of pre-season training since then, with the start of the Super League now fast approaching.
“Preparation has been really good although the squad’s still a little way off full fitness,” Salomon revealed.
“We’ve got a hard working group who are dedicating themselves to their training programmes at the moment and are really pushing forward to the start of the season.
“It’s been quite nice to have these FA Cup matches within the pre-season because it’s enabled us to focus on some competitive games, rather than just looking for rotation, minutes and fitness levels.
“We’re going to give absolutely everything to make sure that we give ourselves the best opportunity to get into Round Five, which is something we haven’t achieved for quite a few years.”
Standing in the way of that aim are Keynsham Town, who have beat Forest Green Rovers and Carshalton Athletic to reach this stage.
Salomon is expecting a challenging game: “If women’s football has taught me anything it’s that there’s no easy matches,” he said.
“They’ve scored a few goals in this competition during the last two rounds, they’ll come down with nothing to lose and they’ll play with no fear.
“We’re still learning and preparing for our season so this will be another decent test for us. If we can work hard and put in a good team performance then we’ll give ourselves every chance of progressing.
“We’re under no illusions and we know it’s going to be a very difficult test.”
While there’s likely to be a few absentees this Sunday, there’s also a number of players eager to impress who’ve caught the eye so far.
Salomon is excited with how the future stars are progressing: “I think we’ve seen that throughout pre-season, players like Phoebe Read, Mollie Burgess and Ashleigh Deacon coming in and working with the first team now.
“Babs [Deacon] got a few opportunities last year but the other two have really come from nowhere, in the sense that they’ve got their heads down, worked hard and are emerging as some really good players.
“We’ve had friendlies against Super League 1 clubs and they’re able to come into the side and look composed, comfortable and be effective now at this level. Ultimately this is what the club is about; it’s about bringing players through our system.
“Our youngsters know the Watford way, that want to be successful in a Watford shirt and the more we can continue to bring those types through, the better it is for our club and the ethos we all buy into here.”