“We aren’t just going to turn up and allow them to win,” Forest Women Head Coach, Andy Cook, ahead of Saturday’s Vitality Women’s FA Cup clash, at the City Ground, against Manchester City Women.
Women’s Super League outfit, and 2016 champions, Manchester City Women, await Andy Cook and his Nottingham Forest Women, at the City Ground this Saturday afternoon.
The occasion is that of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup Fourth Round, and Forest will be coming up against a star-studded side, one packed with internationals, including that of England internationals Karen Bardsley, Steph Houghton and Lucy Bronze, Chloe Kelly, Georgia Stanway, Lauren Hemp and Ellen White, to name a few.
Maybe a slice of fortune for the Reds, is that Jill Scott has, just this week, moved to Aston Villa Women, on loan for the remainder of the season – small mercies.
In Cook though, and after a season of ups, downs, and near-misses, he’s got to prepare his side for the biggest game, whilst trying not to look past Thursday’s league encounter with Sheffield FC Ladies, more as he now starts his second fifty games at the club.
“It’s by far the best job I’ve ever had,” Andy Cook told the Nottingham Sport.
“I’ve worked at some brilliant clubs previously, but Nottingham Forest has been phenomenal since the first day.
“Everyone at the club supports our work and everyone in the office makes it a dream to go into work every day.
“It doesn’t matter if I’m in with the community staff, to the commercial team, or down at the academy with Gary Brazil and his staff; everyone just loves what they do, and that is infectious.
“I don’t know many of the stats here though, but the staff have been telling me that we have scored over 130 goals in my 50 games, and have a win percentage of 60+, so I’ll take that for now.
“I would love to stay here for as long as I can and the work we’re starting now is moving into a new phase, for the team, and the women’s club, and that’s really exciting to be a part of.”
The Women’s FA Cup itself, it’s been a good distraction for the Reds, and with victories over Lichfield (4-0), Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-0) and Stoke City (2-1) under their belts, as well as a recent, nine game, unbeaten run, it’s little wonder there’s confidence running through the side
But, as the Forest boss says, it’s not been without its difficulties as well, adding: “It’s been a one of frustration as we have lost games we wanted to win, and could have won, and drawn a few we should have won.
“But our recent run of form has been fantastic, and a cup run, in both the League Plate, and the FA Cup, has been nice.”
It all leads to this Saturday, and the visit of Manchester City to the City Ground; home of the men’s team, the Reds Women’s set-up have taken to the hallowed turf on a few occasions, including a recent, East Midlands derby against Derby County.
Speaking of the game, and the appearance at the City Ground, Forest’s Head Coach continued by saying that: “For me, this is the biggest game of my coaching career.
“I faced City with Oxford United and we lost 6-0, however, we were semi-professional then, and in WSL2, playing in the Continental Cup.
“This though, is a little more dramatic.
“We’re all non-professionals, they are all professionals, so, if we win the game, it will be the biggest cup upset in women’s football for me, and the fact that we do play 38 hours before the game, on Thursday night.
“We are realistic though, and we know what’s expected of us; the script is, we turn up, play a game, and Man City win.
“That’s fine, we know that, however we’ve worked on our plan, we’ve trained against the boys’ academy teams in preparation for this, and we are confident in our abilities to play a game that will show our quality, and also stop them.”
As for the City Ground, Cook, and his charges, would love to better the attendance at the league game against Derby, and, with it being on a Saturday lunchtime, then there’s no reason why it couldn’t.
The Reds do have a good following as it is, and, with the men away in Wales on Sunday (at Cardiff City) there won’t be a better time in which to take in some quality football, and cheer the Reds into the next round of the FA Cup.
“The fact that it’s at the City Ground is an added bonus,” continued the Forest boss.
“I’d love for all of our games to be played here (the City Ground), however, it’s not as simple as people think to just go and play a game.
“The elements that go into the game are wide and varied, and I want to thank everyone from the ground staff to the stewards for the work they did for the Derby game, and what they will do for this one game, we love these opportunities, and we cannot do it without you all.
“The game being played on the Saturday, and at lunchtime, I hope brings a few thousand down to the ground.
“I would love for Nottingham Forest to bring in 7, 8, 9, maybe even ten thousand, to a women’s game, in the FA Cup, how good would that be?
“Manchester City have eight, England internationals, and many more World, and European-capped players, so, potentially, if you’ve never seen women’s football before, it could be a good one to come and watch.
“And we will all be there too, including that of Captain Lyndsay Harkin, Charlotte Steggles, and Becky Anderson, who will all be waking up fresh from Friday’s graft, ready to play them!”
As for the game itself, Nottingham Forest Women play host to Manchester Women, at the City Ground, on Saturday 29 January, 1pm kick-off, with prices of £5 Adults, £3 Concessions, and £1 Kids – tickets for which can be purchased here.
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @NFFCWomen Andy Cook has a team that is together & prepared ahead of Manchester City.