It’s been a long, challenging season in the East Midlands Women’s Regional Football League, just ask Mansfield Town ladies manager, Andi Bell, who, at one point, even donned the ‘keeper’s gloves following a season-ending injury to her number one.
Far from stopping the Mansfield bandwagon, a fourth place finish in the league, the Lady Stags have reached two cup finals, with the Nottinghamshire FA County Cup, against her former club, Nottingham Forest (Andi was there around a decade, between 2007 and 2018), up first.
As with the EMWRFL Plate, later this month, the County Cup has seen Bell’s side in strong form, knocking in golas aplenty over the three matches.
Beginning with a 6-0 win over WBC Women, they then saw off Nottingham Trent University 5-1, before emerging victorious against Arnold Eagles (Division Two North) champions, 5-2 in the semi-finals, with Ellie Marshall smashing two, four-goal hauls, and Georgia Gladwin adding three.
“We need to go out there and do what we can, on the night, but I also want my players to go out, and enjoy themselves as well,” began Andi, looking ahead to this weeks’ County Cup final, against one of her former clubs.
“Forest, they’re a tough, successful side, but I’ve been really pleased with the form we’ve shown in the cups, and done pretty well to get where we have.
“Andy (Cook, Forest manager) though, he’s done well there, and I always keep an eye on what’s happening elsewhere.
“They’re building something special, and I had a good time when I played there myself; with Andy though, we’ve not crossed paths, but I’m hoping we can both enjoy a good game, even if we’re big underdogs.
“It’ll be tough, against the best in the County, but we’ll give it our best, and be competitive with it.”
Irrespective of what happens in the County, Andi and her charges know that, maybe with a little breathing space, they have to get back out and go again, one more time.
Later on this month, there’s also the matter of the EMWRL Plate final, where they face fellow, Premier Division side, Rotherham United.
Going from underdogs against Forest, to favourites against Rotherham, is something they’ll take in their stride.
After all, it’s not only another game they have to play, it’s also a cup final – and everybody is up for it come cup final day.
As well as knocking in sixteen in their run to the County Cup final, the EMWRFL Plate, after their exit in the League Cup to Chesterfield (and a walkover against Leicester City), the two Mansfield games has seen supporters witness some nineteen goals, the Lady Stags netting thirteen of them.
An 8-4, extra-time success over Loughborough Foxes, again with Ellie Marshall firing in four, was followed by a 5-2 semi-final win over Arnold Eagles, one that came at a cost, the loss of ‘keeper, Vanessa Kinnerley.
“It’s been frustrating at times,” explained Andi.
“What has annoyed, is, the games we’ve lost, or drawn, including the one with Lincoln, where we actually game them a couple of goals, we could have done a lot better in.
“Overall though, we’ve been in control and could have got a lot more from games, as well as being a lot more clinical – especially as we’ve not really been outplayed either.
“I’ll take things as they are though, and there’s a lot of pressure to succeed in every game.”
Andi Bell was chatting ahead of Mansfield Town Ladies’ upcoming, double cup final, as they face Nottingham Forest Women in the Notts FA Women’s County Cup on Wednesday 11 May (Basford), and oppose Rotherham United in the East Midlands Women’s Regional Football League Plate, on Sunday 22 May (Eastwood).
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @TheBiggerPictureMedia Mansfield Manager Andi Bell has two cup finals to enjoy.