Ex-Forest player, and current Mansfield shot-stopper, Vanessa Kinnerley, will, unfortunately, miss here sides’ upcoming, double cup final dates, she suffering injury in a recent semi-final clash that will keep here out until the end of the year.
This Wednesday night, Ness, as she’s fondly known, will be in the dug-out, alongside the Mansfield coaching team, for the Nottinghamshire FA Women’s County Cup final against, her former club, Nottingham Forest Women, before the Stags have a season finale, against Rotherham United, in the East Midlands Women’s Regional Football League Plate.
Speaking ahead of the cup finals, Ness, who spent her formative years in the women’s game at Forest, between the ages of 16 and 20, before spells at Leicester City and West Bromwich Albion, is already itching to get back out there.
“I came out for the ball, jumped, and it just popped, rupturing my Achilles tendon,” looking back on the injury in the EMWRFL Plate semi-final win over Anstey Nomads.
“Now, it’s a case of playing the waiting game, whilst wearing a moon-boot (or robo-boot as her daughter, Lillia, calls it).
“Unfortunately though, it means I’ll miss the start of next season; I’m hoping to be able to get playing again before Christmas.”
Although in the league, Mansfield’s title challenge fell away at the death, ultimately finishing fourth, the two cup finals mean there could well be an enjoyable, silver lining, ahead of them.
That’s certainly something Ness feels is continuing to spur her teammates on, even with the differing prospects of Forest, and Rotherham, to come over the next few weeks.
“If anyone had said at the start of the season, we’d be in this position now, we’d have taken it,” admitted Ness.
“Moving forward though, we want to be able to go for that title, but we don’t stop fighting until the end, and just keep going really.
“And that’s what’s been reassuring, in the cup games, and how good the girls have been in them; that, and we’ve always felt that we can get to the final.”
Ness’s injury meanwhile, not that there’s a good time, probably couldn’t have come at a worse one – challenging on three fronts with her football club, she also has a three-year-old daughter causing havoc at home (and already following in mum’s footsteps, or should that be, gloves).
Add into that, Ness is also a student nurse, training in Derby, those long shifts, from which has been temporarily shelved due to the Achilles injury.
She does however, has a lot to be thankful for, including Mansfield boss, Andi Bell, who brought her to Mansfield, on her own arrival, a few years ago.
“When I started playing football, I was actually a centre-back, I only went in goal as ours hadn’t turned up,” laughed the Mansfield ‘keeper.
“Then, after playing for both Leicester, and West Brom, I took time out to have my daughter, Lilia (2019).
“Moving to Mansfield, after that, was the best thing for me, and it helped that Andi was the one who asked me to go there (the pair were together at Forest).
“Mansfield afforded me the best options to work football around my nursing, and my daughter, and it’s been a great being here, everyone is so friendly and close.”
As for those two cup finals, Forest in the County Cup, and Rotherham in the League Plate, Mansfield just need to go out there, in both games, and do what they know they can, success will soon follow.
“We’ve all got a positive outlook and, although Forest is a big ask, individually, we’ve got some talent to be able to give them a go,” continued Ness.
“We just need to go out there, and play our own game; as for Rotherham, we know we’ll be favourites going into that one, but, it’s a cup final, and everyone is up for those.
“Teams do tend to go all out, and that’s what we have to do, go all out, and give a really good account of ourselves.”
Vanessa Kinnerley 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 Vanessa Kinnerley in action for Mansfield Town Ladies.