Ladies Crash Out Of FA Cup In Semi
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Everton Ladies crashed out of the FA Cup on Sunday, losing 2-1 to Birmingham City (Brum go on to meet Arsenal in the final) after being one nil up and the winner coming cruelly in the 89th minute.

Following the defeat, striker Toni Duggan spoke to She Kicks (SK).

SK: What are you up to today?
TD: It's a bit of a lazy day, though am going to the hairdresser's this afternoon and then have training tonight.

SK: You are going to training AFTER having your hair done? Oh no!
TD: I know but my hairdresser is going away tomorrow so I had to get it done today.

SK: Talking of happy things first, apparently your goal on Sunday was an absolute belter [35 yards out, 'explosive' right footed strike that sailed in]?

TD: Yeah, to be fair, I'm quite proud of it. It was a good one. Amy Kane had actually told me before the game that I was due one of those - another one of the goal like I have scored for the team and for England [youth teams] before - which is why I pointed to her on the bench, when I scored.

SK: So, you must be pretty disappointed about the result on Sunday?

TD: I'm still gutted now. We were brilliant in the first half and I think we didn't deserve to lose but we didn't take our chances and so, that's football.

SK: Was that the case for a large part of the season? So often, reports from games went along the lines of: 'Everton created several chances but failed to convert'?

TD: Well, it was in the first half of the season that we lost the league, when we lost points. The pitches were awful in that first half, even if you'd put men's teams on there they would have struggled to play on them but they seemed to have finally sorted them in the second half of the season. Actually, from a league point of view, a lot of things were better in the second half.
Having said that, about the pitches in that first part of the season, it was the same for both teams and so it's no excuse. We did miss chances.

And it was the same again against Birmingham on Sunday, we played well but didn't take our chances. I actually missed a great chance, which keeps replaying over and over in my mind. It think it's something that we as a team and especially us forwards - we're players that usually always get goals - we need to review and see what went wrong and try to put right. It builds character. Look at Tash [Dowie], for example. She was really on form in the first half of the season, actually the team as a whole played better in the first half but we kept drawing and getting beat. Then, in the second half of the season we started taking our chances.

That's what happened on Sunday though, we didn't take our chances and they took theirs.

SK: What happens now?

TD: We're gonna keep training and just tick over. Some of the girls went away today for England, so obviously they have their international fixtures and then some of have the U-23s, if selected, in November. I think it'll be a case of, sort of two weeks one, one week off and then a hard week or two preparing for the U-23s. Then we'll likely get December off and come back in January for pre-season and then it's La Manga for the England seniors/U-23s. I'm definitely looking to get away on holiday at some point as well, our minds do need a break.

SK: It's a been a long year for you all, with European games over a year ago and then such a long build up to a relatively short season.

TD: The season has been weird, really. We were dead excited at the start. Everyone was, weren't they? Then when the results don't go your way, you start questioning if we properly prepared and what more we could have done. Which is silly, because of course we were prepared.

Then we had the break when the England girls went to the World Cup. It was depressing for the rest of us to have to keep training all of the time. We had got to keep motivated but it felt like we had been training for so long. And now, it feels like the season has just come and gone!

SK: Will some of the squad get to go our and play for FA Women's Premier League (FAWPL) clubs?

TD: I think a few girls have asked to do so but it's got to be discussed as obviously there are rules about how many can sign and how many games/minutes you have played but I know a few are looking to do that. Like [goalkeeper] Dani Hill, who didn't get to play so many games, she is one who will be hoping to get some games at another club.

SK: You mentioned the England girls heading off to Serbia today, are you hoping you can break into the senior squad soon?

TD: Definitely. It was actually my aim for this year but it obviously hasn't happened yet.

SK: There's still plenty time for you, you're still young. Speaking of which, did you have a good bash for your 20th birthday (in July)?

TD: It feels like I've been around forever! Ha ha. And no, I didn't. I was busy, we were training, as it was the middle of the season. Then we had a game the day after.

SK: Might you get to celebrate at the end of the season?

TD: Yeah, you have to have a bit of a balance, have a bit of the other. It's the FA Women's Awards on the 14th October, so hopefully we'll get plenty of the girls there and celebrate a good season together. Then it'll be a case of refocusing for the U-23s. Always football!

SK: Speaking of the awards - got an outfit planned already?

TD: Yeah, I've got a few dresses to choose from and I've got to wear the big shoes!

SK: Who gets your nod for Player of the Season?

TD: It's got to be Rachel Williams, hasn't it? Her goals show the influence she has had, she's played well when she's played against us and she's been consistent.

SK: What about at Everton? Who stands out as Player of the Season?

TD: That's a really tough one. We've had a few injuries and so there's had to be a lot of chopping and changing and so it's actually a credit to the squad that any players on the bench could come on and put in just as good a performance. Even Mo [Marley, Manager] has said that it's been the hardest year for picking out an individual. It's really been a team effort.

Your fitness really gets tested when you have a few games together and so it's really good that we have got that strength in the squad. It's been unfortunate for some players, like Gwennan [Harries] who has picked up niggling injuries and of course Lucy Bronze, who I think would have been a key player for us, has had injury troubles. She just had an MRI scan on her knee yesterday and needs an operation, so I wish her the best of luck with her recovery.

SK: So, the FAWSL...was it a success?

TD: Yeah, it's been brilliant. It was wide open, which makes it a much better spectacle. Ok, Arsenal proved they were strongest in the end but any team could beat any other team on their day.

It's weird though. Everton have only gone a year without winning something but it feels like forever! I'm sure we'll come back stronger next season though and put that right.


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Comments about Ladies Crash Out Of FA Cup In Semi
Unlucky Ladies! Keep going though, you have done a great job over the past few seasons at home and abroad to spread the Everton name. Hope your hardo is ok after training Toni!
Doris, West Derby, 5:50 PM 14/09/2011
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