The Tigresses are fighting on several fronts this season. They are unbeaten and remain on course for promotion which has to be the main focus of the season. It’s hard not to get excited about one of the games on the horizon though, a trip to Mickleover to face Derby County Ladies in the FA Cup second round on Sunday (1pm)
This is a huge game for several reasons. Firstly their opponents Derby currently occupy a spot in mid table in the league above the Tigresses so this represents an ideal opportunity for Rachel Gay to test her side against the likes of opponent they hope to be playing next season and beyond. City narrowly missed out on promotion last season and they will be hoping to go one better this time around. On the evidence of the season so far the only way is up for City Ladies so this game can be used as somewhat of a yardstick for seasons to come.
The second incentive is that a win could see the Tigresses drawn against one of the big hitters from the Women’s Super League 2nd division in the third round proper. With the Women’s Super League only containing 10 teams there are some big names in the second division and a tie against any of them would be prestigious for the club. The Tigresses were beaten at this stage last season by Blackburn Rovers so they missed out on playing Super League opposition but hopefully they can go one step further this year with a win over Derby.
A win would also provide much needed prize money which is always of value to a club like Hull City Ladies that is completely self funded. Any revenue stream is welcome a good cup run is vitally important. Promotion is undoubtedly the aim of the season and the cup shouldn’t detract from that but hopefully the team see it as a welcome distraction rather than a hinderance and go out there aiming to beat their higher ranked opposition on their own patch.
So what can we expect from Derby County Ladies? At the time of writing the Rams sit 6th in the table with 4 wins, 3 draws and 4 defeats from their opening eleven games of the season. They won their last game 3-0 away at Huddersfield and they have won two home league games against Nottingham Forest and Huddersfield as well as cup wins over Rotherham and Bradford. They have drawn a few games 1-1 so they appear to be struggling to put teams to the sword and with the quality of the Tigresses defending so far this season that has to give the team confidence.
Derby’s main goal threat is the vastly experienced Andi Bell. She has recently joined Derby after scoring almost 100 goals in ten years at their local rivals Nottingham Forest. She has 7 goals to her name this season and she will be the one the Tigresses defence need to keep quiet for ninety minutes.
The Derby boss John Bennett was quick to emphasise how tough the game will be as soon as the draw was made, “This is a tricky tie and whenever a team is unbeaten, it means nothing to what league they are in. Playing at home will be a slight advantage for us and the magic of the FA Cup will hopefully bring out the crowds again like they did at the weekend and in the FA Cup last season. In the meantime we will be familiarising ourselves with Hull City Ladies so that we don’t underestimate them and treat them with the respect they deserve. With them flying high, they could be our league opponents next season so the more we know now, the better chance we have of progressing.”
The opposition boss knows he has to get his homework done to have a chance against City Ladies but no doubt Rachel and Danny will be doing the same to prepare the team in the best way possible to give them the chance to defeat Derby on their own patch. We will be there reporting for FanaticHull and hopefully celebrating progress into the next round come full time!