The Adobe Women's FA Cup

Quarter-Final Preview: Lewes looking to create more Women's FA Cup magic

Friday 17 Mar 2023

Lewes have already made history by reaching the Vitality Women’s FA Cup quarter-final and midfielder Kirsty Barton is hoping the much-famed magic of the competition will produce another major upset this weekend.

Sitting in seventh place in the Women’s Championship, Lewes are the lowest-ranked side left in the competition and this weekend face the unenviable task of beating Barclays Women’s Super League title-chasers Manchester United.

The Red Devils are themselves looking to make history on Sunday, as victory would see them reach the FA Cup semi-final for the first time in their history.

“It is a fantastic achievement for the club to have reached the quarter-final and Lewes FC have already made history by getting this far,” Barton said.

“On a personal level, I don’t think there are many people in a room who could say they have played in an FA Cup quarter-final so it is a really exciting time for us at Lewes.

“We are the lowest-ranked team left in the FA Cup so there is no pressure on us. We can go out there on Sunday and play with zero pressure and be the underdogs. 

“You know what the FA Cup magic is like, and every team can cause upsets so let’s hope that it can be us on Sunday.”

United are just two points from top spot in the BWSL and their only two defeats this season have come against the leaders Chelsea.

Their star-studded side includes several of England’s EURO winners, including Mary Earps – who was last week named the best goalkeeper in the world – Ella Toone, Alessia Russo and Nikita Parris.

Barton added: “There are people in that team who have won the EUROs so as players it is what you play for. 

“We play because we want to play at the top so for us, we are really excited to test ourselves personally, and as a team, against people at the top level.”

It is a view echoed by Ellie Mason, whose stunning goals in the competition so far have already seen her win ‘moment of the round’ twice.

“I support Manchester United so it will be cool to be able to play against them,” Mason said.

With 17 places separating the two teams and the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City still in the competition, Lewes would need to produce a couple of remarkable performances if they are to reach this season’s Women’s FA Cup Final on Sunday 14 May.

But Mason and the Lewes players continue to dream.

She said: “Reaching the final would be huge, it would be massive. It has never been done by Lewes before so we would be making history.

“As a personal note as well, the achievement of being able to say you have reached the FA Cup would be absolutely massive. 

“You work your whole life to be a professional footballer so to be able to say you have reached the final of the FA Cup would definitely be a dream of mine and it would be the same for some of the other girls as well.”

Lewes’ home stadium, The Dripping Pan, is recognised as one of the best places in the country to watch football and on Sunday it will be soldout.

Those without a ticket can still watch the 12.30pm kick-off on BBC1 or via the FA Player here.

Barton, who recently joined from Crystal Palace, said: “I only came to Lewes in January and I can already see what a fantastic fanbase this club has. I don’t think they really realise how important they are for us. Just having them there and behind us gives us the extra one per cent in games. 

“This weekend they will be so important. So come down, support us and let us hear you because it will give us that extra one per cent push [we need].”

Elsewhere in the Vitality Women’s FA Cup

Reading v Chelsea
Date: Sunday 19 March 2023
Kick-off: 2pm
Venue: Select Car Leasing Stadium
Where to watch: FA Player

No team has won the Vitality Women’s FA Cup more than Chelsea in the last decade and on all four occasions when they have won the competition, they have completed the league-and-cup double.

The Blues have a great chance of doing so once again this year, with Emma Hayes’ side currently two points clear at the top of the table and with a game in hand.

Standing in their way this weekend are a Reading side who are currently ninth in BWSL but are only three points away from the foot of the table.

When the two sides met earlier in the season, it looked as though the Blues were set to record an emphatic win when they raced to a 3-0 lead by half-time. But the Royals showed lots of fight to claw it back to 3-2 after the restart.

Sunday’s match will be played at Reading’s Select Car Leasing Stadium, which was formerly the Madejski Stadium and holds more than 24,000 fans.

Tickets are available for £12 for adults, £8 for 18-24-year-olds, £6 for 17 and under, and £4 for 12 and under. 

For those unable to attend, the match will also be shown on FA Player here.

Birmingham City v Brighton & Hove Albion
Date: Sunday 19 March 2023
Kick-off: 2pm
Venue: St. Andrew's Stadium
Where to watch: FA Player

Birmingham City are the second Women’s Championship team in the quarter-final but whereas Lewes face the daunting task of beating Manchester United, the Blues will be more confident of causing a potential upset against BWSL strugglers Brighton & Hove Albion.

The Seagulls are second from bottom in BWSL, although they do have two games in hand on most of the teams around them.

Sunday’s clash at St. Andrew’s is likely to be a fiercely contested battle with Darren Carter’s side flying high in fourth place in the Championship.

Brighton have impressed in the Women’s FA Cup this season though, scoring a stunning 12 goals without reply in their two matches so far against Coventry United and West Bromwich Albion.

Birmingham have already caused an upset in the competition this season by defeating Everton 1-0 in the fourth round and followed it up with another 1-0 win against Charlton Athletic, although they needed extra-time on this occasion.

Tickets for the match at St. Andrew’s are £10 for adults, £5 for over-65s and under-18s, and £2 for under-13s, although each rate is £1 cheaper for existing Blues season ticket holders.

As with all the quarter-final ties, you can also watch the match on FA Player.

Aston Villa v Manchester City
Date: Sunday 19 March 2023
Kick-off: 6pm
Venue: Poundland Bescot Stadium
Where to watch: FA Player

Sunday’s quarter-final clash between Aston Villa and Manchester City will see the BWSL two top goalscorers go head-to-head.

City’s Bunny Shaw has already bagged 15 league goals this term, whilst Villa’s decision to sign the versatile Rachel Daly and play her upfront, hot from helping England win the EURO at left-back, has paid off spectacularly, with the charismatic star scoring 11 so far this season.

Daly and Villa’s improvements this season were evident from the opening match of the campaign, when they beat City 4-3, with Daly scoring a brace, and they are currently on a six-game unbeaten run.

City are yet to beat fifth-place Villa this season, drawing the other league encounter 1-1, but they are just two points from top spot in the BWSL after just one defeat since September.

Gareth Taylor’s side also have an impressive recent record in the competition, winning three of the last six finals and finishing as runners-up last time out, whilst Villa are looking for a first Women’s FA Cup trophy.

Villa have a range of different pricing options depending on when you book, which you can see in full here, and if you are unable to attend, you can watch the match on the FA Player here.

By Frank Smith