Women's FA Cup: Everton's Hinnigan savours Goodison tie

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Everton's Michelle Hinnigan & Lindsay Johnson look ahead to semi

Everton Ladies captain Michelle Hinnigan says it will be a "dream come true" when her side play their FA Women's Cup semi-final against Notts County at Goodison Park on Sunday.

It is the first time since 2008 that the women's team have played a match at the home of their male counterparts.

"Being a Blue myself, it's always been a dream of mine and on Sunday it's actually happening," Hinnigan said.

"Nerves are always good, all the girls are excited."

A lot is at stake for both sides with this year's final being played at Wembley for the first time in the competition's history.

However, Everton team-mate Lindsay Johnson insisted that she is taking things one match at a time.

"A lot's been said about it being at Wembley and I think it's great for the women's game, but personally I haven't thought about it yet," the defender said.

"We've got a great game at Goodison, it's such a great stadium and it'll be really close to my heart playing there".

Everton, last year's runners-up, are the only Women's Super League Two side left in the competition, with Monday's second semi-final being contested between Chelsea and Manchester City.

"A lot of people will see us as underdogs," Hinnigan said.

"We know how well developed their players are, we know they can play football."

The Merseyside team beat Notts County 2-1 at the same stage of last season's competition, but lost the final 2-0 against Arsenal.

Johnson admitted there will be a gulf in experience between the two sides this time around after Everton lost most of their senior players at the end of last season following their relegation from WSL1.

"They've got a lot of international players and we know a lot about them. They're physical players who can play football, so it's going to be a battle," she said.

"It's a big pitch so I expect a lot of football to be played and we'll be up for the challenge."

Everton Ladies
Michelle Hinnigan and Lindsay Johnson were part of Everton's FA Cup-winning side in 2010

While other senior players have moved on, Johnson and Hinnigan have remained with Everton to help develop their current young side.

At almost 35, Johnson is now significantly older than the rest of the squad, but believes the new crop of players are starting to 'find their voice'.

"They show it in funny ways but I think they do look up to me. I'm the last of the oldies as they call me, I'm the last of a breed.

"Some of the girls remind me that I could be their mum and I say they'd be a lot more behaved if I was their mum," she said.

Johnson was a member of the Everton team that won the FA Women's Cup in 2010 and is keen for the new generation of players at the club to taste similar success.

"A lot of the younger girls were in the squad who fell at the final hurdle last year," she added.

"They ask me about how it was when we won it and it's hard to explain those feelings of winning an FA Cup and I've just told the girls they've got to do it themselves."

With the memory of last year's final defeat still fresh in their minds, Hinnigan said the team are determined to show how well they can perform in front of a home crowd on Sunday.

"As soon as we found out at Goodison, they were all excited, jumping up everywhere and screaming so it's a really important fixture for ourselves and we know what's at stake," she added.

"It's just about putting our nerves to the side and letting the ball do the talking."

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