FA Women's Cup: Notts County 'must step up' to win silverware

By Andrew AloiaBBC Sport
Hard to ignore Wembley lure - Clarke

Winger Jess Clarke says it is time Notts County Ladies shed their nearly tag and establish themselves as serious contenders for trophies.

They are looking to reach their first FA Women's Cup final when they face Everton in the last four on Sunday.

Clarke has been part of a Rick Passmoor side that has fallen at the same stage in the previous two years.

"We have to step up to get to these finals, be up there in the league and win silverware," she told BBC Sport.

Third time lucky?
It is the third year on the spin that Rick Passmoor has taken a side to the FA Women's Cup semi-final.
He guided Lincoln Ladies to the last four in 2013 before the club relocated to Meadow Lane and was rebranded as Notts County last season.

"Looking back at last season we were so close. We have brought players into the squad, strengthened and are doing well in the league and cup.

"We are setting the benchmark. We want to be up there with the best."

Notts have scored nine goals in their last two league games to move up to third in the top flight ahead of their semi-final against second-tier side Everton at Goodison Park.

The Toffees, who are the only previous FA Women's Cup winners left in this year's competition, beat Notts at the same stage last season.

Greenwood joy in Goodison homecoming

"We cant underestimate them," said Clarke. "I know they have dropped a league but they are there for upsetting teams, especially us.

"It is really important that we are well prepared and go in with the right mindset."

Victory for either side on Sunday will be a landmark moment as they will be the first women's club side to reach an FA Cup final played at Wembley.

While Clarke has been part of international squads to play at the national stadium, she has been consigned to the bench.

"It's the first time a club team will get to Wembley so it is a massive occasion," added Clarke.

"I've had experience playing at Wembley before but not actually being able to step on the pitch myself and getting any game time. For me it is absolutely massive. Hopefully we will get there, but we have a massive obstacle ahead of us."

Familiar faces
Alex Greenwood and Fern Whelan face old club Everton for the first time since they joined Notts County after the Toffees were relegated last season.

For Notts defender Alex Greenwood, who spent 13 years with Everton, playing at Goodison, the home of the men's team, has been a major focus since the draw was made earlier this month.

The 21-year-old says she will be "lifted" by the occasion just as much as her former team-mates.

"It means a lot to me and Fern (Whelan) who was also at Everton," added Greenwood.

"When the draw was done we were in training and I went a little bit crazy.

"It is massive for them as a few of their players have never played at Goodison Park either and there a few Evertonians in that squad. That will lift them, it will be a massive game for them but also massive for us."

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