Doncaster Rovers Belles striker Natasha Dowie says the SSE Women’s FA Cup Fifth Round actually means her side can “fully focus on Chelsea” after the two were drawn to play each other four days before they meet in the FA Women’s Super League.
New signing Dowie was in attendance at Plover Primary School in Doncaster to spend time coaching a select few during a PE lesson, as well as answering a few questions from eager children who seemed overawed to be in the presence of an England international.
Two lucky girls – who weren’t aware of this during the training session – were chosen to do the draw in which all nine FA WSL 1 clubs joined the seven FA WSL 2 and FA WPL clubs who progressed on Sunday.
11-year-old Shonola Elkin and 10-year-old Maddison Risby were the lucky duo, but didn’t give Doncaster Belles the news they wanted, drawing the newly-promoted side against FA Cup holders and current FA WSL champions Chelsea Ladies.
The pair will meet at 2pm on Sunday March 20th – four days before they meet on the opening night of the FA WSL – but Dowie is taking the positives from such a draw.
“It actually massively helps us in a way – we can just focus on Chelsea now which is a bonus”, she said.
“It means we have no other team to think about or prepare for and at the end of the day, you want to test yourself against the best. If you’re going to win the cup, you’ll have to play the best teams eventually.
“Ideally you’d want a slightly easier draw to get yourself up and running early in the season, but we’ve got a great team, it’ll be a great occasion and hopefully we’ll have a big crowd down at the Keepmoat.”
Dowie has been at Belles almost two months now after joining from Liverpool at the start of 2016. Despite their status as a new side to the FA WSL 1 this season, the 27-year-old is enjoying pre-season with her new teammates.
“It’s been going really well. We’ve won all our friendlies and I think I’ve got six goals in four games so it’s great to be up and running.
“The partnership with other players is getting better – Jess [Sigsworth] is quick and strong, Carla [Humphrey] is a really tricky player and Courtney [Sweetman-Kirk] has a bit of both of those. They all create a lot too which is great for someone like me who plays through the middle.”
With FA WSL 1 clubs needing to get through just three rounds to reach the final on May 14th, Dowie reveals the lure of a Wembley final is a huge incentive.
“It would be a dream to play at Wembley,” she admits.
“I’ve won an FA Cup before but I’ve never played at Wembley so hopefully I can get some goals and help the team to progress as far as we can.”