Vicky Carvill boosts Maidenhead United FA Cup hopes

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Out-of-form Maidenhead United Women will be anxious of avoiding an upset as they take their Vitality Women’s FA Cup bow on Sunday, however manager Ed Jackson-Norris has a welcome injury boost ahead of their tie at Richmond & Kew.

United will start their campaign at Richmond & Kew of the Greater London Women’s Football League Premier Division – Tier 7 of the women’s football pyramid – on Sunday in a 2pm kick off at Ham Playing Fields, TW10 7QA.  The home side have overcome Abbey Rangers and Richmond Park to reach this stage, but sit in midtable in their division having won three and lost two of their league matches.

Maidenhead will be favourites to win the game but will be mindful of defeats at this stage to lower division sides Fulham last season, Whyteleafe in 2018 and Bowers & Pitsea in 2019.  Conversely, victory in this tie will put United through to the First Round proper for only the fifth time – having reached that stage in 2008, 2013, 2014, 2020 – and earn the club £4,000 in prize money.  Maidenhead have never progressed beyond Round One but will firstly need to focus their attentions on Sunday’s match.

The Magpies however are boosted by the return to fitness of combative midfielder Vicky Carvill, a veteran of United’s cup run in 2020.  Carvill featured in Maidenhead’s dramatic victories against Denham United and Fulham before they bowed out in Round 1 at Fulham.  The tough-tackling 34 year-old made her first start of this campaign in the Magpies Berks & Bucks Cup defeat at Abingdon United last Sunday and looked to be back to her best after a frustrating spell on the sidelines.  The Huddersfield-born terrier explained: “I’ve had an adductor injury which has taken a while to heal. It’s been though being out of action but I’ve just had to be patient and support the team from the touchline and work hard at rehabbing and getting myself back fit.”

Maidenhead have suffered three straight defeats and have been defeated in five of their last six outings, however they have faced all of the current top three FAWNL Division 1 Sout West sides in that time and experienced Vicky has faith in her team: “The squad this year is exciting. We have a depth to it that we’ve not had the luxury of before and completion for places is only ever a healthy thing. It’s great that we can drive each other on. We have a good balance of experience and dynamic young players.”

The FA Cup is special for footballers, from grassroots to Premier League, and Vicky Carvill is no exception to this rule: “It doesn’t matter who you are, if you love football you can’t help but love the FA Cup and know how important it is in the English game. FA Cup games are always special it’s a huge opportunity for us to progress and we want to grab it with both hands and go as far as we can.”  A passionate Manchester United fan, Vicky was out of luck twice last season as her beloved Reds were runners-up in both the women’s and men’s FA Cup.  However, schadenfreude is always a rewarding part of football supporting and when prompted to name a stand-out FA Cup memory, Vicky recalled: “When Wigan clinched it at the death in the final against Man City. I love a giant killing and none more so when it’s City in a final.”

Magpies Gaffer Jackson-Norris has achieved a great deal in just over a year in charge at York Road, helping a side who looked dead-and-buried by last Christmas to safety with a match to spare.  He admits that a cup run this time will be a great tonic, telling FiB: “For clubs like ourselves it’s one of the most exciting weekends in the calendar. The FA Cup allows you to dream big and has a history of creating big underdog days and creating club legends.  Of course, we want to avoid being the giant that gets killed in Sunday’s story!  Our aim is to be the first Maidenhead United side in near 150 years to reach the second round proper of the FA Cup and we can’t wait to get going on Sunday.”

United will have to work their socks off in South West London to win through to Round 1 Proper but with hard-working Carvill back in the fray and diligent Jackson-Norris directing affairs on the touchline, Maidenhead must stand a good chance of being in the hat on Monday morning.

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