Fulham prepare to face Portsmouth on Sunday in their FA Cup first round clash. Her Football Hub sat down to speak with players Megalie Mendes and Lilly Lambird this week to preview the upcoming match.
Fulham will face a familiar Portsmouth side, who they’ve come up against more recently. Pompey compete in the FA Women’s National League South and currently sit top of the table.
How are you feeling ahead of Portsmouth?
LL: “Definitely excited, it will be a good test. We played them in pre-season so it’ll be good to see how far the squad has come since.”
MM: “They’re a strong opposition but we always like to be the underdogs, so it’ll be a good match.”
What do Fulham expect from Portsmouth?
MM: “Strong defence, fast, quick. But I mean we had some chances [last time], so I definitely think it’ll be a great match on Sunday.”
Can you sum up your mindsets and final preparations going into this Sunday?
LL: “We’re keeping it positive.”
MM: “We’re always up for a fight and I think we have nothing to lose so we’ll just go out there and give it our all.”
We’re ready! Are you? ⚽️— Fulham FC Women (@FulhamFCWomen) November 11, 2023
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Lilly has been at the club for an exceptional six seasons. With this experience, how important is building up momentum towards big games?
LL: “Well, six years and still in the same place really. But we’re slowly working up in the league so that’s good. I just love winning, who doesn’t love winning?
“I feel like as the year has gone on, my mindset has matured. Before, I was like ‘oh, football’s fun, it is what it is.’ But now that I’m a bit older, I just want to keep positive, keep winning and just focus on that I guess.”
Does playing an FA Cup game add more pressure to training?
LL: “I think everyone has a bit more passion going into a Cup game, but our main focus is the league, so the Cup is an added bonus.”
MM: “I’ll say the elimination round gets everyone pumped up, especially during the game.”
Another important game for Fulham?
MM: “I think it’s a really good taste for us as we have Craven Cottage the following week against a strong opposition [Arsenal Academy]. So, I think it’s just the perfect fixture to get us prepared for it.”Embed from Getty Images
Given the growth and the opportunity to play at the Cottage, what’s the future like for Fulham Women?
LL: “When I first started playing here, we were playing at the astroturf on the bottom, and it was a big thing to play at the arena pitch which is now our home pitch. So, in six years we’ve done that. So who knows in another six, the Cottage might be our home pitch.”
MM: “I can’t explain the feeling, it’s surreal. The pitch is so nice, and the support we had last year was so incredible. So just so excited to see what this new year brings and hopefully we have more people coming down to support. And we just get going.”
This October, Fulham announced the return of their women’s team at Craven Cottage against Arsenal Academy Women’s. Last year, the women’s team had a great opportunity hosting AFC Wimbledon at the main stadium, seeing 3,181 supporters at the Cottage.
While it’s impressive to see a second fixture at the iconic Craven Cottage, it definitely shows the development from the club as this provides space for the women’s team to grow. Opportunities like this also invite more supporters to their home ground, inspiring young fans to explore women’s football in Fulham.