‘I don’t think there’s any bigger motivation, we’ll have no more competitive football if we don’t win’ – Pompey skipper Jade Bradley ahead of FA Cup tie with Cheltenham
Captain Jade Bradley says the win-or-bust scenario facing the Pompey Women's squad is providing them with added motivation to embark on an extended run in the FA Cup.
Jay Sadler's side are heading into their second round tie with Cheltenham Ladies under the strange circumstances of knowing defeat will end their season.
Yet Bradley believes understanding that potential scenario is just giving Pompey even more hunger to progress.
The club’s National League Southern Premier Division campaign has already been declared null and void due to the pandemic, for the second year running.
But despite being deemed as non-elite, all clubs still in the FA Cup are permitted to fulfil fixtures.
It means Pompey head into Sunday's showdown with lower division Cheltenham at Westleigh Park knowing if they don't win they won't play competitively again until next term.
Bradley, who along with her team-mates returned to group training on Monday, believes the whole squad now have an added motivation.
She said: ‘We’re lucky that we’re able to still play. It’s also that incentive now that if you don’t win, that’s it, that’s your season done.
‘If we win Sunday then we play again; if we win that game then we play again, that’s the way we’ll keep thinking.
'We’ll just focus on the training then we’ve got Cheltenham. We then focus on training again and then we’ll have the next game.
‘We’re very lucky that we’re still playing and it’s definitely an incentive, play one game, win it, and then play another game.
‘After four months now I don’t think there’s any bigger motivation then the fact we’ll have no more competitive football if we do not win the game.'
Bradley told of the 'buzz' at training on Monday as the squad came back together for the first time in four months after non-elite football was halted in mid-December because of the nationwide lockdown restrictions imposed.
Despite being provided with such a short window to prepare for Cheltenham, the Blues skipper insists the team will be ready.
'The buzz on Monday was unreal,’ she said. ‘I don’t think you realise how much you rely on your team-mates just for that social interaction and to pick you up and push you a bit further.
'We’re raring to go. I can’t wait, obviously.
‘The players have been dreaming about it for the past two weeks.
‘We’ve been non-stop on the team chat with the coaches, we’ve been non-stop on the team chat with just us players, it’s just been non-stop.
'Everything we’ve kind of had to put up with for the past couple of months we can finally put into practice.
‘We’re more than ready physically, mentally - tactically we’ll work on things - but come Sunday it’s going to be done to who wants it more, and I can’t tell you enough how much the girls want it.'
If Pompey beat Cheltenham, they will be home again in the third round to divisional rivals Crawley or Gillingham.
Another victory there - Pompey boast a 100 per cent Westleigh Park record this season - would set up a glamour fourth round trip to 14-times winners Arsenal.