Stephens: We’re focused solely on cup glory

Tash Stephens. Picture: Neil Marshall (170107-9)
Tash Stephens. Picture: Neil Marshall (170107-9)
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Tash Stephens insists Pompey will not prepare any differently for their Hampshire Challenge Cup final against Southampton Women at Westleigh Park on Wednesday night.

The Blues defeated Southampton Saints 2-0 in the semi-final.

But Stephens is adamant rivalries with their south-coast neighbours are not important once the teams step on to the pitch.

‘I’ve been asked a lot over the past week if it will be any different because of the Pompey-Southampton rivalry,’ said the Blues midfielder.

‘We do expect a hard, tough game but it’s easy for people to get carried away in the rivalry.

‘For us, it’s just another team. We have to forget it’s Southampton and try to win the game.

‘It won’t be unfair and will be played in the best, sporting manner.’

Pompey head into the final with a fantastic record in the Hampshire Challenge Cup, having lifted the trophy in nine of the past 10 seasons.

And Stephens reckons it is important for the new members of the squad to understand that history.

‘The Hampshire Cup is always really important to all of us,’ she said.

‘We talk about it a lot because it’s important we know its significance.

‘I only joined Pompey last year and we have got some other players who only joined this year.

‘So we talk about it just to make sure we are all aware of the rich history Pompey have in the competition.

‘It doesn’t add any more pressure, though, because we want to win every game we play.’

Southampton Women currently sit top of the Southern Region Women’s League premier division.

And Stephens reckons the squad are well aware of the dangers they pose.

She added: ‘Looking at their league, they’re unbeaten this season.

‘They are a couple of levels below Southampton Saints, who we played last time out.

‘But they are unbeaten nonetheless.

‘I know one of their girls from a few years back and she’s a really good player, so it’s about trying to nullify that and win our own way.

‘They have got no pressure on them whatsoever, so they will just go for it and we have got to be ready for that.’