ALL eyes will be on the weather when Argyle Ladies head to Newton Abbot to play Buckland Athletic in the semi-final of the Devon Senior Cup on Sunday.
The Pilgrims beat Buckland 3-2 last season to win the cup for the 13th time. Unfortunately, injuries and absenteeism has seen Argyle struggle of late, losing their last four league and cup games.
Despite playing in a lower Division and not playing since December 8, Buckland are on a three-match league and cup winning run and with former Argyle player Sarah Stacey in good goalscoring form, they will be difficult opponents.
Manager Dave Leonard is putting the recent defeats behind them, focussing purely on the future. What did please him was that, despite the loss of key personnel, the players that did come in didn't let him down and, with a bit of luck, could have got something out of the game against Crawley last week.
Leonard said: “The girls trained well this week. We will be without midfield pairing Kayley Lane and Becky Dandridge through injury. They are both due to have a scan, so until then, we won't know as to what extent their injuries are. It is a blow losing our engine room, all within the space of three weeks, but we have got to get on with it and move on.”
The big worry for Leonard is the weather and, if the game is called off, we will have to play it next week, which would mean the National League Plate match against Stevenage will be put back a week and not playing against Gillingham in the league until the week after that.
Commenting on the Buckland tie Leonard said: “With so many players out, it will be a good opportunity for the youngsters we have brought in and they will have a good little run. “There are another couple of youngsters I would have no hesitation bringing in but it’s going to be hard, we know that.”
Squad: Ben Kyle, Lydia Huntley, Helen Bleazard, Mollie Taylor, Kate Middleton, Bow Jackson Ebony Dover, Leah Burridge, Steph Beck, Faye Ivall, Natasha Knapman, Bethany Everson, Nelinha Barros, Panagiota Papaioannou, Lucy Solloway.
The Development team head to Cornwall looking to reverse the 3-1 defeat they suffered against St Agnes before going on a seven-match cup and league winning run. This will be the first outing since the first week of December.
The team have been working hard in training and they are hoping to hit the ground running against a capable St Agnes team. Manager Rob Bonney welcomes back into the squad defenders Rachel Javan and Leah Johnson after injuries, but the squad could be affected by the growing injury list within the first-team and they have their own injuries to contend with.
“Four players that have been featuring for us in recent games were in the first-team squad last week against Crawley,” said Bonney. “It's absolutely brilliant but it does cause us to shuffle our pack. It is what it is and we have to get on with it.
“Our youngsters have been absolutely superb for us so far this season, it just means they have to raise their levels even higher. Their inspiration has to be the girls who have been given a chance to perform for the first-team. It is within their reach and capabilities, they just need to find a level of consistency and keep improving from there.”
Squad: Maddie Walsh, Rachel Heron, Isla Brumhead, Jodie Randall, Maisie Williams, Kiara Robins, Maddy Leppard, Nicola Champion, Beth Cowd, Leah Johnson, Hannah Brock, Rachel Javan, Dee Newman, Maisie Frickleton, Chardonnay James.