Motherwell Ladies defender Niamh Johnston believes the women of steel can mirror their male counterparts’ success in cup competitions this season.
Eddie Wolecki Black’s side travel to Aberdeen on Sunday, as they aim to book their place in the quarter finals of the SSE Scottish Women’s Cup.
Having seen Stephen Robinson guide the men to both the League Cup and Scottish Cup finals last season, Johnston is determined for the ladies to continue the trend.
“It’s quite bizarre when you look at it, we are almost replicating the success of the men’s team,” she said. “I think it would be fair to say that due to their cup runs the men enjoyed one of the best seasons in their modern history and we are looking to mirror that success.
“We’ve enjoyed a really successful league campaign so far, but as a footballer you love playing in cup competitions. I remember saying after the Rangers game in the League Cup back in February that I felt we just needed a few more weeks of working together to be at the level required – we’ve had that in abundance now.
“We’re not going to get too ahead of ourselves, but we know when you get into the latter stages of a cup then anything can happen, our focus is firmly on beating Aberdeen and making sure we are in the draw for the last eight.”
Motherwell returned to action last Sunday with a hard-fought 2-1 victory at St Johnstone. Despite moving another three points closer to the SWPL2 title, Johnston admits the players weren’t satisfied at the performance and now aim to put matters right against the Dons.
“I think on Sunday a lot of us came into the dressing room after the game as if it had been a loss or a draw,” she added. “We had to look at the positives though, we came away with the three points, it was always going to be difficult and there was always going to be a bit of rust.
“Tensions got pretty high on the park and that’s because we expect so much of ourselves, but it’s important to remember a lot of football is about momentum and it will take a few games for us to get back into our stride.
“It’s also important to keep in mind that several our squad work full time and the break was an opportunity for some of them to go on their summer holidays – so even though we’ve been worked very hard in the past few weeks, that momentum has been broken up a little bit.”
The two meetings between Motherwell and Aberdeen this season have been hugely contrasting. ‘Well cruised to a 6-0 victory in the clash at Braidhurst before a fiery 1-1 draw at the Aberdeen Sports Village in June in which three players in claret and amber saw red.
Johnston, who served a two-match ban following her dismissal that day, admits it was a game that she struggled to get over, but insists the only focus on Sunday is reaching the last eight.
“It took about a week to recover from the last Aberdeen game, it’s one that I will never forget,” Johnston reflected. “I think we must remember that we came away from it with a draw at a difficult venue, I’ve been up there with both Celtic and Rangers and never has it been easy to come away with a positive result.
“We aren’t going their looking for revenge, we’ll remain professional having prepared well and looked at both meetings with Aberdeen this season, all our attentions are on reaching the next round.”