Jo Potter knows a bit about what it takes to be successful in the SSE Women’s FA Cup. A finalist in bygone years with Arsenal, Charlton and Birmingham City – and a winner with the Gunners in 2004 and the Blues in 2012 – she has a chance to make it to a fourth Final when Reading play West Ham United on Sunday.
For the Royals, it’s just about the biggest game in the team’s history. Never before have the side made it to the last four of the competition, and now they’re just one step away from a trip to Wembley to contest the biggest cup prize on offer.
“I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about Wembley; that’s the nature of the beast,” Potter said ahead of the game. “Everybody likes to think a step ahead, but we’re keeping our feet firmly on the ground. We know what’s at stake and we know that there’s a Wembley date in the diary if we do get through.
“But we’re not taking West Ham lightly, at all. We have to get through this stage to get there. Come Sunday, we know that we have to win. At all costs, we have to win.
“It’s going to be huge. For some of the girls, it’ll be the biggest game in their career. The experience that some of us can bring from major championships and international level, we know how hard it is.
“We have to have a good week of prep, work hard on the training ground, not change too much and keep things consistent. We have to enjoy it, and do everything we can to get through the game.”
The Royals’ route to this stage has had its challenges. Keynsham Town were swept aside 13-0, but then they needed to show quality and grit to know Potter’s former side Birmingham City out by a 2-1 scoreline, before taking a dramatic 3-2 win against Manchester United in the Quarter-Final, with all five goals coming in a frenetic period of extra-time.
“We came through against Birmingham, which was never going to be easy,” Potter continued. “We knew that if we were on our game then we could beat them, and we played very well that day. Coming off the back of that we were on a high, and we were happy to draw Manchester United.
“There were some suggestions that it was a good draw for them, but I was always confident that we could beat them. That extra time was just phenomenal – we gave them a penalty and an own-goal, but we came back and won it.
“We heard the crowd, all game. Our fans were unbelievable that day. This Sunday we’ll need them there again, to be our twelfth man.
“Anyone looking from the outside might put West Ham as favourites; they’re on good form, but then so are we. We didn’t play well against them when we lost to them at the Madejski, but we still created chances to win the game.
“Inside the camp, we are absolutely confident. We know we have to play well to win, and hopefully we will.”
It’s a 12.30pm kick-off on Sunday at Adams Park; for ticket information for the match, click the banner below.