20 May 2011
Wearsider Steph Houghton goes into her second FA Women’s Cup final tomorrow eager to get her hands on a winners’ medal.

The Arsenal full-back was a Leeds player in 2008, but the day turned sour when the Gunners romped away with a 4-1 triumph. The boot is on the other foot at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena tomorrow, though, with the England star lining up for favourites Arsenal against Bristol Academy. The Gunners are looking to win the cup for an 11th time, while Bristol are in the final for the first time in their history. But former Sunderland star Houghton, who comes from South Hetton, is taking nothing for granted with the clubs having met twice already in the Super League season. Arsenal won the home game only 1-0 and were then held to a 2-2 draw at Bristol last week.

“We have had two tough games against Bristol,” admitted Houghton, who joined the London side last summer. “They are disciplined team, well organised and have some good individual talent. We know that it is going to be a tough test on a very big occasion. I am really excited about the game. It’s my second FA Cup final, and a massive event for women’s football. I’m hoping that I can win this one – everyone dreams of firstly being in the FA Cup final and then, secondly, winning it.  Most of my family are coming down to watch – my mam, dad and brother just to mention a few. They are always coming to support me, whatever game we play, but this is a big one!”

Arsenal have played in the last five finals, including their 2-1 win against Sunderland in 2009. They won the first four, but lost last year’s 3-2 to Everton.  The Gunners put out Everton in the fifth round this season, and then accounted for the Lady Black Cats 3-2 in the quarter-finals after extra-time. Their semi-final was a much easier assignment as they brushed Barnet aside 5-0.

“There was a lot of talk of revenge when we played Everton,” added Houghton. “The defeat in the final last year really spurred all the girls on,” she said. “I know they do not want to go through that losing feeling again. We are taking nothing for granted.”

In the Super League, Arsenal are second at the half-way stage, four points behind Birmingham but with a game in hand.

“We have started ok, but we have had a few disappointing results,” said Houghton. “We lost against Birmingham due to a poor performance and we also let Bristol back into the game last week. But overall we have produced some good wins and good performances. We will be looking to the second half of the season, knowing that we are still in contention for the league.”

Houghton played as a second half substitute for England in the 2-0 win against Sweden on Tuesday, and now must wait to see if she makes the final cut for the World Cup squad, due to be made on June 10. “I was pleased to get on, and overall I was pleased with my performance. It was brilliant to get the win over a tough Sweden team, and great to see my old Sunderland team-mate Jill Scott scoring to help us end on a winning note before the World Cup.  But now my priority is Arsenal and trying to get an FA Cup winners’ medal.”

The match is shown on Sky Sports 1 (2pm kick-off).

 

Neil Watson - Sunderland Echo

 

 

Everyone at the club wishes former Sunderland players Steph Houghton and Jordan Nobbs the best of luck in the Cup Final on Saturday.

Best Wishes to Steph and Jordan
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