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Tottenham Hotspur .vs. London City Lionesses Preview: ‘It’s about continuing on the same path’

Tottenham Hotspur .vs. London City Lionesses (Vitality Women’s FA Cup)

Brisbane Road on Sunday 29 at 12:00, live on the BBC iPlayer and FA Player

Interim Head Coach, Nikita Runnacles (Image: thoughtsofawing)
Interim Head Coach, Nikita Runnacles (Image: thoughtsofawing)

It’s no secret that we have experienced a turbulent week at Princes Park.

On Monday [23 January], the Lionesses announced the departure of head coach Melissa Phillips, who cited professional and personal reasons as factors in her switch to Angel City FC.

On Tuesday, the squad went about their usual rest day.

On Wednesday, the Pride returned to their base in Dartford and turned their attention to the weekend ahead.

London City’s next match is important on several counts.

  • It’s a win-or-go-home scenario.

  • It’s an away fixture in a London Derby.

  • It’s the first match without Phillips on the bench.

And there is also the magic of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup to consider.

The Lionesses travel to Brisbane Road to take on elite opposition from the Women’s Super League. It’s Tottenham Hotspur away. It’s live on the BBC iPlayer. It’s a shot at a first fifth round appearance in Club history.

In the aftermath of a bumpy week at Princes Park, you would be forgiven for assuming that the mood is flat and momentum has been lost.

But that just isn’t the case for this team.

“It was always going to be a shock and you never really know how it will affect the players individually, before you even think about the team environment,” interim head coach Nikita Runnacles said. “The outpouring of love you see on social media for Melissa is very much how the day went: it was about celebrating her achievements.

“But the resilience in this team is second to none. They’ve always bounced back, found results, and stuck together regardless of what they’ve faced this season and that’s exactly how they have approached the week.

“If anything, it’s just added more determination for them to get the job done. Our sessions have been full of high-intensity play and loads of discussions around how we’re going to approach the game on Sunday. It’s about getting the ball rolling and continuing the path that we are on. I have zero concerns about this team moving forward [because] they are highly motivated to complete the job that Melissa started with us here.”

While the Lionesses will run into a talented squad on Sunday, which includes star forward Beth England, there are reasons to be optimistic for the away side. Spurs have endured a bumpy start to the season and approach the match in the wake of back-to-back defeats to Aston Villa and Chelsea.

Is an upset possible? Nothing is impossible.

“We’ve always thrived when playing against teams from the Women’s Super League because that’s where we want to be,” said Runnacles in London City’s weekly media availability. “It’s really important that we approach these matches as though we’re from same division and that’s the aim of the week from here.”

Shortly before training on Thursday [26 January], midfielder Shanade Hopcroft offered her perspective on the tie.

Shanade Hopcroft, London City Lionesses
Shanade Hopcroft, London City Lionesses

“I’m really looking forward to it,” she said of the trip to Brisbane Road. “It’ll be good for us to see where we’re at against a club from the Women’s Super League. We’re happy and excited to play against them.”

There are three ways to support the team this weekend:

  • Follow @LC_Lionesses on Twitter for live updates.

  • Purchase tickets from Tottenham Hotspur and join the team at Brisbane Road.

  • Tune into the match from home via the BBC iPlayer or FA Player.

Lionesses, we’ll see you there. City on three.

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