Ipswich Town Women's captain Eva Hubbard hoping for another memorable FA Cup journey
The impact of Covid-19 may have robbed Eva Hubbard and her Ipswich Town Women team-mates of the chance to finish a second straight league campaign, but they do at least still have cup football on the agenda in 2020/21.
On Sunday the Blues will make the trip to fellow Division One South East outfit Billericay in the second round of the Women’s FA Cup (2pm) – a competition that continues due to its elite status.
It’s a tournament that holds fond recent memories for Ipswich, who last term made history by becoming the first ever tier four side to reach the last 16, where they took on the might of Manchester City.
The all-conquering Citizens ran out 10-0 winners on the day, but it was still an unforgettable experience – and Hubbard is keen for more.
“We’re all excited for the weekend,” said the Mellis-raised defender. “We’ve got three games to go before we reached the same round as last year, but if we play to our best level, I think we can win all of them.
“That would be unreal and prove that it was not just a one-off lucky cup run. It would also help to show the type of level we want to reach as a squad.”
Unlike last season when the null and void verdict denied Ipswich a shot at promotion, this time around there remains hope.
As it stands the most recent season has been curtailed, and the FA have revealed their intention to restructure the women’s pyramid.
They would have preferred to have got the job done on the pitch, but Hubbard believes it’s vital Ipswich are offered the chance to move to tier three.
“We play the game for things like that – winning promotion and cups,” added the former Hartismere School pupil.
“It would have been great to win those nitty and gritty games to complete the job, and it won’t feel as nice if we go up because of a restructure. But at the same time I feel we are worthy of going up and it’s important that we do this year.
“We’ve got players that are part of international youth set-ups and they understandably want to be playing at a higher level. It was fine when they were 16, but now they are 18 they have bigger ambitions.
“Hopefully it all works out and we get the promotion we deserve.”
Unlike a number of her team-mates, who have been able to train in lockdown due to the club’s under-21s being regarded elite, Hubbard has had to maintain her own fitness.
It’s led to some healthy competition with her brothers, one of whom is Harvey Hubbard, who plays for Walsham-le-Willows in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division.
“There’s been plenty of seeing who can run the quickest lap of a certain route around where we live,” she said. “We’ve had some good sessions though and hopefully with the three training sessions we’ve had this week we’ll be ready to go.”
Hubbard is also likely to be wearing the captain’s armband at the weekend, having stepped into role in the absence of Amanda Crump, who recently had a baby.
She added: “I absolutely love it at Ipswich. I’ve supported the club all my life. I grew up watching the men when I was younger and I’ve progressed through the system.
“It’s my club and a real honour to captain the team.”
The winners of the encounter will advance through to face either Cardiff City or Oxford City the following Sunday.
Meanwhile, Ipswich are also set to return to HomeStore Self Storage Suffolk Women’s Cup action on April 18 in the second round at Brantham Athletic, though this is dependent upon their FA Cup commitments.