City defender looks ahead to Thursday’s Devon Derby Ladies cup final tie
Ahead of that all-important clash against Cheltenham at St James Park on Saturday, Exeter City right-back Steve Tully has one other piece of business to attend to first – managing Exeter City Ladies to the Devon County FA Cup title in their cup-final tie against Plymouth on Thursday evening.
The Ladies will contest the Devon Derby for the fourth time this season, and this time there will be silverware on offer – as the teams look set to go toe-to-toe on 18th April at the Devon FA headquarters on Coach Road, Newton Abbot, with the game kicking off at 7pm. City are undefeated this year against their arch-rivals – they have won one and drawn one in the South West Combination, and knocked the Pilgrims out of the Ambassador League Cup on penalties.
“At whatever level or in whatever competition that Exeter meet Plymouth, there’s always a big rivalry,” said Steve. “There’ll be a lot on it, and the girls are looking forward to such a big game. Plymouth have been the dominant force in the last five or six years in women’s football and we’re trying to catch up with them.
“This is our first season in the South West Combination, and we’ve definitely held our own and we’re always improving. It would cap off a really good season in our first time at this tier if we could go and win a cup.
“The last three finals we’ve been in have been really good games. Unfortunately we haven’t been on the right side of the results – we’ve lost all three – but Thursday gives us a chance to put that right.”
The Ladies team have attracted some sizable crowds this season – the most notable occasions being the FA Cup ties against Brislington at St James Park and then against Swindon at Coach Road, where they are playing in the final. As far as Tulls is concerned, the bumper crowds are no less than they deserve and he is hopeful that a few extra turn up to back the girls in Newton Abbot on Thursday evening.
“We’ve had some good turnouts this season – with the FA Cup games in particular,” he continued. “Women’s football is growing – it’s getting bigger and bigger, and Exeter have been well-supported by the club. It’s nice that they’re getting the recognition they deserve.
“Our Ladies team play really good football as well, which always helps. I think a lot of people that come and watch the games will be surprised at how good the standard is. Everyone likes to come and watch a final, so hopefully there’ll be a few extra there because of that – and hopefully they’ll come back again in future as well too.”
The preparation going into the match has been far from ideal – while the Pilgrims are building up a head of steam with good results in the league, the Grecians have seen more matches postponed with waterlogging at their home in Topsham. However Steve is hopeful that the lack of action has resulted in a chance to regroup and get the whole team to 100 per cent going into the cup final.
“It’s been a very stop-start season, with the weather and things like that. Plymouth have been lucky in that their last four games have all been on, against good opposition, and they come into the match on a bit of form – they’re flying at the moment. It’ll be a big ask and a good test for the girls.
“In the three games we’ve played against Plymouth this year, we’ve been in all the games and have done very well against them. At the moment we’re undefeated against them, and we want to keep that run going.
“It’s disappointing that last weekend’s game was called off, but we had a few niggling injuries anyway and that probably helps us a little bit so we can rest before Thursday.”
The match kicks off at 7pm on Thursday 18th April, and the game is taking place at Devon County FA Headquarters on Coach Road, Newton Abbot. Tickets are priced at £4 for adults and £2 concessions. Come on down, see Tulls in the dugout (rather than overlapping down the right flank), support Exeter City in the Devon Derby, and cheer our girls to cup-final victory!