Sampson's Vixens face a tricky encounter with Doncaster Belles
By The Bristol Post | Thursday, February 28, 2013, 05:00
MARK Sampson insists Bristol Academy's tough opener in this season's FA Women's Cup holds no fears for his side.
Mark Sampson's Bristol Academy in action against Women's FA Cup opponents Doncaster Rovers Belles last season
The Vixens have been drawn away to fellow Women's Super League side Doncaster Rovers Belles in the fifth round and will visit the Keepmoat Stadium on Sunday, March 17.
But Sampson believes the club's strong recent showing in the competition – and a decent record at the Belles – means they can head into their opening fixture of the season with their confidence high.
"Obviously we would have preferred a home draw, but we have visited Doncaster four times in the last two seasons and haven't been beaten," said boss Sampson.
"Coming in to the competition at the fifth round stage is an enticing prospect because you know you are only three wins away from making it to the final.
"We did that two years ago and had a great day out at Coventry and last year we reached the semi-finals, so our recent record in the cup has been good.
"We have a group of players who can beat anyone on their day, and I think there isn't going to be a lot of difference between most of the sides in the WSL this season so the competition could be wide open.
"But this is certainly a game we will be looking to go out and win to further enhance our reputation in the competition."
This season's final – on Sunday, May 26 – will also be played at the Keepmoat Stadium and screened live on BBC2.
Keynsham Town returned to the top of the SW Women's Combination – and gave their hopes of an instant return to the Premier League a major boost – with a 14-0 demolition of Southampton Saints.
The result left the Somerset club two points clear of title rivals Oxford United and further increased their vastly superior goals difference.
Bristol Ladies Union maintained their six-point advantage at the top of the SW Women's League Premier Division after a 3-0 win at Bridgwater Town thanks to Amanda Blakeley and two goals in as many minutes from Toni Hemmings.
Title rivals Larkhall beat bottom-placed Stoke Lane Athletic by the same scoreline, and there was a blow for BLU when they had influential central defender Sarah Gregory carried off on astretcher with a knee injury.
Downend Flyers' impressive first season in the Premier Division continued as Kate Michael's hat-trick, a double from Rachel Stowell and a Grace Bunker goal earned them a 6-0 home win over Plymstock United.
But Cleeve West Town suffered defeat to Cheltenham Town after Rhona Donaldson netted the only goal of the game.
In the Eastern Division, St Nicholas moved into second spot after Rebecca Rexworthy's double and an Amy Jefferies goal clinched a 3-2 win over Forest Green Reserves, Holly Provis netting twice for the visitors.
Louise Walter's strike proved little more than a consolation for ring rusty Oldland Abbotonians as they were thumped 8-1 at home by leaders Swindon Supermarine.
"We'd gone six weeks without a game, but we should still have performed better than that," said assistant boss Steve Lavis.
"We were outthought and outfought by a clinical Swindon team."
Amber Coates scored a hat-trick – two of her goals coming in extra-time – to help ensure Bitton progressed to the third round of the Gloucestershire County Women's League Cup.
Laura Tugwell was the other scorer for Bitton, who will now host Mitcheldean on Sunday, March 24.
Southmead CS, who were 2-0 victors at Abbeymead, will travel to Quedgeley, while AEK Boco will visit Longlevens after winning 2-1 at Bristol & West, who had Georgina Newsome netting their consolation goal.
Brislington maintained their 100 per cent record in Division One of the Somerset County Women's League as a treble from Emily Plummer, along with goals from Sophie Whelan, Zoe Gunter and Amber Pullen, sealed a 6-1 win over Street.
Bris return to knockout duties on Sunday when they will be heavy underdogs in their Somerset FA Women's Senior Cup semi-final against Yeovil.
Keynsham's Development side take on the club's first-team in the other tie.