The Football League Paper - - WOMEN'S FOOTBALL WEEKLY - By Paddy von Behr

THEY have found points tough to come by in the league, but Lough­bor­ough Foxes are un­beaten in 2016 and cap­tain Vicky Brack­en­bury be­lieves that is a sign of things to come.

The Foxes pow­ered their way to pro­mo­tion in the FA Women’s Premier League Mid­lands Divi­sion One last sea­son, win­ning 16 of 22 games, to earn their place in the third tier.

This sea­son has proved to be some­thing of a rude awak­en­ing, how­ever, with Lough­bor­ough pick­ing up just one win in 13 league out­ings to date and sit­ting in­side the dreaded bot­tom two of the North­ern Divi­sion.

Cup foot­ball has pro­vided some much-needed respite since Christ­mas, with the Foxes pro­gress­ing to the fi­nal of the Le­ices­ter­shire County Cup and the last eight of the Women’s Premier League Plate.

And, af­ter they booked an FA Cup fourth-round tie with WSL 2 side Mill­wall Lionessess – thanks to a penalty shoot-out vic­tory over Lewes last week­end – Brack­en­bury has a brand new out­look on the sea­son as a whole.

“We have been strug­gling to get to grips with [pro­mo­tion],” said the 33-year-old.“But we are un­de­feated in 2016 and long may it con­tinue.

“It is mas­sively ex­cit­ing to be drawn against Mill­wall. Any foot­baller wants to test them­selves against higher-league op­po­si­tion, to see what they are made of.

“We have a home tie, too, which is nice.

“You never know what can hap­pen. You go into any match think­ing you can win it and the game against Mill­wall will be no dif­fer­ent.

“I don’t see why we couldn’t cause an up­set. We don’t hit and hope – we play nice foot­ball and it will be an op­por­tu­nity to show that.

“With this run of form, ev­ery­thing seems to be fall­ing into place and I’m con­fi­dent we will stay in the league.”

Last week­end’s clash with Lewes was a nervy one, with both sides know­ing that Mill­wall would lie in wait for the win­ner.

The Foxes came out on top, fol­low­ing a 1-1 draw af­ter ex­tra time. Each of the first ten spot-kicks were scored, be­fore Becky Lan­g­ley struck the win­ning penalty in sud­den death to take them fur­ther in the FA Cup than the club has ever been be­fore.

“I have had plenty of shootouts in my ca­reer but in the FA Cup to go through on penal­ties to the fur­thest point the club has ever been, was quite high pres­sure,” con­tin­ued Brack­en­bury.

A cup tie with Mill­wall next week­end is not the only ex­cit­ing de­vel­op­ment for the skip­per, who be­gins a new job in Wolver­hamp­ton this week as a pro­ject man­ager for the lo­cal au­thor­ity.

Brack­en­bury’s jour­ney to and from train­ing ev­ery Tues­day and Thurs­day evening will sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease, but it’s noth­ing the ex­pe­ri­enced mid­fielder can­not take in her stride.

“I don’t get any spe­cial treat­ment as cap­tain so I will have to make a few al­lowances,” she added.“It will be a bit of a shock to the sys­tem!”

PIC­TURE: Jane Roberts

MARATHON: Lough­bor­ough won on penal­ties

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