Cross looks ahead to FA Cup challenge

It was literally a game of two halves for Jade Cross in last season’s Birmingham County Cup quarter-final against Sunday’s FA Cup opponents Stourbridge.

Cross spent the first 45 minutes of that January meeting sat on the substitutes’ bench – but she then turned super-sub at the start of the second period.

Just two minutes after entering the fray the prolific striker hit the net to bring Wolves level at 1-1, which remained the score until the final whistle.

That meant a penalty shootout, which Wolves won 4-2 to finally overcome battling opponents who had belied their status as members of the West Midlands League Division One South – two tiers below National League Wolves.

And Cross, reflecting on the game, admits: “It was one hundred per cent more relief than joy when Shannie Jennings scored the penalty that took us through.

“It had been a very tough game. Watching from the bench in the first half, I thought we were the better team, but we probably weren’t clinical enough.

“Stourbridge were a bit open, but that was because they wanted to look for a goal themselves and they got one about ten minutes before half-time.

“When I went on at the start of the second half we needed to equalise as quickly as possible, and after we did that it was us that did most of the attacking. 

“But fair play to Stourbridge, they defended really well and proved over the course of the game that they’re a better team than the League they’re in suggests.

“They’ve made an excellent start to this season and so I’m expecting another difficult match, but we’ve also had a great start and we’re feeling very confident.”

The Glass Girls have won all three of their league games to date, with a goal aggregate of 25-0, while coming through four qualifying rounds of the FA Cup.

Meanwhile Wolves also have a 100 per cent league record (goal aggregate 37-3) and have won their two FA Cup ties to reach today’s first round proper.

To date in the current campaign Cross has struck 11 goals, including one in each of the FA Cup victories over Sutton Coldfield Town (2-0) and, vitally, the second half winner in a hard earned 1-0 away win against Long Eaton in the last round.

“I’m happy enough with my own goal tally so far,” says Cross, “but more importantly we’re getting goals from a good number of players and if we can keep that up it will stand us in good stead for the rest of the season.

“It’s not been an easy season so far in terms of match preparation because of the problems that lockdown and being in Tier Three have caused us, but that’s been the same for every other team and so it’s been a case of just getting on with it.

“Our players have had individual training schedules and we’ve also been having one-to-one coaching sessions once a week with a member of staff, so we’ve kept up our fitness levels and now we just want to get back to playing regular football.

“We’ve now got another break from matches over Christmas, but we don’t intend easing off – we’re back in training on the 27th of December, hopefully with our first match after that an FA Cup second round tie on January the third.

“That will obviously depend on beating Stourbridge, and we know from last season that will be difficult – but we’ll be favourites again and this time we’ll be aiming to get the job done in 90 minutes rather than in a penalty shoot-out.”