Morecambe Ladies are hoping to make an impression on the big stage when they host Stoke City in the FA Cup third round at the Globe Arena on Sunday.
The game represents the first time the Shrimpettes will have played at a Football League ground and is recognition of the rapid progress made by the Women’s Premier League Division One North side in recent years.
Manager Nick Barrett said: “It is a really big game.
“We’ve reached the third round before but there’s more prestige because it’s down at the Globe.
“It’s really nice to get some recognition from the club by letting us do this.
“It’s going to be really exciting and a fantastic day out for the girls.
“They’ve never played at a league ground before and there’s the excitement, the quality of the pitch and the facilities that go with that.”
Barrett, a sports centre manager at Lancaster & Morecambe College where the club are based, concedes that added pressure comes with playing at the home of the Shrimps’ senior team.
The hosts also go into the game as underdogs with Stoke City plying their trade a league above them.
He said: “There’s perhaps a little bit more pressure on us to put in a performance with having a few more down watching us than we usually have.
“We’ve played better sides before and done alright.
“Coventry when we last reached the third round was away from home and there was no pressure.
“Hopefully we can justify everything people have done for us.”
Barrett hopes the game can go some way to putting his emerging side on the map and is also well aware that it takes his side one step closer to a possible clash with the Women’s Super League teams who enter the competition at the fifth round stage.
He said: “There’s profile but also we’re looking at winning the game because it would be great to get to the fourth round.
“Your Arsenals, Chelseas, Man City start to come in the fifth round.
“I’m not sure how we’d do against them but it would be great to see if we got that far.
“Stoke are beatable, they’ve lost six in the league this year, but they’re just starting to gather a bit of momentum.
“Let’s hope we can put a spanner in the works.
“We’re the underdogs but we’ll put up a good fight.”
In order to bring the best of his side, Barrett, who has been involved with the club with fellow founder Sophie Fish for approaching 10 years, is employing the age-old managerial tactic of trying to treat it as any other game with a Lancashire Cup final against Blackburn Rovers or Preston also to come later this season.
He said: “I’m trying to play it down.
“It is a big deal but it’s just another game for me.
“The fact that it’s at the Globe just adds a bit of sparkle.
“We’re not going to go on and win the FA Cup but it’s a reward for all the hard work we’ve put in and a little reward for the girls and for all the effort they’ve put in for us.
“Hopefully it can give us a bit of motivation for the rest of the season and we can kick on and finish in a decent position in the league and win the Lancashire Cup.”
Kick-off on Sunday, February 1, is noon with admission £3 for adults and £1 for concessions.