Manager Karen Hills spoke to the club as she previews this evening’s Vitality Women’s FA Cup quarter-final against Brighton & Hove Albion at the People’s Pension Stadium (7pm).
The Addicks are the lowest-ranked team left in the competition, the only side outside of the WSL to have qualified for the quarter-final.
Charlton beat Blackburn Rovers back in May to progress to the final eight.
“It does feel like quite a long time,” Hills explains. “Especially the transition that we’ve gone through in that space of time, the last game was with a completely different bunch of players. We played Blackburn, it’s quite a coincidence as well we just played them this time around as well.
“It does seem a long period of time to be going into a quarter-final but I think every team now have definitely got stronger. We’re obviously now in a position where we can say that we’re full-time which is great. We’ve been able to really recruit well and now it’s a question of going into the game against a very good opposition in Brighton, who are really in form at the moment, and giving a good account for ourselves.
“We’re the only team outside of the WSL so that’s already a bonus for us and a bit of an accolade. We want to be playing against these types of teams week-in, week-out. It’s going to be a big challenge and test for us but it’s been a long time coming and we’re looking forward to it.
“I’m very aware of the different levels in terms of the WSL and Championship. The tempo of the game is a lot quicker, the tactical side of it is a lot greater. We’re still a very new team, we’ve only been together this season, we’ve played a couple of pre-season friendlies against WSL teams to see where we are in terms of our fitness, but in terms of us being a polished team I think we’re a little way off.
“When you talk about these cup games anything can happen, your form maybe goes out the window a little bit and there is always an underdog that goes into games – we’re obviously that underdog so I don’t think the pressure is on us so much, so we’ve got an opportunity to go there, to play under no pressure.
“I think for Hope [Powell], it’s an opportunity for them to push themselves and get themselves into a semi-final so I don’t think they’re going to take the game lightly at all and they’re going to see us as competitors and I think they’re going to go as strong as possible. I’m looking forward to seeing how we fair up against that and it is a game where anything can happen. Sometimes you do need a little bit of luck on your side within cup competitions and I’m hoping that luck goes in our favour.
“We’ve got a group of players that are experienced, senior players, younger players, we’ve got players that have come from semi-professional all gelling together and I sometimes pinch myself to think that three or four months ago we were trying to recruit 20 full-time players and we’re now in this run of games that have come thick and fast.
“It’s going to be a good game of football and I think it just gives us an opportunity to put ourselves with the top teams to show that there’s teams within the Championship are able to put a good account for themselves against these opposition that have been full-time for a lot longer than us.”
Karen Hills won the FA Cup with the Addicks in 2005.
“I’ll never forget that, 2005 was a huge year. It was just an achievement that I will always remember. The FA Cup is the most prestigious cup in women’s football it always has been and always will be.
“I think it’s going to be a great occasion for the teams that make it to the final and we potentially are two and a half games away. Anything can happen within a cup, I will always treasure my time in the final for sure. At the training centre we’ve got pictures and memorabilia up of those moments when Charlton won in 2005 so the girls walk past them everyday, we hope that that inspiration to see them will spur them on today.
“We’re pleased to be in the last eight, it shows that we’ve been consistent. We know it’s going to be a tough test against Brighton but we’re going to give everything."
Fans can watch tonight’s FA Cup quarter-final clash live for free on the FA Player.