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Charlton Athletic will be chasing their second major trophy of the season on Monday when they face Arsenal in the F.A.Women's Cup Final at Loftus Road. Still top of the Premier League although having completed their fixtures, the Addicks have led the way virtually all season and, while many members of their team have rightly taken plaudits in their success, Jess Smith has been one of their unsung heroes.
The midfielder can barely contain her excitement as the big day approaches. "I'm looking forward to the whole day as well as the match, with the whole occasion being shown on television and everyone in the game will be watching. It's the biggest game in women's football," Jess told Women's Soccer Scene.
"Our preparations have been going well, although it is mainly training as we have no other matches to play. We're doing our best to prepare for this match as though it is a normal game, even though it obviously isn't a normal one!" she laughs.
Like the majority of her Charlton team mates, Jess harbours painful memories of last year's Final when they were beaten 3-0 by Fulham. "What happened last year will give an incentive to win this time. We know what it's like to lose this match and we don't want it to happen again."
So where does Jess feel the game can be won or lost? "There will be lots of battles throughout the whole field during the match, but the midfield area is always crucial in a game. It's definitely going to be a close game between two of the best teams in the country and should remain close fought to end. It should boil down to whoever plays better on the day and takes their chances."
Jess was singled out for praise by Charlton manager Keith Boanas after they beat Fulham 1-0 in the Premier League Cup Final, for her marking of Rachel McArthur in midfield. However she remains modest: "Winning the League Cup was great - we all did really well and the reason we won was because everyone played well. It was a real team effort.
"We set ourselves targets for this season and we're not far from them. We are still hoping to get the 'treble' and hopefully we can put pressure on Arsenal by winning on Monday."
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