Ipswich college student relishing FA Cup clash against Manchester City
- Credit: Archant
During the week, Paige Peake knuckles down at college studying for her A-Levels – but this weekend she will go toe-to-toe with the England captain in a crucial FA Cup clash.
The 17-year-old Ipswich Town player has become one of the first names on the team sheet for the Tractor Girls as the fourth-tier side continues on its path to Wembley.
Paige joined her hometown club's academy aged eight and has rapidly risen through the ranks to earn a call up to the England national team, playing in the Under 17s European Championship in Bulgaria last year.
But this Sunday's clash against holders Manchester City could prove to be the biggest game of the centre back's career, with the chance to play against England captain Steph Houghton and stars Ellen White and Jill Scott.
The One Sixth Form College student said: "It's going to be strange (playing against Steph Houghton) as she is effectively where I want to be in the future.
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"I'm excited but not daunted by the challenge. Games like this are why you play football.
"Although she is one of my idols, I won't be asking for her shirt at the end of the game, it will just be an honour to play against her."
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The Tractor Girls have already surpassed higher league opposition in Portsmouth, beating Pompey 1-0 at home, before smashing Huddersfield Town 4-1 away at the John Smith's Stadium to book their place in the last 16.
To Paige, the team can take inspiration from the men's team's glory in 1978 - where, in a Cinderella story, the Blues beat Arsenal 1-0 to bring the cup back to Suffolk for the very first time.
She added: "We are the underdog but you have to believe.
"It would be great to think that history could repeat itself."
More than 400 fans will be making the journey north to watch the girls play at the Academy Stadium in Manchester, where the Super League side remain the bookies' favourites.
Among them will be Anna Bird, student services co-ordinator at the college, who has followed Paige throughout her journey.
Miss Bird said: We are getting a bit of a reputation of being an excellent education provider and that in itself helps attract talented students.
"Paige is in that bracket of talent and we are all incredibly proud of her. She always delivers both on and off the pitch."