Chelsea will face Bristol City in years Conti Cup Final to be played on March 14th. A Pernille Harder hat trick helped Chelsea to a six nil win over West Ham, while Bristol City beat Championship side Leicester thanks to a Kiera Skeels goal.
This will be Bristol’s first ever appearance in the final where they will face holders Chelsea. The final will be played at Watford’s Vicarage Road.
Chelsea 6 v 0 West Ham United
Chelsea took an early lead as Ji So-Yun played Harder in the box and the Chelsea player provided a deft finish after just four minutes.
Chelsea had a second after a quarter of an hour thanks to another Sophie Ingle long range goal. West Ham attempt to clear but the ball dropped to Welsh International Ingle, she brings the ball down and her right, then shoots with her left squeezing the ball under Mackenzie Arnold.
The game was essentially over as Chelsea scored two in two minutes. First Harder got her second as West Ham tried to play out form the back, a poor pass from keeper Arnold allowed Harder to capitalise. Then Beth England scored from Fran Kirby’s cross from the right.
Chelsea kept the pressure on during the second half. Arnold making good saves from Kirby and England. West Ham did have a few chances, the best falling to Adriana Leon. Leon found herself clear in the box but a combination of good defending from Magdalena Eriksson and Ann-Katrin Berger keeping her out.
Fran Kirby made it five for The Blues. Kirby’s attempted lob after being played in by Maren Mjelde, was tipped away by Arnold but Kirby was quickest to it for a tap in. Harder completed her hat-trick four minutes from time with a stunning right footed shot from the edge of the area.
Chelsea Manager Emma Hayes told Chelseafc.com:
“I’m really pleased, getting to finals is no easy achievement and the preparation of the team to keep finding new levels in themselves is a real testament to the work that is put in day in day out from everyone in this environment.
“To dispatch a very good team in the manner that we did with five chances and four goals in the first half is reflective of the confidence that’s in the camp at the moment.
“They are hungry, everybody is hungry for trophies and we know it’s ours to lose because of the fact we’re holders of the competition and we’re really looking forward to being back in another final.
“I’m really looking forward to a brilliant stadium and another showcase opportunity for women’s football.
“I’m so impressed by my players, I’m so impressed by the collective and the hunger, the will, the ambition.”
She also spoke about speculation around her and the vacant post at AFC Wimbledon:
“I’ve never spoken to Wimbledon and I’ve never been offered a job by Wimbledon. The whole question that was asked about me is about my own team and let me be clear about this.
“My words were this: It is not a step down to coach Chelsea Women’s team, it’s an insult to suggest otherwise but watching the reaction across the media in the last 24 hours manipulating my words, turning headlines and using inflammatory language to infer that I’ve insulted AFC Wimbledon, far from it.
“What a wonderful club they are, they are local to our community and one that’s dear to everybody’s hearts at Chelsea, so to infer that I’ve insulted them is a misrepresentation across the media and that needs to be made clear.
“I sincerely hope that AFC Wimbledon find the right candidate for their football club and the whole point about them not being able to afford me is nothing to do with money but everything to do with the fact I’m in the best job in the world and no amount of money is going to tempt me away from that.
“We talk of women in football like we are not entitled to the same opportunity and the same access and my final piece on it is that all I want is to normalise the conversation on it so if the entire universe is talking about it then hallelujah, let’s make sure we have it more often and let’s make sure we talk about it without feeling unbelievably threatened that everybody has a place in football.”
Bristol City 1 v 0 Leicester City
The other semi-final saw Bristol City beat Championship leaders Leicester City.
Lachante Paul crafted the best chance after 20 minutes, her shot from the Leicester left going straight into the gloves of Baggaley.
In a tight first half without many great chances Bristol went closest with Charlie Wellings firing a shot goalwards which was well saved by Levell.
Charlie Devlin made a shooting chance for herself after skipping around two Bristol players, but she could only shoot straight at Sophie Baggaley. At half time all square in a close game.
Leicester had the first real chance after the break as Paige Bailey-Gayle forced Baggaley to be at full stretch to turn the ball away from goal. Leicester were able to recycle the ball but were only able to put a shot well over the bar.
Bristol found the break-through after 72 minutes. Ebony Salmon’s cross finding the head of Kiera Skeels whos’ flick towards goal wasn’t held by Leicester keeper Levell and found its way into the goal.
Leicester pressed to get a equaliser but Bristol held on to make the final. Bristol City and Leicester may switch leagues not season but a historic final awaits for Bristol and maybe it could help their WSL survival.
Bristol City manager Matt Bread told Bcfc.com:
“I’m absolutely delighted. It was a tough game – there wasn’t much in it between the two teams,
“I thought we were excellent in the second half, I felt we dominated the game in the sense that we didn’t let them get into their rhythm. We didn’t create many chances ourselves, but semi-finals are won on moments like tonight with Kiera scoring from a set-play.
“The girls have worked so hard yet again across the 90 minutes to make sure they have come away with the win.
“Since coming in the group have been brilliant. I said to them at half-time that they’re the closest group I have worked with in terms of togetherness and it’s fantastic that they have been rewarded with a place in the cup final tonight.”