West Ham Women in FA Cup Final: 'Fairytale' match for Beard
PUBLISHED: 10:30 03 May 2019
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Underdogs West Ham plot a final victory
Arsenal Women grabbed the prestigious Super League title at the weekend, while Chelsea just missed out in the Champions League to Lyon.
But to many, including West Ham coach Matt Beard, the biggest game of the season comes this Saturday evening.
“For me, the Women's FA Cup final is still the biggest game on the domestic calendar and we are proud to be there,” said the 41-year-old.
“We have a chance and we have shown that we can compete against any team on our day and that is what we intend to do in the final.”
Easier said than done against a mighty Manchester City side, who thumped them 7-1 early in the season and then beat them 3-1 in the return at Rush Green.
“The defeat at Man City was a freak one,” insisted Beard. “We made a lot of individual errors which cost us on the day.
“But in the home game I think we competed well. We were looking for an equaliser, but it wouldn't quite come and they were very relieved to get a third to clinch it.”
Considering it is West Ham's first season in the Super League, Beard can be rightly proud to have got his team to the final.
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“Making the FA Cup final is a fairytale end to our first season in the Women's Super League,” he said.
“In terms of the league, I think we could be six to nine points better off, but it is our first season and we have had quite a few injuries in a small squad which always makes it difficult.
“We want to be able to compete with these top teams and on our day we certainly can.”
So who does Beard think will be the danger women for his team on Saturday? He has a few.
“I think the experience of Gilly Flaherty and Claire Rafferty will be so important. They have both been to the final before, winning and losing,” he said.
“They have seen it all before and they will be able to help the others to come to terms with the big day.
“Anna Moorhouse was in the final for Arsenal last season, even though she was only on the bench, while Jane Ross is a vital player, who will be up against her old team in Man City.
“Jane has been different class all season. She has been so unselfish both for the team and for me and she has scored some important goals for us.
“Cho So-hyun is an important calming influence. She keeps the ball so well and breaks up the play as well, while Alisha Lehmann has had an excellent season and is a very dangerous player.
“But collectively, all the players are important for us and we will give it everything to compete with Man City.
“They will be favourites, but we don't mind being the underdogs, we were in the semi-final.”