TARGET! Bristol City 0-1 Chelsea (Kerr 2 ‘)
That’s the beginning the homeless would have been dreading. Kirby latches onto a diagonal pass, escapes from defense, and squares off for Sam Kerr, who has a bunt.
All players pause to kneel before we get going. Bristol City in red, Chelsea in blue. There are no fancy kit changes here.
At the only WSL match today, Read Y Tottenham they have drawn 0-0. The Royals remain in the middle of the table, with the Spurs walking away from relegation problems with a road point. Now they are four points above Bristol City and five points above West Ham, the bottom.
It’s worth mentioning that this game takes place on Mother’s Day and Bristol City Manager Tanya Oxtoby is currently on maternity leave. Matt Beard, who was Hayes’ predecessor at Chelsea, is in interim charge with Oxtoby watching from the stands.
Hayes herself took over Chelsea to win the FA Cup final in 2018 while she was 33 weeks pregnant. “I think you really have to appreciate how difficult this could be for her,” Hayes said of Oxtoby this week. “She deserves to be there.”
Sam Kerr starts up front for Chelsea, with Pernille Harder on the bench while Canadian Jessie Fleming gets off to a surprise start. Beth England is unavailable after suffering a concussion in the Champions League win over Atlético de Madrid.
Bristol City interim manager Matt Beard has chosen Australian international Ella Mastrantonio to play behind forward Ebony Salmon, who took the win against Reading on Monday.
City of Bristol: Baggaley; Bryson, Skeels, Evans (c), Purfield; Wellings, Humphrey, Bissell, Mastrantonio, Daniëls; Salmon.
Substitutes: Smith, Rafferty, Allen, Palmer, Collis, Harrison, Layzell, Jones.
Chelsea: Berger; Mjelde, Bright, Eriksson (c), Andersson; Leupolz, Ingle; Kirby, Fleming, Reiten; Kerr.
Subs: Musovic, Telford, Blundell, Carter, Ji, Charles, Cuthbert, Harder, Spence.
Hello. As Paul Gascoigne once said, I don’t make predictions and I never will. That being said, it is fair to say that Chelsea are the favorite to retain their trophy today at Vicarage Road. In their last four meetings, the current leaders of the Women’s Super League have beaten today’s weaker rivals by an aggregate score of 24-1. That includes a 9-0 win in September, where nine different Chelsea players scored against Bristol City, which seemed doomed even at that early stage.
The Robins have rebounded in recent weeks, their unexpected run to this final sparking a league resurgence that has lifted them from the bottom. With a relegation battle to wage, the city of Bristol could be forgiven for being happy to be here and hoping to avoid another major defeat. But this is a Cup final, and the prospect of a historic surprise will be on everyone’s mind.
The 2012 men’s FA Cup final, when Wigan stunned Manchester City, has been a hot topic in both locker rooms this week. Arguably it would be an even bigger surprise if Bristol City denied Chelsea today. Stick around to see how they do.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism