Chelsea boss Hayes expects Bristol City to make Conti Cup final ‘extremely difficult’

EMMA HAYES has dismissed “disrespectful” assumptions that Bristol City could face a thrashing when they battle Chelsea for the Conti Cup.

And the Blues gaffer expects her aces will be in for a tough afternoon despite beating the Robins 5-0 in the top-flight in January.

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Emma Hayes is expecting a tough league cup duel with Bristol[/caption]

Getty Images – Getty

Hayes and Chelsea are aiming to win the Conti Cup for a second year in row[/caption]

Hayes, 44, was speaking ahead of the duel at Watford’s home ground with Chelsea bidding to win their ninth major trophy.

And the Kingsmeadow chief will pit her wits against Bristol boss Matt Beard who led the Blues to their first FA Cup final in 2012 during a three-year managerial spell at the club.

The WSL champs have scored 14 goals against the Robins this term including nine netted when the teams clashed in the league in September.

Hayes said: “I know Matt Beard well enough to know that his team will do everything they can to make sure it’s an extremely difficult day for my players.

“I just think having a conversation (of a big scoreline for Chelsea) in itself is disrespectful to Bristol. 

“I can probably cite millions of games in history from AFC Wimbledon (winning the FA Cup) back in the day and Wigan were underdogs when they won the cup.

“There’s no doubt this team will come out and play with the mentality that Matt’s instilled in them.

“I always think they are the teams you must watch the most.”

Hayes, whose side face Everton three days after today’s final hopes her players can recapture the league cup they won for the first time last term. 

And while Beth England’s concussion will leave the Blues without the striker who netted twice in that 2-1 victory against Arsenal, Hayes hopes for a repeat of Ann-Katrin Berger’s heroics in goal. 

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Bristol are looking to win the league cup for the first time in their team’s history[/caption]

Hayes added: “I think everybody is starting to see why she’s the best goalkeeper in England. 

“We already knew that. But everybody’s talking about that and I think Ann could go on to be one of the best in the world if she keeps performing the way that she does. 

“Her level of consistency is so high and exceptional”. 

Meanwhile, Bristol have undergone a reversal of fortune moving off the foot of the WSL table for the first time since the start of the season. 

Beard, 43, who is covering for Tanya Oxtoby who is due to give birth to a baby boy this month, praised the Robins boss for steering the team to the Conti trophy semis. 

The stand-in Twerton Park gaffer wants his squad to embrace the experience of going for glory in their first league cup final.   

And the former West Ham manager is looking forward to seeing Oxtoby attend this afternoon’s encounter which coincides with Mother’s Day. 

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Matt Beard praised Tanya Oxtoby for leading Bristol to the league cup semis before going on maternity leave[/caption]

Beard said: “This is obviously a unique situation with me being interim head coach and Tanya on maternity leave. 

“I’ve always had a good relationship with Tanya, even when I was at West Ham and she’s someone that I’ve gone to for advice in the past, especially from a  psychological background. 

“I’ve had conversations where I’ve needed help because she knows the team, knows the players and knows the club. 

“I said to the players that to get to any cup final doesn’t happen a lot in players’ or managers’ careers. 

“I’ve been fortunate enough to win trophies and get to cup finals and you just have to embrace those occasions and appreciate where you are when you get there.”

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