Aston Villa 0-1 Chelsea
Match report by Nathan Edwards at the Bescot Stadium
EXCLUSIVE pitchside photos from Suvadeep Biswas for Impetus (17/4/23).
Above: Sam Kerr takes a tumble after a tackle in yesterday’s FA Cup Semi-Final. Photo: Suvadeep Biswas for Impetus.
Sam Kerr put an end to Aston Villa’s historic FA Cup run, and sent Chelsea through to the FA Cup final for the chance to become the first team to win the competition three years in a row since 2004.
The Australian had been managed well by Villa’s defence, but she only needed one chance to punish Villa cushioning Guro Reiten’s cross into the bottom corner.
Despite Villa’s late surge, Chelsea stayed firm, with Sarah Mayling hitting the post in the final moments of the 90 minutes.
It has been a rememberable season for Carla Ward and her side, who had never reached this stage in the FA Cup before, and sit fifth in the WSL.
Speaking afterwards, the Villa head coach said: “I’m heartbroken for the players tonight. I thought we were outstanding, the better team over the 90 minutes. If the best team won, then the best team won, but I don’t think that was the case. You see some of the girls in tears, it’s been some journey.
“Credit to Chelsea, they’ve got matchwinners. Sam Kerr has done exactly what she does week in and week out. We wish them all the very best, an unbelievable side, we’re just gutted.”
As for Emma Hayes, she continues to get this Chelsea team to adapt themselves to whatever is thrown at them and reached a fourth FA Cup final under her.
Hayes said: “It’s their cup final, they had everything to play for, a packed crowd and a record attendance, with nothing to lose. They gave as best as they possibly could.
“We kept a clean sheet, you have to expect an onslaught when you’re away from home, the pitch made it really challenging and there’s not a lot of grass in that penalty area. Nonetheless, we took the goal at the right moment.
“They get to play in an FA Cup final at Wembley, what more motivation do they need? I’m delighted we’ve got the opportunity to defend our title.”
Chelsea would have arrived to the Bescot Stadium in confident mood, after victory in Walsall a fortnight ago.
But despite scoring three on their last visit, It took a while for the Blues to get going, with Lauren James coming the closest to piercing through Villa’s defence, in the first half.
Although the winger was unable to test Hannah Hampton in goal with her attempts, and neither could Eve Perisset who crept into the box but lashed her effort over the bar.
That was the only real chance created by either side in the first half, but when the sets of players came out for the second period, a more aggressive Chelsea appeared.
It took only 20 seconds after the break for Jelena Čanković to rattle the post. And Villa also started to carve chances for themselves.
Rachel Daly was starved of chances until Kirsty Hanson plucked a deep cross that the English forward struggled to direct goalwards.
Kerr and Chelsea would then go on to punish Villa, as Alisha Lehmann slashed a shot into the side netting, and in the next stage of play, Kerr would nestle Reiten’s pass into the back of the net.
The Australian could have secured the victory later with her first shot bobbling past the post, and her second a well-saved one-on-one by Hampton.
Villa had camped Chelsea in their half after the deficit, and Mayling came the closest hitting the upright in the final ten minutes.
Kerr’s goal also meant that Chelsea are on for the treble again and will face Manchester United, in their first FA Cup final.
The Australian said: “It (was) their cup final, so it’s exciting for them but we love playing at Wembley. Last time we played there, it was amazing and hopefully it’s another good one.
“We are going for every trophy we can. We are Chelsea, we aren’t coming here to come second.”
Suvadeep Biswas’ EXCLUSIVE photo gallery from the Bescot Stadium:
Teams ASTON VILLA (4-3-3): Hampton, Mayling, Turner, Patten, Pacheco, Dali, Staniforth, Nobbs, Lehmann, Daly, Hanson.
CHELSEA (4-2-3-1): Musovic, Périsset, Mjelde, Eriksson, Carter, Leupolz, Cuthbert, James, Čanković, Reiten, Kerr.
Scorers: Kerr 59′.
Referee: Cheryl Foster.
To view Matthew Appleby’s photo gallery of the other FA Cup Semi-Final for Impetus click on this link: https://impetusfootball.org/2023/04/16/manchester-united-v-brighton-and-hove-albion-photo-gallery/