UP NEXT

West Ham looking to overcome Man City in Women's FA Cup semi-final

Gilly Flaherty and Demi Stokes
Gilly Flaherty (left) and Demi Stokes both started the FA Cup final in 2019

West Ham will bid to reach the Women’s FA Cup final for the first time since 2019 when they face Manchester City this weekend – the side who beat them at Wembley three years ago.

It was a memorable day in the club’s history despite the Hammers losing 3-0 as it came just months after they had turned professional, leaping up from the third division with a successful top-tier licence application.

In front of 43,264 fans at Wembley, West Ham threatened to cause a shock when they missed a big chance in the first half and went in level at the break, until City eventually pulled away.

When the teams meet again this weekend with a place in the final at Wembley up for grabs, West Ham captain Gilly Flaherty says the gap between them “is a lot closer now”.

“The top teams know that. We want to get to the final and we believe we can get to the final but obviously Manchester City stand in our way,” Flaherty told BBC Sport.

“I always see the FA Cup as the beauty of the underdog. For us in that first year as professional footballers, to go out at Wembley with West Ham fans there – that’s one of my biggest highs.

“We did ourselves really proud. No-one expected anything of us going into that final. If you look at the team now to where it was back then… It’s a completely different team.

“Back then you knew the gulf was there. There was a big gulf between us and City.”

Flaherty was one of three players in the current West Ham squad who started the final in 2019, while six of Manchester City’s starters could play again this weekend.

One of those is England defender Demi Stokes, who says it is good for the game that West Ham have continued to improve since their last meeting in the final.

“It was difficult the last time we played them in the league too,” Stokes told BBC Sport.

“Both teams have been pushing to improve and have. That’s what we want. We want the game to be competitive on both sides. We won’t be going into it taking it for granted.”

‘We need to live up to expectations’

Demi Stokes and Adriana Leon
Manchester City beat West Ham 2-0 when the sides met in the Women’s Super League earlier this month

Manchester City are three-time FA Cup winners and manager Gareth Taylor won his first piece of silverware with the club in this competition in 2020.

They go into the match as favourites against West Ham, who have never won the competition and sit three places below them in the Women’s Super League table.

Stokes, who started all three of City’s FA Cup final victories, said the opportunity to play at Wembley again would be “special” but her side will not underestimate West Ham.

“We don’t think like that. We prepare as if we’re playing the best and we know we have to bring our best,” said Stokes.

“Even though we have that pressure, we need to live up to it. As individuals we would be disappointed in ourselves if we didn’t.

“We’ve played West Ham quite recently so that helps as we know what we’re going into.

“It’s always a special moment to play at Wembley. We miss out on a lot of things as a footballer so it’s always nice to be there with your family. No matter how many times you get that opportunity you still get the same buzz and feeling.”

The semi-final, taking place at Dagenham & Redbridge’s Chigwell Construction Stadium, will be shown live on BBC One from 12:10 BST on Saturday.

Holders Chelsea take on league rivals Arsenal in the second semi-final on Sunday – live on BBC Two from 12:15 BST.

The final takes place at Wembley on 15 May.

  • Messi playing for Spain? Specs Gonzales dives into the multiverse to put things right on the timeline
  • Matt le Tissier, Steven Gerrard, and Harry Kane: Who is the greatest Premier League player never to have lifted the trophy?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.