The North-West based side ended a run of 10 defeats to Chelsea as they lifted the silverware at AFC Wimbledon’s Plough Lane stadium.


  • Manchester City head coach Gareth Taylor praises “the pace and energy” of Hayley Raso.
  • Taylor “blown away” by the efforts of Alana Kennedy and her defensive partners who he described as “revitalized”.
  • Chelsea head coach Emma Hayes rues her team’s inabilities to take first half chances and highlights a loss of energy and concentration after the break.

More Matildas news can be found on The Women's Game.

“Bloody ‘ell, it was soddin’ freezin’ out there. Are you lot just as cold?”

The first words of Chelsea boss Emma Hayes as she walked into her post-match media conference at Plough Lane after her side’s Conti Cup Final defeat to Manchester City.

Whilst conditions in South-West London were very cold (the temperature never got above 5c) and wet, the action was red hot on the pitch as Matildas superstar Sam Kerr put the Blues ahead, but with Hayley Raso and Alanna Kennedy posting strong performances for City, it was the Sky Blues who lifted the first major silverware of the English domestic season.

Kerr was initially deployed behind the front two in a very different Chelsea line-up. Without her regular partner in crime Fran Kirby, missing the game through illness, Melanie Leupolz suffering from long Covid, Erin Cuthbert still out, and Jessie Fleming going down with Covid, the Western Australian had a role which was freer and slightly less structured than usual.

The early stages of the game saw Kerr prominent along the right in a physical battle with Alex Greenwood, who in the first half the Matilda got the better of.

This shift in Kerr’s initial positioning for the Blues along with the loss of key personnel around her in Erin Cuthbert as well as Kirby was highlighted by Emma Hayes post-match as one of the contributing factors for the way the game went.

”I think we looked tired. I didn’t enjoy our performance in the second half. Ultimately, we didn’t win the game because we didn’t keep the ball well enough as we lost a lot of experience in the team.

“In the first half we should have taken our chances. We were so dominant in what we were trying to do, I don’t think we capitalized when we should have.”

Hayes also highlighted the consequences of Manchester City’s focus on attacking the wings with Matildas star Hayley Raso and Lauren Hemp. “There were times where we switched off in transition with them and there were individual errors. We got dragged across and they picked us off in the space. Then the momentum changed.

“I’m not making excuses. I don’t want to take away from what the opponent did. Once they got the equaliser, they deserved to go on and win the game. 

“We’ve been unbeaten against them 10 times. Today is their day, congratulations to them. I thought it was one game too many for us. The better team won over 90 minutes.

“When you’ve had a long run of winning trophies and then lose one, everyone says it’s the end of an era. It isn’t, it’s just a defeat. Credit to City to bounce back after a bad start.”

Manchester City head coach Gareth Taylor was blown away by the second half performance of his team and saw the wing play of Hayley Raso and Lauren Hemp as a key part of the turnaround, particularly when the pair were attacking along the left.

“Jess Carter (who the pair ultimately targeted) is a quick player and there is a reason why Emma puts her out there, but when our players there are on it, they are going to prove to be a problem.

“Hayley Raso gives you that pace and energy. She never gives up and is a real fighter. Those signs are very positive for us.”

In terms of the focus of attacks on the wide areas, Taylor was sanguine: “Sometimes I get things right, other days I get it wrong. It’s all for the benefit of the team that we try and move into the right direction.”

Their influence in the second half, along with the ability of Georgia Stanway and Caroline Weir to get on the ball was something that Taylor was hugely excited about.

“The contrast in us in the second half was great. Arguably we could have scored more goals. Physically in the second half we stepped up, the attacks were quite gung-ho at times.

“I would love to watch the second half again. In fact I will watch it on the coach back to Manchester. I was blown away by the efforts at the back. We were revitalized. They have been fighting.”

Those efforts at the back included the work of Alanna Kennedy who, in the second half, put in a big shift to reduce the impact of Pernille Harder after the Dane had been an integral part of Chelsea’s build-up play before the break.

Kennedy kept tight to the former Wolfsburg star which aided her team’s recovery in the possession count.

Whilst Manchester City are too far behind to mount a FAWSL challenge this season, Taylor is convinced that this win is a key confidence boost to his squad after a tough first half of the season. Long term, he feels that this Conti Cup win could well be the beginning of a new run of silverware heading to the North-West.