As Chelsea Women prepare to face Arsenal in the Continental Tyres League Cup final on Saturday in the hope of lifting this piece of silverware for the first time in our history, we look back at the Blues’ previous cup finals…
Former Blues boss Matt Beard led the Blues to our first Women’s FA Cup final in 2012 at Bristol City’s Ashton Gate. Chelsea unfortunately missed out on clinching the trophy, losing 3-2 on penalties to Birmingham City. It was a close encounter with the score 1-1 at full-time and 2-2 after extra-time.
Helen Lander put Chelsea ahead in the 70th minute courtesy of a neat turn and finish, and it looked for a long time that this solitary goal would be enough for glory. However, future Chelsea players were involved in pegging us back. Rachel Williams equalised in the 91st minute after we failed to clear a Karen Carney corner.
The Blues then took the lead again in the first-half of extra-time through substitute Kate Longhurst, but our opponents bounced back once more when Carney converted a centrally-placed free-kick on the edge of the box which forced it to go to penalties. Drew Spence saw her penalty saved by Rebecca Spencer, Claire Rafferty hooked her penalty wide and Gemma Bonner blazed hers over the bar to hand the cup to Birmingham.
Later that year, a significant appointment was made as Emma Hayes replaced Beard as Chelsea Women manager.
Since Hayes’ arrival in 2012, the Blues have reached three more FA Cup finals, and in two of them we emerged as victors. However, it took Chelsea three years under Hayes’ guidance to head to another cup final.
History was made before we even stepped out onto the pitch at Wembley Stadium, as the 2015 Women’s FA Cup was staged at the home of English football for the first time in the competition’s 44-year-history. The showpiece event was watched by over 30,000 spectators – more than double the previous year’s final – and they witnessed Chelsea beating Notts County 1-0 to win the FA Cup for the first time.
The result was deserved and it came as no surprise Ji So-Yun settled the game by poking the ball home from close range in the first-half to see off our Midlands opponents.
Hayes’ side had chances to win the final by a more comfortable scoreline, most notably through Gemma Davison and player of the match Eniola Aluko, but in the end the one goal from our South Korean superstar was enough.
The Blues clinched the domestic Double in 2015, being crowned WSL champions for a first time too, and the following season we reached the FA Cup final for a second successive season. However, we succumbed to a narrow 1-0 defeat to tomorrow’s opponents Arsenal after Dannielle Carter netted the only goal in the first half.
Chelsea had opportunities to get back into the game and searched for an equaliser, but it appeared it just wasn’t meant to be for us on that occasion, as our efforts went anywhere but into the back of the net!
Chelsea then went on to progress to the 2018 FA Cup final, as well as finishing the league campaign unbeaten to mark another domestic Double. We had reached the final for the third time in four years since it had been staged at Wembley, and we avenged our 2016 defeat to Arsenal with a thrilling 3-1 win in front of a record 45,000 supporters.
After a quiet first half, Ramona Bachmann brought the game to life with two stunning strikes shortly after the break to put us in control. The Swiss smashed home the opening goal from a tight angle early on after the break and then doubled our lead with a fine solo effort on the hour mark. Vivianne Miedema halved the deficit from close range before Fran Kirby sealed the victory when she curled the ball into the far corner with her left foot to put the game to bed.
Tomorrow’s Continental Tyres League Cup final against Arsenal takes place at Nottingham Forest's City Ground, with a 5.30pm kick-off.