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Women's Football News
Emma Hayes savoured the moment of winning her first major trophy as Chelsea manager and said that their SSE Women's FA Cup triumph had come after a lot of hard work and some heartache.
"I'm speechless," she said after the game. "I've dreamt about this day my whole life and the dream has come true. Sometimes, dreams can be big disappointments, but this one wasn't.
"To do it with a team we have been building for three years now, watching it evolve and improve and get better. "We've been in losing situations before, especially the last day of last season and in two semi finals - and for them to actually cross the line today is as a coach always a rewarding moment.
"In the first ten minutes it took us a little time to settle down. It was hot out there but if you keep the ball and use the full width of the pitch, which we did at times, it is a big help and I thought we scored at a crucial time of the game.
"I think we could have scored more but that's been the story of us this season and why we brought Fran Kirby into the club because, for the amount we create - especially on the counter attack - we should score a lot more than we do. But when you haven't won a trophy and there's a lot at stake, yes we have got some experienced players and some young players in the dressing room who haven't been at this level before, as a coach, for them to manage the game was the most pleasing part. They had the discipline to carry out what we needed them to do for ninety minutes and we had subs to come into the game to see it through. I am so proud of my players today."
Chelsea have now landed their first major trophy in the women's game and for Emma, the personal triumph was also tinged with some relief. "I don't have to be ferried around in a golf cart any more as a manager without a trophy," she quipped. "I can walk with pride from corridor to corridor.
"I've always said that one of our missions was to educate and integrate the girls into the whole club. Chelsea is about winning and so to join that illustrious crew means I can join the players dinner next year and not feel like a spare part. I'm very happy and hope we build on this, which I think we will do.
"I felt we were in control of [the game] for the whole time and kept pushing the players to squeeze Notts County into difficult areas, knowing that we weren't particularly threatened by their pace in behind us. We had dynamic players in wide areas in Gemma and Eni who, when they are given good situations, can create opportunties but it's all about staying patient.
"Before the game, I've never had so many players pat me on the back and say 'don't worry about this one coach, we've got it' and that's golden because you spend so much time motivating them and talking to them. I knew it was going to be our day today, we were ready to grow up as a club and I'm just delighted for the players who are enjoying themselves in the changing room.
"The big players show up on big occasions and the spine of the team was good because Notts County have got a lot of physical players and when they lob the ball up to Rachel Williams, it's very difficult to deal with. But I don't think that Gilly Flaherty and Niamh Fahey lost a single header, nor did Katie Chapman and Millie Bright in front of them.
"Once you have that strong spine and the keeper is not tested, you still have the likes of Ji who has got such a wonderful head. She holds the ball up and changes direction so often, she's a magician in possession and I'm very proud of her because it's not easy to come to England from Korea - there's a lot of criticism sometimes for Asian players who come into this culture but she's a little street fighter and was determined to be on the winning team today."
Notts County manager Rick Passmoor was generous in defeat and admitted that the better side had won on the day. "We started well," he said, "however it turned dramatically midway through the first half. They kept the ball and retained possession and caused us a few problems. During that period when you're on top, you must score and I think that was that the difference - their front three caused us problems and ours didn't have their normal standard of game.
"That's where we lost it in terms of if we did get back in, even if it had been through huffing and puffing, in the second half we didn't have that zip and excitement in the top third.
"However at 1-0 you are always in with a chance with our set plays and corners and maybe then later on, a little bit of a 'hail Mary' into the box and if Fiona O'Sullivan had connected it could have been a little different. I can't knock the players, their effort was fantastic.
"I'm proud of my players, proud of this football club, knowing full well that it will get you somewhere when you are organised and hard to beat - but you've got add a little more to it and I think you could see that today. We've got the players, we've just got to learn from this experience and hopefully not only plaudits to Chelsea but to Notts County, and the people of Nottingham can see what we are trying to do and trying to achieve."
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