Bristol City boss Matt Beard - Photo: Chloe Knott for The FA

Bristol City boss Beard hails Conti Cup distraction ahead of final showdown with Chelsea

Stand-in Bristol City manager Matt Beard says that the FA Women’s Continental League Cup has been a welcome distraction for the club this season and has provided a springboard for their recent upturn in league form.

The Robins go into this afternoon’s final against Chelsea at Vicarage Road having collected seven points from their last four matches in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League. In the FA Women’s Continental Cup, Bristol City have negotiated their way beyond some tricky opponents to win all five of their matches.

Full-Time boss Tanya Oxtoby’s final game in charge before going on maternity leave saw The Robins defeat Aston Villa 2-1 in the quarter-finals and stand-in manager Beard believes that the club’s progress in the competition is now paying dividends in terms of their improved league form.

“One thing I can say is that this competition has been a great distraction for the players throughout the course of the season,” said Beard when speaking in Bristol City’s pre-match press conference in which FAWSL Full-Time were present. “It has been a competition that I have been able to draw on from Tanya’s last game when they beat Aston Villa.┬áIt was one of their best performances of the season from an attacking standpoint.

“It has been a good platform for me to build our WSL form on of late as well.

“I know that it is going to be a tough game but it is a cup final and we are not just in it to make the numbers up. It is not a foregone conclusion by any stretch of the imagination but we appreciate where they (Chelsea) are and where we are.

“Anything can happen in a cup final.”

Regardless of what happens at Vicarage Road this afternoon, the biggest challenge for Beard and his side is to secure Barclays FA Women’s Super League survival come May and the former West Ham United boss echoed those comments.

“The WSL is the best league in the world,” Beard said. “You have only got to look at Liverpool getting relegated last year and struggling to get back up this year, it’s a forgone conclusion, it will take a miracle for them to get promoted.

“The WSL is where the team want to be and the quality of player that we have here, they deserve to be there.

“This (the FA Women’s Continental League Cup final) is a welcome distraction but survival is the most important thing.”

The FA Women’s Continental League Cup final between Chelsea and Bristol City kicks-off at 2.30pm this afternoon and will be broadcast live on BT Sport 2.

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