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

‘The occasion got the better of us’ – Bristol City boss Beard honest in assessment of final defeat

Bristol City’s stand-in manager Matt Beard admitted that the occasion got to his players as they slumped to a 6-0 defeat to Chelsea in the FA Women’s Continental League Cup final at Vicarage Road this afternoon.

The Robins were behind after just one minute and 27 seconds in Watford before going on to concede six goals inside the opening 55 minutes of the tie.

It wasn’t until his side were 6-0 down that Bristol City started to play some good football and after the match, Beard admitted that the occasion had got the better of his players.

“Obviously, the start didn’t help but I think we just gave them a little bit too much respect,” said Beard in the post-match press conference in which FAWSL Full-Time were present.

“In the second half, we were a little bit more aggressive, stepping on and putting them under pressure.

“I think the occasion probably got the better of us. As much as we have tried to play it down as we have gone through the week, I asked the girls yesterday how many had been in a cup final and one put their hand up.

“Chelsea are an unbelievably talented team. It was a tough task anyway but I think that I can probably say for the first time since I have been here that I was a little bit disappointed with the way that we went about ourselves in the first half, especially with the way that we turned the ball over for their goals.

“The ambition when I came was to stay in the division. This was a bonus and a massive learning experience for the group to be part of an occasion like today. As much as it is frustrating and we are disappointed with the result, there are positives that we can take into the remainder of the WSL campaign.”

It was a difficult afternoon for Bristol City goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley who picked the ball out of the net on six occasions and gifted possession to Fran Kirby to score Chelsea’s third goal. The keeper showed great character to pick herself up and make a couple of big saves in the second half. That character was acknowledged by her manager after the match.

“Baggers is a top goalkeeper,” Beard said. “Even in the game in the league a couple of weeks ago, she had a good performance.

“She’s made one mistake today, she has dealt with it and had a good performance in the second half.

“You saw the same with Berger in the second half with some of the saves that she made.

“Baggers has been great since I came here and she has been great for the club. She performed well today apart from one mistake.”

Bristol City resume their battle for survival in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League on Wednesday evening when they take on in-form Manchester City at Twerton Park.

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