Ward wants Aston Villa to 'seize opportunity' in Women's FA Cup semis clash with Chelsea | The Sun
CARLA WARD wants Aston Villa to show respect for Chelsea but no fear as they eye a historic FA Cup upset.
The Villans boss, 39, expects senior England stars such as Jordan Nobbs and Rachel Daly to step up in today’s semi-final clash.
They are aiming to reach their first showpiece — while the Blues are seeking a third straight trophy
The winners of this clash will face cup final debutants Manchester United at Wembley on May 14 after they overcame Brighton with a 3-2 semis win.
Villa’s home duel comes a fortnight on from their 3-0 loss to Emma Hayes’ side in the WSL.
Ward said: "Chelsea stand in our way and that’s no easy task. We should respect them but never fear them.
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"That’s got to be the message because they’re an unbelievable side.
"They’ve got an abundance of world-class talent. We know that but this is a one-off game.
"The match before the international break will probably help us a lot, we’ve learned an awful lot from it.
"It’s about taking that now into this game and trying to seize the opportunity."
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The tie is set to attract one of their biggest crowds to Bescot Stadium.
At least three stands at the 11,300-capacity ground are expected to be filled.
Ward will hope to exploit the silverware-winning experience of players such as Scotland’s Rachel Corsie, Daly and Nobbs, the former Arsenal star who won four FA Cups in North London.
Boss Ward added: "This is a big, big occasion and we’re going to need big players to step up and do everything they can to help everyone pull through.
"There are also our internationals that have played on the big stage.
"We’ve got players that have been in this position and we’ve got players that haven’t been.
"We’re going to need to rely on those that have been for their experience and also those that haven’t to really enjoy the moment."
Villa’s run has been cheered on by their Premier League counterparts with men’s boss Unai Emery stating the club "has to be proud".
And the prospect of reaching the final brought back fond memories for Ward from her playing days.
She said: "I would be lying if I say I haven’t dreamt about it. It would be a huge moment for us.
"I got to the third-round proper when I was at Newquay — I think we lost 9-0 to Arsenal.
"But it felt like the greatest day ever, in front of what then was about 2,000 people but sounded like 22,000 people.
"You always remember these moments in the FA Cup and now here we are with an opportunity to get ourselves there."
A win for Chelsea could see them move a step closer to lifting a fifth FA Cup under Hayes.
However, they will be without defenders Millie Bright and Kadeisha Buchanan with the Canada centre-back having picked up an injury during the international break.
Hayes expects her side will face an aggressive challenge from Villa.
The Blues chief, 46, said: “Every year it gets harder because other teams get hungrier.
"Carla has done a great job.She has built a team that against the top teams have been very efficient — particularly from set-pieces and transition.
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"I’d expect an aggressive Villa performance at home.
"It will be a much different game, a difficult game — and anything can happen."
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