Man City boss questions ‘strange’ Continental Cup final venue choice for Chelsea Women fixture

Gareth Taylor admits the choice to host the Continental Cup final at AFC Wimbledon is a strange one, as he prepares to take his Manchester City Women side to face Chelsea in the showpiece event on Sunday.

City are in London this weekend, looking for their first silverware of the season after a testing campaign that has seen them out of contention for the Women’s Super League title following a nightmare start on and off the pitch. Now, with key players back from injury, City have lost just one game in 12 to reach the Continental Cup final against Chelsea — the only side to beat them in that run.

The final will be held at AFC Wimbledon’s new Plow Lane stadium, just five miles from Chelsea’s home at Kingsmeadow. In fact, Kingsmeadow is the ground where AFC Wimbledon’s men’s team played until their move back to their historic home of Plow Lane in late 2020.

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And Taylor admitted the choice of venue was curious, even if he accepted the decision was made well before Chelsea’s involvement in the final was confirmed.

“It’s a bit strange, the location,” he said. You’d think it would be more central in the UK. This was decided a long time ago, it was Watford last season on the north side of London and now we’re in the central London.

“We seem to be getting closer and couldn’t be any closer to Chelsea than playing at Chelsea. The venue was set a long time ago. The fact is it’s a neutral venue.”

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The 9,200-capacity stadium is sold out for the final, and will be broadcast live on BBC Two, with Taylor saying full stadiums are better than holding these events in bigger locations with thousands of empty seats.

“Maybe that’s why they had it in Wimbledon, a slightly smaller stadium so more chance to be filled,” he suggested.

Man City manager Gareth Taylor

“It’s great. Fantastic, great advert for the game,. The fact it’s sold out, it’s on BBC2. Real good access and that’s a big step for the women’s game. A couple of years ago you’d struggle to find the game on TV We had a full house against United and it made for a great atmosphere.

“These players are used to playing in big stadiums and big crowds. Nothing changes, it’s always about playing the game not the occasions. Execute the game plan how we want to do it. It’s great to have the support, a full stadium, it makes the occasion really nice.”

Taylor also commented on the format of the Continental Cup, with City contesting a tough five-game group stage, but Chelsea only joining at the quarter final stage due to their involvement in the Champions League.

We’ve had to work hard to get here, but the rules are the rules,” he noted.

“There’s no divine right for us to pick up the trophy because we’ve had more tougher route than Chelsea. Unfortunately that’s not how the game works. We’ve got to work hard in the game on Saturday, make sure we’re really focussed with and without the ball.

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“We’d have been the same if we got through in the Champions League and came out like Chelsea. The rules are the rules, like the stadium, it’s already set. There’s no issue for us, we’ve got to go out and earn it.”

Taylor confirmed that Laura Coombs will be back available after injury, but Vicky Losada is a doubt for the game after being substituted in the win over Manchester United last weekend. Chloe Kelly is stepping up her recovery from long-term injury, but is unlikely to feature in the finale.

And defender Alex Greenwood said she hopes the sell-out crowd can give City a boost in Chelsea’s territory.

She said: “It’s brilliant news, definitely heading in the right direction. It’s massive that it’s accessible for people to come and watch and hopefully it grows year on year.

“Our fans are great anyway. It’s round the corner for Chelsea but our fans will be lots traveling down. Our family and friends will be there too. They’ll be loud as always, it’ll be level on the day in terms of fans.

“For us it’s about pride and a great atmosphere to play in front of. Our fans are always loud and we can always hear them. Hopefully we can give them something to cheer about on Saturday.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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