Chelsea striker Fran Kirby is desperate to get a start at Wembley after sending her team through to The SSE Women’s FA Cup Final with a 2-1 win over Manchester City.
The holders, who beat Notts County in last year’s Final, will return to the home of football on 14 May to face record 13-time winners Arsenal – after the Gunners reached the showcase in style by beating Sunderland 7-0 in Sunday's other Semi-Final.
Jane Ross had given the visitors from Manchester the lead in Staines as she bundled home from close range, before a direct free-kick from Ji So-Yun sent the game into extra time.
The SSE Women's FA Cup
Sunday 17 April 2016
Staines Town FC
By Hash Piperdy
And with penalties looming, substitute Kirby popped up at the death to slam the ball past Karen Bardsley and book a place at Wembley for the Blues.
"The goal shows the faith that Emma Hayes has in me after we went a goal down," said former Reading star Kirby.
"You’ve a lot of responsibility coming on as a sub to try and change the game, and I tried to get on the ball and create things, so while I’m happy with the goal it was a team performance.
"If I’m able to come off the bench, great, but I want to be starting for this team and hopefully I can do that against Arsenal on Thursday.
"I was at Wembley last season but not able to play so it will be really nice to be involved with the squad this time and make a start, and anything can happen.
"I can’t even explain the goal. I thought I’d taken my first touch wide so I tried to hit hard and low and it went in.
"As soon as it went in I was walking back with the ref asking him ‘how long left?’ and I was already celebrating just before the whistle."
Kirby’s finish denied Manchester City the opportunity to get to their first ever Final, after they had deservedly led through Ross’ goal.
Captain Steph Houghton was left disappointed but is determined to re-focus her side’s efforts on staying at the top of The FA Women’s Super League.
She said: "We’re competitive footballers, so of course we’re low. We give 100 per cent every day and I’m gutted for them and our staff.
"But we’ll use this to kick our season on even further. We wanted to start the season quicker than we did last year and we focus on the next trophies.
"It’s heartbreaking. We’ve got a squad of very ambitious players and I think we were the better team today and we try to play the right way.
"This club wants to play at the highest level and we want to play against the best teams. Getting a trophy this year is important. It’s part of playing for this club."
photos Janos Schmidt