Manchester City have enjoyed considerable domestic success in the past couple of years, but captain Steph Houghton insists her players are desperate to claim the prize that has so far eluded them – the SSE Women’s FA Cup.
The reigning FA WSL champions are also the current holders of the Continental Cup, having won the latter for the first time in 2014.
They reached the semi-finals of this season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League, but lost out to French outfit Lyon.
However, they have an opportunity to add to their growing cabinet of silverware when they face-off against Birmingham City Ladies in the FA Cup final on May 13.
And the eyes of City’s stars are firmly on that prize with City and England skipper Houghton believing the final at Wembley will be a unique occasion for City’s players to claim a crown that has so far escaped their grasp.
“This is the one final for the past three years we’ve been trying to get into,” said Houghton.
“To be part of an FA Cup final is amazing accolade for any player, but I think to be at Wembley makes it special.
“For this group of players too it makes it extra special, because over the last three seasons we’ve probably been the most consistent team.”
City’s domestic success over the past couple of years has led many to tip them as favourite for the showpiece.
However, defeating Marc Skinner’s Birmingham City Ladies will be far from easy. The Midlands outfit held City to a 1-1 draw in the FA Women’s Spring Series last week, and will fancy themselves to stop Nick Cushing’s City juggernaut in its tracks.
And Houghton is the first to insist that City will not get complacent on the day.
“Birmingham over the last year or so have been one of the best teams in the league,” she said.
“Whenever we play them, they’re very well organised. They play a high pressing game and like to get stuck in, and on top of that they have got some good footballers who can win those games.
“We won’t take them lightly, we’ll prepare the same as any other game and see where we can exploit them, but at the same time we have to concentrate on ourselves and what we bring.
“That’s a lot of physicality and a lot of technical ability throughout the whole squad.”
As well as Houghton, City have a host of international players to call on, including England stars Lucy Bronze, Jill Scott and Toni Duggan.
And they also boast reigning FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year in Carli Lloyd, who signed temporary terms with City from Houston Dash until June.
She has already sampled the Wembley atmosphere, having been part of the United States side who won football gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games and she admits she is looking forward to returning to the famous stadium.
“Wembley will be really special,” said Lloyd. “I remember looking at 83,000 people and collecting a gold medal in 2012, that was really special and never did I think I’d have an opportunity to play there again.
“So to go back and play in another final to potentially win a trophy is something huge and something I’m not going to have any regrets with.
“I’m going to leave it all on the pitch and do all I can to help this team win.”
Bronze, the current PFA Women’s Player of the Year, believes the scale of the occasion and atmosphere will add to the significance of the day, and could perhaps swing the tie in City’s favour.
“As a stadium, Wembley is massive, you go down the tunnel and the changing rooms are twice the size of a normal changing room,” said Bronze.
“The whole area is twice the size, you go out on the pitch and everything seems a lot bigger. The stadium is one of the biggest you’ll ever get a chance to play in, especially in women’s football.
“The crowd you get is fantastic, it will definitely bring a different atmosphere, but it’s an atmosphere that our players may be more used to than the Birmingham players, purely from the fact Carli Lloyd has won the World Cup, Steph Houghton has been captain in a Champions League semi final.
“They may be more used to these occasions and thrive off of them.”
Steph Houghton was speaking on behalf of Manchester City ahead of the SSE Women’s FA Cup Final. Kids Go Free to the May 13th Final and tickets are still available via TheFA.com/Tickets