The holders stormed to a 6-0 triumph over Leicester City at the Academy Stadium to secure our seventh successive last four spot, thanks to a Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw hat-trick, plus goals from Vicky Losada, Alex Greenwood and Filippa Angeldahl.
The triumph marked a welcome return to winning ways for Taylor and co. following a difficult period of results and injuries and the Head Coach, who had to name a makeshift backline featuring forwards Janine Beckie and Georgia Stanway, and midfielder Jill Scott, alongside Alex Greenwood, spoke of his pride for their efforts.
“I thought in the second half, our performance was top,” he reflected. “I thought we played okay in the first half but I challenged the girls at half-time to up the ante a little bit, as we played a little bit safe and turned down a few opportunities and shots and let Leicester off the hook a little bit.
“We played okay but I wanted it to be a little bit more excited and in the second half within 20 seconds, we score and the impetus and the effort and the way we moved with the ball was really good.
“I have to give full credit to the girls, especially with what we had tonight and that’s no disrespect to what we had – I mean we had two-and-a-half subs; three-and-a-half with our goalkeeper!
“We knew that we’d have the majority of the possession and we knew that Jill would help us with that and we were fortunate to have Alex.
“We lost Demi [Stokes] from Sunday’s game and Laura [Coombs] was a precaution because she was carrying an injury for most of that game and then obviously we had the FA decision which killed our options.
“It's been tough, I'm not going to lie. You get to a situation where you think: ‘What else is going to happen here?’ and ‘What else is coming?’
“I spoke to the girls about that and sometimes, you get rays of light like we had this evening. I spoke to the girls afterwards and Lucy [Bronze] is on the pitch, plus Ellie [Roebuck] and the girls who are not available like Hayley [Raso] and Alanna [Kennedy] and Ruby [Mace] and Demi, just to say: ‘Enjoy this and use this because we deserve it.’
“We deserve a bit of luck and I don’t think we’ve been a million miles away in our performances. I still believe we are a really good team and we saw real good signs of that in the second half today.
“I saw the command and performance and I’m just pleased for the new players because it takes time for them players to gel and I thought Filippa was great tonight and Vicky scored a great goal as well and Bunny [scored a hat-trick]. We take confidence from tonight going into the weekend
“We were up against it tonight and like I say we played some really good stuff and scored some brilliant goals. Everyone did their part and it was really good to get Keira [Walsh] back on the pitch again.
“Everyone played their part tonight whether that was the players at the back with the likes of Jill and all the way through to Lauren Hemp and Caz Weir setting up the first goal.
“We just want to give a platform for these players to show their very best but they’ve got to bring these things themselves and they’ve really got to push themselves.
“We need that in a situation like we’re in and we need everyone doing everything they can and a little bit more.
“To put in that type of performance tonight when you look at our back four – Jill going back there and putting in that kind of composed performance in a position that is completely alien to her – is top class and I have the utmost respect for the way she handled the game tonight and the team as well.
“She said to me she thought she was going to get shouted at to get back [for the assist for Bunny’s hat-trick] but she showed great energy and read the game so well tonight.
“That would’ve been really tough for her: playing out of position in an unfamiliar position and especially when it wasn’t just her – Georgia and Janine are attacking players so three out of our back four tonight were in unfamiliar roles – but the leadership quality she showed was great.”
Scott also played a key role in Bunny’s hat-trick, embarking on a marauding run from centre-back and clipping the perfect delivery to the backpost for the Jamaican striker to nod home her first City treble – hopefully, the first of many, as Taylor continued.
“I thought it was a fantastic run she went on at the end and when you want a hat-trick goal like the goal Bunny got, then it was a fantastic ball,” he declared.
“I think we saw a contrast with Bunny from the first half to the second and it’s probably the most animated I’ve been at half time with my teamtalk – I actually got right into my players.
“I didn’t think we were playing poorly but I just wanted us to be more exciting and play with more flair than what we showed in the first half and I think that really summed up Bunny’s performance.
“She was a handful in the second half but in the first half, she was probably too easy to mark.
“Confidence is a big thing and we needed this performance and win tonight to give us a bit of confidence because we’ve not had much going our way currently and for to get a hat-trick in the FA Cup will be great for her.
“She’s obviously in the front line with really good players that we have and she needs to put in those type of second hand performances that we saw to give herself the best chance of being on the pitch at the end of these attacks and we’ve got good quality to get on the end of them.”
City’s reward for defeating Leicester is a home tie against familiar foe Chelsea in the semi-finals and Taylor was delighted to have home advantage.
“I’m just really pleased we’ve got a home draw,” he added. “It’s the first bit of good fortune we’ve had in a few weeks but we’re really happy to be in the semi-final.
“We’ve shown that we’ve taken this competition – like all the other teams – really seriously.
“it was really tough for us tonight but it’s a home tie and whether it was going to be Brighton or Arsenal or Chelsea, it’s important for us to be here on our home patch.
“We know that to win a title or a tournament or a trophy. you’re going to have to face the teams in front of you so it’s a tough game but for us, it’s something that we put to one side until the end of October and we should start getting some wins on the board in the WSL.”
In the midst of another crucial run of fixtures, Taylor added he hopes to see more players return to action in the coming weeks and months.
“We need to check the ruling first off to see if Alanna [Kennedy] and Ruby [Mace] are able to come back into being eligible and that’s obviously going to make a big difference to us in terms of our numbers,” he admitted.
“But if the FA stick to that. then obviously we are still going to be similar.
“Potentially, Ellie Roebuck might be back and Keira should be up to full speed and outside of that, that’s probably going to be it.”
The Head Coach also reserved praise for the City fans, who turned out to cheer the side on.
“I thought our supporters were brilliant again tonight,” he smiled. “They support the team from the start all the way through and even at 0-0 at half-time and through frustrations that we should have come away with more goals from our attempts.
“I think we need the supporters and it feels special having them back in. When you get tough moments like that, there’s a reason why they’re called ‘supporters’ and we need that – the players need it and it’s fantastic to be able to reward them tonight.
“It’s just the start. We need to move on to Sunday [against West Ham] and I think if we’re able to put in a good performance on Sunday and if we get three points on the board, then things will start to look a lot better.”