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Barking and Hammers meet in cup final

11:58 17 April 2014

West Ham celebrate their Essex Cup win over Hutton in 2011 (pic: Essex FA)

West Ham celebrate their Essex Cup win over Hutton in 2011 (pic: Essex FA)

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Two established women’s teams clash at Hornchurch’s Bridge Avenue ground tonight as Barking face West Ham United in the final of the Essex Women’s Cup, supported by BBC Essex.

The Hammers will be predicted by many as the side to get their hands on the silverware and claim a third Essex Cup in the past six years.

But coach Andy Hill is keen to play down those expectations, saying: “People will look at the game and label us as favourites, but we’re not thinking like that at all.

“We’ve spoken in depth about the game and we’re going to prepare as well as we can. We know Barking have done well to reach the final, but we’ll do all we can to ensure the girls lift a trophy that they deserve.”

West Ham enjoyed a narrow win over underdogs Hutton in 2011 and, as they seek to win the competition for the first time since then, Hill is expecting another tough derby encounter.

He added: “We’ll expect nothing less than any other game and, of course, it’s a local derby too. I think there’ll be a good crowd, and hopefully a really good atmosphere.”

Barking may reside two divisions below their FA Women’s Premier League South opponents, but boss Steve Bernet is confident his club can spring a surprise.

He said: “We know there’s a big gulf between us and that we’re big underdogs, but we know from previous finals what can be achieved.

“We’ll need to play well and we’ll also have to hope West Ham are a little under par, but we have a young group of players this season and it’ll be a great experience to play against Premier League players. I hope they’ll enjoy it.”

Barking have played in Premier League South themselves, but currently compete in the Eastern Region Women’s League Premier Division.

Bernet would love his team to emerge victorious from their first cup final in nine years, adding: “A county cup final has been a long time coming and we’re delighted to have reached it again.

“We know that we’re not favourites on paper, but football isn’t played on paper – so you never know!”

*Barking v West Ham United in the Essex Women’s Cup supported by BBC Essex kicks-off at 7.30pm tonight (Thursday) at Bridge Avenue, Hornchurch.

Admission is £4 for adults and £2 for concessions, with a free programme upon entry.

For live match updates, follow @EssexCountyFA on Twitter.

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