Manchester City and Everton meet in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday in a repeat of 2020’s tightly contested showpiece event at Wembley.
Despite the Toffees going into the fixture as heavy underdogs, they produced a spirited display to play out the closest FA Cup final since Birmingham’s shootout victory over Chelsea in 2012.
Sandy MacIver turned in a player of the match performance in goal as Everton forced extra-time against their illustrious opponents, before ultimately suffering a 3-1 defeat.
The Toffees have been through two managers since that final loss, with Chris Roberts – who was assistant coach to Willie Kirk at Wembley in 2020 – now in interim charge.
“It was a bittersweet day for us,” Roberts reflects. “We did so well, competed so well, played so well for the 90 minutes. At one point I thought we’d got the winner in the 90 minutes when Valerie [Gauvin] had the header that was just wide. And then of course City took over in extra-time.
“Lots of great memories about a top performance but ultimately we didn’t win the game. It was a great occasion but one we want to always do better – we want to win games in the FA Cup and go all the way.”
City manager Gareth Taylor was in the opposition dugout in 2020, with the cup win a significant milestone in his fledgling managerial career at the club.
Having taken the reins in the summer, it was a first piece of silverware for the City boss – held aloft at an empty Wembley due to the final taking place in the heart of the pandemic.
“It was amazing,” said Taylor. “The only down side was it was in the middle of Covid so unfortunately my close friends and family couldn’t be there and the same for our supporters as well.
“It was a different kind of experience, an amazing experience still but obviously we missed out a little bit on that feeling of everyone being together. But still take nothing away from what we achieved that day, it was amazing, it’s a really important competition for us.
“Really proud moment winning that competition, such an early point in my career as well with the team. It was great in order to move us in the right direction early on.”
Everton go into Sunday’s fixture with a similar underdog mentality, but have a history of upsetting the narrative in FA Cup quarter-finals after stunning WSL champions Chelsea at this stage of the competition in 2020.
“The FA Cup’s a very special competition and I feel like whether you’re the underdog or the favourite, the FA Cup always has the potential to throw up surprises across the round,” added Roberts.
“Man City will be heavy favourites but we feel like we have an opportunity to get something from the game. We’re under no illusions of how difficult a task that’s going to be, so we’re preparing hard and we’ll do everything we can to make sure we’re in the hat for the next round.”