Manchester City Women 1-0 Reading FC Women
A late winner by Lucy Bronze saw her booking a rusty looking Manchester City side into the Quarter Finals of the Women’s F.A Cup with a 1-0 win over Reading Women at the City Academy Stadium. The game was completely dominated by the home side but they weren’t to make their possession count for the best part of the contest, in what was their first game back this season and much like last season it saw City battling till the end and finding a way to set up a quarter final clash with Bristol City Women away next weekend.
City gave debuts to their two new signings in the game, with Melissa Lawley who they signed from Birmingham City Ladies and also saw the first outing of two-time FIFA World Player of the Year and US National star Carli Lloyd pulling on the Sky Blue jersey. The home side were on top early doors and saw them putting a lot of pressure on the away side but the visitors tried to counter act it with their very physical tackling and play, which didn’t make things easy for the hosts to open them up either at all.
England starlet Georgia Stanway brought out a fine stop from Reading’s Mary Earps with the City youngster firing a shot on goal and saw the Reading keeper throwing herself to her left to palm the ball away. Mel Lawley had a stunning debut for her new side, with the Birmingham- born player working the left flank to good effect and looks to be a very good acquisition for Nick Cushing’s side this season.
City really should have gone ahead five minutes before the break- after a Lawley free kick was put into the box and saw the ball pinging about in the Reading area, before Lucy Bronze played a ball back across goal with Jill Scott heading towards goal and had Nikita Parris unable to direct her header on the net with the at her mercy.
Second half saw the game going in the same vein to the opening half with the home side being awarded a penalty in the 65th minute of play, after Lucy Bronze was upended in the penalty area by a Reading defender and that saw Georgia Stanway stepping up to take the spot kick and brought a good save by Earps again to keep the scores level. The Blues must have been wondering if this was going to be their day. That penalty miss proved to be the last play of the game for Stanway, as she was replaced by Scottish striker Jane Ross and she brought a bit more of physical dynamic to the City attack going forward.
Nikita Parris then spurned a glorious opportunity to give the home side the lead on 67 minutes, when Carli Lloyd set Mel Lawley away in attack it saw her putting in a lovely low cross into the Reading area and out of reach for the incoming Ross and saw the ball falling to Parris- who was unmarked at the back post and could only hit effort tamely at Earps and forced a corner at least from her shot. The home side pressed and pressed in the game, but Reading were defending bravely and were managing to stop any real clear cut attacks that City could try to muster. Kosovare Asllani then had her shot blocked in front of goal and left the home fans thinking if they were ever going to score in the contest at all.
With time ticking down in the cup tie it saw City’s Continental Cup hero Lucy Bronze coming up big yet again for the hosts, as after the visitors tried to clear their lines at the back it saw the ball coming out to Bronze just outside the penalty area and the defender volleyed the ball on target and managed to beat Earps in the Royals goal and give the Sky Blues a lead in the 83rd minute.
In truth the home side should have been out of sight with all their play, as they were the only side in the game with any attacking threat and were all over the Berkshire based side in the tie. The result was thoroughly deserved and will have City unable to fully enjoy this victory, as focus will now turn to their European quarter-final clash with Fortuna Hjorring of Denmark on Thursday night, as they play the First Leg of the Women’s Champions League tie.