MANCHESTER CITY WOMEN 1 – 0 LIVERPOOL LADIES
Manchester City Women prevailed in their Women’s FA Cup semi final meeting with Liverpool on Sunday, thanks mainly to a Melissa Lawley second half strike that helped her the Blues place at Wembley on May 13th and set up another meeting with her former club Birmingham City Ladies in the showpiece final next month.
Last season in this competition it saw Manchester City Women beating their opponents from Merseyside 2-0 away in the fifth round, and also had the Reds being the only team to not lose to Nick Cushing’s side in the Women’s Super League as they drew both games.
The City Head Coach Nick Cushing has almost made it a priority to try and land the Women’s FA Cup this season, as after two Continental Cup successes in the last three seasons, and then throw in the league title from last year too, the FA Cup remains the only domestic trophy that the club haven’t lifted.
Liverpool almost took a surprised lead after three minutes played, when Kate Longhurst had her cross-come-shot striking the outside of the near post and nearly caught out Karen Bardsley in the City goal.
Mel Lawley then had the first real chance of the game after quarter of the game gone, when the ball fell to Birmingham-born midfielder in the box and Lawley could only fire straight at Siobhan Chamberlain in the visitors goal and see a chance missed.
The home side began to up the pressure on their opponents a bit more with a couple of more attacks that didn’t really come to anything, but credit the visiting Liverpool side who did a good job of breaking up play when the hosts got forward in the opening half.
Lawley then weaved some of her magic to put a teasing ball into the Liverpool penalty area for Jill Scott to get onto the end off, but the midfielder was just out of reach to make any connection on the cross. Shanice Van de Senden for the the away side was causing City a couple of problems with her pace and power down the right flank, but the Blues defensive unit was more than capable to keep the forward quiet as the game went on.
With the half time break seeing the the teams deadlocked at 0-0, it would be fair to say that the contest as a whole wasn’t the most exciting one, but it was still anyone’s to win in the second forty-five. The Blues came out far more attacking minded and began to make some inroads on their opponents, after Jane Ross and Melissa Lawley both had chances to put the home side ahead, but both were unable to find the finish.
Then with fifty-seven minutes gone on the clock, it saw the game finally getting a goal and had Manchester City’s Mel Lawley giving the home side the lead, after the winger saw her shot from outside the area beating Chamberlain in the Liverpool goal and giving City a deserved 1-0 lead.
Carli Lloyd almost doubled the lead for the hosts minutes later, when the American turned and fired a shot on goal and needed a good stop by the keeper to deny the City player a goal and keep her side in the game.
Liverpool was finding it extremely difficult to break the home sides defences down and saw a lack of match fitness beginning to take their toll on them. The Reds were unable to register a real threatening shot in the game, and it soon saw the home side looking to use their sharper legs to bomb forwards and look to seal the win.
Toni Duggan came on as a substitute for the home side and began to inject some much needed pace to the home side’s attacking play, as Lloyd went close once again, as this time she wasn’t able to keep her header down from a deep ball to the back post by Lawley.
The Blues held on in the dying minutes of the contest to to book their maiden Women’s FA Cup final appearance on May 13th against Birmingham City Ladies, as the Midlands side shocked Chelsea Ladies on penalties in the other semi final. City will start as clear favourites as you would expect for the final, but Birmingham are no easy touches by any means.
It was Birmingham who pushed City all the way last year in the Continental Cup Final, before a Lucy Bronze strike proved to be the difference in extra time and give the Sky Blues the trophy on that occasion.
With a Cup final at Wembley to look forward too, it has the Blues firstly thought switching attention to this weekend as they welcome the holders of the Women’s Champions League in Olympique Lyonnais to the City Academy Stadium for the first leg of their semi-final tie on Saturday.