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The Path to Brookburn Road: Our journey to the 2018 Manchester FA Women's Cup final

This evening, FC United Women will attempt to defend their County Cup crown as they face Premier division side Manchester Stingers in the final of the 2017-18 Manchester FA Women’s Cup. With all focus now on our first shot at silverware this season, we take a look at our path to Brookburn Road, this season...

Round of 16 - FCUMW 3-1 Didsbury Ladies FC (Hatcliffe 48 Chambers 58,66) (Tattersall OG 90)

The Reds got the defence of the trophy underway in familiar yet unfamiliar surroundings, back in September. Drawn at home to Greater Manchester Women’s league side Didsbury Ladies FC, the Reds were forced to play the fixture at Abraham Moss High School (the team’s home in previous seasons), due to a clash with first team fixtures. The venue change didn’t affect the poignant Reds on the late-September afternoon however, running out 3-1 winners to start the defence in perfect style.

Despite a frustrating goal-less first half, substitute Nicole Hatcliffe opened the scoring with her first strike of the campaign just after half-time. Just a few minutes later, captain Kirsty Chambers hit a quickfire double to put any hope of a comeback from the visitors well out of sight. Didsbury did get a consolation goal in stoppage time, a goal which is still the only one that we have conceded in this season’s competition.

Quarter-final - Beechfield United LFC 0-8 FCUMW (Battle 8,12,51 Chambers 17 Fields 37 Hatcliffe 39,74 Sullivan 42)

Having progressed to the last eight of the tournament in September, United had to wait until the turn of the year to continue the defence of their crown. The Reds were drawn away to another Greater Manchester Women’s league side in the form of Beechfield United LFC. On a wet and bitterly cold Sunday afternoon in late-January, it was Podmore’s side that booked their place in the last four of the competition.

Despite the poor conditions, the Reds wasted no time in asserting their authority on the game. Jess Battle’s two early goals put any possible nerves for United out of the window and from then on, we were treated to some simply stunning football in the pouring rain at Salford Sports Village. Chambers got her third goal of the competition on 17 minutes before Fields and Sullivan added one each either side of a superb Nicole Hatcliffe goal to race the Reds out to a 6-0 lead at half-time.

Battle completed her first hat-trick of 2018 just after the break with strike partner Nicole Hatcliffe getting her second of the game, minutes before the referee called time early on the game, due to the rapidly deteriorating conditions at the Littleton Road 3G. The Reds’ 80% possession on the day was rewarding in it’s eight goals, the goals that took us past the 100 mark for the season...in just January!

Semi-final - FCUMW 3-0 West Didsbury & Chorlton WFC (Battle 24 Flanagan 52 Carrington 89)

United finally put the defence of the trophy on the line at Broadhurst Park, for the first time in February’s semi-final date with the team also chasing F.C. at the top of the North West Women’s Regional League Division 1 South, West Didsbury & Chorlton. The Reds had already done the league double over West and made it three out of three in-front of the 153 in attendance at Broadhurst.

The game’s opening stages possessed clear chances for both sides to take the lead but after 24 minutes, it was top scorer Jess Battle on hand to break the deadlock. Fran Sullivan’s brilliantly whipped shot cannoned back off the bar with Battle on hand to volley home the rebound, with the help of a deflection.

From then on, F.C. went searching for a second and they got it after a eye-catching team move on 52 minutes. Defender Francesca Davies was on hand to head clear a West Didsbury corner, chase down her own clearance before breaking with pace up the other end of the pitch. Finding Jess Battle, the striker picked out debutant Chelsea Flanagan who chased down, what seemed like a lost cause, before lobbing the keeper and doubling the lead - just six minutes into her United debut.

Defender Abbie Carrington completed the scoring a minute from time after connecting with a Fran Sullivan scoring to put the game out of the visitors sight and send the Reds marching into the final and with it, a match-up with the Manchester Stingers.

You can see if we can retain our County Cup title as we face Premier division side Manchester Stingers in the 2018 final, this evening at Brookburn Road (M21 8FE) - 7.30pm KO.

We hope to see you there!

By Mikey Partington

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First Posted ~ 00:48 Fri 13 Apr 2018
News ID ~ 7847
Last Updated ~ 00:48 Fri 13 Apr 2018