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FC United Women advance to third successive League Cup final with win against Merseyrail

FC United Women advance to third successive League Cup final with win against Merseyrail

FC United Women booked their place in this season’s Argyle Cup final after a 2-1 semi-final win against Merseyrail Ladies at Broadhurst Park.

A Jess Battle double, including a late winner, either side of a Merseyrail goal was enough for United to confirm their place in the final for the third season on the spin.

The Reds set up the tie after last weekend’s quarter-final win against Penrith AFC Ladies. Luke Podmore made several changes to the side that started that game, with Laura Garner one of those, coming in for her FCUMW debut after signing from Crewe Alexandra LFC last month.

Fellow new signing Ellie Russell also made her first appearance in the squad, having been named on the bench.

FC survived a tricky opening five minutes before getting the game’s first goal. Abbie Carrington’s ball found the run of Jess Battle who prodded home after her original attempt to go around the goalkeeper had fell back to her.

After providing the ball for the goal, Carrington resumed with her usual defensive duties and was well-positioned to clear a dangerous-looking visitors’ attack.

The Reds then thought they had doubled the advantage when Yvette Loukes had the ball in the net, but the assistant referee’s flag kept the score at 1-0.

A succession of Jess Battle’s one-on-one attempts couldn’t quite find the target with Jess McCarrick then reading the danger to divert the latest Merseyrail attack.

It was then Laura Garner’s turn to try her luck for FC, but her deflected strike was collected by the goalkeeper after she was found on the edge of the box by Battle.

Ainsworth was then alert to slide away a Merseyrail ball in to the box but couldn’t prevent the visitors from getting back on level terms on 40 minutes, with a long range effort finding the net just before the interval.

FCUMW then nearly mounted the perfect response with Shaunna Jein’s ball finding the path of Jess Battle who checked back before a last-ditch tackle stopped the striker getting a shot away.

Luke Podmore made one change to his FC side at half-time with Ellie Russell brought on for her United debut in place of Shaunna Jein.

Both teams attempted to control the early exchanges in the half, but it was the visitors who put together the first meaningful attack of the second 45. A cross from the right was glanced inches wide of Ainsworth’s far post.

Podmore then brought on Corie Mather and Cara Fields for Yvette Loukes and Kate O’Gara in attempt to go ahead late in the game.

The changes instantly took effect; Fields presented Battle with a golden opportunity after finding the forward in-behind, but the assistant referee judged Battle to have set off a step too soon and had his flag up for offside.

Moments later, it was the action at the other end that got the 167 in the SMRE at a sunny Broadhurst Park on their feet applauding, as Chloe Ainsworth made a vital stop, tipping away a goal-bound Merseyrail shot to safety.

That proved to be a key moment in the game with the Reds then capitalising less than a minute later to take the lead.

Olivia Greenhalgh found Jess Battle who powered forward before prodding past the ‘keeper to put the Reds less than 10 minutes away from another Argyle Cup final.

A strong punch from Chloe Ainsworth in the early stages of a long period of added on time cleared away the visitors’ closest attempt to a second equaliser, with United holding on to book their place in a third successive Argyle Cup final and continuing the defence of the trophy.

FCUMW will face Stockport County Ladies in the final for the second year in a row at Runcorn Linnets’ stadium on Sunday 19 May 2019. Full details will be confirmed in due course, but first United’s attention turns back to the league where they will face Cup final opponents Stockport County at Broadhurst Park on Wednesday (10 April) – 7.30pm kick-off. We hope to see you there!

FCUMW Player of the Match: Chloe Ainsworth – FC’s goalkeeper provided several key interventions throughout the afternoon but none more so than the save in the seconds before the Reds’ winner. Ainsworth dived to her right to push away what may have been a visiting winner, sparking the attack that ultimately sent United in to another Argyle Cup final.

FC United of Manchester Women 2 (1): Ainsworth, Jein, Davies (c), Carrington, Loukes, Greenhalgh, Foster, McCarrick, Garner, O’Gara, Battle (Goals 5,82 mins)

Subs: Jackson, Russell (On for Jein 46 mins), Mather (On for Loukes 65 mins), Fields (On for O’Gara 73 mins), Chambers

Merseyrail Ladies 1 (1)

Match stats from Paul Hinson (FC first column):
Goals: 2…..1
Shots: 9…..11
Shots on target: 4…..4
Completed passes: 317…..238
Possession: 57%.....43%

Venue: Broadhurst Park, Lightbowne Road, Moston, Manchester, M40 0FJ
Competition: Argyle Cup semi-final
Referee: Daniel Woodhead
Attendance: 167

Report by Mikey Partington

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First Posted ~ 00:09 Mon 8 Apr 2019
News ID ~ 8342
Last Updated ~ 10:44 Tue 9 Apr 2019