Nick Cushing’s side ended 2018 in style as a young squad beat Aston Villa Ladies 4-0 in the Continental Cup meaning the Blues go through to the quarter finals top of the Group One North on 14 points. With the likes of Steph Houghton, Nikita Parris and Demi Stokes given the night off, the manager gave City’s younger players the responsibility of ending the year on a high.
City could have gone ahead within the first thirty five seconds as Jess Park made the overlapping run to connect with Claire Emslie’s pass. Villa’s Amy West cleared any danger, however it landed straight in the path of Georgia Stanway, the youngster who was playing in a slightly deeper role than usual, sending a powerful shot wide of Sian Rodgers goal. Seconds later, Tessa Wullaert’s cross from wide was met and cleared by Alice Hassall, the midfielder finding teammate Tanisha Smith with Gemma Bonner doing well to hold off both and cover so young keeper and debutant Fran Stenson could collect.
The visitors then found themselves having to get back to defend as Haywood dispossessed Stanway and made a break down the right wing, however Abbie McManus got back to cover and the Blues broke with Park.
Esme Morgan’s long ball wide, looking for Wullaert was cleared away by Elisha N’Dow with the defender’s pass finding West and then Sophie Haywood; the midfielder playing it wide for Nadine Hanssen. The two played a one touch sequence before Wullaert dispossessed Haywood, passing back to Janine Beckie and then Morgan.
Tessa turned provider again when she sent a ball into Pauline Bremer, the forward just missed the pass and it was collected by Jess, the youngster attempting to get it back in, but Asmita Ale cleared.
Making a rare start for the Blues, Emslie played the ball into Park who’d made the overlapping run, the youngster finding honorary captain Keira Walsh before Villa honorary captain Jade Richards cleared. Stanway picked it up, playing in Beckie who opted to go back to Gemma Bonner, her long ball wide going out for a throw in.
An Aston Villa goal kick sent long by West was collected by Bonner, the defender playing it wide to Morgan, the youngster and Belgian Wullaert playing a one touch sequence before Gemma received it again. She sent the ball up the pitch and it connected with Janine’s head, the header either too powerful or taken at the wrong angle as it was watched over the bar by Sian Rodgers.
City had another chance to score as Park played it further down the line to Claire, the Scotland forward combining with Jess before sending a ball in towards Pauline, but it was too powerful and Ashlee Brown cleared.
The Blues built quickly from the back as Esme found Wullaert, the forward playing a lovely ball into Bremer, Rodgers making the risk to come out and take it away from Pauline before N’Dow cleared properly.
Walsh’s long ball found Claire on the wing and the Scottish international made a great run before cutting back to Park, the youngsters shot forcing a great save from the keeper. The following goal kick fell straight to Emslie but City couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity to go ahead as Richards dispossessed the forward, Bremer winning it back but only to put it out for a Villa throw in.
Just after the twenty minute mark, City finally went ahead as Claire’s corner found the head of Gemma Bonner, the defender’s powerful shot beating Rodgers and then to add insult to injury, Asmita Ale looked to have knocked it in.
Ale was involved in the home side’s break a few minutes later, but she lost out to Abbie McManus and the defender played in Emslie, the forward’s cross meeting the head of Janine Beckie, the attempt on goal going past the keeper to put City 2-0 up.
A long ball up the pitch by Jess Park was collected by Nadine Hanssen, the midfielder finding the run of Hassall on the wing only to lose possession to Morgan, who cleared straight into the path of Tanisha Smith. Smith played it wide to Sophie Haywood, the midfielder being held off by Esme, who did well to cover before Beckie came to help, Georgia and Keira both taking a touch before the midfielder saw the ball back to Fran Stenson.
With five minutes of normal time remaining in the first half, the home side were awarded a corner and Amy West stepped up to take; Stenson coming to claim.
The City defence was put under pressure again as Hassall picked it up from Fran, Villa playing the ball around before Ale played through Smith, the forward finding the run of Haywood; Stenson watching her effort go wide.
A half time substitution by Cushing saw Bremer make way for young forward Lauren Hemp, also making her comeback from injury, the eighteen year old making an instant impact as she collected Keira Walsh’s ball wide. Hemp made an excellent run only to be dispossessed by N’Dow near the area, the defender passing to captain Jade Richards as Walsh won the ball back and played through Wullaert, her cross collected by Sian Rodgers.
The resulting corner was taken by Janine and cleared by Haywood, Georgia finding Claire and her effort was saved by the Villa keeper and bounced out for a Blues throw in.
City nearly had a third goal when Hemp collected Brown’s throw, playing lovely ball for Beckie in the area, her shot also saved by the keeper.
Following a substitution for the home side, Walsh’s long ball collected at first by McManus was put out for a corner by Ale, Claire Emslie stepping to send in a cross that met Gemma Bonner’s head before falling to Hemp; Rodgers collecting. Villa’s goal kick was collected by Fran Stenson and the visitors started quickly from the back, Stenson getting it out to Bonner, Morgan passing the ball to Lauren, the forward making a good run down the wing, playing in Janine Beckie but her shot went wide.
Georgia Stanway’s ball wide was collected well by Hemp, the youngster finding Beckie in the middle before the Canadian teed up Stanway; Sian Rodgers tracking the shot and saving comfortably.
The Blues then found themselves getting back to defend as Amy West played through Jodie Hutton on the wing, the forward sprinting down the right causing Stenson to come out and claim, shielding the ball well to stop Hutton scoring past her.
Around the hour mark, City were awarded a corner, Tessa Wullaert stepping up to take but instead of sending a cross into the area, the Belgian opted to go short and played in Stanway. The youngster found Keira Walsh before Abbie McManus collected, perhaps a waste of an opportunity as Fran collected and sent the ball long, the official calling for offside on the visitors much to the frustration of the players and travelling fans.
Aston Villa could have pulled a goal back when substitute Phoebe Warner collected Ashlee Brown’s throw in, City substitute Mel Lawley dispossessing the midfielder before Asmita Ale won the ball back and attempted a shot on goal which Stenson calmly saved.
Jess Park played a lovely passing sequence with McManus, the youngster then playing in Stanway who also went back to Abbie, the defender momentarily losing out to Ale as Lawley won back possession. Her run wide and cross into the box found Richards and she cleared away before Jess picked the ball back up only to see West send it up the pitch again.
Blues youngster Park was involved again as she played the ball wide to Abbie, Georgia collecting before cutting back to Esme Morgan.
The defender saw the run of Lauren Hemp and sent the ball into her, the forward sprinting down the wing and sending a cross into the box, Jess arriving in the area following her own run, to head the cross past Sian Rodgers and into the back of the net for City’s third of the evening and Park’s second for the club.
City then put a fourth past Rodgers as Georgia Stanway sent a long ball to Hemp, the youngster making a wonderful run down the wing, beating Ashlee Brown and N’Dow to cut inside and score her first goal in sky blue. However Cushing’s side didn’t seem to be done yet as McManus dispossessed Asmita Ale, Mel making the overlapping run to collect and send in a cross only for it to be cleared by Richards. Ale picked it up but lost possession to Stanway whose low effort on goal was collected easily by the Vila keeper.
A corner in the first minute of injury time was taken by Lawley only for Ale to clear, however the Blues were awarded another seconds later, Mel stepping up yet again and it was Esme this time, who sent a shot agonisingly wide of the post.
Development player Emma Bissell, who made her debut in the final five minutes of normal time, could have bagged her first City goal as well, Georgia playing through Abbie on the right wing, the defender sending the ball into Bissell who collected before sending a shot wide in the last action of the game.
Man City Women are through to the quarter finals of the Continental Cup, with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Durham, and will find out their opponents on Tuesday 18th December. The team now breaks for the festive period before returning to FA WSL action in the new year with the Blues first game back away to Bristol on January 6th.
Aston Villa Ladies
Sian Rodgers, Asmita Ale, Elisha N’Dow, Jade Richards ©, Alice Hassall, Amy West, Jodie Hutton, Tanisha Smith (Alison Hall 73’), Sophie Haywood (Kerri Walsh 55’), Nadine Hanssen (Phoebe Warner 69’) and Ashlee Brown
Subs (not used): Aja Aguirre, Ria Elsmore, Hollie Gibson and Natasha Baptiste
Bookings: Hutton 54’ and N’Dow 57’
Man City Women
Fran Stenson, Gemma Bonner, Pauline Bremer (Lauren Hemp 46’), Janine Beckie (Emma Bissell 85’), Georgia Stanway, Esme Morgan, Jess Park, Claire Emslie (Mel Lawley 65’), Abbie McManus, Keira Walsh © and Tessa Wullaert
Subs (not used): Ellie Roebuck and Lara Miller
Goals: Bonner 21’, Beckie 25’, Park 77’ and Hemp 84’
MCWFC OSC POTM: Lauren Hemp
Referee: Robert Massey-Ellis