Nick Cushing’s side earnt their place in the Continental Cup semi-finals to join Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal, following their magnificent 7-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion Women. Youngster Lauren Hemp scored a brace, her first goal at home while Parris, Weir, Emslie, Stanway and Beckie also got on the scoresheet.
The home side started brightly despite the difficult conditions, Abbie McManus playing a long ball for Claire Emslie to collect on the wing; the Scot laying it off for Hemp. The forward sent a cross into the box however it went too far and Brighton picked up possession.
Shortly afterwards City were awarded their first corner, Emslie’s low cross put out for another, taken again by the forward and this time her cross found Gemma Bonner but her effort went too far.
City went ahead on the six minute mark thanks to Nikita Parris, the forward connecting with Keira Walsh’s long ball and making a run in behind the Brighton defence to send it around the keeper and into the back of the net; her 50th City goal.
Brighton, who weren’t going to let their chance of a Conti Cup semi-final place go that easily, broke down the right, Emily Simpkins playing in Ini Umotong. The Nigerian forward sprinted to meet the pass as did Karen Bardsley, with referee Benjamin Speedie awarding the visitors a penalty; captain Dani Buet stepping up to slot home into the bottom left corner.
A long ball played by Walsh was collected by Emslie, the twenty four year old made a good run down the wing before her cross was put behind by Buet. The Scottish international stepped up to take the resulting corner, her cross finding the head of Jill Scott but the midfielder was unlucky and watched her effort go agonisingly over the bar.
The Blues nearly had a second when Lauren played through Parris, the twenty four year old sending a powerful shot goal wards and forcing a great save from Harris. Parris and Hemp were both involved again as Scott played through Nikita, City’s all-time top goal scorer sending in a cross with Lauren arriving to meet the ball, however she didn’t hit it correctly and her effort went over.
In an attempt to thwart a Brighton break, Jill caught Aileen Whelan a little too harshly for the referee’s liking and the visitors were awarded a free kick; Jill a yellow card.
England youth international Chloe Peplow sent the ball in but her effort fired straight at Bardsley, who claimed comfortably.
City went 2-0 up just past the twenty minute mark, Caroline Weir played the ball out wide to Claire Emslie, McManus picking it up and playing a cross into the box. Republic of Ireland international Sophie Perry took a touch but it fell to Lauren Hemp who coolly put it past Sophie Harris.
Around the half hour mark, Brighton had a spell of possession with Kate Natkiel and Jenna Legg playing a one touch sequence; Legg sending it wide to Whelan. The number 7 made a run down the wing and then cut inside taking a shot that didn’t trouble and was collected by Bardsley.
A string of City possession saw Weir collect Steph Houghton’s long ball, the midfielder running on the wing and play in Nikita, whose effort went wide of the goal but miraculously stayed in. City were awarded a free kick by the touchline and Claire sent it in towards the area, but it eventually fell to Keira Walsh on the edge of the box; her powerful effort deflecting off Peplow for a corner.
Emslie stepped up again but this time the ball was cleared away by Emily Simpkins, Whelan sending it long to clear any danger.
With five minutes of normal time left in the half, Mel Lawley put the ball behind for a Brighton corner with Chloe Peplow stepping up, Natkiel clearing first before Peplow sent another it back into the box. Bardsley caught the ball but was fouled and she thankfully regained her grip on the ball keeping the score in City’s favour.
The hosts came back out for the second half much the same as the first and both Jill and Claire had chances within the first few minutes, Jill’s header going over and Claire’s effort saved.
Around eight minutes in, Lauren played a wonderful ball out to Emslie on the wing and the forward did well to beat her marker and get a cross in. Jenna Legg was there to clear it away but it fell straight to Keira Walsh, the midfielder playing it back into Claire who won a corner after Kirsty Barton put it out.
The Scots corner was cleared behind for another and it was Emslie again who stepped up, however her cross missed everyone and Harris put it out with captain Steph Houghton getting her head to the ball but before another City player could pounce, Simpkins came to her keeper’s aide and cleared.
Using the wings was an advantage for the Blues and once again it was Claire running them, the forward playing in Hemp whose cross met Nikita; her header going wide of the goal. Walsh found Mel Lawley on the right, the forward playing the ball to Jill Scott who’d made the overlapping run, Lawley returning the favour for the midfielder and running to the touchline, attempting to get a cross in only for Legg to clear behind.
Claire’s corner was met by Ini Umotong, a scramble of passes between both sides following before Caroline Weir dispossessed substitute Kayleigh Green and fired a powerful shot from range past Sophie Harris to put the Blues 3-1 up.
With roughly twenty minutes to go, substitute Janine Beckie played in Weir, however the Scot missed the pass and it was picked up by Claire, the forward taking a shot that went well over the bar.
Green picked up a yellow card for a push on Weir and the Blues won a free kick, the midfielder sending the ball back to Gemma Bonner; her pass finding Abbie McManus. The defender played it down the line to Emslie with the forward noticing the position of Walsh and cutting back to her, Keira taking a powerful shot from range only to see it go slightly wide.
Mel, who had been quietly and effectively getting on with her job, played through Janine and the forward seemed to have passed the ball too fast to Hemp, however Lauren picked it up and took a shot which was saved.
The following corner was met by the head of Bonner before it fell to Houghton, the captain misjudging the angle and her skewed shot headed well over.
A free kick a few minutes down the line was taken by Steph, Beckie collecting the ball to play through substitute Georgia Stanway, Brighton sub Ellie Hack putting it behind. Emslie was once again called on for the corner and her cross was met by Stanway, before a scramble, Claire receiving it back only to put her effort wide.
City’s fourth goal came from a solo run by Lauren Hemp, the youngster receiving the ball from Emslie and running into the box to slot it past Harris in her last action of the game. The goals kept coming as Janine played in Claire, the forward sending a great effort in the bottom right corner from the edge of the box, Georgia scoring an almost identical goal minutes afterwards; putting her effort in the bottom left.
The Blues weren’t finished yet and it was Beckie who added her name to the scoresheet, Walsh playing a long ball for the forward to latch on to and put in the back of the net to make it 7-1.
After the game, forward Lauren Hemp, who scored her first goals at the Academy stadium had this to say: “It was a massive performance. This squad showed what we’re made of, especially in the second half. We were ruthless. We put the game to bed and made sure we got the result we needed”.
“It was a case of keeping our heads, keep playing the way we were and looking after the ball, getting it into the final third for us to finish. I’m delighted to have scored but it was a massive team performance, which helped to put us through to the next round of the cup”.
Speaking on a win after a disappointing draw: “It’s definitely upped our confidence. On Friday we’ll get back in training, working hard. We have a big squad, which means there are a lot of fresh legs. We’re all competing for places, working as hard as we can to get wins for the team”.
Man City Women play West Ham United at the Rush Green training ground on Sunday 13th January, kick off is at 3pm with tickets available on the gate. The team then breaks for two weeks for international duty and will resume on January 27th with a home game against Brighton, kick off 2pm before our first game of the SSE Women’s FA Cup at home against Watford FC Ladies; time tbc.
Man City Women
Karen Bardsley, Gemma Bonner, Steph Houghton ©, Mel Lawley, Jill Scott, Lauren Hemp (Pauline Bremer 87’), Nikita Parris (Janine Beckie 68’), Caroline Weir (Georgia Stanway 77’), Claire Emslie, Abbie McManus and Keira Walsh
Subs (not used): Ellie Roebuck, Jen Beattie and Esme Morgan
Goals: Parris 6’, Hemp 23’, 86’, Weir 59’, Emslie 88’, Stanway 90’ and Beckie 90’
Bookings: Scott 20’
Brighton and Hove Albion
Sophie Harris, Dani Buet © (Ellie Hack 52’), Aileen Whelan, Kirsty Barton, Ini Umotong (Ellie Brazil 68’), Kate Natkiel, Chloe Peplow (Kayleigh Green 52’), Jenna Legg, Sophie Perry, Emily Simpkins and Victoria Williams
Subs (not used): Marie Hourihan, Felicity Gibbons and Laura Rafferty
Goals: Buet 9’ (PEN)
Bookings: Green 72’ and Williams 81’
MCWFC OSC POTM: Lauren Hemp
Referee: Benjamin Speedie
Article written by Caroline Sherratt