The Blues got their FA Cup campaign off to a good start following their 3-0 win over Watford FC Ladies, which saw Pauline Bremer get on the scoresheet and the welcome return of defender Megan Campbell respectively; both after long periods of time out due to injury.
City started the game defending their own goal as a goal kick from Watford keeper Weronika Baranowska was met by Danielle Scanlon, teammate Adekite Fatuga-Dada flicking the ball on into the path of Gemma Bonner and Helen Ward. Bonner lost out to the Welsh international and Golden Girls captain, the forward taking a shot on goal but Karen Bardsley was there to save her effort comfortably.
Mel Lawley’s run wide saw the forward beat her marker and break behind the visitor’s defence, Lawley laying it off to Lauren Hemp but Watford’s Andrea Carid and Samantha Hallsworth cleared.
A wide ball played by Georgia Stanway was collected by Esme Morgan, the eighteen year old getting a cross in for Hemp, only for Watford to clear twice with Scanlon and Emily Hill. Morgan collected and found Keira Walsh on the edge of the box, the midfielder playing through Lawley who turned before taking a shot that went narrowly over the bar.
Watford had their keeper to thank when Walsh collected the ball from a Jess Park header, Keira sending a long range effort goal-wards only to be denied by an excellent fingertip save from Baranowska. Claire Emslie stepped up to take the resulting corner, that sadly didn’t come to anything and also another seconds later, this time Hallsworth got her head to it with Gemma sending a cross back in; Carid clearing.
Stanway collected and had set herself up for the shot however Carid did just enough to put the youngster off and the ball went out for a throw in.
Just before the twenty minute mark, Lawley fought to keep the ball in down by the touchline, Baranowska and Hill covering to put it behind for a corner. Emslie’s cross found the head of Houghton and the Blues could have gone 1-0 up if it wasn’t for Hill clearing her effort off the line; keeping the visitors in the game.
A run by Fatuga-Dada saw the forward beat Stanway and play through Ward, Claire covering the Watford number 10 and winning back possession; Georgia sending the ball long. Lauren made the run to connect with the clearance before beating Hallsworth and laying it off to Mel, the forward finding the run of Jess Park, who almost made it to the touchline before cutting back and shooting; the ball hitting the side netting.
Emslie’s corner ball was met by Pauline Bremer but her header did nothing to change the score-line, as Baranowska was there to save it.
City had play pulled back twice in the last five minutes of normal time, Bremer being caught offside twice, the first after she made a run to connect with Walsh’s ball over the top and the second much the same; only Lawley was the one playing her through.
The home side had one more chance to take the lead before the break, Mel made a run down the left and laid it off to Lauren, the eighteen year old taking it right to the touchline before Kat Huggins put it behind. Claire was there to take the last action of the game, her cross meeting the head of Bonner, Gemma’s effort being headed on by Jess but Weronika Baranowska was there to save and keep the score at 0-0.
After the break the Blues started much where they left off and their pressure on the visitors was rewarded, Emslie playing Pauline through on the wing with Hattie Kettle putting the ball behind for a corner. Claire sent the cross into the area but Baranowska came out to collect and halt any danger, before her long goal kick sent the ball far down the pitch; Gemma getting a head to it before Andrea Carid was dispossessed by Jess.
Playing it around at the back, Stanway eventually sent it long where it was collected by Esme on the right wing, Morgan and Hemp playing a one touch sequence.
The defender collected the ball on the edge of the box, her run beating Emily Hill before she laid it off to Lawley, the forward linking up with Georgia who also beat her marker; her effort going over the bar.
Minutes later, another spell of possession for the home side saw Claire’s cross in cleared by Kettle, but the forward who was playing at right back, was there to collect and played it across to Stanway. The twenty year old struggled to find a way through the Watford defence and so passed it back to Keira, the midfielder playing through Park; her effort going wide for a goal kick.
Georgia was involved again as her long ball over everyone was collected by Pauline, her little flick on finding its way to Emslie on the right, the Scot sending a cross into the area; Lauren and Hill jumping to meet it. Lawley picked up the loose ball, Walsh playing Lauren back in as Mel made the run wide to receive it before crossing into Bremer with the German turning to play in Jess; the youngster’s first shot blocked and then cleared off the line by Hallsworth.
A short corner taken on the hour mark, saw Emslie play it to Stanway in order to attack from a different angle, Georgia’s cross blocked by Danielle Scanlon before Walsh’s long range effort went wide of the post.
Substitute Nikita Parris put the Blues 1-0 up two minutes later, following a previous attempt from Claire, her effort from the edge of the box going wide. Baranowska’s goal kick was met by the head of substitute Tessa Wullaert, Bremer collecting the loose ball and flicking it on into the path of Nikita, the forward making a run and chipping Baranowska to put City ahead.
Following 15 months out with a serious ACL injury, Irish defender Megan Campbell made her return to the pitch when she came on for Claire Emslie in the 63rd minute.
Both Wullaert and Parris had efforts on goal before the home side went 2-0 up, Tessa sending a powerful strike just wide of the goal and Nikita meeting Georgia’s long ball; turning and shooting wide as well. It was the forward that scored the second goal, Pauline Bremer playing through Jess Park with the seventeen year old setting up the ball for her teammate to make the run and slot home.
City could have had a third with twenty minutes to go, Tessa forcing a save from Baranowska before the following corner, taken by Stanway, saw her cross meet the head of the arriving Steph Houghton whose effort went wide. The Blues then had another good chance with Georgia and Esme linking up well, the forward finding the defender on the wing and playing a one touch sequence with her; substitute Katie O’Leary pressurizing. Stanway saw Jess in space and played the forward through, Park making a run and almost beating Kat Huggins but the defender covered well and Baranowska came to collect.
The Watford keeper made some brilliant saves to deny the home side, Georgia’s long ball finding Parris and the forward made a run goal-wards but Baranowska came out to block Nikita’s effort, not once but three times in a string of brilliant saves.
Within the last ten minutes of time, Jess forced the keeper into a save, resulting in a corner for the home side, Georgia stepping up to send the ball in with Tessa winning possession off Scanlon; Adekite Fatuga-Dada clearing her tap in off the line. The third goal finally came when Park found Pauline Bremer, the forward making a run through acres of space to slot home her first and very much deserved goal back since injury, the twenty two year old shouting with joy and finding Campbell, who she spent so much of her recovery with; to celebrate.
Baranowska was certainly the player of the match for the Golden Girls, the goalkeeper proving why her call up to the Polish U19 team during the previous international break was deserved by tipping Bremer’s shot over the bar.
Much to the delight of the fans, Megan Campbell executed one of her trademark throw ins in the last minute of time, Pauline getting her head to it but losing possession to Watford in the last major action of the game.
Man City Women will find out who they will play in Round 5 when the draw takes place during Sportsday on the BBC News Channel, from 18:30 on Monday 4th February. The team then take on Chelsea FC Women in the Continental Cup semi-final away at Kingsmeadow on February 6th with kick off at 19:30, however the game will also be streamed via the FA WSL’s Facebook page.
Man City Women
Karen Bardsley, Gemma Bonner, Steph Houghton ©, Mel Lawley (Tessa Wullaert 56’), Pauline Bremer, Georgia Stanway, Esme Morgan, Lauren Hemp (Nikita Parris 56’), Jess Park, Claire Emslie (Megan Campbell 63’) and Keira Walsh
Subs (not used): Fran Stenson, Demi Stokes, Caroline Weir and Emma Bissell
Goals: Parris 62’, 69’ and Bremer 86’
Watford FC Ladies
Weronika Baranowska, Kat Huggins (Laura Baker 81’), Emily Hill, Samantha Hallsworth, Leanne Bell (Linda Afuakwah 68’), Alysha Stojko-Down, Helen Ward ©, Adekite Fatuga-Dada, Andrea Carid (Katie O’Leary 55’), Hattie Kettle and Danielle Scanlon
Subs (not used): Amy Martin, Georgie Edwards, Anaisa Harney and Katie Akerman
MCWFC OSC POTM: Nikita Parris
Referee: Ben Atkinson