Duggan (13 mins)
Chelsea Ladies FC 3
Coombs (8 mins), Aluko (17 mins), Chapman (59 mins)
- Match reports
- 27 April 2014 16:04
- Posted by @baileymcfc
Manchester City Women bowed out of the FA Cup in the quarter finals but did so with heads held high after a terrific scrap with Chelsea.
Only the speed and calmness in front of goal of Eniola Aluko separated the two sides in what was a hugely entertaining contest.
This was something of a watershed game for the fledgling City squad beaten and shut out in their first two league games of the season against last year’s champions Liverpool and runners up Bristol Academy.
The second of those matches, a 2-0 home defeat in front of bumper crowd, led to much self-criticism in the Manchester camp. This was an afternoon that was about the performance as much as the result.
In many ways it was a pride restorer and in that sense it was a job well done.
The Bristol ninety minutes was a performance that lacked confidence and gusto but both elements were back in the locker for the visit of a Chelsea team that, by contrast, had breezed to a quick-fire double over the west country side – in league and cup – and arrived as favourites to reach the last four of the knockout competition.
City coach Nick Cushing, who had steadfastly stuck with the same starting eleven in the previous three games, made changes with Chelsea Nightingale, Joey Johnston and Jess Holbrook all stepping aside for one reason or another to be replaced by Natasha Flint, Lynda Shepherd, and Nicki Harding.
England keeper Karen Bardsley also provided a pre-match boost with a rigorous on field training routine that will, all being well, see her ready for action against Doncaster in the Continental Cup on Thursday night.
Having let themselves down badly and, in some areas of the pitch, possibly suffered from a touch of stage fright in front of an expectant home crowd last week, City were determined to don their Sunday best this time around.
From the off the home side moved the ball more quickly and with extra purpose demonstrating additional resolve and tenacity missing from the Bristol game.
Jill Scott was a bundle of leggy elegance and intensity in midfield with Izzy Christiansen buzzing effectively on the left, and with Toni Duggan a dynamo up front, City gave Chelsea plenty to think about in an absorbing contest.
The signs had not all been encouraging in the opening minutes as Laura Coombs long range effort, aided by the post, gave the Londoners an eighth minute lead.
City were level in the 13th minute when Katie Chapman was coerced into a rash tackle by Scott’s sleight of foot and Duggan slotted home the penalty with aplomb.
At that point the home side might have been banking on settling into a rhythm but they were upset just 180 seconds after the leveller when Aluko’s lightning pace took her clear of the defence and her awareness allowed her to round Andie Worrall to make it 2-1.
That’s the way it stood at half time though the game was even balanced for the remaining half hour with City far more dangerous than they had been in their home debut.
The home side resumed in the same manner after the break. Duggan came close from the inside left channel and 'keeper Marie Hourihan grabbed Flint’s attempted chip.
Just as City hopes were rising so they were dashed by the twinkling feet of Yuki Ogimi whose pinpoint cross from the left was headed home superbly by Chapman.
Even then City created the higher proportion of chances with Scott just wide from Duggan’s driven cross, Flint clipping the bar from the edge of the box and Duggan defiantly doing the same with the last kick of a fine game.
Birmingham or Arsenal, who meet next Sunday in a game delayed through European commitments, now await Chelsea in the semi-final.