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FC United Women kick-off Argyle Cup defence with win over Blackburn Community

FC United Women kick-off Argyle Cup defence with win over Blackburn CommunityFC United Women got this season’s Argyle Cup defence underway with a 3-0 win over Blackburn Community Sports Club, in the 3rd Round, on Sunday.

Jess Battle’s second-half brace added to Cara Fields’ early strike to send the Reds in to the hat for the quarter-final draw.

The game’s original kick-off time of 2pm may have been pushed back to just after the half-hour, due to the visitors being stuck in traffic, but Luke Podmore’s side had no delay to their play in the early proceedings as Rebecca Foster and Cara Fields went close early on.

Following the quick start, it took only nine minutes for the Reds to go ahead. Midfielder Cara Fields, on her return from suspension, superbly found the net with a long-range effort to put United in the ascendency.

Fields then showed an exquisite piece of skill to take the ball down from the air and beat two covering defenders, but FC couldn’t quite capitalise on the opening.

With 36 minutes on the clock, the Reds put together the best move of the game so far. Olivia Greenhalgh found Corie Mather in acres of space on the right, before the winger’s well-whipped low cross found Jess Battle but United’s number nine couldn’t connect properly with her attempt.

For all of United’s first-half attacking exploits, it was Francesca Davies’ 43rd minute block that kept them ahead after the visitors had put together their first meaningful attack of the game, in the closing stages of the opening 45.

The game took a feisty turn in the 55th minute when an off-the-ball incident saw Blackburn Community’s Amy Bland sent off, whilst Abbie Carrington also saw yellow from United’s side.

Shortly after, Podmore made his first change of the afternoon with Kate O’Gara replacing Corie Mather. The substitute nearly had a goal with one of her first few touches, but for a block diverting her goal-bound shot. This was just after Jess Battle’s one-on-one attempt was denied by an acrobatic save from the Blackburn goalkeeper.

Battle may have lost the duel on that occasion but came out on top just four minutes later, making no mistake at the front post having been found by Abbie Carrington.

That may have been Carrington’s last action of the game, as she was replaced by Aimee O’Keeffe straight after the goal, but Battle wasn’t done there. The striker showed her composure to score her second in a matter of minutes; latching on to Rebecca Foster’s through-ball and rounding the goalkeeper before calmly slotting the ball home.

From there the tie looked to be all-but over but that didn’t stop United pushing forward for more. Battle twice went close to a hat-trick and Aimee O’Keeffe saw her shot roll just wide of the far post, moments before the referee called an end to the game.

The win means United begin this season’s Argyle Cup defence with a win, as they attempt to win the trophy for the third successive season, and are in to the draw for the quarter-finals. The game was also FCUMW’s 50th cup fixture in the team’s history, with the Reds winning 39 of the ties. Next up for Luke Podmore’s Reds is a trip to Merseyside to face Tranmere Rovers LFC, next Sunday (17th February), in the league.

FCUMW Player of the Match: Cara Fields – The midfielder marked her return from suspension in style, opening the scoring with an eye-catching effort on nine minutes. That was the highlight of a tireless display from Fields who was key throughout the 90, to a hard-fought win for the Reds.

FC United of Manchester Women 3 (1): Ainsworth, Jein, Davies, Carrington (Yellow card 56 mins), Mather, Greenhalgh, Foster, Chambers (c), Fields (Goal 9 mins), Dale, Battle (Goals 64,70 mins)

Subs: Marsh, O’Gara (On for Mather 59 mins), O’Keeffe (On for Carrington 67 mins)

Blackburn Community Sports Club 0 (0): Phillips, Taberner, Clegg, Searson, O’Donnell, Harrison, Cadwallader, Young, McGrath, Bland (Red card 56 mins), Deansfield

Subs: Mansfield, Boyle, Unsworth, Towarld

Match stats from Paul Hinson (FC first column):
Goals: 3…..0
Shots: 17…..8
Shots on target: 6…..1
Completed passes: 362…..156
Possession: 70%.....30%

Venue: Broadhurst Park (3G), Lightbowne Road, Moston, Manchester, M40 0FJ
Competition: Argyle Cup 3rd Round
Referee: Lewis Bamford
Attendance: 68

Report by Mikey Partington

First Posted ~ 20:11 Sun 10 Feb 2019
News ID ~ 8261
Last Updated ~ 17:00 Fri 19 Feb 2021