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Late goal sends FC United Women in to third successive County Cup final

Late goal sends FC United Women in to third successive County Cup final FC United Women booked their place in the final of the 2018/19 Manchester FA Women’s Challenge Cup with a 4-3 win at West Didsbury & Chorlton Women.

A first-half double from Aimee O’Keeffe and a Jess McCarrick strike just before half-time put the Reds 3-1 up going in to the break. Having been pegged back to 3-3, Emily Marsh’s late goal was the decider in a well-contested semi-final.

The Reds’ first return to Brookburn Road since lifting the trophy in last season’s final didn’t start well, with captain Kirsty Chambers forced off with injury after just seven minutes.

Jess McCarrick replaced her and had an immediate impact, playing her part to set up the game’s opening goal. McCarrick played in Kate O’Gara who found the run of Aimee O’Keeffe, the striker showing her composure to go around the goalkeeper before finding the net.

Having been the provider at one end, Kate O’Gara was then saviour at the other, clearing a goal-bound strike off the line from under the bar to keep the Reds ahead less than three minutes later.

The hosts continued to apply the pressure and got their goal on 21 minutes. A lobbed ball found the path of Elizabeth Livesey who placed her shot over Ainsworth and in to the net.

Stern defensive work was then needed from Luke Podmore’s side to keep the lead, with Olivia Greenhalgh doing well to head a dangerous corner away.

Shortly after, FC capitalised on their resilient defensive play and went 2-1 up. Shaunna Jein’s vertical pass found Jess Battle in the right channel, the striker looked up and found Aimee O’Keeffe in the box who converted the low cross for her second of the afternoon.

Following the goal, Corie Mather was introduced in place of Emily Marsh for FCUMW.

It was then three in first half stoppage time after Rebecca Foster’s corner fell at the feet of substitute Jess McCarrick who made no mistake in finding the roof of the net.

The hosts came out for the second half re-energised and narrowed United’s lead back down to one after Elizabeth Livesey was on target for her second of the game.

West Didsbury & Chorlton then went inches away from being level after a free-kick cannoned back off the bar, moments before Jess Battle’s one-on-one effort went wide of the target in an attempt to stretch United’s lead.

The hosts did get their third on 67 minutes, however. Elizabeth Livesey completed her hat-trick after the original shot had rattled the crossbar. Emily Marsh then returned, replacing Corie Mather for United.

With just over ten minutes to play, Jess McCarrick had the ball in the net for the second time in the game, only to be denied by the linesman’s offside flag.

It was then the hosts’ turn to almost go in-front. An effort was cleared off-the-line superbly on the stretch by Fran Davies. The Reds then made the most of it and got the game-winning goal.

Having picked up the ball in a defensive position, Emily Marsh drove through the opposition’s intended offside trap and to the edge of the hosts’ box where she slotted home the go-ahead goal to spark wild celebrations both on and off the pitch from the visiting Reds.

Cara Fields then came on for Jess McCarrick and successfully helped the Reds see out the remainder of the game to continue United’s defence of the trophy and send us in to a third successive County Cup final.

FC will face the newly-formed Salford City Lionesses in next month’s final after the GMWFL Division 1 side also won 4-3, away at Manchester Stingers this afternoon. The game will see the Reds return to Brookburn Road on Friday 26th April with further details to be announced in due course.

Next up for United, attention turns back to the defence of the Argyle Cup as the Reds host Penrith AFC Ladies at Broadhurst Park, in next Sunday’s (31st March) quarter-final tie.

FCUMW Player of the Match: Aimee O’Keeffe - United’s number 15 thrived in a deeper role, scoring the Reds’ first two goals of the game. O’Keeffe then set the tone for a gritty and determined second half performance that saw Luke Podmore’s side get over the line and in to a third successive Manchester FA Women’s Challenge Cup final.

West Didsbury & Chorlton Women 3 (1): Fish, Mitchell, Livesey, Spencer, Dunlop, Caddick, Bracegirdle, Edmondson (c), Hodges, Wilman, Kerr

Subs: Lomas, Littler, Chalmers, Jefferson

FC United of Manchester Women 4 (3): Ainsworth, Marsh (Goal 86 mins), Davies, Carrington, Jein, Greenhalgh, Foster, Chambers (c), O’Gara, O’Keeffe (Goals 14,38 mins), Battle

Subs: McCarrick (On for Chambers 7 mins) (Goal 45+4 mins), Mather (On for Marsh 39 mins), Fields (On for McCarrick 89 mins)

Roll on, roll off:
Mather for Marsh (67 mins)

Match stats from Paul Hinson (FC first column):
Goals: 3…..4
Shots: 16…..6
Shots on target: 4…..4
Completed passes: 280…..322
Possession: 44%.....56%

Venue: The Recreation Ground, Brookburn Road, Manchester, M21 8FE
Competition: Manchester FA Women’s Challenge Cup semi-final
Referee: Mark Bates
Assistant referees: Jack Carr, Stephen Raynor
Attendance: 112

Report by Mikey Partington

First Posted ~ 22:38 Sun 24 Mar 2019
News ID ~ 8320
Last Updated ~ 17:00 Fri 19 Feb 2021