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City Edge out Reds in close fought Cup Final

FC United’s women’s team lost the Greater Manchester Women’s Football League Cup Final by the narrowest of margins to a 46th minute strike from Manchester City’s Ellen Bergin to bring the curtain down on a fantastic first season despite the result.

Both sides had waited six weeks for the final encounter with little competitive action between the semi-finals and the Moor Lane showpiece and the lengthy build up heightened anticipation which swelled the crowd to around 500 - 350 more than host’s Salford City had managed the previous afternoon in their league clash with Lancaster City – a real positive for the women’s game.

FC had prepared well with a combination of practice matches and intensive training sessions since their last competitive match on 7 April. Their collective match day began at the FC Lounge with a pre match meal of chicken and pasta courtesy of Adie Roebuck and Peter Gleaves under the supervision of club nutritionist Helen Walker. They boarded the coach and arrived at the final in style as Manchester City’s under 18’s were demolishing Roch Youth 8-0 in the youth cup final.

Before the warm-ups began in earnest, City were presented with the Championship trophy and FC took receipt of their runners-up medals after finishing just two points adrift of the champions in their inaugural campaign. United warmed up in special t-shirts in a thoughtful tribute remembering the life of Emma Mincher, former Blackburn Rovers player, who sadly passed away earlier in the year following a battle with cancer.

Preliminaries over, it was time for the action to commence as referee Kevin Moore got the match underway with City kicking towards the car park end. During a cagey opening it was United’s joint top scorer Shellby Wolstencroft who had the first strike on goal with a speculative half volley from fully 30 yards that was comfortably fielded by City’s custodian Elizabeth Seasmen.

The red presence in the main stand rose as one on eight minutes as excellent work down the right by Beth Tattersall led to a smart cross to the near post which Wolstencroft volleyed into the side netting from five yards, deceiving the main-standers into thinking the Reds had taken the lead. Within a minute City were launching their first meaningful foray as Fieruz Ahmed pounced on hesitation between Fran Davies and Amy Gillingham on the edge of the area, lobbed Gillingham and followed up her effort goalwards only for Davies to recover superbly and slice the ball away from danger for a throw.

The game opened up and ten minutes in Kirsty Chambers did what she does best and carried the ball right to the edge of City’s area before clipping a pass inside for Wolstencroft to run onto before being brought down just outside the D. Amy Vyas fired the free kick low and hard through the City wall and Beth Hayes was unlucky not to connect and divert the ball past Seasmen as it travelled only a foot wide of the upright.

Ahmed once again proved the main threat to FC’s goal as she burst through on goal this time being thwarted by an excellently timed tackle by Claire O’Reilly as FC then launched their best passage of possession football on the half hour culminating in a powerful Vyas drive that was well blocked before spinning away for a corner. Amy Battel became FC’s next defensive saviour intercepting a through ball and clearing at the expense of a corner which she headed clear from underneath her own cross bar as the half drew to a close with City in the ascendancy.

FC began second half proceedings but the game plan changed within a minute as Ahmed’s determined run, close control and low cross through the six yard box from the bye line eluded United’s keeper and defensive cover for Ellen Bergin to bundle the ball over the line from point blank range at the far post sending the blue fans into raptures. Off the pitch the majority red presence responded with reinvigorated vocal encouragement for their united heroines and on 50 minutes an audacious 30 yard dipping volley from ‘Liv Greenhalgh only narrowly missed the target. Kayleigh Catterall entered the fray for Beth Hayes and was instantly into the action being thwarted inside the area by determined City defending.

Arguably United’s best opening came on 65 minutes after excellent approach play by Greenhalgh saw her surge through two tackles into the box before squaring to Vyas who had time to pick her spot and fire towards the top corner of Seasmen’s goal only for the keeper to save well parrying around the post.

Just minutes later and City were on the attack looking to put the game out of United’s reach only for Broghan Matthews to clear the danger with a last ditch tackle that the blue contingent felt should have been a penalty. United finished the game strongly forcing several late corners but being unable to break through a well organised City backline and as the final whistle blew both teams received vociferous standing ovations having done the cause of women’s football in Greater Manchester no harm whatsoever.

The first season of women’s football at FC United of Manchester can be summarised as a resounding success with the difference between league and cup champions and runners up being the very narrowest of margins. Congratulations to all the squad, management, coaches, back room staff and supporters who have helped pioneer an exciting future for the women’s game within this great club of ours. Here’s to next season . . .

Report by Rob Fullen.

Website players of the match: For the Reds, right back Amy Battel gave a standout performance both in her defensive duties and by providing an attacking impetus down the right flank. The blues’ number 11, Feiruz Ahmed was City’s main threat, laid on the goal and was adjudged the player of the match overall.

Match Stats Courtesy of Paul ‘Stato’ Hinson:

Goals: FCUM 0 MCFC 1
Shots on Target: FCUM 5 MCFC 4
Shots off Target: FCUM 9 MCFC 3
Free kicks: FCUM 14 MCFC 12
Corners: FCUM 12 MCFC 5
Passes: FCUM 392 MCFC 348
Pass success rate: FCUM 56.38% MCFC 45.11%

Teams 5 May 2013: Attendance: 510 (best approximation).

FC United of Manchester: 0 (0)
1. Amy Gillingham (Goalkeeper and Captain)
2. Amy Battel (right back)
18. Claire O’Reilly (left back)
4. Francesca Davies (centre half)
5. Broghan Matthews (centre half)
17. Beth Hayes (centre midfield)
19. Olivia Greenhalgh (centre midfield)
10. Beth Tattersall (right midfield)
11. Kirsty Chambers (left midfield)
16. Amy Vyas (centre midfield /forward)
9. Shellby Wolstencroft (centre forward)
12. Hayley O’Hara (for No19 85mins)
3. Adora Yau (for No2 77mins)
7. Kayleigh Catterall (for No17 51mins)
8. Maya Germain (for No10 59mins)
6. Jade Challender (not used)

Manchester City Ladies FC: 1 (0)
1. Elizabeth Seasmen (Goalkeeper)
2. Maddy Gresty (right back)
3. Masa Butler (left back)
4. Olivia Chan (centre half & Captain)
5. Rachel Mason (centre half)
16. Holly Marshall (centre midfield)
7. Lois Daniels (centre midfield)
8. Beth Mellor (centre midfield / forward)
14. Louise McGilligan (right midfield)
9. Emma Massey (left midfiled)
11. Feiruz Ahmed (centre forward)

12. Aimee Armsden
6. Molly Coombe (on 18 mins)
15. Ellen Bergin (on 43 mins and goal 46 mins)
17. Kye Brown

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First Posted ~ 16:20 Sun 5 May 2013
News ID ~ 4889
Last Updated ~ 19:38 Mon 6 May 2013