Manchester United Women 0 Manchester City Women 0; Manchester United win 4-3 on penalties
Manchester United edged out their local rivals in a penalty shoot-out to earn a bonus point in the Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup and keep their hopes of progressing from their group alive.
Emily Ramsey, United’s goalkeeper who received her first England call-up this week, produced a heroic performance in front of an onlooking Phil Neville at Leigh Sports Village. The youngster tipped Alex Greenwood’s effort onto the bar and denied City’s in-form midfielder Laura Coombs.
“Before we play in any Conti Cup game, we practise [penalties],” Casey Stoney, the United manager, said. “The players executed them brilliantly and, I thought, really calmly.”
Despite coming up short from the spot, Manchester City did enough to progress to the quarter-finals after crafting few chances in a dour stalemate. “It was a game that lacked that real quality in the final third,” Gareth Taylor, the City manager, said.
This was far from a carbon copy of the weekend’s 2-2 league thriller. The climax, if there was one, came in the dying seconds of normal time, when Jess Sigsworth stabbed a shot at straight at Karen Bardsley.
It was cagey, bereft of any real flair. Fitting, perhaps, for a competition that these days requires a mental arithmetic test when weighing up each side’s likelihood of progressing to the last eight.
United needed a win to realistically remain in contention as one of two second best-placed teams looking to advance from the six groups.
Both managers opted to ring the changes for this one, with City’s veteran keeper Bardsley making a rare swap for England youngster Ellie Roebuck, who has become a perennial choice under Taylor.
The American gifted United two chances either side of the break, which they squandered, the first when she was robbed by Katie Zelem in her own area, before recovering well to catch Kirsty Hanson’s feeble shot.
She misjudged an awkward bounce of the ball, allowing United’s Lauren James to pick out Tobin Heath in acres of space in the penalty area, only to become tangled in her own feet as sky blue shirts descended upon her.
Contrary to Stoney’s prediction, United did in parts look the more lively side. They spearheaded much of their attack through Kirsty Hanson, whose industriousness down the right was reflective of how United were, on balance, worthy winners.
Manchester United Women: Ramsey, Battle, A Turner, M Turner, Galton, Zelen (Sigsworth 76), Groenen, Staniforth (Toone, 69), Hanson, Heath (Press, 60), James.
Subs: Earps, Okvist, Toone, Sigsworth, Ladd, Fuso, Ross, Press.
Manchester City Women: Bardsley, Bronze, Bonner, Greenwood, Morgan, Walsh, Scott (Coombs, 80), Weir (Mewis 68), Park (White, 68), Beckie, Stanway.
Subs: Roebuck, Campbell, Houghton, Coombs, Kelly, White, Mewis.
Referee: Helen Conley.
Source: The Telegraph Travels