Conti Cup: Round Two
Friday, 10 November 2023
Paul Donegan catches up with all the action from the second round of Conti Cup matches
Manchester City WFC
The second set of Conti Cup group stage matches took place over this midweek. Not all the groups played but there were still 6 games with plenty of goals and drama. Holders Arsenal started their defence of the cup when played their first game in this season’s competition. Manchester United and Aston Villa also played their first matches. Here is a round-up of what happened.
Arsenal v Bristol City
I was at Meadow Park to watch the holders take on Bristol City in Group D on Thursday evening. The North Bank were in good voice before the match and carried on singing throughout it. Beth Mead was named in the starting line-up for the Gunners for the first time since her ACL injury.
The home side did most of the attacking in the early stages and they had the ball in the net within the first minute but the offside flag was up to deny them.
Arsenal did take the lead in the 27th minute when Mead played in Frida Leonhardsen Maanum and she finished from 12-yards via the underside of the crossbar.
A few minutes later, Katie McCabe’s long-range strike was brilliantly tipped over by The Robins goalkeeper Olivia Clark. Clark made another save in the 35th minute when she touched Maanum’s effort behind for a corner.
From the corner, Lotte Wubben-Moy headed in to make it 2-0 to the Gunners.
Maanum, who was having a good half along with the other Arsenal midfielders, curled an effort wide in the 41st minute. The home side went in 2-0 ahead at the break.
The hosts continued to have chances early in the second half with Maanum shooting into the side, then Kyra Cooney-Cross’ shot from 25-yards was saved easily by Clark.
Bristol City made it 2-1 in the 70th minute when Sille Struck’s effort found the back of the net.
The Robins came close to equalising four minutes later but Tianna Teisar headed wide.
Vivianne Miedema, who had come on as a substitute for the hosts, saw her headed from a corner hit the top of the crossbar a couple of minutes later. Caitlin Foord then cut in and hit the bar as Arsenal went close again.
A looping Rachel Furness header was caught by the Arsenal goalkeeper and this turned out to be the visitors best effort of the remainder of the match.
Miedema saw two efforts blocked before Stina Blackstenius fired over in additional time.
Blackstenius made it 3-1 in the match in the final minute of stoppage time with a low finish into the net. The final whistle was blown a few seconds later with the Gunners starting their defence of the Conti Cup with a win.
Round up of the other Conti Cup matches.
Elsewhere in Group D, second half substitute Lexi Lloyd-Smith scored the only goal of the game in the 85th minute as Southampton won 1-0 against Reading. The Saints currently sit top of the group with five points.
In the River Wear derby in Group A, Sunderland and Durham drew 2-2 with the Wildcats picking up an extra point after winning the penalty shoot-out. Mollie Lambert gave Durham the lead in the 5th minute before Natasha Fenton and Brianna Westrup scored to give the Lasses the lead at half time. It remained 2-1 until second half stoppage time when Saoirse Noonan equalised for Durham. The Wildcats goalkeeper Naoisha McAloon was the hero in the shoot-out saving three penalties as they won it 3-1 and picked up a bonus point which puts them top of the group.
In the other Group A match, Aston Villa beat Sheffield United 5-0. Rachel Daly scored a nineteen-minute hat-trick in the first half with Ebony Salmon also finding the net before half time to score her first goal since rejoining the club. Danielle Turner added a fifth during the second half for the Villans. The Blades had a chance to score a late consolation but Jodie Hutton’s penalty was saved by Anna Leat.
There were plenty of goals at Prenton Park on Wednesday evening as Manchester City overcame Liverpool 4-3 in Group B. Filippa Angeldahl gave City the lead in the 33rd minute but Gemma Bonner, on the night she broke Liverpool’s appearance record in the WSL era, equalised just before half time. Natasha Flint gave the Reds the lead two minutes after the break but Jess Park immediately equalised for the Citizens. Chloe Kelly scored twice, the first of which was a superb swerving shot, to put City 4-2 ahead. Liverpool got a goal back in stoppage time at the end of the match when Mia Enderby scored her first goal for the club. There were no further goals as Manchester City made it two wins out of two in this season’s Conti Cup.
The biggest winners of the week were Manchester United who beat Everton 7-0 in the other Group B match. Nikita Parris scored a hat-trick, and the other goals were scored by Rachel Williams, Hayley Ladd, Geyse and Leah Galton. The win puts United in second position in the group behind their city rivals.