Manchester City 1-0 Birmingham City Ladies
WSL Continental Tyres Cup final
A BATTLING Birmingham City Ladies fought hard but eventually suffered heartache in the WSL Continental Tyres Cup final after a Lucy Bronze goal in extra-time ensured Manchester City Women’s name was on the cup for a second successive season.
David Parker’s side put up a brave fight at Manchester’s Academy Stadium and it looked as though they might take the game to penalties.
Ann Katrin-Berger was the hero for the Blues after pulling off a string of excellent saves to keep Parker’s side in the game but with 104 minutes on the clock England defender Bronze made the all important breakthrough to end Blues’ chance of winning their first piece of silverware since 2012.
Parker’s side made an impressive start against the Women’s Super League champions who were cheered on by a large home crowd.
Kirsy Linnett almost broke the deadlock with just four minutes on the clock went she unleashed an audacious 25-yard shot which whistled inches past the post.
Manchester City grew into the game and came close themselves in the 15th minute but Berger made the first of many superb saves by palming away Jennifer Beattie’s powerful shot from the edge of the area.
On 21 minutes Freda Ayisi almost broke free on goal but Beattie made an excellent last ditch tackle before Berger saved well again after Nikita Parris had been put through on goal.
England striker Toni Duggan looked a constant threat in the Man City attack and she shot narrowly over the bar on the half-hour mark.
Five minutes before the break Berger produced her best save of the match. Duggan found herself in a one-on-one situation and hit a curling shot which looked destined for the far corner but Berger got a hand to her effort before the ball was cleared as the sides went in level at the break.
Five minutes into the second half the Blues had a strong penalty appeal turned down when Emily Westwood thought her shot was handled by a Man City defender but the referee waved away her protest.
Freday Ayisi dragged a long range shot wide as Parker’s side enjoyed a bright start to the second period but just lie the first Man City ended strongly.
Marisa Ewers made an important clearance to Bronze’s dangerous cross and with 15 minutes remaining Berger was alert when substitute Kosovare Asllani turned her maker but the Blues keeper was quick off her line to make the save.
With no side finding the breakthrough the game went to extra-time and during the break manager Parker introduced a fresh pair of legs in the shape of Chloe Peplow but it was Man City who looked the more likely to score.
Duggan hit a shot narrowly over the bar and former Blues midfielder Christiansen was of target with a 20-yard effort but the opening goal came with 104 minutes on the clock.
Berger came out to claim a Duggan corner but the ball found Bronze at the far post and she was able to send a looping header into the back of the net.
The Blues tried their hardest to search of a way back into the match but they were unable to test Marie Hourihan in the Man City goal and had to settle for a loser’s medal following a brave performance.
Team: Berger, Sargeant, Carter, Harrop, Ayisi, Linnett (Wellings 75), Hegerberg (Peplow 90), Ewers, Lawley, Westwood (c), Mannion
Subs not used – Baggaley, Windell, Stringer, Schroder