City slickers retain FA Cup with 3-1 win as Everton come unstuck in extra-time at Wembley Stadium
By Paul Lagan at Wembley Stadium
Vitality Women’s FA Cup Final
Everton 1 v Man City 3 (after extra time)
Georgia Stanway broke the hearts of Everton with the decisive goal, deep into extra time as Manchester City bounced back from taking the lead only to see an equaliser take the FA Cup final into an additional 30 minutes. The final touch of the game saw substitute Janine Beckie notch up City’s third to see the holders retain the cup.
City were overall the better side, but Everton showed a never say die attitude that has seen them the breakout stars of this season’s WSL.
Stanway, 21 started the final at Wembley Stadium on the bench, but when she came on proved that her tenacious attitude and goal-scoring attributes were well in evidence.
Ex-Evertonian Chloe Kelly had a great chance to open the score on two minutes after a misplaced pass allowed the winger in on goal. But her shot was weak and it was easily cleared.
Despite the occasional foray into the City half, Everton’s main function, in the opening exchanges was to keep Kelly on the right at bay.
But on 16 minutes, Megan Finnigan for the Toffeewomen raced clear. But while Lucy Bronze looked to have made a clean tackle, referee Rebecca Welch deemed the edge of penalty area challenge illegal and awarded a foul. But since Bronze was the last woman, she should have seen red rather than the yellow card awarded. A poor free-kick fell to Damaris Egurrola who blasted over the crossbar.
City responded well and Everton goalkeeper Sandy Maciver did well, on 21 minutes to stop a Kelly left-footer at the base of her right post.
Both sides continued to search for a goal, bit with defences on top, deflected efforts that ping away for a corner could be deemed chances. But with fives minutes before half-time a regulation Kelly corner was met powerfully by USA midfielder Sam Mewis head and she who powered home from six-yards out to put City 1-0 up.
There were no changes at half-time from either side.
City had two great chances to double the score on 55 minutes. Firstly Caroline Weir sliced a low left footer across Maciver, but the ball rebounded off her left post to incoming Kelly. She seemed destined to smash the ball into the net, from close range, but somehow Izzy Christensen hurled her body in front of the shot, deflecting the ball over the crossbar.
City’s Ellie Roebuck produced the save of the match to thwart Egurrola, tipping her header over the bar. But from the resultant corner, Valerie Gauvin, who looked like her game was over just before half-time limping from a knee injury, popped up at the near post to glance the ball home to equalise on 59 minutes.
Ellen White’s match ended on 63 minutes, being replaced by Georgia Stanway.
She was soon followed by Jess Park for Rose Lavelle.
Gauvin almost put Everton into the lead when the striker latched onto Nicoline Sorensen’s left-wing cross, but the ball inched wide of Roebuck’s right stick on 74 minutes.
Everton made their first change with 14 minutes left of the 90 when Hayley Raso was replaced by Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah.
Stanway tried a trademark effort from range but, her shot was uncharacteristically below par and wide.
Was it a cross or was it a shot? Probably a shot by Sorensen from the right byline, but Roebuck was alert to the drive and tipped the ball away for a corner.
Mewis had the chance to win the cup with two minutes left, but her edge of the penalty area shot was hit and wide of Maciver’s goal.
Kelly was next up to slash a half-volley over the crossbar after Bronze brilliantly raced to the byline and cut the ball back to the forward’s path.
Skipper Lucy Graham was replaced by Molly Pike deep into the six minutes of added time.
Caroline Weir added her name to a glorious missed chance at the death when she too hacked an unchallenged ball six yards out over the Everton crossbar.
Weir then rattled the crossbar as City pummelled the Everton goal to no avail.
Everton boss opted to make two extra time subs, bringing off Gauvin for Simone Magill and Rilke Sevecke came off for Poppy Pattinson.
They were followed by the introduction of Abbey-Leigh Stringer for Egurrola 10 minutes into extra time.
Boyd-Hlorkah tried a curler on 101 minutes but her long-range effort for Everton was well wide of goal.
Stanway reciprocated two minutes later, but her effort took a slight deflection for a corner.
Magnificent defending by Megan Finnigan prevented City from scoring on 105 minutes and then Everton’s goal continued it’s charmed life when Steph Houghton’s goal-bound header was tipped onto the post by Maciver before being cleared.
With City dominating possession and Everton tiring, they finally restored their one goal lead with nine minutes left in extra time. Stanway broke from on the right and managed to slip the ball under the desperate dive of Maciver. The ball squirrelled towards the goal, and nipped over the goal-line after taking a nudge off the near post.
With the last kick of the game, City scored the third when Janine Beckie slotted home after excellent set-up play by Stanway
Teams: Everton, Maciver, Wold, Turner, Christiansen, Egurrola, Sorensen, Rayo, Graham, Gauvin, Finnigan, Sevecke
Subs: Korpela, Boye-Hlorkah, Magill, Stringer, Pike, Clemaron, Clinton, Pattinson
Man City: Roebuck, Stokes, Houghton, Kelly, White, Weir, Bronze, Lavelle, Mewis, Walsh, Greenwood
Subs: Bardsley, Benameur Taieb, Bonner, Coombs, Scott, Stanway, Beckie, Morgan, Park
Referee: Rebecca Welch