Manchester United Women 2 West Ham Women 0
Manchester United Women are through to the semi-finals of the Continental Tyres League Cup semi-finals after knocking out Super League side West Ham Women on Wednesday night.
This was the Reds' second game back after a three-week festive break and Sunday's 9-0 league win against London Bees was followed up with an equally impressive performance against West Ham.
The first effort came after just a few minutes from full-back Kirsty Smith, but her right-footed shot from outside the area was comfortably saved by West Ham goalkeeper Becky Spencer.
The hosts dominated the early proceedings and nearly took the lead after just nine minutes when Alex Greenwood’s deep cross, aimed for Lauren James, took a nick off a Hammers defender and flashed just inches wide of the far post. Greenwood connected with the resulting corner and forced a smart save from Spencer.
On 17 minutes, the Reds' dominance paid its first dividend. After some patient build-up play, James was released down the left flank and floated a dangerous cross into the box, which caused havoc for the Hammers' backline and ultimately caused Longhurst to prod the ball into her own net from inside the six-yard box, putting the home side 1-0 up.
Greewood then tested Spencer with a smart free-kick from just outside the box, after Sigsworth was wrestled to the ground by Brooke Hendrix.
West Ham were beginning to grow into the game and Siobhan Chamberlain was called into her first real save of the half on 32 minutes, when Claire Rafferty fired at the home goal. However, her left-footed strike was well held by United’s no.1.
Chamberlain was called into action again five minutes later. This time, Jane Ross found a few yards of space in the United box and from point-blank range unleashed a fierce shot, that somehow the Reds keeper got a hand to and pushed wide for a corner.
Next it was the hosts' turn to attack and a through ball found Green one on one with Spencer, yet the West Ham keeper managed to pull off a superb save to deny the Reds midfielder.
At the interval Kirsty Hanson replaced Lizzie Arnot as the Reds pushed to double the lead.
However, it was West Ham who looked the brightest after the restart and they nearly got on level terms within five minutes after an audacious shot from Longhurst struck Chamberlain’s left-hand post. Alisha Lehmann failed to covert from the rebound as the hosts breathed a sign of relief.
Yet soon after there were scenes of jubilation on the home bench as the advantage was extended to 2-0. A period of superb pressing from the Reds saw Sigsworth fasten on to a loose pass from the West Ham defence and she unleashed a powerful effort which Spencer had no chance of saving.
Chamberlain was a mere spectator as the Reds launched attack after attack and Zelem nearly added a third goal on 72 minutes when she prodded just wide from a corner.
James was running riot at Leigh Sport Village and she cut inside on her left foot inside the box only to see her shot saved. Green also forced Spencer into action on a busy night for the Hammers' no.1.
The Reds made a late change and introduced Ella Toone for James with ten minutes left.
Brianna Visalli had a late speculative effort which was saved comfortably by Chamberlain, but it proved to be the game’s last chance of note as Stoney's side went safely through.
United: Chamberlain; Harris, A.Turner, M.Turner, Smith; Zelem, Greenwood (c) Green; Sigsworth, James (Toone 79), Arnot (Hanson 45).
Substitutes not used: Ramsey, Palmer, Hartley, Devlin, Roberts.
Goals: Longhurst own goal 17, Sigsworth 53.
United Women return to league action next with a trip to face title rivals Charlton Athletic at the Oakwood, on Sunday 13 January (kick-off 14:00 GMT). An away win for the Reds could open up a four-point gap at the top of the table.
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