City Power Past Belles to reach Conti Cup Semi Final

Manchester City eased their way into the Semi Final of the Continental Cup with a 4-1 win at home to bottom club Doncaster Rovers Belles.

City made several changes from their mid-week win at Reading including resting Jill Scott, Jane Ross and Karen Bardsley whilst Toni Duggan made her first start since June 26th.

The game started brightly with Doncaster keen to commit players forward as they looked to cause a cup upset but they were almost undone after just 9 minutes when Nikita Parris latched onto an under hit back pass but couldn’t direct her shot on target. Three minutes later Parris went close firing over from the edge of area after a Lucy Bronze drive down the right played her in.

City continued to create chances, albeit without testing Hobbs in the Doncaster goal, with Daphne Corboz dragging a shot wide from the edge of the area after a terrific pass through the middle from Tessell Middag on 15 minutes. Doncaster responded with a chance of their own as Christie Murray fired just over from outside the area.

City thought they had the lead on 19 minutes when Corboz skipped past her marker on the right before cutting her pass inside to Isobel Christiansen to tap home on the line but the flag was raised for offside. City continued to dominate albeit without forcing the Doncaster keeper into a save as both Duggan and Parris missed the targets with good chances.

The first save of the game came on 36 minutes as a delightful cross field pass from Beattie released Duggan on the right who twisted and turned and forced Hobbs into an excellent save at her near post. Doncaster were eventually undone minutes later when a corner came back out to Demi Stokes whose superb cross found Christiansen inside the penalty who looped her cross over the helpless Hobbs.

It was almost 2-0 on the stroke of half time as a superb City move saw Christiansen turned provider as her through ball played in Duggan one-on-one but, going for the top corner, curled her shot round the corner of the post.

The second half continued in the same fashion as the first had ended with City dominant in possession but unable to find a way past Hobbs as Corboz fired a hard shot at her after a good run through the middle.

City eventually doubled their lead on 76 minutes as the game burst into life when substitute Georgia Stanway managed to evade Maz Pacheco before firing an unstoppable shot into the bottom left hand corner from outside the area.

Suddenly the game burst into life was two minutes later Marie Hourihan was called into action to push a hard Kasia Lipka effort round the post. From the corner the knocked down fell into the path of Marta Mathews who finished coolly from six yards to give Doncaster hope. The flurry of goals continued as City restored their two goal lead on 81 minutes when Toni Duggan finished superbly under Hobbs after a perfect through pass from the excellent Tessell Middag. The goal capped off a fine performance from the England International who looked to be returning to form following a long spell out of the team.

Georgia Stanway almost added a fourth when Hobbs punched away a thunderous effort before she herself turned provider knocking back a cross along the six yard line to allow Jane Ross to tap home.

The scoreline was emphatic but more than a little harsh on Doncaster who’d managed to thwart City for long spells of the game and had been one of the most adventurous teams to visit the CFA Stadium in 2016.

Manchester City Manager Nick Cushing praised Duggan’s performance following the game: “Toni’s a top, top player, I think you know when Toni’s on the pitch you are going to create and she’s going to score. If doesn’t surprise me she came on the other day and scored and she started today and scored. I thought a really really good performance today from Toni.”

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