Manchester City cruised into the 4th round of the SSE Women’s FA Cup with a comfortable 3-0 over Women’s National League side Watford. Nick Cushing fielded a well rotated side which saw Jess Park, Lauren Hemp and Pauline Bremer all handed starts whilst there were places on the bench for goalkeeper Fran Stinson, the returning Megan Campbell and Emma Bissell.
Despite the two division differential it was Watford who created the games first chance as Helen Ward looked to catch Karen Bardsley off her line with a lob but the England international took the ball calmly. City responded through Mel Lawley as she curled an effort over from the edge of the area after good play from Esme Morgan on the left hand side. Wereonika Baranowska was called into action on seven minutes as she forced a fierce volley from Keira Walsh onto the crossbar.
Whilst the action remained in the Watford half the visitors defended admirably and weren’t tested again until 29 minutes when Claire Emslie’s free kick was turned onto the crossbar by Pauline Bremer. City continued their pressure as Mel Lawley bent an effort round the post from the edge of the box before Bremer had a goal ruled out correctly for offside. Despite further chances from Gemma Bonner and Park it remained goal-less at half time.
It took eight minutes of the second half for City to open up Watford again as Bremer received the ball down the right, finding Park who, despite a fine first touch, could only fire her shot at Baranowska. Two minutes later Emily Hill was forced to come to Watford’s rescue as she cleared a Park effort off the line after the Watford goalkeeper had been beaten,
Watford’s resilience forced City into changes as Nikita Parris and Tessa Wullaert replaced Mel Lawley and Lauren Hemp. It had the desired effect almost immediately as on 63 minutes Bremer flicked on a goal kick releasing Parris one-on-one and she slotted home into the bottom corner. City almost immediately doubled their lead as she volleyed a powerful effort wide after good play from Bremer on the right. The second goal arrivedsix minutes after the first as Bremer chested down a high ball into the path of Park who picked out Parris; her first touch created the space to drag the ball into the bottom left hand corner.
City didn’t relent, and Watford didn’t give up, as Baranowska denied Wullaert at her near post before three times denying Parris in front of goal as she sought her hat-trick. As the game entered its final stages City’s full time status became more evident with Parris released one-on-one again only to square to an unmarked Bremer who dragged a shot wide from a seemingly unmissable position. Moments later Parris fluffed her lines for a hat-trick after superb play down the right from Morgan and Park.
City finally found their third with four minutes remaining as an incisive through ball released Park before playing in Bremer who finished coolly into the bottom corner to register her first goal for City since returning from injury. City might have had a fourth as Bremer rattled the crossbar with her very next touch after a lay off from Parris but the WSL leaders eased their way into the hat for the next round.
Player of the Match: Pauline Bremer (Manchester City)