The finals for the Manchester Women’s Challenge Cup Final has been determined thanks to two thrilling semi-finals played out on Sunday afternoon.
West Didsbury & Chorlton 3-4 FC United of Manchester
FC United reached their third consecutive Challenge Cup Final but were forced to do it the hard way as they surrendered a 3-1 lead before a late Emily Marsh goal saw them sneak past West Didsbury & Chorlton at Brookburn Road.
FC got off to an early lead through Aimee O’Keefe as she opened the scoring with a one-on-one finish. Elizabeth Livesey responded for West chipping the goalkeeper from the edge of the area before United’s lead was restored through a close-range finish from O’Keefe. The visitors made it 3-1 just before half time when Jess McCarrick reacted quickest at a corner, finishing from close range.
Everyone might have been forgiven for thinking game over but Livesey had other ideas as she netted from close range 4 minutes after the restart. The West striker levelled from a goal-line header just after the hour mark to register four consecutive hat-tricks in the competition this season.
Livesey had a great chance to win it for West as she saw an effort cleared off the line by Francesca Davies with six minutes remaining. Another FC defender broke the West hearts though as Emily Marsh scored a brilliant solo goal to hand FC a thrilling 4-3 win.
Manchester Stingers 3-4 Salford City Lionesses
Less than a mile down the road another exhilarating game as GMWFL Champions elect Salford City overcame NWWRFL Premier Division side Manchester Stingers.
Stingers took a 16th minute lead as Beth Hayes turned home a close-range effort at the far post moments after Salford City had hit the league through Phoebe Bennett. Salford levelled on 27 minutes after Salford hit the woodwork for a second time, through Captain Beth Tattersall, and Laura Tobin tapped home the rebound.
Four minutes later Mia Pemberton saw her effort saved, before Tattersall saw her effort saved and Feiruz Abdullahi found the net at the third attempt to give Salford the lead. Abdullahi struck the post for a second time in the opening 45 minutes but Salford were forced to settle for a single goal lead at half time.
It took just two minutes of the second half for Salford to extend their lead as Ellen Thornton turned home a corner to make it 3-1. Abdullahi added her second on 53 minutes as she found the top corner after a through ball from Tattersall.
At 4-1 it should have been game over but Stingers refused to lie down and pulled a goal back through Aly Hastie as the Stingers striker tucked home a rebound as Salford goalkeeper Jess Duke could only parry a free kick. Hastie added a second of her own in the fourth minute of stoppage time but Salford hung on to earn themselves a maiden Challenge Cup final birth in their first season.
FC United will now face Salford City on Friday 26th April, 7:30pm KO, at West Didsbury & Chorlton.