West Didsbury & Chorlton booked their place in second qualifying round of the SSE Women’s FA Cup with a hard fought victory away to Manchester Stingers. For the second straight season West’s Women’s team opened their campaign on the road to Wembley with the first step in the journey a short trip down Kings Road in the first ever women’s South Manchester Derby.
Paul Caddick named four debutants in his starting eleven with Orla Conlon, Hannah Mitchell, Rachael Dunlop and El Powles all making their first appearances in a West shirt. In addition, West also named 16-year-old winger Abi Littler on the bench.
The home side started the stronger of the two teams as West struggled to find space on the narrow pitch with Stingers seeing two efforts off target in the opening stages. On 19 minutes Stingers came closer again as Nicola Armstrong had the ball in the net only for it to be ruled out for offside.
West’s first chance came on 23 minutes as Dunlop brought the ball into the final third before finding Jami Hodges on the left; her cross found Sophie Bracegirdle at the far post but the winger failed to hit the target from the narrow angle. The deadlock was broken on 29 minutes when Hodges drove down the left before playing it inside to Mitchell; the West midfielder in turn rolled the ball in front of her before nonchalantly firing the effort into the top corner from 25 yards out. A terrific effort to open her account for the club.
West almost doubled their lead immediately as they found some space on the right and Bracegirdle almost picked out the waiting Vicky Kerr in the six yard box. West finished the half strongly as Ellie Caddick’s free kick found Elizabeth Livesey at the far post before her header was turned round the post by teammate El Powles. The last move of the half saw Claire Jefferson called into action for the first time in the half as she made herself big to deny Armstrong through one-on-one and ensure West’s first half lead.
The second half was just five minutes old when Stingers forced themselves level as El Powles clearance struck the face of a Stingers player before falling kindly to Armstrong who finished between the legs of Jefferson. Stingers went close to taking the lead on 54 minutes when a header from a corner flashed wide of the post.
West were level for just seven minutes as Bracegirdle peeled off her marker at the far post before beating the goalkeeper to the ball, before playing in Elizabeth Livesey whose effort diverted into the path of Rachael Dunlop to fire home from close range.
West made it 3-1 on 65 minutes as a free kick from the right found Jami Hodges who was then upended in the box. Shauna Edmondson stepped up to drill home the penalty to give West a two goal cushion.
Stingers pulled themselves back to 3-2 on 80 minutes when Beth Hayes curled effort found the top corner from the edge of the penalty area but were then reduced to 10 players as Amy Kennedy was shown a second yellow card as she tripped Dunlop through on goal.
Dunlop’s presence continued to be a thorn in the Stingers side as she was brought down for a penalty by Angela Ashioti. Edmondson added her second from the spot, coolly slotting past the Stingers goalkeeper. There was still time for another goal as Edmondson turned provider pulling back Kerr’s corner with the West number 19 drilling home from close range in off the foot of the post to score against her former club.
The result see’s West into the second qualifying round safely for the second year running ahead of their NWWRFL opener against Didsbury next Sunday.