Despite a gutsy performance, we were beaten 4-2 on penalties by Manchester City in the final of the FA Women’s Continental League Cup on Saturday.
We worked tirelessly throughout, but would ultimately be made to pay for failing to take advantage of our dominant first-half performance.
We started brightly with Beth Mead, Danielle van de Donk and Kim Little showing great fluidity through the middle.
This carved open space for Mead, who failed to capitalise on a fine lofted pass from Lisa Evans, before McCabe fired over from close range.
We continued to dominate possession for the remainder of the opening 45 minutes, but on the stroke of half-time, City had a golden opportunity to open the scoring against the run of play.
Former Gunner Steph Houghton climbed high inside the box to meet Caroline Weir’s corner, but her glancing header sailed just wide of the post. It would have been a cruel end to a promising first-half performance.
Following the break, we maintained our attacking intensity and in the space of just two minutes, created our best opportunity of the afternoon so far.
Evans raced free down the left and picked out Mead inside the area, but the 23-year-old snatched at her chance and headed wide when she had the opportunity to take it down and finish.
Shortly after, however, we were given a quick reminder of City’s attacking threat, when Nikita Parris fizzed a header over Sari van Veenendaal and onto the crossbar.
Parris then skimmed the woodwork with a powerful effort from the right, before Weir found space behind our defence and failed to hit the target from a promising position.
Mead had a late chance to bag the winner when she caught City’s defence on the counter, but she could only force Bardsley into a routine save, taking the game to extra-time.
Van Veenendaal then went on to make a number of stunning stops to keep the score level, before the referee blew her whistle for penalties. The best of the bunch being a one on one against Parris.
Georgia Stanway and captain Little both converted in the first round, before Van Veenendaal and Bardsley produced brilliant saves to deny Hemp and Williamson.
Substitute Claire Emslie then fired into the bottom left corner, but Van de Donk was unable to equalise, handing City the lead.
Houghton and Bloodworth made no mistake from 12 yards, coolly firing home - but by this stage, City only needed to score once more to secure the trophy.
Janine Beckie stepped up and produced the goods, inflicting a heart-breaking defeat on Montemurro’s side.
The squad will now go away for the international break - but open their return, they’ll be back in Women’s Super League action against Bristol City on Thursday, March 14.
The game will take place at Meadow Park with kick-off at 7:30pm (UK time).
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