As the FA Women’s Continental League Cup group stages heat up, Jessy Parker Humphreys has the low down on all the excitement from the second round of the cup competition.
Group One North
Made up of Aston Villa, Blackburn, Coventry, Durham, Liverpool and Sheffield United, Group One North is probably looking like the most open and interesting of the Continental Cup groups.
After Sheffield United’s surprise win over Liverpool in the first round of games, they went away to an Aston Villa team that are the only squad with a better record in WSL2. Despite a consolation goal, and a missed late penalty, Aston Villa ran out 3-1 winners, getting their first points on the board after their earlier loss to Durham.
Meanwhile, Durham ran out 3-1 winners against Blackburn leaving them in control of the group, whilst Liverpool beat Coventry convincingly 5-1 to get their first win of the season.
Group Two North
The Manchester women’s derby was the stand out fixture from the weekend and this time, Manchester United took the bragging rights as they ended City’s domestic 100% record.
United went 1-0 up early on thanks to a pinpoint free-kick from Katie Zelem before Jess Sigsworth finished off a flowing team move to make it 2-0.
Most worrying for City though was Keira Walsh’s somewhat harsh seeming red card, meaning that she will be suspended for their away trip to Arsenal next weekend, with Aoife Mannion also ruled out due to the ACL injury she picked up during their Champions League fixture against Atletico Madrid.
All of which should be more than enough to give Arsenal confidence that they could close the three-point gap that has already opened up.
In the other fixture, Birmingham City found their shooting boots to beat Leicester 5-1 with Lucy Staniforth scoring twice and playing a key role. It curiously matched Liverpool’s result, who they will play next week in what is already looking like a game that could have big implications on the relegation battle.
Group One South
Arsenal ladies had already bounced back from their loss against Chelsea with a 5-2 Champions League win against Slavia Prague but continued to look in fine scoring form with a 4-0 win with Charlton, who are currently sat bottom of the WSL2.
Beth Mead continued her habit of scoring screamers with a powerfully curled ball from a very tight seeming angle, and added two assists as well.
Arsenal’s only worry will be that Vivienne Miedema had to be withdrawn at the very end – with Montemurro seemingly not willing to rest players ahead of the Manchester City game, even when they were 4-0 up.
London Bees beat London City Lionesses comfortably 3-0, with London City Lionesses having sacked manager Chris Phillips after only 6 games despite sitting 4th in the WSL2. This result only compounds the suggestion that something is not quite going right at the Millwall breakaway club.
Bristol City were able to beat Brighton 2-1 with Ebony Salmon scoring her second goal in as many games, which after impressive seasons in both the Women’s Championship and WSL2 suggests the 18 year old might be ready to start making an impact at the highest level. She is definitely one to watch throughout the season.
Group Two South
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes has never been one to shy away from an outspoken comment and her interview declaring that the Continental Cup had outlived its usefulness led much of the coverage of this weekend’s games.
Despite thinking that, Hayes still put out a strong team which, after a dull first half, were more than capable of breezing past Crystal Palace to a 3-0 victory. But this group’s other games demonstrated some spark for the Cup Competition.
Reading had to rely on a last minute winner from Fara Wiliams to complete her hattrick in their 3-2 win against lower league Lewes, after some poor defending saw them give up their 1-0 lead.
Williams continues to be in scintillating form as the lynchpin of this Reading team. The other group game saw even more late drama as Tottenham almost squandered a 2-0 lead as Martha Thomas and Kenza Dali brought the game back to 2-2 with four minutes remaining.
Thanks to the quirk of the Continental Cup which means draws get sent to penalties, Tottenham were able to pick up an extra point, despite their late collapse.
The Cup might have outlived its usefulness – but it’s not devoid of excitement quite yet.
Follow Jessy on Twitter @jessyjph