Laura Mills sends Cambridge City Ladies to victory over Cambridge United Women in FA Cup
Lilywhites have the edge over U's in first-round tie
Laura Mills’ blistering extra-time effort secured Cambridge City Ladies a 2-1 win over Cambridge United Women in the first round of the SSE Women’s FA Cup.
The left winger completed the Lilywhites’ comeback by firing the winner from the edge of the area in the second minute of extra time in what was an entertaining game for the neutral.
There was little to choose between the two teams, with defences on top for most of the game, including extra time.
It was just moments of quality that ended up proving crucial, with both goalkeepers, Tee Mhunduru and Savannah Smith, pulling off a number of notable saves.
The reading of the game from the two defences was the redeeming feature though.
Vicky Neal marshalled the U’s alongside Fran Gough, Carrie Bennet and Emma Jenkins, and they squeezed out the hosts, limiting the opportunities for wingers Mills and Charlotte Gillies to get into the game.
At the other end, it was a similar story as Becca Fay and Robyn Phillips proved a stern double act at centre-back, and were ably and well supported by full-backs Amy Reed and Lolly Tomlinson.
It meant that it almost became a game of chess trying to prize open some space, either in behind the defences or at the edge of the area.
The first real chance of the game came in the 17th minute, as Jenkins hit a great free kick from 25 yards for the U’s which forced Mhunduru into making an impressive save.
City’s first opening came in the 33rd minute as Shannon Shaw got a toe to a cross from Mills, and the shot got a deflection on the way through that Smith did really well to get down to low to turn around her near post.
And from the resulting corner, Phillips’ goalbound effort was deflected wide.
Amy Reed’s mazy run forced Shaw to save low again at her post, and at the other end, Amber Cantwell went ever so close for the U’s from the edge of the area.
Shaw had two half-chances for City in the early stages of the second half, with a header straight at Smith and an effort into the side-netting.
The greater experience of the U’s was starting to show as the game wore on, with captain Kelley Blanchflower finding more space.
Smith had produced another great save to deny City substitute Bella Simmons in the 66th minute before the U’s took the lead nine minutes later.
It was Blanchflower who was the creator, drifting off to the left and then sending in an inch-perfect inswinging cross with her right foot that was almost impossible to defend and Jade Bell arrived at the back post to stab home.
City were throwing everything into the box in the closing stages and they were given hope when Smith suffered an injury that was hampering her movement.
With a last throw of the dice, the hosts launched a ball into the area which fell to Simmons who smashed a ferocious shot through a mass of bodies to equalise for City and take the game into extra time.
Only two minutes of the extra 30 were on the clock when City got what turned out to be their winner.
United were aggrieved as they felt a throw-in should have gone in their favour, but City took it and Erin Davies glanced a header across the box which Mills met with a thunderbolt, giving U’s substitute keeper Liz Pamplin no chance.
Mils and Davies both had chances to add to City’s lead, but were unable to do so, and then Mhunduru came to their rescue.
Mollie Coupar played a superb through ball for Bell to race on to, but Mhunduru was quick off her line to narrow the angle and saved for a corner. From the resulting set piece, Neal was denied in a goalmouth melee and then Jenkins had an effort cleared off the line.
The final chance of the match came in the second period of extra time, and it went to the U’s.
A great turn by Blanchflower saw her beat two defenders and then burst into the area on the angle, but as she attempted to lift an effort over Mhunduru, the keeper was equal to it and forced the ball out for a corner.
It meant City progressed from in an evenly-contested and thoroughly enjoyable match that was a great advert for women’s football.
Cambridge City Ladies: Mhunduru, A Reed, Fay, Phillips, Tomlinson, Gillies, Bodily, Mosley, Mills, Davies, Shaw.
Substitutes: Simmons (Mosley, 61), E Reed (Davies, 115).
Cambridge United Women: Smith, Jenkins, Neal, Whitehurst, Bennett, Hewitt, Gough, Cantwell, Bell, Blanchflower, Shephard.
Substitutes: Crisp (Hewitt, 76), Coupar (Shephard, 84), Pamplin (Smith, 90).
Referee: Darren Lander.
Bookings: City – Fay (foul, 38), Mills (foul, 116), Gillies (foul, 120); United – Blanchflower (dissent, 82), Jenkins (dissent, 88), Cantwell (dissent, 120).
More by this authorMark Taylor