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Durham Women 0 Manchester City 3 (Johnston 27, Duggan 38, Scott 83)
Manchester City Women booked their place in the semi finals of the Continental Cup with a comfortable 3-0 win over Durham Women.
Goals from Krystle Johnston, Toni Duggan and Jill Scott secured a straightforward victory, ensuring the Blues finish top of Group Two with 12 points from a possible 15.
In the knowledge of what was riding on this encounter, City manager Nick Cushing sought to avoid any chance of an upset against a side without a win in the competition, fielding a strong team against the FA Women's Super League 2 side. Cushing made two changes to the side that dispatched Sunderland Ladies last weekend, with Duggan and Chelsea Nightingale returning to the starting line-up.
From the kick off, the difference between the two sides became evident as City carved through the Durham defence with ease - only to be prevented by Danielle Hill in the Wildcats' goal. Natasha Flint created the first real effort of the afternoon but fired straight at the shot-stopper before Johnston's shot suffered the same fate just three minutes later.
Having failed to convert from close range, City tried their luck from further out but Johnston and Scott both fired straight at Hill, whilst Duggan's curler dragged wide.
After 27 minutes of total domination, the Blues finally broke the deadlock as Johnston swept home at the far post, from Flint's pinpoint cross. It was no more than the visitors deserved and they almost doubled their advantage straight away - only for Duggan to beat the goalkeeper but hit the post.
Flint then hit the bar with a trademark thunderbolt but City did net a second on 38 minutes. Scott, who - like Betsy Hassett - was at the heart of most City attacks all afternoon, sent Duggan clear and the England striker coolly slotted past Hill to mark her full return from injury with a goal.
After the break, the Blues took their foot off the gas slightly. Duggan, Flint and Isobel Christiansen all saw efforts fly off-target before Cushing opted to make changes - perhaps with half an eye on the upcoming fixture pile-up.
Substitute Danielle Young had the greatest impact, delivering an inch perfect cross for Scott to head in the third of the afternoon on 83 minutes.
Youngster Alex Brooks then came on to replace Karen Bardsley but as it turned out neither goalkeeper had a save to make, as Durham's only effort arrived on 88 minutes but sailed high and wide.
That proved to be the last notable action of the game and the Blues eased to a comfortable win to join Arsenal Ladies, Chelsea Ladies and Thursday's visitors Notts County Ladies in the semi-finals.
Durham Women: Danielle Hill, Meg Lawson, Lauren Jordinson (sub Becky Hanratty 77mins), Sarah Wilson, Beth Hepple (sub Ellie Christon 45mins), Jennifer King (sub Kate Bradley 45mins), Caroline Dixon, Emily Scott, Jordon Atkinson, Beth Jennings, Jess Round.
Manchester City: Karen Bardsley (sub Alex Brooks 84mins), Abbie McManus, Emma Lipman, Betsy Hassett, Chelsea Nightingale, Steph Houghton, Krystle Johnston, Jill Scott, Toni Duggan (sub Georgia Brougham 71mins), Natasha Flint (sub Danielle Young 56mins), Issy Christiansen.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
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