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Manchester City v Doncaster Rovers Belles
 Women's Football News 21 Mar 2015
 
F.A.Women's Cup - Road to the Final
Doncaster Rovers Belles are through to the last sixteen once again after coming through a difficult tie away to Bradford City with a 2-1 victory. Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and Sue Smith scored the goals to see the Belles into the Fifth Round where they will play away to Manchester City, who enter the competition for the first time at this stage.
 
Manchester City Women's Football Club was founded in 1988 by one of City in the Community's original members, Neil Mather. Back then, the club was known as Manchester City Ladies and was created after a series of successful local tournaments led Mather to suggest holding an event exclusively for female football teams. The tournament proved a hit and several talented women took part. Mather then made a formal proposal to Manchester City's club secretary, Bernard Halford, to set up a women's team which would be run by CITC.
 
The idea was approved and a number of advertisements appeared in the programme. Trials were held at Platt Lane, with more than 30 women turning up for the first session and 70 in attendance for the second. Many attendees were lifelong City fans and the first squad included several Blues in its ranks. In January 2014, the club launched the newly-renamed Manchester City Women's Football Club, reflecting the team's values as professional, athletic, skilful and as positive role models.
 
The club's first competitive game was a friendly against Oldham Athletic Ladies, played at Boundary Park. Transport and kit was provided by Manchester City and the women's side went on to play many more friendlies before they entered into the regional league for the North West. As the club cemented itself into league football, they began to recruit more experienced players. The Blues went on to participate in tournaments and friendly games that often tied in with the men's fixtures.
 
As Manchester City aimed to move away from the 1970s and 80s image of football as a male-dominated environment, the women's team became more and more popular. They made an appearance in an episode of World In Action and one of their games was shown on the Saturday morning children's programme, Wide Awake Club.
 
In 2005 they won the Northern Combination title and were promoted to the Premier League. Six years later they were crowned Northern Division Champions and played in the National Division for the first time in their history.
 
City Women has kept its affiliation with the men's side and in August 2012, Manchester City announced its commitment to the women's team as part of a systematic rebuilding of the football club and the recognition of the need to formalise the relationship for the benefit of the women and girls' game. The announcement marked an exciting new era for the women's side, who had been promoted into the Women's National Division - the second highest tier in UK women's football.
 
It was the club's stated ambition from the outset to achieve entry to the FA Women's Super League and in April 2013, this ambition was realised. In the winter of the same year, the Blues made their first marquee signing in Jill Scott, before going on to recruit top internationals Karen Bardsley, Toni Duggan and Steph Houghton to their ranks. Featuring speeches on the club's history, present status and plans for the future, the event also saw the club reveal its dedication to improving women's football in the local community, with a plan to hold a series of coaching programmes for girls in the area delivered by CITC.
 
In their debut season in the top flight of women's football in England, Nick Cushing's side collected their first ever piece of silverware - the Continental Cup - following a 1-0 victory over Arsenal Ladies in the final with a goal from Issy Christiansen. City also finished the FA WSL season in fifth place and will be hoping to better that in the 2015 campaign.
 
City have been busy recruiting during the winter with more high profile arrivals including the likes of Lucy Bronze, Jennifer Beattie, Demi Stokes, Sarah Wiltshire, Nikita Parris and Natasha Harding. The club is also giving youth a chance and highly rated defender Georgia Brougham was recently awarded a professional contract.
 
The tie is also notable for being the first competitive match for the women's team at the new City Academy Stadium, which was completed during the winter. 
 
Manchester City (from): Karen Bardsley, Alex Brooks, Abbie McManus, Chelsea Nightingale, Emma Lipman, Georgia Brougham, Kathleen Radtke, Steph Houghton, Demi Stokes, Lucy Bronze, Jennifer Beattie, Issy Christiansen, Jill Scott, Krystle Johnston, Nikita Parris, Natasha Harding, Natasha Flint, Toni Duggan, Sarah Wiltshire.

Doncaster Rovers Belles (from): Nicola Hobbs, Lyndsey Cunningham, Sam Tierney, Leandra Little, Rhiannon Roberts, Kasia Lipka, Molly Johnson, Sue Smith, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, Emily Roberts, Beth England, Reanne Thomas, Sophie Stamp, Jody Handley, Ashleigh Mills, Sophie Barker, Danielle Hill, Lauren Cresswell, Hope Knight.


 
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