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Women's Football News
The FA WSL returned to action over the weekend following the recent international break and first up was the final round of group matches in the Continental Tyres Cup.
The eight quarter finalists are now known but the last one was not decided until the last match on Wednesday night.
The deciding match in Group One North between Sunderland and Liverpool was initially postponed on Saturday night and played three days later. It was the Wearsiders who were to win 1-0, courtesy of an early goal from Bridget Galloway, to clinch top spot for themselves.
The other group game turned out to be an entertaining affair in which Aston Villa won 3-2 against Durham Women. Jordan Atkinson did put the Wildcats in front midway through the first half but Tash Baptiste equalised on the half hour and Ebony Salmon gave Villa the lead after the break. Elizabeth Ejupi scored what proved to be a decisive third with three minutes remaining, despite Zoe Ness giving Durham late hope by pulling one back.
In Group Two North, holders Manchester City secured their place in the last eight on Sunday after first half goals from Nikita Parris and Claire Emslie earned them a 2-0 victory over Birmingham City.
Doncaster Rovers Belles meanwhile notched up their first points as they ran out 5-1 winners over Oxford Utd. Rebecca Rayner kept up her good goalscoring form by giving the Belles a two-goal lead inside the opening four minutes, before Hannah Short pulled one back for the home side. After the break, Christie Murray increased Doncaster's lead and Jess Sigsworth added the fourth, with Murray netting her second four minutes from time.
The final group match was played on Wednesday night with Manchester City winning 3-2 away to Doncaster Rovers Belles. City led at the break through an early strike from Claire Emslie but early in the second half, the Belles were back on level terms thanks to Jess Sigsworth. City's response was immediate with Jane Ross and Georgia Stanway scoring in quick succession but the Belles had given a good account of themselves on the night and Christie Murray's late goal meant they were beaten by the narrowest of margins.
Reading FC Women went into their final match requiring a point in order to finish on top of Group One South. They made sure of doing so in style, winning 5-0 away to Millwall Lionesses. The Royals led at the break through a goal from Brooke Chaplen and Rachel Furness added a second, seven minutes after the restart. Lauren Bruton made It three on the hour mark before Furness and Chaplen went on to crown the win by completing their doubles on the day.
London Bees broke their duck by recording their first win although it was via a penalty shootout after sharing a 1-1 draw with Watford. Rinsola Babajide scored on the stroke of half time to put Watford in front but after the break, Emma Beckett levelled matters against her old club from the penalty spot. Neither side could find a winner during normal time and the game went to penalties. Both teams missed once, taking the shootout into sudden death where Nicola Hobbs saved Meghan McKeag's effort to ensure her team were 5-4 winners.
Group Two South has been the most open of the four and neither of the qualifiers had been confirmed going into the final matches. On Saturday night, Bristol City gave themselves hope with a 3-0 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion, whose chances were ended as a result. Danique Kerkdijk opened the scoring for the Vixens midway through the first half and Lauren Hemp made it two from the penalty spot, nine minutes into the second half. Yana Daniels curled home a 25-yard free kick late on to round off the win for City and leave them waiting to see if they had done enough to qualify.
Chelsea made sure of a quarter final place themselves the same night when scoring eight times without reply past Yeovil Town. Crystal Dunn gave them a sixth minute lead which was doubled by a Nicola Cousins own goal, before the game was marred by a head injury sustained by Eniola Aluko which thankfully did not turn out to be serious. Erin Cuthbert and Drew Spence added further goals in a lengthy first half injury time and after the break, both players each netted their second with Fran Kirby and Gemma Davison also getting on the scoresheet.
This meant that Tottenham Hotspur needed to avoid defeat in their final game in order to qualify, albeit away to Chelsea. In the end it was Chelsea who ran out 4-1 winners with Hannah Blundell putting them in front and Fran Kirby adding goals either side of half time. Lauren Pickett did pull a goal back against her former club but Drew Spence sealed the win - and Bristol City's place in the quarter finals - with the final goal.
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