Manchester City see off challenge of West Ham to book FA Cup final spot



West Ham 1-4 Manchester City

Manchester City booked their ticket to Wembley and will play for a fourth FA Cup title after a hard-fought semi-final win over West Ham.

The supposed top three’s eight-year stranglehold on the FA Cup trophy will continue for a ninth, after West Ham were unable to fend off resurgent City’s run to their second domestic cup final this season.

It is not since 2012, when Birmingham City lifted the trophy, that a team other than City, Chelsea or Arsenal have triumphed, and the gap in quality between them and the rest was evident in Dagenham. Mistakes in defense marred West Ham’s first half, and though they clawed back a goal, City’s grip on the game from the second-half onwards was absolute and they sauntered to a 4-1 win.

The goals brought their tally to 20 in their past four FA Cup ties, highlighting the complete turnaround Gareth Taylor’s side have made since the beginning of the season, when they last lost to the London outfit.

Then, injuries to key players such as Lucy Bronze and Chloe Kelly had marred the early parts of the league campaign. Now City are coming off winning the Continental Cup and on a run of eight consecutive victories across all competitions, and they were able to keep West Ham at bay on Saturday as they had a fortnight ago in their 2-0 win in the WSL.

They took the lead after Keira Walsh’s sublime half volley from 20 yards hit the inside of the cross bar, landing just shy of the goal-line, and Ellen White reacted first, poaching the goal with an uncontested close-range diving header. It was unfortunate for the home side, who had battled hard for the first 20 minutes to keep City on their toes, and their confidence dipped thereafter.

Captain White could have had two more goals, if not for being ruled out for offside, but luckily her City side took their advantage and ran with it. A poor pass across the West Ham box from captain Gilly Flaherty helped Chloe Kelly intercept and she doubled her side’s lead. Making only her second appearance and first start since a knee injury ruled her out last May, Kelly was still not quite at full speed on the right wing but she has not lost her clinical instincts in front of goal, and her passionate celebrations after scoring betrayed the long road to recovery she has been on.

West Ham ensured things remained tense, when they pulled one back just short of half-time. Their pressing efforts were rewarded after City defender Alex Greenwood gave the ball away and Adriana Leon combined with Lisa Evans, who showed great composure to beat both the goalkeeper and Bronze to slot the ball home.

They were clinging on and Tameka Yallop, who had been energetic in midfield all afternoon, almost found West Ham’s equalizer at the hour-mark when she was played through by Evans, but she clipped her tight-angled shot just wide of goal and that was the last of her side’s chances.

Lauren Hemp put the tie beyond West Ham’s reach minutes later with a solo goal that epitomized the winning mentality that separates the top sides from the rest. Hemp pick-pocketed Lucy Parker, who was playing with fire within the West Ham half, turned and beat both Grace Fisk and Mackenzie Arnold in goal with a left-footed effort. Her second de ella and City’s fourth de ella came in injury time when a defeated West Ham could only look on in anguish at their wasted efforts.


www.telegraph.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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