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Cushing: We must start quicker

A return to winning ways is top of Nick Cushing’s agenda ahead of Manchester City Women’s Continental Cup clash with Aston Villa Ladies on Saturday.

The Blues travel to Sutton Coldfield’s Central Ground for a first round tie against the WSL 2 outfit and Cushing is hoping to recapture the winning feeling after last weekend’s draw with Liverpool.

An equaliser from Jane Ross ensured a share of the spoils at the Academy Stadium, but the Blues boss admits he is looking for an improvement against the Villains.

He told mcfc.co.uk: “We were disappointed after Liverpool, but more so with the performance.

“We pride ourselves on playing well and at times, we were slow, sloppy and scruffy, but we’re still unbeaten, we’re still top of the league and we’re still fighting for the title.

“We’ll take that mentality into the Continental Cup against Villa. We’ll try to get the ball down and play and hopefully we can progress to the next round.”

Frustrated to drop points, the City boss found positives after the break, as his side rallied against the Reds.

Reflecting on his half time team talk, he added: “I told the players to return to the way we play and to show a bit of passion and a desire to win.

“I know they want to win but at times, it’s difficult when teams waste time and try to disrupt our rhythm.

“I was pleased with the second half but we need to make sure we start quicker. We have get the ball down, pass it and play our style, because I don’t believe teams can hang on when we start well from minute zero.”

New signing Tessel Middag will be in contention for a first start against Villa, after making her debut from the bench against Liverpool.

The midfielder was influential in the second half fight back, combining with fellow substitute Nikita Parris, who set up Ross’ equaliser.

Cushing was delighted with their impact and was equally pleased to see the Blues adopt a different approach in order to salvage a result.

“Once our rhythm was stopped we relied on their pace and power and posed a real threat. We will have a look at that – maybe we need to adjust our style so we can put the opposition under pressure earlier.”

Roared on by the home crowd, Cushing admits he believed they would be celebrating all three points at the final whistle and was quick to highlight the influence of the Academy Stadium.

"The fans were exceptional – that’s how we need the atmosphere every game. They really carried us, especially towards the end – I really thought we were going to go and win the game.”

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