Goals from Keira Walsh, Georgia Stanway and Lauren Hemp clinched a glorious cup double for the Continental Cup winners at Wembley Stadium, as Cushing’s side ran riot in the second period after a cagey opening.
Both captain Houghton and her manager admitted the sense of occasion on the big played its part in the first half display, but were delighted to see City show their true colours after the restart.
GALLERY: Picture special | Wembley wonders
“We wanted to come here and have a good day out, and bring the trophy back,” Houghton declared. “We’ve done that.
“It’s been a good season. We were disappointed not to have won the league but to have come here and won the double by winning the FA Cup is a massive achievement for the Football Club.
“I think we started slowly because we were nervous, playing here is a big occasion and we could have played a bit better in the first half.
“At the same time though, we showed our class in the second half. We were ruthless.”
Cushing agreed: “I’m really happy. We knew four weeks ago what we were in control of: finishing the season undefeated with a cup double. We’ve done that.
“We’ll go into the game against Arsenal looking to continue that unbeaten run but for now, we’ll enjoy this because that second half performance was excellent.
“I thought we looked emotional in the first half. The occasion affected play a bit – instead of playing the way we play, we looked a bit desperate to score at Wembley and win the FA Cup.
“That’s not how you win football games. At half-time, we told them to go out, be logical and controlled and settle down, playing our football. I thought we controlled the game in the second half.
“We could have scored more but when your team goes out and scores three at Wembley with a clean sheet, you have to be pleased!”
Cushing also praised the efforts of the full squad, highlighting the team’s squad depth as a key attribute to City’s success.
Substitutes Hemp and Claire Emslie produced impactful cameo displays, much to their manager’s delight.
“Squads win games,” he stated. “I said to the team at the start of the season: every game, the players on the bench have to affect the game.
“Emslie and Hemp did that, which shows the recruitment and squad depth is really important.”
Houghton echoed: “That’s what we’re all about – it’s a squad. It’s not just the 11 players on the pitch.
“We have to stick together. Everybody is needed.
“Nick coaches us every single day to be better players. For him, this trophy is as important as it is to us.”