Wembley awaits for City once more with a place in the 2019/20 FA Women’s Cup Final.

The holders are one victory away from a successful defence of the trophy, having booked our place in the Final for the third time in four seasons.

A superb, battling 2-1 victory over the in-form Arsenal secured the feat, as captain Steph Houghton and summer recruit Sam Mewis fired home against the Gunners to edge a thrilling encounter, which also saw World Cup winner Rose Lavelle make her debut for the Club.

Jordan Nobbs had levelled before the break with a stunning long-range effort but once again, City’s fighting spirit shone through with an impressive display.


What happened

The six-month adjournment of the 2019/20 campaign meant that by the time this clash was contested, the competition’s reigning Champions City had held the trophy for a total of one year, four months and 28 days.

With two editions of the tournament in 2020/21, the ambition is to extend that period to two years come the anniversary of the 2019 Final next May.

Victory over Leicester City in the quarter-finals – a game originally set for March – had sparked a return to winning ways for Gareth Taylor’s side and set up a mouth-watering clash with WSL heavyweights Arsenal: the competition’s most successful side. The Gunners – familiar foe in domestic competition with five meetings in the Continental Cup, including three in the Final – travelled to Manchester in red-hot form with 19 goals in three games.

City meanwhile were yet to find our rhythm but the ‘desire and determination’ shown in Sunday’s quarter-final win had earned plenty of praise from manager Taylor and it was on show for all to see against the Gunners.

Flying out of the blocks, City hassled and harried the visitors into mistakes, driving forward with every opportunity and mounting a period of early pressure. Mewis went close with two low efforts, while Georgia Stanway’s drive suffered the same fate, and Chloe Kelly watched a cross-shot loop just over.

The breakthrough arrived before the 20-minute mark when Leah Williamson upended Caroline Weir, handing City a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Up stepped set-piece specialist Houghton, who made no mistake against her former club, bending the ball beautifully past Manuela Zinsberger.

Ellen White almost doubled the advantage but headed straight at the Gunners’ shot-stopper and was unfortunate not to finish a lovely team move, slightly misjudging the flight of Weir’s flick-on.

Arsenal rallied on the half-hour as the half sparked into life with a late flurry of activity.

The Gunners levelled with a spectacular strike from Nobbs, who rocketed a long-range effort past Roebuck, but the visitors’ respite was short-lived as City responded immediately, regaining the lead as Mewis netted her first competitive goal.

The effort had more than a touch of controversy, as Arsenal pleaded handball as White scrambled to keep the ball alive in the six-yard box. The England striker reacted quickest to the loose ball, cutting back for Mewis to stab home from close range and clinch a half-time lead.

While City had yet to fire on all cylinders on the attacking front, our defensive solidarity so far in the 2020/21 campaign had impressed and the backline were stoic to limit Arsenal to mere half-chances, ensuring Roebuck remained pleasingly untroubled.

Even WSL top scorer Vivianne Miedema was kept quiet – her one major venture into the City penalty area thwarted expertly by Demi Stokes.

At the other end, Stanway forced Zinsberger into a fine stop, while Kelly smashed over the bar.

United States star Lavelle gained her first taste of English action, as Taylor introduced the midfield maestro with 25 minutes remaining, as City fielded two World Cup winners – and best friends – at the heart of midfield.

The final moments proved tense and Roebuck had to be alert to punch clear a dangerous cross in the dying embers, but the holders held on for a well-deserved victory to seal our spot at Wembley.

What it means

City progress to the 2019/20 FA Women’s Cup Final on Sunday 1 November, where we will face Everton, in a 2:30pm GMT kick-off.

Enjoying another impressive season, the Toffees defeated Chelsea in the last eight, before thumping Birmingham 3-0 on their own patch.

How we lined up

Manager Taylor opted to make three changes from the side that defeated Leicester in the quarter-finals.

Roebuck regained her place in goal, while Lucy Bronze and Mewis also replaced Esme Morgan and Jill Scott.

A backline of Stokes, Bonner, captain Houghton and Bronze sought to keep the Gunners’ firing line at bay, with Keira Walsh – making her 150th appearance – protecting the defence.

Weir and Mewis were employed in midfield, flanked by Stanway and Kelly, with White upfront.


Player of the Match

Unwavering in the air, composed in possession and even willing to put her body on the line for the cause, Mewis produced an imperious display.

She may have been at the right place at the right time for the matchwinner but anticipation is key – and she was at the heart of the original move.

Stat attack

The triumph saw Keira Walsh make her 150th appearance.

In her sixth year with the Club, the midfielder has helped her beloved City to three Continental Cups, two FA Cups and an FA Women’s Super League success.

Here’s to the next 150!

Up next…

With games coming thick and fast, it’s a rapid turnaround for City with this weekend’s visit of Tottenham Hotspur.

Taylor’s side host the North London outfit on Sunday 4 October (12:30pm UK) at the Academy Stadium with the game live on the BBC Red Button.

A Continental Cup group stage clash then follows on Wednesday 7 October (7pm) when fellow FA Cup Finalists Everton visit.