Victory over Leicester City booked our place in the 2019/20 final four, as Gareth Taylor’s side ran out 2-1 winners over the FA Women’s Championship outfit.
Chloe Kelly netted her first competitive goal for the Club from the penalty spot before Georgia Stanway bagged her third of the season with a sweetly-struck half-volley.
Charlie Devlin halved the deficit with 12 minutes to go to set up a nervy finish but City held firm to progress.
Having lifted the trophy in May 2019, City have stood as the reigning Champions for almost 17 months.
Enthralling victories over Manchester United and Ipswich Town – the latter a ten-goal triumph – had set the holders well on our way to defending the title before the 2019/20 campaign was brought to a premature conclusion.
Thankfully, FIFA awarded the FA special dispensation to resume the FA Cup and so, six months after the initial fixture had been postponed, City travelled to Leicester in the last eight, looking to advance in the first of two editions of the competition this season.
The lowest-ranked side left in the competition, Leicester … the sole FA Women’s Championship representatives. However City’s Janine Beckie had warned against the dangers of facing the Foxes, especially on the unfamiliar territory of Quorn FC’s Farley Way Stadium.
City came flying out of the blocks, hassling and harrying the hosts at every opportunity and forcing mistakes. The tactic almost bore fruit to settle any early nerves, as Jill Scott fired just over and Stanway drew an excellent save by Demi Lambourne.
Ellen White also went close before Stanway struck the woodwork with a header, as the visitors mounted wave after wave of attack.
The breakthrough arrived eight minutes before the break, as referee Robert Massey-Ellis pointed to the spot when Stanway was upended.
Summer recruit Kelly – one of the stars of pre-season – stepped up to take the spot kick and smashed beyond Lambourne to open her City account.
Leicester responded well, putting the away side under immediate pressure, and almost struck an immediate leveller as Karima Benameur-Taieb tipped over Remi Allen’s long-range effort.
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Two minutes before the break though, City killed the game, doubling the lead as Stanway bagged the goal she deserved, collecting White’s flick-on and clipping the ball beautifully over Lambourne and into the top corner.
The second half proved a more even affair, as Leicester pushed for a route back into the contest.
White thought she had put the game to bed with a superb long-range half-volley - only for the referee to rule out the strike, due to the effort arising from an indirect drop-ball.
The home side clawed themselves back into the tie with 12 minutes remaining with another penalty - this one converted by Devlin to set up an intriguing final ten minutes.
Despite Leicester's spirited efforts, City held on to triumph.
How we lined up
Taylor opted to rotate, opting for five changes from the side which were held to a goalless draw against Brighton and Hove Albion.
Benameur-Taieb was named in goal, shielded by a backline of Demi Stokes, Gemma Bonner, captain Steph Houghton and Esme Morgan.
Keira Walsh protected the backline in the defensive midfield role, employed behind Caroline Weir and Scott with Chloe Kelly and Stanway occupying the wings. Ellen White led the line upfront.
Chloe Kelly bagged her first goal for the Club with her composed strike from the penalty spot.
The triumph marked City's third victory over the Foxes - a 100% record - with 11 goals scored and just one conceded.
The holders have reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup in every season since our maiden 2014 campaign.
It’s a quick turnaround with the semi-finals taking place in midweek.
City face Arsenal at home at the Academy Stadium on Thursday 1 October in a 7:15pm kick-off, which will be broadcast live on BBC Two.
Taylor’s side then return to FA Women’s Super League action with the visit of Tottenham Hotspur to the Academy Stadium on Sunday 4 October – also live on the BBC.
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