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Michael Plant

Share With facebook Share With whatsapp Share With sina weibo Share With email Goals from Abbie McManus and Jane Ross cancelled out Kayleigh Green’s late penalty and mean Casey Stoney’s Reds move into the last four of the competition for the second time in as many years.

United started the game well under the lights at Leigh Sports Village and fashioned the first chance after just four minutes when Jess Sigsworth headed into Cecile Fiskerstrand’s arms from Katie Zelem’s cross, before the no.9 curled another effort just wide.

The Reds lined up without Millie Turner on Wednesday, who missed her first-ever United game through injury.

The Reds made that encouraging start count in the 14th minute. Again Zelem was pulling the strings, this time with a spectacular in-swinging cross that fell perfectly for McManus to tap in. The defender couldn’t miss from just a few yards and notched her maiden strike for United in the process.

The Reds continued to boss proceedings, with Sigsworth and Kirsty Hanson looking dangerous on the flanks and the wingers drove several ominous crosses into the Brighton box, to no avail.

The visitors then came close to equalising via a Kate Nilden whipped cross intended for the head of Amanda Nilden, but Mary Earps rose highest to punch clear.

Yet, United were still in the ascendancy and hit the crossbar around the half-hour mark. Zelem floated in the corner and Sigsworth was unfortunate to see her powerful header crash off the woodwork

The wide areas were proving particular fruitful for the hosts and Hanson’s cross flicked just inches over the bar, via the foot of Brighton defender Danique Kerkdijk, then minutes later Ross’s goal-bound header was blocked in the box.

While United were on top for the majority of the half, the Seagulls still provided a real threat at the other end, and perhaps should have headed in at the break on level terms.

Matilde Lundorf fashioned the opportunity after a barnstorming run through the Reds defence which presented her with a one-on-one shot against Earps. However, the Dane fired high and wide when composure was needed, and ensured United went in ahead at the break.

The visitors picked up where they left off after half-time and were awarded a penalty within five minutes after a clumsy Hayley Ladd challenge.

Ini-Abasi Umotong stepped up and her powerful strike rattled off the crossbar, to the relief of most inside Leigh Sports Village.

Sigsworth again put in a tireless performance for the Reds.

United hadn’t began the second period with as much gusto as we demonstrated in the opening 45, but a double substitution from Casey Stoney changed that.

Lauren James and Lizzie Arnot were introduced on 62 minutes and the former soon slipped Ross through near the edge of the box. The experienced Scot cut inside on her left foot and fired her shot at Fiskerstrand.

Soon after, James combined well with Sigsworth, but the youngster’s strike was also saved by the Brighton stopper.

The Reds were again on top and added that vital second goal with 15 minutes remaining. Zelem - who ran proceedings for most of the evening - provided the inch-perfect ball into Sigsworth’s path, and the attacker centred it to the on-waiting Ross, who casually knocked it into the back of the net.

Stoney would have hoped for a comfortable end to the match, but the Seagulls ensured it was nervy finish by netting a late penalty.

The Reds celebrate Ross's second-half strike.

Ladd again was culpable for conceding the spot-kick after she took Umotong down in the area, and substitute Green dispatched confidently from 12 yards.

The referee added on six minutes of injury time, in which the visitors pumped plenty of long balls in the box. Despite that, Brighton’s best chance in that period came from a tame Danielle Boman free-kick, which was well held by Earps.

The full-time whistle was greeted by a jubilant cheer from the home crowd as United progressed to the last four of the competition for the second campaign in a row.


United: Earps; Harris, McManus, A.Turner (James 62), Smith; Ladd, Zelem (C) Toone; Sigsworth (Okvist 83) , Ross, Hanson (Arnot 62).

Substitutes not used: Ramsey, Galton, Groenen.

Booked: Ladd, James.

Scorers: McManus (14), Ross (75).

Brighton: Fiskerstrand; Lundorf, Williams, Kerkdijk (Bowman 89), Gibbons; Simpkins (Green), Connolly, Natkiel; Whelan, Nilden (Roe 80), Umotong.

Substitutes not used: Harris, Barton, Le Tissier, Le Garrec.

Booked: Simpkins.

Scorers: Green (83).

Attendance: 642.

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Michael Plant

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