Aston Villa v West Ham United
Aston Villa are likely to still be on a high after their dramatic exploits against Sheffield United in the last round. Gemma Davies’ side looked to be on their way out of the competition when they were 3-1 down with four minutes left to play. Jodie Hutton netted from the penalty spot in the 87th minute and completed her hat-trick in injury time, taking the tie to extra time.
Sian Rogers saved Sheffield’s first penalty before watching her teammates net all five spot kicks, with Hutton slotting hers down the middle and sending her side through to the last eight.
This performance landed Hutton with the player of the round award. Aston Villa will need her to be on top form again if they are to be in with any chance of pulling off an upset against a strong Super League side.
West Ham United had a poor start to the year with four defeats in January although it must be put into perspective that those were tough games against Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool. Since the start of February they have managed to get their season back on track, thanks in part to their FA Cup run which saw wins against National League opposition Blackburn Rovers and Huddersfield Town.
If Aston Villa can keep Swiss international Alisha Lehmann quiet then they might stand a chance of getting something against the Hammers. Even though the Championship side are in good form and full of confidence I cannot see them causing an upset in this game.
Prediction: West Ham United win
Durham v Chelsea
If Durham can pull off a win against Chelsea in this tie then it will be the biggest upset of the round and the northeast side goes into the game in great form. They have only tasted defeat once since November last year and that was a 1-0 defeat in the Continental Cup to Manchester United, a side who they defeated 3-2 the following week.
I fully expect Durham to be organised and difficult to beat. Goalkeeper Hannah Reid and her defence will need to keep a tight leash on Kirby while up top, Zoe Ness and Beth Hepple will need to be clinical and be ready to take their chances. I fear that if Chelsea find the net early on then they will run out comfortable winners.
Prediction: Chelsea win
Manchester City v Liverpool
The Women’s Super League leaders Manchester City take on Liverpool in the last eight. The Continental League Cup winners breezed past Championship high-fliers Tottenham in round five, while the Reds defeated Millwall 2-0.
Vicky Jepson has done well since her appointment as Liverpool manager but she will have to pick her side up after a disappointing 4-0 home defeat to Chelsea. The Red’s main threat up front will be Courtney Sweetman-Kirk. The forward has had an impressive season, scoring ten goals in seventeen apperances.
While there isn’t much to separate their male counterparts I cannot see anything other than a win for Nick Cushing‘s City side. They have been in superb form all season and boast the in-form Nikita Parris up front. She will be looking to add to her first half hat-trick in the win against Reading on Wednesday.
Prediction: Manchester City win
Reading v Manchester United
For me, this is the tie of the round and where I shall be spending my Sunday. My loyalties will be slightly split on this one, I am a supporter of Manchester United but was fortunate enough to meet Reading‘s club captain, Kirsty Pearce when she visited my Havant & Waterlooville U13‘s training last month.
When it comes to predicting what the outcome of this game I have no idea, it really could go either way. Reading were the victors when the sides met in August as part of the Continental Cup although it was United who went further in the competition, eventually going out to Arsenal.
United will have had seven days rest since their comfortable 6-1 win against Leicester City in the Championship last weekend. Casey Stoney’s side scoring three in each half.
Reading’s mid-week game against Manchester City finished 4-3 to the league leaders but Kirsty’s side can be proud of their second-half comeback. Reading had won just two of their last nine competitive fixtures but took an early lead when Remi Allen‘s header was pounced on by Brooke Chaplen, who slotted the ball beyond City goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck. The game took a turn and they found themselves 4-1 down on the hour after a hat-trick from Nikita Parris and another from Demi Stokes. Fara Williams 61st minute penalty and Pearce’s late goal made it tense in the closing minutes but City hung on.
I’m struggling to separate the sides but think that United’s extra days rest might just swing the tie in their favour. Hopefully I’ll see lots of goals either way.
Prediction: Manchester United win