Cardiff City 1-2 Swansea City: Hosford the hero as Swans lift the Cup on rivals soil
In a cup final with more meaning than most, what ensued was a South Wales derby filled with flair, fire and passion.
Alana Murphy gave Cardiff the lead in the 55th minute, but goals from Jodie Passmore and Katy Hosford gave Swansea their first Women’s Cup trophy since 2015.
Despite a game of few clear chances, both sides battled for midfield control in what appeared to be an evenly matched affair.
The first chance fell to the Bluebirds in the fifth minute, as forward Shannon Evans struck a free kick from 25 yards out but blazed her curled effort over the bar.
With neither team able to establish any dominance in what appeared to be an evenly matched tie, both teams struggled to keep any meaningful possession or create any chances when they had the ball.
It took until the 23rd minute for the Swans to have their first attempt on goal, when Jodie Passmore beat Montana May to the ball out wide, striking a speculative half-volley from way outside the area. The strike stumbled wide but showed promise for the Swans as they began to grow more into the tie.
Perhaps the most promising attempt came in the 26th minute, as Shannon Evans latched onto a brilliant through ball to find herself bearing down on goal. Evans could only watch in despair, as a heavy touch allowed stopper Gemma Border to dive onto the ball with the Cardiff forward wasting a glorious opportunity to put her side in front.
Swansea pressure began to mount towards the end of the first half, with another opportunity 33 minutes in.
Jodie Passmore smashed a free kick from 25 yards out, curling an effort towards the top right of the net, but proved to be little trouble for stopper Cerys Chamberlain as it fell to her side of the goal.
The Swans came forward once more, and in the 41st minute, Passmore was slipped through on goal by Sophie Hancocks after Cardiff failed to clear their lines.
The effort was rushed, however, with her low driven shot firing across the face of goal in one of her sides better chances of the game, bringing the first-half to a close.
Swansea again looked to build upon the pressure they had created at the end of the half, as eight minutes after the restart they had a free-kick on the edge of the area in a great position. Jodie Passmore sweetly struck a driven effort towards the centre of the goal but could only muster a shot straight into the gloves of Ceryn Chamberlain.
It was the Bluebirds who broke the deadlock in the 54th minute, as Shannon Evans latched onto a mistake at the back, firing a low pass from out wide into the path of Alana Murphy. The number 11 found herself one-on-one with the keeper, taking a touch to compose herself as she slotted the ball into the right corner to give Cardiff the lead.
The Swans came straight back at Cardiff, appearing undeterred by the setback they had suffered.
This determination was shown in the 60th minute when Ellie Lake found space down the right-hand side, striking an effort towards goal just outside the area that appeared to be heading towards the top left corner, but it was well saved by a comfortable Chamberlain hand.
Swansea were handed a glorious opportunity to equalise in the 64th minute. Passmore won a penalty for her team as her deft touch slipped the ball away from the defender, giving the referee no choice but to point to the spot.
The forward stepped up and calmly fired her attempt into the left side of the goal, once again making it all square for the Swans after some strong pressure.
The biggest surprise of the match, however, fell in the 72nd minute of time. Katy Hosford picked up the ball on the left side of the area, firing into the six-yard area in what appeared to be a routine catch for stopper Cerys Chamberlain. To the surprise of the winger, Chamberlain fumbled the attempt and watched in agony as the ball fell into the back of the net to give the Swans a 2-1 lead.
Swansea nearly extended their advantage late into extra-time, breaking after a Cardiff free-kick with substitute Emma Beynon finding herself with virtually an open net, but her attempt slipped just wide of the mark. This was to be the last action, and Swansea celebrated a third Women’s Cup success.
Cardiff City Women: Chamberlain, Jones (70′), May, Daley Walsh, Thomas (80′), Bourne, Underdown (77′), Evans, Owen, Murphy.
Subs: Broadley, Skinner, Wathan (77′), McDonough (70′), Davies (80′).
Swansea City Ladies: Border, Powe, Hancocks (89′), Lake, Newcombe, Hughes, Passmore, Hosford, John-Davies (77′), Witts, Hancock.
Subs: Adams (77′), Beynon (89′), Davies, Richards, Brisland.
(Featured image: Jordan Jones)