Not given much hope of beating the current WSL champions, Chelsea, part-time Durham pulled off another strong performance but didn’t have enough to keep their opposition out. The deadlock broken 28 minutes in when Ji So-yun tucked home Erin Cuthbert’s cross, converting Chelsea’s first shot on target. Clattering the woodwork twice, the Blues failed to put the match out of reach late in the day before a goalmouth scramble at the death saw a Zoe Ness effort cleared off of the line.
Further south, it was another narrow loss for the part-time hosts who came undone at the hands of WSL opposition. Keeping the game open until just before the half-hour, the Villainesses were caught out as Leanne Kiernan sent a delicious effort towards the top right corner, Sian Rogers came up trumps to make the initial save but could only parry the ball onto Jane Ross’ toe for the Scottish striker to stroke home. Down but not out, the hosts hit the woodwork twice as the Irons also struck the frame of the goal before the end of the match, the poached goal the only thing to separate the two at the whistle.
There was clearly something about goal scored just before the 30-minute mark as the Citizens found their breakthrough late in the first half too, Janine Beckie’s thunderbolt enough to have them ahead at the break. Not having the most memorable league campaign, the Reds dug deep to keep themselves in the match, a neat one-two between Nikita Parris and substitute Georgia Stanway enough for the hosts to double their advantage 20 minutes from time and leave Liverpool heading out of the cup. The tie capped off in typical Stanway fashion as the youngster found the bottom corner from outside the box two minutes from time.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a cup round without one tie running beyond 90 minutes. Having already clashed once this season, in the Continental Cup group stage, with Reading the victors that day, the Red Devils managed to keep their hosts at bay during regular time. Deadlocked after an hour and half, the first half of extra time finally saw the dam break with Alex Greenwood converting from 12-yards after Lauren James was felled in the box, the lead only lasting for two minutes, however; Rachel Furness’ hopeful cross met by Remi Allen for instant parity.
It was groundhog day a minute into the second half of extra time as United took the lead, this time through a Natasha Harding own goal, before the Royals hit back instantly, Furness and Allen combining once more, this time the Northern Ireland international the one with the goal. With time fast running out and penalties looming, the hosts thought they had snatched it when Fara Williams’ corner whipped all the way in, only for the referee to rule it. Yet there was still a dose of drama as Rakel Hönnudóttir found the back of the net in the last seconds of stoppage time, forgoing the need for a shoot-out.