Coventry City Ladies kick off County Cup campaign with resounding win over Knowle
Coventry City Ladies started their defence of the Birmingham FA County Cup with an emphatic 14-0 win over Knowle.
A predominantly second-string Sky Blues stormed into a 6-0 lead at the break, courtesy of a hat-trick from Cherelle Archibald and two from Natalie Reay, whilst Hannah George netted her first goal for the senior team.
George struck twice in the second-half to complete her hat-trick, whilst Reay scored again to rack up the third separate hat-trick of the tie. Courtney-Sweetman Kirk came off the bench to weigh in with three goals herself, before Becky Anderson and Nicole Dale scored late on to wrap up a thoroughly one-sided tie.
"It is nice to have the win," boss Chris Holloway admitted after the Second Round victory over the West Midlands Women's Division 1 South outfit. "However, what is more satisfying is the way the players have applied themselves. They have been professional in everything we have done and the attitude to succeed is fantastic."
Holloway admitted that his players were mentally prepared for the tie and were not taking anything for granted going into the game. After the match, the Sky Blues boss also reserved praise for the way Knowle conducted themselves throughout the tie.
"I mentioned to all the players that at all levels of football, how often do you see the so-called ‘bigger club’ become the shock of the round against lower league opposition? We had to be ready physically and mentally to make sure we weren’t one of those upsets. Sometimes the opposition doesn’t get the recognition either and today Knowle were a credit to their club because they played the right way and never stopped working."
Holloway resisted the urge to keep the same team that had recorded victories in the previous two games, opting instead to make nine changes to the starting eleven that defeated Cardiff City last weekend, with Dale and Nikki Miles the only two players to keep their places.
This subsequently meant debuts for Rachel Graham and Becky Anderson, whilst Jade Whitfield, Erika Mole and Natalie Wilcox were also given rare first-team opportunities, and Holloway was impressed by the strength in depth of his squad.
"Throughout the season we will need these players to be ready," he admitted frankly.
"It’s never a ‘16-player’ season and what they did today was show a hunger and desire to win, but also some real quality. I thought Emily (Blake) played with great maturity, Natalie (Reay) did very well to get her first goals for the club and Nikki (Miles) showed great quality and versatility yet again. It was very pleasing to see a few players making their first-team debuts and others recovering well from injuries."
Courtney Sweetman-Kirk – whose hat-trick took her tally to eight goals for the season – also praised the effort of the players that came into the team on Sunday.
"I was very impressed. The team was changed around a lot, with Reserve and what you may call ‘fringe’ players coming into the team. Everyone pulled together and there were some very positive and promising performances. The pitch wasn't ideal, but I feel we put in a professional performance from start to finish."
These performances will certainly give Holloway food for thought ahead of this weekend’s testing league match against Manchester City. Their opponents have only been beaten once in six matches and victory over Barnet on Sunday meant that Manchester City leapfrogged the Sky Blues into 4th position in the FA Women’s Premier League table. The fixture will take place at the Bedworth Oval, and will kick off at 2pm.