Players warm up ahead of Durham's FA Women's Championship fixture against Tottenham Hotspur - Photo by FA Photographer

FA Women’s Continental League Cup: Three ties which can’t be missed

This season’s FA Women’s Continental League Cup gets underway on Sunday afternoon with 11 ties set to be staged across the country.

Manchester City are the current holders of the trophy following their victory over Arsenal in last season’s final at Bramall Lane but there will be several clubs who will fancy themselves to challenge Nick Cushing’s side for their silverware this season.

Sunday’s opening round of matches promises to throw up some classic encounters with a number of mouthwatering ties set to take place. We have selected three ties which we believe simply cannot be missed.

Group A – Durham v Aston Villa

Just two 100% records remain in the FA Women’s Championship, those being held by Durham and Aston Villa.

On Sunday, the pair go head-to-head at New Ferens Park in the FA Women’s Continental League Cup.¬†Group A looks wide open with winless top flight club Liverpool drawn with five second tier clubs, three of which are chasing promotion in Aston Villa, Durham and Sheffield United. Durham and Aston Villa will believe that they can advance to the knockout stages of this season’s competition.

Durham’s clash with Aston Villa sees two sides who have averaged 3.29 goals per game so far this season go into battle for group points. The key player in this fixture could be Villa forward Melissa Johnson who already has two hat-tricks to her name.

With both sides so deadly in attack, the winners could be the side which are most organised at the back on the day. In manager Lee Sanders, Durham have a manager who knows how to stifle the more dangerous second tier sides while both clubs go into their latest fixture on the back of a clean sheet.

Group D – Chelsea v West Ham United

‘Tie of the Day’ could come at Kingsmeadow with both Chelsea and West Ham United seeking silverware for very different reasons.

The Blues ended last season trophyless, a complete contrast to their double-winning feat in 2017/2018 while West Ham United’s fairytale first top flight campaign saw them end the season as Women’s FA Cup runners-up. Emma Hayes’ Chelsea side are under pressure to win honours once again while opponents West Ham United are simply searching for signs of further progression and are hungry for many more tastes of the big occasion.

Chelsea struggled to a 1-1 draw at Brighton & Hove Albion last time out while West Ham United beat Birmingham City at Rush Green after only losing by the odd goal at Arsenal on opening day. The gap is closing between The Hammers and the FA Women’s Super League’s elite and Matt Beard’s side will believe that they can get a positive result at Kingsmeadow just like they did in their last visit in March when Gilly Flaherty bundled in an equaliser in a 1-1 draw.

Group D – Tottenham Hotspur v Reading

The only thing missing from Reading’s high class performances in recent seasons has been a cup final appearance.

The Royals were just a penalty shootout away from reaching Wembley last season when they were defeated by West Ham United on spot kicks at Adams Park in the Women’s FA Cup semi-finals.

Sunday’s opponents Tottenham Hotspur are just starting out life in the top flight but manager Karen Hills has made some strong signings over the summer to hopefully ensure that their FA Women’s Super League adventure is not a one-season wonder.

Both sides have similar records from the opening two rounds of matches this season. Tottenham Hotspur have one win, a clean sheet and a defeat while Reading have had similar fortunes, both sides losing to title-chasing opposition in Chelsea and Manchester City respectively.

On paper, many will believe that Reading’s experience should shine through but opponents Spurs will cause their fair share of upsets this season and cannot be underestimated.

Fixtures:

Group A: Coventry United v Blackburn Rovers, Durham v Aston Villa, Liverpool v Sheffield United

Group B: Bristol City v London Bees, Charlton Athletic v Brighton & Hove Albion, London City Lionesses v Arsenal

Group C: Birmingham City v Everton, Manchester City v Leicester City

Group D – Chelsea v West Ham United, Lewes v Crystal Palace, Tottenham Hotspur v Reading

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