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Leicester City, of the Northern Division, caused a shock in beating National Division Blackburn Rovers 4-0 with an outstanding team performance at Oadby in the Premier League Cup.
Defending soundly when necessary, the Foxes created a host of chances in a fine display by their attack, whose movement and interplay was a delight to watch. They progress to the quarter finals as one of a number of potential stumbling blocks for the remaining National Division teams.
Both teams were without key players, Rovers more than City, but the Foxes won virtually all of the individual battles and were generally quicker and sharper in the tackle than their visitors.
The first half was fairly even though there were signs of things to come as early as the fifth minute when Natasha Meade lobbed Krystal Parker after reaching a through ball, but the ball bounced inches wide. Rovers also went very close early on when Vanessa Leat flicked on a Kim Turner corner and a header went inches over from close in.
Vicky Gallagher fired just over on ten minutes but the match settled into a midfield stalemate until the half hour when Parker foiled Meade with a brave block in a one on one. It seemed that it would be goalless at the break until a fine move allowed Meade to play Gallagher in and she beat the advancing keeper to give the locals the lead.
Blackburn made two substitutions and started the second half well but the match turned on two
incidents around the fifty minute mark. Leanne Hall made a fine save to prevent Danielle Sheen equalising, turning away a powerful close range shot. A couple of minutes later a hotly disputed throw given to the home team led to a quick cross which Parker could not hold and Gallagher tucked her second away.
Worse was to follow for Rovers as Meade added a third on 57 minutes with a quick turn and powerful drive into the bottom corner. Rovers tried to rally, Hall having to turn away a Leat free kick and a dangerous Turner corner which followed.
Generally, however, the former England keeper received excellent cover from her back four and as the visitors pushed more and more players into attack to try to get back into the tie, the Foxes created a stream of chances on the counter. Parker made four outstanding saves in the last ten minutes to keep the score respectable, twice denying Gallagher her hat-trick and twice keeping out powerful Meade shots, one from point blank range on her near post and the other with a sprawling save from a 20-yard drive.
The overworked Rovers keeper was finally beaten by a beautiful 25-yard lob from Courtney Sweetman-Kirk after a scuffed clearance, to seal a comprehensive victory on 89 minutes.
Blackburn have a small and largely young squad who have performed well in the League but were stretched for this match by injuries and suspensions. Above all, they were outplayed on the day by a Leicester team of which every member played really well. On this performance the Foxes, who scored eight away from home last week, will give any of the other seven quarter finalists a real test.
Leicester City: Leanne Hall, Katie McLaughlin, Natalie Johnson, Emily Simpkins, Lauren Impey, Samantha Morris, Natalie Reay, Chloe Jones, Natasha Meade, Vicky Gallagher, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk. Subs: Maz Gauntlett, Annabel Johnson, Leanne Morley, Holly Morgan, Brogan Jones.
Blackburn Rovers: Krystal Parker, Fiona Berry, Vanessa Leat, Nikki Twohig, Rhiannon Roberts, Hannah Forster, Kim Turner, Denise Campbell, Danielle Sheen, Jenna Carroll, Katie Chattell. Subs: Jasmine Elliott, Nichol Forster, Nicola Hatcliffe, Charlotte Hayes.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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