Manchester United U21s crowned winners of WSL Academy Cup

LEIGH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 23: A detailed view of the FA Women's Super League badge is seen on the shirt of Ella Toone of Manchester United during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Manchester United Women and Tottenham Hotspur Women at Leigh Sports Village on January 23, 2022 in Leigh, England. (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

On a fantastic evening at St George’s Park, Manchester United Academy beat Birmingham City Academy 4-1 to win the WSL Academy Cup.

The teams played in front of a packed crowd on the showpiece Bobby Moore pitch while viewers around the world watched via the FA Player. This was all great publicity and visibility for the WSL Academy League where future stars are born.

Birmingham City can hold their heads high after WSL Academy Cup defeat

The scoreline is a little harsh on Birmingham City, who had their chances in the first half but could not capitalise on them. Layla Banaras broke forward in the first few minutes but she sliced her shot off target.

The very talented Delphi Cole rounded the United keeper Middleton-Patel but couldn’t get her shot away. Moments later, Cole found herself one on one with the keeper again but this time her shot was over the bar.

Manchester United find their stride

Having endured the Blues onslaught for almost 20 minutes, United finally settled into their stride. Maria Edwards had her shot saved by Lucy Jones but the rebound found its way to Alyssa Aherne who put it away neatly. It remained 1-0 until half-time.

Shortly after the break, Karna Solskjaer crosses the ball for Aherne to score her second. Jones was called into action again but made a great save from Rebecca May.

At the other end, the tenacious Millie Pullen kept finding space in front of goal but could not keep her shots down.

Both teams fight until the end

Daisy Clements came on for Blues but played in the right-back position. Clements is dual signed with Leafield Athletic where she has scored an astonishing 49 goals.

Pullen squares the ball to Cole but her effort comes off the crossbar. Blues kept on pressing.

The Reds then broke through again to make it 3-0 courtesy of a long-range stunning goal from Rebecca May. Keira Barry made it 4-0 with ten minutes to go.

However, the Blues were not done yet. Manager Paul Cowie made sure every player got some minutes on the pitch by making further substitutions. United’s Charlotte Healy also made sure all her players got some game time.

Birmingham’s tenacity paid off in injury time when Millie Pullen finally got her reward as she rounded the keeper to slot home and make it 4-1.

Thoughts of Blues Manager Paul Cowie

Cowie said “First of all, immensely proud of the girls and where they’ve come from and the way they’ve played. Football is a tough game and I thought Man United were excellent. They took their chances really, really well.”

“We had chances that could have changed the game at times, but it didn’t. Our girls will learn so much from being in and around it. Being in this environment and playing a team of that quality.”

“I’ve set a challenge to them. Can we back here against next year? And can you be the ones that are lifting the trophy?”

Thoughts of Reds Manager Charlotte Healy

Healy said “Obviously really delighted for the girls. Really proud of them to get the win. I didn’t think it was a great performance from us. Especially in that first half.”

“Sometimes a final is about finding ways to win. We changed things a little bit at half-time. I thought we were better with the ball in the second half.”

She continued “When we played when we connected well and used the ball well, I thought we were really good. And we scored some good goals.”

Talking about the future “It’s about the right experience for the right players at the right time. For some of them it’s to go and train with the first team, for others it’s to go out on loan. Every player’s journey looks really different.”

MORE from Her Football Hub: