COVENTRY United Ladies valiantly bowed out of the Women’s FA Cup at the quarter-final stage after the Red and Greens were beaten 4-0 by 14-time winners Arsenal.
The Red and Greens defended bravely for large periods at Meadow Park only for their resistance to be broken by Stina Blackstenius’s goal shortly before half time.
And the home side added some gloss to the scoreline in the second half as Beth Mead, Nikita Parris and Vivianne Miedema all struck to end Jay Bradford’s side fine run in the competition.
The club’s progress to the last eight marked United’s first quarter-final appearance in the FA Cup as they now turn their attentions back to their league campaign as the Red and Greens fight for survival in the Championship.
And Coventry were on the back foot early on when Elisha N’Dow was forced to clear Blackstenius’ effort off the line after Lucy Thomas had punched the ball into her path after just two minutes.
The visitors defended resolutely for the opening 10 minutes, with Arsenal limited to just a single shot on target with on loan Aston Villa loanee N’Dow showing her nous to shepherd a through ball out of play.
And the Red and Greens showed their fight again soon after when Mollie Green made a superb tackle to prevent 74-cap Sweden international Blackstenius from shooting.
Coventry kept Arsenal at bay when Thomas got a crucial touch on Blackstenius’ attempted cutback from the right before N’Dow cleared to safety with the game still goalless at the 20-minute mark.
And the Gunners went close just past the half hour mark when 140-cap former Scotland international Kim Little drilled an effort a few yards wide from 20-yards out.
Arsenal continued to dominate the ball and created another chance when Jordan Nobbs crossed for 181-cap United States international Tobin Heath who headed straight at Thomas from close range.
And the hosts took the lead on 38 minutes when Blackstenius headed into the left corner of the goal from Parris’s cross from the right-hand edge of the penalty area after the ball took a flick off a United defender.
However, Coventry responded with their first shot of the game when Charlie Estcourt’s set-piece delivery was met by the head of the returning Grace Riglar who planted an effort narrowly wide of the far post.
Arsenal could have doubled their lead on the stroke of half time when Little blazed a first-time effort over after good work from Parris down the right before Thomas made a good save from Nobbs’ powerful outside of the boot shot.
That meant Coventry headed into the break a goal down after a resolute first-half display at Meadow Park with boss Bradford likely to be delighted her side were still in the tie.
And the home side looked to extend their lead early in the second period when Nobbs found space inside the box only to rush her effort and shoot harmlessly over the top before Frida Maanum shot wide from distance.
Arsenal’s second goal eventually came on 59 minutes when substitute Mead scored with her first touch since coming off the bench, blasting a first-time effort past Thomas from Maanum’s pass.
And the hosts trebled their lead on 63 minutes when Parris finished Katie McCabe’s low cross at the back post after the Coventry failed to track the prolific forward’s run.
Momentum was very much with the Gunners as they boxed Coventry in with a high press with Parris looping an effort over the bar before being replaced by the Women’s Super League’s record goalscorer Miedema.
And the Dutch superstar played a defence splitting pass soon after her introduction only for Riglar to make a stunning block before Laura Wienroither eventually blasted wide.
It was not long before Miedema added her name to the scoresheet as she struck a low effort into the bottom right corner from outside the box on 77 minutes past a despairing Thomas.
And that goal completed the scoring on a memorable night for Coventry who can hold their heads up high despite the scoreline having enjoyed an excellent run in the competition before their exit at the hands of one of the women’s game’s most established clubs.