Manchester City sealed a domestic cup double with a hard-fought 3-0 victory over West Ham United.
Second-half goals from Keira Walsh, Georgia Stanway, and Lauren Hemp sealed what was on the balance of play a deserved victory for Nick Cushing’s side but the Hammers pushed them close on a day of fine margins.
In the end, it was an error from goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse which put City in control as she failed to stop Walsh’s swerving effort from the edge of the box.
Up until that point, Matt Beard’s side had more than played their part in their first FA Cup final less than 12 months after becoming a professional side.
Far and away a different side from the one which went down 7-1 to the same opponents earlier in the season, West Ham went on the offensive when they could and had the best chance by distance in the opening 45 minutes when Karen Bardsley brilliantly clawed away Jane Ross’s header.
For a team that looked incoherent at best earlier in the season, West Ham were superb defensively during the game, with captain Gilly Flaherty and center back partner Brooke Hendrix putting bodies on the line.
Man City had the better of possession but couldn’t find the breakthrough. Nikita Parris’s pace in behind was a constant menace but it wasn’t meant to be on the day for the newly-crowned FWA Player of the Year.
City’s passing let them down in key areas during the opening 45 but just after the hour mark, the 2017 winners took control when Walsh’s effort fooled Moorhouse and wriggled into the back of the net in a moment the goalkeeper wouldn’t want to see again.
Once it was 1-0, Man City largely controlled the match but had to wait until 10 minutes from the end for their second.
Georgia Stanway, named player of the match less than a week on from being named PFA Young Player of the Year, tormented West Ham down the left, skipped inside and fired a low effort beyond the reach of Moorhouse.
Substitute Lauren Hemp made it 3-0 late on, the teenager’s pace too much for West Ham to handle in the final minutes.
Hemp burst onto a ball down the left channel, beat Moorhouse with a lob, and watched the ball roll into an empty net.
Hemp nearly made it four in stoppage time when her low effort hit the post as City looked to put the gloss on a score line that somewhat did disservice to West Ham’s efforts over the 90 minutes.
Manchester City (4-4-2): Karen Bardsley; Abbie McManus, Steph Houghton (C), Jen Beattie, Demi Stokes; Tessa Wullaert; Jill Scott, Keira Walsh, Caroline Weir (Claire Emslie 85); Nikita Parris (Lauren Hemp 82), Georgia Stanway
Unused subs: Ellie Roebuck, Gemma Bonner, Pauline Bremer, Janine Beckie, Megan Campbell
West Ham United (4-3-3): Anna Moorhouse; Erin Simon (Rosie Kmita 89), Gilly Flaherty (C), Brooke Hendrix, Claire Rafferty (Brianna Visalli 62); Ria Percival, Kate Longhurst, Cho So-Hyun; Alisha Lehmann, Jane Ross (Leanne Kiernan 64), Adriana Leon
Unused subs: Becky Spencer, Vyan Sampson, Lucienne Reichardt
Referee: Abigail Byrne