Nick Cushing’s side produced a convincing performance to earn a 7-1 win and three points against Matt Beard’s West Ham.
Braces from Nikita Parris and substitute Georgia Stanway, strikes from Caroline Weir and Tessa Wullaert as well as a bullet header from captain Steph Houghton, ensured the Blues claimed another 3 points in the WSL.
Former Blue Jane Ross returned for the first time since she left the club in May and the Scottish forward found herself in a bit of a early bother when she beat Houghton, closing down on goal when young keeper Ellie Roebuck came out. Roebuck got there first and stuck her foot in as Ross did the same, seeming to stand on the keeper’s ankle, causing her to stay down for a few seconds before Houghton helped her back to her feet.
The game came to life when youngster Esme Morgan, who was making her first appearance of the season, Weir and Claire Emslie combined down the left; Emslie collecting the ball off Morgan as Weir made the overlapping run. The midfielder’s first cross was blocked by New Zealander Ria Percival, Emslie and Erin Simon both jumping to win back possession with the resulting ball falling to Weir; who struck it with her laces.
City continued their early pressure as Jill Scott was played through by Weir, before making a great run to the far side of the area as Caroline collected the ball; sending in an excellent first time cross. Percival was on the end of the cross and made a bad clearance, the ball reaching Nikita Parris whose backwards header found its way into the back of the net.
The Blues nearly went 3-0 up within ten minutes when a long ball from Steph Houghton was met by Parris, however Becky Spence came out to claim.
Roebuck had returned to take her place in the City goal with Karen Bardsley out injured and the youngster did well when playing the ball out from the back, even when under pressure several times from Ross and Kate Longhurst. City kept the visitors under pressure and it wasn’t long before they scored again as Nikita Parris was played through by Caroline Weir, West Ham keeper Becky Spencer coming to claim but falling short; Parris rounding her and slotted home into an empty net.
West Ham were awarded a corner on the twenty minute mark as Morgan put the ball out and Claire Rafferty stepped up, sending the ball over the back of the net for a goal kick. The home side saw their first corner of the game come in the twenty second minute and Weir sent the ball in, only to see it missed by everybody. Becky Spencer’s resulting goal kick fell to Kate Longhurst who was in turn dispossessed by Emslie, the Scot shooting a long range effort over the bar.
German international Julia Simic sent a ball over the top looking for Jane Ross, but the danger was cleared by Steph Houghton before her former teammate could reach it, Weir collecting it and playing through Parris; Spencer claiming before she could reach it.
Simic was nearly on target when the ball was played back in by Erin Simon, Jill Scott and Kate Longhurst getting their heads on the cross before it fell to Simic; her shot skimming across the face of goal.
Claire Emslie and Caroline played some great link up play together again, Weir playing in Tessa Wullaert before Simic won back the ball.
Claire Rafferty did well to keep the ball in, playing former Liverpool player and lifelong West Ham fan Kate Longhurst in, the forward running with the ball before Jill Scott made a brilliant tackle and the ball found it’s way to Alisha Lehmann; the Swiss dragging her shot wide.
City were awarded a free kick with only a few minutes to go in the first half with Weir looking for Emslie, the ball eventually being cleared. A second set piece was awarded in extra time, sent in by Weir again with Brooke Hendrix clearing any danger and stopping City scoring a fourth before half time.
The Blues came back out strong but it was West Ham who nearly pulled a goal back, Houghton giving the ball away to Lehmann, the winger finding Brianna Visalli and Jane Ross who was gaining on goal, being played in by the American but Ellie Roebuck came to make a brilliant save with her foot and stop her former teammate scoring on her.
Within ten minutes, City were awarded their third free kick of the game, Weir sending it in to Tessa Wullaert before playing in Emslie, Erin Simon muscling her way through and clearing the ball.
The home sides fourth goal looked to be coming when Emslie played a lovely backheel to Gemma Bonner, Emslie and Bonner combining with Claire teeing up Nikita Parris. Wullaert also got involved, sending in a cross to the Scottish forward before Hendrix put the ball out. Parris won the ball back from Visalli, passing back to Keira Walsh with the midfielder spotting Wullaert’s run, sending the Belgian an equally excellent ball, her cross saved by Becky Spencer.
Wullaert then linked up with Bonner, the Belgian laying off the ball to the defender under pressure from the visitors, Bonner’s cross once again claimed by Spencer.
Substitute Georgia Stanway made an almost instant impact when Spencer’s miss kick found it’s way to Parris, the forward beating her marker Hendrix with Stanway making a great run into the area. Parris sent in a low ball that was missed by Flaherty and the keeper, Stanway able to comfortably slot the ball home.
West Ham almost made an instant reply with Jane Ross’s shot saved by Ellie Roebuck and going behind for a corner. Rafferty stepped up and the ball was cleared well by Jen Beattie.
Walsh played some neat football with Weir, the Scottish international being held by captain Gilly Flaherty who thought she’d got away with it before referee Rebecca Welch pulled it back for a free kick. Caroline stood over the ball and sent in a beautiful ball with her left foot, the curl allowing it to beat the wall and connect with Steph Houghton’s head for City’s fifth.
The visitors had Spencer to thank that it wasn’t six earlier, as the keeper made a brilliant one handed save to send Tessa Wullaert’s cross over the bar.
Pressure on Claire Rafferty by Nikita Parris and Tessa Wullaert saw the former Chelsea player miss kick the ball, Wullaert playing through Georgia Stanway who executed a beautiful bit of skill to get past Gilly Flaherty, rolling her foot over the ball and bringing it to her left before shooting past an outstretched Spencer into the net.
West Ham needed a consolation goal and substitute Esmee De Graff gave it to them as she collected an excellent ball from Jane Ross on the half way line, switching the play and running down the wing, beating Morgan and slotting the ball past Roebuck.
City weren’t done yet and it was Tessa Wullaert who got the last goal. Parris beat Erin Simon and Ria Percival to, falling on the edge of the box but recovering to get the ball with Flaherty backing off. The forward cut the ball back to the edge of the area where Wullaert was waiting to strike the ball at Spencer; her shot going through the keeper’s legs for the seventh.
Speaking to mancity.com after the game, forward Nikita Parris had this to say “You know, that’s my job. I’m a striker for Manchester City. I want to score goals and I have been scoring goals lately, and it must continue! There’s a big season ahead and a World Cup coming up so that’s important too”.
“We’ve had slow starts, and that’s just been from not concentrating going from the warm up into the game, we needed to concentrate from the start, because in other games we’ve been 2-0 down and that’s obviously not great for us so today we got off to a winner with Caroline Weir’s goal, which was brilliant”.
On the team’s performance: “I think you’ve got to understand in this league in one moment there could be a goal against you, and then you could be 3-1 up and they have the momentum, and they have a spell in the game, so you’ve got to keep fighting”.
“So then the fourth came, the fifth came and at 6-0 we were comfortable, and as I said if you get too comfortable they can put one in behind you and they can score, so you really do have to keep concentrating”.
Man City Women will play another WSL newcomer in Brighton and Hove Albion on 21 October at Crawley Town FC with a 2pm kick off and tickets available on the gate.
Man City Women:
Ellie Roebuck, Gemma Bonner, Jen Beattie, Steph Houghton ©, Jill Scott (Jess Park 87’), Esme Morgan, Nikita Parris, Caroline Weir, Claire Emslie (Georgia Stanway 69’), Keira Walsh and Tessa Wullaert
Subs (not used): Fran Stenson, Nadia Nadim and Abbie McManus
Goals: Weir 2’, Parris 7’, 17’, Stanway 72’, 80’, Houghton 76’ and Wullaert 86’
West Ham United Women:
Rebecca Spencer, Ria Percival, Erin Simon, Brooke Hendrix, Gilly Flaherty ©, Alisha Lehmann, Jane Ross, Julia Simic (Esmee De Graaf 69’), Claire Rafferty, Kate Longhurst (Vyan Sampson 90’) and Brianna Visalli (Rosie Kmita 77’)
Subs (not used): Anna Moorhouse
Goals: De Graaf 82’
MCWFC OSC POTM: Caroline Weir
Referee: Rebecca Welch