The Blues secured a 3-2 win over 2nd place Birmingham City Women and continued their unbeaten run in the league. After going out of Europe to Spanish league champions Atlético Madrid in midweek, Nick Cushing’s side were anxious to get back and perform in the WSL.
City had the first chance of the game when Georgia Stanway played through Nikita Parris, the forward beating her marker only to see the ball run out of play.
Birmingham gave the visitors a scary moment of their own when Lucy Staniforth found Chloe Arthur but fellow Scottish international Jen Beattie watched the ball out. A few minutes later however, it was Abbie McManus who sent a back-pass towards Ellie Roebuck, the keeper unable to touch the ball went to head the effort but unfortunately the shot was too high and it rolled into the back of the net.
The home side seemed happy to play the ball around at the back, however Stanway, Parris and Caroline Weir kept applying pressure to Aoife Mannion and Meaghan Sargeant.
The Blues were awarded a corner when Weir was played in down the left by Jill Scott, the attacking midfielder’s cross into Stanway cleared behind by Mannion. Weir’s cross was initially missed by Parris with Steph Houghton’s header down being cleared only to Stanway whose powerful shot was blocked.
Lucy Staniforth managed to win the ball back off Houghton and her cross connected with McManus, the defender nearly scoring a second own goal if it wasn’t for Roebuck’s brilliant reaction save.
The Solihull outfit were awarded a free kick twenty minutes in and Staniforth stepped up to take, Beattie clearing her effort out to Tessa Wullaert before Stanway lost the ball to Staniforth, Nikita and Georgia both continuing to apply pressure to Berger in the Birmingham goal.
Emma Follis played the ball wide to Lucy Staniforth and her cross fell first to Houghton who couldn’t get the ball away fully, the rebound falling to Hayley Ladd whose shot went thankfully wide of Roebuck’s post.
Scott’s pass found Keira Walsh, who played in Stanway on the left wing before laying off the ball to Weir, her cross headed away by Kerys Harrop before Sarah Mayling cleared again. Parris and Wullaert played a lovely passing piece, the Belgian getting the better of her marker before laying the ball back to Parris who was gaining on goal; Aoife Mannion winning possession back.
Captain Steph Houghton had a chance to pull back an equaliser when Mayling tackled Georgia Stanway, referee Wayne Cartmel awarding the visitors a free kick, but Houghton’s effort couldn’t change the score line.
With five minutes to go Weir stepped up to take a corner, her effort connecting with Beattie’s head who watched as her shot was cleared off the line by Lucy Staniforth, the ball eventually falling back to Wullaert whose effort went over.
Wullaert and Stanway combined to apply pressure on Paige Williams, the defender laying off the ball to Hayley Ladd and then Sarah Mayling; Stanway applying pressure on Berger.
The Blues ramped up the pressure to score an equaliser before the break, Georgia having a shot across goal collected by Ann-Katrin; Weir’s low cross looking for Parris also picked up. The Birmingham keeper’s goal kick fell straight to Nikita and the forward saw her effort saved by Berger in the last action of the half.
The second half started with more pressure from Birmingham, the home side awarded a free kick within seconds; Houghton getting her head to the ball sending it back to Roebuck. Another set piece a few minutes later saw Marisa Ewers’s cross go behind for a Birmingham corner, Lucy Staniforth’s pinpoint cross finding Meaghan Sargeant’s head to put the Solihull side 2-0 up.
City needed to get back into the game for a chance at the share of the points and Keira Walsh’s ball found Parris, Ann-Katrin Berger there to claim the ball again.
The visitors found the breakthrough they needed when Georgia Stanway’s cross was initially missed by Parris, Weir collecting the ball and hitting it goal-wards, her shot taking a slight deflection off Kerys Harrop and into the goal; the Scot claiming her effort.
Eager to draw back and equaliser, the Blues found Tessa Wullaert down the right, the Belgian’s cut back finding Nikita whose shot was cleared by Chloe Arthur. Wullaert was then played through by Gemma Bonner, the defender’s cross missing everyone but City were awarded a corner which Weir took, swinging the ball into the box; the final shot being cleared.
Bonner found Stanway on the right and the youngster’s shot was cut out by Marisa Ewers and collected by Ann-Katrin. The Birmingham keeper’s long throw was collected by half time substitute Charlie Wellings, who chipped the ball over to Lucy Staniforth, Ellie Roebuck bravely coming out of her area and saving the shot with her shoulder.
A City throw in from Bonner found Nikita and the forward’s shot came off Aoife Mannion resulting in a corner for the visitors. Clearly the favoured corner taker, Weir stepped up but her cross was too low and was cleared by Paige Williams.
Birmingham were awarded a free kick roughly 60 minutes in and Marisa Ewers effort was collected by Keira Walsh, the midfielder playing a passing piece with Jill Scott, Walsh finding Parris and then Wullaert, the forward’s shot being saved by Berger. City’s throw in found Jill Scott who passed the ball back to Steph Houghton in space, the captain playing Caroline Weir through, the Scottish international slipping the ball through the Birmingham defender’s for Parris to tap home into the bottom left and equalise.
With only three substitutes named on the bench due to injuries and one of them a goalkeeper, Nick Cushing had to use his changes sparingly, only bringing on Claire Emslie for Nikita Parris in the second half. Emslie made an almost immediate impact, getting a cross in which was cleared by Harrop before the forward applied pressure on Berger.
The defining moment came when Roebuck found Tessa Wullaert and the Belgian made a run down field with the ball, striking the ball on the edge of the box and watching it sail into the back of the net.
City would have a chance at a fourth goal Weir’s free kick seemed to be heading into the back of the net, only for the midfielder’s shot to skim wide and hit the edge of the post. Walsh played a beautiful ball to Georgia Stanway, the youngster’s cross finding Claire Emslie but the Scottish international was called offside.
Neither side had many more chances in the remaining minutes and extra time and the Blues pulled back a win and three points going into the international break.
Speaking to mancity.com after the game, Nick Cushing had this to say: “You can’t win football matches when you give goals away and although we’ve come back today, we have to cut out those mistakes. We’re almost giving ourselves a harder job by having to come from behind to get draws and wins”.
Speaking on the injury setbacks: “I think we’ve built a squad this year that is probably the most balanced team we’ve got for ability. That means when you do have those mini crises with, for example, Mel and with Nadia, you can rely on the other players and just shift the system a bit”.
“I though the team that went out today showed what a good team we are”.
Club football now breaks for the international fixtures with England, Belgium, Denmark and Canada all in action. Man City Women are back at the Academy Stadium on the 14th of October when they face FA WSL newcomers West Ham United Women in the league.
Season cards should be sent out in time for the fixture and season card holders should be able to use them to gain entry to the match rather than a print at home ticket.
Please note that the match against Reading in the WSL later in October has been moved to Friday the 26th and kick off is at 7pm.
Birmingham City Women:
Ann-Katrin Berger, Paige Williams, Meghan Sargeant, Hayley Ladd, Kerys Harrop ©, Chloe Arthur, Sarah Mayling (Lucy Quinn 66’), Marisa Ewers (Shania Hayles 82’), Emma Follis (Charlie Wellings 46’), Aoife Mannion and Lucy Staniforth
Subs (not used): Connie Scofield and Harriet Scott
Goals: McManus (OG) 8’ and Sargeant 49’
Man City Women:
Ellie Roebuck, Gemma Bonner, Jen Beattie, Steph Houghton ©, Jill Scott, Georgia Stanway, Nikita Parris (Claire Emslie 66’), Caroline Weir, Abbie McManus, Keira Walsh and Tessa Wullaert
Subs (not used): Karen Bardsley and Mie Jans
Goals: Weir 54’, Parris 64’ and Wullaert 73’
Bookings: Walsh 42’
MCWFC OSC POTM: Caroline Weir
Referee: Wayne Cartmel