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Man City Women dig deep to beat Yeovil

Stokes makes welcome return in win 

The Blues 4-0 win over Yeovil Town Ladies saw the welcome returns of Demi Stokes and Keira Walsh as Nikita Parris, Caroline Weir, Steph Houghton and Claire Emslie all got on the scoresheet. Three points in Dorchester sees City stay within six points of league leader Arsenal, Nick Cushing’s side sitting second above Birmingham in third; Chelsea back in fifth.

City started with some early pressure, Georgia Stanway tripped by Bonnie Horwood, resulting in a free kick with Weir stepping up; the ball coming off Jill Scott.

Stokes’s return was welcomed by all at the club, as well as the travelling fans and the defender almost scored within the first five minutes as she met Parris’s cross; teed up for her by Weir. The effort from the edge of the box went just over the bar but it was a sign that City’s number 3 was back to help her team fight for the WSL title.

Caroline Weir’s cross was missed by Gemma Bonner but put out for a corner, the Scotland midfielder sending the ball in, only for it to be cleared by Annie Heatherson; dangerously close to Megan Walsh’s goal and Jen Beattie.

Another set piece by Weir was cleared as Steph Houghton was arriving in the box, Tessa Wullaert collecting and sending the ball back to Ellie Roebuck under pressure. Wullaert played a lovely through ball for Nikita Parris, the forward playing in Weir before the Scot teed up the Belgian, City’s number 25 shot blocked by the Yeovil defence.

A neat piece of fast passing saw Weir play in Georgia Stanway, whose shot from range was saved by captain Walsh with the following goal kick and bounce of the ball mis judged by Houghton under pressure from Olivia Fergusson.

Amber Gaylor dispossessed Bonner as Fergusson made the run, passing into Emily Syme; Gaylor then shooting wide of Roebuck’s goal.

Steph’s long ball forward was picked up by Parris and sent into Tessa, her shot cleared by Hannah Short, the bounce catching the City captain out again. Syme was there to capitalise and played through Fergusson; Jen Beattie there to cover.

The Blues had another chance to go ahead when Weir’s corner met Beattie’s head and then Nikita’s with the forward’s shot going just wide of the post. Referee Lewis Sandoe awarded City a free kick seconds later, however Nick Cushing’s side couldn’t find the net but just a few minutes later, Georgia played through Keira Walsh; the midfielders cross finding Parris to put City 1-0 up.

Nikita Parris celebrates her goal against Yeovil

Ellie Roebuck and Stanway linked up when the City keeper’s goal kick found the run of the forward, Stanway bringing down the ball and sending a shot into the side netting.

Caroline Weir played a long ball looking for City’s number 12, however Hannah Short managed to clear, Olivia Fergusson running in behind. Steph Houghton covered well and Roebuck cleared despite the Yeovil pressure, Caroline picking it up and Stanway collecting to send a shot wide again. Weir took the following corner with Jen getting up to head the ball, Jill Scott also heading the ball however it couldn’t add to the score.

Emily Syme broke down the pitch and the referee deemed Georgia to have held back the Yeovil player, booking Stanway and awarding a free kick to the hosts. Short, who scored in the clubs 1-0 win over Everton, stepped up but her shot was comfortably seen wide of the goal.

City captain Houghton and midfielder Weir linked up as the defender played through her teammate, the first attempt was cleared by Ellie Mason however the second beat both Mason and Short with Caroline taking advantage, City’s number 19 running in behind to take a shot; the long range effort saved.

Nikita Parris’s pressure on the Yeovil defence caused problems, as she picked up the ball off a bad pass by Amy Goddard and attempted to chip Megan Walsh, who was off her line however the keeper did well to save it. Amber Gaylor dispossessed Jen Beattie and made a break, Scotland teammate Weir winning back possession and sending the ball wide for Bonner with the defenders cross finding Parris. The WSL top goalscorer teed up Caroline and the midfielders shot headed over the bar.

The Blues kept up the pressure, a short corner taken by Nikita was cleared only as far as Caroline whose powerful shot was parried by Walsh. Stanway sent in the resulting set piece but it went over everyone and out for a goal kick.

Demi Stokes quietly slotted back into her place at left back, sending the ball long for Parris with Weir on the overlap and the Scotland players cross was met by the arriving Stanway; however her shot went over the bar.

Towards the end of the first half, Yeovil had a spell of possession and were stringing passes between their defenders. Keira capitalised on a missed pass from Megan Alexander to Georgia Evans and sent a first time cross towards the area for Weir to pick up and put a powerful shot past the Yeovil keeper.

The hosts then ramped up the pressure as Amber Gaylor beat Gemma and Steph with a lovely piece of skill before teeing up Evans, her shot from range saved by Ellie. The Blues then broke with Caroline Weir, her and Walsh playing a one touch passing sequence with Weir playing in Georgia, the youngster turning and shooting goal-wards with the Yeovil captain saving her shot.

Yeovil’s Amber Gaylor beats Gemma Bonner and Steph Houghton

Yeovil broke with help from Goddard, Bonnie Horwood’s shot from range over the bar and Tessa had her fast shot saved with Gemma Bonner’s curler deflecting off Hannah Short for a corner.

Stanway took the set piece and the ball found Houghton’s head but Amy Goddard cleared in the last action of the half.

The visitors came back out with much of the same play as Demi sent a cross in from the left, looking for Georgia, Goddard clearing before City built up again as Caroline played curling through ball for Stanway beat the defenders but the youngsters effort went wide.

Jill Scott and Keira combined as Weir picked up Walsh’s through ball, turning to shot but her effort was blocked well by Hannah Short. The following throw in from Stokes was cleared by Annie Heatherson as the ball fell to Georgia, who made a run wide on the right, beating the defenders and forcing a save from Walsh in goal.

A switch in play by Keira to Steph Houghton, saw the captain play it wide to Gemma Bonner with Jill making the run to collect the pass, beating Georgia Evans but losing out to Megan Walsh; the keeper coming to claim. City broke again as Nikita sent the ball wide to Demi, Keira Walsh making the overlapping run to collect the defenders pass before sending in a first time cross which Stanway narrowly missed.

The hosts were awarded a corner ten minutes into the second half with Megan Alexander stepping up to take, Annie Heatherson heading the ball agonisingly onto the bar before the Blues brought it away.

Another set piece a few minutes later was taken by Bonnie Horwood, Steph Houghton clearing any danger, Olivia Fergusson dispossessing the captain and Heatherson picking the ball up. Horwood sent in a cross but it went too far, Stokes collecting under pressure from Fergusson, the Yeovil forward playing a one touch sequence with Emily Syme before Demi put it out for a corner.

Cushing swapped Stokes out for Abbie McManus on the hour as City were awarded a corner a few minutes later, Georgia sending the ball in to meet Houghton’s head; the captain heading wide.

Yeovil won a free kick just before twenty minutes to go, Hannah Short stepping up but her effort was cleared by Steph, Tessa Wullaert losing out to Alexander with Amber Gaylor shooting wide. The hosts started ramping up the pressure but the visitors did well to hold them off, substitute Claire Emslie making a great run wide before sending a cross into Nikita; her effort going over the bar.

Abbie McManus made the overlapping run, collecting Keira Walsh’s pass and playing in substitute Janine Beckie, the Canadian’s shot from range heading over the bar. City won a free kick in the last seven minutes and captain Steph Houghton stepped up, the defender sending a low ball around the wall and into the bottom right corner.

Captain Steph Houghton scored a free kick against Yeovil

Nikita and Janine linked up, Parris picking up Gemma Bonner’s throw in and spotting Beckie, who played through Claire, the Scotland forward making a great run down the middle of pitch and putting one in the back of the net.

The visitors could have had a fifth when Caroline played a short corner to Emslie, her cross met by Parris but the header was saved.

In the first of four added minutes, Yeovil broke with substitute Emily Donovan playing in Amber Gaylor, her shot brilliantly saved by Ellie Roebuck before the City keeper got back up to save substitute Shannon Albuery’s effort from the right with her foot.

Man City leave Dorset with three points and head back to Manchester to prepare for three games in the upcoming week, Arsenal on December 2nd, Sheffield United in the Continental Cup on December 5th and Birmingham on December 9th before they travel to Aston Villa for their final Continental Cup game on December 13th.

Yeovil Town Ladies

Megan Walsh ©, Amy Goddard, Megan Alexander, Emily Syme, Hannah Short, Olivia Fergusson (Shannon Albuery 78’), Bonnie Horwood, Annie Heatherson (Emily Donovan 84’), Amber Gaylor, Ellie Mason and Georgia Evans (Erin Bloomfield 64’)

Subs (not used): Beth Howard, Charlotte Buxton, Leah Burridge and Libby Piggott

Man City Women

Ellie Roebuck, Demi Stokes (Abbie McManus 60’), Gemma Bonner, Jen Beattie, Steph Houghton ©, Jill Scott, Georgia Stanway (Janine Beckie 66’), Nikita Parris, Caroline Weir, Keira Walsh and Tessa Wullaert (Claire Emslie 70’)

Subs (not used): Fran Stenson, Nadia Nadim, Esme Morgan and Jess Park

Bookings: Stanway 21’

Goals: Parris 17’, Weir 40’, Houghton 83’ and Emslie 88’


Attendance: 1,153

Referee: Lewis Sandoe