Nick Cushing’s Manchester City side showed perseverance and determination as the Blues beat Arsenal 2-0 to move within three points of the league leaders.
November marked 30 years since the formation of Manchester City Ladies and before kick off, the first women to represent the club were honoured on the pitch. Captain Steph Houghton and Jen Beattie were also honoured for reaching 100 appearances for England and City respectively.
City started well with Keira Walsh playing in Tessa Wullaert, the Belgian’s cross from wide finding Caroline Weir whose touch was saved by the goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin. Nikita Parris then played Gemma Bonner in with Stanway making the overlapping run, the forward playing a one touch sequence with Bonner before the youngster caught Beth Mead and referee Abigail Marriott awarded the Gunners a free kick.
Arsenal’s Dominique Bloodworth and stand in captain Lia Wälti got the ball away, Bloodworth receiving it again before Leah Williamson picked it up with the defender playing in Lisa Evans. The Scottish international made a break down the wing, Demi Stokes getting back to cover and see the it out for a goal kick.
Top scorer Vivianne Miedema caused the City backline a lot of trouble however goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck did well to get it out under pressure from the Dutchwoman.
Tessa Wullaert collected the ball from Miedema’s clearance, turning and sending the ball into Jill Scott, Dominique Bloodworth dispossessing the midfielder and playing it into Miedema; Steph Houghton clearing the cross. The resulting corner was taken by Beth Mead, the Arsenal forward sending in a low cross which Stanway cleared away. Evans following curling cross was then headed away by Houghton, Wullaert blocking another shot from the Scotland player.
Wälti picked up the ball from Stokes’s throw in, the Arsenal midfielder breaking forward and feeding Miedema; the forward getting the better of Jen Beattie. Houghton stepped up, blocking the Dutch international as Mead collected the ball and attempted to curl the ball around Bonner and into the net but her effort went wide.
Caroline Weir managed to bring the ball away from Miedema, turning and sending a long ball down the pitch looking for Georgia Stanway but it bounced out for a throw in.
Captain Houghton’s long ball was picked up by Weir, the Scotland midfielder getting it to Jill Scott who played a one touch sequence with Tessa Wullaert. Scott laid it off to Bonner on the overlap, Wullaert also in support with her cross in headed away by Arsenal defender Louise Quinn.
The ball fell almost immediately to Nikita Parris, who went up against Leah Williamson as the defender did well to hold her off. Stanway received it from Parris and sent a cross in, Stokes getting a head to it but Pauline Peyraud-Magnin saved her effort.
The breakthrough City needed came two minutes later as Stokes ran down the left wing, beating Paige Bailey Gayle to get a cross into Caroline Weir. The twenty three year old found Keira Walsh who was making her 100th app for City, the midfielder feeding it back to Demi who ran to the touchline before cutting it back inside. Parris missed the first shot but Georgia Stanway was there to bury the ball into the back of the net, a possible deflection from Louise Quinn putting the Blues 1-0 up.
City built up from the back with Beattie playing in Scott, the midfielder finding Tessa who in turn played it out wide to Stanway. Wullaert’s cross into the youngster was put out by Dominique Bloodworth resulting in a corner for the hosts.
Weir stepped up and her cross was met by Jen, the defenders’s header and Jill Scott’s following shot were both cleared off the line by Leah Williamson. At the other end, a Beth Mead throw in was collected by Republic of Ireland captain Katie McCabe, the forward sending in a lovely curling shot which was kept out of Ellie Roebuck’s goal by the post.
Steph’s long ball was collected by Nikita Parris, the forward laying it off to Georgia Stanway who had made the overlapping run, her cross bouncing off Quinn and out for a corner. Caroline played it short to Tessa and the two of them strung a few passes together however the Blues couldn’t get the ball back into the box.
Just past the half hour mark, Gemma Bonner picked up the ball from Wullaert and sent a lovely curling ball goal-wards but her effort went over Peyraud-Magnin’s bar.
Arsenal were awarded a free kick in the Blues half after Keira Walsh was deemed to have held Danielle van de Donk, Williamson playing the ball to Wälti who found Bloodworth on the wing. The Dutch defender played in Beth Mead and the England forward fancied a shot from range, Ellie Roebuck making a fingertip save to see the effort over the bar.
The resulting corner taken by Mead was played short to Lisa Evans, van de Donk collecting her pass and sending one into the arms of Roebuck.
Another set piece a minute or so later was clears by Jill Scott, Lia Wälti picking it up and playing it wide to Evans on the wing. Arsenal’s number 17 sent a cross into the box, youngster Paige Bailey Gayle dragging a shot wide of goal.
The Blues had a chance to add a second with five minutes of normal time remaining as Wälti’s pass to keeper Peyraud-Magnin was missed by the former Lyon player; Nikita Parris taking advantage. The City forward had an empty net and despite the shouts from the crowd, Parris couldn’t give the hosts a larger lead as her effort went wide of the post.
The visitors could have pulled one back as Vivianne Miedema collected Leah Williamson’s pass, Steph Houghton caught out by the forward as she sent it wide to Mead.
Gemma Bonner held off the Arsenal player as long as she could before Mead sent in a cross, Roebuck coming out to claim the shot colliding with Katie McCabe as she did so. The keeper stayed down for a while, the City medical staff coming on to take a look at the youngster before she tentatively got to her feet to take the goal kick.
The Gunners had free kick in the remaining minutes of normal time, Dominique Bloodworth stepping up but firing over.
Following a collision in the first half and as a precaution, Caroline Weir was replaced by Claire Emslie at half time, the Scotland forward almost immediately pressuring her international teammate Lisa Evans for the ball. Arsenal starting on the front foot, referee Abigail Marriott awarded the visitors a free kick after Walsh fouled Wälti. Mead stepped up to take the set piece and Bloodworth put the ball out for a City goal kick.
Lia Wälti won the ball from Jen Beattie, running through the midfield and getting a pass to Danielle van de Donk, the forward playing in her Dutch teammate Miedema whose effort went wide of Roebuck’s goal.
Tessa Wullaert misjudged Gemma Bonner’s throw in with Katie McCabe picking up the ball instead and making a break, playing in Miedema who beat Jen Beattie however Steph Houghton covered well and held off the forward; clearing her lines.
An Arsenal corner was cleared by Beattie, Nikita Parris picking up the ball but losing out to Wälti, the Gunners finding Mead however Claire Emslie dispossessed the forward, sprinting down the pitch only to be tripped by Leah Williamson; the defender booked for her challenge. The resulting free kick was taken by Jen, Keira Walsh picking it up and sending it long for Parris but she lost out to Williamson, Arsenal clearing their lines again.
The hosts went 2-0, thanks to Georgia Stanway as the youngster collected Walsh’s long ball forward, beating the defence to cooly slot home her second past Pauline Peyraud-Magnin.
Arsenal sat back to defend and the Blues found it increasingly hard to break them down, the Gunners cutting out the hosts long balls forward and dispossessing City at every possibly opportunity without being penalised for it.
The introduction of Janine Beckie for Nikita Parris was welcomed after the Canadian’s performance in the club’s win over Yeovil and the forward collected Tessa Wullaert’s pass, playing in Stanway whose cross was cleared by Louise Quinn. Emslie was there to pick up the ball and City returned to playing it around at the back for a while.
Demi Stokes made way for Abbie McManus with five minutes of normal time to go and City gained another centurion in the defender as she also made her 100th appearance.
Keira Walsh picked up Jen Beattie’s clearance and the midfielder took the chance to break in space, Lia Wälti pulling her back and awarding City a free kick; Wälti becoming the fifth Gunner to be booked. Beattie took the set piece and sent a ball forward for Janine Beckie, however the forward couldn’t quite get there and the keeper collected in the last major action of the half.
After the game, goalscorer Georgia Stanway said this: “The game shows that it’s pretty tight (in the table) and that the league is getting more competitive. I think our win today shows that we are still here to compete and we have still got so much more to give”.
“We worked hard, we were relentless, kept a clean sheet didn’t let them effect us. Its just a massive performance from the girls”.
Of the season, Stanway said: “So far (the season) has been bumpy and it was upsetting to get knocked out of the UEFA Champions League so early, but that now allows us to turn our focus on the other competitions”.
“We have started on the right foot and we’ve shown that by getting three points”.
Man City Women take on Sheffield United Women on Wednesday December 5th in their final Continental Cup home game, kick off 7pm with tickets on sale now.
Man City Women
Ellie Roebuck, Demi Stokes (Abbie McManus 85’), Gemma Bonner, Jen Beattie, Steph Houghton ©, Jill Scott, Georgia Stanway, Nikita Parris, Caroline Weir (Claire Emslie 46’), Keira Walsh and Tessa Wullaert (Janine Beckie 75’)
Subs (not used): Karen Bardsley, Mie Jans and Esme Morgan
Goals: Stanway 18’ and 63’
Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, Leah Williamson, Danielle van de Donk, Vivianne Miedema, Katie McCabe, Louise Quinn, Lisa Evans, Lia Wälti ©, Dominique Bloodworth, Beth Mead and Paige Bailey Gayle (Amelia Hazard 78’)
Subs (not used): Sari van Veenendaal, Emma Mitchell, Ava Kuyken and Ruby Grant
Bookings: Mead 30’, van de Donk 52’, Williamson 56’, McCabe 74’ and Wälti 89’
MCWFC OSC POTM: Georgia Stanway
Attendance: 2, 149
Referee: Abigail Marriott