The Blues started their Continental Cup campaign with a 5-4 penalty win over Birmingham City Women.
In their first competitive game of the season, Man City secured two points after being held for ninety minutes by league rivals Birmingham and the following penalty shootout. With Sheffield United and Aston Villa in action the night before, Sheffield winning 2-1 and Bristol at home to Leicester, both Blues were keen to get their Continental Cup off to a winning start.
The first shot of the day went to forward Nikita Parris, whose effort from the corner of the box was already heading past the far post but goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger felt the need to see it out and got her hands to the ball, pushing it wide.
Free kicks seemed to be the set piece of the day, particularly in the first half and both Caroline Weir and Steph Houghton, whose brilliant attempt was thwarted by Berger, saw their efforts either cleared or saved.
More than once the Birmingham keeper was keen on finding striker Ellen White when getting the ball out from the back. The England international made some good runs to get in behind City’s defence and in particular cutting out Jen Beattie’s back pass to Bardsley, but White dragged her shot wide.
New Birmingham signing Lucy Staniforth, who showed why Marc Skinner was keen to sign the former Sunderland captain after her hat trick against Leicester City in a pre-season friendly, worked tirelessly up against the City midfield. The former Liverpool player managed to get herself through on goal, running behind Houghton before playing in White, who was brought down appealing for a penalty, but no to avail.
Just before half time, Jill Scott was played in beautifully by Parris, the midfielder out pacing Paige Williams and getting her shot across, which was consequently missed by Parris, Mel Lawley and also Nadia Nadim.
After the break, Birmingham started on the front foot when Ellen White collected the ball and sprinted into the box, before unleashing an effort which Bardsley couldn’t quite reach; the City keeper glad to see the ball skim the crossbar and head over.
Abbie McManus made a great run forward down the left with Nikita Parris on the overlap, whose cross was cut out by Aoife Mannion.
With the introduction of Tessa Wullaert for Nadim, the Belgian international seemed to liven up the game a little by playing through Parris, running down the outside of Mannion and getting crosses in from the left.
As the clock ticked through the added time, it was obvious the game would be heading for penalties.
Mannion stepped up first for Birmingham and planted her spot kick to Bardsley’s left, with Parris scoring her effort out of Berger’s reach in the top left. Staniforth was up next and would have made it 2-1 to the Solihull outfit if it wasn’t for Bardsley’s excellent save.
Scottish internationals Caroline Weir and Claire Emslie were sandwiched either side of Harrop, all scoring their efforts before the captain Houghton fired her shot in the same place as Parris; Lucy Quinn following suit.
With one more goal to secure the win, McManus stepped up and sent in a high shot which looked to be heading over and Berger’s fingertips ensured the effort didn’t count.
Sub Sarah Mayling was the next up for Birmingham and her effort did ricochet off the bar leaving City once again a spot kick away from an extra point as midfielder Keira Walsh stepped up; Ann-Katrin Berger keeping the midlands side in with a chance of the point.
Welsh international Hayley Ladd’s effort overshot her attempt much to the delight of City fans, leaving it down to Jen Beattie.
The defender scored, leaving City to come away with two points heading into the next group stage game.
Man City women will play Leicester City Women in their second Continental Cup group stage match at the Academy Stadium on August 26th with kick-off at 3pm.
Birmingham City Women:
Ann-Katrin Berger, Paige Williams, Meaghan Sargeant, Hayley Ladd, Kerys Harrop ©, Chloe Arthur, Ellen White, Lucy Quinn, Marisa Ewers (Sarah Mayling 77’), Aoife Mannion and Lucy Staniforth.
Subs (not used): Hannah Hampton, Connie Scofield, Shania Hayles and Harriet Scott.
Bookings: Harrop 14’ and Arthur 17’
Manchester City Women:
Karen Bardsley, Gemma Bonner, Jen Beattie, Steph Houghton ©, Mel Lawley (Claire Emslie 87’), Jill Scott, Nadia Nadim (Tessa Wullaert 76’), Nikita Parris, Caroline Weir, Abbie McManus and Keira Walsh.
Subs (not used): Fran Stenson, Mie Jans, Jess Park and Kate Bradley.
Bookings: Bonner 66’
Referee: Jack Shepherd
Man City Women have signed 24 year old Janine Beckie from NWSL club Sky Blue FC on a one year deal. The Canadian has won an Olympic bronze medal at the 2016 games in Rio and netted three goals for her country during the tournament.
She is an exciting young player and will be looking to replicate the success of fellow Canadians Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence in France, who have both won trophies with Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain respectively.
The first ever Man City Women’s podcast is out! It has been launched by the MCWFC OSC and City Women fan Emma Meredith-Shone and there are currently two episodes available to listen to, a new episode being released every Friday. It is called mcwfancast and you can find it on Soundcloud, ITunes and Podbean. You can follow the podcast on Instagram and Twitter @mcwfancast at the Supporter’s club @MCWFC_OSC on Twitter.