Nick Cushing’s side came away with their first three points of the WSL on Thursday night when the Blues put four goals past Everton. City now have four points and sit third in the table behind Birmingham City table toppers Arsenal, who are both on six points, Chelsea sitting in sixth after drawing 0-0 with Bristol City in the week.
On a wet and windy night in Southport, it was the home side that started the brightest with Faye Bryson and Chloe Kelly combining, the latter cutting inside to play Claudia Walker through who couldn’t quite connect with the ball and Karen Bardsley made a comfortable save. The trio would again link up seconds later with Walker having a shot on goal; Bardsley there to claim.
City, eager for their first three points of the season and wanting to capitalize on Chelsea’s midweek draw, broke on the counter attack with Steph Houghton launching the ball forward for Mel Lawley. The forward found no way through and the visitors built from the back, Houghton and Jen Beattie playing the ball around under pressure from Kelly.
Georgia Stanway strode forward and played in Lawley, City’s number 7 getting the cross in to Nikita Parris, whose header was cleared by Everton.
The hosts then had a chance when Angharad James dispossessed Jill Scott and played through Walker, the forward’s effort initial cleared and Inessa Kaagman’s follow up curling over. Faye Bryson then collected the ball and the Merseysiders had some time on the ball before Parris intercepted.
Houghton’s ball over the top was collected by Stanway and the forward played Nadia Nadim through before Welsh international Angharad James’s clearance was brought down by Caroline Weir and the Blues could start again. Stanway broke away and passed to Lawley, who took on Stanway’s U20 teammate Megan Finnigan, the defender putting the ball out for a corner.
Weir stepped up as usual and sent the corner into the box and the ball was initially cleared only as far as Stanway, the youngster striding forward to meet with it and fire the ball into the back of the net; putting City 1-0 up.
Everton didn’t want to stay behind as James dispossessed Jill, the shot collected by Bardsley in goal . City didn’t want to give away their lead either as both Kelly sent her shot wide and Walker’s effort was saved by Karen; Stanway making two blocks to deny Kelly and James.
Walker was certainly a focus point for Everton as she was played through seconds later before City managed to clear the ball, Nikita Parris breaking forward and winning a free kick after she was fouled by Gabby George. City attempts didn’t come to anything and Everton broke thanks to James, Kaagman and Walker both on the run and looking to capitalize on the through ball, but Walker was offside. Stanway lost possession and Kaagman passed to Kelly, the 20 year old dragging her shot wide of Bardsley’s goal.
The Blues were awarded a free kick after Stanway was brought down by Kelly, Houghton stepping up and curling her shot wide of the post. Another free kick was given a few minutes later and Caroline Weir sent the ball in, Jen Beattie got her head to it before Dan Turner cleared the shot off the line.
City piled on the pressure in the last five minutes, with Abbie McManus running deep into the Everton half and playing Mel Lawley through, whose shot across goal was met by no-one; James clearing. Everton then responded with their own, the home side awarded a corner with Chloe Kelly sending the ball in; McManus clearing an effort off the line. City then broke on the counter and Stanway, McManus and Lawley linked some passes together before Finnigan put the ball out.
McManus took the throw in and Mel Lawley’s cross was met by Parris; her header looping over the bar for a goal kick.
Claudia Walker started the second half by losing possession almost immediately to Caroline Weir, the midfielder sending the ball back to the defence so Steph could send it long to Nadim. The Danish player couldn’t control it and Dan Turner sent the ball to Walker who ended up offside.
Mel Lawley won the ball back from Faye Bryson and City were awarded a corner, Weir swinging the ball in only for Kirstie Levell to make an excellent point blank save to deny Scott and then again to deny Houghton.
The City captain played some brilliant shots over the top all night, in particular the one she sent to Parris, who collected and ran down the right wing before crossing the ball in; Nadim and Lawley both unable to get their heads to it. Levell’s following goal kick fell to Stanway and was brought down beautifully by the youngster, who played in Scott and then Parris, the City number 17 appealing for a penalty after being felled by Gabby George but referee Lucy Oliver waved away the claims.
Cushing made his first changes of the night around the sixtieth minute mark, seconds after Parris had a shot saved by Levell. The City manager took off Scott and Lawley, bringing on youngster Lauren Hemp and Belgium Tessa Wullaert.
Hemp and Wullaert immediately involved themselves in the game, McManus playing in Lauren who sprinted down the left wing before the ball was cleared and then Tessa turned and played a lovely through ball for Parris, the former Everton winger beating her marker to stay onside and fire into the top left corner off the post.
The Blues then had a two corners in a row, Georgia Stanway having a shot blocked and cleared by the home side and the second a foul on Dan Turner resulting in a goal kick.
Parris found the net again soon after, Lauren Hemp connecting with Stanway’s through ball before cutting back and playing a low cross for City’s newest centurion to calmly put past Levell and into the top of the net.
The introduction of Hannah Cain for Dan Turner livened up the game for the hosts as the former Sheffield FC Ladies forward collected the ball and ran down the wing, firing a powerful shot at Karen Bardsley; the City keeper only just getting her fingertips to it. Cain would once again be a threat as she had yet another shot on goal, Bardsley making a great save to deny the Everton youngster.
City had the final say in the game as they went 4-0 up thanks to substitute Emslie. The Scottish international made her run before laying off the ball to Parris and then Stanway who played Emslie back into the game, beating George and firing her effort into the top left corner.
Speaking to mancity.com, Cushing showered Parris with praise, “To get the four goals was excellent. I thought Nikita Parris was brilliant - she was exceptional”.
“I think Nikita’s best attribute is her drive, her desire and her hunger. She’s aggressive and she wants to win every single game – if it’s one-nil, she wants it to be two and if it’s two she wants it to be three. She had a great finish on both her goals and even though I’m sure she wants the hat-trick, for me, her performance was exceptional”.
On the depth and competition within the squad: “We’ve reflected a lot on last season and squad depth and competition for places. To be able to bring on Tessa Wullaert, Lauren Hemp and Claire Emslie, you see that Lauren had a hand in the goals, Tessa had an assist and Claire scored one, so that’s all we want”.
“We want players to understand that there will be rotation because of the amount of games and when you’re chance comes we want you to perform for the team”.
Mcwfancast host Emma’s thoughts on the game: “We had put in a great performance, had lots of possession and were very much in control of the game. The team came back out in the second half and showed better movement of the ball. I don’t know whether the conditions in which the game was being played could have had an impact in the game. It’s a possible factor especially in the first half”.
“It was great to see our substitutions come into the game and all make positive contributions. Well earned three points away from home against an Everton side that can challenge any team in this league, so to come here today and leave with three points is a fantastic result for the team”.
Mcwfancast POTM: “Nikita Parris because she worked tirelessly throughout. She was looking to score and thankfully her efforts came good for her in the second half scoring a brace”.
Man City Women play Bristol City Women this Sunday in the FA WSL. Bristol managed a 0-0 draw against Chelsea in midweek and goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley certainly impressed. Manager Tanya Oxtoby will be targeting a challenge against Man City especially with holding Chelsea.
If you are a season card holder, tickets should have been sent to you via email as season cards aren’t available yet. You will need to print these at home and bring them on the day. Tickets will also be available on the day. Kick off is 2pm at the Academy Stadium.
Kirstie Levell, Faye Bryson (Chaney Boye-Hlorkah 73’), Dan Turner © (Hannah Cain 75’), Georgia Brougham, Gabby George, Inessa Kaagman, Claudia Walker, Chloe Kelly, Angharad James, Megan Finnigan and Dominique Bruinenberg (Abbey-Leigh Stringer 68’).
Subs (not used): Becky Flaherty, Simone Magill and Taylor Hinds.
Man City Women:
Karen Bardsley, Gemma Bonner, Jen Beattie, Steph Houghton ©, Mel Lawley (Lauren Hemp 60’), Jill Scott (Tessa Wullaert 60’), Nadia Nadim (Claire Emslie 73’), Georgia Stanway, Nikita Parris, Caroline Weir and Abbie McManus.
Subs (not used): Ellie Roebuck, Esme Morgan and Katie Bradley.
Goal scores: Stanway 14’, Parris 63’ , 67’ and Emslie 90’.
MCWFC OSC POTM: Steph Houghton
Referee: Lucy Oliver