Article by Caroline Sherratt
Man City Women ended their last game before international duty with a 3-1 win over West Ham United that sees the Blues top of the WSL table, albeit only one point ahead of Arsenal. Cushing’s side, which has sixteen players off to represent their countries, secures the win thanks to goals from Lauren Hemp, Caroline Weir and Nikita Parris.
The Blues started well and were unlucky to not go ahead when Steph Houghton’s long ball was first touched by Hammers captain Gilly Flaherty before Lauren Hemp picked it up; her shot blocked by Ria Percival.
Five minutes in, Jen Beattie’s ball over the top was also met by Flaherty, who got a head to it before Jill Scott did, Houghton picking it up and playing it to Hemp, the youngster coming under pressure from Percival but she did well to get a shot away; Flaherty blocking the ball.
Caroline Weir picked it up and played it wide to Demi Stokes in the hope the defender would be able to send a cross in, however Alisha Lehmann intercepted.
A free kick awarded to the home side was taken by Vyan Sampson, the defender finding former Liverpool player Kate Longhurst, Jill tackling the midfielder for the ball with Hemp collecting. The forward was tackled by Dutch midfielder Lucienne Reichardt but Nikita Parris was there to pick it up the loose ball, playing it wide to Weir before her and Keira Walsh played a one touch sequence; play called back for offside against Nikita.
Pressure on Parris from Reichardt saw former Chelsea defender Claire Rafferty pick up the ball and send it down the pitch, Scott getting her head to it and Parris collecting. The forward played through Georgia Stanway on the right with the twenty year olds cross cleared away by a Flaherty header before Longhurst put it out.
Ellie Roebuck was first called into action when Longhurst found Lehmann, her run down the pitch noticed by Stokes who put the Swiss international under pressure. Lehmann then laid the ball off out wide to Rafferty, the thirty year old playing in new signing and debutant Adriana Leon; Roebuck comfortably saving her shot. Another West Ham break saw Longhurst play in Ria Percival, the New Zealander whipping the ball into the area, Ross getting a head to it but away from goal as Houghton put her former teammate under pressure; Roebuck collecting.
City went 1-0 up fifteen minutes in thanks to Caroline Weir, Houghton sending it long to Parris who played through the Scotland international, the midfielder’s run in plenty of space finished off with an easy goal.
Just over twenty minutes in, Lauren’s ball was missed by Gilly Flaherty with Caroline picking it and finding Demi out on the left, the defender running in behind the Hammers defence forcing Flaherty to come across and clear behind for a corner. Weir stepped up with the cross falling to Houghton, but the City captain couldn’t bring the ball down enough and her effort well went over the keeper’s bar.
A Blues throw in saw Parris pick up the ball from Stokes, Weir and Hemp playing some quick touches with the latter making run towards goal despite pressure from Vyan Sampson; her shot unfortunately saved by Moorhouse.
Half an hour into the first half, City’s defence was called into action when Jill lost possession to Reichardt, the Dutch player finding Visalli who played in Lehmann, Steph Houghton blocking the forward from taking a shot and instead forcing her to put the ball out for a goal kick.
A foul on Visalli by Jill saw the home side awarded a free kick with the number 15 stepping up and sending the ball to Rafferty on the left, the defender spotting the overlapping run of Adriana Leon. The newest player in the starting eleven collected and sent in a cross, Lehmann waiting there to send a volley towards Ellie, however it went over the bar instead of in the back of the net.
Claire Rafferty stepped up to take a West Ham corner, the first for the home side with Scott getting her head to the ball first, clearing it away before Leon sent it back into the area. Defender Gemma Bonner cleared again but kneed Steph in the back as she did so, Houghton receiving a little bit of treatment before returning to the pitch to see the Blues go 2-0 up; courtesy of Lauren Hemp. The youngster collected Georgia Stanway’s long ball, Lauren running a good length of the pitch before taking on the keeper, chipping the ball over Anna Moorhouse to send it in the back of the net.
A flurry of action in the last minutes of normal time saw two West Ham corners unable to change the score-line, the first met by Reichardt whose header was cleared of the line by Demi and despite appeals from the opposition; there was no penalty for handball. Steph put the ball behind for another corner, Gilly Flaherty connecting with Claire Rafferty’s cross before Jen Beattie cleared away.
West Ham started what was to be a very fiery second half by forcing a save from Ellie, Flaherty’s long ball met by Jane Ross and Houghton, Leon collecting a making a run before sending in a cross which Roebuck came out to collect.
Minutes later the Blues could have been 2-0 up as Gemma’s long ball was collected by Hemp, the forward taking a shot which was missed by the goalkeeper and looked to be heading in if it wasn’t for Hammers captain Flaherty. The defender managed to get back and clear it before it had a chance to cross the line meaning City were awarded a corner which Caroline stepped up to take, her cross met by Beattie who ended up committing a foul on Leon.
Jubilation came for the hosts when Alisha Lehmann beat Steph and played in Jane Ross, the former Blues rounding Roebuck to slot the ball home and pull a goal back.
A free kick for the home side was taken by Claire Rafferty, her ball in was met by the head of Ross but Walsh was there to clear it away, new signing, debutant and substitute Cho So-hyun dispossessing the midfielder only to lose out to Weir herself. Parris collected the pass from the twenty four year old, but her shot was blocked by Ria Percival, Gemma winning possession back for the Blues.
Substitute Janine Beckie made an almost immediate impact as four minutes after her appearance, she collected Georgia Stanway’s long ball and made a run down the wing, cutting inside before unleashing a curling shot on goal; Moorhouse making a brilliant save to deny a third goal.
The following corner was taken by Weir and picked up by Parris, however her effort went well over the West Ham goalkeeper’s bar.
A long ball from Steph, now a common action taken by the captain, was collected by Nikita, the forward making a run wide and crossing the ball into the box; Moorhouse putting it behind. Weir took the corner and her shot was collected by the keeper at first but City won possession back quickly, Janine played it wide for Keira, Jane Ross intercepting briefly before she lost out to Caroline.
The Scot’s cross in was met by the head of Claire Rafferty, Beckie collected and teeing up Stanway, whose long range effort went over the bar with ten minutes to go.
Another Blues corner was brought down by substitute Erin Simon before Parris briefly took a touch and Ross cleared only as far as Georgia, Demi playing it long and Percival getting a head only for it to be called offside. Parris then added the icing on the cake for City after Beckie’s lovely through ball for the forward saw Nikita make a wonderful run down the wing, she cut inside much like Janine earlier on however her shot caught out Anna Moorhouse and it ended up in the top left of the net.
Man City Women now break for international duty and will resume WSL action on January 27th when they take on Brighton and Hove Albion at the Academy Stadium; kick off 2pm.
West Ham United
Anna Moorhouse, Ria Percival, Gilly Flaherty ©, Alisha Lehmann, Jane Ross, Claire Rafferty, Kate Longhurst, Vyan Sampson (Erin Simon 59’), Brianna Visalli, Lucienne Reichardt (Cho So-hyun 60’) and Adriana Leon (Rosie Kmita 70’)
Subs (not used): Becky Spencer
Man City Women
Ellie Roebuck, Demi Stokes, Gemma Bonner, Jen Beattie, Steph Houghton ©, Jill Scott, Georgia Stanway, Lauren Hemp (Janine Beckie 63’), Nikita Parris, Caroline Weir and Keira Walsh
Subs (not used): Karen Bardsley, Mel Lawley, Pauline Bremer, Esme Morgan, Jess Park and Abbie McManus
Goals: Weir 15’, Hemp 38 and Parris 85’
Bookings: Beckie 90+2’
MCWFC OSC POTM: Caroline Weir
Referee: Jason Richardson