Manchester City Women were denied a seventh straight win as an injury-time goal by Tobin Heath rescued a point for leaders Arsenal. After a goalless first half, Bunny Shaw looked to have secured the points with a controversial goal in the 65th minute. But Heath’s strike two minutes into injury time gave the Gunners a share of the spoils at the Academy Stadium.
It was four months ago that City suffered their heaviest WSL defeat when Arsenal hit five past the depleted and demoralised blues. That hammering came of the back of a 1-0 home defeat by Real Madrid to knock City out of the Champions League, and a controversial 2-1 loss at home to Spurs.
City’s woes continued as the languished in the lower half of the table, but a run of six straight wins, has carried the team to fifth place in the WSL and the League Cup semi-final. Arsenal suffered a surprise 2-0 loss at strugglers Birmingham and were looking for the three points after not looking as formidable as they were earlier in the season.
And the Gunners had the best chances of the first half as a nervy City made mistakes at the back which Arsenal failed to capitalise on. Steph Houghton and Khiara Keating mixed up their lines which gave Arsenal an opportunity, but Alex Greenwood was back to clear off the line.
Keating was in goal due to City’s goalkeeping crisis, and she performed well against the might of the Gunners frontline, denying the lethal Vivianne Miedema with a smart stop. City rallied and Lauren Hemp and Lucy Bronze had opportunities to give City the lead, but the half drew to a close with neither team able to break the deadlock.
Both teams stepped things p in the second half, with Vicky Losada dragging a shot from distance wide, while at the other end, England star Beth Mead tricked her way past the defence, only to be denied by Keating. City immediately went down the other end and Jess Park had the game’s best chance.
Released by Lauren Hemp, Park was allowed acres of space, but her powerful shot was parried by Manuela Zinsberger with Shaw unable to touch in the rebound. It was fantastic play once again by Hemp, who drew in three Arsenal defenders before releasing Park down the right, but Zinsberger was equal to it.
The 65th saw the games controversial moment which aggrieved the Arsenal players and staff. Bronze’s pass into the centre of the field hit the referee on the leg and bounced out to Demi Stokes. With Arsenal appealing for play to stop, Stokes played the ball forward to Hemp, who took a touch to skip past the defender and race clear. Her ball into the box was perfect for Shaw, who side-footed home off the keeper to give City the lead.
Arsenal immediately remonstrated with the referee that play should have stopped when the ball hit her in the City half, but Abigail Byrne waved away their protests and City were in front. Although it was a good touch from the ref, Hemp’s was better as she flicked the ball away from the committed Arsenal defence and putting it on a plate for Shaw.
City were in the ascendency and looked to finish the game off. Georgia Stanway raced forward and released Hemp who, one on one with the keeper, fired tamely which allowed Zinsberger to make the save.
Bu Arsenal are not top of the league by chance and there was always the threat that the visitors would get one. And, with two minutes of the six added on, Arsenal struck a cruel blow that would deny City the win. Mead won the ball on the edge of the City penalty area but lost it again seconds later. However, City failed to clear their lines and, with four blue shirts in front of her, Heath managed to find space and fire low through the crowd and beyond Keating to give Arsenal a point.
Final Score: Manchester City Women 1-1 Arsenal Women