Manchester City Women’s recent good form ended in defeat at title chasing Chelsea. Norwegian star Guro Reiten’s 14th minute header was enough for the defending champions to seal the points in blustery conditions at Kingsmeadow.
But it was a gutsy performance from City, particularly towards the end of the match as they went toe to toe with the London side in a match where the weather played a big part in the proceedings and could have had a bearing on the only goal of the game.
The blues were hoping to continue their fine run of form that had seen them unbeaten in the WSL since 14th November. On that occasion, Chelsea took full advantage of City’s injury concerns to record a 4-0 win at the Academy Stadium.
Since then, City have won four and drawn one of their five WSL games and progressed to the League Cup Final by beating Leicester, Bristol City and Tottenham Hotspur, as well as hammering Nottingham Forest 8-0 in the FA Cup.
And Sunday’s game saw the home side forced to work hard for the three points despite dominating possession in a match that saw hesitation in both defences due to the windy conditions that made decisions difficult for both keepers.
Jess Park cleared off the line as Erin Cuthbert’s corner caught in the wind and evaded everyone except the City youngster, and in the 14th minute, the elements played their part as the home side took the lead.
Carter’s cross into the box saw Ellie Roebuck think about coming for the ball, but changed her mind, possibly due to the swirling conditions. Reiten rose and guided her header beyond the England keeper to give the home side the lead.
The keeper was caught in two minds, but in fairness, there was nothing she could do about the finish from the Norway international.
Chelsea kept possession well after the goal, but City were always a threat. Bunny Shaw almost capitalised on a back-pass that saw here just beaten to the ball by Berger, while Lauren Hemp did well down the left to beat the defender and fire across goal, only for there to be no one in the middle to finish.
At the other end, Danish star Pernille Harder was a constant thorn in City’s side. City came close to an equaliser when Ruby Mace fired over from a City corner, and their best chance of the half came from Park, whose curling shot was palmed away by the keeper.
City grew in confidence in the second half and sensed an equaliser as they threatened the Chelsea goal, with the home side forced into some desperate defending on occasion. Lauren Hemp fired over the bar from outside the area, while Lauren James was denied what would have sealed the points by a good save from Roebuck.
The blues came close to an equaliser when Hemp’s shot from the edge of the area was cleared by more Chelsea defending and, in the end, the home side hung on to close the gap on the league leaders.
The match was a dress rehearsal for the March 5th League Cup final at Wimbledon and the blues will be eager not to make it three defeats to the London side in one season.
Final score: Chelsea Women 1-0 Manchester City Women