Manchester City Women crashed to a shock defeat as two former players came back to haunt the blues. South Korean striker Lee Geum-min scored the only goal of the game, set up by Pauline Bremer as Brighton stole the points the Joie Stadium.
After suffering defeat at Arsenal last weekend, Gareth Taylor’s side were eager to get back to winning ways against a team that have never beaten the blues in the WSL. A win would have kept City in touch with leaders Chelsea, who recorded a 3-0 win at Everton to move four points clear at the top of the table.
City kept Khiara Keating in goal following her display last week, with Ellie Roebuck making the bench for the first time in three matches, who was one of eight changes from their win at Liverpool in midweek.
And it was almost the perfect start for the blues as Chloe Kelly, the two-goal hero on Wednesday, rattled the crossbar with just 20 seconds on the clock. It was the beginning of an onslaught towards the visitors goal, yet the blues somehow couldn’t make their possession count and turn chances into goals.
In an effort to frustrate the Brighton defence, Kelly and Mary Fowler swapped wings throughout the first half, but both made little impact in front of goal. Brighton made chances of their own, but seemed content to allow the blues to come forward and soak up the pressure.
Sophie Baggaley was kept busy by the blues and when City finally managed to get past the Brighton defence, Baggaley was there to prevent the net from bulging.
Goalless at half-time, City continued to press, with Lauren Hemp going close, but making contact with the side netting rather than the ball.
It was looking like being one of those games for City and there was always the chance of a breakaway goal for the visitors, and sure enough, it came with ten minutes remaining. Bremer’s turn away from the defence allowed her time to sweep a cross to the far post where Lee was waiting to bundle the ball home.
City began pressing with urgency and again hit the bar through Hemp. The blues piled forward at every opportunity but just couldn’t find a way past Baggaley and her defenders and the blues tasted a home defeat for the first time in two years.
Blues Title Hopes Take Early Blow
City fans became accustomed to losing back-to-back games over the last two season. Last season, City lost to Villa and Chelsea before embarking on a 14-match unbeaten run. The season before, the blues lost three straight matches as Taylor’s side struggled with injuries and players being played out of position.
This season, there seemed to be an air of difference about the blues. They looked confident and played like a team that wanted to challenge for the title. Yet, losses to Arsenal and now Brighton, a team that had previously never beaten City home or away, gives a feeling of familiarity and a sense that it may just be another season where the blues make some noise, yet ultimately fall away.
City were expected to challenge Chelsea, Arsenal and United for at least a Champions League spot, yet today, find themselves in 6th position, looking up and wondering how to catch the teams above them.
Of course, it’s still early days, but with almost a third of the season gone, City are already six points off the top and two points behind United in third - they face United at Old Trafford at the weekend and defeat there will see them lose more ground against their rivals.
The blues were one of the favourites for the WSL title despite only signing Jill Roord over the summer, but since the start of the season, when they won three out of the first four matches, the blues look to already be showing signs of petering off.
Final Score: Manchester City Women 0-1 Brighton Women