It was a day that Khiara Keating will want to forget as two errors on her part cost Manchester City Women at Meadow Park. A first-half goal from Steph Catley was cancelled out in the 72nd minute by Chole Kelly, only for Stina Blackstenius to tap into an empty goal with three minutes of normal time remaining.
The blues had enjoyed an unbeaten start to the season, but faced a tricky match at Arsenal, a place where they had lost the previous three meetings. Once again, young goalkeeper Keating was preferred to Ellie Roebuck and Sandy MacIver in the starting line-up, with the youngster excelling in previous matches.
However, it turned into a nightmare for Keating as a poor clearance aided the first goal, then, with the scores level, Keating mis-judged the bounce on a long punt forward to allow Blackstenius the easiest of finishes.
The blues showed no signs of stage fright as they took the game to Arsenal in the opening ten minutes. City were well on top and pinned the Gunners back into their own half, forced the home side into errors and mopped up any loose balls effectively. Unfortunately, they couldn’t make their superiority count and were punished in the 14th minute.
Keating’s poor clearance fell to Victoria Pelova, who played a forward pass to the edge of the area where Caitlin Foord was waiting. the Australian international drew in the City defence, leaving Catley unmarked, who fired first time into the roof of the goal.
Minutes later, Keating was at fault again, this time being slow to react to a backpass and brought down Cloe Lacasse to present the home side with the chance to go 2-0 up from the spot. Keating redeemed herself by pushing Kim Little’s penalty onto the post and City cleared.
From that moment, it was all Arsenal, although City did have their moments with Lauren Hemp hitting the bar and Kelly firing just wide.
The second half saw the blues come back into the game and placed more pressure on the Arsenal defence. Hemp got her legs in a tangle at the far post while attempting to turn in Kelly’s cross and Bunny Shaw hit the woodwork from Hemp’s superb cross.
But City weren’t going to be denied an equaliser for long. A series of ricochets ended at the feet of Shaw who controlled well and played the ball into the path of Kelly, who fired home a deserved leveller.
City had the bit between their teeth and pressed for a winner when Keating lost her head for a moment. Katie McCabe’s hopeful ball forward saw the young keeper race out of her goal, but was beaten by the bounce which went straight over her head, allowing Blackstenius to run onto the loose ball and tap home the winner.
Ten minutes of injury time failed to save the blues from suffering their first defeat of the season and Arsenal now move level on points with City.
Keating Will Be Fine, Says Taylor
Keating was distraught at the final whistle, prompting many of her teammates to hurry over and console her. Manager Gareth Taylor used his post-match conference to highlight how mistakes happen in football.
“Keating will be OK. It’s part and parcel of football. I’ve said to you guys there might be a moment when she’ll make a mistake, and this won’t be the last one,” said the City boss. “It’s the same for all players but she’s done so many good things and she will continue to be great. I think it’s unfortunate, but it’s all good learning for her. That makes you as a player. She’ll come through it and we’ll support her in the right way.”
The blues will now have to pick themselves up for Wednesday’s Conti Cup clash away to Liverpool, who recorded a 2-1 win over Leicester on Sunday to move into fourth place in the WSL.
Final Score: Arsenal Women 2-1 Manchester City Women