United 2-3 City | 25 January 2020

The first Manchester derby of the 2022/23 Barclays Women’s Super League season is almost upon us…

City v United – one of the most hotly anticipated fixtures in the calendar – has stirred up some classic encounters in recent years.

With the two sides locking horns at the Etihad Stadium, the next chapter in the saga promises to be just as captivating.

In the build-up to Sunday 11 December’s showdown, we take a look back at some of the memorable clashes between the two sides since the initial professional derby back in September 2019.

Our penultimate edition of the series takes us back to January 2020, as City’s defence of the FA Cup began on enemy territory…

City were out for revenge and, with the manager’s departure imminent, that pursuit of victory carried with it an extra weight of emotion.

Despite sitting top of the Barclays Women’s Super League table at the time, City travelled to the Leigh Sports Village with a point to prove.

Indeed, Nick Cushing’s side had fallen to a 2-0 defeat in the Continental Cup group stages at the hands of our rivals just three months prior to an FA Cup fourth round meeting in January 2020.

City were out for revenge and, with the manager’s departure imminent, that pursuit of victory carried with it an extra weight of emotion.

Cushing – who had steered us to six major honours having led the team since its reformation in 2014 – had announced he would become assistant manager at New York City FC at the beginning of the month.

And a victory over our cross-city rivals would provide the perfect leaving gift.

It was a similarly significant encounter for City forward Ellen White, who was champing at the bit to take part in her first-ever Manchester derby.

The forward had been forced to miss out on each of our previous professional meetings with United due to injury but came into the match in scintillating form.

Scoring inside 40 seconds against Birmingham the week prior, White had also found the target in three of our last four matches ahead of our trip to Leigh Sports Village.

“I’ve not played United yet, so I’m really excited about the prospect,” she explained in the build-up to the match.

“We can’t wait for the game. We’ll train hard and look to perform when it matters.

“We’ll be very diligent and professional in our preparation and approach. We’ve got a massive couple of weeks coming up.

“Hopefully, we can send [Nick Cushing] away with some good wins and good performances.”

Once the match began, the England international needed no invitation to make her mark on proceedings.

As is typical with local derbies, the early stages at Leigh Sports Village were a cagey affair.

A curling effort from White and a header from captain Steph Houghton – fresh from signing a new two-year deal – signified our best opportunities, but United stopper Mary Earps was equal to both efforts.

It was always going to take a bit of inspiration – or a lapse in concentration – for the balance of power to shift one way or the other.

And that moment came from a familiar face, when an under hit back pass from former City defender Abbie McManus presented White with a clear sight of goal.

City’s number 18 made no mistake, dinking the ball over the onrushing Earps to hand the visitors the advantage on the half hour.

The forward’s celebration – arms outstretched, expressionless face, nonchalant nod to the crowd – was as cool, calm and collected as the finish itself… until White was mobbed by her team-mates!

Our ascendancy continued, with stand-in right-back Georgia Stanway testing Earps as half-time approached, while Tessa Wullaert couldn’t find the target soon after the restart after being played in by White.

And it wasn’t long before the hosts fired a warning shot to remind City that progression to the fifth round of the FA Cup was far from a foregone conclusion.

Cushing’s side were thankful to Gemma Bonner for a timely block to deny Jackie Groenen, while McManus, looking to make amends for her earlier mistake, headed wide of the near post.

But as the hosts began to edge their way into proceedings, City landed the sucker punch.

A ball in behind the United defence from Caroline Weir was met by the fleetfooted Hemp down the left flank.

And without breaking stride or even looking up for a team-mate, the winger knew exactly where to deliver her low cross in order to find City’s goalscorer.

Indeed, White’s darting run across goal gained her a precious yard of space in the box, allowing the forward to hook home her second of the afternoon.

The close attentions of Millie Turner, sliding in desperately in an attempt to thwart the England international, were unsuccessful, as City’s forward took her recent run of form to five goals in six matches.

The visitors were in control on the hour mark, but a goal for United had the potential to change the whole complexion of the tie.

Ellie Roebuck was called into action soon after, tipping Kirsty Hanson’s powerful effort over the bar, but was then beaten at her near post by Lauren James.

It promised to be a cagey end to proceedings at Leigh Sports Village, but Jill Scott went a long way to easing those fears when she restored City’s two-goal lead with around 15 to play.

With United failing to clear a loose ball, the midfielder tried her luck from distance after being teed up on the edge of the area.

And while her effort did take a deflection to wrong foot Earps, it was just rewards for another tireless display from one of our all-time greats.

The relief at restoring our healthy advantage among Scott’s team-mates was palpable, and the midfielder reflected on what had been a breathless encounter at full-time.

“We fought together until the end. We were looking at each other in the last five, ten minutes and stuck together to get the job done.”
Jill Scott

She explained: “It was a mad game!

“There are turning points in a game; that’s why we all love football – for its highs and lows, and we’ve all been there at both ends.

“We rode our luck a little bit. Everyone says before derby games: play on logic and stick to the tactics, but you can’t help but get caught up in the emotion – you can hear the crowd are trying to wind you up; you put in a tackle and there’s a lot of boos.

“We fought together until the end. We were looking at each other in the last five, ten minutes and stuck together to get the job done.”

A late consolation for United could do nothing to dampen the spirits at full-time, as City secured passage to the next round of the FA Cup at the expense of our rivals.

Under the guidance of Gareth Taylor, we would go on to retain the famous trophy later that year, getting the better of Everton after extra time at Wembley Stadium.

Securing the FA Cup and beating your rivals en route… it doesn’t get any better than that!


City welcome Manchester United to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday 11 December.

Kick-off is scheduled for 12:30 (UK), with tickets selling fast for our third-ever women's match at the Etihad.

We hosted Everton there back in May 2014, before welcoming our local rivals in September 2019, when Caroline Weir’s wonder strike saw us run out 1-0 winners in front of what was then a WSL record crowd, and what remains a club record of 31, 213 fans.

With over 30,000 tickets already sold, it promises to be another historic occasion.

You can secure your tickets online by visiting: or by calling: +44 (0)161 444 1894.