Women's Team

MCWFC: Ten season highlights

MCWFC: Ten season highlights
Sunday marked the end of another incredible season for Manchester City Women.

In just their second year in the top flight of women's football, the Blues secured a top-two finish and Champions League football for the first time, winning all bar one of their nine league games in the second half of the campaign and delighting record crowds with some beautiful football.

Having clinched a first piece of silverware last season and a European spot this time around, things just keep getting better for Nick Cushing's side. We take a look back on just some of the highlights from another exceptional 12 months for the club...

New blood

In between the Continental Cup lift and the new campaign, manager Cushing was busy seeking some new recruits to bolster his squad.

New faces arrived in the form of Lucy Bronze, Jennifer Beattie, Demi Stokes and the on-loan Nikita Parris, while Natasha Harding and Daphne Corboz followed in the summer.

Each one of the signings cemented a place in the first-team, playing major roles in the club's success, with many in the footballing world suggesting City have one of the best squads in women's football.

Manchester City Women photo shoot

New deals

While it was important to bring in new talent, it was also crucial the Blues hung on to the stars they already had.

Throughout the course of the season, players put pen to paper on new contracts, extending their stays at the club for the immediate future.

Amongst those names were England internationals Steph Houghton, Karen Bardsley and Jill Scott, while youngsters Georgia Brougham, Keira Walsh and Alex Brooks were also handed their first professional deals.

Abu Dhabi

Like the men's team, MCWFC jetted off to the United Arab Emirates for their pre-season tour to embark on a warm weather training camp.

During their stay, the players enjoyed building their relationships, worked with the UAE women's national team and trained alongside Melbourne City FC.

Many of the players remarked afterwards the trip was one of the best of their lives.

Season Launch celebration

Ahead of the new campaign, supporters were invited to the Blues' new home - the Academy Stadium - to celebrate the launch of the new year with the players.

To mark the occasion, there was an awards ceremony to commemorate the achievements of the previous year, along with live music and entertainment for fans to enjoy.

The Blue faithful took the opportunity to get up close and personal with their heroes, meet each other and swap stories of a sensational first season and their hopes for the year to come. There was even the chance for a few selfies!

England Women v China

Just months after its opening, the Academy Stadium was chosen to host its first international game as England Women faced China in the Lionesses' last home game before the World Cup.

A vocal 5,665 supporters turned out to roar on Mark Sampson's side on another historic night.

Goals from Jodie Taylor and Fran Kirby secured a hard-fought 2-1 win on the night - the perfect boost ahead of the trip to Canada.

International success

One of the highlights in the history of English women's football - not just MCWFC - occurred when England Women headed across the Atlantic for the 2015 World Cup.

Five City stars were chosen to represent the Lionesses and it would be a tournament to remember for the whole country, as Sampson's side secured England's best ever finish at a World Cup since the men won the competition in 1966.

Captain Houghton, Bardsley, Scott, Lucy Bronze and Toni Duggan all played key roles as the Lionesses clinched a bronze medal finish, with Houghton and Bronze netting crucial goals along the way. The skipper would later be selected fourth in a list of 'top 50 most influential women in sport'.

Since then, Demi Stokes has received a recall to the team, while Isobel Christiansen made her senior debut - and scored her first goal - in September.

England's success has done wonders for the women's game in this country, with interest in the game at an all-time peak. Long may it continue.

Record crowds

Since the break for the World Cup, attendance records across the country have been smashed.

Crowd numbers in the FA Women's Super League rose 29% after the tournament - and City boasted the highest average attendance with 1,500.

The first game back from the mid-season break saw 2,100 supporters turn out to welcome home the Lionesses, and the Blues' final game of the season attracted a league record-breaking 3,180.

With Cushing's side surely set to challenge for the title again next season - along with two domestic cups and the Champions League - let's hope those records continue to break.

They're in the game

The year 2015 saw more progression for women's football off the pitch as England Women were included in EA Sports FIFA 16.

The decision followed the success of the World Cup and the rise in interest it created, and sees the five City stars who made the trip to Canada feature in the virtual reality game.

For the first time, players are able to play as their female role models as well as male, marking an enormous step for women's sport.

To celebrate the game's launch, the quintet headed over to the Etihad Stadium CityStore to meet fans and sign autographs before testing out their FIFA skills, playing as themselves!

Spectacular City

The second half of the season saw the Blues hit top form. Cushing himself asserted he feels his side are now a "Manchester City team" as they earned plaudits across the country for their free-flowing, attractive football.

With such quality players in the side, it was no surprise to see spectacular goals flying in all over the place - it was just a joy to watch.

Duggan netted the best of the bunch in an excellent run of form, cutting inside and firing into the top corner on a couple of occasions.

One of her favourite City goals came on the final day of the 2014 campaign - a chest-and-volley against Chelsea - and in August this year, it was voted the Nissan Goal of the Season at City Live, marking the first time a woman had won the award.

We're all going on a European tour

City's stunning finish to the league season propelled them into title contention on the final day.

An incredible seven wins in eight games sent Cushing's side top with one game remaining but two victories for Chelsea ensured the league crown headed to Staines instead.

Still, the Blues' triumph over Notts County guaranteed a second-place finish in the FA WSL, meaning the club qualified for the 2016/17 Champions League.

The tournament kicks off in October 2016 and ensures City will be vying for four trophies next year.

...Is it March yet?