Nick Cushing expects great things from Georgia Stanway next season, after her stunning injury-time strike salvaged all three points against Sunderland.
The 18-year-old found the net with a thunderous effort to keep the Blues’ FA WSL Spring Series title hopes alive and the Manchester City Women boss wants more of the same when the regular season resumes.
“I moved her into a more central position because we wanted the ball at her feet as we know she’s got goals in her,” Cushing explained.
“We knew a chance was going to drop to her and what a finish it was for the goal.
“She’s a really good young talent and we trust her to play. We want her to play more and next season you’ll see her play more consistently if she continues to develop the way she is.”
The away side earned their 1-0 victory with a battling performance against the resilient Black Cats and the manager was proud of his side’s efforts after Sunday’s defeat to Arsenal.
“I said to players before the game, irrelevant of how it panned out, we had to get back to winning ways.
“We had to use the Arsenal game as a positive. It’s disappointing to lose after so many games but although the winning run is over, this is the start of another for us.”
City created a host of chances in the North East – registering 20 shots, nine of which were on target - and while Cushing was disappointed not to capitalise, he acknowledged the well-organised Sunderland defence was a factor.
“It’s hard when you’re up against a back five,” he added.
“It turned into almost a back seven in the second half. When that happens it’s difficult but I’m proud of the patience we had to keep pushing and keep creating.”
The introduction of Toni Duggan and Melissa Lawley on the hour mark was central to this, with the pair adding some much-needed spark to the Blues’ attack.
Cushing was pleased with their impact and explained four games in 10 days has seen him carefully consider how best to use the talent in his squad.
“We know Toni has got a tournament to go to and we’ve almost tried to offload her like we’ve done with Lucy Bronze and I thought Lawley looked tired against Arsenal.
“But we needed a spark and some pace in the second half so we brought them on and we saw that spike in dynamic play.”
City now turn their attention to their last game of the Spring Series against Liverpool, on what is set to be a dramatic final day.
The reigning WSL champions sit second to Chelsea on goal difference, with Arsenal and the Merseyside outfit one and two points behind in third and fourth place respectively.
For Cushing, however, his side must remain focused on their own fortunes to ensure they finish the summer tournament with a win.
“This result is a start of hopefully another run of results for us and if we want to keep that going we have to beat Liverpool and carry the form into the 2017/18 season."