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Season so far: Marching on, on the domestic front

TOGETHER: The congratulate the skipper on her wonderstrike

TOGETHER: The congratulate the skipper on her wonderstrike

It’s been a busy few months scattered with fixtures for Nick Cushing’s side, and here we take a look back over City’s 2018/19 season so far…

The 2017/18 campaign saw City reach both the FA Cup and Uefa Women’s Champions League semi-finals, the final of the Continental Cup and secure second place behind Champions Chelsea in the FA Women’s Super League.

But ending the previous season without silverware, the Blues were keen to get back to winning ways and if recent months are anything to go by we are certainly heading in the right direction.

City have already played 18 games this season, sealing an impressive 12 wins, five draws and suffering just a single defeat. These set of results see City currently remain the only unbeaten side in the league, while triumphing in our Continental Cup group.

But the season hasn’t all been plain sailing, as a devastating result at home to Atletico Madrid saw City’s European dream come to an end – a competition we are yet to win, and one that means so much.

But with that comes the advantage of a less busy schedule. Time for players to rest, recover and train.

READ: City learn Conti Cup semi-final opponents

WATCH: The Jill Scott Christmas Show

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In this season (so far) review, we take a look at City’s 2018/19 campaign month-by-month…

August

With a number of new recruits over the summer, the opening Continental Cup group stage match of the season against Birmingham provided the perfect opportunity to hand out competitive debuts to our summer signings.

Gemma Bonner, Caroline Weir and Tessa Wullaert all featured during our tough tie against the midland outfit, but were unable to affect the scoreline as the Blues shared the spoils with the home side.

However, with the new competition format, a draw meant penalties with an extra point up for grabs. Suddenly, the opening game of the season had the tense nature of a final.

After clinching the advantage from the shoot-out, with Jen Beattie netting the winning goal from the spot, Cushing urged his side to start quicker and stronger, and we certainly saw that a week later in yet another group stage cup clash.

EMSLIE ELATION: Claire Emslie celebrates with Mel Lawley

Highlights

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Continental Cup highlights: Birmingham v City

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This time, it was Leicester, and City knocked four past the Foxes with ease – with Wullaert registering her first City goals at the Academy Stadium.

A good start, but it was evident there was a lot more to come from a new-look City side.

September

City faced seven fixtures in September, with the opening game of the FA Women’s Super League looming.

The Blues faced Chelsea away from home first, the current league and FA Cup Champions. After 90 minutes Cushing’s side walked away from the Kingsmeadow with a point following a stalemate with the West London outfit. Not the opening we may have hoped for, but a point nonetheless.

City headed to Spain next, to face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, and although Bonner made her mark in the City backline - scoring her first goal for the club - the Spanish Champions clawed a goal back to take it level. Blues knew a big challenge was ahead, even with the advantage of an away goal, as the Spaniards travelled to the Academy Stadium just a few weeks later.

But it wasn’t to be, as two away goals from Atletico were enough to see them to progress and leave us firmly behind and out of the competition.

WALSH: Keira takes on the Atletico duo.

Highlights

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Match highlights: City 0-2 Atletico Madrid

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The super league saw us grow stronger in September, sealing wins away at Everton and Birmingham, plus an entertaining draw to Bristol, which saw a poignant moment when skipper Steph Houghton netted a superb curling effort to equalise.

We continued to dominate in our Conti Cup group, registering an emphatic 3-0 win over Bristol and City had started to fulfil Cushing’s wishes of starting quicker – setting precedents for October.

October

If you wanted to get your goal-fix then October was the month! City scored as many goals over the three fixtures in October as we did over seven games in September.

It all started with our high-scoring home game against West Ham.

CELEBRATIONS:  Nikita Parris and Esme Morgan express their delight.

Highlights

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FA WSL highlights: City 7-1 West Ham

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With added confidence from our close-fought win at Birmingham, we pounced on the Hammers, putting our first goal away after just over a minute. As 90 minutes were up City were in seventh heaven and seven goals were added to our WSL tally - strikes that could prove absolutely vital towards the end of the season.

Following on from our 7-1 win, the Blues made the long trip down to Brighton and were rewarded for yet another superb performance. Georgia Stanway – off the back of the Under-20 World Cup – continued to impress and became a regular feature of Cushing’s starting XI, netted a hat-trick against the Seagulls.

Stanway, again, proved the difference as she wrote her name on the scoresheet of City’s final game in October. A tough test against Reading which ended level, and thanks to Stanway’s strike, City took a valuable point away from the meeting.

Along with the likes of Keira Walsh, Ellie Roebuck, and Abbie McManus, the younger members of the squad were proving key, increasing in maturity and playing style as the season progressed.

November

The success continued into November, and with the international break, City had only two games to play.

The first clash saw a milestone met for Nikita Parris, whose two goals against Liverpool in our 3-0 win gave the Lioness the title of the FA WSL’s all-time top goalscorer – a truly incredible record.

It had been a whirlwind few months for the 24-year-old, as she became City’s fourth Centurion – alongside Houghton, Jill Scott and Izzy Christiansen - while also becoming our top goal scorer in all competitions.

And speaking after scoring her 36th and 37th goals over the Reds, overtaking Eni Aluko's record, Parris was keen to pay thanks to her fellow Blues, which says a lot about the close-knit squad.

BRACE: Nikita Parris celebrates after scoring her second goal.

Interviews

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Nikita Parris outlines goal target

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The WSL title hunt continued as City faced Yeovil.

The professional display in another high-scoring win showcased both sides of the Blues’ qualities, as Nick Cushing’s squad were clinical in attack and dogged in defence against the spirited Glovers.

It was the perfect build-up to, perhaps, our biggest game of the season...

December

Arsenal arrived at the Academy Stadium yet to drop a single league point, but a dominant display from the Blues ensured Nick Cushing’s side narrowed the gap in the FA Women’s Super League title race.

Once again, it was Stanway who shone throughout December, with an exceptional brace to allow City to be the first club to snatch points off the Gunners.

GOOD TO BE BACK:  Demi Stokes.

Highlights

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FA WSL Highlights: City 2-0 Arsenal

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As Birmingham travelled to Manchester, the starlet stepped up again to score the only goal in our clash with the third-placed club. It was a significant moment in the battle at the top of the table, showing that City are well and truly contenders for the title this season.

Between the two mammoth league games, the Blues also secured their place in the quarter-finals of the Continental Cup with an emphatic 6-0 victory over Sheffield United, which saw new blue, Janine Beckie, net four.

The Blues, like last year, had qualified with a game to spare which gave Cushing the chance to rest a number of players and introduce a younger squad, including four members of the development squad. The next generation of City stars made an impression, with Fran Stenson keeping a clean sheet on her competitive debut for the Blues, while Jess Park got on the scoresheet and Lauren Hemp netted her first goal for the club since joining in the summer and battling injury over recent months.

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