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A 1-0 victory at Arsenal on Sunday ensured the Blues head into the penultimate game of the season with a seven-point lead over second-placed Chelsea, who have a game in hand.
Jane Ross’ deflection from a Steph Houghton free-kick claimed all three points in Boreham Wood to set up a ‘title decider’ on 25 September, as Nick Cushing’s side have the chance to lift the title against the reigning champions Chelsea.
It was a hard-fought triumph against the Gunners, as the two sides played out a tightly-contested affair of few chances.
City headed to North London with an impressive 100% record in previous league meetings there. Cushing made a single change to the starting XI from the one which defeated Arsenal in the Continental Tyres Cup the previous weekend, as Karen Bardsley regained her place in between the sticks.
The England shot-stopper was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the first half, although the opening 45 minutes heralded very few chances.
Nikita Parris and Danielle Carter both hit weak efforts into the keepers’ arms before the City forward then forced Sari van Veenendaal to tip over.
Bardsley then did well to deny Jordan Nobbs, who had adjusted to shoot goalward in the best chance of the first period.
The visitors improved after the break and opened the scoring five minutes after the restart.
When the Blues were awarded a free-kick outside the area, there would only be one player to strike it – and it ended up in the back of the net, but not in the conventional way.
Captain Houghton curled the set-piece towards the top corner – only for her effort to hit Ross on the head en route, changing its course to wrong-foot van Veenendaal and break the deadlock.
It was a huge moment in the title race.
Minutes later, news filtered through of a Chelsea opener at Reading – but the Blues did not falter.
Parris almost set up Izzy Christiansen for a tap in, only for Emma Mitchell to clear, then she nearly doubled the advantage herself but saw her attempt thwarted by van Veenendaal.
The hosts did little to threaten City’s lead and the Blues held on for a precious win, which also clinched Champions League qualification. Along with a Chelsea victory at Reading, the fates ensured the title race rumbles on for another fortnight…
Cheer City on to the Super League title against Chelsea on 25 September. Secure your seat in the title decider online at http://www.tickets.mancity.com.