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A 2-0 win over Chelsea – the Blues’ 13th of the season – clinched a first Super League title, in front of a record crowd of 4,096 at the Academy Stadium.
Another performance of defensive solidarity and attacking prowess won the day for the hosts, who worked hard to gain a comfortable lead and then toyed with their rivals in the second half, asserting their worth as champions.
With quality, flair, hard work, determination and grit in abundance, City have added new strings to their bow this season – and they were all on display within the 90 minutes here.
Looking to ‘do the double’ over Emma Hayes’ side, manager Cushing opted to name an unchanged team from the one that clinched victory at Arsenal a fortnight ago.
With Chelsea arguably needing a win more than City, the visitors started brightly, looking to attack from the off without creating any real attempts.
The first chance of the game arrived on ten minutes at the other end, as Duggan cut inside and crossed for the league’s top scorer Jane Ross, whose header lacked the pace to trouble Rebecca Spencer.
Karen Bardsley was then called into action as Katie Chapman drilled goalward but it was comfortable for the England shot-stopper. Karen Carney then fired over.
With so much at stake, the passion and desire to acquire the upper hand became evident quickly, with crunching tackles and high pressing ensuring the opening half an hour was a stop-start affair.
The breakthrough arrived on 34 minutes, sparking jubilant scenes both on the pitch and in the stands. The Blues had threatened with a series of corners and the third bore fruit, as Scott rose to head into the bottom corner.
After the break, City gained control. Nikita Parris almost doubled the lead, bearing down on goal only to poke just wide before the Blues netted their second from the spot.
When Ross played Lucy Bronze through, the right-back proved too quick for Gilly Flaherty, who slid in and felled the City star.
Referee Sarah Garratt pointed to the spot and Duggan stepped up to slot away the penalty to hand Cushing’s side a comfortable lead.
Parris then curled into the side-netting as City refused to settle for a two-goal advantage and Scott was unfortunate to see her first-time effort bend over the bar.
Scott then fired off-target once again, as did the tenacious Izzy Christiansen, whilst Bardsley remained unbeatable at the other end, maintaining her side’s impressive record of having conceded just three times all season.
Substitute Kosovare Asllani had the chance to make it 3-0 with six minutes of normal time remaining – only to clip wide – and Christiansen almost caught Spencer out with an attempt to the near post.
That proved to be the last goalmouth action of the game and the celebrations began in earnest, as players, fans and staff enjoyed a special afternoon for the club and the reward for an exceptional season.
Will the Blues end the league season as the Invincibles? Find out on Sunday 30 October when Birmingham come to visit. Before then, Cushing’s side have the chance to lift another trophy – the Continental Tyres Cup, when they host Birmingham at the Academy Stadium next Sunday (2 October).
The Blues need just a point against reigning champions Chelsea to clinch the trophy on home soil, and the manager hopes his side’s hard work throughout an incredible campaign will be repaid with silverware.
The England full-back has penned a new deal which keeps her at City until the end of the 2017/18 season.