Georgia Stanway's first half strike proved to be crucial as City beat Birmingham 1-0 at the Academy Stadium.

What happened

City and Birmingham went into this last league game before Christmas with a lot to play for, so maybe the slightly cagey start should have been expected.

After the victory against Arsenal last week, City could use the early kick off time to go level with the Gunners on points with a win, whereas the visitors knew three points would see them leapfrog Nick Cushing’s side.

Both sides showed some quality football in the middle of the park, fitting of their respected league positions, but neither managed to create too many clear cut chances early on.

In tight games like this, a natural goalscorer is a necessity, and in Georgia Stanway, City have just that. The in form forward took advantage of a Hannah Hampton mistake, winning the ball before showing clever feet to round the goalkeeper and slot home in the 12th minute.

Stanway said last week that her target was ten goals before Christmas, this was her 11th - with a game and a half to spare!

Marc Skinner’s side started the second half brightly. Charlie Wellings shot flew just over the bar, minutes before Lucy Staniforth’s long range effort was comfortably saved by Ellie Roebuck.

ACTION SHOT: Caroline Weir races for the ball.

This match was sandwiched between two Continental Cup ties, and Nick Cushing had stated that squad rotation would be key in coping with the busy fixture period.

Nikita Parris was one of those rested last game against Sheffield, and her freshness almost paid dividends going into the final third of the game.

Parris showed her pace to get in behind the Birmingham defence, before whipping a dangerous low cross to the far post in search of Weir, only to be well intercepted by Aoife Manion.

From the resulting corner, Keira Walsh’s volley forced a good save from Hampton, and Jill Scott just couldn’t generate enough power to head the rebound home. 

After a few missed City chances, Birmingham stepped it up a gear, Staniforth's set pieces a constant threat. After a few dangerous crosses into the Blue's box, the angle for her next free kick invited her to shoot. She did, and City had the crossbar to thank for keeping their lead intact.

Lucy Quinn was next to try her luck, hitting a curling effort from 25 yards out, forcing a brilliant save from Roebuck.

How we lined up

Roebuck started in net, protected by a back four of Abbie McManus, Steph Houghton, Jen Beattie and Demi Stokes. We had narrow midfield of Walsh and Scott, with Weir and Wullaert more advanced. Stanway and Parris led the line. 

Up next

Our last game of 2018 is a Continental Cup clash away to Aston Villa on Thursday. We return to league action on Sunday 6th January with a trip to Bristol City.