Match Report

Five-star City ease to Brighton victory

COMBINATION: Janine Beckie hugs Ellen White after the striker converted her cross for City's second goal against Brighton.
Sun 15 Dec
Stephanie Houghton 

Ellen White 

Lauren Hemp 

Georgia Stanway 

Pauline Bremer 

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City returned to winning ways in the FA WSL with an emphatic 5-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion at the Academy Stadium.

Nick Cushing’s side showed no signs of a hangover from last weekend’s disappointing defeat at Chelsea and came flying out of the blocks, with Steph Houghton, Ellen White and Lauren Hemp all scoring before half-time.

It was a game we dominated throughout and though the visitors denied us for long periods during the second half, Georgia Stanway and Pauline Bremer netted late on to ensure we ended 2019 on a high.

What happened

City were ahead inside two minutes after a mix-up between Brighton ‘keeper Sophie Harris and centre-half Danique Kerkdijk.

Harris had saved well from Janine Beckie, but elected to pick the ball up after her team-mate passed it back to her and Houghton fired the resulting free-kick under a sea of bodies from 10-yards.

We kept our foot on the gas after that perfect start, regularly beating Brighton's high press and Stanway tested Harrish from 18-yards before White doubled the lead in sensational fashion.

The overlapping Beckie, who shone again as a makeshift right-back, was the architect, with White firing an unstoppable volley into the top right corner from the Canadian's cross.

We were creating chances at will and our England striker should have had another when she was left unmarked in the area, but Harris stuck out a foot to divert her shot wide, while Jill Scott sent a curling 20-yard effort inches over the bar.

Hemp, whose performance evidenced exactly why Cushing was so pleased to extend her contract earlier this week, was a constant thorn in the side of Seagulls’ right-back, Matilde Lundorf, and she was rewarded with a goal shortly before the break, nodding home from close range following a slick corner routine.

City were cruising.

It often looked like attack versus defence, with Ellie Roebuck reduced to a spectator's role for long periods, though Brighton got back in numbers to stem the tide somewhat in the second half.

A slide rule Keira Walsh through ball unlocked the wall of black shirts, however, only for Caroline Weir to fire straight at Harris, who produced another good save from Hemp’s header shortly after.

For all our dominance, Brighton managed to get more of a foothold in the game but failed to truly test our defence.

Lea Le Garrec had Roebuck scrambling as her shot from distance went just wide, while City received a let off after the Sheffield-born stopper was adjudged to have been fouled when she spilled a cross into the back of the net.

They were moments of reprieve for the Brighton rearguard, but with Weir and Walsh pulling the strings in midfield Cushing’s side continued to threaten. 

Stanway beat the offside trap to latch onto another perfectly weighted Walsh through ball and rounded the keeper to add the fourth in the closing stages, before substitute Pauline Bremer, guided Beckie’s cross into the top corner with her knee to seal a convincing win.

How we lined up

Cushing made two changes to the team that lost to Chelsea last weekend, with Campbell and Stanway replacing Stokes and Wullaert.

Roebuck’s goal was protected by a back four of Beckie, Houghton, Bonner and Campbell. Walsh and Weir sat deep in midfield, with Scott and Hemp ahead of them, while Stanway and White played in tandem up front.

What it means

City move up to second in the table behind Arsenal, but will drop back down to third should Chelsea beat Liverpool this afternoon.

We end 2019 with eight wins and two defeats on our league record, which leaves us on 24 points from 10 games.

Up next

City now embark on a three-week break over the festive period, returning to FA WSL action with an away trip to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday 5 January.

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