Keira Walsh’s pinpoint finish ten minutes from time was enough to secure City a hard-fought 1-0 WSL win over Everton in Steph Houghton’s 200th appearance.

The midfielder met Lauren Hemp‘s cutback in her stride and decisively swept home late on to finally down our resolute opponents, who pushed Gareth Taylor’s side to their absolute limits.

While it may not have been emphatic, our ninth WSL victory in a row was a true test of our title credentials, and one that we passed with flying colours.

It was also a perfect demonstration of perseverance and a will to win that has become synonymous with our captain as she reached a memorable double century in City colours.

What Happened

The first real chance of a cagey opening half came in the 10th minute when a clever reverse pass from Sam Mewis almost sent Ellen White through on goal.

But the England forward could not quite sort her feet out in time, allowing the Everton defence to mop up the danger.

The visitors had failed to avoid defeat in any of their previous WSL clashes with City but seemed intent on shaking that unwanted record from the off, going close for the first time with the 20-minute mark approaching.

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French forward Valerie Gauvin peeled away from her marker to receive a cutback from Nicoline Sorensen but, instead of taking a touch inside the box, she opted for the dummy.

Thankfully, from a City perspective, Sam Mewis was on hand to mop up the danger before an opponent could latch on and pull the trigger.

And our American was in the thick of the action at the other end a few minutes later.

Reacting fastest as a deflected Caroline Weir free-kick looped high into the air, Mewis snuck in just ahead of the onrushing Sandy Maciver, but her first-time volley flashed inches wide of the far post.

With that first real sight of goal, and an early Everton change, City began to up the tempo, with Lucy Bronze and Chloe Kelly linking up well down the right to apply pressure on the visitors’ rearguard.

And while Willie Kirk’s side held firm against the onslaught, they were dealt a blow when Norwegian defender Ingrid Moe-Wold was forced off before the break through injury.

The second half followed a similar pattern, with City looking the more likely to score, and they almost found the breakthrough inside five minutes of the restart.

Kelly went close to haunting her former club when she plucked Bronze’s centre out of the air after making a run inside, but her vicious volley towards goal was well blocked.

A tightly contested game continued to hang in the balance with the hour mark approaching, with Everton sat in two well-drilled banks of four and hoping to catch City on the counter.

For all of Gareth Taylor’s side’s possession and effort, clear sights on the visiting goal were sparse, with the only real chance falling to White just after the hour.

The forward timed her run in behind to perfection and latched on to Walsh’s incisive through ball, but dragged her effort wide of the far post.

With the Toffees continuing to weather the storm, Gareth Taylor looked to inject some life into the final 20 minutes of the game, bringing on some fresh legs in Rose Lavelle and Georgia Stanway.

And just over ten minutes later the elusive breakthrough finally came, but from an unlikely source.

The typically industrious Lauren Hemp battled for the ball down the right and, after coming back inside on her right foot, cut it back to the onrushing Walsh on the edge of the box.

Instead of opting for power, the midfielder whipped an inch-perfect effort across her body and into the bottom corner of Maciver’s net with ten to play.

The relief was clear to see on both Walsh’s and her teammates’ faces, knowing they were close to securing what turned out to be a crucial three points come the end of the season.

200 Not Out for Houghton

It was a significant milestone for our captain at the Academy Stadium, as she reached the 200-appearance mark for City.

In that time she has notched up 149 wins, 20 draws and 31 losses and 105 clean sheets, alongside seven trophies.

Congratulations, skip, on another outstanding achievement!

How we lined up

Ellie Roebuck’s goal was shielded by a back four of Bronze, Houghton, Greenwood and Morgan.

Walsh sat in front of the defence, giving Mewis and Weir licence to get forward and support the attack.

At the sharp end, Hemp and Kelly provided width for centre-forward Ellen White in a front three.

CITY XI: Roebuck, Bronze, Houghton (c), Greenwood, Morgan, Walsh, Weir (Coombs 88’), Mewis (Lavelle 68’), Kelly, Hemp, White (Stanway 68’)

Subs: Taieb, Keating, Mannion, Beckie, Davies, Dahlkemper


Everton XI: Maciver, Moe-Wold (Raso 41’), Turner (Pattinson 26’), Seveche, George (Magill 73’), Christiansen, Sorensen, Graham (c), Gauvin (Emslie 73’), Finnigan, Clemaron

Subs: Korpela, Boye-Hlorkah, Lehmann, Stringer, Clinton

Player of the Match: Keira Walsh

Making her return from injury, Walsh was embroiled in a fascinating midfield battle with Izzy Christiansen.

On the ball, she helped maintain City’s intensity, and when out of possession she covered every blade of grass to prevent the visitors from gaining any sort of advantage.

All of that, plus she stepped up when it counted, grabbing what turned out to be the winner!

Get your keira walsh #24 shirt!

Stat Attack

Manchester City have won all ten of their Barclays FA WSL matches against Everton, the best 100%-winning record by one team against an opponent in the WSL.

Gareth Taylor’s side have won their last nine WSL matches, matching our record set between May 2017 and January 2018 under Nick Cushing.

Up Next

Gareth Taylor’s side continue their pursuit of the Champions League with a last 16 second leg trip to Fiorentina on Thursday.

City take a three-goal lead into the tie after our 3-0 victory at the Academy Stadium on Wednesday.

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