Women's Team

Taylor: It was a performance full of heart

Gareth Taylor said he could not be more proud of his side’s efforts in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal.

An action-packed encounter full of drama saw City break the deadlock five minutes after the hour, courtesy of Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw’s third goal in three games, before Tobin Heath levelled in injury time for the league leaders.

Though City dropped two precious points in the crunch clash, Taylor said he could not fault his players, who he believes deserved more from the game.

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“Of course, I’m really disappointed for the girls,” he reflected. “We worked so hard in the game and had opportunities after going ahead.

“We spoke at half-time that we needed to dominate play more than we had. Even in the first half, it was a cagey affair and then the second half exploded!

“It opened up a lot more and there were good opportunities: speculative efforts from Caz Weir and Jess Park getting in at the back post. Overall, it was a solid performance.

“It’s about the small details. I always say: the game is won or lost in both boxes. We’re a different proposition now – we’ve got the rhythm and tempo and a lot of players back from the injury bed. It’s a simple formula really.

“We’ve improved for a long time now. We keep stringing performances together. The play was full of heart and we saw a team going for it.

“Even at 1-1, we tried our best to get the winner. I’m really proud of team and way we performed.

We deserved a win with the heart and quality we showed but this is football.”

City’s opener arrived in controversial fashion as Lucy Bronze’s cross-field pass struck referee Abigail Byrne in the build-up before Lauren Hemp drove forward and crossed for Shaw to convert from close range.

Despite Arsenal protests, the goal was awarded and Taylor was pleased to see fortune favour his side, having experienced some equally dubious decisions throughout the campaign.

“You’d like to think it evens itself out,” he added. “If that’s the case, I thought the build-up was good.

“Lucy hit a pass which deflected off someone. I'd have to see it again but the quality from Hemp to Shaw was a great goal.

“We’ve been on the wrong end of decision this season so it’s nice if that’s the case that one went our way.

“At that point, you’re still thinking there’s a big period of the game to go and we had other chances.

“We should have had a penalty that wasn’t given so we’re gutted and disappointed. When you don’t get those decisions and you leave the back door open, it’s disappointing but the performance was full of heart.”

Taylor also reserved praise for youngsters Khiara Keating and Jess Park – Keating making just her second league appearance against Arsenal’s star-studded front line, while Park impressed on the right flank.

On Park, he declared: “She showed real maturity. She took the ball and the challenge, and made it difficult.

“She showed some bits of quality as well good deliveries into the box. She had a couple of opportunities but if you look at the age and the fact she was playing in unfamiliar position, she’s taken on the challenge and rightly deserved to be Player of the Game.”

Keating overcame a nervy opening to produce a string of fine saves, earning deserved praise from Taylor.

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“She's done really well,” he stated. “She’s very calm in everything she does: safe handling, good build-up and the two young players were playing with a maturity and composure.

“We’re really pleased with what she’s doing so far. I never like to call players ‘second or first' choice. We've had issues as well in other areas but definitely in the goalkeeper department.

"Karima [Taieb] at times has done really well but at the end of the day Karima wasn’t available. We had Grace [Pilling] with us so it is what it is.

"We make the best of the situation. It's a fantastic experience for two young goalkeepers to be involved in the game tonight.

“It’s taken us a bit of time but we’re in amongst it. At the top of the league, it’s exciting. There are plenty of teams in there so it’s full steam ahead. We’ll take the positives out of tonight. We showed heart and quality, and we’ll look forward to the next game.”

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