Women's Team

Taylor: Timing of opener crucial in Birmingham rout

Gareth Taylor believes the timing of City’s opening goal proved key in Sunday’s 4-0 triumph over Birmingham.

World Cup winner Sam Mewis struck five minutes before the break, effectively opening the floodgates for the visitors in the second half.

The United States star struck again to mark her comeback from injury with a brace, before goals from the in-form duo of Lauren Hemp and Caroline Weir sealed the rout.


Taylor admitted it looked as though his side would head into the break level but gained confidence from the opener, hailing Mewis’ impact once again in the process.

“Sam does that!” he declared. “She’s been out for quite a long period – I think her last game would have been in the Champions League.

“That’s quite a long time she’s been out but with her not going away for the SheBelieves Cup, we were able to keep her here and get her ready – and her performance was really good.

“I thought it wasn’t an easy finish [for her opener]. It was a good ball but those crosses were with violence! It was that little bit of quality we’d not had for the 40 minutes previous.

“It was important we got that goal. It calmed the nerves a bit and allowed us to try and dominate in the second period.

“I thought the second half performance was really good. In the first half, we were really impatient in the final third. I spoke to the girls a little bit about that at half-time.

“I think that the goal helped us massively. We probably expected to come in at 0-0 and the message would have been the same.

“The reason why we hadn’t gone ahead was because we were a bit sloppy in the final third – a number of good situations ended up with a goal-kick to them and that allowed Birmingham to slow the game down a bit.

“It was important to get the goal before half-time. It was a great cross from Chloe, and I think we upped it in the second half.

“I thought Laura Coombs did really well. We lost Keira Walsh – hopefully, not for too long – but Laura was great.

Steph Houghton was top drawer again. Considering all she’s done in the game and all she’s done as a player, she’s been top level. She’s defending like a warrior and has been a real leader.

“We knew there were only limited games on today, so it was important to keep winning.

“We know where we’re at as a team, how well we’re progressing and the things we need to improve on.

“Because we haven’t played since United, it feels like a long time ago but we got the three points which was great.”

The boss also provided injury updates on several members of the squad, explaining Lauren Hemp’s substitution was precautionary rather than a result of an injury sustained during her goal.

Taylor also explained Janine Beckie and Jess Park’s absences and gave some indication as to how long Keira Walsh, Demi Stokes and Gemma Bonner would remain sidelined.

“Lauren just got a kick on the ankle,” he said. “Fortunately, it wasn’t a twist so we’re just looking after her as a precaution really with the heavy schedule coming up.

“Janine was just from fatigue from travelling. She was touch-and-go like Rose [Lavelle] and Abby [Dahlkemper] were.

“They didn’t land back until Friday evening. They had one half of a session before Birmingham. We are really pleased they are here and the fact we got them on the pitch was a real bonus.

“I thought the medical department were advising me not to put Rose in. I wanted her to be here but we know she was very tired.

“Janine had a slight calf issue – we lost her this morning – but we’re talking a few days – nothing much. We lost her this morning – she wasn't in physical condition to be on the bench.

“Of course, we’re looking at the bigger picture. We have to try and see it and we don’t want them to be out for longer.

“Jess was absent for a personal issue. We expect to see her probably tomorrow morning.

“Keira shouldn’t be too long. It’s a slight hamstring. She’s actually back in Manchester on the pitch, which is good news.

“Demi unfortunately was looking really good in training but went into a 50-/50 block tackle and has re-injured the same injury.

“I don’t see her being available in the near future.

“Gemma is back on the pitch next week but still a could of weeks off selection but we’ve coped all season and all the teams have had to – whether that be down to COVID-19 or injuries.

“The group we’ve got, they’re got some guts and real togetherness. Everyone does well to maintain the level we are at.”

Having gained such a commanding lead, Taylor was able to make changes in the second period, handing valuable minutes with five substitutions, while also allowing rest time for regular starters ahead of another hectic run of fixtures.

“That was the thinking really,” he agreed. “When you play on Wednesday, you get that extra break before Sunday but it’s a quick turnaround.

“As much as possible, we’re trying to look after players but also the players are disappointed when they come off and I love that.

“In the last 20 minutes, you feel the opposition are tiring and they want to score goals. That’s good, and we need to make sure as many of the players are available as possible.”