Women's Team

Taylor: Hemp is a top talent

Gareth Taylor hailed Lauren Hemp’s ‘exceptional’ talent, after the flying forward produced another influential performance in City’s dramatic 1-0 win over Reading.

The PFA Young Player of the Year produced a piece of individual brilliance, as the game entered its dying embers, dancing past four Royals defenders and driving into the box before delivering a pinpoint cross for Chloe Kelly to convert and snatch a pivotal three points.

The triumph proved a significant result in the title race, as City leapfrogged Chelsea into top spot with four games remaining and the two sides set to meet in April.


Reflecting on another last-gasp win at the Academy Stadium, Taylor was full of praise for the 20-year-old – and for the patience and mental strength the rest of his squad portrayed to grind out a crucial win.

“She’s a top talent,” he said, of Hemp. “She’s incredibly brave, she wants the ball in all situations, she doesn’t hide…

“I thought that against Barcelona (in the Champions League in midweek), she put in an exceptional performance in difficult circumstances and then on Saturday, you always felt she was the one most likely to get us something.

“When she danced her way through, to then go past four players and then produce a great decision – we’ve spoken a lot with the players about their decision-making and the decision she made and quality she showed to put it on a plate – was top class.

“We spoke to the players at half-time about what to do if we haven’t scored. We were fairly calm and we managed the game well because we’ve done it previously.

“It’s important to remain calm but it was a moment of magic really – the quality to dance her way through and then Chloe being in the right position – but I thought the way the team handled the game in difficult circumstances was really good.

“We have four games left now. It’s all about the wins but in saying that, I thought the build-up play from the back was good.

“We had success because they changed their shape to a back four and that was due to us controlling the play.

“The gameplan nearly worked, they aimed to frustrate but it’s all about the wins and I’m really proud of the girls.

“This team doesn’t give in, they fight ‘til the end and I think when we get moments like that, it’s great for the players.

“They dominated from minute one and it’s not easy - the anxiety levels rise a little bit but I didn’t see any panic from the players and that’s really pleasing.

“We deserved it today and the platters massively did. We might only be top of the league for 24 hours but it’s great and the girls deserve it.

“We would have been disappointed without the victory but I’m still really proud of the performance.”

Taylor also provided an update on Demi Stokes, who was substituted just before the hour, and captain Steph Houghton, who was forced to watch on from the sidelines due to an Achilles injury.

While she admits herself to be a terrible spectator, kicking every ball, Houghton still played a key role in her side's success, as Taylor revealed.

“I spoke to Demi. We’ve tried to break her in gently with 60 mins and 45 mins against Barcelona,” he explained. “Maybe we’ll have a look but hopefully, she’ll be okay.

“Steph won’t be back for another two to three weeks, having seen a specialist which is obviously disappointing.

“She earned her money today because she was in amongst it at half-time and I spoke to her post-match too. She’s been around, pushing the players.

“She said she struggled with not being involved and found it really tough. She’s not sure if coaching is for her! I said: ‘Welcome to the grey hair club!’

“She’s very selfless and it’s a shame we don’t have her but maybe with the international break coming up, we might have her back after that – fingers crossed.”

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