Women's Team

Fight 'til the end: Late wins proving City's forte

It’s a commonly used phrase in football, but the very best teams simply don’t know when they’re beaten.

Among other qualities, that ‘never say die’ mentality is generated by both a relentless desire and work ethic across the entire squad as well as an intense will to win. 

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City have shown these attributes in droves across the current campaign, going neck and neck with Chelsea into the final furlongs of what promises to be a thrilling climax to the FA Women’s Super League. 

While Gareth Taylor’s side have enjoyed some emphatic victories, our ability this season to snatch the points in the dying embers arguably demonstrates our title credentials to the greatest extent. 

After Saturday’s last gasp win over Reading, match winner Chloe Kelly echoed this notion, insisting that our unrelenting perseverance was the response of potential champions. 

“These wins show what we’re capable of mentally,” she reflected

“When things are going great for us, when we’re winning 5 or 6-0, it’s brilliant, 

“But these (kind of wins) show a lot more about our character and what we are as players. These bring out the best in us.” 

Our 1-0 triumph over the Royals marked the sixth occasion this season in which City have taken the lead and gone on to win in the final 15 minutes of a match. 

Of these six, three crucial late victories in particular stand out, and may have the greatest bearing on how the table could eventually shape up. 

City 2-1 Arsenal

Caroline clinches it to put Gunners to the sword.

While it now seems a distant memory, City were within a whisker of falling seven points off the pace in the WSL title race before Christmas as we entered stoppage time under the Academy Stadium lights. 

Arsenal, looking to go second with victory, took an early lead through a typically clinical Vivianne Miedema finish inside three minutes but a Sam Mewis header hauled us level on the half hour. 

As the chances went begging, it looked like Gareth Taylor’s side would ultimately have to settle for a frustrating share of the spoils before Caroline Weir took the game by the scruff of the neck in stoppage time. 

Reacting quickest to Georgia Stanway’s blocked effort, the midfielder spotted a gap and curled a delightful 94th minute effort into the far corner for her first goal of the season. 

For Taylor, speaking after the victory, it was a flavour of things to come: “We want to push the boundaries. We never give in and fight to the end. 

“It only takes a second to score a goal. It took us until the last few seconds to get what I thought we really deserved – for Caroline to produce a moment of magic.” 

A moment of magic from Weir which conjured up renewed hope of a title tilt. 

City 1-0 Everton

Walsh winner topples tricky Toffees. 

Our inspirational captain Steph Houghton’s 200th City appearance grabbed the headlines on a day where Keira Walsh’s late intervention made it nine WSL wins on the spin. 

The visitors had defended admirably, with clear sights on goal sparse against their two compact, organised defensive banks of four. 

But the elusive breakthrough finally came with ten minutes to play, when Houghton’s incisive ball over the top released Lauren Hemp down the right. 

The winger cut back inside and laid the ball into the path of the onrushing Keira Walsh who, without breaking stride, whipped an inch-perfect effort into the far corner of the net. 

The relief was clear to see on both Walsh’s and her teammates' faces, knowing we had secured what could turn out to be a crucial three points come the end of the season. 

City had scored ten times in our previous three matches, but the manner in which we ground out the late win by a single goal proved that our climb towards the WSL summit was no flash in the pan. 

In a true test of our title credentials, Gareth Taylor’s side passed with flying colours. 

City 1-0 Reading

Late Kelly strike rumbles the Royals’ resistance.

As the old adage states: ‘diamonds are formed under pressure.’ 

And given its context, this particular victory perhaps resonates as the jewel in the crown. 

It looked for all the world like ‘one of those days' at the Academy Stadium, with Reading repelling chance after chance and threatening to severely damage our WSL title tilt. 

But with three minutes of normal time to play, a mazy run through a crowd of bodies from Hemp provided Kelly with the ammunition to finally light the blue touch paper. 

After a disappointing Champions League quarter-final first leg defeat to Barcelona, Gareth Taylor’s side had to dig deep in another last gasp triumph. 

Despite arriving late on, City captain Keira Walsh, deputising for the injured Houghton, was not surprised by our breakthrough given how much the team had put into the match from the get go. 

She declared: “Even in the 90th minute, we're always confident we're going to score and we'll keep fighting. 

"It took 87 minutes but it was what we needed. We showed we can fight to the end.” 

Our midfielder’s conviction is testament to the trust, confidence and mental fortitude that our entire squad possesses as they gear up for a memorable season finale. 

Whether it’s minute one or minute 94, Manchester City fight ’til the end.