Goals from Khadija 'Bunny' Shaw and Lauren Hemp secured a vital 2-1 over Everton at the Joie Stadium to send City top of the Barclays WSL table.

It was a 12th successive win in all competitions for Gareth Taylor’s side but we had to work hard to overcome a dogged challenge from the visitors.

Shaw had struck on 15 minutes to fire City into a deserved lead before Hemp then doubled our advantage on 55 minutes.

Hannah Bennison then narrowed the deficit on the hour with a spectacular Everton effort but City deservedly held firm to assume top spot above Chelsea – for 24 hours at least.

What happened

On what was our first match back after the February international break, City soon settled into the smooth groove that had seen Gareth Taylor’s side chalk up 11 straight wins.

City were assured in possession and dominated territory with the visitors’ packing players behind the ball and seeking to squeeze space.

On five minutes an attempted Hemp cross towards Shaw was deflected to the waiting Yui Hasegawa who jinked inside before firing a right-footed shot just wide of the target.

FORWARD MARCH: Lauren Hemp powers on.
FORWARD MARCH: Lauren Hemp powers on.

Another intricate passage of play from City saw the ball spread around the edge of the Everton box before Laura Coombs chipped in an effort that lacked the necessary purchase.

And on 15 minutes only a timely block by Justine Vanhaevermaet denied a goalbound shot by Kerstin Casparij – but it proved only a temporary reprieve as City deservedly took the lead 40 seconds later.

Seeking to play her way out of the Everton box, the Belgian instead only succeeded in gifting the ball to the awaiting Bunny Shaw.

She needed no second invitation to fire home and open the scoring, registering what was her 15th WSL goal of the season from just 14 appearances.

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Hemp then saw a close-range header from Chloe Kelly’s inviting cross blocked on the line by a relieved Toffees keeper Courtney Brosnan as Taylor’s side sought to ramp up the pressure.

The Everton keeper was already working overtime and was called into action again on 23 minutes, diving low to deny Kelly after she had angled in a low drive from the right side of the box.

The visitors then had a fortunate escape on 34 minutes when another self-inflicted error put Shaw through on goal.

OPENING GAMBIT: Bunny Shaw strikes to fire City ahead.
OPENING GAMBIT: Bunny Shaw strikes to fire City ahead.

Brosnan rushed out of her area and as Shaw saw a goalbound shot deflected, replays appeared to show it had struck the keeper’s hand outside the box.

The Everton keeper needed to be alert again to rush out on the left side of her box to deny Shaw after Kuhl’s back pass was under hit.

But there was a big scare for City on the stroke of half time when a Khiara Keating pass was intercepted by the waiting Rikke Madsen just outside the area.

Fortunately, however, the Everton striker made a hash of her attempted lob.

Keating was then called into action minutes after the restart, showing strength and alertness on the line to deny Everton substitute Martina Piemonte after she had latched onto a dangerous cross and let fly from a tight angle.

Shaw then created more havoc in the Everton box, leaping to meet another inviting Hemp cross but just putting too much purchase on the effort.

City though didn’t need to wait long for that crucial strike with Hemp doubling our advantage in wonderful fashion on 55 minutes.

DRIVING ON: Lauren Hemp puts in the hard yards.
DRIVING ON: Lauren Hemp puts in the hard yards.

The England international initiated the move with deft one-two with Coombs before motoring forward and despatching a stunning shot that nestled in the far corner of the net.

However, within three minutes the visitors reduced the arrears through a stunning strike from Hannah Bennison.

Picking up the ball up 25 yards out from goal, she is unleashing a first time effort that rocketed into the top corner of the net that have Keating no chance.

It made for a nervy last half hour but City showed composure and patience to see out the result.

We could even have extended our lead again late on, but Brosnan produced a stunning 89th minute save to deny Coombs from distance.

Player of the match

Lauren Hemp‘s goal rounded off what was a fine all-round display from the City winger.

She again married her superb technique and talent to a prodigious work rate and appetite for the ball.

And her strike was no less than she deserved for a fine afternoon’s work..

FOCUS TIME: Laura Coombs sizes up the options.
FOCUS TIME: Laura Coombs sizes up the options.

How we lined up

Manager Gareth Taylor selected the identical line-up to the side that started last time out when we secured a priceless 1-0 win away at Chelsea.

Khiara Keating was the familiar figure in goal and protected by a back four of Kerstin Casparij, skipper Alex Greenwood, Laia Aleixandri and Leila Ouahabi

Yui Hasegawa was the midfield anchor with Laura Coombs and Jess Park also in the engine room.

Upfront Bunny Shaw was the striking focal point with Lauen Hemp and Chloe Kelly deployed either side of her.

CITY XI: Keating, Ouahabi, Greenwood (c), Aleixandri, Ouahabi, Hasegawa, Coombs, Park, Hemp, Shaw, Kelly (Fowler 79).

Subs: MacIver, Stokes, Morgan, Mace, Kennedy, Pritchard, Angeldahl, Blindkilde Brown

EVERTON XI: Brosnan, Wheeler, Vanhaevermaet, Bennison, Hope (c), Payne (Duggan 83), Kuhl, Galli (Bissell 68), Snoeijs, Madsen (Piemonte 45), Stenevik (Hobson 90’)

Subs: Hart, Dale

JUMPING FOR JOY: Lauren Hemp after her goal
JUMPING FOR JOY: Lauren Hemp after her goal

What it means

A 12th successive win across all competitions means City move above Chelsea to assume top spot in the WSL table – for 24 hours at least.

Chelsea, who we have leapfrogged into pole position, don’t play until Sunday evening when they travel to Leicester City.

FA WSL
1 Chelsea FC Chelsea Chelsea 18 15 1 2 53 14 39 46 WLWWW
2 Manchester City Manchester City Man City 18 15 1 2 49 12 37 46 WWWWW
3 Arsenal Arsenal Arsenal 18 13 1 4 42 18 24 40 WWLWW
Last updated: 17 April 2024

What’s next

City are back in action at the Joie Stadium on Thursday evening when we play host to Chelsea in the semi-finals of the Continental Cup.

Kick-off is scheduled for 19. 15pm.

Buy your tickets for the game here.

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