Match Report

Late show lifts City to fourth

Late show lifts City to fourth
FA WSL
FA WSL
Wed 16 Mar
2
0
Demi Stokes 
73
Lauren Hemp 
84
View highlights
City managed to grab another vital win in the Women’s Champions League spot race, beating Reading 2-0 at the Academy Stadium.

Demi Stokes’ first goal of the season, plus a Lauren Hemp strike earned a massive three points in a dominant display.

The resulted pushed Gareth Taylor’s side up to fourth in the table to continue our superb run of form.

There was more cause for celebration as well, with Keira Walsh appearing in her 200th match for the club in all competitions.

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WHAT HAPPENED

Before kick-off, Lucy Bronze was presented with a 100th appearance commemorative shirt, after she reached the milestone in our Conti Cup Final victory.

On a brisk night at the Academy Stadium, it was City who made the faster start in the game, with both sides looking for the win to boost their European aspirations.

Julie Blakstad set the tempo for the City side, with the full debutant having the first of a handful of chances down the left-hand side which lacked cutting edge.

Taylor’s decision to start the youngster proved the right one, as she powered into the penalty area before cutting inside, and her curling effort went straight into the palms of Reading keeper, Grace Moloney.

City had joy with set pieces, with Reading failing to clear Georgia Stanway’s corners on numerous occasions.

Caroline Weir had a curling effort from a weak Reading clearance, which was met by Moloney once again, who was a thorn in the City side.

Hayley Raso was on top form as well, as she provided a lovely through ball that cut open the Reading defence which met Bunny Shaw.

The striker squared it across to Blakstad, who sliced her shot wide, to mark the end of an action packed first half that ended goalless.

Reading came out for the second half with a bit more fire power, testing the City backline with a series of set pieces which were all comfortably dealt with.

On the hour mark, City managed to reclaim our first half dominance, as an Alex Greenwood free-kick and an outstretched Blakstad saw both of their efforts go just wide of the mark.

Taylor switched up the tactics to try and find a way past the stubborn Reading defence.

And Lauren Hemp made an instant impact coming on from the bench, as she cut inside and pulled out a spectacular effort with her right foot which bounced off the crossbar.

Our pressure was finally rewarded on the 73rd minute, with some neat passing play in the box which made its way out wide to Stokes, and her shot across the goal found the bottom corner to give the Conti Cup winners a well-deserved advantage.

Stanway nearly doubled our lead minutes later with a shot from outside the box, which just clipped the woodwork.

With over 10 minutes left in the match, Reading gave us a scare as a cross from the right could only be parried out by Ellie Roebuck, and a follow up shot by Reading's Sanne Troelsgaard went just over the bar.

The game was wrapped up a few moments later, as substitute Ellen White hit a powerful strike which could only be pushed aside by Moloney, which allowed Hemp at the back post to tap in to double our lead.

Jess Park nearly sweetened the victory, as she saw two of her shots blocked in the Reading box, but nonetheless, City walked away with another vital three points.

WHAT IT MEANS

City moved to fourth and are only three points behind Manchester United with us having a game in hand over our city rivals.

Taylor’s side have now won 29 points from our last 16 league games in our charge to reach the European places.

HOW WE LINED UP

Taylor made two changes to the side that beat Spurs on Sunday, with Julie Blakstad and Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw coming in to replace Lauren Hemp and Ellen White.

Ellie Roebuck started between the sticks, and she was protected by a back four of Demi Stokes, Alex Greenwood, Alanna Kennedy and Lucy Bronze.

Keira Walsh anchored the midfield, with Georgia Stanway and Caroline Weir playing further forward in the engine room. Haley Raso and Blaksatd were on the flanks with Bunny leading the line.

CITY XI | Roebuck, Bronze, Kennedy, Greenwood (C), Stokes, Walsh, Stanway, Weir, Raso (Hemp 58'), Blakstad (Park 73'), Shaw (White 73')

SUBS | Keating, Beckie, Angeldahl, Coombs, Mace

READING XI | Moloney, Bryson, Peplow, Evans, Rose, Harding (C), Harries (Rowe 76'), Cooper, Vanhaevermaet, Woodham, Troelsgaard

SUBS | Stewart, Poulter, Roberts, Baigent

PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Lauren Hemp

The substitute may have only played half an hour of football in the second half, but she dictated the play impeccably when she came on. Creating an assist for Stokes' and being in the right place at the right time at the back post to secure the crucial win for City.

STATS

  • Keira Walsh marked her 200th club appearance in all competitions tonight
  • City have won 13 of our last 15 matches in all competitions after winning 2-0 against Reading
  • We have only lost one of our last 34 WSL matches when scoring the first goal (W29 D4)
  • Julie Blakstad made her first professional start for City in the 2-0 triumph
  • Demi Stokes got her first goal since March 2019 - that goal also coming against Reading - with her 73rd minute strike which gave us the lead

WHAT’S NEXT

Taylor’s team are set to welcome Everton in successive fixtures starting this Sunday 20 March with kick-off scheduled at 12:30 (UK) in the Women’s FA Cup quarter-finals, and then on Wednesday 23 March at 19:00 (UK)

And we finish the month by entertaining Birmingham City on Sunday 27 March (14:00) in a league encounter.

Tickets for all the City home games are on sale online or in person.

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