Women's Team

My Favourite Game: Aoife Mannion

One year ago today, history was made at the Etihad Stadium... Aoife Mannion made her City debut!

The right-back - a summer recruit from childhood Club Birmingham - donned the sky blue shirt for the first time in competitive action, and her stage could not have been bigger.

The 2019/20 FA Women's Super League opener marked a day for the history books, as the first professional women's Manchester Derby took place at the Etihad Stadium; watched by a record-breaking 31,000-strong crowd.

Sadly, injury has thwarted Mannion's career at her new Club, but in the latest edition of My Favourite Game, presented by Marathonbet, the defender fondly recalls her maiden appearance...

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The pick

My favourite game was the 2019/20 FA WSL season opener against Manchester United at the Etihad.

It was my competitive debut and although personally, I don’t think it was my best performance, it was great to be part of such a special occasion.

It was incredible to see so many people at the game, and the way we won it - with a worldie goal from Caroline Weir - it was really memorable.

The build-up

I'd just joined the Club and in the week leading up to the game, we were in a bit of a bubble.

You don't really realise until you walk out on the day just how big an occasion it is and then in retrospect, when you reflect.

As players, we're sheltered from all of the planning that goes on behind-the-scenes and a lot of people had worked really hard to get the numbers and make it the occasion that it was.

For everything to have gone to plan and for us to have got the result, it's a lovely experience to look back on.

Playing at the Etihad

When I signed for City, my CityTV interview took place at the Etihad and I'd said it was the first time I'd visited.

It was announced around the same timethat the Derby would be played there and it was brilliant.

It made it all the more special - not just to have the opportunity to play in the stadium but also to allow more fans to turn out.

Having the fans spread around the ground as well made for a lovely atmosphere.

Hopefully, there will be similar events like that in future years.

The first half

It was a big comedown to be honest.

As the home team, we expected to dominate but you could be forgiven for saying United looked like the home team.

We knew we had to adapt in the second half to try and imprint our gameplan.

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The half-time team talk

Some discussions took place!

Everyone needed to put ourselves about a bit more, regardless of how they felt they were playing.

We were frustrated that things weren't going to plan but we realised: that wasn't what was important.

It's easy to get lost in tiny details but in a Derby, what matters more is having the appetite to dominate.

That's what matters to the fans.

The turning point

We opened the scoring really quickly after half-time and the whole game pivoted on that moment.

Once we scored, there was a confidence then that we could close it out.

United changed their formation too, moving some players higher up. They had three at the back, which meant that naturally, we had more chances.

The game was like two halves - one game before the goal and another game after.

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The magic moment

I had a really peachy view of the goal!

At the time, I was thinking what everyone else was thinking: 'That's going in a nice direction!'

It all happens in a split second but the ball locked in the air a certain way and then it dawns on you that it's going past the 'keeper Mary Earps!

It was a brilliant goal and it's incredible when things like that come off.

A hairy moment

There was a moment when they nearly scored late on.

I'd tried to clear the ball but it hit Jackie Groenen and trickled past Ellie Roebuck, but fortunately it hit the post!

I think it's harder to watch something like that than be in the thick of it, playing.

It was a bit of a heart-in-mouth moment!

The full-time whistle

It felt so pleasing!

Admittedly, anything less than a win would have felt like a disappointment but for me, it felt like the perfect start to my personal journey at City.

My family and friends had come up for the game too and we had a meal together in the evening to round it off.

It was lovely to be able to start my City career off on a nice note.

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