Women's Team

Young trio reflect on their Etihad debuts ahead of historic Manchester derby

Sergio Gomez, Rico Lewis and Cole Palmer have backed their City colleagues to impress the bumper Etihad Stadium crowd in this weekend’s Barclays Women's Super League Manchester derby.

All three have only recently had their first taste of senior football at our ground, with Palmer the first to make his home Premier League debut in August 2021.

With more than 40,000 tickets already sold for Sunday’s 12:30 meeting with second-placed Manchester United, it’s sure to be an incredible atmosphere.

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Although there are five of the Euro 2022 winning Lionesses and plenty more international stars in Gareth Taylor’s squad, performing in front of such large numbers will be a new experience for some of our players.

Only three of those that were on the pitch when the two sides last played a Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium in 2019 are still at the Club - Ellie Roebuck, Steph Houghton and Demi Stokes.

City won 1-0 in front of a then-record WSL crowd of 31,213 on that day.

With such a seismic moment in the lives of several players to come this weekend, Gomez, Lewis and Palmer all recounted their first appearances at our club’s home and how they coped in the spotlight.

Lewis made his debut as a substitute against Bournemouth in the early weeks of the current season and was still yet to turn 18 when he claimed his first start and scored his first goal in the UEFA Champions League win over Sevilla.

He admitted to feeling tense before kick-off that night, but then insisted that all washed away once the match began.

“Nerves were there for me before the game and while warming up,” he said.

“As soon as the game started that goes and you just focus on playing. That's what I experienced in the Sevilla game.

“Once we were playing I was calm and trying to get the job done, which I hope we can do against United this weekend.”

Gomez, who joined from Anderlecht in the summer, made his home debut as a substitute in the August victory over Crystal Palace.

The 22-year-old said: “In every stadium, when you play there for first time, there are things that surprise you. You always have expectations about how it is going to be but you have to focus on your own game.”

“It will be one of the first games for many of the women’s team at the Etihad Stadium and to play against Manchester United makes it a very important one. It’s a good game for them to enjoy the experience and hopefully they can win.”

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Still just 20, Palmer is the most experienced of the three in terms of matches for City.

The Academy graduate has played 25 times for the Blues but still remembers the first time he took to the field in a top-flight fixture.

His advice for his peers who will be playing at the Etihad Stadium for the first time on Sunday is to focus on what they can control.

“I remember coming on for my first Premier League game at the Etihad and it was mad,” he said.

“When you're on the bench or watching from the stands you can see there's loads of people but when I go on, I try not to think about that and focus on playing my game.”


City welcome Manchester United to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday 11 December.

Kick-off is scheduled for 12:30 (UK), with tickets selling fast for our third-ever women's match at the Etihad.

We hosted Everton there back in May 2014, before welcoming our local rivals in September 2019, when Caroline Weir’s wonder strike saw us run out 1-0 winners in front of what was then a WSL record crowd, and what remains a club record of 31, 213 fans.

With over 40,000 tickets already sold, it promises to be another historic occasion.

You can secure your tickets online by visiting: www.mancity.com/tickets/womens or by calling: +44 (0)161 444 1894.