Match Report

White bags birthday goal but City fall short in FA WSL title race

White bags birthday goal but City fall short in FA WSL title race
FA WSL
FA WSL
Sun 9 May
0
1
Ellen White 
(75’)
View highlights
Manchester City signed off the 2020/21 Barclays FA Women’s Super League season with a 1-0 triumph over West Ham United.

Ellen White marked her 32nd birthday with the only goal of the game to claim all three points, which sadly were not enough to secure a second league title, as Chelsea retained top spot with a 5-0 win over Reading.

Gareth Taylor’s side gave their absolute all but fortune evaded the visitors, who saw two penalties saved and struck the woodwork three times!

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The FA Cup holders pushed Chelsea to the wire, impressively forcing a thrilling title race to the final day with a sensational run of form in the second half of the season, which had seen City win 13 of our previous 14 league games.

Our return of 55 points marks the highest total ever recorded by runners-up, highlighting the fine margins but providing plenty of encouragement for the new season.

Try as they might

In the knowledge only a victory (and potential four-goal advantage) would provide any chance of the title, City laid immediate siege to the Hammers' goal with Sam Mewis and Janine Beckie testing Arnold early on.

Optimism was quickly dashed within the opening five minutes of action, as West Ham announced over the tannoy system that Chelsea had opened the scoring inside a minute and ten seconds at Kingsmeadow - yet, City's assignment remained unaltered.

The away side carved chance after chance, drawing the very best defending from the hosts, who were content to counter. Their gameplan almost bore fruit when centre-back Hawa Cissoko burst forward before playing a one-two with Kenza Dali and unleashing an acrobatic volley at the backpost, which thankfully bounced just wide.

Caroline Weir then struck the crossbar with a powerful deflected drive before Mewis and Beckie both headed off-target.

As the onslaught continued, Weir then saw an effort cleared off the line by Gilly Flaherty and a golden chance was spurned from the penalty spot.

When White nipped the ball past the onrushing Arnold, referee Kirsty Dowie pointed to the spot but Mewis' effort was denied well by the shot-stopper.

As the half-time whistle blew, news filtered through that Chelsea had doubled the advantage but City continued where we left off in the second half.

Lucy Bronze forced Arnold into another stop as her cross-shot was tipped over the bar and from the resulting corner, both Esme Morgan and Mewis headed onto the bar!

Our pressure finally told on 75 minutes, as Bronze crossed for White to turn home first time for her 14th goal of the season.

Substitute Rose Lavelle was then handed the chance to double the lead with another penalty but once again, Arnold triumphed with another super stop.

A hard-earned victory gained with the highest level of effort. It just wasn't to be...

What it means

Chelsea retain the FA WSL title with 57 points from their 22 games, while City finish in second spot for the fifth successive season, including the 2017 Spring Series campaign.

City's season is completed with 55 points gained via 17 victories, four draws and one solitary defeat (against Chelsea back in October).

English Women's Super League
6 Chelsea Chelsea 2 1 0 1 6 3 3 3
7 Manchester City Man City 2 1 0 1 5 2 3 3
8 West Ham United West Ham 2 0 1 1 1 3 -2 1

How we lined up...

With Ellie Roebuck having turned her ankle in the gym, Karima Benameur Taeib was named in goal for her first FA Women's Super League start.

The French goalkeeper was shielded by a backline of Georgia Stanway, Alex Greenwood, Morgan and Bronze, while Keira Walsh protected the back four in her defensive midfield role.

Weir and Mewis were employed in midfield, flanked by Lauren Hemp and Beckie with White leading the line upfront.

CITY XI | Taieb, Bronze, Morgan, Greenwood, Stanway, Walsh, Mewis (Coombs 73'), Weir, Beckie (Lavelle 61'), Hemp (Park 90'), White (C)

SUBS | Keating, Davies, Dahlkemper

WEST HAM XI | Arnold, Pacheco, Flaherty (c), Longhurst, Dali, Fisk, Cissoko, Vetterlein (Mustafa 81'), Barker (Kiernan 72'), Brynjarsdottir, Denton

SUBS | Brosnan

Player of the match: Lucy Bronze

The right back's typically influential performance was typified by her relentless press up the field which forced the mistake for the game's only goal.

Committed and disciplined in defence, a constant threat down the flank, Bronze was once again City's golden girl.

Stat attack

Keira Walsh marked her 100th Barclays FA Women's Super League appearance.

• City have won each of our five Barclays FA Women’s Super League matches with West Ham, scoring at least three times in four (20 in total), while conceding only twice.

• City have won our last seven away games in the Women’s Super League by an aggregate score of 23-2.

Up next...

City sign off the 2020/21 campaign by welcoming West Ham to the Academy Stadium on Sunday 16 May in the Vitality Women's FA Cup.

The fifth round clash kicks-off at 14:00 (UK time) as Taylor's side look to continue our defence of the trophy and finish the season on a high.

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