Manchester United failed to get all three points in the Women’s Super League against Manchester City, despite the noisy neighbours being down to ten women at the Leigh Sports Village on Saturday. Marc Skinner’s side would feel disappointed not to have climbed further up the table after an entertaining clash in a game that they should have won.
Lucy Staniforth dropped to the bench for this clash, after having started against Birmingham City in the previous game. Alessia Russo started upfront and Kristy Hanson came back to the starting line-up too, having not started for the clash against Skinner’s former club.
The game did begin in a cagey manner, with the Citizens having failed to win three league games in a row prior to it. Despite City not being in the best of spots coming into the game, Gareth Taylor’s side created more openings in the first 30 minutes. Janine Beckie had a shot saved brilliantly by Mary Earps, when it did seem as if the Citizens should have taken the lead.
Another great chance to take the lead came some minutes after but Maria Thorisdottir was right on the goalline to head Lauren Hemp’s fierce shot on goal away.
While United hadn’t created much by this time, Hanson’s left-footed curler was saved easily by City goalkeeper Karima Taieb. United did start getting some joy down the left but minutes later, Georgia Stanway’s horrific challenge on Galton saw the City player get sent off. It was quite a high challenge and took out the United forward, as City were reduced to ten.
Despite being down to ten, City did find the back of the net some minutes later. Khadija Shaw found herself unmarked in the box after a brilliant cross down the left from Demy Stokes. The United centre-backs were caught napping, as they allowed Shaw the room to position herself perfectly between themselves.
United failed to take advantage of the extra player for quite a bit of the second half too, as Hemp caused problems down the right of United’s backline. Her mazy run on that side was well saved by Earps in the second half once again.
Out of nowhere though, Skinner’s side hit back in the 72nd minute. A quickly taken corner caught City off guard as Ella Toone played a low cross at the near post for Staniforth to tap home an equaliser. The City backline almost froze for a second, allowing Staniforth to score rather easily and the equaliser just shifted the momentum in the clash.
Galton was put through on goal as a result of a City error but she scuffed her left-footed shot wide but the goal did come soon. Hannah Blundell picked up her third assist in two games as her impressive overlap from the left ended with a cross towards Russo. While the ex-Chelsea and Brighton forward did miscontrol it, she protected the ball brilliantly in the tight space and sent a low shot past Taieb to hand United a lead.
The game became increasingly stretched though and City took full advantage of that soon. Hemp’s audacious attempt from distance in the 78th minute hit the underside of the bar, allowing Ellen White a tap in from point blank range.
With time of the essence, United did manage to put some pressure on the City backline and won two corners in a row in stoppage time. But they failed to muster any promising attempt on goal by the time the final whistle blew.
Skinner’s side did climb up to third in the WSL table but with Chelsea yet to play Leicester City on Sunday, things may still change. A point for City means that they remain just four points above the relegation zone.