Manchester United Women vs Manchester City Women Match Recap
Manchester United Women and their crosstown rivals had what was yet another entertaining derby at Leigh Sports Village; the visitors took home 1 point despite playing most of the game with only 10 players on the field.
City got their opening goal minutes after forward Georgia Stanway got sent off — the very opposite of what you expect to happen when a team loses a player — Bunny Shaw’s header gave the visiting team an unlikely lead. United took control and the lead on the other side of the half with 2 quick goals courtesy of Lucy Staniforth and Alessia Russo, but City managed to glean a point thanks to Ellen White’s scrappy effort off of a rebound.
Manchester United Women: Earps, Blundell, Mannion, Thorisdottir, Batlle, Zelem (c), Groenen (Ladd 85), Hanson (Staniforth 67), Toone, Galton, Russo.
Despite moments of dominance and a good showing from Ona Batlle and Leah Galton on the wing, United were clearly the weaker team. City kept the United defense busy from the get-go: keeper Mary Earps got called on to save a shot from Janine Beckie from close range and Maria Thorisdottir cleared a header by Lauren Hemp minutes later.
United were up to the challenge and looked dangerous on occasion. Kirsty Hanson’s left-footed curler was the team’s first real chance. Overall the Reds lacked any ruthlessness to get past City’s defense, and played a cautious half.
City, however, threw caution to the winds when Stanway lunged at Galton and caught her leg instead of the ball. The referee wasted no time pulling out the red card to send Stanway off in the 35th minute.
United should have played more comfortably with an extra player, but the visitors maintained their dominance. 2 minutes after, Shaw gave her team the lead with a header, assisted by Demi Stokes. They could have easily doubled their lead by halftime as Hemp got past Batlle with a through-ball from Strokes. The ball went wide without the contact needed to convert it to a goal, much to United’s relief.
Man United Women had a better second half with Ella Toone and Hannah Blundell both having shots saved. Galton was brought down inside the penalty box but the referee dismissed any appeals for a penalty. Earps was still on her toes as City refused to give the home team any leeway. She parried out a powerful shot from Hemp as City took advantage of United losing possession in the final third.
Karima Taieb made her first save of the half after Toone tried her luck from the edge of the box. City made it difficult for the home team, and no chance was easy to come by. United needed something truly inspired to draw level, and that’s just what happened when Blundell took a quick corner and sent the ball over to Toone. She crossed the ball to Staniforth, who flicked the ball in at the near post to draw United level.
Minutes later, the home team pulled ahead as Russo, recovering well after initially muddling up her first touch, capitalised on Batlle’s cross and slotted the ball neatly into the bottom corner. United’s lead was short-lived, though, as Ellen White drew the Blues level almost instantly. Keeper Earps made a brilliant save to deny Jess Parks’s long-range effort, and the ball fell to the feet of White, who, unmarked, only needed to toe it in.
United Women showed more resolve and determination to get the lead, but the visitors defended well to ensure that both teams walked away with a point each.
After the match, Marc Skinner said, “We were disappointed with [how] we conceded but then we showed our personality…. I can only ask [the team] to continue to build, we should have taken three points and we can learn from that.”
Skinner continued, “We’ve got a wonderful foundation to build from but we have to build it in a way I know we can progress in this league. We are going to get to where we need to be but we just need to be patient. We need to get these psychological battles, those battles that will hopefully get you where you want to be.”
City’s manager Gareth Taylor was confident that his team would have comfortably won if they’d kept all 11 players. “It was a roller-coaster of a game. When you are potentially staring at a 2-1 loss, reluctantly it is a fair point. I thought we showed great character, determination and spirit. I thought the girls did amazing in that respect.”
The result sees Manchester United Women move above Chelsea and up to third in the Women’s Super League table, with the rest of the division still to play this weekend.