There was an all North West clash at The Academy Stadium in Manchester this afternoon as Manchester City faced-off against bottom of the table Liverpool, the home side coming out 1-0 winners.
With the early kick-off between Chelsea and Everton called off this fixture gave The Citizens ample opportunity to leapfrog the league leaders and pile the pressure on Emma Hayes’ side going into their titanic clash at Kingsmeadow next week.
As for Vicky Jepson’s side, they sat rock bottom of the FA Women’s Super League going into the match and still in search of their first three points of the campaign.
The first meaningful effort of the half did fall the home side’s way. A lofted ball over the top from Caroline Weir reached Tessa Wullaert running in behind but her eventual effort was tipped over by Anke Preuss in the Liverpool goal.
The opening goal did eventually come on the 20-minute mark when a deep free-kick was floated into the crowded penalty area by Caroline Weir. City defender Gemma Bonner leapt highest to glance the ball beyond Preuss.
Shortly after, City nearly doubled their lead. Liverpool full-back Leighanne Robe looked favourite to gather up a threaded ball in behind but she was outpaced by Ellen White who drilled a low effort across goal which was only just diverted wide by the fingertips of Preuss.
That being said, City did not have things all their own way and looked vulnerable when Liverpool were able to attack. On a number of occasions, the home side looked particularly vulnerable and panicky when defending corners and were only able to scramble the ball clear thanks to some last-ditch defending.
After the interval, Liverpool’s defence remained resilient in spite of City having the lion’s share of possession. Some patient build up play of their own from Liverpool opened up the space for Kirsty Linnett to let fly for 30 yards out and it certainly had Ellie Roebuck worried as she dived to her left, the ball drifting wide of the post.
When the hosts were able to get in behind substitute Georgia Stanway, on for the free-scoring Ellen White, could only fire her shot over after a neat through ball from Janine Beckie. Liverpool continued to find themselves in good positions in the final third but the efforts from Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and captain Sophie Bradley-Auckland lacked the conviction to draw them level.
As the half drew on, City dropped deeper and deeper and allowed Liverpool possession in their half. This was very nearly to their detriment when the home side once again failed to clear a corner and after yet another scramble in their penalty area, Niamh Fahey’s header was only just clawed away by Roebuck.
The frustration was emanating throughout the home crowd who could see the travelling side growing in confidence and a series of dangerous corners nearly bore fruit for Liverpool once again. Fahey for a second time towered above everyone else but was unable to direct her header goalwards.
The full-time whistle came shortly after much to City’s relief and Liverpool’s frustration. This is the second time in the space of a week that Liverpool have faced one of the top three away from home and the second time they have fallen to a narrow 1-0 defeat. Yet again, it was another strong performance for the Merseyside club yet they were not able to back it up with a result, meaning they remain winless in the league this season and without a goal from open play. It is plain to see that the issue for Liverpool does not lie in their defensive capabilities but with their inability to find the cutting edge in the final third.
City on the other hand will count themselves lucky to have escaped from the fixture with all three points. Although today’s display demonstrated City’s prowess in grinding out results when not performing at their best, manager Nick Cushing will be hoping for a much improved performance when they travel to title rivals Chelsea this coming Sunday.