Notts County 1
Clarke (58 mins)
Duggan (61 mins)
- Match reports
- 03 September 2014 21:29
- Posted by @roline_mcfc
Manchester City Women were held to a 1-1 draw by Notts County Ladies at Meadow Lane.
The result does neither side any favours in terms of league position, leaving the Manchester outfit sixth in the FA Women’s Super League, five points above the Lady Magpies.
However, a draw was perhaps a fair reflection of an entertaining game and reasonable preparation for Sunday’s Continental Cup semi-final clash with Chelsea Ladies.
With perhaps half an eye on that mouth-watering fixture, Cushing opted to field a much-changed side from the one that lost to Arsenal last time out.
Chelsea Nightingale returned to the starting line-up in the heart of defence alongside Paula Radtke, while Abbie McManus and Emma Lipman operated as full-backs. Captain Steph Houghton acted as a defensive midfielder, looking to protect the back four.
Keira Walsh also made her first start of the season, taking her place in the centre of midfield with Jill Scott. Krystle Johnston and Duggan occupied more advanced roles with Natasha Flint starting the game upfront.
The previous encounter between the two sides ended in a narrow victory for Cushing’s side just four games ago so the visitors knew they had to be at the top of their game.
However, the first half brought very little in terms of clear-cut chances. In the opening exchanges, both sides struggled to retain possession in a stop-start game littered with throw-ins and free-kicks.
The hosts found their rhythm first, creating a number of half-chances before working Karen Bardsley for the first time on 17 minutes as Ashleigh Plumptre forced the England shot-stopper to make a fine save low to her right.
City responded well and from that attack, mounted one of their own. Scott was unlucky to see her effort blocked by Carly Telford, after the midfielder had adjusted her body well to get a shot away. The clearance fell to Johnston, who sliced wide.
Unfazed by City’s glimpse of quality, Notts County continued to press. Bardsley had to be alert on a number of occasions as the hosts piled on the pressure with a string of dangerous corners.
The visitors finally hit their stride towards the end of the half with some impressive spells of possession. Flint went close with a low effort that was pushed wide in what proved to be the last real action of the half.
Once again, the hosts were quicker out of the blocks and they broke the deadlock on 58 minutes when Bardsley’s clearance hit Clarke – a thorn in City’s side all evening – and ended up in the back of the net.
It was an unusual goal to concede but arguably deserved – and the away side responded superbly with an immediate equaliser.
Almost straight from the restart, Cushing’s side were awarded a corner and Johnston's delivery caused havoc in the box. Eventually, the ball fell for Duggan, who smashed the ball home.
Within seconds though, Notts County went close to regaining the lead as City were rescued by a goalline clearance.
Having clawed themselves back into the game, the visitors grew in confidence. Cushing’s decision to bring on Betsy Hassett and Isobel Christiansen appeared to work wonders as the away side reverted back to a more familiar formation.
City gained a foothold in the game, spreading the ball around quickly and with intent - a feat that had been lacking previously.
Duggan almost grabbed her second of the evening on 73 minutes but Telford was equal to the curling effort, before Houghton tried her luck with a shot that flew over the bar.
As City pressed for a winner, the tiredness kicked in which resulted in late challenges and bookings for McManus and Radtke.
Try as they might, the visitors struggled to overcome an organised Notts County defence and the away side ran out of time to steal a win.