Dowie (70 mins)
- Match reports
- 17 April 2014 21:42
- Posted by @roline_mcfc
Manchester City Women fell to defeat at Liverpool Ladies on the opening day of their FA Women’s Super League season.
A solitary Natasha Dowie strike with 20 minutes remaining secured the win for the home side who dominated possession for much of the game. Though the Blues did almost find an equaliser in a late charge, the Reds' pace and experience proved to be the difference between the two sides.
After writing their name in the history books last weekend with their first ever competitive game, MCWFC reached another monumental landmark, taking to the pitch for their debut in the country’s top flight.
Against an established FA WSL side and the reigning champions to boot, the league newcomers anticipated a tough test and Nick Cushing opted to field the same side that narrowly defeated Reading Women 2-1 in the FA Women’s Cup last time out.
Chelsea Nightingale partnered captain Steph Houghton in the centre of defence, with Steph Marsh and Emma Lipman accompanying on either side. Jess Holbrook started against her former club, protecting the back four with Jill Scott and Betsy Hassett in midfield. Isobel Christiansen and Krystle Johnston took their positions down the wings, whilst Toni Duggan operated as a lone striker.
Both sides started the game brightly but it was Liverpool who had the best chance to open the scoring. After a number of dangerous crosses were headed away, the home side saw several efforts fly wide before Andie Worrall was forced into a superb save, preventing last season’s FA WSL top scorer Dowie from finding the net.
The Reds' speed and trickery caused the Blues problems throughout the first half and Cushing's side picked up two bookings inside the opening 20 minutes. Johnston and Nightingale were both cautioned for late challenges before a moment of controversy added to the home side’s frustration six minutes later.
After Worrall’s clearance was charged down by Kate Longhurst, the ball rolled into the empty net and the striker reeled off with her teammates. With the home side gathered in a celebratory huddle though, the referee ruled the goal out and produced a yellow card, deeming Longhurst to have used her hands to block the ball.
That decision proved to spur City on and they almost took the lead against the run of play. On 36 minutes, Johnston’s ambitious long-range attempt almost caught out Libby Stout in the Reds’ goal, then Christiansen - unmarked at the backpost - could only fire her shot straight at the ‘keeper moments later.
After the break, it was the hosts again who looked more likely to break the deadlock. The Blues received a lucky escape on 52 minutes, needing a clearance off the line by Houghton to deny Gemma Davison, and Martha Harris then shot wide after Harding struggled to clear.
Having survived the scares, City rallied briefly. Johnston tried a long-range volley which was deflected over for the visitors and from the resulting corner, Houghton headed over. Duggan also saw a stooping header flash wide on 65 minutes before the striker forced Stout into a smart stop.
The positive spell was short-lived though and Liverpool found the decisive goal on 70 minutes, as Dowie raced clear and slotted the ball past the advancing Worrall from a tight angle.
It was a huge setback for the Blues but they responded well and thought they’d found an immediate response when Johnston fired into the bottom corner only for the linesman to raise his flag for offside.
Worrall then had to stretch to claw a looping header wide, preventing Gemma Bonner from doubling the lead.
Spurred on by the save, City almost found an equaliser on 84 minutes as Duggan curled a shot to the far corner but Stout was able to push it away and the rebound was cleared.
Houghton then headed over once again in the dying moments and the attempt proved to be City’s last chance to salvage a point.
Cushing’s side have just days to recover now before welcoming Bristol Academy to the Manchester Regional Arena on Sunday for the Blues’ first ever FA WSL home clash.