Manchester City Women 1 – 1 Liverpool Ladies
Manchester City Women suffered a possible blow to their WSL title aspirations on Sunday afternoon with a 1-1 draw against Liverpool Ladies at the Academy Stadium, as Jane Ross rescued a point for the Blues in a tough contest in which they struggled to get to grips with throughout on a difficult surface and weren’t able to find the winner they wanted.
This match was the first game back after the traditional mid-season break for the teams in the Women’s Super League (WSL) and saw City welcoming back Irish International Megan Campbell to their squad after an ankle injury that ruled her out for a few months and saw her sat on the bench alongside new signing in Dutch International Tessel Middag, from the Eredivisie Women’s side Amsterdam Ajax.
It was just under a month ago that both teams faced off against each other in Widnes, and on that occassion it was a pretty uneventful contest as it ended 0-0, so both teams wanted to get the second halves of their respective seasons off and running again.
From kick off it saw the visitors settling immediately and saw them taking an early lead, as after three minutes gone in the game it saw a powerful run down the City left by Shanice van de Sanden and her ball just outside the penalty area towards Rosie White saw her run unchallenged through three City players and fire the Reds in front and by doing so stunned the home crowd too.
That goal was the first that Nick Cushing’s side had conceded in the league this season and it seemed a certainty that the home side would be spurred into life after going a goal down, as it was, that just wasn’t the case in this contest. Liverpool more than held their own over the league leaders and even had a couple of half chances falling their way as they were catching the home side’s defence cold.
City’s usual style of getting the ball down on the deck and playing was hampered by the state of the pitch, as the recent World Rugby Junior Championships had been played on at the venue for the past few weeks and saw players on both sides finding it difficult to deal with the bobbles it cutting up at time and also losing their footing quite a bit too.
With over half the first gone the team from Merseyside more than adapted to the conditions, and then eventually it saw the home side making some inroads with Jane Ross dragging her shot just wide of the target and having Daphne Corboz and Toni Duggan both sliding in for a touch at the back post, but both were unable to get a final touch.
Liverpool were without doubt the more threatening side in the first half and they almost doubled their lead before the break, after Caroline Weir saw her curling effort beating England’s goalkeeper Karen Bardsley all ends up and had the ball crashing off the crossbar and into the gloves of Bardsley.
At half time Nikita Parris was brought on for the Americna Daphne Corboz and saw her entrance to the game almost saw it paying dividends, as her run down the wing and cross into the area was run onto by Toni Duggan, but her header went over the bar and saw some much needed speed injected into their game.
Duggan who has seen her form slump recently of late, saw her being substituted for the new girl in Tessel Middag as the Netherlands International quickly had an impact on the game, as her ball out wide to Parris saw the former Everton forward putting in cross at the near post and Jane Ross was on hand to turn it goalwards and put the hosts level at 1-1 after 66 minutes gone with her 4th goal of the league campaign.
City pressed and had the red shirts of Liverpool almost playing with 10 players behind the ball at times, as the Blues camped inside their opponent’s half. It felt the hosts would get one decent chance before the end and as the visitors had done a great job in shutting the home team down. So when Tessel Middag put in a sublime cross into the area for Jill Scott to get her head on to it saw the Liverpool goalie in Siobhan Chamberlain making a stunning full stretching save to stop it going in and turn it away for a corner.
Nick Cushing then made a his final change with two minutes to go by putting Megan Campbell on to replace Abbie McManus, as the first action for the Irish International was use her massive long throws that caused panic in the Liverpool back line. One throw saw appeals for handball going up, after a shot was blocked by Liverpool player’s body in the melee and saw the referee waving it away.
The hosts then had one final chance in the game, as yet again it came from indecisiveness in the Liverpool defence when Campbell launched a throw in the area and saw the ball dropping to Kosse Asllani, but the Swedish striker fired her effort wide of the target and that was that last throw of the dice for the hosts. It meant that they had to settle for a second straight draw with their rivals from down the M62 and saw the hosts leading by five points with Chelsea to play later in the week.