The cameras were out in force at the Etihad campus at the weekend for what many had assumed would be a title-clinching performance from league leaders Chelsea Ladies.
Instead, the assembled snappers witnessed a dramatic finale to the Women’s Super League which saw Manchester City Women beat the top team on the last weekend of the season to allow third-placed Liverpool to leapfrog them and snatch the trophy.
Early on however, it looked set to be smooth sailing for the visitors, who dominated the opening the exchanges, pinning back the hosts in their own half. Yet once City were able to break, the balance of momentum soon began to shift.
Chelsea’s goalkeeper, Mari Hourihan, landed awkwardly after saving a relatively routine shot and had to be replaced by substitute keeper Clare Farrow. Unfortunately for the title chasers, City’s breakthrough was just around the corner.
The opener came after 24 minutes as Jill Scott added the finish to a skilful bit of inter-play down the right which made it 1-0 to the home side. Just 10 minutes later, Toni Duggan added a second with a wonderfully taken volley off her chest from another brilliant bit of play by Scott from the byline.
Chelsea were only able to grab a consolation 20 minutes from time, with the efforts of their star striker Eni Aluko snuffed out by City’s shot-stopper, Alex Brooks. There seemed to be no real way fro the Blues to get back into the game as they watched their title bid collapse at the last possible moment.
A few miles away, Liverpool were able to put three past Bristol Academy to claim the championship, as second placed Birmingham City slipped to third after drawing 2-2 with Notts County. Chelsea finished second.
Though City weren’t a runner in this final day dash for the title, the determined nature of their display against the league leaders suggested otherwise. Even after being reduced to 10 men due to a red card for Abbie McManus, they held off their supposedly more motivated opponents.
As reported by Georgina Turner in The Guardian, MCWFC manager Nick Cushing summed up the attitude of his coaching team and playing staff: “If someone’s going to lift the trophy at our stadium, we want it to be us.”
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