Arch Predator White Seals Battling Point For City

Manchester United 2-2 Manchester City

By Kris Goman

Above: Ellen White wheels away to celebrate her equaliser for Manchester City. Photo: Reuters.

The local derby between City and United has a lot riding on it. City come in after four rounds of the FAWSL with three losses on the trot and a single win, on top of being knocked out of Champions League before the group stage. United on the other hand are in a much better position with three wins and a single loss however they’ve never beaten City in their history in the WSL.

The drums are beating for Gareth Taylor and more people are coming for his head. It’s critical they win today.

The first decent attack is from City with a pass pushed down the left to Lauren Hemp who wins the foot race to the ball and with a single touch crosses to Janine Beckie. Her shot to the top left connects with the outstretched hand of Mary Earps who deflects it out.

City continues the attack when a cross from the right comes to Hemp’s head and is pushed towards goal with some interest. Maria Thorisdottir heads it away safely as Earps dives behind her unnecessarily. For my money, Hemp is one of the most exciting players in the WSL. She’s everywhere, doing everything, causing havoc and integral to every goal for City.

Another attack is launched by Hemp when she drives in past Ona Batlle from the left to shoot but the shot is far too high and sails into the stands. 

An attack by Leah Galton, who has had a couple of offside incursions into the box, ends up on the right with a throw in. The ball comes to Katie Zelem who passes to Kirsty Hanson who shoots. Karima Benameur Taieb has to jump slightly but has it under control for United’s first shot on goal and the first time she’s troubled after 32 minutes.

A couple of minutes later a ball comes to Galton on the left and she controls it. As she does, Georgia Stanway comes in, studs up and straight into her thigh. Galton goes down clutching her leg. Stanway has put her full weight behind it and tumbles in the background. She realises what’s happened and starts apologising as the ref comes towards them. She pulls out a red card and Stanway is off and City are down to ten players. Gareth Taylor seems to be complaining but there’s no doubt that deserved a red card. Stanway does some stupid things at times and this was definitely one of them. City have looked stronger in the first 35 minutes so it remains to be seen how much this will affect them.

Above: Khadija Shaw celebrates after putting City ahead. Photo: Getty Images.

Turns out, not much. About a minute later, Hemp evades the defence and passes to Caroline Weir. She passes back to Keira Walsh who sends it back out left to Demi Stokes. Stokes crosses and it lands right in front of the box allowing Kadeisha Bunny Shaw to run on to it and head it to the bottom right corner, leaving Earps to watch it go by her for the first goal of the match. Manchester United go up 1-0.

Another attack by Hemp sees her dribble it right into the goal around Batlle before passing back but there’s no one around to capitalise and it goes back to Alex Greenwood. She shoots from the top of the box but Earps sees this one coming and is able to punch it away safely.

United launch a bit of an attack in the box and Jill Scott clears the ball directly into Hemp’s face. It was a decent kick so that’s gotta hurt but she comes back on OK.

In another brilliant attack, seconds before half time, Stokes sends a long ball up the left to Hemp. She brings it down, avoids Batlle and comes into the box. Instead of shooting herself, she crossed and Filippa Angeldahl slides in but can’t direct it and the ball is out.
Heading into the second half, city looks more organised, has a little bit more possession and has more shots on goal but United aren’t out of this yet.

Shortly after coming back on the field Ella Toone takes a crack at goal but Alex Greenwood places herself in harms way and the ball deflects out for a corner. It’s taken short and cleared.

Once again Hemp is involved after jumping on to a clearance, sidestepping a couple of players and shooting. Earps gets a hand to it to stop the goal.

Back up the other end again and Hannah Blundell slips Toone a pass. She aims to the right post and Taieb has to make a diving save.

Just before the 60 minute mark, goalscorer Bunny Shaw is off to be replaced by Ballon D’or nominee, Ellen White.

At 66 minutes, Lucy Staniforth comes on to replace Hanson.

Blundell sends a perfectly weighted pass to Galton on the left. She runs onto it and into the box and Jill Scott executes a brilliant sliding tackle for a United corner. Zelem’s corner is headed away by Scott, who’s doing the hard yards in defence.

A Thorisdottir-Blundell-Galton combo scores another corner which is taken quickly by Zelem. She takes it short to Toone who flicks it towards goal. Staniforth backheels it past a surprised Earps and levels the score 1-1. United are jubilant, none more so than Staniforth who can’t believe her luck.

Above: Alessia Russo (23) is mobbed after putting Manchester United 2-1 ahead. Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Molly Darlington

Minutes later, Galton is on a solo breakaway but her shot is wide to the right of goal.
The goal has lit a fire under United and straight away they are back on the attack. Blundell brings it down the left, passes to Toone and gets it straight back, crosses across the top of the box to Alissia Russo, she stumbles but recovers as Weir arrives but somehow manages to turn and get a shot away that skims the right post and gets past Earps to hit the back of the net. There’s elation in crowd and on the field as the score goes to 2-1 Manchester United.

During the celebrations Jess Park has come on to replace Angeldahl.

A big goal clearance by Taieb sees Park run onto it and do a long range strike for what must be her first touch of the match. Earps gets a hand to it and pushes it onto the top post for it to rebound back into the path of an onrushing Ellen White who buried it in the back of the net. We’re level once more at 2-2 after three goals in short succession. The punters are getting their money’s worth today in this thriller.

Above: Joy unconfined after Ellen White levelled for Manchester City. Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images/FA

There’s a heartstopper for the United fans as Hemp’s cross is headed across the goal by White but it passes safely across the front of the goal and out eventually.

At 84 minutes, Jackie Groenen is substituted for Hayley Ladd. And with 2 minutes of regular time left Laura Coombs is on for Weir.

United continue to apply pressure and get a couple of corners but can’t convert them. There’s four minutes of extra time as Beckie gets a yellow for an overenthusiastic tackle on Staniforth. Staniforth takes the free kick that floats into the box to be headed out by Hemp.

Galton gets to the corner kick but it must have deflected off a city player as another corner is awarded. Next corner also goes to Galton but she heads it out.

In the dying seconds Batlle guides a ball to the far post from the far right but Taieb jumps up to capture it safely under immense pressure. The whistle blows and both teams secure a point from this memorable derby with the final score 2-2.

Teams: MANCHESTER UNITED: Earps, Batlle, Thorisdottir, Mannion, Blundell, Zelem, Groenen, Hanson, Toone, Galton, Russo. Substitutes: Harris, Ladd (for Groenen 85’), Fuso, Jones, Staniforth (for Hanson 67’), Baggaley (GK).

Scorers: Staniforth 72’, Russo 75’.

MANCHESTER CITY: Benameur Taieb, Stanway, Scott, Greenwood, Stokes, Angeldahl, Walsh, Weir, Beckie, Shaw, Hemp. Substitutes: Keating (GK), Coombs (for Weir ’89), White (for Shaw 59’), Mace, Park (for Angeldahl 77’), Kennedy.

Scorers: Shaw 38’, White 78’.

Referee: Rebecca Welch.

Attendance: 3,797.

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