“Daphne Corboz…her ponytail drivers me wild!” was the Demechelis song rip off running through my head as the American along with her Manchester City team-mates ran riot in a 5-0 victory at home to Durham Ladies. With the men’s team scoring eight on Monday in Vietnam the women did their best to get in on the act and but for some resolute second half from Durham they might have surpassed them.
Corboz, making her third consecutive start for City since joining from Georgetown University during the World Cup break, has seamlessly fit into the City midfield and along with Izzy Christiansen dominated the midfield with sharp passing and movement. Corboz has settled into this City side immediately and her first touch, vision and range of passing is superb and was influential again first in an advanced role and later in the deep role taking the ball off the goalkeeper and distributing it the quarterback role in a way in which Steven Gerrard could have only dreamed off.
Corboz created an unfamiliar midfield triangle with Isobel Christiansen and Steph Houghton but any fears that the absence of Scott and Beattie might hinder City were wiped away in the opening minutes as the three dominated from the off using the width of Toni Duggan on the left and the superb Krystle Johnston on the right to great effect and allowing the ball to do the work with Nikita Parris acting as willing runner as the sole striker. .
The Continental Tyres Cup (the most romantic of competition names) pits the 18 teams from both divisions of the WSL divided into three groups resulting in City being drawn against the second division outfit, Durham. Perhaps knowing this Manager Nick Cushing rested Lucy Bronze, Jill Scott and Jennifer Beattie allowing starts for Abbie McManus, Emma Lipman and Kystle Johnston with Captain Stephanie Houghton moving into the midfield. McManus partnered Kathleen Radtke in central defence, Lipman slotted in at right back with Stokes completing the back line in her familiar role at left back.
Houghton and Corboz both had early chances as City pressured Durham from the kick off and lead on 12 minutes when Johnston curled a wonderful left footed effort from the edge of the area into the far left hand side of the goal. The second was a great team goal in which the midfield three were all involved as Corboz collect the ball, turned and passed it wide to Christiansen, her low cross found Parris who tapped home from a yard.
The third followed soon after as a ball down the left this time reached Duggan who crossed to Christiansen who fired home with a quality finish. Scorer turned provider next as Christiansen, by this time bossing the game, played a glorious pass wide to Parris, the forward cut inside, her initial shot was blocked but she made no mistake the second time giving City a comfortable 4-0 lead at half time.
The second half was more of the same as Durham began to defend deeper and deeper, rarely leaving their penalty area, with City determined to get the ever deserving Duggan a goal. Special mention must go to Durham’s number 12 Julie Nelson who made several excellent challenges and hooked a certain goal off the line.
The final goal came in the final minute of the game as sub Natasha Flint drove through the middle of the field, playing in Johnston on the right who fired a low shot past the goalkeeper at the near post to finish off the rout. Five wins on the bounce since the break, scoring 14, keeping four clean sheets and ending Chelsea’s two year unbeaten home record has sparked new momentum into City and whilst one will argue that Durham were significantly inferior opposition it will please the manager that he was able to rotate his side, handing starts to Abbie McManus, Johnston and Lipman whilst he was able to bring on Natasha Flint off the bench and hand a debut to Georgia Stanway
Krystle Johnston had a superb game on the right wing and looked dangerous every single time she touched the ball as she showed a great first touch, pace and composure as she helped herself to a brace. What was impressive about the performance is how polished she looked considering she’d only made one start since April.
A Special mention must go to Emma Lipman who made her first start since March and was impressive down the right hand side as she got forward and every opportunity as well as getting the ball wide to Johnston in dangerous positions.
The obligatory Toni Duggan mention goes here as she was superb again and did everything but score. Cushing told BT Sport that Duggan doesn’t like to play off the shoulder of the last defender u front and likes to roam and search for the ball in support of her team mates. Tonight she did that in spades and bagged an assist. In return her team mates spent the second half trying to get her a goal and its really clear to see that all the players are pulling in the same direction.
However player of the match must be Isobel Christiansen, with Houghton deployed in front of the back four and rarely allowing Durham to cross the half way line, it freed up Christiansen into a more advance role and was rewarded with two goals a goal and a pair of assists. Sat just behind the striker in the advanced role in the midfield Christiansen’s movement around the box allowed her to hold the ball at the edge of the area and play in Johnston on the right or play into Parris. The pass for City’s fourth goal would be replayed on Sky Sports News for days if it had been David Silva Jordan Henderson as she took the ball, opened up her body and sprayed a 40 yard pass to Parris on the left wing.
Overall another great performance for Manchester City Women and they enter a 12 day break (due to the FA Cup Final on Saturday) before they return to action on Sunday 9th August when they travel to Borhem Wood to face Arsenal. The game is a potential title 6 pointer where neither side will want to drop points and lose ground on Sunderland at the top. Fortunately BT Sport have done the sensible thing and are going to air the game live.
In front of 1185 fans Manchester City Women are rapidly becoming one of the most entertaining sides in football.