Five for Thought – Manchester City Ladies v Notts County Ladies
Manchester City women cruised into the Champions League with a solid 2-1 win at home to Notts County at the CFA. The home side led on 13 minutes as Nikita Parris smashed home Tash Hardings cross. Izzy Christiansen added an emphatic second from Hardings pull back to secure three points and Champions League football in front of a league record crowd of 3,180.
Here’s our Five for Thought.
- Champions League Qualification
Whilst there was no harm in promoting it as a potential title deciding game, there were more than 3,000 people present, and the chance to see City’s’ Women lift some silverware for the second consecutive season securing a place in the 2016/17 Women’s Champions League is a huge mark of progression for City. Finishing above Arsenal and Champions Liverpool as well as winning away at Chelsea is a huge achievement for a squad completing just its second season together. The Champions League will be a great foil to test how far both City and the WSL have come in a short space of time.
- The season that you don’t want to end
Whilst it’s easy to say you’d like another eight games to see if Chelsea could hold their nerve and hold onto the title (they are deserved winners with a very good side) in all honesty I could happily watch City women into the cold of winter such as been the superb level of their play. Heading to the CFA to watch a team that clearly wants to win and win in the style of the rest of the club has been a real joy to watch. Having been to Widnes to see Liverpool and having watched Arsenal and Chelsea games on BT Sport played at the homes of Boreham Wood and Staines Town respectively it just feels like City Women have a home that they can call their own just makes it seem a class apart. You feel like you’re watching a team on the cusp of something special and City have been a real pleasure to watch this season.
- Player of the Season
I don’t envy who has to pick the winner of this award. Whilst Toni Duggan already has next summer’s Manchester City goal of the season in the bag but it will a brave decision for someone to single out an individual player in this team.
Throughout the team you’ve got contenders as both Lucy Bronze and Steph Houghton have been superb in the defence. Lucy Bronze rightly won plaudits at the World Cup after her goal but her performances in a City shirt have been sensational and her ability to change defence into attack have been great to watch. On twitter, it looks like the two City captains, Steph Houghton and Vincent Kompany are building up a great friendship as they frequently converse and Vinny’s daughter was mascot for a day at a MWCFC game. On the field Houghton has played like Kompany at his best, she’s been a real leader for the team, been a rock in defence and even chipped in with goals.
In midfield you can’t look anywhere but Izzy Christiansen, the newly capped England International, who has taken her game to new levels repeatedly throughout the season. I’ve said it many times within this website before but Christiansen has everything in her locker, pace, power, scoring ability, movement and work rate. In any other team she’d be a lock for player of the season. Also in midfield is Jenny Beattie who has a great superb debut season with Manchester City, the Scottish international has slotted in seamlessly in front of the back four before making the transition to centre back and even up front for a game.
Up front you’ve got Toni Duggan who if it hadn’t have been for injur y may have caught Beth Mead in the WSL goalscoring charts and proved she is both a scorer of great goals and a great goalscorer.
Whoever wins the award will be a deserving winner as there have been so many players who’ve sustained a high level of performance throughout the campaign. I’m just glad I’d dont have to pick it.
- Tash Harding
Natasha Harding made both goals on Sunday and but for a rare Christiansen miss with a header that bounced just past the far post the Welsh international would have had a hat-trick of assists. Although Harding missed 9 games getting injured just 15 minutes into WSLs return from the international break the winger has really benefited from City’s tactical tweaks. Before the World Cup City played a very narrow style with the middle three of Christiansen, Parris and Scott all occupying the same space in the middle of the field whilst the defence struggled to link the midfield to the attack leaving both Harding and Duggan as mere spectators on the wings.
However come back from the World Cup coach Nick Cushing seems to have got the balance right resulting in impressive displays from Duggan and Corboz and in their absence, from Harding and Johnstone. Following the injuries to Duggan and later Corboz, Harding has accepted the additional responsibility up front, whether down the middle or on the right, and has that Carlos Tevez like excitement around her when in possession in that anything could happen. Harding’s another player who won’t want this season to end as she finally hit top form but fingers crossed she’ll be able to carry it over into next season and reap the rewards of her efforts.
- Impressive Notts County
So with the exception of a Continental Cup quarter final arranged at the other end of the country on Two days’ notice two days before a potential title decider the only side that has taken points from Manchester City since the World Cup has been Notts County. At Meadow Lane City raced into a two goal lead before the Lady Pies pulled a goal back with a penalty with just 7 minutes remaining before levelling through a superb finish from Jess Clarke. At the CFA City may have not been at their most fluid best but that should be in part credit to a Notts County attack lead by Jess Clarke. They pressed high up the field, didn’t let City settle and it wasn’t until the latter stages of the second half when City looked the more fitter of the two teams did the home side pull away.