Manchester City head into the Summer break four points clear at the top of WSL despite being held to a 0-0 draw against Liverpool in Widnes.
It was a game of few chances as Liverpool were happy to defend in numbers but should have lead after four minutes when Caroline Weir latched onto a miss-hit back pass but despite being one-on-one could only fire her shot into the hands of the grateful Karen Bardsley in the City goal.
It remained the games only chance until Nikita Parris had an effort tipped round the post by Siobhan Chamberlain just after the half hour mark.
The second half followed the pattern of the first with City struggling to break down a Liverpool team content to stick nine players behind the ball and hit on the counter with Satara Murray and Gemma Bonner in particularly impressing in the Liverpool defence.
City struggled to find their rhythm but Chamberlain was still called into action on 57 minutes when she was forced to tip a Lucy Bronze effort over the bar in what was City’s best chance of the game to that point.
Despite City’s dominance in possession it was Liverpool who looked the most likely as they broke through three-on-one with 19 minutes remaining but Shanice Van De Sandem sliced her cross into the hands of Bardsley with two waiting in the middle. Their best chance came six minutes later when Steph Houghton blocked Bardsley from claiming a Liverpool corner and could only watch helplessly as Rosie White curled it onto the top of the cross bar.
City had a final chance to steal the points in stoppage time as their best move of the match ended a cross to the far post headed back across goal by Demi Stokes with sub Isobel Christiansen volleying just wide of the post.
After the match both managers were satisfied with a point as Scott Rogers commented on a game plan well executed; “We are pleased. We’ve had a game plan and we’ve worked on it all week.” “We felt we had the best chances, we hit the bar and in the last five minutes we felt we got away with one but I felt we thoroughly deserved a point.”
“We’ve done really well and it’s all down to the players, we’ve put in a game plan in place and we’ve worked extremely hard for a week on it and on another night we nick all three points.”
“The players deserve a break now, that’s how it runs, the internationals go away and then we come back and we start the season again. That’s how we see, as a new season.” “I’ve always had confidence in this group and I’ve always had confidence in this group.”
“I felt we had the best chances of the game, apart from the last five minutes, but we limited them. On another day Rosie’s header goes in and we win the game.”
Manchester City manager Nick Cushing was disappointed with the performance but pleased with his sides start to the season: “It’s always a tough game against Liverpool; we’re disappointed as it feels like a loss, just because we’ve won every other game.”
“It took us too long to get going today, it took us 65 minutes to use the ball in their half and put them under pressure. We’ll analyse it and we’ve not conceded a goal.”
However he wasn’t happy with the playing surface his side were asked to play on: “I think the pitch affects the game a little bit, it affects the game. We know the pitch is a leveller and if we’re going to bring a team to block it up and hold a team, I’d love to do it on this pitch rather than a grass pitch.”
Cushing chose to focus on his sides achievement to date “I’d will guarantee you that no one will win the WSL with a 100% record. It’s one of the most competitive leagues I’ve ever worked in. Teams can beat teams all over the pitch.”
“If you’d have said to me at the start of the season that we’d be top of the league going into the break without conceding a goal then I’d have been happy.”
“The games are only going to get harder, the more you win the harder it gets as teams are only going to block it up.”
“The break gives us a chance to let players to go on internationals, it gives us a chance to rest them, to improve them and the transfer window is open so we can improve our squad to give ourselves the best chance to win the league.”
“We’ve got a small squad but maybe if we add one or two more, we’ll still have a small squad but it would give us to freshen it up but the conditioning of the squad is excellent at the moment.”
“We made a conscious decision to have a small squad but we didn’t expect to have the injuries we had. This transfer window isn’t a reaction to that but we’ve a strategy for who we wanted to bring in at the start of the year and in the mid-season break so that we can be competitive in the Champions League.”
Liverpool Captain Gemma Bonner was happy with her sides performance:
“Obviously were delighted to get the point but most importantly I’m really proud of the teams performance today. I think we deserved the clean sheet we’ve kept. There’s no hiding the fact that we’ve conceded a lot of goals this season but the last two games have highlighted what a good team we can be.”
“We’ve always known as a group within ourselves that the potential is frightening. We’re still a young side, we’re still learning.”
As the games have gone one we’ve been learning, we’ve been scoring goals and we’ve finally got the balance right in the last two games.”
“It was always going to take time to gel as a squad with the players we’ve brought in the young players developing but credit to the girls they’ve put a shift in on the pitch.
Jennifer Beattie felt that there was still more to come from her side: “We’re disappointed not to get the three points but credit to Liverpool they made it very difficult for us.”
“One of the main things we’ve said all season is we’re winning but it still doesn’t feel like we’ve reached our potential. We’ve been without Keira Walsh and Izzy Christiansen and once we’re all back together hopefully we’ll get better and better and keep winning.”
The two sides will face one another again when WSL resumes on June 26th at City’s Academy Stadium,