Manchester City extended their unbeaten run in WSL to 19 games as they thrashed Notts County at Meadow Lane.
City were handed the perfect start through Jane Ross as Isobel Christiansen found her with a pass inside the penalty area and the Scottish international fired an unstoppable shot past Megan Walsh after just six minutes.
Two minutes later it the lead almost doubled as Steph Houghton was allowed to play a 30 yard pass through midfield into the path of Jill Scott whose first time pass almost released Ross one-on-one but for the timely intervention of Laura Bassett.
City’s early dominance continued as they were twice denied by set pieces when a City corner was knocked down by Jill Scott into the path of Georgia Stanway at 18 yards out with only a superb block preventing denying the teenager. On 20 minutes Megan Campbell’s long throw found Nikita Parris at the far post but the England international couldn’t divert it towards goal.
City finally doubled their lead on 26 minutes when Campbell again turned provider, this time from a cross, finding Scott’s head who curled her far post header inside the near post. The floodgates opened as Jane Ross added her second when she won back possession in the Notts County third, playing in Stanway who laid the ball into the path of Christiansen whose through ball again found Ross and she powered in her second. A breathtaking attack from a trio that Notts County simply had no answer for.
The pick of the goals came on the stroke of half time as Notts County failed to deal with another City corner with the ball falling to Stanway at the edge of the penalty area and she drilled her first time effort into the top left hand corner. It was a superb strike from the England Youth International who excelled in her first WSL start.
At half time Notts County might have feared that a similar fate awaited them that saw City stick eight past Aston Villa a month ago. However Rick Password’s side were handed a lifeline two minutes into the second half when a superb drive from midfield by Rachel Williams ended when she was tripped in the penalty area by Steph Houghton.
Jess Clarke dispatched the penalty, sending Karen Bardsley the wrong way and suddenly there was talk of a come back similar to the one last season which ultimately cost City the title. Fortunately for City, the goal did little to disrupt their rhythm and they might have restored their four goal cushion sooner than they did when on 58 minutes Stanway released Nikita Parris with a superb pass over the defence but the winger took a touch too many allowing Walsh to make an excellent save one-on-one.
Notts County may have done little to disrupt City’s rhythm but injuries did as Abbie McManus was stretchered off just after the half hour mark with an ankle injury after a collision with Ellen White. Barely minutes after the restart Notts County’s Fern Whelan was also stretchered from the field in a neck brace as she clashed heads with Nikita Parris. A minute after the restart City added their fifth as Christiansen, marked her return to the starting eleven, curling a stunning effort into the top right hand corner from 25 yards out on 75 minutes.
City continued to press and it took an amazing save from Walsh to deny the visitors a sixth when Houghton’s volley from a corner was push round the post. Mercifully for the Lady Pies, the 11 minutes of stoppage time produced little drama but they were thankful for the crossbar saving them as substitute Tessel Middag clipped an effort onto it with virtually the last kick of the game.
The victory took Manchester City back to the top of the table, a point clear of Chelsea with a game in hand and a superior goal difference. Chelsea had enjoyed a brief stay at the top of the table earlier in the day as they had beaten Doncaster Rovers Belles 4-0 whilst Arsenal had also beaten Sunderland by the same scoreline.
After the game Notts County manager Rick Passmoor spoke very candidly about his sides performance; “We lost it in the first half, when you come to Meadow Lane you expect to face intensity, but we let Manchester City take the game by the scruff of the neck.
“We’re disappointed and it’s frustrating that the intensity we showed at the start of the second half wasn’t there from the start.
“Today was not to our standard, we recognise other teams have stronger teams, but they usually have to come here and fight. Today, City didn’t have to do that.”
Manchester City Manager Nick Cushing was delighted with his sides performance despite their gap in fixtures; “They looked like they were ready to play.” “We’ve played games every week that we’ve not had a game. We’ve kept the team’s head in performance mode, kept them playing, making sure that there is competition for places. The first 45 minutes today showed this and I thought we were exceptional.”
On rotating his side Cushing said; “It’s about rewarding people who’ve trained hard and played well.” “Megan Campbell got her chance today, as did Georgia Stanway, and I thought they both did exceptionally well.”
Player of the Match: Megan Campbell