Manchester City signed off at home in the Spring Series with their first domestic loss in over two years as they fell 1-0 to Arsenal thanks to a stunning Jordan Nobbs free kick.
The games first chance came courtesy of a Megan Campbell corner as it found the head of Steph Houghton at the far post but her header bounced off the outside of the post and Arsenal cleared after a frantic scramble. Arsenal went close with an effort of their own as a cross from the right by Alex Scott found Beth Mead who went for a spectacular overhead kick but she didn’t connect cleanly and Hourihan was able to collect.
Arsenal responded on 16 minutes when Danielle Janssen’s free kick was deflected off the top of the City wall with Marie Hourihan beaten but the free kick landed on the roof of the net. Seconds later Danielle Van De Donk broke through the City back line rounding Hourihan but saw her effort cleared off the line by Campbell.
City were almost the catalyst for their own downfall on 24 minutes when Steph Houhgton slipped, conceding possession as Beth Mead was played in before low effort rolled wide of the post under pressure from Campbell. City responded and Izzy Christiansen played in Toni Duggan who, stretching, could only fire her first time effort over the bar.
On 34 minutes Hourihan was called into action as she was forced to save a hard struck effort from Mead down to her left. City’s best move of the half came on 37 minutes when a superb through ball from Nikita Parris put through Lucy Bronze down the right but her low cross just evaded the outstretched toe of Christiansen. Seconds later Arsenal counter with a terrific move of their own as Jordan Nobbs was denied a certain goal by a superb block from Demi Stokes.
The half came to an end with City on the receiving end of several hard fouls from Arsenal, the most notable being on Bronze by Leah Williamson as she skipped past her on the break. However the referee’s cards stayed in his pocket much to the derision of the home supporters as the first half ended goalless.
The second half’s first real chance came on 54 minutes when a terrific cross field from Keira Walsh released Nikita Parris down the right but her first two touches took her away from goal and she could only flash a cross along the six yard box. Six minutes later Jill Scott played a superb pass down the right for Parris to chase but the England International could only fire over the bar after she did well to cut inside onto her left foot.
City grew into the game slowly as Duggan almost took full advantage of a missed clearance in the Arsenal back line but she could only curl over from an acute angle. On 65 minutes a terrific cross from deep by substitute Georgia Stanway found the head of Jill Scott inside penalty area but she could only head into the hands of Van Veenendal.
Arsenal responded on 71 minutes when Jordan Nobbs saw a long range effort deflected inches wide of the foot of the post. Two minutes later Houhgton saw a header from a Stanway corner well by Van Veenendal as neither side looked prepared to settle for a point. It proved so on 75 minutes when Arsenal took the lead when Nobbs fired a superbly struck free kick into the top corner from 35 yards out. City almost responded immediately as Scott beat two players on the right before bursting into the penalty area and pulling the ball back to Duggan but her first time effort was struck into the grateful palms of Van Veenendal.
City pushed for a leveller late on coming closer when Parris found space on the goal line on the right hand side pulling her cross back but Demi Stokes saw her effort blocked. Despite late pressure from the Champions, Arsenal held firm to record a vital win in their quest to win the Spring Series with just four points separating the top four.
Manchester City: Hourihan, Bronze, Stokes, Houghton, Campbell, Walsh, Scott, Christiansen, Duggan Lawley, Parris. Subs: Stanway, Beattie. Subs Not Used: Roebuck Asllani, Ross, McManus.
Arsenal: Van Veenendal, Scott, Patten, Wubbem-May, Janssen, Nobbs, Williamson, Carter, Van De Donk, O’Reilly, Mead. Subs: Taylor, Williams, Kelly. Subs Not Used: Moorhouse, Humphrey, McCabe, Quinn.
Goalscorer: Jordan Nobbs (75)