City recorded a hard fought 1-0 friendly victory over Liverpool at the Academy Stadium on Saturday.
In a crucial preseason test, Laura Coombs scored the game’s lone goal on her first outing in sky blue after returning from the Women’s World Cup.
In the early going, chances were few and far between as both teams enjoyed possession in the warm Manchester weather.
The opponents’ Natasha Flynn attempted a speculative strike from 25 yards with Khiara Keating off her goalline, but our goalkeeper superbly read the trajectory of the ball to claim it.
As the first half went on, City took control of the match and tested Rachel Laws for the first time when a deft, quick-paced move allowed Deyna Castellanos’ stinging effort to be pushed over the bar by Yui Hasegawa.
The Venezuelan international had a fantastic goal against Bristol City the previous time we played, but Laws’ fingertips prevented him from scoring twice in as many games.
Even though the match was played behind closed doors, it nonetheless displayed the same passion and ferocity as Barclays Women’s Super League games, with several crunching tackles and quick offensive play on display from both teams.
On the verge of halftime, Liverpool had the ball in the net when Flynn collected a diagonal pass behind City’s backline and hammered into the bottom corner, but her well-placed effort was disallowed because she had drifted into an offside position.
For many of our World Cup players, the match against the Reds was their first game at the club level following the completion of the illustrious tournament.
One of them was the Australian Mary Fowler, who not only scored but also provided an assist throughout the competition. Jill Roord, who missed wide, was set up by Fowler as she swirled down the left side and nearly scored the game’s opening goal.
Just after the hour mark, City started to take control of the game. We then created what was undoubtedly the game’s best play when Hasegawa sent a beautiful pass to Fowler, who then forwarded it into the path of Bunny before the Jamaican’s well-hit shot was blocked.
When Coombs moved down the left and sent an inviting ball across the box to Chloe Kelly, who blasted just over the bar, Taylor’s team had regained the lead.
A whipped Kelly corner found Coombs at the back post, where she skillfully curled the ball with the outside of her right boot into the far corner, just after the hour mark.
The midfielder put on a terrific performance after coming off the bench at halftime, so it was exactly what she earned.
Similar to our friendly match against the Vixens, the last minutes of the game saw a minor decline in intensity due to our players’ need to reach match sharpness and the intense heat.
However, City was confident in its possession and neutralized Liverpool’s threat to seal the match.
HOW WE LINED UP
City XI: Keating (MacIver 46′), Casparij (Morgan 70′), Mace (Greenwood 46′), Aleixandri (C) (Prior 78′), Ouahabi (Blakstad 46′), Hasegawa, Roord (Coombs 62), Castellanos (Angeldahl 46′), Park (Kelly 46′), Shaw, Hemp (Fowler 46′).
Substitutes: Hutchings, Lackey.
Liverpool XI: Laws, Koivisto, Fisk, Nagano, Kinds (C), Hobinger (Kearns 62′), Clark, Holland, Daniels, Bonner (Fahey 62′), Flint (Enderby 62′).
Substitutes: Lundgaard, Micah, Taylor.