As the 2021/22 WSL season draws to its close, Manchester City welcomed Birmingham to the City Football Academy for the two teams’ penultimate game of the season. The tie was a must-win for both teams. Neither side could afford a slip-up. Failure to take the 3 points would see Manchester City face a difficult battle to secure a Champion’s League qualification spot. Birmingham faced the prospect of certain relegation if they were unable to take home the win.
Starting XI’s: Manchester City vs Birmingham City
Roebuck; Bronze, Kennedy, Greenwood (c), Stokes (Blakstad ’72), Walsh (Coombs ’72), Stanway, Weir (Angeldahl ’72), Raso (Kelly ’45), Hemp, Shaw (White ’72)
Ramsey; Scott, Quinn (c), Lawley (Quinn ’60), Cowie, Finn, Murray, Robertson, Sarri (Whelan ’79), Pennock (Ewens ’79), Smith (Whipp ’69)Embed from Getty Images
How it went
It was the hosts who enjoyed the majority of the early chances. With good early chances for Caroline Weir and Lauren Hemp, Manchester City were causing the Blues a raft of problems from the opening moments of the game. The first half continued with the Visitors struggling to find away out of their own half. A late Bunny Shaw chance flew back off the post mirroring the hosts’ fortune throughout the opening 45 minutes of the clash.
Whilst Birmingham were adopting their typical defensive set-up, Manchester City were failing to build the tempo to get through the visitor’s solid defence.
As so typically happens with Manchester City it was the second half that brought the goals. A solid spell of build-up play saw Georgia Stanway find the corner of the net with a left-foot strike from 20 yards out in the 58th minute. Just 3 minutes later and Lauren Hemp doubled Gareth Taylor’s side’s lead. Chloe Kelly’s whipped cross was neatly tucked past Emily Ramsey from a tight angle.
The third and fourth goals may not have been vintage Manchester City however with so much resting on the tie it’s unlikely anyone within the team would have been concerned. Two goal line scrambles in the 64th and 76th minute saw Stanway bag her second of the evening whilst Alanna Kennedy netted her first City goal.
The fifth goal brought a long-awaited return to goal-scoring form for a fan favourite. Chloe Kelly’s first goal since a lengthy spell out with injury was as perfect as the City No.9 could have imagined. A rocket of a strike into the top corner in the 83rd minute sealed the Sky Blues’ victory beyond doubt.
The sixth and final goal came from City No.7 Laura Coombs. The goal from beyond the 20-yard mark in the 87th minute puts Manchester City 9 goals clear on goal difference of Manchester United.Embed from Getty Images
Manchester City head coach Gareth Taylor was quick to provide support for his fellow head coach Darren Carter. Stating that he believed the Blues were far from the worst side in the league, Taylor also explained that he felt Carter had joined the club at a difficult time in the season.
The City head coach was keen to express how proud he was of his own team. As they battled to secure third in the league. With 20 wins in their last 22 games in all competitions, the Sky Blues have launched an incredible revival. They recovered from their difficult start to the season.
Birmingham’s interim head coach Darren Carter once again proved his determination to stand by his players. Carter explained that he believed his team didn’t deserve to be relegated. Carter reiterated his desire to stay at the club. He wants to implement the changes he believes the club needs to move forward and push for promotion next season.
Carter’s pride in his team was evident. Praising his side for the determination and grit they have shown throughout a season where he believes his side have been let down. Citing Harriet Scott’s willingness to put her body on the line in the 91st minute as an example. The Birmingham boss praised his team’s grit and fight throughout the game.