Man City finish the Women’s Super League season as runners-up after beating West Ham 1-0, who avoid this season’s drop.
Gareth Taylor finishes his first season at the hilt on 55 points after 17 wins and four draws. Man City have now successfully secured Champions League football for the fifth season running and West Ham survive relegation.
West Ham United:
Arnold; Barker (Kiernan 73′), Flaherty (c), Fisk, Cissoko, Vetterlein (Mustafa 81′), Longhurst, Denton, Pacheco, Brynjarsdottir and Dali.
Unused Sub: Courtney Brosnan.
Taieb; Bronze, Morgan, Greenwood, Stanway, Walsh, Mewis (Coombs 73′), Weir, Beckie (Lavelle 61′), Hemp (Park 90+4′) and White (c).
Unused Subs: Keating, Davies, and Dahlkemper.
As it happened
Manchester City dominated possession in the opening stages of the match, hardly giving their opponents a touch on the ball. The visitors had a glorious opportunity to go ahead inside 10 minutes through Janine Beckie, whose effort from close range was charged down by the West Ham goalkeeper.
City continued to pile on the pressure in the opposition’s box and West Ham United just about survived. A cross from the left-hand side was whipped in by Lauren Hemp and bravely defended by Hammers captain Gilly Flaherty.
West Ham had an opportunity to take the lead through French international Cissoko. She intercepted a pass from deep inside her own area and carried on running past a couple of City players. She picked out teammate Kenza Dali but her effort was agonisingly wide.
Taylor’s side had a given opportunity to take the lead from the penalty spot after Ellen White was fouled by Australian goalkeeper Arnold. However, she more than made up for her error as she saved the resulting spot kick from Sam Mewis, diving to her right to push it around the corner.
After an action packed first half the scoreline remained goalless at Victoria Road.
There were no changes at the half-time interval from either manager. The visitors carried on putting the pressure on the West Ham defence. A cross from Lucy Bronze was tipped over bar by Arnold, with the resulting corner coming close to a goal as both Morgan and Mewis’ headers hit the crossbar in quick succession.
The West Ham defenders were putting in a real collective performance, blocking everything that came their way. A first change of the afternoon saw Beckie make way for Rose Lavelle just after the hour mark.
The Blues kept on pushing for an opening goal, with a few chances coming their way but none coming to fruition.
After a hard fought afternoon, West Ham’s resistance was finally broken. A mistake by the defence was pounced on by the on-rushing Bronze, who picked out White in the middle. Her first time effort fired into the corner of the net to mark her tenth goal of the season on her 32nd birthday.
City were awarded yet another penalty as Bronze was fouled inside the box. Freshly introduced Lavelle stepped up to take it. However, for the second time in the match, Arnold denied the visitors their attempt from the spot.
The match finished 1-0 to Manchester City, but their efforts weren’t enough to see them snub Chelsea of the title. Despite the loss, West Ham secure WSL football next season after finishing ninth in the table.
Players Of The Match
West Ham United – Hawa Cissoko
French international Cissoko put in a real determined performance, proving her defensive and attacking qualities across the field. In the first half, she made a fantastic run from her own box through the heart of City’s midfield and nearly finished of the move with an acrobatic effort at the back post.
Despite being at fault for the goal as she was dispossessed, the No.23 stuck to her task and made some important interceptions and vital blocks.
Manchester City – Lucy Bronze
Bronze put in a power shift in East London as she contributed to a lot of City’s attacking football. She made overlapping runs down the right flank in support of Beckie and delivered some delightful crosses into the area. Her eagerness to win the game saw her create the chance that White tucked away for the winner.
Bronze then continued to run and create chances for her team. As a result of her pressing, City were awarded their second penalty of the game.
The No.20 has had an impressive return to Manchester, having contributed in many ways with goals, assists and clean sheets.
Next up, FA Cup
Although the league had finished, both teams are in action against each other in the upcoming FA Cup 5th Round. The Blues will be looking to retain their winners and pick up the trophy for a third consecutive year.
Man City will host West Ham in the fifth Round of the Women’s FA Cup. The game kicks off at 2pm at the Academy Stadium on Sunday May 16th.