WSL: Man City end season with win but no final title for Houghton

Steph Houghton applauds fans
Steph Houghton of Manchester City acknowledges the fans, after making her final appearance before retiring. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Manchester City fell agonisingly short of another Women’s Super League title as Chelsea emerged triumphant once again. In the battle to secure the perfect send-off for Steph Houghton or Emma Hayes, it was the latter who lifted the trophy.

Starting XIs

Aston Villa

Leat; Mayling, Patten, Lehmann, Nobbs, Daly, Dali, Turner, Taylor, Hanson, Maritz

Manchester City

Keating; Aleixandri, Greenwood, Coombs, Fowler, Kelly, Hemp, Park, Casparij, Hasegawa, Kennedy

How it went

For much of the first half, the Sky Blues were unable to get out of first gear. Chasing shadows and failing to connect their attacking play, Taylor’s side began to fall further behind in the title race as Chelsea ran riot at Old Trafford. Mary Fowler eventually opened the scoring with a strike from inside the area.

The second half brought a far more organised and enthusiastic City side, who knew their title chances relied on their ability to find the back of Anna Leat’s goal. Despite this, the visitors seemed unable to find the final crucial component of their attacks. A lack of composure in front of the goal demonstrated City’s growing desperation to close the ever-expanding goal difference gap.

Embed from Getty Images

Rachel Daly’s 68th minute goal seemed to have ended the title race with 20 minutes to go. Chance after chance went begging for the Cityzens, with the ball flying over the crossbar on numerous occasions.

Lauren Hemp finally restored City’s lead with just over ten minutes left to play. Although the goal was enough to secure the three points for Taylor’s side, they fell just short of Chelsea as the Blues lifted their fifth league title in as many years.

The end of an era for Man City

Steph Houghton’s retirement brings a chapter of City’s history to an end. Leading her club for ten years, the defender has become a figurehead for the club as a whole. Composed, assured and vastly experienced, Houghton has led the Sky Blues from a side firmly in its infancy operating within a newly formed league to a team littered with seasoned internationals who are constantly pushing the standards of the women’s game forward.

Embed from Getty Images

The outpouring from both fans and players following the final whistle left no doubt about the regard and respect the club has for their captain. Few players will truly make a lasting impact on a sport, however, Houghton’s time in Manchester has undoubtedly sealed her name into the history books.

MORE from Her Football Hub: