WSL: Man United dominate Bristol City despite goalless first half

Nikita Parris of Manchester United celebrates with Jayde Riviere
Nikita Parris of Manchester United celebrates with Jayde Riviere during the Barclays Women's Super League match between Bristol City and Manchester United (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

It was a game of two halves in the Women’s Super League between Bristol City and Manchester United.

It took the Reds until after the break to open up the scoring. But two goals in five minutes from Hinata Miyazawa and Nikita Parris were enough to bank all three points on the road.

Starting XIs 

Bristol City

Clark; Powell, Aspin, Connolly, Layzell, Napier, Harrison, Rodgers, Jones, Thestrup, Morgan

Manchester United

Earps; Riviere, Le Tissier, Turner, Blundell, Toone, Zelem, Miyazawa, Parris, Geyse, Galton 

First half

The opening few minutes of the match saw some heavy challenges from Lauren Smith’s Bristol City as Marc Skinner’s Manchester United looked determined.  

Despite appearing slightly chaotic in their execution, Bristol’s defence managed to block several chances inside the first 15 minutes. Although they dominated possession, United struggled to perform clinically in and around the box. Olivia Clark gave an impressive performance in goal for the home side. 

Frustrated that more than one big chance had been denied by their opponents, United seemed to suffer a lapse in concentration which saw Bristol briefly gaining possession and launching a counter-attack. Quickly, though, Skinner’s side were testing Bristol again. Clark made another good save to prevent the scoreline from being opened. 

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Struggling to get out of their own half, Bristol maintained a disciplined approach. However, the stop-start nature of the opening 30 minutes disrupted the flow of play for both teams. 

Bristol put their first real pressure on Manchester United in the 33rd minute, with Mary Earps finally called into action.

The final minutes of eight added onto the first half saw Bristol looking dangerous against Man United’s backline on the rare occasion they were able to attempt a counter-attack.

Second half

The start of the second half saw Bristol City forcing Man United to defend. But in the 50th minute, against the run of play, the Reds finally secured their first goal. A shot by Miyazawa took an unfortunate deflection off Chloe Mustaki, and to stop it was impossible for Clark. The assist by Ella Toone was impressive, with the Lioness finally seeing a result from her impressive shift. 

This was countered by Bristol to no effect. Just four minutes later, Parris committed to a strategic header which resulted in a second goal for the Red Devils. 

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The 65th minute very nearly saw a third goal for the away side, but it was disallowed for being offside. Parris’ tap-in saw her collide with the post, and the standout for United this game was then substituted off. 

Bristol City had some attempts towards the end of the game, but just missed out on finding the back of the net. The forward play meant that gaps opened up in their defence, but Clark continued to command the backline instrumentally and prove why she is No.1 for the Welsh national team. 

They may not have gotten anything out of the game in terms of points, but Smith’s newly promoted team had plenty to be happy with in terms of their performance. 

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