Toni Duggan tonight helped Manchester City Women take a big step towards reclaiming their FA Women’s Super League title after her first half strike saw the current champions beat fellow title challengers Chelsea Ladies 1-0 at the Academy Stadium.
Nick Cushing’s side started the better of the two and they would have taken an early lead if it had not have been for Chelsea and England goalkeeper, Carly Telford, who performed a superb double save to prevent Nikita Parris from getting her name on the scoresheet.
Despite dominating the majority of the first half, City nearly gifted a goal to the visitors after Crystal Dunn chased down goalkeeper Karen Bardsley, but she could only deflect the ball out for a goal kick.
The only goal of the game came just before the half hour mark when the ball was played into Duggan, who after a great piece of skill smashed the ball past Telford and into the back of the net from the edge of the box.
The hosts came ever so close to doubling their lead when captain Steph Houghton’s free-kick hit the bar from just outside the box.
City continued to pile on the pressure before the break and Melissa Lawley nearly staked a claim for goal of the season as her audacious looping effort from far out had Telford backtracking, however the placement of the shot was not accurate enough and it went just wide.
Chelsea started the second half a lot better than the first and their best chance of the game came when Ramona Bachmann’s cross was not dealt with by Bardsley and the ball fell straight to Beth England who’s shot was brilliantly blocked on the line by Lucy Bronze.
Bronze then showed her attacking skills that lead to her being named this year’s PFA Women’s Player of the Year, as she drove from her own half towards the Chelsea goal before playing a through ball to Parris, but her shot to the far post was saved well by Telford.
It looked as though the win was sealed when the ball ended up in the back of the net following a notorious long throw by Megan Campbell but the referee decided to disallow the goal because it had not touched any other player before ending up in the back of the net.
Despite a lot of late pressure from the visitors, City dug deep to ensure they got the vital three points and they will be hoping to repeat this feat when they welcome Arsenal Ladies to the Academy Stadium at the weekend.
Manchester City Women: Bardsley, Stokes, Campbell, Houghton, Bronze, Walsh, Christiansen (Asllani 63′), Scott, Lawley (Stanway 70′), Parris, Duggan.
Subs not used: Hourihan, McManus, Ross.
Chelsea Ladies: Telford, Bright, Cooper, Flaherty, Blundell (Davison 70′), Mjelde, Chapman, England (Carney 67′), Spence, Bachmann (Kirby 63′), Dunn.
Subs not used: Kitching, Fahey, Ji, Cuthbert.