A pulsating finish in the Manchester derby saw Manchester United and Manchester City share the points in a 2-2 draw, ending City’s run of defeats in the Women’s Super League.
Gareth Taylor’s side were looking to end a run of three straight losses, but were once again guilty of misses and some big early chances. Things deteriorated further when Georgia Stanway was shown a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Leah Galton (35).
But three minutes later, Man City went ahead as Khadija Shaw (38) nodded home from a fine Demi Stokes cross, with United having only one shot in the entire first half.
It began to look like the luck would not fall United’s way, but they took a quick lead midway through the second half. Lucy Staniforth (72) flicked home after a quick corner, before Alessia Russo fired past Karima Taieb (75) to see the hosts ahead.
But it did not last long as Ellen White turned home in the 79th minute after another inspired Mary Earps save, seeing the Manchester pair play out another 2-2 draw at Leigh Sports Village, just as they did in the same fixture last season.
It sees City register their first point since the opening weekend of the season, although they remain in ninth on four points. United were unable to secure their first derby win the WSL, and go above Chelsea into third ahead of the remaining weekend games.
Spoils shared in entertaining derby day
It was a competitive start at Leigh Sports Village, and City went close twice in quick succession. Janine Beckie forced a sensational, leaping save from Earps as she diverted Lauren Hemp’s cross goalwards. Soon after, Hemp nodded her own effort on target, but Maria Thorisdottir was there to head the ball away on the line.
United’s first and only shot of the opening period did not come until after the half-an-hour mark. Kirsty Hanson picked the ball up along the top of the area and struck, but it was straight at Taieb, who made a strong save.
But soon after, Man City were reduced to 10 players after a reckless challenge from Stanway. Galton had the ball well under control over on the left wing, but the City midfielder caught her high on the thigh with her studs up after making a very badly-timed tackle. It was an immediate red card from the referee, which Stanway could not argue with.
Man Utd: Earps (7), Batlle (6), Thorisdottir (7), Mannion (6), Blundell (7), Zelem (7), Groenen (7), Russo (7), Galton (7), Hanson (6), Toone (6).
Subs used: Staniforth (7), Ladd (n/a).
Man City: Taieb (6), Stanway (4), Scott (7), Greenwood (7), Stokes (8), Walsh (6), Angeldahl (7), Weir (7), Beckie (7), Hemp (8), Shaw (6).
Subs used: White (7), Park (6), Coombs (n/a).
Player of the match: Lauren Hemp.
The sending off seemed to galvanise City, and they took the lead in the 38th minute. After some good play around the area, Stokes whipped in a wonderful cross and Shaw was there – who had turned all too easily past former City defender Aoife Mannion – to nod the ball past Earps.
The visitors should have added another on the stroke of half-time. Stokes fired a wonderful long ball into the space on the left wing for Hemp. She easily cut past Ona Batlle – as she did for much of the first half – but Filippa Angeldahl could not turn it home at the far post.
- United made one change from their 2-0 win against Birmingham last weekend. Lucy Staniforth dropped to the bench and was replaced by Kirsty Hanson.
- Man City made two changes after defeat to West Ham. Ellen White and Jess Park dropped to the bench, with Georgia Stanway and Khadija Shaw coming into the side.
United did not see the luck break their way early in the second half. Galton was incorrectly flagged for offside – mirroring a similar incident in the opening minutes of the game – before being fouled inside the area by Jill Scott. It was an uncharacteristically poor challenge from the midfielder, who has been playing at centre-back for City over the last few weeks, but it went unnoticed by the officials and no penalty was awarded.
But soon, the goals began to flow as United took a quick lead. It was a quick corner that caught City out, with Hannah Blundell finding Ella Toone just ahead of her. The forward floated the ball in, finding the recently introduced Staniforth at the near post. She then flicked the ball home at close range to see United level.
Three minutes later and the hosts were ahead. Blundell was vital in the build-up again, sending in a cross from the left. Russo was waiting in the middle, using her body to shield the ball well as she shaped to shoot, before firing home with a wonderful half volley.
But for all of their issues this season, City were not ready to be beaten and equalised themselves in the 79th minute. Jess Park had been on for only a few minutes, but her floated effort from range forced Earps into another flying save, pushing the ball onto the crossbar. But in landed inside the six-yard box and with an open goal, White was lurking to tap home and secure a point.
Player of the match – Lauren Hemp
There has been a lot of pressure on Hemp during the recent injury crisis at City, and she proved why she is one of England’s most exciting talents. She repeatedly beat Ona Batlle on the left wing, and was unlucky to not score herself. But everything City did well in attack, she was involved in and it was a superb performance from Hemp.
She told BBC Sport after the game: “I am so proud how we turned it around. We have not really been on form the last few weeks. Today we showed the quality this team has. That’s what you want in Manchester derbies. We have done it justice.
“We have showed how well we can play with 10 players. It was important we bounced back from recent results. I’m hoping this can be the turning point. This is just the beginning for us.”
What the managers said
Man Utd manager Marc Skinner told BBC Sport: “We were disappointed with the way we conceded but then we showed our personality. But we’re in a process here and I can only ask them to continue to build, we should have taken three points and we can learn from that.
“We had to be patient and move the ball a bit quicker. Those are details that need to be there in these matches. I was much more pleased with what we did in the second half.
“We’ve got a wonderful foundation to build from but we have to build it in a way I know we can progress in this league. We are going to get to where we need to be but we just need to be patient.
“We need to get these psychological battles, those battles that will hopefully get you where you want to be.”
Man City manager Gareth Taylor told BBC Sport: “If it had stayed 11 vs 11, I’m fairly confident we would have gone on to win it.
“It was a roller-coaster of a game. When you are potentially staring at a 2-1 loss, reluctantly it is a fair point.
“The sending-off is going to affect us. I was really close. I thought it was a yellow card. I’m hearing it was a little high. I need to see it again.
“I thought we showed great character, determination and spirit. I thought the girls did amazing in that respect.”
Man Utd are in Women’s League Cup action on Thursday when they take on Durham. They return to Women’s Super League action on Sunday November 7 when they travel to Tottenham; kick-off 2pm.
Man City have a series of cup fixtures coming up – they face Everton in their Women’s League Cup match on Wednesday, before taking on Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals on Sunday October 31. They return to WSL action on Sunday November 7 when they face Leicester; kick-off 2pm.