Thrilling Manchester Derby ends all square

Kirsty Hanson came off the bench to secure a crucial 2-2 draw for Manchester United, in an absorbing WSL Manchester Derby contest.

The build up to the game was all about how United could potentially close the gap to the big three sides following their terrific 1-0 victory Arsenal last weekend. 

Indeed, Casey Stoney just made one change from that impressive display last weekend, with Jess Singsworth coming in to the Red Devils midfield in place of Kirsty Hanson.

It was, however, City who took the early initiative in the derby encounter as Georgia Stanway caused Stoney’s side a number of problems and forced a relatively cheep corner.

What followed was Chloe Kelly opening the scoring for Gareth Taylor’s Manchester City after United’s failure to deal with the resulting corner. The former Everton striker was able to produce a clever finish into the far corner past the goalkeeper Mary Earps. 

The England striker has been particularly impressive for her new club having scored four WSL goals already this campaign in six league appearances. 

Following the opening goal, City completely controlled the first half with American Sam Mewis once again impressing in midfield. Taylor’s side created a number of chances to put the game beyond the Red Devils.  Former United captain and City defender Alex Greenwood particularly causing problems with her deliveries from set pieces. 

The best of the chances fell to Stanway in the 30thminute, when she ended up taking one touch too many while one on one with Earps, who subsequently made an important save. 

Indeed, just when United thought they would get to half time with only a 1-0 deficit, in first half added time Laura Coombs produced terrific shot from the edge of the area giving Earps absolutely no chance.  

Coombs’ strike made it three goals in her last three games for the midfielder and meant that City held a 2-0 lead at half time in the derby.  

Hanson subsequently came on for Singsworth at half time for the Red Devils in a bid to halt City’s first half momentum. The change certainly produced the reaction that Stoney would have wanted. 

The new Red Devils’ NWSL signing, Tobin Heath produced an unbelievable strike giving Ellie Roebuck no chance in the City goal to half the deficit.  

From there, United continued to increase the pressure on City goal and there efforts were rewarded through substitute Hanson, who bundled in a corner, which the defence failed to deal with.

The home side could have snatched what would have been an unlikely winner at half time, as full back Demi Stokes made a crucial goal line clearance to deny Stoney’s United in second half injury time.

The game, however, finished with both Manchester clubs having to be content with a point a piece.

Derby Reaction

Manchester United Manager Casey Stoney told BT Sport:

 “It [being top of the table] doesn’t matter, it’s November.

“It’s about performing and being at that consistent level week in week out.

That first half was enough motivation to make sure we keep going.

“That second half performance was for our fans, to make sure we got that result in the Manchester derby which is really important for them.

Manchester City’s midfielder and player of the match, Sam Mewis said:

“What we did in the first half was working, but I give Man Utd a lot of credit, they did well [to come back]. It’s testament to the derby and the rivalry.

“I’m definitely feeling the animosity. I was fighting back at the end, and had this feeling of pride for City and wanted to win.

“We’re still growing, we have so much potential as a group, and every game is a learning opportunity for us.

What next?

United’s next WSL game sees them travel to newly promoted Aston Villa on Saturday 5thDecember.  Before then, however, they have another encounter with Taylor’s City in the Continental Tyres League Cup match on Thursday night.   

For City, meanwhile, they travel to Everton in the WSL on Sunday 6thDecember and remain five points behind their city rivals in fifth.

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