Manchester City Women 1-0 Manchester United Women: Caroline Weir screamer seals win over rivals in first ever WSL Manchester derby
- Man United debutant Jane Ross was denied early on by goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck
- Casey Stoney’s side started brightly in their first appearance in the top flight
- Caroline Weir broke deadlock after half-time with great strike from outside box
- United’s Jackie Groenen hit the post in the final 10 minutes of the league clash
An historic rivalry was rebooted under the Mancunian sunshine at the Etihad on Saturday in what was another landmark moment for women’s football.
The first professional Manchester derby attracted the biggest ever crowd for a Barclay’s FA Women’s Super League game – a record previously set last season when Arsenal thumped Brighton 4-0 in front of 5,265 fans to claim the title. Even Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had made the four-mile journey across the City.
Although it might have lacked the bitter edge usually associated with a Manchester derby, remember, it wasn’t until 15 months Nick Cushing’s sides had any so-called noisy neighbours to worry about.
Manchester City’s Caroline Weir broke the deadlock with a screamer from outside the box
Weir celebrates after opening the scoring just after half-time against Manchester United
Weir is joined by her team-mates after scoring a wonderful goal in the Manchester derby
Manchester City goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck celebrates after her side took the lead on Saturday
Newly promoted United appeared to step up to the top flight with ease, causing City countless headaches down the flanks throughout what was a relatively frustrating first half for both sides.
Failing to stop the crosses and United’s clever runs in behind, double domestic cup winners City just couldn’t find their rhythm.
With the country’s highest-ranked female referee Rebecca Welch overseeing proceedings, the best chance fell to summer signing Jane Ross who fluffed a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock against her former employers. Appearing to fumble her footwork, her close range effort inside 25 minutes was denied by England hopeful Ellie Roebuck in stunning style.
Still goalless by half time, it was likely only Stoney would take satisfaction from her side’s first half display.
There was always going to be concerns over where City’s goals would come from this season after the departure of Nikita Parris who contributed to almost half of the side’s goals last season – particularly with new signings Lauren Hemp and Ellen White on the treatment table. For large parts of the game those concerns were justified.
But it took just three minutes into the second half for City to finally look at home in their ‘new’ surroundings. Capitalising on a mistake by United’s new captain Katie Zelem, Caroline Weir took a couple of neat touch into her stride before firing her effort with her favoured left foot into the top corner of Roebucks’ goal.
Roebuck produced an outstanding save to deny Man United’s Jane Ross early on in the match
Manchester United goalkeeper Mary Earps receives medical attention after picking up injury
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was in the stands at the Etihad on Saturday
There are currently no rules for fan segregation in the Barclay’s FA Women’s Super League, with the decision being left to the club’s discretion. And although the Etihad’s South Stand lower tier was largely a sea of red, fans were not forced into strict home and away end – something that would be almost unimaginable in the Premier League, let alone a Manchester derby.
Although the official attendance that rung out around the Etihad Stadium was 31, 213 City refused to say how many of those tickets were in fact given away.
United’s travelling army of supporters must have thought they had at least secured a point when Dutch international and a new arrival Jackie Groenen saw her chance scrambled away by City skipper Steph Houghton and rebound off the post in what could have been a horror own goal.
City’s second half display had proved just enough to notch their first win on the board, but Cushing looked far from pleased when he gathered his squad on the pitch for a public Phil Neville style debrief at full time. Meanwhile United’s induction to the Barclay’s FA Women’s Super League doesn’t get any easier. They face champions Arsenal next.
Manchester City’s Weir (right) in action with Manchester United captain Katie Zelem
Demi Stokes of Manchester City (right) shields the ball from Man United’s Jessica Sigsworth
Manchester United’s Abbie McManus (right) holds off Manchester City’s Janine Beckie