Manchester City Women 2 Chelsea Ladies 0 - Toni Duggan fires Blues to first league title

By Colin Henrys, Mon 26 September 2016 09:59

Manchester City Women 2 Chelsea Ladies 0 - Toni Duggan fires Blues to first league titleNick Cushing's side remain undefeated after securing victory against Chelsea

FA Women's Super League
Sunday 25 September 2016, 14.00 KO

City: Bardsley, Bronze, Houghton, Beattie, Stokes, Walsh (Corboz 90), Christiansen, Scott, Duggan (Middag 84), Ross, Parris (Asllani 72)
Unused: Hourihan, Corboz
Goals: Chapman (og 34), Duggan (pen 50)

Referee: Sarah Garratt

Player of the match: Jill Scott

Toni Duggan scored from the spot as Manchester City Women beat Chelsea 2-0 to ensure they will win the FA Women's Super League title for the first time.

Jill Scott's header deflected in off Katie Chapman to give City a half-time lead and Duggan's penalty sealed victory, to give Nick Cushing's team an unassailable lead at the top of the league.

Chelsea beat City to the title in 2015, but with Vincent Kompany among the club-record 4,096 fans in attendance at the Academy Stadium, the hosts looked every bit the worthy champions.

City, unchanged from the 1-0 win at Arsenal before the international break, were quick to find their rhythm, and top scorer Jane Ross' header - from Duggan's left-wing cross - was saved on ten minutes.

With both defences on top, however, there was very little between the two teams initially as a feisty battle unfolded in the middle - Chelsea captain Chapman and City's PFA Women's Player of the Year Izzy Christiansen both receiving yellow cards.

City looked the more likely to make something happen though, and after a series of corners Scott met Duggan's cross to head in, via a deflection off Chapman, on 34 minutes.

Five minutes into the second-half, City had one hand on the WSL trophy - Duggan sending Rebecca Spencer the wrong way from the spot, when Lucy Bronze was fouled by Gilly Flaherty in the area.

With the hosts in the ascendancy, Nikita Parris then fired into the side-netting on 54 minutes after turning well in the area.

At the other end, the few forrays Chelsea made into the City half were met by the stubborn resistance of Steph Houghton and Jennifer Beattie - highlighting why City have conceded just three league goals this season.

Scott fired over from the edge of the box on 66 minutes and Christiansen shot just wide, after Parris' through ball, five minutes later.

Karen Bardsley saved low from substitute Beth England on 73 minutes, but the England keeper was largely untroubled.

Olympic silver-medallist Kosovare Asllani could have added a third with six minutes remaining, but Houghton will now lift the league title after City's final home game, against Birmingham, next month.

And the delighted captain, already a two-time WSL winner from her time with Arsenal, admitted winning with City tops the lot.

"This tops the other title wins, because I feel as though I've been involved in every game," she said. "I've captained the club and been here since day one. It's a special feeling.

"I'm delighted for all the girls and the staff because I see how hard everyone works behind the scenes. To come here, and win it at our home ground in front of 4,000 people is unbelievable.

"We could easily have been very negative here. It was up to Chelsea to win the game. But one thing we've done all season is played our football."

And manager Cushing hopes the title win is just the start of more success - and more large crowds - in future.

"It feels really good," he said. "This year we had a real desire but we knew what we had to do, and ultimately we've done it now.

"It's down to the character of the players. I'm really lucky that we have support within the club to help us to recruit the right character of player, and the right player for the way we want to play.

"The target for us is to grow a football team, and ultimately one that people want to watch. If we can get 4,000 plus every week then we've obviously done something good.

"There is a perception outside of the women's game, and I've said from day one we need to challenge that. And I'm proud of the players.

"There's one thing that happened to us in year one. We played Bristol and the club got 2,500 into the Regional Athletics Stadium and the performance was abysmal. I told the players, the fans won't want to come back.

"Today, I think those  4,000 fans will come back, and bring others."