Champions held at home by Birmingham in opener
Full-back helps Manchester City come from behind to earn a point against Birmingham City
FA WSL 1 match
19:00, Wednesday 3 May 2017
Manchester City Women Goal Scorers: Bronze 58'
PFA Women’s Player of the Year Lucy Bronze scored her third goal of the season as Manchester City kicked off their Spring Series campaign with a 1-1 draw against FA Cup Final opponents Birmingham City.
Having already netted in the FA Cup and Champions League, Bronze cancelled out Emily Westwood’s first-half goal in a cagey game.
Carli Lloyd could have opened the scoring after just 15 seconds, pouncing on a loose backpass to round Ann-Katrin Berger, but she shot into the side-netting from a tight angle.
Westwood broke the deadlock on 14 minutes, rising highest to head Coral-Jade Haines’ corner beyond Ellie Roebuck.
Kerys Harrop could have doubled the lead on 44 minutes, when Ellie Brazil’s low cross ran through to her at the back post, but she shot wide across goal.
Bronze levelled on 58 minutes though, racing onto Georgia Stanway’s through ball and bursting through two tackles to finish low into the bottom corner.
Lloyd shrugged off three defenders to find Jane Ross on 85 minutes, but Berger saved her low shot.
Lloyd could have won it four minutes later, when Jill Scott crossed to the back post, but Berger again saved well to ensure the spoils were shared.
Nick Cushing, Manchester City manager
“In spells we were dominant, and we played our football, but I think we looked tired. We had players with tired minds and tired legs and even when I introduced the substitutes, it’s hard to keep players fresh with games coming thick and fast.
“I can’t even think about the Cup final now because not only have we had a game three days ago, we’ve got another in three days’ time, and then a game two days after that, with three days’ rest before a Cup final at Wembley. But it is what it is – to have three competitive games in six days is unheard of and, for me, we can only try and do our job the best we can.
“I thought we stretched Birmingham, and we created chances. We had chances where we could have scored and probably should have scored. That’s an area we’ll look at, and that we know we need to get better at – we’ve always said we need to score more goals and show more composure in the final third. With a little bit more a spike in the performance, we could have won.”
Kerys Harrop, Birmingham City
“It’s always a tough test against Manchester City. They’ve got quality players and they’ve brought in quality players over the break as well. But we’ve bought quality players too and I think we showed that. We played some really good football, and made the most of the nice pitch, which obviously we’ll have at Wembley as well, and put some good possession together. Overall, we’re really happy with the performance.
“We knew they were always going to be very attacking. It was good for us to practice our defensive solidarity. As a defender I’m very proud of our defensive record, but that doesn’t start at the back, it starts at the front.
“Especially this year with the attacking players we’ve brought in, the likes of Ellen White, we’re looking to be more attacking this year and I think that showed as we created some really good opportunities.”
“Marc [Skinner, new manager] has made a huge difference. He’s brought a real positivity into the camp, almost a bit of arrogance which is what we needed. We hadn’t quite had that confidence that we can compete with the so-called big four. We’ve shown that now – we’ve beaten Arsenal and Chelsea in the FA Cup and also getting a draw here away at Manchester City. We’re still unbeaten under Marc and that shows the influence he has had.”
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Manchester City 1
Birmingham City 1
Manchester City (4-2-2-2): Ellie Roebuck; Lucy Bronze, Steph Houghton, Jennifer Beattie, Abbie McManus; Tessel Middag, Keira Walsh; Kosovare Asllani, Izzy Christiansen; Carli Lloyd, Georgia Stanway
Substitutes: Jane Ross for Stanway 59, Jill Scott for Asllani 67, Megan Campbell for Beattie 67
Substitutes not used: Marie Hourihan, Toni Duggan, Melissa Lawley, Nikita Parris
Red Cards: None
Birmingham City (3-4-1-2): Ann-Katrin Berger; Meaghan Sargeant, , Emily Westwood, Aoife Mannion; Abbey-Leigh Stringer, Jessica Carter, Coral-Jade Haines, Kerys Harrop; Andrine Hegerberg; Ellie Brazil, Ellen White
Substitutes: Charlie Wellings for Haines 67, Paige Williams for Westwood 79, Marisa Ewers for Hegerberg 82
Substitutes not used: Sophie Baggaley, Freda Ayisi, Chloe Peplow, Sian Johnson
Red Cards: None
Referee: Joseph Johnson