Mead on fire as league leaders Arsenal down West Ham
In-form Beth Mead assists three goals to help table-topping Gunners to 4-2 win over London rivals
The weekend’s FA Women's Super League and FA Women’s Championship action saw Manchester City held to a 1-1 draw against Bristol City and lose ground on title rivals Arsenal, who beat West Ham.
Jane Ross and Danielle van de Donk both scored doubles in that game, however they were overshadowed by a stunning midfield display from Beth Mead, who provided a hat-trick of assists.
Elsewhere there was last-minute drama as Birmingham City beat Reading 2-1, a devastating performance by Ini Umotong in Brighton & Hove Albion's win over Liverpool and a victory for Chelsea over Everton as well as four well-fought Championship matches.
Here's a look at what you might have missed:
Mead makes the difference for Gunners
Mead was the architect of three Arsenal goals as they defeated West Ham 4-2 to stay top of the table.
It wasn’t a smooth ride for the Gunners, though, as they came up against a determined Hammers side, who took the lead initially and then fought back to level scores at half time having gone behind.
Ross got both of West Ham’s goals but Mead was in the mood and sent two perfectly-flighted crosses into the box for Leah Williamson and Janni Arnth to head home.
Ross’s first-half double was matched by van de Donk in the second half as the Dutch midfielder poked home from close range to give Arsenal the lead before Mead produced another stunning delivery for her to nod into the net.
Mead has now provided nine assists in 11 FA Women’s Super League games this season as well as a scoring four goals.
City lose ground on Gunners
Manchester City lost ground on title rivals Arsenal after drawing 1-1 at Bristol City and finishing the weekend two points behind the Gunners, who have a game in hand.
Nikita Parris extended her record as the league’s all-time top scorer by putting her side 1-0 up with a near-post finish.
Lucy Graham then drew Bristol level in the second half after winning a penalty and burying it but City fans will have been left wondering how on earth they didn’t score a winner.
In typical goalmouth scramble style, City hit the crossbar twice in a matter of seconds before the ball was eventually hacked away by Gemma Evans.
Chelsea back in the hunt?
With City only picking up a point, the opportunity for Chelsea to close the gap presented itself and they are now back to within three points of Nick Cushing’s side after beating Everton 3-0.
Beth England opened the scoring with the goal of the weekend; after chesting the ball down and controlling it, she played a lovely one-two with Erin Cuthbert before placing the ball into the far corner.
Chelsea were dominant throughout but had to wait until the hour mark for their second when Drew Spence tapped home. Ten minutes later it was three as Hannah Blundell curled one home to make sure of the win.
Sargeant drills home
Meaghan Sargeant’s 89th-minute header for Birmingham City came as an immediate response to a Reading’s leveller just a minute before.
Remi Allen appeared to have rescued a point for the Royals after cancelling out Kerys Harrop’s opener.
The win keeps Blues level on points with Chelsea, five behind leaders Arsenal and just three behind second-placed Manchester City.
Brighton the bane of Merseyside
Brighton dealt Liverpool a blow by picking up a 2-0 win and at the same time, leapfrogging Everton in the table.
Umotong was at the heart of everything that was good from Brighton as the Seagulls registered only their second league win of the season.
Laura Rafferty put Hope Powel’s side ahead after Umotong had struck the post before the Nigeria international left the Liverpool defence for dead and doubled Brighton’s lead after the break.
Everton will have the chance to go back above Brighton if they win their game in hand.
United bounce back in the Championship
Manchester United recovered after suffering their first League defeat of the FA Women’s Championship season before Christmas.
Casey Stoney’s side shook off the festive period in style as they hammered nine past London Bees as Charlie Devlin, Lauren James and Ella Toone all bagged doubles, with Lizzie Arnot, Mollie Green and Katie Zelem also on the scoresheet.
Elsewhere, Tottenham Hotspur beat Sheffield United to stay within a point of the League leaders. Jenna Schillaci will be able to forget her own goal thanks to strikes from Rianna Deana and Sarah Wiltshire.
Charlton Athletic relinquished their perfect home record as they played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at the Oakwood and required a late Charlotte Gurr goal to rescue a point.
And there was no dream start to life at Lewes for new boss Fran Alonso as his side were beaten 4-0 by Leicester City, with Lucy Johnson adding the fourth and final goal to celebrate her 17th birthday in style.