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Manchester City vs Chelsea Women at Academy Stadium

Academy Stadium Referee : Rebecca Welch
20th April 2021 10:24 PM (BST)
  • 2 Manchester City

    • ‘29' Chloe Kelly
    • ‘74' Lauren Hemp
  • 2 Chelsea Women

    • ‘25' Sam Kerr
    • ‘34' Pernille Harder (Pen)


Commentary By Caroline Oatway



That's all from me, folks.

As always, it's been a pleasure to report on today's action.

Not the result we hoped for but a thoroughly entertaining encounter and there's still plenty of football to be played...

One thing is for sure: we won't be throwing in the towel - we'll fight 'til the end and do all we can to push Chelsea until the final whistle on the last day.

Until next time...


Taylor on the mentality to fight back twice 💬

"It's never in question with these players. They've proved themselves over the season. We've done it a hell of a lot and shown our character.

"We just want to finish strongly in the final two games - that's all we can control."

(On what's needed to edge Chelsea): "Details - you can see there's very little between the two squads. 

"We need to dig down into the detail, we're more or less a new group, we're trying to build something, whereas they've had a head start within that and Emma's been at the helm a few years. 

"We've shown we're capable of going toe to toe all the way. It's just time and small details, more than anything this season.

"I'm proud of the football we've played and entertainment we've brought by scoring goals and playing exciting football. I can only see us improving."


Taylor (on the penalty decision) 💬

"I've not seen it myself but been asked a couple of times, which tells me there could be cause for question.

"I was more affected by the way we defended it. We were in a good situation and the player was forced wide but then she got inside. 

"I need to see it but I'll be disappointed if one's gone against us again. We had a shocker at Kingsmeadow so hopefully, that's not the case. Some of those things are out of our control."


Taylor 💬

"I was obviously engrossed from the sidelines but I can imagine it was entertaining for the viewers an the supporters. 

"We can see the game going to new levels now and some of the play, excitement and goals were real quality.

"Obviously we wanted to give a bit more. We were capable of winning this game. Like I said, we gave away a few sloppy things and could've been better but the way we approached the second half, for me, there only looked like one winner. 

"We had to control the counter but we had some good opportunities and Berger makes a world-class save."


Taylor 💬

"I think we make sure we focus on what we are able to control, which is the final two games. 

"We need to take care of those games, remain unbeaten at the CFA and control what we do. 

"Anything else that happens is out of our control. We need to give ourselves the best possible chance.

"I don't think [nerves] showed in either team really. Both teams went out to implement their game plan. 

"Chelsea sat in a bit more in the second half but they held on. For us, we ran out of time. We always proved we can score late on and had a couple of opportunities but I don't think it had any effect really."


Taylor 💬

"It was an entertaining match for the neutral but I felt we edged the opportunities and the final third action. 

"I thought that in the second period, we were fairly dominant and a bit disappointed with the first period where we gave away some sloppy chances for their goals. 

"We always felt we'd get opportunities and with the way we play, we felt they'd be there. We just weren't able to capitalise."


Gareth Taylor 💬

"There's always still a chance but you can understand the disappointment.

"I thought the girls left everything out there, played some really good stuff and dominated proceedings.

"It looked like there'd be a late winner and it took a world-class save from their 'keeper to prevent that.

"We just ran out of time in the end. You can understand the disappointment from the girls."


Honours even

All square then and the top two remain the same - Chelsea in first place with 51 points and City in second with 49.

With just two games of the league season left, it's no longer in our hands - we need Emma Hayes' side to drop points.

It's a big ask but you never know... One thing is for sure: we'll be fighting 'til the end - and who knows? That Lauren Hemp goal and last-gasp Ellie Roebuck save could prove to be crucial...

City have Birmingham (home) and West Ham (away) left to play, while Chelsea visit Tottenham and then host Reading on the final day.



And that's that.

An absorbing encounter ends 2-2 at the Academy Stadium, as City twice fight back from a goal down in a truly thrilling clash.


Final push

That was the opportunity!

Bronze with a flying header, which bounces agonisingly wide of the post!

You could cut the tension with a knife!


Fight 'til the end!

Hemp goes on another driving run and crosses to the nearpost but again, Berger is there to claim.

She looked to have taken a knock in the process but thankfully, she's okay.


What an effort!

Fantastic effort from Stanway - a rocket which is well-saved again by Berger.

She caught it beautifully - I was sat right behind it - but the Chelsea shot-stopper did very well to palm it away.



Superb save by Berger, as Hemp rises highest to head Greenwood's corner - only to see her effort tipped onto the post!




What a huge goal that could be!

Uncharacteristically, a terrible backpass from Kirby, which Kelly collects.

She crosses and Chelsea can't clear... and Hempo smashes into the back of the net!


Twenty to go...

It's now or never for City now.

We have to start putting Berger under pressure... but Chelsea are banking all XI behind the ball. We can't find a way through as things stand.

Might need a moment of magic - Weir or Hemp-esque!


Keep going

City pushing more bodies forward - both wing-backs are playing in most advanced positions but we're not testing Berger enough with Chelsea denying any way through at the moment.

Of course, that leaves us vulnerable on the counter... but we have to go for it at this stage. We need a win...



Hemp looks to take matters into her own hands with a mazy run (similar to the one which snatched all three points against Reading).

She cuts back for White, who lays off for Weir but her powerful strike is well-blocked.

Better, this.



Bronze embarks on an incredible run forward before clipping the ball through to White.

The forward perhaps would have been better curling first-time but she takes a touch, which allows the defender to get a touch and the referee blows for a foul, as White scrambles to revive the opportunity.



Good chance for Kelly there as Berger's clearance falls straight to the winger. She drives into the penalty area but takes one touch too many and the chance is lost.

Decision-making and composure again...


Worth a go

The ball falls nicely for Kelly on the edge of the area. She gets a good connection but it's just too high and clears the crossbar.


Analysis 📝

A pulsating encounter but frustrating for City, who have fallen to two set-pieces: a corner and a penalty.

We'd done superbly well to fight back so quickly after falling behind, but were caught on the counter, as Sam Kerr showed her quality.

It's been end-to-end and there's definitely a feeling there are more goals in this one. It's definitely not over, which I'm sure is what Taylor and co. are reiterating in the dressing room.

We just need a touch more composure in the final third - the final pass at times has been rushed, or we've made the wrong decision.

Big half needed but no need for panic yet.


Good pressure

White does well to chase down Berger, blocking her attempted clearance, but the ball falls kindly for the Chelsea defence, who are able to clear.

Keep battling!



Bronze flicks a looping effort back over her shoulder, as a Weir free-kick isn't cleared... but Berger is alert to tip over.

The resulting corner is collected by the Chelsea shot-stopper.



Just as we claw ourselves level, Chelsea strike on the counter again.

They're so, so dangerous when they're on the front foot and Kerr did very well there to skip past Greenwood and draw the foul from Roebuck.

Time for the leaders to step up now. We go again.



Superb response by City. 

We rallied and have struck back instantly.

Our wing wonders combine, as Hemp crosses for Kelly to slide home.

Now then!



Frustrating to concede from a set-piece, especially after the way we'd defended in the lead up to that goal.

Work to do... It's advantage Chelsea in the title race, as Ji fires over in search of a second.

City rattled.


Super challenge

Greenwood again showing her class, sticking alongside Kerr as she drives forward before executing an inch-perfect sliding tackle to clear the danger.

Absolutely spot on, that.


Stay alert

A series of Chelsea corners have led to some heart-in-mouth moments - the visitors throwing plenty of numbers forward - but City have defended well thusfar.


Girl on fire

Kelly has looked really bright already.

We've already witnessed her rapid pace and trickery... she's just lacked a little composure at times in this one, rushing the final pass.

Only natural, given the magnitude of the game, the desire and urgency.

But she's looking threatening.


Off the line!

Eeek! A Chelsea corner causes havoc in the City penalty area and Greenwood is in the right place at the right time to prevent the ball from crossing the line, after Kerr had looped a header goalward!

Danger! Chelsea growing into the game now...



Half-chance for Chelsea, as the ball is delivered to Harder at the backpost.

She heads downward but thankfully, off-target. Roebuck remains untroubled.


On top

City dominating at the moment, looking for that opener.

Hemp whips in a cross to the backpost for Mewis, but the USA star can't keep her header down on this occasion.



City having a lot of joy down the right-hand side.

Mewis next to embark on a driving run. She crosses to the six-yard box and the ball is hacked away for a corner.


Case for the defence

Greenwood has looked sharp so far, dealing well with what's been thrown her way.

The City defence will more than likely be busier than we're used to and will have to be on full alert for the full 90 minutes with the quality this Chelsea side possess.

Roebuck in particular could be crucial...



Great play from Bronze to dispossess Kerr and skip past the forward, drawing a rash challenge.

The subs bench were particularly impressed and made their teammate aware of their admiration.

White then chases down Berger. We're looking hungry.


Bright start

Kelly straight into the action, as she drives forward and forces Berger into a low stop at her near post.

Early statement of intent. I like it!


Here we go 🙌

Out come the two teams in contrasting shades of blue...

It's still strange to see them walking out onto the hallowed turf in relative silence..

No doubt this place would have been absolutely rocking.

It's up to the players to create the atmosphere...


More from Megan 💬

(On Lucy Bronze): "She’s a different level, she’s a gamechanger and has a wealth of knowledge. She’s helped Chloe and also Hempo. We have incredible players in the team and players we’re fortunate to have."

(On leaders in Steph Houghton's absence): "I think Abby and Alex are forming a nice partnership and with Ellie behind them. It’s nice to create those partnerships. The loss of Steph, she’s a big character but she’ll be in the dressing room getting them all ready, settling them down. It’s a big game.

"You’ve got to stick to the gameplan, stick to what the manager’s saying. If it's the 87th minute and it’s 0-0, it’s still our game. We’ve scored so many late goals this season. It’s a testament to the girls on sticking to our principles and working hard. It also shows how fit we are as a squad."


Megan Campbell (speaking on our WNRH live show) 💬

"These are the games you want to be involved in - these top games. I'm looking forward to watching the girls tonight,. Hopefully, we can come away with the win!"

(On Sam Mewis): "She's incredible. She’s a leader on and off the field, everything in her game is so professional. For us tonight, set-pieces will be crucial against a top team like Chelsea. They call her the Tower of Power and hopefully, she’ll get her head on a few!"

(On Chloe Kelly): "For a kid of her age, some of the competitions we’ve played in and to come in with the goals and assists, she’s been incredible this season, and so has Lauren Hemp. You don’t expect players to come in and perform like that at that age but she’s taken it in her stride. She analyses her own performances, scrutinises herself... It shows how incredible a player she is. It’s hard to get our players off the pitch. I do feel sorry for the manager and the staff with that!"


Stat attack

Did you know...?

🔹 City are currently the second-highest scorers in this season's FA Women's Super League with 58 goals in 19 games - second to only Chelsea, who have 60 goals in 19 matches.

🔹 Our defeat to the league leaders in October is our only loss of the league season.

🔹 We also boast the second-best defensive record in the league, conceding only 11 times in 19 games - second to Chelsea again, who have conceded eight times in 19 matches.

🔹 City won five our the first seven league clashes between the two sides but have not beaten Emma Hayes' side in our our last seven top-flight meetings (D5 L2).

🔹 Chelsea have never beaten City away from home in the Women’s Super League (D4 L3) - the only side they’ve visited more than once without managing to win in the competition.

🔹 City continued our record-equalling winning run at Spurs last time out, moving onto 12 straight FA WSL wins, whilst also keeping clean sheets in our last six. The WSL record for consecutive clean sheets is seven - already held by both City (May 2016), and Chelsea (twice – October 2017 and January 2019).

🔹 Since their defeat to Brighton in February, Chelsea have won six WSL games in a row without conceding a single goal. Away from home, the Londoners remain unbeaten in 37 league games (W25 D12) since a 0-1 defeat at City back in May 2017.


Familiar foe 👀

Laura Coombs spent six years at Chelsea between 2011 and 2017. 

I spoke to her earlier in the week and she says tonight's game will prove to be a real 'test of character' for City.

"We're feeling good. Everyone’s excited for the business end of the season. Everyone wants to make sure the performance and result is right to finish season off in the way we want to with a league win, hopefully.

"It's in our hands. We have to go out and win every game - that’s going to test our character. 

"Results against Chelsea recently haven’t gone our way. Everyone’s got to step up in every game from now until the end of the season.

"It's a mentality thing: we have to be together on the same page, going out there to win.

"The traits we've shown recently (winning ruthlessly, grinding out results, keeping clean sheets) come naturally to people who are Champions. It's hard to put into words – its something you feel. It's the mindset and mentality to do what it takes to win.

"We can afford to drop points - they have a superior goal difference. We have to win - there’s no denying that but no-one is feeling the pressure, even if there is pressure.

"We’re just going to go out and do our thing."


Shooting practice 🎯

Both teams are in the midst of their warm-ups and it's target practice for City at the moment.

Chloe Kelly has just rocketed an effort into the top corner and Caroline Weir almost snapped the crossbar with a powerful volley!

Needless to say, we're hungry for it... and looking sharp if these drills are anything to go by.


Learning lessons🤔

We didn't know it at the time but that game would mark our last of the 2019/20 season, as the campaign was ended early due to the global pandemic.

Although we stood top at close of play, Chelsea were awarded the title on a points-per-game basis and while it was disappointing, Janine Beckie says City have learned a valuable lesson from the experience...

“We’ve learned our lessons from last season. The league made the decision to give the trophy to Chelsea based on the stats and you have to give credit to them for taking care of business while they could.

“It left a bitter taste for us but it put more emphasis on the importance of winning the games right in front of you – dropping points really hinders the ability and confidence to be at the top.

“Belief comes really easily in this team. It’s definitely been clear Gaz has wanted to drive belief and he’s been successful with that thusfar.

“We all look around each other and believe in each other’s ability to go on the pitch and perform.

“We have a great camaraderie off-field as well as on it. Everyone gets along – there are no issues – and that’s testament to Gaz and Gavin Makel of the team they’ve put together.

“It’s a team of genuinely good people and when you get along so well off the pitch, it’s so much easier to get the outcomes you want on it."


Midfield battle 🤜🤛

Gareth Taylor was asked in his press conference whether he felt the game would be won or lost in midfield.

In terms of quality, both squads boast some incredible talents across the board.

"Who knows? That’s the magic question. Games are usually decided in both boxes.

"It’s a fair point. The middle part is the link between the top end and the bottom end. We know our objective. We know how to do it.

"It is obviously a result we need, but we know after that, we need another two results. 

"It would be big. Let’s not dance around it. It would be a huge achievement, especially with the run we needed to go on to be successful."


More from Steph 💬

"We've learned a lot from the fixtures against Chelsea this season – most importantly: to believe in ourselves a bit more. In the first games, things were quite new in terms of learning how Gaz wanted us to play and it takes time for new players to settle in – Sam, Rose, Lucy, Alex and Chloe were still getting into a rhythm. Now, we’re in a much better position and everybody knows their roles. We’re comfortable and confident.

"In terms of mentality, we just have to go for it! We believe in everything we’ve done and worked hard for, and we have to leave everything out there on the pitch. As long as we’ve done that – controlling what we can control – and have given our all, we’ll have no regrets.

"There is some extra motivation too, given how last season ended. Of course, nobody could have predicted a national lockdown and the end of the league season. As it was decided on a points-per-game basis, losing out so narrowly was hard to take, but we respected the decision and we've learned from it.

"We know we’ve gone far too long without winning the league title and it’s been one of our targets from the start. We have to take control of that ourselves but it’s important to remember that even if we win on Wednesday, there is still work to do.

"It’s not the case that we win the league if we beat Chelsea – we’ll still have two big games against Birmingham and West Ham, who will both be battling for their lives. Until then, we’re looking no further than this game and hopefully, we’ll secure the result we want.

"Come on, City!"


Captain's call ©

No Steph Houghton tonight, sadly, as she continues her recovery from her Achilles injury...

But the skipper has been playing her part over the past few weeks, utilising her leadership qualities as much as she can, as the squad's biggest cheerleader!

She previewed the game in her captain's notes for the match programme:

"Here we go! It's a big one, and we’re all so excited. Our team loves a challenge and the squad are raring to go and fight for what would be a crucial three points in the title race, and a huge step towards the trophy.

"We love battling against the best players, trying to be better – tactically and technically. It’s always a fascinating, tight and tense contest and I’m expecting more of that… We wanted to be in this position at this stage of the season: with the title race in our hands, and we’ve done so well to get to this point over the last few months.

"Previously, when we’ve played Chelsea this season, we feel we haven’t done ourselves justice, stamping our authority on the game. We know we’ll have to be at the top of our game but we also know we have the talent and physicality to compete with the best teams in Europe.

"We have to give them respect – they also have quality all over the pitch and the depth of their squad is exceptionally strong. The spine of the team have been there for a long time, while they’ve also brought in some of the best players in the world, and they have a very good manager in Emma Hayes. Their record speaks for itself and they’re in the semi-finals of the Champions League – and deservedly so.

"It’s not going to be easy but it’s up to us to do what we can to win the game, and we’re confident that as a team, we can produce what would be one of our best performances of the season. We go into the game in good form and on the back of a fantastic win on Saturday, which has helped to build a bit of momentum going into it."


Team news and tactics ⚽

So, Gareth Taylor makes just the one change to Saturday's Women's FA Cup victory, as Sam Mewis replaces Laura Coombs.

Ellie Roebuck takes her place in goal, shielded by a backline of Demi Stokes, Alex Greenwood, Abby Dahlkemper and Lucy Bronze, with Keira Walsh protecting the back four in her defensive midfield role.

Caroline Weir and Mewis are employed in the heart of midfield, flanked by Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly, with Ellen White leading the line upfront.


Chloe Kelly (after Saturday's FA Cup win - and her first City hat-trick!) 💬

“It’s a great result to take into this game. Every game is huge for us now.

“We know what it takes us to win the title and we’re focused on how we can break down Chelsea – what we can do to get the result we want.

“We have to look after each other and our bodies, getting the recovery right for Wednesday and the games following on.

“It’s great to work with such great players. We’re really starting to gel, working together. It’s great to see teammates doing well.

“We’re peaking at the right time.  It’s a crucial time in the season and we have to push on and be at our best.

“We know what we can do to become better – we’ll focus on recovery and how we analyse games.

“We’ll look after ourselves to make sure we’re in the best possible position to win the league.”


Who makes the cut? 👤

Who makes your starting XI this evening?

Gareth Taylor made five changes on Saturday for the Women's FA Cup triumph over Aston Villa, and made five substitutions throughout the second half. Reckon he'll ring the changes again?

We'll know in around 15 minutes...


Nerves of steel 👊

Everyone feeling okay ahead of this one?

The stakes could not be much higher... but we have plenty of characters in the squad who are used to high-pressure situations - players who have competed (and succeeded) on the biggest stages, in the most prestigious of tournaments...

We have World Cup winners, Champions League winners, international superstars - and a team full of leaders, all of whom have a part to play. Even those who may not necessarily be starting the game can make an impact, cheering on from the sidelines, picking teammates up when needed...

As Gareth Taylor has maintained throughout, it's a collective effort. Teamwork makes the dream work!


Battle of the Blues 💪

A very good evening (or morning, or afternoon, or night - wherever you are in the world!)

What a game we have in store this evening... a crunch, top-of-the-table clash as the FA Women's Super League's top two lock horns in a potential winner-takes-all encounter.

A precious three points are up for grabs - three points which could prove to determine what shade of blue adorns the league trophy come Sunday 9 May.

City, currently sitting in second place - two points shy of our title rivals - will leapfrog the Londoners into top spot with a win today, with just two league games left of a thrilling campaign.

It's quite simply: a must-win for City. As always, it's a pleasure and privilege to be bringing you closer to the action at the Academy Stadium. I guess there are just three words left to say...



Form guide 📈

City head into this top of the table clash in remarkable league form, having won 12 league matches in succession.

Gareth Taylor's side have won 13 of our last 14 games in all competitions, and currently stand as the second-highest scorers in this season's FA Women's Super League with 58 goals in 19 games.

Our return of 96 goals in all competitions this season equals our Club record since turning professional.

Chelsea are in good form themselves and haven't lost in their last six league fixtures.


Gareth Taylor 💬

“I think we have shown amazing concentration and desire to get to this point so that’s a massive well done to the players. We are excited and looking forward to it.

“This is where we wanted to get to in early February when we beat Arsenal and came back to the City Football Academy and beat United on the Friday.

“That gave us hope and an opportunity that if we looked after our own end, it would be in our hands. To be there in this moment is fantastic and what an opportunity.

“It is a big moment. These are the reasons why you coach and why you want to be a manager – for moments like this.

“I saw Pep Guardiola’s comments at the weekend about big games. This is what we are in it for. It’s where we want to be.

“I think it is a great advert for the women’s game – two big clubs slugging it out. These are the moments we should cherish.”


Early team news 📋

Gareth Taylor says Steph Houghton will be monitored on a weekly basis with the hope of a return before the end of the 2020/21 campaign.

Providing a squad update ahead of the must-win encounter, the Head Coach added he has no fresh injury concerns.

“I think that apart from the ones we are aware of, everyone has come through okay,” he stated.

“I don’t think there is anything different from Saturday’s game against Villa. There are no new injuries. We are looking pretty good.

“It’s still similar with Steph with it being relatively painful in that area. As much as she wants to do more and push it more, that pain is giving her an issue.

“I think it will be assessed on a weekly basis. There may be a chance to get her back for future games, especially after winning the FA Cup game, which extends the season by an extra game in mid-May. Fingers crossed.

“Steph has done an enormous amount this season. It's about looking at the bigger picture. For the sake of one or two games, we don’t want to jeopardise her opportunities in the summer with the Olympics or put her out further down the line."


It's matchday! ⚽

Here we go! Games don't come much bigger...

We have a potential title decider in the FA Women's Super League, as City welcome the league leaders in a potential title-deciding clash! 

It's a 18:00 (UK) kick-off on Wednesday 21 April at the Academy Stadium and you will not want to miss it! 

We'll bring you all of the build-up, live coverage and post-match reaction right here in the Matchday Centre.

With so much at stake, the pressure is on - but how are you feeling? Confident? Nervous? Excited? Who would make your starting XI?

Let us know on Twitter, using the hashtags #WNRH and/or #CityBigScreen

Bring it on!

Other games that day

  • West Ham United Women0
    Aston Villa Women0

As it stood

P GD Pts
1 Chelsea Women 19 +52 50
3 Arsenal Women 18 +43 38
4 Manchester United 19 +18 38
5 Everton Women 19 +12 31
6 Brighton and Hove Albion Women 19 -19 24
7 Reading Women 19 -12 20
8 Tottenham Hotspur Women 19 -19 17
9 West Ham United Women 18 -15 13
10 Birmingham City Women 18 -24 13
11 Aston Villa Women 18 -32 11
12 Bristol City Women 19 -51 11
Link To Full Table