October 1, 2018 by Stephen L Wright
The BBC editor for yesterday’s game footage chose to broadcast just two sentences from Marc Skinner’s post-match interview, and they speak volumes: “I’m upset with the performance, not the result. We didn’t deserve the result.”
I’ve said before in this fanzine that I do wonder if Marc Skinner and I have been at the same game. For once, in part, I can say that yesterday we were. He declares upset with the performance but I would say it should only be for that given in the second half. Consequently, that performance led to a result which Blues did deserve.
With a clean sheet, three League wins and Arsenal not playing, Blues went into this game knowing that another win, or a draw, would put them at the top of the table. They also knew that they could hold Man City through 90 minutes, as they had done in the Continental Cup a few weeks earlier. On top of that, they knew that Man City were not playing at their best.
From the outset, Blues had their game face on as they harried their opponents’ goal area, denied them the ball in midfield and, when they did break through, beat them out of their own area. The fluke of Mcmanus’s own goal added to Blues’ determination to score one of their own and they took advantage of good chances. Subsequently, they held the lead at half-time.
Blues started the second half with a flurry and Meaghan Sargent’s superbly headed conversion of Lucy Staniforth’s corner set them up for a fourth win and a continued clean sheet.
And then it all began to fall apart. Gaps opened up in midfield. Close passes went astray and longer ones were over-weighted. The consistently solid back four started to waiver and lines weren’t cleared cleanly enough. Man City’s second and third goals came from deflected balls which Ann-Katrin Berger had no chance of stopping. Lucky for Man City, yes, but aided by Blues’ back-pedalling, creating big spaces, not clearing lines performance.
Once again, Sarah Mayling’s ability to run at defenders, beat them and put in pinpoint crosses was underused by her team-mates by not giving her the ball when she was standing in acres of space. Marc Skinner’s decision to substitute her was not, in my and others’ opinion, the right choice, and certainly not that late in the game.
Blues were unlucky not to equalise in the last ten minutes when they showed their earlier spark. But it was all too late, which is a real shame, as they have shown that, even without Ellen White and Rachel Williams, they can play solid attacking and defensive football and score goals.
We’ve got another International break now. We can only hope that, when the League re-commences, Blues will be back to giving their opponents their just desserts.