Set pieces the difference
Two set pieces proved to be the difference between United and high flying Manchester City as United more than matched the visitors at Creighton, Richard Mallinson writes.
Kick off was slightly delayed as a motorway accident had delayed the visitors however City started in a determined mood and passed the ball around nicely on the Creighton surface.
The previous weeks’ home game against Leigh had been played in torrential rain however the work that groundsman Dave Mitchell has put in has been superb and the pitch was in excellent condition.
The visitors moved the ball quickly and it was evident that they were a group who had played together for several seasons.
United didn’t disappoint though and some resolute defending and battling in the midfield created a half chance for Chelsie Browbank on 10 minutes however the shot was saved by the City keeper.
United were battling hard with every player putting in 100% and the pre-planned system seemed to be working with Laura Smith containing one of City’s key players and marking her out of the game.
The game was fairly even although it was fair to say that the visitors looked the more likely to create something.
That was to be the case and on 13 minutes, City took the lead when a corner was floated in and a City player headed in at the far post. This was a poor goal to concede from United’s point of view however with plenty of time to go, United grew into the game. Opportunities were created and the tireless Philippa Harmison was unlucky not to level the arrears.
United found themselves 2-0 down on 25 minutes when once again, a corner proved to be their undoing. From then on, you would have thought that it was United who were second in the table as the home side began to dominate with every player putting in a shift. The City keeper kept them in the game with several top class saves to deny Hamrison, Browbank and Robinson.
The second half began as the first had ended with United showing more strength than the visitors however the keeper continued to keep them at bay.
It has to be said that the City keeper is the best we have encountered this season and was a clear player of the match. United just couldn’t find the net as Harmison, Browbank, McGimpsey and Martin were all unlucky not to score. City didn’t really create any chances of note with United keeper Rosy Ryan not having a great deal to react to.
The visitors broke on 70 minutes and were awarded a dubious penalty when their winger was adjudged to have been fouled. Justice prevailed though as the resultant penalty was a poor effort which was placed well wide of the target.
City had another chance on 75 minutes however the City winger blasted the ball high and wide from 20 yards.
United continued to press however the two first half set pieces had done the damage and the visitors claimed the three points.
Despite the defeat, this was one of United’s best performances of the season as they went toe to toe with one of the top sides in the division.
The City side will inevitably progress whether it be this season or in the future however United have a lot of positives to take from the game. The only blemish was the manner of the two goals which were conceded however the City keeper kept them in the game with numerous fantastic saves.
Today's game was kindly sponsored by System People.
United are on the road next week as they travel to Accrington and look to repeat the 4-2 victory which they gained in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.
United: Ryan, Smith, Owen (Dixon), Mallin, McGimpsey, Martin (Waller), Mallinson, Adam, Robinson, Browbank, Harmison.