Johnston (3 mins), Duggan (44 mins)
Aston Villa Ladies 0
- Match reports
- 30 March 2014 15:52
- Posted by @roline_mcfc
City Women ended their pre-season preparations on a high with a comfortable 2-0 win over Aston Villa Ladies.
On a gloriously sunny day at the Manchester Regional Arena, goals from Krystle Johnston and Toni Duggan secured the victory, although the result could have been far more comprehensive had the Blues been more clinical in front of goal in the first half.
Once again, Chelsea Nightingale partnered captain Steph Houghton in the centre of defence, with Steph Marsh and Emma Lipman working as full-backs. Jess Holbrook protected the back four as a defensive midfielder, playing behind Jill Scott and Betsy Hassett. Johnston and Isobel Christiansen were in a more advanced role whilst Duggan operated as a lone striker.
After a successful pre-season that already included two wins and a draw, the Blues were desperate to ensure that they went into the new campaign on the back of a string of positive results and Cushing’s side secured the perfect start with a goal after just three minutes.
The Blues had already seen a Hassett shot drag wide, before Johnston was released down the right-hand side. The Bury-born striker managed to reach the ball before Villa goalkeeper Caitlin Leach and despite the narrow angle, curled the ball into the top corner.
From then on, it was all City and – as they did against Durham – the Blues spurned a number of chances to extend their lead. Christiansen saw two efforts bounce just wide, before Duggan and Scott forced Leach into two saves in quick succession.
Johnston then had a chance to double her personal tally on 21 minutes but once again, Leach was equal to the shot.
A minute later, Villa’s Erin Vaughan was booked for a late challenge on Marsh but the resulting free-kick was headed away for a corner which came to nothing.
Just after the half-hour mark, Duggan headed wide before Christiansen connected with a Marsh cross superbly – only for her volley to flash past the post.
As half-time approached, the game looked to be petering out but the Blues did finally net the second a minute before the break. Johnston was involved again as she sent Duggan clear and the striker made no mistake with the finish, firing in at the near-post to give the home side a well-deserved two-goal lead at the break.
The Blues took their foot off the gas in the second half, which proved to be a scrappy affair. Neither side could retain possession for long periods and there were plenty of stoppages due to substitutions and dead ball situations.
The replacements couldn’t restore the Blues’ incisive style though and the game ended 2-0 with Cushing's side running out as worthy winners.
Although it was clear after the game that some players were disappointed with the second half performance, City will go into their first test of the season - an FA Women’s Cup tie at home to Reading on 13 April - full of confidence.