Arsenal lose to Manchester City in coach's final game
Manchester City beat rivals Arsenal 2-1 in a tight Barclays FA Women's Super League affair in Nick Cushing’s final game as manager before departing for New York City.
Goals from Pauline Bremer and Lauren Hemp either side of the break put the hosts in control before Danielle van de Donk got Arsenal back in the game.
The first half was a cagey affair which brought only half-chances for both sides. Georgia Stanway scuffed an early effort from a corner at one end while Jordan Nobbs could only roll an effort at Ellie Roebuck after an Arsenal counter attack.
It was the hosts who enjoyed the best of the pressure while some dogged defending saw several Arsenal shots blocked down the other, but the breakthrough came just before the break when Bremer capitalised on Arsenal failing to clear a free-kick and fired home from close range via a big deflection.
City doubled their advantage soon after the break when Hemp got in front of Leonie Maier to head a pinpoint cross from Keira Walsh over Manuela Zinsberger and into the top corner of the net.
Arsenal though took the blow and turned it into momentum as they started to put pressure on the City goal, finding a way back into the game before the hour mark when Van de Donk turned the ball home after Roebuck had saved Beth Mead’s initial effort.
Van de Donk spurned a big chance to level it with 20 minutes to go when somehow her effort from point-blank range was smothered behind for a corner by Roebuck.
Hemp's smartly taken header proved to be the difference between the two sides as City gave Cushing the perfect send off.
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Manchester City's Nick Cushing said: "I had such a huge desire to win for the players and for the fans to put us in a good position in the league.
"I’ve become comfortable feeling uncomfortable because every big game has been so close. That game felt like Chelsea last season when they got an equaliser and we switched off tactically a little bit for their goal but I was pretty confident we’d get across the line.
"We were terrible in the league game earlier in the season and on Wednesday it baffles me how we lost that game. This is a special place and we very rarely lose here, it felt like when we won the league against Chelsea in 2016, I never felt like we were going to lose the game.
"There was so much desire to win today from both sides, that shows how far the women’s game is coming and we came through with the three points."
Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro said: "We lost 2-1, that’s all that counts. We had chances but what matters is putting the ball into the back of the net and we didn’t do that enough.
"We expected a physical encounter with the emotion of Nick leaving and what happened on Wednesday. My opinion is we had a lot of the ball and we could have done a lot better with it.
"I was very disappointed with the goals we conceded. We let ourselves down with textbook stuff we need to make sure doesn’t happen and it doesn’t happen often, but it did and we have to rebuild and move on.
"We didn’t deal with a ball from deep in the first half and if we’d been better in the final third we’d have probably got something out of it, but I can’t fault this team because they’ve had three very tough games in a week."
Manchester City (4-4-2): Ellie Roebuck; Georgia Stanway, Steph Houghton, Gemma Bonner, Demi Stokes; Jill Scott, Keira Walsh, Caroline Weir, Lauren Hemp; Ellen White, Pauline Bremer
Substitutes: Tessa Wullaert for Bremer 62
Substitutes not used: Karima Benameur, Laura Coombs, Tyler Toland, Jess Park, Emma Bissell, Matilde Fidalgo
Goals: Bremer 44, Hemp 49
Bookings: Stanway 62
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Manuela Zinsberger, Leonie Maier, Leah Williamson, Viktoria Schnaderbeck, Katie McCabe; Jill Roord, Danielle van de Donk; Lisa Evans, Jordan Nobbs, Beth Mead; Vivianne Miedema
Substitutes not used: Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, Jennifer Beattie, Louise Quinn, Ruby Grant, Melissa Filis, Ruby Mace
Goals: Van de Donk 58
Bookings: Van de Donk 60, Mead 77, Roord 81, McCabe 84
Referee: Stacey Pearson