WSL: Manchester City 2 Arsenal 0
PUBLISHED: 07:50 03 December 2018 | UPDATED: 07:50 03 December 2018
PA Archive/PA Images
Arsenal Women’s nine-game winning start to the WSL season came to an end on Sunday against title challengers Manchester City at the Academy Stadium as the Blues cut the gap at the top to three points.
City came close to an opener on 13 minutes after neat play from Gemma Bonner saw her race down the left wing and pick out Nikita Parris before she flicked the ball on to Georgia Stanway who fired wide of the target.
Nick Cushing however did see his side take the lead on 17 minutes as Demi Stokes picked out Stanway with a low cross before her effort took a slight deflection off Louise Quinn and into the roof of the net, giving Gunners keeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin very little chance of saving.
City were playing some fantastic football and they could have doubled their advantage when Jill Scott met a Caroline Weir cross at the back post before her header was cleared off the line by Lia Walti.
However, a minute later the visitors could have been level when Beth Mead jinked her way through the City defence before laying the ball into the feet of Katie McCabe, but her strike beat Ellie Roebuck all ends up and struck the crossbar before bouncing away to safety.
In what was a frantic end-to-end game it was the Blues who came close to a second on 33 minutes after nice link-up play between Weir and Bonner saw the latter fire narrowly over the crossbar from an acute angle.
Roebuck was then forced into a superb save on 36 minutes as the young City keeper tipped over a long-range effort from Mead that looked like it was going to hit the roof of the net.
City were gifted a chance to double their lead on 39 minutes as Leah Williamson miscued her back-pass to Peyraud-Magnin before the keeper’s clearance fell to the feet of Parris, but she sliced her effort wide of goal when she should have done better.
Arsenal boss Joe Montemurro could have seen his side equalise on 41 minutes from a counter attack as Mead broke away down the right before slipping in the league’s top scorer Vivianne Miedema, but her effort was once again well saved by the palms of the impressive Roebuck.
It was the Gunners who started the second half on top as Miedema picked up a loose pass from Jennifer Beattie to drive into the box, but she fired wide when she really should have hit the target.
Beattie then came to her side’s rescue as Miedema was played in on goal by a superb defence-splitting pass from McCabe, but the Dutch striker was denied by a superb last-ditch tackle from the Scottish international.
Arsenal were threatening an equaliser and it nearly came on 58 minutes when Danielle Van De Donk ran through on goal but instead of having a shot herself she opted to pass to Mead who was well tackled by Steph Houghton just as the former Sunderland forward was about to pull the trigger.
It was then the turn of Van De Donk to go close to an equaliser on 62 minutes as her snapshot from just outside the area sailed just wide of goal.
However, City doubled their lead when Stanway scored her second of the afternoon on 64 minutes as Cushing’s side caught the Gunners on the counter attack and the City forward bent her strike low into the net past the despairing dive of Peyraud-Magnin.
The game then went flat until the 80th minute as Montemurro’s side created a fine opportunity when Quinn played a through ball into Miedema but she was denied by fine goalkeeping from Roebuck, racing off her line to claim the ball from her feet.
City then had the final chance of the game as Scott linked up with Kiera Walsh but her strike from range was well kept out by the fine reactions of Peyraud-Magnin.