Man City 2
By Alex Lanigan
Manchester City manager Nick Cushing believes his side’s patient approach was rewarded against Sunderland Ladies as they returned to their attacking best in the FA WSL Continental Cup.
After a goalless first half, captain and ex-Sunderland defender Steph Houghton curled a free-kick home on 74 minutes before Toni Duggan scored shortly afterwards on her return from injury.
Sunderland keeper Rachael Laws was in inspired form, making a string of vital saves including tipping efforts from Houghton and Krystle Johnston onto the bar.
But City’s dominance meant they were always going to create chances and Cushing insists the performance was what he was after.
“I think we have now got back to how we want to play and how we want to perform,” said Cushing.
“We dominate the ball, put passes together and build out from the back so that we gain control and momentum.
“We try to make sure on our home pitch, in our stadium it is a tough place to come, I think we are starting to get that, it’s very pleasing.
Sunderland rarely threatened and were defensively resolute for 75 minutes. Boss Mick Mulhern insists his side handled themselves well.
“It’s always a challenge because you are putting yourself against a professional outfit who are training five times a week where we are training twice,” said Mulhern. “We wanted to see where we were with regards to that, playing against a WSL 1 side. I thought we worked hard and matched them and stayed in it for most of it.
“Maybe it was a bit of a tired challenge that led to the free-kick and Steph Houghton has punished us.
“I think at that point that was it, a few of the girls died a little bit more as they were going on adrenaline at that point. But I am pleased that we have gone 75 minutes against one of the top sides. We came here to win but we were not good enough.”
Manchester City (4-3-3): Bardsley; Lipman, Hughton, Radtke, McManus; Hassett, Scott, Christiansen; Flint, Johnston, Young (Duggan 69). Subs not used: Brooks, Brougham, Harding, Nightingale.
Sunderland (4-4-1-1): Laws; Holmes, Bannon, Sharp, Greenwell; Ramshaw, McDougall, Furness (Briggs 79), Bass; Kelly (Williams 45); Mead. Subs not used: Anderson, Beer, McHugh.
The FA Women’s Super League has been expanded to two leagues for 2014. To watch all 18 clubs live buy tickets at ticketstores.co.uk/fawsl