The Manchester University (UoM) Women’s Football 1st team defeated their Manchester rivals Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) 2-1. This is all thanks to goals from Elise Skelding and Emma Clarke. The win was UoM’s second win in as many games, as the team followed on from the previous week’s 4-1 win over the University of Chester while the visitors MMU suffered only their second defeat of the season.
At the start of the day, MMU sat on top of the Northern 2A league, seven points ahead of their UoM counterparts, and the opening stages of the game reflected this. Just one minute after a goal was ruled out for offside, MMU took the lead in the second minute. A chipped through ball found the MMU striker and while UoM goalkeeper Eza Doortmont did well to save the first attempt, she was powerless to stop the second as the MMU player slotted the ball into the net.
The goal increased MMU’s confidence which was already buoyant from their season so far and they looked to work a high press that confined UoM to their own half. The visiting side seemed very comfortable in possession which was in stark contrast to UoM who were restoring to unsuccessful long balls.
With 15 minutes gone, MMU were looking on track for a comfortable win and their number 14 was looking a real danger. However, the UoM coach implemented a slight tactical shift by assigning each UoM defender an attacker to mark. This switch to woman-marking helped limit the effectiveness of MMU’s number 14 and the home side began to force their way back into a game.
UoM’s first shot on target came from a deep free kick on the left flank. Whether the original intention was to be a cross is uncertain, but the ball was deep enough to reach the keeper who gathered it well.
There was danger at the other end shortly after. A bouncing ball couldn’t be held by Doortmont, and a last ditch block from Megan Clarkson was required to deflect the ball away from goal.
Approaching the hour mark and it was more of an even game than the opening stages and it was now UoM’s turn to have a goal ruled offside. Elsa Gougeon, whose influence on the game was increasing, was released in behind but the referee blew for offside. With no linesmen present, it was unclear whether this was the correct decision but if it was it must have been a very close call.
The disallowed goal seemed to boost UoM’s spirts though and they were unlucky not to equalise just a few minutes later. Gougeon was again involved as she beat her opponent on the left flank before firing in a driven cross. Daisy Stewart received the ball in the centre of the box but could not sort her feet out to generate enough power in the shot and it was an easy save for the MMU keeper.
With half time approaching, UoM scored a deserved equaliser. Again the danger came from a free kick as it was floated into the box. Skelding was alive at the back post to slot the ball past the MMU goalkeeper and into the back of the net. The goal came in the 43rd minute and the teams went in at half time with the score level at 1-1.
The break came at a good time for MMU as UoM were building up momentum. The early exchanges of the second half was a much more even affair. Neither side was creating any clear opportunities but it looked like if UoM were to score, it was going to come from the left flank where they were looking dangerous.
MMU began to have a few more chances and came close from a curled effort that found the outside side netting. The visitors were beginning to regain some of that dominance they started the game with but any momentum was quickly cooled as UoM scored their second of the match in the 64th minute.
Another free kick but this time it was deeper and more central. Clarke looked to float a pass into the box but misjudged the power and the ball was heading towards goal. The MMU keeper attempted to catch it but made a mess of it and could only palm it into her own net. The unexpected goal came from a distance of approximately 35 yards and gave the home side a lead to defend for the final 20 minutes.
With fatigue beginning to become more of a factor, the final stages of the game consisted of a lot of injury stoppages. Several MMU players went down and this helped to break up any movements the away side were hoping to make.
MMU had a few half chances towards the end of the game but UoM dealt with them and hung onto a narrow 2-1 victory. With just their second win of the season, the result sees them move further away from the bottom of the division and they now sit level with UCLAN in fourth.