MANCHESTER City Women continued their perfect start to the WSL season with a comprehensive 6-0 victory over struggling Doncaster Rovers Belles on Bank Holiday Monday afternoon.
Lucy Bronze rolled City in front as early as the eighth minute which was quickly added to by Jill Scott’s piledriver.
Jane Ross and Jennifer Beattie both nodded home from Kosovare Asllani corners before the Swede tapped in a fifth in first-half stoppage time.
Toni Duggan became the sixth different City player to get her name on the scoresheet bundling in at the back post to round off the scoring on a a comfortable day for Nick Cushing’s side.
City, who had won all four of their previous league games this campaign, made just one change from the side that had won at Sunderland on Friday night, Duggan came in to bolster their attack at the expense of Daphne Corboz and that decision reaped instant dividends as early as the eighth minute.
Duggan played an excellent switch ball to free Nikita Parris on the right-wing who found Bronze on the overlap and the England full-back shot low and beyond Nicola Hobbs in the Rovers goal.
The hosts doubled their advantage just three minutes later when a nice move involving Asllani and Ross led to Demi Stokes rounding Hobbs, with the goal gaping she surprisingly attempted a pass herself which was deflected into the path of Scott who ruthlessly leathered into the back of the net. City had netted with their first two attempts of the game.
The Belles formed a brief huddle after the second goal, clearly intent on finding a foothold in the match, which to their credit they did. For a good 15 minutes or so they restricted the Sky Blues to pot-shots from range and even made passing moves of their own without troubling City’s number one Karen Bardsley.
The hosts were nudging towards a third goal however, Hobbs made two impressive reaction stops within three minutes to deny Parris before Stokes had an effort cleared off the line and Hobbs was again needed to prevent Scott’s curling effort making it three.
The reprieve was only temporary for the visitors however. Asllani’s resulting corner was nodded on by Beattie, and Parris’ flick-on hit the bar on the full but the rebound fell perfectly for Ross who did manage to head her side 3-0 up.
Asllani’s flag-kicks were proving the undoing of Glen Harris’ side. On 44 minutes Beattie herself powered into the roof of the net as the Belles struggled to cope with City’s aerial prowess from the Swede’s set pieces.
To compound a miserable first half for the visitors and their supporters City made it five in the final minute of stoppage time – Parris rolled across the face of goal for the onrushing Asllani to tap home.
If Doncaster thought their opponents would take their foot off the gas in the second period then they were made to think again when less than two minutes after the re-start when Parris’ flicked header glanced off the crossbar in the aftermath of another Asllani corner. That did prove a rare highlight in a half which City controlled through possession but without the intensity in-front of goal they possessed in the first half.
Donny had their best spell mid-way through the second 45, captain Leandra Little arced wide from 25 yards before Tash Dowie found space on the right side of the penalty area and drilled into the box where City were indebted to a stretching Steph Houghton who diverted the ball just past Bardsley’s post.
With 15 minutes to play the hosts rounded off the scoring. Parris, who was heavily involved all afternoon without scoring herself, fired across goal and Duggan was there at the back post to become Manchester City’s sixth different scorer of the game.
There was still enough time for the tricky Jess Sigsworth, a bright spark for the Belles, to sting the palms of Bardsley after skilfully jinking beyond Abi McManus before Bronze nearly scored the last goal of the match as well as the first but she struck the bar with the last kick of the game and the final score remained 6-0.
In short, Manchester City were far better than their opponents and very deserving of a fifth successive league win. They were comfortably the fitter of the sides hence why they ended the match with five times more shots than Doncaster but Cushing will be disappointed with his side’s profligacy at times as well as the fact they racked up 12 offsides.
For Doncaster they now are pointless from three games on their return to the top tier of women’s football, they were clearly a cut apart from their hosts but they did show signs that they can succeed in their battle to avoid relegation.
In Tash Dowie they possess a striker who works tirelessly and has the experience of 14 England caps to call upon, Sigsworth is a winger who can ask questions of any defence and Hobbs pulled off some remarkable saves to keep the scoreline somewhat respectable. Expect City to maintain their title challenge but don’t count Doncaster out just yet.
Manchester City: Bardsley, Bronze, Houghton (c), McManus, Stokes, Beattie, Scott, Asllani (Corboz ’56), Duggan, Parris, Ross
Unused subs: Hourihan, Kemp, Tynan, Holland
Goals: Bronze (8), Scott (11), Ross (41), Beattie (44), Asllani (45+2), Duggan (74)
Doncaster Rovers Belles: Hobbs, Simpkins (Tierney ’77), Roberts, Little (C), Barker, Easton, Omarsdottir, Lipka, Sigsworth, Humphrey (Newborough ’68), Dowie.
Unused subs: Moorhouse, Mosby, Gummer.
Referee: Mrs Lucy Oliver
By Jordan Davies at The Academy Stadium