Weir snatches victory for City away at Spurs
By Football Reporter
A poacher’s finish from Caroline Weir proved the difference in Manchester City’s 1-0 victory over Barclays FA WSL top three rivals Tottenham at The Hive.
Her goal was well-deserved in a second-half that saw City assert control, eventually overcoming a spirited Spurs defence.
The visitors now move to within two points of their opponents with a game in hand, hunting down a Champions League’s place that seemed unlikely a few months ago.
The early minutes set the tone for a bitterly fought contest, with City exerting pressure while Spurs stole possession and hit them on the break.
Chances were at a premium, with Tottenham’s Shelina Zadorsky and Molly Bartrip proving why they are in one of the league’s staunchest defences.
Spurs had more of the ball but neither keeper was seriously tested, and Ellen White’s injury-time effort into Becky Spencer’s arms was the best first-half opportunity for either team.
Tottenham upped the tempo after the interval, but it was Gareth Taylor’s team who nearly struck first when Weir’s looping free-kick came back off the woodwork.
It was a catalyst for a City side growing in confidence, with Spencer leaping to parry crosses from her goal line and dipping to block a low effort from Hayley Raso.
The pressure told in the 64th minute when Weir took advantage of another darting run from Raso, stabbing the ball home as it pinballed between Spencer and the Spurs defence.
In the closing minutes the traffic was one way and City nearly doubled their lead when Jess Park fired over the bar six minutes from time.
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Tottenham Hotspur (4-2-3-1): Becky Spencer; Ria Percival, Molly Bartrip, Shelina Zadorsky, Kerys Harrop; Maeva Clemaron, Eveliina Summanen; So-hyun Cho, Ashleigh Neville, Kyah Simon; Rachel Williams.
Substitutes: Rosella Ayane for Simon 34’, Josie Green for Williams 45’, Jiali Tang for Cho 76’, Angela Addison for Clemaron 90+4’.
Substitutes not used: Tinja-Riikka Korpela, Asmita Ale, Viktoria Schnaderbeck.
Bookings: Kerys Harrop 90+2’
Manchester City (4-3-3): Ellie Roebuck; Lucy Bronze, Alanna Kennedy, Alex Greenwood, Demi Stokes; Keira Walsh, Georgia Stanway, Caroline Weir; Hayley Raso, Ellen White, Lauren Hemp.
Substitutes: Jess Park for Raso 67’, Janine Beckie for Hemp 73’, Khiara Keating for Roebuck 86’.
Substitutes not used: Laura Coombs, Filippa Angeldahl, Khadija Shaw, Julie Blakstad.
Goal: Caroline Weir 64'
Bookings: Alex Greenwood 58’
Referee: Emily Heaslip
Manchester City manager Gareth Taylor said: “It was an important win against an opponent in and around us, we spoke before the game about winning ugly and that was pretty ugly, even the goal was a little bit scruffy but really pleased getting the win going into this period however it came.
“We’ve probably played miles better and not won games so we’ll take it for what it is at this stage of the season. In a couple of weeks’ time it just says 1-0 and nobody really mentions the performance.
“As much as you want to bottle what happened last weekend (winning the Conti Cup final) sometimes it vanishes pretty quickly so it’s important for the players that they realise they’re more than capable and as staff we have to try and reinforce that.”
On his match-winner:
“We all know that Caroline (Weir) can score from anywhere, she has that quality, the real challenge is getting her into those positions in the six yard box.
“We’ll just keep chipping away, people look at fixtures but there are no easy games, that was proved today, nobody wanted to give anything away.”
Tottenham manager Rehanne Skinner said: “I thought we made life really difficult for Man City, our press worked well out of possession and it was tough for them to play out.
“We won balls in higher areas and then created goal scoring opportunities. We’ve just got to be clinical with the final ball to get the best out of those opportunities.
“The goal we conceded is a shame but ultimately we limited them to that type of chance to break the deadlock.
“In possession we had more of the ball against City than in the past so we’ll keep showing progress against these teams and should be really pleased with the performance across the board.”
On the race for the top three and her team’s progression:
“We've just been trying to cement ourselves as one of the teams that’s more competitive in the league, there’s teams that have got expectations of finishing in the Champions League but we only have expectations of finishing higher than we did last season.
“That’s the twelfth goal we’ve conceded all season which is one of the lowest in the league, it gives us a great platform to build into games. We’re good at working hard and the players work their socks off to make sure we’re hard to beat.
“When we get more of an edge on the final pass then it flips some of those losses and draws in our favour, that’s part of our journey and our growth really.
“When you look at Man City it’s full of internationals. These teams have been established for a long time which has allowed them to get that kind of squad depth, our squad is very strong but we want to keep adding those skillsets to make us more effective moving forward.”