WSL 1 - Week 17 Round-Up: City finish unbeaten

WSL 1 - Week 17 Round-Up: City finish unbeaten

Taylor sinks the Belles, Chelsea survive a late scare and the Black Cats and Pies share the spoils

Sophie Lawson

Arsenal's win over the Belles was for naught as Chelsea clinched the second with a tight win over Reading as Sunderland and Notts played out a 1-1 draw on Saturday, a feat repeated by Manchester City and Birmingham City on Sunday.

Sunderland 1-1 Notts County

Hoping to do the double over the Lady Black Cats, Notts would have been disappointed to leave Hetton with just a point after having the better chances. The Lady Pies took the lead just after the half hour when Rachel Williams found space in the box to blast an opener beyond Hilde Gunn Olsen and into the far corner but the visitors were pegged back just six minutes later when Emma Kelly opened her account for the North East side.

Kelly’s deft header at Abbey Joice’s corner proved just too much for Megan Walsh who is still deputising in Carly Telford’s absence. Olsen was on top form to keep the visitors out and Carlton Fairweather will be pleased enough with a point in a disappointing season whilst Rick Passmoor will rue missed opportunities.

Arsenal 2-0 Doncaster Belles

Already downed after their defeat to Notts, the Belles were playing for nothing but pride against an Arsenal side that still had an outside chance of finishing second – and securing the only other Champions League berth. Despite having the lions share of possession and an embarrassment of wealth on the pitch the Gunners were left frustrated by their visitors who seemed to thwart them at every turn.

After a lengthy lay-off through injury Jodie Taylor finally made her debut for the London club, seven months after signing for them as she replaced Chloe Kelly on the hour. The England international took to the pitch like a duck to water and when it looked like the Belles were finally heading for their first point of the season, Taylor made sure to keep the Gunners on track, scoring just six minutes after coming on. Her debut goal became a debut brace five minutes later as she mopped up the scraps after Anna Moorhouse had done well to deny Alex Scott.

Manchester City 1-1 Birmingham City

Having already won the league all that was left for Man City was to finish the year in style and hold on to their unbeaten record, although a Blues side that had taken them all the way to extra time in the league cup final had other things in mind. The party almost over before it had begun as Lucy Bronze was adjudged to have fouled Andrine Hegerberg in the box just five minutes into the game, Aoife Mannion cool, calm and collected to hammer the spot kick past Karen Bardsley and into the top corner.

Not a side to let their home fans down City ramped up the pressure to stretch Birmingham’s notoriously steely defence and test Ann-Katrin Berger at every opportunity, parity restored after the break as Demi Stokes’ mishit cross cannoned off of the bar and in. The slice of luck ensuring that City keep their unbeaten record in tact as they finish the season a week before everyone else, Birmingham still with a chance to go fifth.

Chelsea 3-2 Reading

Needing just a point from their last two games to ensure they couldn’t be overtaken by Chelsea looked to sign off in style at home against a surprisingly open Reading side. Following a scrappy first fifteen minutes the Blues took the lead through Eni Aluko, as the faithful striker blasted Millie Bright’s flick-on past Mary Earps, though neither side could add to the score in the first-half despite chances at both ends.

The host the side to celebrate again just before the hour when Ana Borges, fresh off of international duty helping Portugal secure the final berth at Euro 2017, bested Earps at the second time of asking. The game ready to be turned on its’ head when Claire Rafferty was adjudged to have felled Remi Allen in the box, Lauren Bruton despatching the dead ball with ease to open the game up once more.

The come-back was however short-lived as Aluko got her second of the game, tapping home another Karen Carney corner just three minutes later but the visitors refused to just shut up shop and sit and did well to take the game to Chelsea. Mel Fletcher reduced the deficit at the death as she turned Allen’s square ball past Hedvig Lindahl, the Royals with a credible 2-3 loss in Staines.