31,213 gathered at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon to watch the first-ever Manchester Derby in Women’s Super League history, and it did not disappoint!
It was a tighter game than expected, given Manchester United’s recent promotion from the second division and Manchester City’s successes in the last few years.
Casey Stoney’s team actually looked the better side in the first half, creating the better chances. Jane Ross forced a fantastic save from City keeper Ellie Roebuck on 22 minutes - Leah Galton got in behind the hosts’ defence and her cross was able to find Ross in the box.
But, City were a different animal second half and their quality shone through, causing United’s backline a lot more problems. It took a fantastic strike from Caroline Weir to give the home side the lead on 48 minutes, firing inch-perfect into the top corner from some distance.
Jackie Groenen was presented with a great opportunity to put things level late on as she bypassed the City defence, but her resulting shot was denied only by the post. It doesn’t get much easier for United as they host last year’s winners, Arsenal, next. City travel south to face Reading.
It was only the third Super League meeting between the two sides, with Bristol having been unbeaten coming into the game (W1 D1). They faced off in the first match of last season, where the Vixens found the three points at home.
In front of a crowd of over 3000, Brighton earned themselves a penalty just five minutes before half-time when Aileen Whelan went down in the box. Victoria Williams stepped up to take the kick but her effort to the left was met by keeper Sophie Baggaley - making a brilliant save to keep the scores equal.
Ebony Salmon was the key player of the second half. The England U19 international’s skill on the ball was too good for Brighton’s backline on a number of occasions, causing worry for the seagulls. Her main chance came she fired a long-range cross-come-shot which cannoned off of the crossbar in the top corner and back out, although it was then swiftly dealt with.
The match ended in a 0-0 stalemate, which was ultimately a good result for both sides
Chelsea 1 - 0 Tottenham Hotspur
In front of a crowd of over 20,000 at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea ran out 1-0 victors in a WSL London Derby versus league newcomers Tottenham Hotspur.
Bethany England opened the goalscoring for the Blues in the fourth minute, firing from distance with her amazing strike sailing over the head of Rebecca Spencer and into the top of the net.
Despite being in the second division last season and only recently being promoted to the WSL, keeping up well against a Chelsea side who competed in the Champions League last year.
New signing Kit Graham impressed for Spurs, troubling goalkeeper Ann-Katrik Berger on a number of occasions and playing well against a difficult defence filled with World Cup stars.
The match made headlines for the number of tickets that were snapped up for free, with less than 70% of those people actually choosing to turn up to the match that was held at the men's side's stadium.
Birmingham City 0 - 1 Everton
Everton kicked off their season with a win away from home at Birmingham, a feat that they had not pulled for seven seasons.
It was a hard-fought affair from both sides, but Birmingham dominated the match, with much more possession than their opposition and a number more shots.
A dangerous free-kick from Inessa Kaagman almost led to a goal in the 13th minute, but Lucy Graham's header was well saved by the hands of Hannah Hampton. The match was end-to-end for the remainder of the first half, with both sides coming close to scoring on a number of occasions.
Less than thirty seconds into the second half commencing, Birmingham found themselves behind on the scoresheet. The club's captain Kerys Harrop turned the ball into her own goal after a cross from Hannah Cain.
Both sides continued to press for the remainder of the game, but neither were able to alter the match's scoreline
It was a quiet game at Prenton Park, bar a moment of absolute brilliance from Fara Williams on the stroke of half time to give the visitors the lead.
Reading had been pushing for an opener and had the better chances across the first half, drawing a top-class save from Liverpool keeper Anke Preuss from kick-off.
Liverpool’s best chance of the half came from a Jess Clarke cross that found Melissa Lawley in the box - the new Reds’ signing was unable to head past Grace Moloney as she gathered the ball in the Reading goal.
After Jade Bailey brought down Jade Moore on 45 minutes, it was Williams that stepped up to take the free-kick. The former Red drilled it into the top corner from 25 yards, giving Preuss no chance of making the save.
Liverpool’s best chance of the second half, and arguably the best of the game, came early in the second-half as Courtney Sweetman-Kirk found herself one one one with the keeper, but a heavy touch let the forward down and Moloney was quick to react and get down to collect the ball.
Vicky Jepson’s side will be looking for a more positive result when they travel to face Tottenham next week, whilst Reading face a tough test when they host Manchester City.
Arsenal 2 - 1 West Ham United
A Gunners side missing Vivianne Miedema began their defence of the Women's Super League title at home to West Ham, a side which they won both of their matches against last season and netted four against on both occasions. Arsenal had only ever lost one of their opening WSL matches in the past when they suffered a 4-0 thrashing against Liverpool in 2013. The hammers failed to win any of their London derbies that they played in during the 18/19 campaign.
Arsenal tested the Hammers from early on and received their just rewards in the 14th minute, Beth Mead firing a powerful effort into the bottom-left corner of the goal.
The English left-winger then set up the gunners' second of the day shortly before the second half, shrugging off her marker and setting up new signing Jill Roord for a goal on her professional debut.
Shortly after the half-time whistle, Danielle van de Donk came close to netting the club's third, but she failed to hit the target from six yards out of the goal.
West Ham gained one for themselves in the second half when Martha Thomas scored her first for the club from the near post. She had only signed for the Hammers from Le Havre earlier this summer
Liverpool vs Reading & Manchester City vs Manchester United - Hannah Pinnock