Alan Mahon only needed an early Gemma Bonner volley to ensure his tenure as interim manager of Manchester City got off to a winning start as they hosted FA WSL bottom side Bristol City.
Story of the match
Bonner opened the scoring for City with just over a minute on the clock after meeting a Caroline Weir free kick from the left.
The hosts then enjoyed the majority of possession but smart defending by the Bristol backline and fine goalkeeping from Sophie Baggaley meant they couldn’t find a second.
City’s best chance to double their advantage came 20 minutes later when Ellen White found herself free and behind the Bristol defence before a late Gemma Evans challenge denied her the opportunity to shoot.
In the end Bonner’s goal was all they needed for their eleventh consecutive WSL home win – a new record in the competition.
Mahon will be pleased with the result but after opening the scoring so early his side could have gone on to thrash Bristol, who lost 11-1 away to Arsenal earlier in the season.
It would have been no surprise if Bonner's third league goal of the season sparked a rout but Tanya Oxtoby's side held firm under pressure.
After the interval City had three clear chances to score in the opening five minutes but a string of fine saves from player-of-the-match Baggaley meant the advantage remained at just one.
Jeon Ga-Eul a bright spark for Bristol
Bristol City were always going to be in for a tough evening at the Academy Stadium and with top goal scorer Ebony Salmon only introduced at half-time, Tanya Oxtoby’s side hadn’t set up to attack.
Salmon has been directly involved in 63% of Bristol’s eight goals this season (four goals and one assist) and will be hoping the arrival of Jeon Ga-Eul will help ease the burden on her young shoulders.
The 31-year-old played in the number 10 role in Manchester and looked like a real leader with her vast experience at international level and in the W-League shining through.
The Robins’ number 14 worked her socks off at both ends of the field and was encouraging her teammates every time the ball went out of play.
She could have had her side’s best chance of the game in the opening ten minutes only for a rare rogue touch scuppering her opportunity in City’s box.
Although her attacking impact was limited the signs were positive for Bristol that Jeon can help them in their relegation battle.
Matilde Fidalgo still on the bench
If you read across Manchester City’s backline left-to-right it looks solid, one of a top team.
Demi Stokes at left-back has 56 England caps and has been at the club for four-and-a-half years. In the centre-back pairing of Steph Houghton and Gemma Bonner you have two more England internationals including their Captain and figurehead.
Then at right-back, curiously, you have Georgia Stanway with the number 10 on her back suggesting an outlier.
The 21-year-old has shared the role with fellow attacking midfielder Janine Beckie in recent weeks which has raised a few eyebrows with Portuguese international and natural fullback Matilde Fidalgo warming the bench.
The summer signing recently spoke to VAVEL about her frustrating season and the game with Bristol looked like it represented a perfect chance for her to be blooded in against a side that has only scored eight goals in the WSL.
City now face fourth tier side Ipswich Town at the Academy Stadium in the FA Women’s Cup on Sunday, a game in which surely Fidalgo will get her chance
Player of the match - Sophie Baggaley
In recent weeks Bristol have lost not just 11-1 to Arsenal, but 6-1 away to Chelsea. They were probably dreading the trip up North and the potential scoreline but it was kept at just one goal thanks to 23-year-old Baggaley in the Bristol net.
She doesn't cut a tall figure but commanded her box with authority and kept out good efforts from White and Jill Scott, amongst others.