Bunny Shaw's early goal took Manchester City level on points with Chelsea at the top of the WSL table as they won 1-0 at Kingsmeadow.

A defence-splitting run from Jess Park put Shaw in to slot home City's first goal away in Kingston since 2020 in the 14th minute, extending her league-leading goal tally to 14.

Mayra Ramirez provoked penalty shouts just 15 minutes later after Alex Greenwood felled her in the box. The hosts, however, could not provide a response, succumbing to their first defeat to City at Kingsmeadow since 2016.

The win could prove decisive in the title race with the teams now only separated on goals for, both level on points and goal difference.

Victory for the Citizens extends their winning run to eight games, having not lost since facing Brighton in November. It is a blow, however, for the hosts who have now lost two games this season and must still face Arsenal at home.

City will carry the three points back to Manchester and into the international break. Chelsea, meanwhile, will be left with much to ponder both on and off the pitch as the search continues for Emma Hayes' successor.

KINGSTON UPON THAMES, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Alex Greenwood of Manchester City celebrates victory on the final whistle during the Barclays Women's Super League match between Chelsea FC and Manchester City at Kingsmeadow on February 16, 2024 in Kingston upon Thames, England. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
KINGSTON UPON THAMES, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Alex Greenwood of Manchester City celebrates victory on the final whistle during the Barclays Women's Super League match between Chelsea FC and Manchester City at Kingsmeadow on February 16, 2024 in Kingston upon Thames, England. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
  • Story of the match

Visitors Man City named an unchanged team from what proved to be the winning formula in their FA Cup clash last weekend against Arsenal.

The consistency meant Lauren Hemp remained in the line-up despite news midweek of a possible summer move to Barcelona.

Emma Hayes opted to make one change from Chelsea's FA Cup triumph against Crystal Palace. Lauren James made the starting XI while Johanna Rytting Kaneryd dropped to the bench.

Chelsea had the more threatening of attacks in the opening minutes. Greenwood's head taking the full brunt of a driven Erin Cuthbert shot on four minutes before Keating was twice forced into action.

Yet it was visitors Man City who found the breakthrough. It was Park who proved Chelsea's undoing. The 22-year-old surged forward through the Chelsea midfield accompanied before slotting a pass left for Shaw.

The Citizen's top scorer picked up the ball in her stride and made no mistake to fire across goal to put the visitors 1-0 up on 14 minutes.

KINGSTON UPON THAMES, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Khadija Shaw of <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en/football/2024/02/09/womens-football/1171769-the-games-have-been-decided-on-small-marginsjonas-eidevall-on-man-city-fa-cup-clash.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/en/football/2024/02/09/womens-football/1171769-the-games-have-been-decided-on-small-marginsjonas-eidevall-on-man-city-fa-cup-clash.html'>Manchester City</a></strong> (L) celebrates scoring her team's first goal during the Barclays Women's Super League match between Chelsea FC and <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en/football/2024/02/09/womens-football/1171769-the-games-have-been-decided-on-small-marginsjonas-eidevall-on-man-city-fa-cup-clash.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/en/football/2024/02/09/womens-football/1171769-the-games-have-been-decided-on-small-marginsjonas-eidevall-on-man-city-fa-cup-clash.html'>Manchester City</a></strong> at Kingsmeadow on February 16, 2024 in Kingston upon Thames, England. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
KINGSTON UPON THAMES, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Khadija Shaw of Manchester City (L) celebrates scoring her team's first goal during the Barclays Women's Super League match between Chelsea FC and Manchester City at Kingsmeadow on February 16, 2024 in Kingston upon Thames, England. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

It was a goal that added a fresh impetus to the title chasers' play as Hannah Hampton saw a flurry of action.

  • The defending champions fight back

Chelsea had strong shouts for a penalty in the 29th minute when Mayra Ramirez found herself away down the right flank. A last ditch tackle from Greenwood in the box sent Ramirez to the ground with question marks over the amount of contact she had with the ball.

Whether it was robbery in the darkness of a Friday night in Kingston on not, the decision lit a fire in the Blues' bellies.

Minutes later James cut inside off the left to find Fran Kirby on the right of the box. Her shot caused a collective intake of breath as home fans shifted their weight forward before gently rocking backwards as it snuck just the wrong side of the post.

It was the hosts who got off to the brighter of starts in the second half too. Perhaps they remembered that, having not let City win a game here since 2016, it was not in the nature. Or perhaps a stern talk from Emma Hayes had relit the Blues' engine.

KINGSTON UPON THAMES, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Mayra Ramirez of Chelsea and <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en/football/2023/11/19/womens-football/1163483-manchester-is-blue-as-city-enjoy-3-1-victory-at-old-trafford.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/en/football/2023/11/19/womens-football/1163483-manchester-is-blue-as-city-enjoy-3-1-victory-at-old-trafford.html'>Alex Greenwood</a></strong> of Manchester City in action during the Barclays Women´s Super League match between Chelsea FC and Manchester City at Kingsmeadow on February 16, 2024 in Kingston upon Thames, England. (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images)
KINGSTON UPON THAMES, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Mayra Ramirez of Chelsea and Alex Greenwood of Manchester City in action during the Barclays Women´s Super League match between Chelsea FC and Manchester City at Kingsmeadow on February 16, 2024 in Kingston upon Thames, England. (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images)

On the 57th minute, Khiara Keating was called into action when Kirby found herself through in goal. The Manchester-born keeper was quick to claim off Kirby's feet and smother the chance.

As the hosts struggled to find a way through, Hayes turned to her bench for attacking reinforcement. A double substitution saw Aggie Beever-Jones and Johanna Rytting Kaneryd enter the field in the 61st minute.

  • City park the bus

The increasing desperation of the home fans became evident when Melanie Leupolz picked up the ball 25 yards from goal causing cries of 'shoot!' to ring out around Kingsmeadow.

Erin Cuthbert's curling shot in the 77th minute caused half the ground to pre-emptively celebrate. Struck from the right of the box the ball flew across the face of goal before tucking itself just the wrong side of the far post.

KINGSTON UPON THAMES, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Lauren Hemp of Manchester City (R) tackles Ashley Lawrence of Chelsea during the Barclays Women's Super League match between Chelsea FC and Manchester City at Kingsmeadow on February 16, 2024 in Kingston upon Thames, England. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
KINGSTON UPON THAMES, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Lauren Hemp of Manchester City (R) tackles Ashley Lawrence of Chelsea during the Barclays Women's Super League match between Chelsea FC and Manchester City at Kingsmeadow on February 16, 2024 in Kingston upon Thames, England. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

It was an effort that just about summed up Chelsea's night. 

Keating produced heroics once more with the ball as Chelsea forced a double save to do everything but score in the 95th minute.

  • Player of the match - Jess Park

Having recently been called into the City starting-XI owing the absence of Jill Roord through injury, the youngster was dynamite in midfield.

Instrumental in the goal that ultimately proved the difference for City, she offered much to the visitor's creativity as well as contributing it what was a resolute defensive display.

Keating also deserves plaudits once again as she proved crucial between the sticks, just as she did against Arsenal last time out.