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Manchester City 1 (Flint 17) Notts County 0
Manchester City returned to winning ways in the FA WSL with a hard fought 1-0 triumph over previously unbeaten Notts County.
A solitary Natasha Flint strike earned the victory, ensuring the Blues leapfrogged the visitors in the division, whilst notching their seventh win in eight matches in all competitions.
In a game of few chances, the home side had to dig deep and grind out this result against an organised Notts County side who had gone into the clash unbeaten and in high spirits.
In the opening fifteen minutes, both sides had spells of possession but did not manage to create a clear cut chance. So it came as a surprise when City broke the deadlock with a bolt from the blue on 17 minutes.
As Flint raced towards goal, the Notts County defence backed away, tempting the youngster to push on. With no second invitation required, Flint unleashed a thumping effort past Carly Telford and into the top corner for her second goal of the season. It was a fine piece of individual brilliance which seemed somewhat out of place after an otherwise uneventful start.
With the lead, City began to gain control of the game but struggled to muster opportunities to increase their lead. The Blues were either thwarted by Notts County goalkeeper Carly Telford or the visitors' offside trap - which would be a thorn in the hosts' side all evening.
Toni Duggan saw her half volley saved on the turn from Krystle Johnston's cut back, before Jill Scott's effort suffered the same fate just moments later.
Notts County's best effort of the half came five minutes before the break, as Karen Bardsley was called into action to prevent Jess Clarke from heading in a Caitlin Friend corner. That proved to be the last action of the opening 45 minutes and the Blues took their slender lead into the break.
After the restart, City were a little more direct. Duggan dragged a shot wide before Johnston curled an effort into Telford's arms. A last ditch Amy Turner tackle then prevented Johnston from a firing a shot towards goal before the visitors pushed forwards in search on an equaliser.
Bardsley had to be alert on a number of occasions to preserve the Blues' lead. The England shot stopper made a fantastic save on the line from another Clarke header; then denying Dunia Susi. Rachel Corsie also blazed over a free kick after Kathleen Radtke was booked for a foul in a dangerous area.
With City hanging on as the game entered the final ten minutes, it was a question of whether the Blues had the mettle and the desire to grind out a result.
As it happened, they did and the home side held on for a crucial victory, which lifted Cushing's side to fourth in the table - level on points with third placed Liverpool and five adrift of league leaders Birmingham City.
Manchester City: Karen Bardsley, Abbie McManus (sub Chelsea Nightingale 57mins), Emma Lipman, Betsy Hassett, Kathleen Radtke, Steph Houghton, Krystle Johnston, Jill Scott, Toni Duggan, Natasha Flint (sub Keira Walsh 86mins), Issy Christiansen.
Notts County: Carly Telford, Amy Turner, Danielle Brogan, Katie Hoyle, Rachel Corsie, Sophie Walton, Jess Clarke, Katie Holtham, Dunia Susi, Caitlin Friend (sub Emily Roberts 70mins), Desiree Scott (sub Aileen Whelan 87mins).
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
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