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Bristol Academy 1 (Yorston 44) Manchester City 0
Bristol Academy clinched their FA WSL 1 status for another season as they picked up a narrow victory over Manchester City at Stoke Gifford.
A thumping header from Corinne Yorston proved to be enough to see the home side end a worrying run of five defeats in six games but they were also grateful to goalkeeper Mary Earps who made a number of good saves in a largely disappointing match.
Natalia Pablos Sanchon went close early on for Academy with a 25-yard strike which dipped narrowly over the bar but chances were scarce for either side during the opening stages. Jill Scott broke into the area for City and dragged her shot just wide of the far post but most of the play was contained in the midfield area.
City did begin to look more threatening with Keira Walsh impressing in midfield with her passing and control, and a good move almost led to them going in front as Natasha Flint and Krystle Johnston combined to put in Issy Christiansen whose shot was saved. Earps then produced a fine diving save to keep out a shot from Scott which looked destined for the corner of the net.
Academy had an opportunity when a headed clearance from Abbie McManus went straight to Sophie Ingle who tried to return the ball goalwards but her effort was narrowly off target.
At the other end, Scott forced a save from Earps with a header from Johnston's cross and then Toni Duggan, who had a subdued game by her standards, forced another stop after latching onto Scott's through ball.
The majority of the first half chances had gone City's way but it was Academy who broke the deadlock on the stroke of half time. Natalia broke down the right and sent in a pinpoint cross to the far post where Yorston rose above Nicki Harding and beat Karen Bardsley with a firm header.
The second half started slowly as both sides struggled to find a way through and there was little action at either end until the hour mark, when Nikki Watts curled a shot inches wide from the edge of the area.
City hit back with Scott's flick releasing Duggan in the area but Earps was smartly off her line to foil the England striker with a save.
Such was the dominance of the two defences, both sides were looking most dangerous at set pieces and after Bardsley had saved a Jaz Matthews header, another corner almost led to a second Academy goal when it was half cleared to the edge of the area and Laura Del Rio unleashed a shot which brought out an excellent save from Bardsley.
Once again a corner almost let in Del Rio as Jemma Rose's near post flick found her in front of goal but she was denied by a brilliant saving challenge from Harding as she looked poised to score.
Steph Houghton headed just wide from a Christiansen corner at the other end whilst Danielle Young and Betsy Hassett also went close with headers but City could not find a way through and Academy closed the game out for an important win.
Bristol Academy: Mary Earps, Grace McCatty, Loren Dykes, Jaz Matthews, Jemma Rose, Sophie Ingle, Natalia Pablos Sanchon (sub Gabrielle Bird 90mins), Angharad James, Frankie Brown (sub Laura Del Rio 69mins), Nikki Watts, Corinne Yorston. Sub not used: Alex Windell.
Manchester City: Karen Bardsley, Nicki Harding, Georgia Brougham, Keira Walsh, Abbie McManus, Steph Houghton, Krystle Johnston (sub Betsy Hassett 63mins), Jill Scott, Toni Duggan, Natasha Flint (sub Danielle Young 69mins), Issy Christiansen. Subs not used: Alex Brooks, Emma Kete, Chelsea Nightingale.
(top) Grace McCatty is up against Abbie McManus and Keira Walsh
(middle) Nikki Watts takes on Steph Houghton
(bottom) Corinne Yorston heads in the winning goal for Bristol Academy
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