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Manchester City 2 (Parris 13, Christiansen 45) Notts County 1 (Williams 40)
Manchester City secured Champions League football for the first time in their history with a final day victory over Notts County - but fell just short in the FA Women's Super League title race.
Chelsea's home victory against Sunderland meant the Londoners lifted the trophy, but City signed off the 2015 campaign in style, securing a ninth win in ten league matches in front of a new league record 3,186 crowd at the Academy Stadium.
The first chance came within the first minute as Lucy Bronze swung in a cross from the right for Daphne Corboz to bounce an effort just around the post. City maintained the early momentum amid a series of robust early challenges from both sides, with Parris relishing the physical battle up front. Jill Scott was next to threaten, acrobatically volleying after a corner, and only a smart headed clearance off the line from Sophie Walton rescued the Lady Pies.
Nick Cushing's side were keen to stretch the play, with Bronze and Corboz effective down the flanks and the breakthrough came after 13 minutes. Parris scored it, clipping the ball over Carly Telford from Natasha Harding's cutback.
County almost replied immediately, but Bronze raced back to clear off the line after Jess Clarke's shot had beaten Karen Bardsley. That chance was against the general grain of the game, and quick feet from Parris drew a free-kick that Steph Houghton fizzed narrowly over. Parris herself then stung the palms of Telford with a driven shot after Corboz had set her free down the left, and moments later the striker headed over from Bronze's centre.
A rare lapse from centre-back Jennifer Beattie allowed Alex Greenwood to shoot from distance, but Bardsley was on the spot to gather it. Normal service resumed shortly after, with Harding racing down the right only to see her inviting centre remain untouched as it travelled along the six yard line.
City were made to pay in the 40th minute when former Chelsea forward Rachel Williams powered home a header from Buet's right wing free kick. The lead was soon restored though, and in some style, Christiansen smashing home Harding's cross from the right.
After the break City were back on the offensive, with Scott influential in midfield and Parris a waspish presence in attack. As it was in the first half, City's right flank was a rich attacking source through Bronze and Harding, but County dug in well with a series of last gasp challenges.
Substitute Ellen White's shot served notice that the visitors were not out of it, even if it screwed wide of the post. City responded with fine work from Scott releasing Harding down the right and from her cross Christiansen headed wide from close range.
Houghton's header was then deflected onto the bar from a corner as City finished a thrilling campaign on a high, even if the top spot eluded them this time.
Manchester City: Karen Bardsley, Lucy Bronze, Steph Houghton, Jennifer Beattie (sub Kathleen Radtke 78mins), Demi Stokes, Keira Walsh, Jill Scott, Natasha Harding, Isobel Christiansen, Daphne Corboz (sub Krystle Johnston 87mins), Nikita Parris (sub Natasha Flint 74mins). Subs not used: Alexandra MacIver, Emma Lipman, Abbie McManus, Georgia Brougham.
Notts County: Carly Telford, Sophie Walton, Laura Bassett, Fern Whelan (sub Ellen White 64mins), Amy Turner, Alex Greenwood, Danielle Buet (sub Aileen Whelan 78mins), Desiree Scott, Leanne Crichton, Jess Clarke, Rachel Williams (sub Alice Hassall 84mins). Subs not used: Siobhan Chamberlain, Ashleigh Plumptre, Laura-Jayne O'Neill.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
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