Half-time: Brighton 0-3 Manchester City
Peep peep! After a nicely worked Brighton attack is halted by an offside flag, the whistle goes for the interval. The teams trot down the tunnel and it looks a helluva lot like City will be climbing up into third.
44 mins: Brighton get the ball up into City territory twice in quick succession but the difference between the sides is patently clear – the hosts’ attacks consist of a lone forward steaming upfield with the ball, while City’s are all about smart interplay.
43 mins: Clearly now this will be a damage limitation exercise for Brighton, who just can’t cope with the movement of City’s forwards.
Goal! Brighton 0-3 Manchester City (Houghton 41)
City win a corner after Stanway charges forward and looks for White on the penalty spot, but a retreating Bowman clears behind. Greenwood takes left-footed, whipping in an undefendable inswinger that gets as far as Houghton at the back post, who only has to redirect the ball into the net from point blank range. Game over.
37 mins: Weir is denied the most glorious completion of a hattrick by a stunning save! Hemp had jinked in from the right and fed Weir on the edge of the box, who danced past two defenders, then shuffling past a third with a dummied shot before aiming a curler inside the far post – matched by a sprawling Fiskerstrand. It would have been a sublime goal.
33 mins: A pair of Devilish inswinging deliveries – Kelly from a corner and Greenwood from a deep free-kick – offer more proof of City’s danger. The last of a flurry of corners is hoisted in by Greenwood and Bronze turns it wide for a goal kick.
30 mins: Weir has smelled blood, and nearly gets the chance for a hattrick when she breaks forward and her run is stopped by Morgan. But the pass has a touch too much on it and the onrushing Fiskerstrand collects gratefully.
26 mins: Kelly is again in amongst it, clashing heads with Kaagman who takes a while to get up. Brighton need a spark of inspiration here.
22 mins: City, understandably enough, have lowered the tempo since the second goal. But they look no less authoritative, with the backline in particular so assured on the ball.
18 mins: Megan Connolly at right-back for the hosts has her hands full this afternoon. The tricksy Chloe Kelly is running at her every time she gets the ball, with Lucy Bronze never shy of helping out on the overlap.
Goal! Brighton 0-2 Manchester City (Weir 16)
Told ya. Again Weir pick the ball up in an advanced central position and drives forward. This time she gets to the edge of the box and offloads it to Walsh, who return it first time and the Scot whips home a great finish inside the near post.
15 mins: Weir again pops up in a dangerous position – she has been at the heart of all City’s best moments so far, playing with her head up and moving the ball quickly.
Goal! Brighton 0-1 Manchester City (Weir 12)
That’s a terrific goal from Caroline Weir, who started a sweeping move by carrying the ball forward in midfield. Stanway and Kelly then exchanged passes neatly on the right before the latter burrowed to the line and rifled in a low cross, turned home powerfully by Weir from close range. Lovely move.
11 mins: Ellen White is down in the Brighton box after taking a knock to the face as a corner came in. Looks like she’ll be OK though.
9 mins: Brighton’s first sniff of a chance with Heroum breaking clear into the box, but the pass to her is a bit strong and City’s businesslike centre-back snuff it out.
5 mins: Fiskerstrand gets her first proper touch, gathering a low cross from Hemp. Then great feet by Kelly on City’s right, nutmegging Connolly with a stepover and flick, but the cross is bundled clear.
3 mins: Big decision early on for the referee, who waves away appeals for a City penalty after a short corner. Seen ‘em given. City respond by piling on more pressure – Brighton can’t get out of their half.
2 mins: An early sighter from Stanway is deflected over after some smart midfield play by Weir.
And we’re away! City kick off and look purposeful, knocking the ball crisply around the backline and working it well down the left.
Fair to say the omens aren’t great for Brighton. Their records against today’s opponents reads: played six, won zero, scored none.
Meanwhile, up in Leigh Sports Village, Ella Toone has doubled Manchester United’s lead late on. Casey Stoney’s team will usurp Chelsea at the top of the WSL and as it stands are eight points ahead of their local rivals having played two games more. Over to you, City.
Brighton: Fiskerstrand, Bowman, Kirkdijk, Le Tissier, Whelen, Connolly, Kaagman, Heroum, Green, Brazil, Jarrett. Subs: Walsh, Roe, Simpkins, Williams, Bance.
Man City: Roebuck, Bronze, Houghton (C), Greenwood, Morgan, Walsh, Weir, Stanway, Kelly, Hemp, White. Subs: Bardsley, Coombs, Park, Beckie, Ravening, Window, Davies, Phillips
Manchester City have unfinished business. Sat regally stop the WSL table when last season was suspended, they were left to watch in horror when it was decided that the campaign would be resolved on a points-per-game basis – and therefore that Chelsea would take the title. As this season hits its midway point, Gareth Taylor’s side, in fourth, are looking up not only at their nemesis from last year but their upwardly mobile local rivals – Manchester United are currently 1-0 against Birmingham and on course to take top spot.
But it’s tight up there, and a win here would put them in touching distance: four points off United with a game in hand. And with Arsenal and Chelsea’s games today postponed, City have the chance to build momentum unavailable their rivals.
Brighton, meanwhile, are looking down rather than up. One win in their last five has left them fourth from bottom, with only the paucity of Bristol City’s points haul to give them comfort. They could use a win today as much as Man City – and stranger things have certainly happened. Kickoff soon!