It had looked like United would continue their impressive form, which had seen them take a point from Chelsea early on at three to leap their opponents to the top of the WSL. In the fifth minute in a cold gray village of Leigh Sports, Heath slipped a pass to Sunday’s game winner Ella Toone at the edge of the zone and her lobed effort sailed narrowly into the distance.
Little troubled by the first chances of their rivals, the Blues took control and Mewis played a central role in setting the pace. The World Cup-winning midfielder is as tall and powerful as her nickname suggests and she was hiding around the center circle reading the motion and passing faster than anyone on the pitch.
It helped that she remained unfathomable. Dutch forward Jackie Groenen, a reliable terrier for United this season, appeared to have made the decision to leave the American star to herself knowing she just wouldn’t be physically able to take it.
While Mewis, Lucy Bronze and Ellen White provided muscle to the visitors, it was the deadly pace and fearlessness of youth on the wings, through English duo Georgia Stanway and Kelly, which posed their greatest threat. attack.
In less than 10 minutes, City had the lead. A corner from Alex Greenwood was scrambled by United, Kelly attempted to bring the ball down and cut it towards the goal, but it was erased until Steph Houghton, who returned a scuffed pass to Kelly. At the second moment of the request and with her back to goal, she sent the ball sharply to the nearest post.
In the meantime, they had doubled their lead, although United were unhappy that Kelly was not flagged offside on the climb. A long-range effort from Mewis was swung into the path of former Liverpool midfielder Laura Coombs who struck a rising strike past England goalkeeper Mary Earps.
If United manager Casey Stoney borrowed Sir Alex Ferguson’s hair dryer at the break, it certainly worked. She had said this game “wouldn’t define our season” but that the bruises would last if the score was the best way to get away from it.
It was a mistake from Bronze, the 2019 European player of the year, who opened the door, her bad pass under pressure jumped by Heath, who cut her to the right before crashing past Roebuck .
The goal breathed life into United and by the 74th minute they had a deserved leveler. Hanson, at halftime for forward Jess Sigsworth, forced a good save from Roebuck, but the young goalkeeper couldn’t stop her rebound at close range.
The clock was spinning down, a corner of Leah Galton’s right was pointed towards goal by Lucy Staniforth and Stoke pulled it away from behind her goalie. A retirement for City, but Gareth Taylor’s side desperately needed three points to maintain their title aspirations.