Manchester City Women welcome Doncaster Rovers Belles to the CFA, which sees the two teams meet for the first time in the WSL 1.
The game sees the Blues play their second game in 72 hours after beating Sunderland AFC Ladies 2-0 at the Hetton Centre on Friday night. With rest and recovery key to City’s performance today, it’ll be interesting to see how the Blues fare with such a short turnaround.
In team news, Georgia Stanway, who came on in place of Daphne Corboz against Sunderland, isn’t available for selection. The City youngster is currently out in Belarus with England for the finals of the UEFA European Women’s Under-17 Championship, which could see her miss Chelsea away on the 19th May if England were to reach the final, held on the 16th May. As mentioned, Daphne Corboz came off against Sunderland and immediately iced her ankle, so she may be forced to start on the bench for The Belles’ visit. Hopefully she’s just picked up a knock after facing more robust challenges than she’s used to sat at the heart of City’s midfield after replacing the injured Jennifer Beattie up until recently.
Presuming that Corboz will start on the bench, City’s team pretty much picks itself (again). With Toni Duggan returning to the pitch after a short time out with injury, scoring with her first touch against Sunderland, Duggan can slot straight back into the starting XI to replace Corboz. Despite being the instigator of so many of the Blues’ attacks so far this season, Jill Scott would have to be moved back into a slightly more defensive role in order to plug the gap the absence of Corboz would leave. However, it’d be no surprise to anyone if Cushing didn’t line up his City side like this – in a game against the WSL 1’s bottom team, you’d expect City to really go for a big result and try to put away more of the numerous chances they create than they have been doing. It’s a game where City should be looking to win by more than the one or two goal margin seen so far this season.
Doncaster Rovers Belles haven’t had the best start to their return to the WSL 1 following controversial relegation for the 2014 season, losing their opening two games to Chelsea Ladies and Birmingham Ladies. The Belles made quite a number of signings from Liverpool Ladies at the beginning of the season, most notably England striker Natasha Dowie.
City beat Donny well last season, putting 3 past the Belles in each of their two meetings in the domestic cup competitions, and it’s hoped that City seize the opportunity to extend their unbeaten run to 5 league wins in 5, and their lead at the top of the table to six points.
Ones to watch
Nikita Parris. Has been instrumental in the Blues’ attacking play in the last few games. Her direct runs up the wings and into the box have seen her rinse oppositions’ full-backs a number of times this season, in particular Victoria Williams of Sunderland on Friday. Parris scored her first league goal of the season against Sunderland, taking her tally to three goals for the Blues this season, and hopefully her run can continue against Donny. Parris’ decision making was poor at times last year, but looks to have significantly improved – she looks to find a player in the box more often, plays better possession football and doesn’t waste as many chances. Pleasingly, her partnership with Jane Ross looks to be developing quite nicely.
Doncaster Rovers Belles
Natasha Dowie. Can be dangerous and puts herself about. A physical player that scored against City a couple of times in 2014, but hasn’t really troubled the Blues since thanks to standout performances from City skipper Steph Houghton and then centre-back partner Jennifer Beattie in which they completely nullified any threat she may have posed – hopefully they can repeat their performance once again today. Still, Dowie is one of Donny’s leading goalscorers and can be a handful on her day, and with her little rivalry with Toni Duggan (Duggan went to the 2015 World Cup instead of Dowie), she might just up her performance against the Blues.
Predcted CIty XI
Bardsley, Bronze, Houghton (C), McManus, Stokes, Beattie, Scott, Asllani, Duggan, Parris, Ross.
Predicted Score: Manchester City Women 3 – 0 Doncaster Rovers Belles
KO: 2nd May 2016, 2pm, Academy Stadium.
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Written by Jill Peacock