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Coventry City 2 Manchester City 1
A Helen Dermody free kick in stoppage time gave Coventry City a 2-1 victory over Manchester City and blew the race for promotion from the Northern Division to the National Division wide open in a dramatic match at Coventry Sphinx FC.
The long time leaders, who won their first eleven matches, still head the division but no longer have
promotion in their own hands as both Coventry and Aston Villa can overtake them if they win both of their remaining fixtures.
In a tight, tense first half, Manchester City created the better chances and took the lead via a penalty.. Coventry offered little in attack before the break and Sue Wood in the Coventry goal made several good saves, starting with a claim from a low Krystle Johnston cross in the first minute. Carley Bayley put a header just wide on 14 minutes and shot wide when well placed two minutes later.
Wood did very well to parry a dangerous low cross on 32 minutes but the follow up shot hit Milly
Durrant on the arm from point blank range and the resultant spot kick was converted by Lindsey Savage. The closest Coventry came to equalising. was a Dermody snap shot high and wide on 40 minutes.
Coventry livened up greatly after their equaliser on 50 minutes. A Kate Ward cross deceived Carrie Simpson in the Man City goal and Kirsty Robson bundled the ball home. Durrant moved into a more advanced role to replace the injured Jade Formaston and her link up play with Robson and Karen Clough gave the previously assured Manchester defence a tough time.
A penalty appeal for handball was waved away, Clough hit the post from ten yards and Simpson made a fine save in a one on one with Durrant on 68 minutes. Manchester City battled back well with Saffron Jordan and Ellena Turner up front giving Coventry's defence much to think about. Turner was unlucky to see a fine run and shot go inches wide on 75 minutes and Johnson was also unlucky after placing a shot past the advancing Wood as the match reached the 90 minute mark.
However, a needless foul 25 yards out and in a central position gave Dermody the chance to measure a trademark free kick into the left corner of the goal over the wall. Although Manchester City desperately pushed forward in the final moments, Coventry were soon celebrating a priceless victory.
Manchester City showed why they have led the Northern Division with a good display of assured defending and effective movement and passing on a tricky pitch. However, Coventry kept plugging away and eventually took the spoils with a moment of quality which gives them a real chance of back to back promotions.
Coventry City: Sue Wood, Milly Durrant, Kate Ward, Natasha Lynch, Sinead Butler, Jade Formaston, Callan Barber, Kirsty Robson, Karen Clough, Helen Dermody, Nikki Miles. Subs: Natalie Wilcox, Stacey Christie, Danni Saulter.
Manchester City: Carrie Simpson, Fran Champ, Kelly McLellan, Fliss Middleton, Danni Young, Carley Bayley, Lindsey Savage, Krystle Johnson, Saffron Jordan, Ellena Turner, Danni Lea Subs: Rebecca Lee, Abbie McManus.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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