This was a riveting, high-octane derby that ended with Manchester United and Manchester City deservedly sharing the spoils. The visitors took the lead in the first half thanks to a Khadija Shaw goal just moments after Georgia Stanway was sent off for an industrial challenge on Leah Galton. Think Paul Gascoigne on Gary Charles in the 1991 FA Cup final.
City’s opener was well-deserved – they were dominant and continued to be so into the second half until Marc Skinner, the United manager, introduced Lucy Staniforth with 22 minutes remaining. Four minutes later Staniforth turned in a short corner from the left – Hannah Blundell fed Ella Toone who sent in the cross – for United’s equaliser.
Three minutes later Gareth Taylor’s side were 2-1 down after Alessia Russo’s swivel and shot from 20 yards out beat Karima Taieb. The feeling then was that City were surely staring at a fourth consecutive Women’s Super League defeat, with tough questions to be asked of Taylor in the aftermath.
But no. Another three minutes on and City were level once more. Mary Earps tipped a crashing long-range shot from the substitute Jess Park on to the bar and Ellen White zipped in to put away the rebound.
It was sweet for White, who had been dropped by Taylor 24 hours after being nominated for the Ballon d’Or, a reaction to the striker’s season-long goal-drought and to City’s dire form, with just one WSL victory and one goal before this match.
Taylor is still looking for that first win but this was a morale-boosting display which he will hope jump-starts City’s campaign.