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Joy for Irish contingent as England World Cup star fires Man City to opening day win

The Sky Blues were 2-0 winners over Aston Villa.

Georgia Stanway on the ball today.
Georgia Stanway on the ball today.
Image: PA

A FIRST-HALF BRACE from England star Georgia Stanway sealed an opening day win for Manchester City in the Women’s Super League [WSL] across the water.

City — under the watchful eye of new manager Gareth Taylor, who has Irish international Alan Mahon as his assistant — beat newly-promoted Aston Villa 2-0 at Villa Park to kick off the 2020/21 season.

Irish international duo Megan Campbell and Tyler Toland are both on the books at City, though neither were involved in today’s matchday squad.

And the Sky Blues, who finished second last season on a points-per-game basis after Covid-19 ended the campaign early, opened their 2020/21 campaign on a high.

Ultimately, it was defensive errors from Villa — playing their first top-flight game after promotion from the Championship — that handed the visitors a two-goal lead inside the first 22 minutes.

City almost had the dream start inside the opening 60 seconds, but Sam Mewis headed wide after Stanway’s first shot had been blocked.

There were some Villa nerves on their Super League debut and Stanway did not have to wait long to capitalise on them and grab her first goal. Some casual defending by Natalie Haigh let the England international nip in to score easily after six minutes.

A similar situation occurred shortly afterwards but this time, Stanway was off target with her shot.

However, it was 2-0 with 22 minutes on the clock following another mistake. Goalkeeper Sian Rogers’ ball out to Marisa Ewers was short and Stanway again intervened, blocking the clearance into the net from close range.

britain-soccer-community-shield Irish international Megan Campbell is nearing her return from injury. Source: Andrew Couldridge

Villa were unlucky not to pull one back just after the half-hour mark as Stine Larsen’s well-timed run and tidy finish was ruled out for offside. Television replays showed it was the wrong decision.

Later, Stanway missed a golden opportunity to seal her hat-trick when she blazed high and wide with Rogers beaten.

The Villa ‘keeper made amends for her earlier error with a fine second-half showing, producing good saves to deny numerous City players and to keep her side in the match but the debutants finished empty-handed despite their improvement.

There are five WSL fixtures down for decision tomorrow, with plenty of Irish interest across the board:

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Fixtures — 6 September

Arsenal v Reading, 12.30pm
Brighton & Hove Albion v Birmingham City, 2pm
Bristol City v Everton, 2pm
Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham, 2pm
Man Utd v Chelsea, 2.30pm.

The full list of Ireland internationals in the WSL is as follows:

Arsenal
Katie McCabe

Manchester City
Megan Campbell
Tyler Toland

Liverpool
Niamh Fahey

West Ham
Leanne Kiernan
Courtney Brosnan

Reading
Grace Moloney

Brighton & Hove Albion
Rianna Jarrett
Megan Connolly
Denise O’Sullivan [on loan]

Birmingham
Harriet Scott

- Additional reporting from Press Association

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Emma Duffy

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