Khiara Keating’s fairytale journey dramatically stuttered against Arsenal on Sunday, with Manchester City’s 19-year-old goalkeeper at fault for both goals in the Gunners’ gutsy victory.
Gareth Taylor had warned that Keating would make mistakes after her heroics in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea. “She’s young and will make errors,” he said after praising her performance.
Eidevall wants to make ‘life in WSL as difficult as possible’ for departing HayesRead more
Taylor was proved right as first Keating’s scrappy clearance was eventually curled in by Steph Catley and then an attempt to reach a long ball was mistimed – the keeper punching the ball behind her – allowing Stina Blackstenius to collect and stroke in.
It was the first match for Arsenal at Meadow Park this season, with their opening two home games, a defeat by Liverpool and win against Aston Villa, having taken place at the Emirates Stadium. Of where they play Jonas Eidevall, the Arsenal manager, said before the game: “We really are at that crossroads at the moment.” This showpiece game at Boreham Wood’s 4,500-capacity ground sold out in around an hour.
With just one player, the former Gunner Jill Roord, joining City in the summer and no Champions League qualifying campaign, Taylor’s team have looked the most settled side this season. But they had won only once at Meadow Park in eight years before this game, a 2-1 win in the behind-closed-doors season of 2020-21.
Last year Khadija Shaw gave them an early lead before Frida Maanum levelled and Katie McCabe fired in the Women’s Super League goal of the season. This has not been a happy hunting ground but City were by far the better side in the opening 15 minutes, dominating possession and settling into their passing game the fastest.
WSL roundup: United grab point at Brighton with last-gasp leveller
Rachel Williams scored a 99th‑minute equaliser to earn Manchester United a 2-2 draw at Brighton. Guro Bergsvand had headed what seemed like the winner on 89 minutes, but Brighton could not hold out. Elisabeth Terland gave the hosts the lead in the first half before Ella Toone’s fine strike had made it 1-1.
Tottenham were denied a fourth successive victory by Aurora Galli’s late penalty as they were held 1-1 at home by Everton. Grace Clinton had put Spurs ahead in the first half.
Liverpool join Spurs on 10 points following a 2-1 home win against Leicester. Marie Höbinger’s 84th-minute goal secured the Reds victory after Melissa Lawley had given them the lead early in the second half and Missy Goodwin equalised just before the hour.
Bristol City claimed their first points of the season as the promoted side won 3-2 at West Ham. Chelsea remain top after a 6-0 win against Aston Villa on Saturday. PA Media
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There were two changes to Eidevall’s side that secured a 2-1 defeat of Bristol City before the international break, with Amanda Ilestedt replacing Laia Codina at centre-back and the forward Cloé Lacasse on instead of the full-back Noelle Maritz, with McCabe dropping into the right-back position.
Taylor also made two changes, with Leila Ouahabi coming in for Alex Greenwood, who spent 13 minutes down following a head injury before being carried off on a stretcher during England’s defeat against Belgium on Tuesday and has concussion. There was more welcome news for City with the return of Lauren Hemp, who was back following suspension in place of Filippa Angeldahl.
Khiara Keating conceded a first-half penalty but made amends by turning Kim Little’s spot-kick on to the post. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
In the opening minutes a strong sliding block from Ilestedt prevented Shaw from getting her shot away and City heaped the pressure on as Arsenal tried to play out from the back, forcing mistake after mistake. The opening goal was against the run of play and Keating was partly at fault: her clearance landed at the feet of Victoria Pelova, the midfielder pinged the ball to Caitlin Foord who, with her back to goal and under pressure, sent it wide to an unmarked Catley and the Australian – fresh off the plane from home on Friday after the international break – curled it in past Keating.
Meadow Park erupted and so did Arsenal’s play. Just four minutes later they were awarded a penalty after Esme Morgan’s underhit pass back to Keating was pounced on by Lacasse and the goalkeeper clipped the ankle of the Canadian. Up stepped the captain, Kim Little, but Keating made amends for her error, diving to her left and tipping the shot on to the inside of post. The ball trickled free but Alanna Kennedy beat Lotte Wubben-Moy to the rebound and thumped it clear.
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The action prompted Taylor to shift from his seat at the back of the stand behind the dugout down into his technical area for the first time. In the second half play evened out again and City reclaimed a foothold. At the hour both teams made two changes, Eidevall introducing Beth Mead to a raucous welcome alongside Maanum, while Julie Blakstad and Kerstin Casparij entered the fray for City.
City peppered crosses into the Arsenal box, as Eidevall had predicted they would pre-match, and Hemp’s effort in from the left led to the equaliser, the forward’s ball pinballing around the box with Arsenal failing to clear before Shaw laid it off for Chloe Kelly to fire in. Taylor immediately put his two warmed-up substitutes back on the bench, the change no longer needed.
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City were on top but McCabe was their tormenter once more, escaping from the pressure to send a long ball over the top towards the substitute Blackstenius. Keating came out but was under the ball and her outstretched fist sent it behind her and the Swedish forward collected and rolled it into the empty net. A distraught and furious Keating was comforted by Kennedy.
The restart was delayed, though, with a medical emergency in the North Bank prompting fans to gesture and scream for the medics who raced across the pitch and hurdled the hoarding to attend to the incident.
The game restarted for the final minute plus 10 added on, with the incident seemingly OK and fans applauding the exit of the medical staff and their charge. The stoppage benefited the Gunners, with the sting taken out of City and a scrappy end was seen out by the home team.