The sun blazed, Phil Neville was in attendance, but quality lacked where it counts: before goal. For Manchester City’s Super League title hopes this was two points dropped against a Brighton side who finished ninth to their runners-up berth of last season.

City’s manager, Gareth Taylor, was left frustrated. “Our performance until the final third was actually quite good – the final part let us down,” he said.

Hope Powell showed why she is a predecessor of Neville as England manager with a smart game-plan of pressing and taking the initiative where possible that wrong-footed a City side packed with Champions League and World Cup victors.

“Everybody played a part – it was a real team effort,” she said. “If you do your job well, execute the game-plan well, you give yourself the best possible chance. It was not about playing the name but the moment.”

Taylor gave Lucy Bronze and Alex Greenwood their first starts following the full-backs’ moves from Lyon. While the former was previously at City, this was Greenwood’s debut, having captained crosstown rivals Manchester United before moving to the French club where she and Bronze won the European Cup last season.

Two corners began a period of City pressure – a third arriving after Steph Houghton’s free-kick was turned away by the visiting keeper, Megan Walsh. Next, Laura Coombs’s ball allowed Georgia Stanway to run along a left-hand channel but the effort went wide.

This profligacy presaged sloppy City play: Greenwood mis-hit a pass; Victoria Williams caused an out-of-position Houghton to clear the ball; and Danni Bowman was allowed time to take aim from the area’s edge.

Greenwood, who would improve, made another error under pressure from Aileen Whelan: an illustration of how Powell had her team harrying expertly. Then, Sam Mewis – a USA World Cup winner – spurned a golden chance to ease City nerves when trying a pass instead of a finish before Chloe Kelly, another of Taylor’s five new signings, saw Walsh save an effort ahead of the latter going perilously close to putting Keira Walsh’s cross into her goal.

Early in the second half a Maya Le Tissier effort was fumbled by Ellie Roebuck before she scrambled the ball clear, blushes from what was Brighton’s sole attempt on target thus far.

As Taylor posited City just could not turn their chances into the sole goal that would clinch victory. A Kelly corner went straight to Walsh, then Greenwood’s cross was ballooned high by Janine Beckie’s head in what ended as a draw each side deserved.



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