It was a waterlogged weekend in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League with two matches cancelled due to soggy pitches but plenty of action in the other clashes resulted in a change at the tight top of the table and a fitting farewell for a departing manager.
Chelsea’s 8-0 rout of West Ham propelled them into second place and knocked Arsenal out of the top two, while City handed manager Nick Cushing a parting gift with a 2-1 win over the Gunners in the final game of his six-year tenure with the club.
Elsewhere, ninth-placed Brighton bested fifth-placed Everton 1-0 and Reading drew 1-1 with Manchester United at Adams Park.
There may have been fewer clashes but there certainly wasn’t a shortage of standout performers - Rachel Steinberg picked out her top three.
Erin Cuthbert - Chelsea
Chelsea proved they can do just fine without striker Sam Kerr, who is on international duty with Australia, by putting eight past West Ham at Kingsmeadow on Sunday.
Her absence gave the chance for others to step up – and the young Erin Cuthbert proved she wasn’t just quietly stepping into Kerr’s shoes.
With her team up 1-0 thanks to an early goal by Maren Mjelde, Cuthbert expertly cut through the Hammers defence to deliver a spot-on pass to Beth England who fired in for the game’s second goal, before finding Sophie Ingle to set up the third.
And the Scotland international finally got a point of her own after she took the ball on the run, evaded West Ham’s Grace Fisk and netted from just outside the box to make it 4-0.
Lauren Hemp - Manchester City
Nick Cushing is well known for putting his trust in youth players and fittingly it was youngster Lauren Hemp who ensured the outgoing City boss would depart for America on a positive note.
Cushing accepted an offer with MLS side New York City where he will serve as assistant manager alongside their newly appointed boss Ronny Delia and therefore took to the City dugout for the last time on Sunday for the visit of title-rivals Arsenal.
After a slow start to the first half Pauline Bremer opened the scoring for City, but Hemp’s top-corner header from a Leonie Maier cross early in the second half proved to be the difference-maker.
Though Danielle van De Donk’s goal gave the Gunners hope, City hung on for the 2-1 win—and sealed a celebratory send-off for Cushing to remember.
Aileen Whelan - Brighton
Aileen Whelan’s 39th-minute strike was the only goal in ninth-placed Brighton’s 1-0 win over Everton - the Seagulls’ victory first in three games.
Everton keeper Sandy MacIver denied a few good chances for Brighton early in the first half including a powerful strike from Kristy Barton.
But Brighton picked up momentum and Amanda Nilden was able to knock down Barton’s high cross from 12 yards out and tip it to the Seagulls’ top scorer Whelan, who fired it into the top right corner for her fourth of the season to secure the point for Hope Powell’s side.