Bristol City Women 0-4 Manchester City Women: Citizens go six points clear as Robins relegated

Bristol City v Man City

Mary Fowler's second-half double helped Manchester City beat Bristol City to move six points clear at the Women's Super League summit as the Robins' relegation was confirmed.

The visitors toiled for the first hour until Fowler broke the deadlock from distance, before the Australian finished a Lauren Hemp cross at the near post.

Amy Rodgers then turned into her own net before Alex Greenwood headed in the league leaders' fourth with the last touch of the game.

Man City have equalled the WSL record of 14 successive victories and are six points above Chelsea at the top, albeit having played two games more.

City boss Gareth Taylor said he was unhappy with his side's "body language" at half-time and sent them out five minutes early for the restart, but was pleased with their display after the break.

"We were poor in the first half, we were lethargic, we were flat, we were slow in moving the ball," he told Sky Sports.

"We adjusted some things, a few minor tweaks. We spoke about body language, about intensity of our play.

"You have to give credit to Bristol, they were very good. We had to really find some bits of quality to unlock the door.

"I don't mind mistakes, I just want players to show positive energy. It's fine to make mistakes, but don't slump your shoulders, don't show everyone you made a mistake.

"When you do that and the energy is not there, we end up getting a first half like we did. We were the opposite of that in the second half. We were so good."

Bristol City, who fell to a 10th straight home league defeat, will make an immediate return to the Championship having won just once all season.

"It has always been a mountain to climb," manager Lauren Smith told Sky Sports. "Some of the performances we have been very proud of but haven't got the results."

Second half blitz boosts City goal difference

The visitors had the bulk of possession and chances in the first half, but struggled to test keeper Shae Yanez.

Chloe Kelly shot straight at Yanez when well placed, before Hemp spurned the visitors' best first-half chance in stoppage time by sending a free header into the keeper's arms.

It was a sloppy showing from the title contenders and they continued to misfire after the break, with Hemp skewing a far-post volley wide just before the hour.

Fowler finally delivered a moment of quality for Taylor's side in the 62nd minute - unleashing a left-footed rocket from 25 yards that gave Yanez no chance.

The Australian attacker then escaped the defence to turn home Hemp's cross with 15 minutes to play, while Rodgers shanked an attempted far-post clearance past her own keeper soon after.

City captain Greenwood capped her side's latest win - which equals the WSL record set by Arsenal in 2022 across two seasons - by heading in a corner, although the beleaguered Yanez nearly kept it out.

The win piles more pressure on Chelsea, while boosting Man City's goal difference to +45 compared to their rivals' +39.

City toil without Shaw before breaking through

Man City have blown many teams away during their lengthy winning run, but much of their scoring prowess has come through Khadija Shaw.

However, the striker - who is the WSL's top scorer with 21 goals from just 18 matches - has been ruled out for the remainder of the campaign with a foot injury.

City have been forced to change strategy and Kelly, who wears number nine but rarely lines up as a central striker, was Shaw's replacement here and toiled in her attempts to match the Jamaican's physicality or finishing ability.

Taylor was clearly unhappy with his team's first-half showing and sent them out extremely early for the restart.

But passes continued to go astray for his side, and shots were still scuffed - until Fowler struck and the floodgates opened.

Man City did enough to secure the three points at Ashton Gate, but will have to be much improved next Sunday when they host third-placed Arsenal.

Stubborn Robins broken and down

Having struggled so badly at home this season, it was no surprise that Bristol City sat deep to absorb Man City attacks despite needing a win to survive.

They lost 5-0 at Joie Stadium earlier this season, and last year were knocked out of both cups by Man City - 6-0 in the League Cup and 8-1 in the FA Cup. They have now conceded 23 goals in their past four matches against the Citizens.

The hosts were much more defensively stable here, and initially provided a threat on the break too.

Their best first-half moment came from a dangerous Ffion Morgan cross which Khiara Keating bravely smothered at Amelie Thestrup's feet.

Thestrup hurt her neck in the collision, forcing her to be subbed at half-time as Bristol City moved even deeper as the game wore on.

The Robins were finally broken down on the hour mark, and Smith's side remain pointless at home this season.

"We have to start looking at what next year looks like," she said.

"We have to continue to build and make sure our fanbase is as incredible next year as it is now.

"We will be looking to continue this trend and build the excitement in Bristol."

The Robins host Everton on the final day for a last chance to end their unwanted losing streak at Ashton Gate.