Lauren Hemp Manchester City 2023-24Getty Images

Lauren Hemp has become England’s go-to match-winner in 2023 - now the Lionesses star is keeping Man City’s WSL faltering title hopes alive

For a while on Saturday, it looked like Dan Turner’s incredible volley, a Goal-of-the-Season contender, was going to ruin Manchester City’s day. The Aston Villa defender had stunned the home support when she gave the visitors the lead after seven minutes, and then she frustrated them as the Villans tried to hang on for a result that would’ve taken them five points clear of the drop zone – and left City six points off the pace at the other end of the Women’s Super League table. But this was all before Lauren Hemp had her say.

Cometh the hour, cometh the woman: with 61 minutes on the clock, Hemp popped up at the back post to head home City’s equaliser. Four minutes later, she was at it again, lurking in the same area to stretch and direct Alex Greenwood’s looping header into the back of the net. “Both tap-ins really,” she said with a laugh afterwards, to the amusement of the Sky Sports panel.

Neither goal will compete with Turner’s when the end-of-season awards are handed out, that’s for sure, but their importance was bigger, and the way Hemp got them was significant, too.

Article continues below

For a long time, the 23-year-old has been an out-and-out winger – and one of the best around, at that. But she’s evolving. After being chosen by England boss Sarina Wiegman to lead the Lionesses’ line in their two must-win December fixtures, at the expense of first-choice No.9 Alessia Russo, it’s clear that Hemp has become so much more than a player that just torments full-backs.

In 2023, she has developed into a genuine match-winning forward, and despite several setbacks already as we approach the winter break, she is helping to keep Man City’s WSL title hopes alive, too.