A quick look at the weekends WSL scores will bring up Manchester United 0-1 Bristol City but it was so much more than another scoreline, as a passionate Vixens fan I’ll give you the lowdown on how one of our most impressive recent results played out.
As it was a midday start it was down to breakfast fairly sharpish at our hotel which was a stones throw away from the Leigh Sports Village Stadium. The Bristol girls were also staying there so we have the pleasure of personally giving them our best wishes.
We then darted over to the Legends Cafe at the front of the stadium, a pleasant cosy function room where United and away fans could socialise before the game with a bacon bap and cup of coffee, or in our case a pint.
There was also a small stall selling Manchester United merchandise and a lady who was doing face painting for younger fans. I had a chat with a Red Devils fan with his two young daughters who were very excited about seeing their heroes.
Once inside the tidy stadium, now home to United Women but also predominantly used for Rugby League by Leigh Centurions. We grabbed an impressive 36-page colour matchday programme jam-packed with stats, interviews and pictures, this was especially a collector’s item for us Vixens fans as it was to be our captain and proclaimed Queen of Bristol, Loren Dykes 100th WSL appearance.
A small number of us hearty Bristol fans positioned ourselves at the end of the main stand which was the only area opened and a healthy crowd of just over 2,000 spectators.
United predictably started the stronger considering what a torrid 2019 we had come off with the classy Lauren James showing her trickery spurred on by the noisy ‘Barmy Army’ but the Bristol defence was holding firm. Former United forward, Ebony Salmon was doing well in attack and on 35 minutes latched on to a Yana Daniels’ ball. She beat the United defence and slotted the ball past former Vixen Mary Earps. Despite United’s best efforts it would remain 1-0 to the visitors at the break.
We knew there was going be a United backlash and we were proved right as Sophie Baggaley and the Bristol defence would be like tiny dots to us at the other side of the ground from our vantage point. As wave after wave of a sea of red descended on the Bristol goal but could not penetrate the valiant and stubborn Vixens defence.
As the side netting and woodwork was hit, bodies were put on the line and Baggaley had a brilliant return to form with a string of outstanding saves that reminded us of her form last season. The tension appeared neverending especially when an agonizing six minutes of extra time was played and Alex Ferguson was nowhere to be seen! We held firm and clung onto a remarkable victory, our first in 343 days.
It was a terrific performance and I for one was ecstatic. I got to be there to see it as we rushed pitchside to cheer off our victorious team. All the players from both teams signed autographs and posed for pics for there adoring young fans.
Bristol skipper Dykes (now a member of the 100 club and recently made an MBE) was only too happy to sign my programme and it was also nice to have a chat with Earps and Poppy Pattinson’s parents who were in attendance before the long but now celebratory journey home.