Manchester United continued their strong start to the Barclays FA Women’s Super League season after a relatively straightforward victory at The Hive Stadium this afternoon.
Pre-match interest centred on three stars of the USA’s World Cup winning side, but whereas Manchester United gave first Super League starts to Tobin Heath and Christen Press, Spurs fans were kept waiting at least another week before Alex Morgan donned the white shirt.
United started on the front foot with Jackie Groenen playing a great ball into the box from kick off, but Katie Zelem’s header was offtarget.
Spurs hit back and with less than five minutes played, a sloppy pass towards her own area from Leah Galton, who was playing out of position at left-back, was seized upon by Rosella Ayane who hit an effort narrowly wide. Seconds later Ayane got in another shot which Millie Turner had to block.
Whilst both teams strove to create, too often the final ball was inaccurate.
As the game headed towards the half hour mark, the Red Devils began to assert themselves once more. It was Groenen’s input on the right again that was influential. Her beautifully angled ball found Press in the middle. In turn, the American played in compatriot Tobin Heath who was just outside her on the right and went one-on-one with Spurs keeper Rebecca Spencer, but it was the North-West Londoner who ran out the winner.
Galton then got free down the left and put in a super cross which Spencer did well to get a hand to. Hayley Ladd then spurned a great chance when she couldn’t get sufficient power on a shot which Spencer dealt with comfortably.
Rebecca Spencer produced another great save with five minutes of the half left. Siri Worm conceded a corner on the right, and Tobin Heath’s ball in found Millie Turner who returned the favour to the American. Heath fed Katie Zelem whose fine effort was tipped over by the Spurs stopper who was one of the prime reasons for the score line being goalless at the break.
Spurs remained generally well organised at the back but offered very little up front and there was early second half concern when key midfielder Alanna Kennedy went down with a knock to the ankle after a tackle from Jackie Groenen. After treatment the Matildas star returned to the action, but less than fifteen minutes later she was substituted, although hopes are that this was as a precaution.
Once more it was Casey Stoney’s side that fashioned the opportunities. On fifty-one minutes, Tobin Heath played in a teasing cross with no end result. Shortly afterwards another opportunity slipped by when Millie Turner headed over.
Spencer looked to have saved her team again initially on sixty seven minutes as Alessia Russo drove forward and hit a shot that the diving Spurs keeper pushed out for a corner. However, Tobin Heath played in the resulting flag kick and Millie Turner’s header floated into the net as United finally got the reward that their offensive pressure warranted.
As the game entered its final stages, Lucy Staniforth hit a free-kick over the bar after coming on as a substitute for United. From their own set piece outside the box, awarded after Ria Percival was shoved in the back by Millie Turner, Siri Worm’s effort for Spurs was wide of the right hand post.
This result sees Manchester United lead the embryonic FA Women’s Super League table ahead of Sunday’s matches and remain unbeaten after four games. As for Tottenham Hotspur, Alex Morgan’s first appearance cannot come soon enough as they are crying out for a finisher right now.
Teams: TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR: Spencer, Neville, Godfrey, Zodorsky, Worm, Percival, Kennedy, Green, Addison, Davison, Ayane. Substitutes: Whitehouse (GK – not used), Leon, Harrop (not used), Filbey, Dean, Graham, Quinn, Sulola (not used).
MANCHESTER UNITED: Earps, Turner, McManus, Turner, Galton, Ladd, Groenen, Zelem, Russo, Heath, Press. Substitutes: Ramsey (GK – not used), Okvist (not used), Staniforth, Hanson, Toone, Ross (not used), Sigsworth (not used), Smith.
Scorers: M. Turner 68.
Referee: Amy Fearn.