Marc Skinner’s Manchester United hosted welcomed Spurs to Leigh Sports Village on Sunday. Both teams needed to secure three points – as United find themselves under pressure at the top of the table, while their North London opponents still aren’t entirely safe from the threat of relegation.
MUN: Earps; Blundell, Turner, Le Tissier, Batlle; Boe Risa, Ladd; Galton, Toone, Parris; Russo
TOT: Korpela; Harrop, Bartrip, Turner, Zadorsky; Spence, James, Graham, Bizet; England, Naz
United started as the stronger of the two sides, with Alessia Russo and Ella Toone linking up nicely on the left – but the latter’s low cross into the box was dealt with well by Korpela. The hosts continued to apply pressure as Ona Batlle found Leah Galton at the near post, though a defender was there and was able to clear the danger.
Despite barely holding on throughout the opening five minutes or so, Spurs began to grow into the game and Molly Bartrip struck an effort from distance – though it was directed straight at Mary Earps. Vicky Jepson’s side came close once more just a minute later though, as Beth England darted through on goal and looked set to open the scoring. The forward danced around Mary Earps, but took a little too long to get a shot off and Maya Le Tissier slid in to bring an end to the chance.
Those signs of danger breathed some life back into the United attack, but once more Korpela was alert to deny Alessia Russo and Nikita Parris. Ella Toone looked to create another chance as she sent Hannah Blundell down the left flank, but the left-back’s cross was held well by Korpela who seemed to do no wrong between the posts. Still desperate to take the lead, Leah Galton struck the crossbar after getting her head onto Vilde Boe Risa’s cross a few minutes later. The offside flag was raised regardless though.
A woeful attempt at a pass from Amy Turner saw Leah Galton break through on goal in the 32nd minute, and the winger continued her run of fine goalscoring form as she picked out the far corner from a tight angle.
United looked to add a second as Vilde Boe Risa thundered an effort towards goal, but the Finnish ‘keeper was able to deny the Norwegian. Marc Skinner’s side doubled their advantage immediately after though, as Galton nodded a corner back towards Russo – and the striker powered a volley into the roof of the net.
That second goal seemed to wake the Spurs attack though, as Jessica Naz broke free on the left flank before finding Celin Bizet with a wonderfully delivered cross – but her header struck the woodwork just before half-time.
United headed down the tunnel with a comfortable 2-0 lead, though in truth they could have had three or four if they’d been more clinical. Spurs had been the masters of their own downfall, with sloppy defending contributing to both goals.
Ella Toone continued to cause problems for the Spurs backline in the second half, dancing past her defender before picking out Alessia Russo. Her shot was saved well by Korpela at the near post though.
Marc Skinner’s side didn’t have to wait long for their third goal though, as Nikita Parris bundled the ball over the line in the 53rd minute. Zadorsky didn’t time her jump well, allowing the ball to sail through to Molly Bartrip – and after taking a deflection off her back, Parris was there to thump it into the back of the net.
Spurs looked to claw one back in the 69th minute, as Mana Iwabuchi fired an effort from close range – but Mary Earps was able to narrow down the angle and make the save. Rosella Ayane looked to power the rebound into the back of the net, though Earps sent that chance over the crossbar.
Alessia Russo came close to bagging her second of the afternoon with ten minutes left to play, as Ona Batlle’s cross from the right flank found the forward – but she blazed it over the woodwork without threatening Korpela.
There was one last chance deep in stoppage time to extend their lead and bolster their goal difference, but Rachel Williams placed her header over the bar. Mannion looked to send debutant Jayde Riviere through on goal with seconds left on the clock, but there was a little too much on the pass and the forward couldn’t control it.
United pick up yet another three points in the Women’s Super League – and while they sit comfortably at the top of the table for now, they remain under pressure from teams with games in hand. Their attention now turns to their first ever major cup final though, as they face Chelsea at Wembley next weekend in the Vitality Women’s FA Cup.