Manchester United move top with victory over Spurs
- Credit: PA
Women’s Super League: Tottenham Hotspur 0 Manchester United 1
Manchester United moved top of the Barclay’s FA Women’s Super League table, as they kept up their unbeaten league record with a hard-fought victory over Tottenham at the Hive.
Much was expected of a United attack that featured both Tobin Heath and Christen Press in the starting line-up for the first time but they struggled to create chances against an organised Spurs defence and when they did, they found Becky Spencer in fine form.
But they did finally find the breakthrough midway through the second half, when Millie Turner headed in from a corner.
Spurs started the game at a ferocious pace, with Rosella Ayane harrying the United defenders from the first whistle and a constant threat in behind.
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Just four minutes in, the striker should have had her side ahead, taking advantage of a poor Leah Galton pass but shooting wide when through on goal.
The visitors, perhaps unsurprisingly with their new-look attack, struggled to find their rhythm early on.
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But they grew into the game as the first half wore on and, as they began to dominate, Spencer was forced into two excellent saves, first denying Heath one on one, then acrobatically tipping Katie Zelem’s chip over the crossbar.
It was more of the same after the break, with Spencer producing another excellent save from Alessia Russo. But from the resultant corner Millie Turner rose highest, and angled her effort into the far corner.
United might have had a penalty with 15 minutes to go, but referee Amy Fearn determined that a foul on Heath was just outside the box, while the closes Spurs came to an equaliser was Siri Worm’s free-kick which curled wide.
The result leapfrogs United above Arsenal, Everton and Chelsea - all of whom play on Sunday - to the summit of the table.
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Tottenham head coach Juan Amoros said: “I think we knew United were going to be a tough team. I’m truly gutted for them, for us and for the fans, because I thought we really deserved a point.
“We needed to take some of those chances at the start, then they got a bit on top towards the end of the half, second half they started stronger and then towards the end we finished stronger, for me.
“It was a very even game, but we know games of football are won and lost in the boxes and today unfortunately they were better at that.
“The performances are very good, we know we’re playing some of the top teams, they are very good sides and you need to be at your best to beat them.
“The moment you are not clinical enough in front of goal, the moment you concede a goal it’s going to be difficult to get back into the game. But I’m really positive with this group of players. They’ve worked really well for the fans, for themselves and for us a staff. It’s just part of the process and I’m sure very soon the results are going to come.
Manchester United manager Casey Stoney said: “It’s really pleasing, it’s not an easy place to come, Tottenham are a very organised team, very direct today as well, and we defended really well at times. I asked for a reaction, I asked for a bit more physicality and battle, and I think we got that.
“I wasn’t pleased with our start, we gave away chances that were unnecessary in our possession, we’ve got to cut that out, but from there on in we created the more clear-cut chances, but we can’t keep missing them.
“Every time we miss a chance, the other team gets hope and they stay in the game. But I can’t speak highly enough of them, it’s been a tough week, emotionally and physically, it’s put a lot of strain on our squad and we’ve come out with three points and a clean sheet.
“My players will tell you I’m never satisfied - i want to win more comfortably, I want better performances, we’re still building. But I said to them, we’ve had a tough week, they’ve now got two days off, I’ve banned them from watching any football, so they actually refresh.”
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-1-1): Rebecca Spencer; Ashleigh Neville, Hannah Godfrey, Shelina Zadorsky, Siri Worm; Ria Percival, Alanna Kennedy, Josie Green, Angela Addison; Gemma Davison; Rosella Ayane
Substitutes: Rianna Dean for Ayane 63, Kit Graham for Kennedy 74; Anna Filbey for Davison; Lucia Leon for Neville 89; Lucy Quinn for Green 89
Substitutes not used: Sophie Whitehouse, Kerys Harrop, Elisha Sulola
Bookings: Green 13, Neville 59
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): Mary Earps; Amy Turner, Abbie McManus, Millie Turner, Leah Galton; Hayley Ladd, Katie Zelem; Alessia Russo, Jackie Groenen, Tobin Heath; Christen Press
Substitutes: Ella Toone for Ladd 46; Kirsty Hanson for Press 55; Kirsty Smith for Heath 77; Lucy Staniforth for Zelem 77
Substitutes not used: Emily Ramsey, Lotta Okvist, Jane Ross, Jess Sigsworth
Goals: M Turner 68
Bookings: Ladd 44, Groenen 66, A Turner 69, M Turner 83
Referee: Amy Fearn
Attendance: Behind Closed Doors