Casey: Defeat won’t define our season
Manchester United Women's manager Casey Stoney said she was proud of her team’s attitude against Chelsea on Sunday.
The Reds fell to our first WSL defeat of the season as the reigning champions triumphed 2-1 at Kingsmeadow.
Pernille Harder opened the scoring for the hosts before Lauren James, who had just been introduced off the bench, curled in a goal-of-the-season contender to equalise on the hour. However, Fran Kirby won the game for the Blues with her strike after 65 minutes, ending United’s unbeaten WSL run of 10 league matches this season.
Chelsea’s win also took them above the Reds on goal difference in the WSL table, as we fell to second place.
Speaking to MUTV post-match, Casey Stoney delivered an honest assessment of our performance in the capital.
"I don’t think we were good enough in the first half," the United manager said.
"That obviously led to them having more chances than we would have liked and obviously Mary [Earps] having to make more saves than we were comfortable with. I think it was a lot from our possession and turnovers from our possession rather than them opening us up."
"They’re a good side, a very good side, so if we don’t make the right decision, don’t move the ball quick enough, don’t play in the right areas, they’re going to cause you problems."
United did well to get back into the game and got an equaliser 15 minutes after the interval via the aforementioned James curler.
"I thought in the second half we were much better," Stoney emphasised.
"I thought, actually, at 1-1 we were getting stronger and getting into the game and having a bit of momentum. Unfortunately, when you defend like that, it’s a sucker punch for us. We cannot defend in a high press and not defend the long ball. You’d be disappointed in any way if you concede like that."
Stoney, who was named WSL Manager of the Month for December, sees the defeat as a disappointment, but he United boss was impressed with her players' attitude in London.
"It’s disappointing from us, but at the same time, I’m proud of the effort, the application and we’ve come here and had a real go," she said.
"At the same time, it doesn’t change anything. I’ve said it before, it’s not going to define our season, and it won’t. We now need to lift ourselves as we got another big game coming up this weekend."
United’s next fixture is against Birmingham City on Sunday 24 January, with kick-off at Leigh Sports Village set for 12:00 GMT.