Jess Sigsworth on the ball

Report: United Women 4 Tottenham Women 1

Manchester United made a winning return to Women’s Super League action with a 4-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Leigh Sports Village.

Ella Toone, Christen Press and Jess Sigsworth were all on the scoresheet in the first half, with Toone netting again in the early moments of the second period before Alanna Kennedy’s late consolation for the visitors.

The victory takes the Reds into third and the final Champions League spot ahead of Arsenal’s game against Brighton & Hove Albion later in the day.

Casey Stoney made just the one change to her side that started last weekend’s 6-0 win at Burnley in the Vitality Women’s FA Cup, with USA international Press returning to lead the line in place of Jane Ross.

It was Press who got the game underway in the bright early afternoon sunshine at Leigh Sports Village before having the Reds’ first real opportunity of the game soon after. The forward was played in behind by Toone, but saw her low driven strike held by Tottenham goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer.

Having been the provider there, Toone popped up in the right place to open the scoring for United eight minutes in. Kirsty Hanson drove to the byline on the left before cutting the ball back for the Reds’ no.7 who picked out the bottom corner to net her eighth goal of the campaign.

Three weeks on from our last WSL outing, Stoney’s side were making a positive start on the return to league action. That start was rewarded with a second goal inside 20 minutes, as Press met Toone’s cross from a deep area on the right, nodding past the keeper to double the lead.

After just over half an hour, the advantage became three. Hanson was again involved down the left, driving forward before crossing into the box where the ball fell to Sigsworth who powered home to make it 3-0.

United’s front-foot start continued into the closing stages of the half, when Lucy Staniforth went close to getting the game’s fourth goal. The midfielder tried her luck following a free-kick routine from the training ground, but curled the effort just over the target.

Within the first three minutes of the restart, Staniforth was involved in the incident which led to our fourth. The midfielder was brought down in the box, with Toone stepping up to convert from the spot for her second of the afternoon, and ninth of the season.

Stoney’s side weren’t settling for just that either and continued to push forward as the game ticked past the hour-mark. It took an alert stop from Spencer in the Tottenham goal to deny a fierce long-range effort from Press, before Alanna Kennedy blocked the USA international’s next effort moments later.

Soon after there was a welcome return to action for Leah Galton as part of a triple substitution. The winger replaced third goalscorer Sigsworth to make her return to the pitch following an ankle injury that had kept her on the sidelines since February. 

With Galton entering the fray, Hanson shifted onto the right side of United’s attacking midfield three and nearly had a goal of her own in the following moments. The winger drove forward before her lofted shot produced a good save from Spencer, who tipped the attempt over the crossbar on the stretch.

Kirsty Hanson runs with the ball
Kirsty Hanson looks to drive United forward on the left flank.

In the closing stages, Galton began to influence proceedings as the Reds searched for a fifth. Having firstly teed up Press who dragged a shot wide of the goal, the pair combined again and this time the former missed the target with her attempt.

It was the visitors who got the game’s final goal, however. With the final kick of three minutes of added time, Kennedy picked out the top corner with a free-kick from range to wipe out United’s clean sheet and pull one back for Spurs.

It was nothing more than a consolation though with referee Christiana Hattersley’s full-time whistle going soon after to confirm a big three points for United in the race for Champions League football.

Next up for the Reds is the first of our final two WSL games this season, with a trip to Bristol City Women next Sunday that gets underway at 14:00 BST. 

MATCH DETAILS

United: Earps; Batlle (Jones 84), A.Turner, M.Turner, Smith; Zelem (c) (Groenen 64), Staniforth (Ross 63); Sigsworth (Galton 63), Toone, Hanson; Press (Thorisdottir 84).

Subs not used: Bentley; Harris, Russo, Bourne.

Booked: Zelem, Staniforth.

Goals: Toone 8, 48 (pen), Press 19, Sigsworth 31.

Tottenham: Spencer; Neville (E.Morgan 64), Zardosky (c), Kennedy, Harrop (Worm 46); Green, Graham, Cho (Ayane 46); Naz (Addison 89), Williams, Dean (Davison 64).

Subs not used: Mikalsen; Peplow, Quinn.

Booked: Neville, Green.

Goal: Kennedy 90+3.

Referee: Christiana Hattersley.

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