United Women 11 Leicester City Women 1
Manchester United Women all but secured a place in the next round of the FA Women's Continental League Cup with a record home win - 11-1 - over Leicester City Women on Thursday night.
The Reds made an emphatic start to the game and were ahead within just two minutes. Sigsworth picked the ball up in the centre of the pitch and slipped an inch-perfect pass into Arnot on the left flank. The Scottish international then fizzed a shot at the Leicester goal and keeper Demi Lambourne parried it right into the feet of Sigsworth, who finished off the move by tapping the ball into an empty net.
Arnot was causing repeated problems for the Foxes defence and she soon swung another dangerous ball into the box, before picking out Toone in the centre moments later, but the resulting shot was right down the throat of Lambourne.
A second goal wasn’t long in coming and, unsurprisingly, it was Arnot who provided it with a sumptuous curling effort from near the corner of the box, which bent deliciously into the top corner of the Leicester net.
It was a red onslaught in the early stages with United completely bossing proceedings and going close again through long-range efforts from Mollie Green and Arnot.
United looked like scoring with every attack and were three up just after the 20-minute mark, when good hold-up play from Jane Ross released Toone. The no.7 drove into the box with the ball before unleashing a fierce drive that crashed into the back of the net and, even at that early stage, appeared to take the game away from Leicester.
It was chance after chance for Casey Stoney’s side in the first period, with Sigsworth going close with a chip and then a header, before Ross forced Lambourne into a smart save through her left-footed shot from just outside the area.
Smith started the spell with her first goal for the Reds, a composed finish after Lambourne misjudged the flight of the ball and flew out of the box to present the full-back with an open goal. Despite that, she still had to navigate past several Leicester defenders before lobbing the ball into the net.
Moments later, Toone netted via a side-footed effort which nestled in the bottom corner and within minutes she had competed a first-half hat-trick after poking the ball over the line during a scrappy goalmouth scramble.
Sandwiched in-between those Toone strikes, Libby Smith grabbed the visitors' only goal of the game.
The midfielder was then inches away from converting Arnot’s cross in the 54th minute, with Arnot and Ross then going close from driven efforts.
After the flurry of goals in the first half, it took a while for the maiden strike of the second period to arrive. When it did, it was a thing of beauty. Sigsworth was released down the right flank and her curled cross landed perfectly on the head of Ross who guided it past the helpless Scarlett Field, who had earlier replaced Lambourne.
Within a few minutes, the Reds' lead was increased again, courtesy of Toone’s strike. The midfielder hadn’t scored this season before Thursday but is now United’s top scorer. Her fourth of the evening was arguably her best, as Toone met a crossfield ball with the outside of her right boot and, like a bullet, it shot into the top corner of the net.
United weren’t done and Ladd bagged an audacious effort from all of 30 yards in the 83rd minute when she intercepted a loose pass in midfield and, noticing Field off her line, lofted the ball high over her head. In doing so, Ladd notched her first goal for the Reds since her summer move.
The home fans were chanting ‘we want 10’ and they got their wish not long after when Toone bagged her fifth and final goal of the evening. Sigsworth started it off on the right flank and she again picked Ross out in the centre. The Scotland striker didn’t get a clean connection on the ball, but it fell invitingly for Toone to stroke home from a few yards out.
Substitute James then scored an incredible 11th goal of the night in injury time, which actually proved to be the Reds’ last touch of the game. The full-time whistle sounded moments later and sent a very happy, if cold, set of United fans home from Leigh Sports Village.
The result leaves the Reds top of our Continental League Cup group with three wins from three, and only a freak result in the final game against Birmingham City would stop Casey Stoney's side from reaching the knockout stages of the tournament.
United: Mikalsen; Smith (Harris 60), McManus, M.Turner, Okvist; Zelem (c) (Ladd 45), Green (James 66), Toone, Sigsworth, Ross, Arnot.
Subs not used: Earps, A.Turner, Galton, Hanson.
Scorers: Sigsworth (2), Arnot (8), Toone (21, 42, 44, 73, 87), Smith (40), Ross (70), Ladd (83) James (91).