Report: Brighton 0 United Women 4
Manchester United Women have opened up a three-point gap at the top of the Women's Super League table following a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Brighton.
Leah Galton was on target early in the first half, nodding home from a Katie Zelem corner, and that goal proved to be the difference at the break.
The second half was a far more clinical display from Marc Skinner's side, as Galton added her second of the game, before substitutes Rachel Williams and Lucia Garcia scored within minutes of each other in the final moments of the contest, to secure a hard-fought victory away from home.
With both sides in need of the points at either end of the table – though for vastly different reasons – the game provided a tentative start at Broadfield Stadium.
There was a real showing of intent from United, though, pushing up the pitch with our first chance of the half falling to Galton. Patient work from Russo down the left saw her fizz a teasing ball into the box, but our no.11 saw her effort blocked. It would take just 13 minutes for us to find the breakthrough against the Seagulls though, with Galton involved once again. Zelem’s searching corner into the box was pinpoint, planted right onto the head of our left winger, who guided the ball beyond an outstretched Williams in the Brighton goal.
Amy Merricks’s side carved their way back into the game, namely through the danger of Katie Robinson down the right, but failed to create any real clear-cut chances on Mary Earps’s goal. Emma Kullberg had arguably their best chance of the first 45, but her header had a bit too much on it and flew over.
Vilde Boe Risa – on her first league start of the current campaign – came agonisingly close to doubling our lead in the approach to half-time, after getting a deft touch on Zelem’s excellent free-kick towards goal, but the connection was not strong enough to trouble Williams.
SECOND HALF – CLINICAL REDS
The second 45 started in a similar vein to the first, with both sides biding their time to regain a feel for the game. On this occasion, it was Brighton with the first throw of the dice as they chased down an equaliser. Poppy Pattinson’s lofted ball into the area was very nearly headed home by Lee Geum-min, but Millie Turner did enough at the back to put her off.
Despite dominating the ball, Skinner’s side didn’t create anything clear-cut until after the hour mark, but we made it count once we did. Both Toone and Blundell exchanged neat one-two passes before the former sent a defence-splitting pass into the path of Galton. Our no.11 picked up the ball and charged towards the goal, rounding the keeper and slotting home impressively despite the tight angle.
After adding our second, we seemed to assume total control of the game and hit our stride going forward. Toone was denied our third of the afternoon, after being flagged offside at the end of a well-worked United move that saw her finish the rebound from Galton’s powerful shot that was initially parried away by Williams.
Brighton’s shot-stopper came up big again a few moments later, this time to deny Russo who unleashed a powerful strike in the direction of the bottom corner, after being played through by Toone.
Second-half substitute Rachel Williams all but secured the points for us in the 86th minute, as she connected with a Zelem corner from the right and found the net with a powerful header that bounced off the turf and into the net.
Just over a minute later, Garcia sealed the deal after latching onto a stray backpass, with the Spaniard touching it past the Seagulls goalkeeper and finishing into an empty net.
Brighton XI: Williams; Kullberg, Morse, Connolly, Fox; Olme, Pattinson, Sarri (Visalli 90), Bance (Terland 64), Robinson; Lee.
Unused substitutes: Walsh, Stott, Park, Carter, Williams, Ferguson, Startup.
Bookings: Olme 40, Pattinson 52.
United XI: Earps; Batlle, Le Tissier, Turner, Blundell; Ladd, Zelem; Toone, Boe Risa (Williams 60), Galton; Russo (Garcia 78).
Unused substitutes: Middleton-Patel, Mannion, Riviere, Tounkara, Cascarino, Parris, Thomas.
Goals: Galton 13, 66, Williams 86, Garcia 87.