United Women 0 Bristol City Women 1
Manchester United Women began 2020 with a narrow defeat, as Bristol City Women emerged 1-0 victors at Leigh Sports Village in the Women’s Super League.
After a winter break of just over three weeks, Casey Stoney marked the start of a new calendar year by making one change to the XI that beat Everton 3-1 in our final league fixture before Christmas, as Kirsty Hanson came in for Jess Sigsworth.
James, who had signed her first professional contract with the club before Christmas, instigated a number of attacks in the opening exchanges, including putting Galton through on goal. However, Vixens keeper Sophie Baggaley was quickly off her line to beat the speedy winger to the ball.
The Vixens, who hadn’t won a league game all season prior to this fixture, went in front with just over 10 minutes to play in the first half. Salmon received possession on the left, raced into the penalty area, and neatly dispatched the ball past Earps into the back of the net.
This setback sparked the Reds into life, and Stoney’s side came within inches of drawing level before the interval. Firstly, a scramble in the penalty area saw the ball fall to Hayley Ladd, whose powerful strike from range was nearly rewarded with her first WSL goal for United.
And in first-half stoppage time, Katie Zelem’s corner from the left wasn’t dealt with by Baggaley, and Turner’s effort on the follow-up was hooked off the line.
Now that the visitors had a lead to protect, Tanya Oxtoby’s side rarely ventured out of their own half after the break, but they did have one opportunity to double their lead, with Salmon at the heart of it all once again. This time the former Red sprinted towards goal from the right, but with team-mates waiting in the box, the 18-year-old decided to go it alone and her shot from an acute angle brushed the side netting.
The Reds had loud appeals for a penalty waved away by the referee, as an Ella Toone corner from the left appeared to strike the hand of a Bristol City player, but despite appeals from the United team, fans and coaching staff, the officials weren't convinced.
With time running out, the Vixens’ goal continued to live an extremely charmed life. Groenen lifted a brilliantly-weighted ball to Toone, who had made a run into the box, but the ball struck the post and was cleared from danger, which got the fortunate visitors over the line to secure the three points.
United: Earps; A. Turner, McManus, M. Turner, Harris; Groenen, Ladd, Zelem (c) (Toone 71); Hanson (Arnot 45), James (Sigsworth 60), Galton.
Subs not used: Ramsey, Okvist, Smith, Ross.
Scorer: Bristol City - Salmon 34